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Lamborghini Launches Veneno – a Racing Prototype and Road-going Super Sports Car as a Tribute to the 50th Anniversary of Automobili Lamborghini

While the only word out of some peoples mouth last night and late into today is Veneno some are simply saying NO! One Facebooker said that it looks like a real life Batmobile and that he would pass. Another Stated that Lamborghinis simply keep getting uglier and uglier.

Personally, I think they should both be tested for some sort of mental defect. I think the car is hotter than a hot thing on a hot day. But don’t take my word for it. You be the judge.

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Naming it after one of the fastest bulls in bullfighting history which became popular in 1914 when he fatally wounded the famous torero José Sánchez Rodríguez during the bullfight, the Veneno seem intent on doing the same to everything in its path. And is more than capable of doing so.

Boasting 750 hp, the Veneno accelerates from 0 to just over 60 mph in 2.8 seconds and the top speed for this street-legal racing car stands at 220 mph.

Key Features:

A 6.5 liter twelve-cylinder , an extremely fast-shifting 7-speed ISR transmission with 5 driving modes and permanent all-wheel drive, a racing chassis with pushrod suspension and horizontal spring/damper units. The complete chassis is produced as a CFRP monocoque, as is the outer skin. The inside, features innovative, Lamborghini-patented materials such as Forged Composite and CarbonSkin.

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At three million Euros plus tax – and all three units have already been sold.

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2012 Scion FR-S

I have just sold my Single Turbo, 325HP 93 Mazda RX-7. I have also owned two AE86 Corolla GT-S cars, and even preferred driving the GT-S’s. Call me crazy, but I did.

Tore one down to the bare uni-body, scrubbed and oiled it. Wire wheeled every bolt and nut and oiled them. Cleaned every part and reassembled the entire car. Without any left-over bits either. I’ve drifted them in competition. Completed two engine rebuilds between them. In fact the Corolla GT-S taught me how to drift and handle a Rear Wheel Drive car. With my car history, the FR-S had a HUGE wheelbase to fill with me. This review was personal.

You can’t possibly imagine and how excited I was when I got the email that I would be getting the 2012 Scion FR-S. I was very interested to see how this car handled, how it stacked up with what I knew and had experienced from the vehicle that originally held the torch that this car now had the task of carrying.

Scion FR-S The very first thing that impressed me about the FR-S was its height. Much like Scion Vice President Jack Hollis here, the new FR-S sits below my chest at a mere 48.19 inches tall! This was a good indication of things to come. In fact there are many clues and cues that let you know what you’re about to get yourself into.

It quickly became obvious that a low center of gravity was a necessity for the engineering team. This is also made clear under the hood. To make a long story short, there is basically next to nothing there. While there are engine covers and a few fluid reservoirs it’s easy to see the size of the boxer or flat-4 cylinder engine which is quite small. Smaller still – the transmission. It’s very easily visible as it disappears back and underneath the car. Once inside more there are more indicators of its potential.

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The seats are far more firm than you would expect a reclining unit to be but they excel at doing the job of holding you snuggly in place. Once in place it’s a must to adjust the seating for a good pedal travel and comfortably working the steering wheel. Which took some getting used to. With your feet straight out in front of you the pedals are orientated just to the right of center. A trait found on some very impressive Its then that you notice the seats seem to be made of almost nothing. Now I’ve driven some pretty cheap cars in my time, most my own personal vehicles. But even newer quality econo-boxes like the Mazda2 have a more substantial feel to their seat.

Adjusting mirrors and playing with buttons makes it clear that all of the interior plastics were quite Spartan in substance. In ANY other car, this would be the point at which I would start to dread the idea of spending time with a test vehicle. In the FR-S however my attention to these light-weight details only served to raise my expectations and work the butterflies in my stomach into frenzy. Seeing so many different things done to save weight did a lot to work up my apatite to turn the key.

The Starter is very loud. No clue why either. Several times though I actually wondered if something was wrong with it.

Just pulling away from its parking space revealed yet another clue to the treat I was in store for. Given all that was done to save weight in this car it had been given the convenience of Power steering which managed to transmit a great amount of resistance and feedback thru to the steering wheel. It would be a while, though, before I had the courage to disengage the VSC and Traction Control.

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The throw on this transmission also seems a lot longer than it needs to be, but the shift leaver sits very low. This requires a small amount of wrist action to navigate the gears. And no matter what impression you get from this picture there is absolutely NO leg room in the back buckets while the front passengers are comfortably seated. There are reportedly only one or two booster seats that fit back there and just one infant car carrier manages to do the trick. Truth-be-told though you’re not buying the FR-S to transport the children back and forth to daycare; basically making those points quite moot.

In fact the only complaint that everyone I talked to could put to me was that “it needs more cowbell”!(READ: Power) Well I can smugly report that there are now drivers of one Lotus Evora, two Lotus Elise, one Cayman S and a Lamborghini Gallardo who will tell you the opposite. Anyone who makes that statement are, not only completely wrong but, simply need to have a ride along on-track with someone who is experienced in maintaining momentum. Enough about that though. You’ll have to wait for a later post where I release the details of everything that happened that day. scion_frs_015

That having been said the handling of the FR-S isn’t as magical as all the other reviews would have you believe. Even without traction control it has its under-steering moments if you drive like a hoon. On the other hand when driven well the experience will be a lot better than you expect and very rewarding for any driving enthusiast.

The thing is, you see, the FR-S is very difficult to not drive quickly. Believe me I tried. Desperately! After just a few miles of sensible journalistic driving, somehow my brain would laps into a very familiar and comfortable spot as I realized the grin on my face was actually from ear to ear.

scion_frs_2013_032 Breaks are good…very good! I know a whole family of dear that will attest to that. On the way back home after a night out with the wife we decided to take the long way home. This road has a very short and tight S-Turn with an over 10 foot elevation change. Once on the other end said family decided to relocate to the other side of the road. In a benevolent effort of assistance the breaks made short work of next 60’ or so bringing the FR-S to a complete stop. With just one pump of the ABS no less.

After my time with the FR-S was said and done I had had several conversations with the wife about our next car purchase. The experience is still fresh in my mind. The FR-S does seem to be a return to the pure driving enthusiast’s sports-car. And we can only hope that other automakers are taking a few notes.

2012 KIA Optima SX T-GDI

I have no one to blame but myself.

Truth is I can’t give you an awesomely detailed review of what it’s like to own and drive the 2012 Kia Optima SX T-GDI…which is a very long name. I was able to get two good driving days out of the car though. Read more

Tesla – So Quiet They Snuck Up On The Entire Industry

Its funny that I would learn about the Tesla Model X from a website that was also clueless about its existence until just recently. Read more

2011 GT-R & Skyline Cruise & BBQ

For the first time ever on the east coast we managed to collect more GT-Rs in one location than Nissan did…anywhere.

I want to give a very large thank you to everyone that stopped by that day, braved the light rain and cold, and donated to make this such a wonderful time.

Enjoy the photos.

2011 Lexus IS-F First Drive

From an enthusiast perspective driving the 2011 Lexus IS-F is like taking in a one nighter in Vegas with your buddies, knowing that everyone has already signed that internal non-disclosure agreement.  In all practicality it’s the “Whose idea was this?” or “Why did I do that?” conversation you have with yourself on the flight back.

From the moment I laid eyes on it I couldn’t help but think of how pleased I was with being a budding automotive journalist.  Like that Vegas trip, as you get closer your level of excitement grows because you know you’re in for something special; that what you’re about to experience could very well make some of the greatest moments in your life but with a very real possibility that it might land you in jail.  My goal was to capture as much of the former while avoiding coming anywhere close to the latter.

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With the styling of the IS-F Lexus has done a fantastic job including noticeable features that separate it from the other IS trims, but just.  I’ve had opportunity to enjoy a few of the other trim levels and the IS-F is such a departure mechanically from the others that I expected that fact to be reflected with more aggressive body styling as well.  On the performance front the fact that this is no normal IS is blatantly obvious.  From the moment you touched the Engine Start button and hear the unmistakable hunger of it’s 5.0L V8 to the second it shows you the first corner.  You’re quickly left with the impression that this is a wolf in poorly tailored sheep’s clothing.

On second thought this slight styling evolution may be the perfect natural defense for this IS.  While being anything but, it is nice to have a vehicle that at least looks relatively non-threatening.  This would help me realize the second part of my goal without having to worry too much about meeting Johnny Law.

Eventually I would get close enough to see the interior of the IS-F which did nothing but continue to siren me closer.

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Its two-tone black on cream leather seats with blue stitching can only be described as one thing – Fresh To Death.  The contrast of the Lexus Ultrasonic Blue Mica, Black and Cream is so stark.  You get a sense of how well it stands out in the photos but trust me, it is a completely different thing to see it in person and it only gets better from here.  Because then you sit on those seats and you experience something truly unique.  Don’t ask me how they do it, but there is a perfect balance of soft leather married to firm bolsters for both legs and torso.  The result is a very comfortable fit that somehow seems to swaddle you in.  Apart from the seats themselves the only things that are specific to the IS-F on the inside are the stitched in F logos on the sides of the seat, another logo between the rear seats and again at the base of the steering wheel.  That’s it.

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(Warning: If you aren’t used to or have never owned a true sports car the realistic impact of owning an IS-F will be a big surprise and I don’t plan on holding back any more than the IS-F does.)

Flash forward and it’s only the second day with the IS-F and I can tell I wouldn’t want to daily drive one.  the witchery of its suspension is downright deceptive.

For instance, any other time I am in an area with a 25 or 30 mile an hour speed limit I get so anxious my knees ach.  In the IS-F I almost didn’t realize I was ever driving that slowly.  The suspension is so smooth it really does encourage you to take it easy and enjoy having a bit of a cruise.  But is this what you buy a 416 HP 371lb-ft 5.0L V8 Sports car for?  Of course not!  Why is driving slow in what can only be described as a rocket sled such a wonderful feeling?  I may be confused by this but if it weren’t such a comfortable experience I would really hate driving this car in the city.  I would be bald from pulling my hair out between traffic lights.

Many journalists have complained about the 8-Speed “Sport Direct-Shift Transmission” with Paddle Shifters.  I will have to admit that working with the paddle shifters has a bit of a learning curve, however it really doesn’t take long to get used to the short amount of lag between pulling on either paddle and receiving the gear change you want. Give a little bit of thought to timing your changes and it will feel like second nature and result in taking very little effort to get the gear you want when you want it.  Really the 8-speed isn’t something to be afraid of.  I can understand why many reviewers say that the car “searches” for the right gear but this breaks down to learning how to drive this car.

If you accelerate by holding a steady throttle position and simply back off to hold your desired speed when you reach it the transmission will shift at the same RPM for ever gear change, predictably, every time.

On the highway or giving the IS-F a bit of a workout is a different story all together.  It’s here that 8-Speed has to do some thinking and makes things a little interesting.  The same lag that you get from the paddle shifters manifests in the throttle play as well.  Even with a healthy dose of gas pedal it takes the IS-F a quick second to realize, “Oh you don’t just want a bit more speed, you must need to pass something quickly”.  So when you step on the gas pedal you’re given a stepped approach to accelerating.  First a bit more gas to pick up the pace, then a downshift or two but you have to leave your foot there just a second longer to get the serious acceleration.  You can however easily get around this.  You see I noticed that what seemed like the floor was really the top of what felt like a button that can be pushed to reveal a surprise. A feature built into the pedal that will cut all that nonsense out and give you what you’re looking for in an instant.  Careful though.  Do that and you open the floodgates.

No literally.  Under full throttle and at full song I swear the injectors of the IS-F are projectile vomiting fuel into the engine.

Just having shot around town for a bit the night before, we hit the road in the AM for a short day trip…I was already down to a half tank.  This is where the IS-F decides to confuse me again. On this trip, we left our home for what ended up being an 89 mile trip into Pennsylvania. For the return trip we drove a total of 108 miles to eat at a place called the Blue Moon Café in Sheaphardstown West Virginia. It would be another 19 miles until we got back in town and when we did the tank only had a 38 mile range left.  When you stop and think about it, that’s half a tank for about 3 hours and 216 miles of driving with potential for a total 254 miles, which is quite frankly phenomenal for that engine.  But what happened to the other half a tank while I was enjoying myself around town?

While enjoying and getting familiar with the Lexus’ party piece it was nothing to watch the Distance To Empty change to 38 miles left in the tank and less than a mile later watch it fall to 36.  The IS-F has a 16.9 gallon tank and by the time I parked it for good the tank average was 16.7, even after babying it it’s last few hours with us.  $50 later we’re not quite full but still ready for another 180 mile trip the following day.  Three quarters of a tank later, we were back home again.  Admittedly, I enjoyed the highways a bit more that morning so I can’t blame the IS-F for drinking as much that day. The rest of my time with the IS-F I cruised leisurely though. I was surprised at this point as I would notice the transmission shift up at 1500 RPM, every gear.  No wonder it’s outfitted with an 8-speed; a rather smart way to save fuel if you ask me.  Having read this far…you kinda have.

Its also worth noting that whether shifting at a low RPM or in the high end of the IS-Fs rev range, every single change up is almost imperceptible.  A bit laggy as weve mentioned, but you really cant feel it. Downshifting on the other hand is a completely different story.

The IS-F is equipped with a downshift rev matching feature that, when done at higher RPMs, sounds unbelievable, seductive even.  Its V8 has an asolutely intoxicating snarl that is delivered in such sharp bursts; no matter how many times I did it, it never got old.

Not at all what you want in the middle of a corner though.

How can I explain it?  The IS-F seems to simply “let go” from the moment you request a downshift to when it applies the next gear.  The resulting weight shift is so strong that there is a split second where deceleration almost seems to turn into acceleration.  If you ever brake heading into a corner and downshift, there is a good possibility that you and the Traction Control are going to be good buddies.  That or, those cream and black with blue stitched seats may end up with an additional color. And trust me when I tell you that earth tones dont mix well with that creamy interior. Want to try and drive the IS-F with the Traction Control off…may the force be with you.

In slow tight corners it suffers as well from the addition of a 5.0L power plant as opposed to the much lighter 3.5L V6 of the IS350.  The 3.5L still leaves the IS chassis with a 52/48 weight distribution biased to the front and a curb weight of 3527, which sits pretty comfortably in the mid range of the IS models.  The IS-F sits at 3780lbs, a 253lb difference that gives it a 55/45 weight distribution.  Doesn’t sound like much, but trust me.  When those front tires decide to lose traction, you’re going to remember me saying it.

Any attempt at a nimble low-speed direction change only leads to a turret of under-steer.  I say that because it manifests with 0 warning.  Honestly I’m trying to find a nicer way of putting this but nothing has surfaced in the last few weeks.  In much cheaper vehicles you can find under-steer that comes on in very slight doses and as you continue to over drive the car it increases.  This is simply not the case with the IS-F.  When it decides it is time to push thru a corner it seems almost eager to do it.

I’ve been on a short rant about the things I didn’t like about the IS-F however the things that I really enjoyed stand out far more than those negatives.  To be honest my personal driving style met with those negative characteristics very few times and the average driver may indeed never notice or have opportunity to experience any of them.

When all is said and done the IS-F is the car that many people have been waiting for the Toyota/Lexus engineers to produce for over a decade.  It may not be the next Toyota Supra but it does deliver tones of fun, two of them in fact. And much like that trip to Las Vegas theres a real good chance it will leave you with a happy ending and huge smile on your face.  If only we could find a way to give IS performance a diet, hmm.

Can anyone say IS250 F-Sport?

TCPFI

The 26B 4 Rotor – New Arrival of the Total Car Produce Magic FD.

In the world of performance vehicles the FD3S RX-7 has stood out as somewhat of a dark horse thanks to the heartbeat of its 13B rotrary power. In the world of rotary power the 26B 4rotor trumps all.

From Mazdas 787B to the 792P. Rotary and RX-7 ledgendary gurus such as RE/Amemiya who built the 26B for Fujita Engineering AKA FEED. These have all lead up to more and more 4 rotor drift and race cars including Brian Gray of New Zealand and Mad Mike’s MadBull which have been tearing up drifting for quite some time now. But theres a new kid on the block, and since when have rotaries been known to play well with others?

Its always crazy to see these well put together one off pieces of engineering dumping well over 400 normaly asperated horse power at the drop of a hat, without breaking a sweat and I have been studying them off and on for years now. Im very happy to see more and more of these engines popping up and whats more so, not hearing about them popping!

So enjoy the videos and pics of the latest terror to hit the tracks from my new favorite tuning house, Total Car Produce Magic.

Photo Credit: SPEEDHUNTERS.COM

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2011 Mazda 3 – Test Drive

Its rather bitter sweet this one. Sweet because, well lets face it, a little Zoom Zoom in your life is always a good thing. Bitter in that it wasnt quite the zoom I was expecting.

Let me save you some worry right up front. The 2011 3 is a worthy vehicle. It has everything one looks for in a fun and sporty compact. Whats more is, on the visual side of it all, it deliveres the total package quite impresivly.

After the redesign of the 2009 car everyone can finally stop making fun of the smiley face. To tell you the truth though, it grows on you. Especially after spending a little time behind the wheel and learning that the 3 isnt just another pretty face.

It didnt take too long to fall in love with the styling on the 5 door we drove. I often found myself leaving somewhere not all that pleased with wherever I had just come from only to be greated by its atractive body lines. Instantly my mood changed for the better. Then there were two smiles. ::wink::

The interior continued the them as it is quite the comfort zone. What once was a sea of amber washed instrumentation is now a crisp and contrasting aray of guages and available selections. Most notible is the replacement of said amber explosion with the warmest and richest glow of blue you have ever seen. It surrounds the tach and speedometer and is also present in the center console as a text only information display as well as around the volume control and continues to devide the remainder of the audio controls as in previous models.

The look and feel of every button was quite solid. Which is something you grow to expext from Mazda. Its been noted that they are quite possibly the only car companies that make cars with a European style feel of solidness. This is also true in the ride quality.

Once on the streets the Sport model we tested had a very comfortable way of getting us back and forth but with enough feedback thru the steering and seat to keep you “connected” to the road. This however eventually became the 2011 models downside.

As I stated before, it is indeed a very worthy and capable vehicle. Its my opinion though that the addition of a larger, heavier 2.5L 4 cylinder helping to increase this models curb weight has given rise to the need of a stronger and softer suspension.

Cornering in the ’11 was no where near as impressive as in my own ’04 model. Which would lead you again to assume that it doesnt handle as well as the previous generations also. Again, you would find something other than what you expected. While not as nimble as I would like to have experienced the steering and tracking ability of this current generation is rock solid. With the older car you find yourself constantly correcting to hold a constant smooth turn. Not at all the case with the ’11 Sport. You can almost “set it and forget it”.

The relativlely new 2.5 – liter is also a bit of a lier. In a good way. The larger displacement brings power on alot smoother and sooner than the 2.3 – liter you really dont feel as if your accelerating quickly. Something I rather enjoy in a sport compact. Yet when you check to see if your in danger of catching the attention of Johnny Law you quickly realize your lack of attention to this engines abilities.

When you think about the niche that the 2011 Mazda 3 Sport GT fits in though, all of these points make sense. Its a grand tourer. Not a corner carver. Its meant to be a bit softer, a bit more comfortable. To keep your rear from falling asleep after the first 150 miles or so. To be able to get out of its own way and the way of merging highway motorists who have no clue how to do so, yet think that your the best person to practice it in front of…while on the breaks. And it does it all without waking (or scaring) the misses or little ones.

I love the feel of something a bit tighter. The kind of feedback thats enough to give most drivers sensory overload. As time progresses though I am learning to enjoy the more docile and comforting appeal of cars like this one. Knowing that I can relax and enjoy the journey while still having a capable go getteer when the need arises.

One of these days I may even have to conceed and pick up a car like the 2011 Mazda 3 Sport GT that will pamper me back and forth. But that might have to wait until im IN pampers…

“Making of” the GranCabrio Fendi

After an almost 9 month break, Maser news isnt a bad post to put us back on the boards. Most of you don’t know that Maserati is one of our favorite car companies at Up Shift. The only experience better than watching and hearing a vehicle like this is driving it. The only thing that can one up driving a supercar is watching the skilled craftsmanship that goes into your priceless possession. So get ready to be amazed at the behind the scenes work that goes into creating one of the worlds highest quality rides.

McLaren MP4-12C GT3: The Launch

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Faster than the McLaren F1? Realy guys? McLaren GT, a new race car manufacturer which brings together the expertise of McLaren Racing, McLaren Automotive and CRS Racing, unveiled its GT3 car and plans for a 2011 development programme. The new McLaren MP4-12C GT3 will be the first McLaren car built for FIA* GT series racing since the McLaren F1 GTR finished production in 1997. The 12C GT3 is based on the new MP4-12C high-performance sports car and a team of engineers, designers and test drivers with vast experience in Formula 1 and GT racing has been assembled to undertake the process of adapting the carbon chassis-based 12C to racing specification.