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911 GT3RS 4.0 Video Review from AutoExpress

The good folks over at AutoExpress got a chance to get there hands on one of the last generation of the 997 Supercars, the Porsche 911 GT3RS 4.0. With only 600 being built this rare variant is setup with the largest engine ever put into the 911, the 4 liter flat six-cylinder engine. This engine configuration is slated to push the GT3 RS from 0-60 in a blistering 3.8 seconds. For the full review check out the article from AutoExpress Here. In the meantime check out the video review from AutoExpress below:

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2011 Kia Sportage First Drive

 There is a weird and mostly unexpected phenomenon that occurs at times. When I got the word that I would be receiving the 2011 Kia Sportage EX for review I couldn’t recall in my mind ever seeing the mid-level SUV on the road in person. As I stepped outside the restaurant that I was in, I just happened to see a silver Sportage passing through the intersection. A few days later I spotted a bright Red Sportage EX driving down I270. It seems that only when your attention is turned to it that you can see just how many are out there on the road. After my run in experiences with the Sportage and seeing its striking styling I was very excited to finally get my hands on one. Ever since Blake Griffins eye opening dunk over the Optima in the 2011 NBA Dunk contest, Kia’s market exposure has shot through the roof, and I was anxious to see how the Sportage measured up.


The 2011 Kia Sportage is one good looking Crossover


Kia’s implementation of its Audi inspired LED’s

The exterior of the Sportage is very attractive, especially compared to previous models . The sleek body lines and slender headlights give the vehicle a very modern look. It seems to me that the new “in” thing to do in the automotive industry is to have LED’s in your headlights and I tell you what, Kia hit the nail on the head with their incorporation of that feature. When riding through the parking lot at near dusk I had someone approach me and ask if I were driving an Audi SUV, I would definitely take that as a compliment. The model I had the task of reviewing came in Kia’s “Signal Red” a very bright color but it looked great along with the 18” alloy wheels it came on. As is stands I feel the Kia Sportage is one of the better looking crossover SUV’s on the market today as Kia’s designers have incorporated some of the more up to date features and trends found in higher end cars in the industry.


The Panaramic Sunroof really opens up the interior


Clean easy to navigate interior


Chronometer style gauges

As we focus on the interior of the Sportage you can automatically tell it’s another one of the high points of the vehicle. Our EX test model came fully loaded with ebony leather as well as dual climate controls, Navigation, Push button start and backup camera/ warning system. One of my personal favorite optional features on our Kia Sportage was the panoramic sunroof. Once you enter the vehicle you cannot help but to look up and marvel at the wide open windows that span the entire length of the vehicle allowing in tons of natural light. Another noted feature of the interior was the leg room. I had a good friend of mine check out the car to see if he would be able to find a comfortable setting. Within a few min of adjustments he was able to find the appropriate settings for his comfort in the driver’s seat and still have enough leg room behind him, not bad for someone who stands 6’ 5”. From the modern easy to read chronometer style gauges to the USB/iPod inputs and even the smart key with push button start, the 2011 Sportage was easy to love. The interior styling was one that wasn’t overly done nor was it a cheap reiteration of higher end interiors, but instead it was a refreshing twist of its own identity.


Kia’s 176HP motor in the EX Model

Out of all the high points in the Sportage I can’t say that I was at all impressed with what the crossover SUV had on the performance side of things. The EX model comes standard with a 4cyl 176HP engine with 168Lbs tq but on a vehicle that weighs in at over 3100lbs power isn’t exactly a strong point. On the few occasions I needed to apply heavy throttle, the Sportage seemed to hesitate to downshift. When the vehicle did finally respond and down shifted the throttle output was a bit underwhelming. In my week with the Sportage I noted that I was just about on par with Kia’s MPG estimates with about 19MPG city and 25 Highway which sort of offsets my initial concerns on performance. If performance is still a feature that is really important to your purchase I would suggest looking into the Sportage SX model which comes with a turbocharged 269hp engine forking out 269lbs tq. That should be enough beef to satisfy any worry of performance.

Road noise and ride quality were also a negative notation as the cabin and ride quality wasn’t as quiet and smooth as we expected it to be. These various concerns are mostly attributed to the type of tires on the 18” wheels installed on our test model . A day or so after receiving the Sportage we had a few sweeping thunderstorms roll through the DC Metro area overnight. The storms caused some serious wet road conditions and from the few experiences I had from having to go out in the rain, proved quite impressive. From the first corner taken on the wet roads in the Sportage the AWD system held tight and the suspension, even though it’s a bit stiff, still felt comfortable enough for me to make confident turns in the rain. The handling was indeed a plus as it was very responsive on both wet and dry conditions.

The Sportage EX model that we tested retailed at about $30,000 due to the various upgrades and optional features installed. In my personal opinion even though the vehicle was fully loaded it still felt as if the Sportage’s price tag was a bit weighty considering other crossover choices at that price. Overall the 2011 Kia Sportage is a solid outing for the Korean car company. I believe when looking for a new crossover SUV you would have to give the 2011 Sportage a fair shake. Even though the performance output is a bit disappointing the attractive styling, comfortable interior coupled with Kia’s outstanding 10 year 100,000 mile warranty makes this a must see for any looking to make a purchase in the near future.

McLaren Launches Philadelphia Store With Private Reception For The MP4-12C

 McLaren Automotive is preparing to open up its newest dealership in Philadelphia later this summer. To help spur on the excitement they held a private unveiling of their latest masterpiece the MP4-12C and we had the privilege to be there for this grand event. The MP4-12C is the first production car built and designed solely by McLaren since their first production vehicle the McLaren F1 (which stopped production in 1998). Considering that the F1 was the fastest production car in the world for a matter of years the MP4-12C has some pretty big shoes to fill.

 McLarens latest supercar is built on a Carbon fiber Monocell with aluminum frame and powered by a mid-mounted 3.8 liter V8 twin turbo engine. This setup is rated to push out an impressive 592bhp and 443lb-ft of torque while going from 0-60 in less than 4 seconds with a max top speed of over 200mph. This power is put to the ground by a 7-speed Seamless Shift Gearbox transmission. Another impressive feature included in the MP4-12C is the functional “Air Brake” system that raises the rear wing on heavy braking from high speeds to assist with added down force to the rear tires. The selling price in the US market for the MP4-12C is starting at $229,000.

 The preview of the 12C was held at the beautiful Kimmel Center in downtown Philadelphia with a low lit mood light setting. The floor had 2 displays of the vehicle, one of which was of the XP13 rolling chassis. This display showed the Twin turbo V8 and entire carbon fiber MonoCell in its full glory. Seeing just the MonoCell and Aluminum frame in this configuration really gives you a sense of just how light the vehicle really is as it does weigh just under 2900lbs. The crowds attention was then turned to the floor of the main display of the then covered yet fully assembled, and upgraded, MP4-12C.  The unveiling started out with a few quick rousing speeches one of which was from Tony Joseph, McLaren Auto motive’s North American Director and then the curtain was pulled and the cheers came as we all got to feast our eyes on a gorgeous silver MP4-12C fitted with the mid-level lightweight forged wheels, optional carbon fiber rear diffuser, and stealth pack. The interior was also fitted with the optional carbon fiber upgrades as well as the upgraded Iris media system.

MP4-12C Unveiling from Jeris Jones on Vimeo.

Untitled from Jeris Jones on Vimeo.

 The general consensus at the unveiling was good, as mostly everyone was impressed with both the event and the car itself. The Carbon fiber lined engine bay was the star of the show as it drew various commendations when the rear glass window was opened to display the engine. The few concerns I did hear when speaking to a few of the attendees concerned the MP4-12C’s more “classy” styling in comparison to the more aggressive front ends of other makes.  As well as a lack of ease when entering and exiting the car due to the unique styling of the McLaren’s “dihedral” doors although with the proper technique the latter concern could be relieved.

 Overall the event was a rousing success which left us at Up-shift.net very impressed with what McLaren has done with their second market production car. All the goals they set out to deliver for this vehicle they seem to have reached. The Philadelphia dealership will join Tampa Bay, Toronto, Greenwich and Miami as an east coast dealer of the MP4-12C supercar. The Philly dealership is slated to open its doors in mid to late August. We look forward to the time when we are actually able to take the MP4-12C out for a spin and actually put all of these numbers to work and see what this supercar is really capable of.

Mugen Supercharged Honda CR-Z Revealed

Mugen CR-Z

The first images of Mugen’s highly anticipated CR-Z model have finally be released on the net ahead of its official unveiling at the Goodwood festival of Speed in July. Even though there are no official numbers as of yet the Mugen CR-Z is rumored to boost the 1.5 Liter hybrid motor to 197 HP and 181 lb tq along with 110lbs saved off from its stock counterpart.

 This is all thats available as of now but it should be enough to wet your appetite until its officially shown and we actually have some hard figures to mull over. via autoblog.com

CR-Z rear

CR-Z interior

McLaren MP4-12C GT3: The Launch

Video thumbnail. Click to play
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.

BMW vs BMW Battle of both worlds

In this Video of the week segment we will highlight a video featuring 2 of BMW’s finest creations pitted against each other, the BMW S1000 RR and the BMW M3. Stemming from a friendly bet this turns into a heated battle at the track. This incredible video is one any motorcycle and automovie enthusiast will enjoy:

Introducing the 2012 Subaru Impreza

At the NY Auto show, Subaru introduced the next generation of Impreza. Coming from such a storied and much followed history this fourth generation model has a lot to live up to. To start out the 2.0 liter 148hp Boxer engine will boast a 30% improvement in fuel economy (27mpg city 36mpg highway) over last year’s model all the while of course using Subaru’s standard Symmetrical AWD system.

All 2012 models will come standard with stability control and 4-wheel Anti-Lock Brakes all the while living up to Subaru’s history of renowned safety features. The new body design makes greater use of high- tensile steel and body stiffening for added safety in case of impact.

The premium model will include 16” alloy wheels and will come with various electronic and audio upgrades such as Bluetooth, iPod control capability, USB and 3.5mm aux input jack all part of the package. There will also be an optional All-Weather Package available that adds heated seats, side view mirrors and a windshield wiper de-icer.

Subaru is also releasing a Sport Premium package 5 door model that combines 17” wheels and the All Weather Package with fog lights, roof rails and different seat fabric and rocker panel spoilers than the other Impreza models. The 2012 Impreza will be available at your local Subaru dealership this fall.

As I was typing up this article I was frantically looking for a listing in the press release of a WRX and or STI package to be available. The 2012 Impreza, even though it may boast some improvements on paper over its 2011 counterpart,  is not a real looker. The styling is pedestrian and the overall “blah” look of the exterior leaves much to be desired. Let’s hope Subaru does both history and Impreza fans justice and provides us with a more aggressive, hard lined model we are all looking for.

2012 Nissan GT-R Preview

When the rumored R35 Skyline started its development, many enthusiasts couldnt believe that there was still room to improve the greatst Japanese Muscle car.  When the GT-R debuted though the performance ability was blistering and impressed everyone in the industry.  That was in 2007 when the Nissan GT-R was turning lap times of 7 minutes and 38 seconds around the Nurburgring.

With an additional 45 HP and shaving 12 seconds from its 2007 lap time, somehow, Nissan has managed to improve on what has already been called an unimaginable level of performance.  The last official lap time recorded was 7:26.70 but an even quicker lap of 7:24.22 this year.  2 seconds over a track as long as the ‘ring is mind boggling. 

Here it is, the all new and somehow improved 2012 Nissan GT-R:

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2011 Scion tC: Test Drive

Let me start by saying that this will not be your average car review. In fact, none of the reviews on Up-Shift will be. We’ve always been a group of driving enthusiasts, so the driving experience is always what is most important to us. That’s why I can say that after being let down by my test drive of the first-generation tC, I really wasn’t looking forward to driving the 2011 2nd Gen car. One thing I have learned from my adventures in automotive journalism though, is to never judge too quickly. After just one accumulated hour of driving in the 2011 Scion tC, I was again forced to change my opinions. In fact, looking back on my week with the 2011 model, the negatives were quite few.

The first mistake you would make when approaching the tC is to judge this book by its cover. Ok, you’re thinking it and I’m thinking it, so let’s just come right out and say it: the car is pretty ugly. Many people I showed the car to agree that the styling of the vehicle is simply off.

In my opinion, the original styling of the first generation tC was amazing. The car looked fantastic and all I ever wanted was for there to be a RWD version. For some reason though, 9 times out of 10 when you saw one on the road, it was being driven by a female. My wife even test drove one. Thus the first gen tC’s reputation as being a bit of a “chick car”. It’s understandable, then, that Toyota would make such a huge styling change in an effort to move away from that image and provide a sportier and more masculine-looking vehicle.

The most noteworthy feature that is mentioned repeatedly is the rather flat roofline. It’s such a departure from a typical arched roofline that it stands out like a sore thumb. This also gives the appearance of very long doors. However this is no optical illusion; the doors of the new model are very long indeed. But so are its windows which I was very pleased with thanks to the wide-sweeping field of vision they provide.

While we’re on the subject of visibility, some consideration had to be given to setting the side mirrors. The 2011 tC is the first car I have driven in a while that has a driving position that sits so low. This requires the mirrors to be angled up more than you would with the average car, leaving you with less ground to look at while backing up. It also requires a quick second glance to double check the mirrors before changing lanes. One thing I highly suggest is pulling in to a parking spot that faces a wall. Pulling in to parking spaces is a good way to get to know where the front of your vehicle is and will give you an idea of how far to the sides you can see with your mirrors. This little procedure is probably the quickest way to learn with the tC.

At this point you might get the impression that I’m not a fan of Scion’s new coupe. But nothing could be further from the truth. In fact, the rest of this article will be dedicated to how awesome everything else about this car is and why I say you should definitely put the 2011 tC in your top three if you’re looking for a sporty coupe to put in the driveway.

Again, as an enthusiast that likes a driver-centric ride, I am more focused on what is important to a driver. So, if we’re being realistic, which you know we always are, you’re hardly ever going to take a lawn chair out to your front porch to sit and stare at a car like this. In fact, once you drive the tC, you’ll find every excuse to get behind the wheel. I was actually begged this week to take our other car, an ‘04 Mazda 3, instead of the Scion. I honestly never enjoyed getting out of the car. I very much looked forward to getting into it.

 

When the key is inserted and turned to the on position, you are greeted with a wonderful light show and needle dance which is just an opening act to an impressive headlining concert called starting the engine. A great sound is something that always pushes an enthusiast’s buttons. So, the fairly deep (though slightly constrained) throatiness from the 2.5L V4 says “Hello!” and lets you know right from jump street that your button is in for a lot of pushing.

I’m used to quick and peppy little sport compacts. In fact, I cut my teeth on them. So, I am used to the type of fun and seemingly endless grunt that was delivered by the tC. However, I am also used to having to wring every ounce of performance from small and underpowered low-compression engines. The 2AR-FE equipped tC comes with a 10.4:1 compression ratio. A ratio more commonly found on sport-tuned track cars. The 173lb-ft of this 2.5L gives you its business very early in the rev range, thanks to its much larger displacement. 180hp has no problem keeping this engine responsive at highway speeds. When it comes time to stand and deliver, the tC does so with no questions asked; all while keeping its promise of 23 mpg in the city and 31 mpg on the highway.

It seemed that for an entire 7 days the tC almost literally begged to be driven, and I didn’t give it an easy go of it. But even though I put the car through its paces every single day, I still ended up with a quarter of a tank of gas left. Let me stress this next statement. I know of no other car for sale right now that can be driven the way I did the tC for an entire week without needing to take a trip to the pump! In today’s world with the explosive growth of gas prices, this factor in and of itself is priceless.

I was also heavily impressed with the tCs scrub radius. Never heard of a Scrub Radius, huh? If you’re reading a review on this site, you’re a rather serious car enthusiast. So why should you care about it? Well, I won’t bother you with the details, but let’s just describe scrub radius as the amount of friction created on your tires’ contact patch when turning the steering wheel. You see, every tire has a limited amount of grip it can produce because its contact patch is limited. If a car has a high scrub radius it creates a lot of friction instead of traction. So the amount of available grip is basically eaten up, thanks to a poor suspension design. How do you know if you have a high or low scrub radius? Just sit with your vehicle stationary. Take one finger and try to turn the wheel. If you’re having a hard time, you have a high scrub radius. If your wheel turns with very little effort, you’re in a finely-tuned, purpose-built machine, much like the Scion tC.

This also means that the tires can do their job of taking the car around corners with far more grip and a much more confident feel, and any steering adjustments that you make are translated effortlessly. Feedback from the road is more direct and precise, allowing you to feel far more of the road than you could with the previous model or its competitors. This design is coupled with 18×7.5 255/45R18 tires, equipment you would expect to find on much more expensive, high-performance sports cars.

That combination of features, in my opinion, is the biggest reason to suggest to anyone who wants an extremely fun, yet very affordable, sport compact – take a serious look at the Scion tC.

 

The car we tested was equipped with an Alpine Premium HD Radio, iPod Ready CD deck, Bluetooth Hands-free system, Floormats and a Cargo Mat, a super expensive Rear Bumper Appliqué, and an XM Satellite Radio Kit. $1,422 worth of optional equipment as well as the $720 destination charge brought the price to $21,417. Now, one of the rules we set very early on when we established Up Shift is that a great vehicle should deliver a total package for no more than $20K. If you can do without the toys, the base price of $19,275 for the 2011 tC weighs in just under the limit. For only an extra $30 a month in payments though, you can be forgiven wanting to enjoy the finer things in sport compact life.

As I said at the beginning of this article, I really wasn’t looking forward to my week with the 2011 Scion tC. I came away blown away with what Scion has been able to produce. Don’t be surprised if you see the tC again, later this year, as a strong competitor for Up Shift’s Car of The Year.

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McLaren MP4-12C GT3 Breaks Cover to Complete First Tests

The first McLaren MP4-12C GT3 to be built by McLaren GT – a new company that brings together the expertise of the McLaren Group and CRS Racing – has successfully undertaken its debut tests at the MIRA proving ground facility and Silverstone Circuit in England. McLaren GT has also appointed a new test driver to its team, 26-year-old Portuguese racing driver Álvaro Parente. The initial shakedown tests undertaken with the 12C GT3, whereby new components are calibrated and bespoke aerodynamic body structures are appraised for the first time, will be followed by comprehensive tests scheduled throughout March and April at a number of FIA* certified circuits across Europe. News on the development programme, full driver line-up and planned competition for the 12C GT3 will be confirmed after these tests are completed.