By Carl Malek
Volkswagen has been busy working on the finishing touches of its next generation GTI model, and it appears that a horsepower bump is in the cards for the new version of the original hot hatch. This is according to the folks over at Autocar Magazine, who claim that the familiar 2.0 liter turbocharged engine will be tweaked to help increase power from 200 horsepower to a more robust 220 horses. One of these tweaks is the use of a brand new valve lift system developed by Audi. Along with the revised engine, Autocar also states that the upcoming GTI and R variants will feature a brand new electronically controlled mechanically locking differential, which would help improve the performance of both models.
By Charles Krome
Here’s a fun little factoid about the Scion tC: According to a recent study by a group called Quality Planning—which provides research for the insurance industry—Scion’s sports coupe is the third-most-ticketed car in the U.S., trailing only the Mercedes-Benz SL and the Toyota Camry/Solara. Of course, seeing the tC so high on the list was no surprise to me, because I’d already been driving one for a couple of days by then and knew full well what a blast the car was. Scion had lent me a tC in “Super White” with a six-speed manual and a full tank of gas, and that turned out to be a surprisingly affordable recipe for some serious driving excitement.
By Charles Krome
If you listen to some people in the industry, traditional “car culture” is a dying animal here in the U.S. For example, when I attended an Automotive Press Association event earlier this year, I heard designers from the Detroit three talk about how the generations that are now coming of driving age really aren’t all that interested in the actual activity of driving; they view cars as means, but not ends. I don’t know if that’s really the case or not, but if it is, the culture is certainly going out with a bang. Take the growing popularity of neighborhood gatherings of auto enthusiasts, who bring their vehicles together on weekend mornings to share America’s favorite hot caffeinated beverage, show off, and talk cars.
By Chris Haak
In Part One, we read about the planning of this road trip, driving off the beaten path (sometimes too far off of it).
Shortly after we made the route change, we found ourselves on MD 51, with instructions to turn right in the next few miles. When we made the turn as instructed, we arrived at what appeared to be a parking lot and a small toll booth, with a river in front of us. We later learned that this low water bridge, called the , is the only privately-owned bridge that crosses to Potomac River. Why is it a “low water bridge?” Because it only works when the river is reasonably low. When water levels are higher, the bridge is closed because it’s underwater.
By Chris Haak
From the moment it was first displayed, Volkwagen executives have gone to great lengths to point out that the new Beetle (not the New Beetle, mind you) will appeal much more to male buyers than did the previous model. Of course, when the Beetle’s first publicity stunt is a giveaway on Oprah, I’m not sure how serious VW is about boosting the testosterone levels of their classically-shaped hatchback.
Nonetheless, even the press release makes no bones about the company’s intent to shift Beetle buyer demographics from a 65/35 female/male split to something closer to 50/50:
By Chris Haak
I consider myself fortunate to own Techshake and to have access to cars and events that this site affords me. It’s a privilege to attend auto shows, press launches, track days, and to drive some really great cars and trucks. And as someone who has a short attention span when it comes to car ownership, getting a new car with a full tank of gas delivered to my house nearly every week is a magnificent perk, and one that I take pains to not somehow ruin for myself.
But until Memorial Day weekend, I’ve always been a little out of sorts when it came to scheduling the appropriate car for the appropriate occasion in my life. Going on vacation with the family for a week? How about a Scion xB? Need a roadtrip car in the winter? Here’s a Lexus LS 460 Sport with summer tires. Because I value this perk so highly, and because I just don’t have the personality type to call fleet vendors to demand a particular car, or even any car, there isn’t always a good match with what my family and I are doing and what vehicle has landed in my driveway.
And then there was Memorial Day Weekend 2011.
By Charles Krome
As most people with more than two kids eventually discover, it really takes more than two rows worth of seating to survive a family road trip of any kind of distance (or time) with your sanity intact. And if you need to optimize your ability to haul both cargo and kids at the same time on said trip, even today’s full-size crossovers can be a tight squeeze. Alternatively, for those whose routine driving includes shorter but more frequent trips carrying the same sort of payload mix—kids, kids’ friends, everyone’s gear, etc.—the same concern over maximizing interior at the expense of nearly everything else still obtains. Which is where the minivan comes in. Only nowadays, in an effort to get people to consider these vehicles because out of choice, not necessity, not quite everything is being sacrificed on the altar of interior versatility. Which is where the 2011 Toyota Sienna comes in.
By Roger Boylan
I’ve always liked small cars, and indeed owe whatever abilities I have behind the wheel to the tough apprenticeship I served with the quirky minicars of my European youth: the Mini itself, as well as sundry Simcas, Fiats, Peugeots, and Renaults. But that was longer ago than I care to remember, and it’s a measure of how much small cars have changed since then that the Yaris, Toyota’s base econocar model, boasts—at least in its “S” iteration–more luxuries than were once available on Bentleys and Rolls-Royces, never mind on your average Simca or Renault. Not that we think of such features as luxuries these days; they’re just the safety and comfort devices we’ve come to expect, spoiled brats that we are. But the 1966 Simca 1000 I learned to drive on was, essentially, nothing but a chassis, an engine (rear-mounted), and a passenger cabin with elementary accommodations. No airbags, no seat belts, no ABS, no stability control, no traction control, no headrests, no crumple zones, no GPS, no radio–although later on I taped a tiny Sony transistor to the dashboard–and no glove compartment, just a shelf for maps, cigarettes, and bandages. But it did have a rigid (non-telescoping) steering column to efficiently impale the driver in the event of a collision, a sharp-edged dashboard that could slice you in two if you hit it at the right angle, coat hooks above the passenger windows ideally placed for gouging eyes from heads flung sideways in crosswinds, and hideous gray-and-red vinyl seats that always smelled of cod liver oil, especially on hot summer days when the only air conditioning came through the half-open passenger window. God, I loved that car. Because what it had most of all was Personality.