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Evo makes the case for the world's best driving road in Majorca

08/06/2014   [Original: Autoblog]
Category: Videos, Porsche

Porsche Boxster GTS in Majorca

What good is a sports car if you haven't got a great place to drive it? It's a common refrain that we've heard time and time again. But few are as familiar with the problem as they are in the UK, where the number of people, cars on the road and traffic cameras keep growing to conspire against the joy of driving. Leave it to Evo, then, to depart in search of the greatest driving road in the world.

It's a pursuit that's taken the British car mag across Europe, most recently to Romania's Carpathian Mountains where it added the Transalpina Pass to its short list. But its latest journey has taken Evo to the Spanish island of Majorca, where Henry Catchpole found not one, but two spectacular driving roads from behind the wheel of the new Porsche Boxster GTS. We could drone on about the smooth, empty ribbons of twisting tarmac with excellent visibility and panoramic vistas... but you really want to see the video for yourself. Don't miss Evo's previous trip to Romania in the Jaguar F-Type, which we've included below, as well.

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Porsche goes karting in its Cayman GTS

08/04/2014   [Original: Autoblog]
Category: Coupes, Sports/GTs, Videos, Porsche

Porsche Cayman GTS

Think Mini is the king of Go-Kart Handling[TM]? Well, you might be mistaken, as Porsche proves here it's fully capable of delivering a driving experience that'd fit in quite nicely on a go-kart track.

Using a new and very red Cayman GTS, the Stuttgart-based manufacturer invades a kart track in northern Italy and sets the mid-engined sports car loose to slip, slide and zip its way around the circuit. As far as videos for Sunday evening go, this one ticks all the boxes.

Take a look.

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Porsche 911 GT3 RS revealed in patent photos

08/01/2014   [Original: Autoblog]
Category: Coupes, Sports/GTs, Porsche, Design/Style

Porsche 911 GT3 RS patent photos

Porsche has been taking its time developing the most hardcore 911 models for the latest 991 chassis. While the GT3 has been on the market for a little while, it suffered from some teething issues. The 911 GT3 RS is certainly on the radar since being spotted testing, but it's always better to get a look at a new car without all of the camo to hide the coolest parts. Thankfully, Car in the UK has some patent photos of the RS ahead of its debut, and they show off one mean-looking 911.

The first thing that you notice about the RS is that Porsche clearly isn't afraid to rework the latest 911's shape for its track-focused version. Each piece is slightly resculpted to squeeze the most out of it. Up front, the air dam has the same shape to the earlier photos. They also both highlight the upcoming model's tiny air inlet at the tip of the hood, the massive intakes in the rear fenders and general design of the rear wing with a ducktail underneath. The bubbled roof is much clearer here, where it was disguised in spy shots. You can also spot the slashing fender gills behind the front wheels that are a completely new feature.

The GT3 RS is the ultimate naturally aspirated 911 for the street, but according to Car, Porsche aims to take that even farther with the latest model. If these are the looks, then it's working. Unfortunately, the new version's powerplant remains a mystery. Though, given all the changes to the bodywork, the engine is almost surely getting tweaked over the 475-horsepower GT3. The RS is rumored to hit the road and be screaming down the track in 2015.

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What you missed on 7.31.14

08/01/2014   [Original: Autoblog]
Category: Hybrids/Alternative, Etc., Crossovers/CUVs, Porsche, Toyota

Daily U-Turn

Thumbs downOur controversial automotive beliefs

Everyone's got an opinion, and some of ours are more unfavorable than others. Whether its one staffer's pro-vote for the Smart Fortwo, or another's dislike of a certain Hellcat-powered Challenger, these not-so-popular beliefs are often kept off the pages of Autoblog. Until now. Read our confessions, here.

Porsche MacanQuick Spin: 2015 Porsche Macan S

We already gave Porsche's Macan Turbo a proper shakedown over in Europe, but back at home, west coast editor Michael Harley was able to take the less-powerful, less-expensive Macan out for a proper drive, on- and off-road. Yes, we hit both track and trail in the new baby Porsche. Have a read in our Quick Spin.

Toyota Camry HybridCR pushes for Camry recall

There's a potential problem with certain Camry Hybrid models from the 2007 to 2011 model years, but Toyota hasn't issued a recall - yet. The folks at Consumer Reports are urging the Japanese automaker to call back some of these sedans due to problems with the brakes. Read the full rundown of CR's claims, here.

Top Stories

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2015 Porsche Macan S

07/31/2014   [Original: Autoblog]
Category: Sports/GTs, Crossovers/CUVs, Porsche, Luxury, Quick Spin

I'd be willing to bet that 99 percent of all Porsche Macan owners will never take their vehicle on a track or see any more off-roading than a dirt path to a summer cottage, yet I maintain that there is no better venue to explore the absolute outer limits of the automaker's newest small family transport than on a racing circuit and an off-road course. It's testing at each extreme of the vehicle's operating envelope, with both challenges requiring very different capabilities. With that in mind, and looking forward to dirty floor mats and corded tires, I jumped at the opportunity from Porsche to wring out its new Macan S at Willow Springs International Raceway, located in Southern California's high desert.

The range-topping Macan Turbo (base price $72,300 plus $995 destination), with its 400 horsepower twin-turbocharged 3.6-liter V6 gets most of the glory these days. But many, including myself, would argue that its slightly less powerful sibling, the Macan S, is actually the pick of the new litter. Despite having 60 fewer horses under the hood and giving up six-tenths of a second in the sprint to 60 miles per hour, it costs a massive $22,400 less - money better spent on equipment that improves the crossover's ride comfort and capability, or perhaps a well-used Boxster for weekends.

Despite a reasonably attractive starting price of $49,900 (plus destination), very few Porsche buyers will leave the showroom with a base model. My Dark Blue Metallic Macan S tester was equipped with a slew of mechanical upgrades, including air suspension with Porsche Active Suspension Management (PASM), Porsche Torque Vectoring Plus (PTV Plus), Sport Chrono Package and 21-inch 911 Turbo Design wheels. A Premium Package and a few other miscellaneous options bloated its price to $69,870. That's a very steep price for the premium compact crossover segment, but it's still less than a base Macan Turbo.

Rather than toss us keys in the Willow Springs paddock, Porsche delivered its Macan models to us scribes in Pasadena and then routed us over Angeles Crest Highway towards the track, which is located near Edwards Air Force Base. This generously provided me with another three or so hours behind the wheel, most of it on twisty two-lane mountain roads that were a nice preamble before our track and off-road excursions.

Driving Notes

  • In real-world driving on smooth pavement, it's hard not to be impressed with this crossover's road manners. Whether negotiating sweeping corners or short straights, the compact five-passenger Macan feels as planted as a two-passenger sports coupe half its height. I have nothing but praise for its engine, brakes and suspension on the public roads - quite honestly, each are a bit overkill for the actual task at hand, especially on heavily patrolled American roads.
  • If forced to muster a complaint, I'd lodge it at the electrically assisted steering, which feels a bit light for my tastes (Porsche uses the same basic steering rack as the Audi Q5, but its ratios and boost have been altered to suit its higher-performance badge). I prefer my steering a bit heavier, especially mid-corner when the front wheels are heavily loaded.
  • Despite sharing its Modular Longitudinal Platform (MLP) with the aforementioned Audi and a half-dozen other VW Group siblings, the engineers from Stuttgart have meticulously reworked every component to ensure i's pure Porsche - meaning in stock form it is every bit as capable on a track as it is on public roads. Competitors may offer crossovers with sport packages and oversized wheels and tires, but nobody (not even Audi's range-topping SQ5, which weighs nearly 300 pounds more) can touch the powertrain on today's entry-level Macan S, which arrives with a standard twin-turbocharged V6, dual-clutch (PDK) gearbox, six-piston front calipers and 19-inch alloys in staggered sizes, the latter of which can be good for performance but may be irksome come rotation or replacement time. Most of those are firsts for the segment.
  • Track time was configured as a lead-follow event, behind a Cayman piloted by a talented Porsche Sport Driving School instructor. Although most would believe the sports car would leave a much larger crossover eating its dust (of course, its lap times were quicker), the Macan S wasn't far off the coupe's pace. The 4,112-pound crossover (the S model is about 130 pounds lighter than the Macan Turbo), with electronics configured in Sport Plus mode for aggressive track duty, made excellent use of its PASM and PTV Plus on the tight circuit. The standard all-wheel-drive system is shared with the automaker's 911 Carrera 4, meaning the Macan S genuinely behaves like a sports car, clawing its way around each corner with minimal body roll. With four very active contact patches, I was able to actually pull out of the corners quicker than the fleeing rear-wheel-drive Cayman. I tossed and threw this crossover around at ridiculously fast speeds and it maintained its composure in spectacular manner.
  • The twin-turbocharged V6 and PDK twin-clutch gearbox deserve praise, too. The engine generates plenty of torque down low, and it doesn't mind running up to its 6,700-rpm redline. The transmission operates in lightning-quick fashion when the Sport Plus button is engaged, and it intuitively downshifts into turns and holds its gear when tenaciously cornering. This Porsche would never be even my tenth choice as a track car - it's still too big and heavy - but it has the capability to really scoot when prodded. "Mechanically sound" and "technically brilliant" - two phrases I'd use to describe the on-track performance of the Macan S.
  • To prove itself equally as capable off-road, Porsche later led us up a short, but challenging, dirt trail in the mountains surrounding the track. Despite rolling on high-performance Continental summer tires that lacked aggressive tread blocks, the determined Macan S used its electronically controlled all-wheel drive system to slowly creep up some very steep inclines (there's no low range transfer case, so the traction control automatically brakes a spinning wheel to send power to the axle with the most grip). Hill Descent Control worked its magic on the way down. Ground clearance seemed to be the limiting factor, as expected, but my tester was able to use its air suspension to raise the chassis and gain some additional space beneath its rails when the going got tough. I'd personally choose something less expensive to scrape and dent on the Rubicon (a Jeep Wrangler comes to mind, or even a Cherokee or Grand Cherokee), but the outing on the loose trails convinced me that the Macan S has billy goat genes beneath its slick bodywork.
  • A day behind the wheel of the entry-level Macan S demonstrated that Porsche has raised the dynamics bar in the compact crossover segment, much as it did with the Cayenne a decade ago, delivering a model that is competent and comfortable on the street and extraordinarily capable (maybe unnecessarily so?) on track and dirt. It remains to be seen how many people will pony up this sort of money for a compact CUV, but so far, the Range Rover Evoque has proven to be a masterstroke for Land Rover, which suggests that the Macan could be a huge success. In any case, Porsche's new baby leaves the less-costly BMW X3, Mercedes-Benz GLK and the Audi SQ5 chasing taillights and inhaling dust - at least until we see each of them answering the new challenge.
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Parents of terminally ill child sue after son dies following make-a-wish-style ride

07/30/2014   [Original: Autoblog]
Category: Convertibles, Sports/GTs, Government/Legal, Porsche

Porsche Boxster

Some stories are so sad and depressing, they make you want to go back to bed and pull the covers over your head. This is one such story. 14-year-old Raphael Wittman was suffering from an unspecified form of terminal cancer when he was invited by the children's cancer charity Kinder Krebs Hilfe to a charity drive organized by Porsche Forum Austria. During the drive, the Porsche Boxster Wittman was riding in was involved in a head-on collision. Both of his legs were broken and he bit off his tongue in the wreck. He died seven weeks later, in a Vienna hospital. Now, his father is suing the charity, claiming that the accident robbed his son of the will to live.

"The accident set off a chain of events starting with the doctors putting him on new medication for the cancer he had. He was always a fighter, but suddenly he was saying that he was not going to fight any more," Franz Wittman told Austria's Kurier, according to The Guardian. "We would have had a wonderful last time together [on vacation] but it never happened because of the accident."

Father and son were originally planning to go to Tenerife to spend time together, although those plans were cancelled following the accident.

Franz Wittman is angry that in the weeks following the accident and his son's July 5 passing, the family was not contacted by the Porsche Forum or Kinder Krebs Hilfe, aside from the gift of an iPhone given to Raphael from the driver that was behind the wheel, The Daily Mail reports. Any compensation from the legal action, Wittmann says, is "not for me, it's for my son."

"We are speechless," Karin Benedik, the head of Kinder Krebshilfe, told The Guardian. "We helped this family, and now our name is being dragged through the mud. We don't want to say any more because we need to see what the accusations are, but as far as we're concerned we were not the organizers and are not responsible."

Wittman's lawyer, Dr. Astrid Wagner, seems to think her client is on sound legal footing.

"It was a charity event but these things should be properly organized and that means that the should be insurance as well as anything else," Wagner told The Mail.

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Porsche acquires Kyalami race track at auction

07/28/2014   [Original: Autoblog]
Category: Motorsports, Porsche, Earnings/Financials

SAFRICA-AUTO-PRIX-RSA

With more victories under its belt than any other manufacturer, you could say, in a figurative sense at least, that Porsche owns countless numbers of race tracks around the world. But here we're not talking about figuratively owning a track - we're talking about literally buying one. And Porsche has just bought Kyalami.

Kylamai, for those unfamiliar, is a grand prix circuit near Johannesburg in South Africa. Between 1967 and 1985, and again in '92 and '93, it was home to the South African Grand Prix, and has since hosted a variety of local and lower-level international races, but apparently fell on hard times. As a result, the track's owners - listed as Universal Property Professionals - put it up for auction. Bidders had to deposit four million Rand (about $380k) to participate, but after just 50 seconds, the auction was over.

The winning bid was placed - via telephone from the local press launch for the Macan - by Porsche South Africa CEO Toby Venter, who bid a reported 205 million rand (about $19.5 million) to take over the complex. The German automaker's South African division reportedly intends to keep the track open for racing, but could also be expected to use the facility for testing, customer track days and such moving forward.

It would not be the only track, after all, owned by a Porsche - even if the South African option is owned and operated independently of the German automaker and its holding company. The factory at Leipzig has its own test track on premises, there's another one in the works for the company's new US headquarters in Atlanta, Porsche Engineering owns the Nardo high-speed test track in Germany and there's probably a few more we're forgetting about, not to mention facilities like Ehra-Lessien which Porsche effectively owns through its 50+ percent stake in the Volkswagen Group.

Porsche also has a number of customer experience centers opening at tracks around the world - including LA, Atlanta, Silverstone and Le Mans - and given the new acquisition, we wouldn't be surprised to see it set one up at Kyalami as well.

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Porsche's 959 is still poster-worthy after all these years

07/25/2014   [Original: Autoblog]
Category: Time Warp, Coupes, Sports/GTs, Videos, Porsche

Xcar: Porsche 959

Today, we have the Porsche 918 Spyder. Before that, there was the Carrera GT. While both of those cars are dramatic departures from the traditional, rear-engine Porsche formula, they owe their very existence to another wild child of the iconic German brand - the 959.

Like so many of the great performance cars of yesteryear, the 959 was a homologation special, built just so Porsche could go racing in the clinically insane Group B rally series. Fewer than 400 959s hit the streets, but those that did were some of the most advanced cars of the 1980s. A rear-mounted, twin-turbocharged flat-six sent its power through a still-rare all-wheel-drive system, creating a race-inspired rocket that was, for a short time, the fastest production car on the planet.

Xcar has the story of the 959, from its inception to its conquest of the Paris-Dakar rally, which is interspersed with a drive of the legendary coupe. Scroll down for the full video.

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MotorWeek proves '90s were awesome with Supra, Stealth, RX-7, Corvette, 968, 300ZX comparo

07/24/2014   [Original: Autoblog]
Category: Time Warp, Coupes, Sports/GTs, Videos, Chevrolet, Dodge, Mazda, Nissan, Porsche, Toyota

Motorweek 1993 Sports Car Test

Oh, the heady days of 1993, back when the Clinton Presidency was just getting underway, and it seemed like every hot new rock band was coming out of Seattle. Sports cars in the US had finally shaken off the shackles that slowed them during the '70s and '80s, and you could buy any number of legitimately quick vehicles again. MotorWeek recently went digging into its archives to find this six-model test from 1993 showing off some of the best semi-affordable performance coupes that money could buy at the time, and it's priceless.

Featuring the 1994 model year Toyota Supra in twin-turbo guise and MY 1993 versions of the Porsche 968, Nissan 300ZX TT, Mazda RX-7, Dodge Stealth R/T Turbo and Chevrolet Corvette LT-1, MotorWeek definitely covered all of the bases. One thing that might surprise younger readers is these cars' performance. The video only provides 0-60 acceleration times, but several of these vehicles would still be considered pretty potent today - over 20 years since going on sale. The Supra is especially impressive, hitting 60 miles per hour in just 5 seconds. Even today, that's nothing to sneeze at.

Given their performance potential and still-attractive looks, it's amazing that some of these coupes are old enough to drink now. The progress of interior design and safety equipment in the intervening years is pretty shocking, though. In most of these models, having two airbags is touted as a big deal. Scroll down to watch a Throwback Thursday blast from the past about some of the '90s best sports cars.

Continue reading MotorWeek proves '90s were awesome with Supra, Stealth, RX-7, Corvette, 968, 300ZX comparo

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40+ cars that barely avoid the gas guzzler tax

07/24/2014   [Original: Autoblog]
Category: Convertibles, Coupes, Sedans/Saloons, Sports/GTs, Wagons/Estates, Government/Legal, Audi, Bentley, Cadillac, Chevrolet, Chrysler, Dodge, Ford, Hyundai, Jaguar, Lexus, Maserati, Mercedes Benz, Porsche, Luxury

The Gas Guzzler schedule, with mpg ratings and charges that haven't changed since 1991, lays out which fuel-swillers owe what to Uncle Sam.

I started thinking about the "Gas Guzzler Tax" - considerably less well known as The Energy Tax Act of 1978 - when I was driving Dodge's new Challenger SRT Hellcat last week. Unsurprisingly for a car that can burn 1.5 gallons of gas per minute at max tilt, theoretically able to empty a full tank of premium in about 13 minutes, the Hellcat will be subject to the Gas Guzzler Tax schedule when it goes on sale.

Beyond knowing that it existed, and occasionally seeing a surcharge for it listed on the specification sheet for a press car I'd been loaned, I didn't really understand how the GGT worked or was calculated.

Thankfully, the Environmental Protection Agency makes learning about the GGT (and a lot of other stuff) pretty simple. EPA.gov has a clearly written explanation of the tax and the tax schedule. That schedule, operating with miles-per-gallon ratings and charges that haven't changed since 1991, clearly lays out which fuel-swillers owe what to Uncle Sam. Basically, if a car's combined fuel economy rating is 22.5 mpg or higher it's off the hook ­- trucks, minivans and SUVs are all exempt from the GGT - if the rating is lower, per vehicle taxes range from $1,000 to $7,700 for the very thirstiest.

Simple, right?

Continue reading 40+ cars that barely avoid the gas guzzler tax

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