Cocktail Chatter: May 10, 2013
What cocktails go best with all this car chatter? Automobilemag.com is here to help with weekly recipes. Remember, this is for talking about cars, not driving — always designate a driver. We’re ready to hit the beach this weekend and take a pitcher of pineapple margaritas with us. Mix together two cups of silver tequila, Tuaca vanilla citrus liqueur, and fresh lime juice with two and a half cups of pineapple juice in a pitcher with ice. Server over ice and garnish with a pineapple slice, and let the sun shine!
Brand Mismatch: I was in San Antonio, Texas, this past Sunday when Chevrolet revealed the 2014 Silverado High Country, its attempt to carve a slice of the premium pickup truck pie currently dominated by the Ford F-150 King Ranch. Texas is certainly a fitting place to launch such a vehicle, but I found the choice in hotel used to launch the truck was a little ironic. A sign on the exterior indicated the architecture was “inspired by [a house on] the King Ranch.” Hey, that’s funny; so is this trim level…
Evan McCausland, Associate Web Editor
Look Twice, Save A Life: May is motorcycle awareness month. Although I sold my bike a few years ago, I always consider buying another bike this time of year. I don’t end up pulling the trigger because there are far too many people behind the wheel of a car with no interest in driving. It’s annoying to be rear-ended in a car while waiting at a red light, but it’s even worse when you’re on two wheels and the person behind you is more concerned with dashing off an “LOL!” text than watching for stopped traffic. Triple-check those blind spots before changing lanes, put down the damned phone, and be aware of your surroundings. Not all motorcyclists are textbook examples of responsible adults, but they still deserve respect from other motorists. By the way, all this applies to bicyclists, runners, and walkers who are legally using the roads, too. Don’t let a stupid decision on your part permanently alter (or end) another person’s life. And don’t stop paying attention in June.
Phil Floraday, Senior Web Editor
Driving on Autopilot: Autonomous cars became this week’s hot topic, first with Elon Musk telling Bloomberg he wants Google’s technology in his Tesla electric cars as soon as possible, then with the Automotive Press Association’s annual Michelin Automotive Design Panel in Detroit on Thursday, entitled “Driven/Undriven: The Duality of Tomorrow’s Automobile.” Automotive News’ Jason Stein hosted a panel consisting of Jim Hall, of 2953 Analytics, ex-GM futurist Chris Borroni-Bird, now strategic development veep at Qualcomm, and Stewart Reed, chair of the Art Center College of Design’s transportation design department. “Enthusiasts can’t imagine autonomous cars, until you tell them how it could help on congested freeways,” Reed said. Hall noted that most young people would rather text or surf the web than drive, while Borroni-Bird said, “the driver still controls the vehicle, but the car enhances his skills.” When Stein asked whether Google will build its own car, Hall replied, “not if they have a brain in their head.” Hall struck a chord, though, with most APA members in attendance when he said, “I hate the idea of autonomous cars … I’m only happy that the majority of them will come after I’m dead.” Me too.
Todd Lassa, Executive Editor
99 Luftspeedlimits: Bad news, car enthusiasts: Germany may impose a blanket speed limit of 120 km/h (75 mph) on the nation’s famous autobahns, ending the long-standing and famous derestricted stretches that have no limit at all. Several politicians running against German chancellor Angela Merkel have apparently endorsed enacting the nationwide speed limit to help improve road safety. Of course, many parts of the autobahn already have a speed limit of 130 km/h (about 81 mph), and for now the speed limit proposition may be nothing more than political posturing. Nonetheless, it would be a sad day indeed if speed limit-free autobahns vanished altogether.
Jake Holmes, Associate Web Editor
Being Bear Aware: Notice to Toyota owners: Bear-proof your cars. A bear in rural Florida entered into a woman’s Toyota Matrix and then proceeded to inflict $17,000 in damage to the vehicle. Among the carnage: a chewed off driver’s seat, bite and claw marks on the door panels, exposed interior roof insulation, and other consoles being ripped apart from within. The woman didn’t think that there was anything such as leftover food to attract the bear, nor were her doors left open. A family in California had a similar bear-in-car episode in 2011 with its Toyota Prius, which left the vehicle with ripped up seats, steering wheel, and glove box. Despite these two separate incidents, no direct correlation can be made between bear attacks and Toyotas.
John Kalmar, Graphic Designer
Going Down, Down, Baby: I had the pleasure of driving a new Range Rover this week, which wasn’t long enough for a full Editor’s Notebook but long enough to net this photo. While I’m a little sad that the Rangie’s classic boxiness has been rounded here and sanded-down there, the good thing to report is that driving a Range Rover makes you feel just as exorbitant, just as accomplished, and just as awesome as ever. It might not draw a crowd—that’s what a Jaguar sports car is for—and it might not even beat the Mercedes-Benz GL in terms of handling, but the truck still stands at the intersection of practicality, style, and luxury. Kids at home: it’s just as good as it looks, I promise.
Ben Timmins, Associate Web Editor
Shop ’til you Drop: I recently attended the opening of the brand-new Ferrari store at the company’s headquarters in Maranello. Once a small outpost (just over 2000 square feet when it first opened in 2002), the new building is more than three times larger, at nearly 7000 square feet. The new retail emporium has all the markings of a post specialty shop, except that there’s an F1 car and a bright yellow 275GTB parked among the shoes, handbags, shirts, and leather goods. A surprising amount of the space is dedicated to the littlest Ferraristi, with the goal apparently to hook them from birth.
Ferrari says the store was “created to give customers an experience of the Ferrari world and, though making a purchase, to be a part of it.” For those who aren’t planning a trip to Maranello but still want to be a part of that world, there are now more than 50 Ferrari stores worldwide. Beyond that, there is the online shopping portal, www.store.ferrari.com. All told, 95 Ferrari-branded items are sold every minute.
Joe Lorio, Senior Editor
Color Me Boring: About four years ago, this magazine had a Four Seasons 2008 Lexus IS-F painted an eye-catching bright blue. A couple of weeks ago, I tested a 2013 model of the same (now soon to be discontinued) model, this time painted regular old silver. What a difference paint can make. Late one night, while walking on a residential Ann Arbor sidewalk, I looked right at the IS-F and thought to myself, “Huh, that Corolla has some pretty cool dark wheels.” Only several steps later did I realize that I had the keys to that rear-wheel-drive, 416-hp, AMG-fighting “Corolla.” Ultimate sleeper or failed supersedan?
Rusty Blackwell, Copy Editor
Approval from the Appliance People: This week, Tesla’s Model S electric sedan earned a score of 99 out of 100 in Consumer Reports’ testing. The Model S is only the second-ever car to get that top score (the 2007 Lexus LS 460L was the first), and, to many buyers, this is the ultimate seal of approval. What was most amazing to CR – and to us when we named the Model S our 2013 Automobile of the Year – was the fact that the all-electric managed to either match the best competition from Germany, America, and Japan despite the fact that Tesla is a small California start-up that’s only just started to make cars. Kudos to you, Tesla; keep up the good work.
Donny Nordlicht, Associate Web Editor
No Car is an Island: According to ChinaDaily.com, after attempting for more than a week to contact the owner of a vehicle parked in a lot due to be demolished, the local government in Taiyuan, China decided—rather than simply towing the vehicle to a different location—to continue their construction project around the car. The result makes for a great picture but the question is, how do they move it now or alternatively, how are they going to build a road around it? And lastly, um, do they not have tow trucks in China?
Jennifer Misaros, Managing Editor of Digital Platforms
Badass Beetle: As I made my way across Michigan in our new, long-term Volkswagen Beetle Turbo convertible, I daydreamed that someone like Sheri Moon Zombie, the extremely attractive wife of musician/director Rob Zombie, would fit well in the spooled bug. Our Beetle Turbo convertible has soft suspension and a clean-cut, cute interior, but it also has a powerful powertrain, a masculine exterior, and a good audio system. I imagine the blonde driver, dreadlocks blowing about in the wind, listening to MC5 as she speeds along in the triple digits. It’s a great image, and one that perfectly suits this Beetle. Calling it a “chick car” is a compliment. At least it is in my Sheri-Moon-filled mind.
Chris Nelson, Road Test Editor