Daily Archives: May 19, 2013

Bugatti Veyron Grand Sport Vitesse takes on the slow roads

Despite its massive horsepower and torque, the Bugatti Veyron Grand Sport Vitesse behaves nicely cruising on a twisty mountain road.

(Credit: Josh Miller/CNET)

I wish I could tell you about driving the Bugatti Veyron Grand Sport Vitesse up to its record-breaking speed of 254 mph. Race car driver Anthony Liu did it. Of course, he drove the Veryon on a 5.6-mile straightaway at Volkswagen’s test track in Ehra-Lessien, Germany, taking the speed record for a production convertible.

On the rural roads in Napa, Calif., the best I could manage was a few seconds of maximum acceleration, making all four wheels grab pavement with neck-snapping force from the engine’s 1,106 pound-feet of torque.

With my foot flat on the gas pedal, I wasn’t looking at gauges or consulting a stopwatch, but Bugatti says the Veyron, in its open-top Grand Sport Vitesse form, hits 60 mph in about 2.5 seconds. I’ve driven cars that hit 60 mph in 3.5 seconds, but those did not prepare me for the Veyron. It is in a completely different class when it comes to stepping off the line.

Put the seven-speed dual-clutch gearbox in first, push the gas, and hang on. There’s no time to tap the paddle shifters, but that’s OK, the car will automatically grab the next gear before redline. No fuel shut-off to worry about.

Behind me, I hear disparate noises, most notably the whoosh of the Veyron’s four turbocharger… [Read more]


Car Tech: An automotive blog from CNET

2013 Lexus RX350

When Lexus first debuted its RX SUV in 1998, it changed the SUV game by building a sport utility vehicle on its ES sedan platform. The 5-door “luxury SUV” was a hit in the marketplace, with its comfortable car-like ride, high-quality construction, and plush passenger accommodations. The reliable 2013 Lexus RX 350 crossover SUV, now in its third generation, continues the trend toward luxury, comfort, and innovation in sport utility vehicles, and is set to capture an impressive portion of the US mid-size crossover market, where the RX has been the best selling luxury SUV since its introduction.

In line with Lexus’ new brand direction, the 2013 Lexus RX 350 crossover has been updated to give it a visual flair that sets it even higher above the competition with an athletic, sporty appeal. 18-inch alloy wheels, new grilles, LED running lights, new interior colors, and an expanded standard equipment list including power lift gate and iPod/USB audio interface serve to increase the RX 350’s luxury appeal. Still comfortably seating five passengers, the 2013 RX 350 sports a clean, classy interior of exceptional cabin materials and upscale appointments, with plenty of cargo space, headroom, and legroom. Rear passengers will ride in comfort with roomy, cushioned seating and independent reclining and sliding seat adjustments

Innovative high-tech options in the 2013 RX 350’s interior include keyless ignition, heated mirrors, dual-zone automatic climate control, an unmatched 9-speaker Mark Levinson sound system, and heated and ventilated front seats. The navigation system is similarly innovative, featuring the newly updated Lexus Remote Touch interface that utilizes a tactile feedback controller to access navigation through the infotainment system. The infotainment system itself runs on the Lexus Enform suite of apps, tying driver and passengers into Internet services such as iHeart Radio, Movie Tickets.com, and Pandora, as well as Safety Connect emergency communications.

The 2013 Lexus RX 350 crossover has a 3.5 liter V6 engine and 6-speed automatic transmission with standard front wheel drive (all-wheel drive is optional). This gives the RX 350 270 hp and 248 pound feet of torque. The more athletic F Sport package includes all-wheel drive, and comes with an 8-speed automatic transmission. The 6-speed automatic gets an estimated mpg of 18 city/25 hwy/21 combined, while the 8-speed F Sport gets 18 city/26 hwy/21 combined.

The 2013 Lexus RX 350 maintains its luxury name when it comes to ride quality as well. Like all Lexus vehicles, driving impressions are very homogeneous. The RX 350’s plush ride and composed handling reduce the stress of driving so driver and passengers can enjoy the ride. The RX 350 provides exceptional sound insulation and a quiet, softly-sprung suspension to coddle passengers in a bubble of quiet, comfort, and luxury. Although the engine is impressively quiet, it boasts enough power to accelerate quickly and easily, and the steering has a responsive and sporty feel, with confident composure in turns. The F-Sport model’s sport-tuned suspension sharpens the handling to make it especially fun to drive, with the exhaust note giving quite a grunt on downshifts.

With a base price of $40,000, the powerful and efficient 2013 Lexus RX 350 crossover SUV provides a combination of comfort, convenience, innovative tech features, and a strong safety and reliability record that promises to keep it at the top of the luxury crossover market.

2013 Kia Optima – Another Hit!

The Kia Optima sedan, when it initially debuted in 2000, was essentially a variant of the Hyundai Sonata, with slightly different styling details and minor differences in equipment. The second generation, introduced in 2005, used a global platform unique to Kia, called the “MG,” but still shared its 2.4 liter straight-four engine and Sportmatic transmission with the Sonata.

The third generation Kia Optima sedan, in contrast, is completely revamped, with sleeker, sportier styling and a powertrain upgrade to a universal GDI 4-cylinder engine.

The 2013 Kia Optima sedan offers European-inspired styling designed by Kia’s chief design officer (former chief designer for Audi), Peter Schreyer. With its complete redesign, the Optima went from looking ordinary to being one of the nicest-looking sedans in the mid-size market. The new design boasts sporty, European detailing, a more rakish, coupelike roofline, stretched headlamps, and flashy wheel designs, and it has a more athletic look overall than most mid-size sedans.

The well-heeled interior of the Optima has a clean, minimalist design with a wide bank of controls canted in the driver’s direction, that are easy to read and pleasing to the eye. It also offers features such as available heated rear seats and panoramic glass roof. The cabin is fairly spacious and provides comfortable seating and a good amount of legroom in both front and rear, and boasts an abundance of soft-touch materials as well.

The 2013 Kia Optima is offered in LX, EX, SX, and SX Limited models. The LX and EX are both powered by a 2.4-liter four-cylinder engine with direct injection, providing 200 horsepower and 186 pound feet of torque, in both manual and automatic 6-speed options. Both LX and EX trims deliver outstanding fuel economy figures of 24 mpg city/35 mpg hwy, and 28 mpg combined. The SX and SX Limited utilize a turbocharged 2.0-liter 4-cylinder that gives up to 274 horsepower and increases torque to 269 pound-feet. This added boost barely affects fuel economy, with the SX trims still getting 22 mpg city/ 34 mpg hwy. Kia also offers an improved Hybrid powertrain in the 2013 model, teaming the basic four-cylinder engine with a 40-hp electric motor and batteries. The Hybrid achieves an output of 206 horsepower and 195 pound feet of torque, while getting 35 mpg city and 40 mpg hwy.

The 2013 Kia Optima rides and handles well, with a quick, nimble feel both on open stretches and in city traffic. The electronic power steering feels a little numb, lacking positive road feedback, but the ride is comfortable and quiet over textured surfaces, and the overall driving experience is better than average for mid-size sedans. The four-cylinder engine, paired with a responsive transmission, provide a smooth-shifting and powerful-feeling driving experience.

With a starting MSRP of only $22,000, this well-rounded mid-size sedan offers a long list of positive attributes and plenty of features for your money. With its variety of trims and prices, there is a model to fit most budgets, as well. Overall, the 2013 Kia Optima sedan is a good choice for a family car, providing comfort, style and a fuel economy rating that is top in its class.