Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat Review

 

If not the Energy Independence and Security Act is repealed, 50-mpg cars will be thick on the street in almost a decade. If you find this notion not that happening, take a comfortable place in the Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat’s ability to binge-drink premium fuel. Tread heavily the throttle as if you own a private pipeline and this hellion can burn 1.5 gallons of high test in less than a minute flat. Texans with the pumps and space to pander to such ­pleasures can suck this car’s tank dry in the time it takes to read this article.

Other Hellcat stats are more or less similar astonishing. This is the first American sedan armed with 707 horsepower [see “The Maddest Motor” on page 2]. The one German four-door capable of whipping it to 60 mph, the Porsche Panamera Turbo S, costs nearly three times the Charger’s $64,990 base price and falls shy of the Dodge’s claimed 204-mph top speed. Massive Brembo brakes and 20-inch Pirelli gumballs make this family hauler much more than a straight-line special.

With pump prices tumbling below three bucks a gallon and the Saudis discounting crude to put a stop to the up rising tide, the super Charger arrives at a moment of opportunity. Designed in Michigan, assembled in Canada, and powered by a Mexican-made engine, it is a poster child for NAFTA pragmatism. It also owes one to Fiat Chrysler boss Sergio Marchionne, who waved a figurative arrivederci to Ferrari with one hand while welcoming the Challenger and Charger Hellcats to the menagerie with the other.

No amount of rocket science was needed to strike out GM and Ford. The pushrod V-8 wearing one of the engine world’s most holy nameplates made its first appearance in 2003 Ram pickups—albeit minus the actual hemispherical combustion chambers of yore. The Charger’s skeleton parts were handed down by Mercedes a decade ago during the ill-fated DaimlerChrysler lash-up. In this very year the nicely rendered face lift replaces the stale gun-sight grille with seven air-inlet and -outlet ports. Sinister HID headlamps, growling cat badges, and a manly pair of pipes are also new.

Children shy away at the booming sound of a blown Hemi starting; at full throttle, its supercharger whine and exhaust howl carry for quite a long distance. While you are cruising, the mighty engine murmurs barely audible bass notes, its tailpipes giving no permission by computer-controlled butterfly valves.

Pity the Hellcat’s 275/40ZR-20 tires attempting in vain to put down more than 8000 pound-feet of torque (650 pound-feet at 4800 rpm from the engine multiplied by 12.34 through the driveline in first gear). Pirelli’s stock gives rise to a notch every time a driver lights the smoke grenades under the rear fenders. There is a lot of gratitude to a hair-trigger throttle, remedial right-foot reprogramming that is essential to in-town puttering. Squeezing in the gas to pass will snap the traction at 40 mph on dry pavement, or as high as 80 in the wet. In the hands of a driver lacking respect for what was once known as war emergency power, the Charger SRT Hellcat is the loosest of all road cannons.

On the other side, in capable hands, it will not fail to thrill and amaze. To wring Chevy Corvette Z06acceleration from this 4592-pound sedan, we put out of action the stability controls, warmed the rear tires, set the transmission to track mode, placed the dampers in sport mode, and squeezed the throttle pedal with due deliberation. The tires bite in 1.6 seconds, the time it takes to reach 30 mph, then squeals again during the 1-2 shift at 40. What sounds like shredding titanium is the engine protesting the momentary power reductions accompanying each up-shift. What feels like teleportation flings you to 60 in 3.4 seconds and to 128 mph in the quarter-mile. From rest to 170, the hairy Hemi posts an average 0.34 g of acceleration. Pleasure receptors think they have always been treated to great sex, a tasty sirloin, and Dutch chocolate ice cream—all at once.

Very good braking and cornering performance are also part of the deal. Massive Brembo six-piston front and four-piston rear calipers grabbing two-piece rotors halt this car from 70 mph in 153 feet—averaging 1.07 g’s—with virtually no fade. Pirelli P Zero rubber stuck the Hellcat to our skidpad at 0.94 g. While there is some amount of under-steer at the limit which is really not an issue when the lightest brush of the accelerator will step and hold the tail out as wide as you like for as long as you have your appropriate judgement.

The steering is heavy during parking man oeuvres, but, once you start to roll on, the extra effort falls exactly in sync with the quick ratio. Actual nuances of road feel are transmitted through a rim wrapped in perforated leather. The quality of the ride is extremely poised for a 200-mph muscle car. Front buckets trimmed with suede are supportive but could use stiffer side bolsters to resist this car’s cornering loads which are exceptional. Rear passenger heads ride beneath the dot-patterned shading of the back glass, but there is more than enough room and comfort for two, plus maybe a slim child.

Top: In darkness it creeps, enfolding the night in its black wings. Or something. We have been listening to a lot of old Tom Waits records.

Along with this a great feature includes tapping the SRT button on the dash and the 8.4-inch touch screen becomes the ultimate gaming console. Track, sport, custom, and default modes let you tune engine output, curb down effectiveness, the traction helpers, and transmission and shifter activity. In Race Options, you can configure launch control and an upshift light. Valet mode allows you to hand over the car to a parking attendant without fear of catastrophe. In Performance Pages, you can read instantaneous power, torque, and boost, or conduct a full road test by recording acceleration times, braking distances, and peak g’s in all four directions. There is even an eco mode complete with a green-leaf graphic. This one is for comic relief.

One of the most remarkable thing about this Charger is that it is the complete package one wants to have—daily commuting comfort which adds up with berserk special-occasion performance, all at a realistic price. To add on, it cracks the door to subsequent products, such as a supercharged Viper and a Jeep Grand Chero­kee Hellcat. Until GM and Ford chime in with their 700-hp sedans, or until the fuel sippers arrive—whichever comes first—the Charger SRT Hellcat is the uncontested king of American four-door performance.

 

 

Citroen CX celebrates 40th

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Let us begin with some short instances. Do you remember the time you were in College, bunking classes and hanging out with friends? do you remember the time your daughter was 10 and was spilling food all over her dress? Do you memorize your friend from school? Well, now you are no longer in college, you daughter is about to have a kid of her own and that friend from school recently celebrated his 50th birthday anniversary! To come back to context, you see that Citroen CX parked across the street? it is indeed hard to believe, but Citroen’s ground-breaking CX is 40 years old this year. Time has flown by and left us with golden memories.

Unveiled at the Paris Motor Show in 1974 and produced until 1991, the Citroën CX has reached a landmark birthday.

Bold and stylish, the CX was advanced for its time featuring a turbocharged diesel engine, a GTi version, updated hydropneumatic suspension for new standards of comfort and it was the first French car to be fitted with ABS brakes in 1985

It quickly established a reputation for exceptional comfort, advanced ergonomics and impeccable road holding, claiming the ‘Car of the Year’ award, ‘Safety Prize’ and ‘Award Auto Style’ in its first year on sale.

A rare sight on the roads of today, the CX was a huge success, selling more than 1.2 million globally up to 1991.

Designed by Robert Opron, the CX was a two-box saloon, measuring 4.63m in length. The aerodynamics of the CX played a key role in achieving its impressive levels of fuel efficiency and the acronym CX in itself illustrated the vehicle’s low drag coefficient – Cx being French for the aerodynamic coefficient Cd.

Over the next few years, Citroën continued to upgrade the CX with further technological improvements, including an estate version in 1975, a 2400 GTi electronic injection sports version in 1977 – considered as the fastest French tourer of its time – and a Prestige version in 1978, which was 28cm longer than the original car.

The CX was also very comfortable, inheriting the constant-height hydropneumatic suspension of the DS as well as the power-operated self-centring steering system seen on the SM in 1970.

 

How to take care of the car batteries in summer?

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The heat of the summer takes its toll on your car battery the same way it does on you. A lot of people believe that the winter lows damage the battery more than summer highs. But that is not correct. Summer highs rather than winter lows pose the greater threat to battery life.

All batteries have a certain life and after that they have to be replaced. A lot of heat and overcharging are the two important reasons for shortened battery life. Heat is the most important reasons that cause the battery fluid to evaporate. This helps in damaging the internal structure of the battery. A malfunctioning component in the charging system, which usually is the voltage regulator, allows a very high a charging rate, leading to the slow death for a battery.

When most motorists think of dead batteries that cause starting failure, they think of severe winter weather, but summer heat is the real culprit. Many battery problems actually start much before the temperatures drop. Heat, more than cold, shortens battery life.

Colder temperatures increase the thickness of the engine oil. This makes the engine harder to turn over. So in order to get it started, the battery has to have to work more. These factors lead to harder starting.

To get the most life out of a battery, we suggest the following simple steps:

Charge the battery correctly: Be sure the electrical system is charging at the correct rate. Overcharging the battery can damage it as quickly as undercharging.

Keep it regularly checked: If your battery is the type that needs to be topped off, check it regularly, especially in hot weather. Add distilled water when necessary.

Correctly replace the batteries: Always replace a battery with one that is rated at least as high as the one originally specified.

Keep the battery clean: Try to keep the top of the battery as clean as possible. Dirt becomes a conductor, which drains battery power. Further when the corrosion accumulates on battery terminals it becomes an insulator. This leads to inhibiting current flow which of course is not good for its life.

Maintain correct Driving Habits: Driving habits such as frequent engine on off cycles, applying undue breaks will cause more problem to the starter than a simple back and forth to work.

Other than this, there are factors such as bad driving and weather conditions, mileage, vehicle age and excessive electrical draws like in vehicle entertainment systems.
One also needs to understand the factors that keep on indicating to your battery’s condition. Check the battery if you notice headlights dim or even the interior lights dim, accessories that fail to operate. You also need to keep an eye on the check engine light and also battery light if illuminated.

Honda CR-V EX FWD Review

 

 

Most of the automakers have pretty much moved on from the production of Baja 1000–ready SUVs. It is not that there is no romance left in the adventure of crashing over boulders at high speed and getting caked in the dust of desert competition. It is just that modern car-based crossover SUVs like the Honda CR-V, with its elevated driving position; 70-plus cubic feet of cargo space (with the rear seats down); friendly fuel economy, ride, and handling; and available four-wheel drive is ready to offer pretty much everything a buyer of recent time needs in such a vehicle.

Without a doubt, when the CR-V first broke cover in 1997 as a Civic-based high-roof wagon, Honda was rebadging Isuzu Rodeos as Passports and the number-one-selling SUV in the States was the truculent body-on-frame Ford Explorer. But Americans, extremely indifferent of hatchbacks, have embraced the SUV cum wagon cum crossover by the freeway load, and such vehicles are now the dominant, bestselling body style—way better than compact sedans, mid-size sedans, and even pickup trucks. And at the top of that heap is the CR-V, which was the highest-selling crossover/SUV in the U.S. in 2014.

To help in keeping its market position intact, the 2015 CR-V received a minor visual freshening, having been updated with new sweeping projector-beam headlights and LED daytime running lamps outside and a slew of bright trim, newer versions of materials, and electronics in the cabin.

The changes that came under the hood are bigger and better. The 2015 CR-V has the Accord’s direct-injected 185-hp “Earth Dreams” 2.4-liter four-cylinder and continuously variable automatic transmission. Even if the new mill has no more power than last year’s port-injected four-holer of the same displacement, it wins in reaching its power peak 600-rpm lower (now 6400) and it has more low-end torque (up from 163 to 181 lb-ft). The latter makes it feel much livelier and more responsive than before. And the numbers back up that perception, with the 2015 front-drive EX version tested here moving off the dime quicker by a long way than the 165-pound-heavier CR-V EX-L AWD we reviewed in 2012, reaching 60 mph 1.1 seconds quicker (7.5 seconds in the 2015 model) and clearing the quarter-mile traps 0.6 second ahead of the older model (15.9 seconds).

 

CVT TLC?

As CVTs go, Honda’s is one of the best, but it still will, without more ado, swing the engine to its 6400-rpm power peak at wide-open throttle and stay there for the duration of the acceleration run. That is what CVTs do in that situation, but in the outgoing tide and flow of real traffic, when the 2.4-liter does not pass in screaming to the finish line, the Honda CVT’s conventional-automatic-mimicking programming allows near instantaneous ratio changes without the pauses between shifts of a traditional step-gear transmission. That is the reason why the CR-V is never caught flat-footed in the wrong “gear.”

The new engine does not need to rev quite as high to make peak power, but NVH takes a turn for the worse when the in normal case the sweet-sounding engine rumbles along at a fuel-saving 1200 rpm cruising with light throttle. At that engine speed, the steering wheel, floor, and seat thrum slightly, as if the bass on a subwoofer got raised up. If not the CR-V is one of the quietest-running crossovers in the compact class, but it would benefit in a great amount from a Honda Odyssey–like noise-cancellation system. Dropping the CVT into Sport mode raises revs and quells the rumble but does not help fuel economy, which, by the way, was a somewhat disappointing 24 mpg—same as the 2012 AWD model—even though it must be noted that you have a tendency of driving harder than your typical CR-V owner.

 

Every other thing is quite cheery. The CR-V’s kind and comfortable front caster and rack-mounted electric power steering deliver a naturally weighted feel that is never bad for the driver. The vehicle feels planted in its lane with decent self-centering and aligning torque for confident highway cruising, yet with an organic effort build-up as steering angle raises its bar.  The ride quality is everyday quite firm but never harsh over impacts. The CR-V’s front seats have good torso support, and the bottom cushions comfortably accommodate a variety of body shapes including fat and slim.

We think the $26,425 front-wheel-drive CR-V EX provides a pretty good value in the segment. Our test vehicle came standard with 17-inch aluminum wheels, a sunroof, fog lamps, a 10-way power driver’s seat, heated cloth front seats, proximity entry with push-button start, Honda LaneWatch (a passenger-side blind-spot camera), and a seven-inch touch-screen infotainment system. The single detraction from the infotainment’s user-friendliness is a thin row of tiny hard buttons that are a little hard to see and hit while driving.

The EX is one of the CR-V’s more basic trims—and in that sense is truer to the crossover’s inner Civic than fancier versions. This particular model has no leather, no navigation, and certainly no semi autonomous systems to excuse inattentive driving. Never mind that the no-longer-wee CR-V SUV is really a hatchback on stilts—people seem to like it, and so do we.

2015 BMW i8 vs Angeles Crest Highway

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There are many cons of the ever growing development and industrialisation. One such major variant occurs and can be seen in the metro cities of the world. In these towns the technology has reached each and every common person and an average Joe of such a locality now a days can easily own a car, Tv his house and so on. The underlying point made here is that more the number of people access and use cars, the more traffic it creates. Plus, on busy weekends and office timings on weekdays it is next to impossible to drive smoothly and shift the transmission to fifth gear for a long time. Let us take a case study of Los Angeles. Los Angeles might have the weather of Eden, but instead of being home to two naked people, there are nearly 4 million here, only some of whom are naked. Those 4 million individuals create traffic so dense and soul-crushing, it gets end-of-times nicknames such as Carmageddon. Traffic never sleeps in the City of Angels. You would have to be really lucky if you could reach your intended destination, in prime time and not the wee hours, within the estimated duration. Google maps has a feature of showing the analysis of required time taken for a journey with and without traffic. You could evidently see the vast difference between the two versions.  Even the countless planes that are lined up to land at LAX are stuck in traffic. Elevated freeways crisscross the city and ensure that there’s literally traffic on top of traffic. If you enjoy driving and are in something resembling a sports car, it’s perdition. At best, it’s a waste of gas.

Freedom from L.A.’s congestion isn’t far. Just a few miles north of downtown are the San Gabriel Mountains and the desolate road that tattoos the peaks with blacktop. Begun in 1929 but not completed until 1956, the Angeles Crest Highway rides the face of the San Gabriels as it twists through the Angeles National Forest for 66 miles. There’s no better place near L.A. to burn fuel.

There is a dark cloud adjacent to every silver lining. Similarly, even this road is not immune to commuters. Yes it is one of those obscure ways where you would not imagine the traffic as much as you would on a street in the heart of the city. However, Los Angeles has always been full of surprises; is it for the good or for the bad, well, we are not saying! Here, every weekday morning a stream of cars pours over the mountain and into the city from suburbs in the high desert. But if you’re escaping L.A. in the day’s early hours where many a percentage of people are still in their beds, day dreaming, rest assured nobody will bother you.

L.A. is famously two-faced. For something in the light vein, you may like to call it the Harvey Dent of the United States of America.  Considering this fact and putting in the primary context, BMW’s i8 is a car seemingly built for the city’s duality. An electric car when stuck in traffic and a gas-burning supercar on canyon roads such as Angeles Crest, the i8’s styling is even a perfect match for the town. Angelenos love attention-grabbing cars, and the i8 is an instant celebrity. Floating catwalks sprout from the roofline and arc over the rear fenders. From behind, the i8 appears to be a smaller car shedding its skin. From other angles, it has the folded-paper elements of a Frank Gehry building. Dihedral doors hinged at the A-pillars add to the drama but make getting in and out a chore. This is consistent with the Los Angeles mantra that it’s better to look good than to feel good.

Falling inside over the carbon-fiber sill and through the door slits might not be easy, but the leather-filled interior is a comforting place to land. Lighted accents glow at night and the design is futuristic in a Blade Runner way, but there’s nothing here that we haven’t seen on other BMWs. All controls are easy to find, provided you’re familiar with the latest from Munich. Tiny rear seats that even kids would have to squeeze into are seemingly there to lower insurance premiums and to make sure that people see this as a Porsche 911 competitor.

To test the i8’s split personality, we leave downtown L.A. in morning traffic and set the i8 in eDrive mode to make the 15-mile drive to the base of Angeles Crest under electric power. In EV mode, the i8 is hushed. Removing sound and vibration when you’re impeded by commuters brings some peace to the whole experience. The 129-hp motor between the front wheels tugs the i8 along with 184 pound-feet of torque up to 75 mph. A lithium-ion battery pack that looks like a giant Lego block sits between the seats in the carbon-fiber structure. Acceleration in EV mode isn’t quick; 60 mph arrives in 9.2 seconds, but it’s good enough for comfortable use in heavy traffic.

As we climb out of town, traffic begins to release its hold. It is pretty coherent with the experience of coming out of the fog; after a ride in the dense smog you enter a patch where it starts receding and after that the visibility quotient suddenly begins to rise.  After 13 miles, we’re just short of the entrance to Angeles National Forest before eDrive switches off and we enter comfort mode. In comfort or eco-pro modes, the gas engine switches on and off depending on acceleration demands. If you hit the throttle hard, there is a slight delay before the gas engine comes online.

With Angeles Crest before us, we push the gear selector into sport mode to call upon the full 357 horsepower, changing the character of the i8. In sport, the gauges glow red, a tachometer appears in the cluster, and the 1.5-liter three-cylinder turbo aided by an 11-hp electric motor kicks to life, stays lit, and remains at the ready. If you never plug the i8 in to recharge, keeping the engine in sport mode replenishes the battery pack. Engine sounds, or at least sounds from what we perceive to be the engine, fill the leather-lined cabin. The ­stereo speakers play a rumbling, intake-rich engine song that mimics an angry Acura NSX and peaks at 87 decibels at full throttle. A rip and a snort accompany each shift of the six-speed automatic. Nothing tells you that this isn’t real. We’re torn; fake shouldn’t be this good. Well, not much in L.A. is real, either, and yet everyone seems so happy.

Hit the stability-control button with the transmission in sport and the car will let you do a launch-control start. Hold both pedals, watch the revs climb to 2500 rpm, release the brake, and the i8 will jump to 60 mph in a more price-appropriate 3.6 seconds. Without launch control activated, the i8 will do the 5-to-60 run in 4.6 seconds.

As long as the three-cylinder is running, the car’s two electric motors, two transmissions, and one engine work together in harmony. There’s no surging, no turbo lag, just uninterrupted, linear thrust. It’s magic when a tiny 1.5-liter eating 22 psi of boost behaves like an engine three times its size. The 3394-pound i8 moves through the quarter-mile in 12.1 seconds at 116 mph. Tinseltown’s other darling, the dual-clutch–equipped Porsche 911 in GT3 guise, weighs 197 pounds less, does 60 in 3.0 seconds, and passes the quarter in 11.2 seconds at 126 mph. Yes, this town does keep score.

Rolling back and forth up the cambered mountain road, the i8 exhibits good balance and lively steering, but narrow 215/45R-20 Bridgestone Potenza S001 front tires start slipping earlier than we expect. On the skidpad, the i8 holds on at 0.93 g, but with Chevy Corvettes and 911s regularly posting 1.00 g, 0.93 doesn’t feel like much grip. Stability born of the long, 110.2-inch wheelbase and the low-slung battery pack makes using the available adhesion a safe exercise. BMW’s tire choice also keeps the i8 from stopping from 70 mph in less than 166 feet.

Lift off the accelerator and the front electric motor generates electricity during deceleration. Pushing the brake pedal adds more regenerative braking; keep pressing and the friction brakes begin to bite. The transition between the electric and disc brakes is abrupt and difficult to modulate smoothly. If there was a comparison between Edison and Tesla we always would vouch for Tesla’s technology. The Mad Scientist, was the guy who changed the world and selflessly devoted all his learnings to the society. We prefer Tesla, in all ways even in technology and automotive innovations. We, in the similar context,  prefer Tesla’s strategy of allowing for maximum regeneration when you lift off the accelerator, which frees up the left pedal for actuating the rear brakes.

Even after running in sport mode, the i8 manages to return 26 mpg. It might have done better if we’d been able to plug in, but BMW did not send a charger. Strafing Angeles Crest, though, nearly refills the battery pack, preparing us for the return to congestion.

Like-priced sports cars can’t match the i8’s efficiency, nor do they offer the multiple personalities of the i8. You’d have to look to the Porsche 918 Spyderto find something analogous; while the Porsche far surpasses the performance of the i8, its carbon-fiber structure, hybrid drivetrain, and EV capability make it conceptually similar to this BMW. Think of the $148,250 i8 as the working rich man’s 918 Spyder. In L.A., that’s exactly what it will be.

 

Car Warning Lights – Part II

This is the Second part in the two part series of “Car warning Lights”

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Brake warning light 1

Most cars nowadays have a brake warning light on the dash. Its purpose is to alert you that something is wrong in the braking system somewhere. If it comes on, check your owner’s manual to find out its meaning. The brake warning light does not have a standard meaning; it could be used for multiple purposes. For example, the same light may be used to show that the hand brake is on. Americans call it parking brake for. If that is the case and you are driving, you ought to have noticed the smell of burning brake dust by now. The light can also indicate that the fluid in the master cylinder is low. Each manufacturer has a different use and standard for this light. Which is nice. Because it would be such a drag if the same indicator meant the same thing in every vehicle.

Brake warning light 2

If you have got an ABS-equipped car, you also have a second light – the ABS light. If it comes on, get it seen to as soon as possible. It means the ABS computer has diagnosed that something is amiss in the system. It could be something as simple as dirt in one of the sensors, or something as costly as an entire ABS unit replacement. Either way, if that light is on, then you, my friend, have got 1970’s brakes. It’s important to note that this light normally comes on when you start the car and then switches off a few seconds later. If it blinks, throbs, flashes or in any other way draws your attention to itself, then take note. It’s not doing that just to please itself. Compared to a steady light, a blinking ABS light normally indicates something more serious. In some cases it could be as bad as you have no brakes at all.

Coolant warning light

This is normally the coolant level warning light. If this comes on it means that the level of coolant in your radiator is low and needs topping up. But remember this at all costs – DO NOT OPEN THE RADIATOR CAP WHEN THE ENGINE IS HOT! The coolant system is pressurised and it could easily release pressure and spray you with boiling coolant. Do it when the engine is cold. Top up the system with either a pre mixed coolant bought from a shop, or with distilled water. Don’t use tap water – the mineral deposits in it boil out in the cooling system and calcium gets depositted around the inside of the radiator making it less efficient (which will eventually cause it to fail). It’s always best to use pre mixed coolant, or to mix your own rather than using neat water. The coolant mixture behaves as an antifreeze in winter as well as a corrosion-inhibitor to stop your engine rusting from the inside out.
oil pressure warning light

Oil warning light

Typically this light will come on if your oil pressure is too low. Low oil pressure is really serious and if you continue to drive with this light on, eventually your engine will die. Low oil pressure can be caused by a failed oil pump, a blocked oil filter or strainer in the sump, or by low oil levels – for example if your engine is burning oil. Either way, you need to get it fixed, and fast. Low oil pressure is A Bad Thing and your engine will not thank you for leaving this problem untreated.

2015 Volvo V60 Cross Country Review

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We, at our organisation,  like our wagons low, stylish, and fast, so when Volvo showed its low, stylish, and (in some forms) fast V60 wagon in tall, pseudo-crossover Cross Country form, not all of us were completely stoked. Does the world need another crossover-y thing, or perhaps more cynically, do we need another apologist wagon that feels the need to butch itself up? Furthermore, does Volvo, of all companies, need a car like this, given that the V60 Cross Country will share showroom space with the thematically similar XC70?

Well obviously there are a few points that need to be fine tuned and a rare implementation which should be either looked into on priority or discarded. Having said that nothing is perfect and the major of the functionality is more than impressive. Those questions aside, we’re not disappointed with the execution and it is above par than the expectations we had, is the general sense going around. Volvo’s designers restrained themselves from slathering the car with off-road addenda like body cladding, roof cross rails, and brush guards. Indeed, what we have here is essentially a V60 with 2.6 inches of additional ride height, blacked-out window and mirror trim, dark window tinting, front and rear “skid plates” (neither of which appear to protect much of anything), silver rocker trim, and a honeycomb grille. The fender arches are trimmed in black to visually fill the gap created by the lifted suspension, and whether you choose the $41,940 Premier or the $45,590 Platinum trim level, every V60 Cross Country will ride on the same set of diamond-cut 18-inch wheels wrapped with 235/50 Continental all-season tires. All together, the high-riding V60 projects a remarkably different aura than does the standard V60, and it works, mostly because it still looks like a proper wagon.

 

Inside, occupants face the same pretty dashboard as other S60/V60 variants and sit on some of the world’s most comfortable chairs (Contour seats, in Volvo-speak). Our test example was gussied up with $400 wood inlays, although the advancing age of the interior design is evident in the button-heavy center stack and fussy user interface. The configurable instrument screen, however, looks slick, serving up data in Eco, Elegance, or Performance themes. Low-pile sisal-like floor mats and contrast-stitched leather upholstery also are standard, along with navigation, a sunroof, and Wi-Fi hotspot connectivity.

 

A jaunt in California from scenic Calistoga to Lake Tahoe in the V60 Cross Country taught us little we couldn’t have predicted: It’s tall, tippy, and soft, pretty much the exact opposite of the V60 Polestar. The taller perch gives occupants a commanding view of the road ahead while enjoying the innately more relaxed (read: less upright) seating position of a proper car, and that we really like. The familiar 250-hp turbo five-cylinder emits its distinct growl upon full-throttle acceleration, although its power is merely adequate. (Volvo claims a zero-to-60-mph time of 7.0 seconds, which is probably about right.) The steering and brakes lack much in the way of zeal or bite, and amplified body motions lower cornering speeds to crossover levels.  These remarks are one side of the coin but there is more to it than meets the eye. Some features leave your mouth wide open and your heart racing and your mind wishful. To elaborate, on the upside, the ride is velvety and the cabin remains hushed even at triple-digit speeds.

What the V60 Cross Country does reasonably well, however, is invite off-pavement-ish adventures ranging from the benign—say, parking with two wheels off the shoulder at a roadside fruit stand—to the moderately challenging, such as exploring muddy two-tracks. We wouldn’t attempt much more, though. But between the added wheel travel and the Haldex all-wheel-drive system, which can send up to 50 percent of engine torque to the rear axle before the front wheels have slipped even 1/17th of a rotation, the Cross Country can easily go where other V60s cannot. All the while, we noticed no squeaks or thunks when traversing diagonal ruts, and the well-tuned shocks dulled impacts both off-road and on.

Of course, the elephant in the room—which is to say the other crossover-y wagon thing in the showroom—is the aforementioned XC70, which is about eight inches longer, 2.3 inches taller, and 0.4 inch higher off the ground. And at $38,490, its base price is cheaper than the V60 Cross Country’s. Add in its vastly more capacious cargo area (72.1 cubic feet maximum versus 43.8 for the V60) and the XC70 is the more sensible choice, even though the V60 CC’s lackluster 20/28 mpg city/highway fuel economy is better than that of the XC70 AWD and its straight-six.

So what’s the point of the V60 Cross Country? By Volvo’s own admission, the V60 Cross Country is unashamedly more about style than practicality (the oddball S60 Cross Country sedan version being even more so). That calculus may change some, however, once the XC70 scales up to the upcoming S90 sedan on Volvo’s new SPA platform in the coming years. Some things we can confirm and give it in writing and some are resting upon perceptions and depend upon the beliefs of people and their own experience. While it’s debatable whether the world needs another faux CUV, it’s nice that another station wagon has been added to the landscape, and we’ll continue to take those in whatever form they come. To conclude, Volvo never has been a front runner as compared to its competitors from Germany. The Audi’s, Volkswagen’s, BMW’s et al make the top of the list as far as the technological advancement and style is concerned, However, having put the cards on the table, we must appreciate its effort to be distinctive and different from the normal. It provides a sense of freshness with all its models giving us a feeling that it cares least about the competition but more about the target audience it has created for itself in the past few decades. They define the magical combination of style and substance in their own beautiful way!

Your Vehicles Next Season – Summer’s!

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Are you ready for your next vacation, summer’s are around the corner and I am sure that you all are preparing for the heat. Getting your summer clothes out of the closet and all set to look as hot as the temperature? But wait, is your car ready for the next season – is it ready to face the heat and the dust? All this will take a toll on your car and you might a face a breakdown in the middle of the road and all you can do is to push it hard to the next service station.

Listen up carefully, if you want your vehicle to feel as fresh as you are for the next season.

1- Air Conditioning.

Now, this for me is the most important – because I am just not ready to face the heat and dust in my car. The operating system generally fails in the heat, get it scrutinized by a good mechanic.

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2 – Tires.

Make it a point to check the tire pressure every month, and fill a little higher pressure in summer. Don’t forget a spare tire and also learn how to change it, you never know when your car gets a flat tire. A good condition jack and a tool box are two things that you may need- just in case!

3 – Brakes.

Get your brakes inspected every now and then. It is recommended to get your brakes examined by a competent technician whenever you observe grabbing noises and longer stopping distances.

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4 – Lights.

Now, if you’re planning a road trip or wildlife safari- this becomes extremely important. Look over for all the lights and bulbs, change the one’s you think are not appropriate for the road trip and try not hitting a deer with your car.

5 – Battery.

This is one problem that can happen at any time of the year- batteries fail all the time. Check the fluids in your battery- but make sure you don’t come in contact with the battery acids. Wear an eye glare and rubber gloves while you scrutinize the battery, however it is recommended to get it checked by a professional.

6 – Emergencies.

These are very basic and important points that you need to keep in mind. A dirty windshield is a big no – no. Make sure you clean all the dirt around it, change your oil filters more often and always carry a first aid kit with you.

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A flash light and all the numbers that you require for help should always be handy with you. Your driver’s license, car insurance and a phone charger won’t go wrong at all. Getting your car ready for the heat is not much of trouble, but be careful and take care of these easy-to-do points and you won’t face any problems. Be safe and have a happy summer!

 

2014 Porsche 911 Targa 4S Review

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Many a times we do something that is not aligned with or rather opposite to our first and naive instincts. The ironic thing is that these primary notions are more often than not correct and believing in those first guesses, on the top of your head ideas and gut feeling might land you up in a better place than results due to over thinking and analysis would do. However, sometimes assessing and deciphering becomes ever so important that it eventually leads you to the promised land. Similarly,  it was never Porsche’s first choice to build the original 911 Targa. Porsche planned to develop an open-air 911, but back in the 1960s, the future of the convertible was under threat by impending U.S. regulations, so the company came out with the Targa, an almost-convertible with a permanent roll bar.

With no droptop to compete with in the 911 lineup, the Targa gained a following despite its slightly awkward looks. A glass rear window soon replaced the original, zip-out plastic version. The stainless-steel roll hoop was eventually painted black. Even after Porsche released a real convertible 911 in 1983, Targa sales continued.

It wasn’t until September of 1993 that Porsche stopped building the basket-handle Targa with the lift-off top. The name continued, but subsequent versions had what was essentially a giant glass sunroof. Those glass-topped Targas are now gone—and the new Targa looks a lot like the old Targa.

If we talk about Porsche with the average Tom, Dick and harry on the roads and question them about the most famous Porsche they have ever seen. Answers vary from the one Joey Tribbiani owned to the one in the Need for Speed game. Nonetheless, the 911 stands out and features in most of the answers and opinions. Based on the latest 911, known among Porsche-philes as the 991, the new Targa is a clear homage to the original design, with a brushed-aluminum roll bar and that distinctive, curved-glass rear window. The feeling of the trivial and old style sinks in with the general outlook and features, however some elements do fall in the category of modern embellishments and toppings. One such implementation is of the roof. We can give it in writing that the movement and motion of the roof which has been the loving and talking point amongst Porsche consumers, is brilliant. The roof’s operation, however, is thoroughly modern. With the push of a button, the rear glass lifts and glides backward along with what seems to be the entire rear end of the car. The trim at the top of the bar opens, the black-fabric-covered roof panel moves up and then back, nestling behind the rear seats, and the rear window whirs back into place.This automated metamorphosis takes 19 seconds. In the original Targa, this process required tools to release the top, getting out of the car, lifting the vinyl-covered top off the car, and then awkwardly folding the accordion-like roof to get it to fit in the front trunk. With a bit of practice, you might get it done in less than two minutes. For first-timers, it was closer to five.

The new Targa comes standard with four-wheel drive and can be had with either a 3.4-liter flat-six with 350 horsepower or the 4S’s 3.8-liter flat-six with 400 ponies. There’s no two-wheel-drive Targa, which makes us think that the Targa is the “convertible” for folks whose pants are stained with salt for five months of the year.

Although removing the top might not take as long as before, in 4S guise, the Targa proved to be a bit slower than the Carrera 4S. Our Targa 4S, which was equipped with the seven-speed dual-clutch automatic, hit 60 mph in 4.2 seconds and 100 mph in 9.8. The quarter-mile comes up in 12.6 seconds at 113 mph. As noted, these numbers are a few ticks behind those of a PDK-equipped Carrera 4S we previously tested. We’d surmise that the difference is largely due to the extra 144 pounds the Targa carries. The rear glass and its integral lid weighs 55 pounds, and Targas also begin life with the additional bracing found in the convertible 911. At 3630 pounds, the Targa 4S is the heaviest 991 we’ve tested; it’s even 42 pounds heavier than the Turbo S. On the plus side, we didn’t notice any structural quivers.

 

Despite carrying the equivalent of an extra passenger, the Targa 4S still grips to the tune of 0.99 g and stops from 70 mph in a very strong 148 feet. When pressed, it’s incredibly stable and secure. There’s virtually no body roll, and Porsche’s optional Dynamic Chassis Control ($3160) keeps the eventual loss of grip neutral and safe. It’s hard to believe that 61 percent of the mass presses on the rear wheels. Now, a quick whine about the continued growth of the 911 species: Some of the toylike character and liveliness we’ve come to love in 911s is gone in the latest version. That said, the 991 still feels smaller than its rivals such as the Nissan GT-R and the Chevrolet Corvette.

With the top in place, the Targa acts much like the coupe. There’s no additional wind noise and the sound-level meter registers 71 decibels at 70 mph—actually quieter than the aforementioned 4S coupe. In our earlier first drive of the Targa, we noticed something. On examining and observing carefully we came across some squeaks where the roof seals meet the windshield frame. Porsche must have addressed the problem, as our test car didn’t utter a peep. Opening the top brings in the wind and noise, but at lower speeds the raspy sound of the flat-six playing through the $2950 Sport exhaust is all you’ll remember.

That louder exhaust was but one of the many options on our test car. Prices start at $117,195, but our car came equipped with $29,815 in extras. It is amazing, how in certain situations you end up totally in shock. you are marveled and bewildered at the same time. You furtively question yourself and warily resort to sleuthing.  How is that possible? The biggies are the two-tone leather interior that adds $4120, the dual-clutch automatic costs $4080, LED headlights are $3110, the Premium Package Plus commands $2330, 14-way Sport seats with memory are $2120, and the Sport Chrono Package boosts the price by $2370. Now do not be fooled or trapped in that catch of the numbers. The numericals have the uncanny knack of astounding you every now and then. So if those numbers sound ridiculous, remember that, like the look of the new Targa, the high price of the 911 is also a tradition at Porsche.