Tag Archives: Audi

Up For Grabs – Jack Baruth’s Porsche Lime Green Audi S5

That’s right, you read the title correctly.  No, this is not a dream.  The man – the legend – Jack Baruth, has put his Porsche lime green Audi S5 up for sale.  It is currently on eBay for those that are interested. This fine piece of sexy is nicely optioned with a six-speed manual transmission and Tuscan Brown leather interior.

Not to mention, there is the Audi navigation system package, technology package, carbon inlays and the Bang & Olufsen sound system.  Yes, I would love to own this car!  This car (correct me if I am mistaken) has participated in many track days, including the Cadillac CTS-V challenge with Bob Lutz.  This, my friends, is a piece of Jack Baruth history.

Someday it could even be a collectors item (no promises on that though!).  Do not let that bit about the car participating in track days scare you folks.  Mr. Baruth is a very very very very skilled driver.

He knows how to handle a car around a track, and I assure you this gem is in good condition. This car will get you lots of attention (did I mention it is Porsche lime green?!).  If you do not like attention……well than this car is not exactly for you.

I know what you are thinking, why is Mr. Baruth selling his S5 that is so awesome? Well, it sounds like he has been dreaming of a Switzer P800.  You can check out the eBay listing here, and it has more pictures to check out.  Last thing, who has an extra $49,995 laying around I can borrow?

Source- Jack Baruth

First Drive – 2010 Porsche Panamera 4S

Back in the days of yore if someone suggested there would be a Porsche SUV you would be laughed out of the room but not before getting slapped in the face.  Flash forward to the current year and the best selling model in the Porsche line up is a SUV!  Whoa how did that happen?  It is simple really; a small 2 door car coupe/convertible/etc is not practical for everyone.  To build on that success Porsche figured why not build a four door “sports” car.  People seem to want to purchase a Porsche and some people care about practicality.  The two combined equals a need for more then just two door sports cars.  Now we have a new four door (it is really a five door but more on that later) Porsche sedan.  The real question I had was whether the sedan was a true Porsche or does it just wear the crest?

The exterior of the Panamera is recognizable as a Porsche without question.  The front end has styling elements that make it look like an enormous redone 911.  The two round headlights have LED strips hanging below them on the bumper.  The LED strips are day time running lights and at night the same housing has another set of lights that come on.  These act as fog lights or driving lights in a sense.  The side profile has nice sculpting from right behind the front fenders down the side.  The rear is what is truly controversial.  Let’s just get something out of the way quickly.  I like this car.  I like the way it looks.  I am apparently weird and I am ok with that.  Ok now moving on, the rear is what some call hunch backed or carrying too much baggage.  Some are saying it is droopy.  Call it what you want but I see Porsche design in it.  This car is nothing short of huge.  It is right around the size of a BMW 7 Series, Mercedes S-Class and Audi A8 to mention a few.  Technically speaking the Panamera is a five door since the rear does not have a trunk lid rather a rear hatch.  The quad exhaust peak out from the rear to remind you of the power that lurks in the engine bay both on the naturally aspirated V8 and the Twin Turbo V8.

The interior is not quite as controversial as the exterior.  It is pure sporting luxury.  The seats are comfortable and supportive.  They hug you in all the right places.  These are not barcaloungers and no they will not massage you.  They are meant to hold you in place firmly.  The center console between the driver and passenger runs the length of the car.  In the front it rises up and meets the PCM (Porsche Communication Management System).  This design cue is somewhat similar to the center stack in the Carrera GT.  That center stack houses a dizzying array of buttons though they are all clearly marked and clumped together by function.  The PCM is a touch screen along with plenty of buttons to choose from to help operate it.  This was definitely a complex system but I was able to use it without the owners manual though others in this segment have easier systems to operate.  The interior fit and finish is definitely without question up to Porsche standards if not raising the bar within the company.

The engine in this car was a 4.8 liter direct injected V8 pumping out 400 hp and 369 lb-ft to all four wheels.  Since this was a Panamera 4S all wheel drive was standard.  The one choice transmission was Porsches newer PDK (Porsche Doppelkupplung) dual clutch transmission.  Launch control is activated by pushing the sport plus button then hitting the brake and then the gas.  You get a visual confirmation launch control is activated and let go of the brake.  You will hear a noise and then suddenly all four wheels grab the pavement and launch the car.  You are thrown back into your seat as the car launches hard and fast.  (PSA – Do this on an empty road two lane road).  You can use the transmission in full automatic mode or shift yourself using the buttons (hate those things) or by moving the gear shift to the manual gate.  The 911 Turbo is getting true paddles this year so hopefully they will trickle down and replace those buttons.  The car without question handles like a true Porsche.  Yes I have driven a different Porsche recently and yes, this does handle differently.  It is a big car, but with that said, the faster you go the smaller the car seems.  It shrinks as you go around corners and off ramps.  It shrugs off speed.  Handling is very impressive.

The particular Panamera 4S I was in had quite a few option packages.  I will skip going through them all though the options rang up to a total of $17,550.  That was on top of the base price of a Panamera 4S which starts at $93,800.  When all is said and done the total sticker price out the door would be $112,325.  That is a lot of coin, but the reality of it is that the Panamera is in the thick of it with the rest of the high priced luxury cars.

The original question was whether the sedan was a true Porsche or does it just wear the crest?  This car is a true Porsche.  Sure many Porschephile’s will say this is not a true Porsche because it weighs nearly 4,300 lbs and has four doors (by the way, that is light for a car this big).  My only question to them is: have you driven one? While it will not be for everyone the reality of it is simple, higher volume selling vehicles like the Cayenne and possibly the Panamera help keep the lights on for future development of lower volume cars like the 911 and whatever the next halo car might be.


Full Disclosure- The review vehicle was provided by a local Porsche dealership

The First Time I Met The 2011 Fisker Karma – Thoughts And Impressions

I have read all the brochures and online materials, I have seen all the pictures – and the reality is none of that does the Fisker Karma justice.  I could sit here and list all of its specifications, but I won’t.  Mainly because that is not what this post is about.  Many of you have not had the opportunity (yet) to see the Fisker Karma in person.  When you do, you will remember it.  The lines and curves on this car are just gorgeous.

Lets back up a minute.  What the heck is a Fisker and what is the Karma?  Funny you should ask.  Fisker Automotive is a new car brand founded by Henrik Fisker, who is also the current CEO (funny how that works).  He was previously known for being the design director for Aston Martin and the president and CEO of BMW’s Designworks USA.  Maybe that does not mean much to you, but it equates to this: he is responsible for cars such as the BMW Z8 (one hot piece of metal), Aston Martin DB9 and the V8 Vantage (also both hot pieces of metal).  Needless to say, he has a sense of style when it comes to designing a car.

The Karma is the first car from Fisker Automotive.  With demo cars arriving at the end of the year, production should (if it stays on track) start in the very beginning of next year.  The car will be built overseas in Finland initially.  In fact, it will be built in the same factory as some Porsche’s and other vehicles.  In 2012 production will move to the Wilmington Assembly plant in Wilmington, Delaware.  This plant was recently purchased by Fisker from General Motors.  With the plant already up to date with tooling and a local trainable workforce, it is an ideal location.  The plant was previously producing the Saturn Sky, Pontiac Solstice and Opel GT.

One last thing before we get to the actual Karma –  If you have not seen pictures I will tell you that this the car is a saloon.  It will fit two sets of golf clubs in the trunk, but getting in and out of the rear seat isn’t exactly graceful.  Another car is coming in 2012 from Fisker, and it will be a more mainstream, higher volume vehicle.  Currently the project is code named Nina and it will be a midsize sedan.  I was informed it will be about the size of the BMW 5 Series, but with much more usable interior space (read really practical).  The Nina should come in somewhere around $45-48k.  Also coming sometime between the 2012 Nina and 2011 Karma is the Karma Sunset.  The Karma Sunset is essentially a convertible version of the Karma, featuring a retractable hard top.

Upon seeing the Karma in person, I really was stunned.  Yes, from the front it looks somewhat like the Joker from Batman.  It still looks great though.  Some of the design cues from the front translate to the rear and interior.  This gives the car an overall cohesive design.  Each rear fender has a “fuel” door.  On the passenger side is the gasoline, while on the driver side is the plug-in for the rechargeable lithium ion battery pack.  The front headlights feature LED running lights, while the rear tail lights are also LED.  The roof features a full length solar panel to help charge the car and provide cooling for the interior cabin while the car is parked.  I remember the early 2000’s Audi A8s had this as an option on their sunroof.  The wheels are 22 inches (!) and are made from a  lightweight alloy.  The brakes are the same Brembo setup used in the Cadillac CTS-V.  The door handles have a electronic push pad under each handle that you merely push and the door opens.  This is similar in concept to the Chevrolet Corvette and new Cadillac CTS Coupe.  As you can see in pictures, the exterior is just gorgeous.  Some might say breathtaking.  I do suppose some could say it is controversial but I am in the “it is definitely gorgeous camp.”

Ok, I can understand how someone might be mixed on the exterior of this car, but the interior is simply stunning.  This is a whole new take on luxury.  This interior feels so different from all the other luxury sedans out there.  When I think of high end luxury cars (we are not talking small volume cars like the Rolls Royce Phantom), I think of cars like the Audi A8, Lexus LS 460 and many others.  This car is completely different inside.  To be honest, when I got inside of the Karma I felt like I had just stepped inside one of the older Chris Craft boats.  With rich thick leather and real wood, the interior just felt so natural and polished, yet elegant.  Keep in mind this was a pre pre-production car.  The 10.2″ center touch screen, which controls most of the cars functions (A/C, Radio, etc) was stuck in a black loading screen (I’m guessing the software was not ready) and the car could not turn on, though the gauges were lit up and the windshield wipers worked (I checked).  Oh something to note, the engine in the Karma is being sourced from GM – though that is not the only thing.  I noticed both the turn signal/cruise control stalk and the windshield wiper control stalk were both parts bin GM.  In fact, I am 99% sure they are the very same stalks in the Cadillac STS.  Whether these are the exact stalks found in the production sedan is yet to be seen.  Also, the rear view mirror is GM sourced too.  The gear shift level (if you could call it that) has a button on the left that I assume starts the car due to it’s power symbol and the lack of any other power button on the console or near the steering wheel.  The right hand part of the gear shift level is actually a switch that gets flipped into different positions to select your gear (PRND).  Down the center of the interior is the battery pack, but it is packaged beautifully behind glass and leather.  The front seats are downright sporty, comfy and are terrific.  The rear is awkward to get in and out of, but once in the car, the seats are comfortable.  Leg room is acceptable but not amazing.  The roof line does cut into rear headroom.  Overall, the interior is stunning.

The power will come from a battery pack with a 50 mile range.  Beyond that 50 mile range, the 2.0 liter turbo range extender engine kicks in and produces 260 horsepower.  This motor is sourced from GM and is the same engine used in the Saturn Sky Redline and the Pontiac Solstice GXP.  The total range between the battery and the gasoline engine is 300 miles.  You can forget range anxiety –  this is a series hybrid just like the upcoming Chevrolet Volt.  That means the gas engine is in no way driving the wheels. Rather, the engine is connected to the battery which powers the two electric motors connected to the rear wheels.  We will get into all the technical stuff in another post some other time.

The cars sticker price before tax rebates is $89,000 and change.  I know there is a government tax rebate and certain states (I think Minnesota does) also has tax rebates on qualifying vehicles.  The dealership here, which is the one and only one for the state of Minnesota has pre-sold and took deposits for 3 Karmas.  I was told varying numbers for how many total cars the dealership has pre-sold, but the most common number I heard was 17.  Not bad at all.

So what are my final initial impressions?  Well, I can not wait to get my hands on a production model.  Considering I did not get to drive or start this one, and the infotainment system did not work, I cannot give a full impression post.  I can say it does not feel “kit car” in anyway.  The interior is just ridiculous (in an amazingly good way).  The exterior I love, but some will not.  This is for sure a legitimate automobile with a company that I frankly hope succeeds in many ways.  As for the Karma, I’ll see you soon!

MAMA Spring Rally Wrap Up

After taking time to digest everything I wanted to share some experiences from the MAMA spring rally.  MAMA is the Midwest Automotive Media Association,  a non-profit group that brings automotive journalists and public relations people together. A quick recap: the spring rally was a two day event spanning a Wednesday and Thursday.

Getting right into it, we were first unleashed onto the track at Road America Raceway on Wednesday morning after a quick breakfast and safety seminar.  During breakfast the various manufactures in attendance gave quick speeches about what they had brought with them for the rally.

Once we were unleashed we had choices; cars were lined up and each car had a sticker on the windshield stating either “road” or “track”.  If a car had a track sticker we were allowed to take it on either the public roads or the track.  Cars with road stickers were not permitted on the track.

Some things to note about the day: we were asked to keep stability control on at all times in the cars.  They were trying to avoid people over-reaching their abilities and wanted to minimize any damage or injury that might occur and while this most likely hindered some people’s lap times and severely hindered some autocross times, it was fine because part no major incidents occurred.

I focused much of my attention on the track in the early morning.  I drove everything from the Mazda RX8, Audi S4 and Mercedes Benz C63 to the Hyundai Genesis Coupe 2.0T R-Spec.  I instantly found the Hyundai Genesis Coupe 2.0t R-Spec underwhelming.  I was not in love with the manual, it felt slightly mushy and the shifts were not clean and crisp.  The engine needed to stay high in the revs to keep going around the course.  When I asked the Hyundai rep about this he admitted that this was too much track for the car and went on to state that the car is better in shorter track scenarios.  I can easily believe that.

The new 2010 Audi S4 was just tackled the track.  I set all the settings to dynamic mode and took off.  I loved the six speed manual transmission in that car.  Through the corners, the car felt much more neutral then the last generation with the heavy V8, though I will admit I do miss the V8 exhaust from the previous generation S4.  The car pulled itself through the corners pushing power to different wheels with the sport differential in the rear.

I did not take the time to properly set up the Mercedes Benz C63 or the E63 before hitting the track and this hindered some of the fun.  I did not tinker with all the settings, thus the car was not to my liking.  The paddles did not seem to do what I wanted them to do, the steering was not how I predicted through the corners, and the E63 was just simply hard to place in the corners.  You really need to play with the settings to get these cars to your liking and I did not take the time.

For the road portion I took out the upcoming Suzuki Kizashi Sport with the CVT transmission.  The paddles responded nicely and overall, the car was very nice.  The slightly more aggressive exterior body kit is welcomed and the larger wheels and tires looked great.  This was no barn burner but it went well enough.

The Rolls Royce Ghost was another trip all together, hitting near illegal speeds in no time. The interior of the new Rolls Royce Ghost is just plush.  Everything is made of quality materials.  I determined if I can ever afford a house with carpet as nice as the floor mats in the Ghost, I have made it.  The umbrellas in the doors have ventilation ducts that dry them, giving the ability to put away the umbrellas wet (coming in quite handy when Jeeves picks you up at the gallery opening).  Speaking of Jeeves, this car is much smaller then the Phantom (though still quite large) and many owners may prefer drive it themselves instead of having a chauffeur.  Sorry Jeeves, you’ll be taking the other car.

I also took the new Ford F150 Raptor with the 6.2 liter V8 out on the roads.  This big truck finally seems to have the much needed motivation to move like it should.

You know what they say, it’s not a party until a tree falls on an Aston Martin Rapide.  If nothing else, many people will remember this from the 2010 MAMA spring rally.  Upon getting back to our hotels (tired and stinky from being in the sun all day) it started to downpour and I mean a torrential downpour.  Within minutes of the rain hitting, hail rolled through.  The chunks of hail were about the size of a pea.  Of course, my thoughts quickly rolled to the millions of dollars worth of cars sitting outside of the hotel and the track.  Once the storm passed, I walked to dinner.  As I was walking everyone was heading to the parking lot.  I asked why and they only could utter something about a tree and the Aston Martin.  Uh oh, that is not good.  To my (and everyone else’s) horror, a pine tree had fallen on the Aston Martin Rapide.  We lifted the tree off as they backed the car out from under it.  Upon closer inspection, the passenger side mirror was gone, the hood was dented, the windshield broken and the worst part was that wood had gone through the windshield and into the dashboard, more then likely ruining the dashboard. Not good.

Thursday morning we had an autocross course set up next to the track.  The Ford Fiesta was a ton of fun due to its handling.  The new 2011 Ford Mustang V6 was much better then I anticipated.  The Mercedes Benz C63 was a beast though the E63 was a boat through the course, mainly due to it’s size.  Its power was what pushed it through.

The rest of the morning was spent off roading in everything from Range Rovers to the Ford F150 Raptor 6.2.  The Raptor 6.2 was my first vehicle I took off road and its size made it a handful.  The course was somewhat tight in some areas and I had to back up to make some corners.  The truck handled everything like the beast that it is.  After going through the course in the Raptor, I decided to go for something a bit smaller.  The new 2010 Range Rover Sport was next up and this thing was ridiculously nice.  Something crazy to note is that the Range Rover Sport was also labeled Wednesday as a track car.  This vehicle was put through its paces both on the track and off road.  Not many vehicles can be pushed through the track one morning and then stuck onto an off road trail the next.  I was curious as to how the stock 20 inch wheels and tires would handle the off road portion seeing as they had been used on the track the morning before.  To my surprise, the Range Rover Sport (I should not have been surprised) was an off road machine, shrugging off everything I threw at it.  Driving the Range Rover next was a very cool experience.  The all digital gauge cluster is really useful.  Being able to change what is displayed based on what you are doing comes in handy when off road.

The entire experience gave me the opportunity to drive many different cars in varying situations throughout a two day period.  The track portion was a blast, as was everything else.  The people were friendly and inviting.  Sitting and having lunch with two gentlemen from Consumer Reports lead to quite an interesting conversation.  Everyone from freelancers to Cars.com writers were in attendance.  Overall it was a great first experience and I look forward to whatever the next MAMA rallies should bring.



TT No Go Home – Parking Fail

Leaving work this week I spotted a very large parking fail.  Essentially the Audi TT is for lack of better words, screwed.  The Pontiac Grand Prix and Dodge Stratus boxed him in really good.  The Grand Prix is actually touching the rear bumper while the Stratus at least is not touching though is very close.  Talk about a huge parking fail.  I would be irate if I owned this TT.  I have yet to figure out how some people can be so bad at parking.

Review – 2010 GMC Acadia

I will be really up front and honest with you.  When I received the email telling me a 2010 GMC Acadia was coming my way, my first thought was “I will not like this vehicle.”  The main reasoning behind this is because I actually like the current Chevrolet Tahoe (the GMC Yukon is fine but I like the Tahoe styling better) and I could not imagine why I would personally buy this mammoth crossover instead of a Tahoe.  Yes, I’m aware the Acadia starts roughly around $5,540 cheaper than the Tahoe, but pricing never entered my thoughts when making this judgment.  The more interesting thing was, I had just hopped out of a fully loaded Buick Enclave, which rides on the same platform and shares so many parts with the Acadia.  I really enjoyed my time with the Enclave, but it still didn’t sway my opinions about the Acadia.  So what happened?

The Acadia’s exterior is striking.  The headlights are unique and truly good looking.  They really set the front end apart from other crossovers.  The hood has nice sculpting in the center with lines running from the front clip into the hood on either side.  The side profile is less sculpted, but has a bulge towards the bottom of the doors near the rocker panels.  The fenders are somewhat over exaggerated but not overly done.  The rear taillights are stylized with two round turret-looking shapes in each housing.  The Acadia’s exterior is overall, very sharp especially sitting on the optional twenty inch chrome clad wheels.

The Acadia’s interior does have a few design cues shared with the Chevrolet Traverse, though it is worth noting the Acadia came to market before the Traverse.  The center stack and instrument panel are all easy to operate and organized well.  At night the gauges and switchgear all light up GMC red and white. I personally find this easy on the eyes late at night.  The standard fold-flat third row is easy to operate but as a usable seat, the space back there is really meant for a child.  With the third row in seating position, there is still room in the back for bags.  The seats while large and flat were most definitely road trip worthy.

Powertrain options in the Acadia are limited to the 3.6 liter V6 featuring direct injection. Power output is 288 hp and 270 lb-ft to either the front or all four wheels.  The power is handled by a six speed automatic with manual shift capabilities.  I am undecided on this transmissions programming.  It could be the particular Acadia I was in, but the transmission seemed lazy to me.  Shifts were not quick and crisp.  They were delayed and took longer than expected when not pushed hard.  In all-wheel-drive mode, as the tester was equipped, the EPA rated the Acadia at 16/23 miles-per-gallon.  I saw an average of 16.8 mpg in the city and 19.9 mpg cruising at 75 miles-per-hour on the highway.  It is worth noting I averaged 22.8 mpg when cruising at 65 mph.

Rear End With Third Row Seat Up

The Acadia was optioned as a SLT-2 model with a sticker price of $42,185.  The test model also included the following options: technology package, touch screen navigation with rear view camera, rear seat entertainment, power sunroof with second row skylight, heated and cooled front seats with perforated leather surfaces, and red jewel tintcoat.  The total price swelled to $49,740 after destination and the plethora of options!  That’s a lot of money for a non-premium CUV.

A few things that stood out to me while I was in the Acadia:  first, was the heads up display. I like how GMC decided to include this feature with the technology package.  Second, the cooled seats in this Acadia were some of the best I have encountered to date.  They seats cooled very quickly and prompted me to pay attention as the seats made my backside chilly.  Finally, the iPod/iPhone interface on the optional touch-screen radio worked terrific.

So after driving the Acadia for the week, was it good enough to change my original opinions?   I was sure I wasn’t going to like it.  My final opinion on the CUV is I kind of like it and I kind of don’t.  I definitely was impressed at the end of my test.  I liked the Acadia as a vehicle; more than I ever thought I would like it.  With that said, I cannot admit the Acadia would be my top pick for $49,740.  GMC is deep into luxury territory at that price and in reality, the Buick Enclave has a nicer interior.  Looking past GM’s products other vehicles in the same price category as the Acadia include: the Acura MDX, Audi Q7 and many others luxury brand CUVs.  For the same price as the Acadia, the Audi Q7 TDI or the Acura MDX might be a better buy in my opinion.  The main problem is not the Acadia, but rather GM’s pricing of the Acadia. This vehicle fits in much better at with a $44,000 price ceiling to be truly competitive.   The bottom line is, if someone was ready to buy an Acadia and asked me if they should, I would say this: if you like it, it is a good vehicle but if selecting a fully loaded one I might be cautious on purchasing.

Full Disclosure- The review vehicle was provided by General Motors

The First 2011 Buick Regal Has Been Sold

It is true!  The first 2011 Buick Regal’s are hitting dealerships now and the first one sold this past weekend.  The car was sold in Elgin, IL by Woody Buick GMC dealership to 44 year old CEO at a manufacturing company.  He traded in an 2007 Saturn Outlook while also considering a Toyota Camry and Audi A4 before purchasing the new Regal.

The new owner stated “The Regal is a superb car to drive on the road, with more of a European feel than any other car we looked at,” said the new owner. “My 15 year-old daughter has already said she wants to take the car to college with her in a few years.”

GM had this to say about the first sale, “We are encouraged to see that the first Regal was sold within 24 hours of hitting the dealership lot,” said Roger McCormack, director of marketing for Buick. “The Regal is the next chapter in Buick’s modern transformation and will continue attracting new buyers to the brand.”

I personally think the Regal stands a good chance at luring more buyers at a lower age range into the Buick showrooms.  Time will tell but everyone that has driven one so far walks away throughly impressed.

Source- GMInsidenews

Cars & Café – May 1, 2010

Ford GT

Another month of spring has come upon us and that means another Cars & Café gathering on a Saturday morning.  The coffee was flowing and everyone seemed very happy to see Kylee from Imola Motorsports pull in with the doughnut holes in the backseat of Kevin’s M5.  This month, rain was not in the forecast and the cars started flowing in early and fast.  By 8:30 the lot was full and people were already parking cars up on the hill.

My Father & My 300ZX

Some of the notable cars from last month made repeat appearances including the VW Bus and the Scion XB with the LED lights.  In fact, the XB parked next to our 300ZX.  On Friday night I saw a Subaru WRX that looked like it was on its way to a rally but, in fact, it was being pulled out of where it is kept for Cars and Café.  The WRX was literally kitted out and looked rally ready.  Two really nice last generation Toyota Supra’s were in attendance along with two Ford GT’s that seem to be regulars at the event.  Two Audi R8 V10’s pulled in along with two 4.2 V8 models.  Of course the myriad of Porsches, Audi’s and Mercedes were lined up.  Two BMW 8 Series made it out along with an M Coupe.  A custom 1978 Porsche 924 was revealed at the show and I must say it looked terrific.

Audi R8 V10

Custom 1978 Porsche 924

The AutoMotorPlex has been hard at work on newest build out of new buildings.  They are in the process of building out new garages currently.  As you can see in the picture, it looks like the heated floors are being laid out now (that is just a guess).

This month the organizers had something special in store. Many left the AutoMotorPlex for the first annual drag day immediately after the event.  The group traveled to Eau Claire, WI to Rock Falls Raceway.  Sadly, I could not attend due to a prior commitment though I heard it was a blast.

With more cars than last month and terrific weather, we are already off to a great start to the season.  Next month promises to be even better as the weather warms up more.


RoAB #32 – The ‘Grab Bag’ Episode

This week I had the honor to be a guest on the best second best darn auto podcast on the interwebs called RoundAbout Show.  It is truly a eye opening experience that everyone should experience at some point or another in their lives.  This week happens to be a grab bag.  This means each person brings a story to the table that gets submitted for discussion.  This week those topics included-

Top Gear America 3.0, maybe

New York car repair scam

Transparent Nissan 370Z

Operation Crash-for-Cash

Off-Road Chevrolet Corvette

Diesel Mazda RX-7 Rumors

Next up something they call “the blind spot.”  This week featured a Barbie Car Drunk Driving Bust

Moving on into the garage between the lot of us we had an Audi S5 and a Malibu LTZ.

We finish up the show with RoundAbout update which this week was the worlds worst parking job and also highway hearsay.

I want to thank Jeffrey RossMichelle NaranjoZach BowmanEric TrytkoCraig Cole and Ben Sanders for having me on the show.


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Is Saab Reaching With The New 2010 9-5 Pricing?

The all-new 2010 Saab 9-5 is almost here.  Yesterday, the pricing was announced and I was shocked at first.  The lineup will be launching with the range-topping Aero model, with a sticker price of $49,990.  That is a hefty chunk of money, and a nice increase to the Aero’s price.  Though this is a much larger and modern vehicle, the last generation 9-5 Aero started at $41,425 (not that anyone actually paid that price).  The Aero will be coming standard with the 2.8 liter turbo V6 putting out 300 horsepower via Saab’s XWD, which is an all-wheel drive system that features Haldex’s trick torque vectoring.  They mentioned it will feature a six-speed automatic transmission with paddle shifters, so apparently the Aero model (at least at launch) will not have a manual transmission.  The Aero model should go on sale in July.  The entry-level model will feature Saab’s 2.0-liter turbo and will have a base price of “under $40,000.”  That is all that was announced for the pricing on that model for now – it should be arriving soon after the Aero model.

With the increased dimensions of the new 9-5 and upgraded content (available heads up display, cooled glovebox, lane departure warning, and many others) the question is the pricing.  This is deep into midsize luxury territory.  With the 9-5 being priced right in the middle of the new Infiniti M37x, BMW 528i, Mercedes E350 and the Audi A6 3.0T, can it compete?  Is the price too high?  This car will likely have many things at that price level that the competition might not (though we have not yet seen the ordering sheet and option pricing).  Time will tell how this new vehicle fares, but without question Saab enthusiasts have been waiting for a rebirth of their brand and this might be the car to start that.