For 2017, Porsche went back to its roots by dropping the flat six in the Boxster/Cayman line-up in favour of a four cylinder layout, just like road and racing cars of old. They also resurrected the badge 718, which first referred to an iconic four pot racer from the late Fifties through to the early Sixties.
The decision hopefully will also reduce the number of comparisons between the “entry level” Porsche and the 911.
The good news is that the new car is in every way worthy of the Porsche name and drivers will be instantly aware of what type of car they are sitting in.
I may have grown up around one of the earliest 911s in existence, but the first time I got behind the wheel of a Porsche, any Porsche, was when I was 19. It was a sinister black 1985 911 Turbo that was less than a year old. This was the car that struck fear into the hearts of Buick Grand National owners. One of the first cars to touch the 4 second zero to sixty. It was black on black, with the requisite fat fenders and whale tail. Every bit as extravagant as the decade it was born into.
That black beast spent a weekend with a buddy and I, a debauched weekend filled with sex, drugs, booze and stop light battles. It was the first time that I had seen the high side of 160 MPH. A chance meeting with an equally sinister looking black Buick on an empty street in Hamilton on Sunday morning gave me the opportunity to see if Zuffenhausen’s weapon could slay the quickest America had to offer. The Porker did not let me down.
It was not until the drive home that I learned that the borrowed car was not exactly borrowed, rather it had been liberated for the weekend. I shudder to think how different my life would be if I had been pulled over at nearly triple the double nickle in the unlawfully obtained turbo. Needless to say, that machine solidified the Porsche brand’s mystique in my young brain.
When I was just a little guy in the early Seventies, the neighbourhood kids used to love popping in to my Dad’s garage in Don Mills. There was always a some race car or another in there, along with a super cool, Meyers Manx dune buggy. I was fully aware of the coolness I was surrounded by, but a guy down the street drove a bright yellow Jeep CJ-5. He was always driving around with the top down with the tunes blaring and I so wanted to go for a ride. Years later, my Wife and I almost bought a new YJ when they first appeared on the market but the nonexistent back seat caused us to make a more practical choice. The “Jeep Thing” just wouldn’t fit our lifestyle.
As an auto writer and photographer, I spend a fair amount of time traveling and often have the opportunity to take road trips in some pretty cool cars. I also field a lot of questions from friends, family and neighbors regarding what I think of a certain vehicle. It isn’t very often that I have the chance to combine a road test with a specific request. Knowing that I was heading to the beautiful Finger Lakes region of New York state, it didn’t take too much arm twisting to get me to drive a drop top!
My ride to see Tony Stewart and Lewis Hamilton swap cars at Watkins Glen was the lovely Volkswagen Eos. I have to admit that I haven’t really paid much attention to the Eos over the past few years and didn’t really know much about it. Perhaps that is a good thing, because it meant that I was blown away by it on many different levels.
For some reason, I had it in my head that the Eos was a small, underpowered, 2 seat convertible that would be less than thrilling to drive. I don’t know where that notion came from, as nothing could be farther from the truth. Why don’t I address each one of those untruths individually:
When it comes to cars, not to mention other things, size is a relative consideration. With an overall length of 173.5 inches, the Eos is almost a full inch longer than a 1999-2004 Jetta.
The Eos is powered by the same magnificent 200 horsepower, 2.0L turbo that works so well in the current generation GTI that we love so much. Our tester was even equipped with the super sporty DSG transmission that helps the GTI sing on the race track. In other words, there is absolutely no lack of power here!
The Eos is a true 4 seater. Unlike many other 4 place drop tops, the rear seats aren’t just perches that are there for show. There is enough legroom that smaller adults can be comfortable back there.
Yesterday’s dawn was grey and wet here in the Durham Region, which was a bit disappointing as I headed down the road towards General Motors of Canada’s headquarters. Our mini road trip in the 2011 Camaro Convertible had already been rescheduled once due to rain. Fortunately the sun burned off the clouds by the time breakfast was finished and it was looking like a top down day! A great way to start Camaro Homecoming week.
My drive partner for the day was good friend of The Garage Blog, Lesley Wimbush. Our adventure would take us north from Oshawa, where the Camaro is built, to the town of Bobcaygeon and back. Along the way, it really did become an adventure as we discovered Lesley’s childhood home and the rural schoolhouse she once attended. We even met a gent who had owned several Camaros over the years and was delighted to get some photos of his young son in the beastly looking black and orange SS.
The the ride out in the morning, we had chosen this wicked, black SS with a manual transmission, just as the pony car gods require. We had a quick toot around Oshawa, past the plant where our steed had been born, reveling in the burble and pop soundtrack from the dual exhaust. Heading onto the highway, I opened up the 6.2 liter V8 and we discovered that high speeds with the top down are best attained with the windows up. Coffee cups, hats, jackets and hair all went flying as we both flailed about trying to retrieve them. Windows up! Chevy offers an optional wind screen which would prevent this sort of mayhem. That is not to say that the interior is a crazy place, with the windows up, conversation is easy even at highway speeds. Speaking of the interior, our ride boasted a sexy looking black and orange leather interior that perfectly complemented the exterior. I would assume the car has a stereo, but with an exhaust note that exciting, no self respecting gearhead would turn it on.
Chevrolet Canada press release
OSHAWA Ã¢â‚¬â€œ When the Oshawa built Chevrolet Camaro Convertible sets the pace for the 2011 Indianapolis 500 this Sunday, it will showcase a top built to last a lifetime, operate worry-free and maintain the appearance of its Coupe sibling.
To assure long-term durability, the convertible top underwent extensive testing during development, being opened and closed more than 22,500 times Ã¢â‚¬â€œ three times more than would be expected in a typical 10 years of use. Some of those cycles were performed in extreme conditions; temperatures ranging from minus 30Ã‚Â° C to 77Ã‚Â° C and humidity of up to 95 per cent.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“This past winter we even had our engineers driving 80 of these convertibles back and forth to work every day here in Michigan and Ontario,Ã¢â‚¬Â said Al Oppenheiser, Camaro chief engineer. Ã¢â‚¬Å“They had to open and close the top five times each day no matter what the weather was like.Ã¢â‚¬Â
It seems like Fall has come early in Ontario this year. During the 3rd week of August, the family here in The Garage spent some time in cottage country and noticed that the leaves had already begun to change. On Sunday this past week, when I finished up shooting the Drift Mania event at Mosport, I decided that it was warm enough to drive home with the top down. I was in for a real treat.
Sliding behind the wheel of the 2011 BMW 335i Cabriolet, I belted up and reached down to the center console and depressed the button that brings us to open sky mode. All 4 power windows lower themselves and then the folding hardtop begins its Transformer act, as it disappears beneath the rear deck. A quick stab of the ignition button and the 300 horsepower, twin turbo 6 rumbles to life with that distinct straight 6 growl. I shift the automatic shifter over into manual mode and roll away gently in first. Pulling out of the track, I lay firmly into the throttle and the back end steps out a little before the stability control reigns it in a bit.
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Nissan’s market research folks say the 370Z coupe’s average buyer is a 32 year old male, while the typical buyer for a Roadster is an older guy. The photo shows a balding, grey haired old dude. He’s 43! Hey, that’s me! The guy in the photo is more like 53. What does this have to do with the 370Z Roadster? Well, nothing really except that I don’t feel as old as the guy in the picture. I do however enjoy top down motoring.
For as long as manufacturers have been selling convertible versions of existing hardtops, driver’s have complained about body flex. Take the roof off a body and it is very difficult to retain the torsional strength of that original shell. With the 350Z, Nissan did a terrific job stiffening the chassis so that very little flex was noticeable even when entering a steep driveway. For the 370Z Roadster, the chassis is not only lighter than the previous car, but also front and rear body torsional stiffness is up 40-45% over the previous model while rear lateral bending is up a whopping 60%. So what does this mean to you? It means that on the road, the Roadster feels and handles almost exactly the same as the Coupe, even on a nice twisty road.
While Toyota and Lexus get all kinds of praise from Consumer Reports and JD Power, those of us who cater to the automotive enthusiast have been less than kind. No Supra. No MR2. We moan that Toyota treads out the most boring, uninteresting Japanese cars out there. So isn’t it a little ironic that no Japanese automaker offers more convertibles than any other manufacturer?
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