• Wednesday, 10 April 2013

      Lisbon Coast Holiday Sale

      The Lisbon Coast offers a great blend of sea side resorts with golden sandy beaches, beautiful landmarks like Sintra National Park and the lively capital, Lisbon.

      Concorde Travel are offering city breaks to Lisbon or holidays in Cascais and Estorial.

      Departing 2 May, 8 May or 9 May 2013 for 7 nights: stay at the 3* Sana Estoril, b&b, was €564 now €449pp. Two Centre Lisbon City + Lisbon Coast: 3 nights at the 3* Lisboa Tejo Hotel & 4 nights at 3* Hotel Saboia, b&b now €499pp.

      Other offers include the 4* Clube do Lago Estoril, 4 sharing a 2-bedroom apartment, self catering, from €574pp; or the 4* Hotel Vila Gale in Estoril, b&b, now €579pp; the 4* Hotel Vila Gale in Cascais, b&b, now €629pp or the Hotel Pestana also in Cascais, b&b, now €629pp.

      For these and other offers, check www.concordetravel.ie.

      Mondello Park Car Races to be streamed live

      Mondello Park's Car Race season starts with a bang this weekend, with a packed 17-race programme run by the Irish Motor Racing Club taking place over Saturday and Sunday. The event will feature some brand new classes and the first ever Live Streaming Web TV Coverage of an Irish Car Race event.

      Many classes see increased entries and the introduction of three new series, two of which will be on show this weekend. The PatchTyre Equipment Fiesta Championship, with the brand new series for standard Fiesta Zetec's cars, has attracted more than 25 cars for its race.

      The Fiestas will be joined on the timetable by the new 'Future Classics' championship for modern Historics, which are not eligible for the current Historic Racing age limitations. The third new class will be the revitalised GT series which will début at the next event on June 10th.

      The Fiesta Series will be one of five classes which will star in the first Mondello.TV Live broadcast, which will transmit from the County Kildare circuit throughout Sunday's event. Joining the Patch Tyre Equipment supported series will be Formula Vee, Formula Libre, Irish Touring Car Championship and Ginetta Juniors. Each class will race twice and both races for each series will be broadcast. In between races the presentation team will bring viewers background information from the event and interviews with drivers and other guests. The live stream will be accessible through mondello.tv or the Mondello Park web site.

      With the season opener being so busy the event is scheduled to take place over two days with qualifying taking place on Saturday afternoon and Racing all day Sunday. Joining the Televised classes on the timetable will be the Future Classics with a single race and the HRCA Historics, Strykers, and Global Light classes with double headers.

      Admission to Sundays race day is just €10 for adults with accompanied under sixteen’s admitted free of charge. All admission includes a complimentary event programme. For a event timetable see www.mondellopark.ie.

      Opinion: Lincoln needs a farewell address, not a new marketing plan

      Lincoln grille
      The trouble with Ford's Lincoln brand is that no one cares about it any more.
      Not long after I heard that Mark LaNeve, chief operating officer ofFord agency Team Detroit, was moving to take over direct operations of the New York ad agency Hudson Rouge for Lincoln, I heard that JCPenney CEO Ron Johnson was ousted. The two events are connected.

      There can be all sorts of reasons why LaNeve, former head of sales and marketing at General Motors, is taking over the office that was under the direction of Cameron McNaughton since it was opened last year to serve Lincoln. But the bottom line reason: The plan to save Lincoln is not working.

      As I was listening to the discussion about JCPenney's Johnson and his mistakes, I heard two talking heads discussing it. One said it perfectly: "Johnson's mistake was not in moving JCPenney to an everyday low-pricing strategy, it was taking the job in the first place. JCPenney has no reason to exist. It's reason for being is gone. It was once the place where America bought its underwear, but now they buy their underwear all sorts of other places."

      I have been saying for about two years now that the trouble with Ford's Lincoln brand is that no one cares about it any more. Okay, Lincoln dealers and some current and ex-Ford employees, some of those in the airport livery and hearse businesses care. That's not a business model, though. Ford is going to try and force Lincoln on China, I hear. The Chinese want Lincoln? I doubt that.

      I'm not alone. Ford CEO Alan Mulally was aghast at the Super Bowl ad as well.
      The advertising for Lincoln since last fall has been a mess. The TV work has ranged from wallpaper that vaguely positions to Lincoln as a forward-looking tech brand to a truly strange Super Bowl effortthat had some mystical indecipherable connection to Jimmy Fallon. I will give someone an AOL Autos iPhone cover and ten bucks if they can tell me what the hell Fallon had to do with that ad effort or the Lincoln brand. I'm not alone. Sources tell me Ford CEO Alan Mulally was aghast at the Super Bowl ad as well.

      We have seen ghostly images of Abraham Lincoln, and reflected images of Dean Martin and Franklin Roosevelt in the paint of old Lincolns and the new ones hardly anyone is buying.

      This past weekend, the debut of AMC's Mad Men was brought to me by Lincoln, so the ad billboard said at the start of the program. The ad I saw run on the show had no connection to the show, and I saw a bunch of other car ads as well. Lexus was in the second hour of the program. The sound you hear is me scratching my head.

      If anyone has a shot at fixing it, Mark LaNeve is the guy. He did smart work at Cadillac, and then stewarded the "Mayhem" ad campaign at Allstate before coming back to Detroit last year. He is talking to dealers and Ford about how to fix things, at least in the short term.

      But I wish his skills and experience were being deployed against a problem that could really be fixed. Like JCPenney, Kresge's, Gimbel's, Woolworth, Pan-Am, Blockbuster, HummerPlymouth and Lincoln's old showroom-mate, Mercury, the problem facing Lincoln is a staggering lack of relevance.

      God himself couldn't save Lincoln and make it profitable and relevant again.
      This is a brand that no one needs or desires. Desire was drained out of this brand in the last century when even Ford's senior executives stopped driving Lincolns. The latest crop of products wouldn't crack the top six choices in any category they compete in. And I feel bad about that. Watching Lincoln today is like watching an athlete try and perform in a game – baseball, football, golf or hockey – after he is beyond the age or skills to compete. I have an image of Arnold Palmer in my head – stiff-backed, stiff-legged and stiff-armed – trying feebly to get the ball around Augusta the last few years he played in the Masters. Arnie is Arnie, but it was painful to watch him play about as well as I do.

      What to do?

      • If Ford wants to compete in the premium-luxury space, the company ought to do it the right way. Make Lincoln – specifically the MKT crossover and MKS sedan – a livery brand only for airport fleets, funeral homes, etc. If some retail buyers want those vehicles too, God bless 'em.
      • Phase out the current MKZ and MKX. Make the Navigator an up-market Ford Expedition or Ford Navigator.
      • Launch a brand-new luxury brand as Toyota did with Lexus. If playing in the luxe space is required for future growth and profitability, then start from scratch with a clean sheet of paper with a brand name that can resonate and achieve legitimacy and relevance. Lexus achieved that in less than ten years.
      • Have the courage to walk away. Admit that no one, including God himself, could save Lincoln and make it profitable and relevant again. People aren't buying their underwear at JCPenney. They aren't renting videos at Blockbuster. And they aren't going to buy these Lincolns.

      Top 5 Market Trendsetters

      Top 5 Market Trendsetters
      Whether you love or hate any of these cars, each one has managed to change the modern auto industry in many ways.
      Cars like these don’t come along every model year. When they do, however, competing automakers often find themselves scrambling to come up with their own version of whatever that trendsetting new car may be. So we've taken a quick look back at just a few of the biggest automotive trendsetters of the past 30 years or so. None of them are supercars, or even sports cars for that matter, but each one managed to forever change the automotive industry, for better or worse.
      The Honda Civic first arrived on American shores in 1978 and it finally proved that an economy car didn't always have to be a complete piece of junk. Compared to the Ford Pinto and Chevy Vega, the Civic had overall excellent build quality and was quite fuel efficient. Despite some early rust issues, the Civic continued to catch on with buyers and today it’s one of the best-selling cars in the US. A total of nine generations have been built so far and, despite even more potent competitors today, the Civic doesn’t seem to be going anywhere anytime soon.
      Top 5 Market Trendsetters
      Before the arrival of the minivan, there was the station wagon. But for those who wanted something a bit more trendy and off-road capable, there was also the original Jeep Cherokee - perhaps the first modern SUV. When it first arrived on the scene in 1984, it allowed buyers to enjoy a reasonably-priced family car that could also handle itself when the road conditions turned rough. More importantly, it looked good and had solid engine options. Although it was quite outdated by the time production ended in 2001, it still remained popular among enthusiasts.Top 5 Market TrendsettersTop 5 Market TrendsettersYes, we already know how much of a game changer the BMW 3 Series has been ever since it hit the market way back in 1975. But it was only in 1983 when the second-generation E30 model arrived that BMW begun to offer it as a sedan alongside the coupe. And so began the era of the sports sedan. Before the E30, family sedans were usually big cars that may have had decent enough power but weren’t all that much fun to drive. The second-gen 3-Series sedan changed that thanks to its range of powerful inline four- and six-cylinder engines and well-tuned suspension.Top 5 Market TrendsettersTop 5 Market TrendsettersMany may have derided it as an expensive Toyota with leather seats, but those naysayers have been proven wrong when it came to the Lexus LS 400. It debuted as Lexus’ first model back in 1989 and it immediately put German brands like Mercedes-Benz and BMW on notice. The reason? Toyota had successfully managed to build and engineer a premium luxury car with proven Japanese build quality and refinement. The first-gen LS 400 even had a new 4.0-liter V8 and a unique platform that wasn’t shared with anything else. It was an instant success and quickly became the new luxury benchmark.Top 5 Market TrendsettersTop 5 Market TrendsettersWe know what you’re thinking but bear with us for a moment here. The Toyota Prius never was and never will be an exciting car or anything even remotely associated with the words "fun" or "performance." What it did do, however, was usher in the era of the hybrid car. When it launched in the US in 1997, environmentally-friendly cars mainly consisted of failed projects like GM’s EV1. The Prius changed that by proving that a mass-market gasoline-electric car could combine everyday usability without range anxiety and still save money at the pumps. We still can’t stand it though.We know what you’re thinking but bear with us for a moment here. The Toyota Prius never was and never will be an exciting car or anything even remotely associated with the words "fun" or "performance." What it did do, however, was usher in the era of the hybrid car. When it launched in the US in 1997, environmentally-friendly cars mainly consisted of failed projects like GM’s EV1. The Prius changed that by proving that a mass-market gasoline-electric car could combine everyday usability without range anxiety and still save money at the pumps. We still can’t stand it though.Top 5 Market TrendsettersTop 5 Market Trendsetters

      BMW Developing Electric X1?

      Could BMW be close to unveiling an EV variant of the X1? These spy shots suggest so.
      At first glance, the model caught winter testing by our spy photographer appears to be a stock BMW X1. But a closer look at the details reveals something more environmentally-friendly is afoot. The test vehicle is wearing stickers that read “Hybrid Test Vehicle” and has no visible exhaust pipes. But our shutterbug on the scene reports that the car emitted no engine note whatsoever, suggesting this could be a full-electric model. Whether BMW plans to roll out a battery-powered variant (be it hybrid or fully electric) of the X1 or is simply testing the technology for another model remains to be seen.

      Car Culture exhibit at Lentos museum will bend your mind

      It was modern art and motorcars on display in the Car Culture exhibit at the LENTOS Kunstmuseum in Linz, Austria. We say "was" because we missed the exhibit, which was last year, but we've been tipped to a video of some of its offerings, and we wish we had gone.

      The image above is two Porsche Cayennes in wood in the midst of a head-on collision – and it gets far more modern artsy from there, such as with the Volkswagen Beetle with the upside down tortoise shell glued to its roof. The exhibit also showed off the pedal-powered aluminum foil Porsche 911 and the similarly poweredFahrradi Farfalla FXX. There are videos below of selections from the piece and the world premiere of the Farhrradi, enjoy.
      Follow the below given links to watch the video:

      2014 Mercedes S-Class Gets Heated Arm Rests, Built-in Perfume Dispenser

      As unorthodox as it seems, Mercedes-Benzhas been slowly revealing its 2014 S-Class flagship sedan from the inside out.
      So just what all does the 2014 S-Class pack inside? For starters, there is a pair of 12.3-inch TFT digital screens in the dash, with the left screen displaying the speedometer and tachometer while the right screen is your standard infotainment display. To give the instruments a free-standing appearance, ambient lighting is used. As for the two-spoke steering wheel, Mercedes has confirmed that it’ll be exclusive to the flagship sedan model and can be purchased as a heated unit. Another fancy option the S-Class will offer to buyers is heated armrests.
      Flexing its focus on the Chinese market, a new individual climate control system has been integrated called Thermotronic. Since pollution has become a major issue in China, the new Thermotronic system features two combined filters – one for fine dust, and one made from activated charcoal filters. To help freshen the air, an ionizing system can filter out various viruses and spores.
      To give the door panels a more upscale feel, the only plastic buyers will be finding is the lining of the aperture for the door release. Elsewhere on the door panel they’ll find either wood, leather, or aluminum. Now for the focus on the rear interior, long-wheelbase models will have the option of “Executive” reclining individual seats. This will allow the backrest on the nearside rear seat to tilt 43.5 degrees while the “Chauffeur” package allows the front seat to be pushed forward.
      To top it all off, the German automaker has teamed up with perfume specialist Marc vom Ende to include a built-in atomizer in the S-Class. It’s a $4,600 option and can diffuse five different scents into the cabin.

      Sergio Marchionne's Dodge Challenger STR8 Fetches a Whooping $175,000 for Charity

      The one-off Dodge Challenger SRT8 belonging to Chrysler CEO Serio Marchionne and called "Pitch Black" has officially hit the auction block, fetching $175,000 during the Barrett-Jackson auction in Palm Beach, Florida over the weekend.
      If you all remember, the one-off 2011 Challenger SRT8 was far from a run-of-the-mill model. It came packed with plenty of custom details that were included to make it stand out from the model line. And that’s on top of the 470-horsepower output the muscle car was capable of.
      So yeah, it was quite the exclusive steed that Marchionne dutifully sent to auction to benefit the United Way for Southeastern Michigan community group. As far as the winning bidder is concerned, the lucky man was apparently an avid car collector who added a pretty impressive one-off Challenger SRT8 to his collection, as well as a 540-horsepower Hemi V-8 crate engine from Mopar.
      A unique Challenger SRT8 and a Hemi V-8 engine? Sounds like an impressive haul at an auction, even for its $175,000 price tag.
      In addition to boasting a 6.4-liter HEMI V-8 engine that produces a stout 470 horsepower and 470 pound-feet of torque, Sergio Marchionne’s Challenger SRT8 Pitch Black came with a bevy of custom details that when added together, you won’t be able to find in any other Challenger.
      The details really speak for themselves, particularly the aero components that include a set of custom mixed “Dark Charcoal” racing stripes, lowered suspension that makes use of a Mopar adjustable coil-over kit, a Mopar exhaust system, smoked taillights and a set of factory forged 20-inch wheels with a matte-black finish.
      Inside, the Challenger SRT8 Pitch Black features black leather seats embroidered with “SRT” and “392” logos, as well as a state-of-the-art SRT-exclusive Electronic Vehicle Information Center, among other goodies.

      Mercedes GLK 250 4MATIC announced

       Mercedes GLK 250 4MATIC announced
      2013 Mercedes GLK facelift2013 Mercedes GLK facelift

      First GLK with a four-cylinder petrol engine

      2013 Mercedes GLK faceliftMercedes has announced plans to offer a four-cylinder petrol engine in the GLK-Class.
      Set to go on sale in June, the GLK 250 4MATIC will feature a turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine that develops 211 HP (155 kW) and 350 Nm (258 lb-ft) of torque. It will enable the model to accelerate from 0-100 km/h in 7.9 seconds and hit a top speed of 215 km/h (133 mph). In terms of efficiency, owners can expect to average 7.5-7.7 L/100km (30.5-31.3 mpg US / 36.6-37.6 mpg UK) with CO2 emissions of 176-180 g/km.
      The Mercedes GLK 250 4MATIC is currently available for order and German pricing starts at €44,149 (including VAT).
      In related news, the company's crossover lineup can be outfitted with an improved COMAND Online infotainment system that has a "photo-realistic map display," an iPhone-friendly Bluetooth profile and live traffic information.

      Peugeot returns to Pikes Peak

      Frenchman Sébastien Loeb, nine times world rally champion, is set to contect the 2013 Pikes Peak Hill Climb in the new Peugeot 208 T16 in Colorado, USA, on 30 June.

      Peugeot's bid to win the unique, Colorado Springs-based event with the new 208 T16 Pikes Peak has seen the company joining forces with key partners Total, Red Bull and Michelin. The Peugeot T16 Pikes Peak, to be unveiled shortly, has been entered in the premier 'Unlimited' class and has the start number '208'. Its sole aim is victory.

      Pikes Peak remains one of motorsport's most exacting, internationally-reputed competitions. The course was entirely covered in tarmac last year and comprises 156 turns over a distance of 20 kilometres that take competitors from an altitude of 2,800 metres to 4,300 metres at its hightest point. It is the USA's second-oldest motorsport competition after Indianapolis and has a reputation for being a notoriously difficult and complex challenge.

      See Munster in Heineken Semi Final

      Joe Walsh Tours are offering a day trip to the Heineken Cup Semi Final match between ASM Clermont Auvergne and Munster, scheduled for 27 April.

      Packages are priced from €319 + tax and include direct flights from Dublin to Montpellier, transfer on arrival to Stade de la Mosson, transfer from the Stade to the airport after the match for return flight, and direct flight from Montpellier to Dublin. Match tickets are not included but are available on request.

      For more information or to secure your seat, call Aine at Joe Walsh Tours on 01 241 0800, email aine.dunne@joewalshtours.ie or book directly through www.joewalshtours.ie

      Optional travel insurance is €15. Price is exclusive of airport taxes and charges totalling €75 per person.

      Road Test: Opel Astra Saloon

      The start of Opel's story in the compact saloon market goes back to 1962 when the Opel Kadett A was launched, writes Trish Whelan.

      Now 51 years later, we've enjoyed driving the fourth generation of the Astra saloon, which is a core car in the model line-up.

      This four-door family car was launched at the end of 2012, and was quickly dubbed 'Insignia's Baby Brother'.

      It's sporty as well as elegant looking and shaply with a sleek silhouette. More upmarket than before, beautifully proportioned, and with good build quality.

      There are some familiar features especially at the front - the headlights and front grilles tell you this is an Astra car. The 17-inch wheels are standard but you can choose from a large selection of designs. At the side, the roofline arches gently over the cabin, coming down in a nice seep through the raked rear window. Side windows follow the line of the roof. There's an integrated rear spoiler and rear lights follow the shape of other Astra models.

      The boot can take 460 litres of space which is 90 more than the 5-door hatch. With the rear bench flat, this increases to just over 1,000 litres and there's a spare wheel below the floor.

      Engines include petrols and diesels ranging from 95hp to 140hp. Petrols are 1.4, 1.6; diesels 1.3, and 1.7. So there's one to suit every customers' needs. All come with a precise 5- or 6-speed manual transmission.

      The review car is the 1.7- litre 110hp diesel ecoFLEX version lively enough for most peoples' needs. Good steering control and suspension connect you to the road; the car's broad stance helps with stability when cornering, and the long wheelbase helps with a smooth ride even on bumpy roads. Very importantly, you feel good behind the wheel.

      An ecoFLEX fuel saving mode helps reduce emissions, also helped by a gear shift up indicator in the instrument panel, and by the Start/Stop system. On my test drive week, the trip computer showed a fuel return of 4.9 L/100kms for the combined cycle which is around 57mpg in old terms. Officially, it's 3.7 L/100km or 76mpg for the combined cycle. C02 emissions in this 1.7CDTi are 114g/km which puts it into Band A4 of €200 per annum in road tax.

      Seat comfort is always essential and General Motors are experts when it comes to orthopaedic sports seats. These adjust six ways and come with lumbar support so they can suit every size of driver. The seat cushion can be extended if needed.

      Controls are all within easy reach and the whole feel is one of a driver-focused cockpit.

      A crib for me, though, is that the surround of the gear shifter gets in the way of my fingers when I wanted to use the hand brake.

      Cost-wise, you can get into the base model from €19,495. For that you get, as standard, air conditioning, cruise control, remote audio controls, ESP, six airbags and steering column adjustment.

      While the 1.7 diesel is priced from €21,795, my review car at €22,995 came with a number of extras like the sat nav system (€1,214), Bluetooth (€350), front and rear park assist (€399) and metallic paint (€535) bringing the price up to €25,493.

      New Astra is available with Adaptive Forward Lighting, the most advanced headlight system in the compact segment. The headlights adjust themselves to different driving conditions, making the best of every situation, improving road lighting by up to 90 per cent over fixed headlamps, and without dazzling other drivers.

      In conclusion, this Astra saloon is an affordable alternative for those who would normally buy their car from the mid-size segment.

      Don't think you don't get distracted

      Drivers who use handheld devices while driving are four times more likely to be involved in a crash serious enough to injure themselves, writes Brian Byrne.

      That's the sobering thought from US research, where road safety people are increasingly concerned about distracted driving, estimated to kill 3,300 a year there.

      Text messaging while driving ups the injury ante considerably: the crash risk is 23 times greater, and sending or reading a text means driving 'blind' for the length of a football field.

      The National Highway & Transportation Safety Agency says that at any given daylight moment across America, approximately 660,000 drivers are using cell phones or manipulating electronic devices while driving, a number that has held steady since 2010.

      Human nature is what it is, and there's no reason to think that the problem isn't any different on this side of the Atlantic.

      Tuesday, 9 April 2013

      Overtaking can scare, or kill you

      If you're a male driver in the UK, you're more than twice as likely to have experienced head-on near misses than women drivers, and more likely to take a 'blind' overtaking risk, writes Brian Byrne.

      That's one conclusion from a survey by UK road safety charity Brake, in conjunction with Direct Line insurance.

      The survey also found that around half of respondents have admitted to being afraid at some time in the last year when travelling as a passenger with a male driver in an overtaking situation. Significantly more women (52%) than men (44%) said this.

      Men are also twice as likely to break the speed limit on rural roads than women. Six out of 10 road deaths in Britain are on such roads.

      Top 5 Hamann Tuned Motors

      Top 5 Hamann Tuned Motors

      German tuner Hamann has been in the business since 1986. Here are five of its best aftermarket packages in recent years.
      With over 20 years of motorsport experience, owner Richard Hamann eastarted out tuning BMWs under the name Hamann Motorsport. That was back in 1986, and since then the company’s portfolio has expanded to include the likes of the McLaren 12C and Mercedes SLS AMG. Richard Hamann died two years ago, but his legacy lives on with a constant stream of aftermarket packages being released that range from the sublime to the ridiculous. The following five represent a cross-section of what the company can deliver.Hamann’s "Mirr6r" package for the BMW M6 was one of the more head-turning examples on display at the 2013 Geneva Motor Show. The M6's aggressive new facade is equally as eye-catching as the chrome finish, with the new carbon-fiber aero package adding wider wings that extend the width of the M6 by 40 mm, plus a rear spoiler, air intakes, side skirts and a built-in rear diffuser housing a pair of dual stainless-steel tailpipes. Rounding out the exterior mods is a set of 21-inch forged alloys. Alcantara has been used throughout the cabin, which also gets aluminum pedals, while illuminated chrome trim pieces are among a host of optional interior accessories.Top 5 Hamann Tuned Motors
      If you can stand to look at the car for longer than two seconds, you’ll notice the new Range Rover-based Mystere that Hamann also brought to the Geneva Motor Show (as a bit of a laugh) comes with a special body kit made up of custom-made front fenders, bumpers and sills that widen the car by a full 80 mm. A lowered suspension has also dropped the ride by 40 mm and it comes with a choice of 23-inch alloys, so not only does it look frightening, but the ride and handling are also bound to be far worse than a stock Range Rover. That said, buyers in the ilk of Justin Bieber and Nicki Minaj will be falling all over themselves to get behind the wheel of the Mystere ASAP... fuschia chrome and all.Top 5 Hamann Tuned MotorsTop 5 Hamann Tuned Motors
      The tuning specialist's remit for the MP4-12C was to reduce the concave surfaces, implement essential F1 features, adapt GT3 elements both aesthetically and functionally, and create a relief with exciting light shade contrasts. The result is a complete remake of the supercar, thanks to a large front splitter, upper and side wheel-arch vents, ground-effect door sills, an extended rear diffuser with large rear wing, a triple exhaust and two different wheel sets. The interior was modified without detailing to what degree. No performance upgrades to the supercar's 3.8-liter V8 was made, with its 592 horsepower and 443 lb-ft of torque deemed sufficient.Top 5 Hamann Tuned MotorsTop 5 Hamann Tuned Motors
      Hamann's Cyrano tuning kit for the Porsche Panamera begins with recalibrating the ECU of the 4.8-liter turbocharged V8, increasing output from 500 hp and 516 lb-ft of torque to 580 hp and 605 lb-ft, enabling the super sedan to sprint to 62 in four seconds flat and hit a top speed of 197 mph. Handling was improved by fitting a new 30mm lowered air suspension and 22-inch Unique Forged gunmetal alloys. A custom body kit - consisting of larger air intakes, a carbon fiber hood, 60mm wider fenders, new side skirts, a rear diffuser and a GT rear wing - is complemented by a set of daytime running lights integrated into the air intakes.Top 5 Hamann Tuned MotorsTop 5 Hamann Tuned Motors

      Based on the Roadster variant of the SLS AMG, Hamann’s Hawk package includes aero components made up of a front apron with new LED lights, enlarged air inlets, a checkered-flag carbon-fiber hood with air vents, side skirts, and a rear bumper fascia with diffuser and carbon-fiber wing. A high-performance stainless-steel exhaust with four massive end pipes, combined with a sports air filter and remapped ECU, help the 6.3-liter V8 engine to produce 628 hp and 502 lb-ft of torque. In race start mode, the two-seater can now accelerate from 0-62 mph in 3.6 seconds on way to a top speed of 199 mph. Handling is enhanced via 21-inch Unique Forged Anodized light alloys and a 30 mm lowered suspension.Top 5 Hamann Tuned MotorsTop 5 Hamann Tuned Motors

      2013 Buick Verano vs 2013 Acura ILX

      ILX vs Verano 1
      Can a car still offer a luxurious driving experience without being big, heavy and expensive? We find two vehicles that fit the description, available for just under $30,000, which give you a premium driving experience, without the extra pretentiousness of a big luxury car.
      Practically defining a new market segment, the Acura ILX and Buick Verano are small cars, but manage to be full of luxury goodies and technology.  Both cars borrow platforms from less premium compacts: the Honda Civic underpins the Acura ILX, while the Chevrolet Cruze provides the basis for the Buick Verano. That said, are these two just dressed up economy cars? And if not, which is the better buy?


      When it comes to driving dynamics, the two cars feel better than their less premium siblings. For those looking for a sportier, engaging drive, the ILX is the better option. The Acura’s 2.0-liter engine is down 32 horsepower to the Buick’s 2.4L 182 hp engine, but the ILX manages to feel responsive and rev-happy – due in part to it weighing several hundred pounds less.
      The Acura does, however, have one less gear to use, with a rather out-dated 5-speed automatic. Still, the Honda unit is smooth and responsive. While both cars feature a manual mode for do-it-yourself shifting, the Acura has a pair of quick-thinking paddle-shifters to make driving more engaging.Despite being short a gear, the ILX’s smaller engine proves more fuel efficient. On paper the ILX gets 24 mpg city and 35 mpg highway, compared to the Verano’s 21/32 rating. That holds true in our real world testing with the Acura returning 29 mpg compared to 26 mpg in the Buick.

      It’s also worth noting that Acura recommends premium fuel for its vehicles (though its not required), while Buick says regular is just fine on the Verano. The difference in cost between the two gas types is certain to negate most of the fuel savings between the two cars.
      While the ILX features a sporty, more engaging drive, the Verano manages to keep drivers comfortable, though somewhat distant from the act of driving. The Verano masks its economy car roots with light, over-boosted steering and floaty suspension. This makes the Verano ideal for drivers who prefer to glide gracefully down the highway.

      Compare Specs

      2013 Buick Verano
      2013 Acura ILX
      Vehicle2013 Buick VeranoAdvantage2013 Acura ILX
      Engine2.4L Inline 4-2.0L Inline 4
      Max. Torque171Verano140
      TransmissionSix-Speed Auto-Five-Speed Auto
      Fuel Economy21 MPG city / 32 MPG hwy/ 25 MPG combinedILX24 MPG city / 35 MPG hwy / 28 MPG Cominged
      As Tested Fuel Economy26 MPGILX29 MPG
      Front Head Room38.3 inVerano38 in
      Front Leg Room42 inILX42.3 in
      Rear Head Room37.8 inVerano35.9 in
      Rear Leg Room34.7 inVerano34.1 in
      Starting Price$23,975Verano$25,900
      As tested$27,650Verano$31,400
      Additionally, thanks to some keen engineering, the Verano is much quieter when driving, even at highway speeds, or when passing. While the ILX certainly isn’t bad, compared to the Buick and its boast of being the quietest compact car on the market, the outside world doesn’t feel as outside as it should.
      Overall, the two cars are completely contrasting in the way they drive. The Acura doesn’t forget its Civic siblings, and while softer than the less premium compact, is still stiff and sporty compared to the Buick. On the other hand, those looking for a more leisurely daily driver should look to the Verano, which proves to be the more comfortable car.

      INTERIOR AND TECHILX vs Verano 6

      With soft suspension, light steering and more power, the Buick certainly acts like a luxury car, and inside it’s no different. While some switches and buttons can be traced back to the Chevy Cruze, the atmosphere inside the Buick is upscale. Our tester features the Leather package, which bumps the price to $27,650 and adds heated leather seats as well as a leather shift knob and steering wheel (also heated), plus other high-tech goodies like blind-spot monitoring, an auto-dimming rear-view mirror, a 9-speaker premium audio system and rear park assist.ILX vs Verano 13

      The Buick feels like a luxury car on the inside, with a stunning, almost overwhelming amount of technology. Even the standard Verano, which starts at $23,475, has an abundance of features like a standard rear-view camera, remote start and fog lights, making the Buick the better value of these two premium compacts.
      ILX vs Verano 2In the Acura, things aren’t as bright. While the ILX features black leather seats and dash, the materials just aren’t up to luxury standards, with cheap feeling plastics found around the cabin. Despite the added Technology and Premium packages, which brought the ILX’s price tag up $5,500 to $31,400, it seems low-tech and basic compared to the Buick. Missing features like a heated steering wheel, or blind-spot assist, along with the less than stellar interior quality and extra price make the more expensive ILX a harder purchase to justify,even with standards like keyless access and push-button which are extras on the Verano.

      Inside, the two cars have very similar interior dimensions up front. Back seat passengers get at least one more inch of head and leg room in the Buick. The Verano also has a larger trunk, with 14.3 cubic-feet of trunk space, while the ILX has just 12.3. With its 4-inch smaller length and nearly 300 lbs. lighter curb-weight, the ILX is certainly smaller. Thankfully it feels that much more nimble too.


      ILX vs Verano 4Both cars hardly look like cheap compacts, with chrome accents, big alloy wheels and impressive designs. The Verano’s use of chrome is a little excessive, and those vents in the hood are disappointingly non-functional – if not terribly out-dated. The Buick also has a strange blue halo around the head-lights which is a unique design cue, and makes the Verano stand out.
      The Acura looks a bit snappier, and clean-cut. There’s less chrome, and the Acura grille looks at home on the smallest member of the family. Furthermore, at first sight, the ILX looks nearly identical to the more premium, and desirable Acura sedans, like the TL. In comparison, the Verano makes you think of other less exciting Buick vehicles like the LaCrosse and Regal.


      ILX vs Verano 2
      Luxury cars need to look premium, act premium and be loaded with premium features. With the Acura ILX you get about two out of three, and end up paying more for it. The Buick Verano turns up to provide extra features, additional comfort and feels like a solid luxury car while driving down the road. Pair those elements with the Buick’s low starting point, and the Verano can transport almost any driver in a level of luxury that far exceeds that of other compact cars.
      2013 Buick Verano
      LOVE IT
      • Great value
      • Extremely Quiet
      • More spacious
      LEAVE IT
      • Soft driving dynamics
      • Feels heavier and slower
      • Drab styling
      2013 Acura ILX
      LOVE IT
      • Handsome looks
      • Superior driving dynamics
      • Fuel efficient
      LEAVE IT
      • Lacking luxury features
      • Simple, cheap cabin
      • Costs more for less

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