• The Legit Reasons Why You Don’t Sell More Loaded Shocks And Struts

    CARPHOTO-1791

    1. You don’t inspect shocks and struts.

    Are you simply looking for catastrophic damage? Do you only look at the shocks and struts once the driver complains of a noise or when the vehicle can’t be aligned?

    The first step in selling ride control may be the inspection process. A visual inspection of your shocks and struts can let you know a lot about the state of the ride control units. It is a chance to ensure the vehicle is road-worthy prior to put your very own life at an increased risk.

    Seek out signs the units may be leaking oil, such as accumulation of road grime or oil inside boots and dust shields. Be on the lookout for “witness marks” that indicate the suspension could have bottomed out recently. Make certain all bushings and hardware for the ride control units are still about the vehicle.

    Walk around the vehicle and perform the tried-and-true “knee-on-the-bumper” test. It is a opportunity to quickly seek out abnormal behavior, though this test is not really conclusive by itself. If you notice binding or looseness, or if the car does not get back to the original ride height, there might be a problem with the ride control components.

    2. Your test drives need work.

    When you don’t perform a test drive, you will be not using your most powerful ride control tool: perspective. A technician or service writer behind the wheel brings fresh senses to the vehicle that haven’t been dulled by a large number of miles.

    You should have a precise list of symptoms and related conditions the individual might be experiencing, before the test drive. Around the test drive, you should have a definite and methodical plan that inspects for ride control component replacement and other unperformed repairs.

    A good test driver will be able to observe conditions or problems with the car that have developed so slowly the owner is unaware of them – like degraded shocks and struts. One of the secrets to becoming a good test driver is to find a driving “loop” or route that includes a variety of road conditions. A predetermined loop adds a consistency which helps you spot small problems.

    For suspension road tests, your test loop should consist of sections: a flat and straight section; an area to examine braking and acceleration; a location with a dip or bump; and an area that offers both left and right turns.

    Use a parking area or rarely used area of road to the braking and acceleration part of the test. This test can be used to detect brake pulls, torque steer and worn or loose suspension or steering components. Check for excessive nose-diving during braking. This may not be normal and may be a result of worn springs or other ride control components.

    Excessive suspension bouncing could possibly be the result of weak shocks; bottoming out of the suspension may be the reaction to weak springs. Check for steering difficulties which might be the result of mechanical binding or interference.

    Any excessive body sway could indicate worn springs, shocks or stabilizer assemblies. Listen for any excessive tire squealing during turns. This can be caused by incorrect alignment settings or even a turning angle out of specifications.

    Developing a methodical and consistent test drive loop and procedure can improve the chances of you coming back from your test drive with an understanding of the problem the property owner is experiencing. Also, an agenda and a loop can eliminate distractions that could lead to a crash.

    3. You don’t work with an inspection form.

    The technician should be supplied with a checklist to make notes. Some ride control manufacturers can provide you with printed forms. These forms assist the salesperson become more confident in the selling process.

    A complete inspection lays the groundwork for excellent customer communications and increases the possibility of a sale. The outcome of the inspection can help personalize the sales pitch to the individual customer.

    4. You chicken out on the recommendation for loaded struts.

    Even if the customer will not buy today, the inspection form, sales approach and pitch will likely keep with the consumer beyond the generic “recommend loaded struts.” They will probably return, which implies your efforts will never be in vain.

    5. Your car is in need of a ride control tuneup.

    To boost your confidence in selling loaded struts, have new units installed on your own vehicle. You will be impressed by the difference in case your vehicle has more than 50,000 miles. Also, you are going to sell more units because you have a better view of the perceived value.

    By holding local clinics where you can drive vehicles in various states of ride control degradation, some ride control manufacturers allow you to. These events are typically kept in parking lots on specifically created courses that magnify certain vehicle dynamics at low speeds. These events can energize a shop to sell ride control products more effectively.

    6. You are frightened of losing a tire sale.

    Tires are certainly not cheap. Are you afraid to recommend new shocks and struts because the customer might bolt for the door when they hear the price for new loaded struts, when you get near to the sale? You shouldn’t be. New shocks and struts protect your time and money in their tires.

    It really is time for brand new ride control components, when a vehicle is ready for its second or third set of tires. This is founded on mileage along with the expense and premature wear that degraded ride control can have on new tires.

    7. You utilize your squinted thumb and eye to check ride height.

    OEMs include ride height specifications and measurement procedures in their service information for most reasons. The main reason is that springs wear out. The ride height also can be used as a diagnostic tool to determine the condition of your suspension. This requires more than your thumb then one closed eye.

    Research the factory methods and specs to properly measure ride height. Neglecting to do this can impact the life in the shocks and struts and all of angles of alignment. Among other considerations, engineers design the chassis and ride control components so that the ride height places the suspension at a particular point midway in its travel. Midway may not be the center, however.

    Most springs are constructed with metal. Have a coat hanger or welding rod and bend it in the same area several times, as a simple example. It would eventually break from metal fatigue.

    8. You start towards the bottom and try to work your way up.

    Do you be cautious? Do you get started with the least expensive option and try to work your way up? When selling ride control components, it is really an effective sales tactic to start with premium products first instead of the economy or less-expensive option. This gives you a little room to provide the individual options that meet their vehicle and budget life expectancy.

    Chances are that the customer wants the best. Starting the estimate with the least expensive alternative can lower your profit. Sure, quoting the lowest price might get some customers within the door, but it really may leave some customers wanting more.

    9. You hate hearing “no.”

    It has been estimated by one shop that 50 percent of their ride control sales happen on the second visit. What this means is a large percentage of its first time sales pitches for ride control were shot down on the initial try.

    Don’t give up.

    10. There is no incentive to sell loaded struts and shocks.

    First, try increasing at least the amount of ride control component inspections and recommendations to customers. Next, set a sales goal.


  • Three Awesome Things About Graduating College and Getting Your First Job

    The entire time you happen to be kid, you dream of being done with school and having the capability to do whatever you desire. However, actually graduating can be really scary when you discover you need to pay your student loans and also have to work a true job. Don’t fret – you will find real plusses to finally being done with school and living just like a grown up.

    1. You Can Invest More into What You Love

    DTLA Nissan 6-1

    You may also have a lot of time taken up by studying while also having very little money, though college may offer some free time. Because of this spending real time and money on hobbies, especially expensive one, may have been difficult. Once you are done with school, it is likely that your particular job may have somewhat set hours and you will probably have more money. This means that you could possibly actually have the capacity to invest a little more in that new video game system you want, or spend a weekend mountain biking when you would have otherwise needed to study for midterms.

    2. You may have a Nicer Car

    DTLA Nissan 6-2

    Should you have had a car in any way in college, it is pretty likely that it wasn’t a great one. The great thing about having a steady income is that you could get a newer car that won’t disintegrate as often and definately will look a ton better. A great car to start with would be the Nissan Altima from Cerritos Nissan. The Altima offers a number of great features and really stands out if you are going out or heading to work. Best yet, at under $25,000, it is possible to still pay the payments. Discover more about the Altima at Downtown Nissan.

    3. You Can Drink Better Booze

    Once you begin working a real job, there happens to be no more reason to drink wine from a box. You can learn to take pleasure from craft beers or wine from overseas or local small wineries. It is a hobby among many people who opt to leave the times of Jello shots behind them.


  • High Mileage Used Cars – What to Look For

    When you buy a used car (particularly if you choose a private purchase) there are a few what exactly you need to keep an eye out for. Prior to part with any of your hard earned cash, you will be able to tell if the car is to “the moon and back” from a quick check on the odometer but there are many tell tale signs you really need to look at.

    Will be the mileage real? – rolling back the odometer can make it appear how the car hasn’t driven for quite so many miles since it really has. If a car already includes a high mileage and the odometer has been rolled back then it may be a bit of a be concerned about how many miles it really has covered. The appearance of digital odometers was supposed to help with the problem but in reality it hasn’t really worked. It ought to be easy enough to check whether or not the mileage is legitimate in case you have all of the correct paperwork together with the car. Service history is indeed a bonus when thinking about high mileage used cars – check out the numbers.

    FAIRVIEWFORD-6-1

    What’s going on with the rust? – Fortunately it’s pretty an easy task to spot rust patches when purchasing a used car. If the car still has the initial paintwork the rust may show as small bubble spots below the surface. Search for dodgy paint jobs and cover ups – the paint shows as a different shade or even color. Having said that if an old motor rich in mileage has a bright shiny and new paint job it’s a sure sign that something suspicious is going on. If something looks far too beneficial to it to be true you can almost guarantee which it ain’t true at all.

    If the engine is performing correctly and whether there is anything wrong with the internal workings, Spotting engine problems – a quick compression test must be able to identify. You won’t be able to do this yourself unless you will have the correct tools – mechanics replace a spark plug with a simple compression gauge then crank up the engine a few times, record the reading on the gauge and test each of the engine cylinders individually. Faulty exhaust valve or the engine is at dire need of a complete overhaul if there is low compression it could possibly indicate a leak inside the head gasket.

    If the car has a worn interior it can probably follow that it has travelled plenty of miles, looking on the inside -. The seats will show deterioration which may lift the lid on a rolled back odometer so pay close attention to the fitness of the interior.

    OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

    Smoking is bad in a lot of ways – it’s bad for your health and it’s also bad for your automobile. Take a close look at the smoke from the exhaust when the car is first started. If there is blue smoke it indicates that the engine is burning too much oil, if there is black smoke it indicates a fuel problem and white smoke suggests that the engine is burning anti-freeze so could have difficulties with the head gasket.

    FAIRVIEWFORD-6-3

    Many modern cars are built to last and might quite easily anticipate to travel for 250,000 miles or even more – high mileage does not always mean that the car is not worth buying, just so long as you know what to look out for.

    At Ford Oasisthere are several terrific new and used motors for sale – you know you can trust the guys at Fairview Ford for the best value.


  • Guess Who Is In The All-New Audi’s 7th Consecutive TV Commercial For The Super Bowl XLVIII

    CARPHOTO-1771

    Audi of America will be amongst the few companies to run a 60-second TV commercial during Super Bowl XLVIII. The 48th running of the NFL’s game of the year marks the seventh consecutive time the luxurious car maker will appear. The commercial will run through the first in-game break following the kick-off to start the third quarter of play, and the star will be the all-new Audi A3 – which will arrive to U.S. showrooms in spring 2014.

    audi super bowl commercial

    The Audi A3 sedan will be the entry-level luxury car for the German-engineered brand, with a base price under $30k. An A3 Carbriolet, a hybrid A3 Sportback along with an S3 sedan will be added to the new line for the 2015 model year.

    audi super bowl commercial

    “We’re excited to again return to America’s biggest advertising stage, the Super Bowl, for our seventh consecutive year,” said Loren Angelo, director of marketing for Audi of America. “As probably the most highly-anticipated viewing events of year, the Super Bowl is the ideal venue to produce the all-new, technology-advanced Audi A3, set to be a game changing vehicle for Audi in the U.S.”

    Noam Murro (renowned for various TV commercials, including spots for Sprint, Land Rover, Guinness and Heineken and DirecTV) directed the latest ad, which was produced for Audi of America by San Francisco-based Venables Bell & Partners.

    audi super bowl commercial

    The deluxe automaker has garnered a reputation for its innovative commercials for the Super Bowl during the last couple of years. For instance, it was the first ever to feature a hashtag in its 2011 spot that featured Kenny G. This past year, as a way to spur early interest, Audi posted three versions of their commercial Prom, asking fans to vote on the favorite ending via social network sites. We can’t wait to see anything they have in store for us next!


  • Ferrari Has Something To Be Proud Of With The New California T

    CARPHOTO-1751

    Ferrari racked up a number of firsts with the introduction of the California. Not only did it emerge as the first vehicle with a folding metal roof (preceding convertibles having used different mechanisms), it was also the first front-engined V8 model in the company’s history. It was even the luxury car brand’s first use of direct injection, a dual-clutch transmission, and multi-link rear suspension – technologies that have since found their ways into other models to roll out your gates at Maranello.

    That, however, was back in 2008, making the California the company’s oldest model. But when the doors open at the Palexpo to the 2014 Geneva Motor Show, Ferrari will have an all new California to provide.

    Called the California T, the Prancing Horse marque has made a number of changes to its most accessible model. For starters, the design has been thoroughly worked over to make the California T look more like a smaller version of your F12 Berlinetta. The revised aluminum sheet metal comes as a welcome change for the model that never scored high marks in the styling department. But that’s not all the.

    ferrari california t

    Underneath the more sharply creased bodywork sits a brand new 3.9-liter turbocharged V8 engine that makes 552 horsepower and 557lb-ft of torque. That compares quite favorably to the 4.3-liter naturally-aspirated V8 in the model it replaces, which offered just 453 horsepower and 358lb-ft of torque at was and launch later upgraded to 480hp and 369lb-ft. The new engine – produced by the one which Ferrari developed for sister company Maserati – makes the California T the first turbocharged Ferrari since the famous F40, coinciding with the come back to turbocharged power in Formula One (a racing series from which Ferrari still derives its latest technologies).

    With nearly 50 percent more torque on offer, it’s also enough to propel the four-seat convertible to 100 kilometers (62 miles) an hour in a scant 3.6 seconds – all the while reducing fuel consumption by 15 percent and emissions by twenty percent.

    ferrari california t

    “The Ferrari California T epitomizes exclusivity, sportiness, versatility and elegance: characteristics which may have distinguished every California model since the 1950s,” said Ferrari in announcing this latest sports vehicle. “The model brings a number of new solutions, not minimal of which is its 8-cylinder turbo engine. Maranello’s engineers have created an entirely new power unit which delivers absolutely superb degrees of performance, blistering pick-up as well as the most exhilarating soundtrack any turbo has ever yielded.”

    ferrari california t

    The California T also encompasses new magnetic dampers, suspension springs, steering box, traction system and carbon-ceramic brakes to hold everything manageable. Perhaps best of all, the California T includes a retractable hardtop that can transform the car from coupe to cabriolet in just 14 seconds. Inside you’ll also get a revised cabin space with semi-aniline leather from Poltrona Frau as well as a 6.5-inch touch-screen display for the Turbo Performance Engineer system.

    All of this and more results in a Ferrari that is altogether better than the model it replaces, improving the California T emerge from “entry-level” status to a genuine object of desire.


  • Knowing How To Get The Sweetest Deal on a New Car

    Even. It’s our human nature to feel like we’ve vanquished a foe and gotten them to give us a deal they did desire to give. The point is that we’ve negotiated our way into wealth by spending less that we initially thought we were going to spend, although sometimes we’ll spend more cash on gas having the bargain than we will actually save. When selecting a new car, we all now there is wiggle room on the sticker price. It was Saturn that, being a company, said the price was what you see and there was no wiggle room. We have seen where that got them! They stopped making cars a few years back.

    NissanRL-6-1

    So how could you get the best deal on a new car? First of all, you need to do your research. Not only in the market you live in, but check out both regional markets and also other states across the country. Your goal, before heading into the dealer, is to be as informed as is possible be about the vehicle you want. Don’t let any feature or potential feature be a surprise. You have to know what comes stock on every car. If they try to say that the automobile is more because it has a CD player, you should be armed with the comeback that, in fact, all cars of the model have a CD player, for example. That type of thing.

    NissanRL-6-2

    Before you actually get in, one way to accomplish that is to call some dealers. The worst thing you can do is arrive at the dealer uninformed. So call the Nissan Chino and speak to someone regarding the car you’re interested in. You should politely hang up the phone if they start blabbering about deals immediately and have you come in. But take notes on everything they say in regards to what options are available and then contact Metro Nissan Redlands and inquire the same questions. You understand someone is just not being in the level if there are any discrepancies on things like anything they claim Nissan corporate mandates that they can do. When they come up with a good reason that there might be a difference, then you can definitely call a few other dealers and learn the truth – tell them you heard two different stories from two different Nissan dealers and find out.

    NissanRL-6-3

    When you have down what you think are the options and features you desire, and you know exactly the package you want, it is possible to go to the dealer and perform wheeling and dealing. The dealer will know that they can’t monkey you around if you come prepared and knowledgeable. Remember, they know the truth, and if you say for them something that they know is the truth even if they won’t admit it, they’ll know they’re dealing with someone who can get what they need. They are going to appreciate you the truth is and let you get yourself a decent deal. Also, when you’re trading in a car, there exists even more wiggle room on that. You may be offered $3500 for any trade in and probably have them up to $6000. They make bank in your trade ins and they would like them.

    Being informed and confident is the best way to get the best deal on your new car.


  • Motostalgia Prepares For The Classic Rare Auto Auction

    CARPHOTO-1731

    Keels & Wheels Concours D’Elegance (May 2-4) is gearing up for his or her classic automobile auction, put on by collector car company Motostalgia. Occurring in Seabrook, Texas (which is a little south of Houston), the auction is promising a pretty nice line-up, including a 10-car collection and a 2008 Bugatti Veyron.

    The Veyron has a 1,001 horsepower, quad-turbo 16-cylinder engine, which helps it clock in at speeds upward of 253 miles per hour- fast enough for you? As the fastest sports cars worldwide, everything about these cars is over-the-top and extravagant. The auction estimated the car’s value from $1.3 to $1.6 million.

    Motostalgia keels & wheels rare car auction

    So, what’s the major deal? Well, as you probably know, Bugatti decided to cease production on new Veyrons and only a handful are still available. As soon as the car passes all of their certifications the car brand even started a certified program for pre-owned models that offers owners access to a new warranty. We’re sure a lot of Veyrons will be appearing at auction and we’re looking forward to seeing the bidding wars that commence. Antonio Brunet, the upcoming auction already has several interested buyers, therefore you better act fast if you want this 2008 model, as outlined by Motostalgia President and Founder.

    Motostalgia keels & wheels rare car auction

    If you neglect the Veyron, don’t worry because the auction will have plenty of rare automobiles to invest in, like two Rolls Royce models that haven’t been seen on the US market for over forty years (a 1933 Phantom II Club Coupe and a 1929 Phantom I Town Car) and a vintage 1955 Porsche 356 PreA Continental Cabriolet. Motostalgia is likewise offering a 10-car selection without reserve, called the Jon Osha Collection, which will add a 1928 Rolls Royce Phantom I Boattail, a 1968 1/2 Mustang R Code 428 Cobra Jet, plus a 1954 Jaguar XK120 Roadster.


  • Europe Has New Gamemaker With Infiti M45

    CARPHOTO-1711

    Nissan’s Infiniti luxury division is on a roll lately. First came the G35 sedan, which took home Motor Trend’s Car of the Year award along with its sleek coupe companion. Both vehicles are generating, arguably, the strongest run at the industry benchmark in their segment (the BMW 3-Series) of any competitor to date. The G35 has even taken home top honors in certain magazine comparison tests that pitted it against the vaulted Bimmer. Sales of the G35 continue to be strong despite the fact that it really is in the middle of its product cycle, with July being the sedan’s best sales month ever.

    Next, up in the product parade was the FX crossover vehicle. It had been a pure styling statement that grabbed the attention of countless consumers who didn’t also have a clue that Infiniti existed. It also had the performance to backup the looks, and wound up stealing some of Porsche’s thunder by offering similar performance as lower-end Cayennes for thousands less. July was the ideal sales month ever to the FX, also.

    The full-size SUV called QX56 launched this current year to mixed reactions from enthusiasts along with the media, somewhat disappointed by way of a design that is very similar inside and out on the Nissan Armada. The QX56 has seen to have respectable handling dynamics for a behemoth SUV as well as the 5.6L V8 engine from the Nissan Titan provides plenty of grunt. Infiniti dealers moved over 1,200 QX56s off of dealer lots in July, proving that individuals are willing to pay over fifty grand to have an Infiniti.

    Two vehicles that have not seen similar success are the large M45 and Q45 sedans. The Q45 looks the part as Infiniti’s flagship vehicle, although the current M45 looks strikingly out of place featuring its slab sides and cramped interior. Considering that the current iteration of the M45 has been for sale for in Japan for several years, often serving duty in taxi fleets, it’s not hard to see why the M45 has been a flop. The vehicle is simply not that competitive. Some analysts believe element of blame for slow sales is due to consumers’ reluctance to pay for $50,000 on an Infiniti sedan, as the Q45 and M45 combined to sell just 492 units in July.

    Infiniti M45 Concept. Courtesy: Nissan North America.

    Infiniti looks to improve all of that using the next generation of the M, and the M45 Concept provides a very good illustration of what to expect. The thought is to make your M a true challenger for the BMW 5-series and Mercedes E-Class. That means offering more than just the 4.5L V8 engine offered in the current M45. At the “affordable” end could be the new M35, powered by Nissan’s venerable 3.5L VQ V6 engine, with at least 270hp. The 4.5L V8 standard in the current M45, Q45, and FX45 will return for that second-generation M45 with at the very least 340hp.

    The appearance of the concept that you just see here will remain largely unchanged for that production version. Expect changes to the headlight projectors as the current ones just seem a little too “cool concept” looking to make it to production if something. Other than that, it’s doubtful any changes on the interior or exterior will be very noticeable. That’s not a bad thing, since the M45 concept has to be one of the sleekest and most well thought out designs from Nissan in years.

    Underpinning the new M will be the “next generation” of Nissan’s respected FM platform. FM stands for the “front-midship” placement in the engine, which places many of the engine behind the front axle and enables an almost 50/50 weight distribution in other FM-based models. The first generation of the FM platform currently includes the Nissan 350Z, Infiniti G35 sedan and coupe, as well as the FX crossover. Infiniti claims the new generation of the FM will have 60% from the components either completely new or substantially improved within the old version. From early media reports, the improvements are very promising. AutoWeek tested a rough mule in the platform and came away hopeful for your production version. They noted that, in comparison to a G35, the M45 had less flex in the chassis and better steering. We’ll have to wait for production versions to choose, but the outlook is a good one. Something that won’t change is always that the platform will feature an independent double-wishbone suspension setup in front as well as an independent multi-link design out back. Thinking about the FX includes 20-inch wheels, we expect the concept’s 19-inch wheels will stay – at least as an option.

    Talking about options, the M will come with all of the latest technology, as a competitive luxury car must in the current market. According to Infiniti the system’s “electronic control unit calculates the desired vehicle dynamics from some sensors, including vehicle speed and steering angle, and directs the machine actuator to modify rear geometry by moving both rear suspension lower links.” Overall, ARC is intended to create the M45 more nimble from the corners and much more stable during emergency lane changes around the freeway, probably the most important features is one Infiniti calls “Active Rear Control.”. It seems to be absent on the M45 as of this reporting, even though nissan’s advanced ATESSA E-TS all wheel drive system will also be offered on the M35. The system can distribute torque from a range of : 100 front to rear all the way around 50: 50 front to rear.

    Infiniti M45 Concept. Courtesy: Nissan North America.

    The inner of the concept looks to get one of the best quality efforts so far from Infiniti, which hasn’t exactly been known for top-notch interior treatments of late. The design and style shown is just a concept, but Infiniti’s commercial website is showing various colors for this design, leading one to believe that things won’t change all that much come the production version. It appears to be the current trend in automotive interior design is towards more eye-catching consumption of instrument lighting and the M45 concept’s “Solar Eclipse” gauges certainly complete the task, perhaps better than any of the company’s previous efforts. Like the new Cadillac STS, the M45 will come with a surround sound stereo system with 5.1 channel decoding, branded with the BOSE logo. The 14-speaker system includes two speakers in each front seat and the ability to have fun playing the relatively new DVD-audio format. XM and/or Sirius satellite radio would be a likely option, as previous Infinitis offer both.

    Other interior features include climate-controlled seats (cooling and heating), power reclining rear seats, an intelligent key system that lets you lock/unlock the doors and commence the car (by using an illuminated start button) without ever having to take the keyfob out of your pocket, a new version of Infiniti’s Navigation System with a redesigned interface (see the large knob on the dash) and voice-recognition, Bluetooth wireless capability, “RearView” camera from the trunklid, laser-guided intelligent cruise control, and Infiniti’s new Lane Departure Warning system. Whether it predicts the vehicle will wander from its current lane, LDW is able to recognize lane markings and sound a stern warning to the driver. The system is disengaged once the turn signals are used, encouraging M45 drivers to notify others around them in their intentions rather than face a shrieking warning every time they change lanes without signaling. A kill switch will also allow owners to shut the system down completely.

    Besides, lDW, other safety features include Infiniti’s Advanced Air Bag System, brake-operated pre-crash front seat belts, a slide-away brake pedal, and Vehicle Dynamic Control, among other details who have yet to become finalized.

    Infiniti M45 Concept. Courtesy: Nissan North America.

    It’s that this only confirmed transmission is really a 5-speed automatic if there is one weak reason for the M45 on paper. As the 3.5L V6 does come with a 6-speed manual, the four.5L V8 has never come with a manual. One can definitely expect the automotive press to throw a fit if no manual transmission is offered in any way. It must even be noted that a majority of of Infiniti’s competitors are switching to 6-speed autos, even 7-speeds, or F1-inspired clutchless manumatics (BMW’s SMG transmission is certainly one example), leaving Infiniti seemingly stuck before with a measly old 5-speed. Note to Nissan: Either stay informed about competition. Alternatively, be prepared to be steamrolled.

    If not better, other than that, it would appear that the new M will keep up with the competition. It’s got the appearance, it’s got the power, and it’ll likely cost thousands less than a BMW 5-series or Mercedes E-class. The question is, will people pay upwards of $50,000 for an Infiniti sedan?


  • SEMA2004 Has The New Honda And Acura

    CARPHOTO-1691

    The Acura and Honda brands are two names that have long-been associated with aftermarket products and the SEMA Show, and for obvious reasons. Young enthusiasts in Southern California and beyond picked Honda as the company of choice because of theirsimple and lightweight, and relatively affordable models like the Civic an Integra, through the entire 90s. They sparked a tuner revolution that has been likened to the muscle car heyday of Detroit.

    Even though the market has somewhat moved on to newer models like the Nissan Scion and 350Z Honda, tC and Acura models still hold their particular at SEMA. No place is that more evident than at the official Honda/Acura “booth” – which is more like a stage with the Los Angeles Auto Show having its scattering newest vehicles. The two most significant vehicles there have been the A-SPEC Acura RL and the concept version from the Honda Ridgeline truck. Another cars, such as the RealTime Racing Acura TSX driven by Pierre Kleinubing in the SCCA Pro Racing SPEED World Challenge circuit, also populated the Honda stand.

    Much more about them later, let’s first take a look at the A-SPEC RL. Like theTSX and RSX, and TL before it, the redesigned RL looks to up the ante against performance-minded luxury brands in the United States. Though Acura will not be going in terms of AMG or BMW’s M division, these are offering buyers the chance to make their cars a bit more road-capable. Though one wonders the number of people will actually opt for performance goodies with an RL, Acura sure thinks there’s a large enough group of buyers available willing to shell out $5,500 for that full A-SPEC package plus dealer installation.

    Acura RL A-SPEC

    So, what does $5,500 get you? Mostly handling goodies and look-good parts. Not to belittle the A-SPEC package in any respect. The RL already has 300hp as it is. The “track-tuned” suspension package lowers the auto by about ¾ of the inch and should enhance the SH-AWD assisted handling. Special 18-inch alloy wheels come covered with Michelin Pilot Sport tires. An understated and tasteful underbody kit and decklid lip spoiler round out the RL A-SPEC. For the critics who declare that Acura’s A-SPEC packages are frequently overpriced compared to true aftermarket parts, take into consideration this: exactly how big of any aftermarket will be there to get a large luxury sedan which includes absolutely no track record of performance in their past (not counting the Legend, obviously)?

    Also in the Honda stand was the Comptech TSX. It features a supercharger for the 2.4L four-cylinder TSX engine along with a cold air intake and a stainless header and exhaust system. The outcome: an increase of 40hp, from 200 to 240. Comptech springs, a rear sway bar, and 18-inch tires improve an already well-tuned handling package. Sign. Me. Up.

    Finally, Acura possessed a heavily modified NSX customized by Super Street Magazine and XMODS RC Racing. Offered as a first prize in the 2004 XMODS XRL National Tournament, this NSX features over $30,000 in mods from Volk, Rotora and Taitec and more.

    Honda Ridgeline Concept

    One vehicle of great interest to the tuner world is Honda’s first truck. Officially named Ridgeline, this new 4WD 4-door is likely to be depending on a variant of the MDX/Pilot/Odyssey platform and will be powered by Honda’s 3.5L V6. Though not just a direct shot at the full-size truck market, it will be interesting to see all the aftermarket accessories that will be developed for the Ridgeline. The production version of the Ridgeline will debut at the 2005 North American International Auto Show in January.

    The most interesting thing I noticed at SEMA, in regards to Honda, was lacking Honda models dominating the show floor. Yes, they had their presence – although the market appears to have moved on the “next big thing(s).” New Mustangs were everywhere, as were Chrysler 300s (with gull wing doors) and Dodge Magnums. There has been talk for quite some time the latest generation of Honda Acura and Civic RSX has not quite impressed hell-bent tuners like older models have. Should they even want to., it will be interesting to see what Honda does to recapture and try some that momentum.


  • 204 BMW X5 SUV And The Future Of Driving

    If svelte morphs into stealth, BMW X5 be thy name. It’s another way of saying that over its fifteen years of existence, BMW’s flagship SUV has carefully evolved into a sculpted wagon that eschews the showiness of flashier competitors and sticks to the job at hand.

    CARPHOTO-1671

    Part of that job, you might notice, is not to become noticed, yet exude a conservative look that will gladly accept the odd kudos for design but not be too loud about it. The X5 was precisely designed for the country club and the upscale mall and, when asked, it will also plow through a winter storm as soon as the mall is closed for weather.

    The task of this new, third-generation X5 is to transport up to seven people in a design that to which they are probably well accustomed, and not to help make any mistakes along the way. Here is the class of luxury SUVs exemplified by the Audi Q7, Acura MDX, Range Rover Sport, Lexus RX350, Mercedes-Benz M-class and Porsche Cayenne. Can easily range up to $70,000 or more, depending on trim options and lines, although they are all worthy competitors and they’re all in the roughly $60,000 range.

    Our tester was the base X5 xDrive35i, with the 3-liter, twin-turbo inline six-cylinder engine, sporting 300 horsepower and an eight-speed automatic transmission. (xDrive is BMW-speak for many-wheel-drive.) Given the industry’s marketing mandate that almost no new car in America might be sold at its base price (within this car’s case, it is $55,100), BMW added enough options to fill up the Monroney to make the final cost of the car $68,675. How did we get there?

    More than $12,000 in options.

    The priciest option on this car is $4,800 for your “M Sport” package. This includes $950 for, among other things, 20-inch wheels and “High-gloss roof rails.” (Matte black rails are standard; are high-gloss rails necessary? ) There’s even the “Dynamic Handling Package” ($), 3 and a “Cold Weather Pack” ($550). The idea here is that anytime you climb into the car, you really think these various options are all a piece with the car, that it’s natural for the car to obtain these options and if it didn’t have these options you might think you needed just got a new $55,000 stripper. Thus I guess there’s nothing to complain about.

    However…. you do have the possibility to power up and acquire the X5 xDrive50i, which has a twin-turbo 5-liter, 450-horsepower V8; or, what turns out to be a common option, the X5 xDrive35d, a 255-horse diesel.

    A diesel model gets good mileage figures.

    One reason the diesel is popular is that its EPA mileage figures are 23/31 mpg, city/highway; our 6-cylinder gasoline-fueled tester gets 18/27 mpg, city/highway. When you’re paying nearly $70,000 to get a car, these mileage comparisons may not be a big concern. While using EPA’s fuel economy tables, the cost for driving 15,000 miles a year from the diesel car is $2,300; in the 6-cylinder X5, normally the one we drove, it’s $2,800; and in the highway-ripping V8 model it’s $3,450. Between the stingiest and the thirstiest of the three cars, there’s an annual added premium of $1,150, or $22.11 every week.

    But we didn’t buy this car to save on fuel – once we wanted to do that, we would have opted for more prosaic rides, like the Prius V wagon.

    No, everything we have in this BMW SUV is a car that, when compared to last generation, looks a little more sculpted – it has a slightly lower belt line – and even a bit more muscular, although, heaven forbid, this is not the Arnold Schwarzenegger of cars. No musclebound Hummer here.

    Inside, the X5 carries a pretty conservative look. There’s no wood to alleviate the seriousness of the mostly black and brushed aluminum fascia and center stack. This look is typical BMW, as well as in this car it works. At nighttime, there’s a faint glow from the interior lighting strips that adorn the upper section of the doors and also the dashboard. It’s a nice touch, that small psychological lift of some light.

    On the road, the six-banger engine, anyway, has a lot of power – its zero to 60 time is a shade over six seconds, and it begs the question of whether you really need the V8. Then again, no auto maker ever went broke stuffing 500-horsepower engines in its wares – viz.,Corvette and Viper, Cadillac CTS-V and stuff like that. Speed sells.

    The engines stops at stoplights.

    With regards to X5, it now has “engine decoupling,” which means the engine switches off and goes dead when you’ve sat at a stoplight for several seconds. It then switches back on when you lift your foot off the brake. It’s a gas-saving measure, having said that i wonder exactly how much you save if that electric starter goes belly up from all the continual on-off, on-off it’s doing. One disconcerting aspect of this all: when it’s sitting there, dead in the tracks, the electric power steering is also off. When you try and move the wheel, it will require some effort before it finally wakes up and starts the engine. It’s an oddity, only one you get accustomed to after a few days.

    About the freeway, the X5 is predictably quiet and there’s little wind or tire noise. If you’re not careful, It’s easy to suddenly end up doing 80.

    So, the question is: why buy an X5 versus its myriad competitors? Frankly, it’s a detailed race. I liked the two Acura MDX and the Lexus RX350 (to be precise, I drove the RX450h hybrid version). There is however something alluring when you know this BMW is, at once, a staid hauler and when called upon, a go-fast wagon.

    To get more consumer information on cars, check these Sites:

    Safety data can be found at the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).

    Reliability information can be seen in the dependability studies conducted by J.D. Power; and at Consumer Reports.

    Fuel mileage figures are available at this site, maintained through the U.S. Department of Energy.

    For trivia lovers: the sticker you can see on the window of every new car for sale in the United States is well known in the auto industry since the “Monroney.” It is named for United states Senator Almer Stilwell (Mike) Monroney, the Oklahoma Democrat who sponsored the Automobile Information Disclosure Act of 1958, which required brand new cars to possess labels that detail the price of the car and its particular options.