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More About Porsche

The point of spine compression should the tarmac be anything less than glass smooth. I could take Sport in small doses only – staying in that mode for too long proved tiresome.

What is far from tiresome is the cabin, specifically its high level of comfort for those occupying the front seats. (Yes, there are back seats, but they are of little use except as another place to stash the groceries.) The dominant material in the interior is black Alcantara, found in the centre sections of the sports seats, steering wheel rim, gear and hand-brake levers, door handles and door storage compartments. It feels almost ticklish to the touch at first, but it’s a unique alternative to leather.

Equally unique is the centre console, the same Carrara white colour as the tester’s exterior, as well as the bright red seatbelts, the same shade as the piston calipers hiding behind the stunning black-spoke rims.

What isn’t so cool is the way Porsche jams it to its dedicated fan base, and I’m not just talking about the price discrepancy between Canada and the United States. Come on, $600 for heated front seats on a car with a $117,600 sticker? Ridiculous! How about $2,410 for the navigation system? Shameful.

That beef aside, the GTS is otherwise one sweet ride – a driver’s car that is docile when need be, ferocious when unleashed and eminently controllable. It’s a modern muscle car from the other side of the pond and a tonic for those of us with long, fond memories of performance past.

THE SPECS

TYPE OF VEHICLE: Rear-wheel-drive sports coupe

ENGINE: 3.8L DOHC boxer six-cylinder

POWER: 408 hp 7,300 rpm, 310 lb-ft of torque 4,200 rpm

TRANSMISSION: Six-speed manual

BRAKES: Four-wheel disc with ABS

TIRES: P235/35ZR19 front, P305/30ZR19 rear

 

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AMC

American Motors’ mid-size contender in these years was basically, a continuation of the 1971-73 models except for introduction of a fixed-pillar 2-door fastback coupe for 1974 to replace the previous pillarless hardtop. This was marketed as a kind of performance car and needed one of the several V-8s available to give much because of bulbous size and excess weight. The fastbacks are now scarce; they were subject to premature panel rust that didn’t afflict the 4-door sedan and wagon nearly as much. The latter are more practical people carriers, and can be pleasant when equipped with Barcelona interior trim see Winnipeg Waverley Auto Mall. Basic body/chassis engineering dates from the 1967 Rambler Rebel, so none of the Matadors was especially competitive for fuel economy or comfort with other intermediates of the period. If you can, stick with either of the sixes, a basic design that’ still in production and easy to find parts and service for. Because of unit construction and Matador’s now advanced age, a check for rust in critical areas like rocker panels and floors is more than usually important in judging the condition of a used example. Canceled ultimately by inability to keep up with fuel economy standards, but practical, low-cost choice in an older mid-size car.

Recall History:

1976: models equipped with V-8 engine, air conditioning, or heavy-duty cooling systems for possibility fan blade may separate and cause personal injury or damage.

1976: possibility vehicles with two-wire connectors may have engine ignition problems.

AMC Concord 1978-83

The facelifted, renamed replacement for the Hornet as AMC’s compact-class entry was discontinued in 1983, so finding parts and service is no problem check out Winnipeg Waverley Auto Mall. Mediocre fuel economy with any available engine. Unexciting performance except with the 304 V-8 (1978-79 only). Most used models will have AMC’s anvil-tough 258-cid six teamed with Chrysler built “Torque Command” 3-speed automatic. This is the best drivetrain for what has become by present standards a rather overweight, oversized compact. Cramped rear seat accommodations and less than generous luggage room (on fixed-trunk models) offset by good durability/repair record. Most models nicely equipped, more so than earlier Hornets. Safe but uninspired road manners. Not the best buy for mileage or passenger room in a used compact, but a nicer, quieter car than the Hornet and may have an edge in long-term reliability over some rivals.

Engines

The standard engine for a given model will usually be powerful enough for highway driving with moderate loads. However, if you drive on hilly roads, tow a trailer, or equip the car with air conditioning and powerful enough for highway driving with moderate loads. However, if you drive on hilly roads, tow a trailer, or equip the car with air conditioning and power windows and seats, you will probably need a bigger engine. Although a smaller engine is generally cheaper to buy, run, and maintain, if it doesn’t have the power to match the car’s size and weight, it may prove costlier in the long term than a larger engine which doesn’t strain under its load.

The diesel engine usually lasts many thousands of kilometers longer than a gasoline engine, but can be more expensive to maintain. Unlike the gasoline engine, the diesel has no ignition system or carburetor. Instead, diesel fuel is injected at high pressure into combustion chambers above the cylinders. There the mixture is so compressed that its heat ignites the fuel. A diesel engine will give slightly better fuel economy than a gasoline engine of comparable size.

On the minus side, you will pay more for the diesel-powered model of car than for the gasoline model. Because diesels are hard to start in cold weather, you will need a block heater. In fact, a diesel won’t start at all at – 15 degree C (-5 degree F) unless you have installed a block heater and a battery warmer, kept it in a heated garage, or added a fuel conditioner when you filled up. Compared to gasoline engines, most diesels tend to accelerate more sluggishly and idle more noisily. Although it’s a little cheaper than gasoline, diesel fuel may be hard to find in remote areas.

The turbocharged engine can deliver more power on demand than an engine of the same size with no turbocharger – and without sacrificing much fuel economy. Exhaust gases – normally wasted – are recycled to spin a turbine connected to a compressor. The compressor pumps extra fuel and air into the cylinders at very high pressure to boost the engine’s power, particularly when you accelerate or drive at high speeds. At one time found only in high priced sports car, turbocharged engines are now available in many regular automobiles.

Front-wheel drive. Because the weight of its engine is over the traction wheels, and because it is pulled by its front wheels rather than being pushed by its rear wheels, a car with front-wheel drive handles better than one with rear-wheel drive, particularly around curves and on slippery roads.

 

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Size Up the Right Car

Interior and Trunk Capacity:

MINICOMPACT: 4 passengers; less than 2.4 m3 (85 ft3)

Advantages: Excellent for city driving; maneuverable; easy to park. Lowest fuel consumption of any type of car; some models claim 4.8 L/100 km (59 mpg) with diesel engine and manual transmission.

Disadvantages: Poor passenger protection in a collision. Highway performance only fair due to small engine. Back seat cramped for adults on long trips. Limited trunk space. Fewest available options.

SUBCOMPACT: 4 passengers; 2.4-2.8 m3 (85-100 ft3)

Advantages: Advantages of minicompact plus added trunk space and back seat legroom. Low insurance rates, depreciation, and annual maintenance costs. Excellent fuel economy, especially with diesel.

Disadvantages: Many minicompact disadvantages. Can be noisy and cramped for four passengers on long trips. Lack of power for towing, although some manufacturers offer optional larger engine. Few options.

COMPACT: 4-5 passengers; 2.8-3.1 m3 (100-110 ft3)

Advantages: Many advantages of smaller cars, but less road noise and more available options, including better highway performance with larger engines. Good all-round car for small family.

Disadvantages: Fair protection in a collision. Insufficient power for towing larger trailer. Limited passenger legroom. Headroom sometimes sacrificed for style. Harsher ride than larger cars.

MIDSIZE: 5-6 passengers; 3.1-3.4 m3 (110-120 ft3)

Advantages: Good compromise between large car and compact. Wide choice of engine sizes and options. More luggage and passenger space, less noise than smaller cars. Fair fuel economy.

Disadvantages: Higher initial cost than for smaller cars. Mediocre fuel economy on models with large engines and power options. Higher maintenance costs. Somewhat harder to maneuver and park.

FULL-SIZE: 6 passengers; 3.4 m3 (120 ft3) or more

Advantages: Generally best highway performance and passenger protection in collisions. Best size for towing trailers. Most options available and largest passenger and cargo space for an automobile.

Disadvantages: Higher fuel, insurance, and upkeep costs than for smaller models. Limited maneuverability, even with power steering and brakes. Requires large parking space. Highest depreciation.

VAN: 5-9 passengers; 3.4-4.5 m3 (120-220 ft3)

Advantages: Most cargo and passenger space; can be converted to a recreational vehicle complete with beds, stove, and sink. Good for towing trailers. Fair fuel economy with smaller engine.

Disadvantages: Full-size vans difficult to park and maneuver because of size. Poor fuel economy with larger engines. Difficult to heat and cool evenly. Mini-vans sacrifice cargo room for ease of handling.

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The New 2012 Acura TL

I really like the look of the new 2012 Acura TL. It’s sharp and sleek with just a soupcon of sportiness – just what you’d expect from a Japanese luxury sedan with pretensions of elegance. The reason I hate to say it is because I actually liked the look of its predecessor – the one with the shark-like grille consumers hates so much TL sales dropped almost 50 percent – even better. I gave it a positive review when it was unveiled in 2009 and, just recently, congratulated Acura on its daring design despite the public resistance.

It’s a little wonder I am out of step with mainstream tastes. I have a long history of many would call, even by the most polite measure, oddball personal preferences. I think the greatest sitcom of all time was the short-lived Sledge Hammer, my favorite dramatic movie is the Razor’s Edge (the one Bill Murray movie almost universally panned) and, perhaps even more telling, I may be the only heterosexual male on the whole planet who finds Penelope Cruz unattractive.

So take my commendation of the new Acura’s shape with the same veracity as you would a profession of innocence from Bev Oda.

Whatever the case, Acura definitely had to revisit TL’s shape, especially that grille I liked so much. According to customer feedback, owners were perfectly satisfied with the car’s performance (save for the fuel economy) but absolutely loathed that front end. Longtime TL owners, the backbone of any car’s sales, were particularly turned off. Acura provides all manner of thoroughly researched reasoning behind this antipathy but the most logical conclusion one can make from the rejection of the outgoing model is that typical Asisn-luxury-car owners vote overwhelmingly Tory.

So the new one gets a smaller grille, a waterline across both front and rear bumpers (to break up the previously slab-sided haunches) and a bunch less chrome gaudy-ing up the exterior. The rear trunk lid has also been shortened and the car was slightly lowered, making the 2012 version look decidedly smaller than the 2011. Whether the changes will be enough to satiate Acura loyalists’ need for conservatism, only time will tell.

There are some notable performance improvements for 2012, the most dramatic being a marked improvement in fuel economy. Indeed, the base 3.5-litre TL consumes less than seven litres per 100 kilometres on the highway, an impressive feature for a car of this size with an impressive 280 horsepower under the hood. Acura touts changes to improved aerodynamics, moly-coated pistons and a new cold air intake system for the improvements, but the real advantage is the 2012′s new six-speed automatic transmission with its tall sixth gear, which keeps the engine purring below 3,000 r.p.m. at typical cruising speed.

The official figures for the 2012 are 10.4 L/100 km in the city and 6.8 on the highway compared with a rather profligate 13.1/9.0L/100 km for the previous version. Even the more powerful (305-h.p.) 3.7L in the top-of-the-line SH-AWD has seen dramatically improved fuel economy, now 11.4/7.6 versus the old gas-guzzler’s 13.8/9.4.

For those looking for the sportiest Acura, it’s worth trading up to the aforementioned SH-AWD, not so much for the 25-h.p. (and 19-pound-feet) boost but the handling advantages of the Super Handling All Wheel Drive package. Acura claims it’s one of the most sophisticated such systems in the biz because, while in normal circumstances it sends most of the engine’s toque to the front wheels, it can send as much as 70 percent to the rear wheels and, more importantly, said torque can be distributed (Acura calls the process vectoring) left to right at the rear axle.

 

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Prelude

RATING: Recommended. A totally revamped, reliable sporty compact.

GENERAL COMMENTS: Having undergone a major redesign for 1992 – the fourth since its debut in 1979, the Prelude has always been a bookkeeper’s sports coupe: it’s complete,functional and rational without any hint of aggression in its styling or performance components. The 92 model carries on this tradition but adds a few body styling tweaks that make the car shorter, lower and wider, giving it the air of a sensual and sporty Integra in front and Legend in the rear. Other refinements this year are improved engine balance shafts that reduce vibration and noise, an innovative, electronically controlled four-wheel steering system that improves high-speed response and decreases the turning radius, and a 20 percent increase in fuel economy with the addition of twenty more horses. Two engines are offered: A sixteen-valve SOHC 2.2L and a sixteen-valve DOHC 2.3L that is 100 cc larger (through bigger bores) and produces twenty-five extra horsepower. The Prelude’s four-wheel steering (4WS) system, an option with the Si, allows the rear wheels to turn slightly along with the front. This is meant to improve both highway handling and parking ability in town. This year, the 4WS steering goes completely electronic. Nevertheless, the Prelude handles so well that it’s hard to justify the addition of 4WS. Most driver’s wouldn’t notice a substantial improvement on the highway. Parking is easier, of course, but the Prelude is small and nimble enough to make parking easy anyway. Four-wheel steering is an expensive proposition: it adds about $2000 to the price of the car, increases electronic complexity and produces little benefit.

The Prelude should be considered among the better buys in the sporty car class. The standard warranty is one of the best. Used Preludes command high prices on the used car market.

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Comfort/Convenience

Pro: Clear gauges and instruments. User-friendly controls and instrumentation. Excellent driving position. Very comfortable, sporty front seating. Redesigned front seat bases provide more rear footroom. Easy entry and exit. Large trunk on sedans, and versatile hatchback design. Relatively quiet interior. Excellent visibility.

Con: Conservative styling. Tacky imitation velour seat covering. The rear seat is not very comfortable and provides poor thigh support. Limited ventilation. Poor insulation leading to excessive interior noise. The dash has been reworked, but it still needs improving. Rear seat access is limited.

Technical Data:

Dimensions (sedan)

Length: 184.8 in.

Width: 67.7 in.

Wheelbase: 107.1 in.

Weight: 2923 lbs.

Towing: 1000 lbs.

Powertrain

Front-wheel drive

Engine: 2.2L 16-valve 4 (125 hp)

EX-R(140 hp)

Transmissions:

Standard: 5-speed manual

Option: 4-speed automatic

Fuel economy:

2.2L & 5-speed man.:

9.9L/100 km

2.2L & 4-speed auto.:

10.8L/100 km

2.2L & 4-speed auto.:

11.4L/100 km

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The Honda Accord

GENERAL COMMENTS: The Honda Accord has always been the best performing family sedan on the market, and this year it gets better with a new station wagon and a few trim changes. Every time Honda redesigned the line, it not only caught up with the latest advances, but went slightly ahead. Strong points are comfort, fit and finish, ergonomics, impressive assembly quality, reliability and drivability. The 1992 Accord is roomy, fast and nimble. It is the car of choice in the compact sedan class for drivers who want maximum fuel economy and comfort along with lots of space for grocery hauling and occasional highway cruising. These demands are irreconcilable with most other small sedans. In total, the Accord offers something for everyone, and its high resale value means there’s no way you can lose money buying one. Accords are now built in Alliston, Ontario, to the same high quality standards shown in the cars imported from Japan. These cars depreciate slowly and are never difficult to resell. Their only shortcomings of note are the lack of an optional V6 engine and all-wheel drive, available on many cars in the Accord class. The four-door and wagon have a less rigid suspension and less precise road handling but more interior comfort.

Suggested alternatives: Don’t buy a 92 version if a discounted 91 is available; there is practically no difference between the two except for greater air bag availability. Other worthwhile cars to consider are the Ford Taurus/Sable, BMW 325i, Mazda Protege and 626, Nissan Stanza, Toyota Camry, Volvo 240, VW Golf.

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Hyundai Elantra

The Elantra SE is a well-rounded package with roomy cabin, a comfortable ride, nice fit and finish, and a quiet interior. It provides excellent braking and very secure emergency handling, aided by the SE’s standard electronic stability control. Fuel economy is respectable at 27 mpg overall. Acceleration is adequate if not breathtaking. Reliability has been well above average.

Handling, Ride, and Powertrain

In addition to standard ESC, the SE has wider tires than the lower-trim GLS model. That helps it deliver notably better cornering grip and braking performance. In this group, the Elantra SE achieved the shortest braking distances and the fastest maximum speed through our avoidance maneuver. Still, the car leans a bit in turns. While the steering response is appropriate, it falls short on feedback. A relatively tight 37-foot turning circle aids in tight maneuvers. The Elantra provides a good ride for a small car, absorbing road bumps fairly well. The cabin stays commendably quiet with subdued levels of wind and road noise.

The 132-hp, 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine provides reasonable acceleration, and the four-speed automatic transmission shifted smoothly and responsively. But the zigzag shift gate can be awkward to use.

Inside the Cabin

Nicely grained plastics appoint the Elantra’s interior and most panel fits are tight. The dash top is soft to the touch, however most other interior plastics are hard. Drivers sit up high, where they have a good view over the low dash. There is plenty of head, foot, and knee room for all but the tallest people. The steering wheel both tilts and telescopes on the SE version and there is a well-placed left footrest.

Front seats are roomy and well padded but a bit flat; there is some lateral support, but it could be better. Tall drivers found the seat cushion too short for adequate thigh support. Gripes included the lack of lumbar-support and cushion-tilt adjustments.

The well-contoured rear seat is among the best in the class. Head and leg room are adequate for six-footers, but the seat is a bit narrow to fit three of them comfortably.

Most controls are simple and well laid out. But the displays tend to wash out in bright sunlight. The radio has big buttons and a tuning knob, and the climate control uses large, simple knobs. There is an auxiliary audio jack for MP3 players. The climate system is easy to use, but there is no outside temperature display.

The nice-sized trunk can be expanded by lowering the 60/40-split rear seat backs. But the deck lid lacks a liner, as well as any good place to grasp it when closing the trunk.

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