A car writer’s year in new vehicles [w/video]




Seyth Miersma

Christmas is only a week away. The New Year is just around the corner. As 2014 draws to a close, I’m not the only one taking stock of the year that’s we’re almost shut of.

Depending on who you are or what you do, the end of the year can bring to mind tax bills, school semesters or scheduling dental appointments. For me, for the last eight or nine years, at least a small part of this transitory time is occupied with recalling the cars I’ve driven over the preceding 12 months.

Since I started writing about and reviewing cars in 2006, I’ve done an uneven job of tracking every vehicle I’ve been in, each year. Last year I made a resolution to be better about it, and the result is a spreadsheet with model names, dates, notes and some basic facts and figures.

Armed with this basic data and a yen for year-end stories, I figured it would be interesting to parse the figures and quantify my year in cars in a way I’d never done before. The results are, well, they’re a little bizarre, honestly. And I think they’ll affect how I approach this gig in 2015. {C}

2014 seyth year in cars 20 113 A car writers year in new vehicles [w/video]2014 seyth year in cars 21 113 A car writers year in new vehicles [w/video]
b4m2f32cuaalnsg jpg large 113 A car writers year in new vehicles [w/video]2014 seyth year in cars 07 124 A car writers year in new vehicles [w/video]

My tally for the year is 68 cars, as of this writing. Before the calendar flips to 2015 it’ll be as high as 73.

Let me give you a tiny bit of background about how automotive journalists typically get cars to test. There are basically two pools of vehicles I drive on a regular basis: media fleet vehicles and those available on “first drive” programs.

The latter group is pretty self-explanatory. Journalists are gathered in one location (sometimes local, sometimes far-flung) with a new model(s), there’s usually a day of driving, then we report back to you with our impressions.

Media fleet vehicles are different. These are distributed to publications and individual journalists far and wide, and the test period goes from a few days to a week or more. Whereas first drives almost always result in a piece of review content, fleet loans only sometimes do. Other times they serve to give context about brands, segments, technology and the like, to editors and writers.

So, adding up the loans I’ve had out of the press fleet and things I’ve driven at events, my tally for the year is 68 cars, as of this writing. Before the calendar flips to 2015, it’ll be as high as 73.

2014 seyth year in cars 31 113 A car writers year in new vehicles [w/video]

At one of the buff books like Car and Driver or Motor Trend, reviewers might rotate through five cars a week, or more.

I know that number sounds high, but as best I can tell, it’s pretty average for the full-time professionals in this business. At Autoblog, full-time car reviewers (guys “in the rotation” as we say), typically have loans once per week, per editor. Since we don’t always work out of the same office (some of us never do), that’s a simpler way to do it. At one of the buff books like Car and Driver or Motor Trend, where a lot of the editorial staff is in one place, Monday to Friday, reviewers might rotate through five cars a week, or more. And it’s very common for the in-office Autoblog staff to do the same.

For instance: Jason Cammisa, Senior Editor at Road & Track, keeps a detailed yearly accounting of the cars he’s driven (as well as miles, an idea which I’m going to steal going forward). Cammisa’s total dwarfed mine in 2014, with 179 cars projected in the logbook.

Rotation reviewers that are higher up their respective mastheads might get more cars, or higher-performance, more expensive cars than those on the bottom rungs. People that work at enthusiast-oriented publications may also have results that are skewed towards more-exotic-than-average metal, and location helps, too – guys out in Los Angeles tend to have a more ample supply of high-end metal than we Michiganders do.

Autoblog covers everything, but we lean more enthusiastic than pedestrian, and it’s probably fair to say I’m in the high-middle of the industry in terms of access to vehicles. So, what did my daily driver look like in 2014?

2014 seyth year in cars 25 113 A car writers year in new vehicles [w/video]
2014 seyth year in cars 02 124 A car writers year in new vehicles [w/video]2014 seyth year in cars 38 113 A car writers year in new vehicles [w/video]

This is how a brief Vital Stats panel would read for my fleet cars if I average the combined totals with the aggregate number of vehicles.

  • Output: 328 horsepower / 332 pound-feet of torque
  • Miles Per Gallon: 19.8 City / 28.5 Highway
  • Fuel Type: 95.5 Diesel / 0% Hybrid
  • Transmission Type: 80.6 Manual (for simplicity I’m lumping everything without a third pedal into “Automatic” here)
  • Base Price: $63,998
  • As-Tested Price: $73,443

Holy crap. I should note that my as-tested price there is soft; there are lots of cars that I never got official pricing for, so where I lacked the real number I made an informed – if conservative – guess.

For the sake of comparison, I dug around to find the best data available for the average vehicle in the 2014 model year, in the US. For the technical stats, this data comes from preliminary reporting from the EPA, and the sales data (year to date) comes from TrueCar.

  • Output: 233 Horsepower / Torque Not Listed
  • Miles Per Gallon: 20 City / 29 Highway
  • Fuel Type: 94.5 Diesel / 4% Hybrid
  • Transmission Type: 96.3 Manual
  • Base Price: $34,386
  • Transaction Price: $31,831

2014 seyth year in cars 18 113 A car writers year in new vehicles [w/video]

If you’re like me, the first and most mind-boggling stat in this comparison is the huge price gap. An average of over $70k as-tested is pretty wild, though some of that is down to just a handful of curve-wrecking cars. I tested four cars that go for more than $200k in 2014: both coupe and convertible versions of the Bentley Continental GT V8 S, the Lamborghini Huracán LP 610-4, and the $365k-as-tested Rolls-Royce Ghost Series II. (Do I love my job? Yes.)

I probably need to work on my sub-$25k blind spot in the coming year. Progress through data!

When I take those four cars out of the equation, the average MSRP drops to $53,022 and as-tested to $60,486. Still way above the national average, but with a lot less daylight in between.

Obviously I’m driving a lot of premium, luxury vehicles. I think that’s helpful, as I write reviews for quite a number of products in that stratum, too. Still, I’ll admit that I probably need to work on my sub-$25k blind spot in the coming year. Progress through data!

I wasn’t taken aback to see that my average horsepower output is higher than normal (especially considering the money we’re talking about), but I do think that my average torque rating is telling of the era we’re in. Unfortunately, the EPA doesn’t track torque figures, but to see that my typical pounds-feet rating is higher than horsepower – and with less than five percent diesel in the mix – is impressive. The large-scale movement to turbocharging has that torque figure higher than ever, I’d guess.

Turbos (and direct-injection technology) are at the heart of what can only be seen as impressive EPA fuel economy figures, too. My averages practically mirror those of the nation as a whole, despite a much higher average output. Partially that’s down to my having driven just a handful of trucks this year, but it’s also a testament to the increasing ability of automakers to engineer power without compromising frugality.

518345102 1 570 41113 A car writers year in new vehicles [w/video]

Manual transmissions – why are my cars equipped with them at almost five times the rate that they’re produced for sale to Americans?

Finally, manual transmissions – why are my cars equipped with them at almost five times the rate that they’re produced for sale to Americans? First, we, along with a lot of you, love stick shifts, and probably over-report on manual-trans version of cars as a result. Second, automakers know we all love MTs, and probably overrepresent them in the media fleets. Real talk.

Here are some of the superlatives from my 2014 car list:

  • Most Expensive: the previously mentioned 2015 Rolls-Royce Ghost, at $286,750 “base” and $365,250 as-tested. For the record, I believe this is also the single most expensive series production car I’ve ever driven.
  • Least Expensive: 2015 Honda Fit 6MT at $15,650 base and $18,225 as-tested (a pretty loaded EX model that, true-to-form, still had the manual trans).
  • Most Powerful: 2015 Dodge Challenger SRT Hellcat at 707 horsepower. Was there ever any doubt? The Huracán is a distant second, almost 100 hp behind.
  • Least Powerful: It’s the Fit again, at 130 hp. And you know what, it’s still fun to drive in traffic.
  • Most Torquey: 2015 Mercedes-Benz S63 AMG at 664 pound-feet. I wrote at the time that this car was, “the perfect cure for my Mercedes-AMG GT hangover” which was on point.
  • Least Torquey: Honda Fit at 114 lb-ft… did I mention it had a nice six speed?

I’d love to keep you reading for a few thousand more words, diving indulgently into the things that I loved or hated about every car on my list, but the other Autobloggers are looking over my shoulder, so I’ll keep it short.

I’ve uploaded a picture of just about every car that I drove this year – mostly from my own Twitter and Facebook pages, so follow me if you’d like to see more like this in 2015. If you’ve got questions about any of the cars you see therein, write them up and drop them into our Comments section below. I will look forward to answering back just as soon as I read them.

It’s been a fantastic, fascinating and uncanny year in cars. I’m one hell of a lucky guy. Here’s marking up a fresh spreadsheet in 2015, and bringing all the adventures that come along with that, to you.

Source Article from http://www.autoblog.com/2014/12/18/car-writers-year-in-cars-video/
A car writer’s year in new vehicles [w/video]
http://www.autoblog.com/2014/12/18/car-writers-year-in-cars-video/
http://fulltextrssfeed.com/www.autoblog.com/category/mercedes-benz/rss.xml
Autoblog Mercedes-Benz
Autoblog Mercedes-Benz // via fulltextrssfeed.com
http://o.aolcdn.com/os/autoblog/ab-podcast-itunes.jpg

A car writer’s year in new vehicles [w/video]




Seyth Miersma

Christmas is only a week away. The New Year is just around the corner. As 2014 draws to a close, I’m not the only one taking stock of the year that’s we’re almost shut of.

Depending on who you are or what you do, the end of the year can bring to mind tax bills, school semesters or scheduling dental appointments. For me, for the last eight or nine years, at least a small part of this transitory time is occupied with recalling the cars I’ve driven over the preceding 12 months.

Since I started writing about and reviewing cars in 2006, I’ve done an uneven job of tracking every vehicle I’ve been in, each year. Last year I made a resolution to be better about it, and the result is a spreadsheet with model names, dates, notes and some basic facts and figures.

Armed with this basic data and a yen for year-end stories, I figured it would be interesting to parse the figures and quantify my year in cars in a way I’d never done before. The results are, well, they’re a little bizarre, honestly. And I think they’ll affect how I approach this gig in 2015.

2014 seyth year in cars 20 111 A car writers year in new vehicles [w/video]2014 seyth year in cars 21 111 A car writers year in new vehicles [w/video]
b4m2f32cuaalnsg jpg large 111 A car writers year in new vehicles [w/video]2014 seyth year in cars 07 120 A car writers year in new vehicles [w/video]

My tally for the year is 68 cars, as of this writing. Before the calendar flips to 2015 it’ll be as high as 73.

Let me give you a tiny bit of background about how automotive journalists typically get cars to test. There are basically two pools of vehicles I drive on a regular basis: media fleet vehicles and those available on “first drive” programs.

The latter group is pretty self-explanatory. Journalists are gathered in one location (sometimes local, sometimes far-flung) with a new model(s), there’s usually a day of driving, then we report back to you with our impressions.

Media fleet vehicles are different. These are distributed to publications and individual journalists far and wide, and the test period goes from a few days to a week or more. Whereas first drives almost always result in a piece of review content, fleet loans only sometimes do. Other times they serve to give context about brands, segments, technology and the like, to editors and writers.

So, adding up the loans I’ve had out of the press fleet and things I’ve driven at events, my tally for the year is 68 cars, as of this writing. Before the calendar flips to 2015, it’ll be as high as 73.

2014 seyth year in cars 31 111 A car writers year in new vehicles [w/video]

At one of the buff books like Car and Driver or Motor Trend, reviewers might rotate through five cars a week, or more.

I know that number sounds high, but as best I can tell, it’s pretty average for the full-time professionals in this business. At Autoblog, full-time car reviewers (guys “in the rotation” as we say), typically have loans once per week, per editor. Since we don’t always work out of the same office (some of us never do), that’s a simpler way to do it. At one of the buff books like Car and Driver or Motor Trend, where a lot of the editorial staff is in one place, Monday to Friday, reviewers might rotate through five cars a week, or more. And it’s very common for the in-office Autoblog staff to do the same.

For instance: Jason Cammisa, Senior Editor at Road & Track, keeps a detailed yearly accounting of the cars he’s driven (as well as miles, an idea which I’m going to steal going forward). Cammisa’s total dwarfed mine in 2014, with 179 cars projected in the logbook.

Rotation reviewers that are higher up their respective mastheads might get more cars, or higher-performance, more expensive cars than those on the bottom rungs. People that work at enthusiast-oriented publications may also have results that are skewed towards more-exotic-than-average metal, and location helps, too – guys out in Los Angeles tend to have a more ample supply of high-end metal than we Michiganders do.

Autoblog covers everything, but we lean more enthusiastic than pedestrian, and it’s probably fair to say I’m in the high-middle of the industry in terms of access to vehicles. So, what did my daily driver look like in 2014?

2014 seyth year in cars 25 111 A car writers year in new vehicles [w/video]
2014 seyth year in cars 02 120 A car writers year in new vehicles [w/video]2014 seyth year in cars 38 111 A car writers year in new vehicles [w/video]

This is how a brief Vital Stats panel would read for my fleet cars if I average the combined totals with the aggregate number of vehicles.

  • Output: 328 horsepower / 332 pound-feet of torque
  • Miles Per Gallon: 19.8 City / 28.5 Highway
  • Fuel Type: 95.5 Diesel / 0% Hybrid
  • Transmission Type: 80.6 Manual (for simplicity I’m lumping everything without a third pedal into “Automatic” here)
  • Base Price: $63,998
  • As-Tested Price: $73,443

Holy crap. I should note that my as-tested price there is soft; there are lots of cars that I never got official pricing for, so where I lacked the real number I made an informed – if conservative – guess.

For the sake of comparison, I dug around to find the best data available for the average vehicle in the 2014 model year, in the US. For the technical stats, this data comes from preliminary reporting from the EPA, and the sales data (year to date) comes from TrueCar.

  • Output: 233 Horsepower / Torque Not Listed
  • Miles Per Gallon: 20 City / 29 Highway
  • Fuel Type: 94.5 Diesel / 4% Hybrid
  • Transmission Type: 96.3 Manual
  • Base Price: $34,386
  • Transaction Price: $31,831

2014 seyth year in cars 18 111 A car writers year in new vehicles [w/video]

If you’re like me, the first and most mind-boggling stat in this comparison is the huge price gap. An average of over $70k as-tested is pretty wild, though some of that is down to just a handful of curve-wrecking cars. I tested four cars that go for more than $200k in 2014: both coupe and convertible versions of the Bentley Continental GT V8 S, the Lamborghini Huracán LP 610-4, and the $365k-as-tested Rolls-Royce Ghost Series II. (Do I love my job? Yes.)

I probably need to work on my sub-$25k blind spot in the coming year. Progress through data!

When I take those four cars out of the equation, the average MSRP drops to $53,022 and as-tested to $60,486. Still way above the national average, but with a lot less daylight in between.

Obviously I’m driving a lot of premium, luxury vehicles. I think that’s helpful, as I write reviews for quite a number of products in that stratum, too. Still, I’ll admit that I probably need to work on my sub-$25k blind spot in the coming year. Progress through data!

I wasn’t taken aback to see that my average horsepower output is higher than normal (especially considering the money we’re talking about), but I do think that my average torque rating is telling of the era we’re in. Unfortunately, the EPA doesn’t track torque figures, but to see that my typical pounds-feet rating is higher than horsepower – and with less than five percent diesel in the mix – is impressive. The large-scale movement to turbocharging has that torque figure higher than ever, I’d guess.

Turbos (and direct-injection technology) are at the heart of what can only be seen as impressive EPA fuel economy figures, too. My averages practically mirror those of the nation as a whole, despite a much higher average output. Partially that’s down to my having driven just a handful of trucks this year, but it’s also a testament to the increasing ability of automakers to engineer power without compromising frugality.

518345102 1 570 41111 A car writers year in new vehicles [w/video]

Manual transmissions – why are my cars equipped with them at almost five times the rate that they’re produced for sale to Americans?

Finally, manual transmissions – why are my cars equipped with them at almost five times the rate that they’re produced for sale to Americans? First, we, along with a lot of you, love stick shifts, and probably over-report on manual-trans version of cars as a result. Second, automakers know we all love MTs, and probably overrepresent them in the media fleets. Real talk.

Here are some of the superlatives from my 2014 car list:

  • Most Expensive: the previously mentioned 2015 Rolls-Royce Ghost, at $286,750 “base” and $365,250 as-tested. For the record, I believe this is also the single most expensive series production car I’ve ever driven.
  • Least Expensive: 2015 Honda Fit 6MT at $15,650 base and $18,225 as-tested (a pretty loaded EX model that, true-to-form, still had the manual trans).
  • Most Powerful: 2015 Dodge Challenger SRT Hellcat at 707 horsepower. Was there ever any doubt? The Huracán is a distant second, almost 100 hp behind.
  • Least Powerful: It’s the Fit again, at 130 hp. And you know what, it’s still fun to drive in traffic.
  • Most Torquey: 2015 Mercedes-Benz S63 AMG at 664 pound-feet. I wrote at the time that this car was, “the perfect cure for my Mercedes-AMG GT hangover” which was on point.
  • Least Torquey: Honda Fit at 114 lb-ft… did I mention it had a nice six speed?

I’d love to keep you reading for a few thousand more words, diving indulgently into the things that I loved or hated about every car on my list, but the other Autobloggers are looking over my shoulder, so I’ll keep it short.

I’ve uploaded a picture of just about every car that I drove this year – mostly from my own Twitter and Facebook pages, so follow me if you’d like to see more like this in 2015. If you’ve got questions about any of the cars you see therein, write them up and drop them into our Comments section below. I will look forward to answering back just as soon as I read them.

It’s been a fantastic, fascinating and uncanny year in cars. I’m one hell of a lucky guy. Here’s marking up a fresh spreadsheet in 2015, and bringing all the adventures that come along with that, to you.

Source Article from http://www.autoblog.com/2014/12/18/car-writers-year-in-cars-video/
A car writer’s year in new vehicles [w/video]
http://www.autoblog.com/2014/12/18/car-writers-year-in-cars-video/
http://fulltextrssfeed.com/www.autoblog.com/category/mercedes-benz/rss.xml
Autoblog Mercedes-Benz
Autoblog Mercedes-Benz // via fulltextrssfeed.com
http://o.aolcdn.com/os/autoblog/ab-podcast-itunes.jpg

A car writer’s year in new vehicles [w/video]




Seyth Miersma

Christmas is only a week away. The New Year is just around the corner. As 2014 draws to a close, I’m not the only one taking stock of the year that’s we’re almost shut of.

Depending on who you are or what you do, the end of the year can bring to mind tax bills, school semesters or scheduling dental appointments. For me, for the last eight or nine years, at least a small part of this transitory time is occupied with recalling the cars I’ve driven over the preceding 12 months.

Since I started writing about and reviewing cars in 2006, I’ve done an uneven job of tracking every vehicle I’ve been in, each year. Last year I made a resolution to be better about it, and the result is a spreadsheet with model names, dates, notes and some basic facts and figures.

Armed with this basic data and a yen for year-end stories, I figured it would be interesting to parse the figures and quantify my year in cars in a way I’d never done before. The results are, well, they’re a little bizarre, honestly. And I think they’ll affect how I approach this gig in 2015.

2014 seyth year in cars 20 17 A car writers year in new vehicles [w/video]2014 seyth year in cars 21 17 A car writers year in new vehicles [w/video]
b4m2f32cuaalnsg jpg large 17 A car writers year in new vehicles [w/video]2014 seyth year in cars 07 112 A car writers year in new vehicles [w/video]

My tally for the year is 68 cars, as of this writing. Before the calendar flips to 2015 it’ll be as high as 73.

Let me give you a tiny bit of background about how automotive journalists typically get cars to test. There are basically two pools of vehicles I drive on a regular basis: media fleet vehicles and those available on “first drive” programs.

The latter group is pretty self-explanatory. Journalists are gathered in one location (sometimes local, sometimes far-flung) with a new model(s), there’s usually a day of driving, then we report back to you with our impressions.

Media fleet vehicles are different. These are distributed to publications and individual journalists far and wide, and the test period goes from a few days to a week or more. Whereas first drives almost always result in a piece of review content, fleet loans only sometimes do. Other times they serve to give context about brands, segments, technology and the like, to editors and writers.

So, adding up the loans I’ve had out of the press fleet and things I’ve driven at events, my tally for the year is 68 cars, as of this writing. Before the calendar flips to 2015, it’ll be as high as 73.

2014 seyth year in cars 31 17 A car writers year in new vehicles [w/video]

At one of the buff books like Car and Driver or Motor Trend, reviewers might rotate through five cars a week, or more.

I know that number sounds high, but as best I can tell, it’s pretty average for the full-time professionals in this business. At Autoblog, full-time car reviewers (guys “in the rotation” as we say), typically have loans once per week, per editor. Since we don’t always work out of the same office (some of us never do), that’s a simpler way to do it. At one of the buff books like Car and Driver or Motor Trend, where a lot of the editorial staff is in one place, Monday to Friday, reviewers might rotate through five cars a week, or more. And it’s very common for the in-office Autoblog staff to do the same.

For instance: Jason Cammisa, Senior Editor at Road & Track, keeps a detailed yearly accounting of the cars he’s driven (as well as miles, an idea which I’m going to steal going forward). Cammisa’s total dwarfed mine in 2014, with 179 cars projected in the logbook.

Rotation reviewers that are higher up their respective mastheads might get more cars, or higher-performance, more expensive cars than those on the bottom rungs. People that work at enthusiast-oriented publications may also have results that are skewed towards more-exotic-than-average metal, and location helps, too – guys out in Los Angeles tend to have a more ample supply of high-end metal than we Michiganders do.

Autoblog covers everything, but we lean more enthusiastic than pedestrian, and it’s probably fair to say I’m in the high-middle of the industry in terms of access to vehicles. So, what did my daily driver look like in 2014?

2014 seyth year in cars 25 17 A car writers year in new vehicles [w/video]
2014 seyth year in cars 02 112 A car writers year in new vehicles [w/video]2014 seyth year in cars 38 17 A car writers year in new vehicles [w/video]

This is how a brief Vital Stats panel would read for my fleet cars if I average the combined totals with the aggregate number of vehicles.

  • Output: 328 horsepower / 332 pound-feet of torque
  • Miles Per Gallon: 19.8 City / 28.5 Highway
  • Fuel Type: 95.5 Diesel / 0% Hybrid
  • Transmission Type: 80.6 Manual (for simplicity I’m lumping everything without a third pedal into “Automatic” here)
  • Base Price: $63,998
  • As-Tested Price: $73,443

Holy crap. I should note that my as-tested price there is soft; there are lots of cars that I never got official pricing for, so where I lacked the real number I made an informed – if conservative – guess.

For the sake of comparison, I dug around to find the best data available for the average vehicle in the 2014 model year, in the US. For the technical stats, this data comes from preliminary reporting from the EPA, and the sales data (year to date) comes from TrueCar.

  • Output: 233 Horsepower / Torque Not Listed
  • Miles Per Gallon: 20 City / 29 Highway
  • Fuel Type: 94.5 Diesel / 4% Hybrid
  • Transmission Type: 96.3 Manual
  • Base Price: $34,386
  • Transaction Price: $31,831

2014 seyth year in cars 18 17 A car writers year in new vehicles [w/video]

If you’re like me, the first and most mind-boggling stat in this comparison is the huge price gap. An average of over $70k as-tested is pretty wild, though some of that is down to just a handful of curve-wrecking cars. I tested four cars that go for more than $200k in 2014: both coupe and convertible versions of the Bentley Continental GT V8 S, the Lamborghini Huracán LP 610-4, and the $365k-as-tested Rolls-Royce Ghost Series II. (Do I love my job? Yes.)

I probably need to work on my sub-$25k blind spot in the coming year. Progress through data!

When I take those four cars out of the equation, the average MSRP drops to $53,022 and as-tested to $60,486. Still way above the national average, but with a lot less daylight in between.

Obviously I’m driving a lot of premium, luxury vehicles. I think that’s helpful, as I write reviews for quite a number of products in that stratum, too. Still, I’ll admit that I probably need to work on my sub-$25k blind spot in the coming year. Progress through data!

I wasn’t taken aback to see that my average horsepower output is higher than normal (especially considering the money we’re talking about), but I do think that my average torque rating is telling of the era we’re in. Unfortunately, the EPA doesn’t track torque figures, but to see that my typical pounds-feet rating is higher than horsepower – and with less than five percent diesel in the mix – is impressive. The large-scale movement to turbocharging has that torque figure higher than ever, I’d guess.

Turbos (and direct-injection technology) are at the heart of what can only be seen as impressive EPA fuel economy figures, too. My averages practically mirror those of the nation as a whole, despite a much higher average output. Partially that’s down to my having driven just a handful of trucks this year, but it’s also a testament to the increasing ability of automakers to engineer power without compromising frugality.

518345102 1 570 4117 A car writers year in new vehicles [w/video]

Manual transmissions – why are my cars equipped with them at almost five times the rate that they’re produced for sale to Americans?

Finally, manual transmissions – why are my cars equipped with them at almost five times the rate that they’re produced for sale to Americans? First, we, along with a lot of you, love stick shifts, and probably over-report on manual-trans version of cars as a result. Second, automakers know we all love MTs, and probably overrepresent them in the media fleets. Real talk.

Here are some of the superlatives from my 2014 car list:

  • Most Expensive: the previously mentioned 2015 Rolls-Royce Ghost, at $286,750 “base” and $365,250 as-tested. For the record, I believe this is also the single most expensive series production car I’ve ever driven.
  • Least Expensive: 2015 Honda Fit 6MT at $15,650 base and $18,225 as-tested (a pretty loaded EX model that, true-to-form, still had the manual trans).
  • Most Powerful: 2015 Dodge Challenger SRT Hellcat at 707 horsepower. Was there ever any doubt? The Huracán is a distant second, almost 100 hp behind.
  • Least Powerful: It’s the Fit again, at 130 hp. And you know what, it’s still fun to drive in traffic.
  • Most Torquey: 2015 Mercedes-Benz S63 AMG at 664 pound-feet. I wrote at the time that this car was, “the perfect cure for my Mercedes-AMG GT hangover” which was on point.
  • Least Torquey: Honda Fit at 114 lb-ft… did I mention it had a nice six speed?

I’d love to keep you reading for a few thousand more words, diving indulgently into the things that I loved or hated about every car on my list, but the other Autobloggers are looking over my shoulder, so I’ll keep it short.

I’ve uploaded a picture of just about every car that I drove this year – mostly from my own Twitter and Facebook pages, so follow me if you’d like to see more like this in 2015. If you’ve got questions about any of the cars you see therein, write them up and drop them into our Comments section below. I will look forward to answering back just as soon as I read them.

It’s been a fantastic, fascinating and uncanny year in cars. I’m one hell of a lucky guy. Here’s marking up a fresh spreadsheet in 2015, and bringing all the adventures that come along with that, to you.

Source Article from http://www.autoblog.com/2014/12/18/car-writers-year-in-cars-video/
A car writer’s year in new vehicles [w/video]
http://www.autoblog.com/2014/12/18/car-writers-year-in-cars-video/
http://fulltextrssfeed.com/www.autoblog.com/category/mercedes-benz/rss.xml
Autoblog Mercedes-Benz
Autoblog Mercedes-Benz // via fulltextrssfeed.com
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Recharge Wrap-up: Honda FCV Concept comes to Detroit, Toyota seeks young green energy fellows

Honda FCV Concept to Make North American Debut at 2015 North American International Auto Show

Dec 17, 2014 – TORRANCE, Calif.

- Honda FCV Concept demonstrates the exterior and interior styling evolution of the next-generation zero emissions Honda fuel-cell vehicle

- Next-generation Honda FCV is intended to provide significant gains in packaging, interior space, cost reduction and real-world performance, including an anticipated driving range in excess of 300-miles

The Honda FCV Concept will make its North American debut at the 2015 North American International Auto Show on Jan. 12. Continuing more than a decade of Honda leadership in the area of fuel cell vehicle (FCV) technology, the Honda FCV Concept showcases the styling evolution of Honda’s next fuel-cell vehicle, anticipated to launch in the U.S., following its introduction in Japan, which is scheduled to occur by March 2016.

As the next progression in Honda’s dynamic FCV styling, the Honda FCV Concept features a low and wide aerodynamic body with clean character lines. The interior strives to achieve harmony between man and machine by taking advantage of new powertrain packaging efficiencies delivering even greater passenger space than the Honda FCX Clarity fuel cell vehicle, including seating for up to five people.

The Honda FCV Concept made its world debut in Japan on Nov. 17, 2014, followed by an announcement that Honda will provide FirstElement Fuel with $13.8 million in financial assistance to build additional hydrogen refueling stations throughout the state of California in an effort to support the wider introduction of fuel-cell vehicles.

Honda Fuel-Cell Vehicle Firsts:

The original FCX became the first EPA- and CARB-certified fuel-cell vehicle in July 2002. The FCX also was the world’s first production fuel-cell vehicle, introduced to the U.S. and Japan in December 2002.

Additional highlights include:

- The Honda FCX was the first fuel-cell vehicle to start and operate in sub-freezing temperatures (2003).

- The FCX was the first fuel-cell vehicle leased to an individual customer (July 2005).

- With the FCX Clarity, Honda was the first manufacturer to build and produce a dedicated fuel-cell vehicle on a production line specifically made for fuel-cell vehicles (2008).

- Honda was the first manufacturer to create a fuel-cell vehicle dealer network (2008).

Honda Environmental Leadership

Based on its vision of “Blue Skies for our Children,” Honda is taking a portfolio approach to reducing the environmental impact of its products, advancing fuel efficiency, low emissions and fun-to-drive performance with new powertrain technologies from its Earth Dreams Technology™ lineup, which includes more fuel-efficient engines and transmissions and advanced electromotive technologies. Honda’s alternative-fuel vehicle lineup includes the Fit EV, Civic Hybrid, the CR-Z sport hybrid coupe and the Accord Hybrid, the most fuel-efficient 5-passenger sedan in America1, as well as the Accord Plug-In Hybrid and the Civic Natural Gas, the only dedicated natural gas-powered passenger car available from a major automaker in America.

# # #

1 Based on 2015 EPA mileage. Use for comparison purposes only. Your actual mileage will vary depending driving conditions, how the vehicle is driven and maintained, battery pack age/condition and other factors.

B-Class Electric Drive reduces CO2 emissions by as much as 64 percent: B-Class Electric Drive awarded environmental certificate

Stuttgart. Locally emission-free, significantly more eco-friendly over its complete life cycle thanks to 64 percent lower CO2 emissions than the equivalent B 180 petrol model, generous in terms of space and range (200 km) and still dynamic on the road (output of 132 kW): the B-Class Electric Drive is a convincing proposition in all sorts of ways. Its high environmental compatibility has now also been confirmed by the inspectors at the TÜV Süd technical inspection authority, who have awarded the electric-drive Sports Tourer from Mercedes-Benz the environmental certificate in accordance with ISO standard TR 14062. This certification is based on a comprehensive life-cycle assessment of the B-Class Electric Drive, documenting every detail of relevance for the environment.

“The fact that we are able to integrate the electric motor and batteries into a perfectly ‘normal’ B-Class does not only mean that we can assemble the Electric Drive alongside the other B-Class vehicles on one production line, but almost more importantly means that our customers do not have to make any compromises at all in terms of spaciousness, safety or comfort”, explained Professor Dr Herbert Kohler, Chief Environmental Officer at Daimler AG. “The B-Class Electric Drive is an important milestone along our journey towards emission-free driving.”

Mercedes-Benz analyses the environmental compatibility of its models throughout their entire life cycle – from production, through their long years of service, to recycling at the end of their lives. This analysis goes far beyond the legal requirements. The Environmental Certificate and supplementary information are made available to the public as part of the “Life Cycle” documentation series, which can be accessed at http://www.mercedes-benz.com.

Over its entire life cycle, comprising production, use over 160,000 kilometres and recycling, the B-Class Electric Drive produces emissions of CO2 that are 24 percent (7.2 tonnes – EU electricity mix) or 64 percent (19 tonnes – hydroelectricity) lower than those of the B 180 – despite the higher emissions generated during the production process. This is due primarily to the exceptional efficiency of the electric motor, which gives rise to significant advantages during the use phase. One key factor here is its ingenious energy management system: the optional radar-based regenerative braking system, for example, ensures the optimal recuperation of braking energy back into the battery. This further enhances the efficiency of the drive system and enables even greater ranges.

CO2 emissions during the use phase here depend upon the method used to generate electricity. In 160,000 kilometres of driving use, the new B-Class Electric Drive (NEDC combined consumption from 16.6 kWh/100 km) produces 11.9 tonnes of CO2, assuming use of the EU electricity mix. When electricity generated by hydroelectric means is used to power the electric vehicle, the other environmental impacts relating to electricity generation are also almost entirely avoided. The B 180 (NEDC combined consumption 5.4 l/100 km) on the other hand emits 23.8 tonnes of CO2 during the use phase.

Scania to test wirelessly charged city bus for the first time in Sweden

Scania has become the first company in Sweden to test a wirelessly charged electric-hybrid city bus. The bus will start operating on the streets of Södertälje, Sweden, in June 2016 as part of a research project into sustainable vehicle technology.

Scania is undertaking intensive research into various types of electrification technologies that could replace or complement combustion engines. Induction is among the options being investigated and would involve vehicles wirelessly recharging their batteries via electrified roads.

Now, for the first time in Sweden, Scania and the Stockholm based Royal Institute of Technology (KTH) plan to test the technology in real-life conditions. The project will be run through their jointly operated Integrated Transport Laboratory research centre.

Swedish Energy Agency will provide 9.8 MSEK for the project’s realisation. Other stakeholders include Södertälje Municipality, Stockholm County Council and Tom Tits, the tech-oriented museum for children and youths.

As part of the field tests, a Scania citybus with an electric hybrid powertrain will go into daily operation in Södertälje in June 2016. At one of the bus stops there will be a charging station where the vehicle will be able to refill wirelessly from the road surface enough energy for a complete journey in just six-seven minutes.

“The main purpose of the field test is to evaluate the technology in real-life conditions,” says Nils-Gunnar Vågstedt, Head of Scania’s Hybrid System Development Department. “There is enormous potential in the switch from combustion engines to electrification. The field test in Södertälje is the first step towards entirely electrified roads where electric vehicles take up energy from the road surface.”

To build an infrastructure and convert bus fleets to vehicles that run exclusively on electricity will provide many advantages for a city. With a fleet of 2,000 buses, the city can save up to 50 million litres of fuel each year. This means the fuel costs decrease by up to 90 percent.

Apart from induction, Scania’s research and development department is looking at different technology options, including the take-up of energy from overhead electrical wires or from rails.

“Our customers have different needs and prerequisites when it comes to switching to more sustainable transport. Therefore we don’t want focus on just one technology. Instead we are continuing research in different areas,” says says Nils-Gunnar Vågstedt.

Linde, Sandia partnership looks to expand hydrogen fueling network

LIVERMORE, CALIF. – Sandia National Laboratories and industrial gas giant Linde LLC have signed an umbrella Cooperative Research & Development Agreement (CRADA) that is expected to accelerate the development of low-carbon energy and industrial technologies, beginning with hydrogen and fuel cells.

The CRADA will kick off with two new research and development projects to accelerate the expansion of hydrogen fueling stations to continue to support the market growth of fuel cell electric vehicles now proliferating among the major auto manufacturers. On Nov. 17, Toyota became the latest to unveil a fuel cell electric vehicle.

Last week, Linde opened the first-ever, fully certified commercial hydrogen fueling station near Sacramento with support from the California Energy Commission.

Kickoff projects will help increase H2 fuel station openings

A recent Sandia study, funded by the Department of Energy’s (DOE) Fuel Cell Technologies Office in the Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE), determined that 18 percent of fueling station sites in high-priority areas can readily accept hydrogen fueling systems using existing building codes.

The development of meaningful, science-based fire codes and determinations, such as those found in that study, shows that focusing on scientific, risk-informed approaches can reduce uncertainty and help to avoid overly conservative restrictions to commercial hydrogen fuel installations.

Continuing down this path, the first project in the Sandia/Linde CRADA will be demonstrating a hydrogen fuel station that uses a performance-based design approach allowable under the National Fire Protection Association hydrogen technologies code, NFPA 2. The project will include support from the DOE.

California’s Alternative and Renewable Fuel and Vehicle Technology Program states that Linde expects to open new fueling stations in late 2015.

NFPA 2 provides fundamental safeguards for the generation, installation, storage, piping, use and handling of hydrogen in compressed gas or cryogenic (low temperature) liquid form and is referenced by many fire officials in the permitting process for hydrogen fueling stations.

“Sections of NFPA 2 are typically not utilized by station developers, as they instead have focused more on rigid distance requirements for fuel dispensers, air intakes, tanks, storage equipment and other infrastructure,” explained Sandia risk expert and fire protection engineer Chris LaFleur.

“We know we can get hydrogen systems into more existing fueling facilities if our risk analyses show how they meet the code,” she said. “This will help boost the developing fuel-cell electric vehicle market significantly.”

The project, LaFleur added, will provide a foundation for the hydrogen fueling industry to implement the performance-based approach to station design and permitting, leading to sustained expansion of the hydrogen fueling network. The pilot demonstration, she said, will provide clear evidence that a performance-based design is feasible.

Infrastructure, safety the focus of second project

“Linde’s business interests in building and operating more hydrogen fueling stations for retail use align perfectly with our research goals aimed at accelerating clean and efficient energy technologies into the marketplace,” said Chris San Marchi, lead researcher in Sandia’s hydrogen safety, codes and standards program.

“We expect our investment with Sandia will lead to a broader consortium of other commercial partners,” said Nitin Natesan, business development manager at Linde. “We’re happy to lead the way for industry, but ultimately we need others on board to join the effort to address barriers to entry of hydrogen fueling infrastructure.”

The second project currently taking place under the new CRADA focuses on safety aspects of the NFPA code and entails the modeling of a liquid hydrogen release.

“With Linde’s help, we’re developing a science-based approach for updating and improving the separation distances requirements for liquid hydrogen storage at fueling stations,” said LaFleur. Previous work only examined separation distances for gaseous hydrogen, she said, so validation experiments will now be done on the liquid model.

Sandia’s Combustion Research Facility, for years considered a pre-eminent facility for studying hydrogen behavior and its effects on materials and engines, is a key element of the research.

This focus on improving the understanding of liquid hydrogen storage systems, LaFleur said, will result in more meaningful, science-based codes that will ensure the continued expansion of safe and available hydrogen fuel to meet fuel cell electric vehicle demands.

This work is aligned with Hydrogen Fueling Infrastructure Research and Station Technology (H2FIRST), an EERE project established earlier this year, and builds on over a decade of DOE investments in developing meaningful codes and standards to accelerate hydrogen and fuel cell markets in the U.S.

Source Article from http://www.autoblog.com/2014/12/18/honda-fcv-concept-detroit/
Recharge Wrap-up: Honda FCV Concept comes to Detroit, Toyota seeks young green energy fellows
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A car writer’s year in new vehicles [w/video]




Seyth Miersma

Christmas is only a week away. The New Year is just around the corner. As 2014 draws to a close, I’m not the only one taking stock of the year that’s we’re almost shut of.

Depending on who you are or what you do, the end of the year can bring to mind tax bills, school semesters or scheduling dental appointments. For me, for the last eight or nine years, at least a small part of this transitory time is occupied with recalling the cars I’ve driven over the preceding 12 months.

Since I started writing about and reviewing cars in 2006, I’ve done an uneven job of tracking every vehicle I’ve been in, each year. Last year I made a resolution to be better about it, and the result is a spreadsheet with model names, dates, notes and some basic facts and figures.

Armed with this basic data and a yen for year-end stories, I figured it would be interesting to parse the figures and quantify my year in cars in a way I’d never done before. The results are, well, they’re a little bizarre, honestly. And I think they’ll affect how I approach this gig in 2015.

2014 seyth year in cars 20 12 A car writers year in new vehicles [w/video]2014 seyth year in cars 21 12 A car writers year in new vehicles [w/video]
b4m2f32cuaalnsg jpg large 12 A car writers year in new vehicles [w/video]2014 seyth year in cars 07 12 A car writers year in new vehicles [w/video]

My tally for the year is 68 cars, as of this writing. Before the calendar flips to 2015 it’ll be as high as 73.

Let me give you a tiny bit of background about how automotive journalists typically get cars to test. There are basically two pools of vehicles I drive on a regular basis: media fleet vehicles and those available on “first drive” programs.

The latter group is pretty self-explanatory. Journalists are gathered in one location (sometimes local, sometimes far-flung) with a new model(s), there’s usually a day of driving, then we report back to you with our impressions.

Media fleet vehicles are different. These are distributed to publications and individual journalists far and wide, and the test period goes from a few days to a week or more. Whereas first drives almost always result in a piece of review content, fleet loans only sometimes do. Other times they serve to give context about brands, segments, technology and the like, to editors and writers.

So, adding up the loans I’ve had out of the press fleet and things I’ve driven at events, my tally for the year is 68 cars, as of this writing. Before the calendar flips to 2015, it’ll be as high as 73.

2014 seyth year in cars 31 12 A car writers year in new vehicles [w/video]

At one of the buff books like Car and Driver or Motor Trend, reviewers might rotate through five cars a week, or more.

I know that number sounds high, but as best I can tell, it’s pretty average for the full-time professionals in this business. At Autoblog, full-time car reviewers (guys “in the rotation” as we say), typically have loans once per week, per editor. Since we don’t always work out of the same office (some of us never do), that’s a simpler way to do it. At one of the buff books like Car and Driver or Motor Trend, where a lot of the editorial staff is in one place, Monday to Friday, reviewers might rotate through five cars a week, or more. And it’s very common for the in-office Autoblog staff to do the same.

For instance: Jason Cammisa, Senior Editor at Road & Track, keeps a detailed yearly accounting of the cars he’s driven (as well as miles, an idea which I’m going to steal going forward). Cammisa’s total dwarfed mine in 2014, with 179 cars projected in the logbook.

Rotation reviewers that are higher up their respective mastheads might get more cars, or higher-performance, more expensive cars than those on the bottom rungs. People that work at enthusiast-oriented publications may also have results that are skewed towards more-exotic-than-average metal, and location helps, too – guys out in Los Angeles tend to have a more ample supply of high-end metal than we Michiganders do.

Autoblog covers everything, but we lean more enthusiastic than pedestrian, and it’s probably fair to say I’m in the high-middle of the industry in terms of access to vehicles. So, what did my daily driver look like in 2014?

2014 seyth year in cars 25 12 A car writers year in new vehicles [w/video]
2014 seyth year in cars 02 12 A car writers year in new vehicles [w/video]2014 seyth year in cars 38 12 A car writers year in new vehicles [w/video]

This is how a brief Vital Stats panel would read for my fleet cars if I average the combined totals with the aggregate number of vehicles.

  • Output: 328 horsepower / 332 pound-feet of torque
  • Miles Per Gallon: 19.8 City / 28.5 Highway
  • Fuel Type: 95.5 Diesel / 0% Hybrid
  • Transmission Type: 80.6 Manual (for simplicity I’m lumping everything without a third pedal into “Automatic” here)
  • Base Price: $63,998
  • As-Tested Price: $73,443

Holy crap. I should note that my as-tested price there is soft; there are lots of cars that I never got official pricing for, so where I lacked the real number I made an informed – if conservative – guess.

For the sake of comparison, I dug around to find the best data available for the average vehicle in the 2014 model year, in the US. For the technical stats, this data comes from preliminary reporting from the EPA, and the sales data (year to date) comes from TrueCar.

  • Output: 233 Horsepower / Torque Not Listed
  • Miles Per Gallon: 20 City / 29 Highway
  • Fuel Type: 94.5 Diesel / 4% Hybrid
  • Transmission Type: 96.3 Manual
  • Base Price: $34,386
  • Transaction Price: $31,831

2014 seyth year in cars 18 12 A car writers year in new vehicles [w/video]

If you’re like me, the first and most mind-boggling stat in this comparison is the huge price gap. An average of over $70k as-tested is pretty wild, though some of that is down to just a handful of curve-wrecking cars. I tested four cars that go for more than $200k in 2014: both coupe and convertible versions of the Bentley Continental GT V8 S, the Lamborghini Huracán LP 610-4, and the $365k-as-tested Rolls-Royce Ghost Series II. (Do I love my job? Yes.)

I probably need to work on my sub-$25k blind spot in the coming year. Progress through data!

When I take those four cars out of the equation, the average MSRP drops to $53,022 and as-tested to $60,486. Still way above the national average, but with a lot less daylight in between.

Obviously I’m driving a lot of premium, luxury vehicles. I think that’s helpful, as I write reviews for quite a number of products in that stratum, too. Still, I’ll admit that I probably need to work on my sub-$25k blind spot in the coming year. Progress through data!

I wasn’t taken aback to see that my average horsepower output is higher than normal (especially considering the money we’re talking about), but I do think that my average torque rating is telling of the era we’re in. Unfortunately, the EPA doesn’t track torque figures, but to see that my typical pounds-feet rating is higher than horsepower – and with less than five percent diesel in the mix – is impressive. The large-scale movement to turbocharging has that torque figure higher than ever, I’d guess.

Turbos (and direct-injection technology) are at the heart of what can only be seen as impressive EPA fuel economy figures, too. My averages practically mirror those of the nation as a whole, despite a much higher average output. Partially that’s down to my having driven just a handful of trucks this year, but it’s also a testament to the increasing ability of automakers to engineer power without compromising frugality.

518345102 1 570 4112 A car writers year in new vehicles [w/video]

Manual transmissions – why are my cars equipped with them at almost five times the rate that they’re produced for sale to Americans?

Finally, manual transmissions – why are my cars equipped with them at almost five times the rate that they’re produced for sale to Americans? First, we, along with a lot of you, love stick shifts, and probably over-report on manual-trans version of cars as a result. Second, automakers know we all love MTs, and probably overrepresent them in the media fleets. Real talk.

Here are some of the superlatives from my 2014 car list:

  • Most Expensive: the previously mentioned 2015 Rolls-Royce Ghost, at $286,750 “base” and $365,250 as-tested. For the record, I believe this is also the single most expensive series production car I’ve ever driven.
  • Least Expensive: 2015 Honda Fit 6MT at $15,650 base and $18,225 as-tested (a pretty loaded EX model that, true-to-form, still had the manual trans).
  • Most Powerful: 2015 Dodge Challenger SRT Hellcat at 707 horsepower. Was there ever any doubt? The Huracán is a distant second, almost 100 hp behind.
  • Least Powerful: It’s the Fit again, at 130 hp. And you know what, it’s still fun to drive in traffic.
  • Most Torquey: 2015 Mercedes-Benz S63 AMG at 664 pound-feet. I wrote at the time that this car was, “the perfect cure for my Mercedes-AMG GT hangover” which was on point.
  • Least Torquey: Honda Fit at 114 lb-ft… did I mention it had a nice six speed?

I’d love to keep you reading for a few thousand more words, diving indulgently into the things that I loved or hated about every car on my list, but the other Autobloggers are looking over my shoulder, so I’ll keep it short.

I’ve uploaded a picture of just about every car that I drove this year – mostly from my own Twitter and Facebook pages, so follow me if you’d like to see more like this in 2015. If you’ve got questions about any of the cars you see therein, write them up and drop them into our Comments section below. I will look forward to answering back just as soon as I read them.

It’s been a fantastic, fascinating and uncanny year in cars. I’m one hell of a lucky guy. Here’s marking up a fresh spreadsheet in 2015, and bringing all the adventures that come along with that, to you.

Source Article from http://www.autoblog.com/2014/12/18/car-writers-year-in-cars-video/
A car writer’s year in new vehicles [w/video]
http://www.autoblog.com/2014/12/18/car-writers-year-in-cars-video/
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Autoblog Mercedes-Benz
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http://o.aolcdn.com/os/autoblog/ab-podcast-itunes.jpg

A car writer’s year in new vehicles [w/video]


2014 seyth year in cars 20 1 A car writers year in new vehicles [w/video]2014 seyth year in cars 21 1 A car writers year in new vehicles [w/video]
b4m2f32cuaalnsg jpg large 1 A car writers year in new vehicles [w/video]2014 seyth year in cars 07 1 A car writers year in new vehicles [w/video]

My tally for the year is 68 cars, as of this writing. Before the calendar flips to 2015 it’ll be as high as 73.

Let me give you a tiny bit of background about how automotive journalists typically get cars to test. There are basically two pools of vehicles I drive on a regular basis: media fleet vehicles and those available on “first drive” programs.

The latter group is pretty self-explanatory. Journalists are gathered in one location (sometimes local, sometimes far-flung) with a new model(s), there’s usually a day of driving, then we report back to you with our impressions.

Media fleet vehicles are different. These are distributed to publications and individual journalists far and wide, and the test period goes from a few days to a week or more. Whereas first drives almost always result in a piece of review content, fleet loans only sometimes do. Other times they serve to give context about brands, segments, technology and the like, to editors and writers.

So, adding up the loans I’ve had out of the press fleet and things I’ve driven at events, my tally for the year is 68 cars, as of this writing. Before the calendar flips to 2015, it’ll be as high as 73.

2014 seyth year in cars 31 1 A car writers year in new vehicles [w/video]

At one of the buff books like Car and Driver or Motor Trend, reviewers might rotate through five cars a week, or more.

I know that number sounds high, but as best I can tell, it’s pretty average for the full-time professionals in this business. At Autoblog, full-time car reviewers (guys “in the rotation” as we say), typically have loans once per week, per editor. Since we don’t always work out of the same office (some of us never do), that’s a simpler way to do it. At one of the buff books like Car and Driver or Motor Trend, where a lot of the editorial staff is in one place, Monday to Friday, reviewers might rotate through five cars a week, or more. And it’s very common for the in-office Autoblog staff to do the same.

For instance: Jason Cammisa, Senior Editor at Road & Track, keeps a detailed yearly accounting of the cars he’s driven (as well as miles, an idea which I’m going to steal going forward). Cammisa’s total dwarfed mine in 2014, with 179 cars projected in the logbook.

Rotation reviewers that are higher up their respective mastheads might get more cars, or higher-performance, more expensive cars than those on the bottom rungs. People that work at enthusiast-oriented publications may also have results that are skewed towards more-exotic-than-average metal, and location helps, too – guys out in Los Angeles tend to have a more ample supply of high-end metal than we Michiganders do.

Autoblog covers everything, but we lean more enthusiastic than pedestrian, and it’s probably fair to say I’m in the high-middle of the industry in terms of access to vehicles. So, what did my daily driver look like in 2014?

2014 seyth year in cars 25 1 A car writers year in new vehicles [w/video]
2014 seyth year in cars 02 1 A car writers year in new vehicles [w/video]2014 seyth year in cars 38 1 A car writers year in new vehicles [w/video]

This is how a brief Vital Stats panel would read for my fleet cars if I average the combined totals with the aggregate number of vehicles.

  • Output: 328 horsepower / 332 pound-feet of torque
  • Miles Per Gallon: 19.8 City / 28.5 Highway
  • Fuel Type: 95.5% Gasoline / 4.5% Diesel / 0% Hybrid
  • Transmission Type: 80.6% Automatic / 19.4% Manual (for simplicity I’m lumping everything without a third pedal into “Automatic” here)
  • Base Price: $63,998
  • As-Tested Price: $73,443

Holy crap. I should note that my as-tested price there is soft; there are lots of cars that I never got official pricing for, so where I lacked the real number I made an informed – if conservative – guess.

For the sake of comparison, I dug around to find the best data available for the average vehicle in the 2014 model year, in the US. For the technical stats, this data comes from preliminary reporting from the EPA, and the sales data (year to date) comes from TrueCar.

  • Output: 233 Horsepower / Torque Not Listed
  • Miles Per Gallon: 20 City / 29 Highway
  • Fuel Type: 94.5% Gasoline / 1.5% Diesel / 4% Hybrid
  • Transmission Type: 96.3% Automatic / 3.7% Manual
  • Base Price: $34,386
  • Transaction Price: $31,831

2014 seyth year in cars 18 1 A car writers year in new vehicles [w/video]

If you’re like me, the first and most mind-boggling stat in this comparison is the huge price gap. An average of over $70k as-tested is pretty wild, though some of that is down to just a handful of curve-wrecking cars. I tested four cars that go for more than $200k in 2014: both coupe and convertible versions of the Bentley Continental GT V8 S, the Lamborghini Huracán LP 610-4, and the $365k-as-tested Rolls-Royce Ghost Series II. (Do I love my job? Yes.)

I probably need to work on my sub-$25k blind spot in the coming year. Progress through data!

When I take those four cars out of the equation, the average MSRP drops to $53,022 and as-tested to $60,486. Still way above the national average, but with a lot less daylight in between.

Obviously I’m driving a lot of premium, luxury vehicles. I think that’s helpful, as I write reviews for quite a number of products in that stratum, too. Still, I’ll admit that I probably need to work on my sub-$25k blind spot in the coming year. Progress through data!

I wasn’t taken aback to see that my average horsepower output is higher than normal (especially considering the money we’re talking about), but I do think that my average torque rating is telling of the era we’re in. Unfortunately, the EPA doesn’t track torque figures, but to see that my typical pounds-feet rating is higher than horsepower – and with less than five percent diesel in the mix – is impressive. The large-scale movement to turbocharging has that torque figure higher than ever, I’d guess.

Turbos (and direct-injection technology) are at the heart of what can only be seen as impressive EPA fuel economy figures, too. My averages practically mirror those of the nation as a whole, despite a much higher average output. Partially that’s down to my having driven just a handful of trucks this year, but it’s also a testament to the increasing ability of automakers to engineer power without compromising frugality.

518345102 1 570 411 A car writers year in new vehicles [w/video]

Manual transmissions – why are my cars equipped with them at almost five times the rate that they’re produced for sale to Americans?

Finally, manual transmissions – why are my cars equipped with them at almost five times the rate that they’re produced for sale to Americans? First, we, along with a lot of you, love stick shifts, and probably over-report on manual-trans version of cars as a result. Second, automakers know we all love MTs, and probably overrepresent them in the media fleets. Real talk.

Here are some of the superlatives from my 2014 car list:

  • Most Expensive: the previously mentioned 2015 Rolls-Royce Ghost, at $286,750 “base” and $365,250 as-tested. For the record, I believe this is also the single most expensive series production car I’ve ever driven.
  • Least Expensive: 2015 Honda Fit 6MT at $15,650 base and $18,225 as-tested (a pretty loaded EX model that, true-to-form, still had the manual trans).
  • Most Powerful: 2015 Dodge Challenger SRT Hellcat at 707 horsepower. Was there ever any doubt? The Huracán is a distant second, almost 100 hp behind.
  • Least Powerful: It’s the Fit again, at 130 hp. And you know what, it’s still fun to drive in traffic.
  • Most Torquey: 2015 Mercedes-Benz S63 AMG at 664 pound-feet. I wrote at the time that this car was, “the perfect cure for my Mercedes-AMG GT hangover” which was on point.
  • Least Torquey: Honda Fit at 114 lb-ft… did I mention it had a nice six speed?

I’d love to keep you reading for a few thousand more words, diving indulgently into the things that I loved or hated about every car on my list, but the other Autobloggers are looking over my shoulder, so I’ll keep it short.

I’ve uploaded a picture of just about every car that I drove this year – mostly from my own Twitter and Facebook pages, so follow me if you’d like to see more like this in 2015. If you’ve got questions about any of the cars you see therein, write them up and drop them into our Comments section below. I will look forward to answering back just as soon as I read them.

It’s been a fantastic, fascinating and uncanny year in cars. I’m one hell of a lucky guy. Here’s marking up a fresh spreadsheet in 2015, and bringing all the adventures that come along with that, to you.

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A car writer’s year in new vehicles [w/video]
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What you missed on 12.17.14

u turn banner 25 What you missed on 12.17.14

2015 mercedes s63 amg coupe fd 021 What you missed on 12.17.142015 Mercedes-Benz S63 AMG Coupe driven

There’s a whole lot to love about the new Mercedes-Benz S-Class Coupe – it’s sexy, powerful, and immensely comfortable. We’ve already driven the standard S550 with its 4.7-liter, twin-turbo V8, but now, managing editor Jeremy Korzeniewski gets behind the wheel of the far more potent S63 AMG Coupe. Beauty, brains, and a hell of a lot of brawn. Read all about it, here.


nsxlead What you missed on 12.17.14Production Acura NSX confirmed for Detroit

Finally. No, FINALLY. After seeing several conceptual versions of the long-awaited Acura NSX, the production version will officially show itself at the 2015 Detroit Auto Show next month. For now, Acura has released a few teaser images and a short video about its super coupe, and to say we’re on the edge of our seats would be a vast understatement. Bring it on.


lexus f teaser What you missed on 12.17.14Lexus teases new Detroit-bound F model

In more Detroit Auto Show hotness, Lexus has given us a glimpse of something fast that’ll make its debut next month. Honestly, we aren’t totally sure what to expect here – some sources say GS F, while others report IS F. Either way, it’s an F-badged something-or-other, and we’ll know more once the Detroit show officially kicks off in just a few weeks.


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2015 Mercedes-Benz S63 AMG Coupe

2015 mercedes s63 amg coupe fd 02 2015 Mercedes Benz S63 AMG Coupe

Conventional wisdom would dictate that adding more power and several key performance enhancements to an already very good car, like the 2015 Mercedes-Benz S550 Coupe, will end up equaling an even better car. In the case of the 2015 Mercedes-Benz S63 AMG Coupe, conventional wisdom sort of applies, but perhaps not as much as we’d have initially guessed.

We’ll get into the nitty gritty details in just a moment, but here’s the most immediate takeaway we had in our minds as we walked away from this super coupe: The S63 AMG is excellent, but so is the slightly more mundane S550 Coupe on which it is based, and which is priced some $41,000 less expensive than its more powerful sibling. Chew on those figures while we examine what differentiates the two S-Class Coupes.

Drive Notes

  • As expected, the single greatest highlight of the 2015 S63 Coupe is its engine. As a powerplant, it’s a gem. As a hand-built engineering exercise, its 577 horsepower and 664 pound-feet of torque are just as impressive in real life as they sound when recited from stat sheets. Not that the old CL63 AMG was lacking in power, but the new S63 AMG Coupe boasts 41 more horses and 74 more lb-ft than the outgoing engine.
  • The run to 60 miles per hour takes a scant 3.9 seconds, according to M-B, aided in no small part by the car’s 4Matic all-wheel-drive system and other assorted electronic brains deciding where, exactly, all those ponies should be sent. The rear-biased system is tuned to send two-thirds of the engine’s power to the rear wheels in a bid to make the car feel more like what performance-minded drivers expect.
  • Top speed is electronically limited to 186 miles per hour, which is plenty fast enough, even in the days of 200-plus-mph sedans from M-B’s former corporate cousin Dodge. We didn’t get anywhere near the car’s maximum velocity, but our brief trips into triple-digit territory were quiet, comfortable and completely free of drama.
  • The seven-speed automatic gearbox responds quickly to requests of your right foot, but the steering wheel-mounted paddles don’t change gears as quickly as we’d like when in Manual mode. Controlled Efficiency (which we’d call Comfort) maximizes efficiency, keeping the transmission in higher gears and shifting earlier than when in Sport mode, and we didn’t find much fault with the computer’s shifting algorithms in either setting. There’s no torque converter as would normally be found in an automatic transmission, and low-speed driving can cause some odd sensations, but we didn’t find it objectionable.
  • Suspension tuning is revised from that of the S550 Coupe, with different geometry at the front and a stiffer rear subframe, and it’s all propped up with air springs that provide a comfortably firm and well-damped ride, particularly when left in Comfort. Steering feel and feedback is good as well, as is the case with the S550, delivering a solid connection from the surface of the road to the driver’s hands.
  • Mercedes claims to have removed 128 pounds from its big coupe in AMG guise. This is achieved through aluminum bodywork, a lithium-ion battery replacing lead-acid, lightweight alloy wheels and composite brake discs. At 4,678 pounds, the S63 AMG Coupe is no bantamweight, but any weight reduction is a welcome one.
  • Regardless of how well it drives – and it drives very well indeed – the latest S-Class Coupe, in any iteration, is a true automotive sculpture. From its classic long-hood, short-deck proportions to the flowing, carved-out lines that connect them, the S63 AMG Coupe is a beautiful car. We’re not convinced that the extra exterior jewelry of the Edition 1, as seen in our image gallery above, makes the car prettier – Swarovski-bejeweled headlamps notwithstanding – but we have absolutely zero complaints about the Designo leather in a beautiful shade of red covering what we think are the most comfortable seats in the automotive kingdom.
  • We’re not in love with the massive LCD dashboard display, which deftly displays any and all pertinent information in a fine manner but lacks the visual flair of proper gauges, but the rest of the interior is beautifully crafted, comfortable and quiet. In fact, M-B claims the 2015 S-Class Coupe is the quietest car it has ever screwed, welded and riveted together.
  • Quiet is great, but those looking for a bit more noise from the engine will find it in Sport or Manual transmission modes, in which baffles in the exhaust open up for your aural enjoyment.

It’s not an easy task to come up with complaints about a car like the 2015 Mercedes-Benz S63 AMG Coupe. It’s beautiful, it’s fast and we think it’s probably a better daily driver than any of its main competitors, which include such worthy adversaries as the Aston Martin Vanquish, Bentley Continental GT and Rolls-Royce Wraith.

We’re sure the S63 AMG Coupe will be the perfect choice for many would-be Goldilocks buyers. Were push to come to shove, though, we’d be just as happy to park an S550 Coupe in our imaginary driveway, loaded up with a whole slew of options, just the way we want it, and still have paid less than the base S63 AMG Coupe, which starts at $160,900.

If money truly were no object – and for many buyers of the S-Class Coupe that will surely be the case – there is a top-shelf S65 AMG Coupe on the way, carrying along with it a 6.0-liter twin-turbo V12 engine with 621 hp and 738 lb-ft, that will cost $230,900. If you’re looking for the ultimate S-Class Coupe, that’d be the one to get. All things considered, though, we’re sure nobody who parks an S63 AMG Coupe in their driveway is going to be disappointed.

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