This Porsche 356 family keeps it outlaw

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Consumer Reports says infotainment systems ‘growing first-year reliability plague’

Multi-function, cross-linked infotainment systems and the associated in-car electronics are a growing reliability plague for many brands, according to Consumer Reports 2014 Annual Reliability Survey.

First-year models from Infiniti, Jeep, Fiat, Ram, Cadillac, Ford, and Honda have all seen significant problem rates from infotainment bugs and glitches. Of the 17 problem areas CR asks about in its survey, the category including in-car electronics generated more complaints from owners of 2014 models than for any other category.

The common issues from past CR surveys included unresponsive touch screens, or a reluctance to pair phones. While those issues remain, this year’s survey finds they have been joined by other problems-including multi-use controllers that don’t function properly.

These findings, and Consumer Reports 2015 new car reliability rankings that saw Lexus repeat as the most reliable brand in the U.S. market, were released at a press conference today before the Automotive Press Association in Detroit.

“Infotainment system problems generally don’t exist in a vacuum,” said Jake Fisher, director of automotive testing at Consumer Reports, “A close look at the results suggests that cars with a lot of in-car electronic issues usually have plenty of other troubles, too.”

Consumer Reports Annual Auto Reliability Survey polls CR’s subscribers, who indicate any serious problems in 17 trouble areas that they have had with the cars they own in the proceeding 12 months. Consumer Reports gathers enough data on 248 models to predict which new cars will likely be reliable or troublesome, as well as provide insights and standings of major brands and spot trends. The survey is the largest of its kind; the 2014 edition generated information from about 1.1 million vehicles.

The worst first-year infotainment offender in this year’s survey was the Intouch system in the new Infiniti Q50 sedan. More than one in five owners reported a problem with it. That, when combined with the poor reliability performance of the QX60 SUV, was enough to drop Infiniti’s reliability rank 14 points to 20th overall-the farthest drop of any of the 28 brands this year.

The survey did show signs some carmakers are finding ways to alleviate infotainment problems. While hardly trouble-free, updates and changes to Ford and Lincoln’s notorious MyTouch systems have made them less troublesome year after year. When introduced, the 2011 Ford Explorer had a 10 percent infotainment complaint rate and peaked at 28 percent. The 2014 Explorer’s revised system has a 3 percent complaint rate for the same trouble areas.

Honda seems to have fixed a glitch with its HondaLink that contributed to Consumer Reports not recommending the redesigned Accord V6 last year; the vehicle is now recommended. Chrysler Corp’s UConnect touch-screen system was buggy in its first iteration but recent software revisions may be ironing out the wrinkles.

Perennial best-in-reliability front-runners Toyota, Mazda and Honda, finished right behind top-rated Lexus in Consumer Reports’ overall brand rankings in that order. Subaru, Scion and Kia helped Asian brands take seven of the top 10 spots. With the exception of Infiniti, most Japanese and Korean brands improved their reliability average score. Nissan continues to lag behind other Japanese brands with core models like the Altima, Pathfinder, and Sentra all scoring below average reliability.

Buick was the only domestic brand to finish in the top 10, and moved into 6th place from 16th last year. All six of its models included in CR’s annual survey scored average or better reliability including the CR Recommended Buick LaCrosse (V6).

All of the other U.S. brands finished in the lower half of the brand rankings. Lincoln, joined Hyundai and Cadillac as the brands that improved their rankings the most. This year, Lincoln moved up 12 spots, finishing in 15th place, with four models including the reliable MKZ sedan scoring average and only two models below average. Hyundai moved up eight places, finishing 13th. Kia moved up to 10th place, with all models having average or better scores.

Domestic small and compact cars, and full-sized pickups aren’t helping American carmakers to improve their reliability rank. The Chevrolet Sonic and Cruze, Ford Fiesta and Focus, and the turbo version of the Dodge Dart are all below average. The recently redesigned Chevrolet Silverado/GMC Sierra 1500 is showing a lot of teething pains. The GMC brand dropped 10 places, finishing 19th in the rankings largely because of the Sierra 1500 pickup. The Ram 1500 has also faltered, contributing to RAM’s seven place slide to 26th.

Tesla Motors was not included in Consumer Reports’ overall brand reliability rankings because the organization requires a brand to have a minimum of two models to be ranked. However, the popular Model S, whose reliability glitches have been the subject of some media attention, received an average rating and will remain a CR Recommended vehicle.

European brands have historically been unreliable in Consumer Reports’ survey, but that’s no longer the case. Audi, a formerly trouble-plagued brand has held firm and landed in the top five for the second straight year. In addition, Porsche, Volvo and BMW brands also finished in the top half of the rankings. BMW seems to have addressed the problems it had with fuel pumps in some of its older six-cylinder turbo models. The only below average BMW was the rear-drive 320i/328i, which had slightly more cooling system problems than the all-wheel drive variant that scored better.

Mercedes-Benz was the only European brand to decline significantly in Consumer Reports 2014 survey-dragged down eleven places by the newly introduced CLA sedan and the redesigned top-of-the-range S-Class. Mercedes’ best reliability performers were the popular E-Class V6 sedan and the small GLK SUV-both scored above average.

The complete reliability data for all 2015 models is available at ConsumerReports.org, today, in the December issue of Consumer Reports starting October 30th, in Consumer Reports Best and Worst New Cars 2015. Updated daily, ConsumerReports.org is the go-to Website for the latest auto reviews, product news, blogs on breaking news, and car-buying information. Check out CR’s ongoing Twitter feed at @CRCars.

Consumer Reports is the world’s largest independent product-testing organization. Using its more than 50 labs, auto test center, and survey research center, the nonprofit rates thousands of products and services annually. Founded in 1936, Consumer Reports has over 8 million subscribers to its magazine, Website and other publications. Its advocacy division, Consumers Union, works for health reform, food and product safety, financial reform, and other consumer issues in Washington, D.C., the states, and in the marketplace.

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Consumer Reports says infotainment systems ‘growing first-year reliability plague’
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Porsche working on turbo V12 for Putin limo project?

83144563 Porsche working on turbo V12 for Putin limo project?

Porsche is best known for building very well-regarded sports cars and better-selling utility vehicles. Come to the company with a big enough bag of cash, though, and the Porsche Engineering division can create just about anything. The group’s past projects include working with Harley-Davidson, Mercedes-Benz and corporate cousin Audi, but if rumors prove true, then its latest partner might be the last one you’d expect.

Russian website Wroom reports that Porsche Engineering is building the engine for the Project Cortege government limousine project for Russian president Vladimir Putin. The mill is supposedly a turbocharged V12 displacing between 6.0- and 6.6-liters and making around 800 horsepower. When complete, it will reportedly be built by ZMZ with Russian-sourced parts.

The limo is expected to debut in 2017, according to Wroom, but it’s just the beginning of Putin’s grandiose plans, which also goes by the name of the Motorcade Project. The same platform is also meant to underpin several vehicles for use by the government, including an SUV, a small bus and a sedan. All of them would reportedly have a longitudinally mounted engine and all-wheel drive.

The Porsche link to Project Cortege isn’t entirely new. Russian media snapped a picture of a model of one design a few months back, and that vehicle reportedly had some engineering input from the German company. The work on the limo was estimated to have cost the government between $150 million and $400 million, even at that stage.

However, it might be safe to take the apparent success of this whole scheme with a grain of sale. Putin’s project has been in the works for several years. Initially, ZiL created the ZiL-4112P as a new government limousine, but the Russian premier reportedly was unhappy with it. Since then, it’s been back to the drawing board.

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Porsche rules out Macan, 911 hybrids

911 gt3r hybrid Porsche rules out Macan, 911 hybrids

Believe it or not, between the 918 Spyder, the Cayenne and the Panamera, Porsche offers more plug-in hybrid models than any other brand. Yes, Porsche. But don’t expect that trend to continue. At least, not in the immediate future.

According to Top Gear, the E-Hybrid powertrain in the Cayenne and Panamera is too big to fit into the smaller Macan. A future hybrid system could be small enough to fit, but with the current technology still fresh, that’d still be some ways down the twisting road.

It stands to reason, then, that if the system wouldn’t fit in the Macan, it wouldn’t fit in the Boxster or Cayman, either. But what of the 911? Surely Porsche would like to stick it to BMW and its new i8, and proved it could do a hybrid 911 when it rolled the GT3 R Hybrid (pictured) out onto the race track over four years ago. But Zuffenhausen is reportedly in no rush to put that idea into production – not for the current 911 and not for the next one, either.

Porsche has indeed proven its performance hybrid chops with the 918 Spyder and the 919 Hybrid LMP1 racer. But for now, it looks like the current trio of Porsche PHEVs will have to carry on by themselves.

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Porsche 918 Spyder already almost sold out?

12 2015 porsche 918 spyder Porsche 918 Spyder already almost sold out?

Still planning on getting your hands on a Porsche 918 Spyder? You’d better act quickly, because word has it that the hybrid hypercar is nearly sold out.

While Porsche has reportedly only delivered a little over 30 of the 918 examples of the Spyder it plans to manufacture in total, Automotive News says that production is sold out through late March or early April – just a few months shy of when production is set to wrap in July.

That’s pretty impressive for a car with a base price of almost $850,000, especially one requiring a $200,000 deposit just to get your name on the list. Still, that sum is significantly less than its competitors get for the McLaren P1 or LaFerrari, both of which sell for over a million (if you can actually get on one at that price), though in fairness, production of each is limited to less than half of the 918 Spyder.

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Porsche slathers Martini livery on 911, Panamera, Macan and Cayenne

porsche martini 07 Porsche slathers Martini livery on 911, Panamera, Macan and Cayenne

This is how we imagine the conversation went in Porsche’s Stuttgart headquarters: “Martini livery. Martini livery all the things.” Okay, so maybe not, but that hasn’t stopped Porsche from showing off images of most of its lineup bearing the iconic racing livery.

While we aren’t sure about the questionably yellow 911 and lime green Macan, the navy blue Cayenne and the white Panamera both look pretty spectacular as they lap about the streets of Sochi, Russia.

As for why the liveried sports cars and crossovers were at the site of the 2014 Winter Olympics, we aren’t totally sure. Porsche’s Facebook page, where the images first popped up, was really light on details. Whatever the reason, we fully support Porsche doing more with Martini livery. Take a look at the full gallery to see what we mean.

Related GalleryPorsche Martini Lineup
porsche martini 07 1 Porsche slathers Martini livery on 911, Panamera, Macan and Cayenneporsche martini 01 1 Porsche slathers Martini livery on 911, Panamera, Macan and Cayenneporsche martini 02 1 Porsche slathers Martini livery on 911, Panamera, Macan and Cayenneporsche martini 03 1 Porsche slathers Martini livery on 911, Panamera, Macan and Cayenneporsche martini 04 1 Porsche slathers Martini livery on 911, Panamera, Macan and Cayenneporsche martini 05 1 Porsche slathers Martini livery on 911, Panamera, Macan and Cayenneporsche martini 06 1 Porsche slathers Martini livery on 911, Panamera, Macan and Cayenneporsche martini 08 1 Porsche slathers Martini livery on 911, Panamera, Macan and Cayenne

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Corvette gets slidey with Britain’s best performance cars

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Porsche becomes first company to rent out Vatican’s Sistine Chapel

 Porsche becomes first company to rent out Vaticans Sistine Chapel

We wouldn’t go so far as to say God is a Porsche fan, but those in charge of one of the holiest Christian spots on our little blue marble are welcoming the German automaker into one of the religion’s most revered and beautiful settings – the Sistine Chapel in Vatican City. In so doing, Porsche will reportedly become the first company to rent out the holy hall for a corporate function.

Now, it’s not like Pope Francis has signed off on Porsche doing do donuts in a 911 underneath Michelangelo’s The Creation of Adam. Instead, the Vatican has rented out the home of the Papal Conclave to the Porsche Travel Club, which will host a classical music concert. The Travel Club organizes events and tours across Europe for Porsche enthusiasts, with the Vatican concert just one part of a tour of Rome.

According to Automotive News Europe, Porsche will sell 40 tickets – at 5,000 euros each ($6,379) – to the event, while the Vatican has confirmed that the Pope will not be in attendance.

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