Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Paultan.org: Honda’s A-segment BRIO set for March 2011 production

Not for North America....
This is the Honda BRIO prototype, which is the near production version of the company’s New Small Concept that was shown earlier this year in India. It is an A-segment vehicle that’s one class smaller than the Jazz and City. Rivals will include the Suzuki Alto, Hyundai i10 and Kia Picanto, among other small cars.

The BRIO measures 3,610 mm long, 1,680 mm wide and 1,475 mm tall. That’s 45 mm longer, 85 mm wider, but 65 mm lower than a Hyundai i10. Honda did not reveal what the wheelbase is, or what engine powers the BRIO, though we’re guessing a 1.2L SOHC engine from the same family as the one in the Jazz/City. Honda needs it to achieve an average fuel consumption of less than 5 litres per 100 km (or 20 km/l) on the ECE R101 mode measurement cycle to meet Thai eco car requirements.

Thai production will begin in March 2011. India will start making the Brio in 2011 as well, with 80% local content. Although the BRIO was designed primarily for the Thai and Indian market, Honda is considering export from Thailand to the region around it, so there’s a possibility that Honda Malaysia could take up this model as an entry level to the range, something like “my first Honda”.

In Thailand, Honda targets to sell the BRIO at a starting price of approximately 400,000 baht, which is the same price as a Proton Savvy thanks to the tax breaks it gets from the Thai eco car plan, while in India the car is supposed to go 500,000 rupees onwards. How much will you pay for a BRIO in Malaysia?


2011 Honda Brio City car Prototype Video

Not for North America....

Monday, November 29, 2010

2011 Honda Fit Receives More Standard Features; VSA Added to All Models

All I can say is carpted floor mats.... It's about freakin' time....
Accommodating, versatile and fuel-efficient five-door now includes standard VSA, USB, cruise control and remote entry on all models

11/29/2010 - TORRANCE, Calif.
The Honda Fit offers even more value for the 2011 model year in its already versatile, fun-to-drive and fuel-efficient five-door package. New for 2011, all models include Vehicle Stability Assist™ (VSA®) as standard equipment, along with more comfort and convenience features.

New features on the Fit (base model) include cruise control, remote entry, a USB audio interface and VSA. The Fit Sport (non-navigation) also gains VSA for 2011, along with carpeted floor mats.

The Fit Sport with Navigation (previously equipped with VSA as standard equipment) receives carpeted floor mats as standard equipment. Four new colors become available - Alabaster Silver Metallic, Polished Metal Metallic, Celestial Blue Metallic and Vortex Blue Pearl - and replace similar colors from the previous model year.

Compact on the outside yet spacious inside, the Fit stands apart from other entry-level vehicles with its multi-functional interior and emphasis on quality and refinement. The exclusive 60/40 split rear Magic Seat® offers multiple seating and cargo-carrying configurations - tall object mode, long object mode and utility mode - in addition to the standard five-passenger mode.

The exterior design provides excellent outward visibility and contributes to the vehicle's aggressive, sporty stance. The 1.5-liter, i-VTEC® 4-cylinder engine is tuned to deliver a rewarding combination of power and fuel economy. A five-speed manual transmission is standard and a five-speed automatic transmission is available. Steering-wheel-mounted paddle shifters on Fit Sport models equipped with the available automatic transmission allow for manual gear selection.

Compact on the outside with an overall length of 161.6 inches, the interior provides an impressive passenger volume of 90.8 cubic feet for its class and a rear cargo volume of 20.6 cubic feet. The rear Magic Seat provides convenient one-motion dive-down functionality and can fold flat into the floor to create a rear cargo volume of 57.3 cubic feet.

Safety highlights include the Advanced Compatibility Engineering™ (ACE™) body structure, standard VSA, anti-lock brakes and more. Dual-stage, multiple-threshold front airbags, dual front-side airbags with passenger-side Occupant Position Detection System (OPDS) and side-curtain airbags are standard equipment on all models.

The engine produces 117 horsepower at 6,600 rpm and 106 lb-ft. of torque at 4,800 rpm. The Fit equipped with the available automatic transmission has an Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) city/highway/combined fuel economy rating of 28/35/31 miles per gallon . The Fit Sport with the available automatic transmission has an EPA city/highway/combined fuel economy rating of 27/33/30 miles per gallon1. All manual transmission-equipped models have an EPA city/highway/combined fuel economy rating of 27/33/29 miles per gallon.1

The front MacPherson strut suspension and torsion beam rear suspension settings are tuned to provide a sporty, refined and dynamic driving experience. Fifteen- and 16-inch wheels (Fit and Fit Sport, respectively) feature 175/65 R15 84S (Fit) and 185/55 R16 83H (Fit Sport) tires. The standard anti-lock braking system (ABS) with Electronic Brake Distribution (EBD) uses 10.3-inch ventilated discs in the front and 7.9-inch drums in the rear.

The Fit comes with standard amenities such as air conditioning, cruise control, remote entry, an AM/FM/CD audio system with four speakers, USB audio interface2, auxiliary audio input jack, MP3/WMA playback capability, Radio Data System (RDS), power windows, power mirrors and power door locks. The Fit Sport adds or replaces: carpeted floor mats, alloy wheels, an underbody aero kit, rear roofline spoiler, fog lights and a security system.

The Fit Sport audio system provides six speakers. The Fit Sport is available with the Honda Satellite-Linked Navigation System™ with Voice Recognition3, featuring a 6.5-inch screen and more than seven million points of interest.

Fit awards and accolades include being named to Car and Driver Magazine's "10Best Cars for 2011" list (www.caranddriver.com), a prestigious honor it has received in each of the five years that it has been on sale in the United States.

# # #
1 Based on 2011 EPA mileage estimates. Use for comparison purposes only. Do not compare to models before 2008. Your actual mileage will vary depending on how you drive and maintain your vehicle.

2 The USB Audio Interface is used for direct connection to and control of some current digital audio players and other USB devices that contain MP3, WMA or AAC music files. Some USB devices with security software and digital rights-protected files may not work. Please see your dealer for details on compatibility.

3 Certain functions that rely on a satellite signal will not work correctly in Hawaii and Alaska. These functions include, but are not limited to, automatic clock updates and time zone adjustments. RDS not available on navigation models.


Honda CR-Z Roadster Die-cast Begs the Question; Should it Become a Reality?


From what we know, Honda has no official plans to build a roadster version of its CR-Z hybrid coupe. But that hasn't stopped others from trying - even if in this case, we're talking about a scaled down die-cast model. Too bad we couldn't find any additional pictures of the toy-sized model, and especially of the rear end. If you happen to have any information and/or pictures, you know the drill... Follow the break and share your thoughts on whether or not Honda should create a two-seater drop top version of its CR-Z.


Below is an older photoshop of what someone was thinking that the car might look like....

Rest in Peace Leslie Nelson

Ah, Mr. Nelson. The world is going to miss you. Fellow Canadian and one of my favourite actors, you'll never know how many times you've made me uncontrollably laugh! I never met Leslie but all indications were that he was a quality person, rest in peace.
Leslie Nielsen, who dazzled with deadpan in The Naked Gun and Airplane!, passed away on Sunday at a hospital near his home in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., where he was being treated for pneumonia, according to the New York Times. He was 84.

The master of parody boasted a talent for delivering the most ridiculous lines in the straightest way possible, cloaking outright absurdity in obliviousness. Ironically enough, the foundation of that gravitas was built early in his career as a dramatic actor: After serving in the Royal Canadian Air Force and studying at New York City’s famed Actors Studio, the Saskatchewan-born Nielsen popped up on early ’50s TV. He received his first big film break playing sturdy Commander J.J. Adams in the 1956 sci-fi flick Forbidden Planet. Over the next few decades, he established himself as a reliable, handsome, rich-voiced character actor who graced myriad TV dramas (Peyton Place, Dr. Kildare) and movies (The Poseidon Adventure).

His career took a comical hard left turn when he was cast as Dr. Rumack in the 1980 big-screen parody film Airplane! (Let us honor his famous line, which stands as one of the best retorts in comedic cinema history: “Surely you can’t be serious!” “I am serious. And don’t call me Shirley.”) Two years later he was tapped by the Airplane! brain trust to play Lt. Frank Drebin in the cop-show spoof sitcom Police Squad! Although the series lasted only six episodes, Nielsen earned an Emmy nomination for his work, and in 1988, re-inhabited the bumbling Drebin again for the big-screen adaptation The Naked Gun. (It may be hard to find more laughs-per-minute in a comedy film than in the film’s baseball-game scene, which culminates with Drebin foiling an assassination attempt on the Queen of England). The success of The Naked Gun paved the way for two sequels in 1991 and 1994, and Nielsen continued down the parody path in not-as-memorable films like Spy Hard, Wrongfully Accused, and Dracula: Dead and Loving It. (He did earn notice in Scary Movie 3 and Scary Movie 4.)

Nielsen worked into his 80s, appearing in even more spoof flicks like Superhero Movie and 2009′s Stan Helsing. Surely, we can’t be more serious when we say: Leslie Nielsen, you will be missed.


Thursday, November 25, 2010

2012 Honda CRV Sketches

It seems that with all of the attention going to what Honda is doing with the next generation Civic, that the 2012 CRV full redesign is quietly flying under the radar, not much out there for info....but there are a couple of speculative sketches....


Here's the older sketch that's been floating around for awhile....

TOV: 2012 Honda Civic Side Profile and a Speculative Shop


Honda Accord and Fit Receive Car and Driver Magazine's "10Best Cars" Awards

Car and Driver magazine has named the 2011 Honda Accord and the 2011 Honda Fit as two winners of its prestigious and highly competitive, annual "10Best Cars" award. Now in its eighth generation, the Accord has achieved "10Best" status 25 times in the 29 years that Car and Driver editors have been conducting the competition, more than any other vehicle in the award's history. The Honda Fit has been honored with 10Best status in each of the five years that it has been on sale in the United States.

"The Car and Driver '10Best' awards are among the most coveted awards in the industry," said John Mendel, executive vice president of American Honda Motor Co., Inc. "These awards recognize the company's ongoing emphasis on performance, quality and safety, and Honda is honored to have its vehicles regarded so highly over the years."
Honda Car and Driver "10Best" Award History
2011, 2010, 2009, 2008, 2007, 2006, 2005, 2004, 2003, 2002, 2001, 2000, 1999, 1998, 1995, 1994,1991, 1990, 1989, 1988, 1987, 1986, 1985, 1984, 1983
1996, 1991,1990, 1989, 1988
1988, 1985
2011, 2010, 2009, 2008, 2007
1998, 1997, 1996, 1995,1994,1993, 1992, 1986, 1985, 1984
2004, 2002, 2001, 2000

Barn-find Bugatti Type 38 makes seven times its estimate at auction

A 'barn-find' Bugatti amounting to little more than a loose collection of bits has sold at auction for more than seven times its estimate.

Completely dismantled, incomplete and lacking its engine and body, the 1926 Bugatti Type 38 was expected to fetch only around £9,000 when it went under the hammer at a Bonhams sale in Australia.

But seven telephone bidders fought against six absentee bids and five people in the Sydney auction rooms for what was described as a 'restoration project'.

After a tense showdown, a mystery bidder - identified only as 'living in the northern hemisphere' - triumphed, with a bid of £68,000.

When Robert Glover, Bonhams' Head of Motor Cars Australia, informed the lady owner of the winning bid, said an auction house spokesman, there was a 'stunned silence followed by a tearful thanks'.

As the picture reveals, the new owner has quite a job on his or her hands. All that remains are four sorry-looking wheels, battered fenders bearing traces of red paint, the radiator, a headlamp, steering wheel, rear bumper, axles, other assorted components, seat shells and what is left of the doors.

A Type 38 in concours condition, however, would be worth around £200,000.
Bonhams says that a 'handful' of Type 38s found their way to Australia via the London Bugatti agent. The car in question was first owned by a Dr Feather of Roma, Queensland but passed through various hands until it was sold to the vendor in the 1960s, by which time it had already fallen into disrepair.

At the same auction, a 1925 Bentley 3- litre sold for £203,000, while a right -hand-drive 1949 Jaguar XK120 Alloy roadster changed hands for £154,000.

Source (via Jalopnik);

Worst Parking Job....Ever....

Car and Driver: 2010 Editors Choice Awards

Are you in the market for a new car or truck? Now you can see what we at Car and Driver would choose to drive if we were shopping for new wheels today. We conducted rigorous instrumented testing and editorial evaluation of hundreds of 2010 model-year vehicles, including all the Editors' Choice picks and their competitors.

These alphabetical lists aren’t static. We will adjust our rankings continuously to reflect the merits of new vehicles as they come on the market, providing a real-time look at what we consider to the top entries in any given market segment. To that end, you may notice that we’ve marked several vehicles as Ones to Watch. Those are vehicles we have yet to either fully test or directly compare against the competition, but that we feel show a lot of promise.

Winners are chosen based on three criteria: practicality, value, and driver satisfaction, and they highlight our editors’ favorite rides in 20 vehicle categories, ranging from small cars to family sedans to exotic sports cars—and more. Click on a vehicle name below to go directly to our comprehensive Buyer’s Guide, where you can get full specs, pricing, capsule reviews, and more on every vehicle chosen as a 2010 Car and Driver Editors' Choice.

Honda Civic
Honda Fit
Mazda 3
Nissan Versa
Volkswagen Golf

Ford Fusion hybrid
Honda Fit
Honda Insight
Toyota Prius
Volkswagen Jetta TDI

Acura TSX
Audi A4
BMW 3-series
Cadillac CTS
Infiniti G37

Chevrolet Malibu
Honda Accord
Ford Fusion
Mazda 6
One to Watch: Hyundai Sonata (2011)

Cadillac CTS-V
Mercedes-Benz C63 AMG
Mercedes-Benz E63 AMG
Porsche Panamera

Bugatti Veyron 16.4
Chevrolet Corvette ZR1
Ferrari 458 Italia
Ferrari 599GTB Fiorano
Lamborghini Gallardo LP560-4

Audi A6
BMW 5-series
BMW 7-series
Mercedes-Benz S-class
Infiniti M (2011)

BMW 1-series
Chevrolet Cobalt SS
Mazdaspeed 3
Subaru Impreza WRX
Volkswagen GTI

Audi A5/S5
BMW 1-series
BMW 3-series/M3
Ford Mustang
Mercedes-Benz SL-class

Cadillac CTS-V
Chevrolet Camaro
Dodge Challenger SRT8
Ford Mustang GT
Jeep Grand Cherokee SRT8

Audi TTS
Chevrolet Corvette
Mazda MX-5 Miata
Nissan 370Z
Porsche Boxster

Audi R8
Maserati GranTurismo
Porsche Cayman
Porsche 911

Chevrolet Cobalt SS
Chevrolet Corvette ZR1
Dodge Viper SRT10 ACR
Lotus Elise/Exige
Nissan GT-R

Bugatti Veyron 16.4
Chevrolet Corvette ZR1
Ferrari 599GTB Fiorano
Ferrari 458 Italia
Lamborghini Gallardo LP560-4

Chevrolet Equinox
Honda CR-V
Subaru Forester
Toyota RAV4
Volkswagen Tiguan

Honda Pilot
Hyundai Santa Fe
Mazda CX-9
Nissan Murano
One to Watch: Jeep Grand Cherokee (2011)

Chevrolet Tahoe/Suburban
Ford Expedition/EL
Ford Flex
Nissan Armada
Toyota Sequoia

Acura MDX
Audi Q5
Land Rover Range Rover
Mercedes-Benz GL-class

Chevrolet Silverado
Dodge Ram
Ford F-150
Honda Ridgeline
Nissan Titan

Ford Transit Connect
Honda Odyssey
Mazda 5
Mercedes-Benz Sprinter
Toyota Sienna


Honda Malaysia rolls out Concept M models

PETALING JAYA - Honda Malaysia has launched a series of special edition vehicles collectively known as the Concept M models.

Named after the first letters of Honda's official accessories partners 'M'odulo and 'M'ugen, this special fleet of cars are factory fitted with their respective accessories and are available exclusively in shades of white.

Concept M vehicles feature the Civic 2.0L and Jazz 1.5L with Mugen kits; and the Accord 2.4L with Modulo kit.

The Concept M Civic 2.0L captures the essence of a stylish and sporty sedan with outstanding performance. It is fitted with Mugen front, rear and side spoilers, rear wings and Enkei wheel rims in a special pewter grey colour, to add to its sporty stylishness.

The interior gets enhanced with grey leather stitched seats as well as tinted windows (Ecotint).
This special edition is limited to 210 units nationwide. It retails at RM137,980 (S$57,690).

The limited edition Honda Accord 2.4L features the Modulo front grille, door visor, trunk spoiler and illuminated side steps.

The interior also has grey leather stitched seats and tinted windows (Ecotint). The car is limited to 120 units nationwide, it is priced at RM176, 800. This package is inclusive of a Garmin Nuvi navigation unit.

Both the Concept M Civic 2.0L and the limited edition Accord are available in Tafetta white.

The Jazz 1.5L special edition meanwhile, gets the Mugen treatment coming factory-fitted with Mugen's front aero bumper; side, rear under and wing spoilers; and tinted windows (Ecotint). Limited to only 20 units, the 2nd Generation Jazz comes in Brilliant White Pearl and retails at RM116, 800.

Rohime Shafie, President and Chief Operating Officer of Honda Malaysia, said the Concept M models were created to meet customers' preference and expectations of "new and exciting products."

"Through an internal survey conducted amongst Honda customers, we found a good number of them showed preference for car accessories that add exclusivity and sportiness to their vehicles, especially those manufactured by Mugen and Modulo.

"With this finding, and in view of the increasing trend of preference for white shaded vehicles in Malaysia market, we have created a white-coloured fleet of Concept M special edition models to fulfil customers' demand," he said.


Wednesday, November 24, 2010

NFL Picks Week Twelve: In Which I Eat Turkey

Last year I discovered something magical, which is that I absolutely, positively, completely, entirely, 100 % hate when the Giants play on Thanksgiving. Now, I love watching the Giants play, so why would I not want to combine that with what is, easily, my absolutely favorite holiday?

Well, last year, I learned the reason was pretty simple.

The Giants played in the final matchup of the NFL's annual Turkey Day triple-header with a visit to Denver against the Broncos. What resulted is that Big Blue, in the midst of the playoff race, laid an absolutely massive egg at Invesco Field, accelerating the downfall of a once promising season that started 5-0 and ended 8-8.

And perhaps worst of all: it ruined my fucking day.

Thanksgiving, you see, for me is an amazing 24 hours. You have very few requirements for Thanksgiving and they're almost all related to sitting on a couch, eating and watching football. What the hell else could be better? Now, I will admit, of the various types of meat or fowl available, turkey is hardly my favorite. Unless it's cooked by someone exceptionally talented, there is a tendency for the bird to wind up dry and unsatisfying, but fortunately, there are newer, more exciting remedies for that if the usual pooling of gravy doesn't do the job.

But by and large the combination of food, family, friends and football all seem to add up to the absolute greatest holiday an American can experience, and I generally love every minute of it. Last year, however, Big Blue's embarrassing display took my favorite day of the year and soured it to almost absurd lengths. No food, family, friend or other football game could have made that fun. And so this season, when the schedule came out and I saw that the Giants were nowhere to be found on the third Thursday of November I was as relieved as can be.

Patriots-Lions, Saints-Cowboys, Bengals-Jets. Several exciting teams, no particular allegiances other than "anyone who plays the Cowboys" and nine hours of pure food and enjoyment. And maybe a distraction from the Giants frustration "Slide rule" loss.

On with the picks.

Last week: 11-4-1
Season: 79-72-9

New England (-7) over DETROIT
New Orleans (-4) over DALLAS
NY JETS (-9) over Cincinnati
NY GIANTS (-8) over Jacksonville
Green Bay (+2) over ATLANTA
Pittsburgh (-7) over BUFFALO
CLEVELAND (even) over Carolina
Minnesota (+2) over WASHINGTON
HOUSTON (even) over Tennessee
OAKLAND (even) over Miami
Kansas City (+1) over SEATTLE
CHICAGO (+4) over Philadelphia
St. Louis (+4) over DENVER
BALTIMORE (-8) over Tampa Bay
INDIANAPOLIS (-3) over San Diego
San Francisco (+1) over ARIZONA

That's all for this week. Happy Thanksgiving, everyone.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

2012, 2013 Honda Ridgeline and 2012 Honda Civic Update

2012 Honda Ridgeline
-Expect another Minor Model Change for this year but indeed there will be one.

2013 Honda Ridgeline
-This will be the Full Model Change over. I was told via reliable source that this vehicle is not disappearing, most of this depends on what is going on in the US, and that is favourable.

2012 Honda Civic
-The spyshots floating around (http://thehondaportal.blogspot.com/2010/10/2012-honda-civic-exposed.html) are apparently of the previous Civic that President Ito kiboshed, not the revised one.

Reliable Honda

An Overdue Wrigley Wrecap

Surely, y'all noticed that I mentioned on more than one occasion that this past weekend I headed out to Chicago for the first time in three years to catch Northwestern lay a big, fat second-half egg against Illinois at Wrigley Field. The fact that the Wildcats rallied from a rather surprising early 14-point deficit only to turn belly-up after the long break notwithstading, the whole experience was pretty tremendous and unique for a whole host of reasons. Also, the trip had some pretty amusing moments. As a result, I'm here to give you a way-too-long recap of the festivities from start to finish in that discursive way you've all come to expect from me.

Here. We. Go.

I had been looking forward to this trip for several reasons, most notably because I have an awfully large soft spot in my heart for the Windy City and it had been far too long since I had been there -- nearly since I graduated from Northwestern, in fact. To boot, I'd be seeing several good friends in a massive defacto reunion, and the chance to see my college football team play in one of the most legendary venues in American sports only added to the excitement.

The night before jumping my 9 a.m. flight to Chicago, however, I was stuck at work past 1 a.m., which meant I'd be getting very little sleep before booking it to the midwest. This was mitigated by the fact that part of my late stay at the office was the result of some very exciting and potentially life-altering career news. I found 18 hours later that a few of my friends wanted to congratulate me by bringing some balloons by the office, which they then realized would go for naught as I was in the Norris Student Center Bookstore in Evanston, IL at the time. Either way, it was clear by the time I arrived at Laguardia that I was going to be extremely tired and in need of a nap on the plane.

So it's just my luck that I was sitting in front of a loud five-year-old who had a delightful habit of kicking the back of my chair.

The woman next to me seemed far less amused by the absurdity of the situation, declaring to me that "children shouldn't be allowed on shuttles". But I think she was a bit hard-nosed about it. After landing I had a bounce in my step, and a bit of an extreme rush to make my noon o'clock lunch plans at the Giordano's at 135 E Lake Street with the excellent Vawn and Dov. And lucky me, after sitting down on the blue line to downtown I found that the excitable five-year-old and his grandmother were on my train, too, and that they plopped down next to me. For a while I handled the conversation with decent aplomb, talking about transformers and Spider-Man. I did get a bit of a scare when I realized this five-year-old boy was born in 2005, when I was halfway through college, but otherwise it all went amicably until this uncomfortable exchange.

"So what were you doing in New York?"
"I was visiting my mom. I live in Chicago with my dad, but they split up because they had a fight."
"Yeah, my dad pushed my mom into a refrigerator, but now they want to be friends again."

This was the moment when his grandmother pulled him over and the conversation ended.

Lunch was delectable as I devoured my long-awaited Giordano's pizza, and I then dropped my things off at my friend Rachel's amazing apartment and headed up to Evanston for some extreme nostalgia. As I trekked around campus and took photos of my freshman year dorm, I headed to the student center to meet up with Lindsay Minnema and explore the almost entirely unchanged Daily Northwestern office. Touring campus is a bizarre experience if for no other reason than that you have no idea you ever left. There are minor changes, but for the most part everything feels the same and you start to wonder what time you have to be at your lecture tomorrow at Tech Auditorium.

After sufficiently snooping around town, I met up with Rachel and went with her to a shabbat dinner at a friend's house, which, I admit, was more religious than I expected, but I good time had by all. I enjoy the periodic resumptions of Jewish observance that I'm generally oblivious to. Also the food was tremendous. After this: the L back downtown, beers and TV, sleep and then waking early for the big event.

After years of rumors that ESPN College Gameday would be in Evanston for a Northwestern game, the show finally decided to show up for the Wrigley affair, and students began to make their presence felt by leaving campus on buses at 4:30 a.m. I did not wake up that early, though I did arrive by 9:30, and it took not more than three minutes before I made the first of several awkward run-ins with NU '07ers I hadn't seen since college nor expected to. Some run-ins were actually quite nice because they were people I was friendly with and occasionally still talk to, but some came extremely out of left field -- literally, I suppose, since we were at a baseball stadium.

I scarfed down the two leftover slices of pizza I had brought with me for lunch not knowing no food would be allowed in the Gameday pit, and then made my way in to meet up with Alan, who had the unfortunate luck of living next to me during the 2004-05 academic year. Poor sap. After watching a series of ridiculous signs, singing Take Me Out to the Ballgame with Ernie Banks and watching Mike Ditka make guest celebrity picks, we met up with Nomaan, Sean and the rest of my cadre, which involved finally getting my hands on my totally awesome looking tickets, watching the players enter the stadium through the alumni tent, and then heading to the young alumni tailgate, which involved an impressive amount of alcohol.

Game time.

Sean and I left the tailgate earlier to ensure that we'd be in our seats by kickoff, and after walking under the great marquee, which had been painted purple for the occasion, we arrived at our totally awesome seats to find the rest of our crew had somehow beaten us there. No matter. We were sitting in the first row of the stadium's top section right behind the West end zone, which provided not only a phenomenal view of the skyline, but also proved amazing fortune considering safety concerns regarding the East end zone had prompted a rule change that all play would go from east to west.

Though I wasn't sober, I could surmise these things: the atmosphere was fucking awesome. The whole crowd, whether in Purple or orange, was absolutely electric. There is something about seeing a college football game in chilly weather that brings out excitement regardless of venue, but doing so in what was such a special and history building created an extra sense of novelty and grandeur not found at your typical Northwestern game. The stadium was fitted with all the trimmings, with Northwestern's usual field painted down, banners of Northwestern football greats hanging along the concourses, Big Ten scores on the famous Wrigley scoreboard, purple and white Northwestern flags dotting the top of the stadium and the foul poles and even some very clever billboards. Though I was somewhat dismayed that Northwestern chose to come out in alternate black jerseys after I had bought a brand new purple one for the occasion.

The game was made somewhat more interesting by the fact that I was sitting in front of a curmudgeonly old Illini fan -- whom I later found out didn't even attend Illinois -- who seemed intent on proving to all of us that we were spoiled rich kids who didn't actually pay attention to football and were only here because it was the social thing to do. This brought on a series of quizzes as to whether or not I knew who such obscure characters as Dick Butkis or Ray Nitschke were. Evidently he didn't expect to be sitting behind someone who covers sports for a living, or who slept with NFL history books under his pillow for five years as a boy.

Eventually, I proved our worth as real sports fans to him, but the problem with convincing an old man that you know the sports of his time is that he proceeds to try to talk to you about them, and what it was like back in those days, for the rest of the game, which wasn't exactly what I was aiming for. Nomaan was less pleasant to him, but that related to an understandable and deeply-seated distaste for the arrogance of some Illini fans. As the game would wind down, the old man wished me the best and then confided that, "I actually wanted to go to Northwestern."


Either way, I had forgotten how much fun it was to watch an NU game jam-packed with other alums or students. Every touchdown, in particular an exciting pick-six in the first half, led to an almost absurd amount of screaming, high-fiving, and hugging amongst hordes of people across all different ages who didn't actually know each other.

That's what college sports are all about.

Of course, following a disappointing defeat in which Illinois wracked up an absurd 500 yards on the ground alone, the details of the game itself are probably better left undiscussed, but the atmosphere of the game itself was amazing. Once it ended, however, I was quickly reminded of the worst part of games at Wrigley: the outlandish logjam at the Addison L stop. Sean and I decided to avoid this by heading off to Belmont instead, where we head downtown and I grabbed some dinner before heading out for a night of drinking with Rachel and my friend Amit, another Chicagoan I hadn't seen in years.

After quickly passing out on the inflatable mattress and battling a headache most of the next morning it was off to brunch with Rachel and then O'Hare for my flight home. In a bizarre moment of coming full-circle, the woman who sat next to me on my way to Chicago was on my flight back home. I approached her in the airport to tell her about my second run-in with the five-year-old and she was profoundly unamused.

Some people just don't have a sense of humor. Either way, the flight took off and I was on my way home. I left with a few drawn conclusions. The Wrigley experiment was excellent, and should probably be a regular thing for the Cats. Few things are better than a long fall day comprised of friends, beer and college football. And finally, I need to come back to Chicago more often.

That last one is hard to argue.

'The Beetles are coming!' Oprah Winfrey gives a brand new VW to all 275 of her audience

Wow, this is pretty awesome!
It may be the last year of her talk show, but Oprah Winfrey is clearly determined to go out with a bang.

Today, in the second part of her annual Favourite Things episode, the talk show host gave away a brand new VW Beetle to every member of her 275 strong audience.

Keys were handed out to the screaming crowd, who will be the first group to get behind the wheel of the new updated model, hitting showrooms next autumn.

'Oh yeah, oh yeah, I gotcha, I gotcha,' she yelled to the stunned audience after a massive gift box was opened to reveal the car's silhouette.

Today's giveaway was the second part of Oprah's "Favourite Things" episode.

The first half, which aired next week, saw the talk show host give away thousands of dollars worth of prizes including a Sony television and Caribbean cruise.

The 56-year-old talk show host also gave the audience an Apple iPad, which she proclaimed her 'No. 1 favourite thing ever.

'I know it's wrong to be in love with a thing, and I don't normally recommend it,' she said, before declaring the gadget the 'best invention of the century so far.'

Oprah also gave the audience several items of clothing, including a cashmere sweater, Ugg boots covered in sequins and a patent-leather Coach bag that cost nearly $400.

'It's not really about all the gifts,' she said. 'Although the stuff is really fun, it really for me is about hope.

For the rest of the article;

Honda NSX Gets New Lease on Life

Finally! Some Honda/Acura sportscar news! Now if we can just get Honda to start thinking about a Next Generation Honda Prelude (non hybrid of course) ....
The NSX lives, at least in a different form. According to one source, Honda never gave up its plans for an NSX successor. Even though the V-10-powered post-NSX concept came along at the wrong time -- during the economic meltdown -- and had to be cancelled, Honda engineers didn't completely shelve the project.

They simply applied a more market-friendly (and eco-friendly) sports-car approach to the company's flagship two-door, giving it the latest hybrid gizmology. Completely different than Toyota's THS-II hybrid system, the technology slated to power Honda's new sports coupe "can be driven with either a clutch and an engine only, the engine and motor only, or the motor only," says our source. It will also offer a manual transmission option.

It apparently will employ a modified Accord platform, and power will come from either a 2.4-liter 4-cylinder or a 3.5-liter V-6, with the latter considered the sure favorite. Why do we think so? Once again our spies in Japan have uncovered a patent application that specifies a "V6 powertrain developing upwards of 400 horsepower." (yes!) That makes sense, especially when you consider what one company staffer told us about Honda's desire to return to making sports cars.

"Honda does not see the CR-Z as a sports car. It's a sporty coupe and a great first try in the hybrid-sports direction. To be called a sports car, a car needs to have the potential of an NSX or an S2000. That's what we need to aim for."

And as expected, the coupe will employ a version of the automaker's proven SH-AWD system, but Honda will apply NSX concept technology by fitting the rear-drive-based SH-AWD setup that enabled the test mule to lap the Nürburgring in 7 minutes, 37 seconds two years ago.

Using the front-wheel-drive Accord platform as a base for this car will cut R&D costs dramatically. Engineers will swap the front and rear around to create a rear midship AWD package. If the coupe gets the green light for production, expect to see it in showrooms as early as 2014. Still unclear is if the car will continue to be badged as an Acura here in the U.S.

Source (via autoblog);

Monday, November 22, 2010

2010 Acura TSX V6 vs. 2011 Buick Regal CXL Turbo, 2010 Volkswagen CC 2.0T R-Line - Comparison Tests

This is a really good article, follow the link at the bottom of the page for the full version....

1st place: 2010 VW CC 2.0T R-Line

Highs, Lows, and Verdict
: Precise steering, perfect seats, cosmopolitan styling inside and out.
Lows: Restricted sightlines, only four seats, occasional shivers in the platform.
The Verdict: A “four-door coupe” with the grace and agility of a ballerina.

2nd Place: 2010 Acura TSX V6

Highs, Lows, and Verdict
: Right-now power, aggressive “sport” transmission mode, Honda quality.
Lows: Feels bigger and heavier than it is, happier on interstates than in the hills.
The Verdict: Fast in a straight line but lacking the reflexes we expected.

3rd Place: 2011 Buick Regal CXL Turbo
Highs, Lows, and Verdict
Highs: Light steering, great styling, blend of interesting cabin surfaces.
Lows: Too heavy, a gritty powertrain, relentlessly reminds that it’s a four-banger.
The Verdict: All the right stuff is there; it just needs some finessing.

Source (full article with tons of pics);

Saturday, November 20, 2010

2012 Honda Civic hybrid switching to lithium

But can it really top the Prius in the city?

At one time Honda and hybrid cars fit well into the same sentence. Not these days. Whether its Civic hybrid owners fuming over IMA issues, automotive critics slamming Insight hybrid execution, or the purpose of a two-seat hybrid sports car that barely feels sporty at all, Honda hybrids aren’t really hot.

But Honda hopes to change that with the lithium-powered 2012 Civic hybrid.

Unfortunately, it’s hard to believe that Honda has found a cure to its hybrid woes.

Sure, the new Civic Hybrid upgrades its 1.3 liter engine to 1.5 liters while mating it to a new lithium-ion battery pack that is said to improve EV range from nothing to at least a little. Still, lithium is found in other hybrid powertrains – both full and mild – and simply coupling a lithium-ion battery pack with Honda’s IMA does not seem enough to challenge Prius fuel economy, particularly city fuel economy.

Of course, maybe Honda isn’t just switching to lithium, but also increasing the capacity of its battery pack. More important, maybe Honda has figured out how to somehow morph the IMA powertrain into a full hybrid powertrain.

At this time the details are still sketchy, and hopefully we learn a bit more at tomorrow’s LA Auto Show. Nevertheless, we’ve heard of Honda’s Prius-conquering plans in the past, and they’ve always fallen short. Ultimately, if this is just lithium instead of NiMH, Toyota has little to fear from the new Civic hybrid.


Friday, November 19, 2010

2012 Honda Civic Rendered Speculation

Here's a nice photoshop of what to expect in the Next Gen Honda Civic based on spyshots....

The Original, Hand built, Honda Civic Type R Mugen Concept Finds an Owner

The original Honda Civic Type R Mugen Concept car, a hand-built, dream-about performance creation has now found an owner.

The concept, which was created as a test bed for the 20 units built by Honda’s race engine-tuning partner Mugen was given away as a prize for a British nationwide draw that celebrates the automaker’s presence in the British Touring Car Championship. The vehicle comes with a high-reving 2.0 liter naturally aspirated powerplant that delivers 240 hp and is worth over 60,000 pounds.

The out of this world hot hatch was handed over to the Jim Morgan from Manchester at the Silverstone circuit, where the winner met Honda’s BTCC drivers Matt Neal and Gordon Shedden. Subsequently, Morgan was offered a tour of the Mugen workshops in Northampton, also meeting the team of specialist that brought the compact monster to life.

“I still can’t quite believe I’ve won this unbelievable concept car," said Jim. "To meet Matt and Gordon, rocket around Silverstone in a Type R, and talk to the guys who built my car was incredible! Seeing how this the Type R MUGEN was built really gives you a feel for how special it is: the guys at MUGEN have put everything they’ve got into this car,”

"It really is a great car to drive; perfectly well behaved around town but with a fantastic response to a heavy right foot! I feel extremely lucky," the winner added.

Honda offers a limited edition Civic Type R Mugen finished in Championship White paint, which is based on the concept car that now belongs to Morgan.


Gran Turismo 5 Trailer

November 24th is coming fast.... this game looks like it'll be worth the wait....

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Honda Preparing to Expand U.S. Sales of Natural Gas Civics

Nov. 18 (Bloomberg) -- Honda Motor Co., the only automaker currently selling a natural gas-powered car to U.S. consumers, plans to expand sales to most of the 50 states next year, from four now, U.S. Executive Vice President John Mendel said.

“You will see us expand sale of Civic GX across the country,” Mendel told reporters in a briefing at the Los Angeles Auto Show yesterday. “It’ll be a whole new vehicle,” he said, without elaborating.

The Tokyo-based company will make the sales announcement in conjunction with plans to revamp the Civic lineup in 2011, Mendel said.

Honda, which has sold a natural gas Civic for the past decade, promotes the fuel as causing less pollution than gasoline and sourced entirely from domestic sources. Ford Motor Co. and Chrysler Group LLC have also said they’re developing natural gas models.

The current federal incentive for the purchase of a natural gas car is $3,500, Mendel said. While Honda has sold about 2,000 units of the Civic GX a year, it will sell only about 1,200 this year because of the plans to revamp the model, he said.

Honda gained 1.3 percent in Tokyo trading to 3,125 yen as of 1:23 p.m. The stock has increased 0.5 percent in 2010.

Global Warming
Boone Pickens, founder and chairman of Dallas-based BP Capital LLC, said yesterday a bill to help convert the U.S. trucking fleets to natural gas may pass Congress by year-end with bipartisan support.

Pickens wants buses and trucks that run on natural gas to replace the diesel and gasoline engines that contribute to global warming and increase U.S. oil imports that cost the country as much as $1 billion a day.

The measure, which Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid introduced in September, has support from Republicans and Democrats and may be the first major legislation during the Obama administration to win support from both parties, Pickens said.

Mendel declined to provide a sales goal for the revamped natural gas Civic. Honda’s U.S. unit is based in Torrance, California.


Honda working hard on the 2012 Civic Hybrid to take on Toyota Prius

The Toyota Prius will soon be up against a fierce challenger as Honda is now placing the finishing touches to the next-generation 2012 Civic Hybrid. Honda is overhauling the entire Civic lineup but the hybrid model is being prioritized over the conventionally powered Civic. That is why the 2012 Civic Hybrid is confirmed to go on sale in Japan next year but there’s still no date set for the start of sales of the "normal" Civic. Sources say that Honda is aiming for an evolution rather than a revolution with the next Civic. The current model has been restyled to have a rounder overall profile but there were no major changes to the design, size or market positioning.

The US market will receive Honda’s sedan and Si coupe body styles, which will be unveiled this January at the 2011 Detroit Auto Show. According to a source in Tokyo, Honda’s biggest challenge currently is to come up with a new eco champ that can steal sales away from the Prius.

This means that the redesigned Civic Hybrid will be the lead vehicle in the new strategy. Once again, Honda will be using its unique, home-grown IMA hybrid system, similar to what’s used in the CR-Z.

By next year, the Civic Hybrid will move up from the current 1.3 liters to 1.5 liters. It will be the first Honda hybrid to make use of lithium-ion batteries, which considerably extends the car's EV driving range. A downside to the current Civic Hybrid with the NI-MH battery pack is that it can barely run a considerable distance in silent, electric-only mode, like the Prius.


NFL Picks Week Eleven: In Which I Go Back to Chicago

As I mentioned a few weeks ago, this weekend I will be making my first visit to Chicago in more than three years, which, to put it mildly, is far too long. New York is my home and the greatest city in the world, but my four years in Evanston, Illinois and in close proximity of the City of Broad Shoulders will always give Chicago a fond place in my heart. This week it will likely cost me the chance to see most of this weekend's NFL action -- though don't worry, my flight lands in time for me to comfortable catch kickoff of Giants-Eagles --but it's a worthwhile endeavor.

And why, you ask?

Well, as you can see the marquee on Chicago's Wrigley Field was painstakingly painted Northwestern Purple for this Saturday's Northwestern-Illinois game, which will be the first college football game played in the friendly confines in more than 70 years. Squeezing a regulation football field inside has proved something of a challenge, and in some cases, like the distance from the end of the east end zone to the right field bleachers, it is almost laughable as to how tight the game will be played. Since the last college and professional football games were played in Wrigley club seats have been added to the field level which have squeezed the area a bit. The orientation Northwestern seems to be going with is a bit odd considering that the field ran north to south when the Bears played in Wrigley, rather than west to east. Looking at artists' renditions, however, it seems clear officials anticipated this considering they didn't bother drawing uprights in the east end zone in their early depictions.

Clearly it was much easier to build a hockey rink there, even if they had to come up with ice.

Either way, the field is finally starting to come into shape and I can't help but be outlandishly excited about it. Or at least buy all the crap merchandise that's being churned out for the occasion. Personally, I opted not for the ephemeral, but for the eminently reusable Northwestern football jersey. I chose Dan Persa even though I know he will be out with a torn achilles after spearheading last week's stunning upset of No. 13 Iowa, but he'll be back in full force next season to lead NU to its inevitable 2011 BCS National Championship. It's totally gonna happen. Just wait for it.

All around the excitement seems to be building. Northwestern head coach Pat Fitzgerald, a uniquely social-media savvy leader, has been tweeting pictures of the field, Northwestern's practices there, and the cramped locker room as the game reaches kickoff. A plan to have the players ride the Chicago El from Evanston to the Addison stop on the Red Line has been nixed unfortunately, but the blow of losing that novelty has been softened by the presence of a much bigger one. ESPN Game Day has been rumored to be coming to Northwestern several times in the past few years, but each time was just that. A rumor.

This weekend, ESPN just couldn't help itself with the prospect of having that Wrigley Field marquee in the background of its shots for four hours, however, so at long last Game Day is here. I won't be joining the legions of students that are busing down from campus at 4 a.m., but I will be making my way there sometime in the morning to scope out the scene and pretend I'm in college again. After that, Northwestern has set up several areas to tailgate with fellow alumni or buy food around Wrigley, and I will be checking out the whole place.

Hopefully I will be sober and energized enough by the time kickoff comes around at 2:30 p.m. CT that I'm not completely out of it, but something tells me the opportunity to be a part of a once in a lifetime event like this will make it easy to keep myself alert. I've been tremendously excited about this game for months since it became official. And as the clock finally starts to wind down before my 9 a.m. flight to O'Hare tomorrow, I can hardly contain the excitement of a purple-drenched football weekend in Chicago with a host of college friends who live there or are flocking in to town. It's almost enough to forget that there are professional games the next day.


And with that, here are this week's almost certain to be incorrect picks. On a side note, if some of you are wondering why I haven't mentioned the Giants' loss to Dallas last week, it's because I've convinced myself it didn't happen. On with the show.

Last week: 5-9-0
Season: 68-68-8

Chicago (+1) over MIAMI
NY Giants (+2.5) over PHILADELPHIA
Buffalo (+6) over CINCINNATI
DALLAS (-7) over Detroit
TENNESSEE (-7) over Washington
KANSAS CITY (-8) over Arizona
Green Bay (-3) over MINNESOTA
NY JETS (-7) over Houston
PITTSBURGH (-8) over Oakland
Baltimore (-10) over CAROLINA
JACKSONVILLE (-2) over Cleveland
ST. LOUIS (+3) over Atlanta
NEW ORLEANS (-12) over Seattle
Tampa Bay (+3) over SAN FRANCISCO
NEW ENGLAND (-3) over Indianapolis
SAN DIEGO (-10) over Denver

There you have it. Enjoy the games. I'm off to college.

LA 2010: Subaru Impreza Concept

Does this ever look nice! I see a bit of the current generation Accord coupe in there....
One of the biggest surprises (so far...) of the 2010 LA Auto Show has to be the Subaru Impreza Design Concept that snuck up on us just a few hours ago. Some thought it might be the long-awaited Subota coupe (a close cousin of the Toyobaru, of course), but in reality what we have here is a conceptual sedan that the Japanese automaker claims will heavily influence future models... namely the Impreza, we'd wager.

Yes, there's a working 2.0-liter naturally-aspirated four-cylinder engine bolted to a CVT gearbox behind that shapely new front grille and its massive side vents, but it's the styling we're really intrigued by. To that end, be sure to take a good, hard look at the live shots in our high-res gallery below. If you need all the details, follow the jump for the press release.

2010 LA Auto Show, second gen Toyota Rav4 EV

The second generation Toyota RAV4 EV is the result of the Toyota and Tesla Motors collaboration. Based on the popular RAV4 compact SUV and powered by a Tesla electric powertrain, the RAV4 EV project adopts a new development model that incorporates Tesla’s streamline, fast and flexible approach with Toyota’s engineering and manufacturing leadership.

A total of 35 RAV4 EV’s will be built for a demonstration and evaluation program running through 2011. These demonstration vehicles utilize the current RAV4 vehicle built in Canada and integrate the Tesla battery and additional components built in Palo Alto, California. A fully-engineered vehicle is targeted to launch in 2012. The fully-engineered vehicle will target a range of 100 miles in a wide range of climates and conditions.

Unique front and rear styling
LED Foglamps
18" Alloy wheels
Special pearl white paint with aqua base – "mutually exclusive"

Smart key system with push button start
Combination synthetic leather and fabric seating surfaces
Touch screen DVD Navigation system
Cargo volume equal to 2010 RAV4

Powerful electric motor with Lithium-ion (Li-ion) battery pack
Zero emission vehicle (ZEV)
Class-leading driving range, acceleration, and top speed
Real world driving range of approximately 100 miles