Wednesday, April 12, 2017

The Pursuit Is On For Ford's Police Responder Hybrid Sedan

Photo Credit: Ford Motor Company

Despite thoughts to the contrary, hybrid vehicles utilizing electric-assist driving are not going anywhere. The frequently adapted gasoline-electric powertrain associated with hybrid automobiles enables a level of efficiency resulting in fewer gasoline emissions. Better fuel economy through hybrids also contributes to savings on gasoline that can total to quite a sum in longer terms.

For 2017, almost every auto company has now introduced at least one hybrid vehicle, Ford Motor Company and Toyota have both taken the once-alternative powertrain the furthest in the marketplace. In the case of Ford, the auto company is committed to developing 13 electrified production vehicles. Including hybrid versions of customer favourite Mustang and F-150 for the future, the blue oval’s plans also consist of implanting electrified products into fleet applications. Catering to their loyal law enforcement customer base as they fulfill their vision of electrified motoring, the Police Responder Hybrid will be available to serve a manner no other vehicle of its type has previously done.

Based on the Fusion sedan, the Ford Police Responder Hybrid is propelled by a 2.0-liter Atkinson-cycle engine working in concert with an electric motor operating on power supplied by a lithium-ion battery. Unofficial projected fuel economy for the Police Responder Hybrid is stated to be EPA-estimated at 38 miles per gallon.

Photo Credit: Ford Motor Company

The Ford Police Responder Hybrid is remarkable within the law enforcement community but will not be the first hybrid to perform within police departments. In 2009, a fleet of Nissan Altima Hybrids was activated by the NYPD as patrol cars while the occasional sight of a Toyota Prius, Ford Escape Hybrid Ford Fusion Hybrid could also be detected serving various duties in the city. The plug-in hybrid Chevrolet Volt has also been adopted by the NYPD designated for non-emergency duties. Canadian law enforcement agencies have also exercised limited use of hybrid vehicles. At least one Toyota Prius served as a school liaison has been used by the RCMP and Edmonton Police Services have up to 15 hybrid vehicles in their fleet including the Ford Escape Hybrid.

What sets the Ford Police Responder Hybrid as a revolutionary vehicle is its ‘all-in’ law enforcement engineering. Ford has created the industry’s first hybrid that is fully equipped as a pursuit capable police car. In order to meet extreme driving conditions, the Ford Police Responder Hybrid has been toughened with heavy-duty suspension parts, special tire/hubcap combination and front deflector plates. The hybrid powertrain has been specially tuned for law enforcement duty by Ford featuring a battery-only mode that can run up to 60 miles per hour (96.6 kilometres per hour) and regenerator braking matched with large diameter rotors. The Ford Police Responder Hybrid has already been placed through a battery of police pursuit duty tests to gain its certification as a pursuit quality machine. Undergoing two durability tests, the hybrid pursuit sedan has also been subjected to water fording and reverse J-turn testing.

Photo Credit: Ford Motor Company

New York City released a study in 2014 on the deployment of just less than 6,900 gasoline-hybrid vehicles within their police and fire department. Their findings indicated the average cost-savings available from hybrid vehicles is $10,812 when calculating fuel, maintenance and added auction value. Ford has estimated with the Police Responder Hybrid fuel savings would be almost $3,900 less per year compared to the brand’s current Police Interceptor Sedan powered by a 3.7-liter V-6 engine.

Expect the first crime-fighting Ford Police Responder Hybrid sedans to be pressed into duty next summer in the United States.

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Chevrolet Rallies Together RST and RST Performance Package For Added Large Sport Utility Excitement

Photo Credit: Chevrolet in Canada

This year, we are seeing several new examples where the ‘sport’ portion in the term sport utility vehicle is being presented with increased grandeur. Among the super-exotic, the Bentley Bentayga has become one of the most powerful sport utility vehicles on the market generating 600 horsepower and 664 pound-feet of torque from a twin-turbocharged W-12 engine. In February, Dodge introduced a new tire-smoking Durango wearing SRT badging and producing 475-horsepower from a HEMI V-8. Besides engine performance, the latest crop of sport utility and crossover vehicles have continued to integrate agile styling as well as sharper on-road handling. Showing up to the new sport utility performance wearing its traditional bowtie, Chevrolet prepares their Rally Sport badging for a special ride on the Tahoe and Suburban.

Photo Credit: Steve Fecht for Chevrolet

Classified as the Rally Sport Truck or RST, the new performance appearance level is Chevrolet’s hottest ever announced for its 2018 model year full-sized sport utility vehicle platform. The special edition Chevrolet Tahoe RST and Chevrolet Suburban RST are both outfitted with a host of sport touches. Body-colour matching door handle and grille surround is contrasted by a gross black grille and mirror caps. Unique 22-inch wheels mounted to Bridgestone tires complete the look of the sporty Tahoe and Suburban models.

Performance feel crosses over from the visual to the physical with the 2018 Chevrolet Tahoe. A most celebrated addition for drivers will be the adoption of the L86 V-8 engine available exclusively on the Tahoe through a Performance Package. Estimated to generate 420 horsepower, the gasoline power unit for the Chevrolet Tahoe RST Performance Package model features the efficiency of direct injection, continuously variable valve timing and Active Fuel Management. The same powerplant has been used by the GMC Yukon Denali and Cadillac Escalade as well as the top-end propulsion choice for the Silverado 1500. The effective horsepower for the Tahoe and Suburban RST models can be greater through an optional Borla performance exhaust system which optimized flow pattern opens up a potential 7-10 horsepower increase.

Photo Credit: Chevrolet in Canada

Power distribution from the estimated 420-horsepower V-8 is channelled through a 10-speed automatic transmission with the Tahoe RST Performance Package model. The new Hydra-Matic transmission will deliver near seamless gear transitions as the Chevrolet Tahoe RST with Performance Package accelerates from 0 to 60 miles per hour (0 to 96 kilometres per hour) in less than six seconds. Remaining true to its truck background, the special performance editions of the Chevrolet full-sized sport utility vehicles can potentially tow up to 3,800 kilograms (8,400 pounds).

Promising sport-like ride control by calling active suspension principles, General Motors’ Magnetic Ride Control installed on the RST special edition Chevrolet Tahoe Performance Package delivers a rapidly reacting on-road manner. Magnetic Ride Control can make changes to the vehicle’s handling in as little as 5 milliseconds for optimum cornering and comfort for passengers. Front six-piston Brembo calipers are finished with a flashy red colour provide stopping power against 16.1-inch Duralife rotors.

Photo Credit: Chevrolet in Canada

Arriving for the last quarter of 2017, the RST (Rally Sport Truck) trim is the most recent of many special edition packages Chevrolet is creating to produce unique adrenaline at the showrooms of the bowtie brand. Redline models for a slew Chevrolet vehicles such as the Colorado, Equinox and Malibu have already been announced. In the case of the RST, the Performance Package offered with the Chevrolet Tahoe contributes substantial power in concert with one of these new appearance groups.

Sunday, April 9, 2017

2018 Regal Sportback Expands Design Diversity of Buick Brand

Photo Credit: General Motors Canada
When General Motors maintained six divisions or more vehicle brands, Buick often seemed to have an identity crisis. An upscale brand aspiring to attract a driving public above Chevrolet or Pontiac, Buick also seemed hindered to explore true luxury in concerns for upstaging Cadillac. Before 2004, Buick’s attempt to individualize itself was also being diffused by Oldsmobile’s similar persona. Dropping the iconic Riviera ahead of the 2000 model year also meant Buick went through a decade in North America with a somewhat lacking character. Buick's popularity in China was ultimately sustained the brand when General Motors went into restructuring in 2009.

Photo Credit: General Motors Canada

Under the new GM, a new Buick has been taking shape using greater international flavour. Increased European influence including the Cascada convertible, the segment-creating Encore premium small crossover and the Envision being one of the first Chinese-built vehicles sold in North America by a major auto company defines transformative products of a new mid-level luxury brand. For what will become Buick's 115th anniversary in 2018, another dose of European design will be found with a tri-shield badge.

The 2018 Regal Sportback intensifies the globe-trotting luxury lineup found at Buick dealerships. Based on the platform being used by the new Opel Insignia, this five-door vehicle variant is the first opportunity to see the latest generation Buick Regal as something that is not a traditional sedan. Although displaying enough sedan-like details to lure mid-sized four-door car buyers, the Regal Sportback’s slippery design incorporates strong notes of a coupe. Athlete stance and the fastback roof profile give the car a desirably sportier look.

Coming a year later the Buick LaCrosse, engineers and designers transferred a number of the larger sedan’s traits to the 2018 Regal. The adoption of Buick’s new design language symbolized by its grille featuring a winged Buick badge displayed first with the LaCrosse and Cascada. Another aspect Buick engineers were able to replicate from their larger car was weight reduction over the previous generation model. Compared to the 2017 Buick Regal sedan, the 2018 Regal Sportback is roughly 91 kilograms (200 pounds) lighter despite possessing a longer wheelbase.

Thanks to an additional 3 inches (more than 76 millimeters) of wheelbase length, passenger space receives greater optimization inside the 2018 Buick Regal. Buick’s trademarked QuietTuning technology delivers a cabin environment where a minimal amount of road noise will interfere with the occupant’s ride. A standard 7-inch infotainment unit is standard on the 2018 Regal Sportback while an 8-inch with navigation system is available. Apple CarPlay and Android Auto included with the infotainment units of the new Buick provides a few of many electronic connection solutions. OnStar 4G LTE with Wi-Fi hotspot comes installed on every 2018 Buick Regal Sportback along with a complimentary five-year OnStar Basic Plan. Ten airbags, push-button start and heated side mirrors will also be standard equipment. Another major feature being incorporated on the upcoming vehicle is an active hood pedestrian safety system. Sensing a likely collision with a person, Buick’s standard active hood pedestrian safety system lifts the back of the hood in order to reduce potential injury to the pedestrian. A wide array of other active safety features such as Rear Cross Traffic Alert is also obtainable on the 2018 Buick Regal Sportback.

Photo Credit: General Motors Canada

With the long rear window, one of the benefits of the Sportback style is added cargo space. Adding up to more than twice the space of the current Regal sedan, the 2018 Buick Regal Sportback features 892 liters of cargo capacity while still accommodating rear seat passengers. When the split-rear seat bench is folded down, up to 1,719 liters of cargo room can be exploited. Buick touts the storage area as greater than the Audi A5 Sportback and the BMW 4 Gran Coupe.

Powertrain options for the new Regal Sportback is based around 250-horsepower, turbocharged 2.0-liter engine equipped with standard start/stop technology. A front -wheel drive or all-wheel drive choice with the 2018 Buick Regal Sportback provides some differing attributes beyond just the wheels being propelled. Influenced by 260 pound-feet of torque, the front-wheel drive Regal Sportback is fitted with a nine-speed automatic transmission. Operating through an eight-speed automatic gearbox, torque production is increased to 295 pound-feet with all-wheel drive versions of the 2018 Regal Sportback. Standard active noise cancellation is combined by Buick with the all-wheel drive models.      

The 2018 Buick Regal Sportback will go on-sale in the fourth quarter of 2017 with pricing details to be announced between now and the model’s release date. While there will no longer be a conventional sedan version of the Regal for the 2018 model year, a wagon-like TourX will join the Sportback in the United States market. Canadians will only receive the Buick Regal Sportback for 2018.

Monday, April 3, 2017

Various Roads Converged on Toronto's 2017 Motorama Custom Car and Motorsport Expo

Photo Credit: Chris Nagy

Can we officially proclaim the automotive season as started in Canada? We look across our southern border and see events for sports cars as well as NASCAR stock cars already won by motorsport stars in Daytona. Heading into March Break weekend, we also saw the 2017 Verizon IndyCar season opener won by Sebastien Bourdais taking advantage of some outstanding luck to surge from the back of the grid. Appeasing classic car and custom car buyers, the eye candy of the Barrett-Jackson auction in Scottsdale, Arizona provided a showcase for some great masterpieces of four wheels. In the sizable International Centre in Mississauga, the first signs of motoring life for Canadians in 2017 garnered great enthusiasm inside with the 3rd annual Motorama Custom Car and Motorsports Expo. Outside was another story this past weekend as winter decided to be a spoiler. It seems like a typical pattern in recent years that the coldest weather possible tags a ride with me to every winter car show I attend. However, despite the unwelcomed return of winter’s savageness, there was heat within a splendid collection of customized vehicles, race cars and a few other surprises.

Operating under different names over the years, I remembered attending what now exists as the Motorama Custom Car and Motorsport Expo when I was in high school. The occasion then for me was a wonderful way to usher in March Break. An event that took place within floor space that exceeds 250,000 square feet, the 2017 show was a place where you see something for every motoring taste. While stock equipment-loving auto enthusiasts could set eyes on vehicles like the 1968 Ford Shelby GT500KR Convertible and a 1987 Buick GNX, the true heart of the show resides in vehicles that are far detached from a production line machine. The 2017 edition of the exhibition of performance shared some remarkable examples of personal expression. Before entering the hall, a yellow and black Chevrolet pickup truck provided a sample of what attendees could expect anytime during three days of the show. Indeed, the 2017 Motorama Custom Car and Motorsports Expo was a sight worth beholding.

Al Buccella's 1968 Ford Shelby GT500KR Convertible
Photo Credit: Chris Nagy

Receiving prime floor space within the first few steps past the entrance of the show were some top examples of beautifully sculpted metal and glimmering chrome. Called the Canadian 10, the elite collection was eligible for the Motorama Grand Champion Award featuring a $5,000 cash prize coupled with the accolade. This year’s finalists offered themes from a high-performance production car recreation like a 1969 Camaro COPO tribute car to a wild low riding Belair wearing lots of engraved chrome (even within the brake calipers). Between, you could have found a radical 1923 Ford T Bucket, a charming retro-modified 1923 Ford truck and a truly red hot 1968 Dodge Dart Hemi. In a spectacle of bow ties, blue ovals and a Mopar, a 1936 Ford Coupe belonging to Enzo Covello claimed the show’s top honours in 2017.

Photo Credit: Chris Nagy

Travelling deeper down the show’s floor, motorsport vehicles were layered between Canadian 10 finalists and more street-going vehicles. The Motorama Custom Car and Motorsports Expo is not only a chance for Ontario race tracks to exhibit some of their weekend competitors’ cars before the 2017 season but reveals the pivotal grassroots auto racing scene in Canada. It was particular fun for me to see Sauble Speedway still going strong years after I lived in the area as a child and was taken to track by my dad. Related to Sauble Speedway, one of the most entertaining cars among the local stock cars represented the track with a vehicle sharing inspiration from Lightning McQueen from the movie “Cars”. A dirt late model for Brighton Speedway, sprint car for Ohsweken Speedway as well as Neale Armstrong’s jet-powered dragster and Lyle Williams’ Top Alcohol Funny Car affiliated with Toronto Motorsports Park were a handful of race machines attracting attention. With the International Centre so close to Pearson International Airport and the site once serving as the place where Orenda Engines Limited once built the propulsion for the mystical Avro Arrow, it was perhaps unsurprising that the jet engined dragster was so popular.

Neale Armstrong's Jet Drag Racer
Photo Credit: Chris Nagy

Proceeding deeper into the exhibition, a mix of motorsport, custom and a few stock vehicles featured something for everyone. Bruce Harvey and his Pro Comp Custom 1968 Chevrolet Camaro and 1970 Dodge Charger featured a height reduction up to six inches but were detached from any reality of flying under the radar. Both SEMA Show exhibited vehicles, their appearance at the 2017 Motorama Custom Car and Motorsport Expo was nestled near the Canadian Motor Speedway’s booth. Endeavouring to be a multi-functional facility in Fort Erie with a progressively-banked 3/4-mile oval serving as the centrepiece, a bulldozer used towards the preparation of Canadian Motor Speedway was on display. As the future of Canadian motorsports appears to be gaining traction, Yesterday’s Speedways immortalizes the history of many short tracks that are no longer operating. The presentation of racing history was highly captivating for me thanks to various pieces of memorabilia from past decades and a 1970 Plymouth Superbird that served as pace car for Sunset Speedway that still stages racing action near Barrie. Seeing one of Don Biederman’s stock cars weeks after recognizing the driver as one of only eight Canadians who ran in the Daytona 500.

For anyone who had never seen a Stutz Blackhawk, the Rust Check booth gave audiences a moment to see the 1970s flashy coachbuilding residing on a General Motors. The Blackhawk was located close to collection of vehicles organized by car club Lead Kings. Going the extra mile (or rather kilometer) for this year’s Motorama show, Lead Kings organized themselves into a retro-like campsite.

Lead Kings Canada Camping Trailer
Photo Credit: Chris Nagy

The fourth and final major section of the 2017 Motorama Custom Car and Motorsport Expo ends with a showcase of import, sport compact and more modern custom vehicles called Spring Fever. Skillful use of lighting, big wheels, high-glossy or matte accents as well as the occasional engine swap was performed to the range of vehicles battling for a specific $1,000 show top prize. Spring Fever proved to be a hit at the 2016 show with the younger attendees. With Friday being a time where a variety of schools sent buses full of students, the exhibit continued to provide attraction. Not surprisingly, a Honda Civic that was equipped with a video gaming system and a controller accessible to spectators was exceptionally popular. A Chrysler PT Cruiser with scissor doors and enough monitors to outshine a sports bar was Sergio Sousa’s pride and joy. That PT Cruiser was coupled with customized Dodge Magnum and Chevrolet Cavalier part of the Swift Car Club each demonstrating some boldly-executed interior/exterior colouring. Among cars gathered together for Spring Fever included a Mini panel van equipped with a rear-mounted Honda V-TEC Turbo engine, a 1970s Toyota Celica with a tricked-out i-Force V-8 engine and a Volkswagen Jetta paying tribute to Canadian Armed Forces members.

Sergio Sousa's Custom Chrysler PT Cruiser
Photo Credit: Chris Nagy

Generally with multi-day shows such as the Motorama Custom Car and Motorsport Expo the first day is accepted as a slower period. Major awards would not be handed out until Sunday while this year’s major unveiling, NASCAR Pinty’s Series driver Alex Tagliani’s rollout of a Lowe’s-sponsored race car took place on Saturday. While those happenings were saved for later in the show, there were some notable attractions extending beyond the main exhibition including some chances for spectators to see some of the celebrity. Steve Darnell of television’s “Vegas Rat Rods” fame returned to the Motorama expo for a second consecutive year and appeared several times on the event floor. Friday was also a time where “All Girls Garage” star Jessi Combs and Dan Wood from “Chop Cut Rebuild” took part in the Automotive Education and Career Panel. The involvement of the 2017 Motorama show’s guests was more prevalent on Saturday and Sunday. One of the headliners of the show was Miss Hurst Golden Shifter Linda Vaughn while additional personalities included pin-up model Cherry Dollface and ‘Barber’ Dave Lefler. As part of awards, the celebrity guests of the event gave honours to their personal favourite rides of the Motorama Custom Car and Motorsport Expo.

Another famous guest of the 2017 Motorama Custom Car and Motorsport Expo was Al Bergler who captures both genres of the automotive event. Since the 1960s, Bergler boasts honours in hot rodding as well as drag racing. The inaugural winner of the Don Ridler Memorial Award at the Detroit Autorama with a dragster titled “More Aggravation”, that exact car was campaigned in NHRA competition to a championship in Super Eliminator. Today, Al Bergler is honoured in many circles including induction to the Michigan Motor Sports Hall of Fame. The man as well as his still stunning “More Aggravation” race machine were both present.

Al Bergler's 1964 Detroit Autorama More Aggravation Dragster
Photo Credit: Chris Nagy

As my day of observing some brilliant sights of machinery came to an end, I proceeded to make my traditional purchase of a show souvenir diecast. These type of events is among few times in the year where I can buy auto racing replica diecast cars without a stock mainly either consisting of the same common five-year-old Tony Stewart car or having to pay twice its value in shipping.

Leaving the 2017 Motorama Custom Car and Motorsport Expo, the frigid cold weather I was going to encounter wasn’t my only reason to regret as I departed the International Centre. The level of delight an automotive enthusiast can realize at one of these shows is unmeasurable. Given the chance to see such marvelous objects of motoring indoors presents a vibrant forecast for what Canadians can expect on wheels throughout this year.  

This YouTube presentation is published as a compilation of the 2017 Motorama Custom Car and Motorsport Expo. 

This following slideshow presentation includes a diverse collection of images taken at the 2017
Motorama Custom Car and Motorsport Expo:

2017 Motorama Custom Car & Motorsport Expo Toronto