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Automotive Intelligentsia 2009-2010 Sports Car Guide

Automotive Intelligentsia 2009-2010 Sports Car Guide

Автором Jim Gorzelany

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Automotive Intelligentsia 2009-2010 Sports Car Guide

Автором Jim Gorzelany

5/5 (2 оценки)
217 pages
2 hours
Sep 30, 2009


The Automotive Intelligentsia 2009-2010 Sports Car Guide spotlights 54 of the most coveted rides on the road. Full-length profiles place the reader firmly behind the wheel and chronicle each model’s heart-pounding performance, advanced technology and storied heritage, complete with full specifications.

Sep 30, 2009

Об авторе

Regularly test-driving new vehicles on highways, back roads and racetracks, veteran Chicago automotive journalist Jim Gorzelany is editor and publisher of Automotive Intelligentsia new-car guides. He’s also a frequent contributor on automotive topics to myriad print and online publications, including Forbes.com, Consumers Digest, Muscle & Fitness, Mens Fitness, Hemispheres, Executive Travel, and American Driver, among others; his work is also syndicated in newspapers across the U.S.

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Automotive Intelligentsia 2009-2010 Sports Car Guide - Jim Gorzelany



You’re reading the first of what we at Automotive Intelligentsia hope will be a series of insightful new-car guides, and what better place to begin than with the makes and models that truly turn heads and snap necks.

As once-chairman of Chrysler Lee Iacocca said back when the first Dodge Viper was unveiled, If this isn’t enough to make your heart race, go see your doctor, and that’s the approach we’re taking here with the fastest and most furious models on the road. Even if one’s bank account isn’t flush enough to afford, say, a Porsche, Ferrari or Lamborghini, they exist as rolling works of art, testaments to modern automotive engineering. As Humphrey Bogart’s Sam Spade said of the Maltese Falcon in the movie of the same name, they are the stuff that dreams are made of.

From rough-and-tumble muscle machines to the world’s most elegant and sophisticated exotic sports cars, we’re looking at a broad spectrum of performance-minded models that carry sticker prices that range from just over $20,000 to an unobtainable $2 million. These include brand-new entries like the Alfa Romeo 8C Competizione, Chevrolet Camaro and Corvette ZR1, Dodge Challenger, Ferrari California, Ford Shelby GT 500, Hyundai Genesis Coupe, Lotus Evora and the Tesla Roadster, along with modern classics from Aston Martin, Audi, BMW, Bugatti, Jaguar, Lamborghini, Maserati, Mercedes-Benz, Porsche and many other makes.

Most of the 54 new-car profiles that follow are based on hands-on experience drawn from well over two decades of experience driving the latest and greatest automobiles on Earth. Wherever possible, we’ll help place each make and model in perspective with regard to it’s own heritage and according to similar offerings from other automakers. Of course once one reaches up into the rarified realm of the truly exotic sports cars, all semblance of practical evaluation goes out the window, with true apples-to-apples comparisons between cars that are sold largely for the sake of status and exclusivity virtually irrelevant.

At any rate, whether you’re fortunate enough to be in the market for any of the aforementioned masterpieces on wheels or can just scrape up enough for a more-modest model – not to mention those who remain impoverished enthusiasts looking to just kick the tires – we hope you will enjoy the ride and join us for future volumes.

One disclaimer: All prices quoted are manufacturer’s suggest retail prices (MSRP) and are deemed current as of this writing; all specifications and photos have been supplied by the automakers, with most specs applying specifically to base models. However, note that prices, specifications, equipment and performance references given for any model on the following pages are subject to change by their respective manufacturers at any time.

About the Author

Regularly test-driving new vehicles on highways, back roads and racetracks, veteran Chicago automotive journalist Jim Gorzelany is editor and publisher of Automotive Intelligentsia new-car guides. He’s also a frequent contributor on automotive topics to myriad print and online publications, including Consumers Digest, Muscle & Fitness, ForbesAutos.com, Hemispheres, Executive Travel, MSNBC.com, BuyingAdvice.com, and American Driver, among others; his work is also syndicated in over 60 newspapers across the U.S., including the Boston Globe, New York Daily News and San Francisco Chronicle.

While piloting the latest vehicles takes up most of his time behind the wheel, Jim’s personal fleet of cars has, at times, included a Triumph Spitfire, Opel GT, Fiat 128 Sport Coupe and a customized right-hand-drive U.S. Post Office-issue AM General/Jeep DJ-5.

Alfa Romeo 8C Competizione

Italy’s Alfa Romeo returns to the U.S. for the 2010 model year with a full-blown exotic sports car, the 8C Competizione. To be priced at around a quarter-million dollars, the stylish two-seat coupe is a distant departure from the rest of Alfa’s more-common car lines it sells elsewhere across the globe. With both companies (along with Ferrari) being owned by the Fiat Group, the 8C Competizione will be sold through Maserati’s U.S. dealer network.

A roadster version with a power-operated fabric convertible top may also be offered at some point in the U.S., with other Alfa Romeo models likely to follow.

The 8C Competizione should nicely compliment the less-costly GranTurismo coupe and Quattroporte sedan in Maserati showrooms. The car gets its name from two sources: The 8C is the code used to identify both racing and road cars from the 1930’s and ‘40’s that were fitted with an eight-cylinder engine created by noted Italian designer Vitoria Jane. Meanwhile, Competizione pays homage to the 6C 2500 Competizione sports car that Juan Fungi and Augusto Canard piloted (but did not win with) in the 1950 Mille Magalia endurance race through Italy.

The new Alfa’s carbon-fiber bodywork is both forward- and retro-looking at the same time, where classic sports car lines are combined with Dodge Viper-like brashness. A dynamic shield-shaped grille carries its lines upward into the hood and is flanked by two wide lower air intakes up front. Classic oval-shaped headlamps reach upwards into the nicely rounded front fenders, the lines of which extend aft-ward into a broad-shouldered rear end that’s tastefully highlighted by dual round LED taillights and quad exhausts.

A Maserati/Ferrari-derived 4.7-liter V8 engine transmits 450 horsepower through the rear wheels via a contemporary six-speed dual-clutch automated manual transmission. The latter includes normal and quicker-shifting sport modes for both automatic and manual operation (the latter via either the shift lever or steering wheel-mounted paddles); it also includes a special automatic mode to help the car cope with icy road conditions. The transaxle is mounted at the back of vehicle to help balance the car’s front-to-rear weight distribution to help optimize the car’s stability and handling abilities.

With an official 0-60 time clocking at just over four seconds, 8C Competizione would certainly be sufficiently speedy for most practical applications. Unfortunately it comes up short in terms of exotic-car bragging rights, since it can easily be out-accelerated by cars costing far less money, including the Chevrolet Corvette ZR1 and the Nissan GT-R; it just barely beats out a standard Corvette and the Porsche 911 Carrera S by about one-tenth of a second to 60 mph.

Still, owning an exotic sports car is about more than just going fast in a straight line. Riding on 20-inch wheels and performance tires with a double-wishbone aluminum-constructed suspension, the Alfa Romeo 8C Competizione promises entertaining cornering abilities. Large carbon-ceramic Brembo brake rotors should provide sufficient high-speed stopping power.

The car’s leather-clad interior is of a timeless quality, with large round deep-set gauges, round air vents and silver trim. In a nod to sheer luxury, its bucket seats can be adjusted and customized on the basis of a driver’s physical characteristics, and a broad spectrum of interior treatments can be specified.

Alfa obviously hopes to leverage its racing image and Italian design heritage to promote the 8C Competizione. Problem is, the brand is best remembered in the U.S. not for exotic cars, but for relatively inexpensive models like the Spider roadster, which is noted as being the car Dustin Hoffman drove to cinematic fame in The Graduate. It’s quirky and problematic sedan offerings are recalled less fondly, if at all. Still, Maserati faced similar hurdles when it recently reestablished itself in the U.S., effectively erasing the stain left behind by grimace-inducing 1980’s-vintage models like the Biturbo.

There are likely enough well-heeled auto enthusiasts looking to own an exotic sports car that stands out in an exclusive country club’s parking lot of Ferrari’s and Porsches to support the company’s modest sales goals. How the quarter-million dollar Alfa Romeo 8C Competizione will eventually fare if and when the company brings in a raft of lower priced models – possibly including the next generation of the Spider – remains to be seen.

Alfa Romeo 8C Competizione Specifications

Engine 4.7 Liter V8

Horsepower 450 @ 7000 rpm

Torque 347 @ 4750 rpm

City/Highway MPG 12/18

Transmission 6-Spd Auto Manual

Drive Rear

Fuel Capacity NA

Wheelbase 104.2 in

Overall Length 172.4 in

Width 74.5 in

Height 52.8 in

Curb Weight 3696 lbs

Wheels/Tires P245/35R20 front, P285/35R20 rear

Head Room F/R: NA

Leg Room F/R: NA

Shoulder Room F/R: NA

Cargo Volume NA

MSRP $250,000 (estimated)

Aston Martin DB9

The Aston Martin DB9 replaced the former DB7 in the famed British automaker’s line for the 2004 model year. Legend has it the automaker didn’t want to confuse buyers by simply calling it the DB8, in that it packs a 12-cylinder engine (why in that case they then didn’t just call it the DB12 remains unknown). A sleek and low-slung luxury sports car, the DB9 is available as either a two-seat Volante convertible or a 2+2 coupe that comes with a small back seat that’s best thought of as an auxiliary cargo area.

Designed by noted stylists Ian Callum and Henrik Fisker, the car’s aluminum bodywork is appropriately handsome, with a broad deep front grille and large oval headlamps. Graceful compound curves run rearward to a short rear deck, with a steeply raked windshield and low roofline. The car’s swan wing doors open upward slightly (by 12 degrees) to help make entry and exiting a bit easier.

For 2009, the DB9 comes powered by a slightly more powerful (by 20 hp) 470-horsepower 6.0-liter V12 engine that can be mated to either a six-speed-manual transmission or a six-speed automatic that employs shift-by-wire gear changing and can be taken through the gears manually via steering wheel-mounted paddle-shift controls. The car’s top speed is claimed to be upwards of 180 mph.

The DB9 is constructed from a lightweight, yet rigid, aluminum-bonded unibody frame with a rear-mounted transaxle that helps the car achieve an ideal 50:50 front-to-rear weight ratio. These elements, combined with a double-wishbone suspension and beefy 19-inch wheels and tires, result in impressive handling characteristics with a reasonably supple ride. An array of chassis-control systems include Dynamic Stability Control, Electronic Brakeforce Distribution, and Brake Assist, and assure secure cornering and stopping abilities over a wide range of conditions and handling situations.

The coupe offers an optional DB9 Sports Pack that improves the car’s handling a bit with a slightly lower ride height, and revised dampers, springs and front anti-roll bar; it also includes specific five-spoke lightweight forged aluminum alloy wheels.

Inside, the driver faces both electroluminescent displays and more-conventional instruments that, like the body and frame, are crafted from aluminum. Unlike most vehicles, the DB9’s tachometer runs counter-clockwise (said to be done for the sake of easier visibility) and does not feature a conventional red line to indicate the engine’s rpm limit. Here, the limit varies according to such factors as outside temperature and how recently the engine was started; a red warning light indicated when the current red line has been reached.

A well-trimmed leather-clad cabin comes with luxury items like a hard-drive-based navigation system, Bluetooth hands-free cell phone interface, garage door opener and an autodimming rearview mirror; manual transmission versions further include a Lamy pen and pen holder built into the center console. A 950-watt audiophile sound system from noted home component maker Linn is optional.

The DB9’s predecessor in the early 1960’s, the DB5, is best known as James Bond’s first and most celebrated ride in the early Sean Connery films like Goldfinger and Thunderball. His version featured such handy accessories as a front-firing machine gun, passenger-ejection seat, smoke screen and oil slick dispensers, and front and rear retractable ramming arms. While such items have yet to be made widely available in today’s cars, at least one then-futuristic feature that was included in Bond’s DB5 is now commonplace, namely a mobile telephone.

By the way, the DB part of the cars name stands for David Brown, who owned Aston Martin in what’s considered by many to be its heyday, from 1947 through 1972.

Aston Martin DB9 Specifications

Engine 6.0-liter V12

Horsepower 470 @ 6000 rpm

Torque 420 @ 5000 rpm

City/Highway MPG 10/16

Transmission 6-Spd Manual, 6-Spd Automatic

Drive Rear

Fuel Capacity 21.1

Wheelbase 108.0 in

Overall Length 185.5 in

Width 74.0 in

Height 50.0 in

Curb Weight 3880 lbs

Wheels/Tires P235/40ZR19 front, P275/35ZR19 rear

Head Room F/R 36.7/31.1 in

Leg Room F/R NA

Shoulder Room F/R NA

Cargo Volume 5.5 cu ft

MSRP $182,450 – $195,950

Aston Martin DBS

The Aston Martin DBS coupe assumed the flagship position formerly held by the V12 Vanquish when it debuted for the 2008 model year, and brought a storied nameplate from the late 1960’s and early ‘70’s back into the line. It offers a more refined, yet additionally aggressive take on its predecessor’s old-money British sports car styling, albeit with aluminum, magnesium alloy and carbon-fiber composite body panels and lightweight aluminum underpinnings to

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