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The Coolest Vintage Cars On Sale In London

1971 Ferrari Dino 246 GT Estimate: £160,000-£200,000 195 bhp, 2,418 cc DOHC V-6 engine, five-speed manual transaxle (rear), unequal length A-arm front and rear suspension with coil springs and anti-roll bars, and front and rear disc brakes. Wheelbase: 92.1 in.

The Coolest Vintage Cars On Sale In London

1970 Maserati Ghibli Spyder  Estimate: £230,000-£250,000 330 bhp, 4,719 cc DOHC V-8 engine, five-speed manual transmission, coil spring independent front suspension, live rear axle with semi-elliptic leaf springs, and four-wheel hydraulic disc brakes. Wheelbase: 100.4 in.

The Coolest Vintage Cars On Sale In London

1958 Mercedes-Benz 220S CabrioletEstimate: £70,000-£85,000106 hp 2,195 cc OHC six-cylinder engine with twin Solex carburettors, independent front suspension with coil springs, swing-axle rear suspension with coil springs, and four-wheel servo-assisted hydraulic drum brakes. Wheelbase: 106.3 in.

The Coolest Vintage Cars On Sale In London

1958 Ferrari 250 GT Coupe Estimate: £245,000-£305,000 250 bhp, 2,953 cc SOHC alloy V-12 engine with triple Weber Type 36 DC13 downdraught carburettors, four-speed synchromesh transmission, front independent suspension with unequal-length wishbones, coil springs and tubular shock absorbers, live rear axle with leaf springs, Houdaille shocks with axle location by twin trailing arms, and four-wheel drum brakes. Wheelbase: 102 in.

The Coolest Vintage Cars On Sale In London

1960 Bentley S2 Continental Coupe by H.J. Mulliner & Co. Estimate: £190,000-£230,000 178 hp, 6,230 cc OHV V-8 engine, twin SU carburettors, four-speed automatic transmission, independent front suspension with coil springs and wishbones, semi-elliptic rear springs with electrically controlled shock absorbers, power-assisted front and rear drum brakes, and hydraulic front and hydro-mechanical rear. Wheelbase: 123 in.

The Coolest Vintage Cars On Sale In London

1959 Ford Fairlane Galaxie 500 Sunliner Convertible Estimate: £20,000-£22,000 Est. 200 hp, 292 cu. in. overhead valve V-8 engine with Edelbrock four-barrel carburettor and intake, automatic transmission, independent front suspension, live rear axle suspension, and four-wheel hydraulic drum brakes.

The Coolest Vintage Cars On Sale In London

1961 Chevrolet Impala Convertible Estimate: £25,000-£30,000 170 hp, 283 cu. in. overhead valve V-8 engine, three-speed manual transmission, independent front suspension with coil springs, live rear axle suspension, and four-wheel drum brakes. Wheelbase: 119 in.

The Coolest Vintage Cars On Sale In London

1961 Jaguar E-Type Series I 3.8-Litre Fixed Head Coupe Estimate: £120,000-£150,000 265 bhp, 3,781 cc DOHC inline six-cylinder engine, four-speed manual transmission, four-wheel independent suspension, and four-wheel hydraulic disc brakes. Wheelbase: 96 in.

The Coolest Vintage Cars On Sale In London

1963 Chevrolet Impala SS Convertible  Estimate: £20,000-£25,000 250 bhp, 327 cu. in. overhead valve V-8 engine, Powerglide two-speed automatic transmission, independent front suspension with coil springs, live rear axle suspension, and four-wheel drum brakes. Wheelbase: 119 in.

The Coolest Vintage Cars On Sale In London

1963 Rolls-Royce Silver Cloud III Drophead Coupe by Pilkington Estimate: £110,000-£140,000 230 hp, 6,230 cc OHV V-8 engine, twin SU carburettors, four-speed automatic transmission, independent suspension, front suspension by wishbones and coil springs, live rear axle with semi-elliptic springs, and four-wheel hydraulic drum brakes with gearbox driven servo-assist. Wheelbase: 123 in.

The Coolest Vintage Cars On Sale In London

1964 Aston Martin DB5 ConvertibleEstimate: £585,000-£700,000282 hp, 3,995 cc dual overhead cam inline six-cylinder engine, three SU carburettors, ZF five-speed manual transmission, independent front suspension with coil springs, live rear axle suspension with coil springs and Selectaride dampers, and four-wheel disc brakes. Wheelbase: 98 in.

The Coolest Vintage Cars On Sale In London

1964 Aston Martin DB5  Estimate: £300,000-£380,000 280 hp, 3,995 cc dual overhead cam inline six-cylinder engine, three SU carburettors, five-speed manual gearbox, independent front suspension with coil springs, live rear axle suspension with coil springs and Selectaride dampers, and four-wheel disc brakes. Wheelbase: 2,490 mm

The Coolest Vintage Cars On Sale In London

1966 Ford Mustang 289 Convertible Estimate: £10,000-£15,000 271 hp, 289 cu. in. V-8 engine, four-barrel carburettor, automatic transmission, independent front suspension, live rear axle, and four-wheel power assisted drum brakes. Wheelbase: 108 in.

The Coolest Vintage Cars On Sale In London

1991 Rolls-Royce Corniche III Drophead Coupe Estimate: £58,000-£68,000 6,750 cc OHV V-8 engine, Bosch K Motronic fuel injection, three-speed automatic transmission, four-wheel independent suspension with hydraulic self-levelling height control, and power-assisted four-wheel disc brakes. Wheelbase: 120.5 in

The Coolest Vintage Cars On Sale In London

1970 Mercedes-Benz 280SE 3.5 Cabriolet  Estimate: £70,000-£85,000 106 hp 2,195 cc OHC six-cylinder engine with twin Solex carburettors, independent front suspension with coil springs, swing-axle rear suspension with coil springs, and four-wheel servo-assisted hydraulic drum brakes. Wheelbase: 106.3 in.

The Coolest Vintage Cars On Sale In London

1970 Mercedes-Benz 280SE 3.5 Cabriolet  Estimate: £70,000-£85,000 106 hp 2,195 cc OHC six-cylinder engine with twin Solex carburettors, independent front suspension with coil springs, swing-axle rear suspension with coil springs, and four-wheel servo-assisted hydraulic drum brakes. Wheelbase: 106.3 in.

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Lexus shows LF-LC Blue at Australian auto show

Lexus has chosen the Australian International Motor Show to unveil the second iteration of its LF-LC concept car. This version is called the LF-LC Blue, and is a followup to the original LF-LC that debuted in Detroitearlier this year. As you might expect, the car is shod in a color called ‘Opal Blue,’ and is inspired by the semi-precious opal stone found in the Australian Outback.

In addition to the new color, we finally get (some) details on the hybrid powertrain that propels this elegant concept. The Advanced Lexus Hybrid Drive system features an Atkinson-cycle gas engine, combined with an “advanced high-energy battery pack” and an electric motor. According to Lexus, the gas/electric hybridsetup conspires to produce 500 horsepower, though the power split between gas and electric it not specified.

According to Tony Cramb of Lexus Australia, the LF-LC Blue is a vision into the future of sports cars. “Its good looks mask some very exciting design and engineering innovations that will influence Lexus vehicles in the future.” Cramb continued, “LF-LC is part concept, part reality: the concept hints at what’s to come from Lexus.” That is, in fact, the point of a concept car, so Cramb gets points for accuracy.

Lexus also highlights the interior of the LF-LC Blue, including what appears to be the next-generation of Remote Touch. Rather than a joystick controller, like its current incarnation, the 12.3-inch LCD screen is operated by a separate, smaller touch screen control board at the driver’s fingertips. The touch screen can pop up and provides the driver with a keyboard. Like the current setup, this new form of Remote Touch controls climate, audio and navigation systems.

Show-goers Down Under can enjoy the LF-LC Blue at the Australian International Motor Show from October 19th to the 28th.

Lexus Reveals LF-LC Blue at 2012 Australian International Motor Show

KEY POINTS:
• Lexus reveals LF-LC Blue concept
• Concept leverages Project LFA with use of carbon fibre
• Debuts next generation Lexus Hybrid Drive with high energy battery pack
• New drivetrain develops 372kW
• Unique Opal Blue inspired by precious stone

SYDNEY, Australia, Oct. 18, 2012 – Australia Lexus has revealed the stunning LF-LC Blue concept at the Australian International Motor Show in Sydney. Clad in unique Opal Blue, it is the second version of the LF-LC, first debuted at the Detroit Auto Show earlier this year.

The all-new Opal Blue exterior is inspired by the lustrous base colour found in the naturally occurring semi-precious opal stone of outback Australia.

Beneath the blue skin LF-LC combines advanced technologies and materials with organic design, giving an insight into what the future of sports cars may hold. Central to the concept is a suite of advanced materials and technologies, including lightweight carbon fibre and the next generation of Lexus’ industry-leading hybrid powertrain.

New to LF-LC and derived from project LFA, LF-LC leverages Lexus’ extensive in-house experience in marrying carbon fibre and aluminium alloy materials to achieve a light body mass. The result is an extremely taut body that responds quickly and crisply to driver inputs – providing the perfect platform for the next-generation Lexus Hybrid Drive system.

Dubbed Advanced Lexus Hybrid Drive, the system features a powerful and efficient Atkinson cycle combustion engine which is mated to an advanced high-energy battery pack. The high-energy battery pack is designed to deliver greater power from a smaller battery than those currently used in Lexus’ range of hybrid vehicles. Combined, the LF-LC Blue concept’s petrol/electric hybrid powertrain develops 372kW (500hp) – the most of any Lexus hybrid.

Lexus Australia’s Tony Cramb said that LF-LC Blue is a demonstration of what the future may hold for sports cars.

“For decades, Lexus has been synonymous with hybrid drivetrains, superior build quality, comfort and reliability,” Cramb said. “With the LF-LC we now reinforce our design and technology credentials. The LF-LC is absolutely stunning. Its good looks mask some very exciting design and engineering innovations that will influence Lexus vehicles in the future.

“LF-LC is part concept, part reality: the concept hints at what’s to come from Lexus, while the reality has us actively studying how we can engineer and build a vehicle like this in the future.”

Supporting LF-LC’s engineering feats is a stunning, technology-laden exterior and interior, clad in a new white and brown interior. Commanding the concept’s bold front end are sculpted “L” shaped daytime running lights, vertical fog lamps and a fading dot matrix pattern to convey a sense of movement.

Continuing the sense of motion, LF-LC’s side profile is commanded by deeply sculpted air intakes behind the doors. A wrap-around glass roof provides a panoramic view to the outside world while slicing through the air.

The concept car’s glass roof features a lightweight, cantilevered pillar with a glass-to-glass junction inspired by modern architecture. LF-LC’s dynamic lines are carried through to the rear deck, sculpturally integrating the spindle grille theme to complement the front of the vehicle while creating a unique sense of width. Tail lamps, inspired by a jet aeroplane afterburner, make use of inner lighting to create a remarkable sense of depth.

The rear is also fitted with fog lamps, repeating the fading dot matrix pattern of the front fog lamps. Visually, the integrated tail and fog lamps repeat the “L” shape and lead the viewer’s eye down to the powerful Lexus quad exhaust.

The interior of the LF-LC concept contrasts the cool ambience of advanced technology with soft textures and organic shapes to create a driver-focused synergy of form and function. The cockpit expresses a feeling of both openness and security. The driver is enveloped by deeply scooped side panels and a high, curved console. The effect is to focus the driver zone on the controls and on the road.

Based on Lexus’ commitment to creating an intuitive driving experience, the
LF-LC incorporates a remote touch-screen device that allows the driver to comfortably operate controls without shifting position or altering their line of sight.

Twin 12.3-inch LCD screens provide information and navigation display. Inputs come from a touch-screen control board piercing the swept centre console. The interface is used to control the audio system, climate controls and navigation, and features a pop-up touch-screen keyboard for more complex entries. Set directly in front of the driver, multi-level meters layer analogue and LCD technologies. The bottom layer displays temperature, fuel and the background for the Eco meter. The middle layer is the tachometer mechanical centre ring. The topmost layer provides indicators for the tachometer, speedometer and Eco meter.

Surfaces throughout the cabin are presented in a combination of smooth leather and suede, with brushed metal trim and wood accents. The lightweight, race-inspired front seats are formed of multiple layers and repeat the interlacing curves that define the cabin interior. The racing-style steering wheel is clad in lightweight carbon fibre and contains integrated controls and start button.

2015 Ford Mustang Rendered, Detailed

Mustang is Ford’s oldest continuously produced nameplate (Ford might cite its F-series, but that didn’t bear the F-150 badge until a decade after the Mustang arrived). In its lifetime, Mustang has been many different cars: a reskinned Falcon, something closer to the Torino, a hideous and malformed mutant Pinto, and a Fox, the platform it shared with a variety of Fords, Mercurys, and even a couple of Lincolns across three decades. In its current form, though, Mustang has become something it flirted with from inception: great. We named the GT and Boss 302 to our 2012 10Best pantheon, and called the Boss “the best Mustang ever.” For 2015, Ford’s ungulate will undergo its most revolutionary redesign yet. We hear it’ll arrive Thursday, April 17, 2014, or 50 years to the day it originally went on sale. This should make for one helluva birthday.

Dimensionally, the 2015 edition won’t differ much from the current car, but it will employ an all-new unibody. The next Mustang’s track, both front and rear, will be slightly narrower. Wheelbase looks to shorten up by less than an inch from today’s car. With more-stringent impact requirements pending during the car’s anticipated life cycle, overall length could creep up by the same amount the wheelbase shrinks to allow for suitable crash structures.

With the brief exception of the SVT Cobra that appeared intermittently between 1999 and 2004, the Mustang has always relied on a solid rear axle—and since the advent of the internet, forums have been overrun with calls for an independent rear. Hark, bathrobe wearers, your cries have been heard. In addition to reducing unsprung mass, the 2015’s multilink independent rear will allow more space for the rear seat and cargo.

A strut setup will carry on up front, but with new geometry. Performance models will use aluminum lower control arms, while stamped steel serves in the base car. Big six-piston Brembo brake calipers will be stand­ard on serious performance models, optional on the semi-serious ones.

Unlike today’s Mustang, which sees only limited export beyond the NAFTA zone, Ford has decreed that its next-generation pony car will be sold around the world. With this in mind, powertrain choices will expand significantly beyond today’s single V-6 and three V-8 choices. We’ve even heard that, for select markets in Asia, Ford will offer a naturally aspirated inline-four. Sounds screwy, we know. But Ford continues to challenge convention with its engine choices; who would have thought even two years ago that V-6s would make up the majority of F-150 sales?

The U.S. will get a four-cylinder, too—the first in a Mustang since 1993. A turbocharged, direct-injected 2.4-liter four will relieve an upgraded version of today’s 3.7-liter V-6 of its mantle as 30-plus-mpg champ. Mimicking the EcoBoost’s role in the Edge and Explorer, the 250-plus-hp four-cylinder will be priced higher than the more powerful base V-6 Mustang and be positioned as a balance between sport and fuel efficiency.

The 2015 GT will keep the Coyote 5.0-liter V-8, but don’t expect horsepower to rise from its current 420. The delayed-intro Boss 302 will see an extra six ponies coaxed out of its engine, raising that figure to 450.

Ford is playing its cards very close to the vest regarding the next Shelby GT500. Underhood space in the 2015 Mustang will be tighter than it is today, posing a problem for the Shelby’s massive supercharged and intercooled 5.8-liter. Due to its height, the 5.8 appears to have been squeezed out. Its 662 horses will be tough to beat in the next-generation Shelby, if there is a next-generation Shelby. But the GT500 has garnered Ford a lot of press, and a twin-turbocharged, direct-injected Coyote is a tantalizing concept with the potential to match the 114 horsepower per liter of the 5.8.

Initially, the new Mustang’s transmissions will carry over from today’s car, but an eight-speed automatic will join the lineup eventually.

The 2015 edition of America’s original pony car promises a marked mechanical improvement over anything that has carried the Mustang name, but its sheetmetal wrapper may concern loyalists. Last September, Ford unveiled the Evos concept car at the Frankfurt auto show. The automaker said at the time that the sleek coupe represented “the ultimate expression of Ford’s new global design language.” Over the past several months, the company has led us to believe, through cryptic statements and innuendo, that the Evos also telegraphs the form of the next Mustang. To be sure, the Evos is one highly attractive machine, but when you look at it there’s little that makes you think “Mustang.”

It won’t be the first time the model eschewed its established visual language for a cleaner, less brand-specific look. Although devoid of any Mustang cues, the 1979 model was well received by customers and journalists alike—perhaps in large part because the Mustang II that preceded it was so misshapen. Slowly, though, original design elements crept back in, culminating in a 2005 model chock-a-block with everything that made the first Mustang so strong.

A Mustang that ignores its styling heritage does so at its own peril. While the Evos is a great statement and direction for Ford as a whole, it is woefully short of the visual candy that many people believe makes a Mustang a Mustang. Here’s hoping the clay scrapers at Ford design keep this in mind.

 

To Bonneville and Back in a Bentley Continental GT V-8 and Mulsanne

The last time I took a road trip to Utah, I was stuffed inside a charter bus with 50 other rowdy high school kids en route to Salt Lake City’s finest ski resorts for a snowboarding trip. When Bentley asked us to drive a Mulsanne out to the Bonneville Salt Flats, though, I didn’t have to think twice. Before I set off on a 1300-mile roundtrip journey in the Mulsanne, Bentley called with a bit of “bad” news: I was to drive a Continental GT V-8 on the way out, and get behind the wheel of a Mulsanne on the way back. Poor me.

I was invited to the Bonneville Salt Flats for a behind-the-scenes look at a film in a series the British automaker is releasing later this year. In the film, current land-speed-record-holder and Royal Air Force pilot Andy Green does what he does best in the Mulsanne.  The short film can be seen here on Motor Trend in December along with exclusive shots and an interview with the world’s fastest man.

My chariot to Utah, gleaming in Sunburst Gold, arrived at our headquarters a couple days before I set off. The gorgeous paint color complemented the black-gloss grille mesh, black wheels, twin figure-eight tailpipes, and red “B” badges. Dark chocolate brown leather consumed much of the interior, with seats wearing a diamond-quilt pattern. The outstanding level of craftsmanship is obvious, and the tech-bits aren’t bad either. As a connoisseur of navigation systems my other half (a mapmaker) marveled over the Conti’s nav system. He was particularly fond of details such as the GPS coordinates, elevation reading, and the choice among 2D, 3D, and topographic views. Yet with such an elaborate setup, the infotainment system was child’s play.

The route I took to Utah was long, flat, straight, and anything but scenic. Nevertheless, I was driving with rose-colored glasses on. The Conti’s silky leather sport seats coddled me, and unlike other seat massagers, the Conti’s felt good. Instead of feeling a bar rolling up and down my back, the Conti’s kneading back massagers were splendid. The air-cooled seats were refreshing, although when turned to the highest setting, they sounded like an air pump blowing air into a bounce house. Turn it down one notch, and problem solved. The Mulsanne’s, however, were nearly silent.

The only sound permeating the Conti’s cabin was the sound of the throaty 4.0-liter twin-turbocharged V-8. Was I missing out on the W-12? If I cared about bragging rights, yes. But, with 15/24 mpg city/highway for my trip, I was a happy camper with the V-8. It’s fast (in Motor Trend testing, it accelerated from 0-60 mph in 4.2 seconds, 0.2 ahead of a Conti-12), butter-smooth, and it stayed hydrated for the most part (I averaged an indicated 21.9 mpg, though trip computers can be optimistic). Braking was right on cue, thanks to $13,600 carbon ceramic brakes. And who could deny those bodacious hips? Although the Conti is hefty, it’s agile enough for canyon carving.

The Mulsanne

Driving a $200,000 car felt good, but driving a $300,000 car felt even better. After spending time at the Salt Flats, it was time to swap the golden gem for the uber-lux Mulsanne. And I wasn’t going to take the straight-shot way back to L.A. — I was going to take the scenic Route 6 to the U.S. 395 for a one-night stop in Mammoth Lakes, CA. The 6 runs through two lone cities in Nevada, meaning services are hundreds of miles apart. I was a bit hesitant taking the opulent gas guzzler (11/18 mpg) that route in fear of running out of gas, but I planned accordingly. Flying carpets aren’t real, but the Mulsanne is probably the closest automotive equivalent. Going 80 mph felt like 2 mph. By the time I got to Mammoth, I had averaged an indicated 16.3 mpg.

Back in civilization, I had trouble parking the Mulsanne. The hood alone seems like it’s the length of an average car; the car has an imposing presence.. If I didn’t have a park distance control system and rearview camera at my aid, I would’ve been in trouble. The sensors are fantastic, though; when the Flying B senses you’ve come close to something, the screen shows an aerial graphic of the car and gives a detailed view of how close you are to an object. While I appreciated the system, I wouldn’t have minded the addition of a multi-camera-based system likeInfiniti’s Around View Monitor.

The way back to L.A. gave me a feel for the Bentley’s adaptive cruise control. The only gripe I have about the car is that I didn’t hire Jeeves to drive me around. The rear seats are where it’s at, with a $9910 entertainment system, heated/ventilated/massager seats, picnic tables (iPads are extra), illuminated fold-down vanity mirrors ($1610), and quarter vanity mirrors. The Pale Sapphire paint alone is $4225, and the Flying B ornament on the hood is an extra $3000. Sounds ridiculously expensive, but after spending some time with the Mulsanne, I’ve found it’s ridiculous in all the right ways. It may not be the sportiest or fastest of them all, but it’ll make you feel like royalty.

For exclusive photos and an interview with Andy Green about his experience driving the Bentley Mulsanne at the Bonneville Salt Flats, stay tuned for the story and video coming to MotorTrend.com in December.

 

 

 

 

Holy Batmobile! Kia and DC Team Up to Build a Batman-Themed Optima SXL

Kia and DC Comics’ souped-up Optima SXL looks nothing like the Batmobile, but it’s the only Kia Bruce Wayne would be caught dead in. The Bat-Kia was recently unveiled in New York to kickstart the ‘We Can Be Heroes’ campaign that’s striving to eradicate hunger in the Horn of Africa.

The Bat-Kia is a 2-liter turbocharged inline four version with a 274-horsepower engine and a 6-speed automatic transmission. It’s pretty slick too, with black leather interiors, under chassis yellow LED lights, and a custom front grille in the shape of a batwing.

Check out more images of the Bat-Kia after the break.

Kia Batmobile

Kia Batmobile

Kia Batmobile

Kia Batmobile

Insanely Rad R/C Car Movie Style Chase Scene

Filmmaker Freddie Wong has created another great short film, this time he’s made a radical car chase scene using R/C cars! The intense high octane short was inspired by the upcoming video game Need For Speed: Most Wanted. I love the fun little sets and details that they packed into this thing. They even managed to throw an R/C helicopter in there as well!

Veritas RS3 Roadster Hybrid

Introducing the new Veritas RS3 Roadster Hybrid. This supercar designed by Vermont AG is capable of reaching 100 km/h in 3.1 seconds and can reach a maximum speed of 330km/h. More images of this model beautiful design in the future.

This Is Italy’s Sexiest New Zombie Sports Car

A company you’ve probably never heard of has been resurrected and it has designed a car that will almost certainly never get made. Meet the new ATS.

We last saw Automobili Turismo e Sport on our list of history’s most obscure cars. Designed by a bunch of engineers who left Ferrari, their ATS 2500 GT was one of the first mid engined road cars. It was very pretty, but they wasted all their money trying to race in F1. The company went out of business and everybody forgot about it. They do turn up at rich people’s car shows every so often.

The brand has been resurrected, just like Bizzarrini, De Tomaso, Marcos, and Melkus just to name a few. Just like all of those companies, nothing will probably ever get made.

We will likely see a few prototypes running around and perhaps a handful of production cars. At best there will be a limited production run of a dozen or so cars, like the Cizeta C16.

But who cares? Their proposed 2500GT is gorgeous, it’s supposed to be fast, and it will somehow have a 500-horsepower Subaru boxer engine behind the driver, so let’s all drool over it. They even want to make a bike-engined track car

Suckers that we are, we hope ATS won’t join our list of awesome failed supercar manufacturers.

This Is Italy’s Sexiest New Zombie Sports Car

This Is Italy’s Sexiest New Zombie Sports Car

Crazy Beautiful Car Designs from the Retro-Future

As if channeling the spirit of the future obsessed Syd Mead, a Russian artist going by the name 600v creates automotive designs with a distinctly retro-futuristic twist. With a clear passion for heavy American steel of the 50s, 60s and 70s, he creates cars which push the limits of current car design while at the same time paying tribute to the glorious automotive past.

Many of 600v’s designs feature a load of shiny chrome accents, wrap-around windshields, whitewall tires and two-tone paint jobs… all features we can easily associate with mid-century automotive design. His designs also feature a heavy dose of low roof lines, tinted windows, halogen headlights, spoilers and cooling scoops… things we see on the cars of today.

Whether these wild designs or even their sweet styling cues will ever reach the road is certainly questionable, but as works of science fiction and inspiration for future film work, they are outstanding examples of the imagination driving wild.

 

2013 Smart Fortwo Electric Drive

Since the official launch of the Smart Fortwo in October 1998, the little company within Daimler has never made a profit. Far from it. Not for lack of trying, certainly. Many of us know well the story of myriad attempts to force the world to adopt the Smart way of living in the automotive sense, only to have the various chapters conclude in a disillusioning crash and financial burn.

Smart is still trying desperately to find its proper path as a global player that sells rather well – and not just in London and a few Italian and German cities. They insist that China is the great frontier nowadays for the Fortwo in all of its trims, and they still want to figure out North America.

Is electricity the only way to force the breakthrough? We drove the previous generation Smart Fortwo Electric Drive a couple of years ago and had an amazingly good time at it. The punch for traffic holeshots was addictive, and the size of the trinket-on-wheels is ideal for big-shouldered cities – this cannot be debated no matter your personal feelings about the car.

But whereas the Germans and Roger Penske firmly believed that crisis-stricken Americans would come in droves to the Smart dealer, begging for a Fortwo of any type given the model’s efficiencies, Americans never made the transition of seeing the Fortwo as anything but a purchase for when you have spare change lying around and want a third toy in the garage. And young buyers who can only afford a single vehicle generally want that car to have luggage space and four seats. A more reasonable bang for buck doesn’t hurt either.

Seeing as electric vehicles are slowly convincing us (very slowly) that there’s some sense in their costing more than traditional-engine cars, Smart sees this as a big opportunity to offer something that still has an inflated price and more premium early adopter lifestyle aura. We have our significant doubts about all of this working, but let’s get on with the drive.

2013 Smart Fortwo Electric Drive side view
2013 Smart Fortwo Electric Drive front view
2013 Smart Fortwo Electric Drive rear view

This new plug-in electricity-fueled ForTwo has a constant cruising output of 47 hp and a peaky max output of 74 hp. It’s tangibly twice the car.

Smart had us in Berlin recently (U.S. drives are taking place now) for the first drive of the third generation Smart Fortwo Electric Drive. A “generation” in electric car terms is more frequently a sign of a significantly updated powertrain and not a dramatically changed exterior, so these e-generations last about two years, three at most.The damned thing really works well now, clearly even better than before, and we want this exact Smart Fortwo to sell and lease like nuts on a tree.Compared to the last version we used to slalom around New York City’s finest potholes (which was rated at 27 horsepower constant output and 40 hp maximum output), this new plug-in electricity-fueled ForTwo has a constant cruising output of 47 hp and a peaky max output of 74 hp. It’s tangibly twice the car. Acceleration to 37 mph (i.e. 60 kmh) was 6.5 seconds, but is now 4.8 seconds. The shocker stat, though, is acceleration to 62 mph (100 kmh): it was 26.7 seconds for the prior car. Stop laughing; Now the time is down to an actually useful and comparatively spirited 11.5 seconds. V-max arrives at a tick over 78 mph.2013 Smart Fortwo Electric Drive wheel
2013 Smart Fortwo Electric Drive door handle
2013 Smart Fortwo Electric Drive charging
2013 Smart Fortwo Electric Drive badge

The single best part is that the reviled automated transmission made (in)famous by the gas-powered model is not present.

The single best part regarding one’s interface with the Smart Fortwo Electric Drive is that the reviled automated transmission made (in)famous by the gas-powered model is not present. This is a huge difference, in that its absence could make anyone at all really like the car, whereas the five-speed (previously six) automated manual with paddles frequently drove potential customers away and set off so many auto journalists. (We’ll settle down now.)The new single-ratio transmission is much lighter and compact than the one used on the previous-generation electric Fortwo. The 9.922:1 gear ratio smoothly delivers the hotter acceleration via the 96 pound-feet of torque from the new electric motor.Ninety-three lithium ion battery cells, created by Daimler partner Li-Tec, are laid flat under the floor with particular automotive requirements in mind. The primary benefit of the new design is that the electric powertrain can function well anywhere between -50°F and 176°F. The possible range from a full charge of the 17.6-kilowatt hour pack is 90 miles, and a full recharge, which never happens to a typical owner or lessee, would need seven hours from a 13-amp 220-volt plug or six hours from a 16-amp plug. There is no DC quick charge option. Alas.2013 Smart Fortwo Electric Drive interior
2013 Smart Fortwo Electric Drive shifter
2013 Smart Fortwo Electric Drive app

In Europe, customers can choose to buy only the car while essentially renting the battery under a separate contract.

This new Smart Fortwo Electric Drive is expected to debut at next month’s LA Auto Show with deliveries starting in the spring. Pricing for the coupe is set at $25,000 and $28,000 for the open-top, so U.S. customers will finally be able to buy/finance the car outright and not just lease it or use one occasionally through the subscription Car2go program in limited markets. That latter program will continue – and is actually set to expand to many more U.S. cities – but shoppers can now also decide to buy or lease.Europeans get a new program for buying or leasing called “Sale&Care,” under which customers can choose to buy only the car while essentially renting the battery under a separate contract. One of the key concerns that have come up for buyers is worries over the battery pack should anything go wrong. And should battery technology evolve to a new and better level from Daimler’s joint venture Deutsche ACCUmotive, then owners can, with advance notice, switch their contract to the new battery pack without any change in the terms or rates of the contract. It gets as detailed and complicated as you might imagine, but it eventually made sense to us after speaking with experts on hand in Berlin. The point is that Smart wants both to remove any anxiety regarding one’s commitment to the e-car life while also seeking to make the battery packs as ecological a technology as possible, in part by allowing them to be easily switched, recycled, upgraded, etc. In the U.S., given the legal difficulty in leasing just the battery while selling the car and given the new Fortwo Electric Drive’s lower price, the battery is included with the sale or lease of the car.

With the weight of the car down low, the drive was incredibly stable and without any rattles or mechanical whining.

As stated already, the drive is spot-on for this configuration of car. On the capable low-resistance Kumho Ecsta RH11 tires (155/60 R15 74T on all corners) and with the weight of the car down low because of the battery packs under the floor, the drive was incredibly stable and without any rattles or mechanical whining. Smart has already developed a basic exterior sound that the car emits in markets where this is or will be the law for electric vehicles. The electro-hum is nowhere near as present an ingredient as on the Fisker Karma, to cite one example, but is noticeable for those pedestrians who need to hear it.

2013 Smart Fortwo Electric Drive rear 3/4 view

Besides this latest and most convincing electric Smart Fortwo, the company is committing to the ebike and escooter for the US.

Using available Smart apps that are downloadable on your smartphone (happy naming coincidence, eh?), customers can monitor every aspect of life with their Fortwo Electric Drive. There is the service that not only shows where you parked your car and relays any theft alarm that may occur, but you can also reserve a perfect parking spot (frequently with charge station) in the center of town at your preferred parking structure. You can also follow the state of recharge as your car is plugged in and you’re off galavanting.Besides this latest and most convincing electric Smart Fortwo, the company is committing to launching an e-bike and e-scooter for the United States – all on sale/lease together here by the middle of 2014.Will this be the long awaited turning point for Smart? We honestly hope so; rooting for Smart has been like rooting for the Chicago Cubs to win the World Series again: exhausting.