Hooniverse Asks: Which car company would you work for?

Kamil Kaluski December 14, 2017 Hooniverse Asks

At some point we all dreamed of running our own car company. Let’s get real, it isn’t happening. And if it was, a car company ran by someone like you wouldn’t last long. It’s because no one is really buying rear-wheel-drive V8 sport sedans, small mid-engine sports cars, small front-engine sports cars, small roadsters, or wagons of any kind. But proper off-road capable 4x4s might keep the lights on in the current environment. Whatever, it’s not happening.

But you can get a job at one of the existing companies.

Let’s say that you manage to land some cool job with an automaker, perhaps in product development. That position would allow you to drive, develop, and improve current and future products. You would be involved in every product the company makes from sports car, econoboxes, to boring sedans, cross-overs, and pickup trucks. You’d be allowed to dabble in all brands (take FCA or VAG, for instance) and non-automotive sub-brands (Honda, jet and power equipment). You could be involved in future technologies, too, such as electrified and autonomous vehicles. Finally, you can buy any of their products at a ridiculous discount.

Which car company would you work for?

Image: mechanical-engg.com

Review: 2018 Infiniti QX30

The Infiniti QX30 is not an Infiniti. It’s not even a Nissan product. It is a Mercedes disguised as an Infiniti, and that disguise is pretty well done, at least on the outside. One would think that any company that would take a Mercedes-Benz product and badge-engineer it as their own would have a winner on their hands, but that is not necessarily the case here.

The problem is that the QX30 is based on the Mercedes GLA. I have driven both the GLA 250 and the AMG GLA 45. The GLA 250 seemed unlike any Mercedes I have ever driven – it seemed cheap and econo-hatchback-like. I was smitten by the AMG version because it had a bonkers engine and it handled great. The big issue with the AMG GLA 45 is that this Subaru WRX STI-like car had a nutty price tag.

But how is the Infiniti QX30? How does it differ from the GLA? Did Infiniti improve on the dud Benz?

… Continue Reading

VIDEO: 25 Hours of Thunderhill with Flying Lizard and Toyo Tires

Kamil Kaluski December 13, 2017 Motorsports

Endurance races, automotive proving grounds of people and machines working together. It’s not up to one driver or one mechanic but up to the whole team to work together and succeed. At this year’s 25 Hours of Thunderhill, Flying Lizard Motorsports, along with their sponsor, Toyo Tires, have clinched the overall title with the number 45 Audi R8 LMS. It was its third consecutive class and overall win at the event, racing for over 2,100 miles. Fling Lizard’s number 74 Porsche Cayman GT4 Clubsport also earned its class win, making Sunday’s three-peat a double race win event. 

The team sponsor, Toyo Tires, has put together a quick five-minute video from the race. Their issues were real; accidents, pit-stops, track-side repairs, all in the span of sleepless 25 hours. So yea, it’s just like our 24 Hours of Lemons racing except the cars are bit faster and pricier, and they don’t sleep, party, or drink at night. In the end, the team overcame of their issues and got the two wins. Check it out. 

New Mercedes G-Class – Important Internal Improvements

Last year I reviewed the 2016 Mercedes-Benz AMG G63. I wanted to love it but I couldn’t. The interior was cramped and outdated. The tall and narrow body on stick axles was fighting physics when 563-horsepower was applied, and losing. The ride wasn’t exactly “class leading”, as the automakers call it. I loved the looks but I didn’t love much else. Despite that, the G-class is selling very well for what it is, an old military vehicle on steroids and with lots of lipstick. Clearly, Mercedes couldn’t just kill it. But they couldn’t change it, either. They had to improve it. 

Per recent press release, Mercedes started improving the G-Class from the inside. The biggest problem with the current interior, bottom picture, is that is looks and feels like it’s been modernized and modified a million times, because it has, but still has the same old bones. There is no room between the seat and the door, so some seat controls are on top of the seats. The center console is narrow, about the width of a cell phone. Climate controls are placed way low and are difficult to see. The screen looks like an iPad randomly attached on top. It’s just dated. 

But the new G-class, top picture, is basically S-Class squared. The most distinctive thing from the older Gelandewagens was carried over, the three locking differential buttons. Of course most buyers don’t know what they do, or when and how to use them, but they’re there. Otherwise, it’s modern Mercedes with sharper angles. But the dash board is not the big news here…

… Continue Reading

The New Yorker spotlights our obsession with police chases

Kamil Kaluski December 12, 2017 All Things Hoon

The moment we hear “car chase in Los Angeles” we’re all inclined to grab a beverage and snack, and sit it front to the [you]tube. It’s like watching the best part of a Hollywood movie, but live, and with a mostly unpredictable ending. I am guessing that it’s only more dramatic in Los Angeles where chases get direct local coverage and can actually happen on the same roads that you’re stuck in traffic on daily. The New Yorker takes a critical look at our obsession with Los Angeles police chases. 

Dropping a 707-horsepower Hellcrate motor into a ’68 Charger

Kamil Kaluski December 11, 2017 All Things Hoon

In case you need further confirmation that we live in amazing automotive times, the Hellcrate engine may just be it. Order it from Mopar, install it, and transform a vehicle of your choice into a tire-shredding 707-horsepower monster. Easy, right?

The real question is what vehicle to drop this monster engine into?

A customer of Ace Performance, in Tewksbury, MA decided to drop into what might be perfect candidate for it, a ’68 Dodge Charger R/T.

… Continue Reading

The Grand Tour – Season 2

Kamil Kaluski December 8, 2017 Top Gear

If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again, right? The first season of the hyped Grand Tour left me a bit… underwhelmed. It was exactly what I, and many others expected, the continuation of adventures that the three idiot hosts started at TopGear. But somehow, for me, it wasn’t ideal. I hoped for improvement with each new episode but it didn’t happen. Sure features were amazing, the video was great, and there were lots of funny bits. But those were overshadowed but dumb stuff that most people just didn’t like or didn’t get.  

It was the penis and other kindergarten-level bathroom jokes. Silly as it may sound, the occasional R-rated words wouldn’t allow me to watch it with my 4 and 9 nine year old kids. The American Stig substitute was basically just one big WTF moment. The celebrities dying on the way to be interviewed was beyond weird. It was these things that turned a possibly amazing show into just another TopGear knock-off. 

Last night season 2 premiered on Amazon Video. At first glance it was a huge improvement. It wasn’t improved because it was better in any way. No, it’s still the same TopGear-like theme. It was improved because none of the negative things listed above were present. Watching in the middle of the night, my somewhat low expectations were surpassed. It wasn’t anything mind-blowing but it was good entertainment. And the absence of this dumb stuff made into something that I can watch with my kids. 

Dashboards: Into the future with the simplicity of the past?

Kamil Kaluski December 7, 2017 All Things Hoon

You know what’s great? Apple CarPlay, that’s what. Its Android format is probably not too shabby either but I don’t have any direct experience. Android Auto may actually be better as it has Waze and a bunch other apps not available on Apple CarPlay.

The bottom line is that both systems integrate really well into modern cars’ infotainment systems and their touchscreens. Unlike most systems developed by car companies, these two actually understand voice commands. Furthermore, they are always connected the magical thing called “the internet” and thus are only rarely out of date.

But if so many things that we need are on our phones, our modern essential portable communication devices, neatly displayed on bigger screens, and with an voice interface that seems to work pretty well, how will future dash boards look like? There won’t be a need for all the buttons and knobs we typically associate with dash radios. Will future cars just have a big screen like Teslas do now?

What does that do to our gauges? Those can be shown on a windshield via a head-up display. What will happen then? Will all future dashboards look like a cross between a Tesla Model 3 and the first generation Toyota Prius?

… Continue Reading

Radwood 2 in Pictures

Radwood 2, the show celebrating 1980s and 1990s automotive culture happened last Saturday in California. And I’m kind of pissed-off. I’m pissed because I own cars from 1980s and 1990s, I grew up in the 80s and 90s, and I couldn’t be there. I’m pissed because I know more about these cars than I should and I couldn’t share my wisdom with others. I’m currently reaching out to our own Bradley Brownell, who was one of the main figures behind this show to have one on the east coast. Just for me, just so I can dominate it.

I know I have a pair of Z. Cavaricci’s in my mom’s attic and some Bugle Boy t-shirts. I think I have a Sony Discman which I’d connect to my Integra’s radio with a cassette adapter and play Poison, Bon Jovi, and Nirvana until everyone’s’ ears bled. 

Those who made it to Radwood 2 say it was one of the best shows they have attended. Fuggers. For the rest of us there are pictures. John Binns, a.k.a. zombieite on Flickr, took some awesome pics and was okay with the world sharing them. Check them out in the gallery below. There is also a Radwood Facebook page with a ton of other pictures. Looks like fun!

Radwood 2

Review: 2017 Mitsubishi Outlander Sport SEL

Sometime ago I reviewed the Mitsubishi Mirage. I didn’t like it. In fact I called it a turkey. Needless to say, the people at Mitsubishi were not happy about that. A phone call was made and words were said. They could have told me stay away from their vehicles and stick to writing about Ladas.

But they didn’t. In fact, they decided to lend me the 2017 Outlander Sport and told me to give it a look. 

I respect that. I respect it because they don’t pick and choose who reviews their cars. They don’t hedge against those who write honestly and the shills who will abandon their integrity in hopes of receiving a box of chocolates for Christmas.

… Continue Reading