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The Hooniversal Opinion: A Conventional Geneva 2015

Geneva

Geneva is an interesting auto show. There is always something really important launching there, and this year is no different. For some reason, it always seems like the major European sports car manufacturers choose Geneva to display their ‘exciting’ offerings. Unfortunately, none of the elegant scribes from our hallowed halls will be in attendance of the Geneva show, so we’ll be reporting from the sidelines. I’ll set up the pins, and the rest of our faultless crew will knock them down with unstoppable bowling ball of opinionated journalism.

We have new car launches in the form of Mercedes’ AMG GT3 racer, Audi’s R8, Porsche’s Cayman GT4 and 911 GT3 RS, Lamborghini’s Aventador Superveloce, Morgan’s Aero 8, Jeep’s Renegade ‘Hard Steel’, Range Rover’s Evoque Cabriolet, McLaren’s 675LT and P1 GTR, Brabus’ Rocket 900, Scuderia Cameron Glickenhaus’ SCG 003, Koenigsegg’s Agera RS and Regera, and Aston Martin’s Vulcan and V12 Vantage GT3. There are also some pretty tempting concept pieces, with Infiniti dropping the small QX30 Concept, Bentley’s EXP 10 Speed 6, Volkswagen’s Sport Coupe GTE, Lexus’ LF-SA, and Magna Steyr’s MILA.

Photographs are either manufacturer supplied, or politely swiped from the hands of our friends at Autoblog and Autoweek.

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First Drive: 2015 Volkswagen Golf R

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Volkswagen is pretty much cooking up a Golf for everyone on the planet. You have the standard Golf, the diesel TDI, and an all-electric eGolf. Enthusiasts around the globe love the GTI. There’s also a wagon version coming soon called the Golf SportWagen.

This, however, is the one for… us. This is the Volkswagen Golf R, and it’s a turbocharged, all-wheel-drive hot hatch designed to make you a happier person. For just under $40k, you can pilot a nearly 300-horsepower five-door that also happens to have one of the (if not THE) best interior in its class.

Oh and Hans Stuck helped make sure the handling doesn’t suck.

Win-win? You best believe it…

[Disclaimer: Volkswagen invited me down to San Diego and put me up in a hotel for the evening. I took a train down to the location so I could drive a Golf R back and spend even more time with the car. Nice ride down… better ride back.]

Other Eastern Bloc Cars Living and Dying in Poland

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Welcome to another edition of some-weird-cars-that-are-living-and-dying-in-Poland. As always big thanks go out to zlomnik.pl and all the readers of that very weird interesting website. Today we look at cars that we have have not covered before, such as Romanian cars, cars of what was once Yugoslavia, and some random ones that we have covered before but which, for one reason or another, did not fit the mold of the other posts.

In lieu of the typical World War II reference I would make at this point, I would like to begin with some disturbing news. There are discussions about banning old junky cars from Warsaw. Berlin and Paris have already imposed such ridiculous rules and now Poland’s capital city wants to follow. All of this is in the name of smog and environment, of course. Many Polish people are in support of this, mostly because they want to see their city clean and opulent, but to me,  a person who purposely went on many walks just to look at weird decrepit vehicles, this is depressing. I guess you can take communism away from the communists, but you can’t take the communists away from communism.

For now crappy cars are still all over Warsaw, so let’s enjoy them while we can. After the jump are over fifty of Eastern Bloc-made cars that are still living and/or dying in Poland. Enjoy.

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2015 Audi S8: Assassin in the League of Extraordinary Super Sedans

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There exists a League of Extraordinary Super Sedans, and few four-doors can claim to be members. The quiet assassin of the group is, undoubtedly, the 2015 Audi S8.

This is thanks to the pairing of its well appointed interior with a 520-horsepower twin-turbocharged V8 engine under the hood. You can blend in with the pack thanks to the subtle exterior styling or you can disappear into the horizon should you need to remove yourself from the company of other cars.

[Disclaimer: Audi loaned me the S8 for a week and included a tank of gas. If you have the means, I highly suggest picking one up… truly a fantastic machine.]

Chicago Auto Show: Hooniverse chats with Nissan factory LMP1 driver Jann Mardenborough

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Yesterday, we brought you an interview with Darren Cox from Nismo, who is leading Nissan’s efforts to field the front-engine, front-wheeld-drive Nissan GT-R LM Nismo. If you missed our coverage at the car’s world premiere or Jeff’s great video on it from the Chicago Auto Show, here’s are the basics: This is a hybrid racecar that will put out more than 1,200 horsepower at full chat while it races at the 24 Hours of Le Mans this summer and also in this season’s World Endurance Championship.

With a nine-driver crew in the three Le Mans cars, Nissan has drawn out their driver announcements. Jann Mardenborough, a graduate of the GT Academy (which we’ve covered here before), was among the most recently announced trio of drivers. For a young Brit of just 21 years, Mardenborough seems completely composed at all times, even when we ambushed him before the unveiling of the GT-R LM last Thursday morning. We proceeded to bombarded with questions about everything from the GT-R LM to the recent Bathurst 12 Hours to the 24 Hours of LeMons and he was more than happy to oblige.

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Podcast: Episode 93 – An Awful Accent

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Zack Klapman is fresh from a The Smoking Tire trip to New Zealand. He’s joined by host Blake Z Rong and Podcast Producer Chris Hayes, and they explore everything from Kiwi Country.

I couldn’t make it to the episode because… I was nervous my truck would overheat on the drive up to the studio. I need to swap in a new thermostat. Oh well, make fun of me all you want. After that, LISTEN TO THE PODCAST. OBEY ME.


Hooniverse – An Awful Accent

Please go to iTunes to rate and review our podcast. The more ratings and reviews we have the better chance we have of defeating the enemy. Who is the enemy? If you’re asking… it’s you!

Chicago Auto Show: Hooniverse chats with Nismo’s Darren Cox

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When Nissan announced and revealed their GT-R LM Nismo car that will run at Le Mans, the idea was radically different: a front-engined, front-wheel-drive beast in the LMP1 class where the competitors all run mid-engine, all-wheel-drive cars. The unique design was not unexpected from Nissan if you’ve paid attention to their recent Le Mans efforts with radical designs like the DeltaWing in 2011 and the ZEOD in 2014. The man behind those designs is the brilliant Ben Bowlby and the man standing behind Bowlby for the duration has been Darren Cox,Head of Nisamo Global Brand Sales and Marketing, who also created and has championed the vastly successful Nissan GT Academy.

We caught up with Cox just after the GT-R LM’s unveiling at the Chicago Auto Show last week and managed to crowbar our way into the massive queue for his time. As the face of the program, Cox has approached the public launch of the program with uncharacteristic honesty and forthrightness in a motorsports landscape dominated by secretive designs from his competitors. He’s an amiable man, patient with the buzzing media circus and he nearly answered all of our questions for him.

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2015 Chicago Auto Show: The Hoon’s gallery

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The Hooniverse contingent descended upon the 2015 Chicago Auto Show’s press days last week like so many politicians to a brothel. Greg Kachadurian attended the Nissan GT-R LM Nismo’s release party and Jeff added another video about the same car because it is certifiably nuts. I even interviewed one of the GT-R LM’s drivers and the program’s director, so to speak, which will be forthcoming soon.

However, it turns out there was more at the show besides Nissan’s forthcoming LMP1 car (and the gorgeous Alfa Romeos and whiskey) so follow the jump for a couple of the show’s highlights.

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Review: 2015 Audi S3
I Can’t Stop Thinkin’ ‘Bout You

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Have you ever seen that episode of Seinfeld where George leaves his hat behind at a girls apartment so he’ll have a reason to come back? You know, the one where he says his own last name to the tune of the “by Mennen” jingle on his way out the door (COS-tanza!) as an earworm to get her to remember him? I think this Audi must have done something similar to me, because it’s gotten under my skin. It’s infiltrated my brain. I just can’t stop thinking about it. I can’t eat (well, yes I can), I can’t sleep (well, yes I can), and I can’t go a single hour without picturing this blue beauty nestled safely in my garage.

I psychologically want to have it. I physiologically need to have it. I’ve driven a number of excellent cars, but only two have been this close to exactly right fresh out of the box (Porsche’s 991 Carrera 4GTS PDK, and this Audi S3). I wouldn’t change much about this car, and those things I would change are minor. Read on to hear what I would change, and why I love it so.

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2015 Chicago Auto Show: A closer look at the Nissan GT-R LM Nismo

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Meet the Nissan GT-R LM Nismo. This car will race this year at the 24 Hours of Le Mans in the Le Mans Prototype 1 (LMP1) class.

Prototype.

That word cannot be stressed enough. This is a one-of-a-kind concept from the same mind that designed Nissan’s DeltaWing and ZEOD : Ben Bowlby. If the looks don’t tell how you it’s different, then know this: It is a 1,250-horsepower, front-engine, hybrid, front-wheel-drive*, aerodynamic phenomenon that also happens to be a racecar.

Need some more insane information on the Nissan GT-R LM Nismo? Dive in:

  • The car’s design was done entirely on a computer, which is typical. What isn’t, however, is designer Ben Bowlby’s faith in the design (and Nissan’s faith in Bowlby). The car has been tested in the wind tunnel exactly once. That is incredible for a car so dependent on its aerodynamic performance.
  • Despite Internet claims that the car will understeer like a pig, Nismo’s Global Motorsports Director Darren Cox told Hooniverse that the car turns quite well, actually, and it’s very stable, particularly in the rain. If it rains at Le Mans (as Jason Statham indicates it always does), watch out.
  • The team, who are based out of Bowlby’s shop in Indianapolis, have only recently done straight-line testing at the Michelin Proving Grounds in South Carolina, where they’re also testing their flywheel recovery system. How crazy is that system? Three seconds of hard braking will spin the flywheel to 60,000 rpm, which is around Mach 2.0 and would produce a sonic boom if it wasn’t in a vacuum(!!).

*The car, as it stands if front-wheel drive, although the design will allow all-wheel-drive with the electric motors sending power to the rears. Maybe. Well, that part’s not yet sorted, yet, actually, since it’s a development year.

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