Archive for September, 2018

2018 Audi TT RS: Luxury speedster, streetfighter skills

Boys flashed thumbs-up at the Audi TT RS tester and big boys wanted to know horsepower, how fast and how much. The 2018 TT RS is new for 2018 and debuts a new 400-horsepower, 2.5-liter turbocharged five-cylinder engine. It is the most powerful production TT ever, Audi says, that can launch to 60 mph in 3.6 seconds. It is the halo of the TT lineup with 2+2 seating, standard quattro all-wheel drive and a race-tuned...

WD-40 Co. to showcase off-road racing champ Kyle LeDuc at SEMA show

San Diego-based WD-40 has long produced project vehicles for the annual Specialty Equipment Marketing Association trade show in Las Vegas. This year, it’s a 4,000-pound, 900-horsepower EVVO II Ford Raptor from five-time Pro4 off-road racing champion Kyle LeDuc. LeDuc’s team uses WD-40 for everything in racing, even as a detailer on the body for easier cleanup of mud and dirt. His tube-chassis Raptor has carbon-fiber body panels, which are lighter and stronger (and more expensive) than...

VW shows concept I.D. BUZZ Cargo van

Volkswagen today debuted its I.D. BUZZ CARGO, an electrically powered commercial van that recalls the vintage Transporter bus. The concept vehicle offers a glimpse into the middle of the next decade, Volkswagen says, with its fully-automated I.D. Pilot driving mode (Level 4). The transporter concept shown at the IAA Commercial Vehicles in Hannover is a sibling of the I.D. BUZZ concept, shown at the 2017 Detroit auto show. That concept is the people-carrier version of...

Jaguar XF Sportbrake: The runway model of modern wagons

The ol’ station wagon ain’t what it used to be but it’s still as functional as it once was. This sedan-extension body style is finding new relevance that is not a minivan or an SUV and not looking like either while having more manners. Wagon’s had become a universal gag reflex among those who grew up sliding around the back seats in the 1960s and ’70s. Even the European and import brands that continued with...

2019 Lexus ES 300h: Larger, more luxurious, more fuel efficient

The Lexus ES has been a consistent Golden Goose of sales since its debut in 1989. It found a fan base as a luxury-comfort midsize sedan that was not trying to be fast or flashy. And in today’s SUV-heavy car marketplace, the ES is still an enduring choice. Re-engineered and redesigned for 2019, the seventh-generation Lexus ES went on sale in September in front-wheel-drive V-6 and hybrid models. Pricing starts at $40,525, a $550 increase...

Hot Wheels immortalized by USPS stamp set

This year’s 50th anniversary of Hot Wheels is making yet another victory lap in its yearlong celebration. Toymaker Mattel’s tribute to its free-wheeling toy cars began April 28 with a 14-city tour to seek out crazy cars for a new series. And now the U.S. Postal Service is honoring the diecast cars with a block of 20 Forever stamps showcasing some of the most outrageous designs from Hot Wheels history. To be sure the stamps...

Project ‘Marmite’: Electrified 1968 Jaguar E-Type reborn

It has the looks of a classic 1968 Jaguar E-Type, but under its long bonnet is an electric motor that delivers more performance than the six-cylinder iron lump with which it was born. You might have seen the first completed E-Type Zero during the Royal wedding, in which Prince Harry and Meghan Markle drove to the ceremony at Windsor Castle. It was a brief showing of the car and Jaguar has been mum on how...

Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance 2018 — Faces on the green

The Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance is a long walk through automotive history, all of which could be considered “cars of tomorrow.” But there were two retrospectives that embraced the term: a line of a dozen Tucker 48s and a brightly colored lineup of the Citroen DS. According to one Tucker owner, this grouping was the largest gathered in one place since the debut of the movie in 1988, “Tucker: the Man and is Dream.” Among...

2019 Hyundai Veloster Turbo R-Spec: Cheap fun, well done

With so much attention on teacup crossovers and self-driving vehicles, I sometimes forget what fun it is to grab a rascal by the scruff and shake it out on a run. The redesigned Hyundai Veloster R-Spec is that kind of car — and it is not expensive. The 2019 Veloster is the second generation of this compact-class, front-wheel-drive, four-seat hatchback “coupe.” It is unique in the segment for its lone rear passenger door on the...

About Mark Maynard

Mark Maynard has been the automotive editor at the San Diego Union-Tribune since 1992.

He drives nearly 200 vehicles a year for review, has attended several high-performance driving schools and a few off-road driving courses.

He attends many new-vehicle press introductions and schmoozes with auto-industry execs.

Mark Maynard