Tag Archives: GT

Die-cast: CMC Aston Martin DB4

CMC creates rare, beautiful Aston Martin DB4aston2

Rare counts for a lot in the real, that is 1:1, vintage car world, and it’s making its mark in the diecast car market too.

CMC, the premier high-end diecast car model maker has made a habit of creating beautiful 1:18 models of rare race cars and elegant 1930s automotive style icons. The cost is up there, but so is the detail. You almost expect these models to start and drive off your desk or display shelf.

So it’s not surprising that CMC has chosen the rare 1961 Aston Martin DB4 GT Zagato as its latest artistic endeavor, and in sumptuous Aston Martin racing green. For the record, the rare Zagato, which is the lightened version meant for racing, consists of 1,825 parts of which 1,394 are metal.

The Historyaston

Only 19 Aston Zagato models were made over a 2 ½-year period from late 1960 into 1963. All were custom-made and designed by Gianni Zagato and featuring soft curves, which became popular in the 1960s on high-end cars like Astons, Jaguars and Ferraris.

At the time, Aston was trying to beat Ferrari’s 250 GT in sports car and endurance racing, so it made sense to go with a lightweight body made of thin aluminum plates and featuring minimal amenities in an effort to cut weight and increase performance. Riding on a short, 93-inch, wheelbase and weighing just 2,701 lbs., the DB4 was just 168 inches long. That’s about the same length as today’s Nissan Z350, but the Nissan is roughly 400 lbs. heavier. Continue reading Die-cast: CMC Aston Martin DB4

2014 Dodge Dart GT

Sporty, high-value Dart GT has power, but ride is too sportydart

My previous test of the compact Dodge Dart was near perfect. That was the Limited model, this metallic red beauty was the sportier GT.

Blame it on age or our increasingly decrepit roads, but this one was harder on the derriere.

Oh, I still like the Dart and would recommend the Limited or any model without the sport suspension that the GT features. This one is just too stiff with the ride bordering on harsh. Racy R18-rated tires didn’t help either. The GT intends to be a boy-racer toy at a modest price and it comes close to that goal.

There’s strong power here with a 2.4-liter I4 Tigershark engine with MultiAir to increase fuel efficiency. It generates 184 horses and a torque rating of 171. So pound the gas pedal and the Dart GT responds.

In normal city driving there’s good power too, although some hesitation as you accelerate. Linked to a 6-speed manual, which is standard, you could likely have some fun with the GT. But the test car added an optional $1,250 6-speed Powertech automatic that tames the oomph factor, mostly. You’ll still hit highway speeds easily, but the car feels a bit heavy and the shifts are not as crisp or timely as they would be if the driver was handling those duties.

Cool rear taillight bar!
Cool rear LED taillight bar!

Still, the car looks sporty with trim lines and an attractive profile. I like the car’s nose and the full body-width LED taillight that reflects other Dodge model styling. Dart looks sharp. Continue reading 2014 Dodge Dart GT

2014 Mazda6 Grand Touring

New Mazda6 boasts power, looks and efficiency

            Confession, my first new car was a Mazda, a puny little GLC with barely enough power to get me up a fair sized hill. I’ve had a soft spot for Mazda ever since.2014 Mazda 6

Now comes the 2014 (that’s right, 2014) Mazda6, a car that doesn’t have to apologize for its lack of horsepower, boasting 184 horses from a 2.5-liter direct-injected I4, a couple more than the generously powered Nissan Altima. The Mazda’s power also is superior to that of the top-selling Toyota Camry’s four-cylinder model.

Plus, Mazda is using what it calls Skyactiv technology, a blend of direct-injection, variable valve timing, lower weight and higher compression to gain gas mileage while delivering strong low- and mid-range power, the power we all use most in normal daily driving. Skyactiv also includes a smooth-shifting 6-speed sport automatic that improves gas mileage up to 7%.

So right out of the blocks, the brilliant metallic red ($300 extra, and worth it) Grand Touring test model had technology working to deliver sporty and upbeat performance. But Mazda also scrapped its cartoonish big-mouthed grille along with its cookie cutter exterior to deliver the freshest, most interesting mid-size sedan design in ages. The grille is still big, but is no longer a gaping maw. Plus it’s indented under the hood, like a Mustang (old and new) and some of the sportier cars from the 1970s.

Mazda-6-Ride-a-longThe nose’s curb appeal is further enhanced by well chiseled creases atop the front wheel wells and blending into the front doors under the A pillar along with a strong shoulder line back by the C pillar and trunk. Add a slim taillight treatment with a thin touch of chrome at the top and there’s no mistaking this for any other sedan on the highway. Yes, I know the new Fusion has an Aston Martin nose, but this is fresher looking than even that fine-looking family sedan.

So here’s the deal. The Mazda6 not only delivers looks and power, but it continues to handle well. Is this a sport sedan? No, but it’s a sporty sedan with good turn-in at corners, and above average feedback via the steering wheel. There’s a nice balance here that many mid-size family cars are still searching for. Continue reading 2014 Mazda6 Grand Touring

2013 Mazda CX-9 Grand Touring AWD

Sporty looks, but handling falls short

I’ve always liked Mazda vehicles because they look and drive a little sportier than most brands that us average middle class folks can afford.

mazda1That’s why I’m disappointed with the new Mazda CX-9, the large sport-utility/crossover I just tested. It only delivers on half the equation. It still looks a bit sportier than its competition, models like the boxy Honda Pilot and Toyota Highlander, but handling wasn’t up to Mazda standards.

My dark metallic gray CX-9 did have a new grille, less smiley and cartoonish than the previous model, but with a nose that still looks sleeker in profile than most large crossovers, sort of a tall sport wagon look. And its interior feels high-brow and is well finished. Plus this was the Grand Touring with all-wheel-drive, so it was loaded with electronic goodies.

But here’s the deal. I expect more responsive steering from a Mazda and, sorry to say, this just felt like other large sport-utes or crossovers. Steering is extremely light, but not as responsive as I felt in the last CX-9 I drove. It feels a bit vague with more wheel play than I had expected from past experience. That leads to a bit of lane wander on the highway. Continue reading 2013 Mazda CX-9 Grand Touring AWD