Competitive karting is CART for the rest of us. And the kids can kick your butt.
So I spend my life playing with fast cars, and the first time I'm on a track with my 23-year-old daughterthe backpacker with the Ivy League sociology degreeshe blows me into the bulrushes. Almost literally: The downhill chicane leading onto the main straight at Oakland Valley threatens to launch you right over the rumble strip into a cattail-bordered pond if you don't get the kart rotated and the power down early. That's right, go-karts.
One part automobile, one part motorcycle. Stir. Then get out of the way.
The Vandenbrink Carver is a crossover vehicle of a different sort: Its enclosed cabin is reminiscent of a car's (specifically, the New Beetle's), but it seats just two-a driver and a petite passenger-in tandem like a motorcycle. It leans into turns (motorcycle), a motion controlled by the steering wheel and not the weight of a driver (car). Its three wheels split the difference.
Volkswagen's canoe-skinny mini could do New York to D.C. on 1 gallon of gas.
To listen to automakers snipe about tightening fuel economy standards, you'd think it impossible to squeeze more miles from a barrel of Extract of Arabia. This, of course, is not the case, particularly if you design a vehicle expressly to drive far and drink little.
Forget power, space, and speed: Volkswagen AG's latest idea-on-wheels does not address the requirements of the average American family driver. What it can do is travel more than 100 kilometers on a single liter of fuel. Translation: 235 miles per gallon.
Large engines are taxed heavily in Japan, but that doesn't mean Japanese powerplants don't pack a punch.
Large engines are taxed heavily in Japan, a crowded country that offers few opportunities for speed, so don't look for a 500-horsepower Lexus anytime soon. But that doesn't mean Japanese powerplants don't pack a punch. In fact, Japan exports the engine that produces the most power for its displacement: The Honda S2000's 2.0-liter 4-cylinder makes a remarkable 240 hp without supercharging or turbocharging. It simply spins faster.
Gas misers they're not. Monsters and marvels they are. We dissect powerplants from the United States, Germany, England, and Italy to find four spins on the tech of big torque.
Gentlemen, show us your engines.
This inquiry concerns the means by which engineers from four nations put massive horsepower under the right feet of a small number of lucky drivers, where it waits, begs to be used; the means, in short, by which enough torque is produced to pin heads against headrests when a car's in fifth gear.
Turnaround maven (and auto veteran) Bob Lutz took the reins at General Motors last September. His first task: Create renewed enthusiasm for the world's largest automaker-and some better cars and trucks.
Popular ScienceWhy do you have such a passion for design?Bob LutzThe exterior is the first contact a potential buyer has with a car. If a person falls in love with the exterior, they'll go to a dealership, look at the interior, inquire about pricing-they're already on their way to buying it. Twenty or 30 years ago, people would say, "It's not very good looking, but the engineering is great and the quality is good." But now everything is great. Everything handles wonderfully. Everything has great brakes.
The PopSci Car Test: For years, BMW's 3 Series was the fastest gun in town.
Now Infiniti and Cadillac ride in.
The trouble with being a fast gun is that some young gun's always trying to outdraw you. The latest two to challenge BMW's sport sedan supremacy are the Infiniti G35 and Cadillac CTS. "Cadillac!" you say. Wipe off that smirk. This is serious.
At first, the Infiniti and Cadillac seem an unlikely combo: one Japanese, the other possibly Martian. But both are trigger-happy-and the BMW 3 Series is as flinty as ever.
The 2003 Jaguar S-Type R is no lap kitty.
Your first clue that the 2003 Jaguar S-Type R is no lap kitty is the red and green "R" discreetly positioned just behind the front wheel, the same decoration that graces Jaguar's Formula One racer. Jag did far more than slap a racing insignia on its popular S-Type-it re-engineered a vast assortment of powertrain, chassis, and interior parts to give the midsize R the claws to catch BMW's revered M5. Boosting the V8 engine from 4.0 to 4.2 liters and bolting on a supercharger raised output to a hearty 388 horsepower.
Honda arrives late to the midsize sport-utility party, but in the all-new Pilot the company brings a dish no one has tasted.
You notice the differences right away. The Pilot is 4 inches wider than the Ford Explorer, Chevrolet Trailblazer, and Toyota Highlander, which translates into a spacious cabin comfortable enough for five adults and three kids in the third row. On the road, we were especially impressed with the Pilot's responsive steering, compliant ride, and relative lack of body roll. Its 3.5-liter 240-horsepower V6 isn't the most powerful engine in the segment, but with a five-speed automatic transmission it turns in above-average acceleration times of around 8 seconds.
Car '54 knows where you are: previsualizing Spielberg's psychic hot rod.
In Minority Report, the Steven Spielberg thriller that opens June 21, Tom Cruise plays a police detective who bombs around Washington, D.C., in a red clamshell-shaped Lexus, tracking down future criminals. The year is 2054, and Precrime, a psychic technology that enables "previsualization," makes it possible to identify and punish killers before they strike. Precrime advocates promise a zero U.S. murder rate within six years. Now picture this: Someone's accused of murdering a person he hasn't yet met.
Senior Editor Bob Sillery looks back at a $1 million behemoth that had an 11-foot-diameter head and could bore through 400 feet of rock a day.
In the world of power, there's big, and then there's monstrous. Back in 1973, our try-anything reporter, Rob Gannon, sat inside a 175-ton, 1,105-horsepower tunnel-boring machine made by Ingersoll-Rand as it chewed through 5 1/2 miles of hard siltstone and shale to dig a sewage tunnel beneath Rochester, New York. That $1 million behemoth had an 11-foot-diameter head and could bore through 400 feet of rock a day.
Attention: Hollywood, Wall Street & Washington. Here's the real Power List, and you're not on it.
A lightweight fiberglass powerboat called Fountain Lightning can top 142 mph on still water. That's a powerful boat. A tug now under construction in China will tow an entire offshore oil-drilling platform into place, even on a restless sea. That's also a powerful boat. When talk turns to machine muscle, it's often about the most powerful engine that will fit into and move a machine. But to build an authentic Power List you have to ask what the measure and purpose of the power is: horsepower, torque, acceleration, top speed, hauling capacity, lift.
The all-new Dodge Viper SRT-10 feels very different from the previous version—namely, it doesn't want to kill me. If I made a mistake in the original Viper, I could easily put the car in the weeds.
It's a two-seater, it's a four-seater
Can't fit into that pint-size parking space? No problem. Push a button and, in 10 seconds, the four-seat Rinspeed Presto convertible shrinks 2-1/2 feet, converting itself into a stubby 9-foot 10-inch two-seater. To lose those inches, sliding rails join the Presto's front and rear sections. The quick-change concept is powered by a 1.7-liter 120-horsepower Mercedes turbodiesel that's been tweaked to run on a mixture of liquid fuel and natural gas for exceptional economy and low emissions. It hits 60 mph in just 10.5 seconds and has a top speed of 108 mph. There are no plans for production.
Resurrecting the turning headlight concept.
When auto wizard Preston Tucker presented his legendary Car of Tomorrow in 1948, one of its most eye-catching features was a third headlight. This extra light turned with the car's front wheels, allowing the driver to see ahead when the vehicle went into a curve. The Tucker, of course, was never mass-produced, and a combination of factors, including expense and safety concerns, led automakers to largely abandon the idea. Until now.