Posts tagged subaru
Ask anyone and they’ll tell you that I’m a die-hard car guy. Motor oil pump through my veins and it’s a common occurrence for me to get goose bumps just from a car’s exhaust rumble. Needless to say I’m a bit discerning when it comes to cars and won’t settle for just any car. My daily driver has to be fun and evoke some emotion. At the same time it has to be practical, particularly since I haul my two kids (two years and four years old respectively) around all the time and of course because we live in Minnesota.
If I had to pick one car from the portfolio of Morrie’s brands that fit my persnickety car preferences I’d most definitely land on a Subaru STI. So that’s exactly what I did. And to kick off my caretaking of my new ride I loaded the family up for a good old-fashioned road trip to the lake. You’ll notice there was at least one non-lake diversion, though.
Although it’s not required to have a deep appreciation for cars to work at for a dealership group like Morrie’s, a lot of us are absolutely fanatical about cars. While some of us diligently wash and wax our favorite cars before a car show or enjoy a serene cruise around town, we have some serious motorheads amongst our ranks who can only satiate their need for speed at the race track. Perhaps the most die-hard of them all are the rally enthusiasts, most typically found at our Minnetonka Subaru store. Scott Putnam, the fleet sales manager at Morrie’s Minnetonka Subaru invited us out to Michigan earlier this year to watch his team, CPD Racing, as they tackled a number of snow and ice-covered rural roads in their Subaru WRX STI during the first round of Rally America’s 2016 championship. A few weeks later, they were in Salem, MO for the 100 Acre Wood Rally. Scott invited us back to follow the team around the hills outside Portland, OR this past weekend during the Oregon Trail Rally, the 3rd round of the 2016 Rally America series.
The Oregon Trail Rally is an incredibly challenging and grueling three day event that follows the narrow fire roads that flank the Columbia River. While the scenery is absolutely breathtaking, these roads often feature blinding dust, slippery rocks, and sheer rock faces inches from the edge of the road. It’s a harrowing drive for your average driver, even more so while carrying triple digit speeds, sideways, while choking on the dust of the car you’re chasing down for a spot on the podium. Instead of CPD’s usual ace driver, Lauchlin O’Sullivan, Road & Track Magazine sent in contributing editor Jason Harper to mix it up in the dirt for an upcoming article.
The first day comprised of a few stage laps around Portland International Raceway with some added jumps to spice things up. You know, because rally. The turnout was great with lots of spectators lining the track well into the night. Jason and Scott kept things tidy and made up a few spots on the grid during the four stages held at the circuit.
The following morning, we headed into the hillside on the northern side of the Columbia River in Washington where Jason and Scott would be tackling a mix of windmill-lined gravel roads before ending on the private Maryhill Loop hillclimb stage for stages 11 and 12. The ominous silhouette of Mount Rainier always looming in the background, setting the stage for a clash of titans of the dirt. Maryhill Loop would cap off the day with an epic serpentine bit of tarmac that wound its way back and forth up the hillside of a private piece of land. Typically, this narrow two-lane road is used for downhill longboarding competitions and filming car commercials where a closed road is needed. For us however, it was an all-out, full-speed assault to the top.
For the final day, Jason and Scott went back across the river towards Dufur, OR to race through a mix of picturesque vineyards and silty hillsides. When all was said and done, CPD Racing didn’t make a podium spot but Jason was ecstatic each time he climbed out of the car. He drove cleanly and brought the car back in one piece. Mighty impressive for a novice rally driver, given the treacherous terrain and unforgiving conditions. We’re looking forward to checking back with the team in a few short weeks for the Mount Olympus hillclimb!
While Day 1 at the 2016 New York International Auto Show was packed to the gills with all sorts of major reveals, there were only a handful by comparison on Day 2. This left us with more time to wander the showfloor and see anything we missed in the chaos on Day 1 while also making sure to see what had just been revealed. For instance, we couldn’t keep ourselves away from the rows of supercars where we saw a Bugatti, a Spyker, and two brand new Koenigseggs on the stand. The same was true for the Porsche stand which drew us in with the rare and beautiful 911R and the new 718 Boxster S. We also got to spend a little more time with the Maserati Levante, where we checked out the gorgeous Zegna-trimmed interior (it’s pretty dang nice!)
We also circled back to Genesis – Hyundai’s new luxury brand – to check out their New York Concept vehicle that we ought to see hit the compact luxury sedan segment in the next couple of years. Although this was very much a style exercise for the show, Genesis already had a list of drivetrain specs as well as a beautifully designed interior, although it’s unlikely many of the interior details (like the 21-in curved 4K display from LG on top of the dash) will make it to production.
We’re in New York this week covering the 2016 New York International Auto Show during the press preview. In addition to creating a ton of fresh video content from the showfloor, we made sure to snap a ton of photos of our favorite new (and some old) cars that we found at the show. Now, we love the big international auto shows as much as anybody but we’re going to walk you through some of the highlights so keep reading!
First up, Mazda excited us with the MX-5 RF, a retractible hardtop model that carries more of a targa look when the top is stowed. It’s a great new look for our favorite convertible and we think Mazda really outdid themselves this time. How could you not love that shape?!?
Nissan also rolled out another updated version of the GT-R. With more power, more comfort, and more luxurious materials throughout, the GT-R continues to justify its existence for another year while we wait with bated breath for a completely new version that is rumored to come out next year as a 2018 model. Still, it’s hard to fault Nissan for building a bright orange, 580 hp rocketship, but the real stars of the Nissan booth were all the vintage GT-Rs they brought out for the show, dating back to 1969!
One of the great things about Morrie’s Automotive Group is that we have a a wide range of truly interesting and amazing sales consultants. Amongst the large percentage of our staff could be considered genuine “car people” with petrol pumping through their veins, we have a handful that are heavily involved in motorsports as well. For instance, Scott Putnam, our fleet sales manager at Morrie’s Minnetonka Subaru is also a co-driver with Lauchlin O’Sullivan. Together, they are 2-time national Rally America Super Production champions, having won in 2012 and again in 2015. Scott has been co-driving in various rally cars with his CPD Racing team for over a decade and living the old adage “Race on Sunday, Sell on Monday.”
With Morrie’s Minnetonka Subaru sponsoring the #90 CPD Racing 2010 Subaru WRX STI for the 2016 Rally America season, Joseph (video lead for Morrie’s Auto Group) and Alex (a content specialist for the group) flew out to Traverse City, Michigan for Sno*Drift Rally, the first round of the 2016 Rally America championship. Because rally races such as these predominantly take place on public roads that are closed for the day of the rally, most of these events happen in small towns and are spread out across the community in a number of stages. Sno*Drift consists of 17 stages, most of which take place in the forests surrounding the picturesque town of Atlanta, Michigan.
We met up with Scott and Lauchlin at a workshop just outside of Atlanta where the car was undergoing some shakedown and testing runs on some private land. “Whiskers”, the crew chief for the team, would send Lauchlin out on different sets of snow and ice tires to get a sense of which tires they’d want to use on the snow and ice-covered logging roads the following afternoon. After 4 or 5 laps of their own little test track, a decision was made to run on a special set of snow tires. These tires are much, much softer and therefore are able to provide grip on glare ice. With a tire decision made, the crew finished up the last few set-up changes and we went back to the hotel to rest up for race day.
After a few more practice runs the next morning, the team brought the car out to Parc Expose in the heart of Atlanta so fans could meet the drivers and co-drivers and check out the cars up close. 42 cars were on display along the banks of a picturesque, but frozen over, lake. Red bull sponsored the event and had a massive truck on hand with a DJ in the back to pump out tunes for the fans while a few backpack-clad women handed out free cans of the energy drink. All in all, it was a great event for the fans and we enjoyed the opportunity to talk with some of the other teams and check out their cars. While the majority of the field was made up of Subarus in various shapes, sizes, and years, we also saw a handful of Ford Fiestas, some old Vokswagen Golfs, a new Toyota RAV4, a Honda CR-Z, and even some muscle cars. Having won the Super Production championship twice and finishing 2nd overall just behind the Subaru factory team last year, Lauchlin and Scott were fan favorites and most people were betting on the #90 CPD Racing team to win this weekend. Because of that, CPD Racing would be leading the rest of the pack out on the first stage so we had to leave Parc Expose early to make sure we got to the first spectator area in time to see Scott and Lauchlin go by.
Each stage has a designated spectator area to keep fans safe since most of the time, the rally cars go sliding through the corners quickly, just barely on the edge of control. These spectator areas also usually coincide with some of the most exciting turns on the stage and give the drivers a good spot to show off a bit for fans. Unlike going to a race track to watch a race, most rally fans will only get to see each car go by once and in terms of getting any useful photos or video footage, there’s really only about a 5-10 second window to see each car before it goes scurrying off down the road, kicking up rooster tails of snow and mud as it passes. Although the weather was unseasonably warm for this time of year in northern Michigan, we were still surprised to see just how many fans and spectators there were at each stage doing a mix of drinking, grilling, and cheering on the cars.
Throughout the first day of the rally, Lauchlin and Scott were clearly dominating the rally. Although each car starts the stage in one minute intervals, it didn’t take long for CPD Racing to build up a healthy lead – almost 5 minutes over the nearest competitor – after the first day’s stages. After arriving at the service area halfway through the first day, it seemed Lauchlin was very happy with the car and their pace. Scott was just glad Lauchlin had driven smoothly and kept the car out of the snowbanks and ditches so far. While they took a quick breather before the night stages, the crew hurriedly mounted a set of ice tires, checked all the fluids, and removed the packed snow and ice from the wheel wells and underside of the car. Again, we left service early to get out to another stage to try to see the car race by and under the light of the moon and stars, we saw Lauchlin gracefully slide the car through a tight left-hand bend, carefully avoiding the telephone pole and fence hidden within the snowbank at the exit of the turn, and rocket off into the inky darkness just a split second later.
The next morning, we packed up a little earlier and headed out to a big gravel pit to watch the first of the day’s special stages. This gravel pit had more of a clearly defined course that each car would race through twice. Again, Lauchlin drove carefully, avoiding the hay bales and snow banks that could easily suck in a wheel or two and slow the car down. The car’s tight lines and finesse around the course weren’t as flashy or exciting as some of the other cars, but raw speed is rarely shown in extravagant ways.
After the first three stages of the day, CPD Racing still carried a significant four minute lead before heading back out into the forests. Unfortunately, that’s when things took a turn for the worse. On the 13th stage of the rally, the car hit an unaccounted for patch of ice on the exit of a corner and spun nose-first into a snowbank. The Subaru was immediately stuck and after a failed attempt to dig the car out, a competitor stopped and snapped their tow strap trying to unstick the car. Eventually, another competitor stopped and was able to free the #90 car but their chance at an overall win were all but dashed.
Getting underway again, Scott realized that while trying to dig the car out, he’d badly sliced his finger open. With blood quickly covering his racing suit and stage notes, he had no choice but to direct Lauchlin with hand signals, spraying blood around the cockpit in the process. They finished the stage four and a half minutes behind the leader in 7th place and an on-site medic wrapped up Scott’s finger for the time being. Not wanting to drop out of the rally, the team pushed on, clawing back time stage after stage. During the last four stages, Lauchlin made a harrowing run and setting the fastest time in each. They made up two of their lost positions to finish 5th overall and 2nd in Super Production class. The celebration was short-lived however as Scott was quickly rushed to the hospital to receive six stitches in his finger. Lauchlin was solemn about the results but acknowledged that mistakes happen and that all it takes is one to ruin a rally. Despite leading 15 of the 17 stages of the rally, they wouldn’t go home as winners.
The team is looking forward to the next rally – 100 Acre Wood – near Salem Missouri on March 18th. And as usual, Scott was back at work on Monday, happily selling cars just like the one he raced just days earlier.
With the 2015 LA Auto Show behind us, we figured it was time for a quick recap to talk about some hits and misses from the show. There were roughly 20-25 new vehicles revealed at the show and while we won’t cover everything, there was a lot to see. It’s easy to show up at these big auto shows and get sucked up into all of the hype and excitement but we’re here to cut through the bullcrap and break down what was really cool and what was just show floor fodder.
Alfa Romeo Giulia: HIT
With 505 hp and the fastest production sedan lap record at the Nurburgring, this BMW M3-fighter has us rummaging through our couch cushions and smashing every piggy bank in sight to scrape together the estimated $70,000 to buy one. Seriously, how can you not fall in love with this thing!?! It looks fantastic inside and out, is available with either a 6-speed manual or automatic transmission, and offers rear or all-wheel drive. And this shade of blue looks particularly dashing as well.
Cadillac XT5: HIT
The Cadillac XT5 is the highly anticipated replacement for the SRX, which is currently the oldest model in their lineup. With a fresh new look and updated materials, the XT5 is a very important launch for Cadillac since the SRX it replaces was the company’s most popular model. With a nearly 300 lb diet, and an updated CUE infotainment system that offers Apple CarPlay, the XT5 is bound to be a strong seller for the brand yet again.
Fiat 124 Spider: MISS
We want to like it, we really do, but the new Fiat 124 Spider takes the already gorgeous new Miata and somehow manages to make it look just a bit frumpy. While we can appreciate some of the styling cues of the original 124 Spider of the 1970′s in this car, it doesn’t really work when it’s scaled up on a modern car. Kudos to Fiat for using the 500 Abarth engine in this car though! It should sound pretty wicked and with turbos make everything better, even if the 124 Spider only comes with 160 hp.
Fiat 500e Stormtrooper Edition: HIT
We’re a sucker for Star Wars so while this fun little collaboration panders to our fellow nerds just a bit too much, we can’t help but love it all the same.
Hyundai Elantra: HIT
While we heard some rumblings from fellow show-goers that the new Elantra just ripped off styling cues from a bunch of other cars, we feel they borrowed some inspiration from some of the best designs out there. The headlights remind us slightly of the Jaguar XF while the grille looks like a mix of Ford Fusion and Audi TT, but these shapes have all been tweaked to fit the new Elantra in a cohesive way that works better than you might at first think. The rear reminds us of Hyundai’s own Genesis which certainly isn’t a bad thing either. Who said a cheap car has to look cheap?
Ford Escape: HIT
Given how good the current Ford Escape already is, the 2017 update is sure to be even better. The new look, with styling cues taken from the Edge, really works on the scaled down Escape too. Black accents and a sportier looking front grille don’t look bad, but we wish they would’ve taken more of a chance with the styling like they did in 2012. No doubt it’ll still be one of the top compact crossovers on the market when it becomes available later next year.
Lincoln MKZ: HIT
Lincoln has had a tough go of things over the last few years. The current lineup’s styling is a bit hit or miss, but we got excited when we saw the stunning Continental concept in New York earlier this year. Now we appreciate Lincoln taking that breathtaking look and applying it to the MKZ. Not only does the new front end look fresh and luxurious, but the MKZ also offers a new Lincoln-exclusive 3.0-liter twin-turbo V6 with 400 hp mated to all-wheel drive. Inside, the MKZ is finally on track for offering a level of luxury that at least matches that of its direct competition. If Lincoln can keep rolling out cars like this, their future is beginning to look brighter.
Mazda CX-9: HIT
Mazda has been on a hot-streak lately with their whole lineup, but the CX-9 had been starting to show its age. Thankfully, Mazda adapted their Kodo styling language to the new 7-seat crossover and heavily upgraded the interior and driveline. The new interior is now much more luxurious than it’s ever been in the past with rich and vibrant leather seats and plenty of safety and infotainment tech. The new 2.5-liter turbocharged SkyActiv 4-cylinder offers 250 hp and plenty of torque.
Jaguar F-Pace: HIT
The all-new Jaguar F-Pace made its US debut at the 2015 LA Auto Show and we fell in love with the styling immediately. This is going to be volume seller for the Jaguar we see it being pretty successful for the British manufacturer. But really, who cares how many they sell. It looks beautiful and that’s pretty much all that matters to us. That, and we’re holding out hope that they offer the super aggressive 5.0-liter V8 from the F-Type R at some point down the road. Yes, please!
Range Rover Evoque Convertible: WTF?!?
We don’t even really know to categorize this. It’s ridiculous and useless and stupid and yet, we applaud Land Rover for having the stones to build it. This one can definitely be filed away in the same dark corner as the Nissan Murano Crosscabrio in a folder named “Weird Vehicles You Never Actually Thought Existed”.
Audi’s Booth: HIT
We couldn’t pick just one favorite from Audi’s booth so we picked them all. They all have over 600 hp, they all go like stink, and they all look amazing. You just can’t go wrong.
Porsche 911 C4S Targa: MISS
Welcome to the 328th obscure version of the Porsche’s 911 lineup. This one is the latest 911 with the new twin-turbo engine that isn’t technically a Turbo. It has all-wheel drive, wider rear fenders, and a roof panel that folds down compared to the regular, plain-Jane 911. For those who don’t like this *exact* iteration, it can also be had with a fixed roof, or a full convertible top. Or with less power, or less driven wheels, or with more power, or pretty much any way you could possible want it. Yes, it’s still a 911 so it’ll be amazing to drive but the 911 lineup has become so bloated now that it’s hard to get excited about any new iteration at this point.
Porsche Cayman GT4 Clubsport: HIT
Although the Boxster/Cayman lineup has plenty of different versions, all with minor tweaks, we love Porsche’s approach to the GT4, and they went somewhere really exciting with this, the GT4 Clubsport. This track-only model takes a largely stock Cayman GT4 and adds a roll-cage, beefed up suspension, and a unique 6-speed version of their PDK gearbox. While it’s largely targeted at a one-make racing series, we’d love to get our hands on one for some track days!
Subaru Impreza Sedan Concept: HIT
We love the design of the Impreza Sedan Concept and really hope the production version will look this good. While most other manufacturers have given up on building concept cars these days, it’s nice to see that Subaru still likes to wow us. Keep your fingers crossed!
Nissan Sentra: HIT
The Nissan Sentra has been a staple of the Japanese automaker’s lineup for decades and this new model, although largely a refresh, is a handsome car. Beyond the fresh new look, Nissan has added some real substance through technology like intelligent cruise control, blind spot detection, forward emergency braking, and rear cross traffic alert. NissanConnect is also available now with navigation, Siri Eyes Free integration, and plenty of apps and services above and beyond what you might expect in this segment.
Although most of the big reveals were yesterday at the 2015 LA Auto Show, the low-pressure schedule today gave us time to make the rounds and get up close and personal with all the things we missed or wanted a second look at. We made sure to circle back and check out the Subaru Impreza Sedan Concept that we didn’t get the chance to see yesterday, as well as some of the new stuff Volkswagen, more crazy concepts from Kia, and some other odds and ends. And that’s a wrap! Goodbye, LA. We’ll miss your glorious weather.
And again, make sure to follow @MorriesAuto on Instagram or on Youtube (youtube.com/morriesauto) for more photos and video from the 2015 LA Auto Show.
Not that any of us needed an excuse to get out of Minnesota just as it starts getting cold, but the Los Angeles International Auto Show will be a welcome change of scenery next week. It’s not just the warm weather we’re looking forward to, but the cars too. While we don’t know everything that will be debuting at the auto show this year, it’s sure to be a star-studded show with big debuts from Cadillac, Hyundai, Mazda, Nissan, Subaru, and many more.
Cadillac is going to be debuting their SRX replacement – the XT5 – in LA this year. We’ve already seen a handful of photos that have leaked and the midsize crossover is quite beautiful. Being Cadillac’s highest selling vehicle in their lineup, this is a very important vehicle for the automaker and we have high hopes.
Hyundai is going to show off the new 2017 Elantra at the show, as well as possibly debut the Equus-replacing Genesis G90 in concept form. Hyundai is also aiming to split the Genesis name off into its own separate luxury brand, something the automaker has been planning with various degrees of success for a number of years now.
Mazda is taking big steps to replace their aging CX-9 crossover SUV that has remained largely the same for the last 9 years. We expect the new CX-9 to keep the 7-seat layout and offer fresh styling and more of the safety and infotainment technology, such as Mazda Connect, as we see on the rest of Mazda’s lineup.
Nissan will be debuting the updated 2016 Sentra in LA and although details have been scarce, we’re excited to see for ourselves just how Nissan has revised and refined the compact sedan for next year.
Subaru is also going to be rolling out their new Impreza Sedan concept after debuting the 5-door hatch version at the Tokyo Auto Show last month. This will show the design direction of the next generation Impreza that we’ll likely see sometime around 2017 or 2018.
Other notable vehicles that we’re looking forward to seeing include the new Porsche Cayman GT4 Club Sport, a new Mercedes-Benz SL convertible, a lightweight, rear-wheel drive Lamborghini Huracan, the Range Rover Evoque Convertible, an all-new Honda Civic Coupe, the Infiniti QX30 in production form, the new Buick LaCrosse sedan, and lastly, the new Fiat 124 Spider that is based on the new Mazda MX-5 platform. Surely there will be plenty of other interesting debuts at the show and we look forward to capturing them and sharing them with you later next week.
Morrie’s Automotive Group is on the ground this week at the 2015 New York International Auto Show to bring you the latest information on new cars and concepts as they debut. Day 1 of the show was a huge success with some major reveals from Ford, Lincoln, Subaru, and Cadillac, among others. Here’s a quick recap in photos of some of the highlights from the first press day at NYIAS and make sure to stay tuned to our YouTube channel for al the latest video news from the show.
The 2015 Twin Cities Auto Show kicks off this week and Morrie’s Automotive Group made sure to hit the show floor earlier this week to show you some highlights from the show. If you haven’t found time to make it to the show yet, visit our 2015 Minneapolis Auto Show website to get a pair of complimentary tickets from any Morrie’s location of your choice.
Also, be sure to check out our YouTube page for some video footage from the show this year!