New 2011 M5 via Evo: (Chris Harris Content)

Interview with Lee Noble about the New Fenix Supercar (Video)

BBC One East Midlands interviewed Lee Noble, talking about his history and latest supercar project, the Fenix, which he is preparing to move into the production phase.

The Leicester-based businessman hopes the Fenix supercar will fill a gap in the automotive market, as an affordable sports vehicle.

How was the ride? Check out BBC presenter Kylie Pentelow’s reaction after a passenger ride in a Noble M12 with Lee Noble.

Renowned designer and engineer, Lee Noble, and his co-director, Chris Murray, formed Fenix Automotive in April 2008 as a launch platform for Lee’s new supercar, due out in the second half of 2010.

During his time with Noble Automotive, Lee created perhaps one of the most iconic low volume supercars of the 21st century, the M12, which put his talents on the map to a global audience and won him a succession of accolades from the motoring media.

Fenix Automotive’s new car will help re-ignite the flame that was lost when the M12 ceased production. And while its design, drivetrain and chassis represent fresh thinking from Lee, the M12’s original purpose – to offer exceptionally high performance and exquisite handling for well below £100k – remains the same.

2010 Corvette Grand Sport Convertible: A Nice Slice Of Pie

Most boys when they are young dream of two things: hot girls and fast cars. One of those fast cars typically includes the Corvette (though your situation may vary). I distinctly remember when growing up thinking about the Corvette, although it was not until the C6 (6th generation Corvette) introduced in 2005 that my interest was truly piqued. The Corvette has always been somewhat of a performance bargain, and that is still the case to this day. For the 2010 model year the question is simple – is the new Grand Sport Package all that and a slice of pie, or just another trim option not worth the price of entry? Let’s find out.

Exterior

The first thing you notice about Corvette is that Chevrolet ditched the flip-up headlights (years ago). This gives the car a clean look day or night, and the projector lenses provide crisp cut off lines at night. The front end is low, with a slight plastic lip attached to the front clip (careful when parking!). Directly above the Corvette emblem is an air inlet like those found on Corvette Z06 and ZR1 models. Directly behind the front wheel wells are two gills topped with Grand Sport lettering. The rear quarter panels have a rear brake duct and the door handles are hidden (as with all C6 Corvette’s). The rear features four round taillights and quad exhaust tips poking out from the center of the car. The exterior is aggressive and taught. More then one person noted that the headlights reminded them of those on Ferraris, and I can see how they make that comparison. The Grand Sport hash marks on the front fenders I could go without, but they are not terribly gaudy. The soft top is power operated, however you have one latch inside to release before lowering. The top stows in the rear, eating into trunk space, which is surprisingly still enough for a nice weekend getaway (tested). The rear deck is clean and flat when the top is down. Overall, the exterior is good looking with an aggressive stance.

Interior

The interior of this car is such a love-hate drama. I love that it is functional. I hate that is dated. Let’s start with the functional part – with more then enough leg room, the interior is comfortable. The seats are comfortable for everyday driving and the ergonomics are excellent, with switchgear in easy reach and everything laid out nicely. The head up display is terrific day and night. OK, I am done with the good – now the bad. This interior has aged. The plastics are fine but nothing to write home about. The optional leather wrapped dash and door panels do their best to kick things up a notch, and it is an improvement. The electronics are another story. The $1,750 optional navigation system is disc based, not the newer hard drive-based system used in many of the current General Motors cars. You want to listen to your iPhone/iPod? Too bad, there is no USB port.

Want to use an auxiliary in? Nope not available. You pretty much need a radio transmitter to play such advanced devices. I realize that those things aren’t what this car is about….but come on, it is 2010!

I cannot decide if I am being too picky or unrealistic but I will say on a road trip down to Iowa I pretty much just settled for XM radio since I was not going to obviously listen to my iPhone. I would like to note that for 2011 I have heard the Corvette will get both an auxiliary port and USB port.

Just want to warn you, the center tunnel seems to get nice and warm, which you will notice if you rest your leg against it. Oh, and those comfy seats? They are comfy, but in no way up for what this car is capable of on a track.

So while comfy for everyday driving and highway trips, the interior is overall just fine, but it is definitely aging.

Powertrain

It is truly amazing how quickly any negatives I just previously stated fade away once you push the start button. The pushrod V-8 comes to life with a nice raspy burble. The 6.2 liter LS3 V8 pushes 436 horsepower and 428 pound feet (with optional exhaust), while six-piston brake calipers up front clamp down on cross-drilled rotors. The brakes shed speed off quickly. That power was put down (you sitting down?) through a six-speed automatic transmission. I will state that more Corvettes then you want to believe are actually sold with automatic transmissions.

A sad but true fact. Do not worry too much because we have paddle shifters (that might be out of a Malibu). I will say this, while I would personally never buy a Corvette with an automatic transmission, it behaved better then expected. It did what I wanted it to do 95% of the time. Still, I would skip that pesky $1,250 option. One option I would not skip is the $1,195 for that optional exhaust. Dual mode exhaust combined with a drop top is a combination for pure awesome.

The exhaust note is tame and deep when you mash the go pedal, until about 3,300 RPM and then the baffles open up and it sounds like the devil. You can not help but grin like an idiot. That is just it, while driving this car it hard not to smile. By the way, how many cars with 436 hp do you know of that are rated at 15/25 mpg? Try that in a Ferrari! In the city I averaged 15.4 mpg with plenty of spirited driving. On the highway trip down to Iowa I averaged 24.1 with the cruise control set at 77. That is nothing short of impressive!

The current Corvette has been on the market since 2005. That is over 5 model years, and we probably will not see the next Corvette (C7) until 2012 at the earliest (probably later then that). The first question is, does the Corvette still compete on the same level as it used too? It has certainly aged, yet it can still keep up with the best of them.

The base price is hard to argue with too, though the Grand Sport model I was in had a sticker price of $75,740. That is close to a brand new Z06. Part of that problem was the $16,210 in options. You could pare that down easily and still have a great performing car. I would say without a doubt the Corvette Grand Sport optioned lightly might be a better value then the base Corvette in many regards. So yes, it is all that and a slice of pie – just be careful on those options.

Full Disclosure- The review vehicle was provided by General Motors

Review courtesy of Joel Feder and Accelerate Mpls. Thanks!

2011 Infiniti QX56 Road Test.

It’s huge…It’s always been huge (The top of the line Infiniti SUV) and it’s not getting any smaller, but is it really getting better?. Once again, the SUV is missing some ‘high line’ sophistication, and while it comes at us with more power; Do the improvements really make it worth the stretch? You make the Beach MTV call…

The 2011 Infiniti QX56 is better than the first-generation QX56 in many ways, so much so that it begins to flirt with the concept of diminishing returns. At what point does better stop being better?

The power output is better. The 2011 QX56 produces 400 horsepower and 413 pound-feet of torque from its 5.6-liter engine, 80 more horsepower and 20 more pound-feet than its predecessor, with equal displacement. As a result, performance is unsurprisingly better. Routed to all four wheels through a seven-speed automatic gearbox, all that power is good for a zero-to-60 sprint of just 6.1 seconds, and a standing quarter-mile in 14.8 seconds at 93.9 mph, again besting the last model. Not bad for a vehicle that weighs 5850 pounds. That’s also better than its predecessor, which was 100 pounds heavier.

Efficiency is better too, with the EPA estimating the QX56 will return 14 mpg city and 20 mpg highway, 2 mpg better in town than the last model. Unladed, the QX56 will stop from 60 mph in a respectable 130 feet, 5 feet shorter than before. Towing capacity, though, has mysteriously shrunk by 500 pounds to 8500 pounds, likely owing to the car’s new platform, which it shares with the Nissan Patrol elsewhere in the world.

In fact, in terms of objective performance testing, the only aspect in which the new QX56 failed to eclipse to old model was on the skid pad. Despite a fancy hydraulic fluid system that replaces the typical anti-roll bars as part of the Deluxe Touring Package, the new model could manage only 0.71 average g around the skid pad, falling just short of the old model’s 0.74 average g. To Infiniti’s credit, the body roll was well-controlled, even if it didn’t translate to actual grip numbers.

There’s no denying that in terms of raw numbers, the new QX56 is an improvement, but to what end? At its core, the QX56 is still a rather plebian SUV dressed in the king’s clothes. But where the Nissan Patrol has earned a reputation as a rugged off-roader, the QX56 is best known as a status symbol, and that shows no signs of changing.

….Continued at Motor Trend Road Test