The Virtual Driver

A most unusual Honda Civic Type R

By Christoper A Sawyer
The Virtual Driver

(May 30, 2018) This is a pickup. It was built by a team from Product Engineering at Honda’s U.K. assembly plant in Swindon using a pre-production model Honda Civic Type R. It is likely to be one of the fastest pickup trucks in use on British roads.
Known as “Project P,” it is identical to a production Civic Type R from the B-pillars forward, and retains its engine, gearbox and suspension.

2018 Volkswagen Tiguan hits the target, but misses the bullseye

By Christopher A. Sawyer
The Virtual Driver

(May 27, 2018) After the plus-size Atlas, the 2018 Tiguan felt like a station wagon in comparison. It’s not as tall, not as wide, not as long, nor is it as boxy as its bigger brother. It’s also, it should be noted, nowhere near as small — tiny really — as the first generation Tiguan. That vehicle felt like a Golf GTI, and had about as much interior room, making it an anomaly in the crossover market. It was close in size to today’s subcompact SUVs, but more expensive.

Living large, Rolls-Royce style

By Christopher A. Sawyer
The Virtual Driver

(May 20, 2018) When Rolls-Royce introduced the Cullinan, it referred to the luxury off-roader as “an all-terrain high-bodied car” and as the “first ‘three-box’ car in the SUV sector.” This makes it an SUV, but not an SUV at the same time; especially as there is a partition that separates the passenger and cargo compartments. Powered by a 6.75-liter V12 and built from aluminum, the all-wheel drive and all-wheel steer luxury off-road vehicle is named for the largest diamond ever discovered, and sold with the tag line: “Effortless, Everywhere.”

Atlas, sans the shrug

By Christopher A. Sawyer
The Virtual Driver

(May 17, 2018) Years ago, I was interviewing Karl Ludvigsen for a story about the supercars set to arrive in the early 1990s. After discussing the technology, performance, and handling one might expect from this batch, Ludvigsen synopsized the deep-seated reason behind why most people would buy one of these machines. He said: “The message the driver is sending is, ‘I have the money and power to pass you any time I want.’ It’s all ego and intimidation.”

Ford's future seems to be fading fast

By Christopher A. Sawyer
The Virtual Driver

(March 12, 2018) Will history repeat itself? Ford declared the small pickup market dead, and kept the so-called Global Ranger out of the U.S. until it discovered the vibrant market GM was already serving with its Colorado and Canyon. Now that it has declared sedan is dead, will it once again be surprised when competitors stick with it and reap the rewards?

Waiting for the crossover craze to wane

By Christopher A. Sawyer
The Virtual Driver

(May 7, 2018) Despite the continuing decline in sedan sales, Toyota is launching a fifth generation Avalon, the flagship of the Toyota line in the U.S. And while Toyota executives expect this decline to continue for about three more years — averaging about three to five percent per year — they also expect it to level off as the SUV craze begins to cool, and sedans are rediscovered by a younger generation.

Lexus takes the road to Avalon

By Christopher A. Sawyer
The Virtual Driver

(May 1, 2018) For most of its six generations, the ES was the Wally Cox of the Lexus lineup; a milquetoast Camry-based sedan filled with leather and luxury appointments, and about as exciting as a competitive quilting bee. The real question isn’t whether adding an F Sport model to the line is a cynical attempt to add sportiness to a car not known to possess it, but whether it has what it takes to rise above the Camry underneath.

Killing off the sedans — Has Ford made a fatal mistake?

By Christopher A. Sawyer
The Virtual Driver

(April 28, 2018) Ford has announced it will stop developing sedans for the U.S. market, focusing instead on more profitable trucks, SUVs and crossovers. Though only just updated, the Fusion sedan will not be replaced, nor will current Focus, Taurus or Fiesta. Only the Mustang will survive on the Ford side of the ledger.

CT6 V-Sport: Cadillac’s biggest track day sport sedan

By Christopher A. Sawyer
The Virtual Driver

(April 16, 2018) The most important thing you need to know about Cadillac’s new 4.2-liter twin-turbo V8 is that a slightly larger displacement version will be offered in the mid-engine C8 Corvette. The only remaining question is whether or not the C8’s version of this new engine will be mated to a dual-clutch transmission (doubtful), a repackaged version of the current C7 manual (possible), or the Cadillac 10-speed automatic stuffed into a transaxle case and fitted with paddle shifters.

Ford’s global compact for U.S. market focuses on China

By Christopher A. Sawyer
The Virtual Driver

(April 14, 2018) When it goes on sale this July in the U.K., the 2019 Ford Focus will come in two body styles: a four-door hatch and a station wagon. These will be joined by a four-door sedan in the rest of Europe, a body style that will be front and center in China and the U.S. There are five available trim variations — Active, Ambiente, ST Line, Trend, and Titanium — and a number of powertrain options, including a six-speed manual and new eight-speed automatic.