The Virtual Driver

Bending but not breaking the tire tech rules

By Christopher A. Sawyer
The Virtual Driver

(September 24, 2017) Michelin has joined up with the worlds largest producer of wheels, Maxion Wheels, to reinvent the wheel so that it bends without breaking. According to Michelin Chief Operating Officer, Florent Menegaux: “Car wheels have been getting bigger and bigger, as they contribute to making cars look more premium, and large shiny alloys are an integral part of all modern car designs. However, the resulting low-profile tires with short sidewalls are much more susceptible to damage on today’s deteriorating roads.”

Mercedes-AMG Project One — F1 power, complexity for the chosen few

By Christopher A. Sawyer
The Virtual Driver

(September 18, 2017) More than 1,000 horsepower. A top speed of more than 217 mph. Formula 1 hybrid technology. It is, says Dieter Zetsche, chairman of Daimler AG’s board of management and head of Mercedes-Benz Cars, “…the first Formula 1 car with MOT (Ministry of Transport) approval.”  Uh, well, sorta.

What’s the point of an Audi you can’t drive yourself?

By Christopher A. Sawyer
The Virtual Driver

(September 17, 2017) Audi says the Aicon Mobility Concept is a technology demonstrator, “in which the advantages of door-to-door individual transportation are combined with the luxurious ambiance of a first-class cabin.” More than just a robot taxi, the Aicon sits on a wheelbase that, at 136.6 inches, is 9.4 inches longer than that of the new A8, stretches 214 inches overall, is a massive 82.7 inches wide, and stands 59.3 inches tall.

2017 Mitsubishi Outlander GT: Competence is not enough

By Christopher A. Sawyer
The Virtual Driver

(September 9, 2017) One upon a time, Mitsubishi was an automaker with a purpose. It built rugged, high-tech cars and trucks that people wanted to own. It had a plant in Illinois, shared technology and platforms (and entire vehicles) with Chrysler, and was Subaru before Subaru was Subaru, with its World Rally Championship Evo models and turbocharged, all-wheel drive Galant VR4s for the street.

Primed for annoyance in Toyota's new Prius

By Christopher A. Sawyer
The Virtual Driver

(September 5, 2017) The timing could not have been better. It was time for the annual family get together that kinda sorta takes place at the same time as Cindy’s Uncle Bill’s birthday. His brother Ernie would be there, as would their sister Pat and Cindy’s mom, Helen. It was the perfect backdrop for the car we were driving that week.

A quietly capable and comfortable mid-size sedan

By Christopher A. Sawyer
The Virtual Driver

(September 1, 2017) We've written about the current generation Volkswagen Passat on numerous occasions — everything from the launch of the U.S. version and the plant that makes it, to the diesel (pre-software cheat discovery), to the one we have here, a 2017 1.8T SE with the Technology package. It’s not like I call every couple of months looking to get into a Passat. I don’t have to.

2018 Volkswagen T-Roc introduced in Italy; not coming to U.S.

By Christopher A. Sawyer
The Virtual Driver

(August 27, 2017) Volkswagen premiered its new T-Roc small SUV in Italy this past week. The diminutive SUV is based on the same MQB structure as the Golf and Atlas yet, interestingly for a company that just launched the Atlas and a new Tiguan in the U.S., there are no plans to sell the T-Roc in the U.S., despite the rapid growth of the compact SUV market.

2017 Audi A4 quattro: A Soul lost

By Christopher A. Sawyer
The Virtual Driver

(August 24, 2017) The A4 appeared as part of a rethink of Audi’s model numbering scheme, replacing the 80/90 in 1996. That car shared its B4 platform with the fourth generation VW Passat, which also featured a longitudinally mounted engine driving the front wheels. Built on a 103-inch wheelbase and spanning 178 inches overall, the B4 Audi placed the brand squarely in the compact luxury segment as its entry-level offering.

New Rolls-Royce Phantom built on 'Architecture of Luxury'

By Christopher A. Sawyer
The Virtual Driver

(August 7, 2017) The eighth generation Rolls-Royce Phantom — the second generation under BMW ownership — has been unveiled. Built on a new, unique to Rolls-Royce aluminum spaceframe that can be sized for the requirements of any new model, the new Phantom is built on what Rolls-Royce calls an “Architecture of Luxury” optimized for varied but small-volume production. 

Honda goes back to its roots eliminating V-6 engine in new Accord

By Christopher A. Sawyer
The Virtual Driver

(August 6, 2017) Over the past nine generations, Honda’s Accord has gone from a 68-horsepower hatchback that weighed about 2,000 pounds and cost $3,500, to the flagship sedan for the brand. That first car, which added a 72-horsepower sedan variant in 1977, had a five-speed manual or two-speed (upgraded to three speeds in 1980) automatic transmission, and — for the time — a generous list of standard equipment.