Acura NSX hybrid, QX30 spin Devil’s Thumb
Fifteen feet out of the parking spot aboard the Infiniti QX30 at Devil’s Thumb Ranch, the hollering, “Stop, Bud, stop,” stopped me.
“It’s leaking fuel,” I was told. That ended my plan for driving the premium compact crossover, one of 40 new cars and trucks delivered recently by auto manufacturers to the ranch near Tabernash to be driven by members of the Rocky Mountain Automotive Press (RMAP).
The QX30 was one of those I most wanted to drive. It is a collaboration of Infiniti design and Mercedes-Benz engineering, with lots of mechanical likeness to the Mercedes GLA250. It is built in an Infiniti plant in Sunderland, England.
Soon after the QX slipped from my grasp, a second surprise came my way. I was motioned to the open driver’s door of the high-end 2017 Acura NSX by Allie Coulter, senior public relations specialist for Acura. The NSX is returning after an absence of 12 years to the U.S. market as a hybrid.
“Why a hybrid for the sports car?,” I asked Coulter at the beginning of our drive. She explained that the powertrain has three electric motors, including one at each front wheel, and a mid-mounted twin-turbo 3.5-liter V-6 engine; all that mated to a 9-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission and all-wheel drive.
“It becomes one of the most technically advanced cars on the road,” she said, “and, of course with the electric motors, it performs with zero-delay acceleration.”
The gas engine/electric motors combination produces 573 horsepower and 476 lb.-ft. of torque.
The sports car is being built in the U.S. at Marysville, Ohio. The NSX was imported to the U.S. from Jap
an as a gas-engine sports car from 1991 to 2005.
Pricing of the new one begins at $156,000. Addition of a carbon-fiber engine cover, carbon-ceramic rotors with red brake calipers, semi-analine red leather and alcantara seats and ELS Studio audio and technology package pushed sticker price to $189,000.
It sleekness and casino white pearl finish made the Acura NSX one of the most attractive models among the 40 cars at Devil’s Thumb. Acura is luxury division for Honda.
Having heard of much interest in the revived Honda Ridgeline, I drove one with Davis Adams, Honda PR regional manager, as my passenger.
Restyled somewhat along the lines of a traditional pickup, the unibody-constructed ’17 Ridgeline continues a very smooth drive and is more carlike than competitive makes
Tacoma, Frontier and Canyon. For some compact truck loyalists, “carlike” is not necessarily a desired attribute.
The Honda truck retains a storage tub beneath the floor of the bed and offers a new feature – exciters mounted on the back of the bedside panel liners function like the cone on a traditional speaker; anything audio-played in the cabin sounds in the bed, too.
The 2017 Fiat 124 Spider Convertible got a formal introduction following lunch at Devil’s Thumb. Angela Bianchi, product PR manager for FCA, showed off features of the little sports car, which though carrying the Fiat brand name is being built by Mazda on the same assembly line as the Miata – in Hiroshima, Japan.
The Fiat and the Mazda share a common wheelbase, yet the Fiat comes off the line somewhat distinctive, with a low-riding grille, hood bulges and a chrome finish around the windshield, all drawn from the old 124. The Fiat is 5 inches longer than the Miata in overall length, 100 pounds heavier and is equipped with its own 1.4-liter turbocharged engine.
I drove the 124 Spider in early July. It has returned to the U.S. market after an absence of almost 40 years.
I received a personal walkaround at Devil’s Thumb of the new 2017 Volkswagen Golf AllTrack, which will go on sale late next month. No drives of the new model were permitted. Darryll Harrison Jr., regional communications spokesperson for Volkswagen of America, said the AllTrack will be available only with 4Motion all-wheel drive, making it appealing for the Colorado market. It will be a competitor of the Subaru Outback.
Nick Browe, Ram 1500 brand manager for FCA (Fiat/Chrysler) Group, in the early afternoon caught my attention long enough to guide me into the Ram Rebel 4X4 pickup, a competitor of the new Nissan Titan XD. Browe rode with me and discussed many features of the Rebel as I maneuvered it somewhat spiritedly around the twists and climbs of the mountainous setting.
The Rebel, introduced last year at the Detroit Auto Show, sits high on a 140-inch wheelbase with stiffened Bilstein shocks and 33-inch Toyo tires, creating 11.1 inches of ground clearance. It is aimed at those who still believe a truck can be built for offroading.
The 395-horsepower, 5.7-liter Hemi V-8 engine, with 410 lb.-ft. of torque, is tied to an 8-speed automatic transmission controlled from a rotary dial on the dash.
I rode in the great-handling 2016 Lexus GS F, the most powerful sedan ever for that Japanese luxury builder. The $90,000 four-door gains performance from a 467-horsepower, 5.0-liter V-8 with 8-speed sport transmission.
General Motors, a major player in last year’s gathering at Devil’s Thumb Ranch, had only the Chevy Camaro available for view and drives this year.