2013 Ford Explorer Sports – First Test Drive Impressions

What can you say about the new 2013 Ford Explorer?  In a nutshell it is the new redesigned Ford Explorer and is the synthesis of an American SUV with European styling and handling.  The interior was nice and well appointed which made me feel I was in a luxury Lincoln.  Makes you wonder what Ford will do with the Lincoln version of it.  The model I had was a beautiful black and pretty brown leather seats.  The 2013 Explorer Sport has some nice features but the re-engineering is what won me.

Ford's head engineer on the 2013 Ford Explorer emphasized that have improved to make a stiffer body with reinforcements in key structural areas.  Under the two fronts seats where they attached to the floor, there is a bar that stiffens the body, right across the transmission tunnel.  There is another stiffening bar behind the front shocks that is also behind the engine.

What was interesting to hear is that Ford Explorer weight split is 60/40 vehicle but the drivetrain can go into pure 50/50.  There is a convenient knob on the central console where you can select Desert, Forest and Ice mode, each giving you more or less torque if different driving conditions.

Although you sit high, as with any other SUV, it felt responsive and tight… at least tighter than any other SUV I've driven.  I would imagine the Porsche and Maserati could easily out handle the 2013 Ford Explorer, but not its price.  It's a SUV and has limits but more than a few BMWs on twisty roads were surprised by the powerful SUV keeping pace with their German vehicles.  Worse case handling scenario, the rear has a hard time understanding what the front is doing but obliges willingly and follows the curve.

Purist will hate the paddle shifting mounted on the steering wheel instead of the column, but I suspect 90% of its clientele won't know or care what paddle shifters are or even bother to use them.  I found myself a few times coming out of a curve wanting to shift but not being able to figure out which paddle was up or down.  One very nice touch are the good looking 20-inch wheels with “Sport” engraved in them.  The brakes have been generously upgraded for the Sport version for the extra power.

All in all, this is yet another Ford achievement as the company positions itself to compete with the more power and performance oriented SUV market, but at an affordable price.  I found the SUV easy to drive in traffic and even fun to bounce around canyon roads.  The engine comes alive at over 3,000 but not once will it intrude inside your plush felt cabin.  The only thing you will hate on the road if you own a Sport version is to see an older Explorer in front of you heavily braking at every curves.  This SUV is meant to go fast, cruise around town and everything in between.

Mini John Cooper Works GP will excite all Mini Fans and Gearheads!

 

Ohhh!

Mini fans, get ready for one of the baddest and sportiest Minis that will ever hit the roads, the new Mini John Cooper Works GP.

What makes the new Mini John Cooper Works GP special? The British premium brand has come up with another car of exceptional design paired with exceptional performance on both the race track and the road.

To be clear when Mini says racetrack, they mean racetrack! The Mini John Cooper Works GP set quite an impressive lap time around the famed Nürburgring’s Nordschleife track in Germany. The time? 8 minutes and 23 seconds, making this one fast Mini! This also means the new version has beaten the lap time set by its predecessor, the Mini Cooper S with John Cooper Works GP Kit, by around 19 seconds.

This is largely due to the performance which underpins this impressive Mini. The John Cooper Works GP features an exclusive powertrain, chassis and aerodynamics technology inspired directly by racing. It also has a twin-scroll turbo engine which generates outstanding torque, displays remarkable elasticity and demonstrates a healthy appetite for high revs. Specially developed, adjustable race suspension channels this superlative output into spectacular yet precisely controllable handling.

Looking at the Mini John Cooper Works GP, it's hard not to get excited by it's aggressive and muscular stance. The design of the body isn't just for looks though, as it gives the ideal aerodynamic balance in extreme driving situations, a key element in delivering precise handling.

Great Looking Butt!

The large front and rear aprons, striking side skirts and a bespoke roof spoiler are complemented by a newly developed rear diffuser which optimizes airflow around the underbody. The interior of the Mini John Cooper Works GP also contributes to the car’s inspirational racing feeling; with the rear seats removed, it focuses unashamedly on the needs of the driver and co-driver.

The “GP” tag on the model title tells you exactly where the extreme sports edition of the compact Mini most tellingly reveals its potential. The GP’s chassis configuration, the effectiveness of its race-spec braking system, the grip offered by its likewise custom racing tires, and its aerodynamic properties have been honed into a high-performance whole on the Nürburgring’s Nordschleife circuit, widely considered world’s most difficult race track.

The unadulterated transfer of racing expertise into the everyday driving environment has a long history at Mini; it was this approach that made the Mini Cooper S with John Cooper Works GP Kit the epitome of extreme driving fun in a small car when it was unveiled in 2006. Specific output of 100 kW/136 horsepower per liter of displacement and similarly impressive reserves of racing technology have secured its status as a sought-after collector’s item today.

The world will have to make due with only 2,000 Mini John Cooper Works GP though. A very sad thought indeed as this sounds like one seriously fun car.