No. 942
April 18, 2018

About The UjianNasional@PeterMDeLorenzo Author, commentator, influencer. "The Consigliere." Editor-in-Chief of

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On The Surface


APRIL 18, 2018

arrowdown.gifarrowdown.gifarrowdown.gif  GTB. Editor-in-Chief's Note: The advertising agency formerly known as Team Detroit and now known as GTB has been notified by its biggest client - the Ford Motor Company - that the Ford account is being put up for review, with the process beginning in May. WPPs Lincoln ad agency - Hudson Rouge - is not affected. I will have more on this story as it develops. -PMD

Editor-in-Chief's Note (4/18, 11:40a.m. EST): General Motors has appointed Steve Carlisle as GM vice president and president of Cadillac, replacing Johan de Nysschen, who is leaving the automaker immediately. Carlisle was previously president and managing director of GM Canada. I will comment on this development in next week's column. -PMD
The 2019 Corvette ZR1 is the official Pace Car for the 2018 Indianapolis 500 presented by PennGrade Motor Oil. This marks the fifteenth time a Corvette has served as the official Pace Car since 1978, and the 29th time a Chevrolet has led the field dating back to 1948, when a 1948 Fleetmaster Six convertible paced the race. Like all Corvette ZR1 machines, the 2019 Corvette ZR1 Pace Car features a 
6.2L supercharged LT5 Small Block V8 with 755 hp and 715 lb-ft of torque coupled to a 8-speed 8L90 paddle-shift automatic gearbox; and a bunch of other stuff, of course. The Corvette ZR1 can accelerate from 0 to 60 mph in 2.85 seconds and reach a top track speed of 212 mph, making it the fastest Corvette in history. The 102nd running of the iconic race will take place on Sunday, May 27.

(BMW images)
After an endless series of crossover and SUV introductions, BMW has to throw its True Believers a bone now and again and let them cut loose on something they actually want to work on. The result? The introduction of the 2019 BMW M2 Competition, a hot rod version of the BMW M2 Coupe. 
The engine that powers the new BMW M2 Competition is based on the inline 6-cylinder engine with M TwinPower Turbo technology from the BMW M3 and BMW M4; and it delivers 405HP between 5,230 and 7,000 rpm. The engine’s peak torque of 406 lb-ft is on tap between 2,350 rpm and 5,230 rpm, and a dual exhaust system with electronic flap control provides the distinctive M sound. The M2 Competition goes 0-60 mph in 4.0 seconds with a top speed of (electronically limited) 155 mph; however the car can be combined with the M Driver’s Package to raise the top speed to 174 mph. It has many other dynamic enhancements as well. The BMW M2 Competition will be available in the summer of 2018, price to be announced. 

Porsche Works race driver Kévin Estre recently set a lap time of 6:56.4 minutes with the 520HP 911 GT3 RS. The Frenchman’s lap time was 24 seconds faster than the best time achieved with the previous GT3 RS model. The new 911 GT3 RS is the third production Porsche sports car with a notarized lap time of less than seven minutes on the “Green Hell.” The other two were the the 918 Spyder and the 911 GT2 RS. The record time was measured around the 20.6-kilometer lap. Estre began the record lap at 11:40 a.m. in ideal conditions, with 14 degree Celsius ambient and 18 degree Celsius track temperatures. At the Nürburgring, the 911 GT3 RS was equipped with the latest generation of Michelin Pilot Sport Cup 2 R tires, optimized for track day use, but fully compliant with relevant E.U. and U.S. standards. The tire (265/35 ZR 20 front and 325/30 ZR 21 rear) will be available to order soon at Porsche dealers and other select locations. Approved fitments include the 911 GT3 RS and the 911 GT2 RS. The 911 GT3 RS accelerates from 0 to 60 mph in 3.0 seconds and reaches a top track speed of 193 mph. In case you're wondering, the base MSRP in the U.S. is $187,500 (not including available options or the $1,050 delivery, processing and handling fee). The Weissach Package is available as an $18,000 option. The Magnesium wheels can be ordered for an additional $13,000 in conjunction with the Weissach Package and will be available at a later date.


By Peter M. DeLorenzo

Detroit. Needless to say, the reactions to me leasing a 2018 Alfa Romeo Stelvio TI AWD ran the gamut from "good luck," to "I hope it goes well," to "you've frickin' lost it," to "what a waste of money." Which was pretty much what I expected. As I said, it's part of the auto writer routine to get cars to drive (well, not routine for us, for most auto journos anyway -WG), write about them, then give them back after a week. You give your impressions and then move on, with no payments or insurance premiums to deal with. It's really good, and on top of that sometimes you get to drive really cool stuff. But then again it just gives you a snapshot, while committing to drive something on your own dime is another thing completely.

I obviously have been super critical of FCA's CEO in the past, because I found the boasting and braggadocio to be tedious and counter to what the company was trying to accomplish. Lest anyone forgets, Alfa Romeo was never a mainstream brand in this country, it was always the interesting alternative that marched to a different drummer. So the notion that a switch would be flipped and it would be going toe-to-toe with Audi in this market by 2018 was the height of absurdity. 

You get all that, right? But now, what about the car? 

Make no mistake, I have no illusions about what the Stelvio represents. It's a branding exercise designed to take advantage of the hottest segment in the market. It has about as much to do with the historical legacy of Alfa Romeo as the Cayenne/Macan has to do with the essence of Porsche. Be that as it may, the Stelvio does bring some "marching to a different drummer" aspects to the typical SUV/crossover equation. Its design is distinctive, at least as much as it's possible to squeeze desirability out of the SUV shape. (The new Jaguar I-PACE is the new standard for the genre, but the Stelvio is pleasing to the eye at least.) 

The fact that the Stelvio is based on the Giulia architecture is a very good thing. I've driven it enough now to say that it truly is a sports sedan with a little more ground clearance. The steering is ultra-quick, and it's notably light on its feet, a clear departure from the typical German SUV/crossovers, which are heavy and sluggish feeling, even in the hot rod versions. The Stelvio is responsive to inputs and truly a pleasure to drive in that respect, which is what it should be all about, right? Enthusiasts know in the first mile when a car just feels right. The Stelvio is one of those cars.

As for the comments from other sources on the sluggish-to-react "by wire" braking system, I have experienced hints of that but only in a few instances. It's almost as if you have to adapt to the Stelvio's demeanor, not the other way around, which is fine with me because, after all, I learned how to adapt to early 911s in order to drive them fast and well. The brakes work fine when you use them with authority, and any sluggishness I've experienced has only come in stop-and-go traffic and very infrequently. 

As for the power delivery of the 2.0-liter, turbocharged, 280HP 4-cylinder, the Stelvio is still very new, and I always refrain from hammering my cars until I have at least 1,000 miles on them. (I know, that's very Old School of me but that's the way I prefer to do it.) I can tell it has real juice, however (306 lb.-ft. of torque), so I'm anxious to get to the point where I can put my foot in it. Although I have experienced some hesitation under acceleration a few times, I don't fault the Stelvio. Again, I feel it's just a matter of getting a feel for what the engine responds to in order to exploit the performance. For now, the Stelvio's engine response at mid-range speeds is really good. 

The most unexpected part of the Stelvio? I think the interior is quite good. Some reviewers have suggested that it's plain and uninviting, but I find it to be clean, uncluttered, contemporary and a pleasant surprise. I won't get into the complaints about the center stack that I've read about, because I am still getting to know it. We'll see how that develops. But as pleasing as the interior is to me, it also features the most glaring fault in the entire car: the shift knob. It functions properly, that's not the issue at all. It's the way it feels that is so off-putting. It has an abrasive plastic ridge component to it that wouldn't even pass muster on a PEZ dispenser, and the whole thing feels like cheap plastic because, well... it is cheap plastic. And it is simply inexcusable, shocking, actually. The True Believers who worked on this machine got it right in so many areas, I am stunned that they let this aspect go. If it was simply a cost decision, that makes it even worse.

All that being said, my initial impressions of the Stelvio are quite promising. To be continued... 

(And by the way, thanks to longtime reader Mark Weaver for our Stelvio graphic!!)