Corvette Stingray: 0 – 60 in 3.8 Seconds
Chevrolet says the 2014 Corvette Stingray is the most capable standard Corvette ever. A Z51 Performance Package-equipped Stingray can accelerate from 0 to 60 mph in 3.8 seconds, brake from 60 to 0 in 107 feet and sustain 1.03g during cornering.

 

In a speed run at the Virginia International Raceway (VIR)’s 4.2-mile “Grand Course,” the Stingray ran the lap in an average time of 2 minutes, 51.78 seconds. “For the new Stingray, we set out to elevate every aspect of the Corvette’s performance,” says Tadge Juechter, Corvette chief engineer. “Considered alone, the acceleration, braking and cornering performance of the Corvette Stingray is truly impressive. More significant is how well they work together, resulting in a lap time at VIR that places the new Stingray in the upper echelon of all sports cars.”

 

Performance statistics are identical for the manual or automatic transmissions, Chevrolet says. By comparison, the 2013 Porsche 911 Carrera S will do 0-60 in 3.9 seconds.

 

The 2013 SRT Viper will do 0-60 in the low three-second range,  and 60 to 0 mph in 106 feet.

 

The 2014 Corvette Stingray coupe went on sale in the third quarter of 2013 for a suggested starting retail price of $51,995, excluding tax, title and license fees. The $2,800 Z51 Performance Package includes an electronic limited-slip differential; dry-sump oiling system; integral brake, differential and transmission cooling; as well as a unique aero package that further improves high-speed stability. Magnetic Ride Control with Performance Traction Management is a $1,795 option. 

Kia Cadenza: Range-Topping Sedan
The latest from automotive rebel Kia Motors is a full-size sedan, the 2014 Cadenza. While it has its elements of shock and awe, the Cadenza’s mission appears to be more buttoned-down, with attractive but tame exterior styling, a wood-trimmed interior with standard leather upholstery and just about every current electronic enhancement — from voice-recognized infotainment to ventilated front seats. All models use a 293-horsepower, 3.3-liter direct-injection V-6 and six-speed automatic. The Cadenza is familiar as the slightly less pretty partner to the Hyundai Azera. Prices range from $35,900, including the $800 freight charge from Korea, to about $42,000.

 

Standard equipment includes: Smart key with push-button ignition, leather-trimmed upholstery, surround sound audio with satellite radio and digital inputs, UVO voice-activated in-cabin assistance, rearview camera. The warranty is 5-years/60,000-miles bumper to bumper with roadside assistance; 10-years/100,000-miles powertrain. There are two factory option packages that include such niceties as, smart cruise control, blind-spot detection, lane-departure warning, 19-inch wheels and hydrophobic front-door windows (which like the name implies resists the adhesion of rainwater), a panoramic roof with power sunshade, HID headlights, Nappa leather, heated rear seats, heated steering wheel, and power rear sunshade.

 

Ride quality is luxury class with responsive handling without sport-sedan toughness. The V-6 pours out rich and ready power with good pull in the upper rpm range. The six-speed Sportmatic doles out well-timed shifts, but flagship sedans are now debuting seven-, eight- and nine-speed transmissions. EPA fuel economy ratings are 19 mpg city, 28 highway and 22 combined, using regular unleaded. “The Cadenza fits into “the emerging space between mainstream and luxury and will appeal to discerning shoppers in the market for an upscale sedan,” Kia says.

 

ACURA ReLaX: The Luxury Flagship
Acura has redoubled its ante to the entry-luxury sedan segment with a blue-chip redesign to its flagship RLX. Sold in five trim levels, starting prices range from $49,345 to $61,000, including the $895 freight charge from Japan. All models are front-wheel drive with a 310-horsepower, 3.5-liter V-6, six-speed automatic transmission and all-wheel steering. The AWD Sport Hybrid goes on sale later this year, using electric motors to drive the rear wheels. There is no mechanical driveline connection front to rear.

 

By dimensions, RLX is a midsize car, it just feels full size. The redesign is about the same length but a couple inches wider on a longer wheelbase. The width is welcome throughout the cabin but felt in the wide, 40.5-foot turning circle. At 3,997 pounds, fuel economy on premium is 20-mpg city, 31 highway and 24 combined. Standard equipment includes: keyless locking and push-button ignition, 14-speaker Krell audio system, satellite (HD) radio, Bluetooth phone and music connectivity, text messaging, 12-way power front seats, heated front seats, tilt-telescopic steering wheel, trizone climate control, rear-door sunshades, power moon roof with tilt, multiangle rearview camera, electric parking brake, tire-sealant and inflator kit (in place of spare tire). All models get 18- or 19-inch noise-reducing alloy wheels and all-season tires. The standard tire is a Michelin Pilot MXM4 P245/45 or a Michelin Primacy MXM4 245/40 on up level models.

 

Option packages included: voice-activated navigation system with real-time street, traffic and weather conditions, blind-spot information, collision mitigation braking system, adaptive cruise control, lane-keeping assist, heated rear seats, auto-dimming side mirrors, parking sensors.

 

Mazda6: Redefining the “Sports” Sedan
The 2014 Mazda6 is at long last what faithful followers have always known was possible from this creative company. The re-engineered midsize front-wheel-drive sedan benefits from Mazda’s full Skyactiv treatment for engine design, lightweight construction and styling. The result is a solid family car that drives like a sport sedan but is more comfortable and functional. Of the dozen or sedans in this segment, the Mazda6 is among the few that offers a manual transmission — and a good one, not just a balky box for low price-point advertising.

 

Sold in three trim levels, all models have a 184-horsepower Skyactiv four-cylinder engine and six-speed transmissions. Pricing ranges from $21,675 to about $31,500 for the top-line Grand Touring with automatic and the option group for radar cruise control and forward obstruction warning ($900). Mazda added the i-Eloop engine, a fuel-economy extender that uses a capacitor-based brake energy regeneration system. The capacitor (sort of a short-term battery) powers the cabin features and headlights rather than burning more fuel to generate electricity. The system adds 2 mpg city and highway and reduces drag on the engine, which frees up horsepower. I-Eloop is available on the Grand Touring model as part of the new GT Technology Package, $2,080. By fall, there will be a 2.2-liter, twin-turbocharged four-cylinder diesel engine.

 

Standard equipment includes: remote locking and push-button ignition, air conditioning with pollen filter, six-speaker audio system with digital inputs, 17-inch alloy wheels, 225/55 all-season tires, halogen headlights and running lights, dual exhaust (with chrome tips), power side mirrors with turn-signals (manual folding), leather-wrapped steering wheel with controls for audio and cruise, sliding sun visor extensions, 60/40 split folding rear seat. Safety features include: six air bags, ABS with electronic brake-force distribution and brake assist, and stability and traction controls.