Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

“Get your motor running
Head out on the highway
Looking for adventure
In whatever comes our way”**

These lyrics mean many things to so many people. It is an anthem really that perhaps is instantly identifiable with a lifestyle – that of the motorcycle. From the immediately recognizable opening guitar riff, this classic rock radio staple was Canadian rock icons Steppenwolf’s single biggest release. When it was attached to the soundtrack of ‘Easy Rider’, that one movie in its own way did more for motorcycles and the life on the road than any other movie before or since, including Marlon Brando’s ‘The Wild One’. Remember Peter Fonda’s chopper for the picture? This bike was specially built for the low budget film; one of four custom builds from Harley-Davidson® Hydra Glide® bikes – all previously owned by police departments. Wonderful irony.

At the end of the day, the name Harley-Davidson® is synonymous with larger machines, often inappropriately associated with bike ‘gangs’ and the like. Truth be known, many bike owners, regardless of the brand are members of clubs – organizations, not gangs that often arrange various events and even fund raise for a charity of choice. Once considered a domain for men only, today both sexes consider motorcycles as a mode of transport – for that spirit of adventure.

“Owning a Harley is a lifestyle,” says Alex Carroni PR maven of Deeley Harley-Davidson Canada. “Once you experience your first, it’s unlikely you’ll move to another brand. Sure, as you mature and your road experience changes and the physical demands on your body take its toll, you may move around among the models. It’s not unusual for a rider with the initial purchase of, say a Sportster® Nightster® XL1200N – with its classic vintage motorcycle appearance to trade up for an awesome cruising road machine, the six speed transmission CVO™ Street Glide®, almost 900 pounds of supremely-engineered, controlled power.”

She, Alex, is quick to point out that these days, with Harleys being built in Milwaukee and the strength of the Canadian dollar, there has probably never been a better time than now to invest in a North American-made machine compared to an import. In fact, since the end of August 2009, prices of Harley-Davidson machines have been reduced by about 14½%.

“I can practically guarantee that once you come through our doors, at some point, you will be the proud owner of one of the best engineered driving machines on the planet – bar none. There’s just something about the name and experience that compels you to come back.”

Let’s take a look at some of the exciting line up for 2012; what does Harley have in store for the newcomer to motorcycling and the enthusiastic, alike.

2012 Sportster Custom

Now for the first time ever, any Harley-Davidson customer that wants to purchase a 2012 Sportster 1200 Custom with a base MSRP of $11,389 will, with the aid of a powerful online tool at www.harleycanada.com/HD1bikebuilder.com be able to build and visualize their own, custom bike – and pricing. Choose colour; wheels, front end components – as many as 2,600 different combinations including foot-control location, seat and handlebar choices all of which may be selected to adjust the fit of the actual motorcycle to an individual rider’s specific stature. Once you have finished building your bike, print off the detailed description and take it down to your closest Harley-Davidson dealer. There a professional, highly-trained staff member can review your planned bike. They might even suggest items you had not considered, perhaps even removing others that, based upon your intended usage, may not be either necessary or appropriate. Finalized, place the order and expect to take delivery of a brand new, fully-customized bike within four weeks. All work will have been done at one time, leaving you to enjoy your new-found freedom with minimal interruption as you take to the open road and a lifetime of new adventures.

2012 Dyna Switchback

Harley-Davidson now gives you the opportunity of owning two bikes – and all for the price of one! The new Dyna Switchback is indeed a true quick change artist; with colour-matched hard saddlebags and a fork mounted windshield, you’re sitting astride a 1,690cc beast with 100-foot pounds of torque at 3,500rpm. The Switchback is considered a custom touring motorcycle. However, remove the saddle bags and detach the windshield (all without tools) and voila, you’re now looking at your new custom street cruiser. The choices are yours and it all takes but a few moments depending upon how you plan to use your bike that day. This is a motorcycle that is sure to impress, regardless of your intended use. The H-D Dyna Switchback is designed and styled to evoke a classic proportion and clean, straight lines – from the fuel tank to the full-coverage rear fender. This bike will make a impression wherever it goes. And regardless of how you configure it in the morning, hours later on a winding, undulating two-lane highway in Northern Ontario, you’ll still feel alert and comfortable, thanks to a responsive riding package that Harley’s engineers and designers have worked hard to accomplish. Weighing in at only 718 pounds, it’s ready to handle whatever you throw in its path, delivering strong performance on the boulevard and the highway. Consider taking a Switchback for a test ride and see for yourself what enthusiasts and engineers alike are talking about. And yes, with its straight cut muffler, this machine’s chrome exhaust is tuned for a deep exhaust tone that makes it sound the way a Harley should.

2012 V-Rod® 10th Anniversary Edition

This very special motorcycle is a stunning tribute to the original V-Rod and will only be available, in this 10th Anniversary edition for 2012. At a suggested base MSRP of $17,559, this stunning machine is lovingly finished in a Brilliant Silver Pearl custom paint job and a unique colour-matched frame. With loads of extra chrome and polished surfaces, this bike will literally dazzle, gleaming from the engine, exhaust and speed screen. This motorbike announces its presence loudly. Check out the 240mm wide rear tire, and the 10th Anniversary graphics. Not only does this V-Rod look terrific, it is backed up with a rubber-mounted (to reduce vibration and road noise) liquid-cooled 1,250cc Revolution® engine with electronic sequential port fuel injectors. Generating 125hp at 8,250rpm and all linked to an assist and slip clutch, five-speed transmission and a high-performance carbon-fibre belt drive. And that awesome rear tire? Combine it with Brembo (yes that’s right, the same braking system found on high-end aspirational sports cars) triple disc brakes with an anti-lock braking system, and you have a commanding performance vehicle that looks and acts the part – in spades. Remember, the V-Rod’s pedigree was originally inspired by drag racing bikes and monster-motor custom
performance motorcycles.

2012 CVO™ Road Glide® Custom

This is one bike that demands respect, commands the owner and onlookers alike to admire and nod in appreciation. This is a hot-rod touring performance motorcycle drenched with chrome that is only available in limited numbers so if you gaze at this machine with slack-jawed awe and reverence, it’ll take a strong will and an open cheque book to purchase one of only 2,100 units being produced. Not for the faint of heart, this bulging, limited-production motorcycle features the most powerful V-Twin engine offered by Harley-Davidson, an exclusive multi-coloured paint scheme and a brand new high-output Harman/Kardon sound system with MTX speakers and a host of other custom components, unique to this bike. And yes, the starting MSRP is $33,689. Everything about this machine shouts out its quality and complete synergy with the Harley-Davidson brand. When Bill Harley and Walter Davidson built the very first one-cylinder motorcycle in cramped quarters in Milwaukee, in 1903, would they even have dared to imagine a magnificent road machine such as this? OK. So technology aside, probably not. Regardless, everything about this bike speaks to its long, illustrious heritage and the highest standards. So much so, Harley-Davidson CVOs are backed by a two-year unlimited mileage warranty. Combine all this technology and style with the Screamin’ Eagle® Twin Cam 110™ engine, electronic throttle, electronic sequential fuel injection, a six-speed cruise drive transmission, all new black internally-wired handlebars with matching black hand controls and a whole host of additional features and amenities that make this a machine to be reckoned. Available in three absolutely gorgeous paint finishes, our vote goes to the White Gold Pearl and Starfire Black with Real Smoke graphic. Absolutely magnificent and a traffic stopper, to be sure.

While you may never quite pull off the Peter Fonda look from the late 1960’s, know that on any Harley-Davidson you choose, you are practically guaranteed to look the part – especially if outfitted from your local Harley-Davidson dealer. You’re a rider that knows who they are and where they are going. The fact it may take a little longer to get there since riding is so exhilarating makes no difference.

Drive well. Drive long. Drive safe.

“Like a true nature child
We were born
Born to be wild
We have climbed so high
Never want to die.

Born to be wild…”**

** ‘Born to be Wild’ – Written by Dennis Edmonton, aka Mars Bonfire.

When the sirens started their relentless wail on March 11, 2011 along the eastern seaboard of Japan, who could have imagined that similar, metaphorical sirens might also be resonating in a community in Central Ontario, over 10,000 kilometres away?

We’re talking about the small town of Alliston, situated north and west of Toronto.

Since 1986 when Honda Canada first opened the doors to the fledgling state-of-the-art operation, Honda of Canada Manufacturing (HCM) have been producing Honda-brand vehicles for the North American market and beyond with great success. In fact, HCM has produced more than 5.4 million vehicles.

Events of mid-March saw production of all vehicles produced on these shores reduced by 50%. It could not have happened at a worse time: HCM’s Plant 1 was beginning to ramp up for the introduction of the 2012 model year Civic. All Civics destined for North American with the exception of the Hybrid are built there. The Civic has been the top selling passenger vehicle in Canada for the past 13 years with more than 1.6
million of them being sold in Canada since 1973.

While the sudden slow down affected Honda Canada and HCM’s 4,200 employees (Associates), not one single Associate was laid off in the months after the tragic Asian disaster.  Production of all Honda Civics suffered; so did that of the Acura MDX and ZDX, also built in Alliston. It’s important to note that not only was HCM affected, so too was the extensive Canadian dealer network and of course, local suppliers of many
key components used in production of Honda automobiles.

In September of this year, production at Plant 1 (which builds the Civic Sedan, Coupe and the Si coupe), returned to two shift operations. Jon Minto, senior vice president of HCM, and Jerry Chenkin, executive of Honda Canada announced on October 19, 2011 that full production on all four shifts and Plants 1 and 2 have now resumed. Plant 1 will produce 800 vehicles a day and Plant 2, 600. Plans are underway, however to increase Plant 2 production to 800 vehicles by the end of November. 400 new associates have been hired and are presently undergoing extensive training.

Both senior executives made a point of thanking everyone within the Honda family in helping to weather difficult circumstances. Throughout it all, orders for the 2012 Civic continued thanks to the enthusiasm of their loyal dealers. Now the first order of business is to ensure that back orders are filled and that a comfortable inventory of vehicles is maintained. Interestingly enough, while sales on a year to date basis for the Civic are down, as of the end of September, the Civic may be on track to hit the number one spot for the 14th consecutive year.

All while maintaining a safe and productive environment in this highly-efficient manufacturing facility.

In this part of the country, we love our trucks.  ½ ton pick ups and up. Some use them as a primary vehicle, some for work. Some drive them on weekends. Some drive them day in, day out. In rural Canada, trucks are king. No question.

For the most part and to this point, to get the job done, owners traditionally looked to growling V8 monsters (gas or diesel-fuelled), capable of performing just about every task thrown in its 4 x 4 or 4 x 2 path. There was no task too big, no task too small for the venerable workhorse.

In Canada, pick up truck sales consistently lead the way for vehicles purchased, month over month. As a matter of fact, the top-selling pick up in this country for 45 years now is the Ford F-150 series, a pick up that comes in about as many variations as Baskin Robbins has flavours.

As popular as the F-150 pick up might be, the Ford Motor company has not sat back complacently and watched the orders come in, month in, month out.

Well, they have made note of the orders, but a few years back, Ford, like many other manufacturers out there began to realize that the salad days of big honking, fuel guzzling stump-pulling trucks was perhaps nearing an end. People were finally starting to pay attention and made demands on Detroit and Canada’s Big 3 and even popular import manufacturers. Greater fuel efficiency was required. But for trucks, the message was even clearer. Improve the efficiency of the motors to reduce wear and tear on wallets, but don’t even think about sacrificing power and raw, brute strength.

Those that work the land or haul loads of lumber and equipment from job site to job site have high, some might argue unrealistic expectations when it comes to their trucks. But now, especially with the high cost of fuel, they want everything they ever had when they turned on their pick up’s engine. And more. Saving money has never been more important – without sacrificing raw power.

A tall order, and over the past few years, there have been many close calls from all the major manufacturers. Even some of the imports were getting it right – to a point. As much as there may be loyalty to North American trucks, if off shore manufacturers presented a diesel-fuelled  option, there would be many folks tipping their hats, rubbing their chins and saying, “Show me!”

Now it seems that the engineers at Ford may well have come up with a winning formula with the introduction of the 2011 F-150 with EcoBoost.

EcoBoost is a name that Ford has pinned on one or two engines over the past couple of years, especially with the SHO passenger vehicle and the large family-oriented Flex SUV. So what exactly is this EcoBoost they’re almost bragging about? Well succinctly, EcoBoost is a family of turbocharged and direct injected six-cylinder (and four-cylinder) gasoline engines built by the Ford Motor Company. Engines equipped with EcoBoost technology are designed to deliver power and torque consistent with larger displacement, naturally aspirated engines while achieving approximately 20% better fuel efficiency and 15% reduced greenhouse emissions. Imagine that; an eco-oriented pick up! Simply put, relative to the power output and fuel efficiency of hybrid and even diesel technologies, Ford sees EcoBoost as an affordable and versatile alternative and intends on using it extensively in more future vehicle applications – hence the F-150.

This truck is a definite game-changer in the world of pick ups. The leopard has managed to change its spots. Really. Under the hood of this venerable pick up is an all new 3.5L V6 with the aforementioned EcoBoost. Will this V6 convince die hard V8 believers? If you look strictly at the numbers, there is little doubt. This engine is a twin-turbo, DOHC – practically unheard of in the truck world. And it runs on regular, readily available unleaded gasoline. Fuel economy is also impressive – 12.9l/100km city and 9.0l/100km highway. Pretty darn respectable for a truck. But what’s next makes it stand out from the pack. This blown V6 motor generates 365hp and 465lb.-ft. torque way down low in the rev range – putting it in the same class as similar trucks with massive V8 engines – but with respectable fuel economy. In fact, fuel consumption even for this twin turbo engine, is reduced by 20 per cent. Even when compared to the F-150 Platinum with a 411hp 6.2L V8, the Ford F-150 V6 with EcoBoost shares a towing capacity at an axle-ripping 11,300lbs and 3,060lbs payload, respectively. That’s right. V8 performance in a V6 package. Some observers have stated for the record that this truck drives more like a turbo-diesel, providing loads of low-end ‘grunt’ with what would appear to be little effort.

For the first three months of this year, Ford sold 20,000 trucks in Canada. By comparison, Honda, manufacturers of the top selling passenger car in Canada for 13 years running, rang up sales of 12,000 units.

It remains to be seen if this new dog can teach some old dogs a trick or two. Ford is expecting big things from this truck. Convincing die-hard ‘big-must-be-better’ customers to consider switching will tell the story. This is a serious contender with a considerable pedigree that cannot nor should not be denied. To appease some skeptics, engineers may have to tweak the exhaust systems, allowing the vehicle to actually ‘sound’ like it’s exerting itself. After all, that’s what everyone is used to. Not this good looking, performance-oriented street or off-road mainstay.

Ford F-150 V6 with EcoBoost doing a day's work

OK, so let’s be clear. Yes, there are some amazing ‘supercars’ out there that right off the dealer lot showroom would impress any calf-skin leather gloved, short espresso with a twist aficionado.

But the cars we are talking about here are for the average ‘Joe’, the individual who does not own a black AMEX card nor has either Brad or Angelina on speed dial.

So without any unnecessary fanfare, here’s our final selection.

2011 Dodge Challenger SRT8 392

Dodge has done an absolutely stunning job of camouflaging the Challenger SRT8 392 as an automobile. When compared to its most direct rivals, the Challenger is the design that most successfully draws on its muscle-bound coupe heritage. Just look at it. Raw animal like power oozes from the sheet metal – and then some.

Look at the hood scoops and beefy oversize tires – it all adds up to one menacing muscle car. Not beautiful, almost mean, poised like a tightly wound spring, and ready to leap into action at the drop of a hat – or flag.

The new 6.4L HEMI pumps out 470hp and 470 lb ft. of torque – 50 more horses and 90 lbs more twist than the previous model. That extra torque results in some impressive straight line acceleration: 0-100 km in the high 4-second range. Fortunately for everyone, Brembo brakes are standard issue on this built-for-speed beast. The boys in the backrooms must have been chuckling when they came up with this monster.

Traditionally cars with this much heat under the hood are good for one thing – going fast and in a straight line. However, it would appear that the engineers built a spectacular muscle car with aspirations of German sports-car agility.  Really.

Only a limited number of these driving machines are destined for Canada so keep a wary eye – and your wallet wide open.

2011 Ford Mustang GT Premium

With the arrival of the new V8, ‘5.0’ badges make a return to the Mustang’s flanks after an 18-year absence. Mustang GTs are also quickly identifiable by their grille-mounted fog lamps and 18-inch wheels that fit snugly under the boldly flared wheel arches. Make no mistake, the 2011 Mustang is no wallflower.

From behind the wheel, it’s soon evident that the Mustang GT even with automatic transmission is not your grandmother’s Ford. When filled up with wallet-draining premium fuel, the 5L 4V Ti-VCT V8 kicks out 412hp and 390 pound-feet of torque. You’ll still see gas station owner’s smile when you drive in.

OK so we know this is a driving machine. How does it stack up, overall?

Chances are, you’re going to enjoy the time you spend inside the 2011 Mustang GT. Ford do not appear to have ‘cheaped’ out on materials and finish.

The by now almost ubuitous (Microsoft) Sync infotainment system is pretty amazing, but it’s perhaps not quite as instinctive as TV spots might have you believe. Spend time with it and it is impressive and quite versatile. Word to the wise; the navigation system might even make getting lost fun. It’s one of the best out there – especially in this price range which, incidentally, starts around $40,000.

The 2011 Ford Mustang 5.0 V-8 launch in LA

2011 Golf GTI

In 2010, Volkswagen (VW) overhauled the GTI, adding fresh changes that included chrome exhaust pipes, angular headlights and an upscale interior that rivals Audi. In fact a well-known on line reviewer, edmonds.com stated, “The VW GTI’s interior is quite simply, the best in its class. It’s so nice, in fact, that it could be mistaken for a cabin from sister company Audi, save for the plaid fabric seats.”

The interior and exterior receive minor updates for 2011. VW also added classier features to the premium packages. Volkswagen hasn’t touched the mechanics because the Volkswagen GTI is one of the best driving sporty hatchbacks on the market. While it might not be perhaps as quick or even nimble as other sport hatchbacks, it does provide an overall superior driving experience. German engineering, after all.

Available with a long list of options as standard equipment such as Bluetooth and satellite radio, the 2011 GTI, starting with a manufacturer’s suggested price of $28,875 however, isn’t best in class performance-wise. But unless consumers plan on drag racing, the GTI is near perfect for driving-enthusiasts. Available with optional 18” alloy wheels and low-profile performance tires, coupled with the ever-reliable 2.0 TSI, 200hp, 6-speed manual or optional 6-speed automatic DSG with Tiptronic® and all tied into dual chrome exhaust pipes, this is one serious vehicle for the driver that wants to make a statement; looking cool but being a little eco-minded, too. It is still a turbocharged 4-cylinder.

2011 Volkswagen Golf GTI somewhere near Niagara-on-the-Lake, ON

 

These days life continues to develop at a fast pace – some might argue too fast.

Regardless, one of the things that we might likely all agree is we like cars. We like cars that look good. We like cars that look performance-oriented and if they can deliver, even better.

While customizing cars is still a popular activity, it is most often done to cars that might have a few miles under the hood.

Unless you are a professional athlete with unlimited funds, it’s unlikely you’re going to take a brand new ‘super car’ like a Ferrari, for example and change the angle of the seats, or the colour of the leather upholstery, or rip out the OEM sound system and install customized sound equipment that could rival a stadium-playing metal band. It would be safe to say that Will Castro, the well known vehicle customizer to the stars in Miami, is likely not on your speed dial.

But still you want to drive a car you can be proud. You want to receive nods of acknowledgement from your peers. You want it all, but without breaking the bank.

These days, many of the manufacturers have been paying attention. Rather than lose a customer, some have gone out of their way to build performance-oriented machines that will turn heads at every opportunity.

Let’s examine some of those choices. The following are direct from the dealer floor. What you might choose to do with them is your prerogative. But any one of the following will fit the bill – depending upon the budget you have available.

2012 Honda Civic Si

The all new 2012 Honda Civic Coupe Si is an affordable sports coupe for drivers of all ages. Especially if you’re looking for performance – and excitement and at affordable price point, too.  Starting at $25,990 the all new 2.4-litre, 16-valve, DOHC, i-VTEC® 4-cylinder red lines at 7000rpm while producing a very respectable 201hp. But the biggest surprise? The innovative engine generates a phenomenal 170 lb.-ft. @ 4400 rpm – a 22% increase over the old model!

Nudge the 6-speed manual transmission through the short gates and be prepared for truly spirited performance as the harnessed raw power is efficiently transferred to P215/45R17 tires. If you’ve driven an Si before, good for you. This is different. Feel empowered as the vehicle quickly accelerates from a standing stop and listen to the delightful sound of the engine as its controlled power is unleashed.

This vehicle will bring a smile to drivers, passengers and onlookers alike. Handling is very comfortable and sure-footed.

All in all, a worthy addition to the Honda line-up; perhaps exterior styling is not as ‘drastic’ as some might want, but overall, it definitely delivers.

2012 Honda Civic Si on the course at FedEx Field in Washington, DC