Fisker Ocean will start at $379 per month under subscription service

As promised, Fisker on Wednesday opened the order books for its forthcoming Ocean battery-electric SUV and announced pricing and other details ahead of its launch in 2022. Also as promised, the eco-luxury ‘ute will come in well below what Volvo is charging under its Care by Volvo subscription program.

Fisker will make the Ocean available primarily through a monthly lease that starts at $379 per month through its mobile app, which is now live for iOS and Android platforms. That compares to $700 per month to get into Care by Volvo with the XC40, and mileage limits are twice those of the latter, at 30,000 miles per year, compared to 15,000 for Volvo. That makes good on founder Henrik Fisker’s promises to be cheaper and more generous on mileage than its competitor.

However, you’ll need to put down $2,999 to trigger that price level, compared to just $500 to get started under Care by Volvo. And unlike its benchmarked competitor, insurance is not included, though Fisker says it expects customers will be able to access affordable quotes through its mobile app “due to a unique and proprietary low cost of service and maintenance model.”

Similar to some other subscription services, the Fisker lease program eschews long-term contracts in favor of giving customers flexibility to return the vehicle any time, even after as little as a month. It also covers maintenance and service, with pickup and return of the vehicle included.

Check out Autoblog’s Complete Guide to Car Subscriptions.

Fisker says there will be five option packages for the Ocean, available closer to the end of the year, that are designed to reduce the complexity of option configurators. Fisker will also set up what it’s calling “experience centers” in shopping districts and airports where customers will be able to see the vehicles and spec packages. Starting in 2021, customers will also be able to schedule test drives through the mobile app.

The company released some new details, including a “California Mode” — presumably a retractable sunroof feature — that will be standard on all trim grades above the base version, four-wheel drive versions with electric motors front and rear, and the promise of a five-star safety rating.

Reservations cost $250 and are fully refundable. They come with exclusive new teaser images of the SUV to be released in advance of the official January unveiling, meaning we can probably look forward to an avalanche of leaked teaser images from reservation holders as part of the unceasing trickle of promotional teases for the new vehicle.

One new wrinkle: Fisker says it will offer a limited number of models for sale in response to global demand. No word yet on the purchase price; that’ll be announced in January when we see the production-intent prototype.


70 years of VW in America: We go back in time to drive 6 of those cars

Volkswagen is celebrating its 70th anniversary selling cars in the United States, and as part of that celebration, it brought out a selection of significant models from its history to drive, including a 1949 Beetle, 1973 Type 3 Squareback, 1977 Dasher/Passat, 1979 Super Beetle Convertible, 1982 Jetta and 1984 Rabbit GTI. These cars were all in varying states of condition, and we were only allowed to drive them through a nearby neighborhood, so they only ever hit a speed of about 45 mph in our hands.

But each car’s personality still came through.

1949 Beetle

The oldest car here also proved to be the simplest in features, and the most difficult to drive. Its air-cooled engine was claimed to produce a meager 25
horsepower, and I completely believe it. Pulling out anywhere was nerve-wracking, since even at full throttle it accelerated like a golf cart. This Beetle was early enough that it didn’t have a fully synchronized transmission, either, so shifting required some double-clutching – and with it, the inevitable missed gears and grinding. This is a car that takes practice to drive well.

As for the rest of the car, it’s elegant in its simplicity. The interior is all painted metal, and only one dial exists – a speedometer, housed in an ivory-colored
surrounded and matched by just a couple of similarly colored switches. It all has a bit of Art Deco flare to keep it feeling too spartan. The seats are comfortable enough, but with barely adequate cushioning. It’s not rewarding to drive by modern standards, but it puts into perspective how far we and
VW have come in the intervening years.

1973 Type 3 Squareback

The Type 3 was an early attempt by VW to expand beyond the Beetle and the Microbus into a more conventional car. It was available in coupe and wagon
forms, and still had an air-cooled flat-four engine mounted in the back powering the rear wheels.

The 1973 version we tried out had a fuel-injected 1.6-liter engine making 65 horsepower. While not fast by any means, the 65 ponies helped the VW join traffic more confidently, feeling a little like a modern subcompact car. Impressively, the Squareback has a smooth ride that absorbs bumps well. Body roll is moderate, but it corners decently. The steering on this one felt a little loose and numb, but was responsive enough.

The biggest detriment is the awkwardly positioned pedals. They’re angled upright and have a long travel, so you have to move your legs a lot to actuate them. The interior is still mostly painted metal and simple seats, but some bits of plastic modernize it and add some contrast.

As a wagon, the Type 3 Squareback is fairly practical, offering cargo space not just up front like a Beetle, but also a reasonably sized cargo area in back over the engine compartment.

1977 Dasher/Passat

The 1977 Passat on hand was a German-market car. American versions were called the Dasher. It was a significant departure from past VWs with its water-cooled 78-horsepower inline-four powering the front wheels. And with a larger two-door hatchback body, it was very similar to the contemporary Honda Accord.

This particular car was in impressive shape, and it felt the most like a modern car. The shifter was tight with short throws. The steering was accurate, responsive and light. Its comfortable ride and secure handling come with a lot of body roll, which isn’t unusual for the period. The pedals and seating position also felt designed around driver comfort, rather than the compromised layout of many air-cooled VWs. The interior was significantly modernized with a mostly plastic interior with faux wood trim and a little bit of chrome garnish.

1979 Super Beetle Convertible

This was easily my favorite car to drive, and it showed how much just the Beetle changed from the 1949 model. The Super Beetle was significantly reengineered, sporting a MacPherson strut front suspension for a significantly improved ride (and a more bulbous hood to accommodate it).

This one has a 48-horsepower fuel-injected flat-four at the back coupled to a four-speed fully-synchronized manual transmission. Though a bit notchy, the shift throws are short and each gear is easy to find. Though it doesn’t make as much power as the Type 3, this Super Beetle felt just as quick. It sounds growly, like a tiny Subaru engine.

The ride is on the firm side, but body roll is limited and the steering is surprisingly talkative and precise. The interior is covered in black plastic and faux wood rather than the spare ’49. There’s a bit more instrumentation, too, such as a fuel gauge. And as a sign of the changing times, it has a door buzzer to remind you the key is in the ignition when you open the door.

1982 Jetta

Surely the early Jettas like this 1982 are decent enough cars, but the three-speed automatic in our test car sucked every ounce of life out of its 76-horsepower, water-cooled inline-four. Even going slow on neighborhood roads, I had to keep the foot to the floor to get anywhere.

At least the original Jetta is still a handsome little sedan, particularly in this car’s dark metallic green and saddle tan vinyl interior. Visibility is extraordinary with the upright, thin pillars. The plastic dash is blocky and hasn’t aged particularly well, but the driving position is reasonably comfortable. It also handles reasonably well with a slightly firm ride.

1984 Rabbit GTI

This is the origin of the hot hatch, and it’s still a fun little car. Its inline-four engine is upgraded to 90 horsepower and paired with a five-speed manual transmission, which doesn’t sound like much, but the GTI feels genuinely gutsy. The closest thing I would compare it to is the base Mini Hardtop with the three-cylinder. It’s fun, even if it isn’t truly fast.

The manual transmission feels a little loose and ropey, which is disappointing. But the handling helps. The chassis is very communicative, and the steering is quick and accurate. Our car could definitely use new tires, as they gave up way before the chassis did, and yes, this was at between 30 and 40 mph.

Everything I said about the Jetta’s interior applies here, but the GTI has some excellent seats with comfortable, supportive bolsters, even all these years later.

While the new GTI provides fun at all velocities, you can still appreciate the low-speed fun the original offers.


Autoblog’s favorite Black Friday deals roundup

Black Friday is here once again and it seems like the sheer number of deals only gets greater every year. Here at Autoblog, we love saving money (who doesn’t?), so we’ve put together a handful of posts featuring some of our favorite Black Friday deals, all organized by category.

Tech Deals

From iPhones to Instant Pots, there are tech deals galore out in the wild today. This list compiles some of our favorites. One deal is even over $600 in savings.

Blipshift Deals


Our friends at Blipshift are spreading the holiday cheer with their Black Flag Friday sale, featuring automotive-themed socks, wall clocks, phone cases, wall banners, and of course their incredible graphic tees.

Amazon Deals


When it comes to big sales, Amazon doesn’t mess around. They’ve discounted nearly all of their devices so we’ve sorted through and curated some of our favorite deals in the above post.

Car Care Deals


Always worried about keeping your car clean, but never want to spend full price on cleaning materials? Well this post is right up your alley. We’ve found some solid car care deals featuring everything thing from a car vacuum to microfiber towels.

Gaming Deals


If you’re a regular reader of Autoblog, you’ve likely picked up on the fact that most of us here are pretty huge gamers. We stream racing and driving games twice a week on Twitch, and play a lot of games in our free time. Black Friday is always a great time to pick up a new console if you’re looking for one, so we found a Nintendo Switch, PS4, and Xbox One deal and dropped them all right in the above post for your convenience.

Autoblog is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to These deals are available through our affiliate partnership with Deals are subject to Amazon’s schedule and availability.


2020 Subaru Legacy XT Drivers’ Notes | It’s what’s inside that counts

The 2020 Subaru Legacy is completely new in all of the places that can’t be seen. Subaru transitioned the redesigned sedan onto its Subaru Global Platform and gave it an entirely new interior, but the drab sheetmetal hardly looks changed from the previous generation. There’s a new 2.4-liter turbocharged flat-four thrashing away under the hood, replacing the flat-six as the upgrade engine for the Legacy. The boosted XT version of the sedan is the one that we spent a week driving. In this configuration, the Legacy offers 260 horsepower and 277 pound-feet of torque, routing it through a continuously variable transmission. Subaru claims the trip to 60 mph takes just 6.1 seconds. Of course, all-wheel drive is standard. This feature would have made the Legacy unique in this segment a short time ago, but the Nissan Altima is now available with all-wheel drive, and the Camry will soon be offered with it as well.

Our Touring XT was the most expensive Legacy that money can buy at $36,795. Being the highest trim, it presents well inside with tan and black high quality leather all over the place. Subaru is finally starting to put together some great interiors, and it shows. A whole list of luxury and tech features sweeten the deal even more for the Legacy. Additions like the 11.6-inch infotainment system, driver-monitoring system, power sunroof, front view monitor, satin finish mirrors, heated everything and much more all add up to make a surprisingly luxurious Subaru sedan.

Senior Editor, Green, John Beltz Snyder: I got to take this home while there was still a lot of snow packed on neighborhood roads, and boy was that a treat. Like the Outback, this Legacy feels great on soft or slippery roads. It’s fantastically easy to get this to start drifting oh so gently, and then to maintain and control that slide with zero fear of it getting too hairy. Repeatable, manageable, fun. It’s officially Subaru season.

On the cleared (but often pock-marked) roads, the Legacy is a comfortable cruiser without being too soft. It provides a good feel of the road, but is never anywhere close to punishing. Combined with all-wheel drive and slightly artificial-feeling but otherwise precise, easy and confidence-inspiring steering, this is pleasant — and sometimes even fun — to drive regardless of the road conditions.

Assistant Editor, Zac Palmer: Subaru stepped up its tech game in the 2020 Legacy with a massive 11.6-inch touchscreen. It’s an imposing vertical display in the dash that gives the cabin a premium vibe straight away. However, the fancy-looking screen isn’t all daisies and roses. For example, activating the heated or cooled seats is a trip and a half. Instead of leaving physical buttons on the center stack for the seat temperature control (there’s plenty of empty space for it, and Subaru also retained physical temperature controls), Subaru decided to force you to navigate through screen menus to activate the seats. If the software were quick, this wouldn’t be a terrible ordeal. Sadly, there was a fair amount of lag in bringing the menus up. Pressing the heated seat button on the dash makes the master climate control menu pop up onto the screen, taking up most of its real estate. Then, you’ll have to find the small touch area to press, finally activating the seats (three levels to choose from). Seem quick? Not with lag. A simple function that takes a nearly immeasurable amount of time on most new cars took about 5-7 seconds to execute on the Legacy. That feels like a big step back in technology, even if the way it happens is futuristic and cool.

The split screen function when using Apple CarPlay or Android Auto is nice, but I prefer a widescreen format so that the phone app can take over the entire screen. Both Apple and Android now offer screen modes that allow you to see navigation and the current music playing on the same screen. This added functionality takes away from the extra screen space afforded by the tall vertical layout. If Subaru gave its infotainment system a massive overhaul, I may be more likely to use it instead of my phone app. As it is, this 11.6-inch screen just resembles and functions like a blown-up version of the software in every other Subaru out there. It’s fine, but it’s nowhere near the best.

Even though it is turbocharged, the XT never feels especially fast. The CVT picks up the revs and gets it into the meat of the boost after a quick second, and then it’s steady acceleration from there. A 6.1-second 0-60 mph time is swift, but don’t get any ideas about this being a sports sedan. This engine felt happiest when I was trying to jockey about in rush hour traffic, providing plentiful acceleration when called upon. It’s a much appreciated upgrade over the slower 2.5-liter naturally aspirated flat-four, but the power doesn’t revolutionize the Legacy’s driving characteristics. The best thing about this engine is how livable the CVT becomes with it. When the engine doesn’t need to scream to redline for power, the CVT melts away into the background, making its buzzing presence much less obtrusive.

Editor-in-Chief Greg Migliore: While Zac honed in on the tech, I’m going to take a step back and look at the interior as a whole. The materials and layout are a noticeable upgrade over old Subarus, and it’s a pleasant place to spend time. The color scheme is tasteful with tan leather and black structural pieces. It’s sort of a subtle woodsy vibe. The visibility is solid, and the steering wheel feels just a bit larger than other sedans in this segment, which I like. The infotainment system, which is the anchor of the dash, is colorful, but a little dense. My main takeaway from that: Don’t make seat heaters part of the touchscreen.


Book recommendations from the Autoblog staff

When you’re as obsessed with cars as we are, the passion doesn’t end when the key is taken out of the ignition. (Though who uses a key to start a car anymore?) Once the snow starts falling and the tracks shut down, and the mountain trails are no longer passable, we like to sit by the fire, coffee (or whiskey) in one hand, book in the other.

These stories range from nonfiction to fiction, novels to photo essays, but all of them inspire us, and help keep boredom at bay when the weather turns bleak and the fun cars get stashed away.

‘Go Like Hell: Ford, Ferrari, and Their Battle for Speed and Glory at Le Mans’

Have you seen “Ford v Ferrari” yet? If you want another perspective on the epic battle on- and off-track between the companies (and strong personalities that ran them, and drove for them), you should read the book that inspired the earliest drafts of the movie back in the early 2010s. The script and actors changed, but the underlying story hasn’t – and A.J. Baime’s book tells the tale in a captivating, engrossing way.

This isn’t dry, dull history. It’s a vibrant story of anger, revenge, carburetors, and the ever-present danger of instant fiery death if the man or machine gets something wrong. Add the larger than life characters of Henry Ford II and Enzo Ferrari, complex men with very different motivations playing an expensive and dangerous game of chess while talented engineers and drivers carry out their wishes on the ground. I read it in two or three obsessive sessions – Baime’s story flows cinematically, and the subject matter is riveting. Read it and watch the movie to get two perspectives on the same legendary grudge match. – Alex Kierstein, Senior Editor

‘And on That Bombshell: Inside the Madness and Genius of Top Gear’

Richard Porter is a funny, funny man. It’s no wonder he was a script editor during the golden age of Top Gear, writing lines for Jeremy Clarkson, Richard Hammond, and James May before a fracas sent the trio to Amazon with a new show. His “And on That Bombshell: Inside the Madness and Genius of Top Gear” isn’t so much a history of the show as it is a series of anecdotes – very funny and revealing anecdotes – about some of the bits you’ve always wondered about. Was the show actually scripted? “Of course it was,” Porter tells us. “All television is scripted.”

Porter covers a lot of ground, and anyone who enjoyed the show in its heyday will find lots of fascinating insights into how it was made and some surprisingly poignant moments. And Porter deftly covers the scandal that ended the show, a swing by Clarkson at a well-loved producer, and he hits the right tone. Good news! The Dacia Sandero gets more than a few pages, and the bottom line is that the little insights you can’t find anywhere else, served up by the ultimate insider, are worth the price of admission. You can read our full review of the book here. – Alex Kierstein, Senior Editor

‘The Americans,’ by Robert Frank 

In addition to being a raw and honest portrait of 1950s America, I find this book to be a good example of how concept can transcend technique — critics sometimes disparaged Frank’s technical skills, like his exposures not being “good” — but in my opinion, if there are any technical “flaws,” they are immaterial as they do not detract from this book’s effectiveness. 

Jack Kerouac (Frank was friends with Kerouac, Ginsberg, and other artists of the time) wrote the introduction for “The Americans.” And while Kerouac’s words pair beautifully with Frank’s images, what I love about this book is that the photographs stand alone and read together as poetry in their own right. – Eddie Sabatini, Production Manager


‘Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas,’ 

‘Fear and Loathing on the Campaign Trail ‘72,’ by Hunter S. Thompson

Like Tom Wolfe, Hunter S. Thompson was a journalist interested in pushing boundaries. 

“Las Vegas” follows a weekend road trip gone wrong, or right, I suppose you could say. A long drug-fueled journey into the desert, in search of the American dream.

“Campaign Trail” features the articles that Hunter S. Thompson wrote for Rolling Stone magazine while covering Nixon’s 1972 re-election campaign.

Works like these, and “Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test,” get co-opted by party culture (some people try ill-advised re-creations of the road trip from “… Las Vegas”) but they are much more than drug manifestos. They are portraits of Time and Place that drive straight to the heart of the human condition, however ugly it can get. They are strange, funny, scary, unique, and filled with beautiful writing:

“Maybe it meant something. Maybe not, in the long run, but no explanation, no mix of words or music or memories can touch that sense of knowing that you were there and alive in that corner of time and the world. Whatever it meant.” – Hunter S. Thompson, “Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas” – Eddie Sabatini, Production Manager

‘Travels with Charley: In Search of America,’ by John Steinbeck

Published in 1962, “Travels with Charley” is a snapshot of America as seen through the eyes of one of its greatest novelists. In it, Steinbeck hits the open road with his poodle Charley in a truck fitted with a camper. The book chronicles their journey — the places they go, the people they meet, the food they eat — as well as the culture of a country undergoing rapid technological and political change. It’s unlikely to have you yearning for the good old days, but it might just inspire you to get a dog and a pickup and see the country for yourself. – John Beltz Snyder, Senior Editor


‘Trigger Mortis,’ by Anthony Horowitz

Horowitz does an amazing Ian Fleming impression in this James Bond novel, which takes place shortly after the events in “Goldfinger.” With the Cold War and Space Race as a backdrop, our favorite spy does what he always does: travel the world, drive fast cars and make friends with dangerous women. Part of the storyline involves 007 taking part in a Grand Prix (behind the wheel of a Maserati 4CLT) at the Nürburgring in an attempt to foil a Russian plot against a fellow British racer. – John Beltz Snyder, senior editor

‘Speed Secrets,’ by Ross Bentley

In addition to busting certain myths about performance driving, Bentley’s “Speed Secrets” series provides useful and memorable tips to help you drive better on the track. The tips range from the realms of car control, to helpful science, to mindset, to overcoming bad habits and more, helping you gain every advantage and shave precious time off your laps. – John Beltz Snyder, Senior Editor


‘Driving Ambition: The Official Inside Story of the McLaren F1,’ by Gordon Murray, Ron Dennis and Doug Nye

I have always believed the McLaren F1 to be the greatest driver’s car ever made. Unfortunately, I have no tangible proof of that, never having driven one. The closest to the driver’s seat I can get is this book, made with complete support from McLaren. Any questions you may have about the thought process behind any decision made during development can be answered by this book — Gordon Murray, Ron Dennis and Doug Nye are the authors, for god’s sake. If you happen to have the McLaren F1 bug like myself, then you absolutely need to own this book. You’ll find something new and interesting each time you read it, as well — my father has gone cover to cover multiple times, and he always finds something new we have to discuss that we may have overlooked before. – Zac Palmer, Assistant Editor

‘Thus Spake David E.: The Collected Wit and Wisdom of the Most Influential Automotive Journalist of Our Time,’ by David E. Davis Jr.

It was my first day on the job, a recent college graduate getting his start in the car magazine business. I’m sure I arrived early, overdressed and underprepared. The managers who interviewed me for the position were of my generation — only about a half-decade older than myself — but they had only told (warned?) me of the legendary editor-in-chief at the top of the operation. So there I sat, staring at a blank screen as my computer booted up, waiting for my coworkers to arrive, when that booming voice greets me for the first time. 

“You must be the new guy,” barked an imposing gentleman of about 75 years of age, his waxed mustache curling upwards as he gave me the once-over. Surely I blurted out some sort of bootlick salutation and waited for his retort. “You’re fired,” the man said in a gruff, matter-of-fact tone, already lumbering toward his corner office (you know, the one with a genuine grenade teetering near the edge of a giant wooden desk, a blood-stained leather racing helmet resting on the bookshelf behind). It wasn’t until thunderous laughter emerged from behind a slammed door that I knew to stop packing my belongings. I had been faux-fired in what I came to learn was a sort of tradition — even an honor— for those in the orbit of “the dean of automotive journalism,” David E. Davis, Jr.

I’m not going to pretend like David E. and I had some sort of mentor, mentee relationship. In the grand scheme of things, we only worked together very briefly, and I was the lowest rung on the ladder. But, the consummate storyteller couldn’t help inviting whoever might be walking by into his office in for the occasional conversation (in my case, of the sort where I listen and he speaks) and it was during one of these visits that David E. presented me with a signed copy of his collected writings, “Thus Spake David E.” Craving a deeper understanding of the mythos behind my boss’s boss’s boss, I devoured the memoir in just a few sittings. It was through his writing that I learned of the extraordinary details of that thrashed racing helmet, and all the incredible events that unfolded thereafter. – Adam Morath, General Manager

imageThe Yugo: The Rise and Fall of the Worst Car in History,’ by Jason Vuic

I have a strange fascination with terrible and unsuccessful cars, which is what drew me to “The Yugo,” but this story is far too fascinating to be restricted to weirdos like me. In addition to highlighting the weaknesses, and even strengths (hard as it is to believe) of the Yugo, it’s also a story of the culture clash between the capitalist West and the communist East. It’s an analysis of the optimism and borderline con-artistry of Malcom Bricklin, from his Subaru days to Yugo. And with clean, sharp writing and loads of first-hand accounts of the company, it reads less like a history textbook and more like a killer documentary. Who would have thought the worst car would have one of the best stories? – Joel Stocksdale, Associate Editor


‘Backroads and 4 Wheel Drive Trails,’ by Charles A. Wells and Matt Peterson

The first time I ever went to Moab was with Senior Editor Alex Kierstein and Associate Producer Alex Malburg. We were driving the new Jeep Gladiator, and I wanted some shots on real trails. I also didn’t want to get stuck. This book helped out immensely with fantastic descriptions of every trail, great photographs and notes on how to get to and from the trailhead. Since that trip I bought two more of these books, for northern and southern Colorado, my home state. Even when I’m not wheeling, I like to read through them and imagine future off-road adventures. – Christopher McGraw, Senior Producer


‘180° South,’ by Yvon Chouinard, Jeff Johnson and Chris Malloy

A companion to the documentary that shares its name, “180° South” is filled with photos of one of the most influential road trips of all time. In 1968 Yvon Chouinard, who went on to found the ultra-popular outdoor company Patagonia after this trip, and Doug Tompkins, who, along with his wife founded The North Face, bought a high-mileage 1965 Ford Econoline and drove it from sunny California down to the mountains of Patagonia. Once there, they surfed, skied and climbed all over. The original trip was then made into a documentary called “Mountain of Storms.” 

Inspired by that original story, photographer and filmmaker Jeff Johnson and a few friends decided to follow in Chouinard’s footsteps. The film is one of my favorites and inspired me to travel to Patagonia numerous times in my life. Thankfully, the book is just as good, featuring amazing photography not included in the film. – Christopher McGraw, Senior Producer


‘Enduring Courage: Ace Pilot Eddie Rickenbacker and the Dawn of the Age of Speed,’ by John F. Ross

This is a really interesting biography of an influential figure. It paints a complete picture of his life, which had many chapters. His days as a race car driver showcase the dangers and skills that were ever-present in racing’s early period, which will be of top interest to car buffs. His heroism in the First World War also provides plenty of material for history fans. It’s a quick read that has a novel-feel to it. I stumbled across it at the library, and I’m glad I did. – Greg Migliore, Editor-in-Chief


Aston Martin Announces Whiskey Partnership

The two will combine to create exclusive products and experiences.

Aston Martin has announced a tie-up with Bowmore Islay Single Malt Scotch Whisky which will see the two brands create new products and experiences.

Bowmore is the oldest distillery on Islay, and it will create exclusive bottlings of its products, designed in conjunction with Aston Martin’s design team, combining heritage with cutting-edge design. The partnership will also be showcased at exclusive events across the world.

“It is exciting for an extraordinary brand like Bowmore to enter a global partnership with a brand of such high esteem and heritage, leading in its industry for beauty and craft for decades,” said Albert Baladi, president and CEO of Beam Suntory, owner of the Bowmore brand. “Aston Martin embodies Bowmore’s commitment to time, with the craft and patience required to make sports cars and single-malt Scotch whiskey very much intertwined.”

“These shared values will underpin our series of product innovation and experiences with Aston Martin, and we can’t wait to collaborate on what will be a defining and industry-leading collaboration for years to come.”

Aston Martin Lagonda president and group chief executive officer, Andy Palmer added: “This series of limited-edition bottlings are going to be very special collectors’ items for the whiskey connoisseur and Aston Martin enthusiast.”

“As brands, we have a lot in common,” Palmer continued. “We both focus on indulging our customers with exquisitely-designed, beautifully-crafted products, often producing limited edition specials that celebrate our heritage. Bowmore is a great British brand and, like Aston Martin, its employees are passionate about their work. I can’t wait to sample the fruits of this collaboration between innovative design and crafted product.”

Along with its new partnership, Aston Martin is urging people to never drink and drive, and “Drink Smart” messaging will be prominent across all of Bowmore and Aston Martin’s activities.

Gallery: Aston Martin announces Browmore partnership

Hide press releaseShow press release
  • Two iconic British luxury brands unite to create exclusive offerings
  • Experts from both brands will collaborate on products and experiences

27 November 2019, Gaydon, UK: Aston Martin Lagonda today announced that  
Bowmore® Islay Single Malt Scotch Whisky will become its exclusive spirits partner. The exciting partnership will see the two British luxury brands come together to create an exclusive series of outstanding products and experiences.
Bowmore is the oldest distillery on Islay, where some of the most legendary and collectable whiskies are created.  Working with the world-class Aston Martin Design team, Bowmore will create exclusive bottlings that reflect both brand’s commitment to heritage but also to cutting edge-design and manufacturing techniques.
These rare whisky releases will appeal to both existing and new fans of both brands, lovers of beautifully crafted products and exceptional whiskies.
Exclusive and inspiring events and experiences across the globe will help bring the partnership to life, showcasing a shared appreciation for the most beautiful creations and extraordinary moments and revealing the shared values of both brands.
On the announcement of the global partnership, Albert Baladi, President and CEO of Beam Suntory, owner of the Bowmore brand, commented “It is exciting for an extraordinary brand like Bowmore to enter a global partnership with a brand of such high esteem and heritage, leading in its industry for beauty and craft for decades. Aston Martin embodies Bowmore’s commitment to time, with the craft and patience required to make sports cars and single-malt Scotch whisky very much intertwined. These shared values will underpin our series of product innovation and experiences with Aston Martin, and we can’t wait to collaborate on what will be a defining and industry leading collaboration for years to come.”
Aston Martin Lagonda President and Group Chief Executive Officer, Andy Palmer added: “This series of limited-edition bottlings are going to be very special collectors’ items for the whisky connoisseur and Aston Martin enthusiast. As brands we have a lot in common. We both focus on indulging our customers with exquisitely-designed, beautifully-crafted products, often producing limited edition specials that celebrate our heritage. Bowmore is a great British brand and, like Aston Martin, its employees are passionate about their work. I can’t wait to sample the fruits of this collaboration between innovative design and crafted product.”
As world class luxury brands Bowmore and Aston Martin urge consumers never to drink and drive. Drink Smart® messaging will be integrated into all brand activations around the partnership; while the dedicated Drink Smart® platform ensures communication with legal-purchase age adults about making informed, responsible choices. 


Junkyard Gem: 2000 Lincoln Town Car Cartier Edition

The very last of the venerable Ford Panthers rolled off the assembly line back in 2011, marking the end of the decades-long era in which opulently rounded Ford Crown Victorias, Mercury Grand Marquises, and Lincoln Town Cars could be purchased new. Long before that time, though, high-end Lincolns ceased being sold with Cartier badging and dashboard clocks, a tradition that went back to the early 1970s. Today’s Junkyard Gem is one of the final Cartier Lincolns, a once-luxurious Town Car Cartier Edition, found in a yard in northeastern Colorado last month.

The Cartier was the top trim level for the 2000 Town Car, itself the pinnacle of the Panther pyramid.The price tag on this car began at $43,150 (about $65,600 in today’s money).

Mechanically speaking, not much separated the 2000 Town Car from the rubber-floor-mat-equipped Crown Victoria Police Interceptor used to haul projectile-vomiting drunks to the pokey in your town for the past 25 years, and the lines of the $20k Crown Vic are quite apparent when you look at the $43k Town Car.

However, the Town Car benefited from a quadruple helping of leather, serious sound insulation, wood (plastic) trim, and touches such as this “double C” embroidery on the seats. It was hard to top this car for a smooth, quiet highway ride.

The Cartier clock (not really made by Cartier) featured gold (plastic) trim, just like the center-mounted gold-trimmed clocks in 1990s Infiniti Q45s. Yes, I bought this clock to add to my collection, and it works just fine.

Power came from the reliable 4.6-liter Ford Modular V8 engine, rated at 220 horsepower in the 2000 Cartier. This wasn’t tremendous power for a two-ton behemoth, but it got the job done. If you wanted a massive V8-powered luxury sedan that went really fast in 2000, you could have spent $77,850 for a new Mercedes-Benz S500 (302 horsepower) or chosen a $66,970 BMW 740iL (282 horsepower).

It would be pretty easy to build up a monster supercharged 4.6, attach it to a manual transmission, and drop it in a Town Car like this one… and someone should do just that.


2020 Subaru Outback Touring Quick Spin | Balance of power

Driving an Outback in Subaru-crazy Seattle is just about as incognito as one can get. You can further disappear into the Evergreen State background if your Outback is Autumn Green Metallic. And that’s how we blended in for a week in a town where the Outback has been the top-selling vehicle several years, and where Subarus constitute 12% of all vehicles sold (2.5 times the brand’s market share nationwide). A few cars are outselling the Outback so far this year — but that’s OK, because one of them is the Subaru Forester.

Our disguise for a week was a 2020 Outback Touring, the top trim level, which starts at $38,355 including destination fee. For that sum, which is nearly $12,000 more than a base Outback, you get a quite-nice interior done up in warm Java Brown Nappa Leather, with moonroof, 18-inch black aluminum alloy wheels, satin-chrome side mirrors, body-color door handles, heated steering wheel, and driver-distraction mitigation system. It’s a handsome package, especially the 11.6-inch Starlink touchscreen built into a monolithic, smooth black glass center stack, though the HVAC controls in particular are a curious mix of analog and digital. And it all rides on a new, stiffer platform — making the Outback inwardly new from the ground up, even though it was outwardly designed to look pretty much like it always has. It’s a conservative, don’t-mess-with-success design approach that Subaru also used on the new Forester.

What you don’t get, at least not on this Outback tester nor the one we drove a few months ago in our first-drive review, is a whole lot of power. Both cars were equipped with Subaru’s base 2.5-liter boxer four-cylinder engine that doesn’t reach its peak 182 horsepower until 5,800 rpm, with peak torque of 176 pound-feet at 4,400 rpm. Curb weight on the Touring is 3,772 pounds. Horsepower is up by a mere seven over last year, torque by two pound-feet. Here in Subaru city, I’ve known Outback owners who praise their car’s virtues but almost apologetically slip in a qualifier: A little more power would’ve been nice.

Subaru has a solution for that — the optional XT engine, a 2.4-liter turbocharged engine putting out a that’s-more-like-it 260 horsepower and 277 lb-ft of torque. The turbo four takes the place of the 3.6-liter flat-six that was offered through 2019. But the MSRPs for the XT trims are a big step up – $4,300 to go from Limited to Limited XT, $2,350 from Touring to Touring XT – to a total ranging from $35,905 to $40,705. The other way an XT will cost you is fuel economy, with EPA ratings down 3 mpg across the board compared to the non-turbo’s excellent 26 mpg city, 33 highway, 29 overall. As John Snyder found in his review, the XT is the one you’ll want if you’ll be heading to the mountains or come close to its 3,500 lbs tow rating. Or if you drove a WRX before you got married and had kids.

In the flats of Western Washington, crawling through interminable Seattle traffic, the base engine is perfectly fine. You don’t need a turbocharger in the madding crowd. Accelerating up onramps, you wonder how much longer it’s going to take to get you to a 60 mph merging speed, and the answer is 9 seconds or a bit less. The engine sounds like a lot is happening, more than there actually is.

But the Outback’s persona is the great outdoors. So what if you want to break away and head into the mountains to ski or hike? How would the base engine feel then? We decided to make a quick climb up I-90 to Snoqualmie Pass. Though it’s the Cascades’ lowest east-west pass, at a hair over 3,000 feet, the big rigs struggle to pull some of Snoqualmie’s grades. And it’s the backbone of the Mountains to Sound Greenway, the thoroughfare to 1.5 million acres of scenic outdoor recreation that beckon the Outback demographic.

In winter, with average annual snowfall of more than 400 inches, getting up and down Snoqualmie Summit can be gnarly at times — one of the reasons Subarus are so popular here. But I headed up on a cold, sunny fall day, some of the last nice weather before the snow sets in.

And how did the engine do? The right word would be: fine. There was power enough. The higher I went, the more the speed wanted to drop off, the more I urged it forward. Soon my foot was pretty far into it, but there was some pedal to spare, and when goosed back up to speed the engine responded with a willing snarl. “Gearing down” the CVT with the paddle shifters helped at times. You’re definitely aware you’re climbing.

The greater challenge was not the incline, but the crosswinds. There was a pretty hard blow, stiff enough that some of the semis were pulled over until it passed. SUVs and pickups were getting pushed around. But this is one of the many situations in which a wagon outshines an SUV, with a more carlike profile presenting less surface area to the wind. The Outback’s light steering, though, meant a gust could give the wagon a shove before a correction could be made. It’s not a big box on wheels, yet the Outback has plenty of space for five, and a maximum cargo capacity of 75.7 cubic feet with the rear seats down, virtually identical to the excellent CR-V.

At the summit, the weather was 25 degrees and sunny, with the Outback stopped in a ski-area parking lot that about three weeks hence will be filled with thousands more Outbacks. There was a mean bite to the wind that discouraged loitering, so down the mountain we went, making 31.7 mpg on the round trip. I’ve no doubt the mileage would have been better without the wind or the lowland traffic.

From mountains to Sound, the base Subaru engine is enough to get the job done. If you want more power, it’s available for purchase. I probably would. But you’ll spend more, and you’ll burn more gas with the turbo. Most Outback buyers will likely just take the base engine, count their savings, and enjoy a perennially well-rounded, high-riding, comfortable anti-SUV.


This amazing F1 slot-car track is up for auction this weekend

This Black Friday weekend, you can fight the crowds running from big-box store to big-box store, or you can win Christmas in one fell swoop by throwing down the winning bid on this incredible slot-car track.

This 1:32-scale track was created by the genius builders at Slot Mods, of Detroit, whose work is renowned for its detail and realism. The track was commissioned by Formula One, and spent the 2018 racing season in the Formula One Paddock Club at each of the season’s races, where it was used by VIP race goers. Now it can come to your house, via the RM Auctions Abu Dhabi sale that takes place this Saturday.

The layout stands 30 inches off the ground and is seven feet wide and 16 feet long, so make sure your rec room is big enough. Constructed of wood, the layout features a two-car track, automatic lap timing, and on-track cameras. The spectators and buildings are hand-painted, and the layout is extensively landscaped.

The proceeds benefit the Reaching the Last Mile Fund charity, and the pre-sale estimate is $20,000 to $30,000. That’s actually quite reasonable for a Slot Mods track, as the company’s Custom Scenic Megatracks start at $75K. Consider it a half-price sale.


Hyundai determined to build South Korea’s tallest skyscraper

SEOUL — The Seoul city government has approved the long-delayed construction of Hyundai Motor Group’s new headquarters in the affluent district of Gangnam, which is set to be South Korea’s tallest skyscraper when completed in 2026.

The 569-meter building will break ground in the first half of 2020, Seoul city said in a statement.

The approval came more than four years after Hyundai Motor Group, South Korea’s second-largest conglomerate, offered to purchase the site for $10 billion, more than triple its market price, outbidding Samsung and sparking a stock selloff.

The construction, originally scheduled to commence in 2016, was delayed partly due to security concerns raised by South Korea’s air force, which said the building would interfere with radar and military operations, a Seoul city official said.

Hyundai signed an agreement with the defense ministry to resolve operational restrictions until the construction of the building has reached around 260 meters high, the official said, adding that the construction can be suspended should Hyundai fail to do so.

The building, consisting of 105 floors, will house not only offices, but a car theme park, a hotel, a concert hall and a convention center, according to its 2014 plan. It will be home to 18,000 employees from 30 affiliates of the conglomerate, it said at the time.

Hyundai Motor said in March that it was in talks with potential investors to share additional investment costs worth about 3.7 trillion won ($3.1 billion) needed to develop its new headquarters, following a call by U.S. hedge fund Elliott Management Corp to drop the controversial project.

Hyundai Motor is trying to rebound from its sixth consecutive annual profit declines, while accelerating its investments in future technologies.

Hyundai said it “will continue to work closely with the Seoul Metropolitan Government to proceed with the project in compliance with the administrative procedures.”