New Car Review: 2012 Infiniti QX56

Silver 2012 Infiniti QX56 with Sierra Nevada mountains in background
The 2012 Infiniti QX56.

You are looking at a thing of beauty.

It's just behind that hulking SUV.

It's the Eastern High Sierra of California, where I was fortunate enough to grow up between the ages of 9 and 18. Some of those mountain peaks top 14,000 feet...especially dramatic since the Owens Valley floor is only about 4,000.

I have fond memories.

Now, about the hulking SUV.

It is the Infiniti QX56. It spent years as simply a gussied-up version of the Nissan Armada but has, in its latest iteration taken things well beyond that. It's as though Infiniti got caught in a time warp and decided an '02 Lincoln Navigator was its benchmark.


First Look: McLaren P1 Supercar

McLaren publicity photo of new McLaren P1
McLaren P1 (Photo courtesy McLaren)

You now have a whole new reason to become wealthy beyond all reason. Behold the successor to the million-dollar McLaren F1...the McLaren P1. Unveiled today, debuting at the Paris Auto Show next week. Full story from The New York Times Wheels Blog here.


New Car Review: 2012 Fiat 500 Abarth

White 2012 Fiat 500 Abarth front 3/4 view on desert road
The 2012 Fiat 500 Abarth.

For a bit over a year now, Fiat 500s have been making us smile whenever we see one on the street (increasingly common near TireKicker World Headquarters in Phoenix, Arizona, where they seem to be selling well). Regular TireKicker readers will recall that we liked the first 500 we drove...the 500C...last fall.

All well and good...but no preparation whatsoever for the ear-to-ear grin and maniacal laughter produced by the Fiat 500 Abarth.

What's an Abarth? Well, it's an Italian racing company founded by the late Karl Abarth in 1949, and which began building hot versions of Fiats in 1952. Fiat bought Abarth outright in 1971, but allowed the name to descend to trim level packages and not much else by the 90s.

But Abarth is back, and a great way to make a statement that Abarth means fast is to take a 2,533 pound Fiat 500 and swap the 101 horsepower 1.4-liter four-cylinder with a turbo version making 160 horsepower.

Or as Top Gear's Jeremy Clarkson called the Abarth, "A small, cuddly pet mouse that can be used for killing burglars."


New Car Review: 2012 Lexus CT 200h Premium F Sport

Extreme closeup front 3/4 view of dark grey 2012 Lexus CT 200h Premium F Sport
The 2012 Lexus CT 200h Premium F Sport.
Regular TireKicker readers will recall that just 13 months ago we were puzzling over the place of the CT 200h in the universe...or at least in Lexus' lineup.

Our questions revolved around whether Lexus needed another small car (question since answered...they've killed off the over-priced HS 250h, the closest Lexus has ever come to the Cadillac Cimarron or Lincoln Versailles).

Well, sales are up 500% so far this year over last, so apparently, there is a market for a small Lexus hybrid hatchback.

Now...how about a performance model?