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  • 2019 Audi A8: A top pick for fantasy road trip

    The redesigned 2019 Audi A8 is beginning to arrive at U.S. dealerships. The flagship sedan, at launch in the U.S., is powered by a 3.0-liter aluminum turbo V-6, which produces 335 hp and 369 pound-feet of torque. It also features a 48-volt electric system to improve fuel economy and help power all the technology under the hood and in the cabin. Here are snippets of A8 reviews.

    "In a straight line, the turbo V6-powered A8 is not in any way slow; the blanket of serenity masks the progress, which officially puts the A8 to 60 mph from a dead stop in just 5.6 seconds. Perhaps when a V8 model and, potentially, an S8 model from Audi Sport debut, the hot rodder A8 buyer might be satiated.

    "Though the 4,751-pound A8 can be hustled around a twisty back road or two, it's a reluctant hustle. Even equipped with optional 4-wheel steering (at $1,950), which does raise the agility bar by slightly turning the rear wheels out-of-phase (opposite direction) to the fronts at low speed and in-phase (or the same direction) with the fronts at higher speeds, catting around is clearly not its core mission. Oh, it'll do it, and I forced it to and remarkably, the brakes never whimpered once, even though they had every right to."

    -- Jim Resnick, New York Daily News

    "At least the Audi A8 is pleasant in motion, thanks to its breezy drivetrain, a rather well-isolated chassis, and competent, bump-soaking suspension. Though laden with a trove of technological bells and whistles, the dynamic fundamentals are sound, if a bit understated, for the first variant to hit the U.S. market: a turbocharged 3.0-liter V-6 producing 335 horsepower and 369 lb-ft of torque, mating to a ZF-sourced 8-speed. A 48-volt mild hybrid system that uses a 10Ah lithium-ion battery with energy recuperation has been integrated with the 'plant to support accessories and driver assistance systems.

    "Smoothness and silence predominate the driving experience, of which the A8's nearly imperceptible styling is an excellent metaphor. While double-glazed glass aids the remarkably quiet interior, it's worth noting that the overall focus lies more in creating a luxe but minimalist, spa-like environment than it does an agile, autobahn-storming screamer -- at least in this V-6 version. While a subsequent S variant will invariably wield more oomph, the six-cylinder A8 has gained 250 pounds over its predecessor due to all the added equipment, bringing total curb weight to a hefty 4,751 lb."

    -- Basem Wasef, Automobile

    "For starters, the driving position is excellent, and the front buckets are superb. Acceleration is fairly rapid, with 60 mph arriving in 5.6 seconds. Throttle response is a wee bit pokey until I dial up dynamic mode, and then the V6 is eager to rev and sounds good doing it -- quite an improvement over the previous A8's supercharged V6. Dynamic mode also makes for quicker gear changes.

    "It goes down the road silently and effortlessly pretty much no matter the mode, always with a plush, composed ride and light but accurate steering. When I do get a chance to leg it some, there's a little body roll in comfort mode, but not much. Overall the ride/handling mix is quite good for a car this big.

    "The cars equipped with four-wheel steering feel especially agile. The system turns the rear wheels in the opposite direction as the fronts (better in parking lots) and in the same direction above about 35 mph. High-speed handling is helped a lot: Lane changes are quicker, while Hwy 1's sweepers are dispatched with ease, quick going in and quick on exit. Frankly, the car's drama-free agility surprises me."

    -- Wes Raynal, Autoweek

    "Surprisingly, the A8 handles curves pretty well. It's no R8, but in Dynamic mode, it's more nimble than you'd expect a 17-foot, 4,700-pound luxury sedan to be. Does it understeer at the limit? Probably. But if you plan to take corners fast enough to find out, full-size luxury sedans probably aren't for you.

    "On the highway, the A8 is impressively quiet, almost keeping road, wind, and tire noise out of the cabin entirely. Add in comfortable seats with an excellent massage function, a smooth ride, a high-quality Bang & Olufsen sound system, and a 21.7-gallon gas tank, and you have a recipe for a truly fantastic road trip car."

    -- Collin Woodard, Motor Trend

    "The A8 is not, however, a pleasantly quick car. Audi will launch a V8-powered A8 in the future, but it's launching for 2019 with nothing more than a turbocharged 3.0-liter V6, good for 335 horsepower and 369 pound-feet of torque. Getting to 60 miles per hour takes 5.6 seconds, a number we'd categorize as 'leisurely' for a flagship luxury sedan. An all-wheel-drive BMW 740i -- a car with only 320 hp and 330 lb-ft of torque -- takes just 5.1 seconds to hit 60, while the Mercedes-Benz S450 4Matic (362 hp and 369 lb-ft) does the deed in 5.4 seconds.

    "Executing passing maneuvers in the Pacific Coast Highway's few passing zones required more planning than it should in a vehicle of this stature. The eight-speed automatic downshifted quickly, which made the A8 feel deceptively quick at the start of a passing maneuver, but as speeds climbed the engine started to run out of steam. The V6-powered A8 simply doesn't have the staying power it needs.

    "Aside from these passing situations, though, this remains a likable combination. The 3.0-liter V6 is quiet in everyday conditions, but it sounds pleasant and refined when pushed. And the eight-speed auto is charming. It's composed and relaxed when puttering around town, but in Dynamic mode, it's an easy transmission to have fun with. Kick it into the sportiest setting and work the wheel-mounted paddles, and (along with DAWS) the A8 starts feeling far sportier and engaging than it has any right to."

    -- Brandon Turkus, Motor1

    "The powertrain feels strong but a tad sleepy. In Dynamic mode, the 4,288-pound sedan hauls it from zero to 60 in 5.6 seconds and builds solid mid-range torque for a confident around-town feel. However, it's possible to catch the turbocharger or gearbox sleeping in stop-and-go traffic, resulting in occasionally poor tip-in throttle responsiveness in the Comfort and Eco settings. That's not the end of the world, the big [car] tends itself toward a relaxed driving style anyway."

    -- Antuan Goodwin, Roadshow by CNET

  • 2019 Ford Edge ST: A rhino that shuffles, pivots

    The freshened 2019 Ford Edge gets a new performance variant, the Edge ST, which replaces the Edge Sport. The Edge ST is equipped with a specially tuned 2.7-liter EcoBoost V-6 that generates 335 hp and 380 pound-feet of torque. It's the first Ford crossover to be tuned by Ford Performance, the automaker says. Here are snippets of Edge ST reviews from the automotive media.

    "Rather than pull from the established ST playbook ... the Edge ST is much more analogous to the larger Explorer Sport. In creating that model, Ford fitted a bigger motor, included standard sport-tuned all-wheel drive, upgraded the brakes, and tweaked the shock absorbers. Sound familiar? The Edge ST receives Ford's 2.7-liter twin-turbo EcoBoost V-6, standard sport-tuned all-wheel drive, big brakes, and stiff shocks. With the stability control on, it even drives like the Explorer Sport: big, a little heavy, lots of grip, and not a lot of personality. Or, the opposite of a Fiesta ST.

    "This all starts to make sense when you remember the Edge ST replaces the Edge Sport in the lineup. That V-6 makes 20 more horsepower and 30 more lb-ft of torque now, but you wouldn't know it from the test results. The Edge ST hit 60 mph in 6.1 seconds on 91 octane, just one-tenth of a second quicker than a 2016 Edge Sport running on 87 octane and four-tenths of a second slower than a 2015 Edge Sport drinking premium gas. In the quarter mile, the Edge ST records the same 14.7-second elapsed time as the 2016 Edge Sport, but slightly faster at 93.4 mph versus 92.9. The ST is still eating the 2015 Edge Sport's dust, with its 14.3-second run at 95.9 mph.

    "There's more to it than the handling, though. The new eight-speed automatic generally performed well, but it occasionally drops hard, clunky shifts and responds to the paddle shifters when it gets around to it. The brakes are strong, but after our testing they were stuttering at low speeds as if they'd warped. The performance shocks ride very, very stiffly on bad pavement and allowed a bit of early Focus RS-type pogoing mid-corner when pushed hard."

    -- Scott Evans, Motor Trend

    "At speed over the undulations of Utah country roads outside Salt Lake City, my ST gulped the landscape, setting fire to the fall leaves. WAAAAUGHHH! wailed the V-6, while the two-ton chassis stayed remarkably true to my direction. Make no mistake, this is a rhino compared to the Focus/Fiesta pitbulls. But it's a rhino in tennis shoes. ...

    "Living with the Edge ST, like its brother Focus, will require putting up with flaws (but not the Fiesta ST, which is a consistent member of my Top 10 cars list). Despite the added torque and twin turbos, the Edge ST exhibits noticeable turbo lag under the cane. That sluggishness isn't helped by the eight-speed tranny's odd lack of urgency when called upon to shift. At full flog, I was constantly tempted to use the shift paddles.

    "These negatives would be more annoying if they were in track-day cars like the Focus or Fiesta. But a track-focused vehicle this is not, which Ford telegraphs by not offering heavily bolstered Recaro seats or a manual shifter. Still got the need for track days? Keep your old Fiesta ST around."

    -- Henry Payne, The Detroit News

    "From a ride and handling standpoint, man, is the Edge ST stiff. The standard all-wheel-drive system (which features a 'disconnect' that allows drivers to switch to front-wheel drive for fuel economy savings) certainly keeps the 4,081-pound crossover planted in fast corners, and Sport mode is even more so in the ST compared to the rest of the Edge models.

    "However, without active damping, the ST-tuned sport suspension can make for a harsh ride, which becomes even more apparent when equipped with the larger wheel set and performance tires. Parking lot entry/exit points, for example, felt unintentionally off-roadish. For most crossover consumers, a refined ride is preferred, but the Edge ST wasn't engineered to be subtle."

    -- Beverly Braga, New York Daily News

    "The drivetrain is a stand-out feature in the ST, as it should be. The 2.7 EcoBoost is really torquey across the range, but it's also reasonably smooth and it's more than okay operating near its 6,000 rpm redline. The ST is really quick compared to most comparably sized crossovers, including more expensive ones like the base Porsche Macan, and the eight-speed is decently tuned as a sporting automatic (though Ford still hasn't completely caught up with GM when it comes to programming automatics). Manual operation is worth it, and fun, but the Edge ST will shift up on its own at the rev limiter, rather than letting you bump, and it seems overly protective with the level of downshifts it will allow.

    "V6 engines never sound as good as V8s, or even inline engines, but this one is appropriately aggressive, and the right pitch. The problem here isn't the cylinder configuration. It's the electronic manipulation. Ford gathers sounds from the Edge ST's engine bay, processes them with a chip and then broadcasts them through the audio system. The ST essentially uses noise-cancelling technology to enhance, and here it sounds like that -- enhanced, or maybe over-produced and almost staged. After an extended run at full song, music turned down, it gets annoying, and there doesn't appear to be a way to turn it off. Better to just open the mufflers a bit more and do it the old fashioned way.

    "The ST's steering is good, for accuracy and appropriate ratio or speed, but there's an artificially heavy feel. Its ride is firmer than other Edges for sure, but fine to our taste. The ST would make good fun for a family outing where you're not inclined to get too aggressive. It's more fun in all circumstances than a Hyundai Santa Fe or a Toyota Highlander or a Ford Explorer, and more fun than the label "competent" might imply (though the Edge ST is certainly competent)."

    -- J.P. Vettraino, Autoweek

    "Unlike the Edge Sport, changes to the Edge ST have been led by Ford Performance, the same division behind cars like the Shelby GT350 and F-150 Raptor. The message was clear: Ford wants this to be a true performance car and not a crossover with a big engine and sporty pretenses. Unfortunately, that's where the Edge ST starts to fall apart. Yes, it certainly feels different than the standard Edge, but it's still missing the eagerness of the Fiesta and Focus STs. Try as they might, Ford's engineers can't overcome a 68.3-inch height and a 4,000-plus-pound curb weight. That said, even with the 21-inch wheels, the Edge ST handled broken pavement well and felt composed when you weren't heavily taxing it.

    "The engine's power is stymied by a transmission that's all too eager to upshift. Mash the gas and there's a second or so delay while the transmission considers its options. The 2.0-liter EcoBoost in the standard Edge can feel punchier despite being down 100 pound-feet of torque versus the ST. The smaller engine always seems to be right where you want it, so there's no downshifting when you get on the power. The shift delay with the V6 seems to kill any on-paper power advantage. The Edge ST's power appears to [come] on strong and the engine gives a mighty roar, but passing isn't as effortless as you want it to be.

    "The ride is firm, but the firmness doesn't totally mitigate body roll. There's still significant lean through corners and good amount of brake dive. It handles decently for a crossover, but this doesn't feel like the Focus ST's big sibling. Nor does it have the buttoned-down feeling of other performance crossovers like the Audi SQ5 or Porsche Macan, to which Ford compares the Edge ST."

    -- Reese Counts, Autoblog

    "Body motions were nicely controlled during our mountain-road and autocross antics, with brake-based torque vectoring aiding the ST's agility (there's no rear torque vectoring). Ride quality is commendably smooth even on the optional 21-inch wheels (20s are standard). While Ford Performance has tuned the ST's steering effort slightly to the heavy side, the action is reasonably quick and enriched with some feedback. The Edge ST is not a leash-tugging terrier like the effervescent Fiesta ST, but it will play along if you feel the urge."

    -- Mike Sutton, Car and Driver

  • Global Automotive Carbon Ceramic Brakes Market 2018 – Brembo SGL Carbon Ceramic Brakes, Surface Transforms, Carbon Ceramics

    Automotive Brake Rotors Market Research 2017: Top Global Players Competition with Production, Consumption, Revenue and Gross Margin by 2021

    The major purpose of this Automotive Carbon Ceramic Brakes Market Research Report is a valuable source of knowledgeable data for business strategies and methodologies. The study provides the overall industry overview along with the growth trends, past and futuristic cost, revenue, demand, sales, and the supply data. A detailed description of the industry value chain, as well as the distributor analysis, has been provided by the industry specialists. The market report also provides wide-ranging data, which further enhances the understanding, scope, and applications of the report.It presents all important facts over global Automotive Carbon Ceramic Brakes market including key industry players Brembo SGL Carbon Ceramic Brakes, Surface Transforms, Carbon Ceramics, Rotora, Akebono Brake Industry, Fusion Brakes, …

    This report presents the global Automotive Carbon Ceramic Brakes market size (value, production and consumption), splits the breakdown (data status 2013-2018 and forecast to 2025), by manufacturers, region, type and application. This study also analyzes the market status, market share, growth rate, future trends, market drivers, opportunities and challenges, risks and entry barriers, sales channels, distributors and Porter’s Five Forces Analysis.

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    Based on type: Single Disc Brake, Multiple Ddisc Brake

    On the basis of application: Automobile, Passenger Car, Light Commercial Vehicle (LCV), Heavy Commercial Vehicle (HCV)

    On the basis of Geographically, Automotive Carbon Ceramic Brakes market report covers data points for multiple geographies such as North America, South America, Europe, Asia-Pacific, and Middle East & Africa. Some of the major countries covered in this report are USA, Europe, Japan, China, India, Southeast Asia, South America, South Africa, Others.

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  • Defective brakes contributed to 49 road fatalities over last five years

    Analysis of the latest Government data has revealed the number of road accidents caused by defective brakes. Kwik Fit, the UK’s largest independent automotive servicing and repair company, analysed the data which has just been published for the most recent full year, and in an indication that roads are getting safer, found that the overall number of road accidents fell by 7.1% between 2015-20171.

    Worryingly, however, Kwik Fit’s analysis reveals that the number of accidents in which defective brakes were a contributory factor in people being killed or seriously injured rose by 12.2% over the same period2.

    The data shows that the number of people killed in accidents in which defective brakes have been a contributory factor has remained stubbornly high, with an average of ten fatalities in each of the last five years. During that time a further 677 people were seriously injured in accidents in which defective brakes played a role. When slight injuries are included, over the last five years there has been a total of 4,964 casualties in accidents where defective brakes have been a factor, an average of just under 1,000 a year, or around three a day2.

    Kwik Fit found that the number of people killed or seriously injured as a result of accidents caused, at least in part, by defective brakes actually fell between 2013-15, by 8.9%, but this positive trend has been reversed between 2015-17.

    Roger Griggs, communications director at Kwik Fit said: “The overall trend on road accidents is an encouraging one, but this analysis shows that this improvement can’t be taken for granted. New vehicle technology is making cars ever safer, but they must be maintained properly. Brakes lose efficiency over time as the components gradually wear, so their deterioration is hard to spot from day to day. We would encourage motorists to not simply leave it to the annual MOT to check on the condition of the brakes, but to make sure they are monitoring their effectiveness on an ongoing basis.”

  • Jacobs delivers 1 Millionth engine brake for heavy-duty world engines

    Jacobs delivers 1 Millionth engine brake for heavy-duty world engines

    Jacobs Vehicle Systems®, the world’s leading manufacturer of diesel and natural gas engine retarding systems and valve actuation mechanisms, announces the sale of its one millionth engine brake for Daimler Trucks’ heavy duty engine platform (HDEP)

    Jacobs Vehicle Systems®, the world’s leading manufacturer of diesel and natural gas engine retarding systems and valve actuation mechanisms, announces the sale of its one millionth engine brake for Daimler Trucks’ heavy duty engine platform (HDEP).

    For more than 10 years, Daimler Trucks has relied on the braking performance of the “Jake Brake®”, an especially effective turbocharged compression release brake integrated into the engine and the engine control unit, which is both quiet and effective.

    The Jacobs Engine Brake® delivers an outstanding performance of up to 480 kW to the six-cylinder engine that is available with displacement ranges between 10.7 litre and 15.6 litre and output levels from 240 kW to 480 kW. Heavy-duty commercial vehicles such as the Mercedes-Benz Actros, Antos and Arocs, the Freightliner Cascadia and the Super Great from Fuso as well as the touring coaches and inter-urban buses from Mercedes-Benz and Setra are powered by this engine with an integrated Jacobs Engine Brake.

    Jacobs Vehicle Systems has been a longstanding partner of Daimler dating back to 1962 when engine brakes were first installed on a Detroit Diesel Series 71 engine in an aftermarket application. Since 1984, Jacobs Engine Brakes have been standard equipment.

    “Today, with this one millionth engine brake for the heavy duty world engines, we recognise another significant milestone for us, and one that we can all be very proud of. We also recognise that this would not exist without the strong collaboration between the Daimler engineering team and our experts in engine braking technologies,” said Paul Paré, Senior Director, Marketing and Business Development, Jacobs Vehicle Systems.

    As Jacobs continues to drive innovation to meet the ever-changing market demands, the company has developed and validated an enhanced version of its already successful HPD (High Power Density) technology. This latest technology delivers braking power twice as high as the previous versions at low engine speeds. Jacobs’ new technology achieves an impressive peak braking power of 611 kW in a 12.8 litre engine at 2,500 rpm.

    Jacobs provides engine brakes to over 30 customers globally and has locations in Europe, China, Japan, India, and the U.S. In 2017 Jacobs announced the sale of its seven millionth engine brake.

  • Angst for German economy as car woes slam on brakes

    BERLIN: Germany's years-long run of steady growth came to a screeching halt in the third quarter, official data showed on Wednesday (Nov 14), with a widely-expected bottleneck in the vital car industry matched by broader structural concerns.

    Federal statistics authority Destatis reported a 0.2-per cent slump in gross domestic product (GDP) between July and September - the first fall in the measure since early 2015 and worse than forecast by analysts after months of troubling economic indicators.


    "The reputation of the invincible strong man (or woman) of Europe has received some scratches," commented ING Diba bank economist Carsten Brzeski.

    A single fall in GDP does not point to a recession, which only becomes official if there are two successive quarters of shrinkage.

    But the figure represents a marked slowdown from the fast-paced growth of 0.4 per cent in the first quarter of the year and 0.5 per cent in the second.

    Economists still predict Germany will book its 10th consecutive year of expansion in 2019, although the pace this year and next will likely be slower than the 2.2 per cent recorded in 2017.


    'NO PANIC'

    "The slight fall in GDP was above all down to external trade developments," Destatis said, pointing to lower exports and higher imports than in the second quarter.

    In Berlin, the economy ministry highlighted the introduction of the so-called WLTP exhaust testing cycle in response to the "dieselgate" emissions cheating scandal as the main brake on growth.

    New car registrations plunged more than 30 per cent year-on-year in September as the new regulations hit and buyers at home and abroad held off purchases.

    The auto industry, Germany's largest, employs around 800,000 people in firms ranging from giants like Volkswagen or BMW to tiny components suppliers.

    Economic think-tank IfW recently calculated that the third quarter saw the worst performance for the sector since 1997.

    "Once this one-off effect has dissipated, the German economy's upswing will continue," the economy ministry predicted.

    "Domestic fundamentals remain healthy," agreed economist Florian Hense of Berenberg bank.

    "Chances are that we are back to growth at around its trend rate of around 0.4 per cent quarter-on-quarter already" between October and December, he added.


    Another temporary factor weighing on the German economy was the unusually hot and dry summer.

    Starved of rainfall, the vital economic artery of the Rhine ebbed to record lows, throttling river shipments, especially for firms in the massive chemical industry like BASF.

    Longer-term structural developments may offer more for economists looking to Germany's long-term prospects to worry over.

    As well as the export slowdown, Destatis highlighted "mixed signals" domestically.

    "While more was invested in equipment and construction than in the previous quarter, private consumer spending fell," the statisticians found.

    In recent years strong consumer spending supported by rising wages has proved a bulwark of German growth.

    ING's Brzeski pointed to inflation in energy prices that "completely erased" pay increases in recent months.

    What's more, Germany's aging population and low unemployment rate are proving a drag on growth, as companies struggle to find new skilled workers to hire in sectors ranging from construction to the digital economy.

    Internationally, the export-oriented economy is suffering from rising protectionist threats, the prospect of lower trade with Britain after it leaves the EU next year and intra-EU tensions over heavily-indebted Italy's budget.

    Earlier this month Germany's council of economic advisers - the so-called "wise men" - urged the government to invest more in infrastructure and education.

    The Bundesbank (central bank) on Wednesday advised financial firms to reinforce their capital buffers, saying weaknesses in the financial system built up during good times could amplify the effects of a downturn.

    "Today's disappointing growth data is yet another wake-up call that political stability and strong growth are by no means a given," ING's Brzeski said, following moves by Chancellor Angela Merkel that point to the end of her long spell at the country's helm.


  • Bosch iDisc brakes are the cleaner, more durable brakes for the future

    Bosch iDisc brakesBosch iDisc brakes

    While regulations surrounding emission standards often focus on tailpipe emissions, brakes and tires actually contribute 32 percent of driving-related particulate emissions. Half of that comes from brake dust alone. On Wednesday, Bosch revealed its answer to a cleaner brake disc called the iDisc.

    Bosch says the iDisc offers numerous benefits over traditional cast-iron brake discs. Foremost, the iDisc's construction consists of a tungsten-carbide coating after the disc's friction rings are mechanically, thermally, and galvanically treated. The special process creates a more durable disc and one that produces 90 percent less brake dust for cleaner air. Bosch said the iDisc is roughly three times more expensive than a standard cast iron disc, but it's also three times less expensive than a ceramic brake disc.

    Bosch iDisc brakesBosch iDisc brakes

    And the iDisc doesn't sacrifice performance when compared to a ceramic brake disc. Bosch claims the brake fade performance of its iDisc mimics ceramic brakes and little deceleration wear occurs over time. Depending on the carbide coating's strength, the company said the iDisc will last twice as long as a conventional disc. The iDisc is also resistant to corrosion, which offers a major advantage for electric cars and regenerative braking systems.

    Bosch iDisc brakesBosch iDisc brakes

    Bosch didn't provide specifics but said it will begin production of the iDisc for an unnamed automotive manufacturer this month. We happen to know that manufacturer is Porsche and the brakes will be offered on the 2019 Cayenne. Porsche calls them Porsche Surface Coated Brakes (PSCB) and says the tungsten-carbide mixture is essentially burned onto the surface using a high-velocity oxygen fuel, creating a hardened surface that is 100 microns thick. While thin, this is the usable surface of the rotors, and Porsche says it is good for 30 percent to twice as much wear, depending on driving style. Porsche charges $3,490 for its PSCB brakes compared to $9,080 for its carbon ceramics on the Cayenne.

    While price may be an issue for the technology at first, the company expects economies of scale will help make the iDisc a go-to option for future cars.

  • 2019 Ford Mustang Shelby GT350 thunders in with upgraded aero, tires, brakes

    The Ford Mustang Shelby GT350 is a special thing, with it's flat-crank 5.2-liter V-8 engine wringing out to 8,250 rpm. For 2019, it gets a host of improvements, Ford announced on Monday, ranging from performance to daily niceties.

    The most important updates for GT350 fans? The performance improvements. The go upgrades start with new tires. Michelin Pilot Sport Cup 2 tires with a GT350-specific tread pattern and compound replace the previous GT350's Michelin Pilot Super Sports. Ford claims the staggered set of 295/35s up front and 305/35s in the rear on new 19-inch aluminum wheels will improve acceleration, lateral grip, and braking.

    ALSO SEE: 2018 Ford Mustang GT Performance Package Level 2 first drive: making it a real sports car

    A new rear spoiler with an optional Gurney flap and revised grille block-off come from wind tunnel testing, road course racing, and lessons learned from the upcoming Shelby GT500. Those wanting the optional Gurney flap should note it will arrive later in the model year.

    The tuning of the springs and standard magnetic dampers is revised. Six-piston front and four-piston rear Brembo brakes carry over, but the calibration has been revised, as has the calibration for both the three-mode stability control and the electric power steering system—all in an effort to improve driver feedback.

    DON'T MISS: 2018 Ford Shelby Super Snake boasts new look, more power

    The show upgrades include available exposed carbon fiber trim and a newly optional 12-speaker Bang and Olufsen audio system. The previously optional 8-inch touchscreen infotainment system is now standard, as are dual-zone automatic climate control and a universal garage door opener.

    Oddly, the revised Shelby GT350 will not share the reworked headlights, taillights, or digital gauge cluster that the lesser 2019 Mustangs received.

    Velocity Blue and Ford Performance Blue join the color lineup, and, of course, various new stripe packages are available to make it your own.

    What doesn't change for 2019? The powertrain. A naturally aspirated, flat-crank 5.2-liter V-8 still roars out 526 horsepower and 429 pound-feet of torque. All that grunt heads to the rear wheels through a 6-speed manual transmission.

    Pricing and a full options list have yet to be announced, but Ford said the 2019 Mustang Shelby GT350 will be available early in 2019.

    HI-RES GALLERY: 2019 Ford Mustang Shelby GT350

  • Brake-by-wire to go mainstream, says Brembo

    2016 Chevrolet Camaro's Brembo brakes2016 Chevrolet Camaro's Brembo brakes

    Braking systems have changed considerably over decades, but high-performance brake manufacturer Brembo thinks another big change is coming.

    Brembo’s executive director for braking systems, Giovanni Canavotto, told Car and Driver in an interview published Monday that brake-by-wire systems will become a "strong trend" over the next decade. Thus, Canavotto believes hydraulic braking systems will soon go the way of drum brakes.

    The executive explained that future brake-by-wire systems will allow for more precise tuning for a variety of attributes. "They can be tailored to the driver and create a soft or firm feel, shorter or longer pedal travel, much like the driving modes for the suspension and steering right now," he said.

    Canavotto noted such systems have been used in Formula One for years and provide vast flexibility. Right now, though, the systems can create a vague pedal feel compared to a hydraulic system. "We will need to work on the algorithms, as electric systems tend to display an on/off characteristic. There will be a lot of work on the feel. But there are great advantages: Electric signals are more manageable than hydraulic ones, and by-wire systems will simplify vehicle architectures," he explained.

    Right now, the Infiniti Q50/Q60 and Alfa Romeo Guilia and Stelvio are among a handful of vehicles with brake-by-wire systems. Journalists have complained about a wooden pedal feel in these vehicles.

    As the new technology takes hold, Canavotto foresees plenty of redundancies to ensure a driver's safety. After all, brakes are a critical safety system in any car.

    The brakes may not look all that different either, Canavotto added. "It is simply the question of adding a mechatronic system invisibly," he said.

  • Porsche develops new drum brakes for classic 356 models

    Sometimes it's tough to keep classic cars completely original, especially as parts become scarce. Porsche, specifically, Porsche Classic, wants to help its loyal owners keep things all-original with new drum brakes for the 356A and 356B models, which were Porsche's first-ever production cars. However, the re-engineered originals come at a price.

    A set of four drum brakes will cost owners $8,700 for the 356A, and $8,500 for the 356B. We suppose the price isn't much of an issue when both models regularly command six-figure prices. Air-cooled Porsche cars continue to rise in value, too. Keeping a 356 in factory condition, even if it requires almost $10,000 worth of brake components, might be worth it in the long run.

    Porsche says the complex manufacturing process creates the fun-to-drive characteristics of yore with the benefits of modern-day braking safety. The brand also tested the brakes on the 356 models itself to ensure factory performance with increased safety. The equipment used to make these brakes is much improved from the original manufacturing methods, meaning the tolerances to which they are produced are far more exact.

    The 356 helped Porsche make a name for itself in motorsport long before the 911 succeeded it in 1963. Today, the 356 is an icon among Porsche aficionados. After watching Porsche Classic's video explaining the development and engineering of these brakes, perhaps $8,500 doesn't seem so expensive. Nah, it still does.

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