First Drive: 2013 Aston Martin Vanquish

Mr. Bond’s other Aston.

The DB5 may be the most iconic vehicle in its history, but in a year  that brings the debut of the latest 007 adventure, Aston Martin also  ushers in a revival of the Vanquish.  The sleek head-turner made it’s  first splash (literally) in 2002’s Die Another Day (no, seriously —  remember the melting ice palace?), buoying it to the upper ranks of  movie cars.  The new Vanquish evolves from the DBS, with luxurious  inspiration from the the exclusive One-77. The lavish attention to  detail on the interior (such as hand-stitched leather) is carried over to the mechanics under the hood (or “bonnet”, as Bond would say).  Aston Martin’s flagship V12 engine has been tweaked to deliver 565 bhp and 460 lb-ft of torque, resulting in 0-62 mph in 4.1  seconds and topping out at 183 mph.  Utilizing an updated Touchtronic 2 transmission that’s shaken, not stirred, the Vanquish is only available as an automatic.  The Vanquish is set to conquer these shores next year, estimated at around $300,000.  In the meantime, pay homage to 007 in November’s Skyfall, and check out the current Aston Martin lineup at the 2013 New England International Auto Show!

First Drive: 2013 Dodge Dart

What’s the hottest segment in the auto industry right now?   Forget the SUVs and people carriers of old, because compact  cars are on fire.  With their small dimensions and light weights,  compacts have become the consumer’s weapon of choice to combat  rising gas prices.  With the stylish 2013 Dart, Dodge aims to make a  splash in the compact segment and appeal to younger, economical  buyers.  The brand’s first vehicle to be built on Fiat technology, the  Dart is highly customizable, with unbundled options.  Buyers can choose from 12 exterior colors, 14 interior color combinations, 4 grilles, 6 wheels, and 3 engines and transmissions.  It also offers affordable luxury, with standard features like a back up camera starting for under $20,000.  With an entry model that achieves 160hp and 36mpg (all without sacrificing safety features like 10 standard airbags), the 2013 Dart is an excellent red-hot addition to a segment that has traditionally been ruled by the most boring shades of beige.  Don’t miss it at the Show this year!

The New England Motor Press Association 2012 Awards

New England Motor Press AssociationThe New England Motor Press presented at its 25th anniversary awards dinner on May 11, 2012, at the MIT Faculty Club, Cambridge, Massachusetts.

Congratulations to John Krafcik, John Lawlor, Pierre Kanter, and Marty Schorr, who were all recognized for their commitment to the automotive industry. Vehicles of all shapes and sizes were honored for their luxury performance and efficiency.

The 2013 Ford Fusion was awarded the Gene Ritvo Memorial Design & Elegance Award. The award was handpicked with curators from Boston’s Museum of Fine Arts and the Larz Anderson Auto Museum.

The Yankee Cup Technology Award was presented to Hyundai for its Gasoline Direct Injection technology. Selected in conjunction with faculty and staff at MIT, Hyundai was chosen for its creative approach to fuel economy. Rather than focusing on hybrid technology, GDI was applied to nearly the entire fleet to maximize fuel efficiency while maintaining cost efficiency for both the manufacturer and consumer.

The all new 2012 Subaru Impreza was presented with the Yankee Value Award, an honor that goes to a vehicle that highlights the New England experience. Completely restyled for 2012, the Impreza takes a value-focused approach to comfort and performance. This perpetual New England favorite now boasts a 30% fuel economy increase and a new 2.0 liter boxer engine.

The Winter Vehicle of New England Award was presented to the Jeep Grand Cherokee for the second year in a row. The luxurious and plush interior combined with its dynamic all-weather performance, makes this affordable SUV a perfect choice for New England’s robust winters. With its two class-leading engines and four 4WD systems, the Grand Cherokee provides a smooth ride in the toughest of conditions.

The following awards were also presented:

Favorite Fun Entry-Level Convertible: Mazda MX-5 Miata

Favorite Convertible $35,000-$50,000: Chevrolet Camaro SS

Favorite Luxury Convertible: BMW 650i

Luxury Winter Vehicle: Mercedes-Benz S-Class 4MATIC

Best in Class—Premium All-Weather Sedan/Wagon (tie): Lexus GS 350, Audi A6

Best in Class—All-Weather Sedan/Wagon $25,000-$35,000: Dodge Charger AWD

Best In Class—All-Weather Sedan/Wagon under $25,000: Subaru Legacy

Best in Class—All-Weather Pickup Truck: Ford F-150 EcoBoost

Best In Class—Compact Sport utility Vehicle/Crossover: Honda CR-V

Best in Class—Sport Utility Vehicle/Crossover over $25,000: Jeep Wrangler

Best In Class—Sport Utility Vehicle/Crossover over $35,000: Range Rover Evoque

Best In Class—Hybrid Sport Utility Vehicle: Porsche Cayenne

Best In Class—Premium Sport Utility Vehicle/Crossover (tie): Cadillac Escalade, Infiniti QX56

The New England Motor Press Association coordinates professional coverage of the auto industry in the six Northeastern states. For more information visit nempa.org.