#Motorama LIVE @ Mecum Jaguar XK120

8 04 2013

Team Hall & Nass and #Motorama LIVE recently attended the Mecum Auction in Houston, Texas, where our good friend and British automotive history buff Robert Edwards (@FastMINIRob on Twitter) joined us to Tweet up the action for #Motorama LIVE on @Twitter! During the auction, a rather stunning classic 1953 Jaguar XK120 SE crossed the block and sold for $92K US. We caught up with the new owner afterward, and obtained permission to film an interview about this amazing example of British automotive history.

So with the sounds of the auction block churning away in the background, sit back and enjoy this exclusive interview between Robert and Berry about the Jaguar XK120 SE.

Join us for more automotive discussion on #Motorama LIVE, every Wednesday from 9-11 PM Eastern Time (US) on @Twitter! Just search on and use the #Motorama hashtag to follow and join in the conversation!

How Chevy Drives Innovation @ SXSW

6 03 2013


Team Hall & Nass and #Motorama LIVE went to South by SouthWest (SXSW) in Austin, Texas to discover how Chevrolet goes all out to drive home an automotive presence at the SXSW Interactive, Film and Music conference held annually in Austin, Texas.

Ride along with us in a “Catch a Chevy” as Connie Burke, Communications Manager for Chevrolet, explains how Chevrolet has managed to drive crowds, make relationships and generate traffic via their creative interactive approach to developing a strong automotive presence at a conference not traditionally known as being automotive related. It’s a true rolling case study in brand marketing meets interactive presence LIVE in action. Come along with us an enjoy the ride!

3 Years/36K Miles Bumper to Bumper Team Hall & Nass #Motorama LIVE All Access Movie

5 12 2012



Welcome to the 3 Years/36K Miles Bumper to Bumper Team Hall & Nass #Motorama LIVE All Access Movie, celebrating our 2 Year Anniversary of #Motorama LIVE on Twitter! 3 Years/36K Miles Bumper to Bumper takes you on a journey of fast cars, cool people and amazing events with Team Hall & Nass and Motorama LIVE from the first week of December 2009 through the first week of December 2012.

This 42 minute feature movie contains a LOT of never before seen footage from our Team Hall & Nass years and the best of the best clips so far from our Motorama LIVE years. We could have gone back further and included a LOT more footage, but if we didn’t cut it where we did and condense it down to these 42 minutes, it might have become ‘Gone With the Motorama’, and let’s face it, no one should watch that much of our foolishness in one sitting.

So gather your friends and family around the computer, television or your mobile device, get some salty snacks, some frosty cold beverages, and enjoy some of the craziest, zaniest “best of” moments captured in the 3 Years/36K Miles Bumper to Bumper Team Hall & Nass #Motorama LIVE All Access Movie!

Thank you to EVERYONE who has supported us over the last several years, from our friends and families, our fans, our sponsors, our OEM friends, reps, event managers, everyone who has ever used the #Motorama hashtag on Twitter, and last, but certainly NOT least, our amazing #Motorama LIVE staff members, without ALL of whom none of this would be possible. I cannot thank each and every one of you enough.

Join us for #Motorama LIVE every Wednesday from 9-11 PM Eastern on Twitter! Just search on and use the #Motorama hashtag to join the conversation! #Motorama LIVE, THE most fun automotive enthusiast and motorsports #Carmmunity on Twitter!

2013 Shelby GT 500 1st Drive

1 07 2012


So what is it like to drive the all new 662 horsepower 2013 Shelby GT 500? Tighten down your belts, because Team Hall & Nass is about to give you a taste of the baddest snake ever released into the WILD here in Texas!

#Motorama LIVE and Team Hall & Nass were lucky enough to the the 1st media outlet in the state of Texas (& one of the first in the US) to be granted time alone behind the wheel of the all new 2013 Ford Shelby GT 500 in the wild. Though we only had a couple hours to play with it, and only had a cell phone cam with us, we managed to capture the following “1st Impression” video just for you, our loyal and awesome fans! The quality might be jittery and rough, but hey, how many 2013 GT 500 videos exist in June 2012? Exactly. So sit back, hold on tight and enjoy the ride as we share of 1st impression of this awesome machine with YOU!

Motorama LIVE 2012 Buick Regal GS NORC Interview w/Bill Rietow

20 05 2012



Motorama LIVE raced in the Nevada Open Road Challenge #NORC on May 20th, 2012, as did a GM Buick Factory Race Team. This is our interview at the finish line with Bill Rietow, Buick Lead Product Engineer, telling us all about his run in the 2012 Buick Regal GS in the 135 MPH Class.

Bill and his navigator John Townsend won the 120 MPH Class at the Silver State Classic Challenge Open Road Race back in September. Hear Bill talk about how he believes they did today in the 135 Class, as well as how well a stock Buick Regal GS felt racing over 90 miles of 2 lane public highway at speeds up to 161 MPH!

Thank you to our good friends at Buick! Today, they were truly Hall & Nass! :@)~

Ford Raptor SVT FULL HOONAGE Review

30 11 2011



NOTE – This is a 17 minute video, but pull your belts down tight, because you WILL be rewarded with LOTS of HOONAGE throughout. You may even learn something IF you can endure the review’ish’ parts. This has been a Public HOONAGE Awareness Announcement brought to you by the crazies at Team Hall & Nass and Motorama LIVE!

We got our hands on 2 brand spanking new 2012 Ford Raptors to HOON at will on a specialty offroad course under Ford’s supervision. Then, after showing Ford just how worthy we were in the dirt, they gave us a gently loved 2011 Raptor for two whole weeks (completely unsupervised) with permission to “go do our thing”. You can imagine how much sideways, dirt-filled, insane action followed (can you hear the theme song from the Dukes of Hazzard in your head yet?!?), and thanks to the magic of YouTube, we’re about to share what we experienced with you!

The Raptor surprised us in ways we truly couldn’t have imagined before daily driving it. So if you can bear to make it through the wordy parts (there are actually some surprising things to share with you about the Raptor we bet you didn’t already know), you shall be rewarded with some classic Team Hall & Nass HOONAGE!

Thank you to Ford Motor Company for you continued faith in the power of Team Hall & Nass and Motorama LIVE! We appreciate your support!

Join us for #Motorama LIVE, the best automotive enthusiast discussion anywhere online, every Wednesday from 9-11 PM Eastern on Twitter. Just search for the #Motorama hashtag and join in the madness!

Team Hall & Nass 2011 Chevrolet Camaro SS Convertible NASCAR Drive Away Experience and Review

27 04 2011

Team Hall & Nass 2011 Chevrolet Camaro SS Convertible NASCAR Drive Away Experience and Review


This particular tale will be different from any other review or adventure you have read from either Team Hall & Nass or Motorama LIVE before. To say our time spent with this particular 2011 Chevrolet Camaro SS Convertible was a unique experience would be a massive understatement for a host of reasons. We’ll get into a few of those wild tales below. Somewhere in the mix, we may also manage to do a review on the car, too.

However, before we launch into our crazy adventure and impressions of the 2011 Chevrolet Camaro SS Convertible, we’d like to point out that this story is being prepared for both our Team Hall & Nass site, as well as our Wednesday night 9-11 PM Eastern Time #Motorama LIVE enthusiast discussion on Twitter. So while this is technically a Team Hall & Nass adventure, it is also being conducted with our Motorama LIVE audience in mind. If you’re confused by any of this, visit both our TeamHallnNass.com and MotoramaLIVE.com sites for information on what both entities are all about.

One Treat of a Favor

It all began when a local DFW area Chevrolet dealership called one day with a question. They asked if we were planning to attend the NASCAR races at Texas Motor Speedway in April, and if we wouldn’t mind doing them a favor. They asked if we could represent their dealership at the NASCAR dealer VIP event in the Team Chevy pavilion and take delivery of a 2011 Chevrolet Camaro SS Convertible for them at the track after the Sprint Cup Series night race. If so, we would get the full Team Chevy Dealer VIP treatment, including hospitality tent access, food, drinks, free tickets to the race, and the opportunity to participate in the Team Chevy parade lap as part of the dealer “drive away” program. As an added bonus, after the race was over, Thomas said we could keep the car for a week or so to put the break in miles on it, drive around with the top down and enjoy. If only more people called up to ask such favors of us! Of course, it took about half of a millisecond to say “YES!”

We arrived at Texas Motor Speedway the night before the dealer drive away event to enjoy the NASCAR Nationwide Series race, courtesy of our good friends on the GM Communications Team. While watching a highly competitive race, we were treated to something even more fun to watch. A father and his young son who were sitting directly in front of us were both rooting for Ford driver Carl Edwards, who held the lead of the race numerous times throughout the night. While seeing young race fans show their enthusiasm for motorsports always warms our hearts, this kid was priceless. Every time Edwards took the lead, he did a celebratory dance and high fived his dad. Then, in a rare exhibition that would make any veteran NASCAR fan proud, when perennial bad boy Kyle Bush wrecked, this little guy jumped up, pointed at the track, and broke out into a full on running man dance! So when it became apparent that his favorite driver was likely going to win the race, we decided to capture the moment on the likely chance it would be highly entertaining. Enjoy the video of his celebration here – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KEhtLKnY7wE&feature=channel_video_title.

Our 2011 Chevrolet Camaro SS Convertible Parade Lap Adventure Begins

On the day of the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race, we arrived at the Chevy Chalet in time to enjoy hanging out and having dinner with the owners and managers of the North Texas Chevy Dealers. Afterward, we were led into the infield of Texas Motor Speedway to a row of 43 special decaled triple black 2011 Chevrolet Camaro SS Convertibles. We were assigned car number 17, with Chevrolet decals on the doors. While the inside of the car was covered in dust from sitting at the track with the top down most of the weekend, the outside was shining like new money. We got into the cars, strapped on headsets that were linked to race communications, and headed out in a procession from the infield onto the surface of the track on the front straightaway.

The sight of 43 matching drop top muscle cars anywhere is an amazing sight, but sitting behind the wheel of one as you drive out onto the surface of a NASCAR track in front of over 100,000 cheering fans mere moments before a race begins is beyond intoxicating. For someone who’s been around racing all their life and longs for a ride in the big time, honestly, it’s addicting!

We pulled up in front of the driver introduction stage and picked up the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series driver of the #1 Tracker Boats Chevrolet Impala SS, Jaime McMurray. While we drove around the apron of the track on the parade lap, the wind howling between 20 and 40 MPH on a blustery Texas evening, we cautioned him about coming out of two onto the backstretch. After circling the track and driving down a pit road crowded with the cars and crews of all 43 teams, we headed out to a secure parking lot to “officially” take possession of the Camaro from GM.

Our 2011 Chevrolet Camaro SS Convertible Drive Away Adventure Begins

After enjoying the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race from the stands, we headed out to the parking lot to retrieve our Camaro, drop the top, and begin the drive back to our house, roughly 30 miles from the speedway. Thus began a dance everyone lucky enough to have purchased and/or driven a brand new muscle or performance car knows all too well. The mental battle between knowing you must keep the engine RPMs at lower levels for the first 500 miles until the rings are properly seated and those run in miles are on the engine versus the almost uncontrollable urge to drop the hammer and experience that roar and rush that only a hot rod car can provide. Well, in Team Hall & Nass world, just because you keep the RPMs low doesn’t exactly mean you have to drive like a senior citizen. Once we broke free of the race traffic and found some clear highway closer to home, the heads up display started to show numbers a bit more to our liking … all while keeping the revs moderate.

Admittedly, I am a very lucky person. My whole life I have owned, rented, borrowed, raced, rallied or somehow had access to some of the best new muscle, speed and luxury cars America builds. So while I have a wide-ranging palate and appreciation for driving new hot rods, it is rare that one truly gets under my skin. Sure, there are many cars I get excited about. That happens all the time. However, this particular Camaro really appealed to something deeper in me, which became apparent as soon as I got it home.

That first night, I spent hours sitting out in my driveway inside of the triple black Camaro SS Convertible with the top down, the dials lit up, the radio down low, and just took it all in. The longer I sat there, the more this old feeling came back to me. One I haven’t felt since way back in the early ‘90s on the first night after I bought my 1994 fourth generation black on black Camaro Z28. The longer I sat there, the more that feeling came over me. This was not what you feel sitting in a Corvette. It was not what you feel sitting in just any cool new car. This was a feeling I only get in a Camaro. This is something I’ve felt many times over the years, as I’ve owned a few Camaros and have always had at least one model (if not multiples) in my possession all the way back to that first 1979 Z28 I bought when I was 16 years old. This is a feeling you get when you encounter an old friend you haven’t seen in ages and almost forgot how much you missed until they are standing there, and suddenly, all that lost time just vanishes and you’re back in a place that seems just like yesterday. Yes, I knew this particular car was not going to be just another drive and review project. This was special. This was a homecoming. This was a Camaro.

My History with the Chevrolet Camaro

Before I can describe the fifth generation Camaro SS Convertible properly, I should first briefly share my longstanding history with being a Camaro aficionado. My love, and even sometimes ‘less than love,’ relationship with the Chevrolet Camaro has existed for as long as I’ve had a drivers license. Having owned and driven many second, third and fourth generation Camaro Z28s over the years, and having kept a fourth generation Camaro Z28 as a semi-regular daily driver for the last 17 years, I’ve got quite a few “butt in seat” miles of Camaro driving experience.

As much as I love driving and racing C6 Corvettes, to me, there is still nothing quite like driving a hot rod Camaro. They have always been quick, twitchy, sideways, unapologetic beasts to drive. They do championship level burnouts with little throttle effort, they command respect at drag strips and race tracks everywhere, and they can whip most cars that cost up to 10 times more without any fear of trying to be something they are not. Since 1967, V8 Camaros have always provided those people on a more conservative budget with the experience of driving a slightly detuned Corvette in a less expensive wrapper (minus the dark period of disappearance from 2003-2009). But more than anything, as long as Camaros have been built and sold, they have always been the ‘best bang for buck’ vehicle Chevrolet has offered. With each new generation, Motor Trend always declares it so.

Describing the 2011 Chevrolet Camaro SS Convertible

In November 2009, Team Hall & Nass got behind the wheel of every flavor of the all new fifth generation 2010 Camaro Coupe (base and RS V6 automatic and manual, SS and SS/RS L99 V8 automatic and LS3 manual models) while at the SEMA show. When we drove the cars, we were immediately smitten. We hijacked the LS3 six speed manual for a clandestine run down the Las Vegas Strip and a few hard blasts around some off the Strip backstreets. We quickly discovered that while the new Camaro had plenty of power, it also had a few shortcomings. It was too quiet due to a restrictive exhaust, it was hard to see out of in any direction, and it just didn’t seem to want to drive sideways very easily. All things I wasn’t expecting. The car wasn’t perfect, but then again, the Camaro was never supposed to be. What it did better than anything was capture the essence of the original first generation Camaro in a visually stunning way. If that was the goal, then it was a goal well met.

Fast forward to April 2011 and we find ourselves in the newly released 2011 Camaro SS Convertible. Our 2SS-optioned car with an automatic rang in at $42,532 on the maroney. It had every single option you could get except for the RS package, and the only RS options it was truly missing were the HID headlights, the halo lights, the HID fog lights and the smoked rear taillight lenses. That would have pushed the sticker up another $500 and change, putting a completely loaded SS/RS Camaro Convertible at roughly $43,000. So HIDs and white SS badge versus red SS/RS badge aside, this car had it all.

A lot has been said about the excellent modern retro exterior and interior styling of the fifth generation Camaro, and how well it captured the first generation. The only thing we could add to that would be to say GM did a great job keeping the lines of the convertible top the same as the coupe. Rare is the drop top that looks good with the top up, but the 2011 Camaro Convertible manages to do just that. In fact, the only thing that looks different between the exterior of the coupe versus the convertible would be the smaller back window on the soft top, which significantly decreases outward visibility on a car already known as unnecessarily difficult to see out of by everyone. Otherwise, they look darn near identical.

However, drop the top, and this all new Camaro Convertible really shines. With the top down, the car looks even better. It may sound funny, but while most muscle cars look mean in coupe form, the Camaro actually looks even meaner with the top dropped. Top down operation is as easy as turning one center latch that releases two locking pins, push and hold down the top button, and all four windows drop and the top folds back flush into the rear boot in about 10-12 seconds. Putting the top up is about a 24-26 second operation accomplished by pressing and holding the top button, then pulling down and twisting the one center latch, which locks the two pins. All four windows are a one touch up and down operation via the drivers’ door switches. This is a feature that all new vehicles should have. Kudos to GM!

Another advantage of the Camaro Convertible is that the aforementioned visibility issues in the fifth generation coupe vanish with a release of a latch and the press of a button. Well, all except for the still too low windshield header, but those who enjoy increased rollover protection should not be so choosy. With the top up, you can lose a Mack truck in the rear blind spots, but a few days of adjusting your sightlines and learning to tow your mirrors out a bit further go a long way toward learning to deal with similar visibility issues that plague most convertibles on the market.

Speaking of the large windshield header bar, it houses the world’s shortest sun visors. Some may even say they are “cute” … but at least they are wide and effective. They serve as a great place to mount a radar detector, but they sure are short! Of course, as short as the dash to windshield height is, they have to be short or else they would block too much of the forward view.

The center stack old school gauge package adds to both the retro flavor and the visible vital information you need when you plan to drive the car hard. The additional vital operation information that you can easily scroll through in the center pod of the gauge cluster is a very welcome addition to the fifth generation Camaro. The LED light strips along the tops of the color door inserts are cool, although we don’t understand why GM didn’t extend them all the way across the matching color panel in the dash to finish out the illusion. Also, it would have been nice to have the same LED lights in the cupholder rings and as ambient lighting in the floors like the Ford Mustang has. And having the capability to change the colors of the LED lights would have also been a really nice touch. Maybe we’ll see this come refresh time?

The seats in the Camaro SS are one of the best overall interior features of the car. The leather, the stitching, the bolsters, the two-stage heating, the adjustable headrests and the SS embroidery are all spectacular! If only the C6 Corvette had these seats, we’d be able to remove the headrests to use the HANS device when we track the car, then simply put the headrests back in for regular street driving versus having to replace the entire seats to use the HANS. Are you listening Team Corvette engineers?!? Please and thank you.

Much has been said about the fifth generation Camaro steering wheel. Some like it, many do not. We found it to be decent. We like the controls for the audio system, the phone (via Bluetooth connection) and the cruise control. We also like that you can access both layers of the center gauge cluster menu from the left stalk without taking your hands off of the wheel. Our only gripe with the wheel is that the spokes are about an inch and a half too tall for optimal hand and thumb wrap position.

One thing GM engineers hit right on the mark on the Camaro that they failed miserably with the C6 Corvette are the paddle shift buttons. You click on the right to upshift, and on the left to downshift. Just like every race car and video game steering wheel on the planet. Try that sequence next time you’re in a paddle shift C6 Corvette and see what happens (but be careful)! Of course, the lag time in the downshifts mirror the second to second and a half delay the Corvette has, making the whole GM paddle shift program beyond annoying for us to use. If GM would adjust the push to downshift timing to instantaneous shifting (to match the upshift timing), then this system would be fun to use!

Two questions we have on the otherwise very well designed and executed interior of the new Camaro – who came up with the radio design and why was it not designed with a navigation screen? Between the sun glare on the screen with the convertible top down and the obvious limitation of ever being able to have a navigation radio option, someone fell asleep at the drawing board here. Different is cool and all, but functionality is key in vehicle electronics. Even the badly outdated navigation screen in the C6 Corvette would be welcome over this in-dash experiment. Head unit complaints aside, the Boston Acoustics sound system rocks! The bass is hard hitting, the highs are crisp, the mids are smooth, and there is always enough sound to rock out even at high speeds with the top down. Kudos on the sound of the stereo even if there is a glare and navigation fail.

The trunk has as much room inside as the C6 Corvette Convertible, once you pass your items through the very restrictive opening. A high trunk lip makes it challenging to get anything bigger than a 24” suitcase in, and the shape of the decklid makes it difficult to access the side areas. There is a netting guide inside to remind you how much space the convertible soft top requires when it is down, but you can easily move that netting to utilize the entire truck space should you need to. Just remember when you do, if you try to put the top down, something is going to get smashed or possibly broken. So using the netting as a guide is a good visual trunk space rule of thumb.

Driving the 2011 Chevrolet Camaro SS Convertible

The 2011 Chevrolet Camaro SS Convertible is an absolute blast to drive! It is more addictive to drive around in than anything else in recent memory. You can just cruise along one moment, then in the next moment, twitch your right foot a bit and suddenly be in full hoon mode. Of course, it’s more fun to drive with the top down that up, but that’s true of just about any convertible.

One of the best things GM did outside of the engine bay was putting four piston front and two piston rear Brembo brakes with thick vented rotors on it. They haul it down from large speeds nice and quick, and don’t seem to fade when really pushing the car through the twisties for hours on end. Of course, we look forward to the six piston front and four piston rear Z06 calipers on the upcoming Camaro ZL1. With over 550 horsepower, it’s going to need it!

Inside the car, one of the best things GM did to enhance the driving experience is the heads up display. In a unit that is very similar to the one found inside of the C6 Corvette, you can adjust the height of the display, the brightness, and select display modes of speed only, speedo and tach (which we used), or speedo, outside temp and compass direction. Another cool feature of the heads up display is the radio station and name of each song pops up along the bottom when a change is made. What is absent versus the Corvette is the G meter. What would be nice to have on the heads up would be a scroll feature along the bottom that relays all of the vital temps and tire pressures. Being able to see that information without having to look down at the center gauge cluster or press a toggle button would be very helpful while attacking long runs of twisty terrain, especially while in competition. A great enhanced safety feature idea if you’re listening, GM!

We are big fans of heads up displays, especially when they are done right. Being able to see your speed is helpful in many circumstances. Especially when tracking your entry speeds for corner setup, trying to stay under the speed limit when a cop is near, or simply as a constant visual reminder that you’re probably going faster than you think you are.

For enhanced grip, our car was rolling on 20” rims with Pirelli tires mounted front and rear, which, frankly, boggles our minds. The C6 Corvette in base, Z51 and even Z06 form only rolls on 18s on the front and 19s on the rear. Sure the ZR1 has 19s on the front and 20s on the back, but it also has 638 horsepower! The 20s look cool, but as every hot rodder knows, larger circumference wheels take more power to turn over. It just seems like overkill for the Camaro to have such large wheels. Yes, the Pirellis are super sticky for stock OEM tires and do a great job to aid the overall handling of the car, but when the point of the Camaro has always been that it offers Corvette ‘like’ performance for those on a budget, to force those customers to have to pay for 20” tires just seems a bit harsh. We dig the 20s, but we would dread paying $400-600 per tire for replacement sets of either Pirelli or upgraded Michelin Pilot Sport 2 tires on the Camaro. Ouch!

As mentioned by everyone who has tested both V8 variants of the fifth generation Camaro, we’re curious to know what GM was thinking when they put on an uber silent exhaust. It sounds anemic until you get to wide open throttle, and even then, you can hear that it needs to be opened up to enable less restrictive flow. There is easy power gain to be had just by immediately upgrading the exhaust. I can best sum this up with a comment made by a 60-something year old neighbor lady, who asked, “Why does your new Camaro not sound mean sitting there running like your old Camaro or that new Corvette does?” My sentiments exactly.

When we asked a GM rep about this very issue at SEMA in 2009, the response was, “We’re trying to appeal to a wider range of buyer with a quieter exhaust on the Camaro” and “we know the first thing enthusiast buyers will do is replace the exhaust.” Our point remains the same now as it was then – if you know we’re going to have to replace it to make it right, why not just install the correct-sounding, less restrictive exhaust in the first place? Come on GM. We love this car, but why leave the cork in the bottle? A muscle car should sound like a muscle car, at idle and at wide open throttle. Period. At least you can hear the roar of the exhaust at WOT a lot better with the top down than up. Yet another reason to buy the convertible over the coupe!

Speaking of power, we could go on and on about the wonderful power and fuel economy delivered by GM’s wonder engine, the LS3. It is our favorite GM engine right now (well, aside from the LS7). But the single largest unpleasant issue with the fifth generation Camaro, the one that absolutely boggles our minds, is why do all of the automatic V8 Camaros have the weaker L99 engine installed in them instead of the LS3? The very same LS3 that is already installed in all manual V8 Camaros. Of all the smart moves GM has made in the “new GM” era, this is perhaps the single biggest disappointment/mistake/mind boggler of them all. Why?

It cannot be that the automatic transmission used in the Camaro can’t handle the power of the LS3 when you consider GM has an automatic transmission mated to both the 436 horsepower LS3 in the Corvette and even to the 556 horsepower LSA engine in the Cadillac CTS-V. It can’t be that it’s somehow cheaper to install two different V8s in the same Camaro SS platform on the same assembly line at a similar sales price point. It can’t really be a fuel economy issue, because the LS3 is the most fuel efficient V8 engine GM has ever made. It also can’t be a weight issue, because unless we just happen to be wrong, the LS3 is a lighter engine than the L99, making it a better power to weight ratio option for the Camaro. So why are automatic buyers saddled with receiving the weaker- powered L99 engine when the higher horsepower, stronger built, more fuel efficient LS3 engine is already being installed in all of the manual Camaro SS cars on the same assembly line? We look forward to discussing this with GM and getting to the bottom of this odd issue on Motorama LIVE.

Engine/transmission combination dictations aside, the L99 V8 puts out 400 horsepower, 410 foot pound of torque, and launches the automatic Camaro SS Convertible forward at an impressive rate at any speed! From a standing start, you can easily put the Camaro SS over 100 MPH on any standard length highway on ramp. The fun doesn’t stop there, either. In fact, whether you have the 400 horse L99 automatic car, or the 426 horsepower, 420 foot pounds of torque LS3 V8 manual shift car, the fifth generation Camaro SS pulls hard all the way from 0 to as far as you dare take it. It has been published by Chevrolet from day one that these cars have an electronically limited top speed of 155 MPH. The car is such a hard charger that it is actually hard to resist the temptation to dig into the throttle every time you leave a light, a stop sign, merge onto a freeway, pull out to make a pass, or even when you just happen to have open lane in front of your car.

This brings us to perhaps a touchy area of this review … fuel economy. Get your wallet out, because this is where all that money you saved buying a Camaro SS instead of a Corvette is about to start coming in handy. Under “normal” Team Hall & Nass driving conditions, we struggled to stay in the 12-14 MPG range. In fact, when we went on a highly spirited drive one night with a couple of other road rally teams out in Middle of Nowhere, Texas, to attack some long straights and lots of twisties, we saw a full tank run average of 11.1 MPG. I filled the Camaro up to go on the drive, and I filled it up to get home, all inside of 200 miles. If you get on the throttle a lot in town, you may actually see your averages dipping down into the 9, 8 or even the 7.6 MPG range. We did. And, folks, that’s not being hard on the car or driving it like a buffoon. That’s just having fun every time you drive the car around town. By comparison, I’ve never seen gas mileage that bad driving a C6 Z06 around Las Vegas and having all sorts of stop light and on ramp fun.

In an effort to find out what the absolute best miles per gallon average we could achieve in the 2011 Camaro SS Convertible could be, we drove at constant speeds on a long, flat stretch of smooth highway in sixth gear. Granted, we did so with the top down, because, let’s face it, unless it’s raining out, everyone’s going to drive this car with the top down. While no doubt there is a bit of drag created by the cavern behind the front seats, here is what we found. At 60 MPH, the best we saw was 24 MPG. At 70 MPH, 22.5 MPG. These numbers were only maximized by holding everything rock steady (including our breath) and with the A/C turned off. By contrast, a similarly equipped 2009 LS3 Corvette Convertible Z51 automatic with 3.42 gears and the top down gets 22.5 MPG at 100 MPH with the A/C on and both occupants breathing normally. It’s all about aerodynamics folks. Well, that, and we suspect the L99 isn’t getting nearly as good of fuel economy as the LS3 can, but we are speculating.

The long and the short of it is if you want to have maximum power and see the best fuel mileage in a fifth generation Camaro SS, you should stick with the LS3 six speed manual.

Please note, we waited until we had put all the run in miles on this car before we ran it anywhere close to what you could call hard. Yes, we stretched its legs out to give it a thorough shakedown, but more than that, we exercised a ton of patience making sure we ran the motor in right first, just as if we owned it. After all, someone out there will be buying this car as a NASCAR Parade Lap car, and that owner deserves to purchase a properly run in car. This one is a true gem and should serve them well.

Protecting the 2011 Camaro SS Convertible Come Hail, Highwater, or BIGGER HAIL

As you may have gathered by now, we at Team Hall & Nass are big Camaro fans. So when we were caught off guard by a freak large hail storm here in North Texas, we didn’t let the fear of personal injury keep us from springing into insane action to save the 2011 Camaro SS Convertible from potential hail damage. Our tale was so outrageous that not only did we capture it on camera (and ruin a new smart phone doing so) to prove it happened, but popular automotive site Jalopnik did a piece on our efforts to save the Camaro. In case you haven’t seen the videos yet, here is the Jalopnik story – http://jalopnik.com/#!5793142, a video of our rescue effort – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Z4Oz_jW4Yyw&feature=channel_video_title and a video summary after the storm subsided – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VG4sPVYgrO0&feature=channel_video_title. Don’t try this at home!

The miraculous news is that we managed to keep the new 2011 Camaro SS Convertible from receiving a single dent throughout 20 minutes of pounding hail ranging from pea sized up to golf ball sized. The sad news is that our personal fourth generation Camaro Z28 paid the price with dents covering the hood and both rear quarter panels. As of this story, the dealer we saved the new Camaro for has offered to have his hail dent repair guy look at our Z28 to see what they can do to fix it. Stay tuned for a future update on either a dent repair miracle, or a project Camaro Z28 build up, coming soon!

In Summary

Team Hall & Nass fell in love with the new Camaro SS Convertible for a lot of reasons. As we said before, the new Camaro isn’t perfect, but it’s not supposed to be. The Camaro is a bit heavier, a bit less agile, and not quite as quick as the Corvette, but considering it costs $20K less, it’s closer than the price suggests. If GM’s goal with the new Camaro SS Convertible was to offer a modern day retro drop top muscle car with Corvette ‘like’ performance for considerably less money, then they nailed it. No matter how you order or option the car, it is a lot of fun to drive. The fifth generation Camaro V8 has returned from a long absence to regain the “best bang for the buck” title. Period.

Team Hall & Nass Buy, Wait or Skip Rating

Based on our impressions of our time behind the wheel of the 2011 Chevrolet Camaro SS Convertible, coupled with impressions from other enthusiasts, friends and neighbors we showed the car to and took out for hot laps, we’re going to give the 2011 Chevrolet Camaro SS a ‘Strong Buy’ rating with one caveat. If you’re going to buy one, buy the manual. Why? Because it is the only way to get the 426 horsepower LS3 engine. If you have the least bit of interest in adding power to your Camaro, either now or down the road, you’re going to want the LS3 over the weaker L99. It’s just a better, stronger, stouter engine. Besides, if you’re buying a muscle car, why wouldn’t you buy the one with maximum horsepower? Exactly.

When you visit your Chevrolet dealer to test drive the new Chevrolet Camaro SS Convertible, do us a favor and tell them Team Hall & Nass sent you. If you do buy a Camaro of any variety, please let us know! We always love hearing about our fans’ rides, and so does GM when we tell them about you. In turn, it makes them feel better about giving us access to their cars to review and share with you. We appreciate your support!

Team Hall & Nass and Motorama LIVE Camaro SS Convertible Coverage

We hope y’all have enjoyed our Team Hall & Nass 2011 Chevrolet Camaro SS Convertible coverage. Be sure to check out our 2011 Chevrolet Camaro SS Convertible videos, some of which are already posted, with a lot more coming soon on our Team Hall & Nass YouTube channel YouTube.com/TeamHallnNass. You know our Camaro videos are going to be wild! Also, stay tuned as we continue to share our experience of what life is like behind the wheel of other exciting new vehicles on TeamHallnNass.com and on MotoramaLIVE.com.

Our 2011 Chevrolet Camaro SS Convertible Was a GM “Drive Away” Car

We want to publicly thank our good friends at General Motors, Team Chevy, the GM Communications Team and Chevrolet for allowing us access to the NASCAR events, dealer VIP treatment, and to review one of their cars. Note that this particular car didn’t come from the GM media fleet. It was a brand new car, for sale to the public, delivered to us by Team Chevy as part of the North Texas Chevy Dealers NASCAR “drive away” program. It was a Chevrolet dealer who asked us to represent his dealership at the NASCAR dealer VIP event, and who allowed us to keep the car for 11 days to drive, enjoy and review. Thank you very much. We hope you enjoyed the publicity as much as we enjoyed driving and reviewing your car!


Due to FTC guidelines, please note that GM did not pay us to write or film any of this, nor did they ask us to. They simply granted us access to the Team Chevy pavilion at the Texas Motor Speedway NASCAR races, two days of awesome race tickets, and the chance to participate in the Team Chevy parade lap and dealer drive away program. We sincerely thank all of you, our amazing fans, for taking the time to read all about it. We appreciate you all!

This site entry has been approved by Pirate Pig, official mascot of Team Hall & Nass. Learn more about Pirate Pig at TeamHallnNass.com. Pirate Pig offers hamthrax protection for all, and would like to remind you, “IF YOU’VE JUST BEEN PASSED, THEN YOU’RE NOT HALL & NASS!” :@)~

Motorama LIVE!

If you are an automotive enthusiast, or would enjoy learning more about cool cars, automotive trends, auto shows, events and anything else that goes on in the automotive world, join us for our wildly popular weekly interactive automotive enthusiast discussion Motorama LIVE, every Wednesday from 9-11 PM Eastern, only on Twitter! Check us out at MotoramaLIVE.com, ‘Like’ Motorama LIVE on Facebook, and of course, follow us on Twitter @MotoramaLIVE Twitter.com/MotoramaLIVE. To join the conversation, just use the #Motorama hashtag and jump in! We’ll see you on Motorama LIVE!

Team Hall & Nass Drive the 2011 Cadillac DTS

25 04 2011

Team Hall & Nass Drive the 2011 Cadillac DTS


When Team Hall & Nass learned that 2011 would be the last year of the Cadillac DTS, we decided we just HAD to do a review of one before that last big Caddy build by the “old GM” sailed off into the sunset. Why? Because we like big, old school Cadillacs!

This review also happens to technically be a Team Hall & Nass review, but we also conducted it with our Motorama LIVE audience in mind. If you’re confused by all of this, visit both the TeamHallnNass.com site as well as the MotoramaLIVE.com site for more information on what both entities are all about.

Be sure to check out our 2011 Cadillac DTS videos, coming soon on our Team Hall & Nass YouTube channel YouTube.com/TeamHallnNass. Yes, a bit of hoonage of the DTS will ensue!

DTS – The Last Cadillac DeVille

While the “new GM” has done a superb job of cranking out cool new cars under the Cadillac brand, such as the CTS sedan/coupe/wagon, the ground pounding uber Cadillac CTS-V sedan/coupe/wagon, and the ultimate new Cadillac SRX crossover, the DTS has kind of been relegated to second class citizen/afterthought status. The big bodied Northstar V8-powered Cadillac DeVille Touring Sedan (DTS) is the last of the big Cadillacs still being produced by GM that has been around since the “old GM” was cranking out profits on SUVs and DotComs were still considered a wise investment. Because of this, the DTS is often thought of as the “old man car” or “airport limo service car.”

But the DTS roots run much deeper than just a long-in-the-tooth platform car that has fallen behind its siblings in terms of power, options and design. It’s also the last in a long, storied history of the DeVille moniker, a badge worn proudly by big bodied Cadillac cruisers for half a century. In fact, it wasn’t so long ago that when you heard the word Cadillac, the Coupe DeVille or Sedan DeVille was likely the first car that came to mind (except for maybe the Eldorado).

Cadillac holds a special place in my family, and it all started with the DeVille. Growing up, we always had GM cars, but in 1980, my dad, my great uncle and my cousin all decided they wanted to step it up beyond just owning Corvettes and pickup trucks. So they walked into our local Cadillac dealer and bought all three cars sitting on the showroom floor. My great uncle got a red Sedan DeVille, my cousin got a black Coupe DeVille and my dad got a blue Coupe DeVille for my mom. In true old school fashion, they all paid cash and drove them right off the showroom floor. Thus began my family’s long run of driving Cadillacs.

Those three Cadillac Coupe DeVilles were true classic Caddys in every sense of the word. They were big, they were long, they had 500-cubic inch big block motors, they would light the rear tires up with a flick of the right foot, they rode like you were floating on a cloud, they had enough body roll to scare you to death, but they were indestructible. But more than anything, when you rolled up in a Coupe DeVille, people noticed. Why? Simple. Because it was a Cadillac.

Sadly, 2011 is the last year for the Cadillac DTS. Instead of being updated or refreshed, Cadillac has plans to launch an entirely new car to replace the DTS for 2012, under a completely different moniker. While there is little doubt the new car will be awesome like the rest of the new Cadillac line, it is also sad, because this may be the last car to ever be badged as a Cadillac DeVille. So in short, we HAD to review this car before it heads off into the sunset. In a way, it was almost like saying goodbye to a family member.

Describing the 2011 Cadillac DTS

Many adjectives are associated with the DTS by today’s luxury car buyers and the enthusiast community alike. Most are less than kind, and we feel that is a shame. Why? Well, for starters, the DTS may be long in the tooth, but it’s still got more bite in terms of classic Cadillac style and comfort than anyone remembers. After all, when was the last time anyone took the time to review a DTS? Exactly. So let us refresh your memory of a true gem.

The DTS is the last Cadillac that instantly reminds you of what driving a Cadillac used to mean. It is big. It is plush. It rides like you are floating on a cloud, absorbing pot holes and bumpy roads like a dream so you barely notice as you cruise along. (We are convinced the powers-that-be in Dallas who can do something about the ridiculously bumpy roads must all drive Cadillac DTSes and thus not be able to feel how rough the roads are!) The hood on the DTS is long enough to play golf on, and its trunk is big enough to take your entire wardrobe on a road trip, while still allowing room for your golf clubs, the kitchen sink and anything else you might have riding around back there. We’re talking old school room and comfort at its finest here.

But isn’t all this talk of “old school” exactly what’s wrong with the DTS? In a word, NO. It is exactly why the DTS is the hidden gem of the 2011 Cadillac lineup. The CTS is a great car in any flavor. The CTS-V is the ultimate American uber sport luxo dream car come true. It’s like a Corvette Z06 with a backseat in a stealth wrapper! The SRX is a car any soccer mom or family on the go can enjoy. But only the DTS reminds you every second you are inside of it that you are in a Cadillac. Old school, new school, any school. The DTS is a true Cadillac no matter how you drive it, use it, or enjoy it. It’s got what the others, awesome as they are, seem to lack just a bit of – that classic Cadillac style.

We weren’t the only people who thought this, either. Just ask any of our Team Hall & Nass neighbors. These are the people who are always checking out the various automobiles that grace our driveway each week. There is quite often a brand new something out in front of our house, and believe me, the neighbors all notice. It’s not that uncommon to go outside and find someone looking over whatever we’re driving and asking questions about it. Until now, the Corvettes are always the crowd favorite. Well, guess what may have taken the crown?

We had more people stop by and ask us about the Cadillac DTS than anything shy of a Corvette. No, we’re not kidding. For starters, no one had to ask “what is that?” Just like they all know what a Corvette is, they all know the DTS is a Cadillac. But it didn’t stop there. Requests to sit inside and to take a spin around the block rivaled the last Corvette we had. You can’t make stuff up like this, folks. Young and old, guys and girls, they all wanted to check out the big Caddy. Once inside, they were amazed by the space. The air-conditioned seats. The massage chairs. The smell of the leather – that distinctive Cadillac leather smell. They loved the whole nine yards. We’d let them fire it up, and when the Northstar V8 rumbled to life, more than a few revved the throttle and grinned. They reacted exactly like they do when we have a Corvette on display. Only they could actually see themselves owning and driving the DTS. It was like having a magic carpet sitting out in front of our house for two weeks. Everyone wanted to take a ride! That’s the magic of an old school brand new Cadillac. Even we were surprised. VERY!

Driving the 2011 Cadillac DTS

For starters, if you haven’t heard the sound of a Northstar V8 lately, then let me reassure you, you need to. Most luxury car makers try to make their cabins quiet inside. While the Cadillac DTS is fairly quiet, there is no mistaking the sweet sound of American muscle when you turn the key in the ignition and the Northstar rumbles to life. Pull the Caddy into gear and the growl invites you to stand on the throttle just so you can hear it. Go to wide open throttle and the combination of the roar through the firewall and the rush that propels the big DTS forward is, quite honestly, both surprising and addicting! So much so that we shouldn’t even tell you what our around-town MPG average was. It’s really not fair considering every single time we left a stop sign, a traffic light, or just felt the need to drive it like we stole it, we immediately went to wide open throttle and held it there as long as conditions would allow. We did this at EVERY opportunity.

While we had the DTS for two whole weeks, we sadly didn’t have a chance to do a lot of highway driving. What little bit we did resulted in fuel consumption just shy of 20 MPG with highway cruising average at 70 MPH. Of course, that was with my gal behind the wheel. I never saw better than 16.7 MPG, and far worse in town. It was just too hard to resist the urge to dig into the throttle and roll out every time. It sounds and feels that good!

As our local group that goes to Cars and Coffee found out one Saturday morning on the Dallas North Tollway, the DTS will accelerate a lot faster than anyone anticipates. It was fun blowing past a line of BMW Dinan Stage 3 cars and Burnout Radio’s Challenger SRT-8 in the DTS. Needless to say, when we pulled into Cars & Coffee with the Caddy in the lead, everyone in our group had a newfound respect for the Cadillac DTS. Seeing it get up and move also stopped the “old man car” comments.

Granted, most people who buy the 2011 Cadillac DTS will not drive it like they stole it. But they will be amazed when their big floating cloud of a Caddy takes off like it was shot out of a cannon and corners without the body roll they would have experienced in the Cadillacs of old. This big Caddy is a wolf in sheep’s clothing.

A couple of things shocked us about the DTS. After a few days, we popped the hood to clean it up for a photo shoot. Not only was the Northstar V8 sitting wrong direction in the engine bay (that’s right, the DTS is a front wheel drive), but upon inspection of the Cadillac.com website, we discovered that big Northstar V8 in the DTS is only putting out 292 horsepower. WHAT?!? That’s right. It has less than 300 horsepower, and it is putting it to the pavement through the wrong wheels. Obviously, we hadn’t really pushed the Caddy hard through a corner in the first few days, but there seriously wasn’t a hint of torque steer to give away that the DTS was front wheel drive. It took off like it was shot and rolled out quickly no matter how long you stayed in the throttle. It feels like you’re driving a 350+ horsepower rear wheel drive car, not a 292 HP FWD sedan. You might call this an engineering feat, but we have another word for it – amazing.

In Summary

Just because the 2011 Cadillac DTS is near the end of its long production run doesn’t mean it’s any less than a great car. In fact, it means they’re had quite a long time to refine it into one sweet ride. This Caddy is absolutely loaded! The DTS has a great sounding Bose stereo system with in-dash navigation and XM satellite radio, OnStar, plush comfortable front seats with two-position push button memory combination driver seat, tilt/telescopic heated leather steering wheel with wood grain, power mirror settings, three-position driver and passenger seat air conditioning, three-position driver and passenger seat upper and lower zone heating, and last but not least, massage seats that allow you to alternate the heating and cooling for relief of back or leg discomfort on long road trips. The options carry into the roomy back seats with three-position heated rear seats, flip down leather center arm rest with two large cup holders, and separate rear passenger HVAC heating and cooling controls.

The DTS is the last car that Cadillac makes that actually looks, rides and feels like an old school Cadillac. It has a long hood, a massive trunk, floating ride, and big V8 growl. It is plush, it is comfortable, and even though it weighs nearly three tons, it will flat out get up and haul. After spending two weeks behind the wheel, the better-looking half of the Team Hall & Nass duo coined the DTS “the Cadillac of Cadillacs.” I couldn’t agree more.

Team Hall & Nass Buy, Wait or Skip Rating

Based on our impressions of our time behind the wheel of the Cadillac DTS, coupled with other enthusiasts, friends and neighbors we showed the car to, we’re going to give the 2011 Cadillac DTS a ‘Buy’ rating. Cadillac has gone in a different direction with all of their new cars, and while they are all pretty awesome, there is something special about this last of the old school Caddys. We wish it wasn’t front wheel drive, but then again, it doesn’t drive like one. We’re not entirely sure what Cadillac is going to replace the DTS with (ATS, XTS, ???), but no matter what they come out with next, this is likely your last chance to buy something remotely close to a true Cadillac DeVille. That alone is reason enough to buy this car in our book. After all, the DTS is “the Cadillac of Cadillacs.”

When you visit your Cadillac dealer to test drive the DTS, do us a favor and tell them Team Hall & Nass sent you. If you do buy a DTS, please let us know! We always love hearing about our fans’ rides, and so does GM when we tell them about you. In turn, it makes them feel better about giving us access to their cars to review and share with you. We appreciate your support!

Team Hall & Nass and Motorama LIVE Cadillac DTS Coverage

We hope y’all have enjoyed our Team Hall & Nass 2011 Cadillac DTS coverage. Be sure to check out our videos on the 2011 Cadillac DTS, coming soon to our YouTube channel at YouTube.com/TeamHallnNass. Stay tuned as we continue to share our experience of what life is like behind the wheel of other exciting new vehicles on TeamHallnNass.com and on MotoramaLIVE.com.

Our 2011 Cadillac DTS Was NOT a GM Media Car

This is usually where we publicly thank our friends at GM and on the GM South Central US Communications Team for allowing us to review another one of their cars. However, this particular car didn’t come from the GM media fleet. In fact, to our knowledge, GM no longer has Cadillac DTS sedans available for media reviews since this model is near end of life. Because we wanted to review this car before it drives off into the sunset, we rented it from the Hertz Rental Car Company. It was only a month into service and had just over 5,000 miles on it when we picked it up. Granted, coming out of Las Vegas, it was filthy beyond belief inside and out, but after the healthy dose of detailing elbow grease and car care products we applied, it was (almost) back to looking as good as new.

As many of you are aware, Team Hall & Nass rent a LOT of cars from Hertz every year for business and personal travel. Thanks to our Hertz Presidential Status, we obtained a Caddy that usually rents for well over $100 per day for less than $600 for two weeks. That’s right. We spent our own hard-earned money to rent a fully loaded brand new Cadillac DTS from Hertz just to review. Ever hear of any automotive review team doing that? Well, we’re anything but conventional, and we hope y’all enjoy that about us, too!


Due to FTC guidelines, please note that GM did not pay us to write or film any of this, nor did they ask us to. After reading this and/or watching our videos, they may even prefer that we hadn’t. The same could probably be said for the fine folks at the Hertz Rental Car Company! We sincerely thank all of you, our amazing fans for taking the time to read all about it. We appreciate you all!

This site entry has been approved by Pirate Pig, official mascot of Team Hall & Nass. Learn more about Pirate Pig at TeamHallnNass.com. Pirate Pig offers hamthrax protection for all, and would like to remind you, “IF YOU’VE JUST BEEN PASSED, THEN YOU’RE NOT HALL & NASS!” :@)~

Motorama LIVE!

If you are an automotive enthusiast, or would enjoy learning more about cool cars, automotive trends, auto shows, events and anything else that goes on in the automotive world, join us for our wildly popular weekly interactive automotive enthusiast discussion Motorama LIVE, every Wednesday from 9-11 PM Eastern, only on Twitter! Check us out at MotoramaLIVE.com, ‘Like’ Motorama LIVE on Facebook, and of course, follow us on Twitter @MotoramaLIVE Twitter.com/MotoramaLIVE. To join the conversation, just use the #Motorama hashtag and jump in! We’ll see you on Motorama LIVE!

Team Hall & Nass Drive the 2012 Ford Focus SE Hatchback

13 04 2011

Team Hall & Nass Drive the 2012 Ford Focus SE Hatchback


When Team Hall & Nass was given the opportunity to drive the all new 2012 Ford Focus for a week by our friends at the Ford Motor Company, we jumped at the chance! While small cars are not typically our forte, we have actually been anticipating the arrival of the Focus for many months. For us, this opportunity has been a long time in the making.

Our fascination with the new Focus actually began in the Fall of 2009 with the Ford Fiesta Euro-Spec Hatchback model our good friends at Burnout Radio let us drive as part of Ford’s Fiesta Movement marketing program. We were blown away at how impressive the Euro-Spec Fiesta was for the price. It was well built for a compact car, handled like a shifter cart, got incredible gas mileage, and was even stable on the road up into low triple digit speeds. More than anything, we couldn’t get over how surprisingly fun the Fiesta was to drive. To say we were impressed would be a massive understatement!

Shortly afterward, Ford signed rally driver Ken Block to drive a Ford Fiesta in Rally America and a Euro-Spec Ford Focus in the WRC for the 2010 season. As rally racers ourselves (albeit a slightly different style), that really impressed us. Then, Ford allowed us early driving access to a handful of US-spec Fiestas one afternoon in both hatchback and sedan form. The fit, finish and handling on the US versions were as well executed as the Euro-Spec Fiesta has been. Last, but not least, when Ford debuted their plans for the upcoming 2012 Focus ST for the US market at SEMA 2010, we decided if the new Focus was anything even close to the Fiesta, we just had to get behind the wheel of one.

Before we launch into our impressions of the 2012 Focus, we’d like to point out that this review also happens to be monumental for another reason. It is the first automotive review being prepared for our newly launched Motorama LIVE site. It will also be the first official car review we share with our audience live on our Wednesday night #Motorama LIVE enthusiast discussion on Twitter. So while this is technically a Team Hall & Nass review, it is also being conducted with our Motorama LIVE audience in mind. If you’re confused by any of this, visit both the TeamHallnNass.com site as well as the MotoramaLIVE.com site for more information on what both entities are all about.

Be sure to check out our 2012 Ford Focus video (coming soon) on our Team Hall & Nass YouTube channel YouTube.com/TeamHallnNass. Yes, a bit of hoonage of the Focus does ensue!

The 2012 Ford Focus

The all new 2012 Ford Focus comes in four different trim levels – S, SE, SEL and Titanium, and comes in two distinct body styles – hatchback and sedan. All Focus models are four door cars and all come with a 2.0 liter four cylinder engine that generates 160 horsepower and 146 foot pounds of torque. All models also offer a choice of five speed manual transmission or six speed dual clutch transmission (which many will call an automatic, but technically, it’s not). Of course, most option packages can be added to various trim level cars, though the Titanium edition comes with all the goodies, and best of all, 18” wheels with optional Michelin Pilot Sport tires to further enhance the sport tuned suspension’s grip.

The car Ford delivered to the Team Hall & Nass garage was a 2012 Focus SE Hatchback with a five speed manual transmission, in Sterling Grey Metallic with Tuscany Red Leather trim (MSPR $18,065). Our Focus was equipped with the Rapid Spec 203A package ($1,385), but most important to us was the SE Sport Package ($1,130), which gave us the sport tuned suspension with rear disc brakes, and the Interior Style Package ($795) which provided the impressive two tone leather interior with two tone accents. With discounts for the SE Sport Package (-$235) and Rapid Spec 203A (-$190), and a destination delivery fee ($725), total MSRP on our Focus was $21,675.

Of course, we were secretly hoping for a Titanium edition for maximum performance and style, and to try out the new Ford MyTouch system in conjunction with the Ford Sync, but honestly, we were just thrilled to get our hands on any 2012 Focus, especially this early in the media rotation. Thank you Ford!

Describing the 2012 Ford Focus

The 2012 Ford Focus is a game changer. It’s a rare car that, unless you’ve driven the new Fiesta, can quite literally sneak up on you when you least expect it. Even if you have driven the new Fiesta, the Focus may still surprise you as they’ve stepped everything up a notch. The more time you spend inside of one, the more you begin to understand just how significant a hand the Focus will likely play in shifting today’s automotive landscape. In short, the Focus could actually cause a paradigm shift in how you view small cars.

From the edgy exterior styling and well executed interior layout, to the impressive handling, ride quality, fuel efficiency and overall build quality, it’s hard to find fault with the all new 2012 Focus. We’d really have to nitpick to come up with things that aren’t laid out or executed in a way we’d like them to be. In fact, there are so few, let’s just go ahead and get them out of the way.

The interior is very well laid out, save for a few items. The power windows (except for the drivers’ window) are not express one-touch down. None of the four windows have express one-touch up, either. In an interior that is so well done, it’s an inexpensive convenience option that is glaringly absent. Granted, one-touch express windows may be an option on the SEL or Titanium models, but we’ve not seen it listed anywhere on Ford.com. We believe they would likely be present in every model if they were available. We’ll report back on this issue when we test the Titanium model, coming up soon.

Also in the interior, there are two 12 volt power outlets, but neither is located anywhere near the dashboard. If you wish to use a radar detector (which is the first thing Team Hall & Nass adds to every car we drive) or a GPS unit, you’ll unfortunately be routing those cords all the way back to the center of the car underneath the center armrest and/or to the rear of the center console. Because of this, cord routing directly interferes with the shifter. In a manual car, this is a considerable inconvenience, if not a potential safety issue. It would have been easy to just place one (or both) of the power outlets somewhere in the center stack, or up on top of the dash like the previous Mustang did. Just a thought.

While we enjoyed the enhanced visibility of the fog lights and the automatic headlight setting, there is no way to tie the fog lights into the automatic headlight actuator. Thus, you have to manually turn on the fog lights whether the headlights are set to automatic, or not. It would be nice if they were able to activate automatically with the headlights every time.

So express one-touch windows, misplaced power outlets and manual fog light switching aside (we said it was nitpicking), the interior of the 2012 Ford Focus is nothing short of jaw dropping, especially in the small car segment. The center stack is well laid out for when you do wish to interact with the buttons, knobs and switches from either the driver or front passenger seats, the Sync display and menu is pretty straightforward, and the HVAC does a great job of heating and cooling. The center armrest is in a comfortable position. The console is deep and houses both a ‘line in’ and USB jack. In short, Ford nailed it.

The door and dash panels are cool in their shape and flow, and the gauge cluster layout is highly visible and easy to read on the fly. The rich, two toned leather seats are both very comfortable and supportive, allowing a proper seating position for even a large framed, six foot four inch driver within perfect arm reach of the tilt/telescopic steering wheel, gear shift lever and pedals. (That said, with tall front passengers, rear seat legroom is reduced to being sufficient for either small children or infants at best.)

Speaking of the steering wheel, it is nothing short of a total command center. You can control the front and rear wipers, cruise control, stereo functions, and the Ford Sync with an easy flick of your fingers while never having to remove your hands from the steering wheel. The driver information menu screen in the dash cluster is easy to see, and even easier to navigate, thanks to one of two four way toggles and center actuator ‘OK’ buttons on the steering wheel spokes. The toggle on the left allows easy access off the information center, and the toggle on the right is for the Sync menu. (As an aside, the right toggle works with the Ford MyTouch system in the Titanium model. We’ll have more on that when we test the Titanium Focus.) Even the voice activation and telephone send and end call functions are easy to do without removing your hands from the wheel. From a safety and convenience standpoint, it is all very impressive. More to the point, it is NOT what you expect to find in a car that is this inexpensive, no matter what the brand or mark. This is yet another area where this new Ford Focus really shines.

The Ford Sync system was both wonderful and a bit frustrating. True to its name, it was ridiculously easy to ‘sync’ our Motorola Droid telephones to the system. What was frustrating was the voice-activated calling feature. If I tried to call ‘Charlie’ I was suddenly connected to ‘Holly’. A call to ‘Jennifer’ was somehow connected to ‘Information’. I suspect the Sync may have been struggling with my Southern accent, but then again, if you’re going to sell Sync in Texas, you’ve got to have a fiddle in the band. Repeated wrong number dialing aside, answering incoming calls was a breeze! The hands free system through the car audio system was clear on both ends of many calls. It came in quite handy, especially driving a manual shift car, where there is no such thing as a free hand to hold the phone. All the technology and information access in the world is only as good as how it helps you while actually driving a car. Again, Ford is keeping you safe by keeping your hands where they belong – on the wheel.

We were looking forward to trying out the many cool features of the Ford MyTouch system that we first learned about at CES in 2010, but alas, our Focus SE was not equipped with Ford’s latest infotainment center. But when you realize that Sync comes standard on every Focus, and that MyTouch is even an option on a $20k car, you have to be impressed that Ford is making such technology available at an economy class price.

We activated the Ford MyKey system to scroll through and test some of the options. MyKey is essentially an electronic nanny for your car when others are in control of it. It seems like a great system if you want to limit the capabilities of many vehicle functions for valets and/or teenage drivers. You can disable the ability to turn off traction control, limit the max speed of the car to 80 MPH, disable certain Sirius satellite radio content, etc. However, there is one small, but highly annoying safety feature that once activated, we couldn’t disable since we did not have the second (administrator) key to the car. With Ford MyKey active, you MUST fasten your seat belt if the car is running to play the radio or use the Sync system. Period.

Now, we always drive with our seatbelts on. We also wholeheartedly agree that if you’re in gear or the car is in motion, you should absolutely be belted in. Everyone should always buckle up before driving. Safety first! However, if you happen to enjoy playing with the many radio or Sync features while parked on a hot day, which requires the car to be on to use the air conditioning, but wish to have the freedom to move around inside of said car while playing with its many options, good luck. The screen will just flash incessantly until you buckle the seatbelt. But it gets even more interesting. The second the system senses weight on any of the other seats, even if the driver belt is fastened, off goes the radio and Sync, and up pops the incessant flashing screen. It’s enough to practically trigger seizures in those prone to the strobe light effect. So while Ford MyKey may be a great thing for some, we wish we had never turned it on without having the second key to then disable it. Thank goodness we didn’t try out the speed limiter!

Even with the few little nitpicks that we managed to uncover after spending hours inside of the Focus, you simply won’t find a nicer quality interior or exterior in any car built for this price point. And we haven’t even gotten to the best part yet – the Focus driving experience. Let the real fun begin!

Driving the 2012 Ford Focus

There are two ways to drive the all new 2012 Ford Focus. There is the “how much fuel economy I can possibly achieve” game, and then there is the one you’ll likely find yourself playing more often, which is the Ken Block inspired “HOONIGAN” game. You can guess which one we spent most of the week playing. HOON ON!

As soon as the Focus was delivered, we jumped right in. We started out babying the throttle to get a clear picture of just how little gas it could consume. By shifting 1/3/5 and lightly using the throttle in uber fuel miser mode, we saw a 33.8 MPG average in the first 10 miles of city-ish driving. That is well beyond the EPA rating of 26 city or 30 “combo” and darn close to the 36 highway rating for the five speed manual.

Speaking of which, we were a bit surprised the Focus had a five speed manual gearbox, and not six forward gears (like the DCT has). We wondered if that may have a negative effect on the fuel economy we would see. After some research on Ford.com, we discovered the Focus equipped with a DCT is estimated to get 2 miles per gallon better than the five speed. Wow.

However, once we determined how well the Focus could sip fuel in uber gas miser driving mode, it was time to get down to the business of why we wanted to drive this car in the first place – to find out if the new Focus is as much fun to drive as the Fiesta.

Shift Points – The Ford Focus redlines at 7,000 RPM. The rev limiter comes into play shortly thereafter. What we quickly discovered is that the first four gears have nearly equal shift point increments. 1st is good to 30 MPH, 2nd is good to 60 MPH, and so on. If you try to gain more than 30 MPH in any gear, you will bump up against the rev limiter. However, you can get an honest 30 MPH per gear without encountering the limiter if you’re a quick, hot shoe shifter. When going through the gears at wide open throttle, the horsepower level feels greater than 160, while the torque curve feels relatively flat throughout the range. This translates to the Focus pulling through each gear quickly and crisply, and before you know it, you’re in fifth gear going faster than you may have planned if you’re not watching the speed dial. It is quite spirited!

Handling – Our Focus SE had the sport tuned suspension option and was an absolute blast to drive! Our Focus was every bit as much fun to pilot as the Euro-Spec Fiesta we drove in 2009 and the US-Spec Fiestas we drove last year. Though keep in mind, our Focus was rolling on 16” Continental Conti-Sport all weather tires, not the 18” Michelin Pilot Sport ZR speed rated tires that are an option on the Titanium edition. The Contis had more grip than we thought they would, and in most situations on the street they were more than adequate, but in slalom testing and closed parking lot hooning, we discovered the limits of these tires fairly quickly. In our humble opinion, the Focus has more suspension under it than it has tires to hold it in line. It would be very interesting to see how grip would differ in all situations on the Pilot Sports.

Also, it is significant to note that due to the tires we were running, we did not attempt a closed course top end run. One thing Team Hall & Nass knows a lot about is tire safety in both racing and normal street conditions. You should never overdrive the ratings of the tires, no matter what. We do believe the Focus actually has enough power and aero to potentially stretch its legs deep into 5th gear with the right tires mounted on it. Unfortunately, this just wasn’t the car to test that theory in, so we erred on the side of safety.

What’s truly amazing is how well the Focus handled, not just in parking lot hooning, but when driving at speed on the freeway. We did get up into the bottom of 5th gear before we elected to level off and cruise. At that speed, the Focus was smooth and well planted for a small class car. Even with light cross winds, the Focus was fairly solid. By contrast, the Fiesta was well balanced up to a slightly lesser speed, where it began to feel light and wanted more downforce. The additional six inches of wheelbase, and the eleven and one-third inches of additional body length the Focus hatchback has over the Fiesta hatchback enable greater high speed cruising and overall ride smoothness. You could liken the comparison in many ways to the difference in ride between a short and long wheelbase pickup truck. Longer equals smoother.

Of course, the Focus would most likely need more downforce for optimal grip and safe cruising to see its full speed potential, but outside of closed course events or driving on the Autobahn, most owners won’t need to be concerned with such things.

The larger driving experience question we set out to answer was if the Focus, with its extra length and weight, would be able to handle the twisties without losing any of the sporty fun feel we loved about driving the Fiesta. The answer is a resounding YES! In fact, in the 2012 Focus, you get Fiesta-like handling with the added benefits of 40 more horsepower, 34 more foot pounds of torque, similar fuel economy (1-2 MPG estimated difference), independent rear suspension, additional cabin and cargo space, far more options, a higher level Titanium trim package option, smoother highway ride, higher speed cruising stability, and overall just a slightly better package than what the Fiesta offers. Best of all, pricing between the Focus and the Fiesta is close enough to be competitive without really taking anything away from one another. If you want an economy car, the Fiesta is a great choice. If you need a bit more room, the new 2012 Focus delivers the same level of driving fun without sacrificing the space you or your family need.

Of course, you can expect that Team Hall & Nass would like the Focus to have more power, bigger brakes, and more front and rear downforce for higher speed stability. While the 160 horsepower 2.0 liter four cylinder does a good job of propelling the Focus down the road in a spirited way, we are absolutely salivating at the prospect of the upcoming Focus ST with its 2.0 liter sequential turbocharged EcoBoost engine. If it comes anywhere close to the 250 horsepower target that was shared with us recently by Ford, then go ahead and sign us up for one in full rally trim so we can start hooning – NOW!

In Summary

The more time you spend driving a 2012 Ford Focus, the more time you’ll want to spend driving the Focus. Even though past segment products and/or conventional wisdom wouldn’t cause you to think so, we’re telling you a bold new truth. There is something about driving this car that is addicting. Why? Well, it handles better than it should. It goes through the gears quicker than it should. It feels better at higher speeds than it should. It has a nicer interior than it should. It has more options available than it should. All the while, it is getting better fuel economy than it should. It’s funny to say, but after years of driving poorly built small cars in the US market, this car delivers everything your brain says that it shouldn’t, and more. The only thing you’ll find “cheap” about the new Focus is the price. In the end, you’ll be boggled to discover that it may actually cost a bit less than your brain says it should. Yes, the all new 2012 Ford Focus is just that good.

Perhaps the most amazing thing about all of this is that Ford, not Honda, not Toyota, not Nissan, not one of the European marks, but one of the US Big 3 is building true high quality, low priced small cars for the US market. They are loaded with amenities you’d expect to find in cars that cost twice as much, they are fuel efficient, and of most importance to us, they are fun to drive. No one could have predicted this five years ago. Like we said – the 2012 Ford Focus is a game changer. Paradigm shifted.

Be sure to check out our 2012 Ford Focus SE Hatchback video (coming soon) on YouTube.com/TeamHallnNass to see first-hand just how well executed the all new Focus is inside and out and, of course, to witness how much fun it is to drive. The new Focus truly surprised us, and we guarantee it will surprise you. Read, watch, and go drive one!

Team Hall & Nass Buy, Wait or Skip Rating

Based on our impressions after one week behind the wheel of the all new Ford Focus SE Hatchback, coupled with those of other enthusiasts, friends and neighbors to whom we showed the car, we’re going to give the all new 2012 Ford Focus a ‘Strong Buy’ rating.

We typically like to see a new platform shake out for a year or two before recommending it, but the Focus has so much in common with the already proven Fiesta, we’re going to go all out on this one. If Ford hit a home run in the small car segment with the 2011 Fiesta, then they hit a grand slam with the 2012 Focus. It’s one of those rare cars that the longer you drive it, the more you want to stay behind the wheel. It is just that well executed. Do yourself a favor and buy the Titanium model if you can, or add the sport suspension and the upgraded interior treatments to an SE or SEL model. No matter which model you chose, the Focus is so much fun for so little money!

When you visit your Ford dealer to test drive the 2012 Focus, do us a favor and tell them Team Hall & Nass sent you. If you do buy a Focus, please let us know! We always love hearing about our fans’ rides, and so does Ford when we tell them about you. In turn, it makes them feel better about giving us cars to review. We all appreciate your support!

Team Hall & Nass and Motorama LIVE Ford Focus Coverage

We hope y’all have enjoyed our Team Hall & Nass and Motorama LIVE coverage of the 2012 Ford Focus SE Hatchback. Be sure to check out our 2012 Ford Focus video (coming soon) on our YouTube channel at YouTube.com/TeamHallnNass. Also, be sure to check out our gallery of Ford Focus pictures on the Motorama LIVE Facebook page. If you like our coverage, be sure to ‘Like’ our page.

We’d like to publicly thank Becky Chesshir and all of our friends on the Ford South Central Media Communications Team for allowing us to hoon their car. Without their kind, good faith invitation, we wouldn’t be able to bring you, the wonderful fans and followers of Team Hall & Nass and Motorama LIVE, the incredible story of the 2012 Ford Focus SE Hatchback. Stay tuned as we prepare to share our experience of what life is like behind the wheel of the Focus, and other exciting new vehicles on both TeamHallnNass.com and MotoramaLIVE.com!


Due to FTC guidelines, please note that Ford did not pay us to write or film any of this, nor did they ask us to. After reading this and/or watching our videos, they may even prefer that we hadn’t! We sincerely thank the Ford Motor Company, and all of you, our amazing fans. We appreciate you all!

This site entry has been approved by Pirate Pig, official mascot of Team Hall & Nass. Learn more about Pirate Pig at TeamHallnNass.com. Pirate Pig offers hamthrax protection for all, and would like to remind you, “IF YOU’VE JUST BEEN PASSED, THEN YOU’RE NOT HALL & NASS!” :@)~

Motorama LIVE!

If you are an automotive enthusiast, or enjoy discussing and learning more about cool cars, automotive trends, auto shows, racing events and anything else that goes on in the automotive world, join us for our wildly popular weekly interactive automotive enthusiast discussion Motorama LIVE, every Wednesday from 9-11 PM Eastern, only on Twitter! Check us out at MotoramaLIVE.com, ‘Like’ Motorama LIVE on Facebook, and of course, follow us on Twitter @MotoramaLIVE Twitter.com/MotoramaLIVE. To join the conversation, just use the #Motorama hashtag and jump in! We’ll see you Wednesday nights on Motorama LIVE!

Team Hall & Nass Preview the All New 2011 Chevrolet Volt

1 12 2010

Team Hall & Nass Preview the All New 2011 Chevrolet Volt


By this point, it seems like everyone from Motor Trend to Bob’s House of Blogs has written something about the pre-production 2011 Chevrolet Volt. So what makes this piece any different? Well, if you know Team Hall & Nass, you know we never do what everyone else does. You are about to receive a three stage Volt blast, complete with pics and videos. Then, once you are all charged up (puns intended), we’ll hit you with a visual charge later this week that no one has brought to you … yet. Prepare to be shocked!

Stage One – Look inside an early pre-production Volt from January 2010.
Stage Two – Ride along on our first (heavily regulated) Volt seat time in September 2010
Stage Three – Peer inside the first factory modified Volt, the Z-spec concept at SEMA
BONUS – Strap in and hang on as we hoon a production Volt, Team Hall & Nass style

Team Hall & Nass Interest in the Chevrolet Volt

As many of you who follow us on Twitter already know, Team Hall & Nass are big self-proclaimed fans of the Chevrolet Volt. We have been vocal supporters of the Volt all the way from early concept to the actual launch. Why do we like it so much? While it is true that the Volt is far from the typical type of ride we usually rave about, the mere fact the Volt is so different is part of the reason we dig it. It may not be the end-all answer to hybrid or EVs, but the Volt is a step in an exciting new direction, and one we support.

Team Hall & Nass love going fast, but we also have a passion for technological advances in the evolution of the automotive industry. If those advances somehow equate to range extending technology, which may enable us to eventually go farther between rally stops at speed on a tank of petrol, while also helping advance the automotive industry toward using less oil (foreign or domestic), then of course we are interested. After all, when you are stopped at the pump, you are losing time, which is not conducive to Hall & Nass. So with that in mind, we dig the idea behind the Voltec technology.

Stage One – Pre-Production Volt First Look

Team Hall & Nass was lucky enough to get inside an early pre-production Volt way back in January of 2010 at the International Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas, Nevada. The Chevrolet CES booth featured an early, pre-production 2011 Volt to accompany their announcement of an upcoming application that will allow owners to access many cool features inside the brain of the Chevrolet Volt via OnStar telematics. As an aside, that mobile app has since made its debut on the Volt platform-sharing 2011 Chevrolet Cruze, and is currently rolling out for use on many other 2011 GM vehicles.

However, we digress. After much begging, groveling, and our admission of real thoughts of committing grand theft auto just for a peak inside, we were allowed an after hours, fairly unencumbered preview inside, underneath, and all over the pre-production Volt.

While a few top automotive journalists in Los Angeles had been afforded a heavily supervised glimpse inside the same pre-pro Volt right before CES, we were actually the first (to our knowledge) in the automotive enthusiast world allowed inside the car with our cameras. The only bummer at the time was that while we were allowed to touch/taste/film all we wanted, we were not allowed to actually drive the car OR release any of our footage until a ‘TBD’ future date. Of course, we were just so happy to get into the car that we didn’t mind complying with the request. Thus, we stored those clips on a hard drive, awaited TBD notification approval, and never published them. That is, until now. But before we drop that footage on you, there is more to share!

Pre-Production Interior Analysis

Albeit this was our first impression of an early pre-production Volt, we must admit the interior looked a bit futuristic for a car about to see actual production. The gage cluster looked like something straight out of Buck Rogers. The layout of the center stack looked well executed (with the exception of the blinding white plastic) and the button indicating a ‘sport’ mode definitely got our attention. The same white plastic adorned the door panel inserts, albeit with the addition of an odd-looking circle and hexagon graphic across each insert. Different.

The shifter looked cool until you realized that it could potentially be a knuckle buster when you literally put your fist through the center stack to place the Volt in park. There is a true open area, side to side pass through behind the center console that is interesting. We found ourselves wondering if it was left open for improved interior air circulation, or it if was potentially created as a future front roll bar pass through (wishful/hopeful thinking on our part, perhaps)? The front bucket seats felt comfortable and the overall interior space felt quite roomy. The rear bucket seats, split by a true rear center console with dual cup holders, provide a nice break from the typical sedan bench rear seat. While it may have been necessary to create this combination as a measure to cover up the battery tunnel, in reality, it adds a sportier feel to the car. It is a bit reminiscent of the back seat layout in the former Holden/Pontiac GTO. The rear hatch, with its transparent rear panel, provides additional rearward visibility, and reminded us of the previous Honda CRX. It’s a cool touch. The hatch area itself provides a decent amount of cargo room. All in all, the interior looked well put together, if not yet entirely finalized.

Pre-Production Exterior Analysis

The outside of the pre-production Volt underwent many changes from the early concept images we saw back in 2008/2009 to what we were looking at in January of 2010. The body, we were told, was very close to what we would see when actual production began. The car looked good, with minimal body gaps, clean lines, and an overall nice flow and feel to it. The wheels even looked great for OEM pieces. However, the solid pattern grille, the front air dam, the black non-body colored lower panels and the lower portion of the rear bumper all looked like items we hoped would see tweaks before final assembly. They just gave an otherwise amazing looking car a bit of an unfinished look.

Again, this was our pre-production Volt analysis in early January 2010. We wondered at the time if touches such as the white plastic and futuristic interior graphics would be replaced by more conventional or sportier materials, such as solid colors, carbon fiber‘esque’ plastic or leather, and if the exterior pieces we mentioned would be actually “finished out” (all matching paint color) once the actual production cars were prepared. We would have to wait almost nine months before getting our next glimpse of the Volt to find out.

Stage Two – First Drive of the Volt

Fast forward to late September 2010 at the Texas State Fair, where GM treated us to an exclusive Texas media preview of the 2011 Chevrolet Volt. This was our first chance to get behind the wheel and actually drive the Chevrolet Volt (albeit in a heavily controlled environment), as well as our chance to see what, if anything, had been changed on the car in the development process throughout 2010.

Volt Driving Instructions

Before sliding behind the wheel, Team Hall & Nass were given very specific instructions on late pre-production Volt driving etiquette by one of our very good friends inside of GM communications. The instruction set went as follows:

“YOU. Yes, you. NO BURNOUTS! Do you hear me? Yes, of course the car will do it, and no, I am not kidding. NO BURNOUTS, no squealing of tires, no getting the car sideways, and none of that usual crazy Team Hall & Nass foolishness that you like to pull.”

Basically, we were given the oh-so-subtle impression that if we got one inch out of line in the Volt, it was going to be our burro on a skewer. Hmm. It seems as if they are on to us!

After a good laugh, followed by a very somber promise NOT to turn the tires over or break traction in the corners in any manner, we got behind the wheel and drove many laps around the tight, constricted, low-speed parking lot course. With cameras rolling, we were joined by our good friends Adam Barrera of HighMileage.org and Charlie Brumfield of BurnoutRadio.com (who also received the same stern driving instructions).

We were accompanied by a couple different GM folks who did a great job of explaining the car’s capabilities in detail (as you’ll see on our video), as well as kindly reminding us not to get out of hand with the car after we insisted on leaving the Volt in ‘sport’ mode before attacking the course. Along the way, we learned that a local DFW Chevy dealer decided to treat the course like an autocross earlier that morning before the event, so maybe it wasn’t us that had them on the “no burnout” edge after all? Perhaps.

Driving the Volt

So how does the Volt drive? Well, strict tire squealing prohibition aside, it was a treat and a privilege to finally get behind the wheel of the Volt and actually pull the car into gear. With the electric power plant allegedly capable of delivering an instantaneous 273 foot pounds of torque in ‘sport’ mode, we could just sense how much more there was on tap under our right foot to launch the car than we were allowed to use. Even babying the first tight corner at a mere 25 MPH, we couldn’t help but squeal the tires a bit, as the special compound for the “rolling resistance in the name of improved fuel mileage” in the Volt-specific Goodyear tires is so hard that tire chirps are inevitable on just about any type of tarmac unless you are sitting still. The drive train was ridiculously quiet in operation. The ride was smooth. The scene was serene. But we could tell the Volt was hungry for so much more than simply tooling around a parking lot. Thus, it is truly hard to describe what driving the Volt is like, just yet. At this point, all we can say is that we behaved uber well in the hope of getting a future crack at actually driving a Volt in an unleashed environment. More on that in a moment.

Styling Updates

Well, there is some good news, and some not so great news on the styling updates. We’ll cover the latter first. It doesn’t appear as if much, if anything, has changed with the exterior of the Volt since January. We had hoped for at least body-colored lower panels instead of the unfinished looking black bottom. Same goes for the front air dam and the lower portion of the rear bumper. Also absent is an updated grille treatment. Not that these are necessarily bad things, but we do have to admit, they are a bit disappointing considering how well the rest of the detail on the body of this car is finished out.

The interior appears to have received at least one additional color choice for the center stack and door panel inserts other than the aforementioned blinding stark white. However, as witnessed on the two different color combinations made available for our viewing pleasure, neither the stark white nor the black gloss plastic lost the odd graphics overlays on the panel inserts. Couple that with an odd neon green on black color combo and you honestly begin to wonder what they were thinking. Futuristic, yes. But more in a $17K Ford Fiesta kind of way. Even the simplest of the multiple trim level option door panels in the platform-sharing $20K Chevy Cruze are superior in look, feel and design. It is just not the type of surface finish you would expect to find inside an all new, state of the art, well designed $41K vehicle.

Then again, keep in mind that the three Volts we saw at the Texas State Fair media day were technically still pre-production models (albeit 11th hour pre-pros). So maybe there is hope yet for better interior color option treatments and solid body-colored exterior panels available at the time of the production Volt launch. We shall find out very soon.

Volt Feedback

In addition to our first drive of the Volt at the Texas State Fair, we got to spend quality time talking with Jon Stec, a lead engineer on Project Voltec. Over dinner, we spoke with Jon in depth about many of the tweaks we find ourselves wishing Chevrolet would make to the Volt. Not only did we discuss the aforementioned interior and exterior tweaks, but since Jon seemed to be a true car enthusiast, we shot the moon. We discussed simple mods that we feel would make the Volt appeal more to the enthusiast community. Items such as larger diameter wheels with Michelin Pilot Sport tires for improved launch and cornering grip, larger brake calipers and rotors, a lower suspension stance, coil over shocks, a better front splitter and improved rear fairing for improved downforce, racing-style seats, a more aggressive grille and full body-colored exterior trim to finish out the look. While it was a fun and spirited conversation, we had no expectation that anything we suggested would ever see the light of day. Not in this segment, and not from an OEM.

Stage Three – Volt Z-Spec Concept

When we walked into the GM Performance Parts booth at SEMA, we were visually stunned. Just when we thought we knew everything one could know about what the Volt will be, we got broadsided by mods. Behold, the 2011 Chevrolet Volt Z-Spec Concept.

The Z-Spec is much closer to what every Volt could and, more importantly, should be. For starters, it is much more exciting to look at. The mods already make the car look faster, even sitting still. Part of this comes from the full body-colored panels, an enhanced spoiler out front and a trick grille upgrade. Sporting 19” wheels with Michelin Pilot Sport tires not only helps with the look, but should improve handling and grip. There is a slick rear bumper modification out back with what appears to be aero-enhancing treatments, a better body-colored rear panel treatment, and even cooler tail lights than stock.

Peering inside, we found race-inspired stitched leather seats with harness pass throughs, a much improved steering wheel for improved grip and style, a more palatable color and graphic scheme on the front door panel inserts, actual solid color rear door panel inserts, Z-Spec themed logos tastefully embroidered into the floormats, placed on the wheel, and embedded elsewhere throughout the car. The result is a much sportier overall look and feel throughout the car.

Best of all, we were told by GM booth personnel that many of these mods are direct bolt-on pieces from the Euro-spec GM Opel mark. If true, this just goes to show that sometimes a better solution is already waiting for you inside your own global parts bin. You just have to search, swap and enhance. It doesn’t get much easier than that.

We’re not sure if there are any performance modifications lurking under the hood, but we hope the exterior mods are a sign of things to come in performance enhancements as well. As revolutionary as the all new Voltec technology and design are, the Z-Spec gives the Chevrolet Volt a more exciting, actual finished product look that the platform deserves. For $41K, the Z-Spec delivers what every production Volt should.

We do not know if our conversation with Jon had any influence on this car, or if the Volt engineers were already way ahead of the game in the design room. Either way, we’re VERY excited about the prospect of a production Volt Z-Spec seeing the light of day. After all, when was the last time you can recall an automotive manufacturer already adding mods to a production car before the first one even hits the showroom floor? Talk about progressive. All we can say is that if this is the way the new GM rolls, we are impressed. Oh yeah, and GM, release the Volt Z-Spec. Please!

BONUS – Team Hall & Nass Hoon the Volt

Last, but certainly not least, we have an exclusive treat coming up for you, our loyal fans and followers. As you no doubt are already aware, the 2011 Chevrolet Volt is being launched in a select handful of markets around the United States on Tuesday, November 30th. Fortunately for us, Texas is one of those markets. As mentioned above, many outlets have already covered the pre-production Volt from a basic looks, stats and drive under strict supervision perspective. But we’re not going to leave you hanging with just some restricted parking lot type of driving footage just because of tightly controlled, limited access by GM. Oh no. It wouldn’t be a Team Hall & Nass post or video series if there was not some type of hoonage involved. So pull those belts down tight and get charged up, because what comes next is what you have all been waiting to see!

If you are reading this on December 1st or 2nd, then Team Hall & Nass are currently deep in the rolling Hill Country outside of Austin, Texas attending a special event where GM is launching the all new, actual production model of the 2011 Chevrolet Volt to select members of the Texas media. This is a GM driving event, held on twisty Texas Hill Country backroads, covering supposedly long distances over a two-day period. If you are among the early folks reading this post, then there is a very good chance that while you are reading this, we are out on the road somewhere hooning the Volt right now.

We are honored to be one of the first automotive enthusiast race teams on the planet invited to do a full on, non-restricted, multi-day backroad driving session in a production 2011 Chevrolet Volt. We intend to find out how well it will corner, how quickly it will accelerate, how hard it will brake, truly how fast it will go. Best of all, we plan to finally put to rest all of the speculation about how this car will perform in the wild, not based on some corporate marketing or green-friendly message, but according to what our cameras capture as we put the Volt through real world driving paces. We’ll also be looking to see what kind of real distance the Volt’s battery pack will allow it to go, what kind of fuel mileage the Volt’s gas engine will get under duress, if said gas engine really does have to “kick in” under WOT at higher speed conditions to assist a battery sapping right foot (or if that really is just an urban myth), and most important of all, just how well this all new vehicle will perform in the hands of non-Prius loving true driving enthusiasts like us.

Until we get that highly anticipated footage in the can and posted online, we hope you enjoy viewing our picture gallery and videos of the evolution of Volt over the past year from concept to reality on our Team Hall & Nass Facebook and YouTube pages. We encourage you to watch our Volt videos in the following order: Chevy Volt Early Pre-Production First Look, then our Chevy Volt Late Pre-Production First Drive. Then go check out our 2011 Chevrolet Volt pre-production and Volt Z-Spec photo gallery on Facebook by searching for Team Hall & Nass or Berry Lowman.

Last, but certainly not least, be sure to check back later this week to view footage of our actual production model 2011 Volt hoonage on YouTube.com/TeamHallnNass, followed by an updated photo gallery on our Facebook page and a comprehensive write up of the entire experience here on TeamHallnNass.com.

Of course, if you like instant gratification, follow our Twitter feed Wednesday, December 1st and Thursday, December 2nd as we Tweet our impressions and a few action shots live from the road at Twitter.com/BerryLowman (@BerryLowman on Twitter), Twitter.com/AtkinsJennifer (@AtkinsJennifer) and on Twitter.com/TeamHallnNass (@TeamHallnNass).

“We’re SO Not Worthy … THANK YOU GM”

We’d like to publicly thank Adam Dension, Craig Eppling, Donna McLallen, Jon Stec, Kamea Shows, Otie McKinley, Phil Colley, Vicki Cosgrove and everyone on the GM Volt and GM Communications teams for inviting us to these events, tolerating our foolishness, and allowing us access to the Volt throughout various stages of development through the actual product launch. Without their kind, good faith invitations, we wouldn’t be able to bring you, the wonderful fans and followers of Team Hall & Nass, this incredible tale to enjoy.

Team Hall & Nass Chevrolet Volt Coverage

We hope y’all have enjoyed our Team Hall & Nass 2011 Chevrolet Volt Preview coverage. Check out all our 2011 Chevrolet Volt videos on our YouTube channel at YouTube.com/TeamHallnNass. Be sure to stay tuned as we prepare to share our amped up experience of life behind the wheel of the all new 2011 Chevrolet Volt as we charge the remote backroads of Texas Hill Country this week in an actual production model.


Due to FTC guidelines, please note that GM did not pay us to write or film any of this, nor did they ask us to. (After reading this and/or watching our videos, they may even prefer that we hadn’t)! They simply provided food, drinks, and access to their cars. In turn, we had quite the experience. We sincerely thank everyone at GM, Chevrolet and GM South Central Region marketing who made this possible, and all of you, our amazing fans. We couldn’t do this without you. We love you all!

This blog entry has been approved by Pirate Pig, official mascot of Team Hall & Nass. Learn more about Pirate Pig at TeamHallnNass.com. Pirate Pig offers hamthrax protection for all, and would like to remind you, “IF YOU’VE JUST BEEN PASSED, THEN YOU’RE NOT HALL & NASS!” :@)~