Henry Payne Blog

Cartoon: Media Crime Spike

Posted by Talbot Payne on October 14, 2021

Cartoon: Biden Vaccine Normal

Posted by Talbot Payne on October 14, 2021

Cartoon: Justice Department and Parent Terrorists

Posted by Talbot Payne on October 12, 2021

Payne, first drive: Mach-E GT flexes good ol’ Mustang muscle

Posted by Talbot Payne on October 12, 2021

San Francisco — Hustling over California’s twisted two-lane Pacific Coast Highway in a Mustang GT, I suddenly came upon a three-car moving road block. I flattened the right pedal. ZOT! The GT gulped the trio like a killer whale feeding on fish.

No downshift, no V-8 roar, no rear tail wag.

Say hello (and a quick wave goodbye as it disappears into the distance) to a different kind of Mustang GT — the 2022 Ford Mustang Mach-E GT. A kilowatt-guzzling hatchback SUV. Infused with the same wicked DNA as its gas-guzzling V-8-powered Fastback forebear, it’s even dressed in bright Cyber Orange to match Papa Pony’s Grabber Yellow.

This is the one we’ve been waiting for.

Ford Motor Co.’s Blue Oval has been chasing Tesla since the Palo Alto-based automaker wowed the world in 2016 with the Model 3 and changed the electric game with an accessible, lightning quick, Apple phone-simple EV that made even gas-drinking motorheads like me go weak in the knees (I bought one).

Ford dropped what it was doing and gave chase. Maybe it was enraged Tesla had stolen its iconic “Model” moniker to stake its claim as the Model T of the 21st century. Maybe it admired a startup for cracking the battery-electric code after Ford floundered with the C-Max and first-gen Escape Hybrid. Maybe both.

But Ford understood it would have to bring out its big brand guns to compete with Tesla’s mega-brand. The Mustang Mach-E was born and it slavishly followed the Tesla Model Y (a Model 3 in ute clothing) formula: 15-inch center screen, frunk, 300-mile range, remote app, $40K starting price.

The 2022 Ford Mustang Mach-E GT Performance Edition is porky at nearly 5,000 pounds. But magnetic shocks and big Brembo brakes help keep it strapped to pavement.

When I got my hands on the new pony, I saddled it up alongside a Model Y and tested them toe-to-hoof. The Mach-E is very good — yet doomed to live in Tesla’s shadow. The apprentice to the OG. Mach-E sales are a modest 2,000 a month — outsold by Model Y, 6-to-1.

Mach-E GT is a different animal. Bringing years of muscle car experience to the compact SUV, veteran engineer Dave Pericak and his merry elves have layered Mach-E with Mustang muscle. Think 0-60 mph in just 3.5 seconds — equivalent to a Hellcat-fired $100K Jeep Grand Cherokee Trackhawk.

Like the V-8-powered Mustang Fastback, Mach-E gets a steroid booster over its standard 346-horse, 428-torque sibling. Optimizing the same 88 kWh battery pack, the GT pumps out a Mercedes AMG 63-like 480 horsepower and a gob-smacking 634-pound-feet of torque when equipped as the Performance Edition. That’s right, a performance package just like the sports car offers: gummy Pirelli summer tires; active suspension; Brembo brakes.

The interior of the 2022 Ford Mustang Mach-E GT Performance Edition changes little from the standard Mach-E.

Out of a hairpin turn on Route 1, I nailed the Mustang Mach-E GT Performance (that’s a lotta names) and the beast pounced. I have driven these roads in a Mustang V-8 Fastback, but there is nothing like the ON/OFF electric torque switch of a big-battery EV. The Pirellis gripped like claws. The electric motor whined. The sky blurred like Han Solo’s Millennium Falcon jumping to hyperspace. Chewie, set course for the next galaxy.

Another hairpin rushed into view and big 15-inch front Brembos brought me back to earth. The battery-powered Mach-E GT is porky at 4,962 pounds (500 more than Tesla), but it’s low in the belly. With no V-8 anchor up front, the beast rotated nicely, the magnetic suspension working hard — in part to compensate for 2-inch narrower tires than a Merc AMG (EVs gotta balance stick with range-sucking rolling resistance).

To harness its nearly 2 ½ tons, the Performance Edition is stiffly sprung. Less enthusiastic drivers will prefer the standard GT.

The Model Y has similar thrust — 0-60 in 3.6 seconds — but is less intuitive in the corners compared to the crisp Mustang. GT debuts a Traction Control OFF button so you can hang it out more.

In Unbridled mode, the 2022 Ford Mustang Mach-E GT Performance Edition lets out a GRRRR sound -- and really gets down to business in the twisties.

In max Unbridled mode the ’Stang pipes a satisfying GRRRRRRR-owling noise into the cabin. It’s not the GT Fastback’s reptilian gurgle, but it’s a bit of Mustang soul. So athletic-minded is the SUV that it’s lower to the ground (5.1 inches vs. 5.8) than the GT Fastback.

I know, I know what you’re thinking. If Ford wanted to expand the Mustang sub-brand, why didn’t they follow Porsche and just make a meaty, more practical V-8-powered ute? That would have been glorious. Mustang should have done it five years ago like (aping Porsche) Jaguar, Maserati, Alfa Romeo and other sports car brands.

But that was then, this is now and EVs are the fashion (not to mention forced by governments). Even Macan is going electric, so rather than chase the tail, Mustang jumped the queue with the first performance SUV to run with Tesla.

It’s a niche segment of two for now. Model Y Performance and Mach-E Performance are right on top of each other at about $62K. A lot of coin.

Not a coupe: The 2022 Ford Mustang Mach-E GT Performance Edition brings hatchback utility to the Mustang GT lineup.

Who will buy it? My motorhead pal Jim and spouse crave the Mach-E, and the GT badge is right in their wheelhouse — a daily driver next to an Audi RS5 hatchback and Ford truck.

Mach-E GT would naturally replace their BMW X3 M. Heck, the ’Stang beats the Bimmer to 60 mph by a half-second — for 10 grand less. It looks the part, too, with GT gaining a menacing black grille compared to the awkward traced mouth on the standard Mach-E. It says “GET OUTTA THE WAY” in a slower car’s mirror.

Where Mach-E GT falls short of the BMW — and Tesla — is on road trips. One reason why the feds take pity with a $7,500 tax credit.

With a claimed 260 miles of range (I, ahem, got just 60% of that while flogging the pony over northern California), Mach-E GT requires long recharging stops from an unreliable third-party charging network. Bimmer can whet its beak with petrol everywhere. Tesla’s reliable charger network is the brand’s secret sauce.

Tesla also brings its signature Autopilot system. Though Mach-E GT’s similar Blue Cruise system allows truly hands-free driving (a camera watched me to make sure I was paying attention), I found it less confident at lane-centering over California’s swoopy 101 four-lane. The Tesla (which asks that you keep a hand near the wheel) is remarkably precise — while offering cutting-edge tech like Navigate-on-Autopilot and auto-lane change.

It’s hard to compete with Silicon Valley’s iPhone on wheels. So Mach-E gets your attention the ol’ fashioned way — muscle car speed ‘n’ style.

The blank-face Tesla looks alien. Mach-E’s anthropomorphic fascia, muscled shoulders and fastback are as familiar as the screaming V-8 GT you coveted when you were 16.

And when you stealthily leave everyone behind at a Woodward stoplight, it won’t wake up every officer within a 10-mile radius.

2022 Ford Mustang Mach-E GT

Vehicle type: Battery-powered, all-wheel-drive, four-door SUV

Price: $60,100, including $1,100 destination charge ($63,285 GT and $69,800 GT Performance Edition as tested)

Powerplant: 68-88-kWh lithium-ion battery driving single or twin electric motors

Power: 480 horsepower, 600 pound-feet of torque (GT); 480 horsepower, 634 pound-feet of torque (GT Performance)

Transmission: Single-speed automatic

Performance: 0-60 mph, 3.8 seconds (GT, mfr.); 3.5 seconds (GT Performance); top speed, 124 mph

Weight: GT: 4,962 pounds (4,989 pounds, GT Performance Pack)

Fuel economy: EPA est. range, 270 miles (GT); 260 miles (GT Performance)

Report card

Highs: Ruthless acceleration; confident handling

Lows: Needs more interior definition; Performance model may jar a filling loose

Overall: 4 stars

Henry Payne is auto critic for The Detroit News. Find him at hpayne@detroitnews.com or Twitter @HenryEPayne.

Payne: Riding the last VW Golf into the sunset

Posted by Talbot Payne on October 11, 2021

Gaylord — Farewell, Volkswagen Golf, I’ll miss you.

Well, kind of. I mean, the GTI hot hatch is my favorite Golf model and that’s not going away. But the standard Golf is, and without that … well, there wouldn’t have been a GTI or all-wheel-drive Golf R, now would there? Or even a New Beetle built on the same platform, which VW doesn’t make any more either. So, my last 500-mile dance with the Golf through northern Michigan was bittersweet. Except I can’t wait to drive the new Golf GTI later this year.

Confused? You’re not alone. You need a scorecard to keep track of all the VW model changes these days.

Volkswagen’s lineup is dramatically different than when the Golf debuted (as a Rabbit, just to confuse you more) way back in 1974. Since then, it has become the best-selling V-dub ever. It even surpassed the iconic Beetle globally: 30 million units to 23.5 million for the Bug.

In the ’70s, Golf sold alongside the Beetle, Scirocco and Passat (Dasher in the U.S.). None of those badges exist today, save for Passat, which will bow out in the U.S. after the 2022 model year. Synonymous with the brand, Golf has grown out of touch with the mainstream, SUV-crazed U.S. consumer. Golf is gone, long live the Golf.

In my ride north in the 2021 tester, the clever hatchback reminded why its DNA carries on across the lineup.

The styling is timeless. Simple and sophisticated, it has changed little over the years — the most dramatic change being the big, swept headlights versus the round, owlish eyes of the early days. With its sharp body stampings and thin grille, my Golf was easy on the eyes.

That styling informs Golf siblings — a model line chock full of SUVs that no one dreamed of back in the ’70s: Taos, Tiguan, Atlas, Atlas Cross Sport.

2021 VW Golf packs it in under the hatch.

Indeed, Golf’s practical hatchback is the inspiration for today’s sport ute. Leaving my house in Oakland County, I simply lifted Golf’s hatch (tugging the rear VW logo like a piece of furniture that opens a secret bookcase) and stuffed my weekend luggage inside: bag, tennis bag, shoes. If I needed more room, I could simply have pushed over the backseats to create a longer load floor. Just like an SUV.

Exiting I-75 at Gaylord, I got sucked into the twisties of M-32 — flowing west fast like a river emptying into Lake Michigan. My Golf was in its element here — the tight chassis, suspension and four-wheel disc brakes working together to make the car wonderfully tossable. It has ever been such.

So wonderful that Golf inspired a new segment of performance compacts with its 1984 GTI. The Honda Civic Si, Ford Focus ST, Mazdaspeed 3, Hyundai Elantra N, et al have followed in its footsteps. I owned the first generation GTI. My 29-year-old son owns the sixth. The eighth-gen coming later this year promises to be the best yet.

With unique wheels and blood red trim, the GTI’s exterior hints at the steroid enhancements beneath: a 2.0-liter turbo 4 making 220 horsepower and a gob-smacking 310 pound feet of torque. With a limited slip diff up front, the GTI rotates like a rear-wheel driver at the autocross course.

My standard Golf tester sported the standard 147 horse turbo-4, which is surprisingly peppy despite its smaller 1.4-liter displacement. The GTI will live on as inspiration to the rest of the VW lineup — like the Miata spirit that inhabits every Mazda SUV.

Take the new VW ID.4 electric car. With its 77-kWh battery stowed below decks, the new SUV has a lower center of gravity than most SUVs and wants to boogie. The battery may be heavy, but ID.4 channels the Golf’s excellent dynamics. On a recent test drive in the Tennessee mountains, I put ID.4 in SPORT mode and flogged it like a Golf through the twisties.

Inside, my 2021 Golf was simple, with lots of right angles like the exterior. It’s a style that continues across the lineup — from the compact Taos SUV to the giant three-row Atlas.

The interior of the 2021 VW Golf is tidy - but lacks the digital upgrades of newer competitors.

But technology was notably lacking in my V-dub. Its competition (Civic, Elantra, Impreza, Mazda 3) have upgraded to all-digital instrument displays, adaptive cruise control and head-up displays. Rather than invest in a declining segment, VW is bringing that tech instead to the compact Taos SUV (as well as the more premium GTI and Golf R). Taos is already killing it, selling 7,000 units a month.

Golf stacks up nicely against its competition in interior size and utility. Its 35.7 inches of rear leg room match the Civic and Elantra. It even tried to offer all-wheel drive with the 2018 Alltrack wagon to appeal to SUV buyers.

But Alltrack was pricey compared to, say, the AWD Subaru Impreza and never got traction. Indeed, my wife tried both and chose the ’Ru. Maybe it was the Subaru Love. Maybe it was the $2,000 cheaper price tag. Maybe it was the Golf’s **%!!& lack of a mute knob so that you have to turn the volume knob all the way down every time you want to silence the screen.

It’s a rare hiccup in VW’s otherwise nicely appointed interior.

2021 VW Golf hatch inspired a new gen of big V-dub SUVs.

That tradition continues in the SUVs. Different as the ID.4 interior is (think screen-focused Tesla-simple), it continues the Golf tradition of offering intuitive controls for everyday driving. The ID.4’s liquid-smooth electric drivetrain also seems the perfect sequel to my Golf’s smooth automatic tranny. No droning continuously-variable tranny here. The eight-speed is one of the segment’s smoothest — never getting a step wrong during my long journey. A manual is also available, though I’d leave that to GTI motorheads.

Even as it opened manufacturing plants in my West Virginia and Pennsylvania backyards in the 1970s, VW was slow to learn Americans’ driving habits. Wolfsburg was tardy to the SUV market, and then offered too-small segment entries.

It’s determined not to make that mistake again, so it’s ditching Golf for the hatchback Taos SUV. On my way back from Up North, my wife packed the Golf to the roof with goodies. Taos will hold even more. If you still want a compact car, VW offers the Jetta sedan.

And if you still want a Golf, there’s the 2022 GTI. I can’t wait.

2021 Volkswagen Golf

Vehicle type: Front-engine, front-wheel-drive, five-passenger hatchback car

Price: $24,190, including $995 destination fee ($24,990 as tested)

Powerplant: 1.4-liter turbocharged 4-cylinder

Power: 147 horsepower, 184 pound-feet of torque

Transmissions: eight-speed automatic

Performance: 0-60 mph (7.6 sec., Car and Driver); top speed, 122 mph

Weight: 3,012 pounds

Fuel economy: EPA, 29 mpg city/36 highway/32 combined

Report card

Highs: Sharp looks; fun-to-drive

Lows: Dated screens; no mute button

Overall: 3 stars

Henry Payne is auto critic for The Detroit News. Find him at hpayne@detroitnews.com or Twitter @HenryEPayne.

Cartoon: Buy an EV and Change the weather

Posted by Talbot Payne on October 6, 2021

Cartoon: Fauci Christmas Scrooge

Posted by Talbot Payne on October 6, 2021

Payne: Affordable Ford Maverick pickup is a 40 mpg Swiss Army knife

Posted by Talbot Payne on October 5, 2021

Nashville, Tenn. — We auto journalists love to prattle on about how capable the ripped Ford F-150 Raptor supertruck is with its terrain-chewing tires, high-tech Fox shocks and powerful, twin-turbo V-6. But at $70K, the Raptor tool can only be afforded by a few.

Everyone else is left coveting the stud with their noses pressed against the window.

Until now. For a Ford Truck Nation that has always dreamed of an affordable Swiss Army knife, your ship has come in. The entry-level Maverick pickup is here and it is really, really good.

Yes, the base $21,490 Maverick XL. You want a truck with 500 miles of range? 191 horsepower? A hybrid drivetrain, Google maps smartphone connectivity, and more storage options than the Queen Mary? Write your check for $21,490.

This stud doesn’t require two parking spaces to park. Downtown Nashville is overrun these days with music acts, IndyCar races, tourists. Want to park an F-150 in the cramped parking lot of Carter Vintage Guitars on 8th Avenue? Ain’t happening, ya’ll.

With Maverick, it’s a cinch. Exit downtown and load 1,000 pounds of mulch and rock from Home Depot for your home lawn project.

The 2022 Ford Maverick hybrid can carry 1.500 pounds - though it only comes in FD.

Pickup capability used to mean you had to ride a rough ladder-frame chassis or pay big bucks for magnetic shocks to smooth things out. Maverick, on the other hand, is a joy to drive. Fast. With mulch loaded behind me, I drove Mav hard like it was a unibody, compact SUV.

That’s because it is a unibody, compact SUV.

Maverick is now the entry-level vehicle for Ford’s lineup. Not just the truck lineup, the entire vehicle lineup. If you’re thinking Maverick sounds like an Escape or a Bronco Sport with a bed, it is. The Mav’s secret sauce is it brings truck capability to the market’s biggest volume class, compact SUVs.

As I drove the baby F-series, I realized it wasn’t so much a truck as a bed option in a segment my wife and I have occupied all our lives. Me in VW Golfs and Honda Civics. My wife in her beloved $28K Subaru Impreza with all-wheel drive, adaptive cruise, sippy fuel economy and park-anywhere maneuverability.

The interior of the 2022 Ford Maverick has character with a tablet screen, storage, and rotary shifter.

Maverick checks the same boxes for the same price. Substitute bed for hatch. The pickup completes the trifecta of three compact SUVs — Escape, Bronco Sport and Maverick — built on the same chassis but with three distinct personalities.

For that reason alone, the new littlest Ford (India-made Ecosport has been axed) deserves its rebel name. Maverick demonstrates the transformation of a 20th-century car company to a 21st-century truck ‘n’ SUV company. Want a Focus or Fiesta hatchback? Move to Europe.

For all its segment-busting swagger, the Maverick is conservatively styled. This is no Hyundai Santa Cruz — the other unibody pickup introduced this year and Hyundai’s first pickup — which screams for attention with its angular bod, sliding tonneau cover, and sub-bed trunk.

Maverick is part of a larger truck family. The brand knows it has market cred — Mav takes design cues from big brother F-150 with its C-clamp grille and squared-off bed design. There’s no sub-bed to carry coolers (Ford says it compromises the steel box’s strength), no sliding bed covers (Ford says it compromises bed width), no angular c-pillar (compromises access). Hyundai dares to question the ol’ formula.

Maverick saves its innovation for under the skin. This is no plasticky Ranger — which felt rushed when Ford realized it was late to the midsize truck party in 2018.

The 2022 Ford Maverick features a cleverly-designed door that is scalloped to handle even oversized bottle.

Maverick’s interior has the confidence of a segment buster — tastefully done with clever use of materials (recycled carbon fiber dust here, orange/bronze trim pieces for XLT/Lariat trims there). Doors are scalloped for oversized bottle storage — the handles floating in space. Take a bow, interior design team.

Accessories are numerous. My favorite? A $50 five-pack of interchangeable gadgets for the rear seat console: trash bin, cupholder, cord wrap, grocery bag holder, sub-seat organizer.

The sub-seat organizer provides ample storage space under the rear bench seats — an inherent benefit of unibody construction. Bronco Sport sports similar space, but Maverick goes even deeper. Store footballs, muddy cleats, bottles — not to mention the rest of the accessory five-pack.

The 2022 Ford Maverick sports a versatile, 4.5-foot bed.

Though just 4.5 feet long by 4 feet wide (the same as, ahem, a $70,000 Rivian EV), the pickup’s rear bed can store a bicycle — or two if you take the front wheels off. Like competitors, Ford knows customers (especially younger buyers in this segment) expect their vehicles to talk with their phones. Mav depends on your smartphone for its navigation — and sticks a QR code on the rear bed so you can access a variety of online Ford help videos to configure lights, bike rack, etc.

Hyundai knows the bed is key, too, and its sliding tonneau cover, sub-bed storage and soft-drop tailgate will challenge Maverick.

Santa Cruz will also create buzz with its greater towing capacity, standard wireless smartphone connectivity/blind spot-assist and premium interior (including a hoodless, LED instrument display that is one of my favorite new 2021 items) when pitted against the Maverick’s XLT and Lariat trims for a comparable $25,000 (where Maverick gains all-wheel-drive with a more powerful, 250-horse  2.0-liter turbo-4).

But that base $21,490 Maverick XL bargain stands alone.

That’s a whopping four grand below the Hyundai, a real number for entry-level buyers. Not long ago, I asked a Golf engineer why V-dub didn’t hybrid-ize its compact hatch for superior fuel economy. His answer: battery cost made compact-class hybrids unrealistic.

Cue Ford, which has managed a rockin’, 191-horsepower hybrid with 40 mpg city — in a $22K compact pickup. Chew on that for a moment. This is an accomplishment right there with racing a Raptor across sand dunes at 100 mph. And it’s something you’ll appreciate every day.

Dolly Parton smiles on the affordable, hip 2022 Ford Maverick in Nashville.

With a Maverick dressed in Area 51 Blue and steely wheels, I strutted around the Music City in style. I parked in front of Nashville’s Dolly Parton street mural, the queen of country smiling down on my ride.

A huge, full-size Toyota Tundra parked (very carefully) nearby. “Cool color,” the owner commented, looking over my Mav. When I told her the price, her jaw dropped.

My Ford truck buddies covet a big, bad F-150. My wife loves her compact hatch. I get it. But for those who want the two combined, Ford has worked a miracle: an affordable truck with personality.

2022 Ford Maverick

Vehicle type: Front engine, front- and four-wheel-drive, five-passenger compact pickup

Price: $21,490, including $1,495 destination fee ($21,490 FWD XL Hybrid and $37,360 FWD Lariat turbo-4 as tested)

Powerplant: Hybrid 2.5-liter 4-cylinder mated to electric motor; 2.0-liter turbocharged 4-cylinder

Power: 191 horsepower, 155 pound-feet torque (hybrid); 250 horsepower, 277 pound-feet torque (turbo-4)

Transmission: Continuously variable transmission (hybrid); 8-speed automatic (turbo-4)

 Payload: 1,500 pounds; Towing capacity: 2,000-4,000 pounds

Weight: 3,674 pounds (hybrid as tested); 3,731 pounds (AWD turbo-4 as tested)

Fuel economy: 36 mpg (hybrid combined, observed on test drive); EPA est. mpg 23 city/30 highway/26 combined (turbo-4 FWD); 22 city/29 highway/25 combined (turbo-4 AWD)

Report card

Highs: Hybrid price is right; nifty interior

Lows: No sub-bed option like Hyundai Santa Cruz; wireless Apple CarPlay, please

Overall: 4 stars

Henry Payne is auto critic for The Detroit News. Find him at hpayne@detroitnews.com or Twitter @HenryEPayne.

Cartoon: Fire Frontline Worker

Posted by Talbot Payne on October 2, 2021

Cartoon: Democrat Approved School Wear

Posted by Talbot Payne on October 2, 2021

Payne: Road trip! Turning heads, chasing chargers up north in Mustang Mach-E

Posted by Talbot Payne on October 2, 2021

Charlevoix — While I waited for my 2021 Ford Mustang Mach-E tester to charge at an Electrify America station in a Meijer parking lot in Gaylord, a couple waiting for their Model S to recharge at the adjacent Tesla station asked if they could check out my filly.

“I really like it,” said Raj after I gave him the full tour. “It’s better looking than a Model Y and it really feels solid.”

My encounter captures the promise and limitations of Ford’s first EV.

The comely Mustang gets a lot of interest in a hungry Midwest market that has been dominated by Silicon Valley’s sexy Tesla brand. But it’s a niche market of people willing to spend their road trips hanging out in, um, discount store parking lots for extended periods of time.

Ford v. Tesla. The 2021 Ford Mustang Mach-E charges at Electrify America station in Bay City next to Tesla chargers in a Meijer parking lot.

I spent a week with Ford’s first EV up north. Like renting a Mustang convertible on a vacation trip, it’s a refreshingly different experience: high-tech, high-torque, high style. And, like my Tesla Model 3 (in which I’ve made the same trip many times), it demands patience when outside its metro comfort zone.

“Training a wild mustang (horse),” Sunset Magazine once wrote, “can be, to no one’s surprise, an intimidating task.” So can driving an electric Mustang Mach-E on a road trip.

With 197 miles on the Mach E’s battery, I left Oakland County for a vacation cottage in Charlevoix. “Navigate to Charlevoix, Michigan,” I barked at the nav system. I might have heard the navi voice sigh as she plotted my trip. It would be a two-stopper.

I did not have enough juice to go the 255-mile distance —  a distance easily covered in, say, a gas-powered Ford Explorer. I would have to stop first at an Electrify America fast charger at a Bay City Meijer on the way.

With the outside temp at a pleasant 72 degrees, Mach-E and I trotted along with traffic at 80 mph. But speed (and temperature) drinks electrons. Above 75 mph, I start losing 20% of range (that is, for each 10 miles I traveled on the odometer, I took 12 off the battery). I backed off to 70 mph to conserve electrons, swallowing my pride as Explorers blew by my ’Stang at 80 mph. As the outside temp dropped to 50 degrees in the evening (in, ahem, July. What’s this I hear about global warming?), I even suffered range loss at 70 mph.

Detroit News auto critic Henry Payne took the 2021 Ford Mustang Mach-E - RWD, 211-mile range battery - up north for a week. Local horses approved of Ford's first EV.

My standard-battery Mach-E tester stickered for $47,235 — a significant 10 grand under the price of a long-range, 326-mile Model Y, which is the only Tesla available right now (standard range model not available). Mach-E wore a striking shade of Rapid Red (I like) which, at $400, is also cheaper than Model Y’s $2,000 red coat option. Factor in the $7,500 federal tax subsidy (no longer available on Teslas), and the $39K is a no-brainer for budget-minded EV buyers (if still significantly more than a comparable gas-powered Ford Bronco Sport).

“I want to arrive at my friends’ house in a Mustang,” smiled the Detroit-raised motorhead.

The brand appeal was not lost on others on my journey. “Is that the new Mustang EV?!” thrilled a middle-aged couple in Charlevoix. “That’s sooo cool.”

Convincing them (and my son) to buy one, however, is the challenge. “Good luck beta-testing EVs for Ford,” they said, walking away. At the local Ford dealer here, customers had put in 11 orders for the new gas-powered Ford Bronco — none for the Mach-E. Bronco Sports are outselling Mach-Es by 6:1.

Owning an EV requires doing a lot of math. After a half-hour at Bay City’s Meijer charger, I stopped at 80% charge. Why 80%, you ask? Because the charging rate drops off sharply after 80% (charging an EV, the analogy goes, is like filling a beer glass — the last bit is slow). Charging to 100% would take another two hours. Gotta’ know these things owning an EV.

Also of note: it costs more to fill your EV (14.5 cents per mile) at EA’s 43-cents-per-kWh rate than your gas car (13 cents per mile) at $3.20-a-gallon gas prices. For now, though, automakers are providing free charges.

Mach-E told me I had 160 miles left, enough to make it to Charlevoix — albeit with 0% of battery left. I needed to charge in Gaylord to bank enough miles to get around in charger-poor Charlevoix. But Mach-E couldn’t find the Electrify America fast charger. I called EA’s 800 number to confirm it was working. Whew! After my Meijer stop (and conversation with Tesla-philes), I arrived in Charlevoix at 1:25 a.m.

Mach-E got a lot of interest from my Charlevoix neighbors. I gave a lot of test-drives.

The SUV’s Mustang styling cues — muscular shoulders, three-bar taillights, brooding headlamps — drew them in. Inside, it’s a Tesla clone with a big 15.5-inch center screen running the show (and a helpful LCD screen behind the steering wheel bearing key data like range and mph). It’s roomy and a hoot to drive (for a ute) with instant electric torque and low center of gravity.

The 2021 Ford Mustang Mach-E offers good camera visibility. A fellow filly in Boyne City comes to check it out.

Susie, a 76-year-old granny in tennis shoes who owns an Audi Q5, was smitten. She took an extended test-drive enjoying Mach-E’s single-pedal driving, hands-free drive assist and artificial engine sound in Unbridled mode. We did lots of range-sucking Unbridled mode.

With just 76 miles of range left on Mach-E (I needed 50 to get back to Gaylord’s EA charger to top up for the trip home), I went to charge overnight at Charlevoix’s lone 240-volt charger. It was blocked off by a summer carnival in town. What to do?

Mach E’s nav said a dealership three miles out of town had a 240-volt charger. The Jeep dealer was nice enough to let me use the charger, but it was slow. A just-installed Ford dealer charger across the road (which did not show up in the Mach E’s charger finder) worked best. I plugged in and rode 20 minutes back to our cottage on a bicycle I’d stashed in the Mach E’s hatch.

Maybe EVs should be sold with bicycles.

The lesson: if you want to travel north in your EV, install a charger (cost: about $2,000) in your second home (indeed, that’s what a Model S-owning doctor I met at another Meijer had done in Traverse City). Or keep your EV in Detroit for local commutes, then buy a gas-powered Explorer for trips everywhere else.

To get back and forth from a Ford dealer's charger in Charlevoix while the 2021 Ford Mustang Mach-E juiced up overnight, Payne had to bring along a bicycle. Trip on bike? About 40 minutes round trip from Payne's cottage.

2021 Ford Mustang Mach-E

Vehicle type: Battery-powered, rear- and all-wheel-drive, five-passenger SUV

Price: $43,995, including $1,100 destination fee ($47,235 RWD Select with standard battery as tested)

Powerplant: 68-88 kWh lithium-ion battery driving single-or-twin electric motors

Power: 266 horsepower, 317 pound-feet of torque (as tested)

Transmission: Single-speed automatic

Performance: 0-60 mph, 5.8 seconds (mfr.); top speed, 134 mph

Weight: 4,394 pounds (as tested)

Fuel economy: EPA MPGe 101 combined city/highway; range, 211 miles

Report card

Highs: Gets folks’ attention; useful hatchback for carrying stuff

Lows: Inferior refueling network; pricey compared to gas peers

Overall: 3 stars

Henry Payne is auto critic for The Detroit News. Find him at hpayne@detroitnews.com or Twitter @HenryEPayne.

Cartoon: Woke Corp, Vaccines and Masks

Posted by Talbot Payne on October 2, 2021

Payne: Bronco and Wrangler lock horns at Detroit 4Fest

Posted by Talbot Payne on October 2, 2021

Holly — When the going gets tough, the tough get going.

Rain put a damper on the first Motor Bella auto show at M1 Concourse Sept. 21-26. But 30 miles north at Holly Oaks ORV Park’s third annual Detroit 4Fest, the water just added spice to the off-road recipe. Holly Oaks is home to an epic off-road playground of dirt, sand, hills, bogs and trails spread out over 192 acres and 200 feet of elevation change.

It’s a grown-ups sandbox that attracted 1,200 off-road lovers for a weekend of fun — including this big, 6’5” kid. It also brought Jeep Wranglers and Ford Broncos face-to-face in the most anticipated rivalry since a Camaro and Mustang first squared off at a Woodward stoplight.

“Let’s go!” said King of the Hammers founder Dave Cole as I handed him the keys to my four-door 2022 Ford Bronco tester.

Cole is no stranger to off-road playgrounds. He’s won the Baja 1000, Pikes Peak and countless other off-road races in extreme, Ultra4 off-road beasts. His California-based King of the Hammers is one of the country’s premier off-road racing series. This was his first taste of Holly Oaks (it just opened last fall), and it didn’t take him long to find the biggest challenges.

Darlene’s Ridge rises 125 feet above the sandy floor of Holly Oaks. Getting to the top requires traversing a narrow 30-degree gully that gets steeper as you climb. After days of rain, the trail was slipperier than an oily rope.

Dave Cole, CEO of King of the Hammers, pilots a  2021 Ford Bronco.

“We can get to the top of that,” Cole confidently declared after watching a 4×4 surrender after a failed assault that ended two-thirds of the way up.

Our Bronco is built for this kind of insane terrain.

Dressed in striking Area 51 Blue, the new Ford got a lot of looks in my neighborhood before I headed out to Holly. My neighbor Heather covets it for her next vehicle and liked its smooth ride, all-digital display, wireless smartphone connectivity and roomy interior (the Bronco has about two more inches of shoulder/legroom in front and seven more cubic feet for cargo than arch-rival Wrangler).

But the ute’s enormous, meaty 35-inch tires on bead-lockable 17-inch wheels are there for a reason. Part of the $4,495 Sasquatch package (available on every Bronco model), they complemented our armored Black Diamond trim (rock rails, washable interior, seven drive modes, steel bumpers, skid plates) to make the truck-based SUV a dirt-eating monster: electromechanical transfer case, locking front/rear axles, bulging plastic fenders, higher ground clearance, and brawny Bilstein shocks. Oh joy!

The Bronco doesn't mind getting muddy on the trails and hills at Holly Oaks.

Cole dialed the GOAT (Goes Over Any Type of Terrain) mode selector to Mud/Ruts, then selected 4-wheel-drive Low.

WAAUUUGH! We charged up the incline … only to fall back at the summit, all four wheels churning helplessly. We reversed back down. Tried again. Failed. Cole toggled 4-HIGH for the next assault.

WAAUUUGH! Short again. Off-roading is a social sport. A crowd was gathering at the summit to watch what the new Bronco kid on the block could do. “Try it in manual mode, both lockers on!” advised a bystander (now that’s a guy who knows his Broncos!).

We watched two side-by-sides and a Toyota truck fail. Our turn again.

WAAAUUUGH! We made it, the front wheels leaving the ground as we cleared the top. A roar went up from the crowd. Cole punched the Trail Turn Assist feature and did doughnuts in celebration.

Cole went hunting for more obstacles. Then I went hunting for more. Then I handed the wheel to Jeremy, with a Bronco on order, and he found still more. By the end of the afternoon, the Bronco’s blue patina was barely visible, obscured by a layer of mud and dirt — Bronco’s best color.

For years, Mustang, Camaro and Challenger muscle cars have tested each other at stoplights, twisted roads and race tracks. Now the Bronco and Wrangler are headlining new battlefields where the asphalt ends — alongside Chevy Colorado ZR2s, Ford Raptors, Ram Rebels and a growing herd of mudders.

Like their muscle car brethren, off-road competition will raise all boats — er, SUVs.

Wet conditions are no match for the 2021 Jeep Wrangler 392.

Wrangler has already upped its game with an Xtreme Recon package that offers 35-inch tires and specially tuned shocks resulting in best-in-class 12.9-inches of ground clearance, approach angle (47.4 degrees), breakover angle (26.7 degrees) and departure angle (40.4).

Those tools came in handy in even trickier Holly Oaks conditions when I hit the trails pre-4Fest in a steady rain. The Xterme package benefits a lineup that has a big head start on Bronco in drivetrains.

The Wrangler can be had in turbo-4, V-6, diesel, 4xe plug-in electric, and — my favorite — V-8 392 mode.

Jeep CEO Jim Morrison rides shotgun in a 2021 Wrangler 392.

That’s 392 as in the same 392-cubic-inch bear at the heart of a Dodge Challenger Scat Pack. RRRAOOWWRR! growled the Jeep 392 Rubicon as I fired it up. My co-pilot was Jim Morrison, Jeep CEO and a passionate off-roader himself who calls Holly Oaks his backyard.

We hammered around the park’s muddy trails in 4-LOW, putting the Jeep’s trusty twin lockers and detachable sway bars to good use over rocks, hills and gullies. But the 392’s secret sauce is 470 horsepower and 470 pound-feet of torque.

2021 Ford Bronco Detroit 4fest on the rocks

Grinding up another impossible grade, we tested the Rubicon’s Selec-Speed Control, which senses slip in all four corners — then distributes torque where needed. We hit a deep rut of mud that challenged even this tool of electronic wizardry — the Jeep slipping, sliding, struggling to get out of the hole.

“Just 392 it!” said Morrison.

I planted my right foot and the Wrangler exploded out of the hole like a mortar shell, scampering to the summit. Ya’ gotta have a V-8.

On the trail over the weekend, Bronco and Wrangler owners happily co-existed. Like muscle car track days, off-roaders are family. They help their neighbors stuck in swamps, on hills, over rocks.

After the park closes, the discussions will grow more heated over dinner as partisans compare their steeds. Jeep owners will highlight authenticity born in World War II, twin solid axles, manual transfer case shifter.

Bronco riders will boast of modern tech, better on-road manners thanks to an independent front suspension, even a front hood that’s easier to open.

For my money (and, ahem, these warriors ain’t cheap), they are both correct. They give us motorheads more options for when the going gets tough.

2022 Ford Bronco Black Diamond

Vehicle type: Front engine, four-wheel-drive, five-passenger compact SUV

Price: $40,835, including $1,495 destination fee ($48,325 as tested)

Powerplant: 2.3-liter turbocharged 4-cylinder

Power: 300 horsepower, 325 pound-feet torque

Transmission: 10-speed automatic

Performance: 0-60 mph, 8.0 seconds (Motor Trend est.); towing capacity, 3,500 pounds

Weight: 5,100 pounds (

Fuel economy: EPA est. mpg 20 city/22 highway/21 combined

Report card

Highs: Easy-to-use off-road tools; those big 35-inch tires

Lows: Feels floaty on freeway; gets pricey

Overall: 4 stars

2021 Jeep Wrangler Rubicon 392

Vehicle type: Front engine, four-wheel-drive, five-passenger compact SUV

Price: $74,995, including $1,495 destination fee ($78,545 as tested)

Powerplant: 6.4-liter V-8

Power: 470 horsepower, 470 pound-feet torque

Transmission: 8-speed automatic

Performance: 0-60 mph, 4.5 seconds (mfr.); towing capacity, 3,500 pounds

Weight: 5,100 pounds

Fuel economy: EPA est. mpg 13 city/17 highway/14 combined

Report card

Highs: Go anywhere attitude; OMG V-8

Lows: Transfer case shifter requires some muscle; gets pricey

Overall: 4 stars

Henry Payne is auto critic for The Detroit News. Find him at hpayne@detroitnews.com or Twitter @HenryEPayne.

Cartoon: Carbon Prohibition Auto

Posted by Talbot Payne on October 2, 2021

Payne: Acura TLX Type S struts its Type A personality

Posted by Talbot Payne on October 2, 2021

Gaylord — Get it in Tiger Eye Pearl.

With its dramatic color (don’t call it bronze), my 2021 Acura TLX Type S is meant to be noticed. Angular jawbones. Diamond pentagon grille. Hooded Camaro-like headlights. Front and rear spoilers. Quad tailpipes the size of ship cannons.

“Cool car,” said a passerby in Gaylord.

“Really like that car,” said another in Charlevoix.

“Did a great job on the styling,” said my gearhead son.

The Type S is the Japanese luxury brand’s Type A personality. It’s a return to the brand’s sporty roots (Acura is even bringing the sporty Integra nameplate back) and a Type S badge that graced its performance models like the TL, CL and RSX in the 2000s.

To emphasize the point, Acura introduced the Type S in May at Mid-Ohio race track in the hands of none other than IndyCar supercar Helio Castroneves, who wrung the sedan’s neck around one of North America’s most demanding tracks with your loyal Detroit News scribe strapped into the right-hand seat. It was his first time in the car as well as mine.

The 2021 Acura TLX Type S hustles north on M-32.

“I was not expecting it to be this quick — wow,” exclaimed the four-time Indy 500 winner as he mashed the throttle onto the front straight.

This go-round, the Type S is aimed squarely at luxury muscle cars like Audi’s S-line, BMW’s M-series, Cadillac’s V-series — vehicles that beg you to bypass the interstate and take the long way home on country roads.

West of Interstate 75 in northern Michigan, I turned right on to M-32 — its serpentine curves flowing like a fast river to Lake Michigan. I held the Drive Mode selector to the right until it registered SPORT PLUS. HUNNHHH! The engine quickly downshifted with a grunt. Type S, meet S curves.

The turbo-6 cylinder in the 2021 Acura TLX Type S packs a punch.

Its muscles taut, the Acura leapt from turn to turn, the 355-horse turbo-6 — unique to this car in the TLX lineup — roaring. The paddle shifters — unlike many vehicles — responded quickly to my touch, downshifting 4-3-2 into a hairpin turn with a matching engine blip. HUNHH! HUNH! Big red Brembo brakes slowed the 4,221-pound all-wheel-drive beast. Back up through the ratios in this 10-speed box, the Type S was confident, smooth.

The Acura is worthy of the segment. But the joy of the Type S is not just in its eager drivetrain.

This is a sedan that aims to be as different as the mid-engine NSX supercar that rebirthed Honda’s performance brand back in 2015. While not as radical as Tesla, the TLX is a comprehensive reassessment of each vehicle feature.

Take the aforementioned Drive Mode selector. Like Cyclops’ eye, the selector is the focus of the Acura console. I spun the selector to the desired setting — COMFORT, NORMAL, SPORT, SPORT PLUS (yes!) — then tucked my fingers into the “trigger shifter” buttons below. It’s intuitive and an Acura signature. Over time, you learn its contours and don’t even need to look when shifting between, say, reverse and drive.

The unique, sc-fi interior of the 2021 Acura TLX Type S.

Acura’s next innovation in its so-called Acura Precision Cockpit is more problematic. Like a Mazda 3, the remote infotainment screen is high on the dash for better driver visibility. Unlike the Mazda’s rotary dial (familiar to users of Audi, BMW, Genesis), TLX uses a touchpad as controller.

It’s not as unworkable as Lexus’ maddening touchpad, but it takes time to learn. May I recommend learning it when stationary? It’ll save you distraction. I’ve grown accustomed to the pad after driving multiple TLX, RDX and MDX models — and it has its charms. In particular, I love the — CHING! — sound it makes when I swipe from screen to screen. Like all systems (save, ahem, the dreaded Lexus) you’ll eventually settle on a pattern of icons you prefer (aided by corresponding steering wheel buttons).

The dramatic cockpit offers separation from Acura’s more spare Honda sub-brand. That’s good. Indeed, the Type S bears no similarity to the Civic Type R, Honda’s halo hellion. The two vehicles crystallize the difference between the two brands. Both are fast. But the Type S is sophisticated, stylish. The Type R — with a wing here and black tattoos there — looks like it was designed by a teenage gamer.

The 2021 Acura TLX Type S's roomy front seats.

Still, the Acura is a cautionary tale in how quickly technology is moving. The 2021 platform has already been lapped by the 2022 Civic, which boasts wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, compared with the Type S’s wired connections.

Curious, too, is the midsize TLX chassis layout. Its 113-inch wheelbase puts it squarely between the 115-inch Audi A6 and 111-inch Audi A4. However, the Acura’s 32.9-inch rear seat legroom is significantly smaller than the Civic’s 35 inches (on a 110-inch wheelbase). That makes for tight rear-seat confines if you pick up your six-foot-tall buddies for a night out.

That space consideration might drive performance advocates to the roomier Audi S6. But Acura is betting everybody else on the block has an Audi. And that four-ring badge will cost you a whopping $79,440, while my comparably equipped Type S tester is $53,825. Oh.

Roll down the cu-de-sac in your Tiger Eye Pearl Acura — Jewel-eye headlights shooting daggers — and no one will mistake you for an Audi. The Type S exudes a muscle-car vibe — consistent with its birthplace in the industrial Ohio heartland.

In that regard, the Type S’s most natural competitor is the Cadillac CT5 V-series — itself equipped with a special turbo-6 with specs remarkably similar to the Type S: 10-speed tranny, exquisite handling, sculpted design. And the Caddy easily fit my 6’5” frame in back. I was enthralled with it after an aggressive drive to Hell (Michigan) and back.

But the Acura makes a strong value play with its standard AWD system compared with the $57,000 Caddy’s RWD offering. Add AWD and the Cadillac’s price balloons to $64,000.

Michiganians might appreciate that AWD in, say, February.

The 2021 Acura TLX Type S in its natural habitat: the open road.

2021 Acura TLX Type S

Vehicle type: Front-engine, all-wheel-drive, five-passenger sports sedan

Price: $53,325, including $1,025 destination fee ($53,825 as tested)

Powerplant: 3.0-liter turbocharged 6-cylinder

Power: 355 horsepower, 354 pound-feet of torque

Transmissions: 10-speed automatic

Performance: 0-60 mph (4.9 sec., Car and Driver); top speed, 155 mph

Weight: 4,221 pounds

Fuel economy: EPA, 19 mpg city/25 highway/21 combined

Report card

Highs: Head-turning style; smooth, powerful drivetrain

Lows: Small backseat; quirky touchpad

Overall: 3 stars

Henry Payne is auto critic for The Detroit News. Find him at hpayne@detroitnews.com or Twitter @HenryEPayne.

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Posted by Talbot Payne on September 24, 2021

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Payne: Here are the 10 best features at Motor Bella

Posted by Talbot Payne on September 23, 2021

Pontiac — A 1961 Amphicar 770, the amphibious convertible that could drive in water as well as on land, would have been the perfect show car Wednesday when torrential rains shut down Motor Bella at M1 Concourse.

The Amphicar would also fit right in with the show’s experiential theme.

This is a different experience for Detroit Auto Show goers. Static car displays play second fiddle around M1’s 85-acre property containing on- and-off-road tracks. Like M1’s Roadkill Nights before the Woodward Dream Cruise, if you aren’t in a long line waiting for a ride then you’re missing the full experience.

Ram 1500 TRX ride. Hold on for a 702-horsepower, over-the-jump, rip-roaring adrenaline ride.

With that in mind, this column recommends — not just the best cars in show — but the best Motor Bella features. Here’s my Top Ten:

Ride the ‘Rex: What do you get when your cross a Hellcat with a Ram pickup? TRX — pronounced T-rex. With a 702-horsepower supercharged 6.2-liter V-8 in its belly, the Ram 1500 TRX joins the Ford Raptor as segment-busting supertrucks. Ram wants you to experience TRX at full tilt. Jump in line at the 120-square-foot off-road experience and hang on: with a pro driver at the reins, you’ll accelerate from 0-60, hurtle moguls, claw ’round a dirt banking and hit 50 mph before flying — yes, flying — over a jump. TRX sticks the landing every time.

2022 Ford F-150 Lightning and signature, full LED front running light.

F-150 Lightning bolt: At the opposite, northwest end of the M1 property from the TRX test is an on-track opportunity with the electric Ford F-150 Lightning. It’s the stealth pickup. Armed with an absurd 775 pound-feet of torque from twin motors, Lightning will quietly rocket to 60 mph as fast as TRX.

“This sucker’s quick!” exclaimed President Joe Biden when he drove it on a recent Dearborn visit. Check out the pickup’s gigantic frunk (front trunk) where the gas engine used to be. Lightning’s batteries are stored low between the pickup’s frame rails.

The Toyota Tundra is all-new and more competitive with the Detroit Three truckmakers. Upgrades include coil rear springs, a 14-inch screen, and LEGO Technic-like styling.

Toyota Tundra: The all-new Tundra, big and aggressive, anchors Toyota’s exhibit overlooking Motor Bella’s infield. Remade from the inside out, the Texas-made pickup learns lessons from its Detroit peers and should be the most competitive full-size Toyota yet. The once conservative skin is replaced by a chiseled bod that looks like it drove out of a LEGO Technic box. Under the new sheet meal, innovations include coil springs in the rear (like Ram), a big 14-inch screen (like the Detroit Three) and composite bed (Toyota’s answer to more corrosive steel and aluminum boxes).

Jump in the Jeep Wrangler Rubicon ride and you'll see the world from a new perspective.

Get dirty in a Wrangler: Jeep Wranglers are everywhere, but have you experienced their off-road capability? Saddle up a Wrangler Rubicon, 392, or 4xe, and you’ll get a treat over Jeep’s diabolical dirt course (next to Ram’s course). Tilt 20 degrees through The Spine, charge up an extreme dirt hill, scamper over logs, chew rocks. The course has it all.

The popular Ford Bronco can be ridden through a pond, up a hill and through sand. Your typical Bronco commute.

Bronco rodeo: Ford has its sights set on Wrangler and its dirt-kicker has brought a course of its own to M1’s infield. There, a fleet of Broncos take you through water, sand, and up and over a 21-foot-tall roller-coaster hill (the best view in Motor Bella). The obstacles show off the ute’s capabilities and tools, including water-fording, articulated wheel crawling and hill descent control. After the ride, immerse yourself in static displays that demonstrate Bronco’s removable doors, top and fenders.

The 2021 Mustang Mach 1 has inspired the electric Mach E (foreground). They appeared together at Ford's Dream Cruise display in Royal Oak.

Mustang Mach-E e-Xperience: Next to the Bronco rodeo is a ride of a different sort. The Mustang Mach-E is Ford’s first EV. Like Bronco vs. Wrangler, Mach-E wants to go toe-to-battery with class stud Tesla Model Y. Big center screen, tight handling, instant torque. Say hello to your driver before he stomps on the throttle — behind those masks are some interesting folks. Mine was a National Hot Rod Association nitro-fuel drag racer.

The McLaren Senna is the fastest production car in existence. A race car with a license plate, only at The Gallery.

McLaren Senna: For the first time, the exclusive Gallery exotic car show (usually invitation-only) is open to the masses. Located behind the infield toward the road course, it contains some rare birds. My favorite is the Senna — named, appropriately, after the late Brazilian Formula 1 superstar. The McLaren is a race car with a license plate. It owns Car and Driver’s Lightning Lap record around epic Virginia International Raceway in 2 minutes, 34.9 seconds. That’s, ahem, three seconds faster than a Porsche 911 GT2 RS.

The Bolinger B2 pickup has drop gates in the front -- and rear -- so you can pass through longboards.

Bollinger B2: Metro Detroit is home to two new pickup brands: Rivian and Bollinger. Bollinger makes its auto show debut at Motor Bella. The imposing, black B1 SUV and  B2 pickup siblings loom just off the infield. They’re off-road ready with dual locking-differentials, gnarly tires, 15-inch ground-clearance, and 10-inch suspension travel. My favorite feature is the bumper-to-bumper pass-through channel so you can load longboards.

The mid-engine Corvette C8 greets you at the GM display -- its forebears can be seen at the Lost Corvettes display, also on the M1 campus.

‘Vettes galore: Lots of eye candy here for fans of America’s favorite supercar. A pair of delicious mid-engine C8 Stingrays — in IMSA GTLM Championship Edition trim — welcome you to GM’s infield tent. But wait, there’s more. The so-called “Lost Corvettes” from artist Peter Max’s historic car collection are on the Woodward Avenue side of the infield. Restored to perfection, six will be given to military veterans Friday as part of a charity auction. Call them ‘Vettes for Vets.

NASCAR star Austin DIllon shows off the next-gen NASCAR Camaro with modern upgrades like an independent rear suspension, sequential gearbox, and single-nut wheel.

Camaro NASCAR: In addition to the race-inspired Corvettes, GM is showcasing the intersection between racing and production. Hot shoe Austin Dillon dropped in to introduce the next-gen NASCAR Camaro Cup car. It features significant updates with an independent rear suspension, sequential shifter, and wicked stance. It debuts at next year’s Daytona 500.

Not a bad debut for Motor Bella either. Hopefully the first of more great shows.

Henry Payne is auto critic for The Detroit News. Find him at hpayne@detroitnews.com or Twitter @HenryEPayne.