Henry Payne Blog

Cartoon: Biden, Venezuela Drill Baby Drill

Posted by Talbot Payne on December 3, 2022

Payne: Big ute in the big city, GMC Yukon Denali holidays in Chicago

Posted by Talbot Payne on December 3, 2022

Chicago — This is a big city. Big buildings. Big avenues. Big sports teams. Big shoulders. Big swagger.

The big, bling-tastic three-row 17½ foot-long 2023 GMC Yukon Denali fits right in.

Well, mostly. I drove GMC’s three-ton flagship to the Windy City for family Thanksgiving with the in-laws, where the big ute was as useful as 335-pound William “Refrigerator” Perry on Soldier Field’s goal line. And as awkward as the Fridge trying to squeeze into a booth at the Eleven City Diner on Wabash. There was never a dull moment.

Tell Mrs. Payne there is a family holiday gathering and she’ll start packing a week in advance. Good thing we had the Denali and its yawning 123 cubic feet of cargo room. We packed it with wrapped Christmas gifts, food, suitcases, computer bags, a cooler, tennis bag and a partridge in a pear tree.

I stepped on the Denali’s throaty 6.2-liter, 420 horsepower V-8 and we were in Chi-town in no time, cruising up State Street in our five-story-tall SUV — waving at people in their apartments — to our hotel on the Near North Side. You might think that we were an anomaly in the packed residential streets of Chicago, but you would be wrong.

Despite $4-a-gallon gas, a gridded street system laid out 100 years ago and parking spots the size of postage stamps, Chicago was bustling with giant SUVs and pickups. In our swanky North Side neighborhood I saw numerous Yukons, Chevy Tahoes, Ram 1500s, Ford F-150s and Expeditions — and just two Chevy Bolt EVs all weekend. As industry production fractures into government-forced electric vehicles — and the gas-guzzling utes to pay for them — it was a telling sight. Indeed, had I been driving an EV, I had few opportunities to charge it — downtown had but two fast-charger stalls.

With its big wheels, chromed grille and $98K sticker price, the 2023 GMC Yukon Denali Ultimate arrives at swanky Chicago addresses with authority.

My Denali Ultimate cost an eye-watering $97K, but its electronic gizmos are fast trickling down into more affordable vehicles — making huge utes more drivable in small places. Typical of GM vehicles, its ergonomics are superb with intuitive steering wheel scroll wheels to adjust cruise control, dials for climate control, buttons for self-parking. Yes, self-parking. On Walton Street west of the Magnificent Mile, I watched a white Yukon Denali Ultimate — the salt-colored opposite of my black-pepper model — parallel park itself. Then its mother hen clambered down from the cockpit, dragged a stroller from the back and hustled three kids into the nearby Lululemon.

She appeared a seasoned pro, and no doubt used GMC’s hands-free, Enhanced Automatic Parking Assist — one of my favorite urban features. GM also has one of the most advanced self-driving systems in the business (more on that later).

I didn’t bother to parallel park in Chicago; I tried something more difficult: parking in a garage.

The 2023 GMC Yukon Denali Ultimate can self-park  in tight urban places like Chicago.

My relatives live in a building built in 1925. The garage beneath it is a mouse maze designed for cars of that era, not the barges of today. The 6’5” tall Yukon barely cleared the entry door, but then its sensor system went to work to help me squeeze Denali into its designated spot.

So concerned is building management of damage to tenants’ cars that they’ve wrapped the garage’s thick pillars in rubberized bumpers. Denali customers needn’t worry. Thanks to a 360-degree camera view, I could see all four corners all the time. Come too close to a pillar and my seat would buzz. I had to saw back and forth numerous times to make it into my space — but make it I did.

I would ask only that GMC make the ute’s 10-inch infotainment screen bigger — think the massive 17-inch dash screen on the Cadillac Escalade — to better see multiple camera views. The bigger screen would also match the Denali’s fancy interior, which looks like a room in the Mar-a-Lago mansion.

Thanks to sensors and 360-degree camera views, the 2023 GMC Yukon Denali Ultimate could maneuver in tight Chicago underground garages.

The dash and doors were lined with open-pore Paldeo wood (laser-etched with a topographic map of Mount Denali, natch), panoramic sunroof and Alpine Umber-stitched massaging leather seats (what, no chandelier?). It’s gorgeous, though shy of the sumptuous Jeep Grand Wagoneer I recently tested.

My 20-something nephews were suitably impressed when they piled in to go to grandma’s house for turkey dinner. Yukon Denali might have been able to fit all 37 members of my wife’s extended family, but on this night we just needed to transport five, including my 6’5” and 6’3” nephews. They could have fit easily into any of Yukon’s three rows. Yes, even row No. 3, made comfortable thanks to an independent rear suspension for better foot room. Two levers on the second-row seat sides offer third-row access by either sliding the seats — or just flattening them.

The doors of the 2023 GMC Yukon Denali Ultimate are posh with leather and wood accents - though they lack the polish of competitors like the Jeep Grand Wagoneer.

After patiently extracting Denali from the garage, we plunged into the thick of holiday traffic on I-94 north for suburban Winnetka. Super Cruise time.

The ‘23 Yukon Denali Ultimate is equipped with the General’s latest, expanded Super Cruise hands-free driving system that maps 400,000 miles of U.S. roads and automatically changes into the fastest-moving lane. Though not as ambitious as Tesla’s Autopilot (it won’t automatically follow navigation direction and exit the highway), it’s always improving.

The Yukon has generous room for passengers, even big ones, in all three rows.

That includes anticipating slower cars in its path and aggressively moving into the left lane. — too aggressively in some cases, forcing me to take over the steering lest the car behind me have to apply brakes.

The system is ready for prime time — but how about humans? This was the first time my millennial relatives had been in a hands-free chariot, and they were noticeably uneasy. Ultimately, they trusted their motorhead uncle’s judgment but they wouldn’t use the system themselves.

Super Cruise is more natural on long, less-crowded rural stretches of highway like I-94 between Gary, Indiana, and Ann Arbor. I went autonomous for miles, relaxing my hands on my knees as if I were sitting in a leather chair at home.

Super Cruise driver assistance worked best in the 2023 GMC Yukon Denali Ultimate when on long rural stretches of interstate.

Don’t get too comfortable, though. The system struggled as rain began to fall south of Lake Michigan. “Super Cruise Unavailable. Sensor Can’t Find Lane Lines,” read the screen as Denali handed control back to me — the green monitor light on the steering wheel changing to red.

Happily, we weren’t challenged by fuel range. Truck-based three-row GM SUVs may guzzle gas like Bears fans guzzle beer after a win — but they have big bellies to store it in, too. With 24 gallons on board and 16 mpg, I only had to make one five-minute stop for fuel on our 600-mile round trip.

2023 GMC Yukon

Vehicle type: Front engine, rear- and four-wheel-drive six-or-seven-passenger SUV

Price: $59,295, including $1,795 destination fee ($97,745 Yukon Denali Ultimate 4WD as tested)

Powerplant: 5.2-liter V-8 engine; 6.2-liter V-8; 3.0-liter inline-6 cylinder turbo-diesel

Power: 355 horsepower, 383 pound-feet torque (5.2-liter V-8); 420 horsepower, 460 pound-feet torque (6.2-liter V-8); 277 horsepower, 468 pound-feet torque (diesel)

Transmission: 10-speed automatic

Performance: 0-60 mph, 6.0 seconds (Car and Driver); towing, 7,500 pounds (as tested)

Weight: 5,827 pounds (as tested)

Fuel economy: EPA est. mpg 14 city/20 highway/16 combined (as tested)

Report card

Highs: Room for lots of family; tech-tastic for city maneuvers

Lows: Small screen relative to competitors; gets pricey

Overall: 4 stars

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

Cartoon: China Lockdown Scrooge

Posted by Talbot Payne on December 3, 2022

Payne: How GT1 turns the iconic Ford GT into an insane, 1,400-horsepower hypercar

Posted by Talbot Payne on December 3, 2022

Pontiac — In the beginning there was the 1966 Le Mans-winning mid-engine Ford GT40 race car. Then came the 2005 GT production sports car. Then the second-generation 2016 GT supercar.

Say hello to the insane 2023 GT1 hypercar.

Riding shotgun in the GT1’s roomy right-hand seat at M1 Concourse’s Champion Motor Speedway, I secured my five-point seatbelt next to the 1,400-horsepower monster’s creator, Fred Calero. Showtime. As we rotated out of the Turn 5 hairpin onto the back straight, Calero put the hammer down. The landscape blurred. The six-speed sequential gearbox fired off rapid shifts — WHAP! WHAP! — like gunshots.  The twin-turbo V-8 behind my ears roared and we exploded down the straightaway, cresting 130 mph on our way to the moon before big 15-inch brakes brought us back to earth into Turn 6.

Like injecting Superman with steroids, Calero and his engineers are taking the last 30 chassis of the first-generation 2005 GT into rare, million-dollar hypercar territory. It’s a space occupied by such hellions as the 1,160-horsepower V-12-powered Aston Martin Valkyrie, 1,300-horse V-8-driven Koenigsegg One, and 1,578-horsepower V-16 Bugatti Chiron.

Yet while boasting the latest tech tricks of these sci-fi cyborgs, the GT1 wraps its technology in the timeless, retro-design of one of the world’s most revered sports cars — powered by one of America’s most revered powerplants, the 427 cubic-inch, small-block V-8. Dressed in exposed carbon-fiber and the No. 2 decal of Bruce McLaren’s Le Mans-winning Ford GT40, the GT1 may be the most stunning hypercar on the planet.

“The Ford GT is one of America’s most iconic cars,” said Calero in the GT1 garage after our rocket ride. “And we think there is a particular passion for the more masculine lines of the 2005 GT. The GT1 is equipped with the best equipment from the best brands: Multimatic shocks, Roush NASCAR V-8, SADEV gearbox.”

GT1 is at the bleeding edge of one of the auto industry’s hottest trends: retro-fitting classic cars with state-of-the-art tech. Los Angeles-based Singer reskins 1989-94 Porsche 911s with carbon-fiber shells propelled by juiced flat-6 engines. Revology in Florida stuffs classic 1967 Shelby Mustang GT350 bodies with a modern V-8 drivetrain and interior electronics.

Born in 2005, the production Ford GT was no slouch in the performance department with a mid-mounted, supercharged 550-horsepower V-8. Its sleek body, penned by designer Camilo Pardo, reimagined the ‘66 GT40 as a production model complete with signature headlights, muscular hips, chopped tail.

GT1 takes Ford’s perfect 10 and dials it up to 11.

GT1 founder Fred Calero with his baby, the GT1 prototype. GT1 plans to produce 30 hypercars total based on the final 30 chassis of the 2005 Ford GT.

Its journey began as one of North America’s great “barn finds.” Calero, a successful Michigan entrepreneur and owner of a stable full of Ford performance stallions including 2005-06 Ford GTs, a Mustang GT4 race car and 2020 Ford GT, learned that Ford had retained 30 chassis of the 2005 sportscar.

They were kept out of obligation to Ford GT owners should a car be totaled or require an extensive rebuild. As the last decade drew to a close, Ford was determined to clear its decks of the old GT chassis — whether by sale or scrapyard crusher.

Calero and his partner investors bought them.

The aluminum frames look fresh from the factory, courtesy of Ford storing them in a climate-conditioned warehouse. Working out of a garage here in M1 Concourse, a private auto enthusiast club, Calero’s team hatched a plot to update the GT as a hypercar.

GT1 bought the last 30 chassis of the 2005 Ford GT that were kept in storage since production ended in 2007.

Thanks to Matech Concepts, a Geneva, Switzerland-based racing team, they had a blueprint. With Ford’s blessing, Matech had successfully raced six fully race-prepared 2005 GTs in Europe’s GT1 racing series from 2010-11 — with one win and three pole positions to their credit. Four cars survived and were in the hands of Carlisle Productions in Pennsylvania.

“Carlisle owner Lance Miller has been invaluable to us,” said Calero. “They’ve loaned us body panels, doors, anything we needed to make molds.”

Working from Matech’s playbook, GT1’s team went to work, led by chief engineer Jim Dunham, a retired 30-year Ford veteran who had worked on the gen-two 2016 GT supercar.

“Detroit is the best ecosystem to develop this project because of all the auto talent that exists here,” said Calero.

The small-block V-8 in the GT1 makes a nice engine bay package with twin-turbos and straight exhaust pipes for glorious V-8 sound at 9,000 RPM.

Dunham applied lessons from Matech’s racers and the current GT, including adding a huge front splitter, widening the GT1’s front track, improving the front clip and side rocker panels and updating the rear wing to a top-mounted configuration for better aerodynamics.

The biggest upgrade would come in the engine bay. Where the Matech GT1 race car used a 5.3-liter V-8, Calero’s team pays homage to the Le Mans-winning Ford GTs of the 1960s with a 7.0-liter V-8. Then they turbocharged it. Twice.

Blown out of its mind, the twin-turbo 427 cubic-inch beast will make upwards of 1,400 horsepower. Built by Roush Yates — the same shop that assembles Ford NASCAR engines — the aluminum-black, RY45 twin-turbo is arguably the most advanced high-displacement engine ever put in a Ford.

Its small-block, push-rod construction is crucial to accommodating the twin turbos under the Ford’s low rear deck. The engine’s racing pedigree — forged titanium intake valves, single-piece crankshaft — means it generates peak horsepower at a stratospheric 9,000 rpm and 900 pound-feet of torque from 3,700 rpm all the way to red line.

The GT1 relies heavily on the 2010 Matech GT1 race car for development, but Calero's team has updated features like a high-mounted, carbon-fiber rear wing.

“My lead engineer said we should twin-turbo it, so we did,” smiled Calero. “When you look at really high-end exotic cars out there, we have a horsepower war and twin-turbo is a good option. We set the bar high.”

Sophisticated suspension tuning took the bar higher still. As we hurtled into Turn 6 at the end of M1’s back straight, GT1 turned into the apex like, well, a GT1 race car.

Armed with Multimatic shocks developed for the GT1, the chassis was flat, composed. A global leader in motorsports shock absorbers, Multimatic has helped teams bring home numerous Formula One, Le Mans and endurance race wins.

Buckled up. Detroit News auto critic Henry Payne rides shotgun with GT1 CEO Fred Calero at M1 Concourse.

“We went to Multimatic in England and started developing bespoke 4-way adjustable dampers,” said Calero. “We formed a quick bond with them because of their history of developing dampers for the Matech GT1 efforts.”

On exit, the huge 13-inch rear Pirelli P-Zero rear tires — wrapped around lightweight Forgeline wheels — put the power to the road and we were off to the moon again. The interior is race-car spartan with carbon-fiber bucket seats, electronic displays and yoke steering wheel.

The GT1 prototype made its public debut at M1’s American Speed Festival in September. It will make an appearance at the Performance Racing Industry trade show Dec. 8-10 in Indianapolis. After winter track development down south, it will hit the ‘23 North American show circuit  beginning with the Canadian International Auto Show in February, where it will be showcased alongside other exotics from Ferrari, Porsche, Shelby and Aston Martin. GT1 plans displays at the Amelia Island and Pebble Beach concours as well.

The race-car interior of the GT1 includes carbon bucket seats, yoke steering wheel and the latest electronic tachometer.

“We’ve got a lot of work ahead of us,” said Calero. “When GT1 goes into production next year, each model will be customized to the buyer’s desire.”

With each chassis authenticated by Ford Performance, customers can pick livery, wheel colors, dive planes, passenger seat and so on. They might choose slick tires, too — so they can really push the hyper-limits of this hypercar.


Vehicle type: Rear-wheel-drive, two-passenger hypercar

Price: Est. $1.2 million

Powerplant: 7.0-liter, twin-turbocharged Roush RY45 V-8

Power: 1,400-plus horsepower, 900 pound-feet of torque

Transmission: Six-speed sequential

Performance: 0-60 mph, sub-3.0 seconds (est.); top speed: 200 mph-plus

Weight: 2,750 pounds (prototype)

Fuel economy: Est. 4 mpg

Website: https://gt1cf.com

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

Cartoon: Leftover Turkey Trump

Posted by Talbot Payne on November 28, 2022

Cartoon: Fauci Five Pinocchio General

Posted by Talbot Payne on November 28, 2022

Cartoon: FBI Monitors Thanksgiving

Posted by Talbot Payne on November 27, 2022

Payne: Give thanks, the Honda Civic Type R hot hatch gets hotter

Posted by Talbot Payne on November 27, 2022

Sonoma, California — Cresting Turn 3’s blind hill at Sonoma Raceway, I pressed to keep up with IMSA Pirelli Pilot Challenge champion Ryan Eversley. In chilly conditions my 2023 Honda Civic Type R skittered across the apex in a controlled slide. Like a cat landing on its feet it found grip on its Michelin Pilot 4 tires, and I floored the throttle downhill into Turn 4, snatching fourth gear at 7,000 RPM.

It will also fetch groceries and take three of your six-foot pals to the movies.

Long live the hot hatch, long live the Honda Civic Type R. “I want one,” smiled a smitten Eversley after a week in the car on track and public roads.

The 2023 Honda Civic Type R is a joy to flog on country roads with limited-slip front differential and a 6-speed manual.

In only its first generation on American shores, Honda’s performance halo established itself as a serious contender in what I believe is America’s most versatile segment. Hot hatches bring performance, utility, and sex appeal to the affordable compact car. A legend overseas for its blinding performance, Type R invaded America in 2018 like a samurai superhero. With styling straight out of Batman comic book (one wag compared its design to a “disheveled knife drawer”), the Civic was impossible to ignore with its huge gills, scoops, and scorpion-inspired rear wing.

It also cost a mere $37,000, making it competitive with segment icons like the VW Golf GTI and Ford Focus ST. My motorhead sons fell in love with it — though trying to find one to buy was tricky. On a 2020 spring weekend, we hunted for nearby Type Rs for under $35,000 but came up empty. Even used models were selling at — or above — sticker.

For its second act, Honda has rewarded its fan base with a Type R that is more mature in every way — from digital gauges to upscale interior to improved horsepower to a more timeless design. Ahem, now that we got your attention with the 2017 model, America, we’ve designed the second-gen with a pen, not a crayon.

Regrettably, it gets a lot more expensive — pushing the upper reaches of a segment that promises affordability.

Recognizing its coveted status and more upscale design (oh, and that Honda’s most cross-shopped competitor, the $38K Subaru WRX STI, is out of production), the $43,990 Type R’s price is in the same ZIP code as the King of Hot Hatch: the stylish all-wheel-drive VW Golf R.

Not only does front-wheel-drive Civic Type R nearly match Golf R’s sticker, it equals its lofty performance numbers by squeezing out 315 horses and 310 pound feet of torque from its blown 2.0-liter engine.

I’m a VW Golf partisan going back to my first car, the 1984 GTI, and — with $45K in hand — I would still opt for the AWD uber-Golf or front-wheel-drive $40K GTI. But with its flawless execution and terrific durability, Civic Type R will be coveted.

Ryan Eversley fell in over with the 2023 Honda Civic Type R after flogging it around Sonoma Raceway. "I want one," said the IMSA class champ.

Start with its insane drivetrain.

I’ve rowed a variety of vehicles over the swells and swirls of Sonoma’s glorious 2.0-mile circuit, but the last small-displacement car I drove here was the 2014 Alfa Romeo 4C — one of my favorite sports cars. I wouldn’t trade the Alfa’ sensational carbon-fiber tub for anything — but the 1.8-liter turbo-5 was a struggle to flog. The car’s lack of torque made it temperamental around Sonoma.

By contrast, I was up to speed in the Type R within a lap. As the track dried from morning rains, I accessed the car’s stiffest setting — +R mode — and the car quivered like a dog about to be let off its leash. Pounding up Sonoma’s Turn 1 hill, the pavement goes off-caber at the peak (IndyCar fans will remember cars spinning there), robbing momentum. No matter.

The 2023 Civic Type R shares its sophisticated honeycomb dash with other Hondas.

With its prodigious torque, Type R instantly picked up the beat as I downshifted to second and got back on throttle. The +R mode also change the tachometer to a racecar-like horizontal readout so it’s easier to see the 7,000 RPM before the Civic smacks it.

This sharp performance defines a car that is an ergonomic joy from A-pillar to hatchback.

On my way to Sonoma in spitting rain, Type R was as predictable on-road as on track. I could spin the front tires in three gears in the wet, but the car’s sophisticated suspension and limited-slip differential meant I needn’t worry about torque-steer diverting me from my path.

The manual gearbox — the best this side of a Porsche — was never confused. Even the pedal placement is excellent for old-school double-clutch downshifts, but modern electronics enable new school rev-matching. The Type R also benefits from the 11th generation Civic’s thinner A-pillar and door-mounted mirrors, which gave me better visibility in the soggy Bay Area.

Through difficult off-camber, uphill Turn 2 at Sonoma Raceway, the 315-horse 2023 Civic Type R shows off its agility and surprising power band.

The new Civic’s honeycomb dash has received rave reviews — and has trickled down to Honda kin like HR-V and CR-V. But fashion doesn’t come at the expense of ergonomics. Climate and volume knobs are where they should be. In keeping with its digital instrument and infotainment displays, Type R comes standard with Adaptive Cruise Control (yes, in a manual), blind-spot assist and wireless Android Auto/Apple CarPlay. The only oversight was my huge Samsung S20 smartphone couldn’t fit the charger space. First-world problems.

Following on the last gen — and other performance cars — Type R retains its blood-red seats, but they are more comfortable than ever despite the necessary bolsters to keep you centered while, say, diving through Sonoma’s high-G downhill Carousel turn.

With an additional 1.4-inches of rear legroom, Civic is also — like Golf R — a comfortable place for six-footers. More affordable competitors like the Mazda 3 Turbo (also with cool red seats) and new-kid-on-the-block Toyota GR Corolla are rear-seat-room-challenged.

The attention to detail even extends to the hatchback, where Honda Type R has revolutionized the rear window shade with a simple blind (why doesn’t everyone do this?) that can be pulled across the rear opening. No struggling with awkward snap-ins, no throwing the blind into your garage where it will only be forgotten the next time you need it to protect groceries from the sun.

The 2023 Honda Civic Type R offers power, style - and excellent hatchback utility.

There wasn’t much sun during my test time in California, but there was enough daylight to appreciate Type R’s new design. It’s not as distinctive as Gen One, but it’s plenty muscular.

Roof and doors aside, Type R’s body panels are bespoke. The fenders bulge, contributing to the hatch’s 1.0-inch wider stance than last gen. The styling is more conservative, but body cuts are purposeful — a new hood scoop that pulls air through from the radiator for better cooling and downforce, for example. And below the more conservative wing is the Type R’s signature center-mounted tri-exhaust.

Access +R mode and the car barks — BLAT! — with more authority than last gen. That personality is key to a car that must compete with the visceral, clinical thrills of the Golf R, which has a few tricks up its sleeve like drift mode and rev matching.

Open the hatches of these twin hellions, stuff them with chairs, toolbox and Michelin Cup 2 tires, and go find a nearby track day.

Give thanks this Thanksgiving. The second-gen Type R is here.

Next week: Who needs a truck? Towing a boat with the Ford Explorer SUV

2023 Honda Civic Type R

Vehicle type: Front-wheel-drive, five-passenger hatchback

Price: $43,990, including $1,095 destination fee

Powerplant: 2.0-liter turbocharged inline-4 cylinder

Power: 315 horsepower, 310 pound-feet of torque

Transmission: Six-speed manual

Performance: 0-60 mph, 5.3 seconds (Motor Trend est.)

Weight: 3,188 pounds

Fuel economy: est. 22 city/28 highway/24 combined

Report cardHighs: Joy to drive on and off track; precise manual box

Lows: Getting pricey

Overall: 4 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 November 22, 2022

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Posted by Talbot Payne on November 22, 2022

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Posted by Talbot Payne on November 21, 2022

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Posted by Talbot Payne on November 21, 2022

Payne: Wicked 600-hp Acura NSX Type S saves the best for last

Posted by Talbot Payne on November 17, 2022

Southfield — The Acura NSX is galloping off into the sunset in style. For its last model year, the NSX gets a Type S performance model with 600 horsepower, carbon-fiber roof, sticky Pirelli P Zero PZ4 tires and quicker shifting.

Awesome. But can we talk styling?

As one of world’s rare mid-engine supercars — and one of only two Made in the USA (the other is the Corvette C8 in Kentucky) — the NSX’s conservative wardrobe always appeared a mismatch for the sinewy, all-wheel-drive hybrid turbo-V6 sci-fi beast underneath.

Walk up to a C8 and its shard-like headlights stare at you hungrily. Come across a Lamborghini Huracan and it looks like Smaug the Dragon on the verge of burning down Middle Earth. The NSX? It has the face of a Honda Accord.

Not the Type S. This thing looks wicked. For its last hurrah, Acura has remade the front and rear clips of its supercar for proper menace. The headlights — 12 LED projectors glowing inside — are now visually separated from the gaping grille and underlined by gaping gills. A huge diffuser hangs out back.

More:Final assembly: On the Ohio line with the last Acura NSX Type S supercar

Now that’s a proper supercar. Like an alien insectoid come to earth to consume all our asphalt roads.

Type S and I did a lot of consuming.

Over northern Oakland County’s twisty lake roads, I nailed the throttle and the V-6 howled with pleasure. Slinging NSX around a 180-degree Telegraph Road turn, I stomped the gas. More howling. Out of a stoplight on a vacant rural two-lane, I initiated launch control for a 2.9-second 0-60 mph sprint. Hooowwwwl!

The 2022 Acura NSX Type S features a 600-horse, 3.5-liter twin-turbo V-6 mated to a 9-speed auto transmission.

With 492 pound-feet of thrust, the hybrid all-wheel-drive drivetrain is a joy. Despite the resulting 3,900 pounds of girth, the supercar’s low center of gravity makes it feel sucked to the road. It’s learned at the feet of the NSX GT3 race car (still competitive on the IMSA circuit). Given that it was introduced in 2017, the NSX’s interior design is dated given the relentless industry electronics race — but also since NSX’s signature cyclops driver mode button and trigger shifter are being phased out in other Acura/Honda products. But it’s still unusual, a reminder of the NSX’s ambitions when it was rolled out as a $160,000 hybrid supercar with tech previously found on the $1 million Porsche 918.

Despite its technological prowess, NSX was a sales disappointment, moving just 2,548 copies globally over its five-year run. Though cheap for the hybrid supercar class, it had to compete against comparably priced cyborgs like the flat-6-fired $160K Porsche 911 GT3. Ohhhh, knees. Getting. Weak.

But while the stiff, wailing 911 GT3 feels like it wants to race all day long, the NSX Type S is a lovely daily driver, starting with its Toyota Prius-like preference to sneak out my driveway on battery power in Quiet mode.

The interior of the 2022 Acura NSX Type S features a rotary knob for drive modes and a trigger shifter.

Dial up cyclops to Sport, Sport Plus and Track modes, and the engine tone gets sharper, the magnetic dampers firmer. Two personalities, one supercar. A St. Louis pal had to trade in his 911 GT3 after a year for a 911 Targa because he wanted more comfort.

Just don’t plan on going too far in the Type S. Its tiny 4.4 cubic feet of trunk space won’t hold much more than toiletries for a date weekend. Frunk-equipped peers like the McLaren GT and 911 are more accommodating.

My friend Kevin has owned everything from Lambo Aventadors to Ferrari F8s, and he fell in love with the Type S.

“I like this better than the Ferrari,” he said while driving over the oxcart-rough roads of Southfield. In Track mode, the Type S porpoised over the bumps. Then we dialed it back to Sport, and the car was more domesticated — the ferocious, battery-assisted torque always at the ready when needed.

The Acura NSX Type S options carbon ceramic brakes for just, ahem, $13,000 as part of the carbon package.

Just weeks after my jaunt in a loaded $185,000 Gotham Gray Matte Type S, Chevrolet introduced the performance version of its Made in America supercar — the Corvette Z06.

The 670-horse, V8-powered Z06 has an 8,000-RPM exhaust note from the gods, 2.6-second 0-60 mph time, Stealth mode and 12.6 cubic feet of cargo room. For $166K loaded ($127K base). Oh.

The rear of the 2022 Acura NSX Type S gets a carbon aerofoil and diffuser.

The ‘Vette will probably sell as many copies in a year as NSX sold in its lifetime. Which speaks to why Acura couldn’t translate its supercar into super sales. Still, the halo-car NSX has transformed Acura back into a performance brand. Everything from the RDX SUV to the entry-level Integra now carries its DNA.

And with its final, 2022 run of 350 copies, NSX has finally found its halo. The Type S is the best-looking NSX ever.

2022 Acura NSX Type S

Vehicle type: Mid-engine, all-wheel drive two-passenger sports car

Price: $171,495 base ($192,495 as tested)

Powerplant: 3.5-liter, twin-turbo V-6 with three electric-motor hybrid assist

Power: 600 combined horsepower, 492 pound-feet of torque

Transmission: Nine-speed dual-clutch

Performance: 0-60 mph, 2.9 seconds (Car & Driver); top speed, 191 mph (mfr.)

Weight: 3,898 pounds

Fuel economy: EPA 21 mpg city / 22 mpg highway / 21 combined

Report card

Highs: Best-looking NSX made; supercar performance for under $200K

Lows: Small cargo space; less performance than cheaper Corvette Z06

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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Payne: Turn up the volume — Sci-fi BMW iX is loud, lavish and ‘lectric

Posted by Talbot Payne on November 10, 2022

Pontiac — The new 2023 BMW iX is here. Call it BMW Tron.

For its first electric vehicle, BMW has created a dramatically different user experience. Where BMW has built its brand on sleek design and tight handling, iX takes its cues from Hollywood sci-fi movies. This is a vehicle out of Disney’s acclaimed, futuristic “Tron” flick.

Turn on a gas-powered BMW X5 40i and it growls like a hungry beast. BRAPPA! Turn on the iX M60 and you’re met with silence from the electric drivetrain. But that doesn’t mean it’s quiet. Instead, BMW contracted with Hollywood movie composer Hans Zimmer to create a unique interior soundtrack for iX.

The 2023 BMW iX M60 starts an electric EV line that parallels gas models (see X4 at right).

A two-time Oscar winner, Zimmer’s credits include the soundtracks for such sci-fi blockbusters as “Dune” (Academy Award winner in March), “Inception” and “Interstellar.” So he seems particularly well-suited for the iX assignment.

See my iX M60 zip by on the road, and it’s whisper quiet. But inside, it’s a symphony of noise.

I activated EXPRESSIVE mode and the cabin exploded in a musical cacophony as if the string section of the Detroit Symphony Orchestra has just occupied the rear seat. ZZPPHVEVEVEVHHHH!!!

I lifted my right foot and the symphony went silent. Back on the throttle: ZZPPHVEVEVEVHHHH!!!

Who said EVs are quiet? The 2023 BMW iX M60 offers loud Drive modes. This one, EXPRESSIVE, has sound to match its wild graphics.

Enough. I poked EFFICIENT mode on the console screen and the car went deathly quiet. I squeezed the accelerator hard and heard nothing. Not even motor whine. “That’s eerie,” said my friend Tom.

I activated SPORT mode. WAURRRRGGHH!! went the speakers when I buried my right foot, launching the nearly three-ton beast to 60 mph in 3.3 seconds.

It’s crazy.

“This car is fun to drive,” smiled pal Caroline, who has owned Audi Qs and Bimmer Xs.

“Too gimmicky,” said Tom, who owns a Porsche Panamera.

Back in 2001, Bimmer did a similar radical makeover for the dawning electronics era, introducing a rotary dial-controlled infotainment screen and mold-breaking 7-series sedan courtesy of designer Chris Bangle. At the Detroit auto show, my father-in-law shook his head at iDrive’s complexity — and the exterior design was so polarizing it was nicknamed the “Bangle butt.”

But BMW’s boldness stood the test of time, capturing a new generation of buyers.

Not a looker. The 2023 BMW iX M60 is innovative - but its blunt styling is off-putting.

The iX is even more polarizing. The interior is a stark, austere departure from recent BMWs. Aside from the signature iDrive and volume control roller on the console (crafted from crystal along with the door-mounted seat controls), there are no control dials. Everything is haptic touch controls.

I found the Drive Mode controls — accessed via raised lettering on the floating-island console — particularly frustrating.

At dusk at a Woodward stoplight, a menacing Audi S5 rolled up next to me. Devil in a red dress. I was in EFFICIENT mode. I reached for the raised lettering in the darkness to access SPORT mode/launch control but couldn’t locate it. Dang. I poked at the screen trying to find the Modes. Dang.

The light turned green. EFFICIENT mode would have to do. I still blew the Audi A5’s doors off.

Putting a gob-smacking 811-pound feet of torque (260 more than a comparable X5 M50i, 100 more than a supercharged, V8-powered Dodge Challenger Demon) to asphalt via all four paws, the iX erupts off the line despite its 5,800-pound girth (450 more than the X5). It’s addictive.

The 2023 BMW iX M60 comes standard with AWD and will hit 60 mph in just 3.6 seconds.

With its big 105.2 kWh battery pack under the floorboards, adaptive air suspension and a sophisticated carbon fiber-reinforced, mixed-metal frame, this rhino in tennis shoes is surprisingly nimble for a mid-size ute that can seat four six-footers with ease. Through the S-turns of Oakland County lake country, iX bounded about happily — its instant torque always at the ready.

The innovative, hexagonal steering wheel — firm in SPORT mode — adds more security at speed, its squared-off construction allowing excellent instrument visibility like the Corvette C8’s square wheel.

The 2023 BMW iX M60 has a hexagonal steering wheel to better view the big instrument display.

But in this EV utility space, smooth electric torque is not exclusive to BMW. The Mustang Mach-E GT matches it. And the Rivian R1T. So too the Tesla Model Y Performance.

Where the Bimmer really wants to make its mark is as a tech showcase. This is an all-wheel-drive smartphone.

As with a smartphone, I only scratched the surface of what was available in a week behind the wheel. Years ago, after a month with my first Samsung smartphone, my son (who owned the same series) came home and unlocked features I had no idea existed. Each day in the iX was like that.

The 2023 BMW iX M60 encourages multiple voice commands.

After my frustrations with accessing Drive modes, I discovered I could just talk to iX.

Hello, BMW. Set Drive Mode.

BMW’s Personal Assistant then switched the curved 14.9-inch infotainment display to beautifully crafted Drive mode pages. I tapped the one I wanted. With its ergonomically inferior touch controls, I increasingly used voice commands. Like a lot of luxe vehicles, the Bimmer wants to self-drive — but unlike other systems, iX is also aware of its surrounding environment even when driver-assist turns off.

Coasting toward another car, my iX M60 broke lightly — not harshly — just as a human would. Other gee-whiz functions included an electromagnetic, panoramic glass roof that could switch between opaque and non-opaque. You can take pictures of passengers inside the car. The iX has its own security camera, a polyurethane covering on the front grille that self-heals scratches … and so on.

Still, all this tech will not make up for EVs’ Achilles heel: range anxiety.

My M60 boasted 220 miles at (recommended) 80% charge, not enough to get to Charlevoix without stopping for electrons. An Electrify America charge stop adds half an hour — and when you arrive with just 11% of battery range? You better hope there’s a 240-volt charger to juice up overnight. Charging adds another hour to my 7-hour trip to hometown Charleston, W.Va.

The good news? The Bimmer’s nav system is on par with segment-standard Tesla. It plans your route complete with fast chargers — even locating restaurants/retail nearby. The bad news? Unlike Tesla’s multi-stall stables, third-party chargers from, say, EVGo, often are single units, meaning you’ll face delays if others are in line.

Like a sci-fi vehicle, iX is a big-budget blockbuster ($110K for my tester, $20K more than the X5 M50i) and wants to explore the frontier of electronics and EVs. Like a sci-fi flick, it’s more interested in entertainment than utility.

So have a seat in the iX theater. Turn up the volume and enjoy the show.

Next week: Who needs a truck? Towing a boat with a 2022 Ford Explorer SUV

2023 BMW iX

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

Price: $85,095, including $995 destination fee ($109,895 iX M60 as tested)

Powerplant: 105.2 kWh lithium-ion battery driving two, electric motors

Power: 516 horsepower, 564 pound-feet of torque (xDrive50); 610 horsepower, 811 pound-feet of torque (M60)

Transmission: Single-speed drive

Performance: 0-60 mph, 3.6 seconds (mfr.)

Weight: 5,800 pounds (as tested)

Fuel economy: EPA 78 MPGe; range, 324 miles (xDrive50); 280 miles (M60)

Report card

Highs: Hi-tech interior; explosive power

Lows: Polarizing exterior design, short battery range

Overall: 3 stars

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