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2014 Porsche 911 GT3 (Porsche)

2014 Porsche 911 GT3

(Porsche)

Road Rush

My seven wishes for 2014 Add to ...

Hope springs eternal in the gearhead breast, as they say. Since I was a little boy, I have looked at the year ahead and made automotive wishes. In the 1960s, these were generally focused on matters like a new slot car set or a driving lesson with my dad. By the 1970s, I was wishing for hot cars that might improve my chances with women. Now it’s 2014, and I look at the car world with different (and long-married) eyes.

For the year ahead, I am hoping for many things – including an electric car breakthrough, a Prius that will tow a trailer and a solution to the complex psychological issues that prevent cats from enjoying a good car ride.

REUTERS/Rafael Marchante

1. A tech wizard will make the breakthrough that makes electric cars truly viable

They may be clean and quiet, but electric cars have a fatal flaw – their batteries. Compared to a gas tank, even the best battery is a pitiful storage device – it’s slow to fill, and massively heavy (a pound of battery holds only a fraction of the energy that a pound of gasoline does). The best electric car on the market is hard-pressed to do 400 kilometres before it a needs a lengthy charge, and finding a place to plug in is tough. These limitations have condemned electrics to bit-player status. But all this will change when someone creates a better electrical storage system – like the much-vaunted ultra-capacitor that promises to pack massive energy in a tiny package. Here’s hoping it happens in 2014. We could use it.

Porsche

2. Porsche will bring out a 911 GT3 with a manual transmission

 For car enthusiasts, the news that Porsche would offer the new GT3 only with a PDK automatic was like hearing that James Brown had come back from the dead, but would now focus on easy-listening music. The GT3 is Porsche’s purest, most sporting 911. And so I dream that the German engineers and product planners come to their senses and give us a 911 GT3 with three pedals and a short-throw, six-speed stick shift (seven speeds would be even better).

Toyota

3. Toyota will make a Prius that can tow a trailer

The Prius is one of my favourite cars, thanks to its excellent aerodynamics, great space utilization and superior fuel economy. The Hybrid Synergy Drive system train is an engineering marvel, yoking together a pair of motors, a gas tank, a battery and power-generating brakes that recapture kinetic energy when you slow down. But there’s a downside – the Prius has a tow rating of zero. For a glider pilot like me, who occasionally needs to pull a sailplane trailer, that’s a deal breaker. Maybe this year the Toyota engineers will design a Prius that can pull at least 750 kilos. If so, I will write a cheque on the spot.
General Motors

4. Chevrolet will make a Corvette that doesn’t make me feel like I have to wear a gold chain

 I’ve been impressed with the last couple of Corvette iterations – a properly equipped C6 was a fearsome racetrack weapon, and the new C7 is an engineering tour de force that can lay waste to fancy-pants exotics that cost three times as much. But it’s still a little cartoonish for a grown-up. So I wish that the brilliant Tadge Juechter (Corvette’s chief engineer) and his team would make a C7 that keeps all the power and great suspension while ditching some of the gills, vents and folds that make the Corvette seem like a Transformer toy.

REUTERS/Rebecca Cook

5. Ford will finally bring its logo into this century

Aside from the lamentable Mustang II period, I’ve always been a fan of Ford. So why can’t it make a modern logo? The ornate script in the Ford blue oval badge looks almost identical to the one from back in 1909. Continuity is one thing; being imprisoned by the past is another. Cadillac has changed its logo 38 times, and the latest one looks great. The Ford logo, meanwhile, looks like it was dreamed up during the Taft administration. Ford should take a page from Cadillac’s book and get a cutting-edge graphics team on the case. It should retain the Ford brand’s essential elements (like the iconic company name) and come up with a contemporary design

Peter Cheney

6. My cats will get in touch with their inner dog and learn to enjoy riding in the car

One of my long-standing dreams is a summer night cruise with our three tuxedo cats, their snouts stuck out the side windows as they take in the wonders of the outside world. If you own a cat, you will realize the odds against this wish coming true. My own driving experiences with cats, which date back to the 1960s, have included a long series of tragedies and frustrations. (That back-seat litter box didn’t work as well I hoped, and I got a claw in the eye once, but at least I didn’t get a cat trapped under the brake pedal like one of my readers did.) Although feline psychology makes astrophysics look simple, I still hold out hope that someone will figure out how to breed a cat that likes riding in cars (possibly through gene-splicing experiments involving a Labrador retriever).
Peter Cheney/The Globe and Mail

7. Our family car will make it through the year without getting dinged

Our old, faithful Honda Accord is a long-suffering car. It has been on the road for 12 years, and few of them were easy. Both our kids learned to drive in the Accord, and it has spent most of its life in downtown Toronto (parking-rash capital of Canada). I put the Accord in the body shop last spring to deal with more than a dozen collected dings, but it has collected several more since then (including a nasty gash in the front bumper that will be the subject of an upcoming story). So my final wish for 2014 is that the forces of vehicular destruction give our wonderful old car a break. It could use it. Happy New Year.

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