Restomod

First Aston Martin V12 Zagato Coupé and Speedster by R-Reforged revealed

The first set of Aston Martin V12 Zagato twins has been delivered.

Photo courtesy of R-Reforged
R-Reforged has delivered its first set of twins, created to mark the centenary of Zagato, the Aston Martin V12 Zagato Heritage Twins by R-Reforged. These models were specified by Andrea and Marella Zagato and reserved for the private Zagato collection. Just 19 customer sets of the twins are available.

The hand-assembled models are styled at Zagato's Milan headquarters. The Italian design house has evolved the 2011 Aston Martin Vantage V12 Zagato Coupé form and created a new, pure Speedster twin.

Aston Martin V12 Zagato Coup\u00e9 and Speedster by R-Reforged The twins are fraternal, but nearly adentical at the face.Photo courtesy of R-Reforged

"The essence of this project was to create a perfect 'garage', comprising two desirable and collectable cars; Coupé and Roadster," says Andrea Zagato. "Limited to just 19 pairs, a significant number, recalling the year Zagato was formed, the Aston Martin V12 Zagato Heritage TWINS by R-Reforged mark a remarkable milestone for the Milanese atelier. Despite having created over 450 models since our formation, we chose Aston Martin, which has surely been our most prestigious partner over the last 50 years, to mark this celebration. The cooperation with R-Reforged ensured that we could create an instant classic."

Each of the vehicles was created to join together two parts of the automotive world - iconic driver cars and the elegance of Zagato design cues that are synonymous with the Carrozzeria including a double bubble roof on the Coupe and 100th anniversary gold Z badging. The body of the cars is carbon-fiber and has had a 10 millimeter ride height reduction and a 20 millimeter stretched track. There's a new splitter and front wings as well as a sleeker tail.

Each of the models features a reworked version of the car's standard 5.9-liter 48-valve naturally aspirated engine and paired it with a performance aluminum air intake and titanium exhaust to produce 80 bhp more than they did originally (around 600 bhp now).

Aston Martin V12 Zagato Coup\u00e9 and Speedster by R-Reforged Some fresh exterior elements are easily seen on the models, like the double bubble roof and sleeker tail.Photo courtesy of R-Reforged

Prototypes of the vehicles will be used to determine final geometry, damper settings, and spring settings in early 2021. Until the, the vehicles will be on simply at Aston Martin St. Gallen in Switzerland until early in the New Year before embarking on a global tour including the US and Europe.

Further, the design of the cars has been tweaked to include 19-inch bespoke alloy wheels designed by APP Tech to give the car a more muscular look. The wheels are wrapped in Pilot Sport 4S rubber.

The production of each vehicle took 400 hours. This includes the time it took to create the carbon weave before the application of the lacquer. Buyers can choose to have their carbon fiber lacquer tinted during the hardening process, or have their vehicle receive a paint color, which can be matched to any sample, whether matt, satin, or gloss.

Each car's interior is made of rich materials including Bridge of Weir's finest Grade A leather with an almost infinite range of colors, bespoke patterns and textures. Choices to-date include a mottled surface texture, just like that of a pebble, and gloss leather to complement the exterior body finish.

Aston Martin V12 Zagato Coup\u00e9 and Speedster by R-Reforged The car's interior can be color-matched to the exterior.Photo courtesy of R-Reforged

Inside are sensory rich materials, including Bridge of Weir's finest Grade A leather with an almost infinite range of colours, bespoke patterns and textures. Choices to-date include a mottled surface texture and gloss leather to complement the exterior body finish.

Additional color choices include matching the horn push button on the steering wheel, the first time in the Vantage's history that has been done.

Each model is assembled in Warwick, U.K., at R-Reforged's newly expanded 2,800 square meter facility. Each car takes a team of 12 craftspeople 16 weeks to assemble. All cars are extensively stripped, analyzed, and refreshed before receiving over 500 new components to ensure the finished car is both aesthetically and performance wise pin sharp.

Aston Martin V12 Zagato Coup\u00e9 and Speedster by R-Reforged The model has had its horsepower cranked up as part of the redo.Photo courtesy of R-Reforged

More than just the vehicles, the R-Reforged intends to give each buyer a number of specially tailors gifts. This starts with a Twins carbon fibre presentation case, cataloguing specification details using scale models and samples.

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The Kia Sorento Hybrid offers a lot to like for families looking to save on fuel.

Photo courtesy of Kia Motors

The redesigned Kia Sorento looks good. Kia has given the three-row SUV new life, not as a substitute for the Telluride SUV but instead as its own crossover, with plenty of differences to give them their own identity.

The 2021 Sorento comes in two variants, the Sorento and Sorento Hybrid. Each is offered in its own set of trim levels. The Sorento base model is powered by a 2.5-liter four-cylinder internal combustion engine that delivers 191 horsepower and 182 pound-feet of torque. Higher grades get a turbocharged 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine that is rated at 281 horsepower and 311 pound-feet of torque.

Sorento Hybrid comes in two trim leaves, S and EX. Both are powered by the company's turbocharged 1.6-liter hybrid powertrain that offers up 177 horsepower and 258 pound-feet of torque. The SUV prioritizes fuel efficiency over performance, an important distinction that sets the Sorento Hybrid apart from other hybrid variants, including the Toyota RAV4 Prime, a plug-in hybrid that delivers an energetic boost to the RAV4 lineup.

2021 Kia Sorento Hybrid The Sorento Hybrid is the type of vehicle that can get you to a trailhead, but isn't built to go beyond that.Photo courtesy of Kia Motors

The power output is fine if you plan on sticking to in-town driving and aren't looking to load up the Sorento Hybrid for a long road trip. In the default Eco drive mode, the car responds to the throttle the most comfortably. Under traditional and harder acceleration, the Sorento Hyrbid's powertrain is noisy and ill-mannered. It's almost like the SUV is telling you, "I'm built for efficiency, not speed". Message received.

Kia's done a good job making the Sorento agile and it drives nicely and makes for a pleasant daily runaround. Unlike what Toyota has done with the Highlander, all-wheel drive is not available on the Sorento Hybrid.

The 2021 Sorento Hybrid comes standard as a six-seater with captain's chairs in the second row. The seats, leatherette in the upmarket trim level, are comfortable enough. There's a decent amount of cargo space with the third row erect or stowed.

2021 Kia Sorento Hybrid The cabin of the Sorento Hybrid is plush enough for its price point.Photo courtesy of Kia Motors

The well-thought out cabin design delvers exactly what customers need and in the EX trim level, the car's appointments are near-premium. The SUV has the usual list of standard and available features, but nothing is too fancy: Bluetooth, wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, voice recognition, satellite radio, push button start, keyless entry, a rearview camera, wireless smartphone charger. Nothing looks, feels, or operates like it's cutting edge, but it doesn't have to - this isn't a luxury vehicle.

There is one very nice design touch in the cabin. On either side of the infotainment touch screen are vents that service the front row of the auto. Their output is divided into two each with the bottom vent able to serve the midsection of front passengers' bodies while the upper part goes higher. More automakers should design vents this way.

The Hybrid EX model that was delivered for testing had its lane keeping and centering system not as honed in on lane lines as is optimal, which resulted in crossing over the lines without any alert going off or corrective action being taken by the vehicle's computer.

2021 Kia Sorento Hybrid Cargo space is always tight in three-row SUVs, but Kia has given the Sorento a good balance between cargo space and third-row legroom.Photo courtesy of Kia Motors

The 2021 Kia Sorento Hybrid starts at $33,590. That's a thousand-and-a-half over the starting price of the Telluride and $4,000 more than the traditional 2021 Sorento.

There are currently only two other three-row hybrid SUVs on the market, the Toyota Highlander Hybrid and the Ford Expedition Hybrid. The three models and their varied price tags and third-row layouts service very different customers but they generally all get lumped together. The Sorento Hybrid is, by far, the lowest priced model of the three, and it feels like it when you're inside. There's nothing wrong with that. Dodge sold a lot of Journeys despite the fact that it wasn't the best or most expensive SUV out there.

Think of the Kia Sorento Hybrid as the Dodge Journey of three-row hybrid crossovers and you won't be disappointed.

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Red light camera usage in the U.S. has declined over the last few years.

Photo by Mathieukor/Getty Images

New research shows that communities across the U.S. are not using as many red light cameras as they used to while implementation of speed detection cameras is increasing. Both have been shows to reduce the occurrence of automobile crashes.

A new checklist devised by AAA, Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety, the Governors Highway Safety Association (GHSA), the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) and the National Safety Council (NSC) was designed to serve as a roadmap for communities that are establishing or expanding automated enforcement programs and to dispel myths surrounding the use of the cameras.

"Research by IIHS and others has shown consistently that automated enforcement curbs dangerous driving behaviors and reduces crashes," says IIHS President David Harkey. "We hope this document developed with our highway safety partners will help communities take full advantage of this tool."

From 2011 to 2014 more than 500 communities across the U.S. operated red light cameras. Today that number stands at 340. The systems are costly. In 2003, the U.S. Department of Transportation estimated the cost as $67,000 to $80,000 per intersection. That number doesn't include the manpower hours, ticket mailing fees, court costs, or maintenance time and money associated with the ticketing. Today, the cost of the system is estimated to be in the $100,000 range per intersection.

Running red lights kills hundreds and injure tens of thousands of people every year, according to IIHS. In 2019, 846 people were killed and an estimated 143,000 were injured in red light running crashes. Most of those killed were pedestrians, bicyclists and people in other vehicles and not the red light runners or passengers riding with them.

"Red light running and speeding are known killers on our roads," says Advocates President Cathy Chase. "Well-designed and implemented automated enforcement programs can deter these hazardous driving behaviors and reduce crash deaths and injuries. They can also provide an equitable, neutral option for upgrading safety. We urge states and localities to use this checklist together with road safety infrastructure improvements to help protect motorists, bicyclists, pedestrians and other vulnerable road users."

Nearly one-quarter of all traffic fatalities in 2020 (9,478 deaths) occurred due to high speed. Crashes that occur at higher speeds tend to have more severe results.

"We know from the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety's research that more than two people are killed every day on U.S. roads by impatient and reckless drivers blowing through red lights," says Jill Ingrassia, AAA's executive director of advocacy and communications. "Automated enforcement can play a role in a comprehensive strategy to address dangerous driving behaviors and improve traffic safety for all road users. This new set of best practice guidelines is an excellent starting point in helping jurisdictions ensure these programs are well-designed, data-driven, transparent and equitably implemented."

Camera laws vary from state to state. Currently, Maine, Mississippi, New Hampshire, South Carolina, Texas, and West Virginia prohibit both red light and speed cameras. Montana and South Dakota disallow red-light cameras, and New Jersey and Wisconsin have outlawed speed cameras.

The checklist features first-, second-, and long-term steps including many common sense action items including:

  • Identifying problem intersections and roadways
  • Make engineering and/or signage changes
  • Establish an advisory committee
  • Identify key stakeholders
  • Utilize safety data to determine camera locations
  • Require regular evaluations
The full checklist is available now at IIHS.org.

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