Cocktail Chatter: August 9, 2013

Autonomous driving and critics of Marchionne's plans.

What cocktails go best with all this car chatter? is here to help with weekly recipes. Remember, this is for talking about cars, not driving — always designate a driver. This week’s drink comes from the eternally hip Manhattan hot spot Indochine. Its eponymous martini has our taste buds tingling with its ginger- and pineapple-infused flavors. This one takes a little extra time and work, but we’ve sampled the end result and, trust us, it’s worth it. Prep by steeping sliced pineapple and ginger root in a citrus vodka for about a week, and strain after it is finished steeping. Then combine 1.5 ounces of your vodka with an ounce of triple sec, three quarters of an ounce of lime juice, and a splash of pineapple juice in a shaker with ice. Shake well and strain into a martini glass. Garnish with a mint leaf and enjoy.


Lancia Lovers: There are all sorts of crazy car-related community groups to be found on Facebook, but one made me chuckle when I stumbled upon it the other day: Si a Lancia; No a Marchionne.” You don’t need to be an Italian scholar to realize this group of 6500 isn’t too keen on Sergio Marchionne’s plan for the brand to become little more than a rebadged Chrysler lineup. The page describes itself as an international fan page for those who want to save Lancia from “Marchionne’s killing plans.” They’ve even gone so far to create a petition on, if you’re inclined to attach your name to the cause.

Perhaps it’s telling that only 2661 signatures — or just over half the group’s goal — have been gathered. That’s about as big a drop in the bucket as Lancia’s annual volumes, for that matter. I doubt this will prompt a reversal of Lancia’s Chryslerfication, but if you like Lancias, it might be worth joining the group if for no other reason than to pepper your news feed with gratuitous images of S4s, Delta Integrales, Stratos, and Flavias.

Evan McCausland, Associate Web Editor

Autonomy, Now: I love to drive. From athletic, tight-shifting Mazda gearboxes to soaring German V8s—I bloody love it. There is nothing better for me than a cool drive at sunset in an all-American Mustang or a midday jaunt in something Bavarian, usually with some strong coffee to enliven the senses.

Lately I’ve been doing quite a bit of driving, commuting from the Migliore commune in one of Detroit’s northern enclaves out to the Automobile offices to the west in Ann Arbor, Michigan. It’s actually a rather pleasant drive if timed properly, though even for me, there are moments you simply want to be there—whether it’s home or office.

So on Tuesday night as I made my way home, feeling a bit full after some coal-fired pizza, I switched on the suite of driver-aid technologies in an Acura MDX. The lane-keeping assist and adaptive cruise control pretty much took over. I’ve sampled some of this technology before in other vehicles, ranging from a Cadillac prototype to production systems in a real, road-going Mercedes. I’m always a little skeptical, but with fairly open roads, I figured, why not? Let’s see how this works in real-life, on my commute.

To my surprise, all the gizmos worked perfectly. It really was like going on autopilot. The MDX steered itself around gentle curves. The cruise control maintained a steady state around 79 mph, and I could take my hands off the steering wheel and feet off the pedal. I kept my hands close to the wheel, but the system slowly earned my confidence. Obviously you’d be an idiot to bust out your iPhone or flip through a magazine, but this Acura did provide a nice degree of extra safety.

The following morning I even switched it on and cruised down a busy, close-quartered stretch of one of the city’s oldest freeways—a rutted, competitive roadway—with a concrete wall a few feet to my left. My nerves were up—but the system worked, telling me with an orange flash when I needed to take over the steering. Factor in blind-spot detection, and I really had an electronic co-pilot. It’s not exactly autonomous driving, but it sure felt like it.

Greg Migliore, Associate Editor

Teen Taxi Drivers?: Fed up with “boy racers” who spend their evenings driving souped-up cars around the Irish town of Killarney, Mayor Paddy Courtney recently came up with a novel idea. He recommended that young drivers voluntarily “adopt” a senior citizen and serve as their chauffeur. “If they [boy racers] want to be driving these cars, drive properly and mannerly. Maybe adopt a friend and maybe take a neighbor to the bingo or down to the pub for two pints and then take them home,” Mayor Courtney told the press. Not surprisingly, the idea of asking teens in hopped-up hatchbacks to give rides to old people got a lukewarm response. “I think it is a kind, well-meaning proposal. But I think it will never happen,” local road safety chief Gay Byrne told the press. “If pensioners do not know the driver, and also if the driver has a record or propensity to drive recklessly, then older people should not get into the car with them.” Think this is a silly proposal? You might remember that officials in another part of Ireland previously asked for the drunk-driving limit to be raised so locals could drive home from the pub legally.

Jake Holmes, Associate Web Editor

Lambeau, not Lambo: As a lifelong Detroit Lions fan, I’m prone to disappointment and anguish. With the countless years of heartache and letdowns, not even the off-field actions or comments of some Lions players surprise me. That is until rookie cornerback Darius Slay admitted that he mistook Green Bay’s Lambeau Field for a Lamborghini. “Lambo? Like the car?” Slay asked teammates. “I knew what a Lambo was, but I didn’t know it was Green Bay’s stadium.” Despite not knowing the difference between the hallowed playing field of the Packers and an Italian supercar, the team is expecting its second-round pick to make an immediate impact this season. I of course will get my hopes up and continue to blindly follow the silver and Honolulu-blue cats. Just another year as a Detroit Lions fan.

John Kalmar, Graphic Designer

From the sublime to the ridiculous: The sublime. GM lowered the price on the Chevrolet Volt by $5000 last week, which is a win for the automaker as well as the consumer. GM has always said that as it progresses the technology, its priority would be to lower the price, first. The Chevy Volt now stickers for $34,995 before any tax incentives, a couple-thousand more than what 2004 Toyota Priuses were going for nearly a decade ago. The Volt is slowly on its way to becoming a commuter car. The ridiculous. Indycar driver Scott Dixon made a spectacle of himself at the Indiana State Fair last weekend when he wheeled around the grounds on a tricycle while wearing a beaver suit. The Bryan Herta Autosport driver had lost a fundraising bet to Target Chip Ganassi driver Scott Dixon, in raising money for the educational charity, the Power of 2. Dixon had raised about $1300 more than TAG, who got revenge by beating Dixon on the State Fair’s go-kart track, while still wearing the beaver suit.

Todd LassaExecutive Editor

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