Every week, wheels.ca selects a new vehicle and takes a good look at its entry-level trim. If we find it worthy of your consideration, we’ll let you know. If not, we’ll recommend one – or the required options – that earns a passing grade.

With the automotive world rapidly careening to all things electric, rumours are rife that the next Audi TT will take its form as some sort of electrified machine. Until then, the ’22 model retains its unique shape and grippy Quattro all-wheel drive system.

Technically saddled with a ‘45 TFSI S tronic’ suffix, the entry-level TT Coupé – priced at $60,200 – is powered by a 2.0-litre turbocharged four-cylinder engine with a maximum output of 228 horsepower and 258 lb-ft of torque. This mill is connected to a seven-speed S tronic dual-clutch automatic transmission, so you’ll have to find something else to do with your left leg. Electromechanical steering with speed-sensitive power assistance provides telepathic communication with the front wheels, while the brand’s excellent Quattro system puts power down to all four. Highway speeds are yours in about 5.5 seconds.

Typical Audi theatre is standard kit on the TT Coupé, including an electric spoiler which automatically extends at 120 km/h to increase aerodynamics and retracts at 80 km/h. For a sportier appearance (read: showing off), it can also be operated manually. LED lamps pepper the front and rear fascias, while dual exhaust tips sprinkled with brightwork poke out from under the rear bumper. Wheels measure 19 inches in diameter and are wrapped in 35-series performance rubber with a meaty 245 section. Any shade other than Ibis White costs $890; your author has chosen Python Yellow Metallic because he is an irritating extrovert.

Few companies can do an interior like Audi, and the company’s skills are on full display in the 2022 TT Coupé. A flat-bottomed multifunction steering wheel is wrapped in leather, as are the heated front seats and some other interior elements. Tunes are taken care of by a 680-watt Bang & Olufsen sound system whose 12 speakers fill the small cabin with whatever music you’re playing instead of the dour news emanating from the CBC.

The nifty Virtual Cockpit is a fully digital instrument cluster which incorporates a 12.3-inch display directly in front of the driver. This jumbotron can depicts a variety of navigation or entertainment info, driving dynamics, or other vehicle vitals. Luddites can minimize the amount of detail by choosing a simple large tachometer, if desired. Climate displays show up as screens integrated into the slickly designed trio of centre vents.

2022 Audi TT Coupé

What We’d Choose

Optional on the entry-level TT Coupé is the $1,400 S line Competition Package. Some of its features are cosmetic – including the red brake calipers and blacked-out trim – but others increase performance such as the 10mm wider 30-series tires on 20-inch wheels. The active spoiler is also swapped out for a fixed unit, Alcantara is applied to interior surfaces, and colour selection is restricted to grey, white, or red. If you don’t mind those changes, the tires alone are worth the cash. And even if you don’t want the Competition styling cues, a set of 255/30/20 performance shoes are available as a stand-alone option for $800.

In a market where crossovers and SUVs (witness our last umpteen number of Base Camp subjects) are the beyond-dominant body style, the world’s gearhead community is glad Audi continues to make sporty coupés like the TT.

The post Base Camp: 2022 Audi TT Coupé appeared first on WHEELS.ca.

As the luxury three-row SUV segment gets more crowded, entries like the Buick Enclave tend to get forgotten. Not to be outdone by its competition the Enclave gets a thorough refresh for 2022, adding more attractive design touches and more driver tech.

The biggest change is to the front end where the headlamps have been mounted into a newly designer bumper and new slim LED DRLs are positioned above them. The grille has grown larger and sprouts a chrome mustache that extends under the DRLs. The rest is largely unchanged but with the black mesh grille and 20-inch two-tone wheels included on my tester as part of the Sport Touring package, the Enclave pulls off a decidedly upscale appearance.

The Driver confidence plus package is now standard and it includes all the important driver aids like automatic emergency braking that can also detect pedestrians, lane keep assist, lane departure warning, blind spot monitors, front and rear park assist, automatic high beams, rear cross traffic alert, forward collision alert, and more.

Inside, a redesigned centre console brings a push-button gear selector, which replaces the old joystick style shifter. It lends a contemporary appearance to the cabin but it takes some getting used to, especially if you’re coming from something more traditional.

I was happy to see a conveniently placed wireless phone charger in front of the shifter and wireless Apple Carplay, and Android Auto, are standard on all 2022 Enclaves. My iPhone connected seamlessly to the 8-inch infotainment touch screen giving me easy access to my music and navigation apps.

With an asking price of just over $50,000 for the Essence trim you see here, the Enclave is priced well and looks to capture the entry-level luxury three-row market of which there are now more players than ever. Jeep has given us the impressive Grand Cherokee L; an all-new Acura MDX is a tech lover’s dream; and the Kia Telluride, although in a cheaper price bracket skirts the line between value and premium offerings and will definitely be cross-shopped with the Enclave.

2022 Buick Enclave Essence

In this group, the Buick’s biggest strengths are its cavernous interior and smooth naturally aspirated V6. It does, however, fall a bit short when we start to compare some of the interior items. Things like the analog gauge cluster and small-ish 8-inch touchscreen might have been fine 5 years ago, but today most of the competition has gone fully digital. My tester lacked things like a head-up display (although it is available on higher trim levels) and auto up/down windows were only present for the driver. Most competitors offer larger screens and more feature-laden infotainment systems.

The system in the Enclave is actually an intuitive and fairly lag-free system that does exactly what you want it to do, but it’s starting to feel outdated and is ready for a redesign. Take a look at what’s in the Kia or the Jeep and you’ll know exactly what I’m on about. It’s not just the bigger screens that are nice but features like the Grand Cherokee’s Fam-cam and active night-vision display aren’t available on the Enclave.

The Enclave does get a few tricks of its own like a super sharp digital rear-view mirror with integrated washer that works brilliantly when you have people sitting in any of the back rows, and an all-wheel drive system that can be toggled on and off for noticeable fuel savings with the push of a dashboard-mounted button.

Access to the third row is easy, but only from the passenger side. The driver’s side second-row chair does not tilt up, annoyingly. The good thing is, adults fit. A long drive might not be the most comfortable but a third-row sunroof and charge ports mean that passengers back there aren’t forgotten. With all three rows upright the cargo area is compromised, but with 688 litres it’s still one of the largest in class. We had no issues at all fitting in a weekend’s worth of luggage along with a full load of groceries with room to spare.

The Enclave makes 310 horsepower from a 3.6-litre V6 mated to a 9-speed automatic. It’s a wonderfully smooth combination with enough power for passing slower traffic and it’s reasonably fuel-efficient too, netting an average of just 11L/100 km through a mix of city and highway driving.

Its overall demeanor is one of utter smoothness. Driving the Enclave is a calm and relaxing experience. The ride quality is terrific, bumps and potholes from winter-ravaged roads are barely noticeable, and acoustic glass with active noise cancellation keeps decibel levels inside nice and low.

2022 Buick Enclave Essence

There’s a ton of competition in this space including from that Chevy Traverse. The two share a drivetrain and three-row layout but the Chevy is a whole lot cheaper. Of course, if you prefer the Buick’s sharper styling, and more luxurious interior trappings the Traverse just isn’t going to cut it.

The Enclave might not be as advanced as the new Jeep Grand Cherokee L or deliver a sporty driving experience like the Acura MDX but it offers families a ton of space, comfort, and luxury for a price that undercuts its competitors.

The post REVIEW: 2022 Buick Enclave appeared first on WHEELS.ca.

Wednesday, March 16

  • 6:00P-7:00, FSR, NASCAR Race Hub, L
  • 8:30P-9:00, REV TV, Winged Nation #7, the biggest name and latest news in Winged Sprint car 2022, All Star Circuit of Champions, ASCS, The World of Outlaws, and more, N
  • 8:30P-11:30, FSR, NHRA Camping World Drag Racing, AMALIE Motor Oil Gatornationals, Gainesville Raceway, FL, Mar 13/22, R

 

Thursday, March 17 * St. Patrick’s Day

  • 2:00P-8:00, DVELO, Mecum Auto Auctions, Glendale, AZ, Day 1, L
  • 4:20P-6:25, imsa.tv, IMSA Michelin Pilot Challenge Alan Jay Automotive Network 120, Sebring, FL, L
  • 6:30P-7:30, FSR, NASCAR Race Hub, L
  • 8:00P-8:30, FSR, NHRA in 30, Gainesville, Mar 13/22, N
  • 9:00P-11:00, REV TV, AMA Supercross Monster Energy Series, Round 10, Detroit, MI, Mar 12/22, N

 

Friday, March 18

  • 10:45A-12:20P, TSN2, Formula 1 Practice: Bahrain Grand Prix, L
  • 11:30A-8:00P, DVELO, FIA World Endurance Championship 1000 Miles Of Sebring, Sebring Intl. Raceway, FL, L
  • 2:00P-8:00, DVELO, Mecum Auto Auctions, Glendale, AZ, Day 2, L
  • 3:00P-4:00, FSR, NASCAR Truck Series PRACTICE, Atlanta, GA, L
  • 4:00P-5:00, FSR, NASCAR Xfinity Series PRACTICE, Atlanta, GA, L
  • 5:00P-6:00, FSR, NASCAR Cup Series PRACTICE, Atlanta, GA, L
  • 6:00P-7:00, FSR, NASCAR Race Hub, L
  • 9:00P-10:00, FSR, NASCAR Xfinity Series PRACTICE, Atlanta, GA, SDD, R
  • 10:00P-11:00, FSR, NASCAR Cup Series PRACTICE, Atlanta, GA, SDD, R
  • 11:00P-12:00m, FSR, NASCAR Truck Series PRACTICE, Atlanta, GA, SDD, R

 

Saturday, March 19

  • 10:00A-10:55, TSN3, Formula 1 PRE-QUALIFYING: Bahrain Grand Prix, L
  • 10:00A-10:10P, REV TV, IMSA WeatherTech Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring, Sebring Intl. Raceway, L
  • 10:05A-10:10P, imsa.tv, IMSA WeatherTech Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring, Sebring Intl. Raceway, L
  • 10:30A-11:30, FSR, NASCAR Truck Series QUALIFYING, Atlanta, GA, L
  • 10:55A-12:30P, TSN3, Formula 1 QUALIFYING: Bahrain Grand Prix, L
  • 11:30A-12:30P, FSR, NASCAR Xfinity Series QUALIFYING, Atlanta, GA, L
  • 12:30P-2:00, FSR, NASCAR Cup Series QUALIFYING, Atlanta, GA, L
  • 12:30P-1:30, TSN3, FIA Formula 2 Sprint Race: Sakhir, Bahrain, L
  • 2:00P-8:00, DVELO, Mecum Auto Auctions, Glendale, AZ, Day 3, L
  • 2:00P-2:30, FSR, NASCAR RaceDay PRE-RACE, NCWTS, Atlanta, L
  • 2:30P-4:30, FSR, NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Fr8Auctions 200, Atlanta Motor Speedway, GA, L
  • 4:30P-5:00, FSR/TSN3, NASCAR RaceDay PRE-RACE, Xfinity, Atlanta, L
  • 5:00P-7:00, TSN3, NASCAR Xfinity Series Nalley Cars 250, Atlanta Motor Speedway, GA, L

 

Sunday, March 20

  • 12:00m-1:30A, FSR, NASCAR Cup Series QUALIFYING, Atlanta, GA, Mar 19/22, R
  • 6:45A-7:55, TSN5, Formula 2 Feature Race: Sakhir, Bahrain, L
  • 8:00A-10:00, FSR, NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Fr8Auctions 200, Atlanta Motor Speedway, GA, Mar 19/22, R
  • 9:30A-11:00, REV TV, FIM MotoGP Pertamina Grand Prix of Indonesia, Pertamina Mandalika Circuit, Indonesia, SDD, N
  • 9:30A-10:55, TSN1/3/5, F1 Grand Prix Sunday: Bahrain Grand Prix, L
  • 10:00A-11:00, FSR, ArenaCross Outlaws (motorcycle), Tunica #2, MS, Feb 26/22, R
  • 10:55A-1:00P, TSN1/3/5, Formula 1 Gulf Air Bahrain Grand Prix, Bahrain International Circuit, Sakhir, Bahrain, L
  • 11:00A-12:00n, FSR, American Flat Track (dirt), Volusia Half-Mile #1, Barberville, FL, Mar 10/22, N
  • 12:00n-1:00P, FSR, American Flat Track (dirt), Volusia Half-Mile #2, Barberville, FL, Mar 11/22, N
  • 12:00n-1:30P, FSR, NASCAR Cup Series QUALIFYING, Atlanta, GA, Mar 19/22, R
  • 12:30P-1:00, NBC/SN360, NTT INDYCAR PRE-RACE, TMS, L
  • 1:00P-3:00, NBC/SN360, NTT INDYCAR Series XPEL 375, Texas Motor Speedway, Fort Worth, TX, L
  • 1:00P–2:00, TSN5, F1 Chequered Flag: Bahrain Grand Prix, L
  • 1:30P-3:00, FSR, NASCAR RaceDay PRE-RACE, NCS, Atlanta, L
  • 2:30P-3:00, FOX, NASCAR RaceDay PRE-RACE, NCS, Atlanta, L
  • 3:00P-7:00, FOX/CTV2, NASCAR Cup Series Folds of Honor QuikTrip 500, Atlanta Motor Speedway, GA, L

 

Monday, March 21

  • 6:00P-7:00, FSR, NASCAR Race Hub, L
  • 9:30P-11:30, FSR, NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Fr8Auctions 200, Atlanta Motor Speedway, GA, Mar 19/22, R

 

Tuesday, March 22

  • 6:00P-7:00, FSR, NASCAR Race Hub, L

 

Wednesday, March 23

  • 6:00P-7:00, FSR, NASCAR Race Hub, L

 

Thursday, March 24

  • 2:00P-4:00, FSR, NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Fr8Auctions 200, Atlanta Motor Speedway, GA, Mar 19/22, R
  • 6:30P-7:30, FSR, NASCAR Race Hub, L
  • 8:00P-9:00, FSR, NHRA Sportsman Series, Gainesville, Mar 13/22, N
  • 9:00P-9:30, FSR, NHRA in 30, Gainesville, Mar 13/22, R

 

Friday, March 25

  • 11:45A-1:30P, TSN2, Formula 1 Practice: Saudi Arabian Grand Prix, L
  • 3:00P-4:30, FSR, NASCAR Truck Series (NCWTS) QUALIFYING, COTA, L
  • 4:30P-5:00, FSR, NASCAR Race Hub Weekend Edition, COTA, L
  • 5:00P-6:30, FSR, NASCAR Xfinity Series QUALIFYING, COTA, L
  • 7:00P-8:00, CBS Sports, Trans-Am presented by Franklin Apparel, Charlotte Motor Speedway, March 19/22, N
  • 9:00P-10:30, FSR, NASCAR Truck Series (NCWTS) QUALIFYING, COTA, SDD, R
  • 10:30P-12:00m, FSR, NASCAR Xfinity Series QUALIFYING, COTA, SDD, R

 

Saturday, March 26

  • 8:30A-9:20, TSN5, Formula 2 Sprint Race: Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, L
  • 10:00A-12:00n, FSR, NASCAR Cup Series QUALIFYING, COTA, Austin, TX, L
  • 11:00A-11:55, TSN4/5, Formula 1 Pre-Qualifying: Saudi Arabia Grand Prix, L
  • 11:55A-1:30P, TSN4/5, Formula 1 QUALIFYING: Saudi Arabia Grand Prix, L
  • 12:00n-1:00P, FSR, NASCAR RaceDay PRE-RACE, NCWTS, COTA, L
  • 1:00P-3:30, FSR, NASCAR Camping World Truck Series XPEL 225, COTA, Austin, TX, L
  • 3:30P-4:30, FSR, NASCAR RaceDay PRE-RACE, Xfinity, COTA, L
  • 4:00P-4:30, TSN2, NASCAR Xfinity Series: PRE-RACE, COTA, Austin, TX, L
  • 4:30P-7:00, TSN2, NASCAR Xfinity Series Pit Boss 250, COTA, Austin, TX, L

 

Sunday, March 27

  • 7:30A-9:30, FSR, NASCAR Cup Series QUALIFYING, COTA, Austin, TX, Mar 25/22, R
  • 9:20A-10:35, TSN1, 2022 Formula 2 Feature Race, Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, L
  • 11:00A-1:00P, FSR, NASCAR Camping World Truck Series XPEL 225, COTA, Austin, TX, Mar 26/22, R
  • 11:00A-12:25P, TSN1, F1 Grand Prix Sunday: Saudi Arabian Grand Prix, L
  • 12:25P-2:30, TSN1, Formula 1 STC Saudi Arabian Grand Prix, Jeddah Corniche Circuit, Saudi Arabia, L
  • 1:00P-2:00, FSR, Progressive American Flat Track (motorcycle) Texas Half-Mile, Dirt Track at Texas Motor Speedway, March 19/22, N
  • 2:00P-3:00, FSR, NASCAR RaceDay PRE-RACE, NCS, COTA, L
  • 2:30P-3:30, TSN1, F1 Chequered Flag: Saudi Arabian Grand Prix, L
  • 3:30P-7:00, FOX/CTV2, NASCAR Cup Series EchoPark Automotive Grand Prix, COTA, Austin, TX, L

 

CLICK HERE FOR A PRINTABLE PDF VERSION

 

Codes:

L = live; R = rerun; N = new (not live); SDD = same day delayed

SN = Sportsnet

FSR = Fox Sports Racing

MTOD = Motor Trend on demand (com) via subscription

DVELO = Discovery-Velocity

tv = IMSA.tv (via internet)

B-Jackson.tv = Barrett-Jackson Auctions (barrettjackson.tv) via internet

Time is Eastern Time (EDT in season)

The post Race Fan TV Listings March 16-March 27 appeared first on WHEELS.ca.

GM Bolstering battery production in Quebec

General Motors has announced plans for a new facility in Quebec that will produce essential products for the batteries that will power the company’s EVs. The $500m investment, along with the federal and provincial governments and partner Posco Chemical will produce “cathode active material” for Ultium batteries. This battery material includes processed nickel, lithium, and other essentials that make up around 40 per cent of the cost of a cell, GM said. The facility will be located in Bécancour, across the Saint Lawrence from Trois-Rivières. “Canada is playing an important role in our all-electric future, and we are grateful for the strong support we have received from local, provincial and national officials to grow a North American-focused EV value chain,” said GM EVP for product development, purchasing, and supply chain Doug Parks.

No STI

Subaru’s latest all-new WRX performance model is just starting to hit dealers, but buyers waiting for the even hotter STI to come along might have a very long wait. Subaru USA has just announced that the STI model won’t be happening and the automaker will be skipping at least this generation. “Subaru Corporation is exploring opportunities for the next generation Subaru WRX STI, including electrification. In the meantime, a next-generation internal combustion engine WRX STI will not be produced based upon the new WRX platform,” the company said in a statement, citing the need for the vehicles to evolve to meet emissions requirements and a changing market.

2022 Subaru STI

New ProMaster

Ram has revealed a refreshed ProMaster van for 2023. The van gets a new version of the 3.6-litre Pentastar V6 that makes 276 hp and 250 lb-ft of torque, driving the front wheels through a nine-speed automatic. A new roll-up rear door will be offered for commercial customers, while new colours including Spitfire Orange are intended to appeal to Van Life recreational customers. New front lighting is said to improve visibility while the list of active safety features has grown to include parallel and perpendicular park assist. A 360-degree camera is available as is a digital rear-view mirror using a high-resolution camera in the rear. Ram is also planning to launch a battery-electric ProMaster van next year with Amazon set to be the first commercial customer of the model. The gas van will hit dealers later this year.

2023 Ram Promaster

2023 Ram ProMaster standard, super high and high roof heights

Blazer goes electric

Chevrolet has just teased a new all-electric Blazer SS, calling it the first EV to offer that performance branding. Though just a 20-second tease, the clip shows the charging port of the new Blazer SS and a look at the front fender and part of the nose as well as a look at the wheels and a new Blazer logo with the emphasis on the letter E. What has us most intrigued about the announcement is that the model is set to debut “later this year” and will be on sale in Spring 2023. That’s big news when many of GM’s EV launches have had multi-year waits between reveal and production.

2023 Chevrolet Blazer

Jeep goes back to Gobi

Jeep is bringing back beige for buyers of the 2022 Gladiator pickup. Gobi exterior paint will be offered now through June as a no-cost option for all Gladiator models. The sand colour was available on the Jeep in 2020 and rejoins the brand’s line of special colours including Tuscadero, Gecko, and Nacho.

The post Weekly News Roundup: GM Manufacturing in Quebec, STI on Hold, EV Blazer SS, More appeared first on WHEELS.ca.

Ernie Martin, the great Pinecrest Speedway announcer whose expletive deleted earned him a job for life, or at least for the life of the speedway, has died. He was 91.

And, suddenly, at 81, Ronald John Mutton passed.

Ron Mutton 

In the early days of Formula One at Canadian Tire Motorsport Park (Mosport), neighbours would often drop into one of his Bowmanville garages to view some of the F1 cars of the day that he housed for the Canadian and American Grands Prix races. In fact, in 1967, Dan Gurney changed his engine in one of them.

He was named North America’s Tow Truck Driver in 1971 and was very happy that Road and Track magazine did a full spread article on his career in auto racing.

Ron played a big part with Team Surtees and had a lifelong friendship with John Surtees, former Formula One World Champion and former Motorcycle World Champion.

Ron also had a lifetime friendship with former driver and commentator David Hobbs and was featured in books written by Surtees and Hobbs.

Many remember Ron from his Shell stations, one being on Scugog St. and the other on King St. beside the old beer store.  Ron was also the Service Manager at Cowan Buick GMC in Bowmanville.

Ron was a long-time member of the Royal Canadian Legion Branch 178 in Bowmanville. He was predeceased by his parents Cecil and Dorcas, sister Leona Etcher and brother-in-law Morley Etcher.  He is survived by his son John and his wife Ana.

Ernie Martin 

An expletive deleted got Ernie Martin his first job at Pinecrest Speedway.

“I was racing myself and my employer, the Toronto Star, said either stop racing or stop working for the Star. So, I stopped racing.

“It turned out that the announcer at Pinecrest that night didn’t show up. So Cappie Smith, who owned the place, said ‘You’ve just retired, get up in the booth,’ which I did. The first race, a guy went as- over tea kettle and I went ‘Holy. . . .did you see that guy go?

“I figured I was toast but Cappie said the crowd loved it. ‘But don’t do it again or I’ll have to fire you.’ “

He was so famous, he announced at the CNE, Sunset and Barrie Speedways beside Pinecrest.

Ernie was active in the community and nothing made him happier than to make people laugh with his jokes.  He spent many years snowmobiling and restoring his prized ’56 Meteor Niagara. Over the years Ernie also came to love watching his grandchildren play hockey and cheering them on in the rinks.

Formerly of Brampton, Ernie was involved in the community, serving as Alderman in the inaugural years of the City of Brampton council and also on the Brampton Hydro Commission. Ernie was proud of his active involvement over many years with Big Brothers of Peel.

After spending 25 years at the family cottage on Lake of Bays in Dwight, Ernie retired there and continued with extensive involvement in the community. He continued to be an active driver for the Canadian Cancer Society. He was passionate about running snowmobile drag races and Kitty Kat rides at the local Dwight and Dorset Winter Carnivals. He was delighted to have his grandchildren play for Martin’s Meteors in the Dwight Minor Baseball League.  Ernie was a member of The Queen’s Own Rifles of Canada, The Royal Canadian Legion and Doric Masonic Lodge.

He will be sadly missed by his loving wife of 69 years, Jeanette June (nee Smusiak). Loving father of Donna (Rick) Sidey, Debbie (Steve) Bradley and Dianne (John) Terry.  Cherished grandfather of Pamela (Patrick), Alexandra, Richard, Stefanie, Dustin (Nicole), Chris (Chelsey), Caitlin and great grandfather to Teddy, Willa, Riley, Leah, Mya and Brooks.  Dear brother of Donald, Gordon and Patricia, and predeceased by his siblings Bill, Jack, Lillian and Edith. R.I.P

NASCAR AND OTHER NEWS 

Chase Briscoe, Ross Chastain and Tyler Redick were on the podium at the NASCAR Cup race in Phoenix on Sunday. Noah Gragson won Saturday’s Xfinity Series race at Phoenix. Taylor Gray won the Camping World Truck Series at Phoenix. Four days earlier, the team’s hauler driver was killed

IndyCar ace Colton Herta has landed a McLaren F1 testing role while Michael Andretti waits a decision from the FIA . . . . J.R. Hilderand will drive the ovals for A.J. Foyt Racing . . . . Hilary Swank will star as the Indy 500’s first woman driver Janet Guthrie . . . . Alexandre Rossi and Michael Andretti are at odds . . . . Austin Cindric says he hopes to race for his father, Tim, in the Indy 500 someday . . . . 62 cars will enter the 24 Hours of Le Mans . . . . Kevin Magnussen is returning to Haas F1 . . . .

Gary Magwood goes ice racing, 

Er, car curling.  

Gary Magwood was a Canadian Formula Ford champion and instructor back in the day. He tried something new this winter. 

In the frozen wastes of the North American continent reside some very hardy motorsport enthusiasts.

In the depths of winter when the temperatures drop to minus stupid, these hardy individuals will drive for at least a couple of hours to a small dot on the Eastern Ontario landscape called Minden. Here, car club folks under the supervision of ageless Tom Prentice carve out a kidney shaped race track, then flood it with lots of water.

Viola, an ice surface that is treacherous to even walk on.

Given the propensity for lots of snow in Halliburton County, the track is surrounded by large snow banks that I’ll discuss in a minute. The next part of the ‘activity’ involves many, many rather dubious looking four-wheel contrivances that, probably 20-plus years ago were used to get groceries, take kids to school or even drive to Florida to sit on a beach in warm sunshine.

These vehicles are towed or trailered to the track or just left in an area loosely called a paddock. The action gets underway with dozens of floor jacks hoisting up the dented and rusty vehicles in order to install the most important component that makes this seeming insanity feasible: very special winter tires that are either tractionized or studded.

Tractionized means that a very expensive brand of winter tires is offered up to a spiked drum and rotated at speed to create a sort of ‘shredded’ surface that, in theory, enables these vehicles to accelerate, brake and corner on glare ice (more about this later)!

The other option is to embed other very expensive winter tires with tiny (expensive) Tungsten studs to a specified number per tire circumference. The end result of all this tire technology are $500 vehicles mounted on a couple of Ks in tires.

Now, I opted to compete in the rubber to ice class given my age and lack of experience. A call to Zack Wenzel, who has a ‘fleet’ of five or six ice racers, secured a questionable looking Honda Civic of unknown vintage. My first question to Zack was, “Does it have a working heater?” The second question was, “Where is the mock grid?” Prior to this stage I had to join a CASC club, apply for a Class C Competition License and purchase a helmet that was manufactured in this century; all relatively easy to do if one is a techno wizard.

So, on a freezing cold Saturday morning, I clamber into the ‘roll-caged’ Civic, and buckle up, line up for practice, show my wrist band and head out onto the ‘track’. With a lot of coaxing, gentle brake and throttle inputs it was feasible to get the Civic around the corners, albeit at a slow speed.

Up the pace and understeer becomes the de-facto ‘attitude,’ simple, more throttle means more understeer. I must mention that these vehicles are broken up into various classes: front wheel drive, rear wheel drive and all or four-wheel drive that can race in rubber to ice or studded classes. That was practice. Line up another 20-plus vehicles, wave a green flag and the entire grid moves off in slow motion, gathers speed and enters into the first corner.

That’s when the ‘car curling’ began in earnest: A bump here, a little nudge from behind and I’m relegated to the back of the field. The leaders fast disappeared so I gave chase. Around five laps of the 10-lap race, I was introduced to a snow bank: Poof, straight in like a dart!

The balance of the weekend and subsequent weekends was spent learning and watching. The experienced regulars handed me my butt on a plate! Humbling! After watching the studded classes compete, I opted to join them for my final weekend.

The same Civic now equipped with studs was transformational: suddenly car curling became drifting on ice. Pitch the car sideways, stay on the gas, twiddle the steering wheel to keep it pointed in the right direction and accelerate onto the straight.

The post Racing roundup: Two racing pioneers die appeared first on WHEELS.ca.

For Emma Jarratt’s first vehicle purchase, the mother of two bought her 2019 Nissan Leaf sight unseen. “Some people I told basically thought I was a lunatic for buying a car online,” she said.

But Jarratt didn’t make her decision without some practical experience. She originally booked and test drove a Leaf over a weekend last summer through the EVnet.ca website. That helped her confirm the all-electric hatchback could fit well with her family and her driving patterns.

Jarratt test drove a Leaf with a 40-kilowatt hour battery – which is rated to have a 243-kilometre range – through the Electric Vehicle Network, a Toronto-based used EV dealer that runs the website. It is a portal that gives potential buyers the opportunity to rent a used EV to see if it fits their lifestyle, experience different vehicle options and purchase one.

After her test experience, Jarratt decided to order a 2019 Leaf Plus, with a 62-kilowatt hour battery and a range of up to 363 kilometres. The Electric Vehicle Network was able to source and import one for her from California, and it arrived roughly two months after she placed her order.

“I didn’t sit in the car before I bought it, but I felt very confident since I had that experience with it already,” said Jarratt.

Jarratt works for ElectricAutonomy.ca, an industry site focused on zero emissions transportation, infrastructure and legislation in Canada. “I think all vehicles should be purchased this way.”

Darryl Croft, president of the Electric Vehicle Network, said allowing people to experience an EV is important when it comes to educating them about these vehicles.

“We’re not trying to rent just to do a deal later,” he said. The company realized that moving folks from gas vehicles to EVs involved a whole new set of questions around range (especially in winter), fuel costs, road trip and maintenance differences, Croft said.

“Sometimes people have 50 or 60 questions,” Croft said from his office in Etobicoke, where the showroom is located (currently by appointment only). The network has a fleet of five to eight plug-in vehicles available to rent at any one time.

“Our philosophy is that by experiencing a vehicle through a rental, it provides that reassurance.”

Renting options

Another way to experience driving an electric vehicle in Canada is through Turo, an Airbnb-style website and app where privately owned vehicles are available to rent. Cedric Mathieu, Turo’s vice-president in charge of Canada, said the main benefits of renting through it is the wide choice of different EVs available on its platform. Turo also offers the optional of having the vehicle delivered to your door.

He said there are about 750 active EVs on the platform in Canada, which range from smaller city-focused cars to brand new luxury models. Mathieu said the company doesn’t formally track how many renters on the platform use it to test drive vehicles, but he notes it’s something that’s often mentioned in the user reviews of their overall experience.

“Electric car owners are early adopters, so they’re often happy to evangelize about the car,” he said. “It’s the most effective education strategy, as it’s (coming from) a person that owns the car and helps get people over that technology barrier.”

People curious about EVs in the Greater Toronto Area also have the opportunity to test drive a variety of new vehicles through Plug ‘n Drive, a non-profit organization that makes them available at its Electric Vehicle Discovery Centre. It houses an ever-evolving fleet of new EVs for consumers to try and learn about. It doesn’t sell vehicles but can refer interested buyers to dealerships. Because of the pandemic, it is also running by appointment only.

Plug ‘n Drive founder and CEO Cara Clairman said the vehicles are not available to take overnight, but it does offer a chance to try different makes, models and battery ranges back-to-back. Clairman said she bought her first EV in 2011 after testing it through an early car share program. She also knows people who have purchased theirs after renting through EVNet.ca.

Rental car company Hertz announced last October it has ordered 100,000 Tesla Model 3 sedans to be delivered by the end of 2022. The company currently doesn’t offer EVs to rent in Toronto, but Hertz said it has non-Tesla EVs in Vancouver, but only available onsite and not through its website or by telephone booking systems.

For Leaf owner Jarratt, the appeal of an EV goes beyond its extra-quiet driving feel and how much lower her fuel costs are.

“It’s not just about cars, it’s about science, about technology, about the environment, there’s just so many aspects to it that really makes EVs exciting,” she said. “I never thought I’d be one of those people passionate about my car.”

The post Renting to own appeared first on WHEELS.ca.

“To the Batmobile!” is one of the most famous lines from the “Batman” TV show. It was a clarion call that meant the Caped Crusader was off to fight crime. He doesn’t tool around Gotham doing errands or taking leisurely drives in the country in his armoured car. His Batmobile is all business.

But what about when superheroes are not battling their supervillain foes? What vehicles would they use to get from Point A to Point B or to drop off their kids at daycare? We asked some comic book fans to give their opinion.

THOR ODINSON

Comedian and actor Sean Cullen imagines Thor – Marvel’s Asgardian God of Thunder – behind the wheel of a Hummer.

“I would say if he had a hammer, he’d buy a Hummer,” said Cullen. “He might even have a specialty licence plate that reads ‘HAMMER.’ I think it would be a hybrid because he could charge his car very easily using his hammer. There’d be some kind of charging cradle there and, ‘boom,’ he can completely charge the car. No time at all.

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“He doesn’t need airbags because he just puts his arm out and holds himself in the seat. He probably doesn’t even need a seatbelt, although he’d probably would wear one to avoid getting tickets,” he said.

SUSAN STORM

New York Times bestselling graphic novelist Johnnie Christmas thinks Sue Storm, a.k.a. the Fantastic Four’s Invisible Woman, would drive a car that echoes her powers.

“She can make these force fields for protection and safety, and the car she would drive is the 2021 Toyota Corolla, in white, because it is a bestselling car of all time, so it’s completely ubiquitous,” said Christmas. “She’d be completely invisible in the thing.

“No one is going to notice you if you’re in that car. The 2019 was the 2021 safety pick by the highway safety rating agency, so it’s right in line with her safety force fields,” said Christmas, who co-created the series “Angel Catbird” with Margaret Atwood.

SPIDER-MAN

Peter Parker’s choice of auto, according to Jim Zub – who has written for Marvel and DC Comics among many others – would be due to his circumstances.

“The classic Spider-Man, and inadvertently the Spider-Man who’s at the end of ‘No Way Home,’ is experiencing the Parker Luck. He’s down on his luck, struggling and not in a financially great spot,” said Zub. “He might have a Corolla, but he’s probably got a really old one, and it’s probably not in the best kind of shape. In the glove box, of course, he’s going to have extra web fluid and his web shooters ready to go if he needs a refresh.

Superhero Cars

“Airbags are not a big deal to Spider-Man because he’s got spider sense, so he would be able to sense the danger before the impact,” Zub said. “The good thing is, he has super strength so if he ever gets the boot (wheel clamp) on a tire, he can always just tear it off and go.

“The one thing that Peter would definitely buy is winter tires,” he said. “He doesn’t want to lose tension or grip while he’s driving. He’s used to having a nice solid traction wherever he goes.”

CAPTAIN CANUCK

The original issues of Captain Canuck, the story of the costumed agent of the Canadian International Security Organization, were published in the 1970s, but set in the early 1990s. Fadi Hakim, owner of Comic House and Captain Canuck, said creator Richard Comely, “had a vision of the future. He had these cool geometrically shaped cars. They’re super interesting. The closest I can kind of find by comparison is sort of like what Tesla’s doing with the Cybertruck.

Superhero Cars

2022 GMC Hummer EV The 2022 GMC HUMMER EV is a first-of-its kind supertruck developed to forge new paths with zero emissions.
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“Then I started to do research on Canadian cars, and I found this gem. I came across this thing called the Manic GT. It was built in the 1970s and is geometrically shaped like Comely’s vision. This car is unbelievable. It was a product of Les Automobiles Manic Inc. of Granby, Que. Only 180 were made in production, and I think Captain Canuck would love its look and speed. It also has a sunroof so he could get out of it pretty quick.”

DOCTOR STRANGE

Teddy Wilson knows transportation and superheroes. The host of “Mighty Trains” on Discovery Canada, and a self-described “superhero superfan,” paired Marvel’s Doctor Stephen Strange with the 2021 Subaru Forester. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety’s top safety pick, he said, is the perfect vehicle for the caped super-sorcerer.

“Doctor Strange’s entire superhero arc was put in motion by a near-fatal crash while he was speeding and distracted by a brain X-ray (the neurosurgeon equivalent of driving while texting?) in his Lamborghini Huracán Coupe,” said Wilson. “This dude needs some vehicular safety.

“I’m aware the Doctor now has near-omnipotent powers that could protect him from future crashes. But what if those powers were temporarily disabled, like in the ‘Doctor Strange’ No. 381 storyline? In that case, he’d need the safest ride possible. And while there are certainly safe cars that are more luxurious, I’d advise him to keep a low profile in a less attention-grabbing whip,” he said.

Superhero Cars

“(As a) bonus, The Subaru Forester’s compact SUV design includes great storage and a surprisingly roomy trunk, perfect for transporting his enchanted Cloak of Levitation to the dry cleaners. Strange days, indeed.”

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For over two decades Markham’s Stanley Ko and his wife, Margaret Lui, have wanted a Lexus.

As a technology projects program manager for York Region’s community and health services department, Ko’s role required a fair amount of driving. Despite mainly working from home these days, the family still rely on their vehicles to get around. While they also have a Toyota Prius Prime, it’s the SUV that’s the preferred mode of transport.

Although the couple owned a GS before they had children, they opted for a more sensible Toyota Sienna with the birth of their kids, then downsized to a 2015 Nissan Rogue as their daughter and son became older. Now that their kids are 19 and 17, respectively, Ko found himself considering yet another upgrade for a very special reason: his and Lui’s 20th wedding anniversary.

Knowing that Lui prefers driving an SUV because it’s higher off the ground, Ko kept his purchase of the 2022 Lexus NX350 a secret in hopes of surprising Lui. Initially slated as a Christmas gift, Ko put in his order at Lexus of Lakeridge last October. However, due to delays in shipment the vehicle arrived shortly after, with Liu securing the NX350 on New Year’s Eve, still making it within the couple’s anniversary year. He tells us why he loves their vehicle.

“Owning a Lexus has always been on our wish list,” said Ko, who is the preferred driver when he and Lui are both riding in the vehicle. “Almost every vehicle we’ve owned has been within the Lexus and Toyota brand because of its reliability. Since we couldn’t go anywhere to celebrate our anniversary, I thought I’d get a new car for her.

“I had so many criteria. If I was going to replace a car for my wife, it couldn’t be too big or too small; it had to be a four-wheel drive SUV, so this stood out. I chose this model after a lot of research. It’s a 350 turbo with luxury trim – it’s the entry level but only about five to six thousand dollars more than a fully loaded RAV4. Besides being reliable and safe, I learned that the NX was coming out with a new generation, and everything from the exterior to interior design was new.

“My dealership helped me get the car in three months, which I really appreciated – my sales rep told me this was probably the first shipment to arrive in Canada! I know others who’ve had to wait four to six months for their cars. And since you can only view videos or pictures of the new NX350’s interiors on YouTube or in the brochure, most people ask me about its touch and feel, the multimedia 14-inch touchscreen with wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, and how it responds. In the first week of having it, my wife has also caught other Lexus and NX drivers around us looking at our car because this was probably the first NX350 in Markham or Richmond Hill.”

“It delivers on everything that I read and expected,” said Ko. “The cabin is super quiet because they put in thicker acoustic glass on the front windshield and the side windows. They also enhanced the engine and transmission. When I’m sitting behind the wheel, I can feel how smooth the transmission and suspension are when I’m driving to the point that I can’t believe that I’m going over a bump.

At the time of this interview Ko admits to only have driven 250 kilometers, but he has plans for the new ride.

“One of the biggest hobbies my family has is travelling, especially taking road trips in our own car. We travelled a lot before the pandemic. My kids always travelled with us and enjoyed spending long hours in the car even when they were tiny. They’d buckle in and never complained.

“We’ve driven from Toronto down to Yellowstone National Park, Boston, and Miami. Last year, during the lockdown we went up to Timmins, Ont. because we couldn’t go to the States. Work is getting busy, but that doesn’t stop me from planning our next trip to San Antonio, Texas with the car. I expect the NX350 will be a lot more comfortable than the Rogue because of the craftsmanship and ridership.

“My son is really excited about the car because he just got his G2. When he tried the car out on the first day, he said that it’s like a new concept to him because it operates differently than what he’s learned; from how to open the door to how to put the gear shift into drive, and so on. I mean, they made so many major changes to how drivers should experience a car in this model.

“With all the safety features and the technology on the Lexus, the driving experience will be more superior than before. I’m not saying that the Nissan is not good, but I’m sure that the Lexus has a better rating on it. I feel that Toyota did a great job.”

This article was edited for space and clarity. Want to be featured in Why I Love My Vehicle? email us at wheels@thestar.ca.

 

Renée S. Suen is a Toronto-based lifestyle writer/photographer and a freelance contributor for the Star. Follow her on Twitter: @rssuen

A CLOSER LOOK: 2022 Lexus NX350 Luxury Trim

BRAND APPEAL

“First of all, it’s the brand name of the manufacturer,” said Ko. “Both my wife and I loved the Lexus when it first came out over 20 years ago, but I couldn’t really afford one that was brand new. For us, the brand is synonymous with craftsmanship, reliability, and value. This all new NX model is still assembled in Japan. A few media sources mentioned that in the next year, they will be manufactured at the Cambridge, Ont. plant. My previous 2007 Camry Hybrid and current 2020 Prius Prime are both assembled in Japan.”

COLOUR SPEAKS

“Blue is my wife’s favourite colour,” said Ko. “She’s crazy about blue. The colour of the SUV is a light blue called Grecian Water, which definitely matches what she likes. It’s hard to get a car with this colour unless you special order it. I special ordered this one from Japan, but I do expect to see more of them on the road because it’s a very pretty colour.”

ATTRACTIVE NEW FEATURES

“I love that this NX generation debuts with Lexus’ Safety System+ 3.0 features,” said Ko. “Among them is the Oncoming Pedestrian and Bicycle Detection, panoramic moonroof, and heated and ventilated seats. Those are the key things that my wife looks for in a car. I’m glad that this model has what she needs and is made with this colour for her. “

The post WHY I LOVE MY VEHICLE: 2022 Lexus NX350 Luxury Trim appeared first on WHEELS.ca.

Michael Andretti’s Andretti Autosport is determined to become the biggest racing company in the world. Andretti owns teams in IndyCar, Indy Lights, Formula E, IMSA and three lesser series.

Now he wants to go Formula One racing in 2024, but he’s finding that harder said than done.

Once upon a time, a guy could design a car – Alejandro de Tomaso, say – and make a deal with a driver, usually in the motor trade, and go Formula One Grand Prix racing. These garagistes had a great time travelling all over Europe, usually hand-to-mouth. As the years passed, F1 became more professional. Now it costs $200 million just to join.

That’s $200 million for starters. Then a team owner has to build a factory, hire a designer, engineers, draftsmen, fabricators: 500 employees, minimum.  It costs a fortune. This is the game Michael Andretti wants to start playing.

He came close last year. He and his backers purchased the Sauber team but the deal fell through two days before signing when Peter Sauber said he would take the money, but insisted on maintaining control. I don’t know about you but if I buy something, anything, I would want to run it.

So Michael Andretti decided not to buy a team, but to start from scratch. The difficulty is that the present 10 teams are used to a particular cut of F1’s profits and, if you add a team, it reduces their share. So they want to be compensated.

Led by Toto Wolff of Mercedes, and including Red Bull’s Christian Horner, the teams want a lot more to let Andretti in. Not more money necessarily, but certain benefits to the sport. A guarantee that an Andretti team won’t dilute the product, for instance.

“Andretti is a name, that’s for sure,” Wolff told Autosport. “The American market is important. But every team that’s joining needs to be accretive, which means to add value. It’s not only by paying the $200-million entry free, but it needs to demonstrate in my opinion what it can do for the other teams, for F1 and for the FIA. Only then the sport will grow.”

A position that Michael Andretti finds surprising.

“Toto says we’re diluting – no, we’re not,” he told Autosport. “First of all, we’re bringing $200 million and second we feel we’re going to add $100 million to the bottom line just here in the U.S. with everything that’s going on in having an American team and an American driver (Colton Herta).”

My take: Michael Andretti has been successful in every racing series he’s entered. I suggest it won’t be long before he’s very competitive in F1. Then the two big dogs, Mercedes and Red Bull, will have competition. F1 is great, so long as you’re finishing first, second or third. Otherwise, they don’t want you around.

I received phone calls and emails several weeks ago asking where people could watch the IndyCar race from St. Petersburg. It is my pleasure today to remind everybody reading this column that we publish a Race Fan TV Listings guide that you can find on our sister website wheels.ca

Prepared and updated every Wednesday by retired school teacher George Webster of Oakville, it tells you channels and times of everything from practices to races. I invite you to download it and print it out for easy reference. Now, do me a favour.

Please do not download it and send it off to all your friends. They can go to wheels.ca themselves. Features on websites depend on “clicks” and if nobody is “clicking,” the feature will be cancelled. So please, tell all your friends about the Race Fan TV Listings guide and enjoy the races this spring and summer.

Now, Webster has been a lifelong race fan since attending his first sports car race at Edenvale in

1956. He then became active in the race organization of the London Automobile Club.

After his retirement from his day job as a chemistry teacher, he became a full-time race

reporter, covering the CART Series for National Speed Sport News. After that, he was the

NASCAR editor for the pioneering internet racing magazine goracing.com.

In the late 1990s he started his Race Fan TV Listings’ service on a standalone website. In the

years since, this popular listings service has had a few different homes. As of this year, you can find the guide at wheels.ca

Thanks, George.

IndyCar driver Dalton Kellett of Stouffville is travelling in some fast company these days. After the IndyCar opener at St. Petersburg, won by New Zealand ace Scott McLaughlin, Kellett went drinking with the race winner as well as fellow race drivers Will Power, Kyle Kirkwood, Scott Dixon and Dario Andretti.

Kellett and the others were also busy tweeting the good news that the St. Pete opener recorded the largest non-Indy 500 audience in 11 years, with an average of 1.429 million viewers.

So I had a chat with one of the two Canadians in the field this year – Devlin DeFrancesco of Toronto is the other – about this and that, but particularly a blisteringly quick qualifying lap that saw him just miss the Fast 12.

NM: What was that about, Dalton?

DK: We had a great qualifier. One of the goals of the year was to improve qualifying performance. It’s really hard to pass if you don’t qualify well. I worked at it during the off-season (simulator work; studying the on-board data from last year) so everything came together. Coming into the weekend I knew I was going to be better. It was a great lap.

NM: Sebastien Bourdais, now retired, was on your timing stand. Did he do any coaching?

DK: Seb was kind of hanging around during the weekend – he lives in St. Petersburg – and he was just kind of helping everyone out. I think he was on Kyle’s stand (Kyle Kirkwood) during the race. I don’t know whether he was spotting or not. He was kind of helping us all out; it was great having him there.

NM: You spun twice and finally parked the car. Was it you, or the car?

DK: We had a problem with the car. We had a failure that seized up the gearbox and we spun and so we brought it in and we reset it and it happened again so we parked it.

NM: You have two teammates this year, not just one. How are things working out?

DK: We’re all getting along well. We’re all friendly and very talented. There’s some good competition there. There’s good respect and we get along.

NM: How do you feel about Indy, the big race?

DK: When it comes to Indianapolis, I think we’ve made some strides. From mechanical setups, working with the dampers, there’s been a lot of focus in the off-season. I think last year we sort of struggled. So I’m optimistic we’ll be better as a team this season.

Norris McDonald, a past Wheels editor in chief, covers the Canadian automotive and global racing scene for the Star. He is a member of the Canadian Motorsport Hall of Fame.  nmcdonald@thestar.ca or follow him on Twitter @NorrisMcDonald2.

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On Dec. 27, 2011, this photograph of a sign was posted online by an early electric vehicle adopter. Snapped at an ONroute station, it promised this was the “Future home of electric vehicle plug-in charging stations.” The first of those chargers finally opened in late February 2022, in time for March Break road trips.

The popular rest stops on Ontario’s 400-series highways are obviously logical places for quick charging stations.

For any EV owner who has driven up to one of these signs, the news of the first six ONroute quick charging stations opening is not only a technical achievement, but also sociological: recognition that EVs and their drivers are finally entering the mainstream motoring conversation.

Nine more stations are slated to open by the end of March, and 17 additional ONroute locations are planned for summer 2022 on the Ivy Network.

Even if the gas pumps still vastly outnumber quick charge points, and will for years more, these stations notably have chargers available for all quick-charging battery electric vehicles, including Teslas.

The fact that it took so long for the ONroute charging stations to appear speaks to the difficulty of making money from a tiny fraction of the driving public that largely “fuels up’” at home. Still, this is welcome news for many EV owners, and I can’t wait to plan my next road trip around them.

Michael Bettencourt bought his first EV in late 2011 and has followed the Canadian EV scene ever since. Follow him on Twitter @MCBet10court

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