Drive Wire: February 26, 2016

Hey guys it's Christina Thompson and this is Drive Wire for Friday, February 26th.

Brace yourselves, the Acura NSX Configurator, which allows you to customize your future supercar, has gone live. Prepare to waste countless hours building your perfect NSX. Just $157,800 will get you the base supercar, which makes 573 horsepower from its hybrid all-wheel-drive system. But the fun is of course in the details – carbon-ceramic brakes run at a cool $10,000, the carbon fiber roof rings up at $6,000 and the wheels are yours for another $1,500. For the select few that can afford it, place your orders, and for the rest of us... Enjoy that online configurator! Production of the 2017 NSX begins this spring with cars to be delivered soon after.

In Formula One news, the FIA has announced that, in the interest of driver safety, some form of closed cockpit will be in use for its race cars during the 2017 season. Although the exact design of the enclosure is not yet clear, a frontrunner seems to be a halo-style ring around the driver's head, which would limit obstruction of the driver's view while allowing for easy extraction after a crash. We'll miss the open-cockpit cars, but romantic posturing aside, more safety is always a good thing.

GM has launched hybrid models of the Chevy Silverado and GMC Sierra pickups, but you'll probably never see them. Only 700 pickups with GM’s "E-Assist" hybrid system will be built – that's 500 Silverados and 200 Sierras -- and they'll only be sold in California, only at top trim levels, and only in 2-wheel-drive models. General Motors is saying that they will monitor the market closely going forward... So, is this a test balloon? Maybe, but we'd love to see a nationwide release of a full-size hybrid pick-up.

Today's gear features the first Spotify player that doesn't need a phone. Mighty, a 1.5 inch streaming audio player, is a square-shaped device that can hold up to 48 hours of music after wirelessly syncing to your account and doesn't have to be tethered to anything but your headphones – and it even has Bluetooth support for that. The 5-button design allows for easy operation, and 45 minutes of charge time will give you 5 hours of playback – all for under $80. For more details, check out Mighty Audio's Kickstarter page.

What are you and your buddies up to this weekend? Whatever it is, we're guessing it's not this. In today's ridiculous video, check out Farm Jam 2016's big-aired, two-wheeled debauchery.... All on a revamped New Zealand farm. It's okay if this puts your weekend plans to shame.

That's it for today's edition of Drive Wire. For more, be sure to come back to thedrive.com, and follow us @thedrive on all your favorite social media platforms.

The New Garmin Zumo GPS Avoids Boring Roads

Garmin has got something special for moto riders. The new zümo 395LM and zümo 595LM motorcycle navigators offer automated route planning around boring roads, skipping the straights, and looking specifically for changes of elevation and bent blacktop. No more eyeballing ye olde gazetteer. Just enter a destination, and choose backroad plotting auto-magically (Garmin calls it Adventurous Routing, which isn’t as much fun).

The two weather-proof units differ in scale; the 395 has a 4.3-inch touchscreen, while the 595 has a higher resolution 5-inch display. Both units let riders stream music from a synced smartphone to headsets or Bluetooth helmets, as well as notifications for traffic and weather, animal crossing zones, sharp curve warnings, and red light camera alerts. The 595 ads access to Spotify and Pandora, plus texts and calls ported through to the navi screen. That’s all controlled via Garmin—rather than fishing your phone out from a jacket pocket—using oversized controls that are designed to respond to pressure, not touch, so you can keep your gloves on.

There are also hands-free controls (again, via Bluetooth headset) to make and receive calls, and receive spoken routing directions. Moto-specific functions, such as fuel stops recommended by your tank range, as well as a repair history logging function so you maintain regular service intervals, are also part of the mix. And both zümos sync to Garmin’s Tire Pressure monitors for live readout of this information, too.

The two units go on sale in April. Budget $600 for the 395LM, or $900 for the 595LM.

The 8 Greatest Super Bowl Car Commercials, Ranked*

Much the way the U.S. government has been described as an insurance company with an army, the Super Bowl has basically become an advertising showcase with a football game. Those four quarters could be exciting or humdrum (looking at you, Super Bowl XVLIII), but the ads—commissioned months in advance, with the multi-million dollar budgets you’d expect for something airing in front of more than 100 million people—are as reliably entertaining as a Nirvana reunion concert.

And for us, half the fun of Super Bowl 50 will be watching the car commercials during America’s biggest sports event. It’s tradition. Automakers have been rolling out their best here since at least Super Bowl III, when the Road Runner and Wile E. Coyote took a break from their regularly scheduled Sisyphean adventures to canvas the wares of a Plymouth dealership.

In fact, no single regularly-scheduled event in the world—not the Frankfurt Auto Show, not a Formula 1 Grand Prix, not even the Fast & Furious franchise, which is somehow scheduled to continue past at least Super Bowl 55—has managed to consistently pack in as much automotive entertainment-per-second. Sure, there have been some stinkers over the years. But most of the ads have been entertaining. Some have been true works of art.

Also, we left out the adorable Volkswagen “Darth Vader” ad, because it was such a clear favorite, it’d have thrown the curve for the rest of them. It’s like the way people exclude Shane from “Greatest Westerns” retrospectives.

8. Nissan 300ZX, “Dream” (1990)

Ridley Scott may be best known for films like Gladiator and Alien, but he’s also cranked out plenty of incredible commercial work over the years. This Nissan ad, featuring the sleek, minimalist 300ZX, shows him at his best.

7. Chevrolet SSR, “Soap” (2004)

Some of the best ads, like this Chevy commercial, barely feature cars at all.

6. Nissan Maxima, “Pigeons” (1997)

It’s anthropomorphic dive-bomber pigeons in a guano-based Top Gun parody. How could we not love it?

5. Audi R8, “Godfather” (2008)

After years of existing as something of a second-tier German luxury carmaker, Audi finally got really, really serious about fighting BMW and Mercedes-Benz on their terms in the mid-Aughts. Nothing announces you’re playing for keeps like a good old-fashioned Godfather parody.

4. Mercedes-Benz, “Welcome” (2011)

Making a Super Bowl ad that goes smart-ass or crude is easy. Making one that’s heartfelt and yet not corny? That’s tricky.

3. Jeep, “Snow Covered” (1994)

Remember what we wrote earlier about ads that don’t show much of the car? Take that all the way to the logical extreme, and you have this masterpiece.

2. Chrysler 200, “Born of Fire” (2011)

When history classes study Detroit’s renaissance 100 years from now, they’ll watch this ad. (Shame it was for such a crappy car, though.)

1. Ford GT, “The One” (2004)

It’s 60 seconds of the purest car porn: a Ford GT hauling ass around a track. Even 14 years later, we still get goosebumps when we watch it.