Tag Archives: Comparison Test

Ratios Galore: A Deep Look at ZF’s 9-speed Automatic

By K.C. Colwell

When is enough, enough? When it comes to transmissions, the available ratios from any trans maker are on a steady climb into two-digit territory. Take ZF’s newest for example: the 9HP. It’s a nine-speed transaxle for transverse applications sporting a 9.8 ratio spread (that’s good) and it promises 10-percent better fuel economy when compared to a six-speed slushbox. In a market that goes full frenzy by one-percent here and two-percent there, 10 can’t be ignored.

The trouble with engineering a transmission for a transverse application is packaging. The gearbox, along with the engine, has to fit between the shock towers. According to ZF, which announced it will initially supply the 9HP to the Jeep Cherokee and the Land Rover Range Rover Evoque with more customers to come, the maximum width for such a transmission is about 14.6 inches. It’s no surprise, then, that the 9HP is 14.4 inches wide. With four planetary gear sets and six shifting elements (brakes and clutches) that’s a very dense 14.4 inches.

Of those four planetary gearsets, two of them are nested. In this nested pair, the annulus, or ring gear, of the smaller planetary doubles as the sun gear of the larger set. This arrangement trims some width from the four-gearset tranny.

Simply adding ratios to a transmission might not make it a tool for greater efficiency, however. More ratios require more shifting elements and these add weight, complexity, and drag to the transmission. This is why ZF implemented two dog clutches in the 9HP. The beauty of a dog clutch is there’s little-to-no parasitic loss when they aren’t engaged, whereas a conventional friction clutch zaps some efficiency, and they’re relatively compact.

The tricky part of the canine clutch is how, or rather when, to engage them. Synchromesh helps dog clutches within a manual transmission from grinding away and easing gear changes. ZF relies on computers to anticipate the precise moment both halves of each dog clutch are spinning the exact same speed, and engagement happens without the slightest crunch, as proven by our short sample in an Evoque test mule.

Internal efficiencies aren’t the only source for the claimed fuel-economy improvement, either; the nine ratios play a part, too. Internal-combustion engines are most efficient in a relatively small rpm range and the biggest ratio step is just 1.65, between first and second. Having many small ratio steps in hand allows any engine coupled to a 9HP to operate in that ideal rpm window more of the time.

Oh yeah, one of the best parts of the 9HP: it’s 100 percent American made. Every 9HP installed worldwide will come out of the supplier’s Gray Court, South Carolina, plant, with the exception of the 9HPs Chrysler builds under license (just like the longitudinal 8HP) at its Kokomo, Indiana, transmission plant. …read more

Source: FULL ARTICLE at Car & Driver

The Squadron Sinister: BMW M5 Nighthawk Special Edition Created for Japanese Market

By Andrew Wendler

For Japanese enthusiasts who find BMW’s standard M5 too tame looking, the maker recently announced a 10-unit production run of M5 Nighthawk special editions.

Clad in a sinister, low-gloss matte coat of  “Frozen Black” paint and sporting a blacked-out twin-kidney grille, the Nighthawk certainly looks the part. The matte-black finish carries over to the 20-inch, forged M wheels, the fender vents, the door handles, and the exhaust tips. Inside, perforated “Melbourne Orange” Merino leather covers the seats and trim, and is accented by carbon fiber on the dash and door sills. Each car will also get an interior badge displaying its serial number.

To back up the intimidating look, BMW brought the M5’s twin-turbo 4.4-liter V8 in for a little massaging, boosting output to 575 horsepower, 15 more than stock. At the risk of raising the ire of owners, we’ll quietly point out that’s the same power as a 2014 M5 equipped with the Competition Package. Given that, it’s a good bet that the Nighthawk’s suspension and steering tweaks will also closely mirror those of the Competition pack. BMW’s claimed 0-to-60 time of 4.2 seconds is likely conservative: We clocked a 2013 M5 to 60 in 3.7. Lane-departure warning and collision-mitigation systems will be included.

The order queue begins in August, with deliveries schedule for October. Those with a spare ¥18,200,000 (about $182,000 in U.S. currency) and who need to put one of the left-hand-drive automotive superheroes in their Gare Ji should start making arrangements now. And don’t panic immediately if your not one of the first ten buyers to make a deposit. There’s always the chance of things being lost in translation, but we found the following statement buried cryptically in the Japanese press release: “buyer in will be decided if application exceeds 10 persons.”

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Source: FULL ARTICLE at Car & Driver

Chevrolet Adds Three Limited-Edition Colors to 2014 Sonic’s Palette

By Alexander Stoklosa

2014 Chevrolet Sonic Deep Magenta Metallic

The 2014 Chevrolet Sonic, available in purple for a limited time only!

In a bid to garner more appeal among fashion-conscious, color-reactive buyers, Chevrolet has announced it is adding three limited-edition colors to the Sonic‘s options list this year. The three colors will only be available for short periods of time, guaranteeing customers a level of rarity and specialness, and the hues won’t be available at the same time. 

The first unique color to hit the Sonic is a purple-ish hue called Deep Magenta metallic; buyers can spec their Sonics with the plum color between August and October. Chevrolet says the purple was inspired by the success it saw with the Techno Pink pale pink color offered on the smaller Spark hatchback. We had no idea people actually liked Techno Pink—which gave the Spark a striking resemblance to an Easter egg—but, hey, you learn something new every day. The other two special colors set to hit Sonic buyers are Cool Blue (a “greyish, dirty blue”), which will be sold between November and March, and Dragon Green, which joins the permanent Sonic color lineup early next year.

We think the move to add colors on a whim is a neat—and relatively simple—way to keep things fresh. Plus, Chevy’s cleverly building-in motivation for buyers to choose the limited-production colors by making them, well, limited-production.

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Source: FULL ARTICLE at Car & Driver

Next-Gen Ford Mustang Reportedly to Launch as 2014.5 50th Anniversary Model

By John Lamm

New-car launches are a months-long rollout of new product these days. Fifty years ago, new cars were introduced in the fall and that was just about the end of it. So, 50 years ago, it was unusual when Ford debuted something called a Mustang in the spring, and called it a 1964.5 model. And, now, 50 years later—or just about—we find ourselves counting down the months to what we believe will be an early-2014 debut of the next-gen Mustang. And in these waiting months there has been a slow-but-steady leak of information. Mustangs Daily now reports that the new Stang will, indeed, be launched as a 2014.5, or at least the first 1000 examples, which also reportedly will be 50th Anniversary editions, will be.

The new Mustang will make use of the S550-designated platform and the long-promised independent rear suspension. The report says that these special editions will make use of a 450-hp 5.0-liter V-8. We assume—and we suspect we won’t be making asses out of anyone with such an assumption—that a hypothetical 50th Anniversary Mustang will come complete with requisite unique dash plaques and VIN numbers.

Producing a 2014.5 Mustang would be awfully fitting for Ford. Not only does the Blue Oval brand have a rich history that it’s never been shy about highlighting, but the Mustang has been the staple in the pony-car business while General Motors and Chrysler have come and gone as they pleased.

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Source: FULL ARTICLE at Car & Driver

Mini Clubvan Dies, Cutesy Panel-Wagon Segment Goes Down with It

By Jens Meiners

2013 Mini Clubvan

It was the simplest of derivatives, yet it was not without charm. The Mini Clubvan has been terminated from Mini’s U.S. lineup after just 50 units sold since the wagon was introduced last summer, as first reported by Green Car Reports. The panel wagon was differentiated from the Clubman by the removal of the rear seats, and the addition of a partition and a carpeted load floor. Instead of replacing the rear windows with body panels, they were simply foiled. It came in three colors—Pepper White, Ice Blue, and Midnight Black—and with a single powerplant: the standard Mini’s 121-hp four-cylinder.

Apparently, BMW had forgotten about or underestimated the effect of President Johnson’s “Chicken Tax,” which slaps a whopping 25 percent onto imported commercial vehicles. Such an oversight makes us wonder why Mini didn’t simply convert Clubmans into Clubvans after the vehicles were imported into the U.S., which is what Ford does with its Turkish-built Transit Connect. Perhaps the company should prepare a conversion kit for Clubman buyers who find themselves in need of a delivery vehicle, or further differentiation. How about a homemade John Cooper Works Clubvan?

The Clubvan remains on sale in other parts of the world, where Mini says that sales are strong. As things stand stateside, however, the “premium compact delivery van” segment, as BMW calls it, has just been delivered a fatal blow.

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Source: FULL ARTICLE at Car & Driver

Land Rover Green Lights Evoque Convertible for Production, Report Says

By Jens Meiners

Land Rover has given the green light to a convertible version of the Range Rover Evoque, according to an article by British publication What Car?. The piece quotes an unnamed source at Land Rover as saying, “The Evoque convertible now has the green light, it’s going to be built.” The publication goes on to say that production will begin next year. We were unable to corroborate this information through our channels, and a Jaguar Land Rover spokesman declined to confirm the rumor.

The Evoque convertible was shown in concept form at the Geneva auto show in 2012, and drew mostly positive reviews from observers. “There was a lot of excitement around the concept when it was shown in the U.S.,” Land Rover tells us. The design community, however, was more ambiguous, as the softtop version lacks the aggressively styled roofline that is such an important part of the Evoque’s styling DNA.

If it’s built, the Evoque convertible will join the three-door coupe and a five-door version, the latter of which currently generates roughly 80 percent of the vehicle’s sales volume. As an open-top crossover, the Evoque cabriolet would have just one direct competitor: the Nissan Murano CrossCabriolet.

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Source: FULL ARTICLE at Car & Driver

McLaren P1 XP2R “Prototype” Spied—All We Can Say for Certain is It’s Silver

By Jens Meiners

McLaren P1 XP2R (spy photo)

The anticipation level couldn’t be any higher for the upcoming McLaren P1 hypercar. This, after all, is the offspring of a true racing company with a reputation for purposeful design and little tolerance for compromise. This being the spiritual successor of the F1—a true automotive legend that offered an unsurpassed level of performance in its day—doesn’t do anything to dampen those expectations. Such anticipation likely is the reason why the interwebs are abuzz with speculation and uncurbed enthusiasm regarding the brand’s XP2R Prototype P1 that’s been spied at the Nürburgring.

It’s awfully hard to imagine creating an even-higher-performance variant of a car that claims such astounding numbers as 903 horsepower, 664 lb-ft of torque, a sub-three-second 0–60 time, and a top speed of 217 mph. Yet, rumors persist, the XP2R could be just that. Of course, it’s also possible that McLaren simply was carrying out testing of the standard P1 and stuck on some decals and instructed its handlers to act overly protective (or so our photographers tell us) in an effort to drum up some attention. Visually, at least, there is little evidence to suggest that there are any substantial differences to the P1 we witnessed in Geneva.

What’s perhaps more interesting is that this car is painted silver—we’ve only seen the P1 traipsing around the world from auto show to auto show in toasted orange, yellow, and black hues. Silver is the perfect color to evaluate the car’s sensual shape, which marks a pronounced departure from the simple lines of the 12C. Surrounding the carbon-fiber MonoCage, the complex and curvaceous shape generates more downforce—according to those in Woking—than any other production car.

Regardless of whether this is the standard-issue P1 or an even more radical derivative, the war in the ultra-high performance segment promises to get very interesting what with Porsche’s 887-hp 918 and Ferrari’s 950-hp LaFerrari both being introduced to the market at roughly the same time as the McLaren.

McLaren P1 XP2R (spy photo) photo gallery

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Source: FULL ARTICLE at Car & Driver

Mean Mower? More Like Masochistic Mower: Honda U.K. Builds 130-mph Ride-On Mower

By Alexander Stoklosa

Mean Mower

The concept of a super-high-output ride-on lawn tractor isn’t new, but a factory-backed effort from a major automaker sure is. The guilty party is an outfit that, unlike pretty much every other large OEM, builds everything from cars to weed-wackers, outboard motors, scooters, and, yes, lawn mowers. We’re talking, of course, about Honda, whose U.K. subsidiary decided mixing its lawn-care expertise with its racing know-how would make for one hell of an example of the company’s penchant for innovative engineering. Honda enlisted its touring car partner, Team Dynamics, to help out, and the result is the nearly stock-looking Honda HF2620 lawn tractor you see here, dubbed the Mean Mower.

Putting aside the cutesy name for a moment—it sounds like a riff off of the Snapper Tom Hanks rode in Forrest Gump—nearly everything about the HF2620 except the bodywork is either custom-fabricated or borrowed from other vehicles. Take, for example, the engine: it’s a 1.0-liter V-twin pulled from Honda’s VTR 1000F Firestorm motorcycle. It pumps out 109 horsepower and 71 lb-ft of torque, and backs up to a custom six-speed, paddle-shifted sequential gearbox powering the rear wheels. The steroidal powertrain is mounted in a custom tube-frame chassis, which also serves as the home for the suspension setup from an ATV. Out back, the grass bag actually is home to a fuel tank, a high-capacity oil cooler, and a secondary radiator.

The steering rack, curiously, is from a Morris Minor, but it probably helps the driver stay in control at the absolutely insane speeds Honda claims the Mean Mower is capable of. Top speed is an estimated 133 mph, and the trip from zero to 60 mph takes less than four seconds. These staggering performance figures have the lawn tractor’s power-to-weight ratio to thank; by Honda’s figures it works out to a Veyron-shaming 2.82 pounds per horsepower. Of course, the creation weighs just 309 pounds minus a driver, so that ratio likely changes quite a bit depending on how much the pilot weighs.

A custom Cobra racing seat helps keep that driver in place while mowing about, although it appears to lack a seatbelt. That’s probably for the best, because if this thing were to go blades-up at high speed, we think we’d rather not be strapped to it. Wearing a helmet is a good idea, and ear protection couldn’t hurt, either, since according to the American Academy of Otolaryngology, “prolonged exposure to noise above 85–90 decibels can lead to hearing loss.” Riders may find this tidbit useful, since the combination of the motorcycle engine and a Scorpion exhaust make the tractor a 130-decibel sound bazooka at only three-quarter throttle. For reference, that’s nearly as loud as being within 350 feet of a commercial jet taking off.

If you’re thinking that this is only a really convincing-looking, tube-frame lawn-mower look-alike, well, simmer down. The Mean …read more

Source: FULL ARTICLE at Car & Driver

Nissan Delays Infiniti’s Electric Car to Add New Features

By Clifford Atiyeh

Infiniti LE concept

Nissan CEO Carlos Ghosn always looks like he’s smirking, but with Infiniti delaying a second critical product in a week’s time, we’re sure he’s frowning hard. On Wednesday, Nissan executive vice president Andy Palmer told The Wall Street Journal that the company would “push back the timing” of its Infiniti LE, a luxury electric car based on the Nissan Leaf that was scheduled to go on sale by next spring. A week earlier, Infiniti delayed the launch of its new 2014 Q50 by another month to make engineering tweaks. The LE, first shown at the 2012 New York auto show, may need much more time, although Palmer didn’t specify a ballpark date.

“Certain technologies that we see now, which we didn’t see two years ago, are going to be available in a time frame that was relatively close to where we were going to introduce the Infiniti,” Palmer told the Journal. Our attempts to reach Nissan went unanswered.

An outspoken advocate for electric cars, Ghosn made Nissan the first major automaker to sell a mass-produced EV since the GM EV1. His insistence on pure electric power using an entirely new platform—as opposed to developing EVs and plug-in hybrids from existing models, as Ford has done—means the company needs to sell more EV variants to recoup costs. The Infiniti LE, along with the e-NV200 commercial van, is essential to that plan. But with plug-ins accounting for a half-percent of all market share, no one is betting Nissan—which built a new battery plant in Smyrna, Tennesse, using $1.4 billion in federal loans—will be generating EV profits any time soon. Nor will any automaker, for that matter.

Likely, those “certain technologies”  Palmer refers to involve the SAE fast-charging combo plug, which the company (along with Mitsubishi) continues to oppose despite approval from eight other U.S. and European automakers. Nissan has supported the Japanese CHAdeMO standard for the Leaf, which requires a separate connection as opposed to the SAE’s all-in-one design.

Nissan also may be considering liquid cooling for its lithium-ion battery pack, another feature the company has strongly resisted to cut costs. In September of last year, dozens of Leaf owners in Phoenix told Nissan that the area’s desert heat had prematurely cut their range, with some owners reportedly losing up to 30 percent of battery capacity in less than two years. In April, Nissan responded with a new battery warranty that would offer replacements, although Palmer said at the time that the Leaf’s air-cooled pack did not require further improvements.

Or, Nissan engineers simply could be too busy. They’re preparing a hybrid powertrain for the next-gen GT-R, a car we’d gladly take first over the LE.

In any case, Infiniti’s delay is good news for General Motors, which would prefer its upcoming 2014 Cadillac ELR to have all the electric attention.

…read more

Source: FULL ARTICLE at Car & Driver

2013 Rolls-Royce Alpine Trial Centenary Collection Ghost: 100 Years of Being the Best [2013 Shanghai Auto Show]

By Alexander Stoklosa

Rolls-Royce is steeped in history—it has, after all, been around for more than 100 years—and now it is mining some of that heritage with a special-edition Ghost called the Alpine Trial Centenary Collection. The unique Ghost debuts at the 2013 Shanghai auto show and celebrates the 100th anniversary of Rolls-Royce’s success in the 1820-mile Austrian Alpine Trials with a Silver Ghost. It might seem like an obscure reference for a modern automaker to make, but the Silver Ghost’s trouble-free completion of the 1913 Alpine Trials—a brutal endurance race over “near-impassable mountain terrain”—earned Rolls-Royce the title of maker of the “best car in the world.” Seems to us like it’s as good a car as any to hark back to.

2013 Shanghai Auto Show full coverage

The 2013 Alpine Trial Centenary Collection Ghost is Rolls-Royce’s first heritage model drummed up by its Bespoke internal customization shop, and is pleasantly subtle in its execution. The Ghost gets a silver-over-blue paint job accentuated by black wheels and a black grille, which mimics the 1913 Silver Ghost Trial car’s livery and rolling stock, and we think both rides look pretty darn good. The modern Rolls also gets a delicate pinstripe that runs its entire length and features four slashes, each of which represent one of the four Rolls-Royces that competed in the 1913 endurance trial. Inside, the Ghost’s dashboard clock face displays the different stages of the Alpine Trial and timings, and the dashboard and fold-down rear-seat picnic tables gain decorative inlays showing the Trial’s topography and distances.

Back in the early 20th century, arduous endurance races were the motorsport events that could make or break fledgling automakers; after all, if the cars could stand up to the abuse of being pummeled over unpaved roads—or no roads at all—they likely could handle anything potential customers could throw at them. Rolls-Royce built something that stood up to the task, and today it would seem it’s no less competent at crafting automobiles worthy of being considered “best in the world.” Of course, that measure today doesn’t require Rolls to send a car bouncing down a trail in some forgotten corner of the earth, but wouldn’t it be pretty cool if it did?

From: http://feedproxy.google.com/~r/caranddriver/blog/~3/84qzBQYjmoI/

2014 Chevrolet Cruze Diesel EPA-Rated at 46-mpg Highway

By Kirk Seaman

Chevrolet has announced that the new-for-2014 Cruze diesel will get an EPA-estimated 46 mpg on the highway and 26 mpg in the city. With its 2.0-liter turbo-diesel making 148 horsepower and 258 lb-ft of torque matched with a six-speed automatic transmission, the diesel joins the base 1.8-liter four and the optional 1.4-liter turbo four already available in the Cruze powertrain lineup. The addition of the diesel is the news; how its fuel economy stacks up against its siblings and the competition, however, is another matter.

Getting 46 mpg on the highway is a laudable achievement for the diesel; the automatic-equipped Cruze Eco gets 39 mpg and the Eco with the six-speed manual gets 42 mpg. Drill a little deeper, though, and the comparisons become less favorable: the automatic Eco matches the diesel’s city rating of 26, while the manual betters it by 2 mpg.

Then there is the matter of dollars and cents. At $25,695, the Cruze diesel is $4010 more than the Cruze Eco with an automatic and $5205 more than the manual. And with diesel fuel currently costing about 40 cents more per gallon than regular unleaded, it’s going to take owners a whole lot of highway driving to recoup the extra cost of the diesel-engine option.

Chevy wants you to pay no attention to that Cruze Eco behind the curtain, and would instead like you to consider the Volkswagen Jetta TDI as the bow-tie diesel’s real competition. The Jetta costs about $700 less than the compression-ignition Cruze, but the Chevy comes with more standard features, including MyLink infotainment, larger 17-inch aluminum wheels, leather seats, and a two-year maintenance plan. Chevrolet also offers a powertrain warranty that is the same in years (five) but better in miles (100,000 versus the VW’s 60,000). On the fuel-economy front, the Jetta gets ratings of 30/42; that puts the Cruze up by 4 mpg on the highway but down 4 mpg in the city.

The Cruze diesel will go on sale this spring in “high-indexing diesel cities” such as Baltimore and Milwaukee. Later this fall, it will be available nationwide and in Canada. While we’re always glad to see a new choice in the world of compression ignition, we’re still not sure how Chevy’s new diesel is going to find its place in the market. With diesel sales up in 2012 by more than 25 percent according to some estimates, Chevy is hoping the Cruze can get in on some of that oil-burning action.

From: http://feedproxy.google.com/~r/caranddriver/blog/~3/7Sd-jHz0Cuk/

Cadillac ELR’s Paddle Shifters Operate Regenerative Braking, Not Gear Changes

By John Lamm

The planetary transmission of Chevrolet’s Volt leaves little reason to have paddle shifters on the steering column of the extended-range electric car, but that’s not stopped Cadillac from equipping its Voltec-powered ELR with a pair of steering-wheel-mounted paddles—albeit with a new mission. Naturally, the ELR will have regenerative brakes to capture energy for its lithium-ion battery pack, but it will also have what Cadillac is calling Regen on Demand. Under deceleration, the driver can pull on either of the paddles to increase the regenerative braking and slow the ELR still more.

On the off chance an ELR owner happens to be hot-lapping the luxury electric, operating the paddles would be similar to downshifting as the driver approaches a corner. This doesn’t really have a major effect on driving, but it does give the driver something to do. As ELR chief engineer Chris Thomason points out, “This allows the drive to take [a] more active role in the electric-vehicle driving experience.” As long as we’re listing features that would allow the driver to take a more active role in the electric-vehicle driving experience, might we suggest audio and HVAC controls with real knobs?

From: http://feedproxy.google.com/~r/caranddriver/blog/~3/cH9TOCa4Vv8/

Spied! 2015 Ford Mustang Prototype Caught Under a Very Un-Pretty Cover

By Car and Driver

We know it’s about a year away from being revealed, but the 2015 Ford Mustang probably is the debut to watch for next year. Tantalizingly, we’ve been fed a steady diet of spy photos showing smidgens of the next-gen car’s design and its possible independent rear suspension—and now along comes this photo, which clearly shows a heavily camouflaged next-gen Mustang wearing production-spec bodywork.

Without a doubt, this is a 2015 Mustang test mule, despite the a baggy full-body wrap hiding almost all of the styling. Oddly, this test car lacks a rear bumper and has a poorly fitted stand-in piece up front. Based on the cover’s front and rear cutouts, it appears as though both the headlights and taillights have migrated higher on the Mustang’s front and rear ends, and there is a small fender vent peeking through the camo, as well. It’s hard to see from the angle the photo was taken, but it appears as though the rear suspension on this prototype is indeed independent; we believe the new Stang will ditch its signature solid rear axle.

Most important, while this photo might not reveal much about Ford’s next pony car, it does show that the blue-oval brand has progressed to the production-prototype stage of the car’s development. That means a greater chance of snagging spy photos of the 2015 Mustang in its production-ready skin out on the open road—hopefully while wearing less cover-up.

From: http://feedproxy.google.com/~r/caranddriver/blog/~3/8_5ESmYu7FU/

A Quarter-Century of Volkswagen’s California

By Jens Meiners

A quarter-century ago, Volkswagen discovered the motorhome. Before then, conversions of its rear-engined T2 and T3 buses—the latter known in the U.S. as the Vanagon—were handled by aftermarket companies such as Westfalia or yacht-maker Dehler. But these elaborate, if compact, motorhomes became unaffordable, and VW moved to fill the niche. Based on the T3, the first-generation California hit the market. It was succeeded by a California version of the T4, and the current T5 also is available as a California model—a perfect companion to explore the roads far from the beaten path.

The naming of the California models was and is no coincidence. VW’s affordable motorhomes are a nod to the incredible popularity the T2 and the T3 enjoyed in America’s West Coast—particularly among the surfer and hippie communities, where it was sometimes fondly referred to as the “Love Bus.” Today’s California is about love as much as it is about leading the segment—with diesel engines of up to 180 horsepower and an available gasoline engine with 204 horsepower. The gallery below provides a look of the California’s evolution from T3 through today’s T5.

From: http://feedproxy.google.com/~r/caranddriver/blog/~3/YlCcPEI5VFU/

Four for Boosting: ’14 Ford Fusion to Get 1.5-Liter EcoBoost Four-Cylinder

By Austin Lindberg

When Ford introduces its global-market Mondeo to China at next week’s Shanghai auto show, the car’s powertrain roster will include an all-new 1.5-liter EcoBoost four-cylinder. Astute observers may be asking why this new 1.5-liter turbo four exists when the blue-oval brand already produces a 1.6-liter turbo four. It’s simple: Ford has grand plans for China, where significant tax breaks are given to vehicles powered by engines that displace 1.5 liters or less. The Dearborn-based manufacturer expects Asian and Pacific markets to make up 30 percent of its global sales by 2020, with China making up a large chunk of that pie. Closer to home, this engine will be added to the Fusion‘s powertrain lineup for 2014.

Yes, it will be added to the Fusion’s powertrain lineup, rather than replacing the 1.6-liter. So for 2014, the Fusion will be available with a 1.5-liter EcoBoost four, a 1.6-liter EcoBoost four, a 2.0-liter EcoBoost four, a naturally aspirated 2.5-liter four-cylinder, and the Atkinson-cycle 2.0-liter four used in the hybrid systems of the Fusion hybrid and Energi plug-in. The 1.5 will be available only with a six-speed automatic, while the 1.6 will be paired exclusively with a six-speed manual. This will allow Ford to allocate more 1.6-liter EcoBoosts to the Escape, where demand for the engine has surprised even Ford. (The crossover also offers the naturally aspirated 2.5-liter and the 2.0-liter EcoBoost.)

As far as the engine itself, Ford revealed very few details. It will be built at the company’s Craiova, Romania, production facility before being shipped to the U.S. and other markets this summer. Ford says that the 1.5 will “provide similar horsepower and torque performance” to the 1.6-liter, while delivering improved fuel economy. The new powerplant incorporates some features developed and introduced in the brand’s 1.0-liter EcoBoost three-cylinder, such as an integrated exhaust manifold that Ford claims will allow the engine to warm up more quickly.

From: http://feedproxy.google.com/~r/caranddriver/blog/~3/3JoLcsrYPp8/

Porsche’s Flat-Four is in the Works, but Won’t See the Light of Day Any Time Soon

By Jens Meiners

This Boxster won’t ever make use of the flat-four Porsche is developing, but the next-gen Boxster likely will.

Several years after we reported on an upcoming flat-four engine by Porsche and a some six months after R&D chief Wolfgang Hatz confirmed such an engine, detailed reports on the powerplant are beginning to hit the web. According to Flat-6 News, the mill could be unveiled as soon as this year’s Frankfurt auto show.

A call to Stuttgart quickly produced yet another confirmation of the project’s ongoing status; the optimistic timeframe, however, was roundly dismissed. The engine will require significantly more time in development, and there are no plans to put it into the current generations of the relatively fresh Boxster or the brand-new Cayman. (A sub-Boxster, entry-level roadster—which has been reported as a potential recipient of the new flat-four—isn’t exactly dead, but it’s been put on hold indefinitely.) The new mill could arrive in naturally aspirated and turbocharged forms, and it will produce anywhere from around 250 horsepower to more than 350. The entry-level engine on offer in today’s Boxster and Cayman is a 2.7-liter flat-six, which makes 265 or 275 horsepower, respectively.

Purists should have no issue with a possible move to a flat-four. The brand has a rich history with this engine concept. All 356 models and its racing derivatives such as the 550 and the 718 were fitted with flat-four engines, as was the 912 and the vast majority of 914s. The 924 and the 944 were equipped with in-line four-cylinder engines, some of the turbocharged.

Source: FULL ARTICLE at Car & Driver

Light Bars Make Everything Better: BMW Adds M6 Gran Coupe to Roster of MotoGP Safety Cars

By Alexander Stoklosa

As BMW enters its 15th season as the official car of MotoGP, it’s gifting the series’ safety-car fleet a brand-spanking-new M6 Gran Coupe. As the latest M car to hit consumers, the M6 Gran Coupe is a natural fit for safety-car duty. Besides, the burliest Gran Coupe looks unbelievably cool even before BMW adds a light bar, so there’s that.

The M6 Gran Coupe safety car gets the typical complement of doo-dads relevant to making it both highly visible and, er, safer. There’s a unique front fascia adapted to accomodate a pair of LED driving light arrays, black wheels, black grilles and fender vents, an Akrapovic exhaust system, Recaro racing seats, and of course, a roof-mounted light bar. The mostly white M6 Gran Coupe gets further amped up with an M-signature blue, purple, and red stripe job. Serving alongside the Gran Coupe is an M6 coupe introduced for last season and an M5; there’s also an M3 coupe for the safety officer, two M550d xDrive Touring (wagon!) medical cars, and two S1000RR HP4 safety bikes.

The new M6 Gran Coupe safety car with the whole MotoGP support gang.

The M6 Gran Coupe safety car made its debut at last weekend’s MotoGP season opener in Qatar. But if you’re determined to see this particular fleet of M-badged safety vehicles in the metal, the next stop on this season’s MotoGP calendar is the Circuit of the Americas in Austin, Texas, later this month.

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Source: FULL ARTICLE at Car & Driver

An Audi RS8? You Bet Your RS It Could Happen—Emphasis on “Could”

By Alexander Stoklosa

A rendering of an Audi RS8 has appeared up on the Audi-centric website Fourtitude.com. Wait, an RS8? Simmer down—while we’ve not heard of any plans for Audi to add an RS version of its A8 sedan, we’re running the speculative photo because, well, an RS8 would be rad-tacular. If it were to happen, of course. (For more photos head on over to Fourtitude’s site.)

Currently, Audi’s biggest four-door comes in regular A8 grade—available with a diesel V-6, a supercharged V-6, and a twin-turbo V-8—and high-performance S8 guise, which gets a hotter version of the A8′s twin-turbo V-8. There has never been an S8-topping RS8, but given that Audi’s been applying the RS treatment to machines like the Q3 recently, anything is possible. The best part of this fantasy? In order to top the S8, the RS8 would need to pack significantly more than that A8′s 520 horsepower. Yes.

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Source: FULL ARTICLE at Car & Driver

Chevrolet Reveals Hot Wheels Edition Camaro Convertible by Giving Away 33 of Them

By John Lamm

If you were one of the 33 major directors of the Indianapolis 500, you’d now be tooling around in one of the new Chevrolet Camaro Hot Wheels edition convertibles. Chevy lined up 33 of the softtop Hot Wheels Camaros at the Brickyard and gave away one to each director as a way of highlighting both this special-edition Camaro and the run-up to the 500 in May. The bow-tie brand hasn’t put a number on how many Hot Wheels cars it will build, but if past special editions are any gauge, expect around 1500 to see the light of day.

As is the case with the coupe, the premium for the Hot Wheels convertible is $6995. What do you get for nearly seven grand? Well, everything that comes with the Hot Wheels coupe, save for the ZL1′s rear spoiler. For starters, there’s the obvious blue-metalic finish with a matte-black racing stripe running from nose to tail, accented by bespoke, red-trimmed 21-inch wheels that carry a tag of $4780 all by themselves. Hot Wheels badging is added to the front fenders, the grille, and the decklid, but, perhaps, the coolest add-on is the flame detailing on the rear fenders. Inside is a black-leather interior featuring the famous Rick Irons–designed Hot Wheels logo on the seats and the floor mats.

When it comes to powering the Hot Wheels Camaro, there are two engine choices available: The 323-hp, 3.6-liter V-6 or the 6.2-liter V-8. Both engines can be had with either a six-speed manual or a six-speed automatic, however, the eight-cylinder’s output changes depending on which transmission is selected—400 horsepower with the auto or 426 with the stick. Regardless of which transmission is bolted to the eight-cylinder, it gets an active-exhaust system, which gives us all the encouragement we need to keep the right pedal firmly matted.

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Source: FULL ARTICLE at Car & Driver

Shelby Pumps Ford F-150 Raptor to 575 hp, Earth’s Crust Braces for Imminent Pummeling [2013 New York Auto Show]

By Andrew Wendler

Nissan Tama EV

The only surprising thing about Shelby’s recently unveiled take on Ford’s Raptor is that it took them this long to work one over. After all, Shelby has been operating in near-lockstep with Ford for years, unleashing tuned, tweaked, and twisted versions of Blue Oval products in a reliable cadence.

For the princely starting price of $17,995, the gang at Shelby American will poke and prod a production Raptor’s 6.2-liter V-8 to 575 horsepower, a hearty increase over the stock Raptor’s already randy 411. The additional 164 ponies arrive in the pasture largely due to a 2.9-liter supercharger, a “massive” intercooler, and a Shelby/Borla Exhaust system. Both the supercharger and intercooler come from Whipple (it also supplies Ford Racing with many performance components), as does the ECU re-flash. And you don’t need a brand-spanking-new Raptor to bring it in for the Shelby makeover: John Luft, president of Shelby American, told C/D that current owners are welcome to bring their Raptors to its facility.

Originally slated for a production run of only 100 units, the initial response was so strong Shelby American now says production will be capped at 500. “Not a week goes by without someone asking us about doing a truck, so I guess we shouldn’t be too surprised that we received dozens of phone calls within an hour of its New York debut,” says Luft. Interestingly, most buyers are planning on putting their Raptor to work, not shrink-wrapping it and stowing it away as an investment: “The Raptor will probably see more miles than any other Shelby vehicle,” Luft says, “as the overwhelming amount of buyers have made it clear they want to use their Shelby Raptor as a tow vehicle—preferably for their Shelby track car—or for real off-road use.”

Exterior graphics packages come in three Shelby-fied flavors: faux mud splashes and two stripe packages differentiated only by the hood graphics. The custom Shelby leather interior is designed by Katzkin and is included in the standard package. You can add wheels and tires, light bars, bumpers, and roll bars, and an off-road performance package of unspecified components is in the final stages of development. And it wouldn’t be a Shelby without a badge bearing the signature of Ol’ Shel’ himself and inclusion on the Shelby Registry. Build one for yourself here.

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Source: FULL ARTICLE at Car & Driver