Archive for November, 2012
At the 2012 Los Angeles Auto Show, BMW showed the latest iterations of its i8 Concept plug-in hybrid sports car and the i3 Concept electric city car.
BMW has shown off several examples of these two electric cars at past auto shows. This time, the company insists that the two vehicles on display here are very close to the final designs of the upcoming production versions.
The i8 is a plug-in hybrid. It initially runs on electricity, but it has a gasoline engine that turns on when the battery is depleted. The gas engine also provides performance when the driver demands it. The engine is good for 354 horsepower, and BMW says the i8 will perform as well as its M3. Fuel economy is estimated to be about 78 mpg. The i8 is said to go about 20 miles on electric power alone, and it will take less than 2 hours to charge with a 220-volt socket. BMW states that the i8 will go on sale in 2014.
Hyundai unveiled a concept vehicle at the 2012 Los Angeles Auto Show called the Veloster C3 Roll Top Concept.
The Veloster C3 Roll Top is basically an ordinary Veloster subcompact car with a custom red canvas roll-away roof and fold-down tailgate. The cloth roof can open either forward or backward to favor open-top motoring or cargo-carrying versatility for items such as a surfboard or a bicycle, as shown here. The roof is made of repurposed industrial truck tarps that have been stitched with custom graphics that say “The C3 Roll Top.” The cargo floor is covered in tiles that are made from repurposed skateboard decks, and the inside of the tailgate is wrapped with skateboard-style grip tape.
The Veloster C3 Roll Top Concept uses the same engine as the Veloster Turbo: a 201-horsepower 1.6-liter turbocharged 4-cylinder.
No word from Hyundai on a possible production green light.
Also on display at Hyundai’s LA Auto Show stand was a near-production-ready version of the brand’s 2013 Santa Fe SUV. But wait, you say, the 2013 Hyundai Santa Fe is already on sale! I call shenanigans! Hold your horsepower—that vehicle is the 5-passenger Santa Fe Sport. This is just the Santa Fe, the larger, 3-row companion model that can accommodate either 6 or 7 passengers. Six-seat versions have 2nd-row captains’ chairs while 7-seat models use your typical bench seat.
If you’re experiencing déjà vu right now, we don’t blame you. What you’re seeing here is a near production-ready version of the 2014 Acura RLX, which premiered in concept form mere months ago at the 2012 New York Auto Show.
RLX will replace the slow-selling RL as Acura’s flagship sedan. Though designed to have a spacious interior, RLX’s exterior dimensions aren’t much larger than those of the brand’s volume TL midsize sedan.
Two drivetrains will be available. One will have front-wheel drive and a 310-horsepower 3.5-liter V6 paired to a 6-speed automatic transmission. Acura is projecting this setup to achieve 20 mpg city/31 mpg highway. Front-drive RLX models will use Acura’s new Precision All-Wheel Steer, which automatically and independently adjusts the left and right rear-wheel steering angles to improve handling response.
The other will have Acura’s new Sport Hybrid SH-AWD (Super Handling All-Wheel Drive). This system uses a series of electric motors to provide power to the wheels and a boost to the 3.5-liter V6. Combined output is estimated at 370 horsepower. Acura’s fuel economy target is 30 mpg city/30 mpg highway. We’ll see about that.
The 2014 Spark EV trades the “regular” Spark’s 1.25-liter 4-cylinder engine for a 130-horsepower electric motor. Chevy says the Spark EV will accelerate from 0-60 in less than 8 seconds. Power comes from a lithium-ion battery pack that will have “more than” 20-kWh of capacity. Chevy did not announce the Spark EV’s range.
The company claims Spark EV will be the first electric vehicle to be available with SAE Combo DC Fast Charging capability, which allows the car to get a 80-percent battery charge in 20 minutes. The car can also be charged on AC 240V and AC 120V electricity. It is possible to charge the car in about 7 hours using a dedicated 240V outlet.
Full pricing was not announced, but GM says Spark EV will sell for less than $25,000 after all available tax incentives. The Spark EV will be sold in California, Oregon, Canada, and other selected markets globally.
At the 2012 Los Angeles Auto Show, Fiat unveiled the new 500L 4-door compact car and two variations on its existing 500: the high-performance 500c Abarth convertible and the electric-powered 500e.
The new vehicle, representing the second nameplate in Fiat’s lineup, is the 500L. It is a 4-door crossover-like wagon that uses the same engine as the Abarth, a high-performance variant of the company’s 500 minicar. That powerplant is paired with either a 6-speed manual or 6-speed dual-clutch transmission that behaves much like an automatic. With seating for 5 passengers, it is 26 inches longer and 6 inches taller and wider than a standard 500. It is available in base Easy and top-end Trekking models. The off-road themed Trekking model includes 17-inch wheels, unique front and rear bumpers, flared fenders, and a two-tone interior—though somewhat curiously, all-wheel drive is not offered. Chrysler’s optional Uconnect 5.0 infotainment system features a 5-inch touchscreen, a wireless cell-phone link, streaming audio capability, and voice control. Uconnect 6.5 is an upgraded version, and it boasts a larger, 6.5-inch screen with navigation and a media hub with an SD card reader. The 500L will be available in mid-2013.
Subaru continues to be a hot commodity among shoppers. Much of that success comes from the popularity of its compact Forester SUV. In an effort to keep that momentum going, the company unveiled a redesigned model at the 2012 Los Angeles Auto Show.
The 2014 Subaru Forester features updated styling, increased passenger and cargo room, and a new top-line engine. Like most Subarus, the 2014 Forester comes standard with the brand’s Symmetrical all-wheel drive. It will have better off-road chops than most of its rivals due to a tall 8.7 inches of ground clearance.
Forester wouldn’t be a Subaru if it didn’t have a horizontally opposed “boxer” engine. The standard motor carries over from the 2013 model, a 170-horsepower 2.5-liter 4-cylinder. It pairs with a new 6-speed manual transmission (which replaces the previous 5-speed) or a continuously variable transmission (CVT) that behaves like an automatic. Subaru is projecting this engine to achieve 24 mpg in the city and 32 on the highway. Models equipped with this engine are called 2.5i. They are subdivided into Base, Premium, Limited, and Touring editions.
Jaguar took the wraps off its most powerful sedan ever at the 2012 Los Angeles Auto Show.
The 2014 Jaguar XFR-S boasts a 550-horsepower 5.0-liter supercharged V8 engine and an 8-speed automatic transmission. The British maker says the car will go from 0-60 mph in 4.4 seconds and achieve an electronically limited top speed of 186 mph.
Engineers tightened the front and rear suspensions by 30 percent. A new rear subframe is necessary to handle the high levels of torque running to the rear wheels. Jaguar’s Adaptive Dynamics system monitors and counteracts body lean, which is especially useful when carving tight corners. Large ventilated disc brakes bring things to a halt.
Also on display at the 2012 LA Auto Show was the 2014 Jaguar F-Type. Originally unveiled at the Paris Motor Show, the F-Type is a 2-seat convertible powered by either a supercharged V6 or V8 engine.
Land Rover is also a part of the Jaguar family, and the purveyor of high-end off-roaders showed its redesigned 2013 Range Rover. Billed as the first all-aluminum SUV, the new “Rangie” weighs some 500 pounds less than its predecessor. This should translate into much improved fuel economy—up to 5 mpg in both the city and on the highway.
Mercedes-Benz introduced a diverse collection of vehicles at the 2012 Los Angeles Auto Show, including a high-performance SUV, a new low-production version of the SLS AMG “gullwing” sports car, and a design study showing what a model-year 2025 version of the brand’s iconic G-Class might look like.
The 2013 Mercedes-Benz GL63 AMG is powered by a 550-horsepower 5.5-liter turbocharged V8 engine. It can reach a reported top speed of 174 mph. Other specific equipment includes an AMG-tuned air suspension as well as a transfer case for the standard all-wheel-drive system that distributes torque in a 40:60 front/rear split.
The 2014 Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG Black Series is the latest version of the brand’s 2-seat sports car. It boasts a 622-horsepower 6.3-liter V8 engine that can accelerate the car from 0-60 mph in 3.5 seconds. Other highlights include standard carbon-ceramic brakes, adaptive performance suspension, 20-inch forged alloy wheels, and newly developed Michelin Pilot Sport Cup 2 tires. It will go on sale in the U.S. in the summer of 2013.
Where better than car-crazy California to introduce a performance car? Maybe that’s why Nissan presented the updated 2014 GT-R at the 2012 Los Angeles Auto Show.
GT-R’s changes for 2014 include improved engine response in the mid- and upper-rpm ranges, increased body rigidity, and suspension changes that lower the car’s center of gravity. Nissan says the tweaks improve high-speed handling and offer more “refined” ride comfort. There are also interior changes, which include a new Premium interior package with hand-stitched Amber Red front-seat appointments.
While the output of the 3.8-liter engine remains unchanged at 545 horsepower, upgrades include new fuel injectors and an oil pan baffle. Also, each engine will now be fitted with an aluminum plaque that identifies the engine’s builder. The 2014 Nissan GT-R will go on sale in January 2013.
Fresh off the boat from this year’s Geneva Motor Show was the Nissan Hi-Cross Concept. This design study might hint at a future small SUV from the brand. The concept is powered by a 2.0-liter gasoline 4-cylinder engine that pairs with a battery-powered electric motor. Nissan claims this setup provides the power of the company’s standard 2.5-liter 4-cylinder engine but with much better fuel efficiency. Nissan has no plans to produce this vehicle . . . yet.
Ford introduced the 2014 version of its Fiesta subcompact at the 2012 Los Angeles Auto Show. New features include two turbocharged EcoBoost engines and a new version of the MyFord Touch system.
The first engine is Ford’s new EcoBoost 1.0-liter 3-cylinder engine. Yes, you read that right. Output is an estimated 123 horsepower. (The 2013 model’s standard 1.6-liter 4-cylinder is rated at 120 horsepower.)
The second engine is an EcoBoost 1.6-liter four. It will come standard in the high-performance Fiesta ST. Horsepower is estimated at 197. Fiesta ST will only be available as a 4-door hatchback with a 6-speed manual transmission.
The 2014 Fiesta gets MyFord Touch for the first time. It features a smaller touchscreen than the system used in other Ford products. It will come with the latest version of Ford’s Sync system, which allows for hands-free control of certain cell phones and music players. The system is said to allow for easier Bluetooth phone pairing, improved voice recognition, simpler command structures, and easier destination entry for the available navigation system.
Look for the 2014 Ford Fiesta to go on sale in calendar 2013.