The coolest news and photos from the automotive universe
Talk about a fifth wheel.
Porsche has announced that it will be entering a hybrid version of its legendary 911 sports car in an upcoming 24-hour race in Germany in advance of an expected assault on the 24 Hours of LeMans in 2012. Of course, this being a Porsche, there’s a twist to the story, or, in this case, a spin.
Instead of using batteries to power its electric motors the way run of the mill hybrids do, including Porsche’s own upcoming Cayenne Hybrid (yes a hybrid Porsche SUV is on the way, too, so Armageddon is definitely on the horizon), the 911 GT3 R Hybrid has an electrical flywheel generator mounted where the passenger seat usually goes. Whenever the driver hits the brakes the twin electric motors driving the front wheels generate electricity which spins the flywheel at speeds up to 40,000 rpm, storing the energy until it is called upon to boost acceleration in six to eight second bursts. Porsche says the flywheel is much lighter than equivalent batteries would weigh. The electric motors add about 160 hp to the 480 hp produced by the six-cylinder engine driving the rear wheels.
The GT3 R Hybrid will be officially unveiled at the Geneva Motor Show in March, so you might want to start buying canned goods now.
First, Ford announced a new 305 hp V6 for the 2011 Mustang that gets 30 mpg for, then it followed with news of a 412 hp V8 carrying the legendary 5.0 name destined for the same car. Now, just for good measure, the Blue Oval Brand has taken the top of the line Shelby GT500 Mustang to the top of an even higher line.
Addressing the main, and probably only complaint about the current GT500, that it’s a little porky, Ford’s Special Vehicles Team division replaced the iron block of its supercharged 5.4 liter V8 with an aluminum one, removing 102 pounds from on top of front wheels. A side benefit of the swap is a 10 hp bump in horsepower to 550 hp, matching the record for a Ford production car.
Plus, because we know it matters, highway fuel economy increases 1 mpg to 23 mpg.
Capping things off is an optional SVT performance package – as if the base model didn’t deliver enough ‘performance’ – which includes a stiffer suspension, revised rear axle ratio, and staggered 19-inch front, 20-inch rear wheels wrapped in nearly slick Goodyear Eagle F1 Supercar tires.
Exterior changes are subtle, with a Gurney flap on the rear spoiler and narrower racing stripes down the middle of the car being the most obvious alterations. The GT500 is available as a coupe, convertible, or with the Mustang’s all-glass-roof option.
Now this is our kind of inflation.
Famed Indian auto tuning house DC Designs is now offering its take on the $2,000 Tata Nano - also known as the 'world's cheapest car' - and it can be yours for just $210,000 over list price.
The DG490 loses the Nano's 33 hp three-cylinder engine in favor of a 1.6 liter turbocharged four-cylinder that more than doubles the microcar's top speed from 65 mph to 140 mph, and takes up the space where the back seats usually are. The rear doors are also a casualty of an aggressively styled carbon fiber body that's a far cry from the cheerful look of the standard car.
New brakes, suspension, and a high-performance dual clutch automatic transmission round out the package.
U.S. sales of the DG490 are not planned, but Tata is expected to bring the Nano here within a couple of years...at a price of $8,000.
Now that's definitely NOT our kind of inflation.
Ford has been promoting its 2011 Fiesta hard through traditional advertising and social networking, but none of that can compare to the boost it is about to get.
Rally car/stunt driver Ken Block's Monster World Rally Team has revealed the Ford Fiesta that Block will be campaigning in the upcoming Rally America championship, which kicks off with Michigan's Sno*Drift rally on January 29th. The all-wheel-drive creation is a heavily modified version of the front-wheel-drive subcompact that goes on sale in the U.S. this Summer.
DC Shoes founder Block has been a top-level competitor in Rally America since 2005, but is even more famous for stunt driving videos that have gotten millions of views on YouTube, promoting his sponsors and racing efforts.
Block also has plans to take his racing global this season as the only American to compete at the top level of the World Rally Championship, which begins March 7th in Mexico. We'll have to wait a few weeks to get a peek at the European Ford Focus he'll be driving there.
At the 2010 Washington Auto Show, General Motors announced that the Nation's Capital will be one of three launch markets for the Chevrolet Volt in late 2010.
The District of Columbia joins California and Michigan (go figure) as the first locations where the extended-range electric vehicle will be available for public sale.
GM cites the commitment of each of the areas to building a public electric car charging infrastructure as the primary reason they were chosen, but we can't help but think that bailout money didn't hurt D.C.'s chances.
No word if the White House has put down a deposit yet, but it probably won't replace the current Presidential limousine any time soon.
The 2011 BMW 5 Series officially hit the road in Europe this week, on its way to American showrooms in June 2010.
Ditching the Dame Edna headlights of the current model in favor of a look that is both more mainstream and streamlined, the new 5 embraces the company's new design direction.
Inline-6, V8, Diesel and Hybrid models will all eventually be available, but the first cars will come with a choice of 300 hp six-cylinder and 402 hp eights under the hood.
Even though his stint as host of "The Tonight Show" is about to end, Conan O'Brien decided to introduce a new character to the program on Wednesday night.
The $1.5 million Bugatti Veyron Mouse doesn't do much, aside from playing the Rolling Stone's "Satisfaction", but its sole purpose is to waste a whole lot of NBC's money on needless expenses and licensing fees and it certainly accomplishes that.
In any event, when Conan finally bids farewell to the Peacock Network, the 253 mph super-rodent would make a great getaway car.
One of these days MINI may need to think about changing its name.
Following the introduction of the stretched, three-door Clubman, the first official pictures of MINI's new crossover, the Countryman have been released in advance of the car's official unveiling at the Geneva Motor Show in March.
Still tiny, even for a cute ute, the Countryman is both MINI's first five-door vehicle and the first with seating for five, though four buckets are standard. It is also available with the company's first all-wheel-drive system, though the vehicle isn't meant for serious off-roading.
The Coutnryman will come with MINI's 120 hp 1.6-liter engine, as well as an optional 180 hp turbocharged version, and should be compatible with most John Cooper Works performance parts, which will increase the power and on-road handling of the vehicle even further.
Prices haven't been announced, but you can expect the Countryman to be the most expensive model in the lineup when it hits American roads next year.
Just to drill home how much fun you can expect to have in the Countryman, MINI displayed a doorless, waterproof concept based on it called the Beachcomber at the 2010 Detroit Auto Show.
Ford won the 2009 Daytona 500, and it looks like it's guaranteed to lead the field in 2010.
A 2011 Ford Mustang GT will be the pace car for NASCAR's season opener, and one lucky fan will get to buy the car... before the race.
The glass-roof Mustang is modified with a Ford Racing suspension, strut tower brace, mufflers, and has enough Daytona 500 stickers to make Lightning McQueen jealous. One of 50 that will be made, the official pace car will be auctioned off at the Barrett Jackson auction in Scottsdale, AZ on Jan. 23, three weeks before the race. Proceeds from the sale will go to the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation.
No price has been set for the other 49 cars, but since it's been 40 years since a Ford has paced the Daytona 500, don't expect to get one for sticker.
To celebrate the 45th anniversary of the launch of the 1965-1970 GT350, Shelby American handed over a 2011 Ford Mustang GT to a team that includes a former Hot Wheels designer to create a modern version of the legendary muscle car.
With a 500 hp supercharged version of the Mustang's new 5.0-liter V8 under the hood, Borla exhaust system, 14-inch Baer brakes, Ford Racing suspension and bodywork that includes a functional hood scoop, deep side skirts, and classic louvered covers for the rear side windows, the GT350 promises to be one of the more potent ponies in the Mustang stable.
Price for the conversion is $33,995 on top of the $30,495 you'll pay for a new Mustang GT. Worth it? 1965 originals sell in the neighborhood of $300,000 today, so it's definitely a bargain compared to one of those.
After a twenty year vacation from his vacation, "Tiki Bob" returns to the Jeep Wrangler lineup, adorning the hood of the resurrected Islander model.
With a choice of special colors, including its signature Surf Blue, the trim package adds unique "Tiki Bob" seats, 17-inch Moab wheels, Mopar rubber floor mats for wet outings, and a number of other appearance features for $1,120.
If you're the current owner of a Chevrolet Aveo, the Aveo RS Concept will either frighten or delight you.
Shod with 19-inch wheels, a 138 horsepower four-cylinder, and an interior that would look at home on a very small Cadillac, believe it or not, the Aveo RS is an only slightly exaggerated version of the 2011 model that goes on sale later this year.
The 2011 Cadillac CTS-V will get it's official unveiling at the 2010 North American International Auto Show, but GM has released all of the important information about its new flagship car ahead of time.
Sharing the same basic platform and 556 hp V8 as the CTS-V sedan, the lighter coupe will accelerate from 0-60 mph in a supercar quick 3.9 seconds on its way to a 190-plus mph top speed, while a slightly wider track should endow it with even better handling than its already grippy four-door brethren. An even sharper hardtop body style makes it look faster just standing still.
Sales of the 2+2 begin this summer.
What once seemed like a practical joke has moved one step closer to reality.
Aston Martin has released photos of the completed version of it's Cygnet compact car. Based on the Toyota iQ subcompact, the Cygnet gets a version of Aston Martin's trademark grille, and an interior drenched in high-quality leather trim.
Featuring the same, very un-Aston-like 1.0 liter three cylinder engine that delivers 56 mpg in the iQ, the Cygnet is envisioned as an environmentally friendly daily driver for owners of some of Aston's gas guzzling super sports cars. While it's yet to be seen what the Cygnet does for Aston's image, the car should help out with the company's average fuel economy and carbon emissions ratings.
Production is still not final, but the company hopes to have it on sale in the United Kingdom by the end of 2010 for an undisclosed price, offering it only to current Aston owners, at first.
No word if James Bond is on that list.
For those to whom exotic cars just aren't exclusive enough, Ferrari offers a special program that builds custom one-off cars for money is no object-types.
The latest car to come out of this unique shop is the P540 Superfast Aperta, created for Edward Walson, son of the man who invented cable television, or so we're told.
Constructed on the platform of company's run-of-the-mill $300,000 599 GTB Fiorano, the P540 was inspired by another unique Ferrari that appeared in the 1968 film "Toby Dammit", which was based on a story written by Edgar Allan Poe.
The price paid for the car has not been revealed, but you can be certain it was more than your typical cask of amontillado.
Yes, like any good luxury sport sedan, the 2011 Infiniti M is available with a powerful V6 and V8 engines, all wheel drive, and leather covered everything, but its the electronics that make it special.
Along with active noise control to keep things quiet, the M has a blind spot warning system that not only tells you if you're about to turn into a car hidden behind the rear pillar, but also steers you away from it if you don't heed the warning.
Better still, as you calm down from your near-body shop experience and take a deep breath, you'll appreciate the car's Forest Air system, which filters and humidifies the air in the cabin, and mimics a wandering breeze as it blows it into your face.
If the 2010 Mustang was all about the body, the 2011 version is pure heart.
Ford has confirmed that the entry-level version of the muscle car will get a new 3.7-liter V6 engine that pumps out 305 horsepower and, perhaps more important these days, gives the car an EPA rating of 30 mpg with a 6-speed automatic transmission, 29 mpg with the 6-speed manual.
If that's not your thing, don't worry, rumor has it there's a 400 hp V8 on the way, too. But you'll have to wait until the 2009 Los Angeles Auto Show to find out for sure.
During the recent presentation of Chrysler's five-year plan, a lot of information about the types of new cars and trucks coming in the next few years was revealed, but few images of what they will actually look like. Well, here's a sneak peek at one.
A version of the new 2010 Fiat Doblo small van will likely show up in the United States in 2012, carrying the name and face of the new Ram truck brand. Available in a number of styles ranging from this cargo model to a 7-passenger family carrier, the highly-styled Doblo should match up well against the recently introduced Ford Transit Connect in the marketplace.
Not sold on design and utility? How about this: some Doblos are assembled and sold in North Korea by a company partly owned by the Reverend Sun Myung Moon.
No word on where the U.S. version will be manufactured, but don't expect to see Kim Jong-il featured in the advertisements for it.
After a five-year exile, Buick's most royally-named ride returns in the form of the 2011 Buick Regal.
The midsize sedan is basically a rebadged version of GM's Opel Insignia, which was named 2009 European Car of the Year. The four-door will only be available with four-cylinder engines, including the 182 hp 2.4-liter found in the Buick LaCrosse, and a 220 hp version of the 2.0-liter turbocharged unit, which was standard in the now-discontinued Chevy Cobalt SS.
Pricing has not been announced, but Buick says the Regal will compete directly with the $29,000 Acura TSX, costing much less than that car when it goes on sale in the second quarter of 2010.
Cadillac is jumping on General Motors' own electric car bandwagon.
According to a report in the Detroit News, the company has green lighted the battery-powered Converj coupe, first shown at the 2009 Detroit Auto Show. The edgy 2+2 concept features the same extended-range electric powertrain as the upcoming Chevrolet Volt, though details on the supposed production version have not yet been revealed. It's likely, however, that as a member of the Cadillac brand, the Converj will feature more luxury and performance than its mainstream cousin.
In fact, the concept version was designed to use a magnetically-adjustable suspension similar to the one on the Cadillac CTS-V sports sedan and 205 mph Chevrolet Corvette ZR1. Adding to the speculation, in a recent interview with Foxnews.com, GM Vice Chairmain Bob Lutz said not to "discount" the possibility of a high performance version of the Volt's powertrain.
A release date for the Converj has not been set, but it isn't expected to hit the road before the Volt goes on sale in late 2010.
At the 2009 Los Angeles Auto Show Porsche will be introducing the 2011 Boxster Spyder, the latest version of the company's two-seat convertible.
Featuring a 320 horsepower version of the 3.4 liter flat-six engine found in the Boxster S, the Spyder's claim to fame is it's low weight. At 2,811 pounds it is a full 176 pounds less than the lightest Boxster currently available. A lightweight top and aluminum door skins help trim the fat, while a lowered suspension gives it even better handling abilities.
The car goes on sale in February 2010 with a rather heavy $61,200 price tag.
Ford has introduced the world's first inflatable seat belts for use in a mass-produced car. In an accident, compressed air blows up bags inside the belts to help dissipate impact forces over a larger area of the chest and torso, while also controlling head and neck motions to help prevent whiplash-type injuries. Aimed primarily at young and elderly passengers who are more susceptible to impact injuries, and only intended for use in the rear seating positions, the belts are compatible with most child car seats, and Ford says that they will work properly even if the wearer has fallen asleep and has his or her head resting on the belt.
The seatbelts will debut on the all-new 2011 Ford Explorer crossover, which is scheduled to go into production next year. Ford expects the technology to spread to other model lines in subsequent years.
With 40-inch tires, the Lower Forty could've been called the Higher Forty, or maybe the Lower Forty-Eight, because this Mopar concept could drive pretty much anywhere in the U.S., or the world for that matter. Unveiled at the SEMA auto show in Las Vegas, Jeep Wrangler gets a 5.7-liter HEMI V8 engine to go along with those big wheels, something you won't find at your local Jeep dealer...yet.
The F-150 SVT Raptor may have no competition as the only factory-built desert racing-style pickup truck, but that hasn't stopped Ford from upping the ante. The half-ton pickup is now available with a 411 hp 6.2 liter V8, making it the most powerful truck in its class. And for good measure, Ford will also be offering a limited run of 50 actual racing versions of the truck in the form of the FR F-150 Raptor XT. With even more wheel travel than the stock version - 15-inch front/18-inch rear, a built-in roll cage, additional skid plates, lights, and other off-road features the $99,950 high-performance pickup just needs a turn of the key to enter events like the Baja 1000.
Dodge and Penske racing have revealed the new NASCAR Dodge Challenger they will be fielding in the 2010 Nationwide series, with drivers Justin Allgaier and Brad Keselowski behind the wheel. The all-new car is derived from NASCAR's Sprint Cup Car of Tomorrow, and will run in four events in 2010, before becoming the standard car for the 2011 season. In switching from its Charger four-door sedan profile to the two-door coupe body, Dodge joins Ford who recently introduced its own version of the car wearing the Ford Mustang name.
We hope the tires aren't flat, because Volkswagen is counting on it's New Mid-ize Sedan to challenge the Toyota Camry and Honda Accord in U.S. sales when the Chattanooga, Tennessee-built car is launched in 2011. Details are sketchy (ugh), but VW says the NMS will be larger and cheaper than the current Passat.
The coolest news and photos from the automotive universe