Sports-car brand’s hybrid-electric push is part of a broader focus on fuel efficiency.
Most automakers have dipped a toe into the slowly emerging and extremely limited plug-in hybrid electric market by producing just a single model. According to British magazine Autocar, Porsche plans to introduce plug-in versions of all of its models based on technology developed for the 2014 Panamera S E-Hybrid introduced at the 2013 Shanghai Auto Show.
A Porsche representative revealed that new hybrid platforms that combine an electric motor and clutches in one unit has been adapted to fit into all of the company’s future cars, including the 911 and Cayman. It uses the same electric motor and clutch assembly slotted between the engine and transmission in the current Panamera and Cayenne hybrids, but adds a more powerful motor and battery.
The new hybrid technology is a step beyond the unit used in the Panamera S E-Hybrid and will be more powerful than its 94-horsepower hybrid-electric motor. The next-generation system will also be supported by a more energy-dense battery pack and more lightweight wire looms that use aluminum instead of copper.
Our semiregular roundup of the latest automotive news and musings from around the Web.
Unlike other posts on this blog, these are truly notes, but they're worth a few moments of your precious time.
Capping off this week, we take a look at proposed changes to blood alcohol limits, Tesla's latest court battle over a North Carolina dealership and Acura's plan to build the next NSX in Ohio.
Meet the BMW 2 Series, aka the new BMW 1 Series – wait, what?
After the 2014 BMW 2-Series was spotted in camouflage lapping the Nurburgring racetrack in Germany earlier this year, the first uncovered images of the new model were released this week. Specifically, the pictures (see them at Car and Driver) show the 235i in M Sport trim. As opposed to the 1-Series, which had distinctive, squared-off front- and rear-end treatments, the 2-Series more closely echoes the current 3- and coming 4-Series BMWs.
The M235i, as it's likely to be known, will have a 3.0-liter turbocharged straight-six engine producing around 320 horsepower and will sit above a base 228i with a 2.0-liter 240-horsepower turbocharged 4-cylinder. An M2 follow-up to the well-received 1M coupe could top 360 horsepower. An official reveal of the 2-Series is expected to occur near the end of this year, with production beginning as we head into 2014.
The creation and coming debut of the 2-Series is a major step in BMW’s overhaul of its lineup. With the end goal of creating a line of easy-to-distinguish models offering something for everyone – sound familiar, MINI fans? – BMW is coding coupes as even-numbered models and sedans under odd numbers.
The accelerator actually pushes back against your foot if you're trying to goose it too hard.
In a market surrounded by relatively high gas prices, nearly every car on sale has an "eco" feature of some sort. From simple dashboard indicators to sophisticated engine stop-start systems, automakers are employing a wide range of technologies designed to help drivers squeeze every mile out of each tank of gas.
But none is as annoying as Infiniti’s Eco Pedal, which takes an overly aggressive approach to saving fuel. Parent company Nissan noted that with the Eco Pedal feature engaged, “Each time the driver steps on the accelerator, a counter push-back control mechanism is activated if the system detects excess pressure.”
In other words, as I found out while testing a 2013 Infiniti M Hybrid with the feature, if you push the accelerator too hard and the Eco Pedal determines you’re driving in a fuel-inefficient manner, it pushes right back.
This is now a trend: Fail to fix someone's luxury car in China, and soon the vehicle may be bashed to bits.
Not in China. This week, a man parked his Maserati Quattroporte by the steps of the Qingdao Auto Show and proceeded to beat the car with sledgehammers in front of a crowd. The purpose, according to China Car Times, was to show the owner's frustration with a local Maserati distributor that repaired his car, unsuccessfully, with used parts instead of the new ones he ordered.
Luxury cars in China face huge import tariffs, and this particular Maserati cost a whopping $423,000 when new in 2011, or roughly 3.5 times more than a typical Quattroporte in the U.S. That makes the story even crazier.
Next installment gets bigger, faster, more social.
When the sixth installment of "Gran Turismo" hits store shelves this holiday season for the PlayStation 3, it will include 1,200 cars, 33 tracks in 71 layouts, a new track editor with 10 square kilometers of scenery, and more ways to connect with friends and rivals.
The new installment will add to the franchise's current sales of 70 million copies, continuing its run as one of the biggest sellers on the PlayStation family of consoles. Polyphony Digital, Sony and 10 manufacturers brought journalists out to the Silverstone Circuit in England for some hands-on time with a prototype copy of the new game.
GT6 gets a new game engine and a new rendering program. Creator Kazunori Yamauchi says the title will have 50 times the dynamic range of the previous game. That means that the background and foreground images blur when they're supposed to -- at speed -- and clear up when you slow down. GT6 also uses a newer, more accurate physics engine including better programming for the suspension damping, tire deformation and aerodynamic parts. Polyphony Digital partnered with Yokohama tire and KW Automotive for a more accurate representation.
Only Mitsubishi and Subaru were able to earn 'acceptable' and 'good' ratings on the small overlap test conducted by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety.
The IIHS, a nonprofit organization of insurance companies, found that 11 of 13 new models that were crashed in the group's small overlap test scored "marginal" or "poor." The 2013 Mitsubishi Outlander Sport rated "acceptable," and the 2014 Subaru Forester posted the only "good" score.
As with the group's two other tests, first involving midsize luxury cars in August 2012 and another evaluating midsize family sedans in December, the latest results show a serious safety flaw that many automakers have not addressed in their most popular cars.
The small overlap test modifies the group's standard offset frontal impact test, in which a car strikes a 5-foot tall barrier at 40 mph. The previous offset test strikes 40 percent of a car's frontal area, while the new test hits just 25 percent. This kind of impact, the IIHS says, occurs in about a quarter of all frontal crashes in which front passengers are seriously or fatally injured.
We tease VW fans around the nation's capital with a forbidden European fruit.
The later release of the Scirocco R only further teased the Volkswagen faithful, but year after year, those hopes have been dashed. Recently, pictures of a Scirocco R at Volkswagen of America’s Northern Virginia headquarters raised the eyebrows of enthusiasts and set off yet another round of "will they, won’t they?" chatter.
I’m not following the online conversation right now, however; I’m too busy driving that Scirocco R and experiencing firsthand why Volkswagen should – and won’t – bring it to the U.S.
Now that I’ve got your attention, let me get the ritual "reading of the specs" out of the way: The engine is a turbocharged 2.0-liter TSI 4-cylinder, good for 261 horsepower and 258 lb-ft of torque in a compact 3-door hatchback with an attractive, shooting-brake-style body.
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Clifford Atiyeh has spent his entire life driving cars he doesn't own. Raised in Volvos, he has grown to love fast, irresponsible vehicles of all kinds. He is the senior news editor at MSN Autos and also reports for Car and Driver, Road & Track, The Boston Globe and other publications.
In the garage: 21-speed Iron Horse, 2002 Jeep Wrangler X (not his)
Doug Newcomb has covered car technology for over 20 years for outlets ranging from Rolling Stone to Edmunds.com. In 2008, he published his first book, "Car Audio for Dummies" (Wiley). He lives and drives in Hood River, Ore., with his wife and two kids, who share his passion for cars and technology.
In the garage: 1996 Chevrolet Impala SS, two 1984 Chevrolet Blazers, 2008 Honda CR-V
James Tate learned to drive stick at age 13 in a 1988 Land Cruiser - in La Paz, Bolivia. He's since been a mechanic, on a pit crew and has wrenched on every car he's owned since his first 1989 Honda CRX Si (and won't stop until the car is a 1973 Porsche 911 RS). His work has appeared in Car and Driver, Popular Mechanics, Automobile and others.
In the garage: 1995 Porsche 911 Carrera, 1988 BMW M5