The history of the TT (Tourist Trophy) started in 1995 when Audi unveiled the first concept at the 1995 Frankfurt Motor Show. It would be a full three years before the market would be introduced to the production model in 1998, but when that happened, it arrived in both coupe and roadster versions. The first generation remained active until 2006, when the company released the second generation TT for the 2007MY.

Compared to the first generation TT , the model unveiled in 2006 featured a completely redesigned exterior, a switch from the Volkswagen Group PQ34 platform to the PQ35, and new, improved engines. At the launch, the TT MK2 was offered with a choice of two inline four-cylinder engines and a V6 carried over from the previous model, but in the years that have followed since then, Audi has enriched the line-up with even more engine choices to satisfy the market.

For the most part, the second generation TT has remained unchanged, but the past couples of years have brought on some tweaks to freshen up the car’s look. In 2011, the TT was given a more powerful bumper, larger air inlets with three-dimensional, sharp edges, and fog lights set in chrome rings. Under the hood, Audi placed new technologies that allowed improved fuel consumption. For 2012, Audi has decided to offer the TT-RS version on the US market, which is enough of a change to warrant some attention.

Hit the jump to read more about the Audi TT.

The 2012 Honda Pilot is entering a market that’s about as competitive as its ever been. But that’s not as important because it’s coming to the party chalk-full of new features that are sure to attract a wide range of customers.

Honda ’s new eight-passenger SUV comes with a wide range of upgrades for 2012, including a refreshed front-end design, enhanced interior features that come with plenty of new technological goodies and a wide-range of safety enhancements, and finally, an increased fuel economy rating compared to its predecessor.

The competitive nature of today’s SUV market has prompted automakers to bring their best offering to the table. In the case of Honda, the 2012 Pilot offers the best of everything they have to offer, complete with four different trim levels - the EX, the LX, the EX-L, and the Touring - and a plethora of new features that include power windows/locks, keyless entry, a seven speaker audio system and front/rear air conditioning, among other things.

Find out more about the 2012 Honda Pilot after the jump.

The European market got graced with the Volkswagen Golf R at the 2009 Frankfurt Motor Show, but we had to wait two more years before seeing it on our side of the pond. Alas, the time has come and the Golf R’s debut even came with more power, more performance, less gasoline consumption, and a reasonable $33,990 price tag.

The new Golf R uses a 2.0-liter turbocharged inline four-cylinder engine that delivers a total of 256 HP, 6 HP more than the previous R32 sold on the US market back in 2008. With this adjustment, Volkswagen states that the Golf R is "the most powerful VW sports performance vehicle ever sold in the U.S."

The Golf R is also more economical, delivering a fuel economy of 19 mpg in the city and 27 mpg on the highway compared with an EPA estimated mileage of 18 mpg in the city and 23 mpg on the highway for the previous R32.

Hit the jump to read more about the Volkswagen Golf R.

Posted on by Deric Raymond 23

Acura has spiffed up its entry level sedan, the TSX , to give us the 2012 Special Edition TSX. Though Acura will stick to its tried and true 2.4-liter inline-four VTEC power plant with no additional power increases, there are upgrades inside and out.

The exterior features a more aggressive front spoiler giving it a sporty look, reminiscent of their old sports coupe, the RSX . Other cosmetic upgrades include a rear bumper fascia, side sills, and a fancy "Special Edition" badge on the trunklid.

In the cabin, Acura has made "sport-minded appointments" including suede seat inserts with red backing. There is red stitching abound—on the shift knob, seats, and steering wheel—that compliment nicely with the red ambient lighting featured on the gauge cluster, overhead lighting, and footwell lighting. The pedals have also been upgraded to aluminum.

Acura has also released pricing options for the entire TSX range, with the base model starting at $29,810. The Special Edition starts at $30,810 and comes with either a five-speed auto or six-speed manual tranmission. Opt for the Technology Package—upgraded sound system and navigation—and the price jumps to $32,910.

If you want a 280-horsepower V6 model, MSRP climbs to $35,350, or $38,450 with the Technology Package. Wagon models are also available for $31,160, or $34,810 with the tech upgrades.

Hit the jump to see the press release on the Special Edition model.

Source: Acura News

The Armada is Nissan ’s fifth model built on the F-Alpha platform. It joins models like the Titan pickup truck, Xterra SUV, Frontier pickup truck, and Pathfinder SUV, all built on the same platform. The Armada was unveiled in 2004 with only a small update in 2008 that brought on a new exterior style and a more luxurious and refined interior.

Over the years, the Nissan Armada hasn’t changed much in terms of power. It has always received a 5.6-liter V8 that delivers a total of 317 HP and 385 lb-ft of torque. The engine is combined with an advanced 5-speed automatic transmission, heavy-duty fully boxed ladder frame, and comfortable double-wishbone suspension It also offers a towing capacity of more than 9,000 lbs.

For 2012, the Armada remains virtually unchanged and will be offered in three trim levels: Armada SV, Armada SL, and Armada Platinum. Each model is offered in a choice of 2-wheel or 4-wheel drive, with prices starting from $38,490.

Hit the jump to read more about the Nissan Armada.

Posted on by Thomas Nelson 7

When Mazda first introduced its Wenkel engine in 1961, the automotive world was set alight it. Soon after, many manufacturers clamored to build their own. This engine was an automotive Gibraltar, no matter the challenges it faced, the Wenkel soldiered on. These challenges came from every angle from new emissions standards in 1970 to an oil crisis three years later, in addition to innumerable engineering issues. Mazda cultivated their Wenkel engine and planted it in their sporty RX-7 and it was an instant hit. Even when the RX-8 emerged as a successor to the RX-7 in 2001, the Wenkel heart beat on. Now as the RX-8’s production run is scheduled to end in 2011, a steady stream of rumors about the current Wenkel engine’s successor have flown past our desks.

First, we are going to ask all Mazda fans to take a deep breath. Okay, now that that is taken care of, we have some bad news according to Ward’s Auto Mazda is considering putting the new engine development on hold. The reason for this cutback was that at this time of economic woe, Mazda was looking for a way to reduce expenses and apparently this new engine program is very expensive.

We hope that even as the bean counters are clamoring about diminishing profit margins, Mazda continues to develop this engine. It provides the RX-8 and it’s successor with fantastic high performance and, in the era of pretty and almost all identical cars, Mazda offered a unique take on a sports car. We all hope that Mazda comes to their senses and keeps this iconic power plant.

Source: Jalopnik

The Toyota Highlander entered production in 2000 and, in 2007, Toyota was already offering the second generation of the SUV. Being the first car-based midsize SUV or midsize crossover offered in North America, the Highlander soon became one of the most successful models on the market, setting the industry standard for car-based SUVs in innovation, comfort, and sales.

The second generation revealed in 2007 was significantly larger, roomier, and more powerful than the previous Toyota Highlander. It is noticeably quieter, smarter, and more spacious with improved unprecedented versatility and ride comfort. It is powered by a new 3.5-liter V6 with dual independent variable valve timing with intelligence (VVT-i) that delivers a total of 270 HP - a 55 HP increase over the previous generation. This engine delivers an impressive fuel economy of 31 city and 27 highway, making the Highlander the most-fuel efficient mid-size SUV.

Hit the jump to read more about the second generation Toyota Highlander.

Posted on by Thomas Nelson 8

BMW has essentially kept the same vehicle lineup since 1975. This lineup was based on the standard sedans and eventually added SUV’s. These were all made to preform to a demanding sports car standard. The world we know today has changed with a majority of the people living in large urban environments which has led to a explosion of small "city" cars. These cars whilst being small enough to park in a shoebox are known to have the driving dynamics of an office chair on a cobblestone road. Now, can you imagine the utility of a city car with that uniquely BMW BMW traits of phenomenal engineering and handling combined with a peppy engine. It’s enough to make our mouths water.

These BMW models known as the i3 and the i8 (due to be introduced in 2013 and 2014 respectively) were described by BMW as "[concept studies..[and] the sports car for a new generation — pure, emotional and sustainable." These concept studies represent a huge technological push for BMW as the i3 is their first purely electric car and the i8 is a gasoline/electric hybrid. Inside Line points out that this electric car (i3) is going to bring sport into this previous dull electric vehicle market. For example, the i3 will use carbon fiber extensively to fend away the unnecessary weight ( it weighs 600 pounds less than its main competitor the Nissan Nissan Leaf.) Under the bonnet you will find a 125 KW electric motor that will move this 2,756 lb car to 60 mph in an astounding 7.9 seconds and up to a top speed of 93 mph. Although most electric cars have a range that can be measured in blocks rather than miles, the BMW manages a fantastic range of 93 miles between charges.

The innovation continues with the i8 which is powered by a 3 liter gasoline engine and an electric engine that develop 349 horsepower and 406 lbs/ft of torque. This will propel the full size sedan (182.6 inches long) to 60 mph in "less than 4.6 seconds" and onto a governed speed limit of 155 mph.

Here at TopSpeed we do admire for BMW for making this market segment more geared towards what we call "eco-sport" cars. We think the combination of zero emissions and performance will make the i3 a instant hit. The i8 however will face tough competitor from the Honda CRZ sports hybrid. The one complaint we have with both these cars is their overall look. Both these cars look a little too much like they escaped from the set of "I, Robot." We believe this could be a "Concorde moment" and invigorate the electric car/hybrid market and show the way to the future.

Posted on by Thomas Nelson 17

When we are looking for a sport utility vehicle that can negotiate the urban jungle as well as the real jungle, the 2011 Toyota FJ Cruiser TRD (Toyota Racing Development) is an outstanding option. This descendant of rugged Toyota off roaders is no longer a one trick pony and has added urban practicality to its impressive off road reputation. Toyota has made the FJ Cruiser TRD a utilitarian option that can do both jobs supremely well whether it is navigating the parking lot at the supermarket or crawling over a sand dune in the Sahara.

Of the different versions and options offered for the vehicle, we picked the the 2011 Toyota FJ Cruiser with the TRD package because it offers quite the bang for your buck ($33,461). For that price, we got a genuinely brilliant off roader that can seat five adults, but more importantly, receives a sportier feel with TRD 16-in. 6-spoke alloy wheels and hefty BFGoodrich All-Terrain tires. Then there’s the TRD-developed, high-speed–tuned Bilstein shocks for extra support.

The FJ is a relative newcomer to the market (introduced in 2006) . Now, the FJ is aiming to tackle the suburbs as well the trail. Let’s see if the FJ can truly be the best of both worlds.

Hit the jump to see if Toyota was successful.

It seems that Audi is rather serious about expanding their SUV line-up. The current range includes the Q3 , Q5 , and Q7 models, and the company is preparing a Q6 to target the BMW X6 and the Q1 to do battle with the Mini Countryman . One would think that would be enough, but the company is apparently readying another model in the Q4 SUV. The model will be a direct competitor to the Range Rover Evoque and will actually be a sporty version of the Q5.

Not much has been said about the Q4, but it is definitely not a rumor. The SUV is already at the advanced concept stage at Audi’s Ingolstadt R&D centre in Germany. It will be built on the same MLB platform as the Q5. The model will be a five-body SUV with design elements inspired by the A5 Sportback .

For the engine line-up, the company will offer a new 2.0-liter turbodiesel with 170 HP and 210 HP, as well as a 240 HP 3.0-liter V6 diesel. Petrol engines will include a 270 HP naturally aspirated 3.2-liter V6 and a 328 HP supercharged 3.0-liter V6 petrol. The latter engine will only be available in selected markets, including North America. A hybrid version will also be offered.

Expect this model to hit the market no earlier than 2015.

Source: AutoCar

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