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Skoda Rapid

It was only yesterday that the new Skoda Rapid was caught testing on the famous Nurburgring track and just 24 hours later, the company whipped out yet another prototype, this time in a red exterior finish. What’s even better is that the interior was readily accessible to our photographers! Unfortunately, there was nothing revolutionary about the Rapid’s insides, but at least it’s another piece of the puzzle clicked into place. It looks like the Rapid will just be another new small family car.

The Skoda Rapid is inspired by the Mission L Concept unveiled at the 2012 Frankfurt Motor Show and will be placed between the Fabia and the Octavia in Skoda ’s line-up. It will be built on a standard platform, not the new MQB multi-vehicle platform, and will be offered with the latest engines and transmissions from the Volkswagen Group .

Expect to see the new Skoda Rapid launched in September at the 2012 Paris Auto Show.

Posted on by Brad Anderson 4

Welcome to Part II of our series on what the future holds for transmissions and just what technologies are on the rise and expected to overthrow the current might of the dual-clutch transmission. On the agenda today is a company by the name of Zeroshift, which is another British gearbox manufacturer who have been developing their seamless shifting transmission since 2002. They have come up with a recipe which they believe will eventually funnel down to millions of production cars.

If you thought Xtrac’s Instantaneous Gearshift System was hard to understand, then get a load full of how Zeroshift’s breakthrough transmission operates. The Zeroshift system replaces the standard synchromesh system with a pair of interlocking rings which overlap one another and are then mounted onto a dog ring. These two rings transfer torque in opposite directions resulting in the left-hand ring driving the gear to the right and the right-hand ring driving the gear to left.

Under hard acceleration, both rings are pulled to the side of first gear and just before the car hits maximum revs, one of the rings shifts over to the right in preparation of 2nd gear being selected. All said and done, the Zeroshift system can literally shift gears in zero seconds resulting in breathtaking acceleration capabilities.

In fact, Zeroshift’s managing director Bill Martin is so proud of this system that he is sure that if the Zeroshift system arrived first, dual-clutch transmissions would never have been invented.

As of yet no production cars are using this system, however the Joss JP1 , Australia’s first ever supercar, will be using Zeroshift’s seamless gear change technology when it hits the production line in a few years. In fact, this system is so effective that the Joss JP1 is capable of hitting 62 mph in less than 3.0 seconds and 100 mph in an incredible 6.0 seconds.

What’s more amazing about these performance times is that the JP1 is only expected to be fitted with a 6.6-liter V-8 engine producing around 500 horsepower, yet it can achieve similar performance times to that of the Lamborghini Aventador LP700-4 and Pagani Huayra , both of which have significantly more powerful engines.

Oh yeah, and we forgot to mention that a top speed of 224 mph is also expected. Not bad for something coming from the ‘Land Down Under.’

Unfortunately, the Zeroshift seamless gear-change system is unlikely to hit mass production for a few more years, but it is clear that the double-clutch gearbox is coming to the end of its relatively short life.

BMW M3

There have been tons of rumors surrounding the engine choice for the next BMW M3 , ranging from a new V6 engine to an inline-six engine with tri-turbo (our favorite rumor), but now, the President of BMW North America, Mr. Ludwig Willisch has finally confirmed that the next M3 will feature an inline 6 layout - the same layout that will be used for the M4 .

Willisch also said that, at some point, BMW was indeed considering a V6 engine for the next M3, but in the end, this choice was dropped. What he didn’t specify was whether or not the new inline-6 engine will get bi-turbo or tri-turbo. Regardless of the technology, the future M3 will deliver at least 450 HP.

Ludwig Willisch also confirmed that the next M3 will be lighter, faster, more powerful, and more efficient than the current M3. It will be offered with an optional or standard manual transmission.

Don’t expect to see the new BMW M3 launched until late in 2013 or early 2014.

Source: F30 Post
Posted on by Brad Anderson 5

The dual-clutch transmission has undoubtedly changed the way we shift gears, with the Volkswagen Golf Mk4 R32 being one of the very first mass-produced cars to feature two clutches. In fact, dual-clutch transmissions have been around since the mid-1980’s when Porsche used them in a variety of Le Mans racing cars.

Since then, the demand for these futuristic gearboxes have rapidly increased, and numerous supercars released over the past few years use dual-clutch gearboxes, with the Ferrari 458 Italia being a prime example.

However, there are three big down sides to double-clutch transmissions:

1. They are generally significantly heavier than regular transmissions.

2. They do not come cheap if a replacement is needed.

3. They are also very costly to develop and produce.

As a result, some manufactures are refusing to use them, such as Lamborghini with their new ISR gearbox which operates on a similar principle but weighs a lot less. However, even Lamborghini’s latest gearbox may be short lived as there is a new wave of transmissions heading our way, which are promising zero shift times, as well as being cheaper and most importantly lighter.

One British company, Xtrac is currently developing what they hope will be that new wave of high performance transmissions. Xtrac may ring a bell with the motorsport fans out there as they build transmissions for Formula One, WRC, Dakar Rallying, and even Le Mans racers so there is no arguing their expertise in creating lightweight and quick-shifting ‘boxes.

Their latest creation is the Instantaneous Gearshift System, (IGS), which as its name suggests, promises to provide instantaneous gear changes. After reading how this system works over and over, we must admit, we still do not have a grip on exactly how it works, but here is our best attempt to describe it in layman’s terms.

Each gear has been individually mounted onto its very own ratcheting clutch system and this differs from ordinary transmissions where the gearshaft and the actual gears are connected via a synchromesh system. When operating, each gear is engaged in the selector system and also ratchets on the shaft until a number of sprung pawls click the gear into place. As a result of this advanced system, when changing up gears, the gearbox actually keeps the revs at the same level, so if you shift from 4th at 6,000 rpm up to 5th the revs will stay at 6,000 rpm.

However, this has no way of working as you could not accelerate, so a bit of driveline wind-up does the trick and forces the revs back down in less than a few milliseconds. This system is currently being used in motorsport so a bit of refinement is still needed to make it suitable for everyday use.

Tune in for Part II in the coming days to see how another British company, Zeroshift is aiming to knock the dual-clutch transmission out of the park with its brand new vision.

Ford Mustang Shelby GT500

The 2007 Shelby GT500 came out with a whopping total of 500 HP, before the power output jumped up to 540 HP in the 2010 model year . Both sets of numbers are rather significant, but with the 2013 Shelby GT500 pushing 650 HP upon its arrival, customers who own a 2007-2012 GT500 may feel as though they are at a disadvantage. Well, worry no more.

Shelby Performance Parts has announced a new supercharger kit for the 5.4-liter V8 engine that can add an impressive 300 HP to the GT500. This means, the total output can be increased to an amazing 840 HP!

The new kit will replace the stock roots-type supercharger and will add a new Competition Heat Exchanger and Shelby GT500 Competition Intercooler Tank to improve cooling performance. The new Competition Heat Exchanger will keep the intake charge cool, while the Competition Intercooler Tank can be filled with ice or dry ice to further reduce intake temperatures.

The bad part to all of this is that there are no pricing details associated with the package as of yet. We’re thinking an upgrade package of this caliber will run customers somewhere in the $5-6K area.

Source: MotorTrend
Hyundai Genesis

Just over 10 years ago, Hyundai was still pretty much the black sheep of the automotive industry. Despite the fact that the Hyundai Excel of the 1980s won several awards, Hyundai Hyundai ’s quality was still considered low and very few took them seriously. In the past 10 years, Hyundai has managed to dig itself out of the grave that it placed itself in and is now a legitimate competitor to import giants like Honda , Toyota , and Nissan .

Regardless of the brand’s recent resurgence, no one would ever suspect that the words “BMW” and “Hyundai” would ever be used in the same sentence, except in the case of someone saying “I can’t afford a BMW, but this Hyundai will do.” Well, that was until just now…

There are rumors being passed around the automotive world that Hyundai and BMW have been seen courting one another rather intensely, as reports indicate that Chung Euisun, the son of Hyundai’s chairman, and BMW brass were discussing sharing engine development costs.

These types of development sharing partnerships are not uncommon. Currently, we have Audi sharing its cost with VW , Toyota and Subaru joined up for the BRZ/GT 86/FR-S project, and in the past we have seen Ford and Mazda joining forces. However, those collaborations are all pretty much linear, as they are all on the same level with each other. With exception to the top-level Genesis sedan and Equus , Hyundai couldn’t be much more non-linear with BMW. In fact, Hyundai is pretty much the anti-BMW .

In reality though, Hyundai does build quality engines now and they still remain significantly cheaper than BMWs. With CAFE regulations becoming more of a reality every day, BMW needs to find a way to increase its vehicles’ fuel mileage without sharply increasing cost. Sharing some developmental cost with a company that produces quality and economically friendly engines just might do the trick.

As expected, both companies have adamantly denied any discussions of collaborating, but that means nothing in this day and age. Nearly every car company denies everything until they decide to officially release it.

We’ll keep you updated on this situation as more info comes out.

Image is of the 3.8-liter Lambda engine with direct injection (GDI) technology found in the 2012 Hyundai Genesis .

Source: Paul Tan

A few weeks ago, we let you in on the conversation that Car and Driver had with executives from Subaru and Toyota about the possibility of a turbocharger on the BRZ, GT 86 , and FR-S . It was a flat out “No” on the FR-S and an “Eh, maybe, but not now” on the BRZ and GT 86. Well, first off we think that’s a load of corporate horse manure, as Subaru and Toyota Toyota would be out of their engine control modules not to force at least 8 psi into that new jointly built 2.0-liter engine.

Apparently, Subaru is taking a nibble of the bait that us turbo junkies are tossing in the water, as it has just completed development on a turbocharged version of the FA20 engine used in the BRZ , GT 86, and FR-S family. This engine is not an identical twin to the FA20, so don’t go getting your hopes up yet, but it is its fraternal twin at least. The only real difference is that Subaru scrapped the Toyota fuel injection system in favor of its own direct-injection system.

So what kind of power are we talking about? We are hearing that it cranks out a whopping 296 horsepower and 295 pound-feet of torque! Now for the bad news… As of now, this engine is only slated to be dropped into the JDM-spec Legacy. To make things worse, Subaru is linking this awesome engine to a CVT. What a gigantic waste.

Don’t go getting all sad on us now, this is a good start that Subaru is willing to slap some boost on this puppy and get nearly 300 ponies and 300 twisting power. Now just imagine that in a BRZ…

So we will reiterate what we said before. Regardless of what smoke and mirrors Subaru and Toyota throw up there, we will see boost in at least the BRZ and GT 86, and we would be willing to bet a penny that we see the FR-S whistling down the road one day too.

Lamborghini Aventador LP700-4 Roadster

While most of us were hoping that Lamborghini would offer the roadster version of their latest Aventador supercar in March at the 2012 Geneva Motor Show, the company decided against it and extended the anticipation even longer. Now, Italian magazine Quattroruote, has offered a few more details on the upcoming Aventador LP700-4 Spyder .

According to the magazine, the new Aventador Spyder will feature a removable, solid roof and not a soft-top roof like the Murcielago Roadster . The retractable hard top should detach into two sections, separated in a transverse direction. It will be made ​​of carbon fiber just like most of the other body components. This material will keep the weight of the car down and make the roof easier to maneuver. The magazine also reports that the Spyder version will feature an increased number of carbon fiber applications.

Expect to see the launch of the new Lamborghini Aventador Spyder in the coming months.

Source: Quattroruote

Not all of us are quite privileged enough to be able to lump down enough money to import a 2012 BMW M5 into the U.S., nor are we all patient enough to await the 2013 release of the new M5. This means we are stuck with videos from people like the fine folks over at Bimmerpost.

One of the new features on the 2012 M5 , which will likely be a part of the M5 when it hits U.S. showrooms for the 2013 model year, is the Active Sound system. This is a system that is integrated with the stereo system and pipes engine notes through the stereo’s speakers.

So, here is our dilemma… Is this new feature a cool trick or simply a useless gimmick that BMW is slapping on this ride to make it seem cooler? The folks at Bimmerpost saved the day again by providing us automotive nerds with audio of the 2012 M5 with the AS system active, then with it deactivated, which involves yanking a fuse that also disables the entire stereo system and the rear parking assistant.

After listening to the two audio clips, which you can do in the above video, we can certainly tell the difference between the actual engine sound and the digitized engine sound. While BMW did go to great lengths to help match the digi-engine with the real engine, it is really a disappointment. To some people it might be a cool feature, but real auto buffs want to hear the engine itself.

BMW could help us all out by putting an “On/Off” switch on this feature, without having to disable the entire audio system by pulling the fuse. This rings even more true with folks that add in aftermarket components to this already high-performance sedan. They want to hear the modified turbo whistle, blow-off valve, and exhaust note, not some synthesized version of the stock engine.

We call this a useless gimmick for now. Let us know how you feel in the comments section below!


So it is official, Ford has gone absolutely crazy with the EcoBoost trend, but it’s a good crazy, as the EcoBoost both lowers emissions and sharply increases fuel economy. The latest engine to spool its way into the EcoBoost lineup is the all-new 1.0-liter inline three-cylinder version. When most people think of a 1.0-liter three-banger, they tend to picture the early-1990s Metro with its concrete massaging 49 horsepower zipping it to 60 mph sometime in the next century, while driving downhill.

Fortunately, this isn’t your Metro’s three-cylinder engine. This boosted three-banger will pump out a respectable 98 horsepower on the base level and an even more impressive 125 horsepower on the top-level engine, the latter exceeding the current 1.6-liter’s output by 5 horsepower.

FEV, the leading developer for this engine, also claims that both versions of the engine will twist out 125 pound-feet of torque, which is 13 more pound-feet than the 1.6-liter engine and it saves 20 pounds worth of weight compared to the 1.6-liter.

The press release makes it a little unclear as to whether or not this new EcoBoost will be offered in the U.S., but given the fact that it mentions the 1.6-liter in a Focus , and it being offered in the C-Max and B-Max , we can assume that it will start off in the U.K., as the B-Max and C-Max are U.K. models, and the Focus only comes with the 1.6-liter in the U.K. . Granted, the C-Max is coming to the U.S., but as a hybrid model only.

With the power output of this engine, you can expect to see it making its way over here soon. The likely host for it would be the Ford Fiesta , as it is more accepted with a smaller engine. Focus buyers would generally not accept a 1.0-liter-powered model.

We will continue to keep an eye on this and let you know if Ford makes mention of it coming to the U.S. or not.

Click past the jump to read FEV’s full press release


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