What we got when the Japanese automaker finally revealed the production version of the Micro Commuter Concept was underwhelming. To be fair, we weren’t expecting the concept’s funky design to be retained for the prototype model. We know well enough that functionality and practicality take precedence over ostentatious styling. However, if you ask us, what Honda came out with was a little bit of a dud.
According to Honda, the Micro Commuter prototype rides on a new Variable Design Platform, a setup that puts the vehicle’s lithium-ion battery and motor at the rear end of the car to help maximize passenger and cargo room. The Micro Commuter is a certified city car, one whose measurements — 84 x 49.2 x 56.9 inches — affirm that widely known belief. Even the cabin isn’t necessarily spacey. It only accommodates one driver in the front and either one adult or two children in the back.
Is there a unique quality about the Micro Commuter that appeals to us apart from it being an eco-friendly vehicle? All we can come up with is the tablet device that was added to the interior to serve as an energy monitor, a back-up camera display, and a navigation system all rolled into one.
In terms of performance, the combination of the car’s lithium-ion battery and motor allows the prototype to produce an output of 20 horsepower, a top speed in excess of 50 mph, and a range of 37 miles with three hours charge time required to bring the battery to full capacity.
It’s also worth noting that this prototype model will probably undergo a number of changes before the production model arrives. Hopefully, there’s more emphasis on improving the car’s design.
Before the 2013 model year, the top trim level of the Passat in the UK was the SE trim, which was relatively decked out, but lacked some of the extras that most premium sedans came with. In 2013, VW plans to change that by offering up a replacement for the outgoing SE trim level, the Passat Highline. Not only does the “Highline” name sound more luxurious than “SE,” but it also boasts an array of standard features that the SE did not.
This new addition affects both the Passat Saloon and the Passat Estate, which are a sedan and wagon, respectively. This gives the Passat lineup three trim levels in each body style, starting with the base-level S, the mid-grade BlueMotion, and capping off with the Highline. The real test is whether the additions to the top-level trim on the Passat really warrant the price the VW will place on it.
Click past the jump to read the full list of features and more.
Fisker began development of a revolutionary car, the Karma, roughly four years ago. At that time, folks were optimistic, excited, and had almost only good things to say about this upstart company. It’s crazy how fast things can change.
As time moved on, Fisker started running into some real issues that would likely destroy many startup companies. The downward trend started with the DOE freezing its loan to Fisker after it had only used about half of the available funds. The next issue was a pair or recalls – one in December 2011 and another in May 2012 – because of incorrectly positioned hose clamps that could cause a coolant leak. And you likely know, electricity and water do not mix.. Then came the fires…
The first fire came about in April 2012, when a man’s house and other two cars were damaged after his Karma caught fire in the garage. The cause of that fire was not known, but it is likely related to the following fire that came just months later. This second fire occurred in August and was easily contained to just the front end of the $100K luxury car. The one good thing to come out of this fire is that Fisker was quick to the aid of the owner and quick to mobilize a group of outside investigators to figure out that it was a failed low-temperature fan that caused the flame.
This final fire brought about the final recall of the Karma, to date. In this recall, Fisker asked 1,377 Karma customers to bring cars in to have the cooling fan replaced. Between all of these issues were complaints from customers about a Command Center that didn’t operate effectively and a “Stealth” mode that wasn’t too stealthy. Adding to those complaints was a very poor review of the Karma by Consumer Reports.
With these issues came a shellacking from the press – automotive and general – and all Fisker could do was try and get its own version of the story out. Well, we just gave Fisker an avenue to air its side of the story in our exclusive interview with Fisker’s Senior Director of Global Corporate Communications & PR, Roger Fisker.
To read what Fisker has to say about these issues and more about its future, click past the jump.
Hyundai has certainly tossed plenty of examples into the ring at the 2012 SEMA show and it has just unveiled another concept car. This new custom car sits on the base of a 2013 Hyundai Veloster, but Hyundai brought in famed car tuner, John Pangilinan, to help tweak it just a little bit.
The majority of the work done to this Veloster was to the body, interior, and sound system, which is pretty standard for SEMA. However, this is not to say that John P. and Hyundai just left the Veloster bone stock in the performance realm. This compact 4-door hatchback (three man doors and one hatch) received just enough engine modification to make it stand out and a tiny bit of suspension work to sure of the often-complained-about handling of the otherwise sporty Veloster.
At SEMA, the Veloster is up against the best of the best, however, so let’s have a look to see how Hyundai did with this project.
Click past the jump to read all about the Veloster JP Edition.
Over the years, we have seen the Renault ZOE make its way into various car shows as a concept car, but nothing ever really came of it. Here we are approaching the 2013 model year and finally, Renault is announcing that it is releasing its first production bespoke EV car in the form of the oft-teased ZOE. Sure, it’s no Ferrari or Lamborghini, or even a Tesla for that matter, but it is progress toward removing ourselves from exhaustible oil.
It is rather surprising to see electric vehicles taking their sweet time developing in European market, as those countries have been hit the hardest and longest with inflated gasoline prices. European buyers and automakers have been relying more on building high-efficiency diesel and gasoline engines, while us folks in the U.S. have focused more on the EV and hybrid routes.
The real question here is can the Renault ZOE make enough of an impact to pull buyers away from these ultra-economical petrol and diesel models? And can the ZOE help start the domino effect that the Prius did here all those years ago?
Click past the jump to read all about the Renault Zoe and get answers to these questions.
One of these models is called the Beetle "Beach Battle-Cruiser" by European Car Magazine. The surf-inspired Beetle has everything you need to make your day at the beach run as smoothly as possible. It comes with all the amenities for weekend runs in the sand, including a roof rack where you can place surfboards and other beach paraphernalia.
The California-looking Bug also gets a slew of exterior updates, including a unique body kit by FMS Automotive that has a deployable shower system. You read that right: this Beetle has its own shower. Moving into more salient upgrades, the Beetle Beach Battle-Cruiser also received a new set of 19" CustomFuchs Performance wheels wrapped in Continental Extreme Contact DW tires and a revamped interior with Katzkin leather seats featuring a midnight black color with matching military green suede inserts.
The Beetle Beach Battle-Cruiser also comes with a performance upgrade, which isn’t all that surprising considering the nature of the event it’s going to. Revo Technik took the lead in this front, adding its own turbocharger into the Beetle’s 2.5-liter, five-cylinder engine. With the turbocharger, as well as the addition of a new intake and exhaust system, as well as the cursory software upgrade, the Beetle Beach Battle-Cruiser is now capable of producing a mouth-watering 400 horsepower.
It doesn’t wink at other cars - at least we don’t think so - nor does it scale up walls - this we’re pretty sure of - but if you’re interested in owning a Herbie-inspired Volkswagen Beetle, then this special edition Beetle is just the car for you.
It’s called the Beetle 53 Edition and if you’re familiar with the lovable Herbie Beetle, then you’ll recognize that the Beetle 53 Edition carries the exact same livery and graphics as that of Herbie itself.
Take a look and you’ll see the Beetle 53 Edition dressed in a Pearl White body color complete with Herbie’s distinctive red and blue stripes running down the length of the car. As an added bonus, the number "53" is prominently displayed on the hood of the car.
The Beetle 53 Edition is available on all engine trims of the Beetle except the Turbo model. If you’re looking to own a piece of the Beetle 53 Edition, you can choose to own the 1.2 TSI model for €22,090 ($28,500 at the current rates), the 1.6 TDI for €23,770 ($30,700 at the current rates), the 2.0 TDI for €26,150 ($33,800 at the current rates), and the 2.0 TDI 6-speed DSG for €27,980 ($36,100 at the current rates).
For their program, Rotiform decided to integrate the Beetle’s heritage and add a more modern look to it. The company accomplished this by combining custom touches from the past through today, beginning with the installation of an all-new rear axle to accommodate the similarly new air suspension system from AirLift.
Once they accomplished this, Rotiform fitted the Beetle with its very own set of new - and very red - concave wheels, which were then wrapped in Nitto performance tires. Moving on from the suspension and wheels upgrades, the Beetle was also treated to a matte gray aluminum vinyl wrap courtesy of 3M and a retooled interior that saw plenty of the vehicle’s standard factory pieces replaced with parts from other available trims.
The last order of business for Rotiform was to shave the engine bay to give the Beetle a much smoother look. In the end, the aftermarket company accomplished what it set out to do: build a classic-looking Beetle that carries modern touches.
Typically, when Jay Leno gets his hands on a car, it is all about horsepower and loud exhaust, but he does have his eco-friendly moments. This time around, Jay gets the best of both worlds, sans the loud exhaust, as Tesla stopped by to let him take the Model S on a drive. There is not an abundance of Model S driving footage available and certainly none to the degree that Jay Leno does it.
Jay gets us a good look inside the car and we even gets a nice idea of how the Model S’ driver information center – you know, the massive, iPad-looking deal in the center of the dash – works, and we are certainly impressed. It literally controls everything, taking the old days of buttons aplenty strewn up and down the center stack to a well-placed screen that offers up the same controls.
Then the part that we want to see: the drive. Jay takes it pretty easy on the main roads, as he focuses more on its economy and regenerative systems. He does manage to get into the Model S a little bit, but only in small doses. Well, at the end, we get exactly what we have all wanted to see: a Tesla Model S doing a burn out.
Good call, Jay. We bet that poor PR guy had to beg Mr. Musk to allow that one. Then again, that burn out likely sold a lot of `tweeners on this EV performance sedan.
The Volkswagen Beetle is one of those cars that people either love or hate. It has a style that not everyone can really grasp in a positive way, which is evident in the lack of tuning packages developed for the economy car during its history. That being said, the new Beetle is attempting to gain momentum with a slew of new tuning packages scouring the show floor of the 2012 SEMA Show. One of these packages comes from VWvortex and is being dubbed the ultimate Super Beetle.
At first glance, the suped up Beetle doesn’t appear to have any super powers. It features a matte Azure Blue Metallic vinyl film and sits on a new set of 19" fifteen52 three-piece Split Formula TR wheels. The interior was only provided with new Recaro Sportster CS seats, and that’s it.
Under the hood is when the super powers start to show themselves. The SuperBeetle was co-developed with performance specialist APR and is based on a 2013 Beetle Turbo. The car’s standard 2.0 TSI engine has been updated with an APR Stage IV GTX Turbocharger System that boosts the output from 200 to more than 500 HP! This setup is combined with a high-performance intercooler system, as well as a host of Stage IV components including, an ECU upgrade and a new APR RSC Turboback Exhaust System. In order to improve the car’s traction, the tuner also installed a 4MOTION all-wheel drive system from the limited-edition Golf R and an upgraded Haldex all-wheel drive race controller.
That kind of power deserves a more grounded look, so the car was lowered with an H&R Adjustable Coilover Suspension combined with Volkswagen Racing StreetSport+ Camber Plates and H&R Sport Sway Bars.
Anyone sitting next to this car at a stoplight is sure to think this is just another yuppy Beetle, but as soon as the green hits, all systems are go! Unfortunately, this will not be experienced by anyone as the cars displayed in SEMA will only be trashed after the event. Anyone looking to get in on this action better give the folks at APR-VWvortex a holler. Maybe they’ll work something out...