TV buffs get the Emmys, movie buffs get the Oscars, and music lovers get the Grammys; so, where does that leave us gearheads? Well, the International Engine of the Year Awards, of course, and the 2012 results are hot off the press!
Ford took home the top prize of International Engine of the Year, with its 999 cc engine found in the European Focus. This engine, despite its petite size, cranks out 125 PS (123 horsepower) and manages to squeeze out 56.5 mpg. The 1.0-liter engine didn’t win a close battle either, it took home top honors by a full 113 points. Points are accumulated based on fuel economy, smoothness, performance, noise and drivability and each engine can only receive 15 of each voter’s total 25 points to give. Needless to say, that was quite a landslide victory.
That’s not the biggest news though, as BMW brought home top honors in four different categories. Bimmer took home the 1.4- to 1.8-liter prize with its 181-horsepower, 1.6-liter engine found in the MINI Cooper S. In the 1.8- to 2.0-liter class, BMW took first prize with its 241-horsepower, 2.0-liter twin-turbocharged four-pot. In the 2.5-liter to 3.0-liter class, BMW wrapped up top honors with its bi-turbo 3.0-liter six-cylinder engine and its 335 horsepower. Last, but certainly not least, BMW took home 1st place in the 3.0- to 4.0-liter class with its 414-horsepower, 4.0-liter V-8 engine.
Despite all of the accolades, the highest mark that BMW achieved in the Engine of the Year award was 5th place, with its 2.0-liter twin-turbo four-banger.
Click past the jump to see all of the results of each class.
We already know that BMW has officially approved the manufacture of its much anticipated hybrid sports car, the i8 and we are well aware that the gasoline engine behind it is a 1.3-liter three-banger that pops out a sweet 223 horsepower. When combined with the electric motor on the front wheels, the i8 hits a healthy 354 ponies.
BMW has just revealed yet another detail on its upcoming i8, and that is that the thee-pot gas burner that powers it will hail from Jolly Ol’ England… Hams Hall factory in Birmingham, to be precise. Head of engine development at BMW, Peter Nefischer, mentioned before that the boosted three-cylinder could find its way into the 3-Series in the future and the fact that this engine is being built in the same factory that manufactures the 3-Series engine could add some validity to this possible downsizing of the 3-Series.
With the 328i already coming stock with a 240-horsepower turbocharged 2.0-liter, there is no reason that an extended fuel range model boasting this 223-horsepower, 1.3-liter engine cannot become a possibility. Granted, it likely wouldn’t have quite the drivability of the 2.0-liter, but the extended fuel range would help traveling business people a great deal, while still having a little pep in its step. In addition, those 223 ponies still far exceed the paltry 201 ponies pumped out by the Mercedes-Benz C250.
We can say with some certainty that a three-cylinder 3-Series variant will definitely happen, it’s just a matter of when it happens and how BMW tunes the engine to retain the comfortable feel that the 3-Series is notorious for. We’ll update you if any other news pointing toward a three-banger 3-Series pops up.
We always see new little wrinkles in automotive dealerships to try and make the car-buying experience seem less stressful and forced. Two key examples are the “No-Haggle” promise offered by now-defunct Saturn and the “Sign-and-Drive” deals offered by several manufacturers now, but started by VW. These are less about making the process easier for the consumer and more about increasing the dealer’s profits while displaying the illusion of an easy-going sales force, which is an oxymoron for any commissioned sales job.
Tesla appears to be going into a realm where car buying is a simple and stress-free environment. How they are achieving this is by beginning with the elimination of the traditional dealership and replacing it with smaller stores in local malls. The second step is to eliminate all commissions and pay the employees a salary. The third step is to not require car sales experience as a prerequisite for hiring, which eliminates the high-pressure “Sell now or sell never” mentality. To get a good picture of what to expect, walk into an Apple store in a local mall and see how laid back it is. You can walk in and play with all of the gadgets without a single sales person bothering you until you ask.
You may be wondering about the floor models and demo models. Keep in mind that all Teslas are built to order, so stores only need a handful of models on the floor and a few test vehicles in the mall’s parking lot. The biggest focus of these stores is to simply educate the customer about Tesla models, and what better place to get plenty of people to educate than a traffic-heavy mall?
Our hats go off to Tesla in its new approach to vehicle sales, but we have a sneaking suspicion that we will see Tesla dealerships and commission-based sales in the near future. Especially if sales start taking off and more models have to be kept on hand for the I-want-it-now customer. So we’ll see exactly how long Tesla can hang onto this low-pressure buying experience before converting into your typical high-pressure dealership.
This time around, it looks as if Saab has finally found itself a home. Sweden-registered and Hong Kong-based firm, National Electric Vehicle Sweden AB, has been awarded the folded automaker and what’s left of its assets, according to a Swedish newspaper. The winning bid is estimated to be between $208 million and $250 million. That is less than half of the last reported bid by Youngman, which really shows that the Chinese firm was either demanding the parts operation, which the NEVS AB deal does not include, or just not seen as a trusted bidder.
The deal is expected to be finalized and pen is expected to hit the “Sign Here” line in about a week, if the reports are accurate. After that, NEVS AB can take complete ownership of what’s left of Saab, which is little more than an S, a pair of As, and a B. We are not aware of NEVS AB’s plans with Saab, but we can say with a lot of certainty that it will involve alternative fuels (i.e. electric, hydrogen, hybrid, etc.)
We have yet to receive official confirmation on the deal, but this looks to be the real deal, FINALLY. We will keep you updated as more information becomes available on the ongoing Saab saga.
Tesla has yet to officially launch its latest EV, the Model S, and already the upstart automaker is setting up some pretty lofty goals. In an interview with CEO, Elon Musk, it was made clear that the company is confident that it will achieve 20,000 total models sold in 2013. With the Nissan Leaf eclipsing just 9,500 total sales in the U.S. in 2011, those are some pretty stratospheric goals.
This is especially difficult considering that Tesla is not expected to infiltrate the European and Asian markets until mid-2013. We do see the logic behind this though, as the base $57,400 price is relatively affordable, considering what you get at that level. Also add in the fact that the Model S is more stylish and ego-massaging than the very odd-looking and soft-feeling Leaf, and Tesla just may be able to hit those numbers.
Once Tesla debuts the Model X SUV, the automaker anticipates a huge upswing in sales at the tune of 75 percent. Yup, Tesla anticipates 2014 sales to eclipse the 35,000 mark thanks to its newest EV SUV, which means the Model X’s sales are expected to hover around 15,000 for the year.
Overall, these are very high goals to achieve for an automaker that really has no reputation or customer base to attach its wagon to yet. However, there are tons of enthusiasts out there that would love nothing more than a 300-mile-per-charge supercar that hits 60 mph in 4.4 seconds and still hauls the family around. So, if Tesla remains true to its promises with the Model S, we could all see this new automaker well exceeding its projected goals.
We’ll be closely monitoring the sales of the Model S to see if the demand is there and if this upstart can provide ample supply if the demand is high.
It looks as if the Evolution lineup in Mitsubishi may be getting bigger, but not too much bigger. Rumor has it that the struggling Japanese automaker is currently working on developing an Evolution trim level for its incoming hatchback, the Mitsubishi Mirage.
Details are still pretty thin on this potential model, buy Japanese magazine, Best Car, is all but certain that the model is underway and it will join the Mirage lineup shortly after its 2013 release. Seeing a subcompact hatchback like this bearing the “EVO” badge may seem a little strange, given the fact that the original Lancer Evolution has always been a four-door sedan with monstrous performance numbers.
This version of the EVO will not quite have the power numbers of the Lancer EVO, but it will be extremely powerful, given its puny specifications. Under the hood, we all expect to see a 1.5-liter three-banger engine that pumps out a respectful 150 horsepower, thanks to the help of a turbocharger. Where this new Evolution will make up ground is in the diet that Mitsubishi has this hatchback on. When it is all said and done, it is expected that Mitsubishi will have the Mirage weighing less than 2,000 lbs, giving it around a 12.5 pounds-per-horsepower rating, which is very respectable for its class.
Other than those few bits of information, everyone’s lips are pretty well sealed on the possible Mirage Evolution. We will continue to monitor the rumor mills for you and keep you up to date on all of the latest rumors and leaks, as we keep our fingers crossed for this performance subcompact hatchback.
When Fiat announced that it would release the 500 Abarth in Chrysler dealerships across the U.S., they initially built just 1,000 examples. Yeah, that wasn’t enough, as the preliminary orders alone exceeded 1,000 units, so Fiat upped the number to 3,000 units. It looks like that wasn’t quite enough either, as Chrysler has shut off the ordering system for 2012 500 Abarths due to the factory in Mexico not being able to handle any more orders for this model year.
According to The Detroit News, there are still some Abarths in dealerships around the country sitting around as demos or cancelled orders. So this means that you may still be able to snag up a 2012 model, but it won’t be built to your requests. You would have to settle for what it comes with straight from the dealership’s floor.
Per Fiat’s website, there are zero 500 Abarths available throughout the country, but old faithful AutoTrader shows us that there are 205 listed on its site from all around the country. We wouldn’t be shocked if the majority of those are just baited hooks, in order to get a customer in so the dealer can say “Aw, we just sold that this morning, but we can take a deposit on a 2013 model.” If you have worked at a dealership before, you know exactly what we’re talking about.
If you are patient, you can just wait until September to order up a new custom fitted 500 Abarth, so there is no need to accept a model that doesn’t meet your needs. Just make sure you get in early to beat the rush that we all expect there to be for this model year.
Audi has been experimenting with the electric-car market for a few years and officially unveiled plans for the A1 e-tron and an electric-powered A2 recently. It does not look like either one is going to happen any time soon, according to a report from Car.
The A2 electric was slated to be released in Europe, where high-efficiency diesel and gasoline engines that get upwards of 60 mpg reign supreme. These markets are tough enough to crowbar in an electric model, but add in the fact that the A2 was expected to carry a €40,000 ($50,000) price tag, and you get a model that was bound to fail in the European marketplace. Combine that price point with the fact that the Nissan Leaf, with its far lower €25,990 ($32,500) price tag, only saw 3,000 units leave showroom floors in 2011, and Audi wisely saw this as a fruitless journey.
The entire A2 line will likely continue as expected, sans the electric model. This leaves a gasoline and diesel model as the only drivetrain options.
The A1 e-tron reportedly is meeting a similar fate, but for different reasons. The A1 e-tron is being axed due to extravagantly high production costs. This car was planned to be similar to the Chevy Volt, as it was going to have a gasoline engine to extend the range of its electric motor by charging the batteries via a Wankel (rotary) engine.
Though this is a tragic way to abruptly cease the development phase for an electric lineup, we cannot blame Audi for its choice. Electric cars just are not selling well in the European markets and having one priced nearly double its closest competitor and another one with climbing production costs just isn’t smart business.
It’s a mundane and tedious task that no one likes to do and everyone avoids like the plague, regardless of the fact that we all had to learn it before getting our driver’s license. That’s right; we’re talking about the squeezing your car between the front bumper of one car and the rear bumper of the other, also known as parallel parking.
Some people are really good at this task, especially those that live in larger cities that have primarily street parking (see: New York City) and some of them are really bad. The guys in the above video are definitely in the former category, as they set the Guinness Books record for the tightest parallel parking job multiple times, constantly one-upping each other.
The first driver of the red Mini Cooper manages to perfectly drift this sub-compact ride into a space that is just 21 cm (8.3 inches) longer than his car, which sets the record. He then gets beaten by a second driver that hits 20 cm (7.9-inches). The back and forth continues until the record is finally set in stone at 15 cm (5.9 inches).
Guinness uses the term “parallel parking” pretty loosely in this sense, as there is no attempt to pull the car out of the tight space, which is a part of parallel parking. We definitely think that the record should be set by the person that can get the car into the tightest space then out of it without contacting another car, but we are sticklers for reality.
Enjoy the video as these high-performance parkers slide their way into curb-side-parking fame.
When the head of Ford’s Special Vehicles Team (SVT) jetted for another opportunity at Volkswagen, Ford was left debating what to do with the popular RS line of vehicles, which we unfortunately have yet to see in the U.S. Up until recently, it has been pretty much a certainty that the Focus RS would simply carry on into its third generation, but according to Autocar, Ford is becoming a little indecisive since SVT’s recent shakeup.
Now Ford is starting to consider replacing the popular Focus RS with the Fiesta RS. The biggest reason for Ford’s reconsidering of the Focus RS is the fact that the newest generation of the Focus will not include a three-door hatchback, the staple body style for the RS line. The Fiesta, on the other hand, is available in a three-door hatchback in the European market, making it the obvious replacement.
It looks as if the RS might just make it to the U.S. market in this generation, as the other main part of the holdup on Ford’s decision is the fact that the U.S. market would likely prefer the larger and more powerful Focus RS over the compact Fiesta RS. That would give the U.S. market a nice group of performance compact Fords, regardless of the model it chooses. The Focus ST is already heading to the states and the Fiesta ST is in development, which will also likely come to the States. Add in the RS line and that gives us three hot Ford compacts to play around with.
We honestly think that given the recent market swing toward quick hatchback models, Ford would be best suited to get into that market early by handing the Fiesta the “RS” badge. If Ford manages to get into the hot-hatch market early enough with the Fiesta RS, it could benefit the entire Fiesta lineup in coming years.
We will continue to keep you updated on this growing story as more details emerge.