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CNG and LPG Gasses: Is there a future for going natural?

We often bring up the CAFE standards, as they directly impact our covering of supercars that obviously do not fit into this plan. As much as we hate to admit it, fossil fuels are at about a quarter tank right now and fading fast, so something had to be done.

First came the “Gas Guzzler” tax, but that had very little impact, as the folks buying those types of cars could afford the extra several thousand dollars. With our backs against the wall, gasoline prices over $4 per gallon and the current CAFE standards expiring in 2016, the government stepped in and began composing an extension to the CAFE standards, which would push the average mpg of all cars and light trucks up to 54.5 mpg by 2025.

There was some battle over these standards being unconstitutional and unnecessary, but ultimately the courts and all sides of the government came to the conclusion that it was a necessary evil. Now this law has become official, as it has successfully passed its final obstacle, the pen of Barack Obama.

The new law takes effect in the 2017 model year, but there is a chance that Mitt Romney could beat Obama and he made it clear that he would immediately repeal the CAFE standards and move more toward encouragement than legislation. We’re not a political site, but it’s likely too late for encouragement to move the mpg needle fast enough.

We have already outlined what the supercar realm may look like by the year 2020, with high-strung 4-cylinders powering our fastest cars instead of massive V-12 engines. This can also cause a push toward LPG, CNG or hydrogen in the future, as the new law includes incentives for natural gas and fuel cell vehicles. We’ll have to wait and see exactly what happens, but the changes in the next 13 years will be drastic.

Click past the jump to read the press release about the finalization of these standards.

Source: Money News

In 2007, Toyota released an all-new hatchback model that was based on the Toyota Corolla and dubbed it the Auris , in most markets. In fact, in the Australian and New Zealand markets, the Auris is called the Corolla Hatchback.

Since its debut in 2007, the Auris has remained relatively unchanged, but also vastly popular. We have heard rumors that a newly redesigned Auris would hit showrooms soon, but no one knew exactly how far Toyota would take its design. All of that is in the past now, as Toyota has chosen to release a plethora of information on this revamped hatchback.

Not all of the details are available yet, but there is enough information and plenty of pictures to help us come to an initial determination if this model will continue its success or simply fizzle away.

UPDATE 08/29/12: We’re not quite sure what Toyota’s rationale was when they released the new commercial ad for the Auris. At the very least, though, it’s something that catches your attention from the get-go. Titled "DAS × AURIS BUTTOCKS DRIVE!!”, the commercial features Avu-chan, a 19-year old lead singer of a Japanese glamrock band that also happens to be a transgender woman. Check out the video and see the commercial for yourself!

To find out exactly what we think of the 2013 Toyota Auris/Corolla , click past the jump.

Nissan GT-R

Recently, Auto Express had a sit-down with Andy Palmer, Nissan’s executive vice president of product planning, and he let us all in on what’s coming up for the Nissan lineup. In the interview, Palmer confirmed that the Nismo Leaf would make it to production with numbers expected to be in the 125-horsepower and 320 Nm (236 foot-pound) range. That’s nothing spectacular, but it is a significant bump from the standard specs.

Palmer also confirmed that the 370Z Nismo would make its way to the UK, which we already get here in the U.S. He also let us know that the GT-R would receive the Nismo treatment sometime in late-2013.

The biggest news comes in the form of the announced Nismo RS models. We already know that the Juke-R is heading to production , but it will almost certainly carry with it a $100,000+ price tag. Buyers can opt for a lower—powered Juke Nismo RS and still get good performance, without the huge price tag. This model will likely push 270 horsepower from its boosted 1.6-liter 4-pot.

The biggest of the big news is Palmer’s announcement that the 370Z and GT-R will both get an RS configuration in their next generations. We have no idea what to expect from these models and we likely won’t know until their respective base models arrive in 2014. The 370Z has a very high ceiling, as little has been done to make it perform on a higher level, but how exactly Nissan plans to add to the 545 horsepower that the GT-R already pumps from its 3.8-liter V-6 engine just baffles and excites us.

We will keep a close eye on the entire Nissan RS lineup and keep you updated as these models inch closer to production.

Source: Auto Express
Nissan DeltaWing

The DeltaWing , which most people know as the “Nissan ” DeltaWing, took a run at the Le Mans series and was doing well until a wreck put it out of commission. What some people may not know is the fact that the group that put together the DeltaWing were originally attempting to put it into play in the INDYCAR series. That never happened, and the rest is history.

With the Indy Lights series gaining some notoriety and its base chassis, the Dallara , getting on in age, Indy is now seeking a new manufacturer to build a base chassis to replace its aging unit. Now the entire group, less Nissan, is pitching the Delta Delta Wing to become the successor to the Dallara. To achieve this task and even be considered for Indy Lights, the group needs to fit the DeltaWing with the required paddle shifting capability, upgraded data systems, and alternative fuel considerations.

Overall, the DeltaWing looks like it would be a shoe-in, if it can get those few requirements taken care of. However, there are five or six total entrants trying to win this spot in the Indy Light series, so the Delta Wing group needs to focus on getting the car perfect, so they can get it into the circuit.

For now, this is just another pipe dream for the DeltaWing, but so was its entrance into the 24 Hours of Le Mans race. It succeeded in getting into that race, though it didn’t last for more than half of the race.

We’ll keep you updated on this race to the Indy Light series and let you know once Indy makes its final decision.

We love vehicles that have two and four wheels, so why shouldn’t we love those that have six wheels? No, we’re not talking about the latest Ford F-350 Dually. We are talking about the technological marvel that has been on the tip of everyone’s tongue lately: the Mars Science Laboratory, which is better known simply as the Curiosity Rover.

Recently, we showed you an infographic that pitted the 2013 Ford F-150 SVT Raptor against the Curiosity Rover, and that was obviously done in jest. See, the Curiosity Rover is set to go where no F-150 could ever go... the red planet – Mars to those that are not also Sci-Fi nerds.

With the Curiosity’s touchdown coming in just a few days, we thought it was time to give it the TopSpeed once over to see if it is really ready to embark on this 253-day journey, which is quite a commute...

UPDATE 08/07/2012: The Curiosity Rover has touched down on Mars and has officially taken its first color picture of the surface of the Red Planet. The picture was taken with the Mars Hand Lens Imager (MAHLI) at the end of the rover’s robotic arm. Check out the image, as well as many others, in the gallery provided!

Click past the jump to read our full review on the Curiosity Rover.

When Honda was teasing us with the Honda CR-Z back in late-2009 and early-2010, the teaser commercials showed us a hybrid that provided the perfect balance of economy and sport. This made us all immediately think that we were about the get the performance-minded hybrid we had been hoping for.

Well, when we finally received the specs on the 2011 CR-Z , we were slightly disappointed with the 122 horsepower and 128 pound-feet of torque that its 1.5-liter 4-pot pumped out. We were even more distraught when we found out that it only got 31 mpg city and 37 mpg highway – both numbers are now eclipsed by gasoline-only cars. The lack of power translated out to an 8.3-second sprint to 60 mph, which was about 1.5 seconds slower than we all expected to see.

Well, it looks like Jackson Racing has finally come up with a solution for those disappointed CR-Z drivers, as it has released a supercharger that will add some excitement to the equation, but only for 6-speed models.

This supercharger is available in three stages: tune yourself for $3,995, factory tuned for $4,495, and tuner system for $4,995. The first option includes only the supercharger system, the second system includes the supercharger, Hondata ECU remap and high-flow injectors, and the final kit includes the supercharger, Hondata FlashPro, Jackson’s CR-Z FlashPro calibration and high-flow injectors.

The latter kit will push the CR-Z’s output up by up to 50 horsepower and 45 pound-feet of torque, which increases it to an acceptable 172 horsepower and 173 pound-feet of torque. This likely brings the CR-Z’s 0 to 60 time into its anticipated range of about 6.7 seconds.

According to Jackson, this kit will not affect the CR-Z’s fuel economy under regular driving. However, if you like to keep your foot in the cooling fan, you will likely see steep fuel economy drop off. Jackson is currently working on an option for those with the whiny CVT. We say step one of that process should include scrapping the transmission, but we may be a little biased...

Click past the jump to read the presser.

Recently, we introduced you to the VIA VTRUX , an electric pickup truck with a range-extending gasoline engine. Now we are set to bring to you the SUV variant from the same company.

VIA is headed up by former GM executive, Bob Lutz, so these all-electrics are based on Chevy models. The VIA VTRUX SUV, which is also dubbed the Suburban, is based on the 2011 Chevy Suburban , but with a vastly different drivetrain underneath it.

With all of the hybrid SUVs hitting the marketplace, we honestly wonder if there is room for an electric SUV of this nature. Sure, we have the Tesla Model X SUV showing up at some point in the coming years, but it is not your "typical" SUV. The VIA VTRUX Suburban is a traditional SUV that simply lacks the traditional gasoline power.

So, how doe this VIA SUV hold up to its hybrid competition, some of which comes from its own donor company, GM ?

You’ll have to click past the jump to find out.

Electric vehicles and various hybrid systems are taking over the front pages of the automotive world as of late. One of the areas where hybrids and EVs haven’t completely infiltrated is the world of pickup trucks. Well, that’s until former GM executive, Bob Lutz, joined forces with the little-known Via Motors.

Via Motors has quite literally taken the electric truck, SUV, and van ball and run with it, and has started carving itself a nice little niche in the automotive world. One of its entrants is the Vtrux, which is a range-extended electric truck. The information on this new green pickup is not 100 percent available yet, but Via has posted a good amount of information on this pickup’s upcoming release.

The question on the mind of the automotive world is can an electric truck actually do well in this world of powerful diesel- and gasoline-powered pickups? The answer to this question is very simple, but to get to that answer, we have to tear into the Vtrux and find out what makes it tick.

Click past the jump to read all about the Vtrux and find out the answer to that all-important question.

The Toyota iQ, which us in the States know as a Scion iQ , is never mistaken for a speedster or a sports car. However, weighing in at only 990 kg (2,182 lbs) means that it doesn’t take too much power to make it quick. The folks at GAZOO Racing decided to see what happens when they toss a supercharger on a Toyota iQ with the optional 1.33-liter engine.

The end result is a super-lightweight car that pumps out an impressive 122 PS (120 horsepower) at 5,200 rpm and 174 Nm (128 pound-feet) of torque at 4,800 rpm in a compact package. This means that the supercharger added a full 28 PS (27 horsepower) and 56 Nm (41 pound-feet) of torque. GAZOO Racing is building a very limited number of these iQs – 100 to be exact – and they have dubbed this machine the Toyota iQ GRMN Supercharger.

In addition to a supercharger, GAZOO Racing included an updated suspension and transmission. Also added in were 4-wheel disc brakes, allowing its driver to bring this micro-machine to a halt quickly.

The Toyota iQ GRM Supercharger retails at 3,550,000 Japanese Yen, which is $45,367 at the current exchange rates. That’s a full $27,332 more than the base-level Scion iQ, which is quite a price hike.

The 100 units are already sold out, so if you are looking to snag one of these iQ GRMN Superchargers, you’re going to have to check out the used car market and hope you’re lucky enough to find one.

Peugeot 208 GTi Concept

In February, we gave you some information on the 208 GTI concept car . Just like most concept cars, we were not certain when, or even if, the GTI model of the 208 hatchback would ever see the production line. Well, the mystery is over, as Peugeot has officially greenlighted the production of the 208 GTI. There is still no concrete release date, but at least we know it will be released at some point.

This hot hatch will include a version of the 1.6-liter 4-cylinder engine that the Mini Cooper and Citroen DS3 uses. This turbo-4 will have two variants, one that pumps out 154 ponies and the other that punches out a stout 204 horsepower.

The 204-horsepower model is rumored to be dubbed the 208 GTI Racing and can zip to 60 mph in sub-7-second times, which is truly impressive for a compact hatchback. Despite its quick nature, the GTI will not boast any suspension upgrades, so you can anticipate almost identical handling to its base 208 counterpart.

As usual with Peugeots, the U.S. Market won’t even get to sniff one, unless it is imported from overseas and brought up to U.S. Safety and emission standards.

We are still hanging tight to hear what kind of pricing we are looking at for this hatch, so we will keep you up to date with that and the anticipated release date, when they become available.


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