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Subaru BRZ

Oh boy… It seems like the FR-S and BRZ just hit dealerships – oh wait they did – and already they are showing up on the recall list. So, does this spell disaster for the Sciobaru twins, or is this just a rocky start to something special, a la the Ford Escort? Well, actually the recall has absolutely nothing to deal with the overall build of the vehicle, but rather a strange safety requirement by the NHTSA.

This recall is still hot off of the press, as it just hit the NHTSA’s site on June 8 at 2:49 a.m. – ah, someone couldn’t sleep – but there is still enough info to pass along. It looks like there was just a small bit of information left out of the owner’s manual regarding how the airbag system works. You know, one of the many sections of the owner’s manual that the average owner just bypasses.

From the reports we are reading, the missing information is almost unnoticeable. As described by Subaru officials, the missing information in question is that the manual not making a distinguished difference between a child and a small female when it is describing the way the BRZ and FR-S weigh its passengers for airbag deployment.

Per the NHTSA, this recall only affects a small number of the first FR-S and BRZ models to leave the production line. It is estimated that roughly 1,156 Scion FR-S models are in need of replacement owner’s manuals, but the number of BRZs needing replacement manuals is undisclosed yet, though some outlets are reporting 1,600 BRZs.

Fortunately, this recall is just something small and not a safety issue, which could be catastrophic for a new car in the market.

DRB-HICOM Suspends Lotus CEO Dany Bahar

Well, you can just color us shocked, as Lotus chose to fire suspended CEO, Dany Bahar (it’s sarcasm, folks). We already anticipated new Lotus owner, DRB-Hicom to part ways with the unsuccessful and oft-newsworthy CEO from the beginning, but his “temporary suspension ” pending an investigation sealed the deal. The word “suspension” in the corporate world is simply shorthand for “we are getting you out of the office so we can dig up some dirt to fire you before you get a chance to cover your tracks.”

To boot, the investigation that Bahar is under is pretty serious business, as he allegedly used Lotus’s money to fund renovations on his rental properties. After Lotus caught on and stopped the flow of money, the builders were stuck with a pretty hefty unpaid building bill. So that’s a double whammy for Mr. Bahar that just might land him in a court room.

We are sure this is far from the last thing we hear from Bahar, though we are certain he won’t find his way into the CEO role of another company. We’ll keep you updated on his potential legal issues as more information comes around. Until then, it looks as if he is just going to be joining former Mercedes-Benz CEO, Ernst Lieb, in the unemployment line.

Where’s Donald Trump with his famous “You’re Fired” line when you need him?

In all seriousness, we wish the best for the British automaker, but it needed Bahar out of the CEO role to get back to what it once was. Here’s to a fresh start for Lotus and we are hoping DRB-Hicom selects the perfect candidate for the job.

Monaco is pretty well known as the land of supercars, as it has arguably the highest concentration of supercars roaming its streets than any other country in the world. With all of these supercars, it makes life a little difficult for law enforcement to catch speeders. Often times, cars are simply flagged down by foot patrol officers, because Monaco officials know that chasing down a high-powered Lamborghini is fruitless.

Another thing about Monaco, which we know from the Grand Prix of Monaco, is that its roads are chock-full of crazy twists and turns, so agility may be even more important than overall speed. So what are the Monaco Police to do when they finally decide it is time for a crackdown on these crazy drivers? Well, buy one of the most lightweight and agile supercars in the world, the KTM X-Bow R by MTM, of course.

This MTM-tuned KTM X-Bow R pumps out a low-for-a-supercar 400 horsepower from its 2.0-liter engine. It makes up for this relative lack of power by being the Calista Flockhart of supercars and weighing only 1,700 lbs. To give you a better idea of how awesome this car is, it only has 4.25 lbs per horsepower, which is drastically better than that Lamborghini Aventador’s 4.96 lbs per horsepower and the Ferrari 599 GTB’s flabby 6 lbs per horsepower.

The only supercar to beat the KTM X-Bow R by MTM in weight-to-power is the Bugatti Veyron 16.4 , which comes in at 4.15 lbs per horsepower. Now that is some impressive company to be in.

If you still don’t believe us that the KTM X-Bow R by MTM is the car to be chasing down supercar speeders in Monaco, have a look at the video of the police testing it after the jump. That should be plenty to convince you that it is one bad-ass supercar killer.

Ford Explorer Sport

Most of us have all heard the saying that it is not so hard to outrun a cop car, but it’s impossible to outrun their radios. It looks as if the California Highway Patrol is taking that to heart, as it chose the Ford Explorer over the Taurus and Charger Pursuit Car as the replacement for the outgoing Crown Victoria police cruiser. According to the CHP’s representatives, the reasoning for choosing an SUV over the uni-body vehicles is payload capacity, as the CHP can hauls up to 1,700 lbs of people and gear in its vehicles at any given time.

The only two other vehicles that gave the Explorer any competition were the Chevy Tahoe Police Package and Dodge Durango Special Services . The Durango never got a chance, as it was too late for it to receive a pursuit rating in time and Chrysler never submitted a bid. There is no indication on how the testing panned out between the Explorer and Tahoe, but the CHP chose the Explorer based on a lower bid, so chances are that the Tahoe outperformed the Explorer, but was simply too expensive.

Now, don’t start thinking that this is any old Explorer that you can run down to a local Ford dealership and pick up. Ford removed the standard 290-horsepower 3.5-liter V-6 and dropped in the 3.7-liter V-6 borrowed from the F-150 that produces 302 horsepower and 278 pound-feet of torque. The standard 3.5-liter engine gets the Explorer to 60 mph in an acceptable 8.3 seconds, so we would figure the extra 12 ponies and 23 pound-feet should cut that down to about 8 seconds.

Yeah, the Explorer PPV is no speed demon, but as we said before, it is much harder to outrun a radio signal than it is a cop car. So this choice was more of a combination of cost and utility than pure speed. Besides, most highway patrols have special pursuit vehicles just for those pesky high-speed pursuits when patrol cars and radios just aren’t enough.

The automotive world is full of trends and copycatting, so it is not uncommon to see drivetrain modifications start off small and explode as the years progress. If you think back, you will find one of the slower growing trends in automotive history was fuel injection, as it dates way back to 1925, then by 1940 it was first made electronic by Alfa Romeo engineers. In 1952, it became commercially available via Bosch, but only a few automakers made use of it. By the early-1990s, all but a handful of cars had electronic fuel injection of some sort.

On the opposite end of the spectrum, in terms of rate of growth, is the elimination of V-8 engines in favor of more practical turbocharged V-6 engines. The Ford F-150 has been on the front lines of this V-8 abandonment front and it all began with the elimination of all but two V-8 engines in 2011 – the 5.0-liter V-8 and 6.2-liter V-8 were the only 8-cylinder engines available – and replacing them with a series of V-6 engines, including: a high-output non-turbo, a 302-horsepower 3.5-liter, a 302-horsepower 3.7-liter, and a 365-horsepower twin-turbocharged 3.5-liter V-6 engine.

Since this successful introduction of forced-induction V-6 engines by Ford, seemingly every company is working on a hot turbocharged V-6 to replace their V-8 engines. The most notable is General Motor’s work on a 3.0-liter turbocharged V-6 for its upcoming Escalade redesign and the new Silverado and Sierra. There are also whispers of a twin-turbo V-6 for the Camaro . Dodge has fallen behind, but has turned its focus more toward making its existing V-8 powered trucks more economical, but will eventually have to switch to turbo power to keep pace.

So the question on everyone’s mind is how do these turbo charged V-6s stack up to the aging and fuel-hungry V-8s?

Click past the jump to read our comparison between the two options.

Remember when TPMS was just a cool feature on BMW , GM, and Mercedes vehicles? In 2006, the NHTSA and DOT came together to make it a law for all incoming 2007 vehicles to have direct TPMS standard. When this happened, the tire industry released a collective “Oh man, are you serious?” Well, now another company is taking the simplifying of tire pressure an extra step beyond a flashing indicator saying “Hey, put some air in the tires, please!”

That’s right; starting with the 2013 model year, Nissan will include a system that actually activates the horn when the tires have reached their correct pressure on all of its cars. This all comes on the heels of a successful test of the system on the 2013 Altima . No more “confusing” tire pressure gauges to fumble around with. In all seriousness though, this is actually an ingenious idea. When I was in the tire business, you have no idea how many times a customer would roll up asking us to put 44 psi in his 1995 Cavalier’s tires because that’s what the sidewall of the tire says is the max pressure, or his grandfather once told him that more air increases gas mileage.

So now when you are whipping down the road in your 2013 370Z and that pesky “Low Pressure” light starts flashing, you can just fill `er up `till it beeps. Why not take it a step further and just install a small compressor that fires up and adds air to the tire as you drive via a vein that runs through the casting of the rim?

We’re kidding Mr. and Mrs. Automotive Engineer, if that happens we all had better just stay off of the road, because if you can’t inflate your tires due to lack of knowledge, you shouldn’t be driving in the first place. Let’s all hope that never happens.

Click past the jump to read Nissan’s press release.

Looks like states are finally jumping on the autonomous-driving bandwagon, but this time it has a little “oomph” behind it. Having Nevada pass a bill specifically to allow and regulate automated driving was great, but this time it’s California that gave it the green light. California’s driving and automotive laws have always had a big influence on federal laws – except lane splitting, thank goodness – so chances are more states will follow and the NHTSA will eventually jump on board.

The thing to remember here is that this bill was not to allow autonomous cars to drive on California roads, as California has no laws barring self-driving cars. This law is to govern the production and testing of these cars in hopes of giving manufacturers a clear set of rules regarding these cars, which may press more automakers into this realm.

The first thing that California cleared up is defining an autonomous vehicle. This is any vehicle that can drive without any human intervention, so this eliminates Cadillac’s self-driving car for now and leaves only the Google car (seen in the above video). It also specifies that it is legal to manufacture your own autonomous car and drive it on California highways, which is an interesting topic of debate.

The bill goes on to state that the car must have a licensed driver in the driver’s seat and that driver must be designated by the car’s builder as a legal driver for said vehicle. The only exception to this rule is on a closed course. The manufacturer must also have an insurance policy or bond in the amount of $5 million prior to testing the vehicle. From there the bill goes on to define what safety issues the manufacturer, car, and driver must comply with.

Keep in mind that this is only the first step for this bill, as it must pass the State Assembly next. Given the bill passed 37 – 0, we doubt it will be held up.

Click past the jump to read the bill. Yes, it is in regular English, not “politicianese.”

Nearly every driver has done it, but we all fear getting pulled over for doing it. No, not speeding. We mean flashing your headlights to warn oncoming traffic of a cop car hidden off the side of the road getting ready to pounce on a fast driver.

Most of us have been told at some point that the practice is illegal, but I once learned that it actually is not illegal, just frowned upon. Apparently, the police in Seminole County, FL seem to have not gotten the memo that there is no law forbidding it in Florida, or any other state, and handed a ticket to a driver for that exact reason. They certainly got that memo in direct fashion as a Florida judge ruled against the Seminole police saying that flashing your lights to warn other drivers of a speed trap is covered under free speech. This court date was just a civil hearing and the driver still has yet to take the ticket to traffic court, which he surely will win.

The worst part of the whole thing is that the police officer gave the driver, Ryan Kintner, the ticket based on Florida’s law banning aftermarket flashing lights on civilian cars. Flashing your headlights is in no way having an aftermarket flashing light on your car. That is abuse of power to a “T,” but we’re not here to debate police and their power.

Now, before you all go out there and start flashing your lights like crazy to oncoming traffic every time you see a cop, make sure to review your state, county and city laws in regards to high beam usage. Every state or municipality has a rule on when you have to dim your high beam lights, most of which are at 500 feet from the oncoming traffic or 200 feet from traffic heading in the same direction as you.

One feature that automakers have teased us with and even installed on concept cars is an LED screen and camera in the place of the old-style rearview mirror. With all of the cameras placed all around cars these days, like Subaru Subaru ’s EyeSight system and the various backup cameras, we are surprised this hasn’t become a reality. The assumed reasons for rearview screens not taking the place of rearview mirrors are NHTSA and DOT regulations.

Honestly, we don’t see why the NHTSA and DOT would think a hunk of glass glued to the windshield is safer than a crisp LED image from an HD camera. Then again those two government offices – as with all government offices – make strange regulations. Apparently an LED screen and camera are plenty for Audi’s future Le Mans cars, as the automaker has just announced, via a press release, that its closed LMP prototype will run with an AMOLED screen in place of the mirror and a rear-mounted camera feeding the images to the screen.

The main reasoning behind this is that the LMP prototype’s cabin is fully closed, with exception of the front windshield, so a rearview mirror would display nothing but the rear wall of the cabin. So, if this technology is good enough for racecars, why are we not seeing it installed in street cars yet? Well, we just very well might, as you likely do not remember, but the rearview mirror was not used on motor cars until Ray Harroun’s Marmon “Wasp” used one in the first Indianapolis 500, in 1911. It later became standard per NHTSA regulations for all cars to come with this item, thanks to its overwhelming success in racing.

Odds are that if this system is successful in racing that the NHTSA will adopt it, especially given the fact that rearview cameras are soon to become mandatory on all vehicle.

Click past the jump to read the full press release.

There are two things that are a part of nearly every auto show: sexy cars and equally appealing women. With the latter often comes clothing that leaves very little to the imagination. Well apparently, the Capital Ethics Development Office of China – the morality police, per se – decided that it wanted none of it, as they reprimanded the Beijing Auto Show officials for such scantily clad women, per a report from Bloomberg.

From what we saw of the Beijing Auto Show , the number of skin-flaunting women wasn’t nearly as high as we are used to, so we are left wondering what exactly the Chinese government wants. There were, of course, the obligatory more-skin-than-clothes models, but for the most part the women were dressed pretty moderately for an auto show, and the video from Bloomberg (above) shows them.

We totally understand that the Chinese government is more reserved than most, but c’mon, it’s an auto show. Who is mostly drawn to auto shows? The answer is, primarily men in their 30s and 40s. What do most men in their 30s and 40s like just about as much as cars? Well, we think you can figure it out…

We guess we’ll just have to see what happens next year at the Beijing Auto Show. We certainly hope the women aren’t prancing around in pant suits – eek. If so, we will all use a lot less space on our digital cameras.

Source: Bloomberg

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