World speed records are usually associated with vehicles like the Bugatti Veyron, which can hit a high mark of 267 mph and look great while doing it. Advances in hybrid technology, however, have now made it essential to include vehicles like the Volkswagen Jetta Hybrid on the list of top speed records. No, the Jetta was not able to dominate the Veyron’s top speed, or even come close to it, but it has achieved a land speed record of its own at the Bonneville Salt Flats. During the Southern California Timing Association’s Speed Week at Bonneville, the Jetta Hybrid was able to record a 185.394 mph top speed, marking the fastest speed ever achieved by a production-based hybrid on the Bonneville Salt Flats.
"Achieving this speed at Bonneville shows that the all-new 2013 Jetta Hybrid is a distinctly different offering in the compact hybrid class,” said Jonathan Browning, CEO and President, VW Group of America. “As well as being expected to achieve combined fuel economy of 45 mpg, the Jetta Turbo Hybrid also retains the fun-to-drive nature you expect from a Volkswagen in a segment dominated by less exciting vehicles.”
The 2013 Volkswagen Jetta Hybrid is powered by a 1.4-liter turbocharged gasoline powerplant generating 150 horsepower and 184 lb/ft of torque. The gasoline engine is then combined with a 20kW electric motor with a lithium-ion battery that’s produces an additional 27 HP and weighs less than 80 lbs. The Jetta’s top speed record was achieved by implementing a few changes to the setup. Volkswagen R&D in Wolfsburg, Germany modified the engine to provide a few more ponies, while A-Salt Racing and Advanced Product Engineering, based in Camarillo, California, provided project integration and other modifications. Everything was finalized with an engine calibration and a once-over by the folks at the Volkswagen Test Center California in Oxnard, CA
Mercedes has been testing the future C-Class all year, and now they have finally made it over to the Nurburgring for some hot laps around the famous ’Ring. The luxury sedan is still donning some massive camouflage to hide any new design aspects found on the car, but rumors have also been making their rounds that the future C-Class will take its inspiration from the F800 Concept car. This could mean that the angles of the vehicle will be just slightly elongated with a bit more sharpness to the angles, as well as a more marked front grille. Basically, it may be an edgier, sportier version of the current C-Class, which should be a change not many will complain about. As for power, the 2014 Mercedes C-Class may be looking at both a petrol and diesel engine lineup, as well as a new hybrid version.
When the new Mercedes C-Class makes its debut in 2014, it will be looking to take on vehicles like the Audi A4 and the BMW 3-Series.
The Citroen C4 Picasso has already been making its rounds on the testing grounds, but our spy photographers have finally managed to catch its seven-seater counterpart as its takes its turn in the hot seat. The Citroen C4 Grand Picasso will get the extra room from longer rear doors and a boxier rear end, but instead of the expected sliding rear doors there are actually conventional doors in their place.
In terms of power, the Citroen C4 Grand Picasso will more than likely get going with the help of the C4’s normal range of three petrol and four HDi diesel engines with horsepower ranging from 93 HP to 153 mph. The Grand Picasso may also get the hybrid system Hybrid4 already featured in the DS5 and Peugeot 3008. These engines will be mated to a variety of transmissions, from a 6-speed automatic gearbox to a manual 5- or 6-speed, or a 4-speed automatic transmission.
Expect the Citroen C4 Grand Picasso to debut sometime in 2013 with sales starting shortly thereafter.
After a number of testing sessions, the first details on the new Kia Sorento have finally been unveiled. The new SUV will make its official debut in September at the 2012 Paris Auto Show, with sales on the US market to begin in 2014.
As everyone expected, the mid-life refresh of the Kia Sorento includes a re-engineered bodyshell and enhanced powertrains for best-in-class fuel economy with lower emissions. The revised SUV will also come with an improved ride, handling, and refinement and additional convenience and safety features, as well as a fresh, new look for the exterior. This new look will consist of new headlamps with LED positioning lights, a new tailgate with LED rear combination lamps, new bumpers (front and rear) with vertical-axis fog lights, a larger area of body-color surface, and a new set of 19" wheels.
The interior gets improved materials, a new LCD instrument cluster, a new center stack with a 7-inch display screen, and a new console featuring a straight-gate selector with a leather-booted lever (on automatic transmission models).
UPDATE 08/16/2012: PaulTan is stating that the refreshed Kia Sorento will be riding on a new platform for the 2013MY, a platform that will also underpin the new Hyundai Sante Fe. This new platform will have new, stronger subframes which give more precise location of the suspension components. Other new features include larger suspension bushes, longer trailing arms at the rear, “High Performance Dampers,” and more direct steering. As an option, Kia will also be throwing in their new FlexSteer system which provides three different steering weights. Inside, the Sorento will also get an additional 30mm to stretch out in.
New pics of the interior also show that the refreshed Sorento will seat seven and will have a two-part glass panoramic roof and a new LCD instrument cluster with an 8" LCD screen (seven-inch in Europe). It will also benefit from satin chrome finish for the door handles, air-vent surrounds, and switches.
Check out the news pics of the interior in the gallery provided!
The Honda Accord has remained unchanged, pretty much, for the last five model years. We’re not saying that the current Accord is not a looker, but it has become a little bit aged. Early in 2012, Honda revealed the new Accord Concept and showed us a more aggressively styled vehicle with sharp body lines and an all-around sexy appearance.
When we see concept cars we always take them with a grain of salt, as they rarely, if ever, end up looking the same in production. For that reason, we held our tongue and made sure that you knew that was only a concept car being shown.
Now, however, Honda has released images of the production version of the Accord Coupe, and we are set to trickle some of this information to you. The official information for the 2013 Accord is still limited, so we are only going to focus on the officially released items and sprinkle in a little speculation on parts that Honda hasn’t yet made official.
Click past the jump to read our full review on the 2013 Honda Accord Coupe. Full story
To say that Honda has fallen behind the times in terms of automotive creativity is about as obvious as saying Fiat and Mini are overusing their respective flagship models. While nearly every other automaker is creating numerous ways to safely use your smartphone in the car and also using it to connect to cool things like Pandora radio, Facebook, and whatever other online stuff you love, Honda has been delivering the stats quo for years, sans adding light smartphone connectivity in the 2012 CR-V.
Finally, Honda has decided to get with the times and is introducing HondaLink, which is essentially a Ford Sync copycat. Then again, aren’t all of the modern connectivity systems just copying Ford’s innovative idea?
This new HondaLink system will debut in the 2013 Honda Accord and allows its user to do things like connect to Aha radio, tether and control a smartphone, listen to news, text message via speech, and even hear twitter and Facebook feeds over their audio system.
In reality, this system is actually using technology that Ford has been for the past half century, but the fact that Honda finally unburied its head and realized that it is sub-par is a miracle in itself. Maybe this new system can help Honda recoup some of the sales it has been losing to more innovative companies, like Hyundai and Kia, and earn some of its buyers back.
To help us better understand the system, Honda released a quick video describing its features, which you can see above. Click past the jump to check out Honda’s full presser on HondaLink.
By almost all accounts, the Volkswagen Passat CC is a pretty sweet car despite the fact that there’s not a lot about it that actually stands out. So how can a Passat CC gain an extra edge in the eyes of the people?
You dress it up like this.
This is the Volkswagen Passat CC "S.W.A.T.," an aftermarket creation from KBR Motorsport, Cover EFX, SH CarCare, and CFX. The program has been christened as "S.W.A.T." not because it’s dressed like a ’Special Weapons And Tactics’ vehicle, because it’s actually an acronym from ’Special Wagons And Tuning,’ a joined tuning company comprised of the companies that were mentioned above.
Nevertheless, the special camouflage-themed matte foil wrap does add a bad-ass look to the Passat, even if it goes against the actual purpose of camouflaging since there’s no way this car can blend in on the streets. Apart from the ironic camouflage wrap, the program also comes with a lowered sport suspension with shortened coilovers, a new set of 21" alloy wheels, and an engine and exhaust system upgrade that improves the car’s output to 280 horsepower. That is a 72 HP jump from the standard 2.0L inline four engine.
All of that is pretty cool...but that camouflage wrap is just a little too tacky for our taste.
Since its release in 2009, the R35 Nissan GT-R has been a relative success, given its niche and $90,000 price tag, as it has sold a total of 5,914 models in the U.S. For a while, it seemed as if the R36 GT-R, the replacement for the R35, was a near certainty to be produced. Well, we are getting mighty close to the fourth production year for the R35 and the fifth year is the typical redesign year for any model and according to reports, the R36 GT-R has yet to receive the green light.
Nissan has been pretty preoccupied lately with its development of electric and hybrid models, so we are not too surprised to see the R36 take a back seat. Add in the fact that sales have fallen to just 583 units, as of late July, and we are living with the possibility of Nissan axing the U.S. model altogether. At its current pace, the GT-R is only going to sell just over 1,100 GT-Rs this year, which is its lowest total since 2010 and over 600 units fewer than its debut year.
Nissan may also be worried about the CAFE changes in upcoming years and might be looking for a way to get a few more mpg from its sole sports car. A big possibility is the use of a hybrid drivetrain mated with a 4-cylinder engine to keep its horsepower near the 550 mark, but increase its overall mpg. With the near-$100K price point of the 2013 GT-R, it shouldn’t be too hard to fit a hybrid system somewhere near that price. This could explain the lack of approval, as Nissan would need a little extra time to develop a drivetrain suitable to replace the current twin-boosted 6-pot.
We’ll keep you updated on how things are progressing with the potential R36 GT-R just as soon as there is some information released.
Since airbags have become commonplace in cars in the last two decades – yes, it’s been that long – we have seen all sorts of different airbags in different locations to protect against various crashes. Now Mercedes is adding a new airbag of sorts to its 2014 S-Class. This newfound device is called the beltbag.
Here’s how the beltbag works. When the car is involved in a crash, the rear seatbelts will inflate with air and help cushion the seat’s occupant against torso damage caused by the belt. If you’ve ever been in a hard enough crash to jar you forward, you know how badly a seatbelt can bruise your chest and abdomen. The airbelt is supposed to prevent that damage.
This isn’t the first airbelt to be released though, as Ford included it in its optional features on the 2011 Explorer. This is, however, the first time it is a standard feature. We are curious as to why Mercedes did not add this feature to its front seatbelts, as the jolt forward is no different in the rear than it is in the front.
We also wonder how many years this will remain an optional feature before the NHTSA decides that this needs to be standard in all cars, thereby driving up the cost of a new car even more... Keep in mind, even front airbags were once only an option, as were tire pressure monitors, traction control, and ABS. Now those features are all required, in one for or another, on all cars sold in the U.S.
We’ll get to see this new belt system in action in Geneva next spring, which is when Mercedes-Benz unveils its new S-Class.
In the early years of the automotive industry, the interior was simply somewhere to park your behind as you drove around. In the modern era, car interiors are becoming more like a second home, as they are now featuring climate control, TVs, huge sound systems, plush fabrics, and much more. Due to the constantly changing automotive world, automakers need to make sure that they are producing the best interiors possible, or risk losing sales to the competition.
Ford has taken this competition to a new level, as it is now using a robotic system to determine the quality of its cars’ interiors. This new robotic touch system is called Robotized Unit for Tactility and Haptics (RUTH). For those on the same vocabulary level as me and needing a more plain English description, this is a robot that uses sensors to determine the pain, pressure, or heat that a human’s skin would feel when touching something, which then turns that touch sensation into scalable data.
The above video shows Ford engineers describing RUTH as she touches and probes multiple points throughout the cabin of the all-new Ford Fusion. RUTH then uses data that Ford has collected from thousands of customers around the world and determines if the pieces it tests meet the collective wants of Ford buyers. From there, Ford engineers can adjust the texture, feel, softness, or even temperature of something in the cabin.
RUTH has been in commission in Ford North America since January 2012 and it looks like it is a complete success, at least according to the video. With advancements like this, it is easy to see why Ford was able to keep its head above water through the automotive recession.