Ahh, rumors in the automotive world spread just about as fast as the rumor that the captain of the football team was kissing the head of the girls’ chess team under the bleachers at the homecoming dance… And we love ‘em. The latest rumor is an interesting one that actually has a fair amount of validity.
Lancia is one of the many companies under the protective umbrella of Fiat Automobiles S.p.A. and it loves to borrow its models from Chrysler , add a few small touches, and call it their own. One of the latest models to make the Lancia conversion was the Chrysler 300 , which prances around Europe bearing the name “Lancia Thema” (image above). That’s not the rumor though, as we already know all about that.
The rumors being whispered are that Lancia really wants a full-size coupe for its European market and the only car available to possibly satisfy this itch is the Chrysler 300 . Ask any custom coach builder and he will tell you that turning a four-door body into a two-door car is not as tough as you may think, but going the other direction is nearly impossible.
So, if Lancia decides to hack up the B-pillar on the 300, shorten the opening a little and slap two fewer doors on the 300, would this model make it to the U.S.? The two-door full size car essentially died with the downsizing of vehicles in the late-1970s, but a small niche market may be in order.
This also spawns the possibility of Chrysler finally satisfying its nostalgia buffs by taking the two-door blueprints that Lancia would create and turn that into a two-door Charger . The pair of extra doors have always been a thorn in the side of Charger buffs, so Chrysler could breathe a little extra life into both models – not like the 300 needs more life, but extra sales can’t hurt – by offering two-door models of each.
This is certainly an interesting rumor to ponder and we are more likely to see pigs fly before we see a two-door 300 and Charger, but we’re telling you there’s a chance.
On the surface, the Chevy Volt is actually a pretty good looking car, if you are able to ignore the fact that it pumps out only 149 horsepower from its paltry1.4-liter engine and uses an electric motor for 30 miles before the gas engine ever kicks in. We’re not trying to say it’s a sports car, but it could certainly fall into the sports sedan area.
Unfortunately, we come right back to that 149 ponies and that immediately disqualifies this otherwise stylish car from sniffing the sports sedan segment. Well, GM obviously has noted the potential for the Volt and rumors are now swirling around that Chevy will start installing the turbocharged 2.0-liter engine that the all-new Buick Verano T is receiving into the Volt .
As of now, this is still a rumor, but given that the Cadillac ELR and its sexy exterior is due to debut any time now and will likely ride on the same platform as the Volt, it only makes sense to use the powerful boosted 2.0. The ELR with only 149 horsepower would be like dumping a Civic Si engine in a Ferrari , it just doesn’t quite fit the looks.
We are uncertain if the Volt receives the full-powered version of the 2.0-liter engine, or a detuned model, it will mean that the Volt could push up to 270 horsepower, if it receives the full-power 2.0. Also floating around is a rumor that this new engine will receive a larger electric motor for a little extra gasoline-free oomph.
All we can say is that we truly hope that these rumors are true, as the Volt in its current form is underwhelming, to say the least. We’ll keep you updated as more details roll out on this possible upgrade.
Anyone that drives a truck in a manner that it is built to be used – you know, actually hauling more than just yourself – will tell you that diesel power is the way to go. Not only are diesel engines far more reliable, but they also boast extraordinary torque for their size and historically get better fuel economy. For some reason unknown to us, the “Big Three” only offer diesel engines in their 3/4-ton and larger trucks, leaving 1/2-ton truck with only gasoline engines to choose from.
With trucks being all about towing these days more than in recent history, a lot of focus has been placed on increasing frame rigidity and driveline quality to bump up towing capacity on the entry-level 1/2-ton pickups, but little has been done to pump up the twisting power needed to get those heavy loads moving (A.K.A. torque).
Well, it looks like Chrysler is getting really serious about the Ram taking over Chevy’s No. 2 slot on the best-selling pickup list. In addition to all of the new enhancements coming in 2013 , reports are pointing toward a diesel variant coming to the 1500 lineup in the near future, as test mule 1500 Rams are being spotted bearing torque-happy diesel power plants.
No, this is not a Cummins diesel engine like most would expect. The engine of choice is the VM 3.0-liter V-6 diesel engine by Fiat . Before you start complaining about Ram straying away from the Cummins engine, understand that this Fiat diesel is no wimp, as it cranks out 241 ponies and 406 pound-feet of torque straight off of the shelf. Add in the fact that it gets up to 28 mpg on the highway and you have a winner.
That would put this diesel at the same torque output as the 5.7-liter HEMI V-8, but allows it to get 10 more MPG on the highway. Given the new frame enhancements in the Ram 1500, we would anticipate a towing rating well over 10,000 lbs from these diesel-power Ram 1500s.
For now, these engines are still in the testing phase, but we will keep you informed if anything changes.
When six-speed transmissions began becoming more and more popular throughout the mid-2000s, drivers began to adapt to them. For most drivers, the change from five to six speeds was a relatively simple one, as it was just one more gear downward. Now with automatic transmissions exhibiting better fuel economy than manuals, thanks 7- and 8-speed automatics, the manual transmission needs to adapt or die.
In true Darwin-like fashion the 6-speed evolved into a 7-speed on the most recent Porsche 911 , so why hasn’t any one else followed suit? The truth behind it is that most experts decided that six speeds is about all that the average human can handle in a car. Well, BMW appears to be joining Porsche in proving the experts wrong, as according to patent drawings that surfaced recently, there is a 7-speed manual in development for BMW .
BMW isn’t trying to say that the experts are 100 percent incorrect, as all signs point toward electronic gating of the gears, which prevent a driver from accidentally shifting to 1st gear when going 70 mph and 7th gear when going 20 mph.
These drawings combined with electronic gating of the gears also bring about the possibility of a semi-truck-like 8-speed transmission option. An 8th speed would definitely place the manual transmission back into at least a 1st place tie with new automatics for fuel economy supremacy, but their widespread reality has yet to be seen, and the verdict is still out on the 7-speed variant of the 911. To date it seems like a winner, as it gives the driver six shortly spaced gears then a 7th wide, overdrive-like speed.
We’ll keep you updated as more information becomes available on this patent drawing of a 7-speed transmission.
It seems like since the beginning of time, Mercedes has offered a diesel option on its sedans to its U.S. customers, but BMW has always avoided putting these loud and relatively sluggish engines in its U.S.-bound cars. According to various reports, this is all due to come to an end in the near future, as BMW is prepping its 3.0-liter diesel power plant for U.S.-bound 7 Series models.
Nothing is definitive yet and we are still in the early phases of all of the speculation and reports, but we anticipate it to bear a 735d or 740d badge. We also do not know if BMW is planning to further tune the current 3.0-liter diesel engine to exceed its current 265 horsepower and 425 pound-feet of torque, but we certainly anticipate the German auto builder to pump up the horsepower to the 300 horsepower range to attract buyers.
As for fuel economy, we can expect the highway economy to jump from the 17 mpg city and 25 mpg highway to roughly 19 mpg city and 29 mpg highway, given the fact that the much heavier and less aerodynamic X5 gets 26 mpg highway with the same diesel engine. This would make the 7 Series one of the most fuel efficient cars in its class, as the automaker strives to stay ahead of the CAFÉ curve.
Reports are pointing toward this new engine arriving in showrooms sometime in late-2013, but don’t be surprised to see it makes its way over here a little earlier. We will continue to monitor the details of this new engine and keep you updated as more information becomes available.
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.
After hearing plenty of these rumors, Fiat Chairman, John Elkann, had enough and announced at a shareholder meeting that Fiat is not interested in acquiring any percentage of Mazda in the future. Fiat does plan on adding a Japanese partner in the future to help expand its global reach, but there is no mention of what companies Fiat is considering.
We would not be surprised to find out that this is simply a rouge to not tip its hand too early. It only makes sense for the two to partner up in a larger sense, as Mazda needs some help getting over the recovery hump and Fiat needs a Japanese partner. It would be a win-win situation, so we’ll see if Fiat’s tune changes after testing out Mazda’s abilities with the Mazda Miata-Alfa Romeo Spider production deal.
Fiat is planning a little bit of expansion soon though. In July 2012, Fiat is planning to expand its ownership in Chrysler by an additional 3 percent, bringing its total ownership to over 60 percent. Over the course of time, Fiat plans to jump its overall Chrysler ownership to 100 percent, giving it complete control over the recovering automaker’s operations and profit.
It definitely looks like Fiat is on the right track here so far. We will keep you updated as its expansion continues.
Aston Martin used the Vanquish name for the first back in 2001 when it unveiled the grand tourer designed by Ian Callum. After a successful run on the market and a role in Die Another Day, the Vanquish went out of production in 2007, but now it seems as though the company is considering bringing it back. British magazine, CAR, has caught the new DBS successor fully uncovered with the rear sporting a "Vanquish" badge.
This is the first and only uncovered photo of the new DBS, so the only details available are for the rear of the car. In the image, there’s an elegant integrated rear spoiler, a very elegant rear deck and a pair of blunderbuss exhausts straddling a large diffuser panel designed for maximum aero efficiency and air-cleaving. As you can see, these elements were inspired by the One-77 supercar as was originally promised.
Previewed by the AM 310 concept car , the new DBS - aka Vanquish Mk2 - will be making its world debut later this summer at the 2012 Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance.
Hit the jump to see our rendering of the future Vanquish.
In recent years we have all seen three pedal setups going the way of the three-on-the-tree gear shifter, as automakers have pretty much perfected the automatic transmission. Even those looking to save a few bucks in gas don’t even have to opt for the manual transmission anymore, as the difference between the two is negligible and sometimes automatics are even more efficient than their manual counterparts.
The thing is that some people – myself included – just like the feeling of control we have over the car when shifting a manual transmission and no dual-clutch, paddle-shit auto can fulfill our control-freak ways. This became a bit of a problem when BMW decided it was time to bring the M6 back to the States, as our European friends are just fine with its dual-clutch 7-speed automatic and BMW had no need to fit it with a manual. This brought some concern to those looking to snatch up the M6 the second it hits U.S. showrooms.
Well, it looks like BMW still pays a significant attention to its American market, as according to reports, there will be a 6-speed manual option on the America-bound BMW M6. There is a little uncertainty as to whether it will make it in time to be on the 2013 model year or if we’ll have to wait for the 2014 model year to see the 6-speed gearbox.
We’re willing to put a dollar on the fact that it will indeed make it into the 2013 model year , as BMW does not want to lose a portion of its 2013 M6 sales to us three-pedal connoisseurs. Either way, we are happy to see the M6 returning, goofy engine sound effects and all, but we really want to feel that 560 horsepower as we slam through the six gears.
We’ll update you the second we get confirmation on what model year will get the manual option.
Okay, so we wrote a nice review about the Arrinera Venocara supercar hailing from Poland and we make the observation that this car “looks a hell of a lot like a Lamborghini.” Apparently, the Polish media thought the same, as Jacek Balkan outright accused Arrinera of building this new supercar from a Lamborghini kit available through Polish kit car manufacturer Bojar. Later, Arrinera’s CEO Lukasz Tomkiewicz adamantly denied all accusations and even addressed the usage of an Audi A6 C5 air conditioning panel and instrument cluster.
We can admit that the resemblance between the Lambo and the Arrinera Venocara is striking, but the automotive world is chock-full of copycats and information sharing, so it may just be happenstance. We are not prepared to pass judgment until we put all three of the vehicles in question, the Lamborghini Reventon , the Bojar El Toro Kit, and the Arrinera Venocara on trial in TopSpeed court.
We will closely examine all of the evidence on each car and come to our final ruling as to whether or not this truly is a slightly modified kit car to help boost the blossoming company’s stock, or simply a case of copycatting gone too far.
Click past the jump to view the entire TopSpeed trial…