There’s no denying the fact that the automotive world is changing dramatically, and has been ever since the first car was produced back in the late 19th century. However, the last 10 years has seen what are arguably the most dramatic changes to the automobile, with advanced technologies being at the forefront of every manufacturer’s minds.
However, is all of this technology, such as paddle-shifters and traction control, taking away the thrill of driving and making modern day cars worse than their predecessors?
Well, that’s the exact question that the Road Testament on the Drive YouTube channel aims to find out in their latest installment, with our very favorite automotive journo, Chris Harris, joining regular Mike Spinelli on the desk for the very first time.
It probably goes without saying that neither of the two are thrilled with the dramatic changes currently taking place, but still do hold out hope for the future where car manufacturers may start putting the driver’s needs and desires first before adding safety and unnecessary technologies.
Check out the video to get a great insight into the minds of these two, and if it helps to create or reaffirm your opinion on the issue, be sure to leave your thoughts in the comments section below!
The Shelby GT500 is far and away the most powerful production Mustang, and pony car for that matter, ever built. So how in the world do you reign in those 662 ponies and 631 pounds of twisting force as a rookie driver? Well, you add in traction control for one and second, you install a launch control system that allows even the novice driver to launch this `Stang like a pro.
To prove its worth, Ford has even released a video touting its launch control, which uses a combination of the ABS and traction control, mixed in with its other electronic controls to give its driver the perfect launch. The video, which you can see above, explains that you simply set the desired launch RPM, mash the gas pedal, and release the clutch, then the system maximizes the torque load and tire grip, and “Wheeeeeeeeeeee” you’re off with a cloud of beautiful, yet expensive, white smoke in your wake.
What’s simply awesome about this video is the fact that the late, great Carroll Shelby is a main feature in it, which means that this video was likely filmed nearly a year ago. He still shows his dislike for Corvettes at the 1:17 mark when he says “You know, that’s important to people that want to leave a Corvette in the dust at a stop sign.” You can’t help but love the fact that Ford truly flowed deep within Shelby’s veins.
For those that don’t like the predictability of launch control, the video also lets you know that you can turn it off. Why someone wouldn’t want to rip, dig, and scoot perfectly off of the line every time is beyond us, but some people prefer controlling it themselves.
Even if you don’t give a rat’s hindquarters about traction control, the hoonage and white smoke in this video is a gorgeous thing. Plus there are few engines in the world that sound as sexy as a well-tuned Ford V-8. Have a look and listen, you won’t regret it.
We have already been over Cadillac’s “automated” driving system , which is basically just an adaptive cruise control system that takes over the steering too. Basically, it is not a true automated driving system, but it is semi-autonomous. Well, we all knew that Ford wouldn’t just sit back and watch GM take over this realm, as it has just announced that its engineers are working on a slightly similar, but far more restrictive, system.
The system that Ford is working on is called Traffic Jam Assist, and it does exactly what its name tells you. When you’re get stuck in bumper-to-bumper traffic, you can enable this system and it will move the car with traffic and keep it within the lines. This frees up your hands to do far more important things than look at the road, like text message, enjoy a coffee and doughnut, or reprogram your stereo system.
One the traffic clears up, the system asks you to take over and you’re then forced to attempt to complete the uncompleted tasks that you started in traffic while driving… What a bummer.
Ford has even released a video displaying the system, and we have to say that on 99 percent of the roads in the U.S. with heavy congestion, we doubt this system will do little more than increase your stress. From what we can see, this system waits for the car in front to get a good car length or two ahead of you before moving your car forward. That just may induce a few “friendly” honks and one finger salutes from the less patient drivers behind you.
So, unless Ford can develop a way to have the system respond more quickly, we can see this being a really cool feature until you catch the first severe traffic jam. Fortunately, this system is nowhere near ready for release, so Ford has lots of time to perfect it.
We’ll let you know if any new features of this system pop up.
According to the FBI, we’re coming up to a couple of the hottest months of the year, and we’re not talking about the weather. Turns out, July and August are the top two months for vehicle theft, and LoJack and the International Association of Auto Theft Investigators (IAATI) are doing their part by holding their 6th annual National Vehicle Theft Protection Month. For this year, they have come up with an infographic that provides a few details and stats about car theft, as well as some helpful hints to ensure you are not a victim.
First, the facts. In 2010, there were 737,000 vehicle thefts and only 56% of those vehicles were ever recovered. The average loss per vehicle was $6,152. Not exactly a small number by anyone’s standards. What’s worse is that, if you own a Honda Accord , Honda Civic , and Toyota Camry, you are more likely to be a victim because these were the top three vehicles stolen in 2010. The Ford Mustang made up a total of 9,116 instances of car theft in 2010, so we can only imagine how many of the top three vehicles were stolen during that time.
Where you live is also a factor. Nine out of 10 areas in numbers of stolen cars are in California and Washington State, with seven of the areas belonging to The Golden State.
Being the trusting - or rushed - souls that we are, 68% of people have left their car running when they aren’t in it or have left their car unlocked, while 64% of people have their home address programmed into their GPS system and 32% have left an electronic device or personal documents in plain view.
So what can we do to protect ourselves and our vehicles from theft? The number one protection aid is to use COMMON SENSE. Hey, they said it, we only repeated it. The second and third are to use theft protection products and a tracking and recovery system.
Check out the rest of the infographic after the jump to get more helpful information and remember to check back with us for the next installment in our Car Infographics series.
There are a few obligatory things in any attention-grabbing car commercial. They are a desirable car, sweet cool music, and the optional good looking woman, and by optional we mean mandatory… Well, Duxcoat, a water and stain repellant company, decided to show us exactly how confident they are in their Nano paint treatment using the mandatory woman and one not-so-mandatory addition. For those that don’t know what Nano paint treatment is, it is a sealant that prevents water and stains from sitting on your car’s paint or windshield.
Onto the video… So, you have a rather attractive and (ahem) “well-equipped” woman jogging down an old dirt road in a white shirt, a Nissan Frontier , and a puddle of water. Hmm, can you do the math? If not, call in any former member of a fraternity and he’ll explain it to you (white shirt + water = see-through shirt and lots of hoops and hollers). In to ruin the fun is a well-fed man with upper torso equipment not quite as intriguing as the running woman’s.
All three converge in front of the mud puddle, leaving the woman and man soaked. Every male TopSpeed reader is now thinking the same thing “Woo Hoo!!” Well, there is a “wardrobe malfunction” in this commercial, but only with one of the two folks in white shirts. The other one is wearing a shirt coated with… Duxcoat! We’re not going to tell you which one, but we’ll leave it at this; at a certain angle, man boobs look a lot like those found on a female, so be careful with the staring on this one. You might give people the wrong idea.
For many people, the term “limited-slip differential,” or LSD, just means more grippy stuff and that’s that. However, there is actually a little science and physics behind understanding precisely what it does and how it does it. Toyota has done the less mechanically inclined auto buff the service of creating a video that gives the basic outline of what a limited-slip differential is and how it increases traction.
While the video is extremely simple and doesn’t really get into the inside of the LSD’s pumpkin to tell you precisely how it transfers power, it is still informative. Essentially, the Torsen LSD in the 2013 Scion FR-S senses when one wheel is spinning faster than the other (A.K.A. slipping) and transfers more power toward the opposite wheel. The Torsen system is unique in the fact that it can actually increase the power going to one wheel four times, if needed.
An LSD is good for two things. The most commonly understood benefit is in low traction situations, like snow, ice, and rain. When one wheel starts slipping, the LSD cuts power from the slipping wheel and transfers it to the one with the most traction, which is exactly the opposite of a posi-traction rear end. The Torson LSD also helps in handling, believe it or not, as when you take a corner at a high rate of speed, the inside wheel tends to lose traction and it also moves slower. The Torsen LSD transfers as much power as needed to the outside wheel, pushing the FR-S through the turn in a stable manner. This is all achieved through the binding and releasing of two gears placed about each side gear in the LSD.
For a clearer understanding, you can check out the above video.
One of the largest – if not the largest – problems with electric cars becoming a complete reality is the limitation of the lithium-ion battery. One issue is the fact that they are extremely susceptible to extreme heat and cold. Both ends of the temperature spectrum result in serious energy loss, which, in turn, creates excessive battery usage to obtain the same results. This is exactly why the estimated mileage of EVs can vary greatly, depending on the environment.
To help regulate the battery temperature, EV manufacturers today are using liquid coolant to maintain an optimal temperature, just like the coolant works in an internal combustion engine. This liquid come with added expense, as it is expensive to manufacture and adds in a complex system to regulate the coolant temperature.
A123, a leading battery manufacturer for EVs, recently developed and is currently testing a battery it dubbed the Nanophosphate EXT, which can handle extreme hot and cold without requiring any coolant to maintain its temperature, per A123. In testing, this new lithium-ion battery held roughly 90 percent of its energy capacity in 113-degree heat, which shows it can take heat.
According to reports, cold testing is underway at a temperature of -22 degrees Fahrenheit and A123 claims that the batteries deliver 20 percent more power than standard coolant-regulated batteries at the same temperature.
In addition to it not needing temperature regulation, A123 also claims that Nanophosphate EXT batteries can last two to three times longer than an equivalent lithium-ion battery.
Combining more energy at extreme temperatures, deletion of the complex cooling system, and the lighter nature of these batteries, thanks to the lack of coolant, this new battery technology appears to be nothing short of a winner. With developments like this new battery and the high-tech and high-performance nature of EVs like the Tesla Model S and Fisker Karma , we just may see EVs become more of a reality to replace Dinosaur flesh-burning vehicles in the next 10 years.
We’ll keep you updated if anything new comes from A123’s research.
Click past the jump to read A123’s official presser about this new technology.
There’s no denying that the sound of any kind of forced induction is incredible. Fitting a turbocharger to any car is quite expensive and as a result, people generally only install aftermarket ones for the performance upgrades. However, if you’re still obsessed with the sound of a turbo, but aren’t prepared to pay to have one installed, then a recently launched iOS app dubbed ‘iBoost’ may be the perfect solution for you.
Developed by app development team Bonobo in conjunction with Japanese tuning firm HKS, the app helps recreate the sounds of the systems developed by HKS itself. In order to function, the iBoost app utilities the iPhon’s accelerometer to detect movement of the car, with a variety of different gauges and sounds being offered.
Nathan Hamey, lead designer of iBoost stated, "Working with HKS has been a blast. The partnership has given us pit-lane access to extract the best sounds possible from their SQV. We’ve also painstakingly crafted their boost gauges to look and respond just like the real thing. I think people are going to get a real buzz out of seeing and hearing authentic HKS gear in their car."
"We’re thrilled to have the chance to be featured in iBoost," says Masaya Funayama, spokesperson for HKS. "It’s is an incredibly well designed application and a lot of fun to play with. It’s a great match for the HKS SQV," he continued.
With the basic version costing just $0.99, while the upgraded pack costs $1.99, the iBoost app is definitely an attractive purchase.
The Apple vs. PC war has gone from computers to laptops, from laptops to MP3 players, from MP3 players to phones, and from phones to tablets, but Apple has never attempted to compete with Microsoft in its automotive form (see: Ford Sync)… That is, until now. Apple has just announced that it will start fitting its Siri system into vehicles.
For those that hate having only one mouse button to choose from (A.K.A. those that could give a rat’s backside about Macs) you may have no clue what Siri is. Well, Siri is, as Apple calls it, an “Eyes Free” system that allows you to control various items, like the iPad and iPhone, with only your voice. Before you start thinking “OMG, that’s like so 2007,” Siri actually learns your speech pattern and does not require you to use a series of ridiculous keywords to activate certain features, so it is basically a 2012 twist on 2007 technology.
So, this means that you can now drive “Eyes Free…” Okay, maybe not, but you never have to unglue your hands from the 10-and-2 position ever again when controlling whatever iDevice you happen to have, via Bluetooth, plus it also controls a turn-by-turn navigation system with crowd-sourced traffic updates. We are sure that there are tons more features to the automotive variant of Siri, but for now, this is all that Apple has released.
As for the cars that will include this new system; let’s just say that Apple definitely flexed its superpower connections, as according to Macworld, it has signed up Land Rover , Jaguar , BMW , GM, Mercedes , Audi , Toyota , Chrysler , and Honda . According to reports, you can pick up your first “iCar” starting in about 12 months.
Given this system is as cool as it sounds on paper, I can add one more product to the short list of Apple items I can actually stomach, making that list the iPad, iPod, and Siri.
In 2012, the C250 boasted an impressive 1.8-liter turbocharged engine that pumped out 201 horsepower and 229 pound-feet of twist. On the opposite end of the spectrum, the 3.0-liter V-6 cranked out only 228 ponies and 221 pound-feet of torque. This means that short of the 4-wheel-drive, there was little reason to snag up the C300.
Instead of eliminating the mid-range C300 and leaving just the C250 and C350, Mercedes has wisely detuned the direct-injected 3.5-liter V-6 in the C350 and is dropping it into the C300 4Matic, giving its buyers an extra 20 horsepower and 30 pound-feet of torque to play with and giving buyers on the fence more reason to opt for the higher level C-series.
In the overall scheme, the 248 ponies and 251 pound-feet of torque that this remapped 3.5-liter pump out are still way too low for modern day luxury cars. We know that Mercedes-Benz doesn’t want the C300 4Matic to infringe on the C350’s sales territory, but offering a luxury car with that type of engine with that low power cannot help much.
This is multiplied when you consider that the 328i Sedan still pumps out more foot-pounds and only has 4 less horsepower from its 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine. Also, the 328i is significantly cheaper than the C300 4Matic. The biggest thing is that this is at least a step in the right direction for the C-Class lineup, and all signs are pointing that more changes are on the horizon for Mercedes. Maybe we will start to see more forced induction across the luxury automaker’s entire lineup in the future to help get it up to snuff before BMW pulls away from the luxury pack.