Saturday, September 25, 2010

The Cars That Shrunk While Growing

One of the most common complaints about new model redesigns from enthusiasts centers around the fact that every new generation inevitably comes with a a larger footprint. For enthusiasts a bigger new generation of their favorite vehicle usually means more weight which serves as a detriment to performance and handling. A larger vehicle can also suffer from bloated styling compared to its more compact predecessor. However this is not always the case as some models have been able to improve their styling with a more buttoned-down look after a redesign that actually increased the vehicle's size. Here are a couple of the latest vehicles that were able to achieve the feat.

Second Generation Porsche Cayenne

The latest Cayenne is an excellent example of a vehicle that grew a couple of inches in every dimension yet appears to be smaller than its predecessor.

Third Generation Toyota Prius

Using the same basic aerodynamic shape of its predecessor the third generation Prius has a much more hunkered down design. Using plenty of sharp creases allowed Toyota to improve every aspect of the second generation Prius's styling while erasing its bloated look in the process.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

EcoBoost V6 F-150 To Tow More than Competitor V8s

Ford says that its 2011 F-150 equipped with the twin-turbo 3.5 liter EcoBoost V6 will tow up to 11,300 pounds, giving it more towing capacity than even the V8 powered competition. Payload capacity likewise tops the competition with 3,060 pounds. Even though the EcoBoost V6 outshines the competition it is still only the second strongest engine in the 2011 F-150 lineup with 365 horsepower and 420 lb-ft of torque. The top dog engine will be the 6.2 liter V8 that first debuted on the Raptor, it produces 411 horsepower and 434 lb-ft of torque. Also available on the 2011 F-150 is the Mustang sourced 5 liter V8 making 360 horsepower and 380 lb-ft of torque in this application, rounding out the engine lineup is a 3.7 liter V6 with 302 horsepower and 278 lb-ft of torque. Ford is promising the 2011 F-150s to deliver 20% better fuel economy than the 2010 versions. It will be interesting to find out how the different engines compare in fuel economy once the ratings become official.

The EcoBoost appears to be a very enticing proposition on paper, but only time will tell if pickup buyers will take a gamble on a high tech engine format previously not seen in their domain.

Elite Concept a Game Changer for Lotus

Also debuting at the Paris Motorshow is the Lotus Elite concept that signals a new direction for the brand. Take a look at the Group Lotus website to see for yourself the importance of this upcoming concept to the brand. A few months back Lotus declared itself to be a premium performance and GT brand in the future competing with the likes of Porsche and Ferrari. At the time, the announcement didn't make much sense as the current lineup of Elise, Exige and Evora certainly focuses on light weight rather than grand touring capabilities. The Elite makes a huge leap into the grand touring arena as it distances itself from the weight eschewing philosophies of company founder Colin Chapman and instead brings a heavy dose of power, refinement, luxury and even an optional hybrid system. Powered by a 5 liter V8 (likely of Lexus IS-F origin) Lotus claims an output of 620 horsepower, but it's unclear if this includes additional horsepower from the optional electric motor. Lotus promises excellent fuel economy and C02 emissions from the nearly 3,650 pound Elite when equipped with the hybrid system. While the prospect of a powerful Lotus is intriguing you will have to wait until 2014 to experience it for yourself.

Friday, September 17, 2010

Lamborghini Jota Teaser Shows a V10?

Lamborghini has been slowly releasing teaser images of its upcoming Murcielago replacement, rumored to be called the Jota. The latest one is particularly intriguing because it shows what looks to be a V10 engine. This goes against the notion that the Murcielago replacement would continue to use the venerable V12 in an updated form with upwards of 700 horsepower. The current Lamborghini Gallardo V10 is good for 560 horsepower in its most potent form. Certainly the flagship Lamborghini would need more power, it's possible that the V10 would gain a pair of turbochargers to produce additional horsepower. While Lamborghini is missing from the new products list on the Paris Motor Show website, the Murcielago replacement is supposed to makeits public debut in Paris in early October. Regardless of whether the Jota is powered by a V12 or a V10 expect trademark Lamborghini styling and performance to be present.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Updated Bentley Continental GT

Here are the first photos of what Bentley calls the New Continental GT. The New CGT gets a heavy infusion of Mulsanne styling in many key areas. The headlights gain LED functionality, rear fenders and decklid are sculpted a la the Mulsanne while a bigger grille and bumper finish out the exterior upgrades. Inside the GT receives significant upgrades as well with a new dash, bigger information display and reworked controls. The W12 twin-turbo engine is also updated with 15 additional horsepower, it now puts out 567 horsepower and 516 lb-ft of torque. The GT also recieves an improved and quicker shifting gearbox. The extra horsepower coupled with the improved gearbox and less weight (66 pounds) drops the 0-60 sprint by two-tenths of a second. The updated engine also gives the GT an extra MPG city and highway on the EPA test. Perhaps the biggest and most surpsiging piece of news about the updated Continental is the future availability of a 4 liter turbo V8. Expect the Audi derived V8 to produce at least 400 horsepower when it debutes in about a year. Bentley is promising C02 reductions of 40% with the V8 compared to the W12. If this turns out to be true, this would result in some very respectable fuel economy figures with a possiblity of up to 25 mpg highway. If you like to read the fine print for all of the details click here. If you are lazy, then don't click anywhere you already read enough. Instead look at some photos below.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

2011 Dodge Durango

After a series of teaser images Dodge has finally unveiled its full size SUV Dodge Durango. For a while it was rumored that Dodge would can the Durango name and the SUV pictured here would actually be called the Magnum, a name previously used on the wagon version of the Charger. While the rumor never materialized the new Durango looks much like an SUV version of the Magnum than an evolution of the previous Durango. The wide front grille and overall proportions give the new Durango a hunkered down look missing in the segment. Aside from a somewhat dissapointing liftgate area, the Durango easily trumps its competition in the styling arena. Given its sporty design one can only hope that Dodge makes an SRT version with the 450 or so horspower strong 6.4 liter Hemi. While that's a fantasy for now, the Durango will without a doubt feature the new 3.6 liter Pentastar V6 and the latest version of the 5.7 liter Hemi V8. Unlike some of its competition the Durango also brings some decent towing capacity, 6,200 pounds with the V6 and 7,400 with the Hemi. If you like, you can read a few more words about the Durango here.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

A Year After Cash For Clunkers: August 2010 Sales

The automakers happily used the government's Cash for Clunkers program last August to stat pad their sales figures. It’s no surprise then that without government incentives only a baker's dozen brands were able to improve upon last year's sales, a commendable feat for those brands. Once again Cadillac and Buick delivered incredible sales increases for GM of 83.1 and 66 percent. On the strength of its newly launched Cayenne and Panamera models Porsche sales grew by 33%. The vast majority of the brands posting sales increases do business in the luxury sector, and thus did not benefit much from the C4C program last year. The Chrysler group was one of the best performing mainstream brands posting a modest improvement overall. On the other hand Nissan, Honda, and Toyota were unable to come close to clunker driven sales of a year ago, dropping 31, 33 and 36% respectively.

Click on the Christmas colored chart to make it huge.