Those of you familiar with this site probably know that my family recently purchased Volkswagen’s new Jetta Hybrid. So far we have loved everything about the car, and it has proven capable of delivering on VW’s MPG claims. I have even seen as high as 53mpg average on some trips, and that means VW has managed to out-do the Toyota Prius. I say that because the Jetta is also an extremely competent performing car in all other respects aside from gas mileage. They’ve used a turbocharged engine in it, so it has enough squirt to get out of its own way. The Jetta Hybrid also happens to handle extremely well because it has the same suspension architecture as the Jetta GLI. Where most hybrids tend to be extremely compromised in all aspects besides fuel economy, the Jetta Hybrid manages to be extremely well rounded while also seeing the same sort of MPG as the hybrid pimp-daddy, the Prius. So now I have to wonder, what could VW do if they really decided to focus a car on fuel economy to the same degree Toyota has done?
It just so happens that VW already has all of the tools it would need to create the ultimate economy car. The answer is a painfully obvious one, yet it the bean counters have been avoiding it because it may upset their current marketing scheme. I am talking about VW making a diesel hybrid.
Porsche just released official details on the new 2014 991 Turbo and Turbo S, and as with any new Porsche there is of course controversy. Reading through people’s reactions, I have seen a lot of “It’s slower than the old 997 Turbo S” comments, and there are tons of complaints about there being no manual gearbox being offered. I’d like to address these concerns.
Regarding the 2014 Turbo S being “slower than the old one”, you have to realize that Porsche official performance claims are always, and I mean always, conservative. For the 997 Turbo S, Porsche officially claimed 0-60 in 3.2sec and 530hp. In reality, the 997 Turbos S could achieve 0-60 in 2.6 sec, the 1/4 mile in 10.6 sec, and its power was more in the region of 600hp.
Porsche claims the 991 Turbo and Turbo S have 513hp and 552hp, respectively. Add 10-15% to each of those numbers and you can estimate the more realistic power output. The EU has a tax on manufacturers relating to horsepower numbers, so most European cars are a bit underrated on paper. With around 560hp in the Turbo and around 620hp in the Turbo S, I think it is safe to assume these cars will not lose ground from their predecessors in terms of all out, Bugatti Veyron rivaling, performance.
This brings us to the transmission issue. The new 991 Turbos are available with PDK only. Many people are against not having a manual option on pure principle, but having actually driven a 997 Turbo S myself, I’m going to have to side with Porsche on this one. The pace of these new 911 Turbos has gotten ridiculously rapid, everything from raw acceleration to lap times. The simple fact of the matter is that a manual transmission would be a major weak point in every aspect of the car’s performance at this point. An Achilles heel-toe… if you will.
Also, I would venture to say that most people complaining have never sampled a Porsche with PDK for themselves. It is a phenomenally good transmission, in my opinion the best dual clutch gearbox on the market. It feels a lot more mechanical, and connected than a standard automatic gearbox, and it offers a level of versatility that a traditional manual cannot. In reality, most 911 Turbo owners use their car as a Grand Tourer, so this versatility (auto or manual modes) is important. I have sampled PDK on a few different Porsches, and it really is a “do everything” sort of transmission, great for both tearing up corners and sitting in rush hour traffic. The 911 Turbo has long been hailed as the supercar you can use everyday, and PDK only makes it better in that regard.
That said, I do love a Porsche with a manual gearbox, but at this point I think it is better to have it just on the “more pure” naturally aspirated models. In all honesty, I am far more pissed about there being no manual option on the new GT3 because that is supposed to be the “purest” Porsche driving experience.
As for the rest of the 991 Turbo, I think it is exactly what it should be. I love how it looks, and I’m sure the performance will be truly staggering. I cannot wait to get my grubby little paws on one for a road test.
There have been rumors for a while now that Porsche will be replacing the six cylinder engines in their lower-end models with turbocharged four cylinders. This would follow their recent downsizing move with the Panamera S models, where they replaced the 4.6L V8 with a twin turbo 3.0L V6. Porsche already has a history with four cylinder engines from their 912, 924, 944 and 968 models, so this move would be far from unprecedented. I myself have a lot of personal experience with the topic at hand. I learned to drive on a Porsche 944 S2, the 7 years I have owned my Subaru STi have given me a lot of insight into the performance merits of turbocharged engines, and I have also sampled many modern Porsches through my work for this website. So putting all of this together, I feel I can offer a very well rounded opinion on this issue. I also have some wonderful ideas for where it could take things in the future.
I don’t want to mimic what everyone else has been saying because I think Fisker’s problems lie deeper than everything you’ve seen on the news. Sure batteries catching fire, faulty management, government money, and all of that is very exciting, but for me it is all just the icing on top of the cake which is their true fundamental problem. So for this article, just forget all of the recent news you’ve heard regarding Fisker, and let’s take a look at the car itself. Let us inquire as to who exactly would buy a Fisker Karma to begin with.
To start with, we should look at the Karma for what it is: a luxury sedan with a base price around $100,000. It has a gorgeous, sleek design, but its interior, while very eco-friendly, doesn’t match the level of quality found in other cars in its segment. The back seat is also pretty cramped, compromising its viability as a four door sedan. The Karma uses the same extended range hybrid design as the Chevy Volt, just with a lot more to give. On paper it would seem it has some serious grunt, with 402hp and 960ft/lbs of torque on tap. However, its performance is compromised both by its 5300lb curb weight and its traction control system constantly having to keep the reins on that astronomical torque figure. The result is a relatively lackluster 5.9 second 0-60 sprint, and a top speed of 125mph. With a full charge, the Karma can go 50 miles without using any gas, but once the gas motor is active it will see around 30mpg. Objectively, that is what the Karma is, and that is what your money actually buys you.
There were many new cars revealed at this year’s New York International Auto Show. I was in attendance for the Preview Night last Thursday, where I had access to many new cars, both those revealed at the show and those from recent shows. Like every event I go to, I covered what caught my eye. As many of you may know, I don’t do news in the proper sense because I like to be a little more authentic. What follows are my impressions of the cars as I saw and experienced them at the show, and my opinions of them overall. Enjoy, and please let me know your thoughts on any of them in the comments.
It is no secret that cars have been getting bigger. In BMW terms, the current 3 series is the size of an old 5 series, and the current 5 series might as well be a 7 series (it’s on the same platform). Audis too have been getting larger, although not to the same staggering degree as BMWs. Many of us enthusiasts now long for the way cars used to be, wanting the compact size and similar packaging as models that are 10 or 20 years old. Audi’s new A3, which will be hitting US shores, seems like it might be exactly what we are yearning for.
Specifically I want to look at the Audi S3, the hot and spicy one that we all really want. Looking at the details, it seems very similar to the B5 Audi S4 of the early 2000s. A car that is well loved by enthusiasts despite some rather large flaws. On paper the B5 S4 looks like a great car, with a 250hp turbocharged V6, all wheel drive, a good suspension, all in the package of a typical sedan. However, these S4s have had some pretty serious reliability problems, including turbos that fail around 70k miles and quirky electronics. The B5 S4 is a great car if you have the money, and patience to deal with its issues, but I think we all wish it didn’t have those issues in the first place.
Cadillac will be releasing the next generation CTS at the upcoming New York International Auto Show, but the big news is under that car’s hood. With the CTS Cadillac is finally jumping on board with their European competitors, and offering a strong turbocharged power plant. Specifically, Cadillac has strapped two turbochargers to their 3.6L V6 to make an engine that will compete with many of the European twin turbo V8s.
This new 3.6T is extremely important because it will make its way into all of Cadillac’s current cars. As of now, Cadillac has said it will be in the top-line CTS model, but below the V, which will still have a V8. The new 3.6T (slightly detuned) will also make it into the XTS, a car which I had criticized for having the wrong engine. The change to the 3.6T could make all the difference in the XTS, giving it a more relaxed, more powerful nature that is proper for a big luxury car. Also, heavy in the rumor mill, and all but officially confirmed, is the implementation of this new 3.6T in the upcoming ATS-V.
Ok, so yes, the name is a little weird, but it’s better than it being named after a Ford pickup truck. The basic details are 963hp, 600 ft/lbs of torqe, around 2900lbs, 0-60 in under 3 sec, and a top speed of 205mph. So it seems all of the same people who criticized the Mclaren for being “slow” will probably hate this because “The Veyron is faster, maaaaan”. For those of us who actually can appreciate real things about cars, we can all revel in the fact that the LaFerrari has taken a hefty 5 seconds off of the Enzo’s lap time at the Fiorano test track. I can’t wait to see, and hear, more about this car, but it definitely seems mighty impressive. Way to go Ferrari!
For those of you unfamiliar with the GTD, it is quite literally a diesel version of the GTI. VW has recently been gauging potential demand for the car in the US, and has just announced, at the Geneva Motor Show, that the GTD will indeed make it to US shores.
You can see the tested specs in the video below, but in a nutshell the GTD will handle the same as a GTI, while trading a little straight line speed for around 30% better fuel economy. Going by EPA numbers for the GTI, that means MPG in the neighborhood of 31 city and 43 mpg highway, with an average around 37mpg… in theory at least. I don’t know about any of you, but I would definitely be willing to make that compromise, especially considering that the handling would still be phenomenal. The GTD isn’t exactly slow either, with 170hp and 258 ft/lbs of torque. It will lag a little from a GTI, but passing and merging will still be easy for it.
I do have a car purchase coming up in the next few months, and this GTD looks mighty appealing. Fun, economical, and supposedly pretty comfortable, what’s not to love? No word exactly on when it will hit showrooms, but I can say that I will probably wait until GTD pricing is announced before I make a decision. If VW is smart, they will price it to start around $22-23k in an effort to steal sales from Ford’s Fiesta ST, Chevy’s Sonic RS, and Hyundai’s Veloster Turbo. To anyone else who is starting to look around, it may be worth waiting out.
Motor Trend recently got their hands on a GTD, and they did well to show the car’s appeal.
Evo Magazine gets the inside scoop on the new Porsche 991 GT3 at the Geneva Motor Show ahead of the car’s official debut. They asked all the right questions, pertaining to Porsche’s decision to the new GT3 PDK only, and other aspects that will affect how the car drives. The answers to all of the questions were pretty convincing, and I now have some high hopes for the new GT3 to be a fantastic, new age driver’s car.
Mclaren released the details, and photos, of the production version of their new P1 hypercar today ahead of its official debut at next week’s 2013 Geneva Motor Show. In short it is a hybrid with a combined output of 903hp, it will do 0-60mph in sub 3 sec, 0-124mph in sub 7 sec, and its top speed is limited to “only” 217mph. I emphasize the “only” because one of the first comments I read about the car on Jalopnik was “1.3 mill and its “limited” to 217. Thanks. Pretty much told us its not as fast as the Veyron”. That, right there, people, is the problem I have with both a car like the Bugatti, and your typical superficial sort car enthusiast. Keep in mind, a Formula One car is “slower” than a Veyron as well, yet you don’t see the Bugatti setting lap times even remotely close to the times of Vettel and Hamilton at any circuit. It is this ignorant, one-dimensional mindset, that I can’t stand, and that gives me a big reason to love the Mclaren P1.
This Rapide wagon will be a one off, commissioned by a wealthy collector…. obviously. It is a Bertone design, and was made to commemorate the long relationship between Aston Martin and Bertone. This Rapide Bertone Jet 2+2 is based on the new Rapide S, so underneath it is familiar, but just take a few moments and digest the visual beauty of this stunning machine.