Automotive News - May 2013

2014 Corvette Stingray To Pace At Indy 500

The hugely popular 2014 Corvette Stingray has been chosen to pace this year's Indianapolis 500 race. This is the 97th edition of the legendary race, and will run on May 26th. Setting a record, this is the twelfth time that a Corvette has been chosen since 1978, further strengthening the ties between the sport and the company who is pushing the new Stingray hard this year. Driving the iconic car is San Francisco 49ers head coach Jim Harbaugh, who lead the team to the Superbowl last season. The Lagoona Blue Corvette Stingray Pace Car, adorned with logos on it's doors has been aesthetically modded for the occasion, differing a little from the standard version of the new Stingray.

Honda's F1 Comeback

Honda is sensing the winds of change when it comes to Formula One racing, and has decided to make a return, developing and refining new technologies. This new directive was announced yesterday by Honda Motor Company's President and CEO, Mr. Takanobu Ito. Partnering with Honda during it's return will be none other than McLaren, the UK company well known to F1 fans and also highly regarded for it's exotic, high performance cars. Involved since the 1960s, Honda pulled out of the F1 arena following the 2008 season when it was experiencing financial hardship and low exports to the US and Europe during the economic downturn.

Leaked Information about 2014 Toyota Corolla

To date, the very best concept we have of exactly what the 2014 Toyota Corolla will appear like is the shape and styling of the Furia Principle from this year's Detroit International Auto Show. Yet there is now another glimpse at what the future Corolla will look like. Released on Toyota's official Facebook page, the image bellow plainly reveals the back side of the 2014 Corolla S. Though the reduced angle is a bit wonky, we can clearly see that the shape of the taillight cluster is really just like that of the Furia, albeit without the exact same LED usage. You can also notice a bit of a trunk-lid spoiler which is also following the Furia's lead.

Volkswagen Roadster Still Being Considered

After going back and forth repeatedly, Volkswagen is once again dropping hints about the possibility of their BlueSport concept actually coming to life. Unveiled at the 2009 North American International Auto Show in Detroit, The Volkswagen BlueSport concept has caught and held people's attention for 4 years. It even has it's own Facebook group. While the project has been officially cancelled, and then uncancelled repeatedly, fans are still crossing their fingers that Volkswagen will finally commit to bringing the roadster to production.

2014 Chevrolet Impala

Intending to attract more buyers to large cars, Chevrolet has done an extensive re-design of the Impala. By greatly improving the visual appeal inside and out, as well as enhancing the ride, Chevrolet is looking to grow its market with the existing retired population as well as the comfort-seeking executive. One of many big changes is the replacement of the familiar, yet aging, W Body with the Epsilon II platform that has been the basis for the Opel Insignia as well as a few Buick and Cadillac automobiles. The expected Impala body shape and long wheelbase (2,837 mm / 111.7 inches) remains intact with the wider rear fenders accentuated with a style line. All improvements have been made with visual impact as a top priority.

Future of U-S 1-Series Up In The Air

While BMW rarely hesitates to enter emerging niche markets, the company is not yet committing to releasing it's entire 1-Series in North America. The German automaker has several 1-Series models in the works, including sedan and hatchback variations, cars that are natural competitors to Audi's A3 and the Mercedes-Benz CLA-Class. The third generation of the front wheel drive 1-Series is currently under development, but may not make it to the US. All of these cars are well suited to the growing entry level luxury segment, aimed at younger buyers who want a more premium experience for their limited budget.

2013 Toyota Avalon

With the 2013 version of the Avalon, Toyota engineers are shaking quite a bit of the bland and expected design that has been typical of the large retiree-focused sedan and replaced it with strength and appeal. From the redesigned front grille through the aggressive, yet not-too-muscular, styling to the aerodynamically-inclined front and rear windscreens, the car is very visually appealing to the luxury buyer. To set themselves apart from the Buick and Lincoln that we all know, Toyota engineers examined every aspect of the car. All of the changes were done with an eye to visual appeal. Some exterior safety features include the bright Quadrabeam headlights, LED running and tail lights, and automatic high-beam on the Limited models.

The Holden Commodore Refreshed

When the Pontiac badge was retired by General Motors in 2009, some models had just been launched, including the Pontiac G8. That particular car was sold in Australia as the Holden Commodore. Holden is the Australian subsidiary of GM. The recently refreshed version of the car is returning to the US, as the new 2014 Chevrolet SS performance sedan. It's Chevy's first V8 rear wheel drive sedan in 17 years. The car will be assembled on the Zeta platform, in the same factory as the Commodore. Fans of rear wheel drive sports cars were surely salivating over this performance sedan when it was unveiled at the legendary Daytona International Speedway at this season's Nascar opener.

BMW Gets Connected

While fuel economy and horsepower are nice, sometimes what matters most to a car buyer are the bells and whistles. Creature comforts are more and more important to time crunched car buyers, as they seek to make the most of their time spent behind the wheel. Who hasn't waited until they were driving to return calls and schedule appointments through their hands free speaker system? Now you or your passengers can use that time to check Facebook too. BMW has taken their infotainment system to a whole new level with their new ConnectedDrive system. Over the next year we'll be seeing BMWs with improved 3-D navigation, speech to text messaging, an Internet hot spot, smartphone app integration including Facebook, Twitter and Internet radio, all through a touchpad interface.

Audi SuperCar Closer To Reality?

For the last few weeks, rumours have been swirling amongst speculation that Audi's supercar will be arriving soon. Codenamed the Scorpion, but better known as the R10, it hasn't been officially greenlit yet, but the project is still under review as development continues. Inspired by Audi's very successful R18 Le Mans race car, the R10 was originally meant to be a hybrid diesel, sharing the same engine as the R18 E-Tron Quattro. The diesel option was discarded in favour of a hybrid gasoline engine, as diesel is not as popular in the car's two largest intended markets- China and the US. A Le Mans rule change is also steering the company towards gasoline rather than diesel.

2013 Ford C-MAX

Looking for fuel efficiency, cargo space and headroom? Look no further than the 2013 Ford C-MAX Hybrid and C-MAX Energi plug-in hybrid vehicles. The visual design and technical capabilities pit these cars directly against the well-known Honda Prius V. With very good acceleration, excellent engine management, great storage space and good headroom, the Ford C-MAX should make anyone thinking of a Prius to drop that thought and head to a Ford dealer. The exterior of the car is clean and neat, with a similar front grille to the other 2013 Ford models and a sweeping roofline to accommodate the hatchback while improving aerodynamics. The 17-inch aluminum wheels are attractive. The interior of the 2013 Ford C-MAX provides ample headroom while surrounding the driver and passengers with a refined and appealing design using pleasing materials. There are many storage areas including door pockets, centre console, cup holders, small compartments under the rear-seat footwells and even a removable shelf in the glove box.

2013 Chevy Spark

Aimed directly at the young urban driver, the 2013 Chevy Spark is a sub-compact car with good interior space that’s fun to drive and very affordable. This wee car, at just over 4.4 metres long, has a cute, yet sporty exterior and comes in eight colours with names like Jalapeño, Lemonade and Denim. The elongated headlights, 15-inch alloy wheels and nearly-invisible rear door handles give an interesting look that is sure to attract attention. The top trim model, 2LT, adds several exterior touches, including fog lights, chrome trim, minor front and rear facia updates and roof rails. Stepping into the car reveals that although the price tag is low, the attention to detail is not. Instead of a stark and plain finish that might be expected, driver and passengers are greeted with colour-accented seats, dash and door panels along with cleanly-designed tech touches.

2014 Chevrolet Cruze Clean Turbo Diesel

If you're craving fuel efficiency and just can't let go of the pumps, then you may be searching for the upcoming 2014 Chevy Cruze Clean Turbo Diesel, which combines performance and fuel economy. Nominated for the Automobile Journalists Association of Canada (AJAC) Canadian Green Car Award, this car is set to join the growing number of fuel-efficient vehicles on the market, with a goal to increasing the adoption of clean diesel cars in North America. Getting this car off the mark is a German-built 2.0-litre turbocharged diesel engine that puts out 148 horsepower and 258 lb-ft of torque and provides an excellent EPA-estimated fuel economy of 5.1 l/100 km or 46 mpg. That power can be shown off by its ability to go 0-60 in about 8.6 seconds, and that torque will feel great on the highway.

GM and Ford Team Up On Automatic Transmissions

Last week General Motors Corporation and the Ford Motor Company signed an agreement to jointly develop a new generation of nine-speed and ten-speed automatic transmissions to be used in cars, crossovers, SUVs and trucks. These new transmissions are designed to improve vehicle performance and fuel economy on front wheel drive powered models. Bringing their expertise to the table together, the purpose of this agreement, of course, is to save on development without compromising quality.

Back to the Future: The Ford Escort Concept

There are lots of concept cars to be found at auto shows. They're a great way for manufacturers to gauge audience reactions to ideas that are being considered, and they bring people in the door. At the Shanghai Motor Show (running through April 29, 2013), there are plenty of concepts on the floor. Several vehicles are high tech, and wear such prestigious badges as BMW and Mercedes, but there are some less luxurious models too. Among the novel offerings available at the show. our writer spotted the Ford Escort concept. Rest assured, this new model is geared for the Chinese market, and is meant to be a more affordable alternative to the Ford Focus, not to replace it. We agree though, it seems strange to sell two very similar cars in the same class at different prices.

Automakers Suffering In Europe

Automakers everywhere, are hurting in Europe these days thanks to the worsening financial crisis. Even homegrown perennial all-stars like Volkswagen and Mercedes-Benz are feeling the pinch.The deteriorating economies of European nations has caused demand to tumble, sinking car sales to numbers not seen in twenty years. In most European markets, new car registrations have fallen by double digits this year, ten percent more than last year. Declines of thirteen percent were seen in Italy and Germany, and 14.5% in France. According to the European Automobile Manufacturers' Association, the demand for new cars has fallen for the 18th consecutive month. Automakers are quick to warn that low European sales will definitely hit their global financial results. To cushion the blow, many are slowing European production, which only hurts the local economies further. High unemployment is a major factor in the economic pain felt all over Europe.

2013 Volkswagen Jetta Hybrid

A brief look at car models over the past few years will reveal that the hybrid is quickly becoming commonplace. One of the latest entries into the ring is the 2013 Volkswagen Jetta Hybrid, with a near-identical look to its TDI and SE brothers. Besides the MSRP of $30,175, there isn't a great deal in the body or interior to set the 2013 Volkswagen Jetta Hybrid apart from its kin. All have identical specs in most regards, including standards such as power windows, 60/40 split rear seat and halogen headlamps. The differences are all under the hood. The inclusion of a hybrid-specific front air dam, along with a rear diffuser and spoiler, provide a 10% reduction in aerodynamic drag.

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