• Peugeot 308 R leaked ahead of Frankfurt debut

    August 26, 2013
    A leak has prematurely revealed the Peugeot 308 R ahead of its scheduled debut at the Frankfurt Motor Show next month.  The hot hatch is based on the second-generation 308 that was unveiled last May.


    Aimed squarely at the new Volkswagen Golf R, the 308 R is one of the most aggressive-looking Peugeots in recent memory thanks to muscular bumpers on both ends that incorporate wide air dams, side skirts, dual hood scoops and large alloy wheels.  R emblems on the fenders, the wheels and the hatch, and a race-inspired two-tone paint job finish off the look.

    Technical details were not leaked but it is safe to assume the 308 R is powered by a tuned variant of the 1.6-liter four-cylinder THP mill developed jointly by BMW and PSA.  The four-banger sends around 260 horsepower to the front wheels via a six-speed manual transmission and a limited-slip differential.


    Upgraded brakes and a stiffer suspension help keep the extra power in check.


    Although the R is billed as a concept, Peugeot has a history of building close-to-production show cars and adding them to its catalog shortly after.  We wouldn’t be surprised to see a mildly revised variant of the R bow in Geneva next year as a regular-production model.  


    Official details about the 308 R will emerge in the coming days. <![CDATA[
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  • Toyota adopts banned A/C refrigerant in Europe

    August 26, 2013
    Toyota’s European division has announced that it will join Mercedes-Benz in retrofitting some of its cars with a banned A/C refrigerant called R134a.  Toyota has managed to get around the European Union’s ban because the permit that allows it to use R134a is still valid.


    The Japanese automaker independently tested Honeywell and Dupont’s R1234yf, the new refrigerant mandated by the EU, and found that it is perfectly safe in the event of a collision.  However, Mercedes’ heavily-publicized refusal to use it has scared buyers in Germany and abroad so Toyota is temporarily switching back to quell consumers’ fears.

    French authorities have refused to register all Mercedes models equipped with R134a and it is safe to assume the Toyota GT86, the Toyota Prius + and the Lexus GS will also be considered illegal when they are topped up with the old refrigerant.  Most EU member states back France’s position but no other government has gone as far as banning the cars.


    France, the European Union and Mercedes parent company Daimler will settle the matter in court but the verdict won’t be announced until the middle of September at the earliest.  Toyota will wait to see the outcome of the lawsuit before switching back to R1234yf.<![CDATA[
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  • Honda has a new GT racecar: the NSX Concept-GT

    August 26, 2013
    What you’re looking at above is not – despite its looks – a second-gen Acura NSX GT-3 but something rather similar. It’s called the Honda NSX Concept-GT and it will, beginning in 2014, be Honda’s touring car for the Japan GT500 class of the Super GT series, according to a Motor Authority report.


    While the NSX production car will feature a V6 and three-motor hybrid system, the NSX Concept-GT – in order to comply with the Super GT regulations – will be powered by a turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine and can also include an optional hybrid system, should the automaker choose to implement one. Whether the Concept-GT will mimic the NSX’s hybrid system or have its own distinctive setup we don’t yet know.

    This new Concept-GT in its final form will replace the Honda HSV-10 GT car that now races in the series. The HSV-10 GT was based upon a vehicle that was slated to become the second-gen NSX but was scrapped after the global financial collapse back in 2008.


    Check back later this year for the full figures on the final race ready version of the NSX GT.<![CDATA[
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  • Tesla Model S sets European EV record with 388-mile trip

    August 26, 2013
    Limited range seems to be the bane of modern electric vehicles. Although few drivers ever push their gasoline-powered vehicles to the single tank range limit, range anxiety remains a strong deterrent to potential EV buyers.


    In order to change the public perception of EVs, a team in the Netherlands set out to set a new European EV range record. And that’s exactly what they did. The group was able to drive a Tesla Model S some 388 miles – nearly 50 percent further than the 265-mile EPA estimated range for the car.

    Although the 388-mile drive was not a world record setter, that title belongs to one David Metcalf who drove his Model S 423 miles in Florida, it was a European record. Unlike Metcalf, though, who piloted his way to the record at a steady 18 mph, the Dutch team averaged 24 mph and achieved the European EV record on public motorways and in normal traffic, according to a Green Car Reports story.


    No other EVs currently sold in Europe could attempt such a range run so it’s unlikely that the record will be broken any time soon.


    Why was the record set in the Netherlands, of all places? Tesla set the Netherlands as its European distribution hub. Tesla recently announced that it has delivered some of its first models in Europe including – of course – the Netherlands and also one in Oslo, Norway.<![CDATA[
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  • Tata unveils Tuff Truck concept

    August 26, 2013
    Jaguar – Land Rover parent company Tata Motors has teamed up with its Australian distributor to create a rugged-looking concept appropriately called Tuff Truck.  Designed to take on the grueling Australian outback, the show car made its debut at a major outdoors trade show in Melbourne, Australia.


    Designers started with a regular-production Tata Xenon crew cab pickup and added a full catalog of off-road accessories such as a winch, a roof bar with LED lights, skid plates on both ends and a snorkel.  Visually, the Tuff Truck lives up to its name thanks to LED daytime running lights, an aggressive front bumper, an air scoop on the hood and a blacked out grille with a red Tata emblem.  Flat gray paint, 20-inch wheels crafted from a solid block of aluminum and off-road tires finish off the look.

    Tata has not made any modifications under the hood and the Tuff Truck is powered by a 2.2-liter turbodiesel engine that sends 148 horsepower to all four wheels via a five-speed manual transmission.


    The Indian firm hopes the Tuff Truck will give its image a boost as it prepares to battle against Toyota, Nissan and Ford for a slice of the pickup market in Australia.


    “Tata Motors products are built to cater for some of the toughest and harshest conditions on earth and with the launch of the brand new and uniquely configured Tata Xenon, we wanted to create a concept car that reflected Australians love of the outdoors and the ruggedness of our landscape,” explained the company in a statement.


    The Tuff Truck is fully functional but it will likely remain a concept.  The regular Xenon is scheduled to debut in Australia in next October.<![CDATA[
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