• Details emerge on Porsche’s entry-level roadster

    June 12, 2014
    A report coming out of Germany indicates Porsche’s oft-rumored entry-level model has been given the green light for a 2016 launch.

    Tentatively called 718, Porsche’s entry-level model will take the form of a small roadster loosely billed as the successor to the 550 Spyder race car built in the 1950s and the 914 that was introduced in 1969. It will ride on a modified Boxster platform but it will be much lighter than its more expensive sibling thanks to noticeably reduced dimensions with short overhangs on both ends and the widespread use of aluminum and high-strength steel in its construction.

    To further shed weight, the 718 will be equipped with thinner glass all around and a fabric soft top with a plastic rear window. Sound deadening will be kept to a minimum in order to lower the car’s overall weight to 2,623 pounds, a figure that would make the roadster just a few pounds heavier than a Lotus Exige S Roadster and 264 pounds lighter than the slimmest Boxster.

    The 718′s entry-level positioning won’t make it a low-cost car, and its cockpit will remain well-built and well-appointed. Bucket seats, a three-spoke steering wheel, a touch screen-based infotainment system and a comprehensive selection of analog gauges will be part of the package.

    Power will come from a 2.0-liter flat-four engine that will send 286 horsepower to the rear wheels via either a manual or a dual-clutch DSG gearbox. Buyers after more grunt will be able to select a 2.5-liter version of the boxer mill rated at 260 horsepower, and additional variants will likely join the lineup over the course of the production run.

    If the rumor proves true, the Porsche 718 could be unveiled at the 2016 edition of the Geneva Motor Show and go on sale in the United States and in Europe shortly after. In Germany, the roadster will reportedly carry a base price of €39,000 (approximately $53,300), €10,000 (roughly $13,700) less than the most affordable Boxster.

  • NHTSA reopens investigation into massive global airbag recall

    June 12, 2014
    The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has reopened an investigation into airbag defects that were already cited in a massive 2013 recall affecting several automakers and millions of vehicles across the globe.

    Toyota appears to be the first company to act on the latest information, recalling 650,000 vehicles a second time to replace any airbag inflators that were merely inspected rather than swapped for a new unit during the initial recall.

    The NHTSA investigation suggests the problems with supplier Takata’s airbag inflators may be more widespread than initially thought, increasing the risk of inflator explosion, fire and occupant injuries due to improper propellant.

    The agency’s Office of Defects Investigation has tracked at least six recent incidents of bag inflator rupture, all occurring in high-humidity environments such as Florida and Puerto Rico.

    In one of the incidents, the driver-side airbag inflator in a 2005 Honda Civic is said to have exploded and sent a one-inch piece of shrapnel into the driver’s eye. The August 2013 accident reportedly led to loss of sight and severe lacerations to the nose, requiring 100 stitches. The vehicle was not included in any of the previous recall campaigns focused on Takata inflators that were known to exhibit similar behavior.

    In another accident, the passenger airbag inflator in a 2003 Toyota Corolla reportedly exploded and sent shrapnel into the driver’s head. The car allegedly caught on fire and the front windshield was shattered, but the airbag did not inflate.

    The NHTSA is currently taking a closer look at airbag complaints related to 2002-2006 models produced by Honda, Nissan, Mazda, Chrysler and Toyota. The issue could lead to another recall for over a million vehicles.

  • GM recall fund won’t compensate for lost value of vehicles

    June 12, 2014
    General Motors reportedly has no plans to use its victims fund for lost-value compensation to owners of recalled vehicles.

    The outside attorney tasked with managing the fund, Kenneth Feinberg, has clarified that he will only be accepting claims related to deaths and physical injuries.

    “Whatever claims program I establish, will not include economic loss claims for e.g. ‘perceived diminished value,” he said, as quoted by The Detroit News.

    The attorney also declined to estimate the number of deaths, injuries and crashes will be covered by the claims program, though the company has promised to provide compensation for all legitimate submissions.

    It will depend on the eligibility criteria and the number of individuals who submit claims,” Feinberg added. “I’ll know better when the claims program is announced later this month.”

    The program will begin accepting claims in August, however the company plans to reject any submissions that are filed late. The eligibility window has not been publicly defined, though it aims to be “modest.”

    The company may be forced to pay economic-loss claims from vehicle owners, dealerships and shareholders, as dozens of lawsuits proceed in courtrooms throughout the US.

  • Mitsubishi Outlander Sport brings new CVT, improved fuel economy for 2015

    June 12, 2014
    Mitsubishi has announced a handful of improvements to its Outlander Sport for the 2015 model year.

    The most notable addition is a new CVT for improved performance off the line, with gearing similar to a seven-speed automatic. It also bumps city/highway fuel economy up to 25/32 mpg for 2WD models and 24/30 mpg for 4WD configurations, an increase of a single mpg all around, though the numbers are pending official EPA certification.

    Mitsubishi has worked to enhance the interior experience with thicker glass and new sound insulation for less noise intrusion. Drivers will also benefit from the company’s next-generation electric power steering system.

    Updates are not limited to mechanical components, with new carbon or piano black and silver trim around the audio panel. On the outside, the 2015 model is distinguished by redesigned LED running lights.

    The company has not confirmed pricing for 2015, however the 2014 edition carries a $20,320 entry MSRP (including $850 freight).

  • Mitsubishi Mirage gets modest trim upgrades for 2015

    June 12, 2014
    Mitsubishi has introduced its 2015 Mirage for the US market, bringing several equipment upgrades for the model’s “sophomore year.”

    The interior has been improved with new chrome accents around the audio system and HVAC panels, along with improved seat fabric. The exterior of the ES trim level has also been slightly tweaked with a new rear-mounted short pole antenna and new side mirrors with turn indicators.

    When outfitted with a CVT gearbox, the subcompact maintains EPA ratings of 37 mpg city, 44 mpg highway and 40 mpg combined. The numbers are claimed to represent the most fuel-efficient non-hybrid gasoline vehicle available in the US market.

    The company boasts that a driver in a March hypermiling event, traveling from Las Vegas to Cypress, California, was able to complete the run with an average consumption of just under 75 mpg.

    The 2015 carryover is powered by a small three-cylinder engine that produces 74 horsepower and 74 lb-ft of torque. Buyers can achieve slightly better acceleration with the five-speed manual rather than the CVT, but at the expense of a few miles per gallon.

    Mitsubishi has maintained the Mirage’s $13,805 (including $810 freight) entry price for 2015.