• Next-gen VW GTI to get more variants, up to 326 hp?

    July 27, 2015

    Volkswagen is reportedly preparing to bring new variants to its GTI range, all boasting significant power upgrades.

    The company will first introduce a Golf facelift for the 2016 model year, before introducing the eight-generation Golf in 2018, according to an Auto Bild report. A preview of the next-gen hatchback is said to be slated for CES in January, presented as an electric concept.

    The basic Golf will allegedly be followed by the first of the new GTI variants, arriving sometime in 2019. The latest report suggests ‘Classic’ model could arrive with 265 hp, marking a 55-pony increase over the current GTI. A ‘Performance’ edition may bring output up to 300 horsepower, while a new GTI Clubsport could top out at 326 horsepower.

    Most of the expected new GTI packages could be more powerful than the current flagship Golf R, but VW has already confirmed production plans for the appropriately-named Golf R400 with 400 horsepower. The new range-topper is expected to arrive with all-wheel drive.

    The German automaker will also likely introduce a plug-in hybrid Golf based on the eight-generation platform. The company last year introduced the Golf GTE concept, featuring an all-electric driving range of 31 miles and a combined output of 201 horsepower and 258 lb-ft of torque.

    Preceding the next-generation models and the mid-cycle update, VW has promised to deliver a three-door GTI Clubsport (pictured) based on the current-generation Golf. Celebrating the nameplate’s 40th anniversary, the hatchback boasts up to 261 horsepower and unique bodywork.

  • First drive: 2016 Hyundai Tucson [Review]

    July 27, 2015

    The third generation of Hyundai’s small crossover has arrived for the 2016 model year. Looking to take a chunk out of the runaway CUV sales boom, does the all-new 2016 Tucson have what it takes to close the volume gap with the segment leaders? Hyundai invited us to Minneapolis, Minnesota to find out.

    What is it?
    The Tucson is Hyundai’s smallest crossover offering, based on the midsize Sonata and sporting a nearly identical two-row, five-passenger layout.

    The Tucson comes in four trim levels, which have been re-arranged for the new model to align it more closely to Hyundai’s new product tiers and simplify purchasing decisions for customers. The base model is the SE; one step up from that is the Eco model, followed by the all-new Sport and the range-topping Limited.

    SE models are available with a two-liter, naturally aspirated four-cylinder engine making 164 horsepower at 6,200 RPM and 151 lb-ft of torque at 4,000 RPM. This engine is paired to a conventional, six-speed automatic transmission. Eco, Sport and Limited models all come standard with Hyundai’s revised, 1.6-liter turbo. This four-cylinder makes 175 horsepower at 5,500 RPM and 195 lb-ft of torque from 1,500 to 4,500 RPM, and is paired with Hyundai’s new seven-speed, dual-clutch transmission. All-wheel-drive is available on all trims.

    The SE model’s powertrain combination is good for 23 mpg in the city, 31 on the highway and 26 combined in front-wheel drive guise. All-wheel-drive models are rated at 21 mpg city, 26 highway and 23 combined.

    The Eco model is the fuel economy all-star, with a 26 mpg city rating, 33 mpg highway and 29 combined with front-wheel drive. AWD drops those to 25/31/27. Jumping to the Sport or Limited model means heavier 19″ wheels and stickier tires, which put noticeable drags on the 1.6L’s efficiency. Both are rated at 25 mpg city, 30 mpg high and 27 mpg combined in the city with just the front wheels powered or 24/28/26 through all four.

    The Tucson’s sedan roots also carry over in its suspension, which is a MacPherson Strut setup in the front and a conventional multi-link independent configuration in the rear.

    What’s it up against?
    The Tucson swims in the crowded pond that is the small CUV segment. No full-line manufacturer has neglected this class, which is populated by the likes of the Mazda CX-5, Honda CR-V, Ford Escape, Chevrolet Equinox, Toyota RAV4, Kia Sportage and Jeep Cherokee.

    What does it look like?
    Hyundai’s European division was responsible for the Tucson’s exterior, and that team absolutely hit it out of the park. The shape is a bit more classically SUV than its predecessor’s, sporting conventional two-box proportions with sleek, modern surfaces.

    The outgoing Tucson was an OK-looking car from some angles, dowdy from others. Hyundai’s ground-up redesign has transformed an inoffensive (but unimpressive) shape into a genuinely handsome crossover.

    The SE and Eco models get 17″ wheels, the latter with low-rolling resistance tires for improved economy. Sport and Limited models feature slick 19″ alloys with an aggressive spoke design that sits somewhere between a sawblade and a ninja star. Lighting options include basic halogens, LEDs and HIDs depending on trim level and options.

    And the inside?
    Europe may have produced the Tucson’s exterior, but the interior comes from Hyundai’s California studio. Regardless of the origin, it matches the exterior both in design and quality. All models come with a cushioned center console panel (christened the “Premium Panel” by Hyundai’s marketing team) for added driver comfort, and the seats across all models are well-sculpted and pleasing to look at.

    Hyundai’s feature-rich interior strategy is in full force here. Heated/ventilated front seats are available (only heated rears, though) for starters. Higher-trim models are available with an almost-full-length panoramic roof with vent and slide options, along with a fully opaque sunshade.

    Like tech? You’re in good shape there too. Bluetooth and the like are standard, and trick options such as split-screen navigation and Hyundai’s “Tune Start” (a buffering system which allows you to rewind a live radio song in progress to the beginning) are available as you progress through the model lineup.

    Does it go?
    Surprisingly, yes. In the greater context of its rivals, the Tucson’s performance is decidedly mid-pack, but that’s a misleading statement. In the murky world of small CUVs, it’s hard to pin down how they should or shouldn’t perform. Just take a quick glance at the competitive powertrain offerings if you don’t believe us.

    Ford offers two EcoBoost engines, the smaller of which would be the match for Hyundai’s range-topper if you looked no further than power output, but the Escape is heavy. Jeep offers a V6 at the top of the Cherokee range. Honda doesn’t offer forced iduction at all; neither does Mazda–both are content with their naturally aspirated four-cylinder offerings. Across the street at Kia, an Escape-matching 2.0T is still available in the (now aging) Sportage.

    While the continued absence of Hyundai’s corporate two-liter turbo-four may put off a handful of potential buyers, the Tucson’s svelte curb weight flatters the power output of the turbocharged 1.6. The DCT programming is substantially better here than it is in the Sonata Eco, and as a total package, this powertrain works quite well. If we limit the Tucson’s peer group to those with

    The Tucson’s ride and handling are to be commended too. Hyundai gave us a route that took us over broken pavement, gravel roads and questionably maintained stretches of Minnesota country highways and byways. The Tucson never put a foot wrong. It lacks the CX-5′s harder edge and may not be the equal of the RAV4 or CR-V in compliance, but not so much that you miss it. It’s quiet and comfortable, but capable of hustling when called upon to do so.

    Leftlane’s bottom line
    The Tucson is an excellent jack-of-all-trades option in a crowded and capable segment. Not content with simply offering the best value proposition in the segment, Hyundai has stepped it up and delivered one of the best small CUVs, period.

    2016 Hyundai Tucson Eco, base price: $24,150; as-tested: $25,550
    2016 Hyundai Tucson Limited Ultimate, base price: $32,650; as-tested, $34,050

    Destination: $895

    Exterior photos by Byron Hurd. Interior pictures courtesy of Hyundai.

    • Aesthetics


    • Technology


    • Green


    • Drive


    • Value


    • Score


  • Ram recall: Airbags deploy if door slams shut

    July 27, 2015
    Fiat Chrysler Automobiles has issued two recall campaigns related to airbag defects in Ram pickups.

    The 2012-2014 Ram 1500-5500 are being recalled to fix a wiring issue that can cause the front airbag to unexpectedly deploy, while the 2013-2015 four-door Ram 1500, 2500 and 3500 will receive new software to prevent the side airbag from deploying when a door is slammed too hard.

    Like several other recalls, FCA initially attempted to avoid issuing a formal recall for the side-airbag defect. Despite two injuries associated with the deployment calibration, the company argued that the problem had a low occurrence rate that did not warrant a formal recall. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration disagreed, and FCA finally issues a recall after the company had been publicly grilled by the agency in a hearing related to nearly two dozen other campaigns.

    The two airbag recalls affect a combined total of more than 1.7 million vehicles sold in the US market.

  • Dodge cans ’15 Hellcat orders, ups 2016 allocation

    July 27, 2015
    Fiat Chrysler US (FCA US) will cancel as many as 900 existing orders for 2015 Dodge Hellcat models (Charger and Challenger) due to production constraints. Dodge’s production output is unable to meet the demand of existing orders placed for 2015 models before the assembly line switches over to the 2016 model year.

    FCA US is uncertain as to exactly how many individual orders will be canceled, saying the “900″ figure could include duplicate orders placed by potential buyers at multiple dealerships. Customers with unfilled 2015 orders will receive a voucher allowing them to purchase a 2016 model at 2015 pricing. These vouchers will be non-transferrable.

    The good news for potential Hellcat buyers is that FCA is promising to increase output of the 707-horsepower monsters for the 2016 model year. According to Automotive News, production will more than double compared to the 2015 model year. “It’s not a few more; it’s a lot more,” Dodge CEO Tim Kuniskis told the outlet, promising that the build rate will more than double without suggesting a total production figure.

    Total Hellcat output for 2015 surpassed 4,000 units.

    The company increased output in March after warning customers that many shady dealers were taking orders and deposits for Hellcat-powered Chargers and Challengers that would likely not be produced for the 2015 model year. Dealers reportedly placed orders for more than 9,000 units by mid March.

    Kuniskis previously told Automotive News. “We stopped taking all Hellcat orders months ago so that we could catch up to that demand, and then we will launch the 2016s.” Despite the limited availability of the 707-horsepower Challengers and Chargers, Kuniskis suggests the Hellcat variants have successfully served as ‘halo’ models that help drive sales of standard packages. The company has sold approximately 88,000 muscle cars so far this year.

  • FCA hit with historic penalties over Jeep/Ram recalls

    July 27, 2015
    The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and Fiat Chrysler US (FCA US) have entered into a consent order that resolves the complaints brought against the automaker for its handling of 23 recall campaigns.

    Among the recall programs singled out by the NHTSA order were those for Ram pickup steering failures and Jeep Grand Cherokee fuel tank fires, both of which have been prominently criticized by the regulatory agency for not aggressively pursuing owners who have not yet had the defects remedied.

    As part of the consent agreement, FCA US will pay a $70 million fine to NHTSA and spend $20 million on industry and customer outreach to improve recall response rates. In addition, Ram must offer to buy back defective pickups that have not yet been repaired and Jeep must offer customers trade for their defective Grand Cherokees or pay to have them repaired.

    An additional $15 million penalty will be assessed if FCA fails to comply with the terms of the order, making the company responsible for as much as $105 million in total fines and penalties if they are unable to comply with the NHTSA order.

    FCA US says more than 60% of affected Ram vehicles have already been repaired. However, if even 25% of owners opt for the buy-back offer, if could cost the company more than $2 billion according to the AP. The costs associated with the Grand Cherokee defects are murkier, but since Jeep is only required to offer a trade (rather than buy the vehicles back, as is the case with Ram), it may net out for the SUV manufacturer if buyers take advantage of the mandatory offer to purchase a new Jeep vehicle.

    “The consent order includes an admission by FCA US that in three specified campaigns it had failed to timely provide an effective remedy, and that it did not timely comply with various reporting requirements under the National Traffic and Motor Vehicle Safety Act of 1966,” FCA said in a statement Sunday night announcing the terms of the agreement.

    In an attempt to avoid a public hearing on the campaign, FCA US previously argued that its overall recall completion rate was “nearly the best in the industry,” second only to BMW, with 77 percent of recalled vehicles brought in for service. The company also claimed to be compliant with existing regulations, insisting it was already implementing programs to further improve completion rates. However, it did admit to exceeding the mandatory 60-day owner notification window for five of the campaigns highlighted by NHTSA.

    Prior to the hearing, FCA’s outspoken chief executive, Sergio Marchionne, publicly downplayed the growing friction between the automaker and the NHTSA.

  • Morgan AR Plus 4 mit technischen Daten und Preis

    July 27, 2015

    Kraftvoller Auftritt: Morgan bringt den AR Plus 4

    Das Lenkrad ohne Airbag weist auf die Rennsport-Ambitionen des AR4 hin

    Feinste Handarbeit: Die Armaturen sind ein Hingucker

    Malvern Link (Großbritannien), 27. Juli 2015
    Ladenfrische Oldtimer werden immer seltener. Eine Ausnahme ist der Morgan Plus 4. Abgesehen von einigen kurzen Unterbrechungen wird er optisch kaum verändert seit 1950 gebaut. Genau 65 Jahre also, was Morgan zum Anlass nimmt, ein spezielles Modell aufzulegen: den AR Plus 4.

    Fit für die Piste
    Der normale Morgan Plus 4 leistet 156 PS und wiegt 927 Kilogramm. Beim AR (das Kürzel steht für die Rennabteilung von Morgan) Plus 4 kommt ein Zweiliter-Aggregat von Cosworth zum Einsatz. Dessen Leistung wird auf 225 bhp beziffert, umgerechnet sind das 228 PS. Aber mit dem Einbau des Motors begnügt man sich nicht. Jeder der Wagen wird von Hand zusammengebaut und bekommt ein speziell abgestimmtes Setup. Ziel ist es, den AR Plus 4 fit für die Straße und die Rennstrecke zu machen. So gibt es eine neue Aufhängung, verstellbare Dämpfer, ein neues Bremssystem, eine geänderte Achsübersetzung und ein überarbeitetes Chassis.

    Begrenzte Auflage
    Äußerlich ziert unbearbeitetes Aluminium den Wagen, inwiefern diese Maßnahme das Gewicht senkt, ist aber nicht bekannt. Weiteres Augenmerk wurde mit Blick auf eine Geräuschreduzierung auf das Dach und die Karosserie gelegt. Hinzu kommt ein neugestaltetes Armaturenbrett. Beinahe futuristisch wirkt der Einsatz von LED-Lampen an Front und Heck. Nur 50 Exemplare des Morgan AR Plus 4 sollen gebaut werden. In England liegt der Preis bei 54.995 Pfund, das sind umgerechnet rund 77.600 Euro.

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