5th Mar 2012 by Admin
Want to know what carmakers have planned for the year ahead? The place to be is America’s auto city, Detroit, in January for the North America Auto Show. Here’s a sneak peek of what’s in store…
Chrysler surprised us with its new concept minivan, the 700c. The European-looking design is a break from the conservative style of their current people movers – some likened it to the sleek Nissan Quest Minivan.
More than 35 years after production ceased, the Dodge Dart has been relaunched. It’s the first car to be designed in collaboration with Fiat and makes use of Alfa Romeo’s Giulietta Chassis. This stylish four-door sedan has three four-cylinder engines, and three six-speed, front-wheel drive transmissions, and it should reach Australian shores in late 2013.
2012 Range Rover Evoque took the award for ‘Best Truck of the Year’ beating finalists BMW X3 and the Honda CR-V. Hyundai’s Elantra took home a trophy for Best Car.
There’s also a lot to like about the new Nissan Pathfinder. It foregoes the body-on-frame construction of the current Pathfinder for massive weight savings of about 227kg. Nissan also promises fuel economy improvement of about 25 percent with this model, with its 3.5-litre V6 engine.
It also boasts more interior features and entertainment options, which is good news for families who rely on the vehicle as a people mover. Nissan product chief Andy Palmer is adamant that these refinements and monocoque chassis won’t compromise the Pathfinder’s off-road or towing ability.
Nissan’s GT-R supercar has once again been tweaked for the 2013 model year. The GT-R’s twin-turbocharged 3.8-liter V-6 now makes 545 hp - a 15-hp increase over the 2012 model’s 530. This additional power is thanks to its enhanced intake efficiency, larger intake ducting for the intercooler, and exhaust modifications. Nissan have also refined GT-R’s six-speed dual-clutch transmission for better daily driving with an improved shift feel and quieter gearbox.
The 2013 GT-R’s suspension now has slightly higher spring rates for better shock and spring balance.
Detroit also hosted the worldwide unveiling of Audi’s new Q3 Vail crossover. Audi will begin producing the all-wheel-drive, outdoors-oriented version of the Q3 in Europe by the end of 2013, with US sales likely by 2014.
Mechanically, it’s a Q3 with a 314-hp turbocharged five-cylinder, a seven-speed automatic, and Quattro all-wheel drive. It will have Audi’s 2.5-liter five-cylinder engine, previously used in the TT RS and the Quattro. In the Q3, it’ll be detuned to somewhere closer to the Vail concept’s 314 horses and 295 lb-ft.
Audi also presented new versions of the Audi S4 and A4 sedans for 2012, with cosmetic updates and technological additions for the 2013 model year. The new A4 is 11 percent more fuel-efficient even though it provides more horsepower than the earlier version. Audi has also added more gadgetry, including upgrades to the optional MMI infotainment system, a touch-sensitive pad that allows the driver to input commands to the navigation system by ‘writing’ letters with a finger.
Audi’s Turbo Diesel Injection, or clean-diesel, vehicles have sold well in the US market. Audi plans to introduce diesel versions of its A8 and A6 sedans by sometime next year and a diesel version of its Q5 after that.
Volvo announced its Volvo Plug-in Hybrid Concept, putting the Swedish automaker squarely in the innovation seat when it comes to electric-powered technologies. It also announced the first application for its admired four-cylinder-engine strategy (Volvo Environmental Architecture), with this plug-in petrol hybrid concept based on the XC60.
Volvo will now only produce four-cylinder engines for its cars, boosted with clever turbo-charging and potentially a Kinetic Recovery System similar to Formula One racing. Although Volvo plans to have this petrol plug-in hybrid system on sale within two years, no particular car has been penciled in to receive the system.
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