Been away from your computer this week and missed all the automotive news? We’ve gathered a few of the top stories of the past week for your convenience.
Our spy photographers ventured to the northern reaches of Canada in order to snag these spy photos of the 2014 Chevrolet Corvette during winter testing. Dubbed C7, the next-generation Corvette retains its front-engine layout and won’t adopt the split-window design made famous by the 1963 Corvette. Instead expect the next version of the Corvette to adopt General Motors’ fifth-generation small-block V-8 engines, using direct fuel injection and possibly displacing 5.5 liters. Reports also suggest the new car will score a Chevrolet-first seven-speed manual transmission, as is offered in the new-for-2012 Porsche 911. Expect the 2014 Corvette to go on sale in fall 2013.
Buoying GM’s global sales of nine million cars in 2011 was the Chevrolet brand, which delivered 4.76 million vehicles to customers around the world last year. The U.S. was Chevy’s largest sales market, with 1.8 million sold, followed in descending order by Brazil, China, Russia, Mexico, Canada, Argentina, Uzbekistan, India, and Columbia. The brand’s top-selling model on our shores was the Silverado pickup truck, with 415,130 sales, closely followed by the Cruze sedan’s tally of 231,722 units. Interestingly, the Chinese market snapped up 203,719 copies of the Chevy Cruze in 2011.
Volkswagen is set to expand is diesel repertoire in the U.S. by launching the 2012 Beetle TDI at the Chicago auto show. The company already claims to sell 75 percent of all diesel passenger cars in this country, so adding a diesel mill to the funky new Beetle is a logical move for Volkswagen. Expect the same powertrain as found under the hood of the Golf, Jetta, and Passat diesels: a 2.0-liter turbodiesel inline-four with 140 hp and 236 lb-ft of torque, mated to a manual or DSG dual-clutch transmission with six forward speeds. The best news of all? Volkswagen expects the Beetle TDI to return 40 mpg on the highway.
The 2013 Nissan GT-R is on its way to dealers, and the new year’s models score multiple upgrades that engender a healthy price increase. For 2013, the GT-R’s twin-turbo 3.8-liter V-6 has been upgraded to 345 hp and 463 lb-ft of torque. In addition, the car’s front fascia has been tweaked, the dual-clutch transmission retuned for smoother shifting, the suspension tuning adjusted, and both Bluetooth phone connectivity and a backup camera become standard equipment. As a result, base pricing for the 2013 GT-R Premium has jumped $6670 to $97,260 (including a $1000 destination charge), while the tricked-out GT-R Black Edition sees prices climb $11,000 compared to last year, to $107,320. The Black Edition nets goodies like unique RAYS aluminum wheels, black Recaro seats, and a new carbon-fiber rear wing.
Yes, a British company is turning Audi’s fantastic R8 supercar into an eight-passenger stretched limousine. After all, turning up late for senior prom is seriously uncool. The R8 limo will indeed be rapid, packing as it does the donor car’s 528-hp, 5.2-liter V-10 engine and R-tronic automated-manual transmission. Though we’re sure the R8 limo won’t offer the same level of performance as the regular car, we at least are confident the conversion will be done well -- Carbonyte UK previously launched a stretched Ferrari 360 limousine.
French automaker Peugeot is dropping out of the 24 Hours of Le Mans, reportedly due to financial issues on the back of declining car sales last year. For the past several years, Peugeot’s diesel-powered Le Mans racers had battled Audi’s diesel prototypes every year; Peugeot had successfully grabbed 1st and 2nd-place finishes in 2009, as well as the LMP1 manufacturer’s title in the 2010 and 2011 Intercontinental Le Mans Cup. However, with Peugeot vehicle sales down 1.3 percent in 2011, the company couldn’t justify the motorsports spend. “Peugeot prefers to concentrate its resources on its commercial performance and ensuring successful launches,” explains a corporate press release.
Volkswagen has released a video ahead of the Super Bowl -- but rather than an actual commercial, this is a teaser for Volkswagen’s real Game Day clip. It features a chorus of adorable dogs barking out the Imperial March theme from Star Wars. Given that Volkswagen last year featured a child dressed as Darth Vader in its Passat Super Bowl commercial, we’d posit the brand once again will use the sci-fi series to shill its new cars during the February 5 football game.
Americans are keeping their cars longer, and the average age of cars on our roads has reached 10.8 years. That’s a jump from an average age of just 8.4 years old in 1996. The reasons for the shift are threefold: new cars are better built and tend to last longer, new cars are increasingly expensive, and Americans are driving fewer miles than before. “The old days of vehicles rusting our after four or five years are gone. Cars are so much better made in order to compete in the market,” David Cole, the chairman emeritus of the Center for Automotive Research told The Detroit News.
As the Geneva Motor Show creeps ever closer, Italian design studio Pininfarina has released a third teaser image of its Cambiano concept car. Scheduled to debut at the Swiss show, the car is named for Pininfarina’s home base of Cambiano, Italy. The latest teaser reveals a bit of the car’s interior, which appears to feature a large expanse of wood trim and a center stack that is angled toward the driver. No word yet on what powers the sleek coupe, but it’s a fair bet that Pininfarina will try to show off its engineering expertise by using some sort of hybrid or electric drivetrain.
Chevrolet has selected a winning entrant from its Route 66 contest, which challenged filmmakers to submit their own short commercials for use in the upcoming Super Bowl. In the “Chevy Happy Grad” spot, a high school student mistakenly believes his parents have bought him a bright-yellow Chevrolet Camaro SS convertible as a graduation gift. The truth is, though, that the student’s grad gift is somewhat less thrilling than the drop-top muscle car. Just like the teen in this video, Borst won’t actually be getting a Camaro -- instead, Chevrolet will award him $25,000 for his video.