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 along with the weekend racing schedule for your convenience.
Audi will bring a trio of turbocharged, high-performance luxury machines to the Frankfurt Motor Show. The S6 and S7 will use a new twin-turbocharged, direct-injection 4.0-liter V-8 with 420 hp and 406 lb-ft of torque and a seven-speed dual-clutch transmission. The S8 gets the same twin-turbo engine tweaked for 520 hp and 479 lb-ft, which is channeled through an eight-speed automatic transmission. The S6, S7, and S8 use Audi’s quattro all-wheel-drive system with a self-locking rear differential and all-wheel torque vectoring control. Audi says the S6 will reach 62 mph in 4.8 seconds, the S7 in 4.9 seconds, and the S8 in just 4.2 seconds.
The curvaceous Ford Evos concept is our first taste of Ford’s all-new styling language and technology direction. The trapezoidal front grille, taut character lines, and narrow lighting elements will all translate to future Ford production cars -- the first of which will arrive in early 2012. Beneath the concept car’s skin is a plug-in hybrid powertrain with up to 500 miles on the combination of a full battery charge and a tank of gasoline. Technological highlights include a cloud-connected interface that can pick routes to avoid smog or traffic, automatically close the driver’s garage door, and adjust engine characteristics based on the driving route. The Ford Evos won’t go on sale, but all its key elements are headed to future Ford products.
For the first time in decades, Land Rover plans to redesign its iconic Defender. The DC100 concept will bow at the Frankfurt Motor Show and gives us a preview of what a new Defender might look like. The DC100 keeps hallmarks of the old-school Defender, like its boxy shape and exposed spare-tire carrier, while mixing in a heavy helping of new-school Land Rover DNA, like flared wheel wells and big, showy wheels. The real Land Rover Defender will arrive in 2015. Capable as it may be, we don’t yet know whether the new Defender will manage to ford the Atlantic Ocean and be sold in U.S. car dealerships.
Certain models of the 2012 Chrysler 300 and 2012 Dodge Charger will be equipped with a new eight-speed automatic transmission, which is more fuel-efficient than the five-speed unit it replaces. Fuel economy with the 3.6-liter V-6 engine and new transmission is 19/31 mpg (city/highway), a noticeable improvement compared to the 18/27 mpg numbers managed by V-6-powered cars with the five-speed transmission. The new transmission also makes the cars slightly quicker; Chrysler says the 0-to-60-mph dash now takes just 7.2 seconds. The 2012 300 and Charger go on sale later this fall.
After showing us sketches, Audi has now granted us the first batch of official photos of the Urban Concept Sportback and Spyder. The twin cars will be shown for the first time at the Frankfurt Motor Show later this month. The weird, wedge-shaped bodywork hides a chassis made from carbon fiber reinforced polymers, helping keep weight to just 1100 pounds. Twin electric motors provide a top speed of 62 mph, while a lithium-ion battery stores enough juice for 30 to 40 miles of travel. Expect more information on these quirky urban electric cars in Frankfurt.
This sultry concept car may be the most attractive six-passenger crossover we’ve ever seen. Called the HX1 hybrid concept, this Peugeot will strut onto the stage at the Frankfurt Motor Show. Active aerodynamic tricks like extendable spoilers and fins help make the HX1 exceptionally aerodynamic. It uses the through-the-road hybrid powertrain that Peugeot already sells in cars like the 3008: a 2.2-liter turbodiesel engine drives the front wheels, while a 95-hp electric motor powers the rear wheels. Peugeot does not plan to sell the HX1, but the ideas seen on the concept car could trickle down to future production models.
We still only teaser images, but at least Subaru is giving us some information on its upcoming BRZ Prologue concept. The car will be unwrapped at the Frankfurt show. Its name stands for Boxer engine, Rear-wheel drive, and Zenith. The BRZ is to be a rear-drive sports coupe that is Subaru’s version of the Toyota FT-86/Scion FR-S. Subaru’s car should have about 200 hp and will go on sale in spring 2012. Look for a full swath of photos and information once the car is shown in Frankfurt.
It’s the Labor Day weekend, and that means road trips, barbeques, and one of the last weekends where the weather allows a dip in the nearest pool or lake. So what should you drive for the last hurrah before changing leaves and temperatures mark the beginning of fall? We’ve selected five different vehicles to suit any potential Labor Day plans. There’s a convertible for cruising with friends, a big SUV for transporting the family, an off-roader for exploring America the beautiful, a gorgeous grand tourer for long-distance jaunts, and even a sports car for stress relief. Choose you ride in our top five roundup.
First Drives: 2013 Mazda CX-5 Prototype, 2012 BMW Z4 sDrive28i
This week we drove two very different cars powered by turbocharged, 2.0-liter inline-four engines. The 2013 Mazda CX-5 is an all-new compact crossover that’s designed with Mazda’s “Zoom-Zoom” driving excitement in mind. The CX-5 is attractive, remains poised over rough roads, and is remarkably efficient thanks to its choice of gasoline or 2.2-liter turbodiesel engines. With the 2012 BMW Z4 sDrive28i, the German automaker is making a big switch: ditching one of its famed inline-six engines in favor of a turbocharged four-cylinder. While it sounds like heresy to BMW fans, the new N20 turbo engine provides a deep, satisfying exhaust note, and brisk acceleration that’s nearly totally free of turbo lag. Plus, the Z4 continues to offer the sublime chassis poise and balance for which BMWs are so well known.
- NASCAR Nationwide Series, Great Clips 300, Atlanta Motor Speedway, Saturday September 3 at 7:30 p.m. EST on ESPN 2
- NASCAR Sprint Cup, AdvoCare 500, Atlanta Motor Speedway, Sunday September 4 at 7:30 p.m. EST on ESPN
- Indycar, Baltimore Grand Prix, Streets of Baltimore, Sunday September 4 at 2 p.m. EST on Versus