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.
Cadillac has revealed that it is working on a luxury, two-door extended-range electric vehicle called the ELR. It is expected to use the same basic powertrain as the Chevrolet Volt: an electric motor and battery will power the car most of the time, and a gasoline engine kicks in to serve as a range extender when the battery dies. Cadillac says it’s too soon to comment on pricing, specifications, or even an on-sale date for the ELR.
These leaked photos purport to show the new Porsche 911 ahead of its official debut. The new 911, dubbed the 991 generation, is scheduled to make its official debut at the Frankfurt Motor Show this September. The leaked photos look very official, with front LED running lights, a stretched profile, and smaller LED taillights all visible. The interior appears to have been inspired by that of the Porsche Panamera, with a sloping center console inhabiting the middle of the 911’s cabin. It’s still unclear whether these photos came from Porsche or arrived via the magic of Photoshop, but we’ll find out for sure at the Frankfurt show.
After divulging one teaser image per week via Facebook, Infiniti has finally given us our first full look at the JX crossover. The seven-seat luxury ride pictured here is technically a concept, but we’re confident that it accurately previews the 2013 JX. Power will come from a V-6 engine and is routed to all four wheels via a continuously variable transmission. The interior appears to blend the styling seen in Infiniti’s smaller FX crossovers and larger QX SUV. The production JX will bow at the Los Angeles auto show this November, and should go on sale in spring 2012.
Lexus used the Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance to unveil the 2013 GS 350. The new version of Lexus’ was styled based on the Lexus LF-Gh concept, which entails an hourglass grille and an evolution of the current GS shape. A 3.5-liter V-6 offers 306 hp and 277 lb-ft of torque, mated to a six-speed automatic transmission. Both rear- and all-wheel drive are on offer. The new GS is supposed to be sportier, more attractive, and more modern than the old car, and so far we’re impressed with what we’ve seen.
The name stands for “heaven”, but also rhymes with CL -- as in, the Mercedes-Benz product. But the Ciel concept is Cadillac’s large, opulent four-door convertible. The gorgeous four-seater is a good preview of future Cadillac halo cars, but the Ciel convertible itself is not meant for production. The interior has masses of olive wood trim and TV screens in the seatbacks, while the exterior gets sweeping character lines that meet in a narrower tail. The concept has no top, making it ill-suited for rainy climes. We imagine that problem will be solved before (or rather, if) a Cadillac convertible reaches dealerships.
In a sharp break from most of its current products, Kia plans to introduce a striking rear-wheel-drive sports sedan at the Frankfurt Motor Show. The as-yet unnamed concept car has a long nose and a sloping fastback-style roofline, giving it a strong resemblance to the Audi A7 or Aston Martin Rapide. Kia promises the “sleek and muscular” concept is a sign of things to come from the company. No word yet as to whether this car will make production.
This marks the 100th anniversary of the Chevrolet brand, and also a major milestone for the brand’s V-8 engines. This fall, Chevrolet expects to build the 100 millionth small-block V-8 engine. The design first originated in 1955, meant to pump up performance in the Corvette. The basic specifications from that first engine were used in millions of Chevrolet V-8s since -- even the 638-hp supercharged V-8 in today’s Corvette ZR1 is essentially descended from that first small-block in 1955. A spokesman told us that Chevy is undecided what will happen to the milestone engine, but it seems likely it will either go to a museum or be auctioned for charity.
Ford will show off the concept version of the 2012 Focus ST at this weekend’s Woodward Dream Cruise in Detroit. As seen at last year’s Paris Motor Show, the Focus ST employs a turbocharged 2.0-liter inline-four engine good for about 247 hp. Power goes through a six-speed manual transmission to the front wheels. The Focus ST is essentially the return of the Focus SVT hatchback, sold in the U.S. from 2002 through 2004. Ford promises the production version of the Focus ST will debut at the Frankfurt Motor Show next month.
Driven: 2012 Volvo S60 T6 AWD R-Design, 2012 Land Rover Range Rover Evoque, 2012 Toyota Yaris, 2012 Infiniti M Hybrid
This week we drove what seems like the entire gamut of new cars. The 2012 Volvo S60 R-Design gets a range of sportier visual components, but the most important part is the fact that the turbocharged inline-six engine has been upgraded to produce 325 hp and 354 lb-ft of torque. As a result, the R-Design is an exceptional sports sedan, though it’s not quite hard-edged enough for full-on track days. The 2012 Land Rover Range Rover Evoque is the latest entrant in the posh-crossover segment. The Evoque looks fantastic, offers an array of luxurious features and trimmings, and drives respectably on the road. It can even ford a canal in rural Wales. For 2012, the Toyota Yaris gains all-new sheetmetal and interior styling, but its mechanical components are mostly unchanged. The new Yaris is more driver-focused and more attractive, and is competitive on both price and fuel economy with other subcompact offerings. Finally, we sampled the 2012 Infiniti M Hybrid, which strives to provide V-8 pace with four-cylinder fuel economy. Though its hybrid system isn’t perfect, the mix of fuel economy and acceleration makes this M hybrid a better buy than the V-8-powered M56 -- especially as the V-8 costs $5400 more than the hybrid.
- NASCAR Nationwide Series, NAPA Auto Parts 200, Montreal, Saturday August 20 at 2:30 p.m. EST on ESPN
- NASCAR Sprint Cup, Pure Michigan 400, Michigan International Speedway, Sunday August 21 at 1 p.m. EST on ESPN