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.
The sales numbers are in, and for the first six months of 2011 the Nissan Leaf handily outsold the Chevrolet Volt. Although that result appears to show the Leaf becoming the more successful electric car, Chevrolet attributes the difference to delays in production. By the end of this month, production of the Volt will be three times greater than currently, helping the Volt catch up. And Nissan said that demand for its full-electric Leaf is continuing to build as public awareness of the car increases.
Ford has prepared a one-of-a-kind Mustang GT to debut at the Experimental Aircraft Association show in Oshkosh, Wisconsin. The annual meeting of aviation enthusiasts will auction the Mustang to raise funds for EAA Young Eagles, which provides flight lessons and instruction to young people. Not simply a repainted Mustang, the Blue Angels features a 624-hp supercharged V-8 engine, Ford Racing suspension, bigger brakes, and unique wheels shod in sticky tires. The package was inspired by the F-18 Hornet jet fighters flown by the U.S. Navy Blue Angels.
A new player will join the race to sell electric cars to the American public. Mitsubishi has revealed that its i-MiEV will arrive in the U.S. market in November with a sticker price of $27,990 (including destination.) The car uses a mid-mounted, 63-hp electric motor that directs power to the rear wheels. EPA testing reveals the i-MiEV should have a range of up to 98 miles on a single charge.
A French website revealed some early photos of the Mercedes-Benz C63 AMG Black Series, and we’re excited. The Black Series will be a much more potent version of the current C63 coupe, with a claimed 517 hp on tap from the 6.2-liter V-8 engine. Better still, the new car is expected to hit 62 mph in just 4.0 seconds and rocket toward a limited top speed of 186 mph. It goes without saying that the car will also score firmer suspension, wider tires, and monstrous brakes. Flared fenders, gaping air intakes, and big new wheels complete the package. The C63 Black Series could debut in Europe by early 2012.
We knew it was on the way, and now we have a firmer date: the 2012 Toyota Yaris is due here before the end of this year. The news was revealed in a dealer sales call, and a Toyota spokesman confirms the Yaris will debut at a “major” auto show in the U.S. later this year. Our money is on the Los Angeles auto show. We’ve already seen the European and Japanese versions of the Yaris, so we know what to expect: More mature styling, improved interior space, and an instrument cluster that now sits directly in front of the driver.
European versions of the Land Rover LR4 and Range Rover Sport will score a new eight-speed automatic transmission when equipped with diesel engines. However, as those engines are unavailable in North America, we won’t be scoring the new gearbox. Fortunately other Land Rover upgrades are headed our way for the 2012 model year, including a new Harmon/Kardon Logic7 sound system, a smaller key fob, redesigned steering column stalks, new wheel and color choices, and an updated touch-screen navigation system.
Back in the 1970s, advertising company Campbell-Ewald debuted a series of commercials boldly claiming, “America loves baseball, hot dogs, apple pie, and Chevrolet.” With that in mind, we spent a weekend driving a 2011 Chevrolet Camaro SS convertible to ball parks, Coney Islands, and pie stores. Over 735 miles, we attended four baseball games while consuming five hot dogs and four slices of pie. Campbell-Ewald would be proud.
Yes, Porsche is killing off the current version of the 911, codenamed 997, and replacing it with a new generation called 991. The new car will debut in Carrera and Carrera S trims. The former boasts 350 hp from a 3.4-liter boxer-six engine, while the latter wrings 400 hp from a 3.8-liter engine. Extensive use of aluminum means that although it grows a few inches over the 997, the new 911 will be slightly lighter than its predecessor. The 911 also will switch to electric power steering and gain a seven-speed manual transmission. Look for the Porsche to make its official debut at the Frankfurt motor show later this fall.
The 2012 Buick LaCrosse comes with a choice of two powertrains: a 2.4-liter inline-four with a hybrid system, or a traditional V-6. The former is new for this model year and helps bump LaCrosse fuel economy while also improving its acceleration. The LaCrosse eAssist drives mostly just like a normal car, yet still returns more than 20-percent better economy than its predecessor
- NASCAR Nationwide Series, Feed the Children 300, Kentucky Speedway, Friday July 8 at 7:30 p.m. on ESPN
- NASCAR Sprint Cup, Quaker State 400, Kentucky Speedway, Saturday July 9 at 7:30 p.m. on TNT
- Formula 1 British Grand Prix, Silverstone, Sunday July 10 at 8:00 a.m. on Fox Sports
- Indycar Honda Indy Toronto, Streets of Ontario, Sunday July 10 at 2:50 p.m. on Versus