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.
Press days may be over, but you can still check out our live coverage of the 2011 Los Angeles auto show. Debuts including everything from the 200-mph Mustang Shelby GT500 and 580-hp Camaro ZL1 convertible, to tamer offerings like the refreshed Honda CR-V and all-new Cadillac XTS.
The BMW 3 Series has long been the car of choice for automotive enthusiasts — it even scored another win in our latest All-Stars competition — so we were anxious to discover whether the new, seventh-generation 3 Series would continue that trend. We drove a 328i sedan, which combines a 2.0-liter turbo-four engine with an eight-speed automatic transmission, and found that the new 3er is still an outstanding car. While some changes have been made to improve its efficiency, the car’s overall character has been maintained.
Two-hundred miles per hour. That’s the top speed of the 2013 Ford Mustang Shelby GT500, which benefits from a new supercharged 5.8-liter V-8 producing 650 hp and 600 lb-ft of torque. Along with that ultimate-performance model, all models of the Mustang receive trim and equipment updates for model-year 2013, as well as new headlights and a restyled front grille. Mustang GT models score an extra six horsepower, bringing the 5.0-liter V-8’s output to 420 hp, and the Boss 302 gets new reflective side stripes designed to recall the Boss 302 race cars of 1970.
Chrysler Group revealed this week that it will invest $500 million to prepare a factory in Ohio to build the next generation of the Jeep Liberty. The Toledo North Assembly Plant, which already builds the Liberty, will build a new version of the small SUV starting in 2013. We don’t know much about the new Liberty other than the fact that it will ride on a Fiat-sourced platform. Expect more information as the plant ramps up for production during 2012.
Infiniti will bring some sort of electric concept car to the 2012 Geneva Motor Show. Details are scarce, but the company will likely use a rear-wheel-drive chassis with a mid-mounted plug-in hybrid drivetrain. Infiniti says the car will show how “performance and the environment intersect.” We believe the electric drive components will be sourced from the Nissan Leaf — an 80-kW electric motor with lithium-ion batteries — and the Infiniti should be able to run on electrical power alone, or with a gasoline engine providing extra juice.
After weeks of rumors and leaked photos, Hyundai has released official photos of the new Genesis Coupe in South Korea. The car scores a facelift to make it look more like Hyundai’s other new products, which means a new front fascia with a hexagonal grille, LED running lights, and new swept-back headlights. There also are new character lines and taillights at the rear. Under the hood, the Korean-market Coupe’s engines have been updated: the turbocharged 2.0-liter inline-four jumps from 210 hp to 271, while the 3.8-liter V-6 climbs from 283 hp to 345 hp. So far there’s no word from Hyundai as to whether those updates will appear on the American-market car, but we expect to learn more about the 2013 Genesis Coupe in the next few months.
Having been shown for the first time in Frankfurt earlier this year, Jaguar this week displayed the C-X16 concept at the L.A. auto show. As before, the sultry concept employs a supercharged V-6 engine and hybrid drivetrain. We met with Jaguar Land Rover executives to discuss the future of this concept car. While Jaguar hasn’t made any official decision on whether put the C-X16 into production, executives suggest the company could do so within a few years. Color us hopeful and excited.
Chevrolet has released a mid-engine Corvette, but it’s not a new street car. Instead the new Corvette is a Daytona Prototype that will compete in the Grand-Am race series. Said to be powered by a 5.0-liter V-8 engine, the race car will first race at the Daytona International Speedway in January 2012. Although the performance machine is visually very different from a street-legal Corvette, cues like the hood design, quad taillights, and twin-flag logos help establish the connection between Corvette sports car and Corvette Prototype Racer.
This week we piloted a new luxury sedan and a revised small crossover. The 2012 Buick LaCrosse eAssist uses General Motors’ new mild-hybrid system to improve fuel economy and acceleration. The mix of a 2.4-liter inline-four engine and an electric motor provide compact car-like fuel consumption without compromising performance. We think it’s a great engine choice for the 2012 LaCrosse, but wonder whether buyers will be tempted by the optional non-hybrid V-6 engine. The 2012 Honda CR-V is a measured refresh of Honda’s popular crossover. Rather than a full-on rethink, Honda simply revised the five-passenger CR-V to keep it fresh and modern. While improvements to the engine and all-wheel-drive systems are impressive, we can’t help thinking the “new” CR-V feels dated compared to many of its attractive, technology-filled competitors.
– NASCAR Sprint Cup, Ford 400, Homestead-Miami Speedway, Sunday November 20 at 3:00 p.m. EST on ESPN
– NASCAR Nationwide Series, Ford 300, Homestead-Miami Speedway, Saturday November 19 at 4:30 p.m. EST on ESPN2