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, as well as the weekend racing schedule, for your convenience.
With the New York auto show just two weeks away, Hyundai has released pictures of the 2013 Santa Fe. The first all-new Santa Fe since 2007 will showcase Hyundai’s new “Storm Edge” design language, which seems to include a new grille design, swept-back headlights, and a beltline that kinks upward just before the C-pillar. The 2.4-liter inline-four and 3.5-liter V-6 engines may continue. However, as the 2013 Santa Fe may be built on a platform shared with the Hyundai Sonata, it’s also possible the new crossover will use the 2.4- and turbocharged 2.0-liter inline-four engines from that sedan. We’ll find out more in early April in New York.
GMC this week launched the Terrain Denali, a more trim level of the crossover. That brings the total number of GMC Denali models to seven. Upgrades consist of trim bits like unique wheels, chrome exhaust tips, satin-chrome accents, a honeycomb grille, a leather-and-wood steering wheel, and illuminated door sill plates. Under the hood is a 3.6-liter V-6 with 301 hp and 272 lb-ft, replacing the 264-hp 3.0-liter V-6 in 2012 models of the Terrain. “Denali is growing fast,” said Tony DiSalle, vice president of GMC marketing. “Sales for this brand within a brand increased 79 percent from 2010 to 2011.”
Ford’s 650-hp, 202-mph Mustang Shelby GT500 coupe will cost just $54,995 after destination. If you’re doing the math at home, that’s just $84.60 for each tire-smoking horsepower. More interestingly, that’s the same entry price as Chevrolet will charge for its new Camaro ZL1. To refresh, the 2013 GT500 uses a supercharged 5.8-liter V-8 that makes 650 hp and 600 lb-ft of torque, mated to a six-speed manual transmission with a carbon-fiber driveshaft. For open-top enthusiasts, the Shelby GT500 convertible will start at $59,995 — and is electronically limited to 155 mph.
Good move or bad move? Bentley was considering building a small sports coupe to fit below the Continental GT, but instead decided to push forward with an SUV project that was previewed as the EXP 9 F concept.” In the end the SUV was a better idea. It sits above all its competition,” said Bentley CEO Wolfgang Durheimer. The sports coupe had already been designed and was said to be “production feasible”; it could arrive some time in the future because the model now sits outside the office of Bentley design director Dirk van Braeckel.
The Ford Fiesta will get a new nose for the 2013 model year, and our spy shots show that the Fiesta will probably begin to ape the 2013 Ford Fusion. Through the camouflage we can see narrower, angled headlights that look almost identical to those on the new Fusion, and we expect the Fiesta’s grille also will be restyled to look like that of the larger Fusion. The other big change for the new Fiesta will be the addition of a turbocharged 1.0-liter inline-three engine, although the downsized mill probably won’t be offered in the American market.
Subaru will use the New York show to unveil its EyeSight safety system, which will feature on the 2013 Legacy and Outback models. EyeSight uses two cameras to provide pre-collision warning, lane departure warning, and adaptive cruise control functionality. Subaru says the package will probably cost less than $2000. Subaru doesn’t currently offer any vehicles in the U.S. market with lane departure warning or adaptive cruise control.
The 2013 Ford Flex will try to counter dwindling sales of the three-row crossover by adding more power to the base engine, face-lifting the front end, upgrading the brakes and steering, and adding more technology. With another 25 hp in the base 3.5-liter V-6 and a larger brake master cylinder, the Flex proved an able chariot for navigating rural Oregon in cold, snowy conditions. The crossover also receives a wide array of new safety gear like adaptive cruise control, Torque Vectoring, Curve Control, and rear-seat inflatable seat belts. The 2013 Ford Taurus also receives a face lift, as well as a new braking system and improved electric power steering. The result is that both the base Taurus and its 365-hp SHO variant are much better to drive than before. Other tweaks make the Taurus as much as 15 percent quieter than the 2012 model. The 2012 Kia Optima Limited is the most expensive and most luxurious version of Kia’s stylish sedan. It mostly adds visual touches like LED running lights, wood interior trim, and unique chrome wheels. The car, which uses a 274-hp, turbocharged 2.0-liter inline-four engine, also is very good to drive. Pricing starts at $34,900. Finally, we got behind the wheel of three subcompact cars with three-cylinder engines. Yes, three-cylinder mills are the next step in saving fuel, by downsizing from the traditional inline-four engine. To get a feel for tri-cylinder cars, we sampled the Ford Focus 1.0 EcoBoost, Nissan Micra 1.2 Supercharged, and Seat Ibiza 1.2.
– NASCAR Sprint Cup, Food City 500, Bristol Motor Speedway, Sunday March 18 at 12:30 p.m. EST on Fox
– NASCAR Nationwide Series, Ford EcoBoost 300, Bristol Motor Speedway, Saturday March 17 at 1:00 p.m. EST on Fox
– Formula 1 Qantas Australian Grand Prix, Sunday March 18 at 1:30 a.m. EST on Speed