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 for your convenience.
The redesigned 2012 Honda Civic landed to harsh reaction, so Honda has quickly revamped the car for the 2013 model year. The changes are mostly aesthetic, but Honda hopes they will be enough to propel the 2013 Civic back to the top of the C-segment heap. Echoing the new Honda Accord, the 2013 Civic adopts a new front fascia, more slender headlights, a more sculpted hood, new wheel designs, taillights that now extend onto the trunklid, and extra chrome trim around back. So far Honda has declined to reveal if there are any major interior or mechanical changes, but we expect better cabin materials and no significant powertrain tweaks. The 2013 Honda Civic debuts at the Los Angeles auto show and goes on sale the same day, November 29.
Ford will roll out the family-friendly Transit Connect Wagon in the U.S., and it’s far nicer than the previous, smaller five-passenger Transit Connect that Ford previously sold here. Inside the 2014 Ford Transit Connect Wagon are five or seven seats, a fully-trimmed interior, options like MyFord Touch, and an available panoramic glass roof. Ford hopes the new model will appeal to families who want multiple seats without the outward size of normal minivans. Propulsion is courtesy of a 2.5-liter inline-four or 1.6-liter turbo-four EcoBoost engine, both mated to a six-speed automatic transmission. The Transit Connect Wagon goes on sale in the third quarter of 2013.
Our spy shooters got another look at the 2015 Ford Mustang, and this particular prototype wears a front nose that appears to be inspired by the design of the curvy Ford Evos concept. The sports car has a sloping front end, small and angular headlights, and a curving nose with trapezoidal grille openings. That means the 2015 Ford Mustang is likely following the “Kinetic 2.0” styling language seen on the new Fusion and Escape, which dictates more curving and rounded surfaces. We previously spotted a 2015 Ford Mustang prototype which had curved, tapering frame rails in its engine bay, hinting that this exterior design would make its way to production. Look for the 2015 Ford Mustang to debut at the 2014 New York auto show.
What would the rugged, boxy, and iconic Mercedes-Benz G-Class SUV look like if it were re-invented for today’s market? Perhaps a little like the Ener-G-Force, a Mercedes concept that provides strong hints at the styling direction of the next Gelandewagen. While it was designed for a contest to create the police vehicle of 2025, we bet that the next-generation Mercedes G-Class will look a lot like this concept. Under the skin is a hydrogen fuel cell that sends power to four electric motors, one for each drive wheel. A raised stance, stubby front end, beefy wheels and tires, and numerous retro design touches bridge the visual gap between the G-Class and this Ener-G-Force concept.
Mini is the latest automaker to venture into the new segment of the crossover coupe, with the Paceman. The two-door version of the Mini Countryman has a lower, stiffer suspension that makes the Paceman more nimble, but at the expense of ride quality. Overall the Mini Paceman drives well for a crossover, and the charming package make an appealing choice — so long as the two-door crossover fad persists, at least.
The 2014 Audi R8 receives a host of small tweaks like new LED running lights and new bumpers, but by far the best change is the new seven-speed S tronic dual-clutch transmission. It is smooth, quick, and fluid — a welcome change from the jerky and balky single-clutch R-Tronic transmission in older Audi R8s. In every other respect, the Audi R8 is just as great a supercar as we remembered: excellent traction from Quattro all-wheel-drive, glorious sounds and never-ending power from the 4.2-liter V-8 and 5.2-liter V-10 engines, and now even more performance from the new 550-hp V-10 Plus model.
The Subaru Forester used to be a quirky wagon stand-out in its segment, but now Subaru is bringing the new Forester closer to the mainstream crossover norms. It’s a little bigger, a little roomier inside, and more efficient thanks to new engines and transmissions. The base 2.5-liter flat-four engine is efficient but not particularly quick or exciting, while the upgrade turbocharged XT model is far more fun thanks to extra power and sportier suspension tuning. Even if it’s abandoning its unusual wagon-ish roots, the 2014 Subaru Forester will still be a supremely practical vehicle that marries efficiency, space, practicality, and decent driving dynamics.
The previous Acura RDX was too sporty and exciting to make sense in the luxury compact crossover segment. While it’s too bad that the all-new RDX has turned down the fun level, it makes for a much better all-round vehicle. The new RDX drives much like its larger MDX sibling, and despite some awkward cabin ergonomics, we found the five-seat Acura a pleasant crossover. A new V-6 engine is more powerful than the outgoing 2.3-liter turbo-four, but also more civilized and more fuel efficient.