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.
Hot hatch fans, pay attention: Ford has revealed how much its 2013 Focus ST will cost. The sporty hatchback rings in at $24,495 after a $795 destination charge, with prices rising to $29,425 for a fully-loaded model. Power comes from a turbocharged 2.0-liter inline-four engine that is rated for 252 hp and 270 lb-ft of torque, which is routed to the front wheels by a six-speed manual transmission. Ford will also include a free GoPro HD Hero2 Motorsports Edition video camera with the first 1000 cars sold. The order book for the 2013 Ford Focus ST is open now, with the first deliveries expected in the fall.
The Nissan Juke-R is no longer just a prototype: Nissan announced that it will put its wild crossover/supercar mash-up into limited production. The decision came after Nissan received several orders for the Juke-R. To recap, the unique model blends the running gear of a Nissan GT-R with the body of a Juke crossover. Whereas the prototypes used mechanical parts from a 2010 GT-R, the production cars will get the upgrade components from a 2012 GT-R, which means the twin-turbo 3.8-liter V-6 engine will make 545 hp and 463 lb-ft of torque.
After other models debut, the 2013 Dodge Dart will spawn a special Aero version designed to return 41 mpg on the highway. Based on the 1.4-liter MultiAir engine and equipped only with a manual transmission, the Dart Aero should return 41 mpg on the highway, compared to a high of just 39 mpg without the package. Dodge hasn’t yet said what components will be included in the package, but we can expect low rolling-resistance tires, underbody covers, and active grille shutters to reduce drag at speed.
How quick is the new 2012 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1? According to its manufacturer, the ZL1 will run a quarter-mile in 11.93 seconds at 116 mph when equipped with an automatic transmission. Versions with a manual transmission set an almost identical pace of 11.96 seconds at 117 mph. To recap, that performance is made possible because the Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 is powered by a 580-hp and 556-lb-ft supercharged 6.2-liter LSA V-8 engine. Other performance credentials for the car include a 7:41.27 Nürburgring lap time, as well as a 0-to-60-mph time of 4.0 seconds with a manual and 3.9 seconds with an automatic.
Jaguar confirmed that its forthcoming F-Type sports car will have a 5.0-liter V-8 as an optional engine. If it’s the same 5.0-liter V-8 already offered in Jaguar products, power output could be anywhere from 400 to 500 hp — or possible even higher. The F-Type project was announced at the New York auto show in April, and Jaguar subsequently confirmed that the car’s launch engine will be a supercharged 3.0-liter V-6. Compared to the existing XK range, Jaguar promises the F-Type will be a pure and more aggressive sports car.
The Hyundai Motor Manufacturing Alabama plant in Montgomery, Alabama, is set to add 877 employees in order to drastically increase production capacity. By adding a third shift of workers, Hyundai hopes it can build an extra 20,000 copies of the Elantra and Sonata. The move is key because Hyundai claims sales of the Elantra and Sonata are constrained primarily by low demand; the Elantra only sits on dealer lots for an average of 11 days, proving how hot demand is for the compact sedan. With the increase, HMMA’s total employment will rise to 3000 and its production capacity will jump to 345,000.
We drove three new compact crossovers in California to find out which one is best for Goldilocks — that is, which of the three models is “just right” for the average buyer. We found that the new Honda CR-V is perhaps the most practical of the three entrants, but its dull design and driving dynamics won’t necessarily grab Goldilocks’ interest. The Ford Escape, by contrast, packs exciting new design touches, clever technologies, and an entertaining driving experience — but that could be a little too much excitement for some crossover buyers. In the end, the Mazda CX-5 feels “just right” in this comparison, by managing to blend practicality with an expensive, substantial, and satisfying overall experience.
Driving the new 2013 Dodge Dart reminds us of the launch of the Neon back in 1994; both are affordable, comfortable sedans that are surprisingly good to drive. With attractive styling, communicative steering and handling, and solid engines mated to competent transmissions, the new Dart is an impressive compact sedan. We have no doubt the car will, just like the Dodge Neon, sell in strong numbers. The 2013 Audi S7, by contrast, builds on the already alluring A7 by adding a significant batch of performance. Though we have never felt the regular Audi A7 too pokey, the S7 uses a 420-hp, twin-turbocharged 4.0-liter V-8 that makes for visceral, smooth, and strong acceleration. The seven-speed dual-clutch transmission proves an able mechanism for delivering power to all four wheels, while chassis tweaks like a torque-vectoring rear differential help eliminate understeer and make the S7 feel much smaller and more nimble than its dimensions suggest. Finally, the 2013 Mercedes-Benz SL63 AMG offers drivers a little bit of everything: style, speed, and luxury. It employs a twin-turbo 5.5-liter V-8 developing 530 hp and 590 lb-ft; fitting the AMG Performance Package bumps those numbers to 557 hp and 664 lb-ft. With a broad surge of torque, the SL63 AMG provides phenomenal straight-line performance and impressive handling performance, although overall the car feels a bit too detached and clinical for a true sports car.