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.
They’re not only the most powerful muscle cars on sale today, but also the most polarizing. We put the 2012 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 and 2013 Ford Shelby GT500 to the test in the three places that matter most: a race track, a drag strip, and on public roads. Both are impressive sports that blow us away with their performance, but ultimately fans will be divided based on their affinity for the Chevrolet or Ford brands. Here are some figures to whet your appetite: on the drag strip, Ford’s 662-hp Shelby GT500 was 0.6 second quicker through the quarter-mile than the ZL1; at the race track, Chevrolet’s 580-hp Camaro ZL1 turned in laps that were 0.7 second faster than those of the Ford.
There’s a new Aston Martin in the lineup, and it’s called the Vanquish. The car succeeds the DBS and shares its name with another Aston Martin sold from 2001 to 2007. Based on a slightly tweaked version of Aston’s VH platform, the 2013 Vanquish bears a mix of design cues taken from the One-77 supercar, DBS, and limited-run V12 Zagato. LED-lined headlights and a carbon-fiber splitter define the nose, while a special carbon-fiber spoiler called the Aero Duct rounds out the rear. Under the hood is the familiar Aston Martin 5.9-liter V-12 engine, though it is now upgraded to 565 hp and 457 lb-ft of torque, as well as a six-speed automated manual transmission. The quoted 0-to-62-mph time is 4.1 seconds, and Aston claims a top speed of 183. The 2013 Aston Martin Vanquish will reach American dealerships early next year.
By now our spy photographers have taken many photos of the 2013 Honda Accord, but this week we got our first glimpse inside Honda’s next midsizer. There are several important things we can learn from these photos, chief among them that the 2013 Accord will adopt the instrument cluster style of the new 2012 Honda CR-V. The center-mounted speedometer has a digital display in its center, while a smaller analog tachometer sits to the left. Additionally, this prototype has a manual transmission, confirming that Honda will continue to offer a shift-it-yourself option in the new Accord — even if very few buyers actually opt for such a configuration. Finally, atop the tidier center stack is an infotainment screen showing Pandora internet radio. That’s a connectivity feature not currently available in the Honda Accord, and it could be a big selling point to audiophiles with long commutes.
Lamborghini is getting ready to launch a raft of new vehicles, including several variants of the new Aventador supercar. The first of those is the open-top Aventador roadster, likely to debut next January at the Detroit auto show. It could be followed at the 2013 Geneva Motor Show by the Aventador GT, which might be a bit roomier and less hard-edged — maybe with a longer wheelbase, too. Then in 2014 we can expect the Aventador SV, for Super Veloce. Expect it to produce 750 hp from a 6.5-liter V-12, compared to 700 hp in the standard Aventador. By 2013, the Sesto Elemento will launch. The carbon-fiber lightweight tech showcase is limited to just 20 copies, and all have been spoken for. The Lamborghini Gallardo will be face-lifted this fall, then a new version will bow next summer at the 2013 Frankfurt show. Finally, assuming it is confirmed for production, the Urus crossover will become the cheapest Lamborghini at about $215,000. It would probably launch in 2016.
It has “Speed” in the name, so it should come as no surprise that it’s fast. Bentley has announced that the Continental GT Speed coupe has been upgraded for 2013 with even more power and an even higher top speed. The twin-turbo, 6.0-liter W-12 engine has been fettled to make 616 hp and 590 lb-ft, and an eight-speed automatic transmission has been swapped in place of the previous six-speed unit. That enables a 0-to-60-mph run of 4.0 seconds and a top speed of 205 mph. That makes this the fastest production Bentley ever. Other updates for 2013 include sportier steering and suspension tuning, a lower ride height, and unique 21-inch wheels shod in Pirelli PZero performance tires.
Following an investigation by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, Chevrolet has recalled 413,418 models of the 2011-2012 Chevrolet Cruze. The design of an engine shield could contribute to a fire risk in two scenarios. After an oil change, oil could leak or drop onto a hot exhaust or the engine shield, causing a fire. Alternatively, driving with a worn clutch could cause clutch fluid to escape a vent hole, contact those hot elements, and start a fire. Chevrolet will fix the heat shield with a free process that takes about 30 minutes. Chevrolet also plans to inspect 249 models of the Cruze because they may be missing some welds, or the welds might not be correct. The welds concern the fuel-tank straps and rear sub-frame assembly; if the welds aren’t intact, those items could fall off the cars. Inspection takes only a few minutes, but the repair would require about three hours.
In case the Chevrolet Cruze-based Verano compact-luxury sedan wasn’t already enough of a niche vehicle, Buick has gone one step further with the 2013 Verano Turbo. As the name suggests, the engine is a turbocharged 2.0-liter inline-four — basically a detuned version of the Buick Regal GS mill — making 250 hp and 260 lb-ft. With the standard six-speed manual transmission, Buick predicts a 0-to-60-mph time of 6.2 seconds. The lengthy equipment list will include toys like push-button start, 18-inch wheels, and a backup camera, pushing the price close to $30,000. Just one question remains: will enthusiastic drivers pony up that much money for a sporty sedan that looks like a shrunken Buick LaCrosse?
The numbers behind the Bugatti Veyron 16.4 Grand Sport Vitesse are patently absurd: its top speed is 255 mph, the car produces 1200 hp, and the sprint from zero to 186 mph takes just 16 seconds. The Vitesse is the most dramatic interpretation yet of Bugatti’s exotic Veyron, essentially just a roadster version of the Grand Sport coupe. Despite the high-speed ability and overwhelming amount of power, the Grand Sport Vitesse is not difficult to drive at low speeds — aside from the fact that its width requires conscious attention to avoid damaging the $2.5 million car.