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.
Hyundai has released a single sketch of the i30, a five-door hatchback set to debut at next month’s Frankfurt Motor Show. Though it is destined primarily for European markets, we have strong reason to believe the attractive hatch will make it to American Hyundai dealers. The last-generation Hyundai i30 made it to our shores as the Elantra Touring, so we suspect the same will be true of this new model. A Hyundai spokesman said he “wouldn’t be surprised” if a new version of the Elantra Touring debuted soon, as the current model is several years old.
It’s been a long time since we’ve heard solid plans for new products from Lincoln, but now Ford’s luxury brand plans to refreshed the MKS and MKT, plus introduce a new version of the MKZ sedan. Sources inside Blue Oval headquarters tell us that the MKS and MKT will receive cosmetic refreshes for model-year 2012. An all-new MKZ is set to arrive for 2013, with a concept version scheduled to go on display at the Detroit auto show in January 2012. The new MKZ will be based on the same platform as the next Ford Mondeo/Fusion, but will wear unique styling.
Despite earlier stories to the contrary, it now appears that the Pagani Huayra supercar will launch in the U.S. market in 2013. The car’s launch was initially delayed because Pagani was denied an exemption from American advanced airbag requirements. The company will develop special airbag systems unique to the U.S. market because the Huayra “had from the start the U.S. market as a key goal.” It’s now scheduled to go on sale in early 2013 for about $1.2 million.
Suzuki’s stand at the Frankfurt Motor Show will play host to a revamped version of the Swift Sport. The three-door hatchback wears a big mesh grille, new multispoke wheels, and a sporty lowered ride height. Power comes from a 1.6-liter inline-four rated at 134 hp and 117 lb-ft of torque, and is transmitted to the front wheels by way of a six-speed manual transmission. We’d love to see the fun Swift sold on our shores, but so far that seems unlikely. The original Suzuki Swift was sold here from 1988 through 1994, but rumors of the Swifts return to American have so far proven unfounded.
The Urban Concept is Audi’s vision of a two-seat city car designed with fuel efficiency and low weight in mind. Its 21-inch wheels are open to the elements, with power from electric motors fed by a lithium-ion battery pack. The body will be made from carbon-fiber reinforced plastics, which are stronger than steel but considerably lighter. Rather than traditional doors, the Urban Concept’s roof and windows slide back to allow entry for the driver and passenger. The basic idea isn’t too far from BMW’s i3 concept, which is also an electric city car employing CFRP construction. Look for more details once the car bows in Frankfurt next month.
We knew that Mercedes-Benz was working on a new small car called the CLC, which would wear styling inspired by the larger CLS-Class. Now it appears there already is a spin-off variant in the works: Mercedes could launch a shooting-brake version of the CLC. It’s expected to be a five-door design with swoopy styling and a coupe-like roofline. The CLC shooting brake would likely compete with cars like the BMW 3 Series GT and Audi A5 Sportback.
Honda has once again issued a teaser photo of the European-market 2012 Civic. The new car is said to be significantly more efficient than its predecessor, thanks to tweaks to its 2.2-liter turbodiesel inline-four engine and the addition of engine stop/start technology. The engine is expected to crank out 150 hp and 258 lb-ft of torque, yet it will produce such low carbon dioxide emissions that U.K. buyers won’t have to pay any road tax for the first year of ownership. Of course, we’re incredibly disappointed that this Civic and its thrifty diesel mill won’t be sold in American — especially given that critics here have panned the 2012 Honda Civic.
European customers will now be able to specify their 2013 A5 with a new, smaller engine. The turbocharged 1.8-liter inline-four, dubbed 1.8 TFSI in Audi’s parlance, produces 170 hp and 236 lb-ft of torque. Audi says that, when mated to a manual transmission and front-wheel drive, the 1.8 TFSI can propel an A5 to 62 mph in 7.9 seconds and return about 41 mpg. We were told that there are no plans to bring this smaller, cheaper, and more efficient A5 powertrain to our shores. Instead, Audi will continue to offer the 211-hp 2.0T as the A5’s base engine in the U.S. market.
Our driving experiences this week encompassed two dramatically different vehicles. The Volvo C30 Polestar is a high-performance take on the C30 hatchback built by Volvo’s official racing partner, Polestar. It extracts 405 hp from a turbocharged 2.5-liter inline-five engine, transmitting the power through a six-speed manual transmission to all four wheels. As a result, the C30 Polestar feels like a good potential competitor to the Audi TT RS — but there are no plans for the hot Volvo to reach production. After burning gasoline in the name of fun, we spent some time in Porsche’s fuel-sipping Cayenne S Hybrid. While the Porsche SUV is indeed fuel-efficient, thanks to its hybrid-electric drivetrain, the Cayenne’s high price and disappointing driving dynamics make it a non-starter. For our money, we’d buy the V-8-powered Cayenne S instead.
– NASCAR Nationwide Series, Zippo 200 at the Glen, Watkins Glen, Saturday August 13 at 2 p.m. EST on ESPN
– NASCAR Sprint Cup, Heluva Good! Sour Cream Dips at the Glen, Watkins Glen, Sunday August 14 at 1 p.m. EST on ESPN
– Indycar, MoveThatBlock.com Indy 225, New Hampshire Motor Speedway, Sunday August 14 at 3:30 p.m. EST on ABC