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’s Frankfurt Motor Show along with the weekend racing schedule for your convenience.
Lamborghini revealed that it will build the lightweight carbon-fiber wonder that is the Sesto Elemento concept. First unveiled in Paris last year, the Sesto weighs nearly 800 pounds less than an aluminum-and-steel Lamborghini Gallardo thanks to a body and chassis made from Forged Composite, a special type of carbon fiber. The production car will follow the same construction strategy, with a 570-hp, 5.2-liter V-10 engine sending power to all four wheels. The bad news: there will only be 20 copies. Even worse news: it could cost as much as $3 million.
Want to go racing in a Ford Focus? Now there’s an easy route courtesy of the Focus ST-R, a factory-built race car from Ford. It has a turbocharged 2.0-liter inline-four engine, stripped interior, FIA-compliant roll cage, racing bucket seats, stronger brakes, and firmed-up suspension components. The racer is based on the road-going Focus ST, which bowed alongside the ST-R at the Frankfurt Motor Show. Sales will initially be via special order in the U.S. only, with European availability following at a later date.
Though it shares its platform with the Jeep Grand Cherokee, the Maserati Kubang isn’t just a simple rebadge job. No, the curvaceous shapes and crisp lines were penned by Maserati stylists in Italy. The name comes with a Giugario-designed concept car from 2003. Because the Kubang is built on the Grand Cherokee’s WK2 platform, it also will be built in Detroit, Michigan. The SUV will use a Ferrari-built V-8 engine and an eight-speed automatic transmission.
Few cars at the Frankfurt show drew as much attention as the 2012 Porsche 911. To find out what makes generation 991 of Porsche’s influential sports car special, we sat down with three Porsche executives. They told us that Porsche will continue to offer manual transmissions for the foreseeable future, that the new car will likely sprout as many as two-dozen model variants, and that 32 percent of all 911s are sold in the U.S.
Alongside the production Up! hatchback, Volkswagen showed off six concept cars based on the basic Up! chassis. The compact hatch is about the same size as a Fiat 500, with a roomy interior and a range of efficient three-cylinder engines. The concept models ranged from the natural gas-powered eco Up! to the all-electric e-Up!, and from the buggy Up! beach-buggy design to the GT Up! hot-hatch. The cars are mostly just concepts showing future derivatives that are possible for the Volkswagen Up! family. However, both the e-Up! and eco Up! will go to market.
Ford’s Evos concept may have gullwing doors and futuristic styling, but it’s not as farfetched as it may seem. That’s because the Evos previews the styling of Ford’s new Mondeo/Fusion sedan, which will arrive at the Detroit auto show in January 2012. While much of the styling will be tamed down for production, we know that the wheels, basic lines, and bold grille are all headed for the production line. In addition, Ford says that all of its future models will wear styling in keeping with that seen on the Evos.
The 2012 Chevrolet Sonic joins an ever-larger club by scoring an EPA rating of 40 mpg on the highway. The figure of 29/40 mpg (city/highway) applies to models equipped with the 1.4-liter turbocharged engine and six-speed manual transmission. That means the turbocharged Sonic is more fuel efficient than the base 1.8-liter inline-four model, which returns 26 city/35 highway mpg with a manual transmission and 25 city/35 highway mpg with an automatic. The Sonicturbo’s fuel economy is on par with that of the Ford Focus SFE, and one city mpg behind the Hyundai Accent and Kia Rio.
The Urban Concept is Audi’s idea of a compact electric car for the big cities of the future. An aluminum-and-carbon-fiber chassis keeps weight low, as does the tiny footprint and 1+1 seating arrangement. A production version of the car would use an electric motor rated for about 40 hp, although the tester we drove has just 20 hp. Audi says top speed is about 60 mph and that the Urban Concept could travel 30 miles on a single battery charge.
– NASCAR Nationwide Series, Dollar General 300, Chicagoland Speedway, Saturday September 17 at 3:30 p.m. EST on ESPN 2
– NASCAR Sprint Cup, Geico 400, Chicagoland Speedway, Sunday September 18 at 2 p.m. EST on ESPN
– Indycar, Indy Japan 300, Twin Ring Motegi in Japan, Sunday September 18 at TBD on Versus