Volkswagen shows off performance-ish Passat concept

February 11th, 2013

As part of its 2013 Detroit Auto Show debut package, Volkswagen has rolled out a sportier version of the Passat sedan, though it’s strictly conceptual for now. A small dose of go-fast visuals have been added to the handsome Volkswagen, including 19-inch wheels, carbon-capped mirrors, an advanced front lighting system, LED tail lamps and dual exhaust. Some carbon bits and upgraded leather are found inside the cabin, as well.

But the real performance chops come in the form of a 1.8-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine that sends 250 horsepower to the Passat’s front wheels via a six-speed automatic transmission. That’s a good boost in power over the 170 hp of the base 2.5-liter inline-five, but not quite as potent as the 3.6-liter VR6. A lowered sport suspension and revised electronic steering are also on hand, making things slightly more involving out on the road… we assume.


Mini Coupe

February 8th, 2013

Earlier this year, Mini unveiled the Cooper Coupe, basically a Mini Cooper with two fewer seats, a separate trunk, and a chopped roof. Now, Mini has officially introduced the Coupe’s partner in crime, the Cooper Roadster.

The Mini Cooper Roadster goes on sale in the U.S. early next year, with prices likely starting around $27,000 for a base car. Based on Mini’s pricing schedule for its other models, figure on a Cooper S running about $30,000 and a JCW going for somewhere near $37,000. That’s getting awfully steep, but even more than other Coopers, this Mini is just as much fashion accessory as car. At that price, though, we’d at least hope for a power top.


Audi A3 Named As Car of the Year

February 4th, 2013

The Audi A3 Sportback has been named Britain’s Car of the Year.

The German-made car is the 36th winner of the coveted What Car? prize, and was also named Small Family Car of the Year.
Editor in chief Chas Hallett said: “The Audi A3 Sportback mixes excellent refinement and an accomplished driving experience with easily the finest cabin quality ever seen in a small family hatchback.

It sets a new benchmark and it is keenly priced, a combination that makes it a worthy Car of the Year.”


Battery Powered BMW

January 31st, 2013

Norbert Reithofer, BMW CEO, said the company will likely “make a battery-powered ecologically compatible car for the U.S. market” with a target launch date of 2012. Details beyond that general plan are sketchy.

The initiative was spawned by the automaker’s status in the American car market after 2012, when new CAFE standards begin to take effect. At that point, BMW will be considered a “large vehicle manufacturer,” which means that it will be held to more stringent efficiency standards.

In an interview Tuesday with Mobile Magazine, Reithofer suggested that the vehicle could be a collaboration with another car maker. “Our goal is a cooperation but if it does not work out, we will do it alone. We will make a decision this year,” he said. Reithofer added that the new vehicle might serve as the basis for the global launch of a new “mini car” designed for big cities.