Archive for December 2011
Automakers are looking to the past for brand names we’ve come to love, respect, or just heard of before. Two more industry heavyweights are being called out of retirement for debut at The Detroit Auto Show in January. The names are the same but both cars are drastically different in ways that are sure to grab the attention of their fans.
It’s been seven long years since Honda ceased production of the legendary NSX. Introduced in 1990, the mid-engine rear wheel drive coupe established itself as a 290hp machine worthy of supercar status that could double as a daily driver.
Honda is hoping to fill the halo car position in their lineup once occupied by the NSX. When development of the NSX’s successor – the HSV-010 was halted due to financial shortcomings, news soon followed that a new NSX would debut at the Detroit Auto Show in January.
Jalopnik reports major changes to the car are rumored to include all-wheel-drive and a hybrid powertrain to compliment Honda’s push to be viewed as a “green” car company.
While adding AWD to the NSX’s already renowned balance shouldn’t be a hard pill to swallow, adding a hybrid system to a car that spent 15 years impressing sports car fans with good ‘ol fashion gasoline could be a much harder sell.
To drum up excitement before the NSX hits showrooms in 24 months, movie goers will be able to catch a rare glimpse of a one-off version of the car in this summer’s Avenger’s movie. Driven by Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr.), the car is said to look very much like the soon to be third generation NSX. (1)
Remember the Dart? Well its back from 1976… Sort of.
Chrysler is reanimating the Dart and aiming it at the youth market as the new compact car slated to replace the mundane Dodge Caliber. MOPAR fans should read on before drooling with muscle-car excitement:
The new Dart is based on the Alfa Romeo Giulietta, a small car popular in Europe for its style and enjoyable drivability. The Dart’s three engine options will include 2.0-liter and 2.4-liter four-liter four cylinders and a 1.4-liter turbocharged four that’s good for 170hp and 41mpg in the Giuletta.
If you’re wondering how a Detroit brand name is appearing on a car derived from Alfa Romeo, Chrysler Group is now owned by Fiat, which also owns Alfa Romeo. Per the bailout deal with the U.S. government the Dart will be assembled in the United States - Building a 40mpg car in the U.S. meets a requirement under the deal to secure Fiat’s final 5 percent of Chrysler stock from the U.S. government.
To help reach the 40mpg mark Dodge will offer a nine-speed automatic transmission in addition to a Fiat six-speed dual clutch transmission. (2)(3)
Chances are their won’t be any burbling V8’s crammed into the new Dart, but rather features designed to impress young buyers interested in the likes of the new Ford Fiesta. As the first Alfa-Romeo-based Chrysler production car released in the States there’s plenty of rich history for the Dart to live up to.
The Dart will officially debut at the Detroit Auto Show in January before going on sale in the first half of 2013.
Ford didn’t just up the ante with the new GT 500, they blew up the table: 650hp, 600lb-ft of torque and a top speed over 200mph. Boom!
To obliterate the power figures of the new Camaro ZL1 (580hp), Ford’s SVT team bored out the GT 500’s 5.4-liter aluminum block V-8 to 5.8 liters. Both the block and heads were cross-drilled and the camshaft profiles updated. The old supercharger was ditched for a larger and more efficient Eaton TVS Series 2300 supercharger used on GM’s LS9 engine, raising boost from 9 to 15 psi.
These upgrades add another 100hp and 90lb-ft of torque over the outgoing 2012 model. Sounds like a game changer, but it also begs the question:
Didn’t the old GT 500 have plenty of trouble putting its power to the ground?
Indeed it did, in fact the old GT500 wasn’t much faster off the line than the Mustang GT. To help translate the added power to more usable grunt SVT nerds altered the six-speed manual transmission’s gearing to make the most of the added torque. Every gear except fourth was re-calibrated and the 3.55 final drive ratio was dropped for a 3.31 final drive. A dual-disc clutch and carbon-fiber driveshaft help disperse power down through Goodyear Eagle F1 Supercar tires.
“That’s all well and fine,” you say, “but would I have to be stupid to drive a Mustang over 200mph?”
Not necessarily. The 2013 GT 500’s front fascia was red-designed to maximize down force while minimizing drag. The front end utilizes a new front splitter and front grills that help keep the car stuck to the road at speed. For a point of reference on the aero changes, Ford says the new GT 500 is 33 more planted at 160mph than the outgoing model.
But of course, a 200mph muscle car wouldn’t be complete without optional performance packages. The GT 500 sports two, the first of which is called… Performance Package.
It includes a Torsen limited-slip differential and an SVT-designed Bilstein suspension system featuring electronically adjustable dampers and Normal/Sport driving modes.
One step above the Performance Package is the Track Package, which adds to the Performance Package an external engine cooler, rear differential cooler and a transmission cooler to fend off heat in high speed track conditions.
Ford claims the 650hp V-8 in the 2013 Mustang Shelby GT500 is the most powerful production V-8 in the world. If that’s any indication of what we can expect to see from the second-generation muscle car war we should all be very excited for the future.