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Recall on 2011-2012 Chevrolet Corvette

2011 CorvetteGeneral Motors is recalling almost 5,800 of its 2011–12 Chevrolet Corvette coupes because the rear hatch could come off in a crash, the company told the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

In a report dated Oct. 3 and filed on the safety agency’s Web site over the weekend, G.M. said the rear hinges were not strong enough to meet the federal safety standard for door locks and door-retention components.

One of the goals of that standard is to reduce the chance of an unbelted occupant being thrown from a vehicle during a crash.

The company said the problem was discovered by a supplier during testing for a European safety standard. G.M. investigated and found the defective hinges all came from a single roll of heat-treated steel.

In a news release, G.M. said that it was not aware of any crashes, injuries or complaints resulting from the problem.

About 200 vehicles are being recalled in Canada.

Source (article): NYTIMES.COM

Source (pictures): 2011CORVETTEZR1.NET

Ferrari Enzo’s Sucessor

Ferrari EnzoIt might not surprise you that the replacement for Ferrari’s Enzo super-double-hyper-car, which will arrive next year, will be constructed of carbon fiber and powered by a mid-mounted V-12 engine. What you might not expect is that the car likely also will be fitted with a hybrid system. But that is indeed what we were told by Ferrari CEO Amedeo Felisa in an interview at the launch of the 458 Spider.

When asked about the possibility of hybrid tech, Felisa responded, “This is the place for using the newest technology, in the supercar. So, yes.”

Ferrari has been toying with hybrid options, as shown in the awful-green 599 HY-KERS concept from the 2010 Geneva auto show. Felisa also implied that hybrid technology could filter down the Ferrari range, but that unlike the KERS (Kinetic Energy Recovery System) used on Ferrari’s F1 race cars, the roadgoing arrangement would be “not just KERS,” and would have to provide efficiency gains and not just extra performance.

According to Ferrari’s future product plan, which was revealed at Fiat Investor Day last year—the full details of which you can read here—the Enzo replacement will hit in 2012. Also arriving in 2012 is the company’s replacement for the 599GTB.

Source (article): CARANDDRIVER.COM


The Desire for the Panoramic View

PanoramicTHE craze for panoramas swept America in the 1840s, inspiring both P. T. Barnum and Henry Wadsworth Longfellow.

Panoramas of the era were giant realistic paintings of exotic landscapes, unscrolled on rollers to the accompaniment of piano music. They astonished audiences, much as IMAX films did some 150 years later.

Americans have repeatedly indulged in big views ever since: picture windows in the ranch house, CinemaScope at the drive-in, wide screen television in the media room.

A similar passion for the wider view may be taking shape in automobiles. Huge double sunroofs are growing more popular. They offer a view of the sky that attracts about as many car buyers as those who get navigation units, at a cost roughly equivalent to the $1,500 that is the car salesman’s rule of thumb for leather seats.

The Web site of an auto industry publication,, recently reported that 31 percent of vehicles are bought with a sunroof today, while a decade ago only about 20 percent had one.

The roofs of some cars with panoramic glass — the Kia Optima is an example — are painted in dark reflective colors or covered with materials designers call foils to give the impression of a roof made entirely of glass. The appeal may be more fashion than function, as with the vogue of the 1950s, when some models had their entire upper bodies painted white to simulate convertibles.

But there is also genuinely new technology overhead.

The Magic Sky glass roof on the folding hardtop of the 2012 Mercedes-Benz SLK roadster changes from dark to clear at the touch of a button. Voltage passing through particles in the glass causes them to realign, lightening or darkening the roof. (A panorama roof with permanently dark-tinted glass is also available.)

Mercedes Panoramic SunroofAccording to Mercedes, the technology is based on the physics of a plate condenser: when voltage is applied to the glass, the embedded particles position themselves to let light to pass through the glass. If the voltage remains switched off, the particles position themselves randomly, blocking the light, and the glass remains dark. The price of this option is $2,500.

Light from above signals luxury. The romantic appeal of the panoramic roof may be suggested by a BMW television advertisement that shows the driver refilling his coffee mug from a low-flying military tanker aircraft. A recent Volvo spot showed happy vehicles with their roofs open at night, light shining upward.

Lincoln counts the panoramic roof as a luxury feature and promises that future models will be distinguished from garden-variety Fords by large sliding-glass roof panels. But Ford, too, is emphasizing glass in future models.

The Evos, a design study introduced at the Frankfurt auto show last month that serves as a summary of the Ford brand’s future design language, offers a band of glass in the roof.

“It runs from windshield to backlight, but we put in a couple of chicanes,” Ford’s vice president for design, J Mays, said.

Not all panoramic roofs have to be glass or high-tech. The Fiat 500 offers an optional folding canvas roof, evocative of the 1950s. The Jeep Liberty also offers a canvas roof, the Sky Slider.

Hyundai 2011 Panoramic SunroofPerhaps only one step remains in the evolution of the panoramic roof: no glass at all.

The Pantheon in Rome, considered one of the greatest buildings in the world, offers a sunroof: a 30-foot hole in the dome. It brings in light and not much more than an occasional sprinkle of rain onto the backs of pigeons beneath.

It also has a cool Latin name, ideal for marketing: oculus.

Source (article): NEWYORKTIMES.COM


The Safer GM

September 29, 2011 at 1:55pm by Alexander Stoklosa

GMC Front Center AirbagGeneral Motors has announced that it will introduce a front center airbag in the 2013 Buick Enclave, GMC Acadia, and Chevrolet Traverse crossover models. The airbag deploys between the two front seats in the event of a side impact to prevent the driver and front passenger from colliding laterally and better protects occupants on the non-impacted side of a vehicle. GM’s front center bag is mounted in the right bolster of the driver’s seat, and basically looks like a side airbag when inflated. The new safety feature will be standard kit on Acadia and Traverse models with power front seats, and all Enclaves will have it.

GMC Front Center AirbagAccording to GM, the bag not only acts as a cushion between the driver and the passenger in the event of a side collision, but also works to decelerate the passenger’s body and keep it properly restrained. With Ford debuting an inflatable seatbelt on the 2012 Explorer, it seems like the two companies are ready to extend their historic rivalry to an airbag race.

Source (article): CARANDDRIVER

Source (picture): CARANDDRIVER

The New 2013 BMW M5, Driven!

September 2011

2013 BMW M5Quicker? Yes. More sophisticated? Yes. More fun in a hairpin? Yes. Is the new BMW M5 what we’re accustomed to expect from BMW’s M division? Um, well, as we discovered during a session in southern Spain, the future of M is big, blustery, red-hot, torque-gushing turbos fitted to smaller engines with mass-production roots. The days of bespoke, high-revving track-bred screamers under the hoods of hopped-up BMWs are probably over. Is this a bad thing? We’re not sure yet.

This fifth-generation M5, known internally as the F10, is due to arrive in the U.S. late next summer, likely as a 2013 model, and at an expected base price of around $90,000. BMW wants this M5 to be more flexible and everyday drivable. So those hoping for a twitchier, more involving adrenaline-generator than the outgoing E60 M5 may go away disappointed. The M5 remains unapologetically a heavyweight, an executive express, a velvet-wrapped hammer, a shark in whale’s clothes that should bolt its comfortably well-off owner to 60 mph in 3.8 seconds or so, roughly a half-second quicker than the old M5 with the SMG single-clutch automated manual. It might not be a four-door Elise, but this new M5 can scoot.

We further estimate that the M5 will rocket over a quarter-mile of pavement in a hair over 12 seconds when using the automatic gearbox’s launch-control system, which shaves a little time by dropping the clutch at around 3000 rpm and shifting for you. Radially mounted six-piston front monoblock Brembo calipers on drilled bi-metal rotors with iron discs and aluminum hats scrub speed quickly, although the M5 is saddled with a couple hundred more pounds than before. (Despite employing aluminum doors and an aluminum hood, the new M5’s mass creeps to 4300 pounds or so.) So it may not eclipse its predecessor’s 158-foot 70-mph-to-0 braking figure.

2013 BMW M5Hydraulic Steering is Better, but Not Perfect

As is the M way, all that performance is disguised by rather understated mods to the basic 5-series, including squarer front and rear fascias, the requisite four tailpipes, new sill skirts, a trunk wing, fender vents, and special 19-inch wheels (20s are optional). Inside, there are a thousand buttons and dancing needles and digital readouts, including a head-up display projected on the windshield that disappears if you wear polarized sunglasses. Upholstery is a sea of stitched leather, and the rest is soft-touch plastic accented by an unusual band of vertical-striped metal trim that recalls the corrugated roof of a Quonset hut.

In the new M5, you cannot select a gear, push a pedal, or turn the wheel without assistance from the many watchful computers monitoring your every bodily twitch. BMW goes to lengths to make the electronic layer between you and the machine transparent, or at least subject to an off button, and they are largely successful. But a slight fog of artificiality remains, especially in the steering, converted from electric assist in the base 5-series models to a more natural-feeling hydraulic boost in the M5.

2013 BMW M5Smokes If You Got ’Em

Thanks to the M5’s sharper camber and caster settings, the helm quickly executes your commands and does everything you could desire—everything, that is, except talk back with those little organic tugs and sags that make lively cars feel, well, alive. But the suspension of forged control arms, links, and knuckles, which share virtually no part numbers with the current 550i’s, is more neutral than the old M5’s and more easily and progressively throttle-steered through corners. It may be heavier, but the new M5 felt lighter on its feet at the 3.4-mile Ascari circuit south of Seville, pea-shooting from corner to corner with blazing power, turning in smartly without noticeable roll in the body or squish-down in the tires, and then oozing out in one long, lurid, and controllable drift.

Along with three driver-selectable stability-control modes, three settings for throttle response, three firmness levels for the shocks, and three shift-speed options, the have-it-your-way M5 offers you three steering modes, which progressively reduce boost. With Mercedes improving its game in this department, especially on the new CLS, we think Benz and BMW are going to meet in a middle that feels an awful lot like the new M5.

Power delivery from the 560-hp, 4360-cc twin-turbo V-8—yes, 560 horses from only 266 cubic inches!—is a blast, literally, from about 1500 rpm to 6000, during which the two Honeywell turbines nestled into the valley of the engine block blow their strongest breezes. There’s so much torque steaming aft that even with an electronically locked clutch-plate differential and larger 295/35 Michelin Pilot SuperSport rear tires, the back end easily breaks grip from a standstill under wide-open acceleration.

The tach needle will swing all the way to 7200 before it hits red, but it doesn’t need to. The stated reason for the 4.4’s lofty redline is track lappers who may want to hold gears longer, but we suspect the real reason is to pay tribute to M’s heritage of lofty top ends: The old E60’s V-10 spun to 8250. In this engine, Elvis pretty much leaves the building at 6000 rpm, and he shuffles out quietly, as the engine’s fierce guttural blat is heavily muffled by the turbos.

2013 BMW M5Manual Transmission in Limbo?

Dubbed the S63 TU for “technical update,” the oddly configured “reverse flow” V-8—in which the intake manifolds feed from the outside and the exhaust exits into the vee—has large and small changes from the S63 in the BMW X5 M and X6 M. The basics remain the same, but BMW’s throttle-less Valvetronic induction control is deployed on the S63 TU, as are larger turbos and intercoolers, different injectors and control electronics, and a higher compression ratio of 10.0:1.

The power delivery is—dare we say it—almost diesel-like. Sure, it revs faster and sounds a lot better than any diesel, and the delivery is lumpier as the boost comes on or blows off, but the S63 TU’s 502 lb-ft reach full force just off idle at 1500 rpm and stay until 5750 rpm, figures that would make Herr Diesel blush. The Getrag seven-speed dual-clutch automatic, a reinforced version of the M3’s optional unit, is geared tall, with a double overdrive and a 3.15:1 final drive, both to save fuel and to take advantage of the engine’s power curve, or relative lack of curve, as it were. We’ve been told that the U.S. will again get a six-speed stick-shift manual, but officials at our drive weren’t willing to confirm the plan.

“There are days you can hear it clear across the Atlantic Ocean: ‘We need a manual transmission!’ ” says Albert Biermann, vice president of engineering for BMW’s M division. “Some days the guys in Munich hear it, some days not.” Solution: scream louder.

2013 BMW M5One thing BMW did hear were the complaints about the E60’s small fuel tank. The F10’s holds an additional 2.6 gallons, or 21.1 in total. When EPA testing is completed next year, average mileage could land somewhere in the low 20s, we’re told, a substantial gain over the old M5 automatic, which was rated at 11 mpg city/17 highway.

The M5 is a quantifiably superior car to its predecessor. Some things can’t be quantified, however, such as the sublime joy of a sky-high redline and the sound of an expensive precision instrument winding up to reach it. And therein lies BMW’s conundrum, and ours. We’re all for more-efficient, more-powerful torque monsters, but perhaps not at the expense of personality.

Source(article): CARANDDRIVER.COM

Source(pictures): CARANDDRIVER.COM