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 for your convenience.
Porsche released a teaser sketch of its upcoming compact SUV, and at the same time confirmed the vehicle’s name: the 2013 Porsche Macan. The moniker, which comes from Indonesian word for tiger, is a bit of a surprise because Porsche had previously referred to the new vehicle as the Cajun. Regardless, the Porsche Macan will be based on essentially the same mechanical components as the Audi Q5, albeit with new styling that mimics the larger Cayenne SUV. Expect the Macan to go on sale early next year. It will be built at Porsche’s plant in Leipzig, Germany, and the company hopes to sell as many as 50,000 examples each year.
Not only will Chrysler Group’s next halo performance car be sold under the SRT brand rather than Dodge, it also will get a new emblem. The SRT Viper, which continues the legacy of the Dodge Viper supercar, will wear a brand-new logo design called “Stryker.” It’s a line drawing of a snake (a viper) on a blue background, as was the case with the car’s two prior badges. From 1992 to 2002 the Viper wore an emblem called “Sneaky Pete,” while from 2003 until the car ceased production in 2010, all Vipers wore a “Fangs” badge. The 2013 SRT Viper is expected to debut later this year at the New Year auto show.
Audi will launch a new high-performance wagon, the 2013 RS4 Avant. It many components first seen in the 2012 Audi RS5 coupe, which means a 4.2-liter V-8 engine provides motivation in the form of 450 hp and 317 lb-ft of torque. Power will be routed through a seven-speed dual-clutch transmission to quattro all-wheel drive. On top of the power upgrades, the new RS4 Avant gets optional carbon-ceramic brakes, adaptive suspension that sits 0.8 inch lower than a regular A4 Avant, a torque-vectoring rear differential, and launch control. The car goes on sale in Germany this fall but, sadly, is unlikely to be sold on our shores.
Which police car is best? That’s the question the Michigan State Police set out to answer with their comprehensive testing regime, conducted in Michigan. The results show that officers can enjoy even more performance and capability from the newest slate of pursuit cars and SUVs, although the MSP decline to specify which police vehicle is “best” of the bunch. Entries from Ford comprise the Police Interceptor sedan and Police Interceptor Utility; Chevrolet offered up the Tahoe PPV, Caprice, and Impala; while Dodge was represented by the Charger sedan.
A new version of the Volvo V40 will debut at Geneva, and the company is previewing the new wagon with a teaser photo shared on Facebook. Expect the new V40 to adopt a more rounder, curvy design that invokes influences from the S60 sedan, C30 hatchback, and XC90 SUV. It will almost certainly be a five-door design and won’t be sold on our shores.
Kia is developing its first-ever rear-wheel-drive car, a flagship luxury sedan that will be called the KH. These teaser sketches show that the car will look very similar to Hyundai’s Genesis — which makes sense as both cars are expected to be built on the same platform. The Kia KH will go on sale in South Korea later this year, before arriving in other markets at a later date. Kia hasn’t said whether the KH will come to America, but the car won’t be sold in Europe. The car may employ the same 333-hp, 3.8-liter V-6; 385-hp, 4.6-liter V-6; or 429-hp, 5.0-liter V-8 engines on offer in the U.S.-market Genesis. It also may use the newly developed Hyundai/Kia ten-speed automatic transmission.
In a bid to reduce the number of car accidents — and more importantly, driver injuries — caused by distracted driving, the federal government this week announced recommendations for automakers designing in-car electronics. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s voluntary guidelines require automakers to reduce the complexity of in-car systems, reduce the amount of time drivers’ eyes stray from the roadway, and reduce the amount of information in the driver’s line of sight. The agency also recommended that certain features, like dialing a phone number or entering text, should be disabled unless the vehicle is stopped. NHTSA will take public comment on the proposals, which are currently guidelines rather than binding laws.
Ferrari plans to launch its refreshed version of the California at the Geneva Motor Show. Tweaks to the Ferrari convertible include new aluminum construction techniques that trim 66 pounds from the car, an extra 36 hp (for at least 490 hp), and a new Handling Speciale package with upgraded adaptive dampers. All the changes mean Ferrari says the new California will be a bit quicker to acceleration benchmarks, reportedly reaching 62 mph in just 3.8 seconds. On-sale dates and pricing have yet to be confirmed.
For the first time, BMW will offer a four-cylinder engine in the X3 SUV in the U.S. The new mill is the company’s N20 2.0-liter turbo-four, which should be more fuel efficient than the 3.0-liter inline-six it replaces. Pricing for the new car hasn’t changed, however: the four-cylinder 2013 X3 xDrive28i starts from $37,995 (including destination), identical to the 2012 six-cylinder model. The turbocharged 3.0-liter inline-six is unchanged in the X3 xDrive35i, which continues to be priced from $43,595.
First Drives: 2013 Jaguar XKR-S Convertible, 2012 Porsche 911 Carrera Cabriolet
This week, we drove two top-down sports cars with equal parts performance and good looks. The 2012 Porsche 911 Carrera Cabriolet follows the formula of its coupe sibling, and the new 991-generation proves just as delightful as past Porsche 911 convertibles. Even so, updates to the chassis and steering making the new 911 far more refined and sophisticated than previous versions of Germany’s iconic sports car. Not only does the 2013 Jaguar XKR-S convertible look unique and offer incredible levels of performance, it’s a very exclusive offer. Just 25 examples of the car are being sold here in model-year 2012, and all of them have already been spoken for. The lucky buyers will be treated to a brutally fast yet remarkably convertible. The XKR-S looks stunning with all sorts of carbon-fiber add-ons, and also can reach 186 mph thanks to a 550-hp supercharged 5.0-liter V-8 engine.