Stepped away from your Blackberry, PC, or iPad for the week? Here are a few of the top news stories for the past week, along with some auto shows to visit and racing action you may want to tune into during your weekend.
The 2011 Volkswagen Jetta made its first appearance on the internet just over a month ago, and we’ve already gotten wind that the automaker intends to offer a hybrid version of the midsize sedan. Although the four-door sedan will launch in October, it won’t be offered as a hybrid until at least next year, according to CEO Martin Winterkorn. With the addition of a hybrid powertrain, the Jetta stands to offer four different powertrains, including the 2.0-liter turbocharged I-4, 2.5-liter I-5, and 2.0-liter I-4 turbocharged diesel. We took our first spin in the new Jetta earlier this week; click here to view our first impressions.
Not settling for second best, Ford intends to offer a version of its new 6.7-liter turbocharged V-8 diesel engine that puts out 400 horsepower and 800 pound-feet of torque. Currently, General Motors is king of the mountain with its Duramax 6.6-liter twin-turbocharged V-8 diesel that churns out 397 horsepower and 765 pound feet of torque. GM says it can’t continue the game of one-upmanship, as its engine’s power is tapped for all its worth. Ford, on the other hand, says that a few small changes could coax “at least” 800 pound-feet of torque from its beast. This prompted us to ask ourselves if consumers can really use all that power, or if it’s all marketing hype.
When automatic transmissions debuted, they featured just two gears. Nowadays, commonplace five- and six-speeds are quickly being replaced by seven- and eight-speed gearboxes. The folks at Mercedes-Benz are currently developing a new transmission featuring nine gears, but are drawing the line there. According to Mercedes-Benz, weight and complexity become an issue with anything more than nine speeds. Although more gears could result in improved fuel economy, the cost might just not be worth it.
Ferrari has been talking about its Abu Dhabi theme park for what seems like forever, but an announcement earlier this week let us in on its October 28 opening date and all the attractions the indoor park will house. The 1.1 million-square foot facility will feature rides such as the 150-mph Formula Rossa — the fastest roller coaster in the world — museums, and shows. The park will open two weeks before the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix rolls into town on November 14.
Following a one-year delay in its product cycle, Honda is now testing what looks to be the ninth generation of its compact Civic. Spotted in Germany, the Honda seen was very heavily camoflauged, sporting large pieces of plastic covering nearly every inch of the car. Although largely similar to the current model, we did spot a few notable differences. Designers moved the mirrors from the doors to tightly behind the A-pillars. Rear handles are also moved off the doors and placed high above the waist line near the C-pillars. Other than that, the vehicle in the spy photo reminds us a lot of the current model.
-Formula 1 German Grand Prix at Hockenheimring Sunday July 25, on FOX at 8 a.m.
- NASCAR Brickyard 400 at Indianapolis Motor Speedway Sunday July 25, on ESPN at 1 p.m.
-IndyCar Series Honda Indy Edmonton at City Centre Airport Sunday July 25, on Versus at 5 p.m.
Weekend Car Show: Meadowbrook Concours d’Elegance
If you’re in the Detroit Metro area this weekend, we suggest stopping by the Meadowbrook Concours d’Elegance on Sunday July 25. The show features some of the most elegant autos in the area, a classic car auction, and comes highly recommended by us. A few of us will be at the show, we hope to see you there.