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.
No big surprise here: following the formula of nearly all supercars, McLaren this week revealed the drop-top version of its MP4-12C, called the 12C Spider. The Spider uses the same 616-hp, twin-turbocharged V-8 engine as the coupe, enabling a top speed of 204 mph and a 3.1-second 0-to-62-mph run. The electrically operated folding hardtop is said to lower in just 17 seconds. The 12C Spider goes on sale in the U.S. late this December or early January 2013, priced from $268,250 (after a $2500 destination charge).
Our sources indicate that BMW’s M division is ready to build a supercar, called the M1 and likely by 2016. To reach a target weight of 2750 pounds, the M1 will use exotic materials such as carbon fiber, titanium, and magnesium. It will have adjustable aerodynamics to drastically improve grip. At the car’s heart will be a twin-turbocharged, 4.0-liter V-8 with about 600 to 650 hp, coupled to an eight- or nine-speed dual-clutch transmission. The car could appear in concept form by 2014, with the production model ready two years after that.
We were already aware that the next Mini Cooper would share its platform with the BMW 1 Series, and now interior spy photos reveal a strong family resemblance between the new Cooper and its corporate parent. A look inside the 2014 Mini Cooper reveals that its steering wheel and infotainment controller will be sourced directly from the BMW parts bin. The center-stack controls also have been redesigned so they are tidier and less ergonomically confusing than in current Mini models.
This prototype vehicle was spied near our offices, and it appears to be a new mini-minivan (often called a people mover) from Kia. The wide, rounded black mesh grille and Rio-style headlights betray the camouflaged car as a Kia. It’s likely a new model that will replace the Carens, a global model previously sold here as the Rondo. The new vehicle will be based on the European Kia Cee’d platform, parts of which are shared with the Hyundai Elantra.
The Mazda MX-5 Miata receives several updates for 2013 in Japan, starting with a new face. The car wears a more pointed, angular front grille and redesigned foglight housings. There also are various color scheme tweaks to help differentiate the soft top and power-retractable hardtop models. Under the hood, Mazda has tweaked the brake booster for better feel, and reprogrammed the engine computer for more linear throttle response. There’s also a new pedestrian safety feature that raises the hood if it detects a frontal impact. It stands to reason most of these modifications will appear on the U.S.-market MX-5 Miata, but American Mazda spokespeople wouldn’t confirm that possibility.
The complicated dance is coming to a close, and Volkswagen AG will officially increase its stake in Porsche to 100 percent. That finalizes VW’s takeover of Porsche — which began after a failed Porsche takeover of VW in 2008. However, that tie-up means Volkswagen and Suzuki will almost certainly terminate their partnership. The two started a technology-sharing deal a few years ago, but the deal has recently soured. Both sides are pursuing legal action, and it seems likely that Suzuki and VW will soon split for good.
Mini this week finally confirmed the name of its new two-door model: Paceman. Despite earlier rumors the project had been canceled, Mini will indeed launch what is essentially a Countryman coupe next year. The car was announced at the start of the “Mini Takes the States” event, a road rally from New York City to Los Angeles for Mini enthusiasts.
Driven: Chevrolet Sonic RS, Chevrolet Corvette 427 Convertible, Hyundai Elantra GT, Chevrolet Equinox LTZ
The 2013 Chevrolet Sonic RS is supposed to be the sportiest version of the youth-oriented subcompact. It has unique suspension tuning, rear disc brakes, and an aggressive body kit. While the Sonic RS is fun to drive, it’s not sporting enough to pose a threat to hot-hatch mainstays like the Volkswagen GTI. The 2013 Chevrolet Corvette 427 Convertible is a simple recipe for sports-car fun: it packs the LS7 engine from the Z06 hardtop into the body of a Corvette convertible. The result is more open-air fun and a more thrilling, louder engine and exhaust note for driver and passenger. The 427 Convertible is huge fun, and reminds us just how good the current-generation Corvette remains even after six years on the market. The 2013 Hyundai Elantra GT is more practical than the sedan because its hatchback has 50 percent more cargo room than the sedan’s trunk. Aside from a slightly different interior and the boldly sculpted sheetmetal, the Elantra GT drives much like its coupe and sedan siblings — just with more cargo in tow. The 2013 Chevrolet Equinox LTZ 3.6 doesn’t change too many elements of General Motors’ crossover, as the Equinox has proven an extremely strong seller. New for this year, however, is a more powerful 3.6-liter V-6 in place of the optional 3.0-liter V-6. Along with dual-flow dampers and the MyLink infotainment system, the 2013 Equinox feels as competent as ever, but more mature than before.