Have you been following the nation’s debt crisis so closely this week you forgot to stay current on automotive news? Worry not, reader friend: we’ve rounded up the best stories of the week and put them right here. Please, feel free to read as the government is Dancing on the (debt) Ceiling:
Nissan hoped to drum up some camaraderie among the owners of their new Leaf electric vehicle by posting a competition on its Facebook page: vote for the best way for Nissan Leaf owners to wave at each other. It’s been done before many times including with motorcyclists, Jeep Wrangler drivers, and Mini Cooper owners. We haven’t heard the results of the vote yet, but it made national (fake) news this week when Stephen Colbert called it out on “The Colbert Report.” He even cited what one of our, um, more mature commenters had to say about Leaf owners.
We’ve never pegged Lexuses as unreliable cars, but when your coupe has a 552-hp V-10 monster under the hood that can rev to 9,000 rpm, any manner of things could happen. In the case that something does, fear not: LFA owners in Europe can call included roadside assistance. But it’s more than just an AAA truck: if specially trained mechanics can’t fix your exotic car on the side of the road, they’ll loan you a GS450h and put you up in a five-star hotel. Snazzy.
After talking at length about loopholes, credits, and 62 mpg standards, the U.S. government reached an agreement this week that would set Corporate Average Fuel Economy standards through the year 2025. The agreement states that automakers will have a fleet average fuel economy of 54.5 mpg by 2025, nearly doubling the current standards. The agreement builds on a 2009 change to policy that states cars will reach 35.5 mpg by 2016.
The long-awaited Pagani Huayra is coming soon to expensive garages and exclusive motor clubs, but in the meantime, the people at Evo Magazine scored a ride-along with the Pagani founder in a preproduction version of the new car. As you would expect from Pagani, the video is replete with “oh, wow” moments like a Sterling Silver key, active aerodynamics, and a 720-hp V-12.
Chevy announced their general plans for the next three years, and it looks like the Volt was only the beginning of the push for the marque to up its fuel economy numbers. After the Cruze Eco’s relative success it promises to launch the new Sonic hatchback after production starts in August, and that 2012 will bring the new Spark, based on the Korean Daewoo Matiz, which could get 40 mpg. Further up the model range, the Corvette may get some sort of twin-turbocharged V-6 under the hood…if purists can stomach the idea.
The Fiat 500 is hardly bland, but if you’d like your ride to be more wild than mild, Mopar is willing to help: from a $21 chrome gas cap to a full body kit costing $1500, there are plenty of ways to dress up your ride. We particularly like the $849 car cover that disguises your 2011 Fiat 500 as an original Fiat Cinquecento.
Jason Cammisa drove a camouflaged Lexus GS prototype this week and called it “vastly improved.” While he cited the handling as the GS’ strongpoint, we’re wondering why there aren’t plans to slot the IS-F’s V-8 engine into the sport sedan in hopes of competing better against the Germans.
We recently had a Mercedes-Benz CLS550 in our garage for a little bit, and for once, most of us didn’t yelp for more power: the 4.6-liter twin-turbo V8 in the standard model got high marks for its brisk acceleration and throaty engine noise. With the design and interior also receiving high marks, most of us only wondered one thing about the CLS: what would it be like to drive with the 5.5-liter twin-turbo from the CLS63 AMG?