The News for January 13th, 2012

Welcome to the Hooniverse News! This is a weekly roundup of everything that’s important in the automotive industry without the fluff from a hyper salesman or the dullness from a guy in a suit. We also throw in some opinion, just because we can. Since the North American International Auto Show was covered already by everyone cool enough to afford a plane ticket, this focuses on the stuff that wasn’t at Detroit, including:

  • Porsche updates the Boxster, dares you to spot the difference

  • Chevrolet builds a super Corvette convertible, celebrates 60 years

  • BMW launches M Performance Automobiles, dilutes M brand again

  • FIAT prices the super awesome, super small 500 Abarth

  • BMW prices the ActiveHybrid 5, makes Prius owners jealous

2013 Porsche Boxster/Boxster S

While other silly automakers were busy showing off their stuff at Detroit, Porsche chose to reveal early details on the next-generation Boxter outside of Detroit. The 2013 Porsche Boxster will make its official debut at the Geneva Motor Show in March, but everything you need to know about it is right here. [singlepic id=3272 w=320 h=240 float=left] [singlepic id=3274 w=320 h=240 ] As with most Porsches, the newest model only receives a minor styling update but enough powertrain and chassis tweaks to make the difference. Most of the exterior updates you see here are similar to what was done for the new 911 lineup, including revised head and tail lamps and that little lip you see running across the back. An entirely new body made from lightweight materials means the 2013 Boxter weighs less than the previous generation, and more power from a smaller base engine means it’s faster in pretty much every way. The standard Boxster comes with a new 2.7-liter flat-6 with 265 horsepower while the Boxter S comes equipped with a 3.4-liter flat-6 with 315 horsepower. Each engine promises up to 15% more efficiency without losing an edge on performance. Each Boxster can be had with either a 6-speed manual or a 7-speed Porsche Doppelkupplungsgetrieb (known as PDK for those who don’t want an aneurism) transmission. All that is good for a 0-60mph time of 5.7 seconds for the standard Boxter and 4.7 seconds for the Boxter S. The 2013 Boxster gets major updates to it chassis in the form of a wider track and longer wheelbase for improved driving dynamics. The old hydraulic power steering pump has been axed in favor of an electromechanical power steering system. They say it doesn’t affect steering feel at all, but I’ll believe it when I try it for myself (pretty please, Porsche?). Other notable updates include a redesigned electric convertible top, the Carrera GT-inspired interior layout with more space, and the automatic start/stop function for improved city fuel economy. Porsche has priced the much-improved 2013 Boxter at $49,500 and the 315 horsepower Boxter S at $60,900. The first models should hit showroom floors early this summer, so start your begging now.

60 Years of the Corvette and the 427 Convertible

The current “C6” generation of the Corvette only has one year of production left before it gets replaced by the “C7”. Like most automakers, they intend to milk the hell out of the thing before they have to come out with a new model. Also, they love to remind us how old the Corvette is, which is why they’ve revealed the 60th Anniversary Package as well as the 427 Convertible Collector Edition to mark 60 years of building one of the most iconic cars in history. [singlepic id=3271 w=320 h=240 float=left] [singlepic id=3273 w=320 h=240 float=] The 427 Convertible Collector Edition, which will be shown at the Barrett-Jackson Overpay for a Camaro Extravaganza Collector Car Auction, makes good use of the 7.0-liter (427 cubic inch) LS7 engine and the 6-speed manual transmission (only one available) from the Z06. The 505 horsepower and 470 lb.-ft. of torque on tap makes this the fastest and most capable Corvette convertible in company history. Other mechanical goodies include the driveline and rear axle from the Z06, the sticky Michelin tires from the ZR-1 and standard Magnetic Selective Ride Control. To help reduce weight (as if the Corvette really needs it), many carbon fiber body components have been lifted off other high-end Corvettes. So mechanically-wise, this is the closest we’re going to get to seeing a drop-top Z06. The 0-60mph time of 3.8 seconds and the 190mph top speed are certainly on par with a would-be Z06 convertible. The 60th Anniversary Package, which will be available on all 2013 Corvettes, adds a classic touch of Arctic White exterior paint over a Blue Diamond leather-wrapped interior with suede accents. Even the convertible top is blue. Sadly, the interior still screams “RENT ME!” despite the classy color combo. A ZR-1 style rear spoiler, “60th” badging on everything, and full-body racing stripes in Pearl Silver Blue. The 427 Convertible Collector Edition and the 60th Anniversary Package will hit American showrooms this summer. No pricing info yet.  

M Performance Automobiles announced

[singlepic id=3275 w=700 h=640 float=center] BMW has big plans for its legendary M Division in 2012, starting with yet another way to dilute the M Division. Spring 2012 will mark the beginning of M Performance Automobiles, which is set to be a toned-down line of M cars that offer improved agility and power compared to standard BMWs without sacrificing comfort, practicality or ease of use you tend to get with a full-blown M car (so basically a hyped-up sport package BMW with a fancier name). Expect M Performance Automobiles to work their magic on pretty much every car in the BMW lineup and be amazed if they leave one out. M Performance Automobiles will even go where M Division we know and love wouldn’t go before by working with diesel engines (in addition to regular petrol engines) and BMW’s xDrive all-wheel-drive system. Hopefully that also means drivers can get the M performance they crave without having to drain their life savings. A full taste of what is to come will be shown at the Geneva Motor Show in March. Hopefully it’s more than a factory sport package with some stickers.  

FIAT 500 Abarth reasonably priced at $22,000

FIAT’s awesome little 500 Abarth was in the news just a few months ago after FIAT decided to finally grace America with its presence. This week, the last bit of information we all wanted – its price – has been revealed, and it’s not as bad as you might have thought. [singlepic id=2553 w=320 h=240 float=left ] [singlepic id=2554 w=320 h=240 ] The FIAT 500 Abarth will start at a cool $22,000, which is just below the MSRP for the MINI Cooper S and Volkswagen GTI. The 500 Abarth comes with a turbocharged 1.4-liter inline-4 with 160 horsepower and 170 lb.-ft. of torque, so it’s not quite as quick as its competitors in a straight line. That being said, it will certainly be a blast to drive with its sport-tuned suspension (which is probably what Abarth does best), big brakes, and its 5-speed manual transmission.  

BMW ActiveHybrid 5 priced at $61,845, still way cooler than a Prius

BMW took some time off from adding “M” and hybrid badges to every car they make to release pricing info on the 2013 ActiveHybrid 5, the first hybrid 5 Series ever. For $61,845, you can own typical BMW luxury and TwinPower Turbo inline-6 performance in one fuel-saving package. [singlepic id=2366 w=320 h=240 float=left ] [singlepic id=2367 w=320 h=240 ] The improved efficiency comes from a glacier-saving 55 horsepower electric motor that works with a 3.0-liter TwinPower Turbo inline-6 lifted from 535i to make a combined 335 horsepower, or about as much as the polar bear-killing 1 Series M Coupe. The car can run exclusively off electric power at speeds up to 37 mph for up to 2.5 miles, which makes super quick runs to the store emissions-free. Despite all the eco-friendliness, the ActiveHybrid 5 can still hit 60mph from a standstill in 5.7 seconds, which makes me hate hybrids a little less. The BMW ActiveHybrid 5 will arrive in US dealerships in late Spring of this year.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

The maximum upload file size: 64 MB. You can upload: image, audio, video. Links to YouTube, Facebook, Twitter and other services inserted in the comment text will be automatically embedded. Drop files here