The News for March 2nd, 2012

Welcome to the Hooniverse News! This is a weekly recap of everything you should care about in the automotive industry. No fluff and no BS, just all the facts and a little bit of opinion, just because I can. This week:

  • Ferrari’s monstrous F12 Berlinetta

  • Volkswagen drops the top on the GTI

  • Mini Countryman gets the John Cooper Works treatment

  • Volkswagen reasonably prices the new Passat CC

  • Acura prices the also reasonable RDX crossover


Ferrari F12 Berlinetta

Continuing with the pre-Geneva Motor Show early release theme, welcome to the most powerful road-going Ferrari ever made – the F12 Berlinetta. Visually stunning and technically awesome as hell, this V12-powered Grand Tourer will replace the aging 599 GTB Fiorano when it finally hits showroom floors.

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The aforementioned V12 is a 6.2-liter powerhouse that’s similar to the one found in the Ferrari FF, only this one pushes out a monstrous 730 horsepower and 508 lb.-ft. of torque. No turbocharging required. Power is sent to the rear wheels through an F1-style dual-clutch gearbox (likely a 7-speed). In the end, 0-62 mph comes in at 3.1 seconds and 0-124 mph in 8.5 seconds, which should be enough to make your significant other never want to ride with you again. Thanks to a low center of gravity that’s further back in the chassis than normal, intelligent suspension geometry, and aerodynamics that “sets new standards”, the F12 Berlinetta can fly around Ferrari’s Fiorano test track in 1’23”, which is faster than any road car in Ferrari history, including the Enzo. Top speed is estimated to be well over 210 mph, which is what the 599 dreamed of doing. The extensive use of lightweight alloys and aluminum brings the weight down 154 pounds compared to the 599 to a dry weight of roughly 3,360 pounds.   

Not much has been said about the interior, but there’s lots of leather with carbon fiber trim pieces and all the buttons are on the steering wheel, which is Ferrari’s latest trend. Behind the F1-inspired steering wheel is a mostly digital instrument cluster complete with navigation and a real-time information center. Oh, and it has a rear rain/fog light off a Formula 1 car. Have fun talking about it at parties. 

Source: Ferrari

Golf GTI Cabriolet

Volkswagen dropped details on their latest and most interesting Golf variant, a drop-top hot-hatch called the GTI Cabriolet. VW wants to bring the enjoyable performance of the GTI and the open-air sense of freedom of the Golf Cabriolet together into one package, but is it worth it? The few details we have of it suggest that it probably is. 

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The same 2.0-liter turbocharged inline-four from the standard GTI remains as well as all 200 horsepower and 207 lb.-ft. of torque along with it. Power is still sent to the front wheels through a 6-speed manual or 6-speed dual-clutch automatic gearbox. 0-62 mph comes in 7.3 seconds, which is about .4 seconds slower than the lighter GTI hatchback, but still fast enough to have fun. The GTI Cabriolet will keep running all the way to a respectable 147 mph.

As with all other Golf Cabriolet models (which aren’t available in the U.S.), safety is a priority, with automatically deploying rollover protection that probably involves hidden roll bars that extend when the car is about to roll over to protect passengers. Dozens of airbags all around help it to earn a near-perfect crash test safety rating in Europe, which means it’ll be plenty safe for American roads if they ever decide to sell it here (don’t get your hopes up).

The GTI Cabriolet will go on sale in the UK in the second half of the year at an undisclosed price. 

Source: Volkswagen

Mini Countryman John Cooper Works

Minis have been populating like rabbits lately as their lineup is constantly growing with new models and new variants. Their latest offering is a high-performance John Cooper Works version of the Countryman, which is perhaps the biggest departure from the original Mini formula yet, which happens to be the sixth car in the Mini lineup to get the JCW treatment.

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Sticking with the usual JCW enhancements, the Countryman JCW boasts more power from a 1.6-liter turbo four with 211 horsepower and 207 lb.-ft. of torque. An “Overboost” function briefly provides 221 lb.-ft. of torque available at just 2100 RPM when you really need it. The engine sings through a new sport exhaust system which promises to not drive you crazy on long trips. Power is sent to all four wheels – a first for JCW – through a 6-speed manual or automatic gearbox. Manual and automatic-equipped models can go 0-60 mph in 7.1 and 7.5 seconds respectively and won’t stop until 127 mph.

The other thing that makes this car a JCW car is the additional flare. 18-inch or 19-inch alloy wheels, a  bespoke aero kit, and 7 paint colors with striping options will let the world know what you’re driving. Inside, sport seats complete with trendy diagonal track black leather with contrast stitching and lots of badges complete the deal. Pricing info isn’t available yet, but unlike that other small car I talked about, this will be sold in the U.S. starting this autumn.

Source: Mini

VW Passat CC priced at $30,250

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Well there you go Recap time! The redesigned Passat CC comes with a choice between a 2.0-liter turbo four (200 hp/207 lb.-ft. torque) or a 3.6-liter VR6 engine (280/265) mated to a 6-speed manual or DSG automatic transmission. All 2.0 models are front-wheel-drive and VR6 models come with all-wheel-drive as an optional extra. The entry-level $30,250 Passat CC comes well-equipped with Bluetooth, Bi-Xenon headlamps, 6-disc CD changer (and iPod connectivity for people who forgot what a CD is), and a touchscreen HD radio system. Prices go all the way up to $41,420 (VR6 4Motion Executive), and that includes touchscreen navigation, all-wheel-drive, 18-inch wheels, park assist, and a seat that will massage your arse as well as a host of other options.

The redesigned Passat CC will hit dealerships this spring.

Source: Volkswagen

Acura RDX priced at $34,320

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When the totally redesigned Acura RDX hits showrooms this spring, $34,320 will get you a luxury-ish crossover powered by a 3.5-liter V6 engine with more power than the outgoing model and a 6-speed automatic transmission that drives the front wheels or all four if you cough up an extra $1,400. Standard features include full leather seats that are also heated, power moonroof, Pandora radio, Active Noise Control, and a rear-view camera with multiple angels. For an additional $3,700, the Technology Package throws in some satellite communication system, navigation with voice recognition, traffic info in real-time, and a power rear tailgate. With all options ticked, you’re looking at around $40,000 for one of these. Not too shabby. What’s even cooler is that it will be built right here in a’Murica (Ohio).

Source: Acura


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