Volkswagen Demonstrates the Versatility of the MQB Platform with the Golf SportWagen HyMotion Concept
Unlike many of the automakers developing hydrogen fuel cell, natural gas and other forms of alternative energy vehicle, Volkswagen isn’t creating an entire new architecture for each type of powertrain. Instead they are adapting a Swiss-Army approach with their versatile MQB platform that can be fitted with any type of powertrain. Volkswagen recently debuted their Golf Sportwagen HyMotion concept at the LA Auto Show, demonstrating they too can create capably hydrogen fuel-cell vehicles effectively.
The concept functions similarly to the Toyota Mirai. It reportedly gets around 310 miles of range on a single fill up. It comes equipped with a 134 HP electric motor that makes use of the chemical reaction between Hydrogen gas and Oxygen to power it down the road. The car relies on regenerative braking to maintain its efficiency levels and is capable of accelerating from 0 to 60 in 10 seconds. Its rate of acceleration should make it enjoyable to drive for most car owners who would opt for a family sedan. The four different hydrogen tanks take around 3 minutes to fill up altogether, and the interior sits four people comfortably.
The concept is developed in their MQB platform and the VW Golf Sportwagen is going to be offered in a variety of power trains, including natural gas, diesel, gasoline, electric and eventually hydrogen fuel cell. That means VW Golf lovers will be able to propel themselves down the street with any popular fuel type they desire, and eventually so will fans of any of VW’s vehicles since nearly all of them are going to be built on top of this architecture.
Unfortunately this concept is expected to be released for public sale anytime soon. Volkswagen does not believe there is a big enough fueling infrastructure for hydrogen vehicles yet and will wait until the technology is developed and become more wide-spread. Eventually it could be commonplace to see hydrogen fuel cell vehicles rolling around, but for now you won’t be seeing a hydrogen-powered Golf outside your window.
Porsche has been releasing GTS versions of their vehicles since 1963 and it seems that they will be continuing that tradition with the Cayenne. Porsche recently released the 2015 GTS Cayenne and it packs a little extra punch of power and performance tweaks to make it more fun to drive than the standard Cayenne model.
The New Look
If you set a Cayenne Turbo and a Cayenne GTS side by side you would have a hard time telling the two apart. The GTS borrows the nose fascia with the massive intakes, and the beefy grill from the Turbo. This gives it a massive looking front end, providing an aggressive and sporty stance. The vehicle has the same sport design package as the turbo as well giving it the same trim and accents around its exterior.
Both the roof of the vehicle and the spoiler used have been painted body color to help them blend seamlessly. The car also features very classy looking 20 inch RS Spyder wheels, that allow the bright red calipers to peak through.
Improved Power and Handling
In terms of power and handling the Cayenne GTS has received a nice boost. It relies on the same 3.6 liter twin-turbo V6, but Porsche has squeezed another 20 HP out of the engine, and offers up 440 HP with 445 lb.-ft. of torque. That’s an increase of 62 lb.-ft. versus the last model released.
The PASM suspension has been optimized for a stiffer and sportier feel than the basic model gets, allowing faster reaction times, more stable cornering at high speeds and just general fun out on the road. You can blast from 0 to 60 in just 5.2 seconds, and put a halt to that speed just as quickly using the 15.3 inch front brakes and the 14.1 inch rear set.
Inside the GTS you get luxuriously comfy 8-way seats covered in silky smooth Alcantara. The headrests feature the GTS logos and each seat is accented by additional off-color stitching. Overall the interior looks similar to the standard Cayenne, it’s just upscaled a bit.
For all of these upgrades the GTS starts at $96,495 versus the Cayenne’s standard rate of $59,295, but you’re getting a lot of extras for the money and a more dynamic driving experience as well. For those with deep pockets, and a sense of adventure, the Cayenne GTS looks like a lot of fun and a good way to take the family SUV up to the next level.
Subaru recently revised their XV Crosstrek for the 2015 release, and with the new revision comes a new price point as well. The company announced that the vehicles would be starting at $21,595 and climbing from there with higher trim levels, add-on extras and the destination fee. For the slight increase in price, you’ll get some slight upgrades to nearly the same vehicle as the 2014 edition.
Changes to the Vehicle
The Subaru XV Crosstrek received a set of minor revisions that might not be worth trading in last year’s model of the XV Crosstrek for, but will certainly sweeten the overall package. The new and improved version is now eligible for EyeSight safety tech and it comes with a more advanced multimedia system with a larger touchscreen display. Other than that, the two vehicles are pretty much the same as far as features go.
What it Comes with
Each of the Crosstrek models come equipped with all-wheel drive, and they feature a smooth and reliable continuously variable transmission or CVT. Even at the base level drivers have access to a 6.2-inch touchscreen display, 17-inch wheels, a rocker spoiler, a set of roof rails, and a rear vision camera. When you upgrade to one of the higher trim packages more features are just added on top of those base items.
The Crosstrek Premium
If you opt for the premium trim package level on the 2015 XV Crosstrek you’ll receive a number of beneficial upgrades. The vehicle will have power windows, Bluetooth controls, heated front seats, an advanced reach and rake steering wheel, power mirrors, and a more advanced multifunction display. Deciding on this trim raises the price to around $23,295.
The premium edition is not the range-topping model and there is another option even higher up called the Limited. This advanced variant is only $24,795 and it adds in automatic climate control as well as leather upholstery. If you want the most luxurious looking version of the Crosstrek you can have it all with this trim level.
There are two different hybrid versions of the vehicle as well. They both rely on a 13.4 HP electric motor paired with the original engine giving them a total power level of 160HP. The hybrid model enhances fuel economy noticeably, and starts at $25,995 at the base level, but climbs all the way up to $29,295 if you want more luxury features with the Hybrid Touring.
There are a number of extras that you can add onto the 2015 XV Crosstrek as well to customize and enhance it further. A moonroof can be added for $1,000, a bolstered multimedia system, along with the advanced EyeSight safety feature and Subaru Starlink come in a different package for $1,295. You can also add in keyless entry and push button start for an additional charge, but neither comes standard with the vehicle at any trim level.
Toyota recently unveiled their Hydrogen car, the Mirai, and it’s been greeted with mixed feelings. Some love the car, others hate it, but overall it was received pretty positively. Many critics and reviewers had a chance to drive around in the new hydrogen car, and many were pleasantly surprised by its performance. Read on to find out more about the first hydrogen fuel cell car available for purchase and how it’s pretty different from the Prius.
Unexpectedly Swift Performance
At 4078 lbs. most people aren’t expecting the Mirai to be light on its feet, but it feels surprisingly good while driving. It comes equipped with a single 153 HP electric motor, that provides nearly instantaneous torque and powers the car from 0 to 60 in around 9 seconds. While it’s not a sports car, it doesn’t feel sluggish either.
One major benefit of all the hydrogen equipment installed in the vehicle is that it gives it a low center of gravity providing a sporty feel. The car can take corners quickly without suffering from body roll and it just feels good banking around corners.
The Mirai is quiet and quite comfortable to ride around in. You’ll register a slight whirr from the electric motor and the regenerative brakes, but other than that you won’t hear much sound while traveling down the road in this car. Both the front and rear seats are heated, and they feature an ergonomic design that makes them a pleasure to ride around in. Unfortunately for those families of five, the Mirai only seats four people, but that does mean that each passenger gets a bit more space to enjoy.
With a starting price of around $57,000 it’s important that the Mirai feels like a luxury vehicle within, and thankfully it does. It comes with a premium JBL sound system. It offers plush heated seats and an advanced media system run through a mid-sized touchscreen display. There’s another screen to handle climate control settings and to display vehicle information. The Mirai relies on quality materials, but you won’t find leathers or fancy wood trims within. Toyota used quality materials to build a safe and appealing interior, that won’t really jump out at you.
The system comes with a couple nice perks that you won’t find on many other vehicles. It features regenerative braking, similar to what is found on the Prius, to recoup braking power into more useful electricity. It also comes with a generator system, designed to let you power the essentials of your home for up to a week using your vehicle. This is in case of emergencies and could help you stay comfortable in case of a natural disaster.
New Mirai owners won’t have to worry about paying for their fuel because Toyota is footing the bill for the Hydrogen for the first few years. That being said, it’s still pretty valuable to know what to expect once fuel stops being free and you actually have to pay for it. Currently Hydrogen costs about $10 per kilo to produce, which transfers to around a $4 or $5 per gallon equivalent. This could go down in the future if manufacturing technology improves, but that’s what you should expect right now. During testing the Mirai managed fuel efficiency levels of around an equivalent to 50 MPG, making it a pretty low-cost solution as far as fuel is concerned, but nothing that’s going to save you a fortune in the near future.
Overall there are still mixed feelings about the Mirai. Some people love it, most agree that it handles very well and is a pleasure to drive, but others are hesitant about the new technology. The fueling stations have a long way to go before they will become widespread, and the Mirai has a long road ahead of it as new adopters accept the technology. It starts at $57,000 but with government and state incentives it could be purchased for as little as $45,000 making it pretty affordable for such cutting edge technology.
LAcarGUY is a group of dealerships that have always been committed to environmental sustainability with their vehicles. That’s why their involved with organizations like Heal the Bay, and it’s why Volkswagen Santa Monica, one of their dealerships, has already sold one of the brand new Volkswagen e-Golf pure electric vehicles making it the first sold in the US. Volkswagen Santa Monica follows the LAcarGUY example of sustainability by offering a collection of hybrid, clean diesel and now pure electric vehicles to the general public. They understand the importance of these cleaner alternatives, and they are doing what they have to in order to get them out on the roads around California.
Why the e-Golf is an Excellent Vehicle
Through advanced technology and careful engineering the Volkswagen e-Golf manages astonishing high efficiency levels. It can achieve the equivalent of 126 MPG while in the city and the equivalent of 105 MPG on the highway for a combined amount of 116 MPGe. It achieves this efficiency level by relying on advanced regenerative braking technology to actively reclaim energy while slowing down, and through a carefully crafted low-power climate control system that conserves energy.
On top of being very efficient the e-Golf is fun to drive with plenty of pick up from a dead stop (0-62 MPH in right over 10 seconds) thanks to high torque levels , and a top speed that’s more than suitable for highway driving. This advanced car provides up to 83 miles of range, making it more than suitable for most commutes, and standard driving around town.
When it’s time to recharge the vehicle you have a few different options available to you. The Fast Charge system brings e-Golf power back up to 80% in just 20 minutes time, and the car can be charged to that same level using a 240V wall outlet in just four hours.
After taking a look at these figures it’s easy to see why the e-Golf is slowly growing in popularity and why it’s one of the most desirable pure electric vehicles out on the road today for the price. These e-Golf vehicles are being sold at a desirable price-point and when you add in the $7,500 federal tax credit or the $2,500 rebate in California, the price becomes even more desirable. Mike Sullivan, the owner of LAcarGUY, had this to say about the new car “Volkswagen is “The People’s Car”, and with the e-Golf, we now have an electric car for everyone” and that statement rings true with such an affordable price point for the highly efficient e-Golf.
Toyota has been going on about their hydrogen fuel cell cars for the past couple of years now, but it looks like they will finally become a reality on the road, starting next month. The car is to be dubbed the Toyota Mirai and the company hopes that it is to the car industry, what the Prius was back at the beginning of 2000. The hydrogen car looks very promising, but it’s not clear whether a strong enough hydrogen refueling station infrastructure can be developed.
The Refueling Problem
Most manufacturers aren’t interested in creating a hydrogen refueling station or spending money to run it, because there aren’t any cars out on the road that need the technology. At the saem time. Most car buyers are apprehensive about picking up a hydrogen fuel cell car that they don’t have a way to refuel. This is a pretty classic problem with very new technology, and Toyota is working hard to solve the issue the smart way.
Solving the Issue
In order to solve this problem Toyota is working with the California government and forming partnerships with fuel companies eager to get into the growing industry. The government has pledged $200 million to put up 100 refueling stations around the state. Toyota gave a loan to FirstElement Fuels for $7.3 million in order for them to open up a handful of refueling stations early in the year to support the first cars released.
The Release of the Mirai
Toyota doesn’t expect the hydrogen car industry to be booming by the end of the year, but they do expect to make some sales. They predict a very modest 200 Mirai’s will be sold by the end of 2015 and expect around 3,000 sales by the end of 2017. The car will be sold for around $57,000 and may be eligible for up to an additional $13,000 off from federal tax credits and state rebates. This could drop the price as low as $45,000 for customers looking to buy the cars outright, but Toyota suspects that many of them will simply lease the vehicles for $499 a month.
Toyota as well as many other automakers have jumped through a bunch of hurtles in order ot make this technology a reality and it seems that we could see an industry shift away from gasoline and diesel fueled vehicles to much cleaner hydrogen powered cars. It’s a good shift for the environment, but its success hinges on these pioneering automakers to make it a reality.
The LAcarGUY Touchdown to a Cure fund raiser continues to go on as the 2014 USC season progresses and with each new game the dealership donates more money to help cure Cystic Fibrosis. To recap the event a bit, each time that the University of Southern California scores a touchdown against an opposing team LAcarGUY donates $300 to the Annual Pipeline to a Cure gala, a major fund-raising event that generates money for the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation.
Last Game Donations
USC went up against the California Golden Bears in their last game and lost by a slight amount with the end score being 30 to 38. They came back in the fourth quarter but it wasn’t enough to pull off the victory. During the game they managed to score five touchdowns for a total donation of $1,500 towards the effort to fight Cystic Fibrosis. This boosts the overall total up noticeably.
So far this season the LAcarGUY dealership group has donated $13,800 to Cystic Fibrosis with two more games left in the season. The Colorado game still remains as the biggest donation to date with a total of $2,400 being donated for the eight touchdowns scored over the course of the match.
About Pipeline to a Cure
Pipeline to a Cure is a non-profit organization that strives to raise money to help fund research to cure Cystic Fibrosis. The organization throws an annual gala that brings draws activists in from all over the world and raises a huge amount of money to support the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation and the research that they do.
The Audi A1 is a mean little compact that’s just received its mid-cycle update. It now sports a more aggressive look with bolder lines, edgier headlamps, and an overall aggressive stance. It’s a great little car that offers an array of three-cylinder engines, the smallest of which displaces just a liter of fuel.
The A1 comes with plenty of tech and comfort features, but since it’s right at the bottom of Audi’s luxury lineup you’ll have to pay for many extras that some other vehicles come with standard. For instance, it’s available with the top MMI navigation system but it comes as an extra. That same MMI unit also offers Audi Connect as well as the WiFi hotspot Internet feature. Audi Drive Select is another exciting feature that’s only available to this model as an option. The nice thing is that access is available to these features, even if it means you’ll be paying out a bit more to get them.
Power and Performance
For such a small vehicle the A1 can offer a lot of power. There are several different three-cylinder variants of the engines and the vehicle goes from 90 HP at the bottom of the range all the way up to 192 HP at the top. If you opt for the more portent S1 instead you’ll have 231 HP on tap, which is a pretty impressive figure for a car this small. The S1 can climb from 0 to 62 in just 5.9 seconds.
The car comes with a six speed manual transmission as standard, and it can be upgraded to the 7 speed S-Tronic dual transmission instead. Not only is this little car powerful, but at the lower performance levels it offers impressive fuel economy levels while still allowing top levels of comfort.
The latest update of the A1 offers more stiffness than before and comes with the option for Audi Quattro all-wheel technology to improve handling dramatically. With the Audi Drive-Select package you can also adjust the stiffness of steering and the suspension system while adjusting how throttle response works. Overall you can highly customize this little vehicle to respond just as you want it to and it feels good.
The A1 is a great little car that a lot of U.S. buyers would enjoy, but unfortunately Audi still doesn’t have any plans to offer it around here. They just don’t feel that the subcompact market is large enough for this type of vehicle. It’s doing just fine elsewhere in the world and Audi has sold more than half a million units since releasing the A1 back in 2010.
One of the biggest benefits that scientists and engineers have been going on about with self-driving vehicles is the increased level of safety and control that these vehicles offer. Since they are operated by computers they can pick up on dangers faster and more reliably than humans can. They also come with more powerful sensors that give the computer a better sense of what is going on around the vehicle than a human can manage on their own. On top of these benefits it appears that the self-driving car from Porsche is actually faster than human drivers as well, at least according to Yahoo! Autos.
Porsche has a system known as InnoDrive that it has been testing out on some of its vehicles. This system is partially autonomous, using a series of sensors, cameras and other satellite feeds to create a general understanding of the outside environment.
This system is capable of handling all of the accelerating and the braking, but it still requires a human driver to handle the steering tasks. It’s designed to corner as efficiently as possible and is built for streamlined performance and for these reasons it has been shown to be faster than human drivers are. During general testing periods the system was 10 percent more efficient than human drivers, saving on fuel, while being 2 percent faster as well. While this isn’t a major increase over humans, it’s enough to make a noticeable difference over time.
Challenges to Overcome
The current system still can’t differentiate between red and green street lights. It’s programmed to see every light as green, which could cause some potential problems later on down the road. It is also only capable of seeing about 650 in front of it which may not be enough in some driving instances. There are the same limitations that other automakers are facing as well, but they believe they can all be overcame eventually and that self-driving cars will become a part of everyday life soon enough.
Porsche, along with other automakers such as Audi, are testing their ideas and their vehicles heavily under real driving conditions out on the road today. Now that they have the go-ahead to drive their cars on US roads they are working hard to perfect technology that is going to be the new face of driving soon enough.
In the future we’ll likely see roadways that are much more organized. The cars will be travelling at higher speeds and responding to one another very predictably. The computers won’t make mistakes about the laws of the road, and there won’t be a need to limit speeds as much on many roads in the country as there was before. Not only will speeds and safety increase, but energy consumption of these vehicles will be lower than current consumption thanks to increasing driving efficiency.