The recent Geneva Motor Show brought welcome news the Porsche faithful and enthusiasts, the “Drivers 911″ the 911 GT3 would once again be offered with a manual transmission!
In an ever increasing world of automation and complication, there comes a time and reason to unplug from it all and get back to basics, or at least as basic can get in this current day and age. When the 991 GT3 debuted it was hailed as the next great step, save for one thing, the lack of a manual transmission. The Porsche PDK is a superb transmission, and if the goal is to get around the race track in the quickest time, then there is no better tool to row through the gears. In the daily commute, stuck in traffic, the PDK also shines saving your left leg in stop and go traffic.
However, there are times when you want to row your own, to truly feel connected to the car and the driving experience, and for that, the best tool for the job is a manual transmission! If you wanted something close to the GT3 with a manual, you had to be lucky enough to get the 911R, but those were only offered to those who purchased the 918 Spyder, or, if you found one second hand, they started at $500,000 and went up quickly from there.
Porsche heard loud and clear that the faithful still wanted a manual gearbox and now they have responded. With the 991.2GT3 a six-speed manual returns attached to a 4.0 liter naturally-asperated flat six developing 500 horsepower and 339 lb/ft of torque. It wasn’t that long ago that 997 Turbo topped out at 450 horsepower, and now, the GT3 brings 500 naturally-asperated horsepower to the dance to sing that glorious song as it approaches it’s near 9,000 rpm redline.
Deliveries of the 991.2GT3 will begin in September, if you’d like to reserve one today, please contact us as these will be very hard to get.
Please have a look at this video as Andreas Preuninger, Porsche GT Project Director, guides DRIVETRIBE’s Features Editor Henry Catchpole around the latest Porsche 911 GT3.
In a world with PDK dual-clutch transmissions it seems completely irrational to want a manual. After all these transmissions are better in every way possible. They’re faster and more efficient. They allow you to keep both hands firmly on the wheel, and they make it easier to go faster around a track. Each of those things are important to Porsche drivers, but there is still a large portion of those drivers that want to be able to control the shifting of the vehicle. For that reason Porsche is still incorporating manual transmissions into its vehicles, even though they don’t make any sense.
The 911 GT3 Comes with a Manual
To many Porsche owners the 911 GT3 is the crown jewel of enthusiast driving. It’s a sporty car that looks great, performs better and is engineered to take corners like a dream. It’s a beautiful piece of engineering and it’s a thrill to drive around. It’s the car that enthusiasts want to pick up above all else, and they want it for the experience. That’s exactly why Porsche is offering the GT3 with a manual transmission. The automaker understands the manual tranny is inferior to the PDK, but that it adds to the experience of some drivers. Porsche is in the business of offering experiences to enthusiasts, which is why the big Porsche centers exist around the world, and it’s why Porsche will continue to go out of its way to make the dreams of drivers come true.
The 911 GT3 RS will Not
Even though the GT3 is coming with a manual transmission, to the excitement of all those purists out there!, the GT3 RS will not have the option. Instead it comes equipped with just the PDK transmission. Porsche’s reasoning behind this decision is that there are different types of customers for the two vehicles. The stock GT3 is more of a purist, auto enthusiast group of drivers that just want the thrill of going fast around windy roads and driving a quality engineered sports car. The GT3 RS guys are the ones that want to beat up tracks and get the best possible lap times.
For the guys going for the best lap times the PDK is really the only option. A PDK is more efficient and a whole lot faster than a manual. Not only that, but it allows you to maintain better control while going around the track, and those are all pretty compelling reasons, even if operating a race car with a manual transmission is more satisfying to some drivers out there. For that reason there really isn’t any point to offering a manual transmission with the GT3 RS.
Even though it’s a bummer that the 911 GT3 RS isn’t being offered with a manual, after reading the explanation behind the decision we get it. Still, it’s pretty hard to complain when Porsche is cool enough to make the 911 GT3, a potent sports car with 500 HP and a flat six engine, with a manual transmission that offers that silky-smooth shifting satisfaction so many drivers are looking for.
Few people associate Volkswagen with sporty vehicles, and the Passat (while sporty and somewhat powerful) is probably one of the last vehicles that you would think to bring to the track. It looks pretty tame after all. The smart people at Volkswagen saw the potential of the Passat though, and decided that it deserved to go fast and to get enthusiasts excited about driving again.
Top Notch Media
The R-Line comes with a 6-speaker audio system hooked to a very capable media setup as standard. You’ll enjoy USB connectivity, satellite radio, voice controls, and a slew of cool safety features when you opt for this upgraded performance Passat. That alone is enough for some buyers to consider going for this variation of the Passat.
Power without the Cost
The Passat R-Line is an interesting model from the lineup because it’s relatively affordable, but it packs that turbo power in as well. That means if you want a high-powered car that’s fun to drive around, the R-Line makes a lot of sense. You’ll get a 1.8 liter turbo-four engine that pumps out 170 HP and 184-lb.-ft. of torque. That’s not an insane level of power, but it’s certainly enough to make it a fund drive and to give you a reason to want to slam on the accelerator now and then.
A Pure Joy to Drive
There’s a lot to love about the Passat R-Line, but the best thing about the vehicle is how it handles on roads. The car hugs the ground, it whips around corners with ease and it has very precise steering. It feels a lot like a top-notch sports car in terms of handling, and that’s all you could really ask for out of a performance sedan.
Slight Exterior Enhancements
The R-Line also receives a few changes on the outside to make it look sportier. There’s the air intake to help power the turbocharger. There’s also grille, bumper and trim enhancements that all make it clear that it’s an R-Line edition of the Passat.
When you climb inside the Passat you’ll notice right away that there are special trim and doorsill sections specifically for the R-Line Passat. Not only that but the car is equipped with V-Tex leatherette seats that are heated up front.
Overall the Passat R-Line is a high-performance version of the sedan that’s much more enjoyable to drive around. It offers a lot for the sub 25k price tag that it comes with, and is an obvious choice for drivers that need a sedan, but want better performance out of it at the same time.
We were very happy to hear that with the sunset of the Scion brand, Toyota was still committed to bringing the C-HR to our showrooms. We had the opportunity for a ride and drive last week in Austin, Texas of the new C-HR, and we think you are going to LOVE this new small crossover.
The C-HR (Coupé-High Riding) slots in just below the RAV4 in overall size and pricing, however, it is very roomy on the inside. The C-HR will be a front-drive only crossover, no all-wheel drive is available, it is offered with a 2.0-liter four cylinder producing 144 horsepower and 139 lb/ft of torque, and this is backed by a CVT transmission with seven simulated gears.
Perhaps in the past, you have experienced a CVT transmission where you put your foot down and the engine seems to rev to a point and never go beyond? With the CVT in the C-HR, that is mostly eliminated by the seven simulated gears. You get all the fuel efficiency of a CVT, yet it feels like a standard automatic transmission, it’s the best of both worlds.
In stop and go driving, and merging onto the highway, the C-HR has plenty of power so that you don’t have to worry about merging with oncoming traffic, nor getting away from stoplights.
On the road is where the C-HR really shines. Built off the same platform as the new Prius, it has a double wishbone rear suspension and SACHS dampers at all four corners. What this means to you is a very connected feeling to the road that is firm and well controlled while maintaining a pleasant ride quality.
On the inside, the quality of materials is much better that you would expect for the price point. There are plenty of soft-touch materials around, a rear vision camera integrated into the rearview mirror, a seven-inch touch screen display with Bluetooth and USB integration, dual zone climate controls on the XLE Premium trim, and a driver’s cockpit layout that will remind you of the Lexus IS!
Toyota is putting a premium on safety with the C-HR. Included as standard on all cars is:
- Toyota Safety Sense™ P (TSS-P) – Pre-Collision System with Pedestrian Detection (PCS w/PD), Lane Departure Alert with Steering Assist (LDA w/SA), Automatic High Beams (AHB), and Full-Speed Range Dynamic Radar Cruise Control (DRCC)
- Electric Parking Brake (EPB)
- Star Safety SystemTM – includes Vehicle Stability Control (VSC), Traction Control (TRAC), Anti-lock Brake System (ABS), Electronic Brake-force Distribution (EBD), Brake Assist (BA) and Smart Stop Technology® (SST)
- 10 airbags — includes driver and front passenger Advanced Airbag System, driver and front passenger and rear seat-mounted side airbags, driver knee airbag, front passenger seat cushion airbag, and front and rear side curtain airbags
- LATCH (Lower Anchors and Tethers for Children) includes lower anchors and tether anchors on
- outboard second-row seats
- Blind Spot Monitor (BSM) and Rear Cross Traffic Alert (RCTA) – XLE Premium only
- Hill-Start Assist Control (HAC)
- Tire Pressure Monitor System (TPMS). When the tire pressure drops to a critically low level, a light on the instrument panel alerts the driver.
- Child-protector rear door locks
The styling for the C-HR is a standout! It combines beautiful curves with diamond shaped angles. The more you walk around the car, the more interesting shapes you find, and they all flow together in a fun and sporty package.
In keeping with the Scion heritage, the C-HR does not have any options other than paint color. There will be two trim levels, XLE and XLE premium. Pricing for C-HR XLE will be $22,500 and for the XLE Premium $24,350, with $960 for destination and delivery on top.
Fuel economy for the C-HR is also very good for the crossover market, it is EPA-rated at 27 MPG City, 31 MPG Highway and 29 MPG Combined.
The C-HR will arrive in our showrooms in April, and we can’t wait for you to come in and take one for a drive.
In another effort to improve the planet and expand on its brand-new technology, Toyota just launched a fuel-cell bus. That’s right, the automaker put out a full-sized city bus that’s travelling around Tokyo picking people up and dropping them off. The bus is built out of components that are the same as the Mirai, it just relies on more of them to do the job. This is an exciting step for Toyota and for the planet. By getting hydrogen buses out there the company reduces fossil fuel emissions, proves that the technology is durable and reliable, and helps people become more familiar with hydrogen fuel cell technology.
Easy to Refuel
In order to demonstrate just how simple the bus is to refuel, Yuriko Koike, the Governor, showed up to put fuel into the bus. She had no issues doing so and it was ready to go after being fueled up.
Affordable to Ride
While you would have to pay around $57,000 to get your hands on the Mirai, you can get some experience with hydrogen fuel cell technology for just two Japanese dollars with this bus. That’s the fare to go for a ride on it, and you’ll get to experience one of the great future driving technologies.
Two of Everything
In order to make this beast of a machine move, Toyota had to install two of all the components into the bus, and the automaker put them into its ceiling. The fuel cell stacks, batteries and fuel tank are all mounted in the roof of the bus, leaving space down below for passengers to ride close to the ground. The two systems power two 113 kW electric motors that deliver about 310 HP together and get the bus moving around.
Already in Demand
Even though the bus was just released, there are already 100 orders pending for the buses to be used just in Tokyo. There are 60 additional orders for buses in other areas of Japan as well. That just shows the interest in hydrogen technology and it bodes well for the future of the tech as well.
The current bus is more expensive than a standard diesel bus, and it won’t last as long either. It’s expected to last about six years before requiring replacement parts which is quite a bit worse than the expected 20 years of most buses in use today. That’s something that Toyota is working on, and the automaker expects to get the cost and longevity in line with a standard diesel hybrid bus that’s in use today eventually.
There aren’t any orders from other parts of the world just yet, but Toyota looks forward to the day when it can expand hydrogen buses to other areas of the world and bring the technology to even more cities. It certainly won’t hurt the air quality efforts in other areas of the world.
The Audi RS5 is a lean and powerful racing machine that’s equipped with all the right parts to go fast, whip around corners, and sit in luxury while you’re doing it. It’s comparable to the M4, the Cadillac ATS V and other high powered luxury sedans on the market, but it offers some features that most of them don’t, and that’s why it’s worth talking about.
As with any Audi vehicle, the RS5 comes packed with gadgets and tech that’s wrapped in a simple and refined package. High quality leathers, woods and classy composites are used throughout, and it looks nice and clean throughout. It’s obvious that your inside a high-quality luxury car when climbing in the RS5, and there’s enough badging to help you remember that you’re in the RS5 and not some standard luxury Audi.
The 2018 RS5 comes with more than enough power to throw you back into your seat when you slap down the pedal. It comes with 450 HP courtesy of a 2.9 liter twin-turbo V6 engine that’s tied to a eight speed automatic transmission. This powerhouse of an engine offers 442.5 lb.-ft. of torque, and can make the dash from 0 to 60 in just 3.9 seconds. The car 132 lbs. lighter than the vehicle it’s replacing, and the RS5 manages to get about 27 MPG on the European test cycle, even with all that power.
Stable All Wheel Drive
Not only does the car come packed with power, but that power is split up through a highly usable all-wheel drive system. 40 percent of the power is directed to the front wheels of the vehicle, and 60 percent goes to the back two wheels, giving the car sporty handling characteristics overall. There’s an optional sports differential at the rear of the vehicle, for even more agile handling.
Top Grade Suspension
This car is built to handle excellently under most conditions, and the framework that offers such excellent handling. Both the front and rear of the vehicle are equipped with a five-link suspension to help pad the road and maintain control in rough driving conditions. There are optional addons that add to the handling as well. Adding on adaptive dampers, dynamic steering and carbon ceramic brakes will all help the car handle more like a super car.
The Audi RS5 stands out in its high-powered segment because of its all-wheel drive. It’s the only car in the segment that offers the feature, and that’s going to appeal to a lot of people. The car has a lot to offer, but we’re still waiting for it to become available for test driving to find out how all the top-grade pieces come together when driving.
While Toyota isn’t quite as excited at the prospect of self-driving vehicles as some other automakers on the market are, the auto giant is interested in the potential safety benefits of partially automated vehicles. Toyota would like to create a guardian angel type system that gets people out of trouble when they are about to get into an accident. Similar systems already exist today that wills low your vehicle down and issue warnings to help the driver pay attention, but Toyota wants to take all this a step further to design systems that will actually prevent accidents through more advanced self-driving.
Safety Maneuvers out on the Road
Right now there are vehicles that can slow you down before you rear end someone else. That’s pretty cool, and very helpful, but it’s also pretty basic. Imagine a vehicle that can speed you up when you’re about to be hit from the side to help you dodge the impact. Or a vehicle that can change the direction of your vehicle to help you go around a drunk driver that swerves into your lane. This is the kind of tech that Toyota is interested in and the automaker says there is a lot more that can be done with sensors and automatic driving tools.
Safe Driving Earlier on
While Toyota believes that fully-autonomous vehicles are still quite a ways away, an advanced safety setup might not be that far off into the future. It’s possible to create much more advanced safety features over the next year or two, and they could dramatically help make roads safer for drivers of all types. That’s why Toyota wants to focus on these safety tools before worrying about releasing fully self-driving vehicles. They can bring some benefits to drivers earlier on.
There’s a lot to be said for this type of safety advancement in a vehicle, but Toyota won’t say how long it believes the technology will take to develop before release. There are still some issues to work out, such as creating tech that will function alongside a human driver without causing additional problems. There needs to be a balance between vehicle and driver, and that’s something that must be fine-tuned to avoid causing more harm than good.
Toyota is working really hard to make a name for itself for safety reasons. The automaker is already known for reliability and resale value, but a recent push toward active safety technology is making Toyota stand out for that as well. In 2018 the Toyota Tundra will be the first full-sized pickup on the market to come with automatic emergency braking as a standard feature. That means that every 2018 Tundra buyer can make use of that feature without paying any extra for it. That’s pretty darned cool.
Emergency automatic braking has been found to reduce the number of accidents around the road, according to the AEB. The tech looks out for obstacles on the road ahead and applies the brakes in order to slow the vehicle when something pops up ahead. The tech does two things. It alerts the driver that something is going on, and it starts the slow down process so the driver can safely come to a stop, or decelerate enough to avoid the obstacle.
That’s Not all There are Other Features!
The 2018 Tundra doesn’t just come with emergency automatic braking though, there are additional features too. It’s getting everything in what Toyota calls its Safety Sense-P package. This includes lane-keep assist, forward-collision warning, lane-departure warning and adaptive cruise. If you decide to get the latest Tundra, you’ll enjoy all of those added safety features as well, making it one of the safest stock pickups soon to be on the market.
Toyota is extending this technology to many of its other models as well, and it’s something you’ll find on all the 2018 Sequoia models as well.
With cool added safety features becoming the standard, it will be easier and easier to pick up a good all-around vehicle from Toyota soon enough. Safety is one of the most important features that drivers look for when making a purchase, so it makes sense to build the best safety packages right into the base vehicle and stop making cost a factor when deciding whether to be safe or not.
In Japan the Prius Prime can now come with a solar roof that helps recharge the batteries every second the car is out in direct sunlight. That means while you’re driving down the road, sitting in a parking lot, or just waiting in traffic, the car is charging up and extending its electric range. This is an enhancement that makes the Prius Prime slightly more efficient and can help boost the overall electric range so that you don’t have to rely on fuel quite as much.
The Cool Solar Roof
This solar roof is produced by Panasonic, and it’s approximately three times more efficient than the older solar roof that came on some Prius vehicles. That probably sounds like a very nice improvement, and it is, but overall the roof isn’t going to give anywhere near the power to fully rely on just the solar roof to get around. It’s curved to match up with the look of the car, it’s designed to manage heat nicely and to stand up to everyday use attached to the top of the vehicle. It’s a pretty cool tech marvel in itself, and something that will hopefully begin showing up in more hybrid vehicles over time.
Will it Make a Difference?
This upgraded roof solar setup will make a slight difference on the total overall range that you get from the Prius, but overall the panel will likely only add about 3.7 miles to the total electric range of the car. That might not sound like much, but it’s added range every time that you go out driving, and the more the car sits in the sunlight, the more the battery will charge up. If nothing else, the solar panel will help keep the battery from dying while the vehicle sits, or for powering up accessories without draining down the battery unnecessarily.
Bringing it to the U.S.
At the moment, Panasonic isn’t able to bring its solar roof to the United States and use it on the Prius Prime. That’s because the panel isn’t yet capable of passing U.S. rollover tests. That’s an issue that the company is currently working on, but there is no timeline concerning when it could potentially offer that feature to customers.
The EURO NCAP is a serious batch of crash tests that go on in Europe. They’re just as stringent, if not more so, than the tests that are done here in the states, but they’re looking at some different vehicles in the process. In order for vehicles to sell well in Europe, especially luxury vehicles, they need to perform well in the NCAP crash tests. That’s something that the latest Audi Q5 did with ease.
The Q5 Receives a Top NCAP Rating
The Q5 received 5 stars on the NCAP crash tests, the highest rating that you can get for tests of this type. The final score the vehicle received was a 93% for adult occupant protection. That’s a major boost up from the 89% that sedans based on the same platform received. This shows that if you want the safest Audi that you can get, you want to go with the SUV if you can.
About Euro NCAP
Euro NCAP has been putting out their own tests since 1997 and have been looking at test results carefully to help pick out the safest and least safe vehicles out on the road ever since. Their tests are regarded highly by automotive experts, and taking a top score is an impressive feat that helps set the Q5 apart as a solid safety vehicle.
How the Tests Work
During testing the Audi vehicle was smashes from all sides to look at how it held up to serious pressure. The results of all these crashes and smashes are monitored closely. Electronic crash test dummies fitted into the seats of the vehicle make it clear how the vehicle did on the test. A set of crash avoidance tests were put out too, showing that the Q5 is capable of avoiding collisions with other vehicles as well as pedestrians.
There are plenty of vehicles on the market today that talk about being safe, but it’s more important to look at test results and crash reports than to take the word of a company about how safe it is. That’s why the test results for the Q5 are important, and why more buyers that are interested in safety should take a close look at the Q5.