The new Renault Twingo (which is supposed to officially debut at Geneva in a couple weeks) is built off an entirely new chassis. The engine is now out back, akin to the Renaults of yore, powering the rear wheels. The new engine is a turbocharged 900 cc three-cylinder making 90 hp, fed through either a conventional six-speed manual or dual-clutch automatic transmission.
I like it. I like it a lot. And now I'm very curious to see what the next Smart cars will look like. The new Twingo was supposedly designed in cooperation with Daimler, with the intent that it share some of its engineering with the next generation of Smart Fortwo and a new four-seat Smart. I've never driven a Renault Twingo before (or even seen one in the sheetmetal for that matter) but I have driven a few Smart Fortwos, and everything about the new Twingo seems to be an order of magnitude better.
2014 BMW i8 Gets $136,625 Price Tag @ 2013 Frankfurt Auto Show
SUMMARY: "The i8 is a significant vehicle because it is the first plug-in hybrid from the BMW Group and "the world's most forward-looking sports car," the automaker said.
Official EPA fuel economy numbers have not been published, but BMW said the i8 is expected to return 94 mpg in the U.S. BMW does not expect to have EPA numbers on the i8 until sometime next year. It did not specify if the 94-mpg number refers to city or highway driving.
"The i8 will debut as a 2014 model," said David Buchko, a BMW spokesman, in a phone conversation with Edmunds on Monday. Earlier, it was believed that the i8 would be a 2015 model.
Buchko said the i8, a plug-in hybrid 2+2 sports car, competes with "high-performance cars in this general price range, such as the Lexus LFA." The car is pitched at high-tech pioneers or "folks who can afford a car in this price range and are intrigued by new things," Buchko said.
Standard equipment includes full-LED headlights, but some buyers may be disappointed to hear that BMW's laser headlights, which will be available on the i8 in Europe, will not be offered in the U.S. because they haven't been approved by federal safety regulators. The laser headlights use a diffuser to create a pattern similar to a headlight. They are said to use far less energy than even LED headlights.
The plug-in hybrid is equipped with a 1.5-liter three-cylinder gasoline engine, an electric motor and a lithium-ion battery. Total system output is 362 horsepower. This is the first BMW hybrid in which the gas engine and the electric motor are used to operate different drive wheels. The gas engine sends power to the rear wheels via a six-speed automatic transmission, while the electric motor sends power through the front wheels via a two-stage automatic transmission.
BMW says the i8 sprints from zero-62 mph in 4.4 seconds. It has a range of up to 22 miles and a top speed of 75 mph on electric power alone.
The driver can choose from five driving modes, including a Sport mode with an "ultra-intense boost function provided by the electric motor" and a fuel-saving Eco Pro mode that programs functions such as the air conditioning to operate at minimum power consumption.
Unusual details on the BMW i8 include a passenger cell made from carbon-fiber-reinforced plastic. BMW says the material is 50 percent lighter than steel and 30 percent lighter than aluminum. It helps the plug-in hybrid tip the scales are a relatively low overall weight of 3,285 pounds. BMW says there will be repair centers set up in which specialized employees take care of vehicles with damage to the aluminum or CFRP structure.
The car's design puts a premium on aerodynamics, with a low-slung hood, Air Curtains in the front apron, sealed underbody and contoured side skirts. The car's standard 20-inch forged aluminum wheels have an "aerodynamically optimized" lightweight design, too. Carbon-fiber-reinforced plastic wheels are optional in some markets.
The cabin features lightweight seats and exposed carbon-fiber-reinforced plastic to "provide a reminder of the low weight of the BMW i8," the company said.
The i8 can be charged at a standard 110-volt outlet in 3.5 hours, while the BMW i Charging Station completes the process in 1.5 hours.
Edmunds says: At $136K, the BMW i8 will be the first serious contender for the Tesla Model S that has drawn plenty of attention from wealthy buyers who want a green image."
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2014 Hyundai Genesis EQUUS...
[b]Specifications & Cost Fully Loaded for "Ultimate" Model:[b]
South Korea's Hyundai is on a mission to conquer nearly every segment in the marketplace, and the Equus is its entry in the prestigious full-size luxury sedan arena. While the big four-door lacks the cachet and truly impressive refinement of its established rivals, it does serve up an extensive amount of standard equipment and a palatial, library-quiet cabin for a relatively low price.
After recently upgrading the Equus with a potent, silky smooth 5.0-liter V8/eight-speed automatic powertrain combo, Hyundai has improved its flagship model again for the latest model year. Revisions include restyled exterior elements, a retuned suspension and a thoroughly overhauled interior with larger display screens and more premium materials.
"It might not wear a top-shelf badge on its hood, but the Equus has all the other requisite building blocks of a respectable executive express - rear-wheel-drive architecture, elegant yet understated styling and a technology-packed interior with enough space for a quintet of six-footers to sit in comfort.
Outside, the replacement of chrome bumper trim with 21st century bling - LED lighting for the foglamps - gives the updated Equus a more modern appearance, and new taillight graphics and a lower-key front fascia represent other new model year additions. Sophisticated-looking 19-inch turbine blade-style alloy wheels round out the stylistic changes.
As important as a fine-looking exterior is, Hyundai recognized that the interior is the central element of a full-size luxury sedan for many buyers, and accordingly gave the space a comprehensive makeover. Rich-looking materials like genuine wood trim, supple leather, French-stitched accents and a microfiber suede headliner continue to cover nearly ever surface, but the center stack has been completely redesigned and is now wider, better-arranged and more imposing than before.
The central infotainment screen has been upsized to 9.2-inches - making it easier to see navigation and entertainment information - and the all-digital LCD instrument cluster has also grown to seven inches in the entry-level Signature trim and a massive 12.3 inches for the decked-out Ultimate model. A haptic control dial on the steering wheel lets the driver easily toggle through a wide range of vehicle info in the center of the instrument cluster, while a choice of a BMW iDrive-style knob or redundant buttons on the dashboard can be used to control navigation, climate and stereo settings.
The Equus is fitted with Hyundai's Blue Link telematics service, which can be spec'd to provide voice text messaging, point-of-interest web search and download and automatic collision notification in addition to traffic, weather, restaurant and nearby gas station information.
The standard equipment list is extensive, with niceties like heated and ventilated front seats, adaptive cruise control and a kicking 17-speaker Lexicon surround sound stereo representing just a few highlights.
Limited consumer interest means that last year's optional reclining right rear ottoman seat and cooling beverage box have been discontinued, but the Equus continues to offer plenty of premium extras - dual 9.2-inch rear entertainment screens, ventilated rear seats and an aerial-view 360-degree camera system for parking maneuvers.
The Strong, Silent Type:
The Equus is powered by a 5.0-liter "Tau" V8 that produces a healthy 429 horsepower at 6,400 rpm and 376 lb-ft. of torque at 5,000 rpm. Efficiency-aiding measures like direct injection, a relatively high 11.5:1 compression ratio and an in-house developed eight-speed automatic transmission help the engine to return 15 mpg in the city and 23 mpg on the highway.
An electronically controlled air suspension with adaptive damping provides a cushy ride but not the precise handling dynamics of more expensive rivals, although revised tuning and new front bushings for the latest model help matter slightly. The chassis features a choice of Normal and Sport modes - the former enhances ride control, while the seeks to mitigate body roll.
A newly-added Snow mode optimizes the Equus for wintry conditions. For customers in northern climates, it's a welcome feature, especially as the sedan continues to do without the all-wheel-drive option offered by many of its peers.
Noise-reducing measures like an acoustic laminated window glass and extensive sound insulation ensure that passengers are well isolated from road, engine and wind din.
Trim Level Breakdown:
The Equus is available in Signature and Ultimate trim levels.
The Equus Signature comes standard with a bevy of luxury items, including the aforementioned Lexicon audio system, a navigation system, tri-zone automatic climate control, a sunroof adaptive cruise control, HID headlamps, LED foglights, front and rear parking assistance systems with a rearview camera, premium leather seating, Microfiber suede headliner, driver seat massage, heated and cooled front seats, a heated wood and leather steering wheel, blind spot detection with cross-traffic alert, a power rear sunshade and 19-inch alloy wheels.
The Equus Ultimate adds the 360-degree camera system in addition to a forward-view cornering camera, cooled rear seats, power-closing doors, a power-closing trunk, a rear seat entertainment system with dual 9.2-inch screens, a 12.3-inch LCD instrument cluster, power rear side window sunshades, rear seat power head restraints, rear seat illuminated vanity mirrors, power rear seat lumbar and a head-up display.
All Equus models come with dual front, front and rear side, and full-length side curtain airbags in addition to a driver's knee airbag and traction and stability control systems.
A blind spot monitoring system with cross-traffic alert - which warns the driver of approaching cars when backing up - is also standard, as is a lane departure warning system that provides a notification via haptic seatbelt feedback (or audio/visual alerts) when the Equus drifts into an adjacent lane.
The most direct rival to Equus is the Lexus LS460, which features a similar emphasis on total comfort and relaxed operation. It start at roughly ten grand more than the Hyundai, and for slightly more money there's also entry-level versions of the Audi A8 and Jaguar XJ and BMW 7-Series, all of which offer a noticeably more upscale experience both in terms of interior opulence and handling sophistication."
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I'd be OK with either, seriously - no hard feelings if Mrs. Halla bought me either one.