2012 Kia Rondo Review

2012 KIA Rondo

The Kia Rondo is the seven-seater car and for some big families on a budget that alone might be a good enough reason to buy one.

The Rondo’s days are numbered. Although it definitely won’t be wiped off the map in 2013, it has to be thoroughly revamped if it wants to compete with the new Ford C-Max and recent Mazda5. In the meantime, the 2012 model is a carbon copy of the 2011, except for a few minor tweaks. The two engines offered are a 2.4L 4-cylinder and a 2.7L V6. These can be paired with either a 4-speed or 5-speed automatic transmission.

With a starting price of $25,990 before on-road costs for the five-speed manual Si variant, the Rondo is currently the only people-mover available for less than $30,000.

Under the bonnet of the Kia Rondo sits a 2.0-litre four-cylinder petrol engine that on paper doesn’t sound particularly well equipped to propel a vehicle designed to carry multiple people. There’s merely 106kW of power (at 6000rpm) and 189Nm of torque (at 4250rpm).

Stepping on the throttle, the Rondo feels surprisingly responsive, although the apparent enthusiasm is actually just a case of an oversensitive accelerator pedal that quickly becomes tiresome and makes smooth driving an effort.

While it’s capable and reasonably well-behaved around town, the engine’s eagerness is swiftly converted to slow progression and loud engine noise when you ask it to accelerate a little harder, head up a hill, or pull half a dozen people as the car is intended to do.

The four-speed auto does the ageing petrol engine few favours. The gearbox kicks back violently when you sink the boot in to overtake, sending the revs flaring, increasing noise and decreasing refinement and comfort.

The auto model uses a competitive 8.6 litres of fuel per 100km on the combined cycle, bettering the manual by 0.1L/100km.

For those on the tightest of budgets, though, who need to haul more than five people and have less than $35,000 – or even less than $30,000 – the Kia Rondo is an honest, spacious and versatile option, but one that is let down by an underpowered engine.

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2012 Ford FPV Boss 335 GT

Ford FPV Boss 335 GT

Ford’s Australian outpost has built its most powerful car ever: the Ford Performance Vehicles Boss 335 GT. That’s 335 kilowatts, by the way: 450bhp to you and me, from a supercharged five-litre V8 engine shoe-horned into the bodyshell of Ford’s standard, rear-wheel drive Falcon saloon. With a bonnet bulge the size of Uluru and that power output stencilled into its black racing stripes, the Boss ain’t subtle: it looks and sounds every bit as fast as it is. But can the Boss 335 GT transcend its family saloon roots to deliver a world-class performance car experience?

Australia’s devotion to the muscle car easily exceeds America’s. It builds them far better, and has continued to do so despite conditions which ought to have killed Aussies’ appetite for big, powerful, thirsty cars stone dead. The heyday of US muscle cars ended abruptly with the oil crisis of 1971: they died overnight in an automotive mass-extinction event on a par with the demise of the dinosaurs. But Australian muscle-car culture was just hitting its stride. That year it produced the Ford Falcon GTHO Phase III, the new Boss’s spiritual forebear and now the most valuable Australian-made car, with genuine examples changing hands for 750,000. And it kept on making them through the seventies.

Like many other Aussie cars the GT is pleasingly Spartan, doing away with the fripperies to keep the price down. So the glovebox falls open with a clunk, the silver cabin trim looks sprayed-on and the boot is barely trimmed and has no grab handles to pull it shut.

But the stuff Aussie drivers actually need is prioritized, such as long gearing and some of the world’s best seats to cope with long, long distances.

And those distances will feel a lot shorter in the GT, if you’re prepared to brave the speed cameras. Based on an American Ford V8 block used in the current Mustang 5.0 GT and Boss 302 the Boss 335 engine develops huge linear thrust and the acceleration feels quicker than the claimed 4.9sec 0-60 time. From inside the whine of the supercharger dominates but from outside there’s a terrific rip from the exhausts accompanied, usually, by the sound of the rear tyres ripping at the tarmac.

The Boss 335 GT has traction control, but the system’s main contribution seems to be to blink at you from the instrument binnacle to tell you you’ve lost traction. This can be provoked at will; fortunately the Ford’s natural chassis balance allows you to keep the car pointing where it’s meant to go. It has quick, accurate steering and a fine ride; not up to the standards of the best European sports saloons, but streets ahead of most US muscle cars.

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2012 Acura RL Review

2012 Acura RL

Despite debuting over seven years ago, extensively refreshed in 2009 and nip/tucked again in 2011, the Acura RL remains a mystery. Flagship products usually sell in small numbers, but the RL is one of the rarest sedans in America. This isn’t exactly been a badge of honor for Acura. Overlooked by shoppers who flock to the cheaper Acura TL and largely forgotten by the automotive press (after all these years, TTAC has never fully reviewed the RL) With a full replacement due next year in the form of the RLX concept, I hit Acura up for an RL for a week to see how a flagship product from a major brand could manage to sell just 56 vehicles in Canada and 1,096 in the USA in 2011. For those who like statistics, the TL outsold the RL by 2,850%.

Beating “sideways” under the hood of the RL is Acura’s ubiquitous 3.7L V6, good for 300HP and 271lb-ft of twist at a lofty 5,000RPM. 300HP may have been a selling point back in 2005, but in today’s luxury market, 300 is where things start, not end. The 3.7 s 271lb-ft is practically meager when pitted against the 350lb-ft cranked out by Lincoln’s Ecoboost V6, not to mention BMW’s twin turbo V8. Rubbing some salt on the wound, the TL’s optional 3.7L engine cranks out 5 more ponies. Ouch. Still, the MKS Ecoboost and S80 T6 are on the high-end of the competition’s scale which, more realistically, includes the GS350 AWD and the Cadillac XTS.

For 2011 Acura updated the RL with a new 6-speed transmission. The extra cog cut the RL’s dash to 60 by almost a full half second vs the 2010 model (5.9 as tested.) Mercedes may advertise a 7-speed automatic and BMW and Audi tout their ZF 8-speed, but let’s be honest here – the E350, 535xi or A6 3.0T don’t compete head-on with the RL. When you scale back the competition to the more natural competitors of the S80, MKS, GS350 and XTS, the right number of gears for this crowd is six. The 2012 RL is now rated for 17/24MPG (City/Highway) which is 1MPG better than before. Over our 745 miles with the RL we averaged a middling 19MPG. In comparison, Cadillac’s XTS promises to be the most efficient AWD sedan in this size class at 17/28MPG.

The RL is perhaps one of the most forgotten and misunderstood vehicles of our time. Looking at the sales numbers, you’d think there was something horribly wrong with the RL. In 2011 only 1,096 RLs found a home meaning even the unloved Volvo S80 outsold it nearly 5:1 and the MKS bested it by 12:1. However, the problem with the RL isn’t that the Volvo, Lexus and Lincoln competition is more modern. The problem is the new TL with SH-AWD. With a thoroughly modern interior and electronics, the TL might have a less capable AWD system, but with a lower price tag it is no wonder it outsells the RL 31:1. Still, if you’re shopping for a $50,000 luxury sedan, the RL isn’t a bad choice, but the new RL couldn’t come any sooner.

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2012 VW Beetle Turbo Review

2012 VW Beetle Turbo

Like the fat kid from Math Club who came to the high school reunion with something to prove, the 2012 Volkswagen Beetle Turbo wants everyone to do a double take and notice that it’s no longer the archetypal chick car. The new VW wants it to be OK for a guy to purchase it and visit the Starbucks drive thru. It wants it known the latest version of the Beetle has a turbo in it, and it means business.

Doesn’t the now-flattened roofline says “I drink more beers than wine coolers” to you? After almost a decade of the New Beetle, VW has decided enough is enough. Cuteness overload has worn thin. The latest Beetle has visual cues that distinguish it from its predecessor. And it has the driving dynamics to make it feel more masculine. So, is the 2.0-liter turbo four mated to a double clutch automatic six-speed enough to propel this bug to a new dawn?

The new Beetle Turbo features the same 2.0-liter four-cylinder turbo engine as the Eos I drove previously. The 200 horsepower and 207 lb.-ft. of torque @ 1,800-5,000 RPM make driving this Beetle quite fun. Passing cars on the freeway was a breeze in S mode. It’s a full second quicker to 60 mph than the VW Eos Lux (6.3 seconds vs. 7.3) thanks to lower curb weigh. And it’s also half-second quicker than the new Jetta GLI, which also has the same engine but is heavier.

The six-speed DSG (double clutch auto) transmission optimizes for MPG, and constantly upshifts in short bursts. The best way to get the most out of the engine is to simply floor the accelerator from a complete stop and drop the transmission in S mode. Keep your foot planted. The new Beetle has a multilink rear suspension tuned for more comfort than driving dynamics. The car feels light in the back, which sudden turns and driving in loose gravel will communicate.

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2012 Ferrari 458 Spider Perfetto with 4.5-liter V8 engine

2012 ferrari 458 spider perfetto

The Perfetto is Wheelsandmore’s latest tuning kit it developed for the Ferrari 458 Spider, which includes body and power mods.

Out of the factory, the 458 Italia boasts a 4.5-liter v8 engine. To this, Wheelsandmore remapped the ECU, added a sports exhaust system and a carbon fiber air box. Combined, these mods add 76-hp and 70 lb-ft of torque, making the total output 638-hp and 468 lb-ft of torque.

Carbon fiber parts have replaced the mirrors and rear diffuser, while the trunk, engine compartment and interior also have the option of being swapped out for carbon, well. All together, they save about 66lbs from the original weight.

The whole package rests on a set of 21-inch forged alloy wheels, with Hankook providing the rubber with four S1Evo tires.

Finally, 4.5-liter V8 engine has a new manifold, sports bankrupt system, ECU mapped and carbon cilia air box. It is accessible to aftermath 647 PS (476 kW / 638 hp) and 635 Nm (468 lb-ft) of torque – an access of 77 PS (57 kW / 76 hp) and 95 Nm (70 lb-ft) of torque. 2012 Ferrari 458 Spider, done that and afflicted the name Perfetto end. Almost perfect?. All types of carbon-decorated tuner 458. Mirrors, air clarify box, luchtinlaatjes, luchtuitlaatjes and as icing on the cake, some apparatus are still functional. A baby acclimation in the computer, accumulated with the new bankrupt makes 656 hp best is Fri

With the acclimation and the ‘extra’ ability in any case accomplish the complete added than the accepted 2012 Ferrari 458.

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2013 Honda Accord Unveiled

2013 Honda Accord Coupe Concept

We’ve yet to officially see the 2013 Honda Accord other than the Accord Coupe Concept that was unveiled earlier this year. The all-new 2013 Accord is slated to arrive this fall, but a leaked dealer order sheet gives away a few more details. The 2013 Accord equipped with the 2.4L four-cylinder engine can be order with either a CVT transmission or six-speed manual. Unlike Hyundai, Chevy and Ford, Honda’s midsize sedan will continue to be offered with a six-cylinder engine. The 2013 Accord V6 sedan only comes with a six-speed automatic transmission, but the Accord V6 Coupe gets either a six-speed manual or automatic.

The order sheet also reveals that Honda will offer “sport” and “touring” trim levels on the Accord sedan.

The powertrains are also evolving, and at a pace that’s less glacial than the styling. The next Accord will feature the new Earth Dreams 2.4-liter, 16-valve DOHC direct-injection four-cylinder, producing 181 horsepower and 177 lb-ft of torque while promising an increase in fuel economy. The 3.5-liter V6 returns with more power, as well.

A plug-in hybrid system is also planned, albeit a less ambitious version than some of its rivals. It’ll only propel you electric-only for 15 miles on a single four-hour charge, but they’ll let you choose those 15 miles. Progress!

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Audi Q7 V12 TDI by Fostla

2012 Audi Q7 V12 TDI

The top of the range Q7 is before your eyes … and it is indeed a diesel! The V12 TDI sits proudly above all other engines and if the oil overpowered plot we must admit he impressed when installed behind the wheel! Aesthetically, it’s 100% Audi and therefore virtually no surprise there then the sacred Single Frame grille (chrome-highlighted!), The all-too-important daytime driving light-emitting diodes (12 in number block), but that’s not all.

The exhaust ends with two big releases ovaloid, receives the front air intakes while the specific routes have been expanded to harness the power of the beast (discussed). Also, the beast is based on five wheels imposing arms installed 21 inches. Finally, the black livery is particularly highlighted the rod and chrome mirror caps designed aluminum. The interior on the other hand is simple in its configuration but just like “bling-bling” of the machine. On closer inspection one will notice a mixture of carbon inserts, leather and Alcantara fully assembled.

The Q7 is one of the most impressive models Audi has ever offered, and the V12 TDI is the most powerful version offered. These two facts about this SUV is why German tuner, Fostla, decided this would be the car to receive one of their tuning kits. Their latest package jumps the Q7’s output to an amazing 600 HP, as well as tweaks its look to match.For 3500 euro ($4,500 at the current rates), Fostla will cover a customer’s Q7 in a cool PWF foil in diamond black matte, tint the front and back lights, and tone the discs to between 55% and 85%. For an extra 6000 euro ($7700 at the current rates), customers will get a new set of 11 23 inch matte powder coated side Mansory C5 wheels with 315/25R23 tires in combination with 15 mm front and 30 mm back track plates.To take care of the Audi Q7’s standard 500 HP, Fostla tricked out the 6.0-liter V12 engine with an ECU upgrade to allow it to push out 600 HP and 737 lb-ft of torque. The 0-60 mph sprint will now be made in 5.5 seconds. This added bonus will set customers back an additional $4,500.

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2012 Ram 2500 Laramie Longhorn 4×4 Launches New Luxury Model

2012 Ram 2500 Laramie Longhorn 4x4

In a market segment as lucrative as the full-size pickup category, we shouldn’t be surprised to see manufacturers’ strategies consisting of offering several trim lines to suit all tastes. At Chrysler, the multiplication of trims and special editions seems to work out for them, as sales are increasing.

In addition to the ST, SXT and SLT, the Ram offers Tradesman, Express, Outdoorsman, Big Horn, Sport, Laramie, Power Wagon and – the subject of our test today – Laramie Longhorn, the most lavishly equipped of the vast line-up.

Let’s just say that luxury takes on a peculiar meaning within the Ram brand. Its cockpit dressed in brown leather, livestock horns and Western-style design patterns makes us wanna jump in a pair of cowboy boots, put on a Stetson and hit the road all the way to Texas.

The 5.7L HEMI V8 is standard in the Ram 2500/3500. Despite a premium of $11,245, or roughly the price of a brand-new Nissan Versa Sedan, many buyers are instead choosing the 6.7L Cummins turbodiesel inline-6, which is saddled with a 6-speed automatic. A manual gearbox is also offered.

Down two pistons compared to the diesel engines in the Ford F-Series Super Duty, Chevrolet Silverado HD and GMC Sierra HD, the Cummins lump develops 350 horsepower, and a colossal 800 lb-ft of torque at a low 1,500 rpm. Thanks to this prodigious twisting force, this Crew Cab, long-bed Ram 2500 can tow up to 14,300 lbs (6,486 kg), while its payload capacity is 2,030 lbs (921 kg).

Certain versions of the Ram can pull up to 22,750 lbs, which seems unreal. We’re a little short, however, of the maximum towing ratings of GM (23,000 lbs) and Ford (24,500 lbs). Still, you get a diesel exhaust brake, very useful for controlling truck and trailer speed, and making you feel as if you were driving an 18-wheeler.

As for fuel economy, the Laramie Longhorn used up only 17L/100km in our hands. The last Ram 2500 we tested with a HEMI engine guzzled down more than 20L/100km.

The Ram 2500 starts at $35,345 for a Regular Cab, short bed 4 2 model. However, our Laramie Longhorn 4 4 equipped with the turbodiesel engine and the longer bed costs more than $70,000, which isn’t within reach of every cowboy. But cheer up – the Ford F-350 King Ranch is even more expensive.

Muscular, luxurious and utterly enormous, the Ram 2500 Laramie Longhorn is one of the best ways to show off at the country fair. As a workhorse, you can’t ask for much more, but personally, I’d go for a less-expensive trim line of the Ram that’s just as hard-working.

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2013 BMW 135is First Look

2013 BMW 135is

In the long standing tradition of high performance BMW “is” models, BMW today announced an enhanced performance version of the 1 Series Coupe and Convertible called the BMW 135is. The 2013 135is Coupe and Convertible focus the qualities that made the 135i such a success amongst driving enthusiasts – with more performance, enhanced sound and dynamic design details. Both the new 135is Coupe and Convertible are scheduled to arrive in BMW Center showrooms this fall with retail pricing set at $44,145 and $48,845 respectively (including $895 destination and handling).

Both models are equipped with BMW’s award winning TwinPower Turbo 3.0-liter inline-6 engine (N55) featuring Valvetronic throttle-less intake technology, direct injection and a single twin-scroll turbocharger. For the 135is, the engine has been tuned to increase peak horsepower to 320 hp (+20 hp increase) and 317 lb-ft of torque (+17 lb.ft) while maintaining the same emissions level and MPG ratings of the 135i. A Performance exhaust system complements the increased engine performance and provides a sporty exhaust tone. The engine cooling system has been upgraded to match the additional performance output by adding a larger, and more powerful radiator fan and an auxiliary radiator.

Both BMW 135is models will be offered with either a standard 6-Speed manual transmission or an optional 7-Speed Double Clutch Transmission.

The 135is is equipped with sport suspension incorporating an aluminum double-pivot front suspension and a five-link fully independent rear suspension in lightweight steel.

The exterior of the new 135is Coupe / Convertible will be clearly identified by exclusive 18″ wheels, unique high-gloss black kidney grill, black mirror caps and special exterior badges in additional to the standard M Sport Package components. Interior highlights include stainless steel pedals, special interior badges and optional black leather seats with blue stitching for the standard sport seats.

The BMW135is Coupe and Convertible are available to order now and are scheduled to arrive in BMW Center showrooms this fall.

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Prepare For The Ferrari Enzo Hybrid

Ferrari Enzo hybrid

There have been rumors circulating for some time that Ferrari was looking to introduce a hybrid. Now, Chairman Luca Di Montezemolo has indeed confirmed that such a car is on its way, scheduled for introduction by the end of this year.

Using a version of Ferrari’s HY-KERS Kinetic Energy Recovery System, the most recent iteration of which was seen at the Beijing Motor Show this year, the new car will be Ferrari’s next generation flagship and carry the name Enzo.

“We have a complete new model range brimming with technological innovations,” Di Montezemolo recently said. “At the end of the year we’ll also be unveiling the new Enzo, a limited series model and our first ever hybrid car.”

Sporting a mid-mounted V12 gasoline engine – not front mounted like the 599 Fiorano HY-KERS test mule shown above – seven-speed transmission and dual electric motors the new Ferrari flagship promises to deliver a whopping 920 horsepower.

As other hi-performance vehicle manufacturers are finding out, hybridization is becoming like the new turbo or super charging. Instead of force-feeding more fuel for more power, electric motors elegantly create more power without the need for any fuel. Ferrari’s two motors in this car will consist of a main unit mounted behind the gearbox and auxiliary power unit on the side of the engine.

In order to achieve the best possible power-to-weight-ratio, the new Enzo will feature extensive use of carbon fiber in its construction and as a result, likely dizzying levels of acceleration, braking and handling.here have been rumors circulating for some time that Ferrari was looking to introduce a hybrid. Now, Chairman Luca Di Montezemolo has indeed confirmed that such a car is on its way, scheduled for introduction by the end of this year.

Using a version of Ferrari’s HY-KERS Kinetic Energy Recovery System, the most recent iteration of which was seen at the Beijing Motor Show this year, the new car will be Ferrari’s next generation flagship and carry the name Enzo.

“We have a complete new model range brimming with technological innovations,” Di Montezemolo recently said. “At the end of the year we’ll also be unveiling the new Enzo, a limited series model and our first ever hybrid car.”

Sporting a mid-mounted V12 gasoline engine – not front mounted like the 599 Fiorano HY-KERS test mule shown above – seven-speed transmission and dual electric motors the new Ferrari flagship promises to deliver a whopping 920 horsepower.

As other hi-performance vehicle manufacturers are finding out, hybridization is becoming like the new turbo or super charging. Instead of force-feeding more fuel for more power, electric motors elegantly create more power without the need for any fuel. Ferrari’s two motors in this car will consist of a main unit mounted behind the gearbox and auxiliary power unit on the side of the engine.

In order to achieve the best possible power-to-weight-ratio, the new Enzo will feature extensive use of carbon fiber in its construction and as a result, likely dizzying levels of acceleration, braking and handling.

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