Wards Auto Announces 10 Best Engines


Wards Auto has announced its 10 Best Engine Winners for 2011. Check to see the engines that made the list after the jump.

@funkmasterflex

Not surprisingly, fuel-efficient creations like the Chevrolet Volt and Nissan Leaf (the first EV to get the award) both found their beating hearts among the winners. Likewise, the 2.0-liter turbocharged diesel engine in the Volkswagen Jetta TDI found favor with the judges for its green credentials, though the 10 Best list didn’t simply stick to the eco warriors of 2011 for its picks. Lumps like the 5.0-liter V8s in the 2011 Ford Mustang GT and Hyundai Genesis also made the cut. Wards said that it intentionally tried to make sure that there was an engine for everyone, and we have to admit that it looks like they’ve done a smart job of keeping the bases covered.

Glad to see that the 3.6-liter Pentastar V6 from Chrysler is slotted among this year’s winners. The engine single-handedly managed to improve vehicles like the Dodge Avenger and Journey by leaps and bounds, throwing in excellent fuel economy and power at the same time. In fact, of all the engines on the list, we’d have a hard time finding an argument against any of the winners. Head over to Wards for a closer look.
AB

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Pontiac still a hotter Google keyword than Buick

Pontiac may be dead, phased out by parent company General Motors in the wake of its financial collapse, but you wouldn’t know it from searching these interwebs. According to search trends tracked by BringPontiacBack.org, more people are still searching for Pontiac on Google than they are for Buick.

@funkmasterflex

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(Video)First Look: Brammo Enertia Plus


Brammo, makers of the electric Empulse and Enertia motorcycles, announced the release of an upgraded Enertia Plus with a doubled operating range of 80 miles. This has been made possible by adopting the Empulse-style Lithium-ion 6 kWh battery.
@FunkmasterFlex

Other refinements accompany this change. First, the plug-in charging process has been simplified. Second, starting the vehicle is now a key-only operation, rather than the previous key-and-button sequence.

The Empulse 6 kWh battery has a recharge time of 2.4 hours from a 220V line (as used to power electric clothes dryers) or 8 hours on a 110V household outlet.

Steering has been lightened by increasing fork offset to reduce trail. Handlebars now come an inch closer to the rider, which is said to considerably increase comfort. This model has also been homologated for European sales, a process that required a tighter turning capability.

There is an option for hard bags—useful in this machine’s likely principal application as a commuter or shopping vehicle. To increase machine appeal to fleet operators, a centerstand has been added. Four new colors are offered: Eclipsed Black, Aluminum Silver, True Blood-Red or Peacekeeping Blue.

CEO Craig Bramscher mentioned his company’s alliance with Flextronics, a large supplier of electronics services, saying that it moves his products to higher value more quickly than simple reliance on by-the-component purchasing. Although it is possible to build electric vehicles from equipment catalogs, this “science-fair approach” ignores the gains to be made by engineering the vehicle as an integrated system of designed-for-the-job elements.

There

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Lamborghini Estoque Concept

Lamborghini remains intent on adding a third model to its range. This, straight from the proverbial lion’s mouth – that of the company’s affable CEO Stephan Winkelmann, who would like a new model to attract new buyers to the brand. The question is, what form will that new model take?

@funkmasterflex

According to a new report from Autocar, the most likely scenario is a production version of the Estoque concept sedan unveiled in Paris a couple years back. Previous reports suggested a successor to the LM002 sport-utility vehicle could be in the works. But while either model could borrow underpinnings from within the Volkswagen Group (the Porsche Panamera or Audi A7 for the Estoque or the Porsche Cajun/Audi Q5 for the LM00X), enabling a faster and more cost-effective development process, Winkelmann seems to like the idea of the Estoque better.

Building the Estoque could also potentially lead to more variants as well, including a front-engined coupe and convertible, while the LM002 would, in all likelihood, be a single-model proposition.

Us? We just hope that the new model (whatever it is) gets built soon. In the case of the Estoque, there’s nothing worse than a painfully slow gestation of an already aging concept car to kill buzz.

AB

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2011 Acura TSX Sport Wagon


During a product briefing Tuesday, Acura executives revealed that the 2011 TSX Sport Wagon.

@funkmasterflex

This TSX Sport Wagon will be priced from $30,960 (not including $860 for destination) when it goes on sale in just a few weeks. This represents a price increase of $1,350 versus the slightly refreshed 2011 TSX sedan that recently debuted at the Los Angeles Auto Show.

All TSX Sport Wagons come standard with a leather-trimmed interior, premium seven-speaker sound system, XM radio, USB audio with iPod integration, Bluetooth connectivity and a power moonroof. For an extra $3,650 you can opt for the TSX Technology Package, which adds sat-nav with voice recognition and rear-view camera, an ELS surround audio system, GPS-linked solar-sensing climate control and a power liftgate out back.

The only engine available in the Sport Wagon is the TSX’s 2.4-liter inline-four, mated exclusively to a five-speed automatic transmission (a six-speed manual is available on the sedan). 201 horsepower is perfectly adequate for the Sport Wagon, but we’re curious as to why Acura felt it necessary to leave the sedan’s 280-hp V6 mill out of the mix. We’ll have the full report of how the TSX Sport Wagon fares out on the road in the coming weeks, so stay tuned.

AB

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First Look: 2011 Ducati Monster 1100 EVO


A big surprise, following on the heels of the Diavel, was Ducati’s unveiling of a new Monster 1100 EVO. It has a completely new exhaust system, largely inspired by the Diavel’s two-can setup, which really sets this model apart from the rest of the Monster family.

@funkmasterflex

In addition, the Evo is powered by a retuned version of the tried-and-true air-cooled, sohc, 1078cc V-Twin. Revised inlet runners, 11.3:1 compression and more-aggressive cam timing bump output up to 100 hp at 7500 rpm and 76 ft.-lb. of torque at just 6000 rpm—just what discerning buyers want from their Ducati Monster.
In addition to its more intriguing and efficient exhaust system, the 1100 EVO also derives from the Diavel a new oil-bath clutch that’s said to reduce lever effort. ABS and DTC are standard equipment. Ducati claims an amazing dry weight of just 373 pounds, which might let the new Monster EVO give the scene-stealing upstart Diavel quite a run for its money, performance wise.

-Bruno dePrato

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First Look: Husqvarna 1000cc Concept and 2011 Supermotos


Apparently, Husqvarna never sleeps. First, a completely new line of enduros and motocrossers were shown in Cologne last month. Now, at EICMA, the Italian motorcycle maker unveiled a new family of supermoto machines. But the real Milan show-stopper was a lean, mean concept powered by a 1000cc Triple sporting red camshaft covers.

@funkmasterflex

Styling of this unnamed machine is edgy, with a low seat and an overall look that is reminiscent of a muscled-up drag racer. Actual production is pretty difficult to imagine, but the bike certainly represents a daring attempt to explore new aspects of functionality and styling.

The supermoto line starts with the two-stroke SM 125 and extends through the lean-looking, sharply styled SMR 449, 511 and 630—all of which are powered by the company’s new four-stroke Single. This dohc, four-valve powerplant has been revised for superior supermoto performance.

Husqvarna was tight-lipped about horsepower and torque figures for both the 449 and 511; actual displacement for the latter is 477cc. The two bikes use identical chassis, each with a massive Marzocchi fork with 25.0 degrees of rake and a mere 3.4 inches of trail, and a 57.5-inch wheelbase.

The SMR 630 (updated just a year ago) is an all-new bike that is powered by a 600cc engine that replaces the previous 610 that in reality displaced 576cc. The new engine delivers 20 percent more power and torque, soaring to a claimed 80 hp and 42.8 ft.-lb. Dry weight is a claimed 260 pounds.
-Bruno dePrato

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X-Raid Previews Mini All4 for Dakar

Mini is going to Dakar, or at least the 2011 Dakar Argentina-Chile race. Monster Energy has partnered up with the X-Raid Team to bring a diesel-powered Mini Countryman to the sands of South America in just 90 days. The team started on the project last month, and the reworked Countryman has to be in Argentina before the New Year. Between now and then are hours of wrenching and a few shake-down runs in France on December 13 and 14.
@funkmasterflex

X-Raid has previously campaigned a BMW X3CC, helping the team to nab three FIA World Cup titles for cross country racing, and last year the vehicle helped the team walk away with fourth and fifth place finishes in the 2010 Argentina-Chile race. To that end, the team will be using a turbo-diesel engine borrowed from the bad Bimmer. With 315 horsepower and 523 pound-feet of torque, the engine brings a substantial bump in power to the table while using the same architecture as the lump found in the 2010 X3CC.

Switching to the Countryman has a number of benefits, including better handling from the vehicle’s lower center of gravity and shorter wheelbase, though the team says that ingress and egress is a little more complicated compared to the BMW. Look for the Mini All4 Racing during this year’s Argentina-Chile this January.
AB

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First Look: 2011 Suzuki GSX-R600 and 750


Suzuki’s 2011 update of the GSX-R600 and 750 is very much like a MotoGP team’s midseason adjustment: minor in that it’s not a total redesign but moves steadily in a desirable direction. In the case of the 600, the 67.0 x 42.5mm inline-Four is rotated backward slightly, enough to allow it and the swingarm pivot to be moved forward. This shortens the wheelbase from its former 55.1 inches to 54.5. Shorter is better for quick handling, because when you turn the front, the wheelbase is the “lever” by which the steered motion of the front end steers the rear wheel.

@funkmasterflex

In the outdated language of 40 years ago, the heavy-steering bikes admired back then “cornered as if on rails.” Locomotives actually are on rails; just try steering one. Today’s quick-responding bikes allow us to make midcourse corrections and quickly evade road hazards.

A similar set of changes to the GSX-R750 takes its wheelbase from 55.3 inches down to 54.7. Claimed curb weight of the 600 decreases by 20 pounds—from 432 to 412. The 750’s 2011 diet trims it from 437 lb. to 419.
Both the 600 and 750 receive the Showa Big Piston Fork (BPF) that was so much discussed during the final racing season of Suzuki’s many-time AMA Superbike Champion, Mat Mladin. As tire grip and speed of maneuver increase, chassis and component stiffness must do so as well. On this fork’s radial mounts are new Brembo calipers. As racing-minded readers know, Brembo has come to dominate Superbike and MotoGP

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(Video) Check out Ford Racing at the Track

@funkmasterflex

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