Category: ‘Hybrid Cars’

Toyota Prius: The Car That Started A Revolution

Posted by Stephen On Wednesday, April 20th, 2016

With the Toyota Prius now being reborn in its 4th incarnation, it’s a great time to look back at the original Prius – the car that started the hybrid revolution. Now hybrids are so common that we have forgotten just how revolutionary this powertrain was when it was launched back in 1997. I remember my first ride in an early model on some hilly roads in Japan, and how it was such a different experience to what I had been used to up to that point.

Throughout history, cars have traditionally been damaging to the environment through the release of greenhouse gases that come about through the burning of fossil fuels (such as gasoline). The rise of “gas guzzlers” and their huge engines that came with the primarily US car culture of the 1960s and 1970s saw carbon dioxide and carbon monoxide and other nasties spewed into the air, causing the global climate damage leading to adverse health effects in large cities where pollution was rampant.

As time went on, however, more and more people began to realize that this was a serious problem – and thus, as global awareness of climate change and the dangers of pollution rose, car companies began to consider alternatives to the traditional gas-fueled vehicle.

Enter the hybrid car: a solid compromise between the gasoline-hungry polluter and the (as yet impossible to produce) all-electric car. Although the concept of hybrid cars has been around for a while – almost since the start of motoring itself, in fact – one car really set the trend for others to follow in the automobile industry, and became a favorite with consumers and critics alike: the Toyota Prius.

The first generation model was launched in Japan in 1997 and went on sale worldwide in 2000. Manufactured by the Japanese auto maker Toyota, this mid-size hatchback is currently sold in over 90 markets, of which Japan and the United States are the largest. In 2008, the Prius reached the global cumulative sales milestone of 1 million vehicles; from there, it grew exponentially, selling 2 million cars by September 2010 and 3 million mark by June 2013.

There is a reason that the car is so popular: its environmentally-friendly nature is appealing to many people who feel that they have an obligation to pollute as little as possible, but don’t have the means to purchase an all-electric car (or to not drive at all). Currently the United States Environmental Protection Agency and California Air Resources Board rank the Prius among the cleanest vehicles sold in the United States based on the quantity of emissions it releases. In 2016, the new Prius Eco has become the all-time most fuel efficient gasoline-powered car available in the US without plug-in capability – making it not only environmentally conscious, but accessible for many everyday working-class citizens.

The first-generation Toyta Prius, however, had not yet achieved such lofty heights. When it debuted at the Tokyo Motor Show in 1995, no one was quite sure how well the Prius would sell or whether it was even ready for the market; several more years of research and development went into the car before it could be sold in Japan. However, the car’s designers did have some inkling of what this vehicle could mean for the world; that’s why they named it the Prius, after the Latin word for “before.” According to the Boston Globe, a Toyota spokesperson stated that “Toyota chose this name because the Prius vehicle is the predecessor of cars to come.” Now, that name Prius is almost synonymous with tree-hugging – an eco-brand in its own right – loved by Greenpeace, hated by Jeremy Clarkson.

When it launched, the first generation Prius became the world’s first mass-produced gasoline-electric hybrid car. Its acclaim among critics was almost instantaneous: it won the Car of the Year Japan Award in 1997, and the Automotive Researchers’ and Journalists’ Conference Car of the Year award in Japan in 1998. Since then, the sales figures have spoken for themselves, as have each subsequent model’s new hybrid features and increasing move towards alternative, rather than gasoline-powered, energy.

The Prius, more than anything, prides itself on fuel efficiency – and it has achieved many of its goals in this regard. While the current fourth generation Prius is expected to achieve ratings of up to 116 MPG, the first generation vehicle already stood at an impressive 52 MPG, and thus was revolutionary for both the fuel economy and environmental benefits that it offered. Although it was not the first mass-produced hybrid in the U.S. – the Honda Insight came first – it was by far the most popular.

While there are still questions asked about just how environmentally friendly it actually is, considering all the exotic metals and materials that go into it, there is no doubt that the Toyota Prius is an iconic Japanese car.

Early Prius are very hard to find. I was not able to find any 1997s at auction or at dealers, and only 2 1998 models for sale by dealers. So instead I decided to go to the other end of the spectrum and check out the very latest model, of which you can already find many examples for sale in the Japanese car auctions. Here is the auction sheet translation:

“Grade S, interior A, exterior A, first registered April 2016, first time in auction, S Navigation Ready Package model, 3KM, in-dash AT, AAC, moo roof, maker option LED fog lamp, LED headlights, smart key, reversing rearview camera, steering wheel switches, vehicle proximity warning system, original alloy wheels, sunroof, airbag, power steering, power windows, hole where there is no stereo fitted, marks as per map”

2016 Toyota Prius at Japanese car auction -- inside

2016 Toyota Prius at Japanese car auction -- rear seat

2016 Toyota Prius at Japanese car auction -- rear

2016 Toyota Prius at Japanese car auction -- front

2016 Toyota Prius in Japanese car auction -- auction sheet


Production Toyota C-HR At The Geneva Show

Posted by Stephen On Thursday, March 3rd, 2016

After being on a grand tour for the past two years and then being debuted as a design study at the Paris auto show in the fall of 2014 the Toyota’s C-HR concept has remained prominent on the continent and even managed to make its grand entrance at the 2015 Frankfurt auto show showing off its impressive body to the viewers. Just a month later, this innovative and expectantly trendy C-HR model popped up at the 2015 Los Angeles auto show wearing a Scion badge and a vivid coat of red paint. It was at the Los Angeles show that it was revealed that this brilliant C-HR was a go. Unlike Scion itself, which is now dead. Now the production version has been debuted 2016 Geneva auto show, and it looks impressive.

Toyota C-HR

Personally, I dislike the styling of this car’s direct competitor, the Nissan Juke, but this Toyota C-HR blows it away. I know which one I would pick from looks alone.

It is quite evident that Toyota chose not to stray too far away from their original concept, and will probably impress the masses when they see how they added the low-profile/floating roof to the transition of this production vehicle. Certainly, the entire C-HR is only somewhat different from its original concept form, with very minor variations to the headlamps and the lower front end connecting the smaller wheels as the most noticeable changes.

According to Toyota’, their Toyota new global architecture (TNGA) which is also found under the newest Prius, it appears that the C-HR, which will have a full hybrid powertrain along with one or more gas-only alternatives.

The Toyota C-HR was scheduled to be sold in the United States as Scion, but those plans were crushed in early February 2016 when Toyota broadcasted that it would be closing its youth-oriented division. Despite the fact that the announcement wasn’t very surprising, ironically the C-HR’s crossover standing and hybrid powertrain might have certainly helped Scion in crucial market areas where it lacked any product. Now that it is coined a Toyota, the C-HR will be competing with well-known models like the Honda HR-V, Mazda CX-3, and Nissan Juke vehicles that made their mark on the subcompact crossover division while the new C-HR was still on tour around the globe in concept form.

It is anticipated that the C-HR will go on sale later this year, shortly after which I expect we will be seeing them pop up in the car auctions over here in Japan.


2016 Nissan LEAF To Get Triple-Digit EV Range

Posted by Stephen On Saturday, June 6th, 2015

2015 Nissan LEAF

Nissan has a problem. The next generation of their all-star EV, the Nissan leaf, isn’t due out until the middle of 2017 at the earliest. But, many of the car’s competitors are starting to rise in popularity, due in large part to their new model offerings.

For example, BMW’s new i3 (which can be had as a PHEV or EV) doubled its sales in May. The car’s biggest competitor, the Chevrolet Volt, just had its best month of sales ever in May with 1,618 deliveries, less than a thousand short of the Leaf’s May sales… And Chevy’s bringing their next-generation Volt out at the end of this year, not next.

If something doesn’t change soon, there’s a very good chance that the Volt will outsell the Leaf for the first time ever before the end of 2015. Unacceptable!

So, what’s Nissan going to do?

According to a recent report from InsideEVs, Nissan plans to offer an upgraded battery on the two higher trims of the Leaf for the 2016 model year. The SV and SL trims will both come with a 30 kWh battery, while the baseline S trim will retain the 24 kWh unit that’s used in all Nissan’s EVs now.

A 30 kWh battery would represent a 25% increase in the Leaf’s power storage capacity, which would allow the EV to finally hit triple-digit range numbers… According to the anonymous dealerships cited by InsideEVs, Nissan estimates the new Leaf will get a range between 105 and 110 miles per charge. Of course, Nissan’s official spokesman, Brian Brockman, is adamant that these are not to be taken as official specs. He told Autoblog, “We have made no public announcement about the 2016 Nissan LEAF. We do not comment on future product details.”

Also, keep in mind that this new expanded battery is still only a shadow of the potential that Nissan has hinted at for the next-gen model due out in mid-2017. Current rumors state that the next-gen Leaf will have a range beyond 200 miles, which would put it unquestionably ahead of even the Tesla Model 3, much less the 50-mile range of the next-gen Chevy Volt.

Japanese Car Auction Find – 2014 Nissan Leaf

2014 Nissan LEAF

Since it’s going to still be at least a couple more years until the next-generation Nissan Leaf hits the market, now is the perfect time to pick up an affordable first-gen Leaf from the auctions in Japan.

2014 Nissan LEAF rear

What we have here is a 2014 model year in a Deep Blue Pearl, which we expect to be added to the lineup as a standard color option for the 2016 model year.

2014 Nissan LEAF interior

Other than that, you probably already know if this car is for you. It’s a standard 2014 Nissan Leaf in spectacular shape with less than 7,000 kilometers on the odometer. A 5 auction rating, A-grade interior and exterior, barely a scratch or blemish across the entire car. Learn more via the auction sheet translation below:

2014 Nissan LEAF auction sheet

Interior A, exterior A, first registered April 2014, X 80th Special Color Limited model, FAT, AAC, power steering, power windows, ABS, airbag, original navigation system and TV, wheels scratched, door mirrors scratches, front windscreen scratched, interior grime and scratches, minor scratches and minor dents, marks as per map


Suzuki iM-4 Concept Confirmed for Production

Posted by Stephen On Saturday, May 16th, 2015

2015 Suzuki iM-4 Concept news

Remember the Suzuki iM-4 Concept we saw earlier this year at the 2015 Geneva motor show? It was shown alongside the iK-2 Concept. Well, according to a recent report from Automotive Express, Suzuki executives have finally given the official go-ahead for production. That means the 4×4 crossover concept will hit the market in production form either at the end of 2017 or at the beginning of 2018, offered as a 2018 MY in both cases.

As a quick refresher course, the iM-4 Concept we saw in Geneva had a number of cool features that we hope to see in the eventual production model. For one, the retro-styled design is actually very eye-catching, and we hope to see the concept’s quirky aesthetic carried over to production. The concept was shown in Geneva with a new 1.2L DUALJET engine and an all-new platform unique to any other Suzuki models. It also used a SHVS hybrid system, but AE said that a hybrid production model isn’t guaranteed.

2015 Suzuki iK-2 Concept news

In the meantime, Suzuki plans to roll out a new Suzuki Swift and Suzuki Swift Sport for the 2017MY, although a definite launch date hasn’t been set. All we know is that they’ll be much like today’s Swift models, but lighter and with a bit more oomph in the Sport model. These cars will NOT be based on the iK-2 Concept though… The iK-2 will come to market as a slightly longer hatch to appease the consistent customer complaints of the Swift not having enough rear legroom.

Japanese Car Auction Find – 2015 Suzuki Jimny

2015 Suzuki Jimny

Interestingly, we’d suspected that the iM-4 may come to market as a replacement for the near-twenty year-old Suzuki Jimny. Turns out, Suzuki is planning to launch a new generation of the Jimny sometime in the next few years, but it the iM-4 won’t be that car. Instead, the new Jimny will maintain the same customer intent as the current one – a back-to-basics off-road-ready crossover built on a ladder chassis and AWD.

To give you an idea of what that might look like, what we see here is a 2015 Suzuki Jimny in literally perfect condition. The seats are even wrapped, with only 3 km on the odometer.

2015 Suzuki Jimny rear

It’s easy to see what makes the Jimny so appealing… It’s rugged, clean and extremely capable. This particular Jimny is one of the kei car variants, which means it runs on a small, highly efficient 660cc engine.

2015 Suzuki Jimny interior

With well-rounded interior amenities, a surprising amount of cabin space, a ruggedly retro look and some stylish custom wheels, this auction find is one worth bookmarking. Get more details via the auction sheet translation below:

2015 Suzuki Jimny auction sheet

Grade S, interior A, first registered January 2015, Jimny Land Venture model, 5-speed manual, AC, ABA emissions code, dual airbags, ABS, 4WD, electrical retraction mechanism on mirrors, heated mirrors, indicator door mirrors, keyless entry, smoked glass windows, special chrome grill, original alloy wheels, power steering, power windows, ABS, airbag, no stereo fitted, part-time 4WD, special water repellant seats with heaters, special seat covers, leather steering wheel (with stereo switches), special dark silver alloy wheels, front under decorative part, LED ring fog lights, marks as per map


Mazda & Toyota to Swap Green Technology, Including FCV

Posted by Stephen On Wednesday, May 13th, 2015

Toyota-Mazda

As emissions regulations continue to tighten around the world, Toyota and Mazda are considering expanding their current partnership to include the sharing of more fuel-saving technology. Specifically, the new agreement would involve the sharing of Toyota’s fuel-cell technology. In a surprising turn of events, that could mean we will see a Mazda FCV even before we see one from Honda.

The news of this latest “competitive cooperation” in the auto industry comes from Nikkei. We already knew that Mazda was planning to manufacture a Toyota-badged version of their all-new Mazda2 hatch sometime towards the end of this year in exchange for Toyota’s hybrid technology. Now, as emissions regulations tighten up and development of green technology becomes subsequently more expensive, the two automakers are looking to help each other out.

2015 Mazda2

In exchange for Toyotas hydrogen fuel-cell vehicle technology, Mazda intends to provide Toyota with the mechanics behind their efficient petrol engine technology – SkyActiv. The result is a win-win arrangement for both automakers:

  • Toyota gets better engines for their own portfolio (which have fallen behind the advancement of their hybrid counterparts, relatively speaking), AND increased proliferation of hydrogen technology.
  • Mazda gets access to the world’s leading FCV technology – development of which they could never do on their own with their limited budget.

Toyota has already made some of their key hydrogen fuel-cell patents available for free to any and all of their competitors. Again, the reasoning is that the more automakers working on fuel-cell vehicles, the quicker the hydrogen refueling infrastructure can grow. As it stands, there are only 12 hydrogen refueling stations in the US.

Meanwhile, Mazda has about one tenth the R&D budget of Toyota, who just announced an $18.1 billion profit for the fiscal year. They’ve spent the past several years focused entirely on fuel-efficient conventional engines, which has left them sorely lacking in the electrification department. The pre-existing technology partnership has helped, but gaining Toyota’s FCV technology would really put them head-and-shoulders above many of their larger competitors.

Although nothing has been put in writing just yet, officials from both automakers have been cited saying that their partnership will only expand with time. In the future, Toyota and Mazda could continue sharing more parts, manufacturing and even commercial vehicles, in addition to green technology. The two automakers have very similar perspectives when it comes to manufacturing and development; they both want to sell simple, clean cars without any real flaws.


The Toyota Mirai: Looking A Lot Less Like Bulls–t

Posted by Stephen On Tuesday, May 12th, 2015

2015 Toyota Mirai

The upcoming Toyota Mirai FCV has been a car of some controversy, to say the least. On the one hand, you have Toyota officials and many others in the auto industry (most of whom are developing their own FCVs) claiming that hydrogen is THE answer to clean, renewable fuel. Others, like Tesla’s Elon Musk, say that fuel-cell vehicles are straight-up “bulls–t”.

Toyota has heard their critics, and they have answered in perhaps one of the cleverest marketing stunts of the past decade – they partnered with Morgan Spurlock to create this video, called “Fueled by Bullsh*t”. Check it out if you haven’t already seen it:

The video demonstrates how one could, if one were so inclined, extract hydrogen from cow manure. The video ends with a Toyota Mirai literally running on bull hockey. It is the first in an ongoing series of videos called “Fueled by Everything” which Toyota will use to promote their upcoming commercial FCV.

Meanwhile, first drive reviews of the Toyota Mirai are starting to roll in, such as this review from The Washington Post. WP’s Drew Harwell had the chance to ride around D.C. behind the wheel of the four-door sedan, and his conclusion is candid, but optimistic.

“Riding this, it really feels like something that could be the future, but until there’s that hydrogen infrastructure, it’s really going to be hard to see this getting in everybody’s garage, at least in the short-term,” Harrell said at the end of his review.

The Toyota Mirai will go on sale for $57,500 when it launches in California later this year, and Toyota only plans to sell 3,000 units in the US by the end of 2017. For that price, you’ll get a completely emissions-free car with a 300-mile range – more than any plug-in electric vehicle currently on the market – and a 5-minute refuel time, just like petrol. Harrell was adamant that the car itself is a blast to drive with great steering and responsive acceleration, along with all the creature comforts one could ask for in a modern-day interior.

Meanwhile, the Toyota Mirai and FCVs in general still have plenty of critics. For example, Clean Technica points out that even though the Mirai itself may be emissions-free, the processing and transportation of hydrogen – the well-to-wheel emissions, if you will – still requires lots of natural gas. But, Toyota isn’t just thinking about the next five years or even the next decade… They really believe the FCV will be the car of the future; the car we’ll still be driving in 100 years.

Japanese Car Auction Find – 2012 Toyota Camry Hybrid

2012 Toyota Camry Hybrid

Realistically, most of us won’t have access to the Toyota Mirai for several years yet. We’re stuck with plain old hybrid cars like this 2012 Toyota Camry Hybrid until the hydrogen infrastructure is more widely adopted around the world. But, there’s nothing wrong with that – the Camry is a great car that needs no introduction.

2012 Toyota Camry Hybrid rear

This Japanese car auction find is particularly reminiscent of the Toyota Mirai with its pearl white paint job (which is one of only two colors we’ve ever seen the FCV depicted in), but of course it is a much more affordable car, even new. The Camry is reliable, fun to drive and has great fuel-economy… All things you probably already knew, since it is after all one of the most well-known and beloved cars of all time. For a detailed rundown of this specific car’s auction sheet, keep reading below:

2012 Toyota Camry Hybrid auction sheet

Interior C, exterior condition C, first registered May 2012, Hybrid G Package, DAA emissions code, FAT, AAC, first time in auction, HDD navigation system, rear view reversing camera, TV, smart entry and start, original navigation system, original TV, ABS, airbag, original alloy wheels, power steering, power windows, FAT, AAC, console scratches, carpets have medium stains, interior grime, scratches under bumpers, front windscreen stone scratches, marks as per map


Mitsubishi Lancer Evo to Return as a Hot Hybrid Crossover

Posted by Stephen On Wednesday, April 29th, 2015

2014 Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution MR Touring

Most of us already know that the Mitsubishi Lancer Evo is on the way out the door. Mitsubishi has already released a final limited edition of the vehicle to commemorate its exit from their lineup. However, as expected, they do in fact have plans to bring the Evo back to their lineup in the future. What we didn’t expect is the type of car they’re going to do it with.

According to a recent interview with Autocar, Mitsubishi boss Testsuro Aikawa says that the revived Evo would most likely be a performance-oriented hybrid crossover.

Pretty big jump, right?

Aikawa’s justification is simple. He envisions the Evo tagline coming to mean something entirely new for the automaker. He explained it like this: “In Japanese, when you pronounce ‘Oh’ [in Evo], it means ‘king’. So we would like to launch this type of [performance] car, featuring EV and PHEV technology, which is the ultimate of its kind. ‘EV’ for electric vehicle, ‘O’ for king – Evo.”

See how that works? It’s a clever bit of wordplay, and a good way to market the next Evo as the king of electric vehicles.

But what car would receive the Evo treatment?

Mitsubishi XR-PHEV II Concept

When you consider that Mitsubishi’s been building up the release of their next-gen Outlander Sport / ASX PHEV for almost a year now with their XR-PHEV II Concept, it seems reasonable to expect that this would be the next Evo vehicle. In other words, instead of the Lancer Evo, it will be the ASX Evo (or the Outlander Sport Evo, depending on your market).

Keep in mind, the next Evo will definitely not come anytime soon. It won’t be in 2016, and there’s actually no guarantee that it’ll come before 2020. Aikawa was very careful to not give a hard and fast ETA. Instead he simply said, “to develop these kind of vehicles, we have to sell a lot of the base models so we can cover the research and development costs.” In other words, they’re not going to force the next Evo into their lineup; they want it to be a natural evolution of a well-established model.

That being said, Autocar claims that Aikawa isn’t the only Mitsubishi rep. envisioning the ASX as the next Evo. Kaneroi Okamato – the guy who’s in charge of product development – is also on record saying the Evo will eventually be “replaced in spirit by an SUV with high performance.”

Together, they make a pretty compelling case, right? Regardless of how you feel about the EV king wordplay, it’s good to hear that Mitsubishi (A) has a plan for future performance models and (B) that they’re being prudent enough to make sure it pays off.


Mitsubishi Dynamic Shield Coming to ASX, Lancer & Mirage

Posted by Stephen On Saturday, April 25th, 2015

2016 Mitsubishi Outlander

We’ve learned this week that Mitsubishi plans to make some big design changes to their lineup to help improve their brand’s recognizability in both the US and international markets.

Remember the ‘Dynamic Shield’ front grille design showcased on the 2016 Mitsubishi Outlander from earlier this month at the 2015 New York Auto Show? It’s pictured above if you need a reference. Mitsubishi apparently plans to make this Dynamic Shield design into their official corporate grille, similar to what Lexus has done with their pinched spindle grille and what Nissan has done with their V-motion design.

According to an interview between Mitsubishi’s US VP, Don Swearingen, and CarAdvice.com.au, they will first adopt the new grille on the 2016 Outlander Sport, otherwise known as the Mitsubishi ASX. He said, “The new brand identity that you see on this [2016 Outlander] will carry over. In the US, after this vehicle we’re going to first go with the Outlander Sport (ASX).” He went on to say that the re-designed Outlander Sport would be here by October or November of this year as a 2016MY.

But it doesn’t stop there… Mitsubishi plans to release a Dynamic Shield-styled Mirage sometime in the first quarter of next year. This is extra-big news because it also means that Mitsubishi plans to bring the re-styled Mirage sedan to the US next year too. We’re sure the addition of a stylish family sedan to their US portfolio will bolster sales.

Mitsubishi also plans to update their relatively stagnant Lancer with the Dynamic Shield design language, but Swearingen said it’s the lowest priority of the three. He said the changes may not be as drastic as what they have planned for the ASX and Mirage, but that they too should be here within the next 12 months.

Japanese Car Auction Find – 2012 Mitsubishi Mirage

2012 Mitsubishi Mirage

This Japanese car auction find should give you a pretty good idea of where Mitsubishi is coming from with their Dynamic Shield design. Looking at a car like the 2012 Mitsubishi Mirage, it’s hard to argue with the efficiency of their vehicles.

2012 Mitsubishi Mirage rear

2012 would’ve been the first model year in the sixth-generation of the Mirage’s production, and while the lime-green hatch you see here is a bit quirky in design, it makes up for it by being the lightest four-door in any segment except for the two-passenger Smart ForTwo, which is hardly even a fair comparison. It also boasts the lowest drag coefficient in its class, which combines with the 1.0L petrol to offer an astounding 63 mpg on the Japanese JCO8 cycle without using an electric motor. Truly impressive.

2012 Mitsubishi Mirage interior

To learn more about this 2012 Mitsubishi Mirage auction find, keep reading below the auction sheet:

2012 Mitsubishi Mirage auction sheet

“Interior B, exterior condition C, first registered October 2012, G model, DBA emissions code, FAT, AAC, gasoline engine, Auto Stop and Go, electrical retraction mechanism on mirrors, rear wiper, smoked glass windows, original navigation system and TV, power steering, power windows, ABS, airbag, original navigation system, original TV, stone chips in front windscreen, interior grime, scratches and dimples and scrapes, wheel caps scratches, marks as per map”


New Technical Details Released for 2016 Acura NSX

Posted by Stephen On Friday, April 24th, 2015

2016 Acura NSX

Without a doubt, the Acura NSX is one of the most exciting cars from the 2015 spring auto show season. Ever since the NSX Concept’s original debut at the Detroit Motor Show earlier this year, we’ve been eagerly awaiting any extra details we can get about the upcoming new supercar. Today, we got those extra details from Ted Klaus’ presentation at the SAE 2015 World Congress & Exhibition.

Ted Klaus is the chief engineer and global development leader for the new Acura NSX. In his presentation, he and his team showcased new technical details, many of which we’d suspected, but hadn’t confirmed.

2016 Acura NSX turbo engine

For example, we already suspected that the Acura NSX’s all-new powertrain would feature a twin-turbo 3.5L V6 engine. What we didn’t know is that Acura engineered the 75° V-angle to simultaneously optimize engine rigidity and lower the powertrain components in the car’s chassis. This will allow the NSX to offer the lowest center of gravity in its class AND maintain peak performance even in extremely grueling turns (which Klaus’ engineers called “high lateral-G conditions”).

2016 Acura NSX hybrid layout

Similarly, the brand-new 9-speed dual-clutch transmission was also engineered to keep a low center of gravity with the majority of its mass centered around the driver, while a variable gear steering ratio allows confident drivers to push the NSX to its limits without fear.

Acura also confirmed details about the hybrid system. We now know for sure that the NSX will utilize a three-motor hybrid system. The rear motor will apply its torque directly to the crankshaft for instant rear-wheel power delivery, while the two front motors will be responsible for the NSX’s dynamic torque vectoring system. Since the hybrid system is designed to handle more combustion power and more torque than any other Acura powertrain to date, they’re ensuring the engine stays cool with a full 10 heat exchangers (pictured below) and an airflow management strategy that both maximizes aerodynamics and minimizes overheating.

Acura NSX Total Airflow Management

But, Acura’s mechanical prowess doesn’t stop with powertrain… The chassis has been perfected as well. Klaus tells us that the NSX boasts the world’s first automotive application of new ablation casting technology and the first-ever use of three-dimensionally formed ultra-high-strength steel. Basically, all that equals out to class-leading chassis rigidity and crash performance without sacrificing agility or curb weight.

If there is one key takeaway from Acura’s presentation, it’s that the new NSX will represent the pinnacle of on-track precision. Everything about the NSX is designed to fuse car and driver into one being, and it’s clear that Acura has placed an enormous focus on accurately and immediately responding to all driver inputs.

At the end of the day, all these tech. specs really do is confirm what we already knew about the 2016 Acura NSX – it’s going to be really, really fun to drive. We’re still waiting to hear official performance details such as powertrain output and top speed, but hopefully we won’t be waiting long.



Refreshed 2016 Lexus ES Debuts in Shanghai

Posted by Stephen On Tuesday, April 21st, 2015

2016 Lexus ES 300h

The refreshed 2016 Lexus ES has finally made its debut at this week’s Auto Shanghai 2015. Lexus says that they have taken their best-selling ES premium sedan to “the next level of elegance and progressive luxury.” You can be the judge of that as we continue reading.

2016 Lexus ES 200

As we suspected from the teaser we saw last week, the front clip of the Lexus ES has been re-sculpted to better fit with the rest of the automaker’s lineup. That means the new front fascia is even more aggressive with a bolder pinched spindle grille that no longer has a horizontal crossbeam splitting the grille in half. The extra-large grille is framed by a pair of arrowhead daytime running lights, new LED high-beams and triangle-shaped fog lights.

2016 Lexus ES 200 rear

In the back, Lexus has brought the same new L-shaped theme to the taillights, and you’ll find new chrome-tipped exhausts below the bumper, plus a new chrome license plate garnish.

Oh, and you can’t forget those new 17-inch alloys with directional spoke patterns. The standard ES sedans come with a 20-spoke dark grey wheel design, while the hybrid gets 10-spoke medium gray alloys. Plus, Lexus will offer four new colors for the 2016 model year – Amber, Nightfall Mica, Caviar and Eminent White Pearl.

Under the hood, our US readers will be offered the same powertrain options available in the current model year’s basic ES 350. That means a 3.5L V6 as standard, with a 2.5L variant used in the ES 300h’s hybrid system. However, international readers in markets like China, Russia and Taiwan will enjoy a new baseline model – the ES 200 – which uses a 2.0L direct-injected four-cylinder engine with unspecified output. However, in all markets the 2016 Lexus ES will run on a stiffer chassis than its 2015 predecessor.

2016 Lexus ES 300h interior

Finally, Lexus ES cabin gets a few new features to go with the additional exterior swag. Drivers will now enjoy an extra-large TFT display on the center console, complete with a Remote Touch controller. You’ll also find a new steering wheel and overall higher quality materials in the 2016MY.

Japanese Car Auction Find – 2013 Lexus LS 460 F Sport

2013 Lexus LS 460 F Sport

This 2013 Lexus LS would have also been fresh off of a facelift. This is one of the first Lexus models to use their self-repairing clear coat for the exterior paint, as well as the first Lexus to use their now-commonplace automatic high beam technology.

2013 Lexus LS 460 F Sport rear

However, as an F Sport there are some other noteworthy features, such as a sport-tuned air suspension, a sporty body kit, paddle shifters with “manual mode”, forged alloy wheels and Brembo brakes all make this car an exciting drive. This also would have been the first year that Lexus incorporated their corporate fascia – the pinched spindle grille – into the LS lineup.

Want to learn more? Just keep reading for a full translation of the auction sheet below:

2013 Lexus LS 460 F Sport auction sheet

“Interior C, exterior condition B, first registered April 2013, LS460 F Sports model FAT, AAC, DBA emissions code, navigation system, leather seats, TRD sports muffler, front sports package, sunroof, original navigation system, ABS, airbag, original alloy wheels, power steering, power windows, seats have wrinkles, glue marks on dashboard, film on windows, front windscreen stone scratches, marks as per map”