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Lighter, More Powerful Audi TT RS Coming Soon To A Dealer Near You?

By: Carl Malek

Is there a more powerful Audi TT RS variant in the works? According to some leaked documents obtained by World Car Fans via Qarsi.de that appears to be the case.

A variant of the high performance two door under the designation “Audi TT RS Plus Coupe 2.5” was among the models featured in an internal Audi parts catalog. The unknown and currently unconfirmed variant of the familiar fun to drive Audi TT RS was quoted to have at least 355 horsepower, which would be a 20 horse jump over the standard TT RS model’s 335 horses. While this meager gain may not appear to produce a significant increase in performance, there is a possibility that Audi could make extensive use of carbon fiber parts in the TT RS Plus’s design to help the car slim down and improve its handling characteristics. This process was last used by the company in the R8 GT super-car to help that particular model shed precious weight and it would perhaps serve to enhance the model’s performance abilities as well when combined with the slight horsepower increase.

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The Cassette Deck is Dead; Are CD Players Next?
Mar09

The Cassette Deck is Dead; Are CD Players Next?

By Chris Haak

According to an last month, you can no longer purchase a new 2011 model-year vehicle in the United States with a factory-installed cassette player.  The last holdout was the Lexus SC430, which went out of production after the 2010 model year.  So if you’re in your 30s or 40s and plan on dusting off those old mix tapes from high school, you’ll need to find a Walkman and plug it into your new car’s aux-in jack.

A search on the , a well-known car-audio retailer, returns only four aftermarket cassette decks.  The Sony Walkman cassette player, , is on its last legs.  Indeed, the cassette is all but dead.  And frankly, I don’t miss them one bit.  It’s hard to find a specific song, their quality isn’t good – and degrades over time – and if the tape tears or unwinds inside your player, you’re really screwed.  About the only good things about them were their low price and that they didn’t skip the way CDs sometimes do.

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Review: 2011 Hyundai Sonata 2.0T Limited
Mar07

Review: 2011 Hyundai Sonata 2.0T Limited

By Charles Krome

While the 2011 Hyundai Sonata 2.0T Limited came to my driveway loaded up with goodies, the most important thing the car brought with it wasn’t on the spec sheet. I’m talking here about expectations. As the car that nearly singlehandedly pulled Hyundai into the mainstream, the 2011 Sonata came with a strong reputation for satisfying customers, and I was particularly looking forward to seeing how it lived up to that rep. Of course, first I had to get used to seeing the vehicle itself.

I’d always been surprised that a car with such a relatively radical design was attracting so many customers, but after living with the Sonata for just a few days, most of its exterior design cues began to grow on me. The sedan’s silhouette is much sleeker than you might think at first glance, and it takes a nice stance on the road, with a surprisingly aggressive look that’s well enhanced by the character line flowing through its door handles. That character line blends backward into the Sonata’s tail-lights nicely, too, and the way the D-pillar flows down into the trunk area almost pulls off an Audi-esque feel. If I never had to look at the front of the car, I would have given the Sonata’s exterior a definite “thumbs up.”

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Ford’s All-American Mustang to be Globally Designed

By Carl Malek

According to Automotive News, Ford will turn to its team of global designers for the look of the next generation Ford Mustang.  In addition to the expected input from Ford’s US design team, styling ideas for the new Mustang will be presented by Ford’s European and Australian studios as well as other locations scattered around the world.

Ford claims that this approach is standard practice for most of the company’s new products, and that the global design approach was implemented by the company three years ago.  J Mays and the rest of the cars design team will then sort through the proposals and choose the design that best suits the next generation pony car.

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Hyundai Sonata Hybrid Deliveries Delayed

By Chris Haak

The Hyundai Sonata Hybrid, which is to be Hyundai’s first hybrid vehicle sold in the US, was originally supposed to go on sale in late 2010.  But now in early March, there are only a handful of units on the ground.  The reason for the delay?  The original version of the Sonata Hybrid had a user-activated synthetic engine sound to alert pedestrians to the presence of an electrically-powered Sonata creeping along, but the President Obama signed a bill into law on January 4 that required the eventual implementation of an automatic audible pedestrian warning system.

Though the Sonata Hybrid with a defeatable audio warning would be legal for sale in the US for a few more years, Hyundai decided to go to the effort of changing the car’s implementation of the system to eliminate the switch.  More than just removing the switch, though, Hyundai had to modify the car’s wiring harness, user-interface software, and owner’s manual to make the switch.  Or rather, to remove the switch.

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Review: 2011 Toyota Camry SE V6
Mar03

Review: 2011 Toyota Camry SE V6

By Roger Boylan

“What’s in a name?” famously asked the Bard in Romeo and Juliet, his meaning plain: not much (“…a rose / By any other name would smell as sweet”). But he wasn’t talking about cars, was he? The automotive snob value that inheres in having a Lexus nameplate on your daily wheels instead of a Toyota one, or an Infiniti badge instead of Nissan, is partly what keeps those luxury marques afloat. So, knowing that a new test vehicle of modest marque was arriving last Wednesday, but not wanting to be influenced by that fact, I played a game with myself. I pretended I had no idea what make or model it was, just that it was a… car.

Hello, car! I said, when the mysterious stranger rolled up. I was impressed. What a handsome machine. Muscular and aerodynamic; jet black, with sculpted flanks, bright alloy wheels, tinted windows, foglights embedded in restrained but eye-catching forward spoiler, snazzy side rocker panels. Just enough chrome to offset the ebony, but not enough to be garish. A muscular stance, like a Charger. An elegant black-out grille, reminiscent of some Mercedes designs; a handsome rear wing atop a rear end à la post-Bangle BMW. Truly, a fine-looking car, one you’d be proud to cruise around in. A real head-turner.

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Mitsubishi Official Says Evo Franchise Will Be Killed

By Carl Malek

In an interview with Autocar magazine, Gayu Eusegi, Mitsubishi’s Head of Global Development, issued a statement which suggested that the company’s Evo franchise will meet its end after the company concludes production with the Lancer Evolution X.  According to Eusegi, this surprising decision is part of the company’s shift from a maker of rally-inspired cars to a leading maker of environmentally-friendly vehicles. On that note, AutoCar has indicated that the company has plans to produce eight new models with Pure EV and Hybrid electric capability by 2015 with the intent of taking a big share of the growing green car market. With that statement in mind, its easy to see how the fun but fuel-thirsty Evo model in its current form could be an enormous contradiction to the company’s new policy of being a leader in EV and hybrid technology.

When later asked about the possibility of a hybrid powered Evolution model, Eusegi appeared to put that notion to rest as well by saying, “Maybe the world can change and maybe someday we can do a motor race by electric vehicles. Maybe then we can enter the market again.”

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Review: 2011 Suzuki SX4 SportBack
Mar01

Review: 2011 Suzuki SX4 SportBack

By Chris Haak

In this design-centric era in which we live, many of us – myself included – have fallen victim to buying the best-looking item, and not necessarily the most efficient or most practical one.  The iPhone 4 looks so great – but you can’t hold it a certain way in low-signal areas and expect to make a call.

Some folks, though, do prefer keeping things simple.  They want a phone that doesn’t text, take pictures, have Internet access, or have a touchscreen.  For them, the Suzuki SX4 SportBack may be just the ticket.  It’s not a beautiful car – it has an unfashionably large daylight opening with its tall roofline and low door sills – and it’s not a performance car.  However, it most certainly is an honest, competent piece of basic transportation.

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