March 1st, 2012 at 11:45am
Volkswagen just announced it will premiere a convertible version of its Golf GTI at next week’s Geneva Motor Show. The Detroit Three are starting to become more popular in California, a market that’s long been dominated by import brands. Audi released a list of seven advanced technologies it’s developing for future vehicles. All that and more, plus guest host Christie Schweinsberg from WardsAuto fills us in on the organization’s upcoming 10 Best Interiors competition.
Good morning, afternoon or evening. Welcome to Autoline Daily! It’s Thursday, the first of March, 2012. Bringing you the latest car news from all around the world, I’m Christie Schweinsberg of WardsAuto. Let’s get this show on the road . . .
GO INTO THE LIGHT!
Automakers are starting to utilize lighting to help make their cars unique. The new Cadillac XTS features ambient lighting in the interior to help enhance the vehicle. Engineers choreographed the timing of the lights to deliver a theater-like feel as they come on and dim back down. The exterior of the vehicle also features ambient lights in and around the car’s perimeter that come up when the driver presses the key fob or opens the doors. Pretty neat!
The Geneva Motor Show doesn’t kick off until next week but that hasn’t stopped automakers from teasing us with what they’ll unveil in Switzerland. Volkswagen just announced it will premiere a convertible version of the Golf GTI. Powering this cabriolet is a familiar 2.0-liter turbocharged, gasoline-direct-injected engine that can be mated to a six-speed manual or six-speed dual-clutch transmission. VW says the cloth top can open in under 10 seconds and can even be operated while driving at speeds up to 19 miles an hour. The Golf GTI Cabriolet will be available for summer.
This image of the Hyundai i-oniq concept also leaked before its Geneva debut. It was designed and developed at the company’s R&D center in Germany, and according to Autoblog, the i-oniq is a serial hybrid that uses a small gasoline engine to charge its battery pack and a pair of motors to drive the rear wheels.
GOLDEN OPPORTUNITY (subscription required)
News from the mothership, WardsAuto.com. The other day John reported Chrysler is growing its sales and dealership network in California, a market that heavily favors import brands. You can argue its earth-shattering “Imported From Detroit” Super Bowl commercial sparked a new awareness of the Detroit Three. The other two-thirds of the domestic automakers are also faring better in The Golden State than they have in recent years. Sales of the Ford Focus were up 86 percent in January, while Chevrolet is working on revamping dealerships across California. Competition is a great thing. Let’s hope the Detroit Three can keep up the pressure going forward.
What are the next BIG automotive innovations? What groundbreaking technologies are just around the bend? It’s a safe bet flying cars are not on the map. But what about advanced hybrid materials, or new user interfaces? Well, the folks at Audi just released a list of seven future technologies that are under development. In no particular order the company is working on wireless charging for electric vehicles – no surprise here, other automakers are doing the same. No. 2 – the “Garage Parking Pilot.” This nifty feature can help drivers find a place to dock their luxury liners AND it automatically parks them. No. 3 – OLED lighting – that stands for organic light-emitting diode. They’re smaller, lighter and more efficient than conventional incandescent bulbs. No. 4 – advanced body materials. Audi is already a leader in aluminum construction and now it’s working on hybrid materials made from steel, carbon fiber and, you guessed it, aluminum. No. 5 – fiberglass-reinforced plastic springs. YES, PLASTIC! These can potentially reduce a huge amount of un-sprung weight, resulting in better handling and a smoother ride. No. 6 – multi-touch interfaces. It’s a wonder simple and intuitive smartphone controls haven’t made the jump to automobiles . . . yet. Audi may be one of the first. And last but not least, No. 7 – predictive suspension. With a battery of sensors this advanced setup can literally read the road ahead, adjusting the shocks and dampers to deliver the best ride possible. See? The future IS an exciting place!
The editors at Ward’s are in the thick of another 10 Best Interiors competition. I’ll share some of my notes on the judging process, right after this.
WARD’S 10 BEST INTERIORS
So, at WardsAuto’s office here in suburban Detroit my colleagues and I are in the midst of evaluating cars for our 10 Best Interiors’ awards.
I’ve come away mostly impressed with the interiors in the cars we’ve tested, finding they have lots of style, quality materials and high levels of comfort.
But there have been some, admittedly nitpicky, things that have stuck in my craw.
Auto makers, if you’re going to offer heated seats, please try and figure out a way to get them to heat up faster. There’s nothing worse than sitting down on leather seats on a cold February morning – even if those seats are in a $60,000 Audi A7 – and then waiting nearly 10 minutes for them to heat up.
I’ve also noticed that not only did some seats take a long time to heat up, but that they didn’t retain their heat, either. I’m looking at you, Subaru Impreza. I climbed out of our Impreza tester to pump gas and when I sat back down a few minutes later it was cold again. What gives?
I also realized that, despite the plethora of beverage containers auto makers test when developing cupholders, one size in particular slipped through the cracks: Starbucks’ famous grande, aka “medium” cup. The front cupholders in the A7, Range Rover Evoque and new VW Beetle all squeezed my iced vanilla latte causing its lid to pop off.
Is this a European conspiracy to get Americans off foofy coffee drinks and onto teeny servings of espresso and cappuccino? Who knows?
But what I do know is the winners of WardsAuto’s 10 Best Interiors of 2012 will be announced sometime in mid April. Watch out for the list.
In the meantime, make sure you check out tonight’s episode of Autoline After Hours. Peter De Lorenzo, the one and only Autoextremist is hosting the show. He’ll be joined in the AAH studio by Scott Burgess and Jim Hall. This trifecta of automotive excellence will cover a list of topics including the GM/Peugeot deal, Tom LaSorda going to Fisker and the latest Consumer Reports news . . . plus a whole lot more, so check it out tonight at 7:00 p.m. Eastern Time on Autoline.tv. Anyway, that’ll do it for today’s show. Again, I’m Christie Schweinsberg of WardsAuto. Thank you for watching, and I’ll see you next time!