Episode 888 – ZF 7-Speed Manual, Magna to Build New Infiniti, Hyundai’s Monkey Business

May 11th, 2012 at 12:00pm

Runtime: 8:41

We have more information on that 7-speed manual transmission ZF supplies to Porsche for the new 911 – the world’s first 7-speed manual for a passenger car. Magna Steyr will build a new compact model for Infiniti starting in 2014. To show off the durability of its new i30, Hyundai parked the car in the middle of a safari park to let a pack of baboons have fun with the car. All that and more, plus a preview of Autoline This Week about some of the tricks to make the interiors of cars look as good as they can.

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Ah yes, Friday. We’ve come to the end of another week of Autoline Daily. It’s May 11, I’m Craig Cole, and here’s the news.

We have some more information on that 7-speed manual transmission ZF supplies to Porsche for the new 911 – the world’s first 7-speed manual for a passenger car. It’s based on ZF’s 7-speed dual clutch transmission, which, thanks to modular design, allows both versions to share a lot of parts. The 911 will actually hit top speed in 6th gear, the 7th is merely there to improve fuel economy. And by the way, it has a stop/start system built into it. The 911 with the 7-speed manual is rated at a combined 22 miles per gallon, which is exactly the same as the dual-clutch version. Personally, I’d stick with the stick.

Hyundai thought it came up with a great way to pamper customers who bought its Equus luxury sedan. It wanted to make it convenient to buy the car, so it planned to send sales people to the homes of potential customers, and if their cars needed any service, a rep would come pick their car up and drop off a loaner. But as it turns out, a lot of upscale buyers don’t want strangers coming to their home and seeing where they live. They’d rather go to the dealership. So far this year Hyundai has sold almost 1,700 Equuses in the U.S. market, putting it ahead of its target to sell 2,000 to 3,000 thousand a year.

We have more details on the GM-PSA alliance. GM will build a replacement for the Citroen C5 midsized sedan and Peugeot will make the next-generation Opel Zafira compact minivan. GM denies the partnership will lead to job cuts at Opel’s development center.

Speaking of sharing costs, Magna Steyr will build a new compact model for Infiniti starting in 2014. It will be based on Daimler’s compact platform that’s used for the new Mercedes A- and B-Class models. Nissan, Daimler and Renault have partnered up to share platforms and powertrains.

Researchers are hard at work on the next-generation batteries for EVs, which promise lighter weight, lower cost and longer range. Steven Chu, the U.S. Secretary of Energy, has been saying that we should see a big breakthrough by 2015. But it doesn’t look like that is going to happen. Researchers at the Kentucky-Argonne Battery Manufacturing Research and Development Center say any significant battery breakthrough is at least a decade away. For now – and probably for the next 20 years – it looks like lithium-ion will remain the dominant technology for electric cars.


The Cadillac ATS is GM’s latest effort to best BMW at its own game. And as part of that effort, the ATS should hit the road this summer with a curb weight less than 3,400 pounds. Engineers trimmed fat from parts and assemblies throughout the car, but curiously the rear end features a cast-iron differential case, as opposed to one made of aluminum. This sounds like a step in the wrong direction, but it’s actually beneficial in more ways than one. First, it helps with weight distribution. Carmakers are always shooting for that perfect 50/50 balance for better handling. Second, it’s stronger than aluminum – no surprise there. And third, cast iron is more efficient. How’s that? Well, it expands and contracts half as much as aluminum. Greater stability allows the ring and pinion gears to operate more quietly, which means they consume less energy.

To show off the durability of its new i30, Hyundai parked the car in the middle of a safari park to let a pack of baboons have fun with the car. Dozens of them were in and outside of the car for 10 hours, but surprisingly there wasn’t much damage done to the i30. Ok, we admit, there’s no news here. But hey, it’s Friday and that’s as good a reason as any to put monkeys in the show.

Coming up next, some of the tricks of the trade to make the interiors of cars look as good as they can.

On Autoline This Week, the discussion is all about interior design. In the following clip, Klaus Busse, the head of interior design for the Chrysler Group and Fiona Doskocz from the supplier company Benecke Kalico, discuss new manufacturing techniques and new technology that can make the interiors of cars look better without increasing cost.

(Today’s Autoline This Week preview is only available in the video version of the program.)

That holographic manufacturing technique is not out yet but we should see it showing up in cars very soon. By the way you can watch that entire episode on our website right now, or check you local public television listings because Autoline is seen from coast to coast in Canada and the United States.

And make sure you check out RoundAbout, tonight. The LIVE broadcast starts at 6:30 p.m. Eastern Time at Autoline.tv. Our special guest is that car designer of a thousand voices, Jason White. He’ll be playing one of our audience-favorite games, A CAR BY ANY OTHER NAME. That’s the one where we name a fictitious vehicle and our panelists have to come up with a convincing explanation of what it is. You, the audience, gets to vote on who did the best job. Again, it all starts tonight at 6:30 and we hope to see you there.

And that wraps up this week’s reports. Thanks for watching and please join us again on Monday.

Thanks to our Partners for embedding Autoline Daily on their websites: Autoblog and WardsAuto.com

42 Comments to “Episode 888 – ZF 7-Speed Manual, Magna to Build New Infiniti, Hyundai’s Monkey Business”

  1. Scott M Says:

    Monkeys!! Thanks Craig. I needed a good laugh!

  2. Kit Gerhart Says:

    Is there really any need for that 7 speed manual? 6 seems like plenty, but I guess I thought the same about 3, and then 4, and then 5.

  3. Brett Says:

    Look at the bright side, Kit, at least you’re not opining for the pleasure of stomping the pedals on the floor of a Model T to shift gears. :)

    Hope everybody has an enjoyable Mothers Day.

  4. C-Tech Says:

    Perhaps there was no major damage to the interior of that Hyundai, but I would not want to live with the smell.
    @ #2 I agree with Kit, are 7 speeds really necessary, especially if 7th gear is just for fuel economy on the highway?
    It seems that Cadillac engineers are doing the necessary things to make their cars better. Will this trend spread to the other GM divisions?

  5. Jon M. Says:

    Well, there may not have been much damage to the i30, but I’m sure it lost that new car smell pretty quickly. No doubt a baboon or two found the sparkling clean i a nice sanitary place to deposit some of the safari’s most gourmet, post-processed delicacies. And oh yes, don’t forgot the cool, refreshing safari water the baboons enjoy as well! While I don’t get how parking a car next baboons test the durability of the car overall, I’m sure it’s a good test of the i30′s interior stain resistance.

  6. Chuck Grenci Says:

    What, can’t they make an engine with enough torque to propel itself with the use of just four or five gears (rhetorical question); of course they can (an do). No need for seven or for that matter six speed trannys. In an auto (or dual clutch) okay, economies might be in force with efficient shifts in proper rpm ranges, but when you install a driver (human factor) anything gained in rpm efficiency is probably lost in ‘rowing’ through the gears (not to mention not picking the proper one in the first place). A close ratio four speed (with a taller fifth/overdrive) would probably be as efficient as any additional gears could provide.

    And on batteries; when we have aircraft (using battery power) for flight, then I think we’re getting close to give ICE’s a challenging threat.

  7. Kit Gerhart Says:

    I frequently skip gears in my MINI, sometimes 2 or 3 at a time. If I want to get to get to 50 fairly quickly to blend into traffic, I only need 1st and 2nd. Then, I can go directly to 6th if I don’t need to accelerate any more.

  8. HtG Says:

    Maybe that 7th gear has an outsized effect on European Test mileage score.

  9. W L Simpson Says:

    Dear John, please run down the “rest of the story”
    , the I30 cleaning & repair bill.

  10. Kit Gerhart Says:

    I suspect the 7-speed in the Porsche is mainly for some kind of bragging rights. They could space the gears a little wider, using the same top and low gear in a 6-speed, and sacrifice little in either performance or fuel economy.

  11. Kit Gerhart Says:

    Here’s the latest from AW about that Fisker Karma fire:


  12. pedro fernandez Says:

    More gears for a manual and less manuals being sold, that makes a lot of sense. What they need to do is keep improving the performance and efficiency of the automatics

  13. pedro fernandez Says:

    RIP Mr Shelby, you were ahead of your time, a pioneer and a real car guy!

  14. Jesse W. Henry Says:

    Agreed Pedro… just heard about it an hour ago at work. It almost seems unreal.

  15. pedro fernandez Says:

    The next gen Corolla will come with a CVT and a 5 speed manual, I guess this way they don’t have to bother with a 5 or 6 speed auto, you know what, I’m getting some work done on mine, do not like CVT’s at all!

  16. Kit Gerhart Says:

    Mr. Shelby was one of the longest living heart transplant patients. He received a transplant in 1990, when the procedure was very new. I’ve been surprised that he has lived so long. He also receive a kidney transplant sometime in the 1990′s. He lived to an age of 89, not bad by any standard.

  17. Kit Gerhart Says:

    What, exactly, do you not like about CVT’s, assuming they are reliable?

  18. Bob in Atlanta Says:

    Baboons examining a new car – similar to this old dinosaur’s view of manufacturers presenting a new car via “social media”.

  19. earl Says:

    I’ve heard nothing but negative comments about CVT’s. They range all the way from driving a regular manual transmission with the clutch slipping to lots of engine rpm until you’re up to speed. And then many refer to them as rubber band transmissions.
    I would like to read comments from Nissan owners as they seem to have the most vehicles with CVT’s.
    A Corolla with a CVT, a Civic with a 5 speed an Elantra with a 6 speed automatic and a Focus with a 6 speed automatic…quite a contrast.

  20. pedro fernandez Says:

    Kit, I only experienced a CVT once in a brief drive of a Rogue and I’m no expert, but just about every single review I’ve read of CVT equipped cars is negative, in some cases taking the tested out out of the competition when it involves a comparison test against others, The one thing I always hear is that even at low speeds the engine RPM is to high in comparison to a reg transmission and of the constant hum at highway speeds.

  21. Kit Gerhart Says:

    It would seem that, if the programming is done properly, a CVT should do the right thing to most efficiently select gearing and throttle position to provide the acceleration you ask for with your right foot. It seems that the CVT equipped Altimas do very well in that regard, at least in CR’s tests, if not the EPA numbers.

    I’ve driven a couple “low end” cars with conventional CVT’s, an iQ and a Cube. My Prius, of course, “acts like” a CVT, though it has no belt changing gear ratios. My feeling is that the CVT, at least in the Cube, is “doing the right thing,” even if rpm seems kind of high during low speed acceleration, because the Cube gets better city gas mileage, both EPA and in CR tests than its direct competitor KIA Soul, and the CVT Altimas get competitive mileage and performance, even though the current versions are on the way out.

  22. Kit Gerhart Says:

    It will be interesting to see how the new Corolla compares with the others when it arrives. Interestingly, the current Corolla with a 4 speed automatic got better city mpg in CR’s test than the 3 newer designs. The Civic gets the best highway mpg in CR’s test.

  23. HtG Says:

    When you guys finish watching Motorweek, here’s some good reading in Reuters by Paul Ingrassia about the Corvair.


  24. pedro fernandez Says:

    The new Corolla ois already out in Japan and I give Toyota credit for bucking the trend to make each consequent model larger than the previous, this Corolla is actually 2 in shorter outside, more room inside and taller, with refinement its main objective and continue to get better mpg’s w/o putting convoluted and doubtful technologies in engines. The CVT, I don’t know about that, I don’t see massive improvements in mileage with those.

  25. Kit Gerhart Says:

    FWIW, CR’s reliability data shows almost nothing but red dots (good) for the transmissions of Nissan Altima, going back to 2002. I don’t know when they started using CVT’s, but it’s been a few years.

    That said, if I were buying a non-hybrid in that class, and especially if buying a smaller Corolla or Civic, I’d probably get a manual, as long as they are available.

  26. pedro fernandez Says:

    Really? I wonder why, you would think since they’re new, there would be some growing pains involved. I am sure knowing Toyota, they made sure they got it right with the Cvt’s before they put it out there in such a mainstream car like Corolla, BTW I don’t know if they will use it here, the model I read about is for Japan and Asiaa markets.

  27. Kit Gerhart Says:

    CVT’s have been around for quite a while. DAF, a Dutch car company had them in the 60′s, I think using basically the same technology as the ones Nissan uses now. I doubt that those early ones did a very good job of gearing for efficiency, though.

  28. Kit Gerhart Says:

    It’s turning out to be a very interesting year in F1, with 5 different winners from 5 different constructors in the first 5 races. Last year, Vettel pretty much had it wrapped up by this point in the season. Well, not quite, but it was certainly going in that direction.

  29. HtG Says:

    I remember filling out surveys from F1, asking what direction I(and a few million other geniuses) thought the sport should go. A big issue was how important passing was, and should there be more of it. Et voila! Ecco! Tada!

  30. cwolf Says:

    After seeing the Abarth on MW and reading the comparo of it vs Cooper,I have a better appreciation for the Abarth. Sure,I’d take the Mini JCW if given for free,but if I had to buy one,the Abarth would be the toy for me. Initial costs is the deciding factor,yet resale goes to the Mini. Odds are it will last longer,too,but who knows about that? For about the same price,though a tad bigger,maybe the coming Focus ST would be even a better choice!

  31. cwolf Says:

    Carscoop is taking a poll for the best sportscar had for $25K. The BRZ and GLI and tied for 1st and Camero and Mustang parallel for second. Anyone interested in taking part or just curious:

  32. Kit Gerhart Says:

    The BRZ has charged into the lead, with the GTi second and Camaro third, with 181 total votes. There are 67 days to go for the poll.

  33. RonE Says:

    Re: F1. A nice win for Sir Frank and the Williams Team. Not so nice about the fire in the William’s Team’s garage. A speedy recovery is wished for those injured while fighting the fire.

  34. pedro fernandez Says:

    cwolf to me, the Fiat is a toy car, based on a subcompact, low-end economy car, the Mini is a REAL car, the Fiat is not even that cheap when you see what you’re getting for your hard earned money.

  35. pedro fernandez Says:

    #32 When people realize that Subaru dealers can tack whatever the market will bear to the MSRP of the BRZ, the Scion one should jump into the lead, my son who is looking to get one, has decided to go with the Scion for that same reason

  36. Kit Gerhart Says:

    I would expect the Toyota/Scion dealer here to tack on “extra dealer profit” at least as much as some Subaru dealers I know of. It will be up to each dealer, though.

    In any case, I suspect this will be a car that one should wait a year or two to buy, like the Miata, New Beetle, and PT Cruiser when they were new.

  37. pedro fernandez Says:

    Kit, Scion, like Saturn has a one price policy, the only thing they could do is add dealer installed extra dumb, useless crap to raise the price, only thing is right now the dealers really don’t have much in accessories to offer or to add on whether you want it or not, we already looked into it, Jr is really enthusiastic about this car!

  38. Kit Gerhart Says:

    Maybe I forgot something. Are Scion dealers “required” to sell Scions at MSRP like Saturn dealers were to begin with?

    I suppose they have the “southern Toyota dealers $700 add on,” and the ~$400 for title transfer, which costs them about $100, but maybe they can’t add on other extra profit. If you want to trade a car, they’ll try to get you on that, though.

  39. Kit Gerhart Says:

    Thanks, Pedro. You were answering my question while I was asking it.

  40. pedro fernandez Says:

    Kit, seems like Scion does NOT have to go through the SE Toyota rip-off scheme that befalls all who purchase new Toyotas in the SE USA. I went through it when I got my Vibrolla, at that time I did some inquires about it including asking a big shot at a local Toyota dealer I met as a client a few months later why Toyota allowed this entity to basically “intercept” all Toyotas sold in the region and add a premium for some “inspection” and an over-priced wax job his response was: “SE Toyota Distributors Inc has made a lot of money for Toyota Motors, they have Carte Blanche.

  41. Kit Gerhart Says:

    When I first saw that extra $600-700 on Toyotas in Florida, I thought the cars had “fake” window stickers made by the dealer, but soon found that all the dealers had the same stickers. I bought my Prius in Indiana, partly to avoid starting out at a higher price when dealing, but I’m pretty sure I also got a better trade value for my Malibu, since I was in a GM/Chrysler town.

  42. Brett Says:

    Jim Moran made a s**tload of money as the SE distributor for Toyota. You should see the mansion he built in Highland Beach, FL.