Episode 1069 – Alfa Romeo 4C, The End of the Spark Plug, Smart Materials in Corvette

February 12th, 2013 at 11:17am

Runtime: 9:46

The production version of the Alfa Romeo 4C finally hits the Geneva show next month. In our New Technology segment, we take a look at Federal Mogul’s ACIS program, which stands for Advanced Corona Ignition System. Find out which hot-button vehicle from GM may be the first production car in the world to use shape memory alloys. All that and more, plus Autoline Daily correspondent Isaac Bouchard takes us for a ride in the 2014 Mazda6.

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Welcome to Autoline Daily, have we got a great show for you today. Later on we’ll get to the latest Autoline Poll where we want to know if you would consider buying a diesel. But for now let’s get to the news.

TAXI OF (MAYBE NOT) TOMORROW
Two years ago Nissan unveiled the taxi version of its NV200 van. New York City named it its Taxi Of Tomorrow and mandated that the city’s taxi fleet switch over to it. But the New York Times reports that a lawsuit filed by the Greater New York Taxi Association could stop the Taxi Of Tomorrow in its tracks. The cabbies point to a little known part of the city’s code that said all future taxis had to be hybrids, and the NV200 is not a hybrid. Activists for disability rights complain that it is not wheelchair accessible. And so the Taxi of Tomorrow could be tied up in litigation for a long time to come.

ALFA ROMEO 4C, PRODUCTION VERSION
The production version of the Alfa Romeo 4C finally hits the Geneva show next month. As you may remember, the 4C is a compact mid-engine rear-wheel drive two-seater, try saying that five times fast. It’s power-to-weight ratio of less than 4 kg per horsepower or less than 10 pounds, puts it in the supercar category. That’s thanks to a carbon fiber chassis and aluminum components. Go power comes from a 1750 cc all-aluminum turbocharged 4-cylinder mated to a twin dry clutch transmission. The 4C will be built at the Maserati plant in Modena and goes on sale later this year.

THE END OF THE SPARK PLUG
Even though automakers spend billions on research and development every year, there’s probably more innovation and new technology that comes from supplier companies. So we’re going to start featuring a new segment every week called New Technology that looks at some of those developments. Yesterday I was at one of Federal Mogul’s tech centers that gets into technology for engines. They’re working what they call ACIS, which stands for Advanced Corona Ignition System. Federal Mogul owns Champion spark plug, but one day ACIS could relegate spark plugs to a display in a museum, because it can allow an engine to run much leaner and with a lot more exhaust gas recirculation.

“At that point in time we were able to get fuel air mixtures, basically instead of about 15:1 where we run today, somewhere closer to 30:1. We’re able to see exhaust gas recirculation rates instead of being limited to 15-20 percent where conventional ignition technology is limited today, to something more like the 30-40 percent range.” Kristapher Mixell, Director ACIS, Federal Mogul.

Instead of a spark coming from a one millimeter gap on a spark plug, ACIS shoots out what looks like lightening bolts.
“We have very large filling of the chamber, very long streamers and you can just sort of visualize combustion initiating along all the streams here.”

Even more amazing, it’s totally safe. Try touching a spark plug like this and it will knock you to the ground if it doesn’t stop your heart.

ACIS can really help improve fuel economy and reduce emissions. So far Federal Mogul is working with 20 customers on this technology, and says it could be in full production sometime around 2017.

SMART MATERIALS IN CORVETTE
Of course it’s not as if automakers don’t come up with any innovation on their own. A number of years ago we had the head of R&D at General Motors show us their research into what they call shape memory alloys, or SMA. These are metals and plastics that can be stretched out, and then, with a little bit of heat, will return to their former shape. Well to our knowledge it looks like the new Corvette Sting Ray is the first production car in the world to use shape memory alloys.

SUCK, SQUEEZE, BANG, VOTE
And now it’s time for another Autoline Poll. On the latest episode of Autoline After Hours, we discussed the debut of the Chevrolet Cruze Diesel with Chevy’s Josh Tavel. We’re wondering if this could be a watershed moment for diesel passenger cars in the U.S. So, here’s the question: Excluding heavy-duty pickups, would you consider a diesel for your next vehicle? As always, to make your vote heard, just click the link below today’s show on Autoline.tv. And don’t forget, we’ve made it easy to send this poll to your friends. Simply copy and paste the link at the bottom. Don’t hesitate because we’ll be revealing the results on this Thursday’s episode.

2014 MAZDA6
(Mazda6 can only be viewed in the video version of today’s show.)

Don’t forget to join us Thursday night for Autoline After Hours. Our guest will be John Davis, the chief engineer on the Ford C-Max Energi. So join me and the Autoextremist, Peter De Lorenzo for some of the best insider viewpoints in the business.

And that wraps up today’s report, thanks for watching, we’ll see you tomorrow.

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126 Comments to “Episode 1069 – Alfa Romeo 4C, The End of the Spark Plug, Smart Materials in Corvette”

  1. Ray Says:

    Re diesels: Depends on how volatile the price of fuel is. Seems like it’s all over the place, often 20%+ higher than gas. It won’t pay to purchase a diesel at a premium, that gets 20% better economy, when the fuel cost is 20% more.

  2. Dave Says:

    Diesels are much better in bumper to bumper traffic, and for towing things You do have to turn over the fuel in the tank regularly or algae starts growing in fuel unfortunately I learned this the hard way

  3. G.A.Branigan Says:

    “New Tech” segment…..hell yeah John.FM’s ACIS looks very promising.Looks like some of that tech came from Herr Frankenstein,or is that Fronkenstien?

  4. Walter Hanisch Says:

    By all means, with diesels providing excellent low end torque , great mileage and clean(er) emissions than previous versions you need to give your head a shake not to go diesel.

  5. Chuck Grenci Says:

    I voted yes to the diesel consideration question, however, ‘consider’ is the key word here; I would still probably be highly biased to remain with a gasoline engine (just because of familiarity).

    Pretty cool hearing about the smart materials being used and considered in the near future; we continue to advance automotive technology (and the art there-of); kudos.

  6. HtG Says:

    1 Igor or Eyegor, GA? Funniest movie ever made. You can hear Mel Brooks interviewed recently on WTFPod. 2 hours

    Oh yeah, cars

  7. G.A.Branigan Says:

    @ HtG:…..’what hump’?

  8. Feldman Says:

    Blucher!

  9. HtG Says:

    Blücher!!

  10. G.A.Branigan Says:

    Of course I voted for the diesel,a no-brainer.I am waiting,somewhat patiently,for a 1/2 ton or SMALLER diesel pickup.

  11. G.A.Branigan Says:

    LMAO…..

  12. gmveteran Says:

    Question: does that electrically-actuated vent open when the driver or passenger door open, as well as the back hatch? Many GM cars over the years from the 80′s, 90′s and into the 2000′s were so tightly sealed that when the last door was closed it would pop my ears. I assume this feature helps to avoid that issue while allowing the Corvette to be very tightly sealed from noise and outside air?

  13. Feldman Says:

    NO, it’s not Bluecher, it is Blucher=glue!

  14. Kit Gerhart Says:

    I voted “yes” about about considering a diesel, but it needs to be a hatch or wagon. Also, it needs to get exceptional fuel economy, to compete with the best of the hybrids. That would be easier if diesel fuel didn’t cost 12-15% more than regular gas, as is the case in my area.

  15. MJB Says:

    I wonder how many people know that Diesel is a by product of the production of gasoline. And yes Diesel is the only way to go. Better torque and better MPG!

  16. Admiral Ackbar Says:

    Why is the camera all blurry in that spark plug story. My eyes can’t be that bad!

    Smart materials seem like a waste of time. Just use a small electric motor or a passive sort of flapper vent. We don’t need no stinkin fancy metals! Probably cost a fortune to replace.

  17. buzzerd Says:

    Lke others here I would consider a diesel buuuut doubt I would buy as I don’t put on enough miles to justify a premium in price. Also with an attached garage diesel particulate is a big concern.

  18. Lex Says:

    Do people think that the Ford Crown Victoria is more wheelchair accessable than the Nissan taxi version of its NV200 van?

    If all future NYC taxis must to be hybrids, this means we will have a whole lot of old Ford Crown Vic’s driving the streets of Manhattan for the foreseeable future. What about EV or diesel Taxis? A law, regulation or mandate that is too restrictive is unenforceable IMO.

    I myself would love to see the latest version of the Black London Taxis brought over to NYC and painted yellow. The Ford Crown Vic is too large for Manhattan streets. When I look the streets of Manhattan all I see is a sea of yellow. Manhattan currently has Crown Vics, Ford Escape Hybrids, Toyota Sienna Minvans and other full/mid size sedans in it’s current taxi fleet. The NV200 is no worse and maybe an improvement over those vehicles currently roaming Manhattan.

    The sliding doors on the NV200 would certainly make it easier to get in and out of the taxi.
    Not to mention preventing dings to the vehicles parked on the street next to your pickup point.

  19. Chuck Grenci Says:

    Also, very interesting on today’s show, was the advanced ignition ‘corona’ system by Federal Mogul; more complete/universal burn (at higher gasoline/air ratios) has got to be a plus (for future engines). Hopefully it is as reliable and not cost prohibitive (compared to current ignitions); looks fascinating.

  20. Ricky Beggs Says:

    In regards to buying a diesel, without a doubt I would. I have had Jettas with diesel, Grand Cherokees with diesel and would love to see a diesel in a mid and full size 1/2 ton pickup. You have to remember it is not always a better ROI than gas but then neither is hybrid or EV power trains.

  21. G.A.Branigan Says:

    @ Chuck Grenci: I wonder if the much leaner ACIS will force new materials for the ‘hot’ section,IE: piston material,cyl,combustion chamber etc.makes ya wonder.

  22. ColoradoKid Says:

    TESLA on a tear … or is that a tear ?

    Musk is having his usual hissy fits when ever someone proves his cars to be the frauds that they are .

    First he tries and fails to sue Top Gear UK for showing the entire world how a TESLA roadster falls apart under normal ( for TG ) test conditions .

    And now he’s calling the NYTimes a bunch of liars for reporting the FACT’s as to how Li’s and TESLA’s supercharging stations fail to work below 30 degrees f .

    Someday that poor deluded little vaporware boy’s gonna have to face up to the cold hard facts of reality and place his delusions of grander aside

    Diesels – I voted NO . Because of the cost of diesel fuel in the US : the price of entry with the car -and the added noise of a diesel .

    On GM ( all ) I shall abstain from commenting on GM in the future in order to attempt to keep the peace with Mr Bejma on site

    HtG- ” So if the monster got part of your brain …. what did you get from the monster ? … Ohhhhhh sweet …… “

  23. HtG Says:

    ‘He’s going to be very popular.’

    I could do this all day, ck and ga

  24. Kit Gerhart Says:

    CK, since you are such a fan of Elon Musk, what are your thoughts on PayPal and SpaceX? Just curious.

  25. ColoradoKid Says:

    Marchionne revisited ;

    Now that all FIAT 500 production is going to Poland ( NYTimes & TTAC ) …. errr… seems as though Marchionne’s planning on moving some Chrysler production down to Mexico

    Aren’t you ever so very glad we gave the man Chrysler ?

    HtG – One last ” uhh uhhhh urrgh …. Puttin on the Ritz ”

    The NYTimes TESLA S article in question if anyone’s interested ;

    http://www.nytimes.com/2013/02/10/automobiles/stalled-on-the-ev-highway.html?ref=automobiles&_r=0

  26. G.A.Branigan Says:

    @ CK: The NEW diesels are very quiet,even the big ones in the 3/4 and 1 ton pickups.When at a stoplight next to one,if it wasn’t for the badge showing it’s a diesel,I wouldn’t have known.Same same when they take off…..very quiet indeed.

    @ HtG: I agree,it has to be the absolute funniest movie ever made.Mel Brooks is a genius,and the casting was awesome.I wonder what happened to that horse…..

  27. ColoradoKid Says:

    #24 …. or you’re just trying to bait me into another unresolvable conflict which will only lead to even more tension on site ….. which by personal choice I prefer to avoid from this point on … thank you !

    Anyway I’m pretty sure you already know the answers to your own questions Kit ;-)

  28. ColoradoKid Says:

    G.A.

    Being in the MBOC I’m around a lot of diesels on a monthly basis .. both new and old and in comparison to their gas counterparts the additional noise kind of bothers me …. can’t explain why …. maybe its these music sensitive ears or something …. but there you have it .

    And yeah the movie . +1

  29. Duke Says:

    Unless the oil companies build another refinery that produces diesel in this country, increased sales of diesel powered vehicles will only guarantee that the premium cost of diesel (over gas) will increase – not decrease.

    That puts break-even on increased initial cost (of the vehicle) even more questionable IMO. Unless one plans to retain that vehicle (it would have to be a very special vehicle 4me) for a decade or more, that puts it in the doubtful category.

    The guy that owns a Passat diesel around the corner obviously has a very different set of values. That thing sounds like it is powered by a sewing machine motor. I’ve heard better sounding Saab 92′s.

  30. Kit Gerhart Says:

    24, No, I’m not trying to bait you.

    I think I know the answer about SpaceX, because I remember your expressing disdain for the space program in general, but regarding the concept of PayPal, I’m curious about your thoughts.

  31. ColoradoKid Says:

    #29

    +1

    Thats the other point I forgot to make with my NO vote comment … so thanks for the reminder . Economic sense . Diesel in the US doesn’t make any at present . In part because if demand for diesel goes up …. so does the price of diesel fuel ( supply & demand ) and therefore EVERYTHING that is transported via diesel vehicles … such as food … all cars … appliances etc etc . As goes diesel fuel ( prices ) so goes the rest of the economy .

  32. Ed Says:

    I have loved the alfa romeo 4c since the Lotus esprit s1, when James Bond drove it out of the water, well I know they are different but the specs seem sooo close together. As for diesel, just waiting for CARB to post a video on YouTube showing a diesel clubbing a baby seal. Few things today have anything to do with reason or accountability. We are going to get what sells, remember folks vote with your feet and wallet.

  33. G.A.Branigan Says:

    @ Duke: The price of diesel should be lower for B20,which the new big 3 diesel trucks are able to run.The added benefit of running a bio-diesel blend aside from lower cost is,better lubricity,cleaner injectors,and a overall cleaner fuel system.Now,will the car diesels be able to run B20? I don’t really know.Can your friend with the Passat run any bio diesel blend at all?

  34. ColoradoKid Says:

    Alfa Romeo 4C

    Its a KTM X-Bow …. with a roof ….. and one sort or another of FIAT’s motors in the back instead of the Audi the KTM version comes with .

    If you’ve read or seen any of the reviews of the KTM … you know they’ve not been positive …. and the same will apply to the Alfa version except everyones assuming it’ll have less HP and lower performance than the KTM …. that err …. is actually a Dallara in KTM drag .

  35. Kit Gerhart Says:

    At the current price of diesel fuel, the VW TDI’s would be cost effective for some people. In CR’s tests, the TDI Jetta gets 36% better fuel economy than the gasser. In the case of the Passat, the diesel does 48% better. The diesel versions of both cars beat the gassers by 30%+ in the EPA “combined” ratings.

    The diesel advantage will probably shrink in a year or two, though, as the 2.5 liter 5 cylinder is replaced with a turbo 4 as the standard engine in Jetta and Passat.

  36. Drew Says:

    Although I subjectively want a diesel, it makes no economic or policy sense in the US. The price premium for the fuel and the premium price for maintenance (oil changes) negates the fuel economy advantage. Then the initial premium purchase price for the engine option dooms it.

    Things get worse for the diesel business case. If significantly more passenger cars use diesel fuel, then the economic law of supply and demand will drive up diesel fuel costs at a greater rate than conventional gasoline prices.

    From a policy perspective, diesel fuel usage makes our reliance on foreign oil WORSE! The yield of diesel fuel per barrel of oil is about half that of the yield for conventional gasoline.

  37. Kit Gerhart Says:

    #36,
    If a diesel car gets 35% better fuel economy than the same car with a gas engine, and diesel fuel costs only 15% more than regular gas, the fuel cost will obviously be lower for the diesel. You just have to add up all the numbers, including the more expensive oil changes, and estimate miles/year to figure if you’d save money. Also, you need to consider resale value. VW TDI’s retain their value much better than the cars with the base engine.

    It doesn’t take twice as much crude to make diesel. it takes about 7% more, if you have the correct mix of refinery capacity for gas and diesel.

    In the end, probably most buyers of VW TDI’s, and diesel E-Class, buy their cars because they like them, not because they expect to save much money.

  38. G.A.Branigan Says:

    @ 15: Yes diesel is a by-product of the gasoline making process,ergo that should be cheaper….like it used to be.BUT….big oil’s answer is that it’s now more expensive to produce the required ULTRA-LOW SULFUR stuff we have to run now.Hey…when it comes to a reason for big oil to increase the price of our fuel,they’ll come up with some sort of bull$hit excuse while the tax payers still subsidize them.

  39. G.A.Branigan Says:

    @ 13: HtG poster #9 spelled it correctly.You didn’t notice the umlaut (sp) over the U.Am I right HtG?

  40. Kit Gerhart Says:

    38,
    They’ve had low sulphur diesel in Europe for many years, but diesel costs about the same as regular gas. Diesel is currently about 5% more than regular gas in the UK.

    It seems the U.S. refineries have extra capacity for gas, relative to demand, than for diesel.

  41. Chuck Grenci Says:

    #21 G.A.

    I don’t know for sure (or know, at all, for that matter) but would assume the ‘corona’ ignition would just provide full/complete burn for higher air to gasoline ratios (without increasing heat); if it increased heat, then, emissions would be ‘screwed’ due to NOX. I’m assuming the claims made by Federal Mogul have taken (some of this) into consideration. Still, if it works…………..WOW

  42. Duke Says:

    #33 GA – I dunno whether the neighbor’s vee-dub can run B20, but somehow I would think that availability would be an issue. When my bro’ (owns a F350) and I (F150) were discussing this very subject a while back, he pointed out that at that time there were only a handful of retail stations selling B20 – in the entire state of Fla. . . and they are really spread out and there is not a single one in Palm Beach (county).

    I rather doubt that I would be in the market to buy a diesel car – unless it makes fiscal sense.

    But now that one can buy all of the/complete parts to assemble a roller for the original Bronco, I might just build one and put a diesel in it – if Ford ever offers a crate 3.2L (or similar size). Maybe by then a filling station will offer B20 locally.

  43. ColoradoKid Says:

    Diesel

    Hmmmmn . I’m a bit reticent to bring this tid bit up seeing as how I know we’ve more than a few Diesel fans on site but ahhh…. errrr…. there is that constant diesel stench and cloud that seems to permeate EU cities and towns on a daily basis … especially in the south when the winds are still …. to consider . Not to mention the fact that diesel fumes do aggravate asthmatic and pulmonary conditions due to larger particulates ( NJMRC )

  44. Howard Remeta Says:

    Diesel fuel is 15%-20% more which is 40¢ to 80¢ per gallon more than gas in Minnesota. The diesel costs about $2,000 more. And, it is noisier (even though much quieter than before). Costs more to maintain. Where is the payback when they only get 6-8 mpg more than gas? I would never buy one.

  45. Kit Gerhart Says:

    43,
    Yeah, I’m sure there are a number of places in the U.S. too, where it would not be good for air quality if almost half the cars were diesels. I suspect LA would not be a good place to have Europe’s mix of cars, with all those diesels. Even “clean diesels” are not as clean as today’s gas cars.

  46. Kit Gerhart Says:

    44,
    A Passat TDI gets 15 mpg better than the gas version in CR’s highway test (65 mph) and 9 mpg better in the EPA highway test. The payback would not be quick, but there would be a payback at some point.

    Some people probably buy Passat TDI’s, just for the convenience of a ~700 mile range between fillups.

  47. Chuck @ GM Says:

    A few tidbits from things I’ve gathered over the years, may or may not be current: You produce more diesel at the expense of home heating oil. Refineries running at capacity have to make that trade.

    @40 The price of diesel and gas in Europe is pretty close is because of the way they are taxed, not produced. They encourage diessel there.

    @43 It took a long time to get diesels here, because our EPA standards are/were a lot higher than Europe’s, especially on particulates, which is the cause of those darkened buildings in Europe. The after treatment for diesels here robs your mileage too.

  48. Phoenix Mark Says:

    I voted diesel yes, but I already own one. As far as supply and demand go, the US is an exporter of diesel fuel (mostly to Europe).
    The ratio of diesel to gasoline can be adjusted, within limits, during the refining process. The US needs more gasoline so the ratio is pushed to maximize the gasoline. In Europe the ratio is pushed to maximize diesel.

  49. Phoenix Mark Says:

    It is a 2005 VW Jetta diesel (Mk-4). VW says I can run B5 diesel.

  50. Kit Gerhart Says:

    47,
    From what I was able to find, the tax on gas and diesel is now the same in the UK, the location of the prices I found.

  51. Kit Gerhart Says:

    I’ve talked to a couple people who run B100 (filtered fryer oil) in pre-2004 VW 1.9 diesels, and an older Benz. I’m sure VW doesn’t approve, but it seems to work, as long as it doesn’t get too cold. The stuff won’t flow when the temp drops below 40 degrees or so, which happens sometimes in central Florida.

  52. HtG Says:

    If I were a high mileage driver, I’d consider a diesel. But if my current car fell into the abyss, I wouldn’t consider a diesel, even though there’s lots of torque.

  53. T. Bejma Says:

    Just read that diesel passenger cars only make up about 0.87% of all vehicles in the U.S. (up from 0.80% in 2011) so I don’t know why we are even talking about it.

    For comparison sake, Hybrids are about 15%…

  54. Kit Gerhart Says:

    Yeah, there aren’t many diesel cars, but if the Cruze and a few other “new comers” succeed, that number will increase substantially. Still, I can’t imagine they will ever be more than a couple per cent of the U.S. fleet.

  55. ColoradoKid Says:

    NYTimes response to Elon Musk’s accusations ;

    http://wheels.blogs.nytimes.com/2013/02/12/the-charges-are-flying-over-a-test-of-teslas-charging-network/?ref=automobiles

    ALD ( oh please let it be Pietro ) needs to follow up on this as a real brew haha is rapidly ensuing between the Times and Mr Musk(rat )

  56. pedro fernandez Says:

    Mr Musk should insist that only Motorweek can test their cars, MW picked the Tesla S as one of their “Dream Rides” for 2013.

  57. T. Bejma Says:

    Tesla cold weather performance.

    Since Tesla has a liquid heating/cooling system you would think that outside temperature would not matter much once the coolant is up to temp. I found this site where a Roadster owner said he noticed no difference in the cold…

    http://www.teslamotors.com/it_IT/forum/forums/model-s-performance-winter-canada

    Wonder if the Model S is different? Maybe the heating/cooling system was defective?

    Yes, it is true that Lithium Ion batteries don’t like heat or cold (hence the poor performance of the air cooled Leaf in Arizona) but liquid heating/cooling systems should keep the temperatures more consistent. Strange… Going to look around some more…

  58. HtG Says:

    55 I’ll repeat that a PS at Tesla’s White Plains NY shop explained to me that the Wilmington DE and Milford CT supercharger stations were selected after asking owners where they stopped on their trips between Boston-NY-DC. If you were going NY to DC, charged your battery before you left, and stopped at the DE rest stop(which is fantastic and comfortable), then you wouldn’t likely have an issue. Maybe Tesla needs another super charger in Stamford CT. Personally I’d loath driving I95 from NY to Boston; there are always traffic delays and when you finally arrive, you’re in Boston. Friends don’t let friend go to Boston.

  59. HtG Says:

    57 They told be that the batteries operated optimally at 70 degrees F. A liquid system keeps the batteries cool or warm.

  60. HtG Says:

    crxn

    They told me…

    sorry

  61. Bill Says:

    I already own one qnd love it! 2011 BMW 335d.

  62. Kit Gerhart Says:

    It seems that “range anxiety” is part of the experience with a pure EV, even the Tesla S, which is the best of the breed. Given that many things, from ambient temperature, to traffic slowdowns will affect actual range, if I’m going on a road trip, I’d rather use liquid fuel that I can get anywhere.

    The use of cabin heat was mentioned in the discussion, and its use takes a huge hit in the range of an EV.

  63. T. Bejma Says:

    #61

    That wasn’t just “anxiety”, that was range terror in the article ;-) I was getting scared just reading about it…

  64. G.A.Branigan Says:

    Bio-diesel: Much better for your diesel engine,hard to find though.This country traditionally uses diesel for the big rigs,not cars.The infrastructure has been in place for decades to cater to those big rigs.Bio diesel is available in some truck stops but not all.If the number of diesels certified to run B5 on up to 20 increases enough,the infrastructure will accommodate and increase the amount of pumps that have bio diesel.As long as they make money carrying it,they will.IF diesels do catch on here in big enough numbers.I could see that happening if the price per gallon were at least even to a gallon of E10.

  65. C-Tech Says:

    The better half’s 1998 Mitsu Eclipse with 260,000 miles has finally bit the dust. Well not quite, it was hit in an accident and the ins. co. declared it a total even though she drove away (greater to repair than retail value). Some kid will buy the wreck and ressurect it I’m sure. She is ok, but now the dilemma of choosing a new vehicle (sorry G.A., no diesel). She wants an SUV, not too big, not too small, manageable payments so the price point has to be $25-30K. She is considering the usual suspects – CR-V, RAV4, Equinox (no Escape, bad experience with a Ford) new. Used under consideration – 2010 Jeep Grand Cherokee, 2010 Cadillac SRX. Any other ideas?

  66. C-Tech Says:

    I understand the gas rating terms E85, etc., but what does B5, B20 for Diesel mean?

  67. G.A.Branigan Says:

    @ C-Tech: B5,10 etc refers to 5%bio-diesel,10% bio etc.Same same as E 10,85= %.

    Stay away from used grand cherokees,bad juju.Big difference between them and the regular Cherokees.I’ve had my equinox now for over a year with zero problems in around 8.7K miles.I have the awd v6 ltz.I am sooo hooked on heated seats.

  68. pedro fernandez Says:

    # 64 Journey? I would have said no way a yr ago, but except for the brakes, it has help up pretty well, or how about the Hyundai Tucson?

  69. pedro fernandez Says:

    #64 that is my fear with my Crapola that it will get hit from the rear and the ins company will declare it a total loss and give me $500 which is useless (not even a down payment) for a set of wheels, someone told me you could sue for more money but most likely the lawyer would get the most of it.

  70. Kit Gerhart Says:

    #64,
    She should get a car. There are too many SUV’s on the road already. OK, I know I’m not going to change anyone’s mind on that.

    If I were forced to get an SUV, I’d probably get a Scion xB. That is an SUV, isn’t it?

  71. HtG Says:

    If you keep a car for a long time, as the mileage on her car may indicate, go Honda or Toyota. I thought the RAV4 I drove was great; felt like a car. I like the Nissan Juke, but I wouldn’t push it, CTech.

  72. HtG Says:

    You could also reach for the stars, CTech, and get her a GLK with a ribbon on the hood. Then you and CK can do meet ups at MBOC events.

    I kid

  73. ColoradoKid Says:

    #64

    Toyota …. first pick … hands down ( surprised ? )

    Next’d be the Honda

    Steer as far away from the SRX as is humanly possible ( track down my ten day road test review I placed here a couple of years ago … it was an abysmal experience especially in light of wanting to buy American and hoping the SRX was gonna be it )

    JEEP … no JEEP for you ( or anyone else with a modicum of common sense ) Listen to G.A. !!!

    The Equinox ? Its ….. OK and probably worth a look .

    Honestly I absolutely love my GLK …. haven’t had one single problem with it …. but I wouldn’t recommend it to everyone .

  74. XA351GT Says:

    I voted no on Diesels. I can’t make a good financial argument for it. Fuel costs more, the car costs more, the maintainence is more. The savings in gas will never pay for itself.

  75. W L Simpson Says:

    C tech, I have 50k on my 2010 Equinox.It’s my 3rd 2.4 & this olwrench considers the 2.4 /6 speed the most perfect combo in any body.

  76. Kit Gerhart Says:

    #64,
    On a more serious note than my post 69, assuming that the xB isn’t SUV’y enough, I’d agree with most others. If she is going to drive it a lot of miles and keep it several years, go with RAV4 or CR-V. They drive decently, get decent gas mileage, and should be very reliable.

  77. pedro fernandez Says:

    Yes Kit, xB is another excellent choice, roomy, good engine and decent mileage plus it’s one of the most reliable cars on the road,

  78. ernie brink Says:

    GREAT JOB LOVE THE NEW INGTION SYSTEM PERFECT FOR ROTARY ENGINES

  79. Kit Gerhart Says:

    77,
    This rotary engine?

  80. C-Tech Says:

    Thanks fellas. A quick check-in from CarMax. Test drove a base 2010 SRX, slightly above the 30K limit, she didn’t like the acceleration. Moving on to check a used 2007 BMW X5.

  81. Kit Gerhart Says:

    77,
    This rotary engine? http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WfEEmdz7-Fk

  82. HtG Says:

    80 very nice. If you get a chance, Kit, the Udvar-Hazy Museum in Dulles, VA is a flight history Shangrila. Best McDonalds on the Earth, as well.

  83. Kit Gerhart Says:

    81, Thanks.

  84. ColoradoKid Says:

    C-tech

    Heads up on the X5 . BMW’s reliability has been less than stellar and the X5′s seem to get a fair amount of abuse for some reason .

    I’d seriously consider the Subaru Forester as well . Odd looking … yes but everyone I know that owns them loves them . The only thing thats kept me from buying one is the seats which seem unable to fit my 6’4″ 175 frame .

    As to the Toyota … my dads got a RAV4 … and you couldn’t drag the wife out of her 2007 Matrix for love or money ( which is the RAV4′s platform ) and everyone loves them as well . She had a 92 Corolla before that and it was flawless .

    A shocker though ? My GLK has a smaller footprint than any of the above which was a major reason for getting one .

  85. C-Tech Says:

    Detour to Chevy dealer for the Equinox.

  86. C-Tech Says:

    The RAV-4, CRV are “too small” Go figure coming from the Eclipse???

  87. HtG Says:

    I admit, I still sigh whenever a GLK goes by, especially in white. A classic

  88. HtG Says:

    she wants safety, after getting whacked.

  89. C-Tech Says:

    No decision tonight. Still have to see this used BMW. The difference between Carmax and the Chevy dealer are like night and day. Carmax, well lit, professional looking, good looking used cars and trucks. Chevy dealer, worn around the edges, salesperson not exactly knowledgeable (is there a special sale on Traverse? why are they pushing it?). I think dealer turned her off more than the car. X5 tomorrow, dealers are closing now.

  90. pedro fernandez Says:

    CarMax is the most expensive used car dealer I’ve ever encountered, no haggling means you’re stuck with whatever price is listed, my hard-headed son sold his xB to them for a measly $10k cause he did not want to make the effort to sell it on his own and they turned it over for more than $14k, I was so mad at him for losing out on all that money.

  91. motorman Says:

    fuel prices depends on supply and demand and once there are lots of diesel powered cars and the demand is up for diesel fuel the price will go up and your cost to drive the diesel powered car will also go up. there is no free lunch as far as the cost to fuel up your car as it will continue to cost more

  92. Kit Gerhart Says:

    It would take a lot of diesel cars to make any difference in the supply/demand equation for diesel fuel, given the amount used by big trucks, and considering that heating oil and airplane fuel are basically the same thing.

  93. T. Bejma Says:

    #88

    Traverse just had a Mid Cycle Enhancement so I am sure they want to clear out the last one (new one looks a lot nicer, but mechanicals are the same).

    My wife has 60K on her FWD Equinox with the 2.4 and we love it. Tows the PWC and the Snowmobiles without a problem. Get’s 33 mpg on the highway and 27 combined. If you go GM, I can get you a “Friends and Family” discount but unfortunately the Equinox is selling so well, the discount isn’t much (now if you looking at an Impala $$$)…

  94. Kit Gerhart Says:

    The Chevy dealer in my home town in Indiana did a recent remodeling, and generally looks attractive. Also, the sales people I know are knowledgeable of the products, at least the new ones. They might not know much about some of the used cars of other makes, though.

    I’ve never been to a Carmax place, but may visit one sometime, just to see what it’s like. It sounds like I wouldn’t want to do business with them, though.

  95. HtG Says:

    CarMax

    I went to a store outside DC a couple of years ago just to see how they did things. It was explained to me that most customers didn’t like haggling so there were fixed prices. (Interestingly, the man I spoke with had a Lexus with almost 400K on it) You could just do your transaction very quickly. Of course they low balled the Civic, but you get certainty. I guess some customers don’t want to fight. I don’t know how they play the finance game.

  96. G.A.Branigan Says:

    Oopps…..I wonder if anybody will notice..

    http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/02/first-crashed-corvette-c7-pictures/#comment-2004955

  97. G.A.Branigan Says:

    I just read on AllPar.com that more and more jeep JK’s (wranglers) are being spotted not far from the factory……all diesels.Also read that macaroni has decreed that the jk IF it gets a diesel will be the 4 bucket 2.8L.No specs as of yet,but I would say over 320ft lbs of twist at maybe 1900 revs.Not bad.No mention of what automatic will be offered.I do know the present 5 speed auto is having problems in the jk,(so what else is new).

  98. ColoradoKid Says:

    C-tech

    One more suggestion . Since you’ve entered the premium market and the wife is wanting a bit of size ….. my clear second choice when I was buying ….. reminding you everything I considered I had use of ( rentals – dealer loans ) a minimum of three days .

    The Infiniti FX35 … Goes like stink -accelerates like a scalded cat with its tail on fire – comfortable over the long haul ( rented one twice for two ten day periods )

    The only major negative … other than the kind of comical looks were the blind spots . Suffice it to say the rear view camera is mandatory ….. not to be considered an option .

    As to the premium brands though like the BMW X5 . Might I suggest you ONLY purchase from the brand dealer .. new or used . Anything premium thats made its way to CarMax is because the brand dealers don’t want it on their lots . Yeah you’ll pay a few dollars more in the short term …. but you’ll pay a lot less in the long run if’n you get my drift ;-)

  99. ColoradoKid Says:

    #86

    Molto grazie HtG … reminding you … you were a major part in that decision . You talked me into it and we’ve never regretted it . Franz in white w/AMG Sport Pack cutting quite the profile here in Denver – Vail etc . Due in part to your contributions

  100. ColoradoKid Says:

    95 & 96

    So G.A. I presume since no C7′s have been delivered that must of been either press or test driver at the wheel ? That one must of taken some major stupidity on the part of the driver .. or a broken part to accomplish

    As to JEEP . So … are the new ones going to be built any better … or are we just supposed to be so impressed by the diesels that we’ll overlook the things falling apart underneath us ?

  101. Clatterman Says:

    In 1999, the premium for a TDI over gas was only $880 on a $18k Golf GLS. GM wants thousands above a LOADED LTZ Cruze to get diesel efficiency. There’s no savings there.

    Detroit knows only how to sabotage this market; with every conversation including the V8 diesel fiasco of the 80′s, and blaming customers for being fickle.

    VW just delivers, and it works. Look how much support is on TDIClub.com

  102. G.A.Branigan Says:

    Jeeps,in short,I have lost all hope.As the 2013 JK’s are coming out and being used in the REAL WORLD,(something jeep knows nothing about)they still suffer from cheap parts and are put together by retards.Whether or not the jk’s get diesels doesn’t matter to me.Jeep will have to do a real quality turn around before they ever see my money again.Right now they do enjoy a huge popularity with people who buy them not for what they can do,but for the macho look,and the 4 door makes the mom’s happy on the way to the soccer field.

    As far as the now trashed C7,I would have to say it was probably a writer/boy racer that ran over a bunch of bananas.In either case,lol,he is in deep.

  103. Chuck Grenci Says:

    C7 crash;

    Minimal damage (maybe), doesn’t look like an air bag deployment (wouldn’t expect it on a side-swipe incident), and without seeing the ‘rock’ side, might have been a ‘lazy’ off into the weeds. Maybe ‘marbles’ on the road (or an automotive-writer ‘hotshot’ that got over his head); no offense John. :)

  104. pedro fernandez Says:

    Boys should not play with men’s toys.

  105. pedro fernandez Says:

    Did a little research online and I read that the 1986 DeVille with its base 4.1 V8 only put out 132 hp and 200 lb ft of torque?? does this sound right? anyone?

  106. ColoradoKid Says:

    Pedro

    Yeah .. ( #103 ) … it does .The Baseline V8′s back then weren’t exactly a paragon of horsepower so’s you’d be more tempted to drop more $$$ ( switch & bait ) and step up to the next level ( or three ) .. so yes that kind of power from any brand in their base V8′s was common place

    Even back in the day those marketers had your wallets contents square in their sights

  107. ColoradoKid Says:

    C7 crash . From the online buzz ….. no journo’s were hurt or involved in the incident ……. all signs pointing to test driver error

    Any insights Mr Bejma ?

  108. Jonathan Says:

    Alfa needs to turn up the wick with 350 hp and 2000 lbs if it wants buyers to hastily shop the upcoming 4c….

    At the very least 300 hp sooner rather than later and not for even higher prices.

    Good luck and I’m an avid alfa enthusiast for almost 50 years.

    Should be fun no matter what …..but pricing above the corvette c7 is a fail for that new alfa halo car

  109. Kit Gerhart Says:

    103,
    That is right, and they put that engine in big, rear-drive cars starting in ’82, not just the front drive DeVille that started life in ’85. The engine was ready before the cars it was really intended for.

  110. pedro fernandez Says:

    My future father in law bought one with AM/FM radio only, incredible that a base Caddy would not come with a freaking cassette player.

  111. pedro fernandez Says:

    Wow, Ford’s new 1.0 3 cyl turbo gets that much HP!!!!

  112. C-Tech Says:

    Thank you and an update. C.K. I am taking your advice, the X5 is at a BMW dealer. It was recommended by a friend of a friend, who knows somebody. Pedro, you are right about the low-balling from the ins. co. I got her to ask the adjuster to used the Kelly Blue book value, a $1200 difference. Car max is more, but the warranty is longer and the cars seemed to be serviced better. Kit, I might choose an XB but this her car, I mean suv. HtG, I think you are right about wanting something more substantial after taking a lick. T.B. she liked the Equinox LTZ, not the dealer or salesperson. Thank you all.

  113. G.A.Branigan Says:

    LMAO…..I remember when cassettes came out,and the first one I had in my car.It was an aftermarket Radio Shack under dash unit.Awesome for the times.I put that in my 70 Duster 340/727 Torqueflight.

  114. ColoradoKid Says:

    Jonathan ;

    Been an Alfa fan myself … the last in my garage being a 77 Alfetta GT w/full Autodelta mods including turbo …. think Monte Carlo rally ready for the road . As my daily driver 8)

    As to the KTM X-Bow / Alfa Romeo 4C / Dallara … seeing as how all the KTM chassis can handle is 300 hp and FIAT’s not got much in their quiver to equal that all bets are 250 hp or so

    As far as fun ? Seeing as how the majority of the reviews on the KTM say otherwise ( most calling it an over priced under performing toy for the non discerning track day car purchaser ) I doubt it’ll be much in the way of fun either . And .. pricing it above the C7 … as well as a Lotus Evora – Nissan GT-R – Boxster etc will be the kiss of death for the thing .

    As to Alfa as a brand returning to the States ….. seing as how the Euro’s ( and especially the Italians ) have flat out rejected all the new Alfa’s ( sales are in the toilet ) and Marchionne’s plans to charge us a fortune for his re-badged FIAT’s…. I’d say ….. assuming Alfa really does make it to our shores ( all bets are still open ) …

    Resistance is Futile – Failure is Imminent

  115. ColoradoKid Says:

    C-tech

    If she likes the X5 ….. push hard in negotiations for the dealer to include in the final price ( after you’ve reached agreement on one ) a nicely extended warranty as well as a service contract for the first 12- 24 months .

    Yeah thats a bit of hardball negotiations … but its pretty much what any BMW- Mercedes dealer expects in light of the crowd they usually deal with ;-)

  116. ColoradoKid Says:

    Alfa Romeo 4C pricing ;

    Its official

    $60,000 – $85,470

  117. G.A.Branigan Says:

    @ 114: Holy smokes,macaroni is on drugs,or doing lunch with the jeep crowd.

  118. Kit Gerhart Says:

    114, 115,
    If you want something “different,” you’re going to have to pay.

  119. G.A.Branigan Says:

    Well,seeing how the C7 falls somewhere into that price range,for me it would be a no brainer:I would opt for the Vette.Alfa’s are junk in EU,don’t see where it would be any different here.Yes it would have a warranty,just like before and see where that got them.

  120. Kit Gerhart Says:

    Yeah, the ‘Vette is a real car, while the 4C is a track toy for people with spare money. A few people will buy them, as with other such machines, but the 4C seems an odd way to re-introduce the Alfa brand to America.

  121. G.A.Branigan Says:

    @ Kit: Macaroni does strange things all in hopes of getting our money.He is under the impression that Americans will flock to the Italian junk that won’t sell in europe.

  122. pedro fernandez Says:

    Alfa Would have much better off with an Alfetta type sporty sedan to sort of bring back the old 318′s and 2002, both cars are cherished for their great handling and simplicity, I test drove an Alfetta way back and a leaky radiator hose that left us stranded blocks from the dealer kind of became the deal breaker there. But it drove magnifico!! BTW if the Chinese ever want to make it here, that is what they need to do, bring back cars that are not longer around and people still would buy.

  123. G.A.Branigan Says:

    There is no ‘simplicity’ in any of the cars/trucks sold here,or pretty much anywhere now.

  124. C-Tech Says:

    @ #97 Actually drove the FX35 and the Lexus RX350. The Infiniti was impressive but the styling did put her off. The RX350 was excellant, but even used both were out of the price range.

  125. Badnikl Says:

    No, Never, My Wife will not go near a diesel pump because of the mess on the pump and on the ground. Her friends TDI Jetta is filthy in the drivers floor and this would drive my Wife Mad.

    The 2006 Jetta is in for a $2300 turbo failure……

  126. Enn Norak Says:

    Re today’s mystery “barn find”, my best guess is a 1962 Bristol Type 407 Zagato coupe.