Grab Your Stick: Acura Tl Gets Manual Transmission
OK, so you're probably wondering what Acura's grandpa-spec TL is doing on the hallowed pages of Turbo. Well, in addition to a raft of changes made for the '09 model year, Acura has decided to bless the SH-AWD-equipped TL with a manual transmission for 2010, finally giving the midsized sedan a proper chance at endearing itself to performance enthusiasts.
The new six-speed cog swapper will be available on the TL this fall and will be the first model with Honda's SH-AWD system to feature a manual gearbox. The six-speed manual also weighs significantly less than the standard five-speed auto unit, delivering a weight saving of 110 pounds and improving the TL's front-rear weight balance.
The 6MT all-wheel-drive TL also gets re-valved dampers, firmer springs, thicker front driveshafts, and stiffer engine and transmission bushings. Not only that, but the standard 3.7L VTEC-equipped V-6 spits out a very handy 305 hp and 273 lb-ft of torque. With a curb weight of 3,893 pounds, the TL is still a little bit on the porky side, but hey, with 300-plus horses, all-wheel drive, and a decent stick shift, the '10 TL has all the makings of a fine VIP ride.
Mitsubishi Engages Flux Capacitor And Brings Back Rally Car Of The Future
As their submission to the L.A. Auto Show's annual design challenge (theme: Motorsports 2025), Mitsubishi exhibited its incredible and somewhat outrageous MMR25 rally car concept.
Looking like the bastard lovechild of a Formula 1 car, and one of those giant robots from Neon Genesis Evangelion, the MMR25 flaunts an elaborate body that appears to be constructed entirely out of spoilers. The driver sits in a windowless central pod and views the MMR25's progress through a panoramic video screen, which uses a 360-degree array of cameras to film the outside world.
Video pod and outlandish bodywork aside, the most mental aspect of the MMR25 concept would have to be the vehicle's all-electric drivetrain. There are four "wheels," just like any normal car, however, the difference is that the MMR25's rollers are made up of eight individual mini-wheels, each with their own internal electric motor. Mitsubishi calls it 8x4-wheel drive, but we call it a maintenance nightmare.
So, what's the likelihood we'll see the MMR25 enter production? Do you remember how 20 years ago we all thought we'd be zooming about in fusion-powered hover cars by 2001? Well, Mitsubishi's vision of the future of motorsport is kind of like that.
Civic Hybrid Race Car
Among magazine readers, Honda's Civic hybrid enjoys its reputation of being the car of choice for economy-conscious retirees and grown-up tree-huggers. However, the lads over at the British firm Oaktec have a different view of the fuel-sipping compact sedan. They see it as a viable platform for rally and circuit racing.
Oaktec built a Honda Insight rally car, which already brought home five class victories in Old Blighty, however, they've now decided to explore the motorsport potential of the Civic hybrid, calling in chassis tuning legend, Lotus Engineering, to help do the job. While the 1.3L motor, CVT gearbox, and hybrid drive system remain largely unchanged, Lotus has decided to tweak the regenerative braking system and batteries to boost power production and keep those electrons flowing. If you drive this thing sensibly, Oaktec says you'll get 50 mpg without any problems. Try and do that in your 18-year-old 240SX drift hatchback.
The suspension has also been fettled for circuit racing duty and the whole car has been built to Group N specifications, meaning much of the interior has been deleted in favor of a full 'cage and there's now a fire-suppression system in place to deal with any unwanted flames.
While we still get the feeling that you'd get laughed out of pit lane if you showed up to an American track in this thing, Oaktec's efforts to develop a truly thrifty race car are commendable. After all, less money spent on petrol means more cash for tires, parts, and post-race hookers.
Mitsubishi Evo X Makes Its Circuit Debut At Silverstone
The Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution X has been with us for well over a year now, and dozens are already slogging it out on racetracks worldwide. In September, Mitsubishi U.K. decided to up the ante and sent a mildly tuned Evo X out onto the battlefield that is 24-hour endurance racing. Not only did they want to see how it fared against the more-established competition, but Mitsubishi also wanted to know how well the all-new 4B11 engine and S-AWC drivetrain would hold up against the rigors of non-stop competition.
The race in question was the annual Silverstone Britcar 24-hour race, and after an inauspicious qualifying round that saw the turbocharger set itself on fire, the stripped-out Evolution completed the race in Twenty-Fifth place overall and Fifth in class. Not bad when you consider that a problem with the fuel tank meant the car couldn't be completely filled up nor let to run close to empty--meaning the Mitsubishi team had to endure a total of 45 time-wasting pit stops.
However, mechanical failures were notable by their absence, and the internally standard 4B11 mill and factory-issued S-AWC all-wheel-drive drivetrain took the punishment with no complaint. In fact, bar the new turbo, bigger injectors, and ECUtek computer, and racing the Evo's engine was not all that far from stock condition.
RIP Hideki Tanabe
On Sept. 20, Hideki Tanabe, the founder and owner of the world-renowned Japanese tuning house Powerhouse Amuse, passed away after enduring a long battle with an unknown illness.
Famous for the featherweight R34 GT-R-based Carbon-R time attack car and the S2000 GT1, which was arguably one of the best tuner cars in Gran Turismo 4, Tanabe was also Amuse's own parts designer, dyno tuner, and race driver, and always relished getting his hands dirty in the course of running his business. It's tragic that his life was cut short in such a way, particularly because he was a refreshingly honest and down-to-earth individual who embodied the very essence of his company and the whole car-tuning scene in general.
Tanabe's wife will continue to run Powerhouse Amuse as she had done throughout her husband's illness. Our thoughts are with her and their family in this time. Rest in peace.
Subaru ContemplatingWorld Touring Car Campaign?
While Subaru's iconic WRX STI may be better known for its successes in the World Rally Championship, the Japanese automaker may soon be considering campaigning the turbocharged all-wheel-drive hatchback on the smooth tarmac circuits of the World Touring Car Championship.
Proposals to share the same set of rules between the WRC and WTCC disciplines have opened up the possibility for Subaru to field its WRX-based WRC 2008 rally car in the popular touring car series, with only minor modifications. At the time of this writing, Subaru's WRC team wasn't exactly going from strength to strength, so a move into the world of circuit racing may be just the thing to help bring in the trophies, and the sales. Then again, branching out into a new racing series just might stress Subaru's already-overstretched motorsports division, which is scrambling to produce some consistent victories.
If you're too impatient to wait for Subaru to get their act together, then perhaps a move to Japan is advised. Over there you can get your fill of touring car action in the form of the local Super GT championship, which features a GDB Impreza WRX running in and winning the GT300 category.