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Adaptive cruise control, emergency brake assist and blind-spot monitoring were the stuff of science fiction just a decade ago, but today these features are available on many reasonably priced, mass-market vehicles. Pushing driver assistance even further, Continental is developing a suite of advanced technologies with some pretty amazing capabilities.
Traffic, inclement weather and road construction add up to headaches and frustration for motorists. According to automotive supplier company Continental the typical driver spends an average 50 minutes per day commuting to work. Add it up and that’s roughly 300 hours per year that could be spent doing more productive things.
While active cruise control already exists in production vehicles, these systems use sensors and cameras to see what is coming, limiting them when it comes to knowing what is over the next hill or around the next bend. This problem is driving companies such as Mercedes-Benz to develop car-to-car communication devices.
In between moments of fun, spirited, and recreational driving, there are some boring moments spent queuing behind crawling traffic. At this year’s CES (Consumer Electronics Show), Audi introduced a new system that can alleviate this inconvenience with the push of a button, using a device known simply as the Traffic Jam Assistant.
Audi’s Traffic Jam Assistant aids the driver to help steer, accelerate and brake autonomously at speeds up to 37 mph. Based on adaptive cruise control, the system relies on two radar sensors monitoring fan-shaped fields at a 21-degree scan angle, each sensor reaching as far as 820 feet. A wide-angle video camera is also installed to identify lane markings as well as other vehicles, pedestrians, and guard rails. This range enables the system to not only detect the vehicle ahead, but other vehicles ahead of it as well.
Audi says that this technology will, “relieve the driver at times when driving is not much fun, such as in congested traffic.”
While Audi has not announced when the technology will be available for mass production or how much this system will cost, expect to see it first in a future Audi A8 luxury sedan.
Opel, General Motors’ German wing is boasting big changes to their Insignia sedan, including a new biturbo diesel.The engine makes 195 horsepower and about 295 foot-pounds of torque, but the real eye-catcher on the new engine is fuel consumption and emissions. The new Insignia is only supposed to emit 129g/km of CO2 and achieves 48 miles-per-gallon.
Diesels typically get better mileage than gasoline engines, but that improved economy usually came hand-in-hand with performance compromises. While that is still true, the gap is shrinking somewhat. The biturbo system takes advantage of differently-sized turbochargers to reduce turbo lag, spooling up the smaller piece first and diverting exhaust to the larger turbo as RPMs increase. The system is seamless according to GM.
The biturbo diesel Insignia can get to 62 mph in 8.7 seconds and tops out at 143 mph, which is a significant improvement considering many small displacement turbo diesels aren’t happy past about 80 mph.
According to Opel, the new Insignia will sell for 33,000 euros and will come with a slew of other improvements including optional all-wheel drive. AWD models will also come with their SuperSport suspension, featuring adaptive damping, Brembo brakes and the HiPerStrut system to improve handling.
The new model also gets adaptive cruise control and some radar-based safety features including forward collision alert.
New Advance Package also include high-tech shock absorbers to deliver improved performance and comfort
For 2010 Acura has given its flagship MDX SUV a mid-cycle refresh which includes a new six speed transmission, an exciting Advance Package and, of course, the company’s new corporate shield grille. And we have to say, while the grille is “controversial” at best on Acura’s other models, it really seems to work on this hefty crossover.
Along with that grille is an entirely new front bumper, a redesigned hood, new side skirts, new taillights with brighter LEDs and a new rear bumper with “rolled edge” exhaust pipes. A set of lighter 18-inch wheels comes standard with optional 19-inchers.
Output from Acura’s largest V6 engine remains the same at 300hp and 270 ft-lbs of torque, but the 3.7-liter unit gets paired with a six-speed transmission. The addition of one gear over last year’s model should net some improvement in acceleration, although the difference is no-doubt minute. Instead Acura has used the extra gear to help improve fuel-economy. The 2010 MDX is now rated at 16 mpg city and 21 mpg highway, an improvement of 1 mpg in each category over the previous model.
The biggest news for potential buyers might just be the optional Advance Package, which includes state of the art technology for added performance, convenience and safety. Along with a new power steering system, suspension adjustments and a stiffer chassis, the Advance Package adds an Active Damper System, similar to the one found on the Ferrari 599 or Corvette Z06. This system uses Magneto-Rheological shocks that can adjust individually in as little as five milliseconds to deliver not only a sportier ride, but also a more comfortable one. Additional features of the Advance Package include a Collision Mitigating Braking System (CMBS), Adaptive Cruise Control (ACC), a blind spot information system (BSI), auto-leveling HID headlights and larger 19-inch wheels.
GALLERY: 2010 Acura MDX
Keep reading for full details on the 2010 Acura MDX
The sixth generation GTI is set to launch any day now in Germany and Volkswagen has just released some (but not all) of the details on Germany’s hottest hatch. Not only does it get a new look and more powerful engine but is also comes with several new innovations and has been built with the input of legendary racer Hans-Joachim Stuck – a confessed GTI-freak.
“Even when I was under contract with BMW, I preferred to drive to the Nürburgring in a GTI,” said Stuck. “It was in a GTI that I drove 911 drivers to distraction on the North Loop. My wife was even driving
a GTI when she first caught my attention.”
The new GTI continues to use the 2.0-liter TFSI engine but with a slight bump in power to 210 ps (207hp). All that power is available as early as 5300 rpm and stays on full until 6200 rpm. Max torque is rates at 206.5 ft-lbs and comes on at just 1700 rpm. “In practice, this means impressive power in all of life’s situations,” say Stuck.
This is enough, says VW, for the 2010 GTI to accelerate to 62 mph in just 6.9 seconds. Top speed is 150 mph.
VW also made sure to make the revised engine more fuel efficient with an average fuel economy rating of 32.2 mpg. To give this perspective, the fifth generation GTI was capable of 31.4.
There is, however, more to the performance improvements in the new GTI than just more power. For starters, Stuck helped in completely redesigning the suspension of the car. The springs, shocks and rear stabilizer bar have all been completely reworked for a better handling car. The GTI also sits lower than the standard Golf, by 22mm up front and 15mm in the rear.
Add to this the fact that the GTI VI gets Dynamic Chassis Control (DCC), allowing the shocks to continuously react to the road conditions and driver’s inputs to provide the best suspension for that moment. The shocks will even adjust according to acceleration, braking and steering inputs to stiffen the suspension in fractions of a second, reducing pitch and roll in the chassis.
The DCC system also lets driver’s choose the sort of driving characteristic they want by opting for a “Normal,” “Sport,” or “Comfort” setting.
The DCC system “produces an ideal synthesis of great comfort and excellent handling properties in the GTI,” says Stuck. “There are of course many sporty cars that are simply too stiff. Yet this one is always right.”
An additional technological advancement found in the sixth-generation GTI is what VW calls XDS – or an electronic transverse differential lock. What this system does is apply a slight amount of brakes to an inside wheel that has begun to slip while cornering. This slows the inside wheel to a rotational speed similar to the outside wheel and thereby provides maximum grip. VW says this system makes the GTI feel more like an all-wheel drive car than a front wheel drive car.
“XDS gives the car an enormous measure of driving stability. And it leads to greater driving enjoyment, since it reduces understeering,” says Stuck. “Experienced sports car drivers will be much more active underway. Yet, XDS is a very important safety feature for normal drivers too, because they will not experience any unpleasant surprises with the GTI.”
Other highlights offered on the new GTI are Adaptive Cruise control, bi-xenon headlights with 13 degrees of movement and a second generation of VW’s Park Assist, which, like the well-known (and much maligned) Lexus system will help a driver parallel park. Drivers just need to operate the gas and brake (as well as the clutch in manual transmission cars) and the car will do the rest. The new system has been improved to allow for parking in tighter spaces, with just 3.6 feet on either side of the car, down from 4.6 feet on the previous generation.
Add all this together with a new look (including a new twin-pipe exhaust design) and a stunning VW interior and the 2010 GTI is a complete package no matter what the road ahead looks like.
“The new GTI succeeds in bridging the gap between a serious business car during the
work week, and a competitor on the Nürburgring on the weekend,” says Stuck.
GALLERY: 2010 Volkswagen GTI
More on the new GTI after the jump:
New six-speed automatic transmission mated to 268hp 3.5-liter V6
Thanks to Ford’s new Global Product Development System the company was able to bring the new Taurus to market 12 months sooner – and not a moment too soon. The old 500/Taurus was a relative flop and considering how successful the Fusion has been, a more impressive full-sized sedan was much needed.
Ford believes the 2010 Taurus will bring back the sedan’s past successes and to do so they will offer it at the same MSRP as the outgoing model – $25,995.
The 2010 Tauris will be powered by a 3.5-liter V6 engine that puts down 263hp and 249 ft-lbs of torque. Power will be put to the wheels through a six-speed transmission with steering wheel-mounted paddle shifters. The new transmission will also feature “grade assist” to help during hill starts.
Ford claims a vastly improved interior in terms of both materials and design. As for the exterior, the body panel margins rival those of German luxury sedans.
The look of the Taurus is all-new as well and the sedan will come with 17-inch wheels stadard with sizes ranging all the way to 20-inches.
Technological highlights include Adaptive Cruise Control and a Blind Spot Information System.
Official release after the jump: