AutoGuide News Blog
The AutoGuide News Blog is your source for breaking stories from the auto industry. Delivering news immediately, the AutoGuide Blog is constantly updated with the latest information, photos and video from manufacturers, auto shows, the aftermarket and professional racing.
Top 10 Affordable Rear-Wheel-Drive Cars
Lawmakers in Washington D.C. and California are armed with a legislative battleaxe and they’re bringing it to bear against the automotive industry. Fuel-economy regulations are hitting like a war hammer, disrupting the market and crushing carmakers. In a mad dash to meet upcoming CAFE standards manufacturers are dramatically shifting their product offerings. Downsized vehicles, hybrid drivetrains and diesel engines are some of the tools in their defensive arsenals.
One unfortunate victim of this efficiency stampede is rear-wheel drive. Slowly but surely over the last 30 years automakers have made the switch to front-drive, a layout that’s more economical in a number of ways. But not everyone is content driving a Nissan Sentra, or getting by in a minivan. For enthusiasts that care about performance rear-wheel drive is king, but it’s a monarch that’s under siege. Keeping the dream alive, here’s a list of the Top 10 (reasonably) affordable RWD cars on the market today. Act fast before they’re gone in a puff of tire smoke.
10. Mazda2: 1.5L (1498 cc)
The motors in these vehicles don’t pack much power, or torque, and are all aimed to use the least amount of fuel. These cars are all ranked in order, right down to the cubic centimeter from most displacement, to least, so take a look below, to see the list of smallest engines available today.
The subcompact Mazda2 is the first on our list, with the biggest engine here. Thanks to its 1498cc four-cylinder engine, the Mazda2 makes 100-hp at 6000 rpm. Of course, that’s not much but what else do you need in a 2300-lb city car? The Mazda2 starts at $14,530 which isn’t too much for a car that gets 29/35 mpg city/highway with the manual or 28/34 mpg city/highway with the auto.
Smart knows exactly how electric cars are perceived by the general public; as small and economic vehicles that you buy to save money on gas. But opinions can be changed, and Smart staged a clever marketing event which aimed to prove that acceleration and performance are also part of its electric cars persona.
The idea is simple; take the classic game “pong” (although Smart calls it e-ball) and recreate it using cars as controllers. The acceleration is tested as the Smart cars must blast straight forwards and backwards as quickly as possible to avoid being scored on.
This may not prove that these cars are race track ready, but the brand is looking to invigorate sales by showing that small electric cars can be efficient, and fun.
Watch the video below.
Making its way to the upcoming 2012 Geneva Motor Show will be Rinspeed’s Dock + Go creation, an innovative yet strange concept that will leave some scratching their heads.
The Swiss-based tuner is marketing the Dock + Go as a backpack on wheels but is also a detachable range-extender for electric cars. The product essentially adds a third axle to the vehicle, adding an extra pair of wheels to a compact electric car – in this case, a Smart Fortwo Electric Drive. Essentially it’s a mini-trailer that can also serve as a range-extender, but its versatility is what leaves the possibilities endless for what it can be used for.
In its demo photos, for example, Rinspeed shows off its Dock + Go aiding in a pizza delivery company, camping, golfing, skiing, and more. We could definitely see these things being a hit out at tailgating parties in the US.
Rinspeed didn’t release exact figures as to how long the extended range is with the Dock + Go.
GALLERY: Rinspeed Dock + Go
Dubbed Square Style, the tuners over at Vilner has transformed Smart’s ForTwo to interesting new heights. Originally commissioned for a Bulgarian businessman for advertising purposes, Vilner is now willing to offer this transformation to all those interested in making their Smart ForTwo more stylish and flashy.
No performance modifications were done, but it’s evident that both the exterior and interior of the ForTwo has been overhauled. For this particular vehicle, Vilner repainted the exterior to feature an orange foil and full chrome panels. The orange theme continues with the wheels, mirrors and other minor details.
On the inside, the two-tone theme continues with a full re-upholstery in black and orange. There are even chrome accents in the interior. Last but not least, Vilner swaps out the ForTwo’s stock steering wheel with a new unit.
Official press release and video available after the break.
GALLERY: Vilner Smart ForTwo
Famed Mercedes-Benz tuner Brabus, has continued to expand their Smart ForTwo portfolio, this time with a modified cabrio. Called the Brabus La Bleue, the modified Smart ForTwo will be available only in Italy with a limited production of just 60 units.
On the outside, the special edition vehicle will sport a dark blue metallic paint that is contrasted by Brabus’ Monoblock VII six-twin-spoke wheels in a classy silver finish. The wheel setup is staggered with a 16-inch sizing up front and 17-inch sizing in the rear.
In true Brabus fashion, the interior receives a luxurious treatment of soft beige leather with contrasting blue stitching of Brabus’ logo. The La Bleue comes with Brabus’ tuned Smart ForTwo powerplant, that sports 102-hp.
GALLERY: Brabus Smart ForTwo Cabrio La Bleue
The pint-sized smart fortwo might not be for everyone. Despite being a practical means of transportation for those who mostly drive in city centers, its quirky gearbox is a pain to use in stop and go traffic because its not the smoothest system on the planet.
The smart e.d. (electric drive) on the other hand eliminates that problem, because it has no gearbox, so it is smooth all the way.
The 2nd generation model of the smart e.d. was sold in a limited number of just 250-units in North America, and you could only lease the vehicle, not buy it outright. It wasn’t cheap either. Leasing one would have run you $599 a month, and a down payment of $2,500 was due at signing. You could have easily leased two regular smart cars for that amount and still would have been left with some pocket change to buy some gas.
But the smart e.d. was not really a production car, it was a prototype that was allowed out for a real world test. But starting January 2012, you’ll be able to get your hands on the 3rd generation of the smart e.d. This model will be available for both lease and outright purchase, and while we don’t have any pricing for it yet, chances are it will be cheaper than the previous model.
So if you want a little electric run-about, you don’t have to wait too long now to get your hands on one.
We’re all familiar with the Smart ForTwo, which is a polarizing vehicle to say the least, but initial impressions of their newest concept, the Forspeed EV Roadster, which debuted at the Geneva Auto Show, are all lining up in one direction, and it’s not exactly positive.
Sure, the chopped roof and windshield are kind of cool, but the front end treatment looks like two Lifesaver candies and a sheet of chickenwire, and the three-spoke wheels look to be inspired by mid-1990′s MOMOs you could have purchased from TireRack. The electric powertrain puts out around 40 horsepower, with a 7 horsepower “overboost” function and a top speed of 75 mph. We’ll stick with the standard ForTwo. If we must.
GALLERY: Smart Forspeed EV Roadster
The Forspeed concept is Smart‘s interpretation of a zero-emissions roadster, based on the only vehicle Smart currently builds: its Fortwo city car.
It’s designed to complement the rest of Smart’s electric transportation lineup for really small vehicles, which includes a scooter and a bicycle. The squat, roofless car features huge, ringed headlights reminiscent of eyelashes, dotted grilles, and a white-on-white color scheme inside and out, designed with a “unique and electric look, but is still recognizable as a Smart,” says Mercedes head of design Steffen Kohl.
And you may think three-spoke wheels fell out of fashion in the late-90s, but the Forspeed is rocking them with pride. The interior also features brown leather trim on the door pulls and steering wheel, and solar cells in the wind deflectors to power the car’s electronics.
The 40-horsepower electric motor in the back features an “overboost” function: when the driver presses a button in the center console the motor calls up seven extra horsepower. Think of it as a really toned-down version of the Turbo function from OutRun. The motor can propel the Forspeed up to 75mph and a range of 84 miles.
As part of parent company Mercedes-Benz’s quest to offer “mobility solutions”, Smart is also set to debut an electric scooter concept at the Paris Auto Show, along with rival brand MINI.
The Smart scooter will actually share similar characteristics with a MINI scooter, using an electric powertrain and an already established “premium” brand as selling points. The Smart is said to use a lithium-ion battery, and more significantly, a special airbag designed to protect occupants in a crash.
Smart will continue to debut new cars in the future, but the poor reception of the Smart Fortwo in North America, along with declining sales, means that the brand must focus on new efforts in the mobility field, rather than just the automobile.
You just can’t keep a good idea down. First, they were made for people, next up it was redesigned for pets. Now, they’ve made a Snuggie for the Smart Car.
On people, the Snuggie looks pretty hideous, but on the smart car, it looks kind of cool. Created by 20 knitting grandmas – aka the Senior Design Factory – this Snuggie took about 70 lbs. of wool and 2 months to create. Designed to look like a shoe (complete with laces), the Smart Car Snuggie fits the car perfectly, and even has holes knitted for the wheels.
There’s even the possibility to be entered into the Guinness Book of World Records for the biggest hand-knitted car cover ever created.
It would be interesting to see if the Smart Car Snuggie would actually keep it toasty warm in the winter, or if you can reach for the remote while it’s on – unlike those pesky car blankets. Your Smart Car can now easily turn the pages of a book or answer the phone without worrying about loosing any heat.
[Source: Smart Car of America]
Holy bling Batman! You’ll need to don sunglasses to marvel at this very special edition of the Smart Fortwo convertible.
Created by Anjuny, a luxury car accessory brand, this blinged-out Smart Fortwo convertible is available in China and comes covered with over 280,000 Swarovski crystals. But it doesn’t stop there – open the door and gaze at the interior that has also been crystallized. That’s right, you’ll find crystal accents applied on the leather, drink holders, shift knob, mirrors, seat buckles, and pedals.
Thank goodness its good on gas, because you’ll need all the help you can get to afford this shiny number. No word on the cost of the dazzling beauty, but unless you’re in China, you won’t be driving off the lot in it anyway. We guess you’ll just have to stick to bedazzling your jean jacket.
GALLERY: Anjuny Swarovski Smart fortwo
[Source: Born Rich]
As much as the Japanese love modifying and tuning their cars, enthusiasts in the land of the rising sun love to get their hands on a fine German luxury car. While names like Brabus might be known best in Germany, Benz-tuner Carlsson has a huge following in Japan, thanks in part to its smart marketing efforts – like always displaying at the Tokyo Auto Salon.
Always a show staple, Carlsson was dressed to impress at TAS 2010 with an impressive corral of vehicles ranging from a modified Mercedes McLaren SLR 722, to a pair of modified and personalized Smart Cars.
In addition to these, the German tuner also has on display one of its newest packages for the 2010 Mercedes-Benz E-Class, including a complete aero kit, exhaust system, lowering kit for the suspension and interior accessories.