At the end of this year (yes, 2010) the Chevrolet Volt will be available for sale. This hybrid is different than all the others made by the major car companies – it can run on it’s battery only, and charge while parked with an electrical outlet. Toyota is rumored to be developing a plug-in Prius and Mercedes just announced a plug-in S400 concept. However, can a car like this succeed in Toronto?
Toronto is a very urban city. It has many, many high rises and multiple-unit dwellings where the garages are shared among all the residents. Most apartments and condos have few, if any, available electrical outlets for use by residents. How will these people charge their cars? This affects people at work too – have you considered how you can plug in your car at your office parking lot?
Toronto’s older neighborhoods lack garages. In fact in my neighborhood there is only street parking available for residents and most of the downtown core is like that. Will you run a 100-200ft power cable to your car overnight?
I’m curious how this will all play out. Plug-in hybrids or electric-only vehicles will be pretty efficient, and don’t produce much carbon. It might do good in the lawn-and-garage suburbs but it will be hard to tell how well they can sell in the urban areas.
Possible solutions are incentives for multi-dwelling buildings to implement charging technology in their garages. Having charging stations in public lots. Inexpensive home-based charging centers. It will be interesting how the private and public sectors deal with the charging issue.
Satellite Weather and Traffic Reports (I don’t think any of these systems work in Canada)
Pushbutton locking differentials
Torque vectoring differentials
Direct Fuel Injection
Real power outlets
Folding hard tops
Hood scoops (wtf?)
I’m not sure about hood scoops, but the rest of the list is pretty cool. Recently I bought a new car, and it was nice to have features that my old car didn’t have, like adaptive lights, turbocharged direct-injection engine, heated seats and iPhone integration. Technology is wonderful.
The New York Times created an interactive map that shows what cars are Made in the USA. Fortunately, they also list models made in Canada and Mexico, seperately. For the cars made in the US, they list where then engines and transmissions come from, because many plants only do final assembly in the States.
If you are taking advantage of the strong Canadian dollar. By buying a car made in the USA, Canada or Mexico, you will save yourself paying duty at the border. There’s even some BMW’s, Mercedes and VW’s made in the USA now.
Support your local economy by buying cars made in Canada. I’ve listed them below:
I stopped by the one of the city’s Porsche dealers to look at the new 2009 Cayman S. This car has always fascinated me because it combines Porsche’s brilliant flat-six engines in a mid-engined layout. Taking the light, nimble chassis of the Boxster and making it lighter with a fixed roof and adding some nice curves.
Very few technologies offer both increased performance and increased fuel economy, but the Cayman has two. The 2009 Cayman S comes with a new 3.4L engine with direct injection, raising maximum output to 320 horsepower – just 5 horsepower short of last years 911 Carrera. The second is the dual clutch gearbox – offering better fuel economy with it’s 7 speeds and more performance with it’s no-lift-off-the-throttle driving style.
The first thing I noticed about the car is how smooth the gearbox is. Having a twin-clutch setup means the other gear is always spun up and ready to be engaged. As you shift the cars, all you hear behind you is the engine powering up for seamless, fast shifts. There’s almost no feedback at all to the pedal and none on the shift lever. Shifting can improve in speed at the penalty of smoothness by using the “sport” and “sport plus” settings provided by the sport chrono computer.
There’s three ways to shift. The first is having the car do it for you. Boring but if I was stuck in traffic on the DVP, it’d be perfect. The second is in manual mode and using the gear lever. The third and final is using the buttons on the steering wheels. You might be wrong if you assumed they would be paddles, but no, they are buttons. Front buttons to shift up, back buttons to shift down. Honestly, paddle shifters would be a lot better. How a company like Porsche decided that this was a better way to go, I will never understand. This is a big minus for this transmission.
The car itself drives like few others. It has a masterful stance and so eager to turn and go in the direction you want. It’s hard to explain but coming from a 350z it corners a lot eagerly. You really notice less weight on the wheels and an ability to control the car with very few inputs. In the Z the steering is heavy, the clutch is heavier, and the car has to be manhandled into tight corners. The Cayman is the opposite – it’s like a slot car and can be put into the perfect apex every time. It’s hard to compare with a 911 Carrera since I haven’t driven them back-to-back.
A short drive is never very revealing, but it did give me some good insights. The default throttle mapping on the car is not very good. With the optional sport chrono computer, you can use the “sport” program to make the throttle more responsive. This is both immediate and noticeable. Frankly I can’t imagine having a Cayman S without this option. The default program has too much lag compared to my Z.
The next drive will be with the manual transmission and a better impression about the car’s handling.
I was car shopping yesterday when I stumbled upon a brand new 2009 Carrera 4 S at a Pfaff Oakville. The car was on loan from one of the members of the family of dealerships they belonged to. It was given a flat grey paint, coupled with blacked out wheels – it looked hot!
A show in Japan pitted all four versions of the new Carrera against one another in 1/4 drag tests. These included the base Carrera, Carrera S, Carrera 4 and Carrera 4S. While the 4S was marginally faster than the S, probably because of increased traction, both the S and 4S got times in the 11s! Video below:
In this video (which is in German) two aftermarket tuned R8′s go head-to-head. One is tuned by MTM, the other by Abt – both major players in the aftermarket tuning business for Audi’s (and other German makes).