Toyota has introduced a new ‘GR Series’ package for the Japan-market Prius Prime, and it makes me wonder why the Prius, especially the regular model, had to look so polarizing in the first place.
Let’s not sugarcoat it — to many enthusiasts and non-enthusiasts, the latest-generation Prius has got to be one of the ugliest vehicles ever created. However, the new ‘GR Series’ packages manages to fix that problem in many ways, making the frugal hybrid more visually palatable. Do you agree?
Inspired by Toyota’s Gazoo Racing motorsports division, the Gazoo Racing-inspired packages grants the Prius Prime unique styling elements and a sportier suspension tuning. Also part of the deal is a special tachometer, aluminum pedals and a small diameter steering wheel.
The 86 sports car and other Toyota models also get their own ‘GR Series’ package with unique features, but none likely get modifications as drastic as seen on the Prius.
Porsche Making Gas-Electric 911 To Take On New Tesla Roadster?
Likely caught off guard by the ridiculously bonkers performance of the new Tesla Roadster electric sports car, Porsche is now working on a gas-electric Porsche 911 after previously shelving plans for such a model.
Tesla’s new Roadster can accelerate from 0 to 62 mph (100 km/h) in under 2 seconds (1.9 secs, to be precise) and to 100 mph (161 km/h) in only 4.2 seconds, a level of performance unmatched by any production car to date, not even the mighty, 1,479 horsepower Bugatti Chiron. Production begins in 2020.
According to , the Porsche 911 Hybrid will be introduced a few years after the next-generation 911 arrives in 2019, meaning it could it hit the market around the same time the Tesla Roadster does.
As a hybrid, the 911 won’t be a fully electric vehicle like the Roadster, with Porsche targeting an electric driving range around 40 miles compared to the Tesla’s 620-mile range.
Porsche has yet to confirm development of the car, but a spokesman confirmed to Bloomberg that the next 911 allows integration of an electric powertrain. The German automaker was even reported to be looking at solid-state battery technology for future electrified versions of the 911 and Boxster.
150 Year Old Green Technology – The Atkinson Cycle Engine!
The phrase “What’s old is new again” certainly applies to the Atkinson Cycle Engine. Although we may not know its formal name, the gas engines in all our cars and trucks are Otto Cycle engines; however, its lesser known fraternal twin is on the rise.
In 1887, James Atkinson Cycle patented another type of internal combustion engine appropriately called the Atkinson Cycle Engine. At the time, it was an interesting design but the Otto Cycle engine proved simpler and easier to build so that’s the direction that Detroit went.
Then, all the sudden, the old Atkinson Cycle engine turned out to be just what the doctor ordered for hybrid electric cars, leading to thousands of Atkinson Cycle engines being built every month as a result of the auto industry becoming increasingly electrified. The Toyota Prius played a big role in the .
With some assistance from , a Chrysler, Dodge, Jeep, Ram, Fiat dealer in Langhorne, PA, let’s start by looking at the operating principles behind your standard gasoline engine. As we mentioned above, automotive engineers refer to these as Otto Cycle engines. This internal combustion design has been used for over 100 years and is in just about anything that needs an engine. This includes, cars, motorcycles, aircraft, tractors, lawnmowers, and on and on.
With the way an Otto Cycle engine works, the first piston stroke sucks air and fuel into the cylinder and the second stroke compresses the mixture. The mixture is then ignited in the third, while the spent gas is purged in the fourth. This whole process takes 2 rotations of the crankshaft and is referred to as a “four stroke engine” because each complete cycle requires four piston strokes.
With an Atkinson Cycle engine, a couple of additional linkages have been added so that all four strokes can be completed with a single rotation of the crankshaft. To understand how it works, imagine the cylinder and piston in a standard engine, as shown in this .
On the intake stroke, the piston doesn’t move all the way down the cylinder. As a result, the intake valve doesn’t allow as much of the air/fuel mixture into the cylinder. The piston moves back up for the compression stroke, and at the top the mixture is ignited. The force sends the piston back down the shaft of the cylinder in the power stroke but this time all the way down to take advantage of every last bit of force generated by the combustion explosion. Then the piston moves back up to get the burned gasses out for the exhaust stroke. The result of this process is less fuel use but at the expense of less power.
So, with the Atkinson Cycle engine, you’ve got an engine that’s really efficient, but it lacks in power, especially of the torque variety. But, when you’re a hybrid powertrain engineer, you also have an electric motor that has copious torque all the time. So, combine the two and you have the perfect hybrid drivetrain. All you have to do is mesh the power from an electric motor with an Atkinson engine. And this is precisely what many hybrids do today.
History has a funny way of repeating itself. When patented in 1887, who would have predicted that the all-but-forgotten Atkinson’s engine and electric motors would ever be used together. Who would have thought that a 150 year old engine design would end up being cutting edge “green technology”? But as with all other internal combustion engine design, is there a future for it a world that will likely be ?
Only time will tell…
All-New Audi A7 Debuts Even Sexier, Packs More Tech
The second-generation Audi A7 has been unveiled, sporting Audi’s new sleeker design language that was previewed with the Prologue concept and premiered by the new Audi A8, along with a long list of tech upgrades.
The four-door Sportback has a very similar shape to the outgoing model but features sharper edges and more athletic lines for a sportier, more expressive look.
At the front, a wider Singleframe grille is flanked by new headlights available in three versions. The basic setup integrates a dozen adjacent segments that are said to evoke the binary pattern of zeros and ones, while HD Matrix LEDs and laser lights are reserved for the flagship trim.
The rear end also boasts distinctive lighting, with the taillights featuring 13 vertical segments accented by fast-moving patterns when the vehicle is locked or unlocked.
Inside, the new A7 is a showcase of Audi’s latest digitalization strategy, doing away with the previous A7’s rotary pushbutton for two modern high-resolution touchscreens. The top display handles all infotainment functions, while the lower display is optimized for climate controls, comfort functions and text input.
Buyers looking for the ultimate interior tech have the option of an upgraded Audi virtual cockpit system with a 12.3-inch pane, a head-up display, and remote parking pilot and remote garage pilot that enable the A7 to automatically park and unpark itself.
The new 2019 AudiA7 launches with the Volkswagen Group’s 3.0-liter V6 TFSI engine, which produces 340 horsepower and 369 pound-feet of torque, allowing the sizable German sedan to accelerate from 0 to 62 mph (100 km/h) in a brisk 5.3 seconds.
All powertrains in the lineup come standard with 48-volt, mild-hybrid system that allows the A7 to coast at speeds from 34.2 (55 km/h) to 99.4 mph (160 km/h) and is capable of deactivating the engine when doing so to preserve fuel.
To improve handling, Audi’s engineers applied a more advanced chassis control system with optional all-wheel steering and revised air suspension, as well as variable-ratio steering that spans from 9.5:1 to 16.5:1 depending on the speed and input angle.
The all-new, 2019 Audi A7 goes on sale in February 2018, arriving in North America by the end of 2018 or early 2019. Do you like what you see?