The Truth About Cars » 2.0T http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. Tue, 01 Sep 2015 18:20:13 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=4.2.4 The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. The Truth About Cars no The Truth About Cars editors@ttac.com editors@ttac.com (The Truth About Cars) 2006-2009 The Truth About Cars The Truth About Cars » 2.0T http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/wp-content/themes/ttac-theme/images/logo.gif http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com 2016 Chevrolet Camaro – Same Recipe, New Ingredients http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/05/2016-chevrolet-camaro-same-recipe-new-ingredients/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/05/2016-chevrolet-camaro-same-recipe-new-ingredients/#comments Sun, 17 May 2015 20:22:29 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1069698 “From every angle, you’ll never mistake this for anything but a Camaro,” said Tom Peters, design director for the sixth-generation Chevrolet Camaro. That’s probably because it hasn’t changed that much, at least visually. Yet, under the skin, the new Camaro drops some 200 lbs thanks to its new Alpha platform bones and gains a new […]

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The 2016 Chevrolet Camaro was introduced May 16, 2015, at a special event in Detroit. The all-new muscle car is approximately 200 pounds lighter than the current model and offers more powerful V-6 and V-8 engines.

“From every angle, you’ll never mistake this for anything but a Camaro,” said Tom Peters, design director for the sixth-generation Chevrolet Camaro. That’s probably because it hasn’t changed that much, at least visually. Yet, under the skin, the new Camaro drops some 200 lbs thanks to its new Alpha platform bones and gains a new base engine – a 2.0L turbocharged Ecotec four-pot.

2016 Chevrolet Camaro SS

The new Camaro introduces a turbocharged 2.0L Ecotec powerplant for the first time, bringing with it more horsepower and the same torque figure as the same engine in the Malibu. That puts the new base model Camaro at 275 horsepower and 295 lb-ft of twist. GM says 90 percent of those torques will be available between 2,100 rpm and 3,000 rpm, making the sixth-generation Camaro good for a 60 mph sprint in under 6 seconds while still returning 30 mpg by their own estimates.

Note that I said “base model” above. Unlike Mustang, the Camaro will offer up their four banger as the economy option instead of a premium lightweight option like in Ford’s pony car.

An all-new 3.6L V6 will join the piston party as well with 335 hp and 284 lb-ft of torque. The most notable addition to the now mid-range engine offering is cylinder deactivation. The system will shut down two cylinders effectively turning the V6 into a V4. While the V6 does offer up more output versus its predecessor (323 hp, 278 lb-ft) and claims best-in-class power, it should also return better fuel economy.

A new-to-Camaro 6.2L LT1 V8 will be the headliner, boasting 455 hp and 455 lb-ft of torque, just 5 lb-ft down from on the Corvette.

All engines will be mated to either a six-speed manual transmission (SS models receive Active Rev Match for downshifts) or all-new Hydra-Matic eight-speed automatic (8L45 in LT, 8L90 in SS) with steering wheel mounted paddle shifters, further enhancing fuel economy and performance. Also, unless there’s a change to the preliminary output figures, it seems GM won’t be penalizing customers by slashing engine output for those who choose the automatic transmission in SS models.

Unfortunately, the new platform is so sound dead, all Camaros will have their engine note pumped in one way or another. All four-cylinder models will have active noise cancellation. If you opt for the Bose audio system, you’ll receive the aforementioned faux engine noise delivered by speaker. Thankfully, it can be disabled at the whim of the driver. V6 and V8 models will offer up “enhanced” sound through mechanical means by pumping analog audio into the passenger compartment. A dual-mode exhaust will also bypass the mufflers under hard acceleration for better performance and “better” sound.

2016 Chevrolet Camaro SS

Underpinned by the same Alpha platform as the Cadillac ATS and CTS, the new Camaro does shed some unneeded weight, but its dimensions shrink only slightly. Think of the new model as a nip-tuck job over the last generation.

GM claims the Camaro, depending on the model, will lose “200 lbs or more” mass – meaning no matter what the trim, we should expect at least a 200 lb weight reduction. We will see about that when official curb weights are published. The skeptic in me thinks this will not be the case.

The brakes bringing everything to a stop are about the same size in LT (I4/V6) models as the previous generation, but SS models see their brake disc diameters shrink from 14/14.4 inches (front/rear) to 13.6/13.3 inches (front/rear).

With a new platform also comes new suspension setups. Up front are new multi-link MacPherson strut solutions while the rear sees a new five-link independent suspension GM says reduces “squat” during hard launches. Also for the first time, the Camaro SS will be available with Magnetic Ride Control, a much welcomed enhancement over the crashy previous-gen SS suspension.

Another first for Camaro will be an assortment of driving modes, including Snow/Ice, Tour, Sport and Track settings. The latter setting is only available on SS models. The following table provided by GM outlines the different settings in each mode.

DRIVER MODE SELECTOR SETTINGS
Snow/Ice Tour Sport Track
(SS only)
Electronic throttle progression SNOW/ICE NORMAL NORMAL TRACK
Automatic trans.
shift map
NORMAL NORMAL SPORT TRACK
Automatic trans. Performance Algorithm Shift N/A N/A AVAIL. AVAIL.
Engine sound management
(if equipped with dual-mode exhaust)
STEALTH TOUR SPORT TRACK
Electric power steering calibration TOUR TOUR SPORT TRACK
StabiliTrak – Competitive Driving and Launch Control N/A N/A AVAIL. AVAIL.
Magnetic Ride Control
calibration (if equipped)
TOUR TOUR SPORT TRACK
Ambient lighting
(if equipped)
ICE BLUE BLUE RED ORANGE

An all-new, driver-focused interior in the 2016 Chevrolet Camaro features performance-optimized ergonomics, including new seats, a new, flat-bottom steering wheel and a new center console designed for easier manual-transmission shifting.

One thing needing as much attention as the “My 600-lb Life” levels of bloat was the incredibly cramped, cheap interior. Judging from the photos, the quality of materials has gone up, but issues still remain.

Those not fans of the dual-pod gauges will be pleasantly surprised. While the dual-pod hood remains, the remainder of the pods are gone. Instead, the Camaro is now available with an optional 8-inch screen in the instrument panel. In addition tonavigation and infotainment details, the screen will also provide a location for new digital performance gauges, taking them away from their previous location in front of the shifter where they were virtually useless. And, as before, another 8-inch screen will sit mid-dash.

Another improvement – and this one is quite ingenious – is a redesign of certain HVAC controls, turning them into rings around the low mounted air vents. This gives driver and passenger an easy way to make adjustments through a physical control while still saving space like the touchscreen controls used by other manufacturers.

However, there are two downsides to the new Camaro cabin. One – you won’t be doing any emergency brake induced drifting in the new-gen car thanks to its electronic parking brake. The other, and more crucial issue, is GM seems not to have done anything about visibility. With a fairly high beltline and even taller rear deck, the new Camaro continues its trend of being the worst pony car for rearward visibility.

All in all, the new Camaro has conformed to the new normal by being a more economical, lighter weight and nimbler offering. However, its execution is still decidedly traditional, providing an American coupe shape that prioritizes style over functionality.

The 2016 Camaro will be bolted together in Lansing, Michigan and goes on sale later this year.

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2013 Volkswagen Intramural League, Fifth Place: CC R-Line 2.0T http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/09/2013-volkswagen-intramural-league-fifth-place-cc-r-line-2-0t/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/09/2013-volkswagen-intramural-league-fifth-place-cc-r-line-2-0t/#comments Mon, 02 Sep 2013 13:15:23 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=505841 Let’s start with the good news: It’s still possible to purchase a German-made Volkswagen sedan with a turbocharged four-cylinder engine and a manual transmission. Your humble author did just that back in February of 1998, taking delivery of a 1998 Passat 1.8t and thoroughly enjoying the sleek sedan while it was in my possession. The […]

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IMG_3629 (Medium)

Let’s start with the good news: It’s still possible to purchase a German-made Volkswagen sedan with a turbocharged four-cylinder engine and a manual transmission. Your humble author did just that back in February of 1998, taking delivery of a 1998 Passat 1.8t and thoroughly enjoying the sleek sedan while it was in my possession. The current Passat is aimed at a different market, and quite successfully so; it’s the “CC” four-door koo-pay that is meant to carry the torch for all the old B5 Passat fans.

Which makes sense, because this is fundamentally an old Passat. An eight-year-old Passat. And that, as you might expect, is a bit of a problem.


IMG_3613 (Medium)

The “B6″ Passat that underpins the CC debuted in 2005. In Volkswagen-land, that’s not really a problem; the company is just now discontinuing Brazilian production of the original 1950s-era Transporter van. Compared to that venerable vehicle, the B6 Passat is a spring chicken. Still. Just to give you some context, here’s a 2005 Kia Optima:

2005-2006_Kia_Optima_LX

and here’s a 2013 Kia Optima:

2013optima

You get the idea? In fairness, however, the current CC has a different front and rear fascia from the original CC, which debuted in 2008 as a variant of that 2005 Passat. Still, when you consider what’s happened in the market since then… it isn’t just the Optima. The Sonata, the Fusion, the Malibu — quite a bit of chump-to-champ transformation happening while Volkswagen sits still.

Enough of that. Let’s go drive. The loop on which I tested these cars was a 33-mile assemblage of twisting roads running up and down the side of a mountain-ish hill in Napa, CA. The CC impresses at first glance: the proportions are familiar but they’re still correct and the interior is tasteful yet substantially identical to that of the B6 Passat. It’s not luxurious but it’s not cheap-feeling either. The R-Line’s price of $33,000 and change isn’t undermined too badly here, particularly if you like German minimalism. Just try to stay out of the competition if you want to remain happy with the features on offer.

IMG_3622 (Medium)

IMG_3623 (Medium)

IMG_3619 (Medium)

Yes, that’s a two-tone interior. The seats are familiar to anyone who’s been in the B6 but they’re outstanding in both fit and comfort. Everything’s pretty easy to reach and operate. I hadn’t driven a non-North-American Passat since I had them as service loaners in the last decade but I immediately figured out how everything worked. The head unit was unable to negotiate with my 160GB iPod Classic, however. Luckily the 1/8″ plug works fine.

Visibility isn’t as bad as it is in some of the other coupes-that-aren’t, but the “NMS” (New Midsize Sedan) Chattanooga Passat has it whipped six ways to sundown in that respect. Rear seat room was insufficient for your six-foot-two, thirty-two-inch-inseam editor and the trunk is unlikely to fit a serious guitar amplifier or a mountain bike with just the front wheel off. While the CC casts a larger shadow on the ground than the current Jetta, it feels less spacious inside. Compared to the aforementioned NMS, it isn’t even close.

With two hundred horsepower to pull 3400 pounds and a relatively precise-feeling (by VW and front-wheel-drive standards) six-speed manual transmission, the CC should be acceptably quick, and it is. While it struggled a bit to accelerate on Napa’s steepest grades, the CC is clearly stronger than the four-cylinder Japanese entries in this market. It would take a True Believer, however, to pretend that the V-6 Camry and Accord won’t leave it for dead. While VW has a third-generation 2.0T in the pipeline, this ain’t it, and even an artificially flat turbo torque curve isn’t enough to imbue the CC with any real sense of hurry.

IMG_3631 (Medium)

Not that you’d want it to be any faster than it is, because the brakes are flat-out terrible. Soft, deep, and slow to bite, the CC’s stoppers are not even close to being up to par for fast road work. I was the first person to drive this car and I was on the first wave of the press event, so it’s hard to blame abuse or wear for the problem. It materially affected the amount of speed I was able to hold on the long descents because I was never sure how close I was to having the pedal touch the floor followed by having the nose of the CC touch a tree at Michael Hastings engine escape velocity.

Just as well, because if the brakes weren’t fast enough for the engine, the suspension probably wasn’t well-damped enough for the brakes. Of the six cars I drove around this loop, only the CC regularly exhibited what I think of as a “floating extension”, which is when the rebound damping goes on vacation and the body hovers near the long end of the suspension’s stroke while the unloaded tires fiddle around for a very small slice of road grip. Some of the “whoops” on the downhill sections of Howell Mountain Road were sufficient to first pull the shocks all the way out then slam them into the bumpstops. While it was possible to exploit this behavior to get a surprising amount of “loose” motion from the back end around curves, it’s not reassuring and it conspicuously fails to deliver on the promises made by the R-Line’s aggressive exterior.

IMG_3627 (Medium)

I had thought that the CC might end up being the surprise winner of this comparison. As noted in the beginning of the review, it’s German-built (the Emden plant that built my ’98 also cranked this one out) and it has a third pedal that the competition has mostly stopped offering. Only the TSX and Buick Regal will let you have a stick-shift in this competitive set. The TSX punishes you for choosing the stick by limiting you to three color choices and base trim. The Buick punishes you for choosing the stick by being a Buick Regal. Guffaw. With that said, don’t think you’re going to see which way the retarded-sabertooth-grille Buick Regal GS went on a fast road from the driver’s seat of a CC — and the driver of the Regal won’t have paid any more for his considerably faster and more competent sedan. It’s tough to be a VW fan nowadays with Buick putting the boots to us like this. Not since the days of the Grand National have Buick sport sedans been faster than Volkswagens. Except for, um, all the years they sold the supercharged 3800 Regal. Okay, I take it back. Buick’s had the legs on the German brand more often than it hasn’t, and that’s just from the Seventies forward.

I’d still take the CC over, say, a Maxima, mostly because I can shift it myself and it looks cool. But against the non-VW competition it falls short. This being an Intramural League, however, we’re really only considering its merits against other Volkswagens. So here goes: Compared to other Volkswagens, the CC looks and feels old, it neither stops nor handles, and it costs more than other VWs that are more desirable and enjoyable. This old, bold soldier is ready for retirement — but what could possibly replace it? There’s nothing in the hopper at Wolfsburg. So if you want that list of qualities referred to above, this one is your winner and you might want to act while you still can. For everybody else: dead last.

Disclosure: Volkswagen flew me on Southwest Airlines to San Francisco and back for this test. Although I rented my own ground transportation and paid for all my own meals, those amenities were available to me courtesy of VW had I wanted or needed them. All expenses associated with operating the test vehicles were covered by Volkswagen, and I was put up for two nights in a very romantic little cottage.

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Review: 2011 Audi Q5 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2011/09/review-2011-audi-q5/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2011/09/review-2011-audi-q5/#comments Fri, 16 Sep 2011 19:27:47 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=411473 Tick off all the boxes on an Audi Q5 order form, and you’ll find yourself staring at a $58,350 tab. Too much for a compact crossover? Well, the example seen here will set you back $20,000 less. Now I know what you’re thinking: “A mere $38,400 for a right-sized chunk of German engineering? Sign me […]

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Tick off all the boxes on an Audi Q5 order form, and you’ll find yourself staring at a $58,350 tab. Too much for a compact crossover? Well, the example seen here will set you back $20,000 less. Now I know what you’re thinking: “A mere $38,400 for a right-sized chunk of German engineering? Sign me up!” Not so fast—to save twenty large you must give up something. But what?

The Q5’s outer shell is very much current Audi…except it also strongly resembles the latest Cayenne. (And the latest VW Touareg for that matter. Time for a Fortune cover?) If these lines are viable for the far pricier Porsche—and dealers can’t keep the peppers on the lot—then certainly they’re sufficiently upscale for this Audi. One wrinkle: the full tab nets the twenty-inch five-spoke wheels the designers had in mind when they penned the Q5’s exterior. At the other end of the spectrum, you get the 18s seen here. Not bad rims, and certainly far from tiny by historical standards, but ensconced in a clean-to-a-fault soap bar with wheel openings sized for dubs they take the whole downmarket.

When optioned with the Luxury Package, the Q5 contends with the Infiniti EX35 for the segment’s best interior, with soft leather covering not only the seats but also the door armrests and the hood over the instruments. But with this package the price jumps well into the fifties—it’s only available with the V6 and top trim level. The base interior, though it shares the same Teutonically tasteful design and solid construction, is a decidedly less opulent place. The door armrests are molded soft-touch plastic with hard plastic door pulls, and the seat upholstery, though technically leather, like much automotive cowhide easily passes for vinyl. (In fact, I have in my notes that “the vinyl isn’t as convincing as some.”) All-black with a smattering of wood trim not your thing? Any of the three two-toned color schemes, offered at no additional cost, warms the cabin up considerably. But even then the interior doesn’t have the cozy, custom-tailored ambiance you’ll find inside the Infiniti (assuming you can fit). My wife loved that Infiniti. She was not a fan of the Audi, to put it politely.

Keeping the price under forty means the standard audio system (pretty good, but no 505-watt 14-speaker Bang & Olufsen, that’s another $850) and no nav. The latter omission isn’t a problem for me personally, except it also means that the primary “MMI” (climate, audio, etc.) control knob and its surrounding buttons are on the center stack, where they’re not nearly as comfortable to reach or as easy to operate. With the nav these controls are much more ergonomically located aft of the shifter on the console. My wife’s comment on the controls: “Every time I had to do something new I had to sit there and think about it.” Even starting the Q5 poses a challenge for the unfamiliar. I was baffled for a number of minutes (I don’t want to admit how many) until I noticed a slot tucked up next to the center stack’s air vents. Stick the entire fob into it, push till it goes click, and—what do you know—the car starts. Want to keep the fob in your pocket? Then spring for the V6.

In general, automotive infotainment systems won’t let you do various things while driving. Click over to the Q5’s phone dialer, and you’re informed: “Distraction causes accidents. Never enter data while driving.” Click to accept this…and the next page lets you enter a phone number. Better than not being able to do this at all, but making habitual liars out of drivers one click at a time.

You get the same firm but supportive seats regardless of how the Q5 is optioned. If you want to feel like you’re sitting on a sofa, an Audi is not the car for you. The high, unobstructed view forward from the driver’s seat is a key reason people buy this sort of vehicle instead of the wagon (“avant” for those who speak Audi) most driving enthusiasts would favor. Huge mirrors do the same for the rearward view. The Q5 is only 182 inches long, about the same as a BMW X3 or Infiniti EX35 but much less lengthy than a Cadillac SRX or Lexus RX 350, which really compete with the others in terms of price rather than size. Still, unlike in the Infiniti there’s plenty of room in back for the average adult. A high-mounted cushion provides good thigh support and the seatback reclines. The compact exterior has a larger impact on cargo space, but there’s still more of it than in the Infiniti. More of a bother: the artfully shaped tailgate affords no good grips and opens so high that women of below-average height will need a step ladder to reach it. Or get one of the upper-level trims, which include a power tailgate.

The stopwatch will tell you that the 2.0T’s 211-horsepower turbocharged four-cylinder engine is nearly as quick as the 3.2’s 270-horsepower V6, thanks to a plumper midrange (peak torque of 258 foot-pounds at 1,500 rpm vs. 243 at 3,000) and two extra cogs in the autobox (for a total of eight). But the six feels smoother and sounds far sweeter. The turbo four is more than capable of moving the Q5, but the six is much more likely to move the driver. With eight speeds, manually downshifting to second or third for a turn requires a lot of taps. The solution: shunt the shifter into S and the transmission will find a suitably low gear (or an even lower one) on its own.

The advantage of the turbo four + eight-speed combo: fuel economy. The EPA ratings of 20 city, 27 highway are tops for the premium compact crossover class, though BMW’s mighty turbocharged six is close behind. In casual suburban driving the (possibly optimistic) trip computer reported high twenties and low thirties.

Last winter I attended a comparison drive for the new BMW X3…and came away impressed with the Q5. The BMW had a steadier, more composed ride and more balanced handling, and when fitted with a (conservatively rated) 300-horsepower turbocharged six is much quicker. By any objective measure it’s the best performer in the segment. But the Audi’s chassis felt livelier and somehow more natural, and on curvy roads I enjoyed driving it more. The biggest difference: steering that clearly communicated what was going on at the front contact patches. This was the standard steering and suspension: a $2,950 “Audi Drive Select Page” offered only on the top trim substitutes active steering and adaptive shocks, but unlike on some other Audis doesn’t include an active rear differential. With the moderately rear-biased all-wheel-drive system and conventional rear differential a heavy right foot can coax the rear end to step out, but this is a more practical possibility with the BMW.

I wasn’t quite as impressed with the Q5’s steering this time around. Part of the reason could be that I didn’t have the other vehicles (X3, RX, SRX) on hand for a direct comparison. But the Q5’s steering also isn’t as exemplary during daily driving as it is when hustling along a curvy road. When driven casually, steering effort varies dramatically and somewhat unpredictably, and the feel is more artificial. The positive spin: when you most need the steering to talk, it talks. The Audi wants to be driven hard. Ignore its needs, and (like the high-strung, high-maintenance mistress I don’t have) it misbehaves while refusing to talk to you.

One mystery: the tested vehicle was fitted with W-rated Goodyear Excellence tires. Such “grand touring summer” tires, though commonly fitted as standard equipment in Europe, rarely appear in the all-season-loving U.S. On the Q5, we get performance-oriented rubber only with the “S Line” package, which is only offered with the V6. By accident or otherwise, the press fleet Q5 2.0T was wearing relatively sticky Euro-market treads.

So, to get to a $38,400 sticker (up $400 from the tested 2011 model), you’ve given up the wheels the designers intended, leather that feels like leather, ergonomic controls, a broad array of conveniences, the sweet sounding six, the trick shocks, and sticky tires. But do other cars offer more at this price point?

Not the related A4 Avant wagon, which lists for $800 more while including fewer features as standard equipment. You get a standard panoramic sunroof with the wagon—one’s an option on the Q5—but no power lumbar on the passenger seat, no wood trim, no three-zone automatic climate control, no automatic lights, no rain-sensing wipers, no trip computer. Tally up the differences using TrueDelta’s car price comparison tool, and the Q5’s price advantage widens to about $1,500. Detroit’s product strategy favored SUVs because they found car buyers were willing to pay more for them than for a wagon. The Germans didn’t get the memo. By this yardstick, the Q5 is a bargain: 380 pounds more car (4,090 total), less money.

The Infiniti EX35 that seduced my wife lists for $1,800 more, but includes a standard 3.5-liter V6. So is the Q5 3.2 a more appropriate comparison? Load up both the Infiniti and a Q5 3.2, and the Japanese crossover ends up about $5,500 less. The Germans charge top dollar for options, who knew?

A similarly-equipped BMW X3 xDrive2.8i lists for about $4,000 more, partly because you must specify the “Premium Package” to get the leather, wood trim, and dual four-way power lumbar adjustments standard on the Audi. This brings along some features not on the tested Audi, most notably a panoramic sunroof. Adjust for these, and the Audi retains a roughly $2,200 advantage. Enough to sway some buyers? Maybe. At a minimum the Audi is competitively priced.

So, with the Audi Q5 car buyers face a quandary. It’s fun to drive compared to any other compact crossover save the BMW, but anyone who makes this a top priority will (or at least should) go with the A4 Avant or BMW 3-Series wagon instead. So the Q5 is more likely to sell to those seeking the perceived superior comfort and convenience of a crossover. But a sub-forty Q5 lacks many comforts and conveniences. Check off the boxes to get these, and the price tag rapidly ascends into the mid-forties and beyond, at which point the Q5 isn’t as good a value.

Audi provided the vehicle, insurance and one tank of gas for this review.

Michael Karesh operates TrueDelta, an online source of automotive pricing and reliability data.

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