Official Blog

  • Repair Mistakes & Blunders

    About 20 years ago, when I was only 18 and just getting started in the auto repair business, I did not know how to drive a manual transmission vehicle, so a coworker volunteered to teach me. We got out on the highway, drove some back roads and did parking lot maneuvers. When we parked inside the shop, he told me to put the transmission in neutral, apply the parking brake and shut the engine off. I did exactly what he said. The lesson went smoothly.

    Being the new kid, I did not have my own service bay/lift, so I had to wait for one to open up. I went about checking over what I could on the vehicle without putting it on a lift. After a brief break, I realized that a bay had opened up, but rather than immediately claiming the open bay, I waited for the mechanic who had been using it to come back, just to make sure he did not need it anymore. What I failed to realize was that when I was on my break, he had moved the car I was working on backwards about two feet so he could get out of his bay. I also did not notice that he left it in gear with the parking brake off.

    I needed to start the vehicle for some reason I cannot remember, so what did I do (remember, 18 years old)? I opened the drivers door, carefully propped my RIGHT half on the seat, pressed the clutch in with my RIGHT foot and turned the key. Why would I need the brake? The car was in neutral, or so I thought!

    As I let the clutch out, the car lurched forward, and I fell to the floor. It ran over my left foot, and the driverless car crashed into the dealership's body shop.

    The customer's car was totaled. As the shock slowly wore off, I explained my mistake to the service manager, leaving any mention of the other technician out. It was my fault and I owned up to it. Believe it or not, they did not fire me. My manager gave me a few days off, sans pay, and I worked at that shop for seven more years until they closed.

    To this day, I cannot get into a stick shift car without instinctively putting my right foot on the brake and wiggling the shifter to make sure it is in neutral.

    Bob in Albuquerque

  • Ford has no plans to chase lap records with GT

    2017 Ford GT

    Ford has adamantly stayed away from pushing its performance machines around race circuits for lap-time bragging rights. And that sentiment hasn't changed to this day. That's despite a recent diagnostic visit to Virginia International Raceway where the Ford GT monstered every single production car lap record with a 2:38.62. But, Ford isn't planning on making that time (or any other) official.

    The Drive reported on Tuesday that the automaker won't take the GT on a record-breaking spree at race courses. Ford Performance acknowledged the supercar's achievement in Virginia but said, "We have no plans to go for any lap records at VIR or other circuits going forward." Sorry Nürburgring fans, but Ford isn't going there.

    Yet, just to rub it in—if only a bit—a Ford Performance spokesperson added the GT recorded its VIR time with a small support crew, far from ideal track conditions, and racing driver Billy Johnson, who'd never lapped VIR before. Sounds like Ford wanted to brag just a smidge while keeping its corporate mantra intact.

    The mindset if far different from Ford's crosstown rival, Chevrolet. Lead Camaro engineer Al Oppenheiser recently said in an interview that he'd like to see a sub-7:00 lap time at the 'Ring. That's a tall order considering the closest his team has gotten is a 7:16.04 with the Camaro ZL1 1LE. But even if the Camaro never breaks the 7-minute barrier, we think Chevrolet may have something that could: a mid-engine Corvette.

  • Motor Authority Best Car To Buy 2018: how we arrived at the winner

    The Motor Authority Best Car To Buy 2018 is the Honda Civic Type R. We said as much Monday.

    With its combination of exhilarating performance and downright value, you would think it would be a shoo-in for the award. Think again.

    The competition was fast and fierce this year and covered wide ground with worthy competitors, namely the Lexus LC 500, Porsche Panamera, and Kia Stinger GT.

    We were ever-diligent in picking a winner this year: we drove and we asked questions, took names, compared notes, asked more questions, fought, made up, and drove some more. Our proving ground was the Atlanta Motorsports Park, temporarily delayed by a plane crash (!) on our first day of testing. We returned the following day to put our four finalists to the test, back-to-back-to-back-to-back style.

    By the time we took the vote, our finalists were like family. Our staff drove our four finalists at various times throughout the year, for a few hundred miles during our top-secret Best Car To Buy testing week, and in the spirited manner they were intended on the 2.0-mile Atlanta Motorsport circuit. After driving the cars like we owned 'em and like we stole 'em, we gathered around a dining room table and a campfire to duke it out. The Civic Type R came out on top, but it was a close call with the surprisingly good Lexus LC 500.

    The following is what our crew had to say about each of our finalists.

    2018 Honda Civic Type R2018 Honda Civic Type R

    2017 Honda Civic Type RMotor Authority Best Car To Buy 2018 and giggle factory

    We all loved the Civic Type R's engaging performance, razor-sharp handling, power delivery, and surprisingly compliant ride on the road. The Car Connection Senior Editor Andrew Ganz put it best: "This one's a giggle factory. You can't help but love its scrappy nature, but unlike most of its rivals, it's comfortable and compliant around town," he said. Managing Editor Aaron Cole had a reason why it works so well on the street. "Underneath it all it’s a Civic, after all. And that’s it’s best secret," he observed. "Drive it to the track, and drive it home. What more can you ask for?"

    Our editors noted a few features in particular that stood out, including the driving position and driver's seat, which even works for larger guys; the clutch, gearshift, and round metal shift knob; and the outward visibility.

    We liked the Type R even more when we got it to the track, where it proved to be the most hunkered down, stable, and grippy car of the group. With 306 horses, it was down on power from the competition, but its stability, grip, and light weight let it carry more speed through corners than the others and made it almost as fast at the end of the longest straight. I saw 114 mph at the end of the front stretch compared to 118 mph in the fastest car, the Panamera 4S. That's with 134 fewer horses. Cars DirectSenior Editor Brandon Turkus felt at home in the Type R on a new track. "Remarkably fun, but more importantly, remarkably approachable," he said. "I took this car out on a track I’d barely familiarized myself with and felt an unending sense of confidence that the Civic Type R would execute my every wish."

    Motor Authority Best Car To Buy 2018

    2017 Honda Civic Type R

    Motor Authority Best Car To Buy 2018

    Interactive Content Manager Joel Feder was a bit more colorful. "It’s like a firecracker you light off and hang onto for the ride," he quipped.

    Editorial Director Marty Padgett praised the handling, but noted it won't beat the competition on the track. "Flat through the corners. It is not the best-handling car of its kind, and that gives it a limited shelf life," he said. Turkus felt that doesn't matter. "I don’t agree with others who say it needs AWD. It’d ruin the tossability, and understeer is only an issue if you let it be," he argued. Nonetheless, we all agree that a Subaru WRX STI and a Ford Focus RS will beat the Type R around a racetrack.

    We also agree that the Type R's looks are sophomoric. Padgett: "Outrageous in the way it chews into view with scoops and flares and wings and all the things that turn on fanbois. The Type R's tiring on the eyes after a few hours, but the way it flips from street to track fluency never gets old." Feder summed up our thoughts on the design: "No self-respecting person over 32 can drive the Type R daily and not feel silly with that rear wing."

    It may look silly, and it may not be as fast as some rivals, but it's damn fun to drive fast, comfortable enough to drive every day, and its mid-$30,000s price tag makes the Honda Civic Type R a bargain. Those are the factors that tipped the scales to make it the Motor Authority Best Car To Buy 2018.


    xus LC 500: Fluid and elegant grand tourer

    "It looks like a concept car for the road, because it is," said Feder, and we all agreed that the LC is stunning. A production version of the LF-LC concept car from 2012, the LC is sleek, elegant, and emotional from a brand that has often been accused of being too conservative. Cole said: "It’s certainly elegant, and considering that it’s from the same automaker that brought us the ES, it’s beyond heresy too." Padgett described it as "dashing without being irreverent, striking and a standout in its time and in its brand."

    Without a plan to build a grand tourer, Lexus adapted its GA-L platform for the LC. That gives it some heavy duty underpinnings, literally. The LC 500 weighs 1,000 pounds more than a Porsche 911. "Who among us doesn't carry a few hundred extra pounds?," asked Padgett. "Yes, the Lexus LC tips the scales like a Looney Tunes anvil, but damn does it carry it well."

    Somehow, Lexus took a full-size luxury sedan platform and made it work for a much smaller and sportier grand tourer because the LC performs on the track, too. The secret appears to be moving the mass to the center of the car and setting that weight on an advanced suspension. The 471-hp 5.0-liter V-8 sits behind the front axle, creating a near-perfect 52/48 front/rear weight balance. Double-jointed front arms provide better wheel articulation and adaptive dampers help the 20- or 21-inch wheels deal with bumps and ruts while also providing grip. The available rear-axle steering, which our car had, doesn't hurt, either.

    Motor Authority Best Car To Buy 2018

    Motor Authority Best Car To Buy 2018

    2018 Lexus LC500

    We all loved the seats and the interior styling, but we were surprised that the LC was quite capable on the racetrack. "Consider the LC’s 187-inch length an Easter egg: It positively kills corners thanks to responsive steering," said Cole. "The Lexus coupe won’t confuse many into believing it’s smaller than it is, but the LC’s sharp turn-in is a wonderful surprise." Feder noted: "It's well-balanced and progressive in its movements." Turkus liked the performance but not the feel: "Surprisingly agile for such a big, heavy car, but feedback both through the chassis and steering are too limited to really feel like a great driver’s car."

    To a man we were all enamored of the engine, especially its song, which provides a raucous counterpoint to the elegant looks. "Possibly the best sounding car on sale today. If I could bottle and sell the LC 500’s exhaust note, I’d make enough to buy one," exclaimed Turkus. Cole got a bit more graphic, musing that "the raucous sounds that permeate the cabin from the sonorous V-8 and howling rear tires are like two pit bulls having their way with a porcupine." Cole lauded the performance as well: "On the track, it pulls from just about any gear, from just about any corner. You don’t need to shift, but you should—if only because it snaps off clean cracks from each gear change like a bolt-action rifle."

    We had our complaints, too. A grand tourer should have a generous trunk, but the LC 500 offers only 5.4 cubic feet for cargo storage, not even enough for two roll-aboards. The rear seats are just there for insurance purposes, and we all think Lexus needs to go back to the drawing board for its infotainment system. The center console is also a problem and it annoyed Cole the most. "The way the center console opens—and the only way to access the second cupholder—may have been outlawed by the Geneva Convention," he complained.

    Our bottom line? The LC was a very close second. If it wasn't first, it was the second for most of us. Ganz called it "probably the best interpretation of the personal luxury coupe ever," Feder felt it is a half-price Aston Martin DB11, while Padgett said, "I hope it's not a one-hit wonder, because its fluid performance and jaw-dropping looks deserve a follow-up act."


    7 Porsche Panamera: Effortless performance

    Porsche knows how to build a performance car. However, while the 911 and 718 twins provide engagement to go with their performance, it's dramatic how undramatic the Panamera is. A large cruiser that competes with heavyweight full-size sedans like the Mercedes-Benz S-Class and BMW 7-Series for space, comfort, and on-road opulence, the Panamera also offers track-ready performance that is simply effortless. The car Porsche provided hit the sweet spot of performance, too. It was a 440-horsepower 4S model, with a twin-turbo 2.9-liter V-6, all-wheel-drive, and rear-axle steering.

    Feder labeled it a sleeper. Padgett called the Panamera a "stealth bomber among showboats" and remarked, "you might read elsewhere here that it's not engaging enough; the sign of a great car is one that puts driving worries aside, especially at triple-digit speeds." Ganz ignored the boss, saying, "ultimately, it's light on fun—but that doesn't mean it's not amazingly capable on-road and on-track." Turkus felt taunted by the car. "Working out the Panamera on a track feels undramatic," he said. "It felt like the car was constantly humoring me, as if it were saying, 'Aw, look at you in Sport Plus mode. You took that turn really well. Have a gold star.' "

    Motor Authority Best Car To Buy 2018

    2017 Porsche Panamera

    Motor Authority Best Car To Buy 2018

    Turkus wasn't so impressed with the engine. "I’m sorry, but the 2.9-liter, twin-turbo V-6 is underwhelming. It sounds cool from behind the wheel—there’s so much turbo whooshing—but it also doesn’t feel much like a Porsche engine. Also, the PDK feels slow to engage off the line, even in Sport Plus mode." Like the rest of us, Cole disagreed. "Tapping the steering wheel-mounted 'Push to pass' (Porsche calls it Sport Response) is like playing the slots with speed, except I win every time," he observed. "The Panamera’s turbos belly-breathe like an athlete halfway through a sprint—relaxed, but also bolting toward the horizon."

    Feder summed up our track experience in the Panamera: "The performance is not only worthy of the brand, it’s mind boggling. It’s fast, quick, and composed. The powertrain, while powerful, feels sterile and lacks emotion, especially in terms of sound. The steering, brakes, and transmission are all terrific."

    Complaints aside from feel? Feder doesn't like the new touch controls and Cole noted the cupholders aren't sized for Big Gulps, but Padgett put into words the overall opinion: "Find a flaw on the Panamera, I dare you. It's maybe on the price tag (about $130,000), maybe on the raspy V-6 sound that suffers only because it's not a twin-turbo V-8." As Ganz added, "the Panamera is always buttoned-down and dressed up."

    18 Kia Stinger GT: The spunky upstart with the glass jaw

    The Stinger takes Kia in a decidedly sportier direction, and it proves for the first time that the brand can tune a suspension for performance. As we have reported, former BMW M boss Albert Biermann was in charge of tuning that suspension.

    Our editors found the suspension to be well sorted during the street drives. "High hopes, a lot of them achieved," noted Padgett. "The Stinger has lovely tuning for street driving, interesting looks, and a good amount of content. Its V-6 doesn't sound great." Ganz had higher praise. "Where'd this come from? One thing Kia's never gotten right—until now—is the way its cars ride and handle. The Stinger is balanced and planted on the road," he enthused. Cole was even more effusive. "It’s not a beta performance car for Kia, it’s a Gold Master release. The Stinger represents a good first start that’s ready for prime time," he gushed. "The Stinger has better balance than a middleweight fighter. It’s posed, ready, and competing for the title."

    Motor Authority Best Car To Buy 2018

    2018 Kia Stinger GT

    Motor Authority Best Car To Buy 2018

    However, that fighter has a glass jaw when he gets to the ring, which, in this case, is a racetrack. The tires give up grip too easily and the dampers could be a couple notches firmer to make the car more agile. The Stinger GT is equipped with 225- and 255-millimeter wide Michelin Pilot Sport 4 tires that appear to be tuned for rolling resistance instead of grip. As a result, the Stinger GT pushes forward upon turn-in, then transitions to oversteer mid-corner. That's an indication of chassis balance in our book, but the tires feel more like roller skates than suction cups. We think 245s and 285s would be more appropriate and a stickier tire compound would help as well. All of our editors commented on the lack of confidence on the track due to the tires, and that's the single greatest reason the Stinger GT fell to the bottom of this list.

    We had some other complaints. Rear visibility was an issue for most of us, Cole said he didn't think the interior was up to par for the class, Turkus felt the transmission was unwilling to shift on the track, and a couple editors complained about steering feel.

    However, others liked the interior. Turkus said the "cabin is a very nice, business-focused place." We all appreciated the power from the twin-turbo V-6, though not necessarily the sound, we all appreciated the ride quality, and we all felt the Stinger GT offers a real value.

    Most of all, though, we like the direction Kia is going with the Stinger. "Give it 10 percent more polish and then it's a legit threat," said Padgett. "The Stinger GT is a fantastic first effort, and truly shows how far the Korean car company has come," noted Feder. Ganz had the highest praise, saying, "it's a better BMW in most ways and it's a clear sign for enthusiasts that someone still cares about us."

    Just give it better tires.


  • Shelby GT500 clues, Daytona 24 Hours results, SCG Boot confirmed: Car News Headlines

    Shelby GT500 clues, Daytona 24 Hours results, SCG Boot confirmed: Car News Headlines

     2019 Ford Mustang Shelby GT500 spy shots - Image via S. Baldauf/SB-Medien

    Ford is set to revive its Mustang Shelby GT500, and we know the car is coming next year with over 700 horsepower. The Blue Oval may have just dropped a clue indicating that the final figure could be closer to 800 horses, though we won't know for sure until the official numbers are published.

    The past weekend saw the 2018 WeatherTech SportsCar Championship kick off in style with the 24 Hours of Daytona. It was a race in which American automakers dominated, and we also saw a 36-year-old record finally broken.

    Speaking of American automakers, niche sports car marque Scuderia Cameron Glickenhaus has announced it's exploring utility vehicles. The company wants to build a modern version of the famous Baja Boot that Steve McQueen raced in the 1960s.

    You'll find these stories and more in today's car news, right here at Motor Authority.

    Will the 2019 Ford Mustang Shelby GT500 come with 772 horsepower?

    No. 5 Cadillac DPi-V.R drives to overall victory in 2018 24 Hours of Daytona

    SCG explores ultimate utility with Baja Boot-inspired off-roader

    2019 Ram Laramie Longhorn Edition belts out country blues

    Next-gen Minis could come from China, ride on platform deveoped with Great Wall

    NHTSA to investigate Tesla Model S on Autopilot that hit parked fire truck on freeway

    Oldest driveable Bugatti stops by Jay Leno's Garage

    Net neutrality for cars: BMW's Apple CarPlay subscription could open Pandora's box

    Genesis to establish dedicated dealerships

    Looking at leases on 2018 Nissan Leaf electric car: how do they stack up?

  • What exactly is the difference between horsepower and torque?

    What exactly is the difference between horsepower and torque?


    There's a battle of words that occurs when a group of people begin arguing over who has the fastest machine. All sorts of performance metrics are thrown around, and it can quickly become a miasma of uninformed soup. Some think they're going to win a race because they have more horsepower, while others scream from the hilltops that torque is king. What's the real difference between the two anyway? Jason Fenkse from Engineering Explained is here to unlock the knowledge you need in understanding horsepower versus torque.

    To fully understand how torque and horsepower unfold in the automotive space, we need to first grasp what it is we're dealing with on a physical level. Put simply, torque is the measure of force multiplied by distance. It's the measure of a force acting at a radial point. An easy way to visualize this is to imagine a wrench. You put one end on a bolt, grasp the other end with your hand, and you tighten that bolt on a screw. Your hand is applying force on one end of the wrench, which is a given distance away from the bolt. You're generating torque.

    Now on the flip side of this discussion, we have horsepower, or power in general. In basic engineering terms, power is the rate at which work is done. Jason does a great job of illustrating this concept by way of a toy race car. If the car were real, and the driver wanted to get from point A to point B, the amount of power required to do so would vary based on how quickly the driver needed to move between the points. That's because the rate of the work being done would be different, and thus the power required to travel the distance would change.

    So it's the power that gives you the ability to move more quickly. However, you need the torque to start the action. What happens if you line up equal vehicles where the only differences are the torque and horsepower available. Jason puts two hypothetical vehicles on the table before him, and it's the one with more horsepower that will accelerate more quickly. That's because the car with more horsepower can achieve the same amount of work at a faster rate.

    Horsepower fans, don't rejoice just yet. You can't have horsepower without torque, as that provides the ability for the engine to do the work across a given rate. Finally, once you add in differing gears and gear ratios, there's a whole new variable to explore in this battle of physics and engine engineering.

    The old saying "Horsepower sells cars, but torque wins races" isn't exactly true. Click play on the video above to see what we mean, and hear Jason break down all of the science for you.





  • Jaguar's 2018 E-Pace shares Land Rover bones


    Jaguar E-Pace's chamfered front overhang, distinctive swage lines and rear haunch treatment produced some engineering challenges.

    Jaguar revealed its all-new compact, 5-seat SUV on 13 July in London. The 2018 E-Pace joins its larger F-Pace cousin to take the company further into SUV territory. And it is also the first Jaguar to be produced outside of Britain, in Austria and China.

    Initially, with its U.K. facilities close to capacity, Jaguar Land Rover (JLR) has partnered with engineering and contract-manufacturing specialist Magna Steyr in Graz, Austria, for E-Pace production. Beginning next year it will also be manufactured for the Chinese market at Chery JLR’s facility in Changshu. The forthcoming all-electric Jaguar I-Pace will be Graz-built, too.

    Jaguar labels its new transverse-engined AWD a “compact performance SUV with sports car looks,” noting that the vehicle borrows some aesthetic cues from the F-Type coupe. An optional R-Dynamic pack further adds to its image.

    Director of Design Ian Callum and his team were determined to distinguish the car from the common SUV signature, he told Automotive Engineering. It’s a tough task, so they used a similar coupe-like roofline to that of the F-Type.

    Said Callum: “The most challenging thing is to get a car of this type’s size and proportions to look dramatic and exciting. We worked to make it look different from other SUVs; to make it look very dynamic. Proportion is everything, including the wheels which are 21-inch.” To disguise front-end overhang, the car has chamfered corner, he added. Cd is 0.325.

    And the car’s side elevation carries swage lines running up over its rear haunches, another F-type cue. There is a black, fixed-glass panoramic roof section and the driving position also picks up F-type cues. Automatic transmission versions get a stick selector, not a knurled rotary design as fitted to other Jaguars—a feature which may have had its day.

    Steel-intensive body

    Graham Wilkins, Chief Product Engineer, said the car's architecture is derived from the D8 used for the Land Rover Evoque and Discovery Sport. The integral-link rear suspension is conceptually similar to that used for the XE, XF and F-Space. Wilkins noted that the electronic-assist steering "benefits a great deal from learning with the XF and XE.”

    Riding on a 2981-mm (117.3-in) wheelbase,  the E-Pace measures 4395 mm (173 in) long overall and stands 1649 mm (65 in) tall. It is powered by variants of JLR’s 2.0-L Ingenium family of diesel and gasoline units (see and (, with a power spread from 110 kW to 221 kW (147 to 297 hp). The torquiest among these produces a claimed 500 N·m (369 lb·ft). Best claimed acceleration to 100 kph (62 mph) is 6.4 s and the car's CO2 rating is 124 g/km.

    Unlike its aluminum-intensive stablemates, E-Pace has a steel-intensive body structure and chassis. Variants weigh (EU unladen) between 1775 kg/3913 lb (front-drive D150 version) and 1894 kg/4176 lb for an AWD P300. Aluminum is used for the hood, front fenders, roof panel and liftgate.

    High formability (0.7-mm/.027-in thick) steel is used for the body sides—another contributor to mass reduction as is the cast-magnesium cross-car beam. Hot-formed Boron steel is used for A and B pillars. Wilkins claims torsional stiffness is 28.7 kN/degree.

    Leica-inspired controls

    The interior’s wraparound cockpit and the driving positions feel very similar to that of the F-Type. There are large stowage areas in the cabin including an 8.42 L (.297 ft3) center console and 10.07-L (.35 ft3) glovebox. Trunk space spans 577 L (20.3 ft3, rear seats up) to 1234 L (43.6 ft3) with seats folded. Callum said a huge amount of effort went into packaging efficiency.

    Leica camera lens controls were the inspiration for some of the car’s dials. A “Jaguar Cub” graphic is integrated into the puddle lamp projection. What would company founder Sir William Lyons have made of that?

    Connectivity and infotainment capabilities are now gauged by many OEMs to be significant brand delineators, so the E-Pace’s digital connectivity is considerable. It includes a 21:9 super-wide format (1280 x 542-pixel resolution) display with multi-tasking capability including a main screen with side panels showing navigation or weather data.

    A 12.3-in full color digital TFT instrument panel is optional. Satellite navigation is backed by a dead-reckoning facility when out of GPS contact. And a Commute Mode learns a daily drive route and automatically offers an alternative if congestion is detected. Up to eight devices can stream content using the car’s 4G Wi-Fi hotspot. And there is connection to favorite while the car is on the move.

    A new generation HUD (Head-up Display) projects large color graphics supplying both essential and less essential information, the latter including engine speed, chosen entertainment media, adaptive cruise control settings and lane departure and blind spot alerts.

    First Active AWD

    Most fuel efficient of the Ingenium engines is the 110-kW (148-hp) diesel driving only the front wheels—the first FWD Jaguar since the X-type. The diesel uses low-flow injectors to help towards a combined fuel consumption figure of 4.7 L/100km and 2124 g/km of CO2 emissions. That’s with 6-speed manual gearbox and 17-in wheels.

    The gasoline versions deliver a choice of 183 kW or 221 kW (245 to 297 hp). Engineers said upgrades to the car’s twin-scroll turbocharger deliver up to 26% more air compared to the previous version. A CVVL (Continuously Variable Valve Lift) system is fitted. The gas engine is paired with either the 6-speed manual or close-ratio ZF 9-speed 9HP.

    An Active Driveline AWD is claimed to be a first for Jaguar, providing rear-drive characteristics (including power-oversteer drifts). It incorporates torque biasing. Nearly 100% of available torque can be transferred to the rear axle when required. Two independent electronically-controlled wet-plate clutches distribute torque between the rear wheels. Software analyzes yaw rate, throttle position, steering angle and lateral acceleration.

    Salient chassis aspects include Adaptive Dynamics for continuously variable damper technology featuring triple-tube design. The system monitors vehicle movements every two milliseconds.

    The integral-link rear suspension helps maximize luggage area packaging. Front suspension details include use of a lightweight hollow-cast aluminum knuckle for additional camber to improve turn-in.

    The car has a specially tuned semi-solid mounted front subframe designed to provide a stiffer structure including solid mounts. This contributes to “exceptional drive dynamics,” according to Mike Cross, Chief Engineer, Vehicle Integrity. Aluminum suspension components are used extensively.

  • Audi details new A8 active suspension

    Audi A8 active front suspension 2018.jpg

    Active rear suspension module of the 2018 Audi A8. (Audi illustration)

    Audi A8 active rear suspension and quattro drive 2018.jpg

    Audi recently unveiled its all-new A8 flagship which now features a fully active, electromechanical suspension system. A front camera detects road irregularities and signals a predictive adjustment of the active suspension to suit the road conditions. Each wheel is fitted with an electric motor powered by the 48-V main electrical system. Additional components include gears, a rotary tube together with internal titanium torsion bar and a lever which exerts up to 1100 N·m (811.3 lb·ft) on the suspension via a coupling rod. In an SAE exclusive, U.K.-based contributor Ian Adcock interviewed Thomas Muller, Audi's head of suspension development on the A8 active suspension.

    Q: What are the benefits that customers will experience with this new suspension technology?

    With the introduction of 48V it has enabled us to introduce new technologies like the e-Booster and, now, electro-mechanical active suspension with no hydraulics integrated into the system that complements the air-suspension which gives the freedom to raise and lower each wheel independently.

    It’s about improving comfort and dynamics and safety. We centralize the chassis ‘brain’ into one module; the signal computing and calculations for the air suspension, damper control, quattro sport rear differential and Audi active integrated steering system are all fed into one control module which is essential if you want to have a smooth interaction with the car.

    The Audi active steering is very innovative, integrating the steering rack, the dynamic steering column and the rear axle steering into one system. Together with the active suspension we believe this will deliver a lot of driving pleasure.

    Q: The dynamic all-wheel steering system is a new development as well?

    Yes. It reduces the A8’s turning circle to less than that of an A4, 38 ft (11.6 m) compared to 37.4 ft (11.4 m), making it easy to maneuver in tight urban confines. We achieve that by turning the rear steering by 5° which is twice that of any rival. Combine that with the active suspension and you have a car that is both very comfortable and maneuverable during lane changing, for example, reducing pitch and roll.

    The all-wheel steering shifts the point of rotation further back reducing the rear seat passengers lateral head movement, resulting in a more composed ride when combined with the active suspension.

    Q: How is the active suspension system controlled?

    We use a Mobileye mono camera from the driver assistance system that generates the vertical information from the road with a resolution of 1.2 to 6 in (3 to 16 cm), signaling to the chassis controller to raise or lower the suspension accordingly when countering upcoming imperfections such as sleeping policemen or pot holes.

    Once you get into higher G-forces under cornering, body roll is halved; otherwise it feels very artificial. It’s the combination of the active dynamic systems that result in a level of agility and balance you wouldn’t expect from a luxury sedan like the A8. It is also linked into pre-sense side sensors for side impacts instantly raising the body height, so the sill takes the collision and not the door, reducing the impact by up to 50%.

    Q: How fast is the system’s reaction time and what sort of energy and forces are involved?

    The forces that we have at wheel level are 3.7 kN (832 lbf) front and 3.3 kN (742 lbf) rear. But the really important figures is that we have a gradient at each wheel of 16 kN (3597 lbf) per second. This is a huge force we can apply at each wheel and, combined with the bandwidth of 0 to 6 Hz, means the damper is being altered every 15 ms.

    It’s also an efficient system. Its default setting is on the air suspension system when no energy is consumed; force is only generated when active movement is required. Studies show that in a city environment it consumes 40-60 W, on highways it is even less, 10-20 W, rising to 250 W on rough roads. And even lapping the Nürburgring it’s only 400 W. It’s difficult to quantify but that’s two-to-three times more efficient than hydraulic systems with a higher gradient and bandwidth as well.

    Q: How is it set up?

    There are 2-kW electric motors at each corner, connected by belt to an OvaloStrain Wave Gear, that delivers a very high transmission ratio of 1:80 transmitted through a torsion shaft and bar to a link into the steering knuckle. It’s different at the rear because it couldn’t go through the Cardan shaft connected to the differential. Additionally there are 48-V power ECUs front and back networked to the central chassis controller.

    Information is generated every five milliseconds to create a picture of what is happening and what needs to be done in controlling the chassis dynamic actuators. Data from the road surface, restricted to 16–65 ft (5-20 m) ahead of the car, is read by the forward-facing ADAS camera and analyzed by the chassis controller ECU to preset the suspension ahead of encountering damaged road surfaces, although it works very well without the camera.

    Q: What are the prospects of this technology appearing in other Audi products?

    Currently we’re only talking about the new A8. But I think that active suspension will have a bright future, especially the combination of manual and what you might call ‘piloted’ driving. Providing a car that eliminates lateral and longitudinal forces so you can work or relax, like a high-speed train, is a huge benefit.

    Driving pleasure is something our customers want: comfort or sporty, it’s not either-or. Allowing you to decouple yourself from the road is a big differentiator for us.

    Q: How many driver settings are there?

    We have three settings with Audi Drive Select, comfort, auto and dynamic that includes the active suspension, all-wheel dynamic settings and quattro sport.

    Q: Who are your technology partners?

    We don’t have one technology supplier; pre-development and concept phase was done internally and we keep the IP for that. Then we broke it down and generated a network of suppliers working with us. Ovalo is a main supplier for the corner module hardware and Continental for electronic hardware.


  • 2018 Honda Accord drops mass, adds turbos and 10-speed

    2018 Accord unveiled.jpg

    Honda VP Jeff Conrad introduces the 2018 Accord line in Detroit on July 14, 2017. (Lindsay Brooke photo)

    Honda unveiled its 10th generation Accord on July 14 in Detroit, showing four-door Sport, Touring and Hybrid versions of its franchise midsize nameplate that has sold over 13 million units since 1977. The all-new model will be available as a sedan only, according to Jeff Conrad, Senior VP of American Honda.

    Designed in Japan with exterior surfacing finalized at Honda’s California studio, the 2018 Accord is up to 176 lb (89 kg) lighter than the outgoing model, depending on trim level. Key technical features include two new turbocharged gasoline engines, the first use of a 10-speed automatic transaxle (Honda’s own 10AT) in a front-drive sedan, and the return to the low-cowl/thin pillar body architecture that built the Accord’s reputation for superior cabin visibility and made it so easy and pleasant to drive.

    The new Accord’s interior boasts 2.5 ft3 of additional passenger volume (105.7 ft3total) and an additional cubic foot of trunk space (total 16.7 ft3) on non-hybrid models. The hybrid Accord now has its lithium battery pack located under the rear seat, expanding trunk space by 3.2 ft3.

    The 2018 Accord is also claimed to be the first production vehicle with Near Field Communications capability.

    Body and chassis changes

    The steel-intensive body structure features 29% ultra-high-strength steel alloys with aluminum used in the hood and some chassis crossmembers, Jay Gazowski, Senior Manager for Product Planning, told Automotive Engineering. High-strength steels (above 440 MPa) are used in 54.2% of the structure, helping to reduce overall vehicle mass by 110 to 176 lb (50 to 89 kg). Extensive use of structural adhesives (also Honda’s first use beyond the Odyssey) boost body torsional rigidity by 32% and first-order bending by 24%, while improving cabin quietness, the company claims.

    The latest generation of Honda’s Advanced Compatibility Engineering (ACE) body structure uses a crash-stroke front frame with “tailor-tempered” rear members for improved crash-energy absorption.

    The new Accord rides on a 2.16-in (55-mm) longer wheelbase. While overall length and height are reduced by .39 in and .59 in (10 mm and 15 mm, respectively), the body is .39-in wider and track is widened by .20 in. front and .79 in. rear. There is increased front and rear-seat leg room (the latter by almost 2 in (50 mm). Combined with the lower cowl, front roof pillars that are 20% narrower and moved rearward relative to the driver's seating position enable greater driver visibility.

    Lead exterior designer Tetsuji Morakawa said the new Accord’s center of gravity is 10 mm lower than that of the outgoing car; Cd of the base model is improved by about 3% he said. The Accord is a “front feeder,” with main air intake through the grill rather than under the front end. New headlamps include available 9-lamp full-LED units and LED fog lights.

    Underpinning the body structure is a new Macpherson strut front suspension mounted to a solidly mounted aluminum front subframe. Rear suspension is a multi-link design mounted to an isolated subframe. Compliance bushings front and rear are fluid filled and an adaptive-damper system capable of adjusting shock absorber damping force every 1/500 s improves ride control and compliance, the company claims. All Accords feature an approximate 60/40 front/rear weight distribution.

    Accord Sport drivers can tailor the car’s dynamic performance via a two-mode electronic control system that includes a new dual-pinion variable-ratio electric power steering (EPS).

    New CVT and hybrid power

    2018 Accord propulsion includes two turbo DI 4-cylinder gasoline engines and the latest 2-motor hybrid powertrain. The 10AT is paired with the 2.0-L turbo engine, SAE rated at 252 hp (188 kW) at 6500 rpm and 273 lb·ft (370 N·m) from 1500 to 4000 rpm. The 2.0-L is also available with Honda’s 6-speed manual gearbox. Accords can also be had with Honda’s 1.5-L turbo with dual Variable Timing Control valvegear, SAE rated at 192 hp (143 kW) at 5500 rpm and 192 lb·ft (260 N·m) from 1500 to 5000 rpm. It replaces the incumbent normally aspirated 2.4-L.

    The 1.5-L engine is available with Honda’s CVT or 6-speed manual. The redesigned CVT has an 11% lower ratio compared to the outgoing unit for improved launch performance. The 10AT offers a 68% wider ratio spread with a 43% lower first gear and 17% taller top gear compared to the 2017 Accord's 6-speed automatic.

    The new hybrid powertrain uses a 2.0-L Atkinson cycle engine with greater than 40% thermal efficiency (highest of any mass-produced Honda engine, the company claims) paired with the first electric motors on any production hybrid to use non-rare-earth magnets.

    Inside the cabin

    Inside the Accord’s cabin, it’s all new from seating to trim with attention paid to tactile materials quality and appearance, judging by AE’s brief time spent in the cars during the media introduction.

    There’s an all-new HMI with 7-inch TFT driver's meter and 8-inch touchscreen infotainment interface. Jeff Conrad dramatically noted that Honda is reintroducing actual volume and tuning knobs to the audio system; their renewed presence is welcome—the absence of physical knobs (and Honda’s reliance on “slider” controls) has been a much-criticized point for the brand in recent years.

    Both 1.5-L and 2.0-L Touring models feature a new 6-in driver's HUD (Head Up Display) with selectable information, including speed, engine rpm, turn-by-turn navigation, and Traffic Sign Recognition. Available connected-car technologies include wireless device charging, automatic Bluetooth phone pairing with Near Field Communication (NFC) technology, 4G LTE in-car Wi-Fi, and Wi-Fi-enabled over-the-air system updates.

    Honda claims to be the first OEM to include an NFC tag in one of its products. NFC chips enable the user of Android Pay and Apple pay smartphones to simply tap the small NFC tag on the instrument panel (identified by a small "N") and the devices will instantly pair with the car's Bluetooth.

    To make those phone conversations easier to hear, noise, vibration and harshness (NVH) in the new Accord is abated with a new sound-insulating package that includes full underbody covers, wheelhouse insulators, alloy wheels with Honda-proprietary resonator technology, sound-absorbing carpet, acoustic laminated windshield glass (front door acoustic glass on EX and above) and a new, three-microphone active noise control system.

    All 2018 Accords feature the Honda Sensing safety and driver-assistance suite. SOP is later this summer at the Marysville, OH, complex.

  • ‘Smart’ oil cap brings low-cost connectivity to Perkins engines

    Cap on engine .jpg


    The Perkins SmartCap can be fitted to any Perkins mechanical or electronic engine to instantly provide engine telematics. (image: Perkins)

    Perkins launched what it calls the world’s first low-cost engine level telematics device—the Perkins SmartCap—at its Seguin, TX, facility in June. The “smart” oil cap can be fitted to any new and existing Perkins mechanical or electronic engine in minutes and instantly provide engine telematics, according to Michael Wright, General Manager – Aftermarket.

    Designed to replace the oil filler cap, the SmartCap connectivity solution monitors the Perkins engine and sends data directly to the Perkins My Engine App, which can be downloaded for free from the Apple and Google stores. The cap, which will cost $49.99 at introduction, has its own power supply that lasts 2 to 3 years.

    The solution is suited to owners and operators of Perkins-powered machines, providing access to engine specific information such as running hours, location, start/stop data, and parts book and consumables information. The app can receive signals from multiple devices and display that information on a single screen.

    “The low-cost Perkins SmartCap in conjunction with the Perkins My Engine App will, for the first time, enable Perkins customers to easily track use of their engine and servicing requirements, locate their local Perkins distributor, see parts information and receive service updates, all in one place,” said Wright.

    Customers can register their Perkins engine, access their OMM (Operating Maintenance Manual) and parts book, and keep a service record. The Distributor Locator feature allows users to contact their local Perkins distributor.

    The three SmartCap sizes available are compatible across the Perkins small to medium range, up to 7.1-L six-cylinder engines generating 275 hp (205 kW) and fitted in a hydraulic excavator, for example.

    “The larger engines are more likely to already have a full telematics system because of the level of investment,” said Ian Bradford, Parts Product Manager at Perkins.

    Perkins’ “aftermarket digital strategy,” including development of the SmartCap and My Engine App, began just 23 months prior to the technology’s demonstration to media in Seguin.

    Collecting and using the data

    The SmartCap is “revolutionary in the way that it works but it's also very similar to other products...using low-energy Bluetooth,” said Bradford. The cap detects engine vibrations and processes that information, filtering out running data from non-running data, and transmits it to the phone every 15 seconds. Data is then uploaded to the cloud “where further analysis is performed” and sent back to the user’s phone, he explained.

    The information can be seen by the end user, the local distributor, and Perkins. A distributor portal allows the distributor to access all the information pertaining to customers in its area. Customers have to opt in to share data.

    In addition to offering faster support and more tailored services, thus growing the revenue from the aftermarket business, opportunities exist to use the data to help design better engines, Wright acknowledged.

    “We do a heck of a lot already to understand the operating parameters of different machines in different applications,” Wright said. “This [new technology] actually gives us hundreds, thousands, millions of real stories, and as the technology evolves, we [expect] the cap will be able to capture more performance aspects than just speed, start/stops and hours. But even at this stage, it will help with our statistical analysis of usage.”

    There are 5 million Perkins engines in operation. In the next couple of years, “10s and potentially 50s of thousands” of these engines will have the SmartCap installed, Bradford predicted.

    Initial plans call for supply through the aftermarket, “but we are talking with our OEMs and where they have an interest we can install it onto their equipment as well,” he said. “Going forward, it’s going to be standard for many OEM customers—that is our vision. Because once we get this installed on the equipment, not only does it give the customer a lot of information but it helps us make sure they're getting the very best experience with that engine that they can.”

    SmartCap will be available initially in North America, Europe and Australia starting in September from Perkins distributors and the company’s newly launched online U.S parts shop, The company plans to roll the product out globally in the future.

  • SAE Eye on Engineering: Electrified not Electric


    Watch the video at

    In an era when "fake news" is a hot topic, much of the media still doesn't understand the difference between "electric" and "electrified" vehicles. In this episode of SAE Eye on Engineering, Editor-In-Chief Lindsay Brooke looks at Volvo's electrification strategy. SAE Eye on Engineering can be viewed at It also airs in audio-only form Monday mornings on WJR 760 AM Detroit's Paul W. Smith Show.

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