The News for August 9th, 2013


Welcome to the Hooniverse News! This is a weekly recap of some of the biggest stories in the automotive industry without the fluff or the bull. I also throw in a little opinion of mine, just because I can. This week:

  • A3 1.6 TDI ultra is the most efficient production Audi ever

  • BMW bringing the 328d to America, long-roof model available

  • Subaru updates the WRX and WRX STI, kinda

  • Chevrolet drops price on the Volt

  • And more!

Audi A3 1.6 TDI ultra

Audi A3 1.6 TDI ultra

This week, Audi unveiled their most fuel-efficient production model to date – the A3 1.6 TDI ultra. This will most likely be a European-only gig, but our non-European readers will still want to keep reading on about what this little compact is capable of.

Audi’s ultra efficient 1.6-liter TDI engine isn’t terribly big on power, which is rated at just 110 horsepower, but it’s incredibly easy on fuel. On the European test cycle, it consumes only 3.2-liters of diesel per 100 kilometers which translates roughly to 73.5 MPG in the U.S. CO2 emissions are as low as 85 grams per kilometer  or 136.79 grams per mile.

Audi still claims a sporty side to the ultra, with a 0-62 mph run taking 10.5 seconds and a top speed of 124 mph. I wouldn’t call that sporty on numbers alone, but who cares when you’ve got a driving range of 1,500 kilometers/932 miles on a single tank? In addition to the engine that drinks very little, the car’s lightweight multi-material body and the lightweight vehicular systems reduce the weight to a mere 1,205 kilograms/2,656 pounds, which really bumps up the MPGs. That body is also aerodynamically improved by the sporty S-line side sills and the reduced right height (15 mm lower). Low rolling resistance tires and a longer final drive ratio further improve the Audi’s efficiency.

The “ultra” nameplate represents Audi’s commitment to systematic sustainability in both the products they make and the way they make them. This is the first production ultra and it won’t be the last. We’ll see more ultra models in the coming months based on both TDI and TFSI (petrol) engines.

The A3 TDI ultra will be available as a three-door compact and a five-door compact, both of which offer the same level of practicality and comfort as their standard counterparts and feature the basics like air conditioning, power windows, and a decent radio. The base price in Germany is set at 25,200 euros ($33,662).

[Source: Audi]

BMW bringing 328d sedan and touring to U.S.


Speaking of diesels, BMW announced that the 328d will go on sale in America this fall and will also be available as a five-door touring in addition to thefour-door sedan. The 328d will replace the 335d and prices will start at $39,525.

The base price applies to the 328d sedan in rear-wheel drive, which comes with all the same luxuries and features as the standard 328i sedan. Throw another $2,000 at the salesperson and BMW will give your 328d sedan xDrive (all-wheel-drive). The only way to get a five-door touring is with xDrive and after you spend $43,875 for the privilege.

Every 328d will utilize BMW’s 2.0-liter Twinpower turbodiesel four-cylinder engine which produces 180 horsepower and 280 lb.-ft. of torque. The only transmission available is an eight-speed automatic found in the standard 3 Series, but the genius of that transmission – which keeps the engine in its optimal range for power and efficiency as long as possible – is why the car accelerates from 0-60 mph in about seven seconds and still manages 32 mpg city and 45 mpg highway in rear-wheel-drive models. Those numbers decrease to 31 city and 43 highway with the addition of xDrive, but as our pal Jay Ramey points out on Autoweek, that’s still more than what the ActiveHybrid 3 can achieve in both city and highway mileage, but that one gets 335 horsepower to play with.

 [Source: BMW via Autoweek]

2014 Subaru WRX and WRX STI updated


Subaru’s WRX and WRX STI have received minor updates and a new price tag for the 2014 model year, which will likely be the last before they both get redesigned. Subaru still believes they’ve got the best performance value in their segment and they want to send this generation off with a bang a few new features.

The 2014 WRX now starts at $25,995 (for both sedan and wagon) and features sport-tuned suspension, seventeen-inch alloy wheels, six-speaker audio system, Bluetooth for audio streaming and hands-free phone connectivity, as well as iPod control. The WRX Premium starts at $28,495 and adds a power moonroof, heated seats, heated side mirrors and a de-icer on the windshield wipers while the WRX Limited adds leather seats, HID headlamps, and available navigation with a 6.1-inch touchscreen for$29,495. Each WRX also has a 2.5-liter turbocharged and intercooled boxer four-cylinder producing 265 horsepower and 244 lb.-ft of torque paired exclusively with a five-speed manual and all-wheel drive. 

Now on to the STI. Both four and five-door versions are still available, starting at $34,495 and $36,495 respectively. Both the four-door and five-door WRX STI comes standard with HID headlamps, heated seats, heated side mirors and the de-icer. The five-door gets all that plus BBS forged aluminum alloy wheels, fog lights, rear window wiper/washer, and special cargo are features. In the four-door WRX STI, you can step up to the Limited trim level and get standard features plus a power moonroof, fog lights, leather seating, and BBS wheels for $37,845. Navigation is available for an additional $1,100.

The WRX STI is powered by a 305 horsepower turbocharged and intercooled boxer engine and works with a six-speed manual, all-wheel drive, Brembo brakes, and a fancy center differential that has multiple modes for different situations to make this one of the most capable cars you can buy.

[Source: Subaru]

Chevrolet Volt’s price drops


The 2014 Chevrolet Volt plug-in will be priced at $34,995 or $27,495, depending on the amount you get back through a federal tax credit. This represents a $5,000 decrease in price in an effort to attract more buyers to the Volt.

This price drop hasn’t come as a result of stripping the car down to rental car status, as it still retains every standard feature as before in regards to comfort and practicality inside as well as all the mechanical bits that have allowed Volt owners to log a total of 225 million all-electric miles since 2010. Chevy’s plan to attract more price-sensitive customers is perhaps a brilliant one, since they claim 70% of Volt buyers are new to GM brands and the Prius is traded in for one more than any other car.

People that do take GM up on this offer will get to enjoy on average $900 in savings on annual fuel costs, drive 900 miles between fill-ups (when regularly charged), and only visit the fuel station once a month thanks to its 98 MPGe (electric) and 35 mpg city/40 mpg highway on gasoline power without needing to change driving habits. The Volt can drive up to 38 miles on electric power and an additional 380 miles on a full tank of gas once the electricity is all used up.

The 2014 Chevrolet Volt will be available later this summer and features an all-new leather-wrapped steering wheel that they seem to be very proud of.

[Source: Chevrolet]



The new Mini will be unveiled on November 18th, 2013 – 107 years to the day since the birth of Sir Alec Issigonis, the developer of the original Mini. Its first public debut will take place somewhat simultaneously at the Tokyo Motor Show and the Los Angeles Auto Show hours later on the 20th. The reason why this is in Blips and not featured somewhere above this is because that’s all we know. Well that and the fact that it will go on sale in the first quarter of 2014. [Source: Mini]

U.S. Air Force Thunderbirds Edition 2014 Ford Mustang GT

Remember the U.S. Air Force Thunderbirds Edition 2014 Ford Mustang GT  from last month? It was a one-off Mustang inspired by the Air Force’s demonstration team and it went up for auction last week at EAA Airventure Oshkosh as scheduled and it fetched a whopping $398,000. Every penny will go to benefit the EAA Young Eagles, a non-profit organization that inspires young people to become engineers, aviators, astronauts, scientists and innovators. The highest-selling one-off aviation-themed Mustang was the Mustang AV8R inspired by the F-22 Raptor and sold for $500,000. [Source: Ford]

Hundreds of beautifully restored vintage Volkswagens will pull into Channel Islands Harbor, Oxnard, California for the Airhead Parts Hwy 1 Treffen 15 Car Show this Sunday, August 11th. Many of the planned visitors will be 1,250 miles into a 1,500-mile cruise-for-a-cause down Hwy 1 from Canada to Mexico. This event is sponsored by Volkswagen and the Surfrider Foundation. If you’re in that area this Sunday, you can get more information plus driving directions at Admission is also free. I’m wishing I held my drive down Hwy 1 back by a month now… [Source: Volkswagen] 


Your streets are about to look very different at night in the near future. According to CNET, city planners across America are starting to ditch the old amber lights we have now and are flocking to Cree’s XSPR LED residential street lights. The lights start at $99 and come in either a 25-watt (2,722 lumen) or 42-watt (4,109 lumen) package. Compared to the common high-pressure sodium streetlights we have now, this LED light uses 65% less energy and lasts four times longer. The brighter, whiter light also provides for better night-time visibility and a totally different nighttime ambiance. The city of Los Angeles just concluded a four-year program to replace streetlights with a variety of LED lights and have reported $10 million/year in savings and 40,500 tons of emissions displaced. More cities have plans to do the same, so enjoy the amber lights at night while/if you can. [Source: CNET]

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16 responses to “The News for August 9th, 2013”

  1. Jeff Glucker Avatar
    Jeff Glucker

    328d Touring!!!
    xDrive only 🙁

    1. FuzzyPlushroom Avatar

      I'm not that bothered by the 1 MPG difference, provided that specific system still sends the majority of power to the rear wheels until I get stuck. I've had a lot of fun in a much slower, 25 MPG highway Outback, after all.
      I wouldn't expect a "proper" gearbox, either. I'm just glad autojournalists will mostly shut up, and that there's more reason to buy a wagon (beyond the obvious reasons that've existed since the Chryslet minivan was introduced, and especially since the Explorer took off).

  2. Vavon Avatar

    <img src=""&gt;
    "This week, Audi unveiled their most fuel-efficient production model to date – the A3 1.6 TDI ultra."
    Oh I see, Audi rather have us forget that they once made this horrible contraption: The A2 TDi 3L
    3 L/100 km (94 mpg-imp; 78 mpg-US)

    1. vwminispeedster Avatar

      A C-Max with an Audi snout. I like it.

    2. Jay_Ramey Avatar

      Not a fan? They're okay, a nice clean design, and almost as roomy as the W168 A-klasse. Something tells me the ride is probably softer than in the A-klasse too.

      1. Vavon Avatar

        Nope. I'm a BIG fan of GREAT small cars, this is definitely not one of them!

        1. crank_case Avatar

          All aluminium body and not a tarted up Golf, more interesting than the A3 for me.

  3. Devin Avatar

    Main street where I live has been doing the white light thing for a while. Which makes it weirdly innovative for a small city in the middle of nowhere.

  4. Van_Sarockin Avatar

    The streetlight news is very good. I've heard that Cree will sell the bulbs for about $100, each. There's enormous money to be saved in not having to deploy work crews and trucks so often to replace bulbs, maybe a greater savings than the energy saved. And most towns have plenty of other things for DPW crews to do, but lack manpower and budget. The better quality of light will also be a very good improvement. The photo illustration indicates a general lessening of scattered light, so the night sky will be darker, perhaps allowing stars to be seen.

    1. Jay_Ramey Avatar

      Glad the yellow/orange lights are on their way out, nighttime photography is a pain because of them.

      1. Van_Sarockin Avatar

        Those sodium lights are pretty nasty. More efficient, and something of an improvement over the pinkish mercury lights, but not near so good as the blue/green/white metal halides…

      2. FЯeeMan Avatar

        The orange cast is horrible for photography, but isn't it closer to red which is easier on night vision, which is a far higher priority when lighting roads for night use?

    2. hwyengr Avatar

      I love LA's implementation of the LED streetlights, except in one situation. Hilly streets. There's a handful of street lights in Silver Lake where as you're ascending the hill, you're looking right into the light. And those things are bright.

  5. muthalovin Avatar

    It is impossible to find a WRX or STi for MSRP. It's like, oh man, at that price I could swing an WRX! Then I search dealer inventories and it is like, christ, 32 grand?!

  6. Van_Sarockin Avatar

    Lower price is a very good thing for the Volt. But I think they still have it priced too high. Maybe they can only make so many, or want to limit potential warranty claims, so they wouldn't want to maximize sales. It's very clear that they're playing a flailing game of catch up, after their post-EV1 holiday.

  7. MVEilenstein Avatar

    Good bit of PR for the combined ALMS/Grand-Am weekend at Elkhart Lake (ahem).
    USCR is certainly going to be an interesting new era.
    [youtube konr-hM7O3c youtube]

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