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Dutch "Hesla," a hydrogen fuel cell-powered Tesla Model S
Tesla has never built anything but battery-electric cars. Now a Dutch gasoline company believes it's improved upon the Silicon Valley automaker's design with a hydrogen fuel cell—so much so that it wants to sell its solution to the general public.
The Holthausen Group, a Dutch gasoline supplier, claims it built a hydrogen fuel cell-powered Model S with a range of 620 miles.
The powertrain "hack," as the company described it, does not compromise interior space since the hydrogen tanks reside in "cavities."
Appropriately called a "Hesla," the fuel cell-powered Model S is a wacky creation, but Holthausen Group is confident that its system offers a huge advantage: doubling the rated all-electric driving range of even the best Model S.
Though it did not disclose production plans or a timeframe, Holland's RTV NOORD (via Electrek) reported last week the gasoline company said the conversion would cost around 50,000 euros, or about $58,000 at current exchange rates.
The company added it has already received requests for more information on the hydrogen-powered Model S, both domestically in the Netherlands and from abroad.
2017 Honda Clarity Fuel Cell, Santa Barbara, CA, March 2017
Tesla itself hasn't commented on the Dutch firm's creation.
Fuel cells operate by feeding pure hydrogen into what's called the "stack," where hydrogen combines with oxygen from the air to form water and give off electricity.
That electricity, usually with a battery pack to buffer extreme power demands, drives the wheels that move the car through an electric motor similar to that of an electric car.
A Toyota Mirai holds about 5 kg of hydrogen in large, very high-pressure tanks, giving it a range of more than 300 miles. There's no ability to plug the car in to recharge.
Drivers refill their tanks with pressurized hydrogen in a process similar to filling up with gasoline or diesel fuel, but the infrastructure poses a unique challenge.
Hydrogen cannot be stored as easily as gasoline or diesel, which requires investments in entirely new fueling infrastructure, transportation, storage, and other areas.
2017 Honda Clarity Fuel Cell, Santa Barbara, CA, March 2017
Those challenges haven't stopped a few automakers from forging ahead, though. Japanese companies formed a hydrogen-fueling alliance earlier this year.
The alliance in Japan, called the Hydrogen Council, calls for 160 additional hydrogen fueling stations installed across Japan by 2020, and 40,000 fuel-cell vehicles on the roads that same year.
Toyota, Nissan, Honda, and other Japanese firms will all participate in the alliance and focus on their core competencies; infrastructure companies will tackle fuel stations, while automakers will promote the powertrain itself.
General Motors and Honda also partnered to manufacture fuel cells in Michigan for use in vehicles by 2020.
At Tesla, meanwhile, CEO Elon Musk's remarks on what he calls "hydrogen fool cells" suggest it's extremely unlikely hydrogen fuel cells would be part of the company's future business.
Shoehorned between Spain and France, the tiny, landlocked principality of Andorra is draped over 180 square miles of the Pyrenees mountains. Fewer than 90,000 people call it home, but many more stream over its borders to enjoy its duty-free shopping, myriad ski resorts, and extremely friendly income-tax code. While winter sees the country’s peaks blanketed in snow, in summer they’re laced with lush, green scrub and encourage a different type of frolicking: exploring the sinuous, two-lane ribbons of asphalt that climb up from the valleys and back down again. It was across this landscape and past shops stuffed to their rafters with discount booze that we drove the latest Audi RS5 coupe.
For 2018, the RS5 has been updated to ride on Audi’s second-generation MLB platform—the same kit serves under the A4, A5, Q7, and others—and with a twin-turbocharged 2.9-liter V-6. The V-6 takes the place of the particularly sonorous naturally aspirated 4.2-liter V-8 that served in the previous-generation RS5. The V-6 may be down two cylinders, but horsepower is unchanged at 450, and the turbos increase torque from 317 lb-ft to a far meatier 443 lb-ft and also push the output peaks further down the tach: Max power is available at 6700 rpm, 1550 lower than before, and peak torque comes online at 1900 rpm, a full 2100 rpm lower.
The 90-degree six is 44 pounds lighter than the V-8 (the car is 132 pounds lighter overall), all blower hardware included, and its two turbochargers are nestled in the valley between the cylinder banks. This “hot vee” configuration’s largest benefit is to emissions, according to Audi Sport chief Stephan Reil, since the catalysts warm up more quickly, thanks to shorter distances between the turbos, the exhaust valves, and the catalysts. Less plumbing also reduces lag, and this V-6 is indeed one hell of a hard charger, with power, torque, and speed coming in a near instantaneous wave that intensifies proportionally to the angle of your right ankle. Audi estimates the zero-to-62-mph run at 3.9 seconds, or about half a tick quicker than the zero-to-60 time we recorded for the outgoing RS5. We think Audi’s number is just about right.
The Audi-engineered V-6 makes more torque than any of the company’s dual-clutch automatics can handle—Porsche uses its PDK with this engine in the Panamera but doesn’t share that gearbox with other Group members—and so the last RS5’s seven-speed S tronic transmission has been supplanted by an eight-speed ZF automatic. Compared with a dual-clutch ’box, this torque-converter unit’s gearchanges are slower; yet this is not to say it’s slow by any means. The ZF can handle the V-6’s torque, and Reil asserts that customers favor the new transmission’s smoother and more predictable step-off behavior from a stop. There is no manual transmission available, and the ZF automatic’s programming is so good and the plasticky shift paddles so unsatisfying to use that we simply let it work on its own the majority of the time.
Even as the weaponized version of the A5/S5 brood, the RS5 is easy to live with. It’s tautly suspended yet displays a supple ride quality despite its 20-inch wheels and low-profile rubber. It rides superbly in the optional active suspension’s Comfort and Auto modes, and it smoothed out heaving pavement on French autoroutes and the patched surfaces of Andorran B roads with no bobbing or bounding. Dynamic mode is for fun-time only, though, as the ride can get choppy, inducing a slight bucking during straight-line cruising on anything but the flattest pavement.
The RS5’s handling is also docile. While it’s hugely capable, with high levels of front-end grip, there’s little in its behavior to make even a novice driver nervous. It’s sure-footed in both wet and dry conditions, and you can get up to speed with its behavior as quickly as the car itself piles on miles per hour. This follows Reil’s philosophy for Audi Sport’s RS creations; he believes that a car is too difficult to master if an owner goes to a track all day and is still lopping off chunks of time lap after lap. He wants his team to deliver a machine in which it’s easy and safe to quickly find its limits, and they’ve done so here.
The steering is faithful and accurate, with quick, predictable turn-in behavior, and it’s more natural than before—albeit still lacking in feedback. The car rewards smoothness, the Quattro all-wheel-drive system and standard torque-vectoring sport differential working to keep you on line and delivering max thrust to the ground when you boot the car out of a turn, at which point you can feel the torque shift rearward. The default split is 40 percent front and 60 percent rear; if the car detects slip, up to 85 percent can be sent forward, or 70 percent aft. Push too hard into a corner and there remains a whiff of understeer, but it feels more balanced than before. Nonetheless, this is a car that prefers a rapid pace, not a frenetic one.
In addition to the standard iron rotors, the RS5 is available with optional—and huge—front carbon-ceramic brakes as part of the Dynamic Plus package. We drove cars with each setup, and deceleration was excellent with both. While one carbon-equipped RS5 displayed a bit of top-of-travel mushiness to its pedal, a second one didn’t—it may have been that the first car’s brakes weren’t quite bedded in—but overall this system is predictable and certainly stronger than the already capable standard brakes. Given this car’s luxury GT bent, though, we’d skip the carbon brakes unless we planned on attacking mountain roads or racetracks with some frequency.
The RS5’s active exhaust system features both movable flaps and a resonating cross pipe connecting the left and right sides just aft of the rear axle. The car’s chassis mode controls how eager the flaps are to open, as well as how often, and the engineer in charge of tuning the sound was given a 2000 RS4 (which never came to the U.S. but had a turbocharged 2.7-liter V-6) and told, “Make it sound like that.” He nailed the sound quality. At full throat, the new RS5 sounds pissed off, with fat blats on upshifts and a belligerent growl not far off the old V-8’s. Yet its anger sounds as if it’s coming from next door, in part because the car is well insulated from the outside world and also because Audi doesn’t augment the noise with the audio system. The company cops to enhancing low-range frequencies below 3000 rpm—at which point the car basically makes no noise of its own—with a device located behind the instrument panel, described to us as a “shaker” that uses the car’s own vibrations to act on a metal plate. The modest volume fits the grand touring character of the RS5, but it’s still a bit of a bummer, and the pops it executes on overrun don’t really thrill anyone inside the car. They sound mostly like someone you’ve kidnapped banging on the inside of the trunklid.
The RS5’s aesthetic was inspired by Audi 90 Quattro IMSA GTO race car, and the new coupe’s boxy fender flares make it slightly wider than its tamer S5 sibling. Similarly, the RS gets a fatter grille than the A5 and S5, as well as front intakes large enough to swallow the tiny Fiats we encountered by the dozens in the Pyrenees. The overall effect is more sophisticated than feral, however, a motif that carries over to the mostly black cabin, which can be adorned with contrast stitching and red stripes on the seatbelts, but doesn’t get much flashier than that.
The driving position is fantastic, and the forward view from the supportive, multi-adjustable, and massaging front seats is outstanding. Visibility to the rear is decent, too, given the coupe roofline, and the car will accommodate four people of average height with no issues. The two rear passengers have slightly pinched shoulder room, but they have access to four cupholders, so at least they’ll be well hydrated.
In the transition to this latest generation, Audi improved both the RS5’s luxury GT abilities and its dynamic capabilities. With its competitors from BMW (the M4) and Mercedes-AMG (the C63) growing more monstrous and hard-riding by the day, the RS5 is unquestionably the most livable of the bunch. Tingling its pilot’s spine is among its ancillary—not primary—skills, and stoicism remains the bedrock upon which this car is built. Meanwhile, the wait continues for something truly unhinged from Audi.
Vrijheid inademen. Vrijheid uitstralen.
Dynamiek. Doorzettingsvermogen. Efficiëntie. Wie over dergelijke vaardigheden beschikt, straalt rust uit en weet het bereikte doel te waarderen. En is bovendien perfect op de toekomst voorbereid. In een vertrouwde positie, hoog boven alles verheven. Beleef de premium SUV van Mercedes-Benz. De GLE.
De GLE is een van de veiligste voertuigen in zijn segment. Het model beschikt voor alle vier de fasen van het integrale veiligheidsconcept van Mercedes-Benz over een uitgebreide en intelligent op elkaar afgestemde veiligheidsuitrusting.
Het begrip Intelligent Drive omvat talrijke assistentiesystemen waarvan de functies onderling op elkaar zijn afgestemd. Met dit concept komt de visie van Mercedes-Benz op rijden zonder ongevallen een grote stap dichterbij.
Het optionele rijassistentiesysteem plus zorgt voor minder belasting van de bestuurder, meer veiligheid en meer bescherming. Een combinatie van aanvullende veiligheids- en assistentiesystemen draagt eraan bij de bestuurder minder te belasten, het risico op ongevallen te verminderen en zowel aan de inzittenden als overige verkeersdeelnemers betere bescherming te bieden.
De GLE 500 e 4MATIC zet niet alleen aan tot een nieuwe denkwijze, maar luidt ook een heel nieuwe periode in.
De aandrijving bestaat namelijk uit een krachtige 3-liter V6-verbrandingsmotor en een elektromotor met een extern oplaadbare lithum-ion-hoogspanningsaccu.
De V6-motor heeft een vermogen van 245 kW en een maximumkoppel 480 Nm, waarmee de GLE 500 e 4MATIC beschikt over een topsnelheid van 245 km/h. Samen met de 85 kW en 340 Nm van de elektromotor wordt het gecombineerde brandstofverbruik teruggebracht tot 3,3 liter per 100 kilometer. Dat is vooral te danken aan de intelligente bedrijfsstrategie.
Zodra er wordt geremd wordt energie opgeslagen. Functies als door radar ondersteunde recuperatie van energie, de op het traject anticiperende bedrijfsstrategie en de vier bedrijfsstanden zorgen voor een imposante energiebalans. Wanneer er puur elektrisch wordt gereden, heeft de nieuwe GLE een actieradius van maximaal 30 kilometer, met een lokale emissie van nul gram CO2 per kilometer.
Op weg naar autorijden zonder ongevallen.
Wat we meer dan tien jaar geleden zijn begonnen met PRE-SAFE® en met afstandsregeling DISTRONIC hebben voortgezet, is inmiddels met Mercedes-Benz Intelligent Drive een heel nieuwe dimensie in autorijden geworden, waarbij comfort en veiligheid met elkaar zijn versmolten. En dat is niet alleen zichtbaar maar ook tastbaar in de GLE.
Dankzij aan elkaar gekoppelde systemen – door onze veiligheidsexperts 'sensor fusion' genoemd – analyseren de assistentiesystemen complexe situaties en worden met verbeterde sensoren mogelijke gevaren in het verkeer nóg beter herkend.
De beschikbaarheid van een uitrusting hangt af van de motor en de gekozen configuratie.
Trek de grote, wijde wereld in.
Trek erop uit in de natuur. Geniet intens. En laat u ver van alle drukte meeslepen door de multimediasystemen van de GLE. Audio, video en internet. De nieuwe GLE beheerst al deze disciplines uitstekend. En heeft ook offroad een uitstekende verbinding met de rest van de wereld.
De beschikbaarheid van een uitrusting hangt af van de motor en de gekozen configuratie.
There is no denying the overall excellence of the 2017 Honda Civic Si. There just isn’t. Adopting as it has the boldly styled forms of Honda’s 10th-generation Civic sedan and coupe, the new Si starts out with a darn good foundation. And none of the Si additions—a 205-hp turbocharged 1.5-liter engine, a short-throw shifter for the six-speed manual gearbox, a helical-gear limited-slip differential, 18-inch wheels, and a healthy list of interior and exterior upgrades that are fully detailed here—are going to muck things up.
Thing is, this is the eighth Civic offered in Si form, and those sold between the mid-1980s and the mid-2000s were remarkably charismatic. The previous two Si models, though, were relative duds, as there is only so much allure Honda could engineer into the lackluster Civics on which they were based. Now that the base Civic is back in our good graces, how much of the Si’s former sparkle has been restored? And how will the new Si coupes and sedans fit into an expanded Civic range that will soon include the rip-snortin’ Civic Type R in all of its 306-hp hatchback glory? These are some of the questions we couldn’t answer until we’d driven the Civic Si, preferably on a track, which we’ve now done.
Shift Less, Go Faster
Our first taste of the 2017 Civic Si came on the winding road course at the Honda Proving Center in the Mojave Desert, freshly repaved as part of a $25 million renovation of the 3840-acre facility. The course has it all: various types of corners—steeply banked to off-camber, increasing and decreasing radius, high and low speed—plus a few flat straights, some steep grades, and blind crests. The straighter sections aren’t long enough to attain much speed—the facility has a 7.5-mile high-speed oval for that, which remained off-limits to us—but the road course would give us a chance to experience the Si’s transitional fluidity and engine elasticity. So we hopped into a red Civic Si coupe along with one of Honda’s friendly professional driving coaches, who said, as we donned our balaclavas and helmets, that we would be able to drive the whole course in third or fourth gear.
Remembering how previous Si models required frequent shifting to stay in the powerband—especially once the VTEC valvetrain arrived in the ’92 Civic Si—the ability to thread corners together without two or three shifts is one significant way the new model differs.
While the turbocharged 1.5-liter inline-four makes 205 horsepower, exactly matching the peak output of its predecessor’s naturally aspirated 2.4-liter unit, maximum power now arrives at 5700 rpm, down from the previous 7000 rpm. The new engine is far torquier, too, with 192 lb-ft delivered from 2100 rpm to 5000 rpm, compared with the 2.4 liter’s 174 lb-ft at 4400 rpm. Honda claims a 7.0-second zero-to-60-mph time—certainly a conservative figure, especially with the new Si sedan tipping Honda’s scales at 96 pounds less than the last model. We got to 60 mph in 7.0 seconds in the Sport hatchback model with only 180 horsepower in our most recent track test of the 2017 Civic.
Regardless, the ’17 Si clearly is no dragster off the line, but the engine’s midrange response proved particularly delightful on the track. Catch the turbo snoozing, and the 1.5-liter engine feels every bit the weakling it would be if not for the miracle of turbocharging. One can increase throttle sensitivity by pressing the console button labeled Sport (which also reduces power-steering assistance and stiffens the standard adaptive dampers), but even in Sport mode, there are moments when you realize that, turbocharged though it may be, that’s a tiny little engine. Honda also endeavored to give it a sexy soundtrack with its so-called “sport sound dual silencer.” The engine sounds good but perhaps leans too much toward silencing and not enough toward sport.
As promised, we didn’t have to shift much. Not that we would have minded; with its short-throw shift lever and trio of perfectly placed aluminum pedals, the Si’s six-speed gearbox is an absolute joy to operate. Between the light and progressive clutch and the finesse with which the ball-capped lever snaps into each gate, Honda’s excellence in the field of performance-oriented manual transmissions is on clear display.
Also front and center is Honda’s competence in chassis development, particularly in the all-important aspect of steering. At 2.1 turns from lock to lock, the ’17 Si’s variable-ratio rack is far quicker than the last model’s 2.8-turn rack. More important, it feels wonderfully linear, with a natural buildup of effort off-center. Best of all, the dual-pinion, electrically assisted system serves up actual feedback—yes, feedback!—that gets even chattier in Sport mode. Bravo.
Some of that feedback can be attributed to the aforementioned adaptive dampers and the stiffening of other primary suspension components, from the mounting points to the anti-roll bars to the springs and bushings. It all adds up to excellent body control that in turn keeps the 235/40R-18 tires firmly on the ground. Enter a corner too hot and the Si’s eagerness to rotate eventually defers to understeer, but more than one of us found the Si’s grip—particularly front-end grip—to be absolutely spectacular for a front-drive car. Factor in its beefier brakes, its standard helical limited-slip differential, and its overall resistance to pitch, dive, and lean, and the Civic Si can really be driven hard yet remains eminently obedient. During the dozen or so laps we took in the cars, we felt the stability control engage only once.
How About Road Manners?
Even better, the high limits and satisfying feedback we experienced on the track were fully realizable out on public roads. Even on lumpy two-lane roads, the communicative steering and the high level of grip helped us hustle through corners. Highway miles allowed us to appreciate the generally comfortable ride quality in Normal mode, although even in the Sport setting, it’s far from harsh. Speaking of comfort, the Si’s sport seats, with their modified frames and more aggressive bolstering, proved surprisingly road-trip friendly; nary an ache or a numb spot emerged after six hours in the saddle.
So there’s plenty of excellence to appreciate in the new Si. But we’d be lying if we said it was love at first drive. However much Honda sought to make the car more visceral, the new Si remains slightly aloof. We will need more time with it to understand why this Civic Si didn’t light our fire right away; perhaps we’re just overeager for the Type R.
The Volkswagen SportWagen managed to carve out some time in its schedule (of daily driving me to work) for a visit to our test track in Fontana, California. The red five-door used its five-speed manual to accelerate to 60 mph in 7.3 seconds, putting it on par with the likes of the Lexus LX570 and Acura’s TLX sedan. Recorded time through our figure-eight test was 27.3 seconds with an average of 0.63 g. This puts it right at about the same handling capabilities as a Hyundai Sonata Sport 2.0t and a Land Rover Discovery Sport. Official curb weight on this VW is 3,040 pounds, which is right on top of a Honda HR-V and a Porsche Cayman GT4.
A big upside of rubber floormats is being able to hose them off for cleaning.
Out of curiosity, I asked our test team what the last five-speed manual they’d accelerated at the test track was. They paused to give it some thought. “A Subaru Crosstrek and a Fiat 500. … Beyond that, none that we can recall in recent memory.” Indeed, the five-speed manual is one of this car’s unique (cost-cutting) features, albeit one that’s hard to imagine VW will continue to offer for much longer. The gearbox, cloth seats, manually adjusting seat bottoms, and traditional turn-key ignition (non-push-button start) are constant reminders that, as equipped, this TSI isn’t laden with VW’s newest tech; the price one pays for an affordable MSRP.
Less then stellar test numbers aside, the SportWagen provides a measurable dose of seat-of-the-pants fun, and the second and third gear ratios deliver the needed juice to dart and dash through the lanes of city traffic.
The wagon has now arrived at base camp, and my year-long evaluation of the German-designed wagon formerly known as a Jetta has begun. Yes, beginning with MY 2015, Volkswagen moved its wagon to the Golf platform and grouped the vehicle with the same Golf family that includes two- and four-door hatchbacks and a variety of engines. Yet the SportWagen is decidedly different from the other Golfs in that it can carry a bunch more stuff and thus is an honest alternative to crossovers such as the CR-V or RAV4.
Hard to ignore that the manual has only five speeds, and yet the ratios are all a good match for the 1.8T’s powerband.
This base model is known as a 1.8T S and comes equipped with the cloth seats; the front ones are heated and power-adjusted on the incline, but they’re manually adjusted fore and aft on the seat bottom. Also standard is a touchscreen infotainment system that features Bluetooth and USB-in. Shifting the car into reverse activates a rear camera that is hidden behind VW’s shiny badge on the rear hatch. Equipping the car with a manual transmission cuts $1,100 off the MSRP.