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Buy the right backup camera
Not all rear view cameras are the same. Buy a car that has a good one.
Backup cameras will be required on all new cars sold in the U.S. as of May 2018 but, in the meantime, you could end up buying a car that doesn’t have one or has a lousy one. Take the advice I’ve learned reviewing 1,100 modern cars and avoid both of those pitfalls.
- Get a camera. A fair number of cars only offer a rear cam as part of an expensive a la carte or option package selection. (I’m looking at you Germany.) Keep that in mind when shopping cars and checking boxes. You definitely don’t want to settle for a car without a backup cam.
- Check your trajectory. Most cams today generate some kind of overlay lines that show you distance and steering trajectory. These help you estimate what’s in your path, since backup cameras are very wide angle and that distorts the size and shape of what they show you on the screen.
- How’s the image? We don’t see a lot of low res backup cams any more but since carmakers rarely publish resolution specs the way cameras and phones do, look for crisp details (a function of both camera and screen quality) as well as good day and night handling ability (admittedly hard to gauge in a test drive).
- A new angle on things. Some cars have cameras with switchable angles, from wide to very wide to straight down views. I find I don’t use these after a while because it’s one more fiddly button you’re not going to bother with after the novelty wears off. Any standard wide angle is very good, no need to switch the view.
- Other cameras. Surround cameras are fairly common and stitch together a birds eye view of your car, like in a video game, using cameras in the back, front and sides. These are nice for big vehicles, but remain in the “non-essential” category in my opinion. More interesting to me is Honda’s LaneWatch camera that looks down the side of the car opposite the driver, where you are at risk if pinching a bicycle, etc. It offers a more comprehensive view than side mirrors do of a place where a lot of urban warfare takes place. If you’re considering a Honda, ask to try it out.
If you already have a car without a backup cam, Pearl license plate frame that beams a wireless rear view to your phone. Not cheap at $500 but they know what a PITA the other options are.is cheap, though kind of a PITA. Another new option is the
The first time Subaru tried to break a Nürburgring lap record with its WRX STI Type RA NBR Special race car, it started raining. The second time, the weather was perfect, and so was the car’s run down the 12.8-mile track.
Subaru’s STI race car (I’m not writing that whole name out every time) picked up the Nürburgring Nordschleife lap record for a four-door sedan with a time of 6 minutes, 57.5 seconds. The same car also holds a lap record at the Isle of Man TT, and it was the third fastest car up the hill at this year’s Goodwood Festival of Speed hillclimb. Goodness.
Pushing 25 psi of turbo boost through a modified, rally-spec, 2.0-liter H4, the STI NBR Special puts out more than 600 horsepower, and it managed a top speed of 179 mph on the ‘Ring’s long straightaway. At top speed, it produces 650 pounds of downforce, and its rally-spec transmission shifts gears in as little as 20 milliseconds. It’s a hell of a car.
There’s a road-legal analog, too, but it’s nowhere near that insane. Thesports a carbon fiber roof, no spare tire, a carbon fiber wing and BBS alloy wheels. It’s lighter, and thanks to suspension and engine upgrades, it’s stiffer and faster than the traditional STI, as well.
In case you thought the gas-powered internal combustion engine was running out of tricks, Mazda might prove that this old dog isn’t ready to sit and stay just yet.
Mazda will reportedly show off a compression-ignition gas engine later in August, Motoring.com.au reports. This new family of gas engines will eventually power the next-generation , which could make an appearance in concept form as early as the Tokyo Motor Show in October. Mazda did not immediately return a request for comment, but automakers routinely decline to discuss future products.
The engine is technically called a homogenous charge compression ignition (HCCI) engine, which Mazda will call Skyactiv II for marketing’s sake. According to Motoring.com.au, the engine will function like a traditional gas engine at low revs, using spark plugs to ignite the air-fuel mixture in the combustion chamber. At higher revs, though, the plugs will deactivate and the gas will ignite under piston compression alone.
In case you’re keeping track at home, that’s how diesel engines function, using compression to ignite the air-fuel mixture.
HCCI is believed to produce a more efficient combustion, which keeps fuel economy high and emissions low. It should also reduce the chance for the air-fuel mixture to combust prematurely, which is known as knocking. The goal is to cut fuel consumption by 30 percent compared with its current Skyactiv family of gas engines.
Mazda isn’t the only automaker getting weird with the gas engine. Infiniti rolled out theat the 2016 Paris Motor Show. A complicated linkage system in the block allows the engine to change the piston’s stroke at will, which will vary its compression ratio between 8.0:1 and 14.0:1. Infiniti believes its four-cylinder VC-Turbo will be 27 percent more fuel-efficient than a similarly capable gas V6.
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If the 2017 Karma Revero looks an awfully lot like the Fisker Karma that went out of production at the end of 2012, your eyes aren’t deceiving you. The stylish GT car is getting a second chance at life thanks to Chinese auto parts maker Wansiang, which purchased the remains of and its battery supplier A123 Systems. Out of those ashes comes Karma Automotive, which the reborn 403-horsepower Revero hybrid sedan in June.
The long road to launching the Revero involved the company rebuilding its workforce, taking it from 29 people just three years ago to the present 900 headcount. Then there was the task of reworking the car that was rushed to production under Fisker’s watch. The hybrid drivetrain was coarse with noticeable shudder every time the gas engine kicked on. Build quality was far from top-notch, while small details such as the lack of backlit door and steering controls made navigating the interior at night difficult.
Karma Revero: 5 things you need to know
The stylish hybrid GT car is reborn with a host of improvements.
While looking over the car in person, Karma’s hard work appears to have paid off. Panel gaps are tight and consistent, and the paint job looks flawless. Besides the hand-painted Karma Automotive badges, the Revero looks like the Fisker I drove five years ago.
Karma officialsand have taken the necessary time in hopes of getting it right. Originally, the new company wanted to launch the Revero last December, but delayed it to June to get things just right. Everything in the car has been revalidated, from big items like the drivetrain to smaller details such as hood and door seals. Oh, and setting up a production facility in Moreno Valley, California to build the cars was also on the list of things to do.
Inside, the front seats are comfortable and supportive, materials are high quality, all controls are now backlit and there’s serviceable space. Things in back are tighter, but adequate to shuttle around a couple of folks for a night on the town. When I finally get rolling on a brief drive route, NVH improvements become clear as minimal wind and tire noise creeps into the cabin, which is especially impressive considering the massive 22-inch Goodyear Eagle F1 Supercar rubber.
Likely the biggest interior upgrade centers on the 10.2-inch infotainment touchscreen that Karma developed in-house. Unlike the half-baked system in the Fisker, the Revero’s system is quick to respond to commands, intuitive to work through and features slick graphics. Bluetooth is standard, while bothwill come later this year. Disappointingly, satellite radio isn’t available.
The familiar hybrid drivetrain consists of a General Motors-supplied 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder and two electric motors, providing net system output of 403 ponies and an incredible 981 pound-feet of torque. Dropping the hammer smashes occupants into seatbacks as the Revero sprints to 60 mph in 5.4 seconds, which is downright quick for a 5,400-pound car, but not quite as fast as base versions of the all-electric Tesla Model S.
A total driving range of roughly 300 miles is available when factoring in both the electric motors and gas engine. Karma claims the Revero can cover up to 50 miles on electricity alone, with the solar roof also now capable of providing around a mile of additional range on sunny days. Previously, the solar roof could only power interior systems and not the drivetrain.
When it comes to juicing up, using a DC quick charger gets a drained battery to an 80 percent state of charge in 24 minutes. Plugging into a regular household outlet requires 10 hours for a full recharge.
During my short spin, Karma’s tuning of the throttle and regen brake engagement stood out. Tip into the throttle and the car powers away from stops smoothly in Normal mode. Brake engagement isn’t abrupt, preventing herky-jerky rides.
Through a couple of bends, the Revero stays flat and begs for a more thorough workout. With the big tires, buttoned-up suspension and direct steering, I suspect it will do well on a winding back road, but my drive is almost entirely on busy urban streets. Over bigger bumps the suspension offers enough give for ride quality that’s suitable for daily driving.
I’ll need additional time with the Revero on more entertaining roads before drawing a complete conclusion on the second coming of this hybrid grand tourer, but it made a positive initial impression. Higher levels of refinement back the car’s standout appearance.
Refinement does, however, come at a cost: The 2017 Karma Revero starts at $130,000 with destination charges tacking on an additional $1,400. Exclusivity is also part of the Revero’s story, with Karma’s plant building just one car per day now and ramping up to only three per day by the end of year. In 2018, Karma hopes to build around 150 cars, and between 200 to 300 units in 2019.
With production numbers like that, spotting a Karma Revero in the wild likely won’t happen often, but if you do, know that it isn’t just the Fisker Karma. It’s a car that’s much better and is what should have hit showrooms in the first place.