The Continental: Opel’s Adam, Hyundai’s European Engines, and News From Audi
Each week, our German correspondent slices and dices the latest rumblings, news, and quick-hit driving impressions from the other side of the pond. His byline may say Jens Meiners, but we simply call him . . . the Continental.
Opel has disclosed the name of its upcoming minicar: Adam. I am not kidding, it will be called the Opel Adam. Adam Opel, you see, was the founder of the company. Sort of like Enzo Ferrari founded the company that would later build the Enzo. Here’s a “spy shot” conveniently provided by Opel—the Adam looks almost as appealing as its name. Luckily for us, it won’t be sold in the U.S.
The car will be developed in Rüsselsheim at Opel’s research and development center. This center, it is rumored, just lost a project: The next-generation Opel Zafira will now be developed by GM’s new cooperation partner PSA Peugeot Citroën, in which GM just acquired a seven-percent share. It is an ominous warning for Opel. With PSA’s expertise in developing compact cars, GM doesn’t need to lean so heavily on the Rüsselsheim R&D center.
Rüsselheim also is home to Hyundai’s European research and development center, where I spent a half-day speaking with R&D executives Jürgen Grimm and Joachim Hahn, and driving new cars and prototypes. There is the new U diesel engine family, which includes a 74-hp, 1.1-liter triple, as well as four four-cylinder units: an 89-hp, 1.4-liter; a 1.6-liter available in 108-hp or 126-hp strengths; and a 134-hp, 1.7-liter. A more powerful 1.7-liter also is in the works. The small Kappa gasoline engine family will expand below the 84-hp, 1.2-liter four: there also will be a 68-hp, 1.0-liter three-cylinder unit. The four-cylinder Lambda gasoline engine—available as a 107-hp, 1.4-liter unit and a 126-hp, 1.6-liter unit—gets a turbocharged variation. This is the engine that powers the Hyundai Veloster Turbo. But while the U.S. version makes 201 hp, Europeans will get a 183-hp variation. You think the U.S. is lucky? I am not so sure. The European Veloster feels quicker at low rpm, according to Hahn, thanks to a smaller turbocharger with lower inertia. The camshaft was modified and there are less pumping losses at low speeds.
I haven’t driven the U.S. version, but behind the wheel of a European-spec Veloster Turbo with the six-speed dual-clutch automatic, I found the engine to be delightfully responsive. The transmission, however, was emotionless; and I wish the Veloster Turbo would emit a sporty sound. Hyundai will expand its portfolio of dual-clutch transmissions. The six-speed unit currently offered in the Hyundai Veloster and Kia Cee’d will be complemented with a seven-speed unit designed for higher torque.
Hyundai Europe also is providing massive input to the second-generation Hyundai Genesis, which will be a car designed with the European market in mind. It will be available with a diesel engine—likely a high-powered four-cylinder, possibly hybridized, with an output of more than 220 hp. The current Genesis comes to Europe only in coupe form—a niche vehicle that sells in low volumes and feels crude compared to Hyundai’s other European offerings, especially the sophisticated i40, a close relative of the Sonata.
No Number Games, Please
Don’t you despise the fact that Mercedes-Benz and BMW now use a nomenclature that mostly obscures the actual displacement of the engine instead of identifying it? The ghastly practice is supposed to highlight a vehicle’s marketing positioning. So far, Audi has resisted. But now the brand is launching A6L and A8L versions with monikers that have nothing to do with engine displacement. The A6L 30 FSI is a 2.5-liter; the A6L 35 FSI is a 2.8; the A6L 50 TFSI, the A8L 45 TFSI and the A8L 50 TFSI are all powered by supercharged 3.0-liter V-6. The new nomenclature is used only in China, and I sincerely hope it stays there.
Audi is showing three cool Q3 prototypes at this year’s VW GTI meeting at Wörthersee in Carinthia, Austria, all of which are powered by a turbocharged 2.5-liter straight-five. The RS Q3, launched at the Beijing auto show last month, makes 360 hp and it previews many features of upcoming RS models, such as the three-dimensional mesh grille and the lower air intakes. The Jinlong Yufeng, also first shown in China, is powered by a 310-hp version of the same engine and plays on a kite surfing motif. Positioned between them is the, ahem, “new” Q3 Red Track. If this winterized Q3 concept seems awfully familiar, that’s because Audi has simply rebadged the Q3 Vail concept that debuted at the Detroit auto show. Okay, they added red wings in the headlights and the engine now supposedly makes 340 hp, up from the Vail’s 314. Photography and info on the Q3 Vail has subsequently vanished from the company’s media website.
Audi also is launching the prototype of an electric bike at the GTI festival, designed by Hendrik Schäfers. The e-bike can be powered by pedals, be boosted by an electric motor, or be ridden on electric power alone. Moreover, there is a wheelie mode, which lets you ride on just the rear wheel. Chances of a series production are just about zero.
We hear from Ingolstadt that Audi will expand its fleet of A1 e-tron prototypes. The A1 e-tron is a battery-electric vehicle with a one-disc rotary-type range extender engine supplied by AVL. It is currently in the testing stage and one of Audi’s findings is that the 21 hp provided by the rotary engine is insufficient once the batteries are low. To spare the batteries unnecessary stress and to maintain a minimum of agility, Audi will install a more powerful, 34-hp range extender in the next batch of prototypes. It is still not clear whether a possible series production model would be fitted with the smooth rotary range extender. Economies of scale within the VW Group could dictate a conventional range extender engine.
By Jens Meiners