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Auto blogTue, 25 Mar 2014 16:29:00 EST
Volkswagen's array of performance-oriented Golfs keeps getting bigger and bigger. What started with the GTI has since grown to include the diesel GTD, the hybrid GTE and the most powerful Golf R. But the additions haven't all come down to powertain. There's been cabrio versions of the GTI and Golf R as well, but before all is said and done, there will be one more bodystyle to join the lineup.
That, according to these latest spy shots, would be the Golf R Variant. For those unfamiliar, Variant is what Volkswagen calls the wagon version of the Golf (in some markets, anyway). It offers the Golf Variant with a variety of engines, but as the spy shots reveal, it is now working on bringing the Golf Variant and the Golf R together into one high-powered, long-roofed model.
The VW Golf R Variant would in all likelihood pack the same 2.0-liter turbo four as the hatchback, splitting 290 horsepower between all four wheels. Only in the wagon, it would offer that extra bit of utility. Of course there's no guarantee that Volkswagen would offer the Golf R Variant in the North American market, but considering that the Golf R hatchback will soon be joined in American showrooms by the Golf SpotWagen (as it's tipped to be called here) in place for the Jetta wagon, the possibility is definitely there.
After years of rumors, development and testing, the Volkswagen XL1 is finally about to become a reality. The project that began life as a daring 1-Liter concept car in 2002, will finally get its production-ready curtain call at the Geneva Motor Show in just a few weeks.
As soon as it hits the streets, the two-seat XL1 will instantly become the most fuel-efficient and most aerodynamic production car in the world. The car uses a plug-in hybrid system to achieve mind-blowing consumption of just 0.9 liters of diesel fuel consumed every 100 kilometers (and average of roughly 261 miles per gallon). Plus, the XL1 can go up to 50 kilometers on its battery power alone. Coefficient of drag is a miniscule 0.189, thanks to a tiny frontal area and an obviously slippery shape.
XL1 power comes from a two-cylinder diesel motor connected to a seven-speed dual-clutch gearbox, while the 20 kW electric motor is fed by a lithium-ion battery. Both combine to give the XL1 performance figures that are, while not stirring, not shabby considering its extreme frugality: 0-62 miles per hour comes up in 12.7 seconds and top speed is nearly 146 mph.
The case of Dupont and Honeywell's refrigerant R-1234yf is doing the exact opposite of keeping things cool. The two chemical companies have spent years and hundreds of millions of dollars developing R-1234yf to replace R-134a, the new refrigerant shown to be 99.7-percent kinder to the environment than the one it is meant to succeed. Part of that development has been years of testing by governments, outside safety agencies and automakers to approve the chemical for use in cars. It passed the protocols necessary for the European Union to declare that new and significantly revised cars from 2013 onward needed to use R-1234yf, and mandated that every car as of 2017 must use it.
Enter Daimler AG. The automaker created a head-on collision test with a B-Class at their Sindelfingen test track that would lead to the pressurized refrigerant being sprayed on the engine. The result in 20 out of 20 test was that the refrigerant burst into flames as soon as it hit the hot engine, while Daimler says that R-134a does not catch fire in the same test. Another unexpected result of the R-1234yf test was the release of hydrogen flouride, a chemical far more deadly to humans than hydrogen cyanide, emitted in such amounts that it that turned the windshield white as it began to eat into the glass.
Said a Daimler engineer in a Reuters piece, "It was scarcely believable. The most complicated lab tests conducted using the most sensitive measuring instruments around found nothing and all we do is drive a car around a couple of times, open a tiny hole in the refrigerant line and the next thing you know the car is on fire." So Daimler said it wouldn't use the refrigerant, and it recalled the cars it had already shipped with R-1234yf.