Monthly Archives: August 2013

2014 Volkswagen CC Executive debuts new Car-Net connectivity suite

(Credit: Antuan Goodwin/CNET)

When it first debuted, the Volkswagen CC was known as the “Passat CC,” a sporty variant of the large sedan that featured a more coupe-like design. Over the years, the CC and Passat have further diverged, the former dropping the “Passat” moniker back in 2011. For the 2014 model year, the two vehicles’ driving characteristics and engine choices are now very different.

I think that it’s fitting that so soon after our First Take in the 2014 Passat, that we take a look at the new 2014 Volkswagen CC Executive to see how it compares to the sedan upon which it was based and shares a platform.

RNS 510 cabin tech Cabin tech is modular within the VW brand, so it’s no surprise to see the the same RNS 510 receiver in the 2014 CC that can be found across the automaker’s line of vehicles.

The RNS 510 navigation system isn't visually impressive, but it gets the job done.

(Credit: Antuan Goodwin/CNET)

The RNS 510 navigation system features rudimentary graphics that aren’t visually impressive, but get the job done. The list of audio sources includes CD playback, MP3 and iPod connectivity, a 3.5mm analog auxiliary input, and satellite and terrestrial radio, but digital media is connected to the receiver via VW… [Read more]


Car Tech: An automotive blog from CNET

Dated dash tech meets the connected age in the 2014 Volkswagen Passat SEL

(Credit: Antuan Goodwin/CNET)

The 2014 Volkswagen Passat doesn’t come up very often in my discussions about and comparisons with other sedans in its class. Perhaps, it’s because the Passat is like a Jetta or because the RNS 315 and 510 navigation systems simply aren’t exciting to techies and have been around forever. Perhaps it’s because, for VW enthusiasts, the Passat is almost a foregone conclusion, the obvious choice when you need more space than the Jetta offers and for everyone else, suggesting a Volkswagen will be met with, “Yeah, but what about the reliability?” Perhaps it’s that you either want a Passat or you don’t that keeps it out of discussion.

Let’s discuss it anyway, because the 2014 Passat SEL Premium 1.8T that I was able to take for a spin at a recent Volkswagen full-line driving event is interesting for a few reasons — the most obvious being the 1.8-liter turbocharged engine, which is a new, strong performer, and the debut of VW’s Car-Net telematics system, which brings the dated dashboard tech into the connected age.

Dashboard tech and Car-Net telematics The Passat’s dashboard tech doesn’t seem to have changed much. Front and center, our SEL trim level featured the same RNS 510 navigation receiver that has graced Volkswagen models for as far back as I care to remember. It’s not a bad system, boasting a combination of physical and touch-screen controls that are easy to understand and an inte… [Read more]


Car Tech: An automotive blog from CNET

Nissan pledges affordable self-driving car models by 2020

A self-driving Nissan Leaf prototype

(Credit: Nissan)

It seems 2020 is shaping up to be the magic year for self-driving cars.

Nissan announced Tuesday that it’ll have “multiple, commercially-viable Autonomous Drive vehicles by 2020,” a deadline that General Motors and automotive supplier Continental also have set. Google, however, has set more ambitious goals for its autonomous-vehicle program: Google co-founder Sergey Brin predicted the arrival of self-driving cars for the general public by 2017.

Nissan said its autonomous-vehicle technology will be available “at realistic prices for consumers,” and that its goal is to make the technology available “across the model range within two vehicle generations.”

Related stories

Insider secrets for taking car photos like a pro (CNET On Cars, Episode 25)

Insider secrets to taking car photos like a pro


iTunes (HD)iTunes (SD)iTunes (HQ)


!function(d,s,id){var js,fjs=d.getElementsByTagName(s)[0];if(!d.getElementById(id)){js=d.createElement(s);;js.src=”//”;fjs.parentNode.insertBefore(js,fjs);}}(document,”script”,”twitter-wjs”);

This episode we do something really cool: Take you out on a car photo shoot with renowned auto photographer Michael Alan Ross. After you watch our project with him, go right out and take a few photos of your car. Notice how much better they look than the last ones you took.

I really like our Smarter Driver segment this week: Staged accidents and how to avoid them. You’d be surprised how many wrecks are bogus. We’ll show you the red flags to … [Read more]


Car Tech: An automotive blog from CNET

2013 Range Rover First Drive

If Cinderella ever decided to ditch the glass slippers and opt for a pair of mud proof boots, which car would she take to get her around town? We definitely think the Range Rover Evoque would be a strong contender. Not to say that the Evoque is a one of a kind stylish piece of automotive specimen.  It was only after the Germans released their up-scaled miniature SUV’s such as the BMW X3 series and the Audi Q5 before the design crew at Range Rover decided to rethink their own idea of contemporary design.

First Drive: Ford Focus ST

Up till now, the Mustang was the only high performance vehicle offered by Ford in the North American continent. Truth be told, it was only fast in a straight line, and not the most practical every-day car. Over the past few years, Ford has been colonizing the North American market with its affluent European inspired design. With the European continent rich in automotive racing, Ford must also be able to deliver something that’s not just quick quick off the line but fast around the corne and practical as well. The result is the Ford Focus ST.

Just like Toyota’s TRD racing division team responsible for the development of the Celica series well acclaimed LFA supercar, The testing of the ST has been given to the hands of Ford’s SVT (Special Vehicle Team) in North America and designed by Ford’s RS racing division team in Europe. Considering both teams have marked some heavy footprints in the racing history with  masterpieces such as the Ford GT, Shelby and Cobra series, you can expect good things about the ST.

What can I say? The Focus ST was a blast to drive! Its steering feels light and has excellent feedback. On a straight away, the steering is very stable and well damped. When switched to a windy road, it’s responsive and precise. Just like any pitfall of torque steer found in front wheel drive powertrains, torque spikes from throttle blips or hard acceleration causes the vehicle to suffer from torque steer where it tries to straighten out the wheels. Around corners, the electronic power steering adapts great to different road conditions and vehicle speeds, but tends to supervise the vehicle’s trajectory around corners rather than obeying driver control.

Punching the throttle reveals the true identity of the ST.  Power delivery is on demand and smooth with minimal perception of turbo lag.  The clutch feel gives the best of both worlds.  In normal everyday driving, the clutch is very forgiving thanks to the soft spring load but is very capable in snapping through all six gears.  Compared to the Scion FR-S, you do lose the feel and crispness of the raw mechanical clutch feel.

One of the most important aspects of sports car design is the stiffness of the chassis. Losing too much stiffness degrades the overall balance and handling of the vehicle while also confining the level of suspension tuning. Throwing the ST through a corner shows no sign of grip fragility in grip.

Speaking of everyday car, there is none of the Focus taken out of the ST.  It’s interior is elegant and functional.  The Recaro seats do a great job in snugging you into a tight and comfortable pocket to secure your body position throughout corning.  Driving in these seats for longer duration is bearable, but the lack of air circulation can lead to discomfort.  We especially had concerns for larger drivers or passengers fitting into the snug fitted seats.

The Focus ST has been one of the most anticipated cars we have looked forward to all year. Needless to say, it was a spectacular vehicle to drive.  There is no doubt that the ST will be a strong contender in the exciting sports-compact segment.

First Drive: 2013 Nissan Juke Nismo

Out with the old, in with the new.  It’s as if the buttoned down multidisciplinary design team at Nissan have been replaced by a group of youngsters fascinated by anime, samurai swords and arcade games.  That being said, the Juke continues to follow the design trend of the already wacky Nissan Cube while incorporating better functionality, performance and styling.

The overall design is as funky as it gets.  As a matter of fact, we’re surprised it wasn’t featured in Daft Punk’s latest “Get Lucky” music video.  that’s not to say that it’s an eye sore.  The Gundam inspired Nissan Juke has a plethora of eye catching design cues.  Take for example, the bugs eye fog lights and mantis head lights gives off both an impression of automotive youth and creativity.

2014 Pioneer car audio line supports Android over USB

(Credit: Pioneer)

Pioneer joins the all too short list of car audio manufacturers to support media playback and browsing on Android phones with the announcement and launch of its 2014 lineup of CD receivers: the DEH-X6600BS, DEH-X6600BT, DEH-X5600HD, DEH-X4600BT, DEH-X3600S, DEH-X3600UI, DEH-X2600UI and FH-X500UI.

All eight models in the new 2014 lineup of Pioneer single-DIN DEH recievers (and the double-DIN FX-X500UI) are able to browse media stored on a USB-connected Android phone with the aid of the media transfer protocol (MTP), which has been adopted by the Android operating system as of version 4.0 to handle all file transfers. (Older Androids made use of the same mass storage protocol that USB drives do.) Once connected, the receivers will be able to browse and playback digital audio files stored locally.

Related stories:

If the system works like I expect it will, users may end up having to browse the sometimes confusingly organized Android … [Read more]


Car Tech: An automotive blog from CNET

Google, supplier Continental near self-driving car deal: report

Continental CEO Elmar Degenhart and CFO Wolfgang Schäfer hold a red license plate that gives them permission to test autonomous vehicles in Nevada.

(Credit: Continental)

Continental, a German automotive supplier, is hammering out partnership agreements with Google and IBM for self-driving cars, according to a report in the Frankfurter Allgemeine on Thursday.

Google is a pioneer in autonomous vehicles, but Continental is headed the same direction, for example through a partnership announced earlier this year with BMW. Although consumers probably know the company best for making tires, it also is a major supplier that makes everything from disk brakes to lithium-ion batteries.

Acquisitions have broadened Continental’s business. In 2006, it acquired Motorola’s automotive electronics business, for example. In 2012, it reported net income of $ 2.5 billion on revenue of $ 43.7 billion.

Partnerships with Google and IBM could be announced at the Frankfurt auto show in September, the newspaper said. The partnerships would involve shared investments up front and then shared revenue from the business later.

Because Continental has existing relationships with automakers as well as … [Read more]


Car Tech: An automotive blog from CNET

You can now unlock your GM car with your Windows Phone

OnStar RemoteLink app.

(Credit: General Motors)

If you lock yourself out of your General Motors car, but have a Windows Phone in your pocket, good news: You can now use your phone to get back in your vehicle.

Related stories:

Tuesday General Motors and Microsoft launched the OnStar RemoteLink app for Windows Phone, three years after the app launched with the Chevy Volt in 2010. The app is also available for iOS, Android, and Blackberry.

RemoteLink lets you unlock and lock your doors, remotely start your vehicle, and turn off and on your horn and lights, all from … [Read more]


Car Tech: An automotive blog from CNET