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2001 Chicago Show, Part III


2002 Subaru Impreza Outback Sport

2002 Subaru Impreza Outback Sport


Sponsors of TCC's 2001
Chicago Auto Show coverage

2002 Subaru Impreza Outback Sport

2002 Subaru Impreza Outback Sport

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OUTBACK SURVIVOR. Subaru’s Impreza soldiered through its first generation in relative anonymity, but the Japanese company isn’t letting that happen with the newest Impreza, announced at Chicago. While the 227-hp WRX model leads the charge, the standard Impreza 2.5 RS sedan and 2.5 TS wagon both sport a 165-hp flat four and all-wheel drive. The newest Sube also gets 16-inch wheels, a CD player, a base price of between $17,495 (for the wagon) and $18,995 (the four-door), and a new Outback Sport model based on the same running gear. 

2003 Mercury Marauder

2003 Mercury Marauder

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AND THEN THERE’S MARAUDER . We’ll forgive you if you’ve not kept up with the few changes made to Mercury’s Grand Marquis over the years. But this time around, all excuses are off. The newest Grand Marquis variant is the Marauder, a 300-plus horsepower version of the formerly fogey four-door. With a double-overhead cam version of the current 4.6-liter V-8, a four-speed automatic coupled to a 3.55:1 gearset, 18-inch wheels and a performance suspension, the Marauder is like no Marquis before it. You’ll have to wait until the summer of 2002 to sample it, however, and there’s no word on price as of yet. 

Robert Gillette Garrett president

Robert Gillette Garrett president

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GARRETT'S ON DEMAND. Turbochargers are great when you want more power out of a small engine, but they carry a price. On the typical car, it takes three seconds or more before the turbo can “spool” up, or deliver maximum power. That’s because turbochargers are driven by an engine’s exhaust gases, and pressure builds up only when the engine reaches relatively high revs. But that’s not a problem with the new Air-on-Demand system under development by Garrett Engine Boosting Systems. AoD uses an electric motor to provide immediate boost when a driver stomps on the accelerator. The motor cuts out when the engine reaches a high-enough speed to take over. “We could see this become a mainstay for our business,” suggested Robert Gillette, president of the world’s leading supplier of turbo systems. Turbochargers are now installed on 15 million vehicles a year, though they’re not all that popular in the U.S., land of the big displacement engine. But Gillette believes AD could change that when it debuts in 2003 on an as-yet unspecified vehicle. Saab is one of Garrett’s top customers, though the automaker isn’t saying if—or when it will adopt Air-on-Demand.  

THE SPICE OF LIFE. Porsche officials have made no secret of their plans to develop a sports car/sport-ute hybrid. But they’re finally beginning to disclose some hard details on the Cayenne, which will hit the road in 2003. Though Porsche and Volkswagen will share production at a new plant in Leipzig, Germany, each will get a distinctly different vehicle. The Porsche Cayenne will be positioned both above and below the 911, Porsche Cars North America President Fred Schwab revealed. That translates into three separate models, and three different powertrains: a V-6, a V-8 and a twin-turbo V-8. The hybrid will boast front and rear locking differentials, as well as an electronically-controlled height adjustment system. “Our intention is to have a vehicle that’s best-in-class in on-road performance, and more than competent off-road,” Schwab said. Porsche expects to build 25,000 Cayennes a year, with 60 percent earmarked for the U.S. Meanwhile, Schwab hinted a fourth product line could be in Porsche’s future, though no firm plans are yet in place. 

2001 Mazda Premacy concept

2001 Mazda Premacy concept

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READY FOR PRIME TIME? The Mazda Premacy has proved a strong contender in both Japan and Europe, but so far hasn’t made it to American shores, but that may soon change, according to Charlie Hughes, head of the automaker’s U.S. operations. It’s not easy to classify the Premacy, though it falls somewhere between a tall wagon and a hatchback. Based off the same platform as the Mazda Protégé, the 130-horsepower Premacy has a 2.3-inch longer wheelbase but measures 5.6 inches shorter overall. But the high roofline translates into plenty of cargo space and roomy, theater-style seating. The prototype shown at the Chicago Auto Show featured an array of high-tech hardware, including a navigation system and a minidisk player. Mazda plans to poll auto show attendees, and “if we get the reaction we think we will,” Hughes acknowledged, “it could come to market relatively quickly.” Look for a base price of “under $20,000.” In keeping with tradition, Mazda also used Chicago as the backdrop for introducing the latest Miata Special Edition, a 2002 model in British racing green, with a tan cloth top. Only 3000 will be imported.

For more on the Chicago show, click here.

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