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Subaru’s EyeSight tops safety system ratings

Subaru Legacy with Eyesight.

Michael Bettencourt/The Globe and Mail

The U.S. insurance industry has lauded Subaru's EyeSight system as the most effective amongst 74 moderately priced and mid-sized luxury vehicles it recently tested. In a new series of tests to determine how effectively various forward collision and autobrake systems actually are, the Insurance Institute of Highway Safety rates the effectiveness of such systems on three descending levels of protection: superior, advanced and basic.

The tests determine how well vehicles prevent or mitigate running into car-shaped soft barriers up ahead, using tests run at 12 mph (19 km/h) and 25 mph (40 km/h). Vehicles rated superior have autobrake and can avoid a crash or substantially reduce speeds in both tests. For an advanced rating, a vehicle must have autobrake and avoid a crash or reduce speeds by at least five mph (eight km/h) in one of two tests. For the basic rating, a vehicle doesn't need the autobrake function, just a sufficient warning that comes before a specified time, as defined by the NHTSA.

Seven vehicles out of the first 74 tested achieved a Superior rating, with the Subaru Legacy and Outback crossover joining two vehicles each from Cadillac (ATS sport sedan and SRX crossover) and Volvo (S60 sedan and XC60 SUV), as well as the Mercedes-Benz C-Class. The Subaru's system avoided any collisions at either speed, while the next-best-rated Cadillac system allowed only light contact in the 40 km/h test. Such forward collision alert and autobrake systems are often optional on such vehicles, said the IIHS, but have been proven to help avoid front impact crashes.

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"Front crash prevention systems can add a thousand dollars or more to the cost of a new car," said David Zuby, IIHS chief research officer, in releasing the results. "Our new ratings let consumers know which systems offer the most promise for the extra expense."

The agency will incorporate these results for a vehicle to be eligible for its 2014 Top Safety Pick+ awards, which will require at least a basic forward collision warning rating. Its upgraded 2014 awards are planned for release in December.

Future Porsche details leaked

At least one Porsche dealer is likely in hot water over the early release of photos and information from a Porsche dealer meeting that somehow made its way to automotive gossip site It reports some new engine details on the Macan SUV, new GTS version of the two-seat Boxster and Cayman hardtop, and spills some beans on the sliding-roof Targa models.

The Macan will share a platform with the Audi Q5, and will offer two turbocharged V-6 engines: a 3.0-litre in the Macan S, and a 3.6-litre in the Macan Turbo. No power figures were released, but U.S. pricing will start at about $52,000 (U.S.), the Macan Turbo closer to $75,000.

Meanwhile, perhaps the most intriguing news is that of slightly more powerful GTS versions of Porsche's Boxster convertible and Cayman coupe, the GTS treatment appearing previously on the 911 line but never on Porsche's featherweight two-seaters. It will offer a 15-hp bump, though it's not clear whether that is over the current S models of both, or on top of a higher base GTS output, with a manual transmission still standard, and PDK optional, the website reported. The new models are planned for release at the Beijing motor show in April, 2014, the dealer slide indicated.

As for the new 911 Targa, it will come in Targa and S versions, and will offer a near convertible-like open-air experience, thanks to a centre section that will power itself away more completely than prior Targa models, which had basically a huge sunroof that moved back on alignment tracks. The car itself is set for a debut at the Detroit auto show in January.

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BMW to extend plug-in lineup

The plug-in BMW X5 eDrive concept unveiled at September's Frankfurt motor show will be sold in the United States, and eventually the company envisions plug-in versions of all its vehicles, according to a recent report coming out of Australia.

Peter Wolf, BMW's head of production for large vehicles, including the X5, said that BMW would start producing plug-in hybrids with the X5 plug-in, and then spread the technology from there, similar to how it has done the same with hybrid versions of the 3-, 5- and 7-Series, reported major Aussie site

Wolf saw it as the "next step" in its efficient dynamics strategy, with the X5 plug-in aimed primarily at the United States, so whether that vehicle would make it to Canada still seems a question mark: the company has brought in its three low-volume and relatively pricey hybrids, but not its various pure electrics such as the ActiveE or Mini E, though those were more advanced prototypes than production vehicles.

Wolf wouldn't confirm when the plug-in X5 would actually arrive in North American dealers, but it wouldn't be next year, though the program is "very far" along, he said.

The X5 eDrive Concept in Frankfurt boasted astounding Toyota Prius-like fuel efficiency numbers of 3.8 litres/100 km overall (on European test cycles), after taking into account the 30 km or so it could travel strictly on electricity. It uses a four-cylinder turbocharged BMW engine for its main motivation, as well as a large 70-kilowatt (95-hp) electric motor to offer a performance-oriented all-wheel-drive, with a top speed on electrons only of 120 km/h.

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Two Rogue models for U.S., but Canada will only get new version

Nissan's American arm has decided to keep the current Rogue on the market even after the redesigned model arrives by the end of the year, renaming the current model the "Rogue Select" and offering it at a lower price, but Nissan Canada said this week that it will not offer such a model in Canada.

The 2014 Rogue is slated to go on sale here in December, Didier Marsaud, head of Nissan Canada communications, said this week in an e-mail. "Nissan will not be offering the Rogue Select in the Canadian market alongside the all-new MY14 Rogue."

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