The 2015 Dodge Challenger SRT Hellcat uses a supercharger to...

The 2015 Dodge Challenger SRT Hellcat uses a supercharger to force-feed air into a 6.2-liter V-8 engine for an estimated 600-plus horsepower. Credit: Dodge

Is there a winner in this horsepower war?
With an official rating of 707 horsepower, the Dodge Challenger Hellcat will not only be the most powerful of all the Pony cars - the Ford Mustang and Chevrolet Camaro - but it will have the most powerful production V8 engine ever built. It's great bragging rights and that's key when it comes to American muscle, but the real question is what are you going to do with all that grunt? Since the full use such power is limited to the race track, The Sleuth wonders if there's any point in continuing the horsepower war that exists between Ford, Chevrolet and Dodge. And if it continues, where's the ceiling? The way things are going, one would have to expect that 1,000 horsepower isn't far off, but at some point someone has to consider the ability of regular folk to handle such beasts on the street. Most interesting, though, is that a 707-horse Hellcat is emissions legal in this day and age. That's a feat in and of itself.

Coming soon, a Chinese Swede:
The Sleuth has discovered that Volvo, which is controlled by Geely of China, has plans to export vehicles to North America as well as various European markets beginning in 2015. The exact arrival date has yet to be determined, however the first model to be shipped here will be the Volvo S60L, essentially a long-wheelbase version of the current S60 sedan. Beyond that time, there are possible plans to introduce Chinese-made, compact-sized Volvos to Europe and possibly North America as well. As The Spymaster sees it, Volvo's task will be to convince loyal Volvo buyers that the build quality of their favorite vehicles originating from China is at least equal to the ones originating from the factory in Goteborg, Sweden.

Smaller Porsches with smaller engines are just around the corner:
Many of us, The Spy Guy included, long to become Porsche owners, only our limited financials put the brakes on such dreams. However, relief could be soon at hand. Word had leaked out that the Stuttgart, Germany, automaker plans to introduce a new roadster that's less expensive than the current price-leading Boxster. This no-frills mid-engine model, code-named 718 (but will likely adopt that handle for production), will arrive in about two years and have a smallish 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine that makes 282 horsepower and 295 pound-feet of torque. Porsche also plans to keep prices low by installing a non-power-folding soft top with a plastic rear window and by seriously de-contenting the standard-equipment list (air conditioning, power seats and other amenities would be optional).

Two-cylinder Volkswagens could be possible:
The Sleuth never saw this one coming. Apparently Volkswagen will be introducing a new 1.4-liter four-cylinder engine for the European market with cylinder deactivation. As with larger V6 and V8 engines that currently employ this gasoline-saving system, half of the cylinders would shut down when not needed, such as when cruising at a steady speed and with a light touch on the gas pedal. Combined with stop/start technology that shuts off the engine for short periods at stoplights or in stop-and-go traffic, the reduction in fuel consumption is expected to be significant. With high fuel prices in Europe, cylinder deactivation definitely makes sense, but apparently VW isn't ruling out introducing it on larger four-cylinder engines that are installed in its North American vehicles.

The 2015 Ford Mustang will hold more than gloves in the glovebox:
Although the official arrival of the upcoming Mustang occurred some time ago, the versions set for mass production are weeks away and are still full of surprises. For example, Your Obedient Sneakster has discovered that one of the 'Stang's eight airbags will be located in the glove compartment. Actually not inside the glove box, but inside the glove-box door itself. The brilliant minds at Ford have found a way to store the passenger knee inflatable inside a smaller than normal bladder, which is then positioned between the inside and outside the door's plastic panels. When activated, both the panel and the airbag extend to protect the rider's lower extremities. On the surface this sounds like a great idea, but presumably only if the glove box door is in a closed position when a crash occurs.

Market indicators

Down: Honda Civic Type R availability in North America: By the spring of 2015, Honda plans on offering a performance-laden Honda Civic Type R for customers in Europe and Asia that will feature a 280-horsepower 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine. Unfortunately, any hopes that the super Civic might make in to North America have been quashed by Honda's execs that have made it clear that there's no chance that the car will ever be sold here.

Up: The value of the late Steve McQueen's toys: Any vehicle that the actor owned or was associated with sells for plenty of cash these days. His 1970 Porsche 911 that was featured in the "Le Mans" racing movie sold for nearly $1.5 million and the Ford GT40 that performed as a camera car in the film went for a cool $11 million. Now the Porsche 917 racecar that McQueen drove in the movie will be auctioned off later this year. One estimate places the selling price at more than $15 million.

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