Hyundai, Porsche double category winners of AJAC Car of Year Canada awards

2015 Hyundai Genesis sedan
The Hyundai Genesis sedan was one of the AJAC Canadian Car of the Year category winners announced yesterday. Photos by Benjamin Yong.

Hyundai and Porsche were among the brands that came up big yesterday, with double wins each, when the Automobile Journalists Association of Canada (AJAC) announced their “Best New” category winners for the 2015 Canadian Car of the Year (CCOTY) awards.

The 2015 Hyundai Sonata took best family car over $30,000 and the Genesis sedan the best luxury car over $50,000, and on the Porsche side the 911 Turbo S won the prestige/performance over $75,000 category with the Macan S receiving the nod for the SUV/CUV over $60,000.

“The Sonata is one smooth sedan, doing all the things it needs to do right. Good power, even from the base 2.4 litre, smooth transmission, quiet and comfortable with plenty of space inside and the trunk. The new interior looks sharp, stereo and controls are easy to use and the seats are comfortable. Much wow for such an unassuming everyday segment,” said one of the journalists that evaluated the car at TestFest. This year, 49 new vehicle models were tested across 15 categories.

Other notable mentions include the Honda Fit (small car under $21,000), the Volkswagen Golf (small car over $21,000), the BMW M235i (sports/performance under $50,000) and the Toyota Highlander (SUV/CUV between $35,000 and $60,000).

The overall 2015 AJAC Canadian Car of the Year and Truck of the Year recipients will be announced at the Canadian International Auto Show in Toronto in February.

More details about some of the winners (as tested):

2015 Hyundai Sonata

Engine: 2.4 L four cylinder
Horsepower: 185
Torque (lb-ft): 178
Transmission: six-speed automatic
Fuel consumption (city/highway L/100 km): 9.8/6.7

2015 Hyundai Genesis

Engine: 3.8 L V6
Horsepower: 311
Torque (lb-ft): 293
Transmission: eight-speed automatic
Fuel consumption (city/highway L/100 km): 14.4/9.4

2015 Volkswagen Golf

Engine: 1.8 L four cylinder
Horsepower: 180
Torque (lb-ft): 185
Transmission: six-speed automatic
Fuel consumption: 9.3/6.5

2015 Porsche 911 Turbo S

Engine: 3.8 L V6
Horsepower: 560
Torque (lb-ft): 553
Transmission: PDK seven-speed automatic
Fuel consumption: 13.7/9.6

2015 Porsche Macan S

Engine: 3.0 L V6
Horsepower: 340
Torque (lb-ft): 339
Transmission: PDK seven-speed automatic
Fuel consumption: 13.7/10.3

2015 Honda Fit

2015 Honda Fit

Engine: 1.5 L four cylinder
Horsepower: 130
Torque (lb-ft): 114
Transmission: CVT
Fuel consumption: 7.3/6.1

2015 BMW M235i

Engine: 3.0 L six cylinder turbo
Horsepower: 320
Torque (lb-ft): 332
Transmission: six-speed manual
Fuel consumption: 11.9/8.5

Cars from SEMA part three

SEMA Show 2016 Global MX-5 Cup car
The car to be used in the Mazda 2016 Global MX-5 Cup racing series, above, was revealed at the Las Vegas SEMA Show. Photos by Zak Tang.

To kick off the Las Vegas SEMA Show earlier this month, an automotive trade show that brings together aftermarket parts industry representatives from all over the world, an awards ceremony was held to crown the industry’s hottest vehicles.

Accepting the title of Hottest Sport Compact was the new Honda Fit, the small four-door hatchback recently entering its third generation. The company brought out nine personalized versions of the subcompact — six were built by tuners for the 2015 Fit Performance Project and documented on the social networking website Tumblr.

Sema Show Spoon Sports USA 2015 Honda Fit

Honda performance specialist Spoon Sports USA created the Super Taikyu (Endurance) Fit, unmistakable due to the heavily featured signature blue and yellow paint scheme. Not surprisingly, most of the new parts “fitted” on the car are made by Spoon, including a titanium exhaust, brake rotors, calipers, pads and lines, suspension, aero mirrors and sunroof delete. The body aero, though, is made by Honda, and the wheels are 15×7 CE28 Club Racers by Volk Racing.

SEMA Show Bisimoto 2015 Hyundai Sonata

Hyundai collaborated with Bisimoto Engineering for the third consecutive time to build something that not only looks good, but more importantly, goes fast to show at SEMA. This year, it’s a 700-plus horsepower sedan. Using the 2015 Sonata as a canvas, the original 2.4-litre engine has been massaged with forged pistons, a high-revving valve train, high-boost turbocharger and more. The exterior features a custom laminated body wrap, body kit, 18-inch wheels and a Burns stainless steel exhaust system.

SEMA Show Bisimoto 2015 Hyundai Sonata engine

Roadster enthusiasts the world over held their collective breath when the redesigned 2016 Mazda MX-5 was revealed in September. After having the question ‘What will it look like?” answered, the next most popular query was “Where will it race?” At a global announcement during SEMA, Mazda responded with the announcement of a new 2016 Global MX-5 Cup racing series to take place in North America, Europe and Asia.

SEMA Show Mazda 2016 Global MX-5 Cup

Although Mazda provided no information on specs or equipment other than confirming a 2.0 L SKYACTIV-G four-cylinder engine will be used, they did have a cup car on display. Enjoy the pictures.

SEMA Show Mazda 2016 Global MX-5 Cup

SEMA Show Mazda 2016 Global MX-5 Cup

SEMA Show Mazda 2016 Global MX-5 Cup

Hyundai Fun Day 2014 lives up to name

Hyundai Fun Day 2014 at Canadian Tire Motorsport Park in Bowmanville, ON. Photos by Benjamin Yong.


Not only does Hyundai Fun Day rhyme, but the automotive outing taking place at Ontario’s Canadian Tire Motorsport Park (CTMP) lives up to its name by being an entertaining — and educational, I might add — annual event.

Hosted by the Seoul, Korea-based manufacturer, a handful of journalists and writers gathered at the racetrack for a few hours of light-hearted vehicle testing.

“It’s an opportunity to catch up on all of the product news Hyundai has brought, or will shortly bring, to market,” says public relations manager Chad Heard in a press release.

The day started off bright and early with a breakfast at hotel in North York before making the trek to CTMP in Bowmanville. Guests travelled to the venue in their choice of two vehicles that were heavily featured during the event — the all-new seventh-generation 2015 Sonata and the redesigned Mark II Genesis sedan.

The Sonata is Hyundai’s signature “intermediate” sedan, and is the brand’s first mainstream model to embody its “Fluidic Sculpture 2.0” design that is an aesthetic quality that makes the vehicle appear as though it’s always in motion.

The redesign has much bolder and more aggressive styling embodied by a big hexagonal grille, angular headlight housings that blend in with the top of the front fender line, and bright LED daytime running lights. At the back, the 2.0T trim has gorgeous quad exhaust outlets. A flat-bottomed steering and orange stitching inside give a sporty feel.

Two engine choices are available: a 2.4-litre naturally-aspirated four-cylinder with 185 horsepower and 178 lb-ft of torque, and the aforementioned two-litre turbo with 245 hp and 260 lb-ft of torque.

Patrick Danielson, Hyundai product planner, says the Genesis is “a statement of what Hyundai can do.” If that’s the case, the company is doing quite a lot. The four-door is a premium luxury sedan with a very European look – just look at the oversized chrome grill that extends far into the front bumper, HIDs, LED light strip, long wheelbase and wide stance.

The previously offered V6 and V8 engines have been revised to now develop 311 hp/293 lb-ft of torque and 420 hp/383 lb-ft, respectively, with updated technologies like a three-stage Variable Induction System and a freer-flowing exhaust manifold.

Other enhancements include a stiffer chassis, a full under-body cover making the Genesis more aerodynamic and quiet, and a suspension system with increased travel for a more comfortable ride. All trims receive the new HTRAC all-wheel drive that can split torque depending on road conditions or driver-selected settings such as Normal, Sport and Snow modes.

Aside from the pair of star cars, Hyundai had on hand a full complement of their other offerings. Following my drive in a Sonata to the motorsport park, I started the day off with taking the Santa Fe and Tucson crossovers on a short but muddy offoroad track. I then hopped in a quirky-looking, but very fun, turbocharged Veloster hatchback onto an autocross course where I placed 11th overall with a self-proclaimed respectable time of 34.3 seconds (first place was 32 seconds).

I ended my portion of performance activities with a few adrenaline-pumping laps around the track in a R-Spec Genesis Coupe that, on top of the 348-hp V6, has a firmer suspension, Brembo brakes and a factory-option tuned exhaust that sounded simply mean.

To learn more about Hyundai models, visit

How high tech ventilated seats increase fuel efficiency and reduce pollution

A recent study by the U.S. Department of Energy has found that ventilated seats can help to increase fuel efficiency.

How the technology works

Seat ventilation is a feature that is offered in many luxury cars today. Advertised under a variety of names such as “climate comfort”, “ventilated”, or “air conditioned” seats, depending on the manufacturer, this feature has now also started trickling down to many non-luxury brand vehicles.

Non-luxury models including the Hyundai Sonata, Hyundai Santa Fe, Toyota Avalon, Toyota Sequoia, Toyota Tundra, Nissan Pathfinder, Honda Odyssey all offer this feature.

The system works by using a clever combination of perforated leather seating surfaces and small fans integrated into the seats. Some systems also incorporate a micro cooling element, much like an air conditioner.

While the number of fans and the exact system design varies depending on the auto manufacturer, all of them work on the same principle. They draw in air from the cooler, lower area of the passenger compartment and transfer it uniformly to the seat cushion and back rest.

These fans create air flow, at adjustable intensities, through the fine perforations in the leather. This quickly cools the surfaces of the seats to a pleasant temperature, even if the vehicle has been heated by an intense amount of sunlight for a long period of time. The finely perforated leather upholstery absorbs perspiration to create a pleasant microclimate all-round – in effect, the seats ´breathe.´

A standard car seat blocks your body’s built-in cooling system. Ordinarily you eject heat through your pores in the form of water vapour, which carries the heat invisibly into the air.

Having a seat pressing against your back and bottom prevents this water vapour from escaping, causing it to condense into sticky sweat. It’s like wearing a jacket in hot weather.

But the gently circulating air of a ventilated seat carries away your body heat and helps to keep you cooler and your clothes drier during warmer months.

On some vehicles, the heated and ventilated functions can even be used simultaneously, circulating the seat heating more quickly. This is an added benefit on cold or damp days as the dual function helps to dry off clothes or keep you warm and dry as quickly as possible.

How does this help to reduce fuel consumption?

By employing thermal comfort measuring tools and subjective tests, the U.S. Department of Energy’s researchers were able to measure occupants’ thermal sensation with ventilated seats.

Their tests concluded that because the ventilated seats keep vehicle occupants cooler, they consequently reduce the use of the vehicle’s air conditioning system to achieve the desired level of comfort.

So by confining the cooled air directly to the spot where the hot driver (or passenger) is sitting, air-conditioned seats use energy more efficiently than the air conditioners that cool the entire interior of the car. They don’t completely eliminate fuel use and pollution, but they minimize it.

“If all passenger vehicles had ventilated seats, we estimate there could be a 7.5% reduction in national air conditioning fuel use,” says John Rugh, project leader for NREL’s vehicle ancillary loads reduction project.

Such a reduction would translate to about 522 million gallons (1.97 billion L) of fuel saved annually in the USA alone, he says.

So while it’s not quite as nice as jumping into a swimming pool on a hot day, this latest technology not only helps to keep you cool but your cash in your wallet too. Look for it on the next vehicle you test drive!