• Nov 13th 2008 at 4:59PM
  • 18
What are the best innovations that the global automotive industry debuted in 2008? Popular Science has just picked its favorites and revealed the Best of What's New awards for the year that just was; um, is. The grand prize goes to the Nissan GT-R for its technical brilliance, astonishing performance and relatively attractive pricing. No real complaints there, though we'd be remiss if we didn't at least mention that the new Corvette ZR1 in the same breathe, which PopSci fails to do.

Green technology holds down three of the 11 positions, with two coming from Ford for its capless fuel fillers and EcoBoost engine tech, though the latter won't arrive until 2009 and Ford can't be credited with pioneering the combination of turbocharging and direct-injection on small displacement engines. Honda takes up a slot with its largely unobtainable hydrogen fuel cell-powered FCX Clarity. Also winning awards from the techy Mag are BMW's Google Maps-infused MyInfo service and the speed recognition system from the Euro-spec 7 Series, the DARPA-winning Tartan Racing Boss, Audi's Dynamic Steering, the Wide-View cameras from Lexus, Infiniti's self-healing clearcoat and the Speedshift transmission from Merdedes-Benz. Click the source link to read about each honoree, and let us know in the comments if you think PopSci missed an automotive tech marvel from 2008.

[Source: Popular Science]

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    • 1 Second Ago
      • 6 Years Ago
      Kudos to Nissan for the award. I totally agree with the decision. To be fair, the ZR-1 is quite a monster, but tech wise, the GTR has it beat.
      • 6 Years Ago
      the ZR-1 is brute force...not a whole lot of technology there. Put a supercharger on a big engine and you get a fast car. GT-R is quite the opposite.
        • 6 Years Ago
        And by the way...a supercharger is just a crank driven centrifugal compressor as opposed to two (does increased quantity equal increased technology?) exhaust-driven centrifugal superchargers.

        Tokyo-by-night dashboards don't impress me much.
        • 6 Years Ago
        A good big man beats a good small man every time.

        • 6 Years Ago
        Most of the GT-R's tech isn't in it's engine, it's in it's AWD system & transmission.

        AWD ok but transmission? obviously not.

        • 6 Years Ago
        Most of the GT-R's tech isn't in it's engine, it's in it's AWD system & transmission.
        • 6 Years Ago
        The GT-R is a miracle of modern engineering, but anyone who thinks the ZR1 is low tech doesn't know what they're talking about.

        The GT-R's AWD system defies the bulk of the car in the same way the 911's handling defies the laws of physics defined by it's rear engine mass. I wouldn't doubt it's one of the most advanced AWD systems in the world. The dual clutch trans allows the Nissan to shave precious seconds off shifting times while allowing the driver to focus on the road and the turbos to stay spooled up. Infiniti makes the amazing VVEL technology, however the GT-R is not equipped with it. Still, the on board display with much reconfiguration and performance monitoring abilities is nothing to sneeze at.

        The Corvette is impressive for different reasons. A dedicated aluminum hydroformed-rail chassis (Z06 & ZR1) with carbon fiber, fiberglass, and composite body panels. Even the base Corvette isn't a typical unibody like most cars, but a separate chassis--like race cars, and a few very exotic road cars. The floor is made of balsa wood sandwiched between inner and outer body. Say what you want of balsa wood, but it's lighter, better insulating, and due to it's specific cell structure, stronger than any man-made alternative filler.

        Speaking of the body, the exposed carbon fiber will not yellow with age like every other exotic machine similarly skinned. This is possible because the clearcoat is blended with a proprietary UV blocker developed just for the ZR1.

        The transverse, composite leaf springs are often misunderstood as sharing something with what one might find under a truck or historic car. They are unique in the same way that the RX-7's Wankel is the sole bearer of a technological torch. The springs are lighter, more low profile, and capable being both better handling than most sportscars AND better riding than many luxury ones.

        On top of that, the magneto-rheological fluid shock absorbers are nothing short of miraculous. They adapt to changing road conditions 1000 times per second. That's faster than any other adjustable suspension on any car! While the GT-R is kidney-thumping stiff in any mode of suspension setting, the ZR1 actually rides softer than the Z06. Truly the best of both worlds, and it shows at the Nurburgring. These shocks are so good, they've been adapted for use by Ferrari and Audi since debuting on the Vette.

        Speaking of suspension, both the GT-R and ZR1 have stability systems, yet Corvette's was not only one of the first, but also one of the best. It has more enthusiast-friendly settings, and is easier to switch on-the-fly. Both systems are very good.

        The ZR1 also features carbon ceramic brake rotors that are so large, they match those used on the front of the Ferrari Enzo--at the ZR1's rear! In testing, they showed to have none of the low speed drawbacks often associated with carbon-ceramic setups.

        And then there's that mighty engine. It may lack dual overhead cams, variable valve timing, and all that other stuff they print on decals and valve covers, but it sure doesn't seem to notice. 638 horsepower and 604 lb. ft. of torque from one of the most externally compact, lightest V8s out there. That's a scant 13 hp less than the mighty Enzo V12, which it trumps by an amazing 120 lb. ft. of torque! Now the Enzo gets a rather meager 8cty/12hwy MPG, so it should not be taken lightly when the ZR1 nearly doubles those numbers to 14/20 MPG--only 1-2 MPG behind the much less powerful GT-R's 16/21. And unlike the Ferrari, the Chevy will run for several 100K mi before needing serious maintenance, and without breaking down, spoiling the fun, or leaving you stranded on the way. The GT-R is also much more reliable than the Enzo, but the shifter issue shows they have a way to go to handle that power.

        The GT-R is a game changing car, and for that it deserves all the praise levied upon it, but if you cannot see the innovation and technology in a Corvette, you simply aren't looking. And quite frankly, if you aren't looking, you shouldn't be driving.
        • 6 Years Ago
        The ZR1 might be a very fast and even an awesome sports/supersports car, but it really doesn't push the tech envelope enough to justify being the best of tech.

        The GT-R's ATTESA-ETS AWD system is probably the most advanced AWD system out there, so it's definitely pushing the envelope. And yes, the transmission is going to suffer because any car that has a transmission dealing with that much torque being sent to 4 wheels is going to have transmission problems if you actually drive it hard, because there's literally twice as much strain on transmissions trying to drive four wheels instead of two. Cars like the WRX STi have transmission problems too because dumbasses think they can drive it like a RWD or FWD car and not blow their transmission. Just google WRX STi transmission and see the countless complaints, because people don't really treat their transmission nearly gently enough for AWD.

        Just look here:
        Even car and driver's long term test unit had to have it's transmission replaced, and they linked to this thread filled with the same complaint:

        The truth is that most of these problems are caused by people driving their high powered AWD cars as if they're 2WD vehicles-you CANNOT drive it like you stole it if you want your transmission to last, and while it's depressing that Nissan didn't cover the GT-R transmissions under warranty it's also friggin' idiotic to think you can run launch control over and over and dump 500lb/ft of torque into an AWD transmission and NOT have problems. Anybody who knows anything about AWD should know well enough to drive it gently and save the launches for special occasions.

        Chances are if you took a Porsche 911 Turbo (the AWD one) and dumped the clutch at full power all the time you'd end up trashing the transmission too. I don't know what Porsche's warranty policy is, but I'm sure if you kept doing dumb crap to your porsche you'd end up paying for plenty of transmissions. Except most Porsche 911 Turbo owners don't drive around dumping the clutch all the time, unlike that racer-boy GT-R owner, or most WRX STi owners. Simple as that.

        There's nothing inherently wrong with the GT-R transmission-anybody expecting to be able to dump that much power into the transmission from a standstill repeatedly and NOT run into problems is delusional. If Nissan had wanted to make the transmission capable of regularly dealing with that much power at launch the transmission would have ended up weighing a ton.
      • 6 Years Ago
      Wow..thats the most bulls**t list I have ever seen. Most of that tech has been around for years. Mercedes Speedshift is just a DSG! Audi steering thing was around in BMW's for years and other cars too.
      • 6 Years Ago
      It would be funny if the folks at Popular Mechanics give a similar award to another car.
      • 6 Years Ago
      I think that has got to be the best angle of the GTR I have EVER seen. It really looks like the R33 (not sure if it's the 33 or 34 I'm thinking about) from that angle!
      • 6 Years Ago
      • 6 Years Ago
      I don't think a tech mag is where i'd go to for car awards. I bet they would laugh at an E30 M3 since it doesn't drive itself.
      • 6 Years Ago
      Some people don't even know the GT-R had 2 round taillights way before the best of Chevy's Colbalt
      ran down its father's leg.
      • 6 Years Ago
      If im not mistaken, the Buggati Veyron won it last year right? Or was it the year before that?
      • 6 Years Ago
      TigerMil: It's not the size of the man in the fight, it's the size of the fight in the man
      • 6 Years Ago
      I think these people at Popular Science have more nuts in their head than Collins Street Bakery, what a bunch of gobble-de-goop.
      • 6 Years Ago
      Holy crap! The Cobalt made the cover!
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