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Automotive journalists have been hearing a consistent message from Korean automakers Hyundai and Kia: their attributes top the competition. Over the last few years, they have claimed superiority for most of their products in nearly every measure that matters, from power and torque to interior and cargo capacity to, most importantly, fuel economy.

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Behind the Scenes at Toyota's R&D Center – Click above for high-res image gallery

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Click above for high-res gallery of GM's new powertrain facility

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On Friday GM officially kicked off use of its new Powertrain Engineering Development Center in Pontiac MI. The new $463 million facility includes 120 dynamometer test cells for exercising all manner of new drivetrains. Among those cells 20 are specifically dedicated to testing motors for electric and hybrid drive systems. Others are split among fueled and non-fueled cells for testing gas, diesel, and flex-fuel engines and transmissions respectively. A new quick connect pallet system allows techn

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There are plenty of dynamometers in the world which are capable of helping tuners get the most from their engines. There aren't very many that allow the same type of tuning for hybrids, though. Hybrid drivetrains can be very complex pieces, featuring both the internal combustion engine of a normal passenger car and the motor, controller and batteries of an electric vehicle. To get the most out of each independent system, testing is becoming increasingly important.

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Lexus is billing the IS-F as "Everything you thought we weren't," and the potential is certainly there. The engine bay is filled with 5 liters of 4-valve V8 putting out 416 horsepower and 371 pound-feet of torque. The Minilite-esque wheels hide a Brembo braking system with six piston front calipers and cross-drilled rotors 14.2 inches in diameter. The sill extensions wrap up the front fenders to form a styling detail reminiscent of extractor vents, and the rest of the body has been tweaked in th

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