Minggu, 30 Maret 2008

Hot News: Lancia's Document Revealed

Look out MINI! Hot on the heels of the Alfa Romeo MiTo (Top story, Issue 1,004) comes another Italian model with the big-selling British supermini firmly in its sights. This official sketch shows exactly what to expect from Lancia’s next-generation Ypsilon.

After a 14-year absence, the luxury Italian brand will hit the comeback trail in the UK next year, with the new Delta family car. And according to official documents uncovered by Auto Express, this stylish MINI rival will be the next addition to the line-up.

As you can see from the picture, the compact hatchback will get a distinctive chrome-trimmed Lancia shield grille flanked by a pair of slanted headlamps. Classy touches could also include Delta-style LED lights and two-tone paintwork.

The distinctive Ypsilon will share its underpinnings with Fiat’s Grande Punto supermini, so buyers can be sure of a spacious interior. However, the Lancia will be upgraded with high-quality cabin trim that’s more in keeping with the firm’s premium image. Customers can also expect a wide choice of interior materials and exterior colours to personalise their car, similar to what’s available on the Fiat 500 and MINI line-ups. Practicality will be a strong point, too, so expect an easy-access boot and split-folding seats to boost load space.

Engines will be shared with other Fiat Group models, so the firm’s 1.4-litre turbocharged petrol unit will feature, as well as the frugal 1.3 and 1.9-litre Multijet diesels.

The current three-door Ypsilon, pictured below, is only available in left-hand drive, but is a common sight in mainland Europe, where it went on sale in 2003. However, every new Lancia will now be produced in right-hand drive, which paves the way for the firm’s return to UK roads.

The brand new supermini is expected to debut at a motor show next year and hit British show­rooms in 2010, 12 months after it goes on sale in Europe.

Spied: 2009 Volkswagen Pick Up

Here’s proof that Volkswagen plans to gatecrash the pick-up party! The German firm is developing its own rival to the Nissan Navaro, Mitsubishi L200 and Isuzu Rodeo.

Our spy photographers caught the flat-bed model during winter testing, and while they couldn’t get close, the picture shows a double-cab version is on the horizon. According to our sources, the all-new 4x4 will be given the Robust badge, which top brass hope will reflect its tough con­struction and practical design.

When it hits UK building sites, it will be the brand’s first proper pick-up. While flat-bed versions of VW’s Caddy van have been sold in the UK before, the newcomer promises gen­uine off-road ability and should be able to carry a much higher payload. The maker is also expected to build traditional single-cab versions, but the four-door model pictured here will go head-to-head with popular models like the Mitsubishi Warrior.

A full-sized SUV spin-off using Robust underpinnings could also be in the pipeline. Such a model would sit between the Tiguan and Touareg in the current line-up, and rival the likes of the Mitsubishi Shogun and Nissan Pathfinder off-roaders.

Sabtu, 29 Maret 2008

New Car: 2008 Mercedes A-Class

This is the new facelifted 2008 A-class, revealed here officially for the first time ahead of a public debut at next week’s Leipzig motor show.

Set for UK sale in June, Merc’s small car receives a host of revisions that are not only claimed to make the three-and-a-half-year-old A-class more economical and cleaner than ever before, but also safer and, through an extended list of optional equipment, more luxurious.

As with the facelifted version of the larger B-class revealed earlier this month, the mid-life styling changes to the second-generation A-class are very subtle. Among the mild visual tweaks are a new-look grille insert, altered headlamp graphics, edgier bumpers, lightly reworked tail lamps and a new range of alloys wheels.

The big news, however, involves Merc’s efforts to bolster the A-class’s environmental credentials. To that end, the German car maker has introduced a standard-fit BlueEfficiency package to the existing A150 and A170, as well as a new 82bhp, 2.0-litre, four-cylinder, common-rail A160 CDI model.

Following on from the C160 Blue Efficiency unveiled at the Geneva motor show, the trio of frugal new A-class models receive a start-stop mechanism that automatically cuts the engine when at standstill, plus a brake regeneration system that re-uses energy created under braking. Other measures include a 10mm lowering in ride height for improved aerodynamic efficiency and low-resistance tyres.

The A160 CDI BlueEfficiency model boasts average fuel consumption of 62.8mpg and a CO2 rating of 119g/km. Mercedes-Benz is claiming average fuel consumption of 48.7mpg and a CO2 rating of 139g/km for the 95bhp, 1.5-litre, four-cylinder A150 BlueEfficiency.

The facelifted A-class’s safety kit has been expanded to include adaptive brake lights that flash during emergency braking, and interior lights that turn on automatically following an accident of a pre-determined severity to provide occupants with better orientation.

Mercedes-Benz has increased the options list, including a new park-assist system that uses ultrasonic sensors to measure spaces and automatically manoeuvre the car into them. There’s also a new Europe-wide navigation system boasting voice-operated control, as well as external MP3 and USB compatibility.

Jumat, 28 Maret 2008

Unofficial Picture: 2010 Chevrolet Camaro

Bye-bye budget cars... Chevrolet is ready to flex its muscles in the performance market. It won’t be unveiled officially until the Detroit Motor Show in 2010, but the stunning new Camaro has already been spied undisguised by our snappers in the US.

The styling has barely changed from that of the Camaro concept which appeared at the 2006 Detroit expo. Angular lines, sharp details and bulging panels provide the Canadian-built model with a truly American look.

Even the shapes of the front and rear lights are daring and distinctive, showing just how Chevy intends to rival the new Dodge Challenger.

In the US, the most popular model in the range is likely to be the flagship V8 variant, but a cheaper V6 Camaro will also be offered.

What’s more, bosses are considering using an efficient four-cylinder power­plant, in anticipation of even higher fuel costs before the end of the decade. The newcomer shares its basic architecture with Vauxhall’s VXR8, so has a rear-wheel-drive transmission. Even though the Camaro will deli­ver Porsche-chasing performance, the firm is promising bargain prices, and the two-door is set to be cheaper than the VXR8. As a result, the V8-powered model will be available for less than £35,000.

The Camaro is expected be available in right-hand drive when it goes on sale in the UK in 2010. It will head a rejuvenated Chevrolet line-up that will leave its Korean roots behind and embrace its US heritage.

Before the Camaro is officially revealed, the General Motors-owned firm will pull the covers off its Lacetti replacement at the Paris Motor Show in September. Codenamed J300, the new compact model – which is based on the same platform as the next-generation Vauxhall Astra – will be available first as a four-door, while a hatchback variant is due to join the range at a later date.

The French event will also see Chevrolet reveal a new MPV concept. This will be the first of many models, as the firm is promising to launch one every 16 weeks until 2012.

Spied: 2010 Rolls-Royce RR4

Disguised prototypes of the all-new 2010 Rolls-Royce, codenamed RR4, have been seen testing near Munich. The car will be an ddition to the Phantom line, and it's somewhat smaller. The RR4 will be launched initially as a sedan, though two-door variants, both fixed- roof and convertible will inevitably follow.

Rolls-Royce's Goodwood plant in southern England will assemble the cars, and it's getting a doubling of capacity to cope. That implies an output of 1000 RR4s per year, only one-eighth of Bentley's output of Continentals. Rolls CEO Ian Robertson confirms this positioning: "It will be significantly more expensive than the Bentley." Pricing is likely to be about $340,000 here in the U.S.

As it's being built in Britain, it can use all the skills there in hand-worked leather, wood, and paint. It'll offer high scope for personalization in trims and issues such as entertainment electronics. Under the skin, "the car will use some BMW DNA and some of ours," Robertson says. "It's Group technology."

Unlike the Phantom, it doesn't have an all-aluminum space-frame body, but has a variant of the next-gen BMW 7 Series steel-and- aluminum underbody, a flexible architecture that also will provide for the larger, lower 2012 BMW CS, a big sedancoupe seen as a concept at the 2007 Shanghai show. A specific Rolls body plant at Dingolfing, Germany will build the RR4 steel bodies as well as the Phantom shells, Robertson confirms.

The RR4 will be larger than the 7 Series and considerably taller and statelier. Photos show a car with an upright nose, more swept back than the Phantom sedan. It has the familiar thick Rolls C-pillar. The wheels are extra large; it's a Rolls-Royce cue that they're half the height of the vehicle.

Expect the car to use a V-8 with direct gas-injection and twin-turbo technology as shown in the BMW X6. Robertson refuses to confirm this, but says the RR4 will be efficient. "Remember, the Phantom is already the lowest-consumption car in its class and we want to repeat that." He points out that Rolls must be open-minded about powertrains in the long-term future. "Last year everyone was talking about hybrids. This year, it's plug-in hybrids and diesel, too. I won't rule anything out, but I won't rule anything in. I believe gasoline has a long way to go, yet."

Kamis, 27 Maret 2008

Hot News: BMW's Mini Car Confirmed

It's official – BMW is working on a top-secret new eco-friendly model which could mark the rebirth of the famous Isetta badge.

Auto Express first broke news of the plans to revive the name on a green city runabout back in Issue 989, and now company chairman Norbert Reit­hofer has revealed further details of the programme.

The initiative, known internally as Project i, includes development of an all-new urban runabout that will com­plement the existing BMW, MINI and Rolls-Royce ranges. Accord­ing to Reithofer, the i stands for innovation, rather than Isetta – although bringing back the brand behind the original microcar would make perfect sense for the German firm’s fourth potential model line-up.

Engineers working on the project are currently evaluating which technologies the Smart ForTwo rival will use, with advanced electric systems and fuel-efficient petrol and diesel powerplants under consideration. “We will look at all these things before we decide whether this might be a sub-brand for BMW or MINI, or whether it is a standalone marque,” said Reithofer.

The firm already has a hybrid version of its new X6 cross­over SUV in the pipeline, while its Efficient Dynamics technologies are available on MINI and BMW road cars. They include a stop-start system to cut CO2 emissions and improve fuel economy, and a clever set-up that harnesses energy generated under braking to recharge the battery. Aerodynamic tweaks to items such as the wheels and wing mirrors also help to minimise drag.

The original Isetta bubble car was a hit in the Fifties and measured only 2.4 metres long. However, while that was a three-wheeler, its modern day successor will get four wheels and a reverse gear – the original version famously did without one. There is no fixed timeframe for the new model, but a design study of the eco machine is expected by 2010.

Rabu, 26 Maret 2008

New Car: 2010 Ford Fiesta RS

Calling all fast Ford fans – get ready for the ultimate Fiesta. Following our sensational pictures of the ST in Issue 994, Auto Express can now give you the best look yet at an even hotter version – the RS.
Taking Fiesta performance to new heights, the exciting model will be a stripped-out, lightweight pocket rocket. It’s effectively a hardcore version of the ST, promising few creature comforts but amazing handling and even more driver appeal.
The newcomer is set to rival forthcoming high-performance superminis such as MINI’s John Cooper Works, along with existing extreme hot hatches including Vaux­hall’s Corsa VXR. But the Fiesta RS will actually be closest in spirit to the Renaultsport Clio 197 Cup – another car that takes a minimalistic route.
As you can see from our exclusive images, the aggressive bodykit adds bulging wheel­arches, lowered side sills and a rear spoiler to the Fiesta’s already sporty lines.
News that a hot Fiesta is on the way will be music to the ears of buyers who had been looking forward to the previous-generation Fiesta RS, previewed at the 2004 Geneva Motor Show as a concept (pictured below right).
That project was canned when Ford bosses couldn’t make it economically viable across Europe. RS sales are always biggest in the UK, whereas take-up in France, Germany and Spain is much smaller. These days, conditions are, if anything, even tougher with high steel prices and a strong Euro making it very difficult to make money on a small car – particularly if it’s a flagship performance hatchback.
However, thanks to Ford’s increased profitability in Europe, hot models are back on the agenda. The Focus RS has already been given the green light for production (see Issue 992) and the Fiesta version is the next step.
Available in limited numbers, the hot Fiesta will have a special-edition feel with a stripped-out cabin featuring racing-style seats, lightweight materials throughout and lots of RS detailing. To keep the weight down, kit will be basic – and that’s great news for performance.
It’s likely to use a slightly uprated version of the ST’s potential 1.6-litre turbocharged engine – inspired by the hi-tech range of small cap-acity direct-injection EcoBoost turbo units revealed by Ford at the Detroit Motor Show earlier this year. With that on board, the RS would develop about 200bhp and sprint from 0-60mph in only six seconds, on its way to a 140mph top speed. With its light weight, CO2 emissions and economy should be kept down.
It’s unlikely, however, that the Fiesta will follow the forthcoming Focus RS’s lead by having a clever front differential. But it could use Ford’s six-speed twin-clutch semi-auto gearbox with steering wheel-mounted paddle­shifters, giving the RS the feel of a Junior World Rally Car. Add wider tracks, stiffened springs, uprated dampers and thicker anti-roll bars plus fat, sticky tyres, and the RS promises to handle brilliantly.
While the new Fiesta will reach dealerships in October and the ST is due in 2009, the RS isn’t likely to arrive until 2010, with a potential price tag of around £17,000.

Hot News: Tata Buys Jaguar and Land Rover

Ford Motor Company has signed a "definitive agreement" to sell Jaguar and Land Rover to Tata Motors for approximately U.S.$2.3 billion in cash. Ford will contribute up to $600 million to Jaguar Land Rover pension plans and will continue to supply the British brands "for differing periods, powertrains, stampings, and other vehicle components, in addition to a variety of technologies, such as environmental and platform technologies."

Ford also will supply Tata's new acquisitions with engineering support, including research and development, plus information technology, accounting and other services. Ford says in its announcement of the sale that it will provide financing for Jaguar and Land Rover dealers and customers during a transitional period of up to 12 months, depending on the market. It will support Jaguar and Land Rover product plans, while supporting the two brands' move toward stand-alone capabilities. It's not a bad deal for Ford, which will makes some money selling components to Tata for Jag/LR. Reports say Ford will use the $2.3 billion to improve quality. That kind of cash could also help Ford develop its next-generation rear-drive platform, whether in the United States or Australia. Ford anticipates no significant changes to Jaguar and Land Rover employees' terms of employment. So far, it looks like no British factories will be closed in favor of production in India. As I've written in the past, you can call this Gandhi's revenge. It's an ironic twist on the British Empire's running of India. There's little doubt Tata Motors, the company that just unveiled its $2500 Nano car for its native India, will do as well or better than Ford in running the two storied and troublesome brands. What's more, it gives Tata credibility in Western markets, as it undoubtedly ponders competing with other emerging automakers, especially those from China. "We have enormous respect for the two brands and will endeavor to preserve and build on their heritage and competitiveness, keeping their identities intact," said Ratan N. Tata, chairman of Tata Sons and Tata Motors.

Spied: 2010 Mercedes SL Black Series

Check out the fastest, most powerful, most exclusive road car Mercedes has ever built – the SL65 AMG Black Series.While official pictures are not yet available, early indications and these amazing spy shots make it obvious that this is one very special supercar.Powered by a tuned evolution of the 6.0-litre turbocharged V12 available in the SL600, the SL65 AMG Black Series produces around 660bhp and 1000Nm of torque. Top Speed is expected to be 200mph - a first for any AMG product - while the 0-60mph sprint is likely to take less than 4.0-seconds.To make the most of this performance, AMG engineers have completely reinvented the SL's chassis, suspension and bodywork to ensure the car offers handling to match it's awesome pace.Fully adjustable suspension, ceramic brakes and a lightweight, race inspired interior are just some of the tantalising features tipped to complete the package - as is bespoke carbon fibre bodywork.As a result the SL65 looks astonishing lapping the famous Nurburgring circuit in Germany. The car is at least eight inches wider than standard, and gets flared wheel arches to cover huge, magnesium alloy wheels. To help cool the engine, there are huge vents cut into the bonnet and front wings, as well as an ultra wide front grille.Perhaps the most radical change, however, is that the car is no longer even a coupé cabriolet. To ensure the chassis is ultra stiff, engineers have added a substantial roll cage, which is now cloaked in a one piece carbon fibre roof. This new roof not only saves weight, but also improves the aerodynamics too, as the lid has been reprofiled and stretches further over the rear of the car than before.To add to the aerodynamic package, the SL also gets a moveable rear wing plus huge venturi tunnels underneath the car which promise to aid stability at speed.Mercedes has yet to announce the cost of the car, yet as the newcomer is likely to exceed the performance of the £300,000 SLR, its also likely to exceed its price.

Selasa, 25 Maret 2008

Hot News: Acura Ready for Europe?

Is this the car that will finally bring Honda’s luxury Acura brand to British shores? According to our sources, the image on the right provides the best insight yet into plans currently under review to do exactly that.
Based on the chassis that underpins Honda’s four-wheel-drive Legend saloon, the model is being described as a replacement for the top-of-the-range Acura RL – a front-wheel-drive machine available in the US market.
Power is from an all-new 4.8-litre V8 engine producing at least 420bhp, and the newcomer will also benefit from a dev­elopment of Honda’s Super-Handling All-Wheel Drive (SH-AWD) transmission, along with a special cylinder deactivation engine management system that cuts fuel use. The hi-tech drivetrain is able to channel power to individual wheels, and works as a highly advanced traction control package. This will provide the new model with tremendous stability on slippery surfaces.
Meanwhile, the engine’s cylinder management set-up uses electronic valve control technology, which can switch off some of the chambers to boost mpg. It means that at cruising speeds, the V8 can run on only four cylinders. But then, under full throttle, the system will reactivate all eight of them, enhancing performance.
Other technology tipped to appear on the RL includes night vision, as well as an evolution of Honda’s Lane Keep Assist set-up, which is already offered in the Legend and Accord.
A self-driving feature should also mean the car will be capable of park­ing itself, while a hybrid version of the Acura has not been ruled out. This would threaten to lure customers from rival Lexus’s petrol-electric LS600h.
After making its first public appearance in the middle of 2010, the new RL is expected to land in American showrooms carrying a price equivalent to around £45,000.
According to sources at Honda, the firm’s domestic market in Japan will be the next target. If the launch there is successful, sales in the UK could follow as early as 2012.

Senin, 24 Maret 2008

  1. Volvo XC60 (38%)
  2. Toyota iQ (23%)
  3. Ford Fiesta (15%)
  4. Honda Accord (15%)
  5. Volkswagen Scirocco (7%)

Minggu, 23 Maret 2008

Spied: 2010 Opel Meriva

The new Vauxhall Meriva has hit the road! Our spies caught the supermini-MPV winter testing. And despite the eye-boggling disguise, it’s clear that the prototype is almost identical to the concept version that starred at the Geneva Motor Show. Engineers have tried hard to cover up the car’s side profile and back end, and focused much of the camouflage on the newcomer’s rear-hinged FlexDoors. Also hidden is the distinctive kink that appears along the window line.Elsewhere, the influence of the car displayed on the stands is clear to see. It shares the same steeply raked front end, short overhangs and upright tail. The high roofline and wheel-at-each-corner stance allow for a spacious interior that will easily seat five adults.Deep under the disguise lies a stretched version of the Corsa platform. The latest supermini is also the source of all the Meriva’s mechanicals, enabling Vauxhall to offer a wide range of engines. These include the smooth and punchy 1.3 and 1.7-litre CDTI diesels, as well as a fire-breathing 189bhp 1.6-litre petrol turbo for the range-topping VXR model. And all variants will be equipped with fuel-saving stop-start technology.The Meriva is scheduled to go on sale in UK showrooms early in 2009.

Spied: 2009 Ford Focus RS

Take a look at the best picture yet of Ford’s Focus RS! Just a few months after bosses gave the new hot hatch the green light (Issue 992), we caught this striking prototype testing in Germany.While the car wears a previous-generation Focus ST bodykit, there’s a big giveaway that it’s no ordinary model – check out the giant scoop on the bonnet, which feeds the modified 2.5-litre five-cylinder turbo engine with cool air. Twin bonnet air vents, harking back to the Escort RS Cosworth, will replace the scoop on the production car. Blistered wheelarches, a rear wing and a low front splitter will also feature. With a larger turbocharger, remapped electronics and a bigger intercooler, the 2.5-litre Focus ST-derived unit will produce around 280bhp, enabling the RS to sprint from 0-60mph in 5.5 seconds and on to a top speed of 155mph.It’s likely that Ford will equip the newcomer with a clever electronic differential, giving the front-wheel-drive layout excellent traction. A six-speed manual box will be fitted, but Ford’s new twin-clutch VW DSG-style Powershift transmission could appear, too. The RS will go on sale next year, priced around £25,000. A concept will be revealed at the British Motor Show in London in July

Rabu, 19 Maret 2008

Hot News: Baby Land Rover

Here's proof that Land Rover is set to turn on the style. As the British brand gets ready to push upmarket, Auto Express can exclusively reveal the look of an exciting new model. Our spies have produced these exclusive images from top secret information.Based on the LRX concept cars that wowed the crowds at this year’s Detroit and Geneva motor shows, the newcomer is a sporty five-door SUV. It will slot into the range above the Freelander and go head-to-head with prestige brand rivals, including the upcoming BMW X1 and Audi Q5.The model will showcase technology aimed at increasing efficiency and boosting the marque’s green credentials. A stop-start system and a hybrid drivetrain are likely to appear as top brass attempt to reduce the overall CO2 emissions of the range.But the exterior will get the most attention. The LRX’s aggressive front end has clearly been a big influence, although the new car also benefits from a versatile five-door body and an increase in height to give extra space for both occupants and luggage.It is lower than the Freelander it’s based on, however, while shallower side windows and black pillars give the impression of a ‘floating’ roof. At the rear is a handy split tailgate.Stepping inside, you’ll find a heavily toned-down version of the show car’s cabin. The dashboard and other fixtures are likely to be carried over from the Freelander. Luxurious materials such as leather, wood, carbon fibre and aluminium are expected to be used, while the quality of the plastics will be raised to match.Buyers can expect a wide range of engine options. Stop-start technology fitted to the 2.2-litre diesel and 3.2-litre straight-six petrol units will lower fuel consumption and CO2 out-put – helping Land Rover meet EU regulations to cut its overall average output to 130g/km by 2012. There is also the possibility of a hi-tech hybrid system. Using super-capacitors rather than batteries, it will store energy from regenerative braking and a traditional alternator. When the driver wants extra acceleration, the electricity is channelled to motors hidden in the front wheels.All variants get a chassis biased towards composed on-road ride and handling. But, being a Land Rover, it will also perform well off the tarmac. The firm’s smart Terrain Response all-wheel-drive transmission will provide settings for grass, gravel and snow.A name for the newcomer has yet to be decided, although Freelander Sport has been suggested. Expect a showroom version as early as 2010.

New Car: 2009 Pontiac Solstice

Several years after unleashing the Solstice roadster, Pontiac is following up with a hardtop fastback rework of the vehicle called the Solstice Coupe Concept.
Inspired by the Solstice hardtop concept that wowed the crowds at the 2002 Detroit auto show and foreshadowed the roadster's arrival, the Solstice Coupe should arrive at dealerships in early 2009.
With the Solstice designed as a convertible from the ground up, only slight changes had to be made to the chassis to convert it into a fixed-roof coupe. There's minimal weight gain to the tune of just 31 pounds, which is equivalent to the weight of the removable, Targa-style magnesium roof panel. A soft roof cover and home storage case for the panel will be options.
The roof brackets and other mounting bits for the roof are made of aluminum, the extra weight of which, along with all the extra sheetmetal necessary for the coupe, is counterbalanced by the weight savings due to the removal of the convertible-top mechanism. ducktail spoiler and new taillight assemblies
Other Coupe-specific touches include a ducktail rear spoiler and new rear taillight assemblies. Pontiac says vehicle dynamic characteristics and other factors such as fuel economy should be virtually the same as the roadster.
While they were at it, the designers reworked the space behind the seats, adding a storage tray behind the headrests and a pass-through to the trunk. The removal of the top mechanism adds 0.2 cubic foot of cargo space via the switch to a flat floor and allowed for the addition of several storage compartments and cargo tie-down hooks. Getting into the trunk is easier, too, thanks to the large liftback glass.
The Solstice Coupe employs the same powertrain options as its drop-top sibling, the 2.4-liter Ecotec with 173 horses with a five-speed manual, or the 260 horse, 2.0-liter turbocharged Ecotec unit that powers the Solstice GXP, mated to a five-speed automatic.
Pontiac is silent on pricing, but it shouldn't be substantially different from that of the roadster. While it's uncertain what impact the Coupe will have on Solstice sales, it's a safe bet to say that it will be a positive one -- especially for those who have balked at the Solstice's roadster's balky top.

Selasa, 18 Maret 2008

New Car: 2009 Nissan Maxima

A few photos have leaked out of the new 2009 Maxima that will be shown for the first time this week at the New York auto show. Nissan previously released teaser photos, and you can see those here, too.
We expect the new Maxima to ride on Nissan’s new D-platform, with styling not drastically different from the current model’s.
As we reported when we caught a camouflaged Maxima prototype, the Maxima likely will continue to be offered with Nissan’s VQ35DE 3.5-liter V-6, but that engine has been tweaked to 270 horsepower in the Altima and 265 in the Murano—either of which is a significant boost over the current Maxima’s 255 horsepower. Torque should be about 248 pound-feet, up from 240 now.
The 2009 Maxima also will get an updated continuously variable transmission, which will likely continue to be the only transmission offered.

Hot News: Infiniti's GT-R 4-Door

NEW-to-the-UK Infiniti is planning a performance saloon based on the GT-R supercar from parent firm Nissan. And it looks set to be named the R50.The model has been championed by enthusiasts at Infiniti’s new European division, who had hoped that the GT-R would wear the luxury badge.A source told us, “Launching new cars these days is all about recouping investment costs. Nissan chief Carlos Ghosn wouldn’t have approved the GT-R if its hi-tech chassis and transmission were not going to be used in some way in other models – including products from Infiniti and [sister firm] Renault. It’s the only way of making it pay. So building a performance Infi-niti saloon is perfect business sense.”Our spies have revealed that the newcomer will be underpinned by a stretched version of the GT-R platform. Engineers currently have a choice of two powerplants. Most obvious is the GT-R’s 473bhp twin-turbo 3.8-litre V6 – although they may be forced to use the 5.0-litre V8 unit recently unveiled in Infiniti’s all-new FX50 SUV. That’s because Nissan produces the GT-R’s engine by hand – output is only 50 a day, which would be nowhere near enough to supply Infiniti, too. Plans for new models don’t stop there, however. Another source says Nissan hopes to build a US-market, GT-R-based SUV – a car even bigger and bolder than the 385bhp FX50. It will be aimed squarely at the Range Rover’s replacement, due in 2010.

Minggu, 16 Maret 2008

New Car: 2009 Hyundai Genesis Coupe

Here is the first official photos of Hyundai's new 2009 Hyundai Genesis coupe, the automaker's 2008 New York show star. Stay tuned for our complete report onn the Genesis Coupe and more on the vehicle from New York on Wednesday, March 19.

Sabtu, 15 Maret 2008

New Car: 2010 Pontiac G8 Sport Truck

Sport Truck," or ST, is just a placeholder. It's the generic name for the El Camino-style 2010 Pontiac G8 variant based off the Holden Ute. Try saying "Ute" over here without sounding like Joe Pesci describing a young person in "My Cousin Vinny." GM is holding an online contest at www.pontiac.com/namethiscar to pick a name. The result will be announced on April 15.

It could've been Caballero, after the late-1960s/early-1970s GMC version of the Chevy El Camino. GM is "tripling" its Buick-Pontiac-GMC dealerships in the States, and all you'd need is a different nose for this thing. It wasn't the cost of a new nose that made GM pick Pontiac over GMC. It was, to quote product manager Brian Shipman, because of the Ute's sportiness, and "it probably wasn't the best fit for 'Professional Grade.'" The two-door, he says, is a better fit for Pontiac.

That seems a flimsy argument, given that GMC is about to get a second unibody, front-drive crossover, based on the Pontiac Torrent, to complement the larger Acadia. And some Sierra pickups are two-doors. Anyway, the G8 ST comes over in late autumn 2009 with only the GT's 361-horsepower/385 pound-feet V-8 and six-speed automatic. Its wheelbase is stretched 3.7 inches over the sedan and it's 5.7 inches longer overall. The frame and structure have been reinforced to stiffen the pickup body.

Pontiac isn't about to talk sticker price, but it looks like it could echo the G8 GT's $29,995 price or command a couple thousand more.

Target audience? The warm "smile states," people with motorcycles and wave runners and the like. The bed is 73.9 inches long and 47.4 inches wide between the wheelhousings. Payload is 1316 pounds, towing capacity is 2000 pounds, and there'll be no all-wheel drive. There could be all sorts of variants, like an LS3-powered GXP or a V-6, but nothing else is "in the cards" so far, Shipman says. Pontiac could change its mind and bring in the handsome wagon (call it "Safari"), only if the market here for wagons changes drastically.

There could be another coupe, maybe called "GTO," but GM says the new Holden 60 coupe is no more than a concept, so far. How many renamed Utes could Pontiac sell? It's a "segment-bending" model, with no existing competition to help make a guess. In other words, Pontiac is in the dark on how well it will sell as we're in the dark about its name.

New Car: 2009 Mercedes B-Class

Mercedes introduced its B-Class, the automaker's successor to its controversial A-Class, in mid-2005, and since then the four-door hatch "Baby-Benz" has proven to be one of the company's most popular models. Having sold approximately 325,000 units worldwide so far, today Mercedes unveiled a freshened design with a host of small improvements.

On the outside the 2008 B-Class receives a new front end, with a three-slot grille painted metallic gray and featuring a large three-pointed star mounted in the center, similar to a C350 Sport. Along the sides the door handles, side mirrors, and skirt panels are now body colored, and the rear receives a new bumper, "high-brilliance look" taillights, and a chrome handle strip across the hatch. A black plastic insert on the rear bumper is replaced by chrome on models featuring the sports package. Inside the new B-Class features improved materials overall and a new fabric adorns the seats and door linings.

Livability is also improved with two new tech features that focus on the B-Class' primary role as intra-city transport: an optional active parking assist system can guide drivers through tricky parallel parking maneuvers, and hill-start assist keeps the car from rolling backwards when starting off uphill. However the B-Class' most interesting updates are under the hood. The B-Class will now feature 6 available engines: two direct-injection diesel engines making 109 hp and 140 hp respectively, and four gas variants with power ranging up to 193hp. For the first time all gas engines will come with an Eco start/stop function similar to the systems on hybrid cars, which can reduce fuel consumption up to 9% in city driving.

In addition one of the engines, dubbed BlueEFFICIENCY, will be able to run on both premium gasoline and natural gas used in conjunction with each other to maximize range. The NGT (for Natural Gas Technology) model contains a standard gasoline tank as well as 5 natural gas tanks, and the driver can choose which fuel to burn at the touch of a steering wheel button, even while the car is at speed.

The closest the B-Class currently gets to U.S. shores is in Canada, where the model is a strong seller. Mercedes has indicated that the B-Class may come to the U.S. as well. With automotive tastes here beginning to shift from large, gas-hungry vehicles to smaller fare, it's a fair bet that they will.

New Car: 2009 Pontiac G8 GXP

This isn't your grandfather's Wide-Track Pontiac Ventura. It's far from your older brother's Widely Cladded Bonneville GXP. The only exterior visuals betraying the Corvette 6.2-liter, 402-horsepower LS3 V-8 under its hood are the new front fascia with big foglamps, 19-inch wheels, new rear diffuser, two badges on the side, and one on the decklid. Pontiac considered a kid-racer rear wing and replaced it with the GT's lip spoiler at the last minute. Who had the good taste to make that change?
"Bob Lutz," says Brian Shipman, G8 product manager.
"I agree with his approach," Shipman continues, as if he'd have a choice. "He wanted a more refined approach, and he said, 'How many BMWs do you see driving around with a wing spoiler?'"
Before GM vice chairman and car guru Lutz arrived, the "Excitement Division" measured said excitement by how much cladding and "performance" spoilers it could trowel onto a car. Lutz ordered all that stuff stripped off and worked on making Pontiac the poor man's BMW. It hasn't been smooth going. Lutz earnestly compared the handling of some sporty front-drive Pontiacs with BMW's best. His first Pontiac-Holden hybrid was the quick but crude 2004 rear-drive GTO. And even now, the 2008 G6 GXP suffers some residual big-hair cheesiness. The front-drive G6's styling comes off as a bit common, Shipman thinks, so "we had to do something to maybe bring that out a little more. When you look at the G8 styling, the profile, the whole stance of the vehicle is unique. So we don't need to do the same thing to make this car stand out."
Like Teddy Roosevelt, or the sublime M3, it walks softly and carries a big stick. Pontiac estimates the LS3 will scoot from standstill to 60 mph in 4.7 seconds, 0.6 second quicker than the G8 GT (which was 0.2 second quicker than the Dodge Charger R/T, as tested in our April issue). We have to bench-race the GXP for now. A 4.7-second 0-to-60-mph time would trump the Charger SRT8's 5.0 flat. Thanks to better handling and much better refinement, that 425-horsepower Charger won a two-car battle over the GTO in our December 2005 comparison, despite the LS2-powered Pontiac's quicker 0-to-60 sprint of-wait for it-4.7 seconds

Jumat, 14 Maret 2008

Hot News: Mercedes' Bluetec

We’ve been waiting for years now for new clean diesels from a number of different manufacturers, including Mercedes-Benz, and finally the German luxury brand is bringing 50-state BlueTec engines to the U.S. in its lineup of SUVs.

Debuting at the New York auto show in BlueTec guise are the 2009 GL320, R320, and face-lifted 2009, all boasting the AdBlue urea injection technology that cleans up the exhaust from the 215-hp 3.0-liter turbo-diesel enough for these diesels to be certified for sale in all 50 states. Currently, these models can only be sold in 45 states.

Urea—a nitrogenous compound found in mammal urine but also produced synthetically—is the BlueTec solution to the last emissions hurdle facing diesel engines in the U.S. Various catalysts and filters have reduced particulate emissions—the heavy black soot associated with diesel engines—to acceptable levels, but until now emissions of nitrogen oxides (NOx) have been too heavy for full 50-state certification. AdBlue is a urea solution injected into the exhaust stream that, when it reacts with the nitrogen oxides, breaks them down into nitrogen and water. The storage tanks for AdBlue should usually only need refilling every 10,000 miles, which will be done as part of Mercedes’s regular maintenance.

With the fuel-economy benefits of diesel—typically 20 to 30 percent higher than comparable gasoline engines—Mercedes is claiming a range of 600-plus miles for each of these three SUVs, meaning that road trippers will likely be stopping to drain their own urea tanks more often than to fill the fuel tank of their Benz.

New Car: 2010 Alfa Romeo MiTo

The wraps are finally off Alfa’s beautiful new baby, the MiTo – and we’ve got the first pictures.The new small car will compete head-to-head with established stars such as the MINI as well as Audi’s forthcoming A1.Taking its styling inspiration from the gorgeous 8C Competitizione supercar the MiTo features a pronounced grille and striking oval headlights. At the rear, there are bold circular LED taillights that are circled with chrome.Underneath the chic lines is a front-wheel drive platform from the Fiat Grande Punto. Wider and lower than the car it’s based on, the MiTo has a squat and purposeful stance.Alfa engineers have also equipped the car with a special electronic control system called DNA - Dynamic, Normal and All-Weather. It adjusts the responsiveness of the throttle, steering, brakes and gearbox for sporty, town and slippery conditions. It’s the first time such a complex system has been used in the class.Under the bonnet will be four turbocharged power units already seen in the Grande Punto and Bravo. These will include a 1.4-litre T-JET petrol and a 1.9-litre Multijet diesel with outputs ranging from 90bhp to 155bhp.As well as the three-door, there will be a five-door version of the MiTo, while convertible and estate versions are also being considered. Making its first public debut at the end of June, the car will be seen officially at the Paris Motor Show in September, and arrive in UK dealers in January priced at around £12,000.

Hot News: Audi A4 Wins Auto 1 Award

Audi is celebrating after its new A4 won Europe’s biggest car award at the Geneva Motor Show. The A4 claimed the Auto 1 title, awarded by the Auto Bild Europe magazines group, which includes Auto Express. The trophy was collected by Audi chief executive Rupert Stadler in front of an audience of 500 VIPs.There were awards, too, for five class-winning cars – the Fiat 500, Volkswagen Tiguan, BMW M3, Mercedes SLK Roadster and Volvo V70. BMW also took the Auto 1 Innovation award for its Efficient Dynamics system, which increases economy while lowering CO2 emissions. Auto 1 is the only new car awards to combine reader votes with those of magazine editors and race drivers. This year’s jury included ex-F1 champion Mika Hakkinen.

Kamis, 13 Maret 2008

New Car: 2009 Mercedes M-Class

A sharp new look is set to make the Mercedes’ M-Class a big crowd puller in the Big Apple.The majority of the changes made are to the German model’s styling. At the front, the SUV gets a redesigned bumper and new headlamps to give it a more distinctive shape. A new bumper has also been added at the rear along with new look tail lights.Inside, safety features have been substantially upgraded with the addition of Mercedes’ latest PRE-SAFE and NECK-PRO technology.However, if you want to make the biggest statement in an M-Class, the mighty new look ML 63 AMG is the perfect model for you. Now with an even more extreme appearance thanks to its lower front and rear bumpers and extensive AMG bodykit it’s a muscle-bound Porsche Cayenne chaser.We will get our first chance to see the revised 4x4 in the metal at the New York Motor Show next week.

Rabu, 12 Maret 2008

Spied: 2010 Opel Astra

Vauxhall is set to launch a fierce new attack on its bitter rival Ford with this: the next Astra.Boasting a fresh look and a wide range of engines, the striking hatchback will combine style and driver appeal like never before.It goes on sale in 18 months’ time, and is the next step in Vaux­hall’s renaissance. The new Astra will follow in the footsteps of the Vectra-replacing Insignia – which debuts at July’s Brit­ish Motor Show in London – as well as the redesigned Meriva, due in deal­ers here early in 2009.As with those models, the Astra has received a style overhaul, bringing in a shape which is sleeker than before. And with replacements for big-hitters such as the Volks­wagen Golf and Renault Mégane scheduled to arrive within 12 months, that’s just as well.We told you about the new Astra in Issue 947. But now, our spies have scooped one of the first prototypes undergoing testing – and our main pictures show what’s lurking under the disguise.The nose is clearly inspired by the Insignia, and wears bold headlights and deep air intakes, while at the rear there is a squat Seat Leon-style tail, as well as distinctive C-pillars.As well as the five-door shown here, there will be a three-door Sport Hatch model. And as is the case with the current generation, this car will be completely different from its more practical brother, with a rakish tailgate and lower roofline creating a coupé-like profile.Inside, the Astra will take the fight to the Golf and Ford Focus head-on, with a quality cabin that takes a leaf out of the Insignia’s book. Soft-touch plastics are fitted throughout, while standard equipment will include Blue-tooth phone connectivity, plus integrated sat-nav and audio technology.Parent firm General Motors has conceived the newcomer as a world car, and it will share its platform with Saab’s forthcoming 9-1 (see Page 14). Astra mechanicals will also underpin several Chevrolets, including the new Volt, plus the next Aveo and Lacetti.The model will reach the US, too, wearing a Saturn badge. Diesel isn’t so popular there, but the car’s close relationship with the Volt means a hybrid petrol drivetrain will be available for the first time. A FlexFuel bio­ethanol model will be offered as well.In Europe, though, small-capacity turbocharged petrol and diesel powerplants will account for the vast majority of sales. And sitting at the top of the new Astra range will be a 250bhp 2.0-litre turbo VXR version, complete with four-wheel drive.The rest of the line-up is front-wheel drive, although engineers have developed a new multi-link independ­ent rear suspension set-up. That should ensure the Vauxhall delivers handling to match the class-leading Focus.Expect to see the first concept car previewing the new Astra at a major motor show in 2009. UK sales will then start a few months later.

Hot News: Alfa Romeo MiTo

Say ciao bella to Alfa Romeo’s new MINI rival. Thanks to inside information, we can exclusively reveal not only how the new car will look, but also what it will be called!Alfa bosses considered the Junior and Furiosa badges for the forthcoming model, but sources tell us they’ve chosen MiTo. It is derived from two Italian cities: Milan, Alfa’s traditional home, and Turin (Torino), where owner Fiat is based. The MiTo uses Grande Punto underpinnings, but is inspired by the 8C Competizione, with slanted headlights and a shield-shaped grille.However, its engine line-up promises to eclipse the Punto’s, thanks to a new 1.8-litre turbo motor delivering 180bhp. This will eventually be tuned to deliver as much as 230bhp. Other options include the Grande Punto’s 1.4 T-jet petrol and 1.9-litre diesel.Development of the MiTo has been a painstaking process, as engineers bid to ensure it drives better than the MINI. As well as the three-door, there will be a five-door, while bosses are considering cabrio and estate versions. The MiTo will debut officially at the Paris Motor Show in the autumn, and hit UK dealers early next year, with prices starting from £10,500.At last week’s Geneva show, bosses also hinted a special model will be built to mark Alfa’s centenary in 2010. With replacements for the 147 and 166 already in the pipeline, that could see the new Duetto roadster get the green light.

Selasa, 11 Maret 2008

New Car: 2009 Proton Gen-2 Persona

Malaysian manufacturer Proton has stuck the boot in! The company has revealed an all-new saloon version of its Gen-2 family hatch.Called the Persona, the newcomer is intended as a luxurious range-topper for the mid-size range. From the nose to the base of the C-Pillar it uses the same body panels as the existing five-door model. Beyond this stylists have neatly integrated a traditional booted rear end, which promises increased luggage space.In keeping with its premium pretentions, the Persona comes loaded with standard kit. Included in the specification are climate control, electric windows, an MP3/CD stereo system and parking sensors.Under the bonnet is familiar Lotus engineered 110bhp 1.6-litre petrol engine, connected to either a five-speed manual or four-cog auto gearbox. The British sportscar firm have also had a hand in the chassis set-up.The Persona hits UK showrooms at the end of March and is priced at £9,795, which includes a £1,000 dealer discount. Choose the self-shifiting gearbox and you'll pay £10,595.

Senin, 10 Maret 2008

New Car: 2009 Volkswagen Touareg R50

Could this be the fastest SUV in the world? German firm VW has pulled the wraps of its new high performance Touareg, the R50.The new range-topper features a tweaked version of the company's 5.0-litre V10 diesel that now pushes out 345bhp - and increase of 37bhp over the standard car. Even more impressive is the peak torque figure, which rises from 750 to 850Nm. As a result performance is blistering with the Touareg sprinting from standstill to 62mph in 6.7 seconds and onto a top speed of 146mph. However, the fuel economy and CO2 emissions remain the same as before at 22.4mpg and 333g/km respectively.To cope with the extra performance, VW's engineers have fitted the R50 with springs that are stiffened and lowered by 20mm. This is in addition to the grippy 4MOTION all-wheel drive systems and smooth-shifting six-speed auto gearbox.Externally, the newcomer is distinguished by an 'R' design package that comprises a roof-mounted spoiler, wheel arch extensions and matt chrome front grille. There's also distinctive 21-inch alloy wheels, blue brake callipers and twin oval exhausts.Climb into the cabin and you'll find 'R' logos embossed on the heavily bolstered Nappa leather sports seats, kick plates and pedals. The luggage compartment gets a special ski sack and net partition.However, VW won't have it all its own way in the rapid off-roader sector. Later this year sister firm Audi will launch its Q7 V12 TDI, which is capable of covering the dash from 0-62mph in a staggering 5.5 seconds.Until then the R50 will remain undisputed performance heavyweight champion. If you want one then you'll have to be quick as only a limited number will be brought to the UK, each priced at £61,885.

Sabtu, 08 Maret 2008

  1. Citroen C4 Picasso (60%)
  2. Mazda 5 (30%)
  3. VW Touran (10%)
  4. Opel Zafira (0%)

Jumat, 07 Maret 2008

Spied: 2010 Chevrolet Equinox

A few months ago, we were there when the 2010 Cadillac BRX, an upcoming version of GM’s TE family of crossovers that also includes the recently released Saturn Vue and the upcoming Saab 9-4X, was let out of the house for track testing. Now, another of the TE platform-mates has not only gotten out of the house, but is out on the road, barking and chasing cars.
Based on the pictures we just got from our spies, the 2010 Chevy Equinox appears to share its bodyside stampings, wheelbase, and certain other key elements with the Cadillac. This prototype’s front end appears to be darn close to that of the shorter-wheelbase Vue, though its thin bar in the middle of the grille—as opposed to a fat bar at the top of the grille—clearly gives this one away as a Chevy.
The interior shot reveals interesting thick-rimmed gauge pods and silver trim around the HVAC registers—design elements we’ve not seen on Chevrolets before.
Under the skin, little is known at this point. We expect GM’s 3.6-liter V-6 from the Vue will make it to the Chevrolet, and we half expect an SS version with a 300-plus-horsepower direct-injection V-6, as seen in the Cadillac CTS.
We’ll see what GM has done to address the Vue’s pesky weight problem, something which prevents even the hybrid version from getting truly great fuel economy.
But given that the current Equinox has provided the basis for a variety of alternative fuel powertrain experiments, including a small fleet of hydrogen fuel cell versions, we expect that the next one will include not only a two-mode hybrid, but also a plug-in hybrid, and the next generation of hydrogen fuel cell powertrains.
Regardless of what it has beneath it, we like what we see so far. If Chevy can pull the same kind of coup for crossovers that it did in the sedan market with the Malibu, we predict more praise for the bow-tie division.

Spied: 2009 BMW X6 Hybrid

X Marks the spot for hybrid SUVs! BMW has already confirmed plans for a clever petrol-electric version of its new X6, which our spy snappers have just caught testing (above) with a huge bump in the bonnet. And now the firm has taken the wraps off this ultra-advanced X5. Set to be unveiled at next month’s Geneva Motor Show, the car looks like a standard version of the 4x4, but the Efficient Dynamics logo on the side signifies that it’s anything but. Underneath the standard body, there’s a hybrid powertrain, which enables the concept to match the ability of a conventional X5, despite only having a 2.0-litre diesel engine. The twin-turbo unit is supplemented by a 20bhp electric motor mounted to the car’s eight-speed automatic transmission. The result is a 0-62mph sprint time of 8.9 seconds, economy of 43.5mpg and CO2 emissions of 172g/km.With aerodynamic 19-inch alloys to reduce drag, these innovative technologies show what is in store for buyers after an eco-friendly SUV.

Kamis, 06 Maret 2008

First Sketch: Suzuki Kizashi 3

Following the red Kizashi (pictured middle) from the 2007 Frankfurt auto show and the white Kizashi 2 (pictured bottom) from the 2007 Toyko motor show, Suzuki will roll out the Kizashi 3, its third take on a flagship model, on Thursday, March 20, at the New York auto show. The first two Kizashi concepts will join the newer sibling at New York. Suzuki hopes the concepts will wow American audiences and show the company's intentions to eventually offer a "larger, more It's fitting that Kizashi is the Japanese word for "prelude" or "foretaste." We don't yet have details, but expect wheels around 21 inches as on the first Kizashi as well as an environmentally friendly powertrain like the first Kizashi's 2.0-liter four-valve turbodiesel. With the Kizashi 2, Suzuki got an off-road-ready version of the concept out of its system, so we're ready to see more than just a sketch of the Kizashi 3 in person. upscale sport sedan."

Rabu, 05 Maret 2008

Spied: 2009 Toyota Avensis

And it appears the design team at the Japanese company has gone for style over load space. The newcomer’s tapered tailgate should look great when it’s finally revealed, although the angled bootlid will eat into luggage capacity. Despite the disguise, it’s also clear the forthcoming Avensis will get a shapely new front end to replace the dull design of the existing model. Slow sales, plus competition from a host of new arrivals in this class, mean the big Toyota needs to take a significant step forward.As a result, customers can expect big improvements in terms of cabin quality and handling as the Avensis takes the fight to the latest Ford Mondeo and the forthcoming Vaux­hall Insignia and Honda Accord.The British-built newcomer isn’t due to hit dealers in this country until 2009, although it could make its official debut at a major motor show towards the end of this year. And Toyota is expected to offer a range of four-door saloon and five-door hatchback bodystyles, in addition to the practical estate. Engines will be carried over from the existing model, so as well as a variety of petrol options, buyers will be given the choice of the manufacturer’s excellent 2.0 and 2.2-litre D-4D diesel powerplants.

Senin, 03 Maret 2008

New Concept Car Bentley Continental GTZ

The coupé made its debut at this week’s Geneva Motor Show, and is the work of coachbuilder Zagato, from Milan. The car started life as a Bentley Continental GT Speed, but you’re unlikely to confuse it with the standard model, thanks to a wide range of unique styling changes. From the front, its headlamps and massive mesh grille are pure Bentley, but the all-new bumper and long bonnet vents provide the hand-built Zagato-bodied version with a much more dramatic look. A pair of front foglamps and 10-spoke alloy wheels add to the visual impact.Traditional Zagato touches include a double-bubble roof and a neatly rounded tail. A host of functional parts have been carried over from the production car, but the slab-sided looks of the Continental GT have been dropped in favour of a much curvier body shape. Integrated light clusters sit flush with the surrounding bodywork at the rear, and the GTZ features an unusual two-tone green and silver paint finish. Its leather wrapped interior is also colour-coded to match the hand-painted exterior.Power comes from the same 600bhp W12 engine as the GT Speed, so the Zagato’s performance is impressive. The 0-60mph sprint in the standard car takes only 4.3 seconds, while top speed is 202mph.This isn’t that the first time the Italian firm has redesigned a luxurious British grand tourer for the super-rich. Zagato has a long history of working with British car makers, such as Aston Martin, while other collaborations with foreign firms include the Ferrari 575 GTZ from 2006 and the one-off Maserati GS Zagato, which was unveiled last year.

New Concept Car: Land Rover LRX 'Black'

Check out Land Rover’s latest stunning show car – the LRX black and silver.
Following on from the popular baby-Freelander concept revealed at the Detroit Motor Show in January, the re-modelled Geneva Motor Show star is designed to show just how good the little Landie can look with a range of colours and accessories.Powered by a 2.0-litre turbodiesel hybrid powerplant, Land Rover claims the LRX is capable of 60mpg fuel economy with emissions of 120g/kmThe black and silver model will be unveiled at the first Geneva show press day tomorrow alongside the existing white LRX."With its metallic black paintwork, silver roof and precisely detailed exterior features, the second version of the LRX concept is designed to show how well the vehicle can deliver a contemporary example of personalisation," says Gerry McGovern, Land Rover's design director.When the production version of the LRX appears in 2009, a range of accessories will be offered to allow buyers to customise their cars. Phil Popham, managing director of Land Rover, added "we've always seen scope for LRX to provide a whole showroom of different models, with a range of powertrains including hybrids and bio-fuel capable engines."

Daihatsu Sirion is the Favorite Mini Hatchback
  1. Daihatsu Sirion (42%)
  2. Suzuki Swift (23%)
  3. Honda Jazz (14%)
  4. Toyota Yaris (14%)

Spied: 2009 Nissan Qashqai 7-Seater

It's seven-up for the Qashqai! Here’s the proof that Nissan’s compact SUV is getting in the family way. Our spies have caught this seven-seat version undergoing winter testing – and it will arrive in Nissan showrooms later this year, where it’s set to compete with Citroen’s C-Crosser, Mitsubishi’s Outlander and the Peugeot 4007. Buoyed by the success of the Qashqai, Nissan is keen to expand the range, and this seven-seater is the next logical step. As you can see from the light disguise on this prototype, the seven-seat Qashqai is identical to the five-seater up to the B-pillar. But as it sits on a wheelbase that’s stretched by around 200mm, the newcomer features a longer rear end, with revised quarterlights and a raised roofline to give even more headroom. Behind the second row of seats lies a third row of two chairs, which are spacious enough to accommodate a couple of average-sized adults. But boot space is unlikely to impress with a third row of seats in place – expect only enough room for some squashy bags. Fortunately, the extra seats can be folded away when not in use to increase the load area. Elsewhere, it’s business as usual, and the seven-seater Qashqai will feature the same line-up of engines as the smaller version. That means buyers will get to choose from two petrols – a 115bhp 1.6 and 140bhp 2.0-litre. There will also be two turbodiesels – a 105bhp 1.5 and 150bhp 2.0-litre – plus either front or four-wheel drive.Nissan hasn’t confirmed any prices yet, but the seven-seater model is likely to cost £1,500 more than the standard Qashqai.

Sabtu, 01 Maret 2008

New Car: 2009 Chevrolet Corvette Z03

Here's a Corvette with extra curves! Based on the Z06, this ultra-exotic version has a bespoke body and 750bhp from its highly tuned 7.0-litre V8. It’s called the Z03, and only 100 will be made, with deliveries starting later this year.The car is the work of Dutch design house Ugar Sahin, and has a bespoke carbon fibre body. There are also vents in the bonnet similar to those on the supercharged Corvette ZR1, so you can see the scarlet engine cover. Lightweight panels are used, so it weighs 45kg less, at around 1,370kg – add this to the power hike, and it’s sure to offer amazing pace.

Spied: 2010 BMW 7-Series

THE curvy new BMW 7-Series is on the way. We’ve already caught disguised protoypes of the big saloon being put through their paces, but these are the best pictures yet of the luxury model. This mule for the German company’s flagship was spotted during a break from testing in South Africa by my friend, Sam (thanks so much, bro).The newcomer is bigger than the outgoing car, and set to borrow styling cues from the brand’s gorgeous CS Concept, which debuted at China’s Shanghai Motor Show last year. The slab-sided look of the current version has been ditched as BMW designers have given the next model a sleek new style.Company bosses expect the range-topper to go straight to the head of the class when the 7-Series goes on sale towards the end of the year. It will compete with established rivals, such as the Mercedes S-Class and Audi A8, after the production car debuts at the Paris Motor Show in October.

Hot News: Pontiac's Secret Coupe

This car look familiar? Check the sculpted bodyside and the low-slung greenhouse. Check the wheel-in-each-corner stance and bob-tail rear end. Yep, it's basically the stunning Holden Coupe 60 unveiled in Australia yesterday. But with a modern interpretation of the classic wide-track Pontiac grille up front.

Now, here's the kicker: These photos are about three years old. This car is the still-born Zeta-based GTO replacement killed off by GM's decision to spend money on fast-tracking the GMT900 trucks into production instead. With funds diverted to GMT900, works on all U.S. Zeta-based products was stopped. This coupe, and a Buick sedan, did not make the cut when the program was re-started some months later.
Apart from the fact they reveal the Holden Coupe 60 is basically a three-year old design (executed under the direction of Mike Simcoe, the quietly talented Aussie responsible for the Commodore/G8 and now the designer with overall responsibility for all GM rear drive unibody cars) these pictures also show GM was contemplating a radically different front end design for the Zeta-based Pontiacs.
Had it been approved, this car's "wide-track" look would have appeared on the G8 sedan. However we understand it was a considerably more expensive option than the design that made it into production, primarily because it would have required unique headlights.
As we said in our story yesterday, the appearance of the Holden Coupe 60 doesn't necessarily mean a new Holden Monaro, and therefore a new Pontiac GTO (or G8 Coupe) is on the way. Holden needs Pontiac volumes to make production of the Monaro viable, but GM officials are worried that with the impending launches of both Dodge Challenger and Chevy Camaro, the U.S. coupe market is fast becoming saturated.
But what we do know now is GM could build a new GTO if we really wanted one.

New Concept Car: Mercedes Vision GLK Bluetec Hybrid

The Vision GLK Bluetec Hybrid, which will debut at the Geneva auto show next week, mates a 2.2-liter turbodiesel four with a hybrid module for a total of 224 horsepower and about 413 lb-ft of torque, numbers that compare favorably to the 3.0-liter diesel currently doing duty in the M, R, and GL Mercedes lines. By combining a diesel and a hybrid, the GLK concept achieves nearly 40 mpg and accelerates from 0 to 62 mph in 7.3 seconds.

Beyond better fuel economy, Mercedes claims the GLK concept will meet American BIN5 and European EU6 standards thanks to AdBlue injection as well as a number of other important, albeit not groundbreaking, touches. The electric motor, for example, functions as both a generator and a starter, making 118 lb-ft of torque on its own. The concept also features regenerative braking using a lithium-ion battery and a stop-start function that turns the engine off when the SUV pulls to a stop at a traffic light.
All environmentally-friendly technology aside, this is still a concept Mercedes is using to spread word about its GLK SUV, which will enter the market in fall 2008. Putting its best wheel forward, the GLK concept wears eye-catching multi-spoke 20-inch light alloy wheels and an alubeam blue paint Mercedes says has an "incomparable depth." LEDs on the front fascia and a polarizing three-bar silver grille let everyone know you drive a compact hybrid SUV. Inside, the special GLK gets an upper dash lined in black leather, lots of aluminum trim, and leather seats in a color recalling the alubeam blue on the outside. Dark blue piped seams complete the package.
We think a diesel hybrid is an excellent idea, especially since Mercedes understands that the technology can be applied to other cars in its lineup. Allright, Mercedes, we've seen the concept. How long until we can drive a production Bluetec hybrid?
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