Rabu, 30 April 2008

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Hot News: BMW's Electric Car

BMW is poised to give the go-ahead to a tiny Zero Emissions Vehicle (ZEV) that will help to revolutionise city-centre driving. The rear-engined city car could be called Isetta and will first arrive in American showrooms in 2012.

The project was created because of new Californian regulations (soon to be copied by 12 other US states) which require big car makers to sell between a few hundred and a few thousand ZEVs every year from 2012.

However, global sales of the new model are also likely, because BMW has decided that the concept will be ideal for sale in cities all around the world. Indeed, many European cities have already established low-emissions zones.

BMW chief Norbert Reithofer recently said the company “would be obliged to sell a Zero Emissions Vehicle under the US regulations and that a battery car was “the most likely answer”.

Reithofer also said that BMW could have built just a few hundred cars to meet the US regulations but admitted that the company was also wondering if it could use the basic concept “not just for an electric car but also for a range of city cars”. These cars would use petrol and diesel motors, and could even feature BMW motorcycle engines.

The Californian regulations state that ZEVs can either be a fuel cell or battery-powered vehicle with a range of over 200 miles, or an Advanced Technology, Partial Zero-Emission Vehicle (AT-PZEV) powered by a hybrid powertrain, by compressed natural gas (CNG) or by a methanol fuel cell.

BMW has yet to decide what badge the new Isetta will wear. “It could be BMW, Mini or another name,” Reithofer said. He also said that “co-operation [with another car maker] is possible” but stated that BMW would decide by the end of 2008 “whether to go it alone”.

Because the volumes are relatively low and the potential investment is high, sources in Germany say that BMW could also team up with Mercedes’ Smart division to work on a new vehicle.

BMW is said to be looking seriously at basing the new Isetta on a small zero-emissions concept developed by Austrian engineering powerhouse Magna Steyr. Magna already builds the BMW X3 and will build the Aston Martin Rapide. (Thanks to Autocar for News and Pictures)

Spied: 2010 Audi S4

This next-generation Audi S4 could be the super-saloon that ends the German power wars.

Our spies have caught the 2010 S4 undergoing high-speed testing at the Nurburgring and sources suggest that there’s a supercharged 3.0-litre V6 under the bonnet instead of the current model’s V8.

Insiders tell us that Audi wants to reduce the weight and improve the fuel economy of its new S4, while offering performance that’s on a par with the current models.

Meanwhile, it looks as though the range-topping RS4, likely to arrive in 2011, will retain its V8 in an effort to separate the appeal of the two variants.

Audi sees the new S4 as a rival for the likes of BMW’s 335i while the next RS4 will take the fight to the M3. (Thanks to Autocar for News and Pictures).

Hot News: The Reborn of Ford Capri

It's the car every Ford fan has been waiting to see! Here’s the new Capri.

The original was one of the most famous and best loved models in the firm’s history, and left the scene in the late Eighties. Now, the time has come to reinvent the classic.

Affordable coupés are experiencing a real renaissance, and Ford has already proved its talent for building niche products with models such as the S-MAX compact MPV and Kuga 4x4. So the stage is set for the Capri to make its stunning comeback.

One thing is for sure – it will not be short of competition. Audi has its A5 and Volkswagen has resurrected the Scirocco, while Toyota is planning a Celica replacement based on Subaru Impreza running gear.

There’s also Hyundai’s forthcoming Coupé, plus news that Peugeot has at last given its 308 RC Z the green light for production.

But while there will be an army of rivals, the Capri will certainly have style in its favour. As you can see from our pictures, the new Ford is a real feast for the eyes. If it seems a little familiar, that’s because it takes some cues from the 2003 Visos concept.

However, it mixes those with the company’s latest design themes. At the front there are the trademark twin grilles, with a large lower air intake incorporating neat spotlights. Bold Mondeo-style headlamps complete the Capri’s striking look.

Its profile harks back to the original model, with a tail-heavy stance and familiar C-shaped rear windows and thick pillars. At the back, strong shoulder lines combine with distinctive tail-lights and a sloping tailgate to create a pert-looking rear. A neat roof spoiler and venturi-style lower bumper finish the design off.

Inside, the Capri will offer a 2+2 seating layout, with a cabin inspired by the current-generation Mondeo’s. Under the skin, it’s likely that Ford will follow VW’s approach with the Scirocco, which sits on the Golf platform, and base the car around the Focus. That will mean a front-wheel-drive layout and a similar engine line-up to the family model, with the range topped by the 2.5-litre five-cylinder turbocharged unit from the ST hot hatch.

An RS version, powered by a 3.2-litre six-cylinder motor and offering four-wheel drive, could also be on the cards.

With the Focus as a starting point, things bode well for the Capri’s hand-ling. Engineers will give the new model a sporty suspension set-up to ensure excellent grip and agility. There’s even the possibility it will benefit from the Mondeo’s adaptive damping system. This would provide the car with sharp handling or refined cruising ability at the flick of a switch.

As Ford has yet to officially confirm its new Capri plans, we won’t see the car before the next decade. However, it has been reported that the blue oval is planning to reveal a concept version of the coupé at a major motor show in 2009.

New Car: 2009 Mazda 2 MPS

And Mazda is also readying a hot hatch version of the 2 supermini. Complete with a sporty bodykit, the 2 MPS (in red) goes on sale in late 2009. There’s no word yet on what engine it will have, but it’s thought to be a turbo variation on the existing 1.5-litre petrol with more than 170bhp. Factor in sporty suspension, and it’s a real rival for the Vauxhall Corsa VXR.

New Car: 2009 Mazda 6 MPS

And as you can see from our picture of the hatchback, the MPS will be a head-turner, with new spoilers, large air intakes, lowered side skirts and bigger alloy wheels. It’s believed that the model will use a turbocharged version of the 6’s all-new 2.5-litre four-cylinder engine, pumping out around 280bhp, so it will have the punch to back up the looks.

Like the previous-generation 6 MPS, there will be four-wheel drive, stiffened and lowered suspension and uprated brakes. The car will cover 0-60mph in six seconds, with a top speed limited to 155mph. Mazda is expected to take the wraps off a concept version at October’s Paris Motor Show, where bosses will gauge public reaction. The production model should arrive in 2010. However, unlike its predecessor, which was available only as a saloon, the firm has plans for estate, coupé and cabriolet MPS variants, as well as the hatch.

Hot News: AMG to Produce Cleaner Engines and Hybrids

After adopting the "no replacement for displacement" mantra and swapping out its 5.5-liter supercharged engines for normally-aspirated 6.2-liter units, AMG might once again be reconsidering its options.

According to a recent report by U.K.-based Car, AMG could be contemplating a return to forced induction, using 5.0-liter twin-turbocharged V-8s that could produce in the neighborhood of 570 horses and 665 lb-ft of torque. Not enough? A full 700 horsepower and 885 lb-ft could be available in an even more potent version. What's the reason for the switch? Reportedly, AMG isn't content with the emissions and fuel economy of its latest engines, leading them to develop more environmentally responsible powertrains (if you can call any 700 horsepower engine environmentally responsible, that is).

What else is on AMG's horizon? How about hybrid versions of its cars under the BluePower moniker, a highly efficient electric direct-drive transmission, and a 40 percent overall cut in emissions by the year 2012? All of this is on its way according to the report, as well as the highly-rumored gullwing coupe supercar, codenamed C197. Specifications are said to include an eight-speed automatic, a 6.2-liter V8, and world-beating performance.

Meanwhile, with Mercedes increasing the power of its own engines, there may soon be little difference between power output of the standard motors versus AMG's hot-rodded mills. Especially when AMG R&D chief Wolf Zimmerman has already told Car that 'We're almost at the top in terms of power now." After that, it's reportedly all downhill.

Spied: 2010 Lincoln Navigator V8 Diesel

The only sign that this mule isn't a run-of-the-mill Lincoln Navigator is dual exhaust coming out the passenger side of the Ford SUV, a fairly clear indication that Ford's new 4.4-liter diesel engine is lurking under the Navigator's hood. Eariler today an F-150 mule was also caught prowling around, also with the diesel on board.

Details of the 4.4-liter V-8, which will also appear in many of the expected places such as the F-150, Super Duty, and E-Series large vans, were leaked earlier this month after a recent Ford dealer meeeting. The engine is closely related to the 3.6-liter turbodiesel installed in European Jaguars and Land Rovers and is being designed in-house to be built at the automaker's Chihuahua, Mexico engine plant.

Compared to the current 5.4-liter V-8 found in many of Ford's larger vehicles, the new diesel is said to achieve nine percent more horsepower, 15 percent more lb-ft. of torque, and 20 percent better fuel economy, respectively. The automaker says 0 to 60 times in the two engines will be about the same. In addition, Ford is developing a urea injection system along the lines of Mercedes' Bluetec diesels to keep the new 4.4-liter running clean.

The diesel variant of the Navigator should arrive shortly after its expected freshening for 2010, either as a late-introduction 2010 model or as a 2011. It should also make its way into its Expedition sibling about the same time.

Selasa, 29 April 2008

New Car: 2009 Volkswagen Passat R36

Could the Mitsubishi Evo X have a new rival? This aggressive-looking VW Passat R36 is the scorching R36, and it’s ready to go head-to-head with the Japanese super-saloon.

With a 296bhp motor, four-wheel drive and a quick-shifting semi-automatic gearbox, the newcomer certainly has all the ingredients. And unlike the Evo, the German model is available as both a stylish saloon and practical estate.

Externally, the R36 is distinguished by a deeper front bumper, bi-xenon headlights, side skirts and twin exhausts at the rear. Further adding to the sporty new look is a 20mm lower ride height and 18-inch alloy wheels that hide large, blue painted brake callipers.

Climb aboard and you’ll find heavily bolstered sports seats embossed with the ‘R’ logo, while aluminium covers the dashboard, door trims and pedals. The overall effect is much more luxurious that the stripped-out, racer feel of the Mitsubishi.

But the big news is underneath the tweaked bodyshell. Here you’ll find a 296bhp 3.6-litre V6 connected to six-speed dual clutch gearbox. As a result performance is blistering, with the sprint from standstill to 60mph taking just 5.6 seconds for the saloon and 5.8 for the estate. Both versions have a top speed electronically limited to 155mph.

Also included are lowered, stiffened suspension and the German firm’s 4motion all-wheel drive transmission. This should mean high grip levels and handling that’s much sharper than the standard car,

Prices for the scorching Passat start at £30,990 for the saloon, rising to £32,150 for the versatile estate.

New Car: 2009 Keating TKR

The 1,000bhp club has a new member – and it’s British! With 1,500bhp, the Keating TKR delivers even more power than the Bugatti Veyron supercar.

The mid-engined two-seater is designed solely for track use. But don’t panic, as there is a roadgoing model, too. The latter is called the SKR, and looks the same as its more powerful stablemate. It’s available with a choice of four engines, offering outputs ranging from 404bhp to 656bhp. The fastest street-legal car does 0-60mph in 3.5 seconds and can hit 205mph.

All models use the same General Motors-derived 6.0 and 7.0-litre V8s, and engineers have used superchargers and twin-turbos to boost power.

The Keating’s sleek lines, tall rear spoiler and air vents look as if they are straight from the race track. And with a bespoke steel spaceframe chassis and fibreglass bodywork, it’s light, too.

As the firm, based in Astley, Greater Manchester, builds cars only in low volumes, there is enormous scope for owners to personalise their model from a huge line-up of options. This includes everything from carbon fibre body panels to a complete chassis, and also offers a raft of cabin extras. As a result, few TKRs will look the same once they leave the factory.

The supercar is the brainchild of company founder Anthony Keating – a businessman and engineer – and has been eight years in the making. Prices start from £80,000.

New Car: 2009 Ford Focus ST

he fastest Ford Focus is ready to earn its stripes – and Auto Express has the first official pictures of the scorching new ST.

With a sleek new look, improved interior and extra hi-tech kit, the revitalised motor has the VW Golf GTI firmly in its sights.

Externally, the newcomer now gets the freshened-up face found on lesser models, including the swept-back headlamps. However, there’s also a new deeper front bumper, side skirts and roof-mounted spoiler at the rear, where you’ll also find LED tail lamps.

Inside, there are higher quality materials for the dash, upgraded dials and heavily bolstered Recaro seats. Options include a voice-activated sat-nav, carbon finish trim and a tyre pressure monitoring system.

Under the skin the ST remains unchanged, which is no bad thing. Power comes from the same smooth and punchy 222bhp 2.5-litre turbocharged motor, Performance is blistering with the sprint from standstill to 62mph takes just 6.8 seconds, while the top speed is 150mph.

Elsewhere, minor tweaks have been made to the excellent chassis to give the sharp-handling Focus an extra dose of refinement.

As before the model will be available both three and a five-door bodystyles and with the same three trim levels. Prices start at £18,250, rising to £20,850.

Senin, 28 April 2008

Hot News: Maserati Baby Coupe

Could this one-off design study for a Maserati coupé become a production reality? Designed by newly relaunched Italian coachbuilder Carrozerria Touring Superleggera, the A8 GCS Berlinetta is currently just an idea but Maserati is currently considering adding a new small coupé to its line-up, to be priced between £50,000 and £60,000.

More compact than the £78,605 Gran Turismo, the baby two-door would compete against lower-end Porsche 911s, pricier versions of the Mercedes CLK, Jaguar’s planned XE coupé and even the Nissan GT-R and BMW M3.

Maserati sees a considerable gap between the top end of the Brera coupé range from sister company Alfa Romeo and the 4.2-litre V8 Gran Turismo.

At one time there was talk of Maserati offering a ‘mini’ Quattroporte; this smaller saloon could share its core architecture and probably some drivetrains with the new Alfa 169 flagship. But insiders have concluded that the two models would excessively cannibalise one another’s sales.

Maserati boss Roberto Ronchi said that the firm needs a third model to continue making a profit, which it is, if on a modest scale.

An additional car would take Maserati’s production to around 15,000 units annually, about the maximum capacity of its Modena plant. Last year it made 7353 cars, a third more than during the previous 12 months, and this number should rise again in 2008 with growing sales of the Gran Turismo and the Quattroporte, and the limited-edition 8C that it is building for Alfa Romeo.

Hot News: Bugatti Veyron Targa

Make way for the world’s fastest drop-top. Bosses at the VW Group have given the green light to a Targa version of the Bugatti Veyron.

Featuring a removable hard-top roof panel, it will deliver an incredible driving experience thanks to its 987bhp 6.0-litre W16 engine – and all at an amazing price. While the ‘standard’ car costs £840,000, the Targa is likely to be close to £900,000!

Only 80 will be built, against 300 for the coupé. But engineers are said to have decided against a full convertible as the Targa-style opening was the only roof that would fit inside the Veyron’s safety cage.

Even though the hard-top will be removable, there will be no space for it to be stored inside the car. If the heavens open, though, owners can make use of a fabric cover that can be extended to protect the cabin.

To cope with the loss of structural rigidity brought about by the removal of the roof, engineers will reinforce the Veyron’s chassis – a process which is likely to add to the model’s already hefty 1,950kg kerb-weight. As a result, the Targa won’t quite match the performance of the coupé version – the maximum speed will be limited to 217mph. That’s still quicker than the Pagani Zonda Roadster, though.

The wraps are expected to come off the Veyron Targa officially at a major motor show in 2009.

Sabtu, 26 April 2008

Hot News: Aston Martin Supercar

Is Aston Martin about to break with tradition and introduce a mid-engined V10 supercar to challenge Lamborghini and Ferrari? This model has caused a stir on the Internet, where message boards are awash with images of the sleek machine.

But while Aston is said to be considering a new two-seater to sit at the top of its range, it would probably be front-engined – unlike this suggestion by Dutch designer Sabino Leerentveld.

Jumat, 25 April 2008

Spied: 2010 Saab 9-5

This is a mystery GM prototype snapped wearing Swedish registration plates – but although it’s a similar size to next year’s long-awaited replacement for the Saab 9-5, we believe that it’s a new Holden lurking under the disguise.

According to registration details this car is a Holden, and the shape of the grille opening and the large circular badge clearly visible under the front disguise seem to back that up – it’s possible that this is a close-to-production prototype of Holden’s version of GM’s new large front-drive family of vehicles.

According to the database attached to this particular licence plate, this car is 485cm long, 180cm wide and weighs 1650kg. It has a 260bhp engine (probably a V6 unit) driving an automatic gearbox and rolls on 245/45 R18 wheels.

If it is a Holden, Saab engineers could be working on either a four-wheel drive transmission, or on turbocharged petrol engine for the car. Saab is a centre of excellence within GM for both these areas of engineering.

All GM brands will use the Epsilon 2 platform as the basis for new vehicles. The first to be unveiled in Europe will the Vauxhall Insignia in July, followed by the new Saab 9-5 in early 2009. Buick, Saturn, Pontiac and Chevrolet will also build cars based on the Epsilon 2 chassis.

Epsilon 2 is flexible enough to be fitted with a least three ‘levels’ of engineering content. For example, Saab is expected to the top-end chassis specification of double wishbone front suspension and a multi-link rear end. Lower status models, by contrast, will get plain McPherson struts at the front end. (Thanks to Autocar for News and Picture)

Spied: 2010 Cadillac CTS Wagon

The wagon variant of the Cadillac CTS has been caught testing ahead of its likely debut at the Paris Show in October, where it will probably be shown with the new 250hp, 406lb ft 2.9-liter V-6 turbo-diesel that will be critical for CTS' success in the European market.

The CTS wagon will be produced along side the sedan and coupe versions at the Lansing Grand River Assembly Plant in Michigan starting in the spring of 2009. Production volume is expected to be around 10,000-12,000 vehicles, with the majority destined for Europe.

The CTS wagon has been the subject of huge debate within GM. Execs with a North American focus couldn't see the point of doing a wagon because volumes would be small; more global oriented execs realized a wagon had a lot more acceptance in Europe, and would help grow (with the Coupe) perception of the CTS as a family of vehicles.

In the U.S., the CTS will help the upcoming Lambda-based crossover -- which will not, despite reports to the contrary, be called the BRX -- fill the void left by the moribund SRX, which gets the axe in the first half of 2009.

Approving the development of the CTS wagon was a critical step in the globalization of GM, and of the Cadillac brand.

New Car: 2009 SEAT Leon Cupra

Copa load of this ‘super’ Leon – it’s the most powerful car SEAT has ever made!

Under the striped bonnet lies a highly tuned version of the 2.0-litre TFSI engine from the standard Cupra, which pumps out 281bhp. As a result, the Copa completes the sprint from 0-62mph in 5.6 seconds, and goes on to a top speed of 157mph.

To cope with this pace, engineers have revised the Leon’s suspension and uprated the brakes. So as well as being faster than the standard Cupra, the Copa should handle better.

SEAT has developed the model to mark the seventh year of its one-make race series, the Supercopa, which supports the DTM German touring car championship.

And with its bold stripes and aggressive bodykit, it looks like a racer for the road. A pair of leather bucket seats features inside, while the unique paintwork is echoed on the centre console with two vertical white racing stripes in direct contrast to the black-on-white exterior. Other details include Copa-badged floor mats and alloy pedals on the inside, with black-painted 18-inch alloys and twin tailpipes outside.

The upgrades don’t come cheap, though – the limited edition costs £31,000 in Switzerland, where the Copa is on sale. It’s likely to be cheaper if SEAT decides to bring it here.

Rabu, 23 April 2008

New Car: 2009 Audi A3

Finally, the wraps are off the new A3… And Auto Express has the first official pictures.
Available in standard three door form, and as a five door Sportback, the car is set to hit the road this summer, sporting a new look, and a range of technological improvements.
Highlights include the dramatic new headlamps – which are like those fitted to the new A3 Cabriolet.
The new hatch gets a new interior too, and for the first time offers a new seven-speed semi automatic gearbox.
The equipment range for the Audi A3 and A3 Sportback has also been re-structured to and there are four trim levels to choose from.
As ‘Standard’ the A3 and A3 Sportback has a comprehensive level of specification and is now fitted with manual air conditioning on all models. As an upgrade the re-defined ‘SE’ trim offers a range of convenient features including the driver information system, multi-function steering wheel, front fog lamps and a different alloy wheel design.
Air conditioning is now offered as standard across the range, and all models are fitted with the chorus radio system with four speakers as standard, with Concert radio including an Aux-in socket standard on Sport and S line There are also modern infotainment options available, including the Bose Sound System and iPod and USB connections.
Prices for the newcomer are still to be announced.

Hot News: New Audi S4 to Get Supercharged V6

Those who assumed the 2010 Audi S4 would share its powertrain with the S5 appear to be incorrect. Instead, look for an all-new forced-induction 3.0-liter V-6 that will generate something close to the 340 horsepower found in the outgoing S4’s 4.2-liter V-8.

Why is the Audi S4 moving from a V-8 to a V-6, just as the BMW M3 moved from an inline-six to a V-8? In two words: Fuel economy. Audi’s strategy is to deliver comparable or improved overall performance by toeing the line on weight and maintaining power output by using forced induction on a smaller displacement engine.

The new V-6 also will be the base offering in the A6 Quattro, replacing the 3.2-liter V-6. Known as TFSI, which in the past has been Audi’s internal moniker for four-cylinder turbos, the new engine may be referred to as the 3.0T in the model name, possibly indicating a twin-charged system using both a supercharger and a turbocharger. While Volkswagen has a “twincharger,” Audi has not yet offered such a system. At the very least, we expect the new V-6 to be supercharged.

Don’t look for a dramatically lower weight in this S4. Compared with the outgoing 2008 A4, the redesigned 2009 A4’s body is approximately 10 percent lighter. The A4 and S4 will use identical sheetmetal this time around—the new S4 apparently was not developed by Audi's high-performance division, Quattro GmbH, but the S4 will be distinguished by having distinct cladding from the A4. Not only does the sharing save money, but stresses the exclusivity of the RS 4 which will better stand out with its distinct sheetmetal—including bulging fenders—and a V-8.

A trick differential like the one in the BMW X6 adds about 40 pounds. We expect to see Audi roll out its Magna-sourced “sport differential” (BMW uses ZF) in the S5 and Q5 as well, to combat understeer in its four-wheel-drive vehicles.

The supercharger will make the V-6 weigh about the same as the V-8 overall. Add in the requisite safety and luxury features that every new model gets, and it’s a wash. Expect Audi to claim a nominal weight reduction of only 20–100 pounds for the new model, putting it at about 3900 pounds.

Audi will debut the 2010 S4 this fall sometime after the 2008 Paris show in October—making the L.A. show in November a possibility. Expect the new S4 to compete with the BMW 335i for efficiency but the Audi probably won’t have the edge in performance and will cost significantly more. Watch for more details on the new S4’s engine in the coming days.

Hot News: Fiat 500 Hybrid

The 500 is going hybrid! Auto Express has learned that the in-demand Fiat will soon become even more appealing – with a petrol-electric engine that offers incredible fuel economy and super-low CO2 emissions.

It will be based on the company’s forthcoming 900cc two-cylinder unit – which will debut at July’s Good-wood Festival of Speed in West Sussex. The engine is mated to a motor and a battery pack, and will allow small cars like the 500 to run solely on electricity for short distances. Add a stop-start system and VW DSG-style twin-clutch gearbox, and it promises reduced CO2 emissions – engineers estimate a figure of below 90g/km!

That would help Fiat comply with the European Commission’s plans to impose an average 120g/km limit on the model ranges of all firms selling cars across the Continent by 2012.

No details have been revealed on the engine’s output, but it’s likely to come in two forms, as previewed by the Panda Aria concept at last Sept-ember’s Frankfurt Motor Show.

That car debuted the 900cc twin alongside a 105bhp turbo version, and Fiat also has plans for a normally aspirated 65bhp variant. The hybrid 500 is likely to benefit from other green technologies seen on the Aria, which include low-rolling-resistance tyres. The featherweight two-cylinder engine is 20 per cent lighter than a four-cylinder motor, so owners could expect 80mpg-plus fuel economy.

Alfredo Altavilla, boss of powertrain technologies at Fiat, told Auto Express the hybrid drivetrain should go into production in three years’ time. It would feature across Fiat’s small car range, making appearances in the Panda and Grande Punto.

And while the first petrol-electric cars may not be seen in showrooms until 2011, the all-new two-cylinder petrol engine will be available in the 500 before the end of the year.

Sabtu, 19 April 2008

Spied: 2010 SEAT Ibiza FR

Things are hotting up in Spain! Our secret snappers have caught the first undisguised examples of the scorching new SEAT Ibiza FR out testing.

Take a close look at this five-door model and you'll spot the bigger brakes behind larger wheels, together with twin tail pipes poking out from beneath the rear bumper.

In an effort to keep a low profile, engineers have used an essentially standard bodyshell. Expect the production version of the hot hatch to feature a sporty bodykit and range of eye-catching colours.

No details have been released about what mechanicals the newcomer will use, although powerplants from parent company VW are likely. Strong candidates are the 1.8-litre turbocharged petrol engine and the 168bhp 2.0-litre TDI unit from the larger Leon.

The rapid FR will be followed by an even quicker Cupra version of the new supermini. Based on the forthcoming Sport Coupe three-door it will be heavily influenced by the stunning Bocanegra concept that debuted at this year's Geneva Motor Show.

Although there's no official word on when the first fast Ibizas will be launched, expect to see UK cars hit showrooms at the end of the year.

New Car: 2009 Audi Q5

This is what happens when you put an Audi Q7 on a hot wash! The German brand is upping the ante in the compact SUV sector with its all-new Q5. And these first official pictures will have Land Rover and BMW executives in a sweat.

The newcomer is aimed squarely at the Freelander 2 and X3, combining smart styling with Audi’s famous quattro four-wheel-drive system.

Measuring 4.63 metres, the Q5 is longer than its closest rivals, but bosses claim it will be the sportiest compact SUV around when it hits UK showrooms in September. From the outside there’s no mistaking its distinctive Audi grille, while its optional LED daytime running lights borrow heavily from the new A4.

The rear tailgate is aluminium to reduce weight – just like the bon-
net. LED light clusters provide a striking look at the back. A pair of alloy roof rails boosts practicality, while an extra-large panoramic sunroof features on the options list.

Buyers will get the choice of three exterior packages. Standard Q5s feature black body trim, but customers will also be able to select a full body-colour option or even pick a contrasting shade. Alternatively, sporty S Line versions provide a more aggressive look, and an optional off-road package includes beefy underbody protection and bigger alloy wheels.

Audi is famed for its quality interiors and the Q5 won’t disappoint, with wood, aluminium, chrome, leather and Alcantara all featuring inside.

A gearshift indicator in the instrument panel helps you select the most economical ratio, and the brand’s clever MMI interface controls major functions via an integrated screen on the centre console. There’s also a space-saving electronic parking brake.

The Q5 scores for practicality, too, as the rear seat backs tilt, and an optional sliding bench is available to boost loadspace or rear legroom. The 540-litre boot can’t match the Free­lander 2 (755 litres), but it trumps the 480 litres available in the BMW X3 and extends to 1,560 litres if you fold the rear seats.

Extras include an A6 Avant-style load-securing system, which uses floor-mounted rails to stop small items from sliding around. The extensive options list includes everything from a folding front passenger seat to a climate-controlled cup-holder and powered tailgate.

To ensure that the Q5 is better to drive than its rivals, Audi Drive Select allows owners to tune the suspension settings. Meanwhile, the firm’s Dynamic Steering system varies the gearing of the rack, depending on road speed, and can even apply corrective inputs to improve on-the-limit safety.

A trio of engines is available, comprising one petrol and a pair of oil-burners. The revamped 2.0-litre T FSI unit delivers 208bhp and 350Nm of torque, taking the Q5 from 0-62mph in 7.2 seconds and giving 27.6mpg. The 168bhp 2.0 TDI returns 35.1mpg, while the flagship 236bhp 3.0 TDI does 30.5mpg – and can race from 0-62mph in 6.5 seconds.

Gearbox options include a conventional six-speed manual, although a seven-speed twin-clutch S tronic will be available on the 2.0T FSI and 3.0 TDI models.

Quattro all-wheel drive ensures excellent traction on and off-road, and hill descent control is fitted as standard. Prices are yet to be con-firmed, but entry-level models will start from less than £30,000

New Concept Car: Buick Invicta

After a long striptease, General Motors has finally unveiled the first renderings and details surrounding its Buick Invicta concept -- a vision of Buick's future and another in-the-sheetmetal manifestation of the growing international synergy between GM's Buick teams in Shanghai, China, and Warren, Michigan.

Invicta -- the star of GM's stand at the 2008 AutoChina show in Beijing -- is also widely believed to be what the 2010 Buick LaCrosse that's been spied testing will become when it makes its appearance on Buick showroom floors in both China and the U.S. The LaCrosse is a nameplate sold both here and in China, but the cars are substantially different. That will change with the next LaCrosse, which will be underpinned by GM's global Epsilon II architecture. The Epsilon II is front-drive based but all-wheel drive capable. Powering the Invicta concept is a version of GM's 2.0-liter, direct-injection turbo four cylinder with an estimated 250 horsepower and 220 lb-ft of torque, mated to a six-speed automatic transmission.

Buick rummaged through the badge bin to find Invicta (Latin for invincible) -- last affixed to a Buick in the late 1950s. But there's nothing old school about how the Invicta's design language was developed. According to GM's global design head Ed Welburn, the Buick design teams in both the U.S. and China put their brain power together, using the company's virtual design design centers to help meld the best ideas from both teams. Much the same was done with the Riviera concept that debuted at last year's Shanghai show.

Invicta carries multiple design cues from previous Buick concept efforts, including the Riveria and the Velite that's been kicking around the auto show circuit since 2004. Buick's waterfall grille grins brightly out front with the badge prominently affixed in the center, flanked by cat-eye headlights. The signature port holes have moved from the fenders to the top of a hood that's been sharply-creased at the edges.

From the side, the designers have gone with a coupe-like greenhouse that's become all the rage in automotive design. They also went to the Buick history books as inspiration for the car's 'sweepspear' cue that runs from the headlights across the beltline, makes a Charger-esque sweep over the rear wheels and ends at the tail lights. The Invicta's overall stance is wide and low, with short front and rear overhangs and wheels pushed out to the corners. Invicta wouldn't be a concept without 20-inch, look-at-me rims and low profile rubber, and it doesn't disappoint in that area.

Inside the cabin, the GM press-speak boasts of large car size in a midsize package, especially for rear passengers. A glass roof helps to open up the greenhouse, and premium touches in the cabin include seam stitching on the instrument soft-touch feel panel pad, steering wheel and door panels. Buttons, switches and pulls are also designed to upscale tactile standards, and LED accent lighting adds to the experience. Looking at the renderings, the center stack and console appear well-organized and executed.

While it's far too early to tell what exactly how much of Invicta's look will carry over to the new LaCrosse when it hits U.S. showrooms, probably late in 2009. But at least so far, it seems like the type of car that could help Buick build on the momentum generated from its well-received Enclave crossover.

First Sketch: Changan V802

The Changan Automobile Group is poised to reveal this V802 hatchback concept at Auto China 2008 in Beijing next week.

Though little is actually known about the concept at this point, it's fair to say that the compact hatch, which resembles a Ford Focus especially when seen from the rear, is near production ready.

Check back with us next week for more information and photos as we report live from Auto China 2008.

Jumat, 18 April 2008

New Car: 2009 Opel/Vauxhall Insignia

Look out Ford – because the Mondeo is about to get some stiff new competition from Vauxhall!
We’ve seen countless test mules and prototypes, but here are the first official pictures of the new Insignia. The new family car contender will line-up against rivals like the new Honda Accord, Mazda6 and Citroen C5 when it hits showrooms later this year.The Insignia is the first car to use GM’s new Epsilon2 platform, which will eventually underpin as many as 13 different models. And while it’s essentially an evolution of the old Epsilon1 platform, there’s nothing evolutionary about the Insignia’s styling.Not only has Vauxhall dropped the name of its existing family model, but the Insignia bears little resemblance to the car it replaces. Mark Adams, GM’s European design boss, said: “There’s nothing of the Vectra in here and that’s deliberate. We’re not going to take baby steps. We wanted this car to be distinctive and dynamic.”As you can see, the traditional V-bar grille has been ditched at the front with the new Vauxhall logo taking pride of place. Smart headlamps feature daytime running lamps as standard and high spec models will even get fashionable LED technology.Another neat touch is the rear badge, which incorporates the boot release button. The Insignia’s smooth styling is clearly inspired by the GTC Concept from last year’s Geneva Motor show and its tapering rear end and pronounced wheelarches provide a muscular look.Measuring 4.82m the newcomer is 21cm longer than the car it replaces, but is almost the same height and just 50mm wider. Despite it’s swooping roofline there’s as much headroom in the rear as you get in the current Vectra, while legroom has actually been improved thanks to the wheelbase, which has increased by 35mm.Three bodystyles will be available with saloon, hatch and estate models all in the pipeline. “We don’t have a separate look for the saloon and hatchback – they’re almost identical and even use the same rear doors,” explained Adams.The biggest difference between the two models is at the back, where the hatchback features a plastic moulding to achieve its sharp profile - the saloon achieves a similar look without it.The car’s sleek design is the result of hours spent in the wind tunnel and company bosses claim it is the best in its class, and one of the best cars full-stop, when it comes to aerodynamics. Its low drag shape will help to boost fuel economy and reduce CO2 emissions.There’s good news for enthusiasts too, because the Insignia’s suspension has been tuned to suit British roads. The UK is the biggest market for the new car and the big-selling SRI model has been almost entirely tuned here, so bosses are confident it can go head-to-head with the excellent Ford Mondeo on the road.While the Insignia previews the look of future Vauxhall models, don’t expect a series of identical designs. Instead they will adopt elements of this car. “No more Russian dolls!” said Adams. “Future Vauxhall designs won’t necessarily have the same combination of features.”Elements of the Insignia that are set to become trademarks include the vertical ‘precision’ line on the rear tailgate and bumper and the blade-style accent line on the body sides.The stunning new model is set to be the star of the British Motor Show this summer, where it will make its world debut in July. It will then hit UK showrooms in October.

Kamis, 17 April 2008

Spied: 2009 Audi Q5

Audi will be one the headliners at this month’s Beijing auto show as it debuts its long-awaited Q5 crossover.
The baby brother to the Audi Q7 takes direct aim at the BMW X3, Infiniti EX35, Acura RDX, and upcoming Mercedes-Benz GLK.
Being an Audi, we expect the final version to be loaded with luxury, performance, and an impeccable interior.
The Teutonic automaker was caught testing a thinly disguised prototype on the famed Nürburgring as it prepares to go on sale early next year in the U.S.

New Car: 2009 Mercedes GLK

Mercedes is the first to admit the all-new GLK crossover is another urban SUV that is unlikely to spend much time in the woods. It may attempt to look tough, but its C-class genes ensure it is painless on the well-traveled road where it belongs. On the road it is “perfect,” Mercedes says. Off-road it is “balanced.”
But does it look tough? The GLK’s strangely tall greenhouse evokes the similarly proportioned Jeep Commander, and we’re heard it referred to as the “Mercedes Forester.”
But the GLK, to be built in Bremen, Germany, is a convincing little brother to the GL-class. The interior is surprisingly edgy and fashionable—Cadillac-like in places.
This is one of the few Mercedes models that won’t get an AMG version—the others being the GL and the A- and B-class which are not sold in the U.S. The R63 AMG was crossed off order forms a while ago.

Hot News: Renault Twingo CC

Can't quite stretch to a Mercedes SL? Then how about this? The new Renault Twingo II Coupé-Cabriolet claims to be the hard-top convertible to satisfy the most budget-conscious sun-seeker.It’s aimed at the likes of the Vauxhall Tigra and Peugeot 207 CC, and is tipped to be one of the cheapest roadsters available. The newcomer is scheduled to arrive in showrooms here in the spring of next year, with prices expected to start at a highly competitive £10,000.Before that, it’s likely to debut at the Paris Motor Show in October. And that’s when fans of the brand will get their first glimpse of the Twingo CC’s clever single-piece hard-top. This will disappear at the touch of a button as it slides under the rear deck – although according to at least one insider at the company, integrating it into the design has proved a challenge. Renault has been forced to rework the standard Twingo from the A-pillar back to accommodate the roof. Engineers even had to take out the rear bench – and as a result, the Twingo CC will be the brand’s first genuine two-seater since the mid-engined Clio V6 was axed in 2005.In keeping with its sporting ambitions, the newcomer will be built at Renault’s factory in Dieppe, alongside other models in the Renaultsport range. But there is currently no official word on whether the car will wear the firm’s performance badge as standard – or if the Renaultsport logo will be reserved for top-spec variants.Bosses might be reluctant to use the name as the Twingo CC is likely to be more show than go. Under the bonnet, buyers will be offered a single engine option at launch: the 1.2-litre four-cylinder unit found in the standard city car. Although this will be uprated to deliver 120bhp – an extra 45bhp over the hatch – to help the CC haul round the additional bulk of its folding hard-top mechanism, its performance won’t exactly set pulses racing. That’s why Renault may decide to offer a hot version using the 131bhp 1.6-litre engine from the Twingo RS revealed in Issue 993.

Spied: 2010 Lexus LF-A

Is Lexus finally on track with it's supercar-rivalling LF-A?. Our spies caught this special racing prototype testing at the famous Nurburgring.
Although a production version of the exciting 200mph two-seater is due until 2009, performance fans will get a glimpse of a competition version this year.
Sources within the company claim that the V10-powered coupe is set to make its public debut in May's Nurburgring 24 hour endurance race.
As you can see, the car has been tweaked to give it an edge on the circuit. At the front is a deeper front bumper with larger holes to aid high-speed cooling.
Move around to the rear and you'll spot the tall carbon fibre rear wing and large triple exhausts above a F1-style diffuser. All of this modifications should mean that the LF-A laps considerable quicker than the roumoured 7 minutes 24 secs of the road-based prototype.
However, underneath the all-black bodywork are near standard mechanicals, as engineers at the company are aiming to prove the relaibility of the production car drivetrain.
The newcomer will make its debut on the grid during qualifying for the German event on 23 May.

Hot News: 2010 Citroen C3

IT’S another small car design masterclass from Citroen! Supermini buyers are set to be spoiled for choice as the French giant is putting the finishing touches to its distinctive new C3.And as these exclusive Auto Express pictures reveal, this is a great-looking three-door. Back in Issue 991, we showed you images of the 2CV-inspired five-door C3, but that model appears pretty conservative next to the outlandish newcomer. Taking a similar approach to the C4, designers aim to make two distinct versions of the C3 to appeal to very different groups. The practical five-door will offer a more conventional body, while the three-door is intended to tempt younger buyers.In Issue 1,007, we showed you the revised C2 – but Citroen bosses have already decided that this model does not have a long-term future. Buyers after a budget machine can opt for the cheaper C1, while the more capable three-door C3 is set to fill the gap between the tiny city car and the next-generation five-door C3. As you can see, the new- comer has a similar appearance to its brother at the front (see panel), where it will have oversized front headlamps to make the body look narrower. The swollen wheelarches are another regular Citroen theme, but it’s when viewed from the side that the C3 is set to turn most heads.Designers have taken the bold step of giving the roof a different colour to the body. This is made more striking by the prominent C-pillar, which separates the front and rear windows.At the rear, the Citroen’s lines are just as eye-catching, with a shallow glass area and huge tail-lights. Having witnessed the success of MINI’s options packages, Citroen is likely to offer plenty of extras, which will include everything from body/roof colour combinations to alloy wheels.The supermini won’t be officially unveiled until October, when the final details will be confirmed. It is likely to be based on the same capable platform as Peugeot’s latest 207, delivering much improved handling. This, allied with performance, will be key to the three-door’s success as it aims to take on Alfa’s MiTo (see Page 20).The firm will also be keen to resurrect its reputation for hot hatches with a new high-performance model. Taking on Vauxhall’s Corsa SRi, the range-topper is unlikely to offer more than around 175bhp, but its feisty handling will be engineered to tempt back fans of the old Saxo VTS and VTR.Both three-door and five-door versions of the new C3 are set to go on sale in the UK in 2009, but that won’t be the end of the expansion of the small car range. A supermini-MPV model to take on Vauxhall’s Meriva will be added to the line-up in 2010, while a successor to the drop-top Pluriel is also on the drawing board.

Hot News: Detail of VW Up! Production Version

Meet the modern-day people’s car. Set to follow in the footsteps of the much loved Beetle, this is the most revolutionary new model in the history of Volkswagen: the stunning up!Thanks to our sources within the company, Auto Express can give you the best look yet at the striking city runabout. It’s scheduled to make its debut in UK showrooms in 2010, and will compete with an emerging army of chic, eco-friendly small cars such as the Fiat 500 and all-new Toyota iQ. The up! was displayed for the first time in concept form at last autumn’s Frankfurt Motor Show, and is the smallest, cleverest model VW has ever built. It has a super-compact, rear-engined, rear-wheel-drive powertrain, and promises to be incredibly environmentally friendly, with low CO2 emissions. As you can see from our images – produced using exclusive insider information – the final showroom version will maintain all the cheekiness and stand-out style of the concept. And that’s no surprise; bosses at VW have always made it clear that the production up! would look virtually identical to the model seen on the stands at Frankfurt. This is an approach already followed by Toyota with the iQ. At the front, the up! gets headlights inspired by the Golf, as well as a reprofiled bumper with redesigned air intakes and integrated indicators. It’s a similar story at the rear, where the lamps have been modified from those on the show model, as has the lower bumper. VW’s trademark pull-type door handles and conventional wing mirrors complete the look. The up! will be the spiritual successor to the Lupo, and measures around 3.5 metres long and 1.6 metres wide. Yet VW claims it will offer more space inside than any class competitor. Inspiration for the four-seat cabin design will be taken from the concept, with buyers being able to fold the three passenger seats flat or remove them completely. The dashboard will be cutting-edge, too, incorporating digital touchscreen displays. And the hi-tech feel continues under the skin, as VW engineers are currently developing a choice of two-cylinder powerplants for the up! These will come in petrol or diesel guises, and have a capacity of around 600cc. Both units are likely to be turbocharged, and VW is targeting CO2 emissions of less than 100g/km and combined fuel economy of 94mpg. A 1.2-litre three-cylinder petrol motor is under consideration, too. While the rear-engined layout pays homage to the Beetle, it’s partly been chosen to meet the latest pedestrian safety rules. The only way designers could achieve an adequate crumple zone while maintaining tiny dimensions was to put the unit at the back.As well as the three-door in our pictures, VW has plans for a five-door version. Incredibly, it will sit on exactly the same wheelbase, and will be no taller than the three-door, either. An MPV version – as previewed by the Space up! at January’s Los Angeles Motor Show – will also join the range, while there are plans for a hybrid as well. What’s more, the groundbreaking up! platform won’t only come wearing a Volkswagen badge – it’s also set to spawn a host of other VW Group pro-ducts (see panel, below).The up! will be the first version to go on sale, however, with a basic car designed for emerging markets such as China, India and Russia costing from as little as £4,000. A more luxurious variant for European buyers will get goodies such as climate control, and carry a price tag of around £7,500. The final, production-ready up! is expected to make its world debut at a major motor show next year.

Rabu, 16 April 2008

Spied: 2010 GMC Terrain

The heavily camouflaged crossover you're looking at is latest member of GM's Theta family. Designed to replace the Pontiac Torrent in the Buick-GMC-Pontiac distribution channel (and possibly the body-on-frame GMC Envoy), the GMC Terrain is expected to arrive in the middle of 2009 as a 2010.
A number of GMC-specific design cues separate the Terrain from its Theta brethren (Chevrolet Equinox, Saturn Vue), including blocky wheel arches, a stubbier truck-like front end, and a nearly-flat roof rather than one that slopes in the rear as is becoming commonplace in the segment

number of GMC-specific design cues separate the Terrain from its Theta brethren (Chevrolet Equinox, Saturn Vue), including blocky wheel arches, a stubbier truck-like front end, and a nearly-flat roof rather than one that slopes in the rear as is becoming commonplace in the segment.

Best guess for powertrain options at this point would be a version of GM's 3.6-liter V-6 that's been making its way into multiple vehicles in the automaker's lineup, mated to a six-speed automatic.
Additionally, the North American Terrain will bear little relation to the Middle Eastern model of the same name, although it is a Theta-based vehicle. The Middle Eastern Terrain is a rebadged version of the Opel Antara/Saturn Vue.

New Car: 2009 Hyundai Matrix

South Korean auto manufacturer Hyundai has released official photos of the new C-segment Matrix MPV scheduled to go on sale in the European market. This is the first major facelift since the original vehicle, designed by Pininfarina, was launched in 2001.
The new vehicle exhibits many of the styling themes seen on Hyundai production and concept vehicles - such as the i10 and i30. The front end is defined by a slim upper grille supported by reverse trapezoid lower intake and the headlamps have been enlarged, moving away from the slim and sharp image of the original design to a more friendly look. Three engines will be available: a 1.6-liter and 1.8-liter gasoline and a 1.5-liter CRDi turbo-diesel.
Interestingly, the new Matrix, produced at the Hyundai manufacturing facility in Turkey, will only be sold in Europe. Sales of the new car will begin at the end of April.

Selasa, 15 April 2008

Spied: 2010 Jaguar XKR-S

The waiting is almost over! Jaguar is set to return to its roots with a very special performance evolution of the new XK.

Unveiled as a concept at the Geneva Motor Show, the car is promising to take the Jaguar sportscar experience to a whole new level, thanks to lightweight design and a 412bhp evolution of the firm's 4.2-litre supercharged engine.

Firmer springs, special brakes and thicker anti roll bars promise to ensure handling is up to scratch... And with a lower ride height and wider wheels the car promises to deliver impressive mid corner grip.

Tipped to go on sale in summer, priced from £75,000 just 200 examples of the newcomer will be built, with only 50 of those available in the UK. However, collectors are being urged to sign up for the car quickly, as interest in the car has already been strong

Unofficial Picture: 2009 Opel Insignia

We weren’t supposed to see it until Friday, but pictures of Vauxhall’s top secret new Insignia have leaked!

These images were sent in by a reader of Auto Express’s sister title in the Netherlands, Auto Week, and show exactly what Vauxhall has been developing for months. After endless spy shots, snippets of information and teaser images the Insignia has finally arrived.

As you can see, the Vauxhall’s shape is far more stylish than the outgoing Vectra’s, while interior quality and design have also received a boost.

Set to make its debut in the metal at the British Motor Show in July, the new model will then go on sale by the end of the year. For full technical details and pictures of the right-hand drive Insignia be sure to return to autoexpress.co.uk on Friday this week for our exclusive report.

New Car: 2009 Honda Pilot

When the Pilot launched in 2002 as an ’03 model, it was a little ahead of its time. Back then, trucky, body-on-frame SUVs such as the Ford Explorer were the big sellers, and fuel economy wasn’t in the forefront of anyone’s mind. The Pilot’s innovative beginnings on the Odyssey minivan’s unibody architecture weren’t due to Honda’s superior foresight, however; the company simply didn’t have a body-on-frame platform to start with. So the Pilot launched by default as what is, in today’s vernacular, a crossover.

An intelligently packaged three-row, eight-passenger SUV, the Pilot was lighter and more efficient than the competition, as well as a smooth on-road driver, grabbing the large-SUV award at our annual 5Best Trucks competition six years in a row.

The competition took notice, and recently there has been an influx of competitors that have squarely targeted the Pilot: specifically, the Mazda CX-9 and GM’s quartet of large utes, the GMC Acadia, the Saturn Outlook, the Buick Enclave, and the Chevy Traverse.

Our current large-SUV champ in this ever-growing three-row class is the sporty CX-9, which knocked the Pilot off the podium for 2008. Naturally, Honda has rethought and updated the Pilot for 2009 to stay in the hunt.

Spied: 2010 Buick Invicta/LaCrosse

General Motors previewed its Beijing auto show "concept" Monday; the Buick Invicta sedan. The Invicta is said to hint at the next-generation LaCrosse, which will be built off the second-generation Epsilon (Chevy Malibu/Pontiac G6/Saturn Aura/Saab 9-3) platform, but really, what showgoers will see Saturday is pretty much the real car. Its styling, says GM interior design chief Dave Lyon, will feature modern interpretations of the Buick portholes (or "ventiports" as they were called in the '50s) and the "sweepspear," the asymmetric v-shaped profile accent found on many of the brand's cars in the '50s and '60s.

With the Invicta, Buick designers have taken last year's Riviera concept even further, Lyon says, making "a very aggressive, very chic four-door concept with a low roofline." You may also read that to mean there's no Buick coupe in the cards. The division's biggest market, China, (where most Buick owners ride in the back seat) is even more adverse to two-door models than is the U.S. As for the "low roofline," it's mostly a visual trick, made possible by a high beltline. Think front-wheel-drive, midsize version of the Chrysler 300.The good news is that this will make for a very stylish front-drive midsize car, intended to take advantage of the momentum begun with the Enclave crossover utility vehicle. The interior also will pick up some of the themes that the Riviera concept set, like ambient lighting. Lyon describes it as evoking calm and quiet. "It will lower your blood-pressure," he says.

New Car: 2010 Mercedes SL65 AMG Black Series

The next Black Series is out of the bag. Mercedes-Benz's AMG offered a small group of journalists a sneak peek of its 670-horsepower supercar at the New York show last month, issued with the world's most vague embargo. So here we are with details. AMG says the SL65 Black Series is capable of 220 mph, but it's speed-limited to 300 kp/h, or about 186 mph and can do 0-60 mph in less than 4 seconds.

AMG squeezed an extra 66 horsepower out of the 6.0-liter, bi-turbo V-12, but torque remains unmoved from the magic 1000 Newton-Meter number, equal to 738 pound-feet. (Like the "standard" SL65, it comes only with a five-speed automatic transmission.) The power improvements instead are connected more to AMG's weight-reduction program, which results in a 6.1-pounds per horsepower ratio. The "standard" SL65 has a 7.7-pounds per horsepower ratio. Beyond its engine, the SL65 AMG Black Series is roughly akin to the SL65 AMG what a Dodge Charger Nextel Cup car is to a Dodge Charger SRT-8. The folding top has been made a fixed roof, the track widened (AMG refused to say how much), the fenders have been flared and the front fenders, hood and roof sheetmetal has been replaced with carbon fiber. The electro-hydraulic Active Body Control suspension has been tossed for a fully adjustable coil spring suspension. Dunlop Maxx GTs are 265/35ZR-19s front, 325/30ZR-20s, rear on one-piece forged alloy wheels. Brake discs are larger and because AMG plans to build just 350 units for worldwide sales, the car is exempt from European pedestrian crash standards, so the front grille is squatter than the new one on the SL-Series and the hood is lower.Running on the automotive treadmill shaves 570 pounds off the car's curb weight, 88 pounds of which are the result of switching to a fixed roof. It's now a relatively svelt 4,080 pounds. The rear diffuser also is carbon fiber. The subtle rear lip spoiler provides about 77 pounds of downforce, and rises to a full spoiler at 62 mph.Your office space for controlling all this includes two carbon-fiber racing-shell seats -- there's no back seat -- a flat-bottom steering wheel and yards of Alcantara. Paint color choices are white, black, red or silver. It goes on sale in the U.S. next year at an if-you've-gotta-ask price well north of the SL65's $188,025 sticker.

Hot News: Dodge Ram Hybrid and DSG Transmission

Amidst company-wide changes set to decrease overall expenditures and losses, Chrysler LLC's executive vice president of product development Frank Klegon recently announced at the Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE) World Congress in Detroit that the company plans to build a hybrid Dodge Ram truck, install a DSG transmission in selected international models, and increase standard features available in all models.
According to a report by Automotive News, the Dodge truck will be built by 2010 and will feature the latest advances in Chrysler's hybrid technology portfolio. Among the many new sales-boosting features is the UConnect system that will allow drivers to wirelessly connect their Bluetooth-enabled phones to their car's audio system -- much like Ford's SYNC unit.Klegon also told the SAE of a new dual-clutch DSG transmission that will debut in next year's Dodge Journey, Chrysler Sebring and Dodge Avenger models in international markets. The new transmission was built in conjunction with German company Getrag and is said to reduce emission output while increasing fuel economy with its seamless shifts. Meanwhile, Chrysler's minivans will be offered with a blind-spot detection system in 2009, as well as a back-up radar system that detects and notifies of passing objects while reversing.
Such developments may prove that the ailing automaker is indeed stepping in the right direction in its quest for increasing sales, rather than simply eliminating existing (and poor selling) models.

Hot News: Next Focus will be a Global Model

Ford of Europe fans, rejoice: it looks like when the next generation debuts in 2010 or 2011, a new version of the stylish Euro-Focus compact you've been dreaming of since 2005 may finally be available at dealers here in the U.S.
With all the excitement over spy shots of the possible 2010 Taurus, it's clear that Ford CEO Alan Mulally's idea to build cars with a more consistent, worldwide design is a hit with enthusiasts. And now it looks like the car that has long served as the poster child for superior blue oval products offered across the Atlantic, the Focus, will soon go global as well. During a presentation at the SAE 2008 World Congress in Detroit, Ford Product Chief Derrick Kuzak announced that 87 percent of the upcoming Focus will be sourced from the global parts bin, and that much of the car will be engineered in Europe. Even better, the car will use the highly-regarded C1 platform of the current European Focus, which at present is only available in the states on the Volvo S40 and Mazda 3.Kuzak cited the 87 percent as an example of the automaker's new global product-development strategy, which cuts costs and speeds development time, and also mentioned the Ford Fiesta, which has 66 percent of its parts sourced globally, though it didn't use the same worldwide plans the Focus did. Of course beyond the global parts sharing and use of the C1 platform, little is known about the next-generation Focus -- especially whether European and U.S. versions of the car will have similar styling. But considering how long American Ford fans have dreamed of the C1-based Focus finally reaching our shores, this is good news indeed. Let's just hope Ford remembers to send the RS over, too.

Spied: 2010 Saab 9-4x

These are the pictures that prove Saab is getting serious about the development of its new SUV. So say hello to the new 9-4X - which made its debut at the Detroit Auto Show as a biopower badged concept car.
Codenamed GMT168, the Saab 9-4X will arrive in time for the 2010 model year. Sharing the platform with the upcoming Cadillac BRX, the Theta-Epsilon based Saab will be built in at the Ramos Arizpe plant in Mexico.
And unlike the 9-7X, this will be sold globally. Styling – as you can easily see – will be very close to that of the concept, and powerplants will include a range of petrol units, as well as a new 250bhp diesel. The 9-4X will also offer Saab’s XWD all-wheel-drive system.

Sabtu, 12 April 2008

Hot News: Skoda Superb Estate

Czech giant Skoda is set to join the space race with an eagerly anticipated estate based on the huge Superb. Our exclusive image is the best indication yet of how the new car will look when it’s officially unveiled at the Paris Motor Show in October. Crucially, it’s the first time that Skoda has offered its flagship Superb line-up with a load-lugger. And our spies caught engineers testing a blue proto-type, which uses the Octavia bodywork to disguise its longer platform and higher roofline. This is the first proof the firm is working on a rival to the Volvo V70.Inside, the Superb Estate will offer even more load space than the hatch, which has an innovative ‘double opening’ tailgate, as revealed in Issue 1,003. As a result, the newcomer should be one of the class’s largest carriers.It will be virtually the same length as the standard Superb, measuring around 4,850mm. But because it’s taller and benefits from a revised rear bench, the estate promises far greater load-lugging ability. Drivers will have the choice of six VW-sourced engines: three petrols and three diesels.Entry-level models get the 105bhp 1.9 TDI oil-burner, while the flagship will take power from a 3.2-litre V6 delivering 260bhp. Five and six-speed gearboxes will be available, although bosses have also hinted that a slick-shifting, six-speed semi-automatic – based on Skoda parent company VW’s DSG transmission – will also be offered shortly after the car is launched. Speculation has been rife that the marque will introduce a four-wheel-drive version of the latest-generation model, but Skoda has not yet provided official confirmation of this. The Superb Estate is due to go on sale in UK showrooms early next year, and buyers can expect to pay a premium of around £1,500 over the hatchback. That would see the entry-level Classic version start from about £15,500.

Jumat, 11 April 2008

Spied: 2010 Chevrolet Camaro SS

The forthcoming Chevrolet Camaro has already been causing excitement in America, but what looks like a prototype of the high-performance ‘SS’ version has crossed the Atlantic for a testing session at the Nurburgring.
The new muscle car goes on sale in the ‘States early next year but hasn’t been confirmed for sale in Europe. GM hasn’t announced any plans to engineer a right-hand drive version, but sources within GM UK say that British bosses are battling hard for us to get a version with the steering wheel reversed - something Ford hasn’t done with the current-generation Mustang.
The standard Camaro will be available with both V6 and V8 powerplants, with the SS likely to get a 400bhp version of GM’s 6.0-litre ‘LS2’ V8 engine.
The original Camaro SS was one of the first muscle cars, being available with a range of engines including a 375bhp 6.5-litre V8 when it was introduced in 1967. The previous generation Camaro was sold briefly – and unsuccessfully – in the UK before being dropped in 2002. (Thanks to Autocar for pictures and news)

Spied: 2009 Ford F-150 Raptor

Ford’s extreme pickup, the F-150 Raptor, is becoming more real by the minute, presumably with the long-awaited Boss V-8 engine under the hood.
Here are the latest spy shots of the monster truck that is expected to go on sale as a 2010 or 2011 model, restoring our faith in Ford for recognizing the need for specialty performance vehicles and for resurrecting plans for a Hemi-fighting V-8.
The camo’d mule in an F-150 body was caught by photographers about the same time that Ford officials in Vegas—there for the automaker’s 2008 Dealer Show—were teasing their audience with video footage of a Raptor mule bombing across the desert at high speeds. Ford’s new marketing chief Jim Farley reportedly was downright giddy as a picture of the production grille was shown, with the Ford name stamped into its black mesh.
Here Comes the Boss
The anticipated Boss engine was quoted as being rated at 380-horsepower and 400 pound-feet of torque. However, everything Car and Driver has learned to date has us expecting a 400-plus hp 6.2-liter V-8 from the new modular Boss family. This would one-up the 6.1-liter Hemi, the 5.7-liter V-8 in the Toyota Tundra; and GM’s 6.0-liter V-8. And since the future of Ford powertrain evolves around EcoBoost—direct-injection and often turbocharged gasoline engine technology—we expect this to be a hallmark of the Boss engines, as well, although the 6.2 in the Raptor would be naturally aspirated.
Workers at Ford’s idled Essex Engine Plant in Windsor, Ontario, have been awaiting approval to build a new fuel-efficient V-8. While Ford officials have not confirmed the product tentatively slated to be built at the Canadian plant, the low-volume Boss appears to be a good fit. Windsor workers built the Triton modular V-8 that was in the Ford SVT F-150 Lightning pickup until it was discontinued in 2004.
Timing of the Raptor dovetails with recent confirmation from Derrick Kuzak, Ford’s product development chief, that we can expect a new modular V-8 for trucks by the end of the decade. This would be fruition of a project that dates back to 2005 when the engine was codenamed Hurricane.
Dealers in Vegas were also treated to a look at one of the Raptor's long-travel shocks, sourced from Fox Racing and specially built for the Raptor program. We are told it looks similar to Fox's 2.0 Piggy Back reservoir shocks with 12 inches of travel—four more than the eight-inch shocks currently on Ford's FX-4 off-road trim package. In other words, this baby is ready to rock both on and off the road.
Ford execs are fired up about the new truck as well, telling dealers the Raptor is “the first and only Baja 1000 Trophy Truck you'll be able to buy from a dealer," and promising to "drive this (and other vehicles shown to Ford dealers) right up Toyota's a**." Now them’s fighting words!
SVT a Still Virile Team
Ford created its Special Vehicle Team in 1992. The performance team crafted the Mustang Cobra and F-150 Lightning pickup, followed later by SVT versions of the Ford Contour and Focus. When the Lightning was phased out in 2004, it left the Dodge Ram SRT-10 as the undisputed performance-pickup king.
But the super-Ram has also since been discontinued, and Ford continues to insist SVT is not dead, just diminished. The most recent use of the badge was to produce 1000 of them to slap on the limited-run 2008 Shelby GT500KR Mustang. Prior to that, the last SVT vehicle was the 2007 Ford Mustang Shelby GT500. Ford has insisted the division was on hiatus, but continues to exist and that is has been working on an SVT truck—presumably the Raptor—since the fall of 2006
As for the Raptor itself, the front clip of the mule running around appears to be modified version of the new and pending 2009 F-150. The air intake in the front bumper is larger and sports a wide grin, although we don’t think it is to feed more air to an intercooler for a turbocharger—at least not initially. Cooling vents atop the hood would function to lower engine compartment temperatures when this beast is in full steam.
“Premium fuel only” labels have also been spotted on prototype instrument panels, further fueling our optimism the Boss is on track.
And the photographers got close enough to read the tires: Toyo Open Country All Terrain Light Truck LT 325/70R-17s, which convert to 35 X 12.50-inch tires on 17-inch wheels—perfect for gnarly terrain.
All we can say is: bring it on.

NB: AmericanTrucks.com has all the Ford F150 Parts you need.

Kamis, 10 April 2008

Spied: 2009 Ford Focus RS

Don't be fooled by the disguise – this previous-generation Focus is the latest mule for the scorching new Focus RS, due next spring for around £25,000. Our spies caught the hot hatch putting in some blistering laps around a test track. And this shot proves that the RS is in for some serious aerodynamic treatment. The untidy masking at the front suggests Ford is planning to add a sizeable spoiler to help keep the RS sticking to the asphalt – and it’s the same story at the rear. Rigid, low suspension and beefy brakes provide sharp handling, while the 280bhp 2.5-litre turbo engine will deliver a 0-60mph time of around five seconds.

Spied: 2011 Opel Astra

Our latest photos from the Nurburgring reveal the 2011 Vauxhall Astra going through high-speed testing at the famous German circuit.
This disguised prototype is underpinned by General Motor’s new global Delta platform, which is also used as a base for the electric-hybrid Chevrolet Volt concept car.
This commonality makes it very likely that the next-generation Astra will offer a version of the Chevrolet’s low-emissions E-Flex powertrain, possibly combined with the familiar 1.3 CDTi diesel engine. This could make it the greenest vehicle in its class, with Prius-beating CO2 emissions.
As for conventional engines, like the one powering this test mule, we can also expect a range of new high-efficiency turbocharged petrol engines along with some familiar diesel powerplants from the rest of the Astra range.
Despite the prototype’s presence at the Nurburgring, there is no evidence yet of any high-performance derivatives of the new car. Vauxhall insiders have previously indicated that the range-topping VXR will not be replaced by a directly comparable model, and that future fast Astras will feature the same fuel-saving technology as the rest of the range. (Thanks to Autocar for pictures and news).
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