Kamis, 31 Juli 2008

Spied: 2010 BMW X5 M & X6 M

Autocar has learned that high performance M-Power versions of the BMW X5 and X6 will be introduced next year.

According to Ludwig Willish, boss of BMW’s M-Division, sportier versions of the two SUVs, which will be branded as the X5M and X6M, are a priority to allow the company to take the fight to the Porsche Cayenne GTS and the Mercedes ML63 AMG.

Both the X5M and X6M will be powered by BMW’s twin turbocharged 4.0-litre V8 petrol engine, launched in the standard X6 earlier this year. In standard guise it delivers 408bhp, and the M-Power version will be retuned to offer around 500bhp. Torque is also expected to swell to around 480lb ft, up from the current V8 X6’s 443lb ft.

“BMW M division is working on these projects,” confirmed M-boss Willisch. “But it will be late 2009 at the earliest before they will be ready for the road.”

BMW plans to revise the current four-wheel drive system for the sportier M-versions, providing more rear-drive bias.

Adding two big off-roaders to the M-division roster is part of BMW’s broader plan to move into new market segments. But it also reveals M division’s preference for tuned, twin-turbo V8 power, rather than developing the naturally aspirated 5.0-litre V10 that is used in the M5 and M6. Company insiders also indicate it’s likely that the 2011 M5 will downsize to use a more modern, economical turbocharged V8 engine.

Autocar also understands that the more powerful V8 will be used to create an M version of the 8-series – a sleek new four door saloon previewed by the CS concept first revealed at last year’s Shanghai motor show.(Thanks to Autocar for News and Pictures).

NB: Check out WheelHQ.com's selection of BMW X5 Wheels.

Spied: 2010 Toyota Prius

Shown here are the latest spy photos the 2010 Toyota Prius, sporting what looks to be a significantly redesigned front end. Both longer and wider than its predecessor, the new Toyota Prius is playing host to rumors that have everything from a station wagon to convertible variant in the works. While we're not sure about either of those predictions (especially with Toyota's hybrid lineup scheduled to grow with entirely new models), what we do know is that the new Toyota Prius hybrid will eventually be built at Toyota's new U.S. assembly plant, currently under construction in Mississippi.

The next-generation Prius is expected to be bigger dimensionally from the outgoing car and will probably get a new, 1.8-liter engine with some 100 horsepower on tap. Combined horsepower (engine and electric motor) should push past the 150 mark from 110 today -- all while increasing fuel economy from the current car's 48 city/45 highway numbers.

Other speculation has the new Prius featuring solar panels on the roof to power such accessories as the air conditioning system, as well as to help charge up the hybrid's batteries. The new Prius is expected to retain the current model's nickel metal hydride batteries for the time being, though it could make the switch to smaller, lighter lithium ion batteries later in the production run after the new batteries have been tested on a new plug-in hybrid model set for 2010 release.

Currently, dealers are selling out of Prius models worldwide in the wake of the recent spike in gas prices, prompting Toyota to bump production by 70 percent and build 480,000 examples annually when the new version hits the streets. Toyota is also building two new battery plants in Japan with partner Panasonic, in hopes that it will keep up with growing demand for hybrid automobiles. Eventually, Toyota hopes to be selling 1 million hybrid vehicles per year, globally. It has sold some 1.5 million Prius models since the car's 1997 inception.

Look for the third-generation Prius hybrid to make its debut at the 2009 Detroit Auto Show, with production models hitting showrooms both in Japan and the U.S. later next year.

Selasa, 29 Juli 2008

Hot News: BMW Isetta

Two of the most important new cars ever are about to ‘bubble’ to the surface – and in a world exclusive head-to-head, Auto Express has brought them together for the first time!

These are the clearest illustrations yet of BMW’s new Isetta and its sister, the Fiat Topolino. They are the result of a new deal between the two firms, which will also be extended to include next-generation versions of the MINI and Alfa Romeo MiTo.

The Isetta and Topolino are crucial to BMW and Fiat’s attempts to reduce the overall CO2 emissions of their ranges – but they will also offer buyers 100mpg fuel returns! Reviving a name not seen since the bubble car of the Fifties, the Isetta will take BMW into a new sector of the motoring market.

It will be joined by the Fiat Topolino – which we featured in Issue 1,013. Both machines will offer incredible fuel consumption and low emissions, as well as tiny dimensions, and rival the imminent VW up! and Toyota iQ.

The Isetta will be hugely important, because it will help BMW 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. And, as there are plans for an electric version, it would also enable the manufacturer to meet California’s upcoming zero-emissions vehicle legislation.

As you can see from our artist’s impression, the Isetta harks back to the original bubble car shape. But it has been given a modern reworking by the design team, with the addition of some BMW-style chunkiness. The body is made up of simple panels, likely to be fashioned from plastic to save weight and help resist parking dings.

Meanwhile, the Topolino gets a retro look inspired by the 500, with a cheeky front end featuring a smooth nose and large headlights. Under the skin
of both models lies an all-new platform that places the engine in the rear and sends drive to the back wheels.

With an electric-only Isetta some way off, small-capacity petrol and diesel engines will feature initially. And as Fiat is using a new 900cc two-cylinder petrol motor in the Topolino, the Isetta could benefit from the same unit.

The new powerplant was previewed in Fiat’s Panda Aria concept at last September’s Frankfurt Motor Show, and it arrives in dealers under the bonnet of the 500 later this year. While two outputs will be offered in this car – a 105bhp turbo and a normally aspirated 65bhp unit – it will be the latter that powers the Topolino.

Twin-clutch semi-automatic gearboxes are likely to be used by both models, as is a stop-start set-up which switches off the engine when the car
is stationary in heavy traffic. Combine this technology with a lightweight body, and the newcomers will be incredibly efficient. Expect combined fuel economy of 100mpg and CO2 emissions of less than 90g/km.

The interior layout is still up for debate, but there is likely to be enough room for three occupants with an occasional fourth seat, allowing owners
to juggle luggage capacity with passenger space.

It will be interesting to see if BMW and Fiat can make the rear-engined, rear-wheel-drive layout work efficiently. An insider at VW recently told Auto Express that a similar mechanical layout in the up! is being ditched in favour of a front-engined, front-wheel drive format, after it was found that the layout was too costly to develop and made the car unstable in cross winds.

Although official production dates have yet to be decided, the Isetta and Topolino are set to arrive some time in 2010.

NB: Check out WheelHQ.com's selection of BMW Wheels.

Hot News: Ford C-Max 7-Seater

Ford’s latest compact people carrier is shaping up nicely. This is the forthcoming new C-MAX, which debuts a fresh look that mixes styling cues from the S-MAX with the recently launched Kuga SUV. But the best news is that it will have seven seats.

The current car has proved extremely popular thanks to its combination of a clever five-seater layout and great dynamics. However, the second-generation model will take that to new heights by featuring an extra rear bench for the first time, allowing it to go head-to-head with Vauxhall’s Zafira.

Sitting on a totally new platform from the upcoming third-generation Focus, the C-MAX promises to be the best-handling car in its class.

Our spies have already caught engineers testing a prototype, clad in a stretched and widened bodyshell from the current car. Look at our spy shots and you can clearly see the flared wheelarches and extra metalwork around the B-pillar, which gives more rear space.

Inside, the new seven-seater arrangement is modelled on the S-MAX’s set-up, with fold-flat seats and a large boot. As with the car’s stablemate, Ford will probably offer a five-seat version, too, although to cut costs it is unlikely that this will get a separate bodystyle as with the Scenic and Grand Scenic from rival Renault.

Cabin quality will take a big leap forward, borrowing its design and materials from the Kuga off-roader.

Engines will probably be carried over from the current car, with a range of 1.6 and 2.0-litre petrol and diesel units, including a low-emission ECOnetic oil-burner. There’s also the possibility that Ford’s new EcoBoost line-up of small turbocharged petrol powerplants could debut in the new MPV.

Standard transmission will be a five or six-speed manual, with Ford’s new twin-clutch semi-automatic Powershift box available as an option. Expect sales to start in 2010.

Hot News: Lotus Esprit Delayed

Lotus won’t replace the Esprit until early 2011, company boss Mike Kimberley has said. The British supercar is being totally redesigned after Lotus put it on the back burner to fast-track the new Lotus Evora.

Now there are hints that the range-topping Esprit could be offered as a hybrid, possibly using a mix of Lotus and Toyota technology.

Kimberley has said he wants to offer “guilt-free, high performance motoring” and admits the company is “working on something”.

With Lotus’ long-held expertise in lightweight structures, it has a wide-ranging engine development and alternative propulsion programmes on the go.

Kimberley is pretty scathing about early versions of the Esprit, which were under development before he returned to Lotus in 2006. “I lost it three times,” he said of its handling. “I also burnt out the clutch four times. Its engine wasn’t free-revving enough either.”

The new Lotus Esprit - there’s no word yet on whether this famous name will be revived – will use the same chassis platform as the new Evora, made wider and longer and with a new rear structure designed to accommodate a longitudinally mounted engine. It will also make use of the Evora’s compact double-wishbone suspension.

Besides this flagship Esprit, Lotus is working on additional versions of the Evora - there will eventually be six - including a two-seater, a convertible and an automatic. And work is also advancing on S3 versions of the Elise and Exige.

Kimberley claims that Lotus itself is in better shape since he arrived. The engineering side of the group, which the previous regime was thinking of closing down, has been rejuvenated. Lotus is currently working on 340 projects for 147 clients, Kimerley explained. “That’s not a record,” he said, “but not bad considering it was going to be rolled up.”

The company now has engineering centres in Detroit, Shanghai, Kuala Lumpur as well as project in Abu Dhabi and India. Last year it made a modest £2 million profit after several years of losses, and that should continue to grow this year.

Spied: 2010 Hyundai i20

The i20 is the latest product in Hyundai’s dramatic product renaissance, and another potential worry for Europe’s established car makers. Hyundai insiders insist that it will combine strong equipment levels – almost certain to include standard air conditioning – with ultra-competitive pricing and a five-year warranty.

We’ve spied the three-door version, but the i20 will also be sold as a five-door. It will be produced in India on a new production line adjacent to the one that makes the i10, with the quality of interior trim dramatically improved compared to the Getz: we’re assured it will be as big a leap forward for the brand as the i30 was over the old Accent.

Power will come from two petrol and two diesel engines at launch. The 1.2-litre motor from the i10 will be the entry-level petrol motor, with buyers also getting the chance to choose a more powerful 1.4-litre unit. Two new 1.4-litre common-rail diesels will be offered, likely to be in 75bhp and 90bhp states of tune. All powerplants will be highly competitive on fuel economy and CO2 emissions, with a more frugal i-Blue variant likely to follow.

The five-door i20 goes on sale in the UK next January with the three-door set to follow a couple of months later. Pricing details will be announced closer to the launch, but anticipate a sub-£8000 entry level price, with generous standard equipment. (Thanks to Autocar for News and Pictures).

Senin, 28 Juli 2008

New Car: 2009 Porsche 911 Targa

The very latest edition of the 911 family is here! These are the first official pictures of the 911 Targa, and as you can see, it's got a touch of glass.

The Targa sports a distinctive glass sliding roof, which gives occupants the open-air experience come rain or shine. The two-piece roof features specially-treated glass to cope with harsh UV rays, but when the sun's not so glaring, the roof slides back in just seven seconds for the full wind-in-the-hair experience.

Under the skin it's much the same as the new generation of 911s, with the new PDK double clutch drivetrain and direct fuel injection flat six engines in 345bhp 3.6 and 385bhp 3.8-litre guise.

The Targa 4 and Targa 4S will benefit from Porsche's Traction Management (PTM) system which delivers power to all four wheels via a mechanical limited slip diff.

Expect to see the new Targa in UK showrooms from October 25, priced from £72,980.

Jumat, 25 Juli 2008

Hot News: Opel/Vauxhall Calibra Returns?

The Vauxhall Calibra could be making a come back, Autocar can exclusively reveal.

GM insiders reveal that a business case is being considered for launching a large Vauxhall coupe based on the recently revealed Insignia.

It’s expected to be a sporty two-door model, whose design would be based on the Insignia’s original GTC concept car, which was revealed at the Geneva motor show in March 2007.

“We’re not ruling it out,” said our Vauxhall source, “we know that there are plenty more possibilities for the Insignia (beyond the hatch and saloon).”

If a new Calibra gets the production green light, it wouldn’t be ready until at least 2011. The next Insignia variant will be the estate, which will make its debut at the Paris motor show and arrive in showrooms by spring 2009. According to GM design boss Mark Adams it will be sleeker and more rakish than the Vectra wagon it replaces, but with similar load space.

Vauxhall’s keen to get the Insignia estate, saloon and hatchback variants established in the market before giving further consideration to a Calibra successor.

But another GM insider spoke of strong support within the company for a new Calibra, as it would confirm that GM is taking alluring design more seriously. “We want to be seen as design leaders, and niche models such as coupes are a good way of doing it,” said our well-placed source. (Thanks to Autocar for News and Pictures)

New Car: 2009 Fiat 500 Ferrari Edition

Could this be the hottest supermini ever? Well, bearing the markings of the world’s most famous Italian supercar maker should help!

This is the Fiat 500 Ferrari edition, and it’s nearly as exclusive as the models that roll out of the Maranello factory gates.

That’s because this 500 has been designed as a courtesy vehicle for Ferrari owners while their supercars are in the garage. Only 200 will be made.

The makeover includes red paint and brake calipers, scarlet stitching for the leather trim and special edition badging. There’s no supercar acceleration, however, as the 500 has a standard 100bhp 1.4-litre engine, although a tuned exhaust has been added. Fiat isn’t simply focusing on its model line-up, though. The firm is mystery shopping at its entire UK dealer network, in a bid to improve customer satisfaction.

It’s rumoured that up to 20 per cent of showrooms could get the chop if they don’t come up to scratch. Fiat UK boss Andrew Humberstone has already anonymously visited 80 of 160 sites, and told trade magazine Car Maker: “Sometimes, I am deeply disappointed.”

Hot News: Ford to Sell Six European Small Cars in USA

Anyone who has ever seen or driven European Ford products and cursed executives for not selling them in North America, your day is coming.

The current U.S. lineup has nothing in common with Ford of Europe products, but by 2010, 40 percent of the vehicles will be shared, and that number hits 100 percent by 2013, says Mark Fields, Ford president of The Americas, in the July 24 second-quarter earnings briefing.

It means the next-generation European Ford Focus sedan and five-door hatchback will be the same C-segment car here as in Europe, China, and the rest of the world when it goes on sale in 2010 in the U.S.—and should be far superior to the one on North American roads now.

The same melding will occur in the next size up: the Ford Fusion in North America and Mondeo in Europe will merge in size into a single model.

And the B-segment Ford Fiesta sedan and five-door, which is going on sale this year in Europe and China—it arrives stateside in 2010—is also of European descent. The lag time is necessary to ensure it meets all U.S. regulations as its sale here was not envisioned years ago when design work began.

Fiesta design began back in the days of affordable gasoline prices, when few Americans saw the need for small, fuel-miserly cars—a climate that has been turned on its ear to the extent that carmakers can’t make enough small vehicles with smaller-displacement engines, hybrids, and electric cars today.

Ford won’t just have the two body styles each of the Focus and Fiesta, it also promises a new Mercury small car in 2010 (defying the perception Mercury is on its deathbed), as well as a new so-called “whitespace” entry (we interpret this to mean a product in a new niche) for a total of six European small vehicles on sale here. Officials will not provide details on the mystery “whitespace” car other than to say it rides on a European small-car platform. Europe’s C-Max mini-minivan or the Kuga small crossover come to mind.

As expected, Ford uses its dismal second-quarter earnings release as a springboard to announce the next series of moves to transform from a company traditionally associated with trucks to one heavy with small cars and hybrid vehicles. Going forward, two thirds of product spending will be on cars and crossovers, compared with only half today, Fields says.

In the next five years, Ford says it will build more than 1 million vehicles a year, worldwide, from its global B-car platform and almost two million from the C-segment architecture.

The number of hybrids in the fleet will double when the 2010 Ford Fusion and Mercury Milan hybrid sedans go into production late this year for sale in 2009. To date, Ford only has the Ford Escape and Mercury Mariner hybrid SUVs. A third shift will be added in Kansas City this year to build all four hybrids.

Kamis, 24 Juli 2008

Spied: 2010 Porsche Cayenne

Autocar spies have snapped these pictures of the next-generation Porsche Cayenne testing in Germany. There has been speculation that Porsche is building a smaller version of the Cayenne but these spyshots confirm that the vehicle in question is actually the next generation of the popular SUV.

In an effort to disguise the car’s bulk, Porsche has lowered the roofline and made it look sleeker. The smaller window apertures also point to a reduction is size, especially around the rear passenger window.

The wheelarches are larger than the current Cayenne’s, giving the new car a far more aggressive stance.

This car will be built on the same platform as the forthcoming Panamera four-doorallowing it to utilise hybrid and diesel powertrains.

Porsche boss Wendelin Wiedeking is rumoured to be fast-tracking development of the car to get it ready by early 2010, before the release of the second-gen VW Touareg later that year. (Thanks to Autocar for News and Pictures)

Senin, 21 Juli 2008

Hot News: New BMW Z4 Joins the Hard-Top Fold

Feast your eyes on BMW’s all-new sports car: the Z4. Due to go on sale at the end of next year, the Porsche Boxster rival is being given a fresh look, with a bulging bonnet hump, larger twin kidney grilles and wide stance.

The original ‘flame surfacing’ styling, pioneered by former BMW design chief Chris Bangle, is still present, but it’s been toned down with a simpler, more athletic shape.

And the newcomer has a big trick up its sleeve: a folding metal roof. This retractable steel top will be similar in design to that on the company’s latest 3-Series Convertible, and will be offered alongside a traditional soft-top model. The Z4 will also feature a new range of powerful engines, including a twin-turbocharged 3.0-litre straight-six. There’s also the possibility of diesel power – which would be a first for the range.

A flagship M model could get the new 4.0-litre V8 from the M3 – although most versions will still be sold with four-cylinder and normally aspirated six-cylinder petrol powerplants. BMW’s new seven-speed SMG DCT twin-clutch transmission will also be available in the roadster for the first time.

All models will benefit from the manufacturer’s Efficient Dynamics programme, which uses stop/start technology to reduce emissions and improve fuel economy.

Under the skin, the platform is shared with the latest 3-Series, so the rear-wheel-drive Z4 will continue to offer sharp handling.

Hot News: New Honda NSX Set for Supercar Battle!!!

Take a look at the eagerly anticipated V10-powered replacement for Honda’s NSX.

The grand tourer – which wears the badge of the firm’s Acura luxury arm in our pictures – is due in 2010. It’s expected to cost £100,000, and will challenge the Aston Martin V8 Vantage, Maserati GranTurismo and Jaguar XKR.

Its 5.5-litre V10 generates upwards of 600bhp and around 600Nm of torque, which is sent to the rear wheels via a six-speed twin-clutch gearbox. When cruising, five of the 10 cylinders are deactivated to save fuel and cut emissions. Our insider revealed Honda has taken ideas from its Formula One programme to generate maximum downforce and straight-line stability. That enabled the coupé to set a record time of seven minutes and 37 seconds for a lap of the Nürburgring track in Germany on its first attempt.

Honda achieved this by focusing on aerodynamics – and the biggest secret to the performance is hidden under the car. According to our spies, the rear section of the coupé resembles one big wing.

The newcomer will tip the scales at around 1,500kg – that’s over 250kg less than the recently launched Nissan GT-R.

Hot News: New Ford Fiesta Raises the Roof

Here are the pictures that prove the brilliant new Ford Fiesta is about to blow its top!

As blue oval’s sensational supermini sets up to wow British Motor Show visitors next week, we can reveal the cabriolet version – which is set to hit the road here in 18 months’ time!

The new Fiesta has already caused a stir with Ford fans and rivals in three and five-door form. Here in the UK, the cabrio will face a pack of rivals that has expanded quickly since the success of the Peugeot 206 CC.

The drop-top is likely to take inspiration from the Fiat 500 Cabriolet.

Ford currently offers a coupé-cabriolet version of the larger Focus, but the first official open-top Fiesta will have a fabric roof. That will help keep weight gain to a minimum and mean performance, emissions and economy aren’t hampered.

Spied: 2010 Subaru Impreza WRX STi Spec C

Subaru is looking to turn the Impreza back into a contender for class honours in the ultra-competitive high-performance family car market. These spy shots reveal a new Spec C version of the flagship STi.

Previously, Spec C evolutions of the Impreza have been officially available solely in Japan, and have only made their way to the UK in small numbers as grey imports. However, with the launch of the new hatchback model, which has been criticised for its softened approach, Subaru is tipped to change all that, as it is destined to hit British dealers in 18 months’ time.

As with its Ford Focus RS and Renaultsport Mégane R26.R rivals, the new Spec C has been undergoing extensive testing at the Nürburgring race circuit in Germany. And it looks set to be the fastest model yet developed by Subaru’s engineers. The arrival of the newcomer is great news for diehard fans of the brand, who were disappointed by the toned-down character of the current Impreza STi. There will be a host of changes to get cornering speeds up and make the steering more direct.

The new machine rides 10mm lower than the standard STi, plus features stiffer springs and dampers. Special lightweight 18-inch alloy race wheels and run-flat tyres have been added, as have uprated Brembo brakes taken from the Japan-only Legacy STi. Even beefier bodywork will ensure the new car can be instantly distinguished from the standard STi model.

The turbocharger and exhaust system have also been tweaked to push the power output of the 2.0-litre boxer engine from 296bhp to around 315bhp. Gear ratios have been revised, with fifth and sixth lengthened to boost the top speed to a supercar-chasing 170mph. However, Subaru will add an electronic speed limiter to restrict the maximum to 155mph. Inside, there are carbon fibre-shelled Recaro race seats, and as in the previous-generation Spec C, the firm will achieve further savings in weight by reducing the amount
of padding on the rear bench and removing some of the soundproofing from the cabin. A number of other minor revisions should see the car’s kerbweight drop by around 40kg.

The aerodynamics have also been tweaked to ensure class-leading stability at speed. One source close
to Subaru told us that, in addition to giving the Spec C a flat underbody, engineers fitted a lightweight aluminium rear diffuser which helps the new model generate twice as much downforce at speed than
the current flagship Impreza.

No lap times are available yet, but our spy photographer in Germany confirmed that the Spec C looked more composed than the STi in corners. He claimed it would easily slash 15 seconds off the current car’s best figure.

The Impreza WRX STi Spec C will hit Japanese showrooms by the end of the year, with European deliveries starting by the middle of 2009. Expect to pay around £30,000.

Hot News: Volkswagen to Build Lotus Elise Rival

Volkswagen has resurrected plans for an affordable, mid-engined coupe and roadster as part of an image building campaign as it sets about fulfilling its ambitious target of selling over five million cars a year by 2018.

According to Volkswagen chairman, Martin Winterkorn, the company is planning to unveil a concept version of a lightweight two-seater at the LA motor show in November. If reaction is positive enough then the new car, which has been styled under the leadership of Walter da Silva, could be in showrooms as early as 2011.

“We are working on a mid-engined concept for the Los Angeles motor show,” a senior source revealed to Autocar, “It is the fifth time in as many years that we have created such a car but this time, more than any other, the signs are looking good that we will get a production green light.”

The new Volkswagen roadster is described as being a cut-priced alternative to the Lotus Elise, designed to be stylish and lightweight while offering genuine performance and class-leading fuel economy.

Power will come from mid-mounted four-cylinder petrol engines, with Volkswagen’s 168bhp 1.4-litre TSI petrol engine and a new 125bhp 1.6-litre TDI common-rail diesel both being considered for use. Drive will be supplied to the rear wheels by a seven-speed DSG gearbox.

Anticipate a production version weighing in at under 1000kg, and being capable of combining Golf GTI levels of performance – 0-62mph in just under 7 seconds – with economy to rival a diesel Polo –about 63mpg combined.

The car will likely be built around an aluminium spaceframe, using the expertese of VW’s daughter company Audi. This link is driving specualtion that there may be an Audi version of the car, a so-called R4. Rumours of this car have existed for almost two years, despite official denials out of Ingolstadt. It would have different styling to the Volkswagen version and would likely run more powerful four-cylinder engines than the VW derivative, with Audi’s new ‘EA888’ based 211bhp 2.0-litre TFSI petrol engine and an upcoming 204bhp twin-turbocharged 2.0-litre TDI common rail diesel highly tipped.

In a further development, Volkswagen majority shareholder Porsche is said to have shown interest in the new project, opening the way for a possible resurrection of the 914.

Volkswagen first hinted to plans for a mid-engined coupe and roadster with the Concept R back at the Frankfurt motor show in 2003. It was followed up by the spartan Eco Racer (a R&D exercise rather than a fully fledged design concept) wheeled out at the Tokyo motor show in 2005.

According to Volkswagen insiders, two more mid-engined concepts were created but never revealed to the public. If the car is given a green light it could be assembled by Volkswagen’s long-term partner, Karmann, in Germany. (Thanks to Autocar for News and Pictures).

Jumat, 18 Juli 2008

New Car: 2010 Chevrolet Camaro

So here it is, the third and final entry in the 21st-century pony-car-revival derby. Get your bets down early because we don’t expect to see any more resurrections of famous makes from the galloping go-go Sixties—Barracuda, Firebird, Javelin, et al.—and even gloomier, we think it likely that, given fuel prices and other concerns, this revival is likely to lack the fervor and duration of the original movement.

The first production version of the new Camaro we’ve seen and touched is this yellow car displayed in our gallery. “Touched” includes sitting in, briefly, but did not include driving. And “production” means production sheetmetal but not a showroom-ready car. That happens much later. New Camaros will appear in Chevy dealerships in March, arriving as 2010 models. Convertibles (softtops, no folding hardtop) are due about a year later.

While we have not had our first Camaro driving experience, here’s what we know. Like rival offerings from Ford and, more recently, Dodge, the latest Camaro was inspired by one from the golden age, specifically the 1969 SS model owned by GM design chief Ed Welburn. However, unlike the other revivalist ponies, Chevy’s isn’t a slavish stylistic rerun of the original. Like the Camaro concept that appeared at the 2006 Detroit show—all but identical to it, in fact—Chevy’s neo-retro approach, brought to production readiness under the supervision of Tom Peters, adds plenty of fresh touches, most notably the front end and the dramatic fender creases and character lines, touches that had die-makers tearing their hair and muttering dark curses.

“Those shoulders at the rear have the deepest one-piece stamping we’ve ever done,” says Al Oppenheiser, chief vehicle engineer on the project. “It took us 10 or 12 iterations to get it right.”

This is a much bigger coupe than Welburn’s ’69 SS, and it’s bigger than the current Mustang, though the Dodge Challenger, riding a slightly abbreviated Charger sedan platform, dwarfs them both. Like the Challenger, the Camaro has some sedan in its structural résumé, too, elements of the Zeta I platform developed by Holden, in Australia, that give the Pontiac G8 its eager road responses. But there’s enough difference in the Camaro version—shorter wheelbase and stiffer overall, particularly from the A-pillar forward—to justify a Zeta II designation.

At 112.3 inches, the Camaro’s wheelbase is 2.5 inches shorter than that of the G8, and overall length is 6.5 inches shorter than the Pontiac from Oz. Also, the Camaro team moved the front wheels forward 3.0 inches (part of the Zeta II program), and the coupe’s 63.7-inch front track is an inch wider than the G8’s, as is its overall width—at 75.9 inches, it’s a smidge wider than the otherwise much bigger Challenger.

Like the G8, the Camaro uses struts up front and a multilink arrangement at the rear. However, the engine rides an inch further toward the front, and the steering rack sits ahead of the front axle. Chevy will offer 18-, 19-, and 20-inch wheel choices for the Camaro, but the tires that wrap these rims will share a common rolling diameter—28.7 inches. This touch, new for a GM car, keeps the wheel wells nicely filled and also makes for simple speedometer calibration.

Hot News: VW Up! Could be Front Drive

Volkswagen’s new micro-car, the up!, has come into some problems in the translation from concept to production, Auto Express can reveal. The all-new machine, which was revealed at last year’s Frankfurt Motor Show, could drop its rear-engined, rear-wheel drive layout in favour of a more conventional front-engined, front-wheel drive configuration.

The radical layout harked back to the original Beetle, and was meant to provide more cabin space but according to Dr Klaus Bischoff, director of design at VW, the project has run into a couple of problems. Firstly, the rear-heavy bias is causing instability in cross-winds.

“During development, the engine had been moving further and further forward to increase stability – now it looks likely that we will have it in the front not the rear,” he explained. Engineers are also finding it difficult to put a radiator at the front and send sufficient coolant to the back. “Changes will be made but it will still look exactly like the show car. We do not think this will affect sales – most customers are not concerned by where the engine goes.”

Bischoff revealed more about the model’s cabin too. “It will have lots of exposed metal and be unconventional. We will not clad the doors in lots of plastic, for instance.” The up! is due to go on sale in 2010, spawning a whole new range of small, frugal and low emission models, including a compact MPV. Its platform will also underpin SEAT and Skoda micro-cars too.

Spied: 2011 Honda Hybrid

For automakers hoping to cash in on rising fuel costs, the Toyota Prius is a good benchmark: The funky hatchback has sold more than half a million copies in the U.S. to date. So it’s no surprise that when our spy photographers caught Honda developing and testing its all-new small hybrid, a Prius was parked nearby.

The Honda’s visual similarities to a Prius are marked when seen together. They share an aerodynamically-raked front, stubby tail, and a five-door hatchback layout. Like the Prius, this Honda offers five-passenger seating and plenty of cargo space inside a relatively small body.

When it is introduced in early 2009, the as-yet-unnamed hatch will mark Honda’s second dedicated hybrid (after the late Insight), meaning that it isn’t based on an existing car. The Accord hybrid was killed due to slow sales, attributed partly to the fact that the hybrid didn’t look much different than a regular Accord. The other problem was the Accord hybrid, positioned as a more performance-oriented model, wasn’t much more frugal on gas than a conventional Accord with a four-cylinder, making it hard to justify an extra $6000 for a version with an electric motor. Sales of the Civic hybrid, though better than the Accord, still significantly trail the Prius, which is the undisputed king of hybrids in sales and public awareness.

This time around, Honda is betting big on the idea that a dedicated platform sells hybrids. After all, the Prius’s unique shape is regarded just as much for its fashion status as for its wind-tunnel magic, allowing greenie types to show off their dedication to the environment.

Like the current Civic hybrid, the new car will use an Integrated Motor Assist (IMA) system with nickel-metal-hybrid batteries stored under the trunk floor to maximize interior space. Honda says lithium-ion batteries aren’t yet a viable option, although the battery pack is smaller than the Civic’s.

It will be built at Honda’s Suzuka, Japan, plant, which currently builds the Civic hybrid, with capacity ramped up in order to meet anticipated demand for hybrids. Honda expects to sell 200,000 units of its newest hybrid globally, with about half of those coming to the U.S.

The hatchback, which is smaller than the Civic, should arrive in early 2009 as a 2010 model, with a hybrid version of the Fit to follow in 2015. The automaker also plans to put into production the CR-Z hybrid sports car concept shown at the 2007 Tokyo auto show.

Honda plans to sell half a million hybrids per year globally in a few years. But Toyota is also charging ahead, and plans to release the next-generation Prius for 2010, which will reportedly improve on the current car’s 48 mpg city/45 highway EPA fuel-economy ratings.

New Concept Car: Mazda Kazamai

As we reported in June, Mazda has now confirmed it will unveil a compact crossover vehicle concept at the Moscow International Automobile Salon on 26 August.

Called the Kazamai, which means "swirling crosswinds" in Japanese, the new vehicle is the sixth concept to employ Mazda's evolving 'Nagare' design language. The car's lines, inspired by crosswinds in nature, are claimed to evoke visual lightness, while its aerodynamic proportions accentuated by its bold front wheelarches and sleek roof line gives the design an emotional appeal. Riding on large 22-inch wheels, the Kazamai's compact dimensions are given enhanced sporting appeal.

Created specifically for the Moscow Automobile Salon - recognizing the growth of compact SUVs in the Russian market - the Kazamai is a good indication of a possible future compact crossover from Mazda.

New Car: 2009 Lotus Eagle

This is the first image of a new mid-engined, 2+2 sports car from Lotus scheduled to debut at the British Motor Show in London next week. Known only as project 'Eagle', the new car is first all-new Lotus in 13 years and was designed in-house by Lotus Design.

"Every element of the car's exterior and interior has been carefully designed to create a product that offers comfort and convenience as well as traditional performance car attributes," said Russell Carr, Head of Design. Dynamic lines and fluid surfaces symbolize the 'modern Lotus' and are meant to convey a sense of athleticism while the wraparound windshield is said to optimize high-speed aerodynamics. Inside, the cab forward proportions enable the fitment of two occasional seats at the rear, making this the first 2+2 mid-engined design since the Ferrari Mondial of 1980.

Powered by a 3.5-liter V6 sourced from Toyota, the Eagle is set to go on sale in Spring 2009. It will also be available as a strict two-seater, with additional space for luggage storage behind the seats. Other derivatives are also planned for the future, including a convertible and a high performance version.

Sabtu, 12 Juli 2008

Spied: 2010 Chevrolet Lacetti

The wraps are nearly off Chevrolet’s Astra rival! Our spy shot shows its forthcoming compact family car, which is the replacement for the Lacetti.

When it goes on sale next year, it will be the most important model that the US firm has ever launched in Europe. Previewed by the Ultra WTCC concept at the 2006 Paris Motor Show, the newcomer features some of the same styling cues. It is based on the platform of the next-generation Vauxhall Astra and will even boast the same sophisticated rear suspension.

Engines – including a fresh turbodiesel – will come from a new range of GM powerplants. Inside, buyers can expect a big leap in cabin quality. The model will make its debut at the Paris Motor Show in October.

New Car: 2009 BMW 3 Series

This is our first view of the BMW 3-Series’s forthcoming facelift. The company has ticked off most of the familiar mid-term revision checklist, and the 3-Series will get beefier looks, greener engines and the option of a seven-speed twin-clutch transmission.

Styling revisions include fresh front and rear styling that picks up on the themes seen on BMW’s recently unveiled fifth-generation 7-series.

Up front, the car gets a heavily profiled bumper, newly contoured bonnet and reworked headlamps with altered graphics. At the rear there are new tail lamps with a revised bumper. According to BMW’s design boss, Adrian van Hooydonk, the changes are intended to emphasise the car’s width.

The biggest mechanical change is the introduction of BMW’s seven-speed dual clutch transmission, launched in the M3 cabriolet. The 318d also gets the option of a new six-speed automatic.

The facelifted 3-series also sees the introduction of BMW’s new ‘BluePerformance’ brand - the firm’s equivalent to Mercedes’ BlueTec. The first BluePerfomance car will be a 330d fitted with a NOx trap, which will meet the forthcoming EU6 emissions regulations, not due until 2011. All other engines are carried over from the current car.

Suspension and brakes are the same as in the current BMW 3-series, but the rear track on the six-cylinder cars has been widened by 24mm.

Inside, the iDrive controller gets four selection buttons to reduce the complexity of its operation and there’s a new, larger colour monitor. In-car internet access will also be available as part of BMW’s new ConnectDrive technology, which will also be seen in the new 7-Series.

The revised 3-Series will go on sale in the UK later this year. Prices and exact specs will be revealed nearer to its launch date. (Thanks to Autocar for News and Pictures)

New Car: 2009 Acura TL

Acura has just released the first official image of its all-new TL near-luxury sedan, and well, the most we can say at this point is “there it is.” We’ll suspend judgment until we see it firsthand, but for now, all we can say is it shares the controversial styling cues of the 2009 RL.

That said, it does not appear to be as bad as the RL, whose recent ’09 facelift also features Acura’s “guillotine grille” but lacked many changes to the rest of the body to complement it. The TL, however, like the redesigned 2009 TSX, features an entirely new body, and its larger size clearly allowed designers to have more fun with the sculpting along the bodysides and hood, as well as fill the flared wheelwells with some truly massive rolling stock. The slim greenhouse, however, may send Infiniti designers scrambling to get a legal team together to explore copyright infringement.

Something no one here will complain about are the powertrain enhancements. Acura claims the new TL will be the most powerful TL ever, which we take to mean that it’ll get the RL’s 300-hp 3.7-liter V-6 under the hood. Even more newsworthy is a new all-wheel-drive variant (maybe this will finally tame the TL's torque steer) that incorporates Acura’s sensational “Super Handling” all-wheel-drive system.

Acura remains mum on any other specifics of the next-gen of its best-selling vehicle, and is keeping all other imagery to itself until after its official media release later this summer. It is slated to go on sale in the fall.

Kamis, 10 Juli 2008

New Car: 2009 Mercedes SL65 AMG Black Series

Mercedes has finally divulged the official details on the SL65 AMG Black Series, and it’s even more impressive than our spy reports indicated.

AMG engineers took the SL65 AMG—already a ridiculously fast car—and began removing weight. First they removed the heavy mechanism for the folding hardtop and replaced it with a fixed roof that cuts a flatter line across the car. The front splitter, hood, trunklid, and rear spoiler are all made of carbon fiber to further trim weight. Overall, Mercedes says curb weight is down 550 pounds versus the SL65, to around 4000.

Power comes from the same twin-turbo 6.0-liter V-12 engine as the regular SL65, but with a heavy dose of adrenaline. That engine already produces 604 horsepower, but AMG saw fit to endow the Black Series with 661 horses at 5400 rpm. Torque output is unchanged at 738 pound-feet, although Mercedes says the engine is detuned from 885, likely to keep the heavy-duty five-speed automatic transmission alive. The Black Series’ transmission, however, adds a fourth transmission setting, M2 manual mode, which shifts a claimed 25 percent quicker than M1 mode. As before, there are also Comfort and Sport settings for the automatic modes.

The extra oomph comes courtesy of new, larger turbochargers, revised intake ducting, and a new exhaust system. There’s also a new intercooler that AMG says reduces intake charge temperatures by 30 percent, and an upgraded cooling system to keep the engine from melting itself.

AMG expects the car to cover the 0-to-62-mph sprint in 3.9 seconds, although we’ve gotten 3.8 out of an SL65. Getting the SL65 Black Series to hook up for a quick launch will likely be next to impossible, as it is in the regular SL65. Top speed is electronically limited to 320 km/h—just shy of 199 mph.

The Black Series rides on a much-revised suspension, too. To begin with, the system is completely adjustable, allowing drivers to adjust damping rates and ride height. The car also has a wider footprint, with track increased by 3.8 inches up front and 3.3 inches in back—maybe you noticed the outrageous fender flares?—and the steering geometry has been revised for a more direct feel.

In front, 19-inch lightweight wheels surround 15.3-inch vented-and-crossdrilled brake discs gripped by six-piston calipers. Rear wheels measure 20 inches, with 14.2-inch disc brakes and four-piston calipers. Dunlop Sport Maxx GT tires attempt to keep things stuck to the road. And keeping drivers out of gravel traps is Mercedes’ ubiquitous stability control with three modes of assistance: normal, sport, and off.

Hot News: Toyota to Build Prius in USA

In the continuing saga of automakers revising their product line as fuel-efficient cars and hybrids loom in popularity over gas-guzzling trucks, Toyota admits its own chinks with a plan to revamp what it builds where.

The big news: it will start building the Prius in the U.S. in late 2010 at its new plant under construction in Blue Springs, Mississippi. Currently all Prius production is in Japan.

While Toyota boasts a comprehensive hybrid vehicle lineup, currently only the Camry hybrid is built in North America, in Kentucky. A new Prius is expected to be unveiled at the 2009 North American International Auto Show and continue to fuel a seemingly insatiable demand for the hybrid that Toyota has struggled to build enough of. As a result, sales were down 26 percent in June, despite public clamor for the car that has come to epitomize hybrids.

While there has been talk for some time about building the Prius in North America, most speculation has centered on Toyota’s joint venture plant with General Motors in California, known as the New United Motor Manufacturing Incorporated in Fremont.

Hot News: Baby Mitsubishi 4x4 Gets Green Light

The Mitsubishi Concept-cX shown at Frankfurt will go into production as a baby 4x4, the company has confirmed.

“The Concept-cX will become a new sub-Outlander model,” said a senior Mitsubishi source. “It’s due to go on sale in late 2009.”

The compact SUV will replace the Shogun-Pinin that went out of production in 2005, and will “closely resemble the Concept-cX,” according to Mitsubishi insiders.

This means it is likely to keep the concept’s split tailgate and aggressive, Lancer-inspired front end.

Permanent all-wheel drive will be a key standard feature, as will a range of new Euro 5-compliant diesel engines that include a new 1.8-litre, 134bhp turbocharged four-cylinder unit.

This 1.8-litre diesel, which produces 207lb ft of torque, will be mated to the company’s twin-clutch SST auto box that is already in use in the new Mitsubishi Evo X.

There are no more details on the other engines due to be installed in the new cX, but Mitsubishi claims that the compact off-roader will have class-leading power output and green credentials.

No model names have been confirmed, but it is known that the cX moniker will be lost in favour of something more in keeping with the rest of the Mitsubishi product lineup.

You can get a look at the Concept-cX at the Goodwood Festival of Speed this weekend, but don’t expect to see the production-ready model until later next year. (Thanks to Autocar for News and Pictures).

Spied: 2010 Ford Taurus

The 2010 Ford Taurus made its first appearance in April, when a grainy picture of the vehicle's clay model surfaced on the internet. Now, spy photos of an early, heavily-camouflaged prototype of the fullsize sedan have arrived.

The new Taurus will carry some elements of Europe's "kinetic design" styling, but the flamboyance of the Mondeo will be toned down for the large car using design elements from current North American vehicles.

It is expected to stay front-drive with available all-wheel drive, although what platform it will ride on remains in the air. Two options are available -- the current car's Volvo-sourced D platform and the Mazda-derived CD3 platform that underpins the new Flex crossover.

Power should come from the new EcoBoost family of engines that will first debut in the Lincoln MKS, with the possibility of a new Taurus SHO with a high-power EcoBoost like that in the Lincoln MKR concept.

Rabu, 09 Juli 2008

Hot News: VW New Beetle

Yes, Deadheads, there is an MkII New Beetle. It's being developed on the sixth-generation Golf platform and may appear as a 2011 model. And Volkswagen's strategy for the iconic retromobile may extend even to adapting the Beetle's distinctive style to a North American version of the Up! minicar.

First, Volkswagen of America has confirmed it will import a version of the sixth-generation Golf. We'll have two models. The "base" Golf becomes the Golf GT, indicating VW plans to go upmarket again and get out of the $15,000 entry-car business here, at least for models imported from Europe. VW also will import the MkVI GTI, with both versions headed here about 2010.

The new New Beetle will come off that platform, in the 2010, or more likely, the 2011 calendar year and will include a hybrid version. VW would be smart, in fact, to make the MkII New Beetle hybrid-only, as its distinctive style lends it the same kind of instant recognition as the Toyota Prius. VW of America hasn't officially confirmed the next New Beetle, saying only that it's under study. But what does it need to study? Even with sales sliding to the low 30,000s as the current model has aged, it's selling at twice the rate of Golf/GTI sales in the U.S.

Then comes the North American version of the Up!, which made its debut at the 2007 Frankfurt show. VW is rumored to be considering a Beetle-style version of the rear-engine, monobox/hatchback concept. Makes sense, since American consumers remain more nostalgic for the Beetle than they are practical about boxy hatchbacks. What's more, J Mays designed his Concept 1, for the 1994 Detroit show, to be built on the smaller Polo platform, not the Golf platform, so we know that adaptation of the New Beetle style to a smaller car is far from impossible.

Two distinct new (or New) Beetles amounts to a sub-brand for Volkswagen, which sold just 231,000 cars and trucks here last year. With the warm, fuzzy feeling people already have for the People's Car, positioning this sub-brand as highly fuel-efficient could be the best strategy VW has had for the U.S. market in a long time.

Spied: 2011 Chevrolet Cruze

Chevrolet Cruze will be the global name for an all-new sedan from the next generation of General Motors’ compact car family. It replaces the Chevy Cobalt in North America and the Daewoo-built Chevy Lacetti/Nubira in Europe.

GM will debut the four-door sedan concept at the 2008 Paris auto show in October. It will be the first look at vehicles from the new Global Compact Vehicle Architecture or Delta 2, which is a more global, lower-cost alternative to the current Delta platform underpinning the Cobalt and Pontiac G5.

The rollout begins in Europe, where the Cruze will begin production early in 2009 for sale in the spring as a 2010 model. North America must wait until a mid-2010 start of production at the Lordstown, Ohio, plant that makes the Cobalt and G5. It will be sold as a 2011 model in the U.S.

First Sketch: Honda OSM

This is the latest image of a new low-emission, lightweight sports car concept Honda will unveil at the London Motor Show later this month. According to the company, the two-seat roadster aims to couple sleek looks with exciting driving dynamics and more efficient engine technology for lower exhaust emissions.

Called the Honda OSM (Open Study Model), the car was designed by Honda's R&D facility in Offenbach, Germany. Its aerodynamic exterior, designed to minimize drag, is adorned with a large front grille mounted between angular headlights that stretch from nose of the hood to the top of the wheelarches. The wide, sloping rear end incorporates a narrow rear light strip, which wraps around the rear of the car.

While there are no plans for this design study to enter into production, Honda will gather feedback from customers at the show to guide any future developments.

New Car: 2009 Renaultsport Twingo 133

Renault has offically taken the wraps off its entry-level hot hatch! Called the Renaultsport Twingo 133, the racey looking model will start from £11,500 and go on sale this September, with orders being taken from July.
Almost identical to the Twingo RS concept that was revealed at the Paris Motor Show back in 2006, it gets wider front and rear wings and a aerodynamic spoiler giving it a sporty and agressive look.Inside, there's a four-spoke steering wheel and rev-counter located directly behind the steering wheel while under the skin, buyers can choose between two suspension set-ups – a standard set up and an even racier Cup chassis. The hot hatch gets its power from a 1.6-litre 16V engine which delivers 133bhp at 6,750rpm and 160Nm of torque at 4,400rpm. A lot of time has also been spent developing a deeper engine note and the addition of a four-into-one exhaust enhances the performance whilst lowering emissions.
Renault has also announced the first 133 people to order a Twingo will receive a free track day and tuition.

Senin, 07 Juli 2008

Spied:2010 Porsche 911 Turbo Cabriolet

Here are the first spy shots of the newly facelifted Porsche 911 Turbo convertible, which launches next year.
The drop-top 997 Turbo will get a direct injection engine like the recently updated standard 997. It'll also benefit from Porsche¹s excellent PDK dual-clutch gearbox, which offers rapid, seamless shifts.
It's likely that the 997 Turbo's new breed direct injection engine will offer 20-30bhp more than before, pushing peak power beyond 500bhp. But direct injection also means that the Turbo will be around 15 percent more economical than before.
Like the facelifted 911 we've already driven, the Turbo will be marked out with LED tail lights and cosmetic changes to the front and rear spoiler. These subtle changes are most noticeable at the front, where the air intakes in the spoiler are different. (Thanks to Autocar for News and Pictures)

Hot News: Alfa Romeo 8C GTA

Alfa Romeo is planning a lighter, harder, more powerful version of the 8C Competizione supercar, which will badged as a GTA. The Alfa Romeo 8C Competizione GTA will be launched to coincide with the Italian firm's centenary year in 2010.
Only 100 examples will be built, each weighing about 1450kg - that's 150kg lighter than a standard 8C. Autocar understands that more power will be extracted from the 8C GTA's 4.7-litre V8, so this faster edition could offer around 500bhp. As well as marking Alfa¹s centenary year, the 8C GTA could prove useful as part of the firm's plan to increase its presence in motorsport. A track-bred version of its fastest, most dynamic car in years would be a good place to start.

New Car: 2009 Citroen C4

Citroen has given its C4 hatchback and coupe a mid-life facelift.
The headline news is under the bonnet, where a new 118bhp, 1.6-litre VTi engine will replace the 1.6i 16v engine, and a 148bhp, turbocharged, 1.6-litre motor will replace the current 2.0-litre unit.
Both of the engines have been developed in conjunction with BMW and offer greener solutions to the units they replace without any compromise in performance. The 118bhp VTi returns 42mpg over a combined cycle, an increase of six per cent, while CO2 output is cut to 159g/km from 169g/km.
The 148bhp engine does even better, with a 10 per cent increase in fuel economy to 41mpg on a combined cycle and a reduction of emissions to 164g/km.
Other modifications to the engine range include a revised 2.0-litre HDi oil-burner, which now complies with Euro 5 standards. All of the diesel engines in the C4 have improved fuel economy and the HDi 92 and HDi 110 have dropped below the 120g/km emissions mark with outputs of 117/gkm and 118g/km respectively.
Subtle tweaks have been made to the C4’s distinctive looks in order to bring it in line with the new Citroen design language that appeared on the C5. The mods are extremely minor, but they do lengthen the car, by 15mm.
The interior been revamped; the rev counter has been relocated to the central dashboard display from its original place over the steering wheel, and there are new materials and design schemes available across the range.
A new infotainment system completes the upgrade, offering auxiliary-in, a USB socket, Bluetooth handsfree functionality and a high-resolution colour screen.
Expect prices to be confirmed nearer the car’s launch later this year. (Thanks to Autocar for News and Pictures).

Hot News: MG TF LE500

A famous Brit is back from the dead! Auto Express can exclusively reveal that the MG TF LE500 – a special-edition run of 500 for the UK – will cost £16,399 each. And that undercuts the equivalent previous-generation TF by nearly £700 – but it’s still more expensive than a basic Mazda MX-5 by the same margin.The limited edition will have plenty of standard kit. Leather sports seats, a piano-black finish and air-con are all included, as well as 16-inch alloys, painted calipers and LE500 badging. The sporty, rear-wheel-drive two-seater is an updated version of the original MG TF which went on sale in 2002. Changes include a fresh face with revised lights and a remodelled bumper. It uses the same 1.8-litre engine, but is tuned to 134bhp. No official figures are available, but the unit on which it’s based returned 35.8mpg, had emissions of 185g/km and covered 0-62mph in 8.2 seconds, so expect the new motor to do much the same.Production starts in August, and the first cars to roll off the Longbridge production line will hit dealers in September. So we’ll soon know if that price tag is right for parent firm Nanjing Automobile Corporation.

Hot News: 2010 Ford Fusion GT EcoBoost

The remains of Ford's tuner group, SVT, plans the anticipated Fusion GT for release in late 2009 or early 2010. The Fusion GT will be the fourth in the Ford Motor Company lineup, after Lincoln MKS, Ford Flex, and Lincoln MKR (the Enclave-fighting Flex) to get an EcoBoost gas direct-injection, turbo engine. EcoBoost is designed primarily to "downsize" engines -- that is, GDI turbo fours in place of V-6s, GDI turbo V-6s where there would normally be V-8s.
The Fusion GT's 3.5-liter EcoBoost V-6 will make about 340 horsepower, about the same as the coming MKS turbo, but well below the engine's 415-horse capabilities. To handle a prodigious torque number, the Fusion GT will be equipped with a Haldex part-time AWD differential. The target is to make the car an affordable Audi S4. Lincoln's MKS turbo launches next year, about a half year after the 3.7-liter MKS's debut. It'll come with a paddle-shift six-speed manumatic and a wheel-and-tire package.
Other models considered for EcoBoost are a four-cylinder EcoBoost Fusion in 2010, a low-volume Focus GT with a four-cylinder EcoBoost in 2010, and an EcoBoost V-6 as the top engine in the downsized pickup, tentatively named F-100.
Ford is looking at an EcoBoost I-4 for the Edge crossover; an EcoBoost V-6 Mustang with more power than the Mustang GT -- the first north-south application of the engine family -- is apparently on hold.

Kamis, 03 Juli 2008

New Car: 2009 Ford Focus RS

It’s hard to know where to start when describing the all-new 155mph ‘sub £25k’ Ford Focus RS, for although it may not go on sale until the spring of 2009 this won’t prevent it from stealing most of the headlines at this month’s London Motorshow.
The main technical points are as follows: sub £25k price, 295bhp, 302lb ft of torque, front-wheel drive with a Quaife limited slip diff. Zero to 60mph will take ‘less than six seconds’, the top speed will be limited to 155mph and zero to 100mph will take something between 12-13sec.
According to its creators the forthcoming Focus RS will rocket straight to the top of its class on performance, handing and roadholding. It is also assured the distinction of being the most potent front-driver yet, thanks to the power and torque produced by its heavily modified 2.5-litre five-cylinder turbocharged engine.
So why doesn’t it get four wheel drive? Because ‘it absolutely doesn’t need to have it’ according to the engineering team behind it. The magic chassis ingredient within the front suspension is known inside Ford as the revo-knuckle which, along with the limited-slip diff, allows Jost Capito, the director of Ford’s Team RS, to say that the new RS “has virtually no torque steer at all.”
Capito doesn’t do exaggeration: “we don’t just look at the RS as being a souped-up version of the ST,” he explains, “It’s an entirely different car in its own right, with an entirely separate range of values. But it’s still very much a car you can use everyday. For most of the people who will buy it the RS will be their only car, so it has to be comfortable and usable 365 days a year. We could easily have made a more extreme car but, to be honest, we didn’t want to. In any case we’re talking about a car that has to make a profit for Ford. If this car fails to make a profit then, for sure, it will be the last ever Ford to wear an RS badge.” (Thanks to Autocar for News and Pictures).

Spied: 2010 Mercedes SLR Speedster

It looks like Mercedes-McLaren have big plans for its SLR farewell party! With the Mercedes supercar coming to the end of its production life, the German manufacturer has no plans to send the thoroughbred off quietly. Speculation has been growing about a final special edition speedster version of the SLR 722 - and it looks like the rumours were true. Despite the confusing disguise these exclusive spy shots, taken somewhere in the heart of Germany reveal Mercedes and McLaren have one last trick up its sleeve and it appears to be quite a special one.We can also reveal that 75 examples of the final SLR will be produced and can confirm it will be light-weight speedster versions of the purebred supercar. The limited edition car will pay homage to the silver 300 SLR driven by Stirling Moss in the mid fifties and will have no roof and only a small wind screen in place of the car’s windshield.Further deletion of the air conditioning system and power windows plus the use of composite materials in the body panels will shave about 440 pounds off the SLR’s kerb weight. The end result will be a car that can accelerate from 0-186 mph in just 26 seconds, on its way to a blistering top speed of about 217 mph, 8 mph faster than any previous SLR.Sources can also reveal the limited edition SLR is expected to retail from about 450,000 euros if you can manage to get one.

Rabu, 02 Juli 2008

Hot News: Next-Gen Nissan Titan to Get Dodge Ram Attributes

No matter how you slice it, Nissan Titan buyers will have more options under an agreement with Chrysler to build the next-generation full-size pickup from the Dodge Ram architecture for sale in 2011.
Nissan will still design the next-generation Titan—the name may change—but its underpinnings will be all Ram for ease of assembly at Chrysler’s Saltillo, Mexico, plant. Nissan will stop building the current Titan in 2010.
And while the two automakers are reluctant to divulge too many specifics before an agreement is signed—likely this fall—officials from both companies confirm most aspects of the Ram are subject to negotiation.
Where Nissan really looks to gain is in more available powertrain options and cab configurations.
Currently, the Titan only has one powertrain: the 317-hp, 5.6-liter V-8. The partnership opens the door to a full pantry of potential Chrysler gasoline and Cummins diesel engines. The Ram is available with a 215-hp, 3.7-liter V-6; a 310-hp, 4.7-liter V-8; a 390-hp, 5.7-liter Hemi V-8; and there is a 6.7-liter Cummins turbodiesel in the heavy-duties.
Chrysler officials have confirmed the famed Hemi is available to Nissan—for a price of course. For 2009, the Hemi saw its horsepower grow 13 percent to 390 hp from 345, and torque is now 407 pound-feet from 375.
With high gasoline prices striking a stake in the heart of big-truck buyers, Nissan also embraces the idea of a V-6 for the next Titan.

Hot News: 2010 VW Polo

The Polo is getting a ‘fresher’ flavour! VW’s fifth-generation supermini will go on sale next year with a more upmarket look – and a front end which has been given ‘the Scirocco treatment’.
The car’s nose reflects the styling of VW’s sleek coupé – and inside, there is a classier cabin. A range of new engines includes hi-tech, low-emission diesels and super-turbo petrol powerplants.
As you can see from our pictures, produced using insider information, the Polo draws on the next Golf and Scirocco, dropping the large chrome grille seen on recent VWs for a simpler design with twin horizontal air intakes and angled headlights. It’s a cleaner look all-round, with uncluttered flanks, neat tail-lamps and a purposeful stance.
Under the skin, the Polo gets the new PQ25 small car platform – first used by the latest SEAT Ibiza. This means a bigger cabin, even though the dimensions are similar to the current model’s.
Quality will improve, as VW bids to address criticism over falling standards. It promises the Polo will be the best-built car in its class, with a Scirocco-style dash and soft-touch materials.
The generous kit tally will include an MP3 player input and Bluetooth connectivity on most models. Plus, the Polo could get the same sat-nav docking port as the Ibiza – this allows portable, hand-held units to be plugged into the dash.
While the car is unlikely to match the likes of Ford’s next Fiesta for driver fun, the steering will be improved and the ride made more compliant. Engine highlights will include 1.4 and 1.6-litre FSI direct-injection petrol units, plus new TDI turbodiesels.
The Polo will also make use of VW’s 1.4-litre supercharged and turbocharged TSI motor, available in a 138bhp ‘warm hatch’ and a 168bhp GTI variant. There will be a new Bluemotion model, too – this promises to emit less than 100g/km of CO2 and return 75mpg economy.
The firm’s seven-speed DSG twin-clutch box should appear as an option throughout the range. As well as three and five-doors, there will be a coupé-cabrio, inspired by the Karmann-built drop-top seen at 2007’s Frankfurt Motor Show.
In addition, buyers get the option of a four-wheel-drive SUV variant to replace the Dune – as we revealed in Issue 1,018 – and a compact MPV. These models won’t appear until at least 2010, while the hatch arrives next year, starting from around £9,000.
In a related story, VW has revealed more about its future by unveiling its first-ever plug-in hybrid. The Golf-based Twin Drive can run for up to 30 miles solely on battery power thanks to an 82bhp electric motor. When it runs out of energy, a 122bhp 2.0-litre turbodiesel takes over.
It gets stop-start technology, regenerative braking and hits a top speed of about 75mph. Energy comes from lithium-ion batteries that can be plugged into a household socket.
While there are currently no plans to put the Twin Drive into production, some of its features are set to debut on VW models within the next two years.

Selasa, 01 Juli 2008

Hot News: Peugeot 504

The renaissance starts here! That’s the dramatic promise from Peugeot’s new design boss, Jerome Gallix.
In an interview with Auto Express’s German sister title, Auto Bild, Gallix said he’d use the firm’s heritage to create a fresh family of cars. And he’s starting with the luxurious 504 coupé.
This exclusive Gallix sketch shows exactly how such a model could look. Although technical details are scarce at the moment, it’s thought the newcomer is similar in size to the current 407, and has a bold nose and curving waistline inspired by its predecessor.
Mechanicals are likely to be shared with Citroen’s C5, so the car could get a powerful 2.7-litre V6 diesel and air-suspension.
But Gallix’s plans for making the most of Peugeot’s past won’t stop there. He also admitted he is a fan of the original 204 and the 205. Successors to both these models could be essential to Peugeot’s future as it strives to become one of the leading manufacturers of low-CO2 cars.
The first Peugeot designed under the influence of Gallix was the sleek 308 RC Z concept, which was widely acclaimed on its debut at 2006’s Paris Motor Show. The two-seater will be seen in production form at the Frankfurt exhibition in 2009, and will arrive in showrooms here the following year.

Hot News: New Alfa Romeo 8C

The Alfa Romeo 8C Competizione will get a successor in time for the company’s centenary in 2010, and it could be based on the Ferrari California if Alfa Romeo can strike a ‘difficult’ deal with Maranello.
Alfa bosses believe the idea of building a low-volume supercar that embodies the marque spirit and provides design cues for models lower down the scale - pioneered with the limited-edition 8C coupe and convertible - has worked spectacularly well.
Maserati engines and running gear were used for the original 8C, but Alfa Romeo's global marketing director Sergio Cravero believes that a car based on the new Ferrari California would be ideal as its replacement.
“It would be great if Ferrari let us do it,” Cravero said, “but they are very hard to convince.” The 8C project will have broken even, financially speaking, by the time the 500 Spiders currently under construction have been delivered.
Alfa Romeo had planned to only build coupes, and all 500 sold quickly, but demand for a drop-top variant was so great that the company bowed to the pressure.
Cravero believes that the 8C project achieved much more brand recognition than a TV advertising campaign costing a similar amount of money, and is keen to repeat the process.
The ‘new 8C’ would be a front-engined, rear-wheel-drive car, again made in limited numbers, but no firm decision has yet been made about its design or mechanical underpinnings. However, Alfa bosses acknowledge that to get a car ready within two years, a plan will need to emerge very soon.

Hot News: Infiniti Z

Auto Express drives the GT-R for the first time in the UK this week – but it isn’t the only high-performance car to come from Nissan. Luxury arm Infiniti has hinted at its own new coupé.The firm leaked the news last month, when it revealed a plastic-moulded silhouette of what appeared to be a sleek two-door during the Nissan 360 drive event in Portugal. Bosses are keeping quiet about the forthcoming baby, but have said a concept will debut at a top motor show next year.We also know that the new coupé will share its platform with the soon-to-be-revealed Nissan 370Z Coupé – a car that will arrive in the US market by late 2010 and go on sale in Europe soon afterwards. The Infiniti will rival the likes of the BMW Z4 and Porsche Cayman. Power comes from Nissan’s 2.5-litre V6, which drives the rear wheels, and the car will be a strict two-seater. Buyers are to be offered a choice of a six-speed manual transmission or Infiniti’s seven-ratio automatic gearbox. However, the newcomer isn’t likely to be as hardcore as its 370Z cousin. True to Infiniti’s brand image, engineers will concentrate on comfort rather than outright performance. Expect it to be decked out with leather and plenty of gadgets, and get soft suspension for a smooth ride.
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