Jumat, 29 Agustus 2008

Spied Up - Date: 2011 Rolls Royce RR4

Our spy photographers have captured the best pictures yet of Rolls-Royce’s fourth model, known by its internal code of ‘RR4’, testing without most of the cladding that’s disguised prototypes until now.

The shape of the baby Rolls’ body sides are clearly visible for the first time, along with the big Phantom-style door handles on the rear-hinged ‘suicide’ doors. At the rear the RR4’s vast bootlid is obvious along with the stepped rear wings.

Despite slotting in at the bottom of the range, the RR4 is a big car. Former Rolls boss Ian Robertson has described it as “splitting the difference between a Phantom and the BMW 7-Series.”

Based on the new 7-series platform, the RR4 is being engineered in Germany, but will be produced at the company’s factory in Goodwood on a new production line. The RR4 is intended to fill out Rolls’ model range, selling for around £170,000. According to the company’s research, there are around a million people in the world who would be able to consider buying an RR4. That’s a dramatic improvement on the Phantom’s ultra-rich potential customer base of just 100,000. It’s also anticipated the RR4 will appeal more strongly to corporate buyers.

Despite the close link to the 7-Series, Rolls-Royce is adamant that the RR4 will be a ‘proper; Rolls. It will have its own engine, rather than a BMW unit, and we don’t expect to see it with a diesel.

We’ll see the car at the Geneva motor show next March, and it goes on sale in 2010. (Thanks to Autocar for News and Pictures).

Hot News: Volkswagen Outsell Ford

Volkswagen has overtaken Ford on global vehicle sales, relegating the American company to fourth spot in the global automakers’ sales chart.

According to the latest sales figures, VW Group delivered 3.31 million vehicles in the first half of the year, with Ford delivering 3.22 million.

“This shows we are on the right track with our ever-stronger international presence and, above all, our product program,” said Martin Winterkorn, Chairman of the VW Group management board, “we will systematically push ahead with our growth course even in the present difficult market environment.”

The results will make gloomy reading for Ford executives, and give further proof of the tough trading conditions the company is facing in the USA, it’s biggest market. Ford was the world’s second-largest carmaker as recently as 2004, before being overtaken by Toyota.

And despite announcing a cut in production today, Toyota is still on course to become the world’s largest car manufacturer at the end of this year, having outsold General Motors by 280,000 units globally during the first six months of 2008. (Thanks to Autocar for News and Pictures).

New Car: 2009 SEAT Ibiza Cupra

Seat has revealed the hot Seat Ibiza Cupra ahead of the car’s Paris show debut in October.

The Ibiza Cupra gets its sporting potential from a 178bhp 1.4 TSI twin-turbo engine and a seven-speed double-clutch DSG gearbox, combined with stiffened sports suspension, and a host of driver aids including ESP and traction control.

The styling of the Cupra is much closer to the Bocanegra concept that preceded the Ibiza, including its larger, more sharply defined black grille, revised air intakes and a centrally placed trapezoidal exhaust.

Other standard equipment on the Cupra includes cornering lights, bucket seats and 17-inch alloys.

No performance figures or prices have been released, but we’d expect the Cupra to compete with the £16k Renaultsport Clio 197. Seat’s new offering should go on sale before the end of the year. (Thanks to Autocar for News and Pictures).

Kamis, 28 Agustus 2008

Spied Up - Date: 2011 BMW X3

Our spies have caught some great shots of the new BMW X3 in near-production form.

The prototype shows how the X3 will take much of its styling from the new BMW X5. Both the window line and the treatment of front and rear lights are very derivative of the X5, as are the high boot line and bonnet rakes leading back from the radiator grille.

The pictures also makes clear that the X3 has grown significantly in length compared to the current car.

When it goes on sale in 2010 it will be taking place in an enlarged BMW family, with the new BMW X1 sitting below it in the range. Sources inside BMW claim that the car will be 4.7 metres long - up 0.2 metres on the current model.

The new X3 will ride on a new platform derived from that of the current 3-Series, featuring the ‘xDrive’ and torque vectoring systems that are already offered on the BMW X6.

We’ve also learned that BMW is working on the development of a hybrid version, which is likely to use similar technology to the X5 Vision concept shown at the Geneva show. Other models in the range will be powered by engines familiar from other BMW products, including twin-turbo 3.0-litre diesel and petrol units.

There are no official launch dates set for the new BMW X3, which will compete with new models such as the Mercedes GLK and Audi Q5, but expect it to hit the showrooms in early 2010 after the X1 goes on sale in 2009. (Thanks to Autocar for News and Pictures).

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

Hot News: Mazda Plans Chevy Volt Rival

Autocar has learned that Mazda engineers are hard at work trying to develop a rival to the Chevrolet Volt – a car which uses a petrol engine to charge a battery pack which powers the wheels via an electric motor.

Senior sources say that trials are currently underway in Japan, with a prototype that uses a rotary engine to charge the battery pack. The tests are sufficiently advanced that Mazda has a working prototype in a Mazda 5 MPV bodyshell. Company bosses are said to be keen to put this system into production but no firm decisions will be made until the cost of batteries is reduced.

In the meantime the company will concentrate on simpler green technologies. The first stop-start Mazda will go on sale in Japan next year and the system is expected to be rolled out globally on a variety of models. (Thanks to Autocar for News and Pictures).

Hot News: Chrysler Could Sell Viper Brand

The iconic Dodge Viper could be sold off after Chrysler announced that it is “exploring strategic options” for its V10-engined supercar.

Chairman of Chrysler LLC, Bob Nardelli, said, “We have been approached by third parties who are interested in exploring future possibilities for the Viper, and we have agreed to listen to these parties.

“While this is a strategic review, our intent would be to offer strong operational and financial support during any potential transaction, in order to ensure a future for the Viper.”

The announcement comes as Chrysler is restructuring the Dodge brand with four new vehicles, including the Journey in Europe and the US, plus the Challenger, Durango Hybrid and Ram in North America only.

Though there is no guarantee that the Dodge Viper will be sold off, it seems a distinct possibility that the iconic muscle car could leave the brand that created it if the struggling US firm finds the financial benefits too good to refuse. (Thanks to Autocar for News and Pictures).

Hot News: 2010 Ford Mustang Badge

Ford’s iconic Mustang is due for a significant update for 2010, and while Ford is still holding back images of the freshened pony car itself, it has revealed an official image of the studly steed that will grace its grille.

Compared with the outgoing badge, the new pony has been working out: it’s more angular and defined, its head has been raised a bit and its neck tilted into the wind “to give it a feeling of greater speed and better balance.” Proportions are also more realistic, Ford says. Base Mustangs will wear badges with a tinted chrome finish, while GT models will be available with a black chrome finish. “It’s just a faster-looking steed,” said George Saridakis, design manager for the 2010 Mustang.

This is the fifth iteration of the pony badge that has been leading Mustangs down the road since 1964, although it disappeared from the Mustang’s exterior between the years of 1979 and 1994.

“Like the upcoming restyled Mustang, the new pony is more defined, more muscular and sure to catch the eye of Mustang enthusiasts,” Ford said in its official release.

Let’s just hope they put this much attention into the car itself.

NB: 2009 Ford Mustang Parts now available at AmericanMuscle.com

Sneak Peek: 2010 Buick LaCrosse

Hot News: Mitsubishi to Cancel 3-Series

Plans to put Mitsubishi’s Concept-ZT into production have been cancelled.

Company bosses have decided there is no business case for a car that would be positioned against the BMW 3-series.

Previewed by the four-door concept at last year’s Tokyo motor show, the ZT would have slotted into the firm’s range between the Lancer and the American-market Galant.

The concept used an aluminium spaceframe body, an ultra-clean 2.2-litre turbodiesel engine and the Evo’s four-wheel drive system. Mitsubishi had been considering putting the ZT into production with a steel body and an unchanged drivetrain.

Hot News: Hyundai Recall 65,000 Elantra

The recall bug has hit Hyundai for the second time in four months -- earlier this year the automaker began inspecting nearly 400,000 Sonatas for a faulty seat-cushion airbag sensor, much like the same problem BMW discovered two weeks ago. And now Hyundai is revisiting another group of vehicles for problems, specifically 65,000 Elantra sedans that have a fuel pump that could lose pressure and cause the engine to hesitate.

Applying to 2008 Elantras, the fuel pump on some 2.0L four-cylinder engines may lose pressure when gasoline blended with ethanol creates a film on its electrical contacts, making the car hard to start or causing it to hesitate while running, increasing the risk of a crash. That said, the recall is voluntary and Hyundai says it isn't aware of any injuries caused by the defect. The automaker plans to notify affected owners starting next month, and all faulty equipment will be replaced by dealers free of charge.

With gas prices pushing many commuters into smaller, more economical cars, Elantra sales have risen 25% through July, with a total of 72,432 examples leaving dealer lots so far. Hyundai believes that only certain engines built between November 5, 2007 and June 28 may have the bad fuel pump, but if you have any questions simply contact the automaker at 1-800-633-5151.

Rabu, 27 Agustus 2008

Hot News: Rethink for New McLaren

The new McLaren P11 supercar is going back to the drawing board for a redesign to be masterminded by new styling chief Frank Stephenson.

The former BMW, Mini, Fiat and Ferrari designer will join McLaren later in the year; he has to complete several months of gardening leave after resigning from Fiat in April.

According to well placed sources, Stephenson will join McLaren Automotive to redesign the family of supercars that McLaren plans to put into production in 2009. “The basic engineering layout is fixed, but the styling is still open,” said one source.

Images of the P11 first surfaced in the middle of last year, but sources now confirm that the production car will be very different. “It’s changed from those designs,” said our insider.

That car was rumoured to have been put together to help raise funds from potential investors.

Stephenson will also get the chance to design a rumoured open-top version of the P11 and a GTR race version. The latter may be powered by a 600bhp-plus V10.

Both the open-top and GTR models are expected to be rolled out in subsequent launch years. The lightweight and more powerful GTR version of McLaren’s iconic F1 was the second best-selling variant. In an eventual total production run of 107 F1s, 64 were customer road cars and 28 were GTR racers.

They raced with considerable success, including claiming an overall victory at the Le Mans 24 Hours in 1995. McLaren is understood to be eyeing similar success with a GTR version of its new supercar.

The Woking firm has put back the launch date of its mid-engined two-seater by at least 12 months to accommodate the redesign.

The preliminary launch plan would have seen the first P11 revealed later this year, possibly at Paris, or early next year at Geneva. Those dates are understood to have been delayed to later in 2009 or early 2010.

The mechanical specification of the P11 has been fixed for some time as a Mercedes-sourced direct-injection 6.2-litre AMG unit mated to a double-clutch gearbox. (Thanks to Autocar for News and Pictures).

First Sketch: SEAT Tribu

Seat's love affair with the internet continues to blossom; yesterday trademark office renderings of its Exeo saloon leaked onto the web, and now the blogosphere has given us a first look at the Tribu SUV.

The Tiguan-based model is due in early 2010 as a rival for Honda's CR-V and the Toyota RAV-4. It was originally shown as a three-door concept at last September's Frankfurt motor show, but Seat appears to have registered a five-door design for now.

These renderings show that the production Tribu (the name is Spanish for tribe) will tone down the concept's extreme styling slightly, while also incorporating the flared side flanks seen on the recently launched Ibiza.

The leaked details don't stretch to engine options, but expect the Tribu to feature the 2.0-litre petrol and common-rail diesel motors from its sister VW, along with a slightly cheaper price tag.

Spied: 2010 Volkswagen Golf GTI

IT’S the news Volkswagen Golf fans have been waiting for! These pictures confirm the German car maker is working on a high-performance replacement for its current hot hatch champion, the GTI.

Based on the same chassis as the current model, the next GTI will offer a revised cabin and exterior. Our spies caught a prototype in disguise being put through its paces before the car makes its public debut, tipped to be at the Paris Motor Show in October.

Sources say the hatch will be powered by an evolution of the current 2.0-litre turbocharged TFSI engine producing 211bhp. There will be a choice of gearbox: a six speed manual or a new seven-speed sequential. Three and five-door versions are in the pipeline, and these scoop shots show the latter, complete with finished bodykit.

Highlights include red brake calipers, as well as spoilers front and rear. In addition, broad side skirts take account of this model’s wider-than-standard track. Not everything on show here is likely to make production, though – the wheel design is sure to change dramatically, as we have shown in our artist’s impression.

But the next GTI will feature the active suspension system that debuted in the latest Scirocco. Sport, comfort and automatic modes are selected by pressing buttons on the dash. Based on technology originally developed for Audi’s TT, the set-up adjusts damper stiffness, increasing it to improve agility or reducing it to boost refinement.

The new GTI goes on sale next year and is set to cost £1,500 more than the current model.

Spied: 2010 Opel/Vauxhall Insignia OPC/VXR

THERE’S no rest for the wicked at Vauxhall! Only weeks after the Insignia’s British Motor Show launch, engineers were back in Germany honing the range’s performance flagship – the fire-breathing VXR.

The black disguise worn by this development car shows it is no ordinary Insignia hatch. 
Underneath is a deeper, lower front bumper with enlarged air intakes to cool the engine and brakes. In production form, the car will wear a chrome Vauxhall badge on the grille, which will also feature sporty mesh to 
further distinguish the VXR.

The Insignia gains sculpted sills, larger twin exhausts and a reworked rear bumper. Sports suspension and low-profile tyres on 18-inch alloys aid handling, and larger brakes cope with 
the uprated performance.

Under the bonnet is a reworked version of the firm’s 2.8-litre V6 turbo petrol unit, producing 280bhp, or a 247bhp 2.9 V6 turbodiesel. Both will be available with six-speed manual or automatic gearboxes.

Importantly, the fastest Insignia will be the first four-wheel-drive VXR, ensuring all of the power is transmitted to the road. It’ll be available in saloon, hatch and estate variants, priced at around £28,000 to firmly undercut rivals such as the £30,990 VW Passat R36. The VXR will join the Insignia 
range from next autumn.

Selasa, 26 Agustus 2008

Hot News: Next Mazda MX-5 Miata Will be More Radical

What will the next-generation Mazda MX-5 Miata look like? Mazda's design head Laurens Van den Acker hopes it will share few visual cues with the current roadster.

"The next MX-5 needs to be a big step," Van den Acker said in an Autocar report. "The last one was too conservative and we can't do another car like that. We need to make it more dramatic and give it some balls."

Autocar speculates that the Kazamai concept may influence the next MX-5 Miata. The Kazamai is a compact crossover concept prepared for the Moscow International Automobile Salon. Furthering Mazda's design language, the Kazamai concept's name means "swirling crosswinds" in Japanese.

No official decision for the Mazda's design direction has been chosen yet, apparently, but it appears there's a good chance the new car will be more radical than the current one -- with or without the happy facelift.

Mazda's MX-5 Miata has survived three generations with relatively minimal styling changes. For the next-generation roadster, is the status-quo the way to go or should Mazda get radical?

First Sketch: SEAT Exeo

Images of Seat’s forthcoming Exeo saloon and estate have leaked onto the internet after the design of the car was registered with trademark authorities in Spain.

As we previously reported, the Exeo is based on the previous-generation Audi A4, and the images make clear that, apart from its new nose and tail, the Seat looks almost identical.

The images also confirm for the first time that Seat will be using the A4 Avant bodyshell to produce an estate version of the Exeo. Production of the car is scheduled to begin in December, with UK sales starting early next year.

Details of the prices, specifications and powerplant options will have to wait closer to its launch, but Seat insiders say the Exeo will be priced at a similar level to the Skoda Superb, suggesting a range from around £15,000 to £23,000.

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Hot News: Nissan Gets Its Own Suzuki Alto

Autocar has learned that Nissan is going to be previewing its own version of the forthcoming Suzuki Alto at the Paris Show in October.

Like the Alto, Nissan’s model will be sourced from India and will go on sale in 2009. Nissan won’t reveal the car’s name or what it looks like until closer to the show, but it’s expected to be pretty close to the Alto and will come in below the Micra as a entry level for the range.

It’s the latest step in a deal that’s seen Nissan and Suzuki swap models both in Japan and in North America to plug gaps in their respective model ranges.

Suzuki’s new shape Alto takes to the road as the production version of its A-Star mini concept that was unveiled at the New Dehli Motor Show this January, and which made a follow-up appearance at Geneva where it won widespread acclaim.

The Alto is believed to be a small five-door hatch with Euro 5 compliant 1.0-litre aluminum petrol engine with a C02 target of below 109 g/km. It will be positioned below Suzuki’s Hungarian-made Splash, yet the company is still promising it will offer ample room and comfort.

Nissan’s version of the Alto might prove to be no more than a stop-gap model until the company’s own next-generation city car comes on stream. Nissan and Renault have recently broken ground on their own new factory in India, the finished plant in Chennai set to produce up to 400,000 cars a year.

Nissan has said it has plans to source nine new products from India, including its ULC (Ultra Low Cost) rival to the Tata Nano and the next generation Micra that will be based off its new A-platform. (Thanks to Autocar for News and Pictures).

Hot News: Renault Safrane is Reborn

Renault is making a big saloon again - but it's not about to risk trying to sell it to European buyers.

This is the reborn Safrane, a large Korean-built saloon that the French manufacturer is aiming to sell in the middle East. It's powered by a 2.3-litre V6 engine producing around 170bhp or a new 2.0-litre four-cylinder motor; both units are mated to an automatic transmission driving the front wheels.

Renault is keen to pitch the Safrane as a premium item (climate control, Bose stereo etc), but it sports one of the most complex, muddy bloodlines of any car on the market; it's essentially a rebadged Samsung SM5 (a model only available in Korea), which is essentially a rebadged Nissan Teana (a model only available in Japan), which sits on the same platform as Nissan's Maxima and Altima.

The new Safrane will be built at Busan in South Korea, alongside Renault's first joint venture with Samsung Motors, the Koleos SUV. Sales start in early September. (Thanks to Autocar for News and Pictures).

Spied: 2010 Jaguar XJ

Our spy photographers have snapped a prototype of the next-generation Jaguar XJ being put through its paces at the Nurburgring.

Although hidden under bodywork from the current car, the test mule’s blistered wheelarches and extended front end give a good indication of the crucial model’s larger external dimensions.

Jaguar insiders have previously told Autocar that the new XJ, which uses the internal code X351, uses the aluminium chassis of the current XJ but wears all-new bodywork. According to one source who has seen the car in the metal, “It looks like the XF’s features have been draped over an Aston Martin Rapide.”

Production of the new car is scheduled to begin late next year, with Jaguar hoping that the XJ will be able to build on the massive international success of the mid-sized XF saloon.

Hot News: 2010 Hyundai Tiburon

Hyundai will not have a sports coupe for the 2009 model year, but will have front- and rear-drive choices for 2010 with the Genesis coupe and a replacement for the Tiburon.

The current Tiburon ends its run with the 2008 model year. Its replacement will be based on the Veloster fixed-roof two-plus-two concept that debuted at the 2007 Seoul auto show.

The front-wheel-drive Veloster was shown with a 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine. And John Krafcik, vice president of product development for Hyundai Motor America, tells us the automaker’s turbocharged 2.0-liter—the base engine fro the Genesis coupe—will make its way into a number of future Hyundai products. Krafcik won’t go so far as to connect the dots officially in an interview with Car and Driver, but our Sharpies have little trouble completing the picture.

Nor will Krafcik comment on the platform underpinning the Veloster except to say it will not ride on the current Tiburon architecture. He says he can’t discuss possible shared platforms with sister company Kia, noting that Hyundai and Kia execs in North America sign antitrust agreements prohibiting info sharing—collaboration and decisions are strictly made in Korea. All of which means Krafcik was mum about Kia’s own front-drive coupe unveiled earlier this year at the 2008 New York auto show, dubbed the Kia Koup, and derived from the Kia Spectra.

Jumat, 22 Agustus 2008

Hot News: Bugatti Plans Veyron Replacement

Bugatti boss Dr Franz-Josef Paefgen has said that the company will replace the Veyron supercar around 2012 with another ultra high-end model. The confirmation confounds previous speculation that Bugatti would be wound-up when Veyron production comes to an end.

“We will be staying on top of everybody else and we will not be producing a smaller, or cheaper car and we will not be moving volumes up. Bugatti customers are very extreme people,” he told Autocar.

Paefgen said that Bugatti hasn’t finally decided on the new model. One high-level source told us that the company was considering a second model line possibly a luxury saloon to rival the Rolls-Royce Phantom. He also told us that advanced biofuel technology was being considered and even diesel.

The possibility of Bugatti sharing components with Bentley is also being discussed at a high level. If Bugatti was to give the go ahead to a saloon, the car would be likely to share a platform, and other major components, with the next Arnage, due in 2012.

Autocar has also learned Bugatti will build an even more extreme version of the Veyron as the end of the current model’s production cycle. Although it is still officially denied by the company, we understand that some customers have put deposits down on a more powerful 'GT' version.

According to Bugatti engineering boss, Dr. Wolfgang Schreiber, it will be possible to get more power and torque from the 987bhp, quad-turbocharged 16-cylinder engine:

"We can go to 1106lb ft of torque and we currently have [922lb ft] - and with a turbocharged engine, engineers are always working on getting higher power." There has been speculation that the Veyron GT could top 1200bhp and be capable of 270mph.

Spied Up - Date: 2011 Opel Astra

The extent to which the bold styling of Vauxhall’s new Insignia will influence the next-generation Astra can clearly be seen for the first time on these shots scooped by our spies at the Nurburgring.

A key detail exposed for the first time is the bodyside styling line, or ‘blade’ as GM describes it, which appears on the back of the rear door and flows towards the front of the car.

Vauxhall’s chief designer, Briton Mark Adams, has previously stated that the blade will appear on various future models, “but not in the same way on each design”.

This prototype also reveals how the new Astra has grown-up, getting wider and taller than today’s car to create more head- and shoulder-room.

The new Astra also promises to be the best handling ever thanks to its all-new ‘Delta’ platform, which features a multi-link rear axle for the first time.

This suspension is understood to be a completely different design to the Insignia’s.

Another Insignia-family look comes from the trapezoidal grille, albeit scaled down on the hatch with just three chrome bars in place of the Insignia’s four.

The parallels don’t end there, either. The Astra’s bonnet features a similarly prominent central ridge and angular shutlines and similarly themed headlamps.

Even the Insignia’s ‘bayonet’ type door handles and shield-shaped rear hatch.

Vauxhall’s new hatch is a vital model for the UK and GM has already confirmed that the next-generation model will be built at the Ellesmere Port on Merseyside.

The current Astra was introduced in 2003 and, due to the fast pace of change in the family hatchback segment, is now one of the oldest cars in the class. Despite that, it still regularly features in the list of the UK’s top ten best-sellers.

The new Astra is expected to be seen for the first time at next year’s Frankfurt show with UK sales kicking off in Spring 2010. (Thanks to Autocar for News and Pictures).

New Car: 2009 Volkswagen Passat CC Gold Coast

Fans of VW’s Passat CC are in for a special treat. The Gold Coast special edition is not like any other VW. Revealed at this year’s Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance car show, the special edition CC has been designed with the American market in mind. And the performance based versions aim is to boost the Passat’s US profile where it is aiming to obtain a large percentage of future sales.

It will use the range topping 280bhp, 3.6-litre V6 petrol unit, mated to a 6-speed DSG double-clutch gearbox. Special edition additions will include a tri-coat paint finish featuring a mix of gold, brown and silver tones, bespoke leather sports seats with bronze piping, a more aggressively styled front-end, new front and rear spoilers and massive 19-inch alloy wheels.

The American launch hints strongly that the Gold Coast edition will go on sale at some stage in the US following the arrival of the standard model at the end of this year. But so far there are no plans to release the car in the UK.

If it is released in the US it will likely cost around £34,000 - £2,000 more than the current flagship version.

Kamis, 21 Agustus 2008

Spied: 2010 Hyundai Portico

Just as we were chatting with John Krafcik, vice president of product development at Hyundai Motor America about when the Portico concept will go into production, spy photographers captured the crossover out testing. How fortuitous!

With little cladding to hinder our analysis, it appears the design has changed, but not too substantially from the concept first shown at the 2005 Chicago auto show.

The grille has lost its flowing-water-and-zen-like pattern. The shape also has become conventional, dropping an outline that was a cross between a butterfly and a cartoon character’s mustache. The headlamps have been revamped, and we prefer the creases on the hood of the concept to the new lines here.

Under the hood we expect to see Hyundai’s 3.3-liter and 3.8-liter V-6s, and perhaps a 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder. The vehicle will be available with front- or all-wheel drive.

The Portico likely will begin assembly in Korea in the fall of 2009 for sale as a 2010 model. It is one of seven new vehicles the automaker is introducing over the next two years as part of a product onslaught it dubs 24/7 Version 2.0. The first 24/7 program oversaw the launch of seven new vehicles in a 24-month period beginning in 2004.

Hot News: 2011 Hyundai Sonata Hybrid

Hyundai will use the L.A. auto show in November to show its first hybrid vehicle, says John Krafcik, vice president for product development at Hyundai Motor America.

Hyundai has already said it plans to start selling an Elantra in Korea in July 2009 as the automaker’s first LPG-electric hybrid vehicle. That will make it the first hybrid powered by “liquid petroleum gas” (or just plain old gas!) and the first to use what it calls “advanced lithium polymer” or Li-Poly batteries.

In North America, Hyundai’s first hybrid will be a Sonata, due to launch in 2010, likely as a 2011 model. It will be a full hybrid, meaning it can run on electricity alone at low speed and for a limited distance. Krafcik describes it as Hyundai’s unique version of a two-mode or parallel hybrid system designed to operate at peak efficiency in both city and highway driving. The Sonata hybrid will not be plug-in.

The L.A. unveil will actually be a rolling chassis with a system that uses lithium-ion technology, Krafcik says. Hyundai will use the auto show to outline a number of planned green initiatives.

New Car: 2010 Chevrolet Cruze

This is the Chevrolet Cruze, the firm's new small family saloon, which will make its first appearance at the Paris Motor Show in October.

The Cruze is the first in a long line of new Chevrolets that will include the Volt electric car, the new Camaro and a small city car based on the Beat concept. The Cruze will be built on Chevrolt's new Delta platform and will take the company in a new design direction with bolder styling cues.

The wrap-around headlights and new two-tier grille are key features of the car's design, and likely to continue across future models. Other important design cues include a crisp rising waistline, compact rear and sweeping front-wing lines that help to make this small saloon one of the best looking in its class.

The Cruze will go on sale worldwide in 2009, and will battle it out in the UK against the Ford Focus and Honda Civic. Three engines will be available at launch, producing between 110bhp and 148bhp. The most popular engine choice is likely to be the 2.0 litre common-rail turbodiesel producing 148bhp, but there will also be 1.6 litre and 1.8 litre petrol engines, producing 110bhp and 138bhp. (Thanks to Autocar for News and Pictures).

Rabu, 20 Agustus 2008

Hot News: 2012 Mercedes BLK

Mercedes-Benz is planning a new small soft-roader, provisionally called BLK, for launch in late 2011 as part of the new A and B-Class ranges.

The BLK will slot into the line-up below the bigger GLK and compete with the likes of the forthcoming BMW X1 and Land Rover LRX in a new market segment for small, premium SUVs.

The BLK will get four-wheel drive and there is also the possibility of a front-wheel-drive ‘eco’ version of the car. A range of four-cylinder direct-injection petrol and diesel engines are being lined up, sized between 1.6 litres and 2.2 litres.

While the next A-class hatchback will spawn a compact coupe, the bigger next-generation B-class MPV (it gains nearly 10cm in length, making it nearly as big as Ford’s C-Max) will form the basis of the BLK.

After talks with Fiat and BMW, Mercedes has taken the expensive decision to go it alone on the development of its new front-wheel drive platform, which will come in two wheelbases. But there is still a chance that Mercedes could co-develop engines with BMW – talks between the two are scheduled to conclude in November.

The current A and B-class are based on Mercedes’ highly innovative ‘sandwich’ chassis, which was developed for the original A-class back in 1998.

However, the substantial cost of manufacturing the unique powertrain this platform requires has convinced Mercedes to shift to a conventional front-drive layout for the next generation of models.

The move also opens the way for Mercedes to plan a much wider range of models than is possible with the current A-class chassis.

Up to three spin-off models could be launched on the A-class and B-class platforms. So far, a three-door coupe based on the shorter A-class hatch has already been given the go-ahead and recent reports from Germany suggest that an electrically powered model is also likely to be part of the line-up. (Thanks to Autocar for News and Pictures)

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

First Sketch: Peugeot RC

Peugeot’s new lion is set to roar in! Currently a work in progress, the RC… will be unveiled at the French maker’s home motor show, Paris, this October.

Styled by Peugeot’s new design boss Jerome Gallix, the rakish four door, four seater coupe follows on from previous RC Spade and RC Diamond concept cars of 2002, and the eccentric rear engined V12 diesel 908RC luxury saloon revealed at the 2006 Paris show.

But whereas these previous efforts boasted glamorous looks and conventional petrol or diesel engines, the RC…’s headturning shape debuts Peugeot’s hybrid powertrain.

Although details are scarce, Peugeot has announced that the RC…’s engine will produce up to 313bhp, while emitting just 109g/km of CO2, or 0g/km when in full electric mode.

Hot News: 2011 Honda Civic

The new Honda Civic is here – and yet again it’s set to break the mould in the family hatchback sector! These exclusive shots show how the next car will look when it hits the showroom in 2010, and as you can see, the Japanese maker has opted for a shape that is even bolder and more individual than the current model.

With Vauxhall set to launch a stylish new Astra, and the next, sleek Ford Focus due in 2010, competition is fierce – but Honda has pulled out the stops to create a real stunner. As revealed in Issue 1,023, the OSM concept seen at the British Motor Show was more than simply an ‘Open Study Model’ – as the face of the new Civic is almost identical.

There are hints of VW’s IROC concept, which was toned down to become the Scirocco, in the gaping front grille. The new hatchback adds elements carried over from the current Civic, too, most notably the trademark single strip light cluster at the rear. But Honda fans will note that the split rear screen has been dropped to improve visibility. Shallow glass areas, broad shoulders and a nose-down stance give this three-door model a sporty and purposeful look.

The hatchback ‘coupé’ pictured here will be aimed at younger buyers, who want style and image more than outright practicality. So, as well as big alloys and a contrasting black bodykit, the three-door gets lowered suspension and a dark interior with deeply sculpted seats.

The three-door will be distinct from the five, as Honda adopts an approach similar to the Renault Mégane by pitching the two cars at different buyers. So, the five-door will be more for the family, with a taller roofline offering plenty of space, a bigger boot, plus a softer ride and handling balance.

The engine line-up will be shared between the two styles, though, and our sources have revealed that a 1.5-litre IMA hybrid engine with more than 150bhp and sub-CO2 120g/km emissions will appear.

In fact, the Civic will herald a change in focus for the Japanese maker as it seeks to reduce CO2 emissions. It’s currently restructuring manufacturing facilities to cater for large-scale hybrid production.

Over the next five years, Honda plans to power all four-cylinder cars using either petrol hybrids with lithium-ion batteries or i-CTDi diesels. But it is also introducing ‘deactivation technology’ for its V6, V8 and V10 engines. This means that some
cylinders will not be used in more relaxed driving conditions in an attempt to improve efficiency.

Hot hatch fans will also be well catered for, as a Type R flagship is in the works, powered by a 2.0-litre i-VTEC engine which, given Honda’s five-year hybrid plan, could be boosted by an electric motor. This would make it the world’s first hybrid hot hatch!

New Car: 2009 Honda Civic

When Honda introduced its new Civic for 2006, the car was quantum leap over its predecessor and was honored as Motor Trend's 2006 Car of the Year for its efforts. With a broad lineup, which includes coupes and sedans ranging from the ultrafrugal Honda Civic Hybrid to the sport-themed Civic Si, the Civic is one of the best-selling cars in America, and the recent spike in gas prices has helped the Civic challenge the Accord as Honda's most-popular model. But recently the automaker's Japanese rivals have been fighting back, with an all-new Corolla in showrooms now and a replacement Mazda3 due next year. So to keep the Civic going strong, the 2009 version is getting a mid-cycle update with a host of small improvements featuring revised styling, an improved interior, new technology, additional safety features, as well as two new sedan variants -- the DX-VP and LX-S -- that offer customers additional choice when shopping for the range's low- and mid-priced models.

When the latest-generation Civic first hit the market, many were surprised by its unusual styling, but the Civic's looks have proven a hit with buyers and for 2009 Honda decided not to mess with success. Changes are minor, including a new bumper that now incorporates three air intakes, a slightly restyled grille, and a new headlight color combination. Together these give the Civic's front end a slightly bolder look, while revised taillights now feature clear turn indicators and amber bulbs. All 2009 sedans also receive a new chrome trim piece above the rear license-plate holder, while the Si gets standard foglights. In addition, the upscale Civic EX, EX-L, and Si each sport a new set of alloy wheels.

Honda did a little more work on the Civic's interior, when compared with its minimal sheetmetal changes, notably in the form of more upscale trim options and additional tech goodies. While the automaker is sticking with its controversial two-tier dashboard introduced three years ago, all Civic sedans now feature a sporty three-spoke steering wheel, improved cloth seating surfaces and patterns, and matching trim on the door linings and armrests.

For eco-warriors who prefer a little luxury, the Civic Hybrid can now be had with leather and heated seats, along with a leather-wrapped steering wheel and heated side mirrors. Nav-equipped cars feature a Bluetooth HandsFreeLink mobile phone interface, which can be controlled via buttons on the steering wheel, while the EX, EX-L, and Si gain a USB audio interface for an MP3 player. Adding to the Civic's already impressive set of safety features, VSA stability control also is now standard on all EX-L, Hybrid, and Si models.

Spied: 2010 Mazda 3

Wearing what looks like a coat of Native American war paint, here is a cladding-free, running prototype of the next-generation Mazda 3, a car that has garnered nearly as much praise as the mighty little BMW that goes by the same name.

The redesign is thorough, if not radical. Like the all-new Mazda 6, the new 3 is expected to grow a bit in key dimensions, something we’d have verified if the darn car had slowed down enough for our helpful spy to whip out his tape measure. The front end is very different, with detailed, Mazda 6–like ellipsoid headlamps and a low-mounted grille. The bodysides, window line, and rear end are similar to the current car, save the more organically shaped taillamps and new dual exhaust tips.

We imagine we’re looking at the equivalent of today’s top-of-the-line “s” trim, as this car has upscale details like turn signals on the mirror caps, fog lamps, a rear spoiler, and LED taillamps. We expect the new car to be more aerodynamic than before and to perhaps shed some weight, and hope that translates into better fuel efficiency. We also expect a choice of two four-cylinder engines, details of which could be released as soon as this fall’s L.A. auto show.

What we don’t see here is any shred of influence from Mazda’s recent batch of frivolous, trees-and-dew-inspired concept cars that we’d hoped might bear fruit, so to speak, in the form of unique forms and game-changing styling details. Sigh.

What probably won’t change, however, are the 3’s excellent driving characteristics. After all, Mazda did a great job preserving the stellar dynamics of the new 6, and we don’t expect anything less from the new 3.

Production of the new hatchback, at least preproduction models, should be underway by the end of the year for launch early in 2009.

Spied: 2010 Lincoln MKT

Here is a glimpse of the production version of the Lincoln MKT crossover—the kissing cousin to the Ford Flex—as caught by spy photographers.

Ford used the Pebble Beach Concours d'Élégance to confirm that the seven-passenger MKT, shown as a concept at the 2008 North American International Auto Show, will go into production. Like the Flex, it will be assembled in Oakville, Ontario.

While the Flex is already instantly recognizable for its boxy shape, the Lincoln sports more flowing lines and is fronted by the now-signature waterfall grille.

Another Lincoln signature: a 3.7-liter, V-6 engine. There will be a second powertrain option, as the MKT will follow the lead of the flagship Lincoln MKS in getting the EcoBoost treatment: a turbocharged, 3.5-litre V-6 producing 340 hp and 340 lb-ft of torque, becomes available in 2009. Channeling the power with either engine will be a six-speed automatic transmission.

While the production version appears to keep the rear bustle of the concept, many of the futuristic interior features remain the domain of the show car, such as a carpet of woven banana silk, four business-class pedestal seats, a series of power-actuated longitudinal rails that rise from the floor to create compartments from the flat load floor, and some of the nicest interior door handles you'll ever see: one-piece sculpted chrome pieces with baroque engraving.

The glass roof is expected to make it into production. And a touch screen like an iPhone could replace a conventional info screen on the luxocruiser, but we don’t have much hope for the three-dimensional contoured center stack and patented lighting technology to project information onto a smoky surface.

Sneak Peek: 2010 Hyundai Equus

Hyundai has released a teaser image of their new top of the range VI - the next Equus - expected to be revealed in February next year. The VI will not only aim to compete in the company's domestic market but there is also speculation that it will be sold overseas, particularly in China.

The design features a distinctive upright, three-box rear-wheel-drive profile and two flowing bodyside character lines around both front and rear wheelarches. Measuring 5.2m long, 1.9m wide, 1.5m high and with a wheelbase longer than 3m, the VI will be the largest Hyundai passenger vehicle ever produced.

Two engine choices will be available, 3.8-liter six-cylinder and a 4.6-liter V8. A long wheelbase version powered by a 5.0-liter engine is expected in the second half of 2009.

Selasa, 19 Agustus 2008

Hot News: 2010 Audi A7

Details are emerging concerning the upcoming Audi A7, a four-door “coupe” that will be a direct rival to Mercedes-Benz’s popular CLS and BMW’s upcoming entry, the Gran Turismo. The A7 could appear as soon as next year, as a 2010 model, built on the architecture of the Audi A5 (which also will be the basis of the next A6).

The A7 is, in effect, a four-door coupe version of the next A6. At the top of the lineup will be a 600-hp, twin-turbo V-10 version likely to be dubbed the RS 7. The buzz is that a cabriolet will be added in early 2011.

The four-door coupe craze that began with the CLS in 2004, is burgeoning with other entries planned, including the Porsche Panamera, Volkswagen Passat CC, and Aston Martin Rapide.

Minggu, 17 Agustus 2008

New Car: 2010 Bugatti Veyron Grand Sport

Bugatti has confirmed that it will build 150 of the new Veyron Grand Sports after the open-top version of the world's fastest car was launched at the Pebble Beach Concours.

Rumours of an open-topped Veyron had been around since the car's introduction, but the Grand Sport was only confirmed for production last year. It will take total Veyron production up to 450 cars by 2011, breaking the company's earlier commitment to build no more than 300 Veyrons.

Like the Veyron 16.4 coupe, the Grand Sport is all about superlatives. Its top speed remains unchanged at 253mph, but the bodywork has been revised to allow high-speed driving with the roof down.

The biggest single difference is that the roof has been set higher to reduce wind intrusion into the cabin, with substantial reinforcement to the Veyron's inner structure to compensate for the structural loss of the open roof. Sills and transmission tunnel have all been beefed up, while the B-pillars are braced with a new carbonfibre strut, and the carbonfibre doors have been strengthened with a side impact bar.

For roll-over protection, the Veyron coupe’s distinctive air intakes are re-designed to include 100mm wide carbon-fibre tubes to protect occupants. Although it’s capable of more, Bugatti advise the drop-top Veyron isn’t taken over 233mph. It will cost a cool £1.14 million before taxes - around £150k more than a Veyron. (Thanks to Autocar for News and Pictures).

Sabtu, 16 Agustus 2008

New Car: 2010 Infiniti G37 Convertible

This morning, during the 2008 Pebble Beach Concours d'Elegance, Nissan's Infiniti luxury arm unveiled its all-new 2009 Infiniti G37 convertible -- its first droptop since 1992.

Though the G37 Convertible won't make its official world debut until this November's Los Angeles Auto Show, it's already generating a stir among the G's many ardent fans -- and for good reason. The three-piece folding hard top is fully automatic, the car looks sensational with the top down, and, like the G37 coupe the convertible boasts a potent 3.7-liter V-6 under its hood. It's due to hit Infiniti dealers in early 2009. Look out, BMW!

Spied: 2010 Mercedes CLK

The new CLK is getting ready for battle. The Mercedes coupe has slipped down the pecking order with the arrival of the current BMW 3-Series Coupe and the Audi A5, but this new model is gunning for its premium German rivals.

Our pictures show an altogether meaner, more muscular car than the current CLK, with curves replaced by more angular, chunky creases and neater, slimmer rear lights. The front end is inspired by the new C-Class – a car that has been one of the decade’s biggest hits for Mercedes so far.

The underpinnings of the new CLK also make their way across from the C-Class, promising a much sharper drive than before. The saloon’s adaptive damping will appear too, allowing drivers to choose between comfort and sport modes for the suspension. It should bring the car close to both the sporty 3-Series and more comfort-led A5.

The convertible CLK is likely to remain a soft top, shrugging off the folding metal roof option that BMW has taken. While a direct rival would be desirable, a fabric top lightens the car and improves dynamics, as well as stopping the CLK from stepping on the smaller SLK’s toes.

Engines will be picked from the C-Class, ranging from the 1.8-litre petrol found in the C180 to the 3.0-litre V6 diesel unit on the 320CDI. Oil burners will pick up most of the sales, and prices should be close to the CLK’s rivals – starting at around £26,000.

The stylish new CLK should hit our roads by summer 2009, with a monster AMG version topping the range when it appears in 2010.

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

Spied: 2010 Cadillac CTS-V Coupe

Cadillac is doing a controlled and sustained unveiling of fresh new products these days, including the new SRX crossover and CTS wagon, as well as giving us a chance to drive such diverse vehicles as the 2009 Escalade hybrid and the CTS-V sedan.

And obviously there is more to come, as pictures of the top-secret V-spec version of its upcoming CTS coupe were nabbed while testing.

Subtle clues give away the real identity of this car: black-painted CTS-V wheels; clearly visible cross-drilled brake discs with massive calipers; a squared-off front fascia for added brake ducting; and big, fat, round exhaust tips mounted in the center of the rear bumper in place of the squared-off tips on the base coupe.

What you can’t see in these pictures is the supercharged and intercooled 6.2-liter LSA V-8 under the slightly raised hood, with 556 horsepower and 551 lb-ft of torque that’s said to vault the sedan to 60 mph in under four seconds. We expect the same thrills from the coupe, made all the more savory by a heap of two-door attitude. Truly, this could become the meanest Caddy in history.

Production of the 2010 CTS coupe begins in the fall of 2009, and the ready nature of their V prototype suggests the performance version could launch simultaneously—unless the marketing types argue to hold the V back a few months, making it a 2011 model.

The fact that Cadillac wants to sell a super-high-performance coupe version of its super high-performance sedan should hardly be super-surprising; after all, Caddy’s got M3 coupes to hunt down. But Cadillac may not be done there: officials have not ruled out a V-Spec version of its just-unveiled CTS sport wagon. That would be a family vehicle we applaud.

Jumat, 15 Agustus 2008

Sneak Peek: 2010 Chevrolet Volt

Chevrolet just released some teaser images of its much-ballyhooed Volt plug-in hybrid. The bad news: it appears as if it will look very little like the punchy little Volt concept, which virtually stole the 2007 Detroit auto show. The good news: it should still look pretty cool, at least as far as we can tell from the two pictures, which show an illuminated front quarter as well as part of the tailgate.

Gone are the squinting headlamps and three-dimensional grille of the concept in favor of Ford-like, sideways L-shaped assemblies that include an HID bulb, lots of LED action, and a “halo ring” à la 2010 Chevrolet Camaro. The upper grille is now a stylized and patterned surface rather than a hungry air pocket. The concept’s outboard lower air intakes are also drastically different from those shown in the new images, but we think they got way more interesting this time around.

The frontal image also shows a lower opening that will feed and cool the plug-in hybrid powertrain, which will include massive batteries capable of propelling the car up to 40 miles by themselves. A small gasoline engine will serve as a generator to extend the car’s range up to 400 miles, but it won’t be involved at all in actual propulsion.

Other than showing us the official Volt badge, which features a delicate lightning bolt striking through the “V,” the rear detail image doesn’t tell us a lot. Still a mystery is the exact shape of the roofline, windows—the side windows on the concept were integrated into the aggressive shoulderline—and trunk/tailgate, although we mentioned in an earlier report on the Volt’s development progress that the design “bears a family resemblance to the Chevrolet Malibu.” Fortunately, that was just a test mule, and there are no traces of Malibu in the final product beyond perhaps the five-spoke wheels.

We’re told that many of the changes made to the Volt’s design were dictated by wind-tunnel testing, which ultimately revealed the boxy concept, however great-looking, to be insufficiently aerodynamic. But from what we can tell, Chevrolet seems to be brewing up a design that appears as futuristic as the technology under its skin.

And the Volt continues to garner widespread interest. An unofficial "fan" waiting list claims more than 33,000 prospective buyers, although most have said they wouldn't be willing to pay the rumored $40,000 price tag to get one.

Kamis, 14 Agustus 2008

Hot News: Alfa Romeo Plans New Executive Saloon

Autocar has learned that Alfa Romeo is planning to replace the defunct 166 with a new large saloon – and company bosses are determined to source a rear-wheel drive platform for the car.

The car would act as a flagship model for the range, although Alfa’s new policy of naming rather than numbering models means it’s unlikely to carry the ‘169’ tag that previous speculation had suggested.

One option is to use the Maserati Quattroporte chassis, although the expense of this would limit potential sales volumes. But Fiat boss Sergio Marchionne has already suggested that the new big Alfa could be based around the Jaguar XF chassis.

That’s not as outlandish as it sounds. Fiat Auto has a close connection with Tata (which owns Jaguar) because boss Ratan Tata sits on the Fiat board. And we know that Fiat-Jaguar co-operation has been discussed at senior level, because Fiat’s finance arm will replace Ford Credit as the source of finance for JLR’s dealers.

This tie-up could go further. While Alfa using the Jaguar XF chassis makes perfect sense, Jaguar’s other world-class aluminium rear-drive platforms would also be the logical underpinnings for future versions of Fiat Auto’s flagship cars, the Maserati Quattroporte and Coupe models. (Thanks to Autocar for News and Pictures).

Spied: 2010 Cadillac SRX

As we await official pictures and information on the next-generation Cadillac SRX, our spy photographers snapped the crossover testing with the heavy cladding removed.

Look for this crossover; initially referred to as the Cadillac BRX, to debut later this year or at the 2009 North American International Auto Show. Our last formal glimpse was at the 2008 Detroit auto show when we saw a precursor of the five-passenger SRX in the form of the Cadillac Provoq concept.

The new SRX hails from an update of GM’s Global Compact Crossover Architecture known as TE as it combines elements of the Theta crossover platform with some Epsilon mid-size car elements. TE has already give us the current Saturn Vue.

The outgoing SRX rides on a luxury rear-drive platform that was known as Sigma, but it was an expensive platform. Sales of the SRX were down 19 percent, to less than 11,000, for the first seven months of this year compared with last year.

Cadillac styling cues abound, with many elements of the Provoq seemingly greenlighted for the production model, notably the taillights and crease across the back.

Rabu, 13 Agustus 2008

Hot News: Ford Keeps Volvo

Despite increasing rumours, Volvo is not for sale, according to senior Ford sources.

Instead the company has decided to turn around the fortunes of its loss-making Swedish subsidiary, rather than allow it to be sold to a Russian or Chinese bidder. Ford’s senior management wants to boost Volvo’s annual sales from 420,000 to well over 600,000 units.

Ford is said to be unimpressed that Volvo has stumbled with a product strategy, which has seen sales of most of its models falling in recent months.

One source suggested that Volvo was too small to properly compete with premium makers such as BMW and Mercedes and it would be better to play to its traditional strengths by competing with ‘premium mainstream’ brands such as VW.

Insiders say that Volvo’s future model plans will be completely re-worked. A whole new forward strategy – with plans for less expensive models that sell in larger volumes – could be rubber-stamped as early as the new year.

In future, Ford strategists are likely to insist that Volvo’s future models are more closely aligned with Ford products. Volvo’s decision to engineer the XC60 SUV solo, rather than work with Land Rover or Ford, is said to have resulted in an expensive project that was slow to arrive in the showrooms.

Another internal criticism of Volvo is that it failed to catch the ‘green’ wave and establish itself as a leader in environmentally friendly technology.

Volvo is also accused of making slow progress on hybrid technology, despite being one of Ford’s centres for hybrid development.

Ford has been strongly rumoured to be open to offers for the troubled carmaker. Chinese manufacturer Chery – along with outside investors – have been tipped in the Chinese press as front-runners to buy Volvo.

However, sources say that Ford is unwilling to allow Volvo and Ford’s advanced technology to be sold off to carmakers in emerging markets.

Ford is struggling with its own huge losses and project to switch from SUVs to building smaller cars, making Volvo’s problems an unwelcome distraction.

The cover of a recent Swedish business magazine portrayed Volvo as an XC90 sitting on bricks under the headline ‘Tired Giant’.

Workers at the Torslanda factory near Gothenburg were recently quoted in the industry press as wanting Ford to sell Volvo to a new owner. (Thanks to Autocar for News and Pictures).

Spied: 2010 Audi R8 Roadster

The open-top version of Audi's R8 range-topping coupe has been caught virtually undisguised in Germany near, where else, the Nurburgring. Were it not for the flat-black paint, the Audi R8 Spyder (an official name has yet to be announced) could easily be mistaken for a production car.

The Audi R8 convertible's canvas roof looks to have forced the removal of the R8's signature off-color side body panels and a redesign of the engine cover was also apparently necessary. The fuel filler cap has also been moved onto the rear quarter panel from its original position on the long B-pillar. For safety, rollover protection bars have been added, though these are not visible unless the top is down. Audi may also add air intakes located behind the seats and the chassis is said to have been strengthened to improve rigidity. With the roof up, the convertible has a very similar shape to the coupe, especially when viewed from the side.

The R8's 420 horsepower 317 pound-feet 4.2-liter V-8 should be unchanged for the convertible. The upcoming V-10 variant of the R8, which is expected to make its debut in October at the Paris Motor Show, will debut as a coupe and may remain so, but it is possible it may also come in ragtop form, as the vehicles are more or less the same other than the obvious engine difference.

Selasa, 12 Agustus 2008

Hot News: Next Alfa Romeo 159 Gets Giulia Name

Alfa Romeo’s successor to the 159 saloon will revive the historic Giulia name, Autocar has learned.

The resurgent Italian brand plans to base the new car on a slightly longer version of the forthcoming 149 platform. The wheelbase will be extended to about 2.7 metres, with the commonality helping to streamline manufacture and cut costs.

Italian insiders say the current 159’s platform (developed mainly by Saab when GM and Fiat were partners) is too heavy, too expensive to build and is also unlikely to meet the new US crash regulations.

Like its smaller 149 sibling, the Giulia is being prepared for launch in the US, so Alfa must ensure that both cars will meet all environmental and safety standards on both sides of the Atlantic.

The 159’s disappointing sales performance means that the Giulia is being rushed through the development stages, and is likely to be unveiled in 2010. Insiders confirm that Fiat boss Sergio Marchionne has recently signed-off the styling of the new saloon.

The Giulia is expected to follow the design trend set by the Mito and will have 8C Competizione-derived looks. (Thanks to Autocar for News and Pictures).

New Car: 2009 Audi RS6

This is the new 572bhp Audi RS6 saloon, which will make its debut at the Paris motor show in October before going on sale in Britain just weeks later.

Following hot on the heels of the RS6 Avant, the saloon uses the same 5.0-litre twin-turbo V10 engine to offer supercar-rivalling levels of performance.

Audi claims that it will blast from 0-62mph in 4.5 seconds and is limited to 155mph - although the limiter can be raised to 174mph as an option.

Like the Avant, it uses a six-speed automatic gearbox with Tiptronic over-ride and wears 20-inch alloys.

The RS6 saloon will be distinguished from the S6 by some subtle styling tweaks and will also get the latest version of Audi’s MMI in-car entertainment system as per the rest of the facelifted A6 range. Pricing details haven’t been finalised yet, but expect it to cost in the region of £75,000. (Thanks to Autocar for News and Pictures).

New Car: 2009 Audi A6

As we predicted just a few short weeks ago, the 2009 Audi A6 will be powered by a supercharged 3.0-liter V-6 making 300 horsepower.

Among other changes for the 2009 model year, American A6s will get the 3.0 TFSI engine (T can now mean supercharged as well as turbocharged in Audi powertrain nomenclature). The U.S.-spec version of the engine makes 300 hp at 4800 rpm and 310 lb-ft of torque at 2500 rpm. The engine will be coupled exclusively to a six-speed Tiptronic automatic with Quattro all-wheel-drive.

A clever combination of supercharging, variable valve timing, and direct injection should give the 3.0 TFSI a generous blend of performance and economy. Audi says the European-spec A6 sedan runs the 0–to-62 mph sprint in 5.9 seconds and is electronically limited to 155 mph, yet returns nearly 25 mpg on the Euro test cycle.

In the 2009 sedan, Audi will continue to offer the 3.2-liter V-6 and 4.2-liter V-8 engines from the 2008 A6. The V-6 employs a continuously-variable transmission and front-drive, while the V-8 packs a six-speed Tiptronic with all-wheel-drive. The 2009 Avant will only be available with the 3.0 TFSI.

The Quattro all-wheel-drive system is also reworked. Old A6s used a 50/50 torque split. For 2009, the A6 will employ the same Quattro system in place on the Audi A5, S5, and Q7. The new system is rear-biased, delivering up to 85 percent of torque to the rear wheels. Audi says this should give the A6 a more “lively” handling dynamic.

That dynamic will be complemented by new front shock absorbers and revised spring rates all around. For maximum sport, though, opt for the S6 sedan: it still carries its 5.2-liter V-10 engine from 2008. Differentiating it from lower models are LED strips mounted in the front air vents and quad exhaust tips.

Senin, 11 Agustus 2008

Spied: 2010 Alfa Romeo 149

Our spy photographers have snapped the new Alfa 149 being put through its paces ahead of its launch next year.

The new car will arrive just a few months behind the VW Golf, and is expected to pitched slightly further upmarket than today’s 147. Alfa’s production target for the new car is a modest 100,000 per year and prices are expected to kick off at around £15,000.

Engines will include both petrol (including the new camless Multiair design) and diesel units ranging between 120bhp and 250bhp. Clever ‘Q2’ clever front differentials will be offered to maximise traction, although a rumoured four-wheel drive option seems unlikely now.

Although it’s currently known as the 149, the production car is likely to carry a different moniker, with Alfa looking for to give the car a name following the pattern set by the Mito. Like the Mito, the 149’s styling will again be inspired by the Alfa 8C supercar.

Although these first spy shots show that the 149 test mule is based on a Fiat Bravo, Autocar understands that Alfa engineers have made significant modifications to the Bravo platform.

Aside from a slight wheelbase stretch, the 149 will get an all-new independent rear suspension system. Italian sources say it will be a ‘three-arm’ design, similar to that used by BMW’s Mini. This set-up will be a significant advance on the beam axle used by the Bravo.

In addition, the structure will be getting a major crash worthiness upgrade. As well as targeting the upcoming six-star EuroNCAP rating, the 149 chassis will be able to meet stringent new US market crash regulations. Italian sources say that a proposed new round of regulations will centre on resistance to heavy rear-impacts.

Later this decade, Italian sources say that the 149 platform will also spawn coupe and cabrio versions, which are expected to replace the heavy, expensive and slow-selling Brera and Spider.

Autocar also understands that plans for an Alfa SUV spun of the 149 platform have been shelved in light of environmental concerns and falling segment sales. (Thanks to Autocar for News and Pictures).

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