Jumat, 31 Juli 2009

Sneak Peek: 2011 Nissan EV

Nissan is going all-electric! On 2nd August the Japanese brand will announce its first Zero Emissions vehicle. The as yet unnamed 5-seat hatchback was created from the ground up for electric only driving.

A micro-site has shown the front of the new EV and Nissan will release official images and information on 2nd August but until then we have some insider information from a media test drive session.

Externally, the car features a distinctively sharp, upright V-shaped design and protruding headlights that split and redirect airflow away from the door mirrors, reducing drag.

Elsewhere, the EV is powered by compact lithium-ion batteries and an 80kW electric motor which, when coupled with the aerodynamic body and low consumption electronics, should offer a range of around 160kms.

If you find yourself low on charge, the EV has an IT system that informs the driver of a ‘reachable area’ on the remaining charge and all the charging stations within that area.

Performance is roughly the same as a 2.0-litre petrol powered car and handling is even slightly improved over petrol counterparts because of the low centre of gravity provided by the heavy batteries in the floor of the vehicle.

The car is expected to go on sale in Japan and the U.S in 2010 and in Europe by early 2011. Prices should start at around £20,000. For more details click here.
Thanks to: Auto Express

Kamis, 30 Juli 2009

Hot News: Renault Posts Huge Loss

Renault has announced a net loss of 2.7 billion euros (£2.3bn) for the first half of 2009.
Renault CEO Carlos Ghosn said, “We anticipated the crisis from July 2008 and made the first decisions necessary to weather it. Today, Renault is showing resilience, as illustrated by our significantly positive free cashflow.
“We are already preparing Renault for the post-crisis period with the mass marketing of zero-emission vehicles from 2011, the expansion of the entry-level range, consolidation of our presence in emerging markets and a drive to accelerate and expand synergies with Nissan.”
Renault has recently launched a new Megane, Scenic and facelifted Clio, so it is expecting better results for the second half of the year. Renault’s group global market share remained at 3.7 per cent for the same period.

Thanks to: Autocar

Spied: 2010 Bentley Grand

Our spy photographers have captured the best shots yet of Bentley’s replacement for the Arnage, known as the new Grand Bentley.These pictures suggest that the new Bentley will measure about 30 centimetres longer than the already huge Arnage putting it towards the Rolls-Royce Phantom end of the market.The Grand Bentley is expected to be powered by a tweaked version of the 6.75-litre V8 that powered its predecessor. Power should be around 550hp which will propel the Grand to around 200mph.Considering it’s competition (Maybach, Rolls-Royce) prices for the new model are expected to be well over £200,000 for the base model. Unlike its forerunner the Grand Bentley will only be available in one wheelbase.The official unveil comes at the Pebble Beach concours d’elegancee on 16th August 2009 and UK sales are expected to start later this year. For more details click here.
Thanks to: Auto Express

Spied Up Date: 2011 Porsche Cayenne

The Porsche Cayenne is on a diet! These spy shots show a smaller, lighter version of the German carmaker’s SUV is on the way - offering better performance and improved efficiency.Reports suggest that Porsche are hoping to shed 200kg from the Cayenne by using aluminium doors and dropping some of the previous model’s equipment.The lower, more streamlined body, along with even more 911 and Boxster influenced styling touches suggest Porsche are serious about making the Cayenne a real performance model.Inside, expect a Panamera based interior with a large touch-screen taking centre stage on the dash, flanked by two large air vents. Swathes of leather and high-quality materials will complete the luxurious cabin.Powertrains are expected in petrol, diesel and hybrid forms. The 400hp, 4.8-litre petrol engine from the Panamera is likely to power the Cayenne S, whilst the 500hp V8 from the range topping version of the Panamera will power the Cayenne Turbo.An improved version of the 3.0-litre oil burner from the Touraeg will kick off the diesel offerings whilst the hybrid models will be powered by Audi’s supercharged 3.0-litre engine mated with a 38kW battery in the spare tyre well.The new Cayenne is expected to make its official debut at the Geneva Motor Show next Spring. For more details clikc here.
Thanks to: Auto Express

New Car: 2011 Suzuki Kizashi

After teasing us with three extreme-proportioned concepts, each called “Kizashi,” Suzuki has finally shown us the production version of the mid-size sedan it plans to launch this December as a 2010 model. Now, after having been formally introduced, we have learned more about it, including that it will carry the Kizashi name into production. That’s cool, we think, and refreshing: not only is Kizashi not some sort of alphanumeric—hooray!—but it is also brazenly ethnic. Kizashi means “something great is coming” in Japanese.

Since we didn’t get to drive it at the introduction, we don’t know yet just how “great” the Kizashi might be on the road, but we can say it is quite easy on the eyes. Certainly, it is way watered down from the fantasy-inspired concepts, but the handsome fascias and pleasing proportions remain intact. In front are predatory headlamps and a VW-esque top-to-bottom grille with a gorgeous black-chrome wicker look to its upper weave. Indeed, Suzuki claims that it benchmarked the VW Passat, the Alfa 159, and the Acura TSX because they have “character,” “agility,” “personality,” “flair,” and a few “rough edges.” You can definitely tell the designers studied the Alfa a lot.
The only body style that will be introduced worldwide—at first, anyway—is the four-door sedan. Dimensions stand at 183.1 inches long, 71.7 inches wide, and 58.3 inches high, and the Kizashi rides on a 106.3-inch wheelbase. (For reference, the Ford Fusion is 190.6 inches long, 72.2 inches wide, 56.9 inches tall, and has a 107.4-inch wheelbase.) Wheels range from 16 to 18 inches in diameter. Suzuki declined to comment on whether a wagon would be developed (the first Kizashi concept featured a gangster-chopped wagon body), other than to say it is under consideration.

Thanks to: Car and Driver

Rabu, 29 Juli 2009

Unofficial Picture: 2010 Fiat Grande Punto

Fiat's Grande Punto facelift has leaked onto the internet.

The pictures show parts of an undisguised Fiat Grande Punto, which is due to be officially unveiled at the Frankfurt motor show in September.

The Punto has a revised front end, inlcuding restyled headlamps and a new front bumper with three grilles and a grey centre section. The photos also show that the rear lights have been restyled.

The pictures also show a new dashboard that takes clear styling cues from the Bravo and features a revised gauge design and circular air vents.

The revised Fiat Grande Punto is also expected to benefit from the introduction of cleaner engines.

It goes on sale in early 2010.

Thanks to: Autocar

Unofficial Picture: 2011 Suzuki Kizashi

Suzuki's new midsize sedan, based on the series of Kizashi concepts seen most recently at last year's New York Auto Show, has leaked onto the web a day before its official unveiling.

At this point, all that's been leaked are four candid images from a Suzuki press event showing two cars posed on a lawn. From what we can see, the production car is surprisingly faithful to the concept (at bottom), but also appears to channel some Volkswagen and Hyundai. Still, the car looks as though it could have the potential to be a break-out hit for Suzuki.

Thanks to: Motor Trend

First Sketch: Kia VG

Kia has released official renderings of its new flagship sedan, codenamed VG, that's set to replace the Amanti (known as the Opirus in some markets) and go on sale in Korea by the end of this year.

The VG started life as the KND-5 concept car at this year's Seoul show, and we even caught prototypes testing in a wintry setting just ahead of the concept's debut.

Kia is developing its own unique design language, and we challenge readers to look at the front of the VG and really see another automaker's design. We like the LED daytime running lights and hope we'll get more accustomed to the new Kia family grille. On the profile view the greenhouse is reminiscent of Lexus, and the rear view is styled as modernly as the Amanti is old-fashioned.

"VG clearly demonstrates the next stage in Kia's design evolution and showcases our new design principle of 'sophistication by simplicity,'" said Hyoung Keun Lee, senior vice president and COO of Kia's international business division. "The exterior is a seamless blend of powerful front, sleek profile, and sophisticated but simple rear lines to create an elegant and luxurious appearance."

We expect to see the Lambda 3.5L V-6 and both front- and all-wheel drive versions of the VX sedan when it comes to showrooms later this year. Before it hits dealers, Kia could choose the Frankfurt Motor Show to show off the production-ready version.

We look forward to viewing the final product, especially considering the changes that were made to the Hyundai Genesis sedan on its way from concept to production. Regardless, the question remains: Can Kia follow in Hyundai's footsteps and build a luxury sedan that commands respect? What do you think?

Thanks to: Motor Trend

First Sketch: 2010 Chevrolet Agile

General Motors has announced that it will launch a new compact hatchback primarily for the South American market in the fourth quarter of 2009. The Chevrolet Agile, as it has been named, is a "compact, versatile car with great design," according to a translated GM document.

The vehicle will be built in Rosary, Argentina, where a plant is already being retooled to begin production. With a showroom debut looming in a matter of months, we'd usually be seeing a production-ready version of such a vehicle right about now. Strangely, though, GM has only released rough design sketches of the new compact vehicle, along with photos of the Gpix (called Agile in Brazil) concept crossover -- a vehicle said to have provided styling references for the Agile.

From what we can make of it, the Agile seems to slot in somewhere between compact hatchback and crossover, with the roughly translated GM document suggesting the "near space and aspect of a crossover." True to its name, the Agile has been designed to combine practicality and comfort with a fun-to-drive character and a youthful feel. More from a new Agile consumer site claims, "Agile is the symbol of the new Chevrolet vehicles; it implies rapidity, dynamism, and flexibility -- qualities of the new GM that is being born."

With the South American market and the Agile's segment in mind, we'd venture the car will be fitted with a variety of small-displacement four-cylinder gasoline engines, no doubt including a version of GM's 1.4-liter unit.

Could the Agile come to the U.S.? Not long ago, we reported on the 2011 Chevy Viva -- a subcompact five-door hatch that we currently believe will be built in South Korea and could serve as the replacement for the current Aveo. While the Agile was designed in South America and will be built in Argentina, there is also the possibility that a version of the Agile will end up being the small car that will be built at the Lake Orion, Michigan, plant, which has been announced by GM as the facility that will build an as-yet-unspecified small car. That, along with a GM reference to the Viva platform (translated as "Alive" in the release below), means that the Viva and Agile could essentially be one and the same, but we'll have to wait for official details to be sure.

What do you think of the Chevrolet Agile? Does GM need such a vehicle in the U.S. and, more importantly, would it sell?

Thanks to: Motor Trend

Spied: 2011 Buick Regal

Buick is on the rebound in its home market, with the successful Enclave crossover and the appealing 2010 LaCrosse leading the charge. Could it continue with the reincarnation of the Regal? Spied on American soil was a camouflaged Chinese-market Buick Regal, itself a re-grilled and rebadged European 2010 Opel Insignia. Just what the covered-up Regal was doing here is anyone’s guess, especially considering that it’s already fully exposed on Buick’s Chinese website.

But speculation has been ongoing for some time about whether a Regal would reemerge to flesh out America’s Buick/Pontiac/GMC dealerships, and that possibility is even more likely now that one of those brands will soon evaporate, taking a huge quantity of mid-size sedan sales with it. Now, whether it makes sense to sell what is essentially a short-wheelbase LaCrosse alongside the LaCrosse is a marketing question we can’t fully answer. But if it is markedly less expensive than the $27,835 Lacrosse, it could play well to Camry/Accord/Fusion buyers. Factor in GM’s pending divestiture of Saturn—which was due to get a copy of the Insignia as its next Aura sedan—and the Buick version makes even more sense.

Thanks to: Car and Driver

Hot News: Porsche 911 Hybrid

Porsche has been testing what appears to be a 911 hybrid from these latest spy pics.

On top of the bonnet sits a matt black box suggesting this is where the car maker would fit the electric motor.

This may limit the hybrid to just the Carrera 2 models as the space is limited in the front of the four-wheel drive model.

Theoretically the 911 could be the first to do without a flat six as a lower-powered, possibly four cylinder, engine would be needed if it was boosted by an electric motor.

A hybrid 911 would be a logical step to help Porsche reduce its overall emissions because it is such a big seller.

The car was extremely quiet when it was pulling away, our spy photographer told us, but when spotted accelerated at considerable speed.

The bonnet bulge has been adorned with a lightning bolt sticker and there is what appears to be a “no pacemaker” sign on the window.

However the Batman logo on the bonnet would lead us to believe the sticker are more of a Stuttgart joke than anything else.

Porsche is planning hybrid versions of both Panamera and Cayenne and although the flat six in the 911 is a very different engine the technology does exist.

A hybrid 911 would have formidable fuel economy for such a sporting car. The standard 997 currently manages almost 30mpg on the combined cycle and with the aid of an electric motor this could be boosted to 50mph.

The 911 hybrid is still in the early stages of development and is not likely to appear before 2011.

Thanks to: Autocar

Spied Up Date: 2011 Skoda Superb Estate

These are the most revealing photos yet of the Skoda Superb estate.

The pictures clearly show the car's tailgate, which replaces the innovative split hatchback of the standard model, and which clearly draws on the Octavia estate's styling.

The estate is not expected to have a significantly longer wheelbase than the standard car, but it has a large rear overhang and is taller at the back. It also benefits from revised rear seating to maximise load space.

The Skoda Superb estate is expected to be launched at the Frankfurt motor show in September, before going on sale in early to mid-2010.

The engine range will include the three petrols and three diesels from the current Superb range, linked to five and six-speed gearboxes. DSG will also be an option.

A model with a Haldex developed four-wheel-drive system is also expected to be available, and speculation suggests it will be linked to the Superb's 3.6-litre V6 and the DSG gearbox to create a sports estate model.

Prices are expected to start from around £16,000.

Thanks to: Autocar

Selasa, 28 Juli 2009

New Car: 2011 Ferrari 458 Italia

With a top speed of 203mph and a 0-60mph sprint of less than 3.5 seconds, this is the fastest car Ferrari has ever built.

So say hello to the F458 Italia - officially revealed in these first pictures.

Offering a staggering 570bhp at 9,000rpm it's also fitted with an advanced engine, and a new double-clutch, seven-speed gearbox.

Like all Ferraris, the new name references the engine - in this case a 4.5-litre V8. But what's equally important is important is the bit that comes next. Called Italia, this is the car Ferrari hopes will be the new pride of Italy.

While Ferrari is unlikely to admit it, the firm has been under huge pressure from rivals like the Audi R8 and Lamborghini Gallardo. Offering similar chassis technology and superior engine technology both cars offer a winning blend of performance, reliability and drivability.

The F458 is the car that insiders claim is set to change all that - stamping the famous firms authority on a class it has dominated for the past 15 years.

As a result, the F458 is much more than simply a refreshed F430 - sporting new engine, chassis and suspension technology - using exotic materials like magnesium and carbon fibre to keep the weight down.

And the technology push doesn't stop there. Leaked patent drawings last month revealed Ferrari is working on a hybrid powertrain, and a petrol-electric concept, possibly based on the 458, is mooted to debut as early as the LA Show this December..

It's also got a radical new look. Designed by Pininfarina, the car's signature lights include LED technology - pioneered by Audi - and a distinctive black front grille.

However, what makes the F458 so different to its predecessor is science behind its svelte bodywork. Look closely and there's an obvious lack of openings in the bodywork.

Reducing aerodynamic drag has been key to this cars performance - both on track and on the petrol station forecourt.

The holes but into the front and flanks of the bodywork feed air to the engine and radiators, but just as importantly, they also push it under the car's flat under tray, into a series of aerodynamic venturi tunnels.

This has the effect of sucking the car down onto the tarmac - in fact, the set up is so effective, that at around 120mph the car is generating around 140kg of downforce.

Another subtle, yet effective trick can be found at the front of the car, where two movable wings are hidden against the black of the radiator air intakes. This is part of the car's active aerodynamic package and helps to reduce drag at high speeds.

Performance is delivered to the rear wheels, and controlled using Ferrari's "e-diff" limited slip differential and adjustable F1-Trac traction control system.

Backed by lightweight carbon ceramic brakes, the car is said to be the fastest point-to-point machines the firm has ever built.

At the rear of the car you'll find the distinctive three-tailpipe arrangement, first seen in our spyshots. According to insiders, the exhaust note has been modelled on the firm's F1 car - sounding every bit as high-pitched.

The car makes its public debut at the Frankfurt Motor Show in September - while first examples are set to hit UK roads early next year. As yet, there's no word on price, but as the car is even faster than the F430 Scuderia - priced from £172,250 - it's unlikely drivers should expect change from less than £175,000. For more details click here.

Thanks to: Auto Express

Senin, 27 Juli 2009

Hot News: No New Bugatti Model Yet

Bugatti will not be launching a new concept model at the Frankfurt motor show in September after all, according to company sources.

A teaser picture on an official Bugatti invitation to an event at the show has been circulating online, prompting speculation that Bugatti would be launching its second production model, a Rolls-Royce Phantom rival.

However, Bugatti sources claim the new model will only be shown to a select few customers, executives and dealers to gauge reaction to the car ahead of an official launch.

Bugatti will be launching another special-edition Veyron at the Pebble Beach Concours d'Elegance event in the US next month, meanwhile. The latest Veyron special edition will be based on the 16.4 Grand Sport convertible model.

Thanks to: Autocar

Spied: 2011 Volvo S60

The Volvo S60, only previously seen in concept form has been snapped (but only just) on a road in England.

The heavily disguised prototype doesn’t give away much about the car but it is expected to look like a slightly toned down version of the S60 Concept that debuted at the Detroit Motor Show.

Onboard technology will include Volvo’s Collision Warning With Full Auto Brake. Several cameras will sense if the car is about to have a collision and will then take evasive action. The S60 also comes with a pedestrian detection system that can sense and avoid pedestrians.

Expect power to come from a fuel-efficient 1.6-litre turbo mated to a dual-clutch transmission. More details will be confirmed as the S60 approaches its expected release date in 2010. For more details click here.
Thanks to: Auto Express

Jumat, 24 Juli 2009

Hot News: GM Opens Yuma Proving Ground with U.S Army

GM has announced the official opening of its new Yuma Proving Ground in Yuma, Arizona in cooperation with the U.S. Army. GM signed an agreement to co-develop and administer the site with the Army two years ago after selling its Mesa Proving Ground in Mesa, Arizona.

"This new facility meets several of our important product development needs," said Ken Morris, executive director of Vehicle Integration, Proving Grounds and Performance Division for GM. "We have a longer hot weather testing cycle, we have great partners with the Army and the city of Yuma, and we have a facility that will meet our needs in the years to come."

With residential development encroaching on the privacy and secrecy of the Mesa Proving Ground and driving up land values, GM sold the old test facility and inked a deal with the Army to lease 2400 acres on the Army's Yuma Proving Ground to build its own test facility. As part of the agreement, GM and the Army will have access to each other's test facilities.

GM's new facility will employ 75 engineers and other staff members and includes a 3.5-mile circle track, a 1.4-mile drag strip, a one-million square-foot vehicle dynamics pad and over 40 miles of roads, including those with various ride-handling tests and grades. The site also features several shops and garages for working on test vehicles as well as a fuel station, car wash and scale house.

Thanks to: Motor Trend

Hot News: Mazda Prepping Refreshed RX-8 for Frankfurt Show 2009

Rumor has it, Mazda will debut either a slightly refreshed or special edition version of its RX-8 sports car at this year's 2009 Frankfurt motor show in Germany.

Autocar reports that the Japanese brand's top sporty model will get new aerodynamic bits on all corners, as well other cosmetic components like LED taillights, bigger exhaust tips, and 19-in. dark grey alloys.

Interior designers are said to have worked in new black cloth, standard Recaro seats, a redone instrument cluster, and a nine-speaker Bose audio system. No changes to the current 232-hp rotary engine were rumored to be in the pipeline.

Seeing as the car was just refreshed for the 2009 model year here in the U.S., signs point to the RX-8 reportedly coming to Frankfurt as being some sort special edition model instead of a full refresh of the present model. But if the rumors pan out to be true, we we'll be interested to see what Mazda has in store for the RX-8.

Thanks to: Motor Trend

Spied: 2011 Toyota 4Runner

With SUV sales in the tank—especially of the old body-on-frame variety—there has been some question regarding the future of the long-in-the-tooth Toyota 4Runner. Would it continue with its sturdy ladder frame or would it switch to unibody architecture, as Ford is planning to do with its Explorer? Will Toyota take its styling in a new direction or will it take the usual conservative approach? Heck, will Toyota even bother building a new version of its iconic off-roader when it has five other SUVs and crossovers (RAV4, Venza, Highlander, FJ Cruiser, and Sequoia) to cover the family truckster/off-road adventurist market?

With the appearance of this prototype, caught by a quick-thinking reader, we’re getting answers to some of those questions. First, Toyota is clearly readying a 4Runner replacement, which we expect to appear sometime this fall, looking even more butch than before—think four-door FJ Cruiser. Second, the high-and-mighty road stance indicates that it will continue to ride on a frame and offer excellent ground clearance. Styling elements appear to offer few surprises, with the headlight/grille/hood relationship in roughly the same arrangement as the current model; ditto the squared-off wheel arches. We can also see that the roof pillars have a slightly more upright and angled relationship with the body and roof, and we expect that the body will have a smooth geometric surface.

A 4.0-liter V-6 with 258 hp or so will be the base engine, and a new 4.6-liter V-8 that is shared with the Tundra, will also be offered. The V-8 will hook to a six-speed automatic and promises to deliver better fuel economy and more power than the 260-hp, 4.7-liter V-8 it replaces. We expect prices to drop from their current levels (the 2009 4Runner starts at $29,440), as the 4Runner will also be leaner and more stripped down than before.

Thanks to: Car and Driver

New Car: 2010 Acura RDX

The entire Acura lineup is slowly being stricken by the chrome beak that first occupied the grille of the MDX, and the 2010 RDX is its next victim. As it goes, though, the new schnozz is no less weird than the awkward, toothy grin sported by the RDX on its introduction. Along with the new proboscis, the RDX gets redesigned front and rear bumpers, too.

The bigger news, however is that not every RDX will have driven real wheels, as the little ute—previously only available in all-wheel-drive—will now be available in a base, front-wheel-drive version. The only available transmission remains the paddle-shifted five-speed automatic.

Opting down to front-wheel drive drops the RDX’s curb weight by about 200 pounds, will save customers $2000—$33,330 for a front-driver versus $35,330—and net a few extra mpg. Front-driven RDX models are rated at 19 mpg city and 24 highway, while the all-wheel-drive version drops to 17/22 mpg. Over 40,000 miles with a long-term RDX, we averaged just 20 mpg, so any improvement is welcome in our book.

What remains to be seen is how removing the connection to the rear wheels will change the RDX’s wonderfully tossable character. We’ll find out this fall, when the front-wheel-drive RDX becomes available. The all-wheel-drive 2010 RDX is available now.

Thanks to: Car and Driver

Hot News: Lexus Plans 1-Series Rival

Lexus is set to launch a five-door compact hatchback at September’s Frankfurt motor show.

Although Lexus won’t officially confirm as much yet, Autocar can reveal the concept that’s a close match for the car it’ll offer up against BMW’s 1-series and Audi’s A3 in 2010.

Company insiders suggest that the car was signed off late last year, largely at the behest of European execs who insisted that the Europe’s premium C-segment was an area of the market “too lucrative not to be in”.

Our sources won’t divulge the car’s name - although rumours suggest that both ‘BS’ and ‘CS’ are in the frame. They will say that the car will be a petrol-electric hybrid-only model, like the firm’s RX SUV, so a fleet-focussed diesel model isn’t too likely.

As such, the new compact Lexus is likely to use the same powertrain as the US-market-only HS250h – a 2.4-litre four-cylinder engine that, with the help of an electric motor, produces 187bhp.

Like the HS it’ll also be front-wheel drive, but it won’t use the same platform as the bigger HS.

“The Frankfurt concept is called C-Premium,” our source advised. It’s a 90 per cent match for the real thing, which we’ll see at Geneva next year. It should be on sale in the UK by Autumn 2010.”

Thanks to: Autocar

New Car: 2010 Subaru Impreza WRX STi Spec C

This is the hardcore, lightweight Subaru Impreza WRX STi Spec C, which will be limited to just 900 models.

The latest in a long and inventive line of tuner Impreza WTX STi models unleashed in Japan, the 2009-edition Spec C has been designed with Group N motorsport homologation duties in mind.

Though the car's looks are near standard, the Spec C badge means a breathed-on 2.0-litre turbo engine, a stiffened-up body, new 18-inch wheels, a unique suspension set-up and a big round of weight saving.

The engine is the 1994cc flat-four 16-valve turbocharged unit that’s standard in Japanese WRX STis. Its power is unchanged, at 304bhp, and it has 311lb ft of torque.

However, the twin-scroll turbo now gets low-friction ball bearings and this, coupled with new ECU engine mapping, is said to ensure more urgent engine response.

Subaru fans will also recognise the intercooler water spray, a traditional feature of go-faster factory Rexs from way back.

To bring the weight down by 30kg (to 1450kg), Subaru has downsized the battery and used an aluminum bonnet. Laminar glass features in the front and side windows. Those new alloy wheels also cut unsprung weight.

True to form, Subaru has breathed on the chassis. The spring and damper settings are unique to the car, and so are rear anti-roll bar settings and subframe bushes.

Subaru has even reinforced the front crossmember to tighten things up even further and, perhaps in the interests of simplicity and lower costs, the standard-issue rear Torsen limited-slip diff now switches for a mechanical type.

Inside, big Recaro sports seats (Alcantara and leather, with red stitching) are optional if you choose the 18-inch wheels.

Despite the modifications, Subaru is pegging the price at £23,675 in Tokyo, which isn't far off the price of a normal WRX STi.

Furthermore, if you can live with 17-inch tyres instead of 18s, you can save around £2000.

Thanks to: Autocar

Kamis, 23 Juli 2009

Hot News: Volkwagen Set to Takeover Porsche

Porsche looks set to be finally taken over by Volkswagen, after the VW board approved the creation of what it described as “an integrated automotive group with Porsche under the leadership of Volkswagen.”

The deal will effectively merge Porsche and VW, after nearly three years of wrangling that started with Porsche aiming to swallow VW. Volkswagen had turned its back on the merger as recently as Monday, when it emerged that Porsche owed the German state around €3bn in taxes.

Porsche’s debt had also grown hugely in the last 12 months as it borrowed to finance its purchase of VW stock VW chairman Martin Winterkorn drew parallels with the way VW has administered Audi. “Like Audi today, Porsche can also continue its independent development under the aegis of Volkswagen and preserve its own identity,” he said.

Volkswagen will also now accept investment from the state of Qatar, which will become a shareholder. The Porsche and Piech families will remain “the major active shareholder.”

The announcement from VW follows the resignation of Porsche’s CEO Wendelin Wiedeking this morning. Wiedeking had been the architect of Porsche’s attempt to takeover VW.

Thanks to: Autocar

Spied: 2011 BMW 1-Series

While we only know the BMW 1-Series in the U.S. as a coupe, the car originally debuted in Europe as a hatchback in 2004. BMW's been hard at work on an update and our eagle-eyed spy photographers have caught a test mule at the Nurburgring that may well be an xDrive AWD model.

Attached to this latest batch of pictures from Germany was a note that the camo'd up 1 Series hatch seen here is running a rather unusual set of wheels. Our veteran spy photographers noted that these funky-looking wheels are typically only seen on BMW prototypes that are equipped with BMW's xDrive AWD system. While we've heard several rumors about the future of the 1 Series, an AWD model wasn't among them and would make for a pleasant surprise. It wouldn't be hard for BMW to do either, what with the 1 Series-based X1 SUV soon to debut as an AWD model.

Should the 1 Series come with xDrive, it makes you wonder about the differentiation between that car and the X1 SUV. Rather than have two vehicles who's only difference is their ride height and ground clearance, it's likely that BMW would work to distinguish the two and would likely tune the 1 Series for performance driving rather than off-road prowess. However BMW plans to proceed, we're hoping that this could mean an xDrive AWD 1 Series coupe in the future, one which could come to our shores. Perhaps it could be that 1 Series M model that BMW is looking into? We can only hope.
Thanks to: Motor Trend

Hot News: Audi A1 Set to Debut at Frankfurt Show 2009

Reports have surfaced today indicating that Audi's new Mini-fighting A1 hatchback will make its production debut in September at the Frankfurt Motor Show and go into production shortly thereafter ahead of an early-2010 on-sale date.

According to Britain's Autocar, a three-door version of the five-door A1 seen in concept form at the Paris Motor Show last year will be the first in production in October, followed by the five-door Sportback model by the end of the year. The report claims that the production A1 will have its exterior styling and interior luxury toned-down and will feature sub-2.0L four-cylinder engines from Volkswagen in both gas and diesel forms and will likely use turbochargers. A convertible model is being examined, as is a high-performance S1.

While this is good news for our European readers, those here in the States will simply have to be happy for our friends on the other side of the Atlantic. Last we heard, Audi still believed that the U.S. market is not ready for a premium small car or, more specifically, the price tag that comes with one. The company is continuing to look at the possibility of bringing the car here, though, so there may still be hope.

Thanks to: Motor Trend

Spied: 2011 BMW X3

BMW’s smallish X1 crossover hasn't even been launched yet, but here we are moving on to the German automaker’s next suburban wagon. We've noted before that the current X3 is aging rapidly, and to keep buyers from moving down-market to the fresh-faced X1, the company is rushing the second-generation model towards production.

Slightly bigger than the current X3, the next model will put some distance between itself and the cutesy X1. Our spy photography, taken during hot-weather testing in the Southwest, reveals a sloping front hood and aggressive front air intakes. The side view resembles the X1, with a thicker C-pillar and BMW's characteristic surfacing with concave elements.

It is definitely a more carlike look than that of the current X3 or the boxy Mercedes-Benz GLK, which tries to mimic the awe-inspiring G-wagen. In look and feel, the second-generation X3 aims squarely at the Audi Q5, which romped to a decisive victory in our most recent comparison of small luxury SUVs. Inside, the X3 is expected to be more carlike as well, although unlike some other BMW cars, there is no strange-looking second hood on the dashboard. The navigation system is housed lower than the main instrumentation, similar to in the X1 and the X5. BMW's M division also is designing an M Sport package with interior and exterior modifications.

Engines available in Europe will come from BMW's vast parts bin. We expect 2.0-liter and 3.0-liter four- and six-cylinder gasoline engines, respectively, with the range topped by the twin-turbocharged inline-six we've come to appreciate so well. There will be four- and six-cylinder turbo-diesels, too. It’s uncertain which powertrains will make it to the U.S. (We wouldn’t mind a high-performance version with the M3’s V-8 underhood; we like to imagine it as a German reincarnation of the GMC Typhoon.) Power will be transmitted through BMW's xDrive all-wheel-drive system, and while a rear-wheel-drive version would technically be possible, we believe marketing considerations will keep BMW from offering such an entry-level model as it will with the X1.

While the current X3 is built by contract manufacturer Magna Steyr in Graz, Austria, BMW is building the next generation in-house, moving assembly alongside the X5 and X6 in the company’s plant in Spartanburg, South Carolina. The Z4 has been pulled from Spartanburg and is now made in Germany. The U.S. plant is currently gearing up to a total capacity of 200,000 units, all of them SUVs. The product mix will be flexible, but the X3 is expected to be the largest-volume model at about 100,000 units annually. Magna Steyr gets to build the crossover version of the Mini as compensation.

The weak dollar has become a huge problem for European carmakers, who are finding profit margins to be increasingly thinner on models imported to America. The X3 will therefore be strongly focused on the U.S. market, while the German-built X1 is tailored mainly for European tastes. Look for the new X3 to be officially launched in late 2010 or early 2011.

Thanks to: Car and Driver

New Car: 2010 Saab 9-5

Official pictures of the new Saab 9-5 have been leaked ahead of its official unveiling at September’s Frankfurt motor show.

The new 9-5 is a crucial to the future of Saab under the ownership of Koenigsegg and replaces the 13-year-old first-gen 9-5.

The images are official press images and were leaked by a German magazine.

Based on GM’s Epsilon II platform, the new 9-5 features sleek styling with long, sloping C-pillars and blacked-out A-pillars, to give it an aircraft-like wraparound screen, which is a nod to the company’s aviation past.

It features an airy, open cabin and a sleek, coupe-like profile, similar to the Vauxhall Insignia, while there are LED lights at the rear.

Inside, the elegant cabin features leather seats, a central navigation system and a thick-rimmed steering wheel taken from the Insignia.

As well as the 9-5 saloon - shown here in its final production form, and due next spring - Saab engineers are finishing off a 9-5 Sport Combi estate and the 9-4X SUV, which is aimed at the BMW X3 and Audi Q5. Both cars are due later in 2010.

The 9-5 will be offered with two different types of suspension - standard and premium - as well as the option of four-wheel drive. Engines will range from a turbocharged 2.8-litre V6 to a four-cylinder diesel that emits less than 140g/km of CO2.

Thanks to: Autocar

Rabu, 22 Juli 2009

What makes a great car show? Cars? Girls? Giveaways?

Most car shows involve an hour of frantic polishing, followed by an hour of aimlessly walking the lot to check out the competition, and then finally, a good nap. But with 150 of the sweetest ‘Stangs ever to hit the road stationed door to door and bumper to bumper on every corner of the lot surrounded by more than a dozen top Mustang brands, each ready and eager to talk parts and performance, the 1st Annual AmericanMuscle Car Show and Charity Event was already set to be something different. Then add in a circling helicopter taking photos from 1,000 feet, a free dyno running from dawn ‘til dusk, free food and drink for all registered cars, more free stuff than you can carry in a mid-size sports coupe, and a slew of über-hot AmericanMuscle Girls strolling the lot, showing off their own fox bodies. Now that’s a car show.

Of course the central point of the July 19th event was the Best in Show competition. AmericanMuscle judges walked the lot all day long meticulously examining every show candidate. In the end, it was Tony Massimano’s fully-custom ’69 Mach 1 that took top prize. Here’s a list of the rest of the winners:

  • Rick Bauman: President’s Choice Award: Torch Red ’05 GT

  • Tommy Lee: Best ’05 to 2010 Mustang: Black ’06 GT500 Convertible

  • Mike Baer: Best ’99 to ’04 Mustang: ’04 MystiChrome Cobra Convertible

  • Donnie Huth: Best ’94 to ’98 Mustang: ’97 Cobra

  • Rick Nagle: Best ’79 to ’93 Mustang: ’93 GT

In a day full of highlights, more than 1,000 showed up to walk and talk Mustangs, and show their support for Homes for Our Troops, a charity that buys or builds homes for disabled veterans. The goal for the day was to raise $5,000 for those that given more than we could ask while defending our freedom. But, when the day was done, and the money was counted, AmericanMuscle wrote a check for $8015 to its favorite charity. Adding to this number, the Garden State Region Mustang Club made an additional donation of $850, and an anonymous AmericanMuscle supplier also kicked in a check for $500, bringing the total donation to $9,365—a good day indeed.

For more information, plus lots of photos and video on the 1st Annual AmericanMuscle Car Show and Charity Event please visit: AmericanMuscle Blog

Hot News: Acura/Honda NSX Gets Hybrid Engine

Last December, Honda fans the world over let out a collective groan as then-President Takeo Fukui announced that the V-10, GT-R-fighting, Acura NSX-successor was dead. Now, rumor has it that the car is still alive, but as a high-powered V-6 hybrid.

According to the JDM fans at 7Tune.com, Honda decided to change directions with the NSX program rather than cancel it outright. Gone, still, is the 600-hp 5.5L V-10 engine, replaced instead with a 450-hp "valveless throttle" 3.5L V-6 mated to a hybrid drivetrain and Acura's SH-AWD system. The idea, supposedly, is to compete not with the Nissan GT-R but instead with Toyota's rumored Supra-replacing FT-HS hybrid sports car. Along with the powertrain change, the NSX-replacement may also pick up a new moniker, "Super Hybrid Sports."

While unconfirmed, this rumor is inline with Honda's most recent plans. New president Takanobu Ito revealed earlier this week that Honda's V-8 program is also dead and that, under his watch, the company would focus on hybrids instead. Specifically, Ito said Honda would focus on mid- and large-size hybrid cars, a category this rumored NSX would fall under. Honda has also shown a commitment to sporty hybrid cars recently with the announcement that the new CR-X replacement, the CR-Z, will be a hybrid. No matter what happens, it's likely that the NSX-replacement, if it lives, will not make its previously-planned 2010 debut.
Thanks to: Motor Trend

New Car: 2010 Chevrolet Camaro Transformers Edition

Evidently not content with all the positive spin that the Camaro’s starring role in the Transformers movies has garnered, Chevrolet has taken the inevitable (and rather predictable) step too far by introducing the 2010 Chevrolet Camaro Transformers Special Edition. Yep, you too can turn that Rally Yellow Camaro you were about to order into a fake Bumblebee with the Transformers Special Edition option package. It includes nothing more than Autobot shields on the fenders, wheel center caps, and center armrest, as well as Transformers logos on the door sill plates and embedded within the black center rally stripes.

Does that seem worth $995? It does to some people, according to Chevrolet. "When the first Transformers movie was setting box office records, we had countless customers asking to purchase the ‘Bumblebee’ Camaro," said Karen Rafferty, product marketing director for Chevrolet. "Now, they can buy one with the new Camaro Transformers Special Edition. Streets all over North America will be buzzing in no time." Ah, so punny.

The cheesy package is available on any Camaro LT or SS, with or without the RS appearance package, so long as it is Rally Yellow. We suggest starting with the 400-plus-hp, V-8–powered SS model if you want your “Bumble” to “rumble.” And if you’re going to get one, we suggest doing it soon, while Transformers is still getting a lot of “buzz.”

Thanks to: Car and Driver

Hot News: Fiat Records Loss

Fiat has recorded a net loss of €179 million (£155 million) in the second quarter of 2009.

In a statement accompanying the figures, the Italian firm described the car industry as “an extremely difficult trading environment”. Fiat’s loss is in stark contrast to the €646 million (£560 million) profit it made in the same period last year.

Fiat has recently bought a stake in ailing American manufacturer Chrysler and has also expressed interest in Opel/Vauxhall and Italian coachbuilder Bertone.

The firm’s chances of acquiring Opel/Vauxhall seem to be diminishing, however, after CEO Sergio Marchionne confirmed it would not be improving its offer.

Marchionne has said a car manufacturer needs to produce more than six million units per year if it is to becoming profitable. After Fiat acquired its 20 per cent stake in Chrysler, its annual group output, which also includes Ferrari, Alfa Romeo and Lancia, rises to 4.5 million units per year.

A Fiat statement said, “The global economic crisis continued to have a significantly negative impact on demand levels for all of the Group’s businesses, but with signs of improvement in certain markets compared with Q1 levels.”

Fiat remains confident that 2009 will still be a positive year for its business, with European scrappage schemes expected to offset losses earlier this year.

“We expect an improvement in the remainder of the year as trading conditions stabilise and improve for most of our businesses,” said the statement.

Thanks to: Autocar

Selasa, 21 Juli 2009

Sneak Peek: 2011 Audi A8

These are the first teaser pictures of the Audi A8, which is set to be unveiled later this year.

The pictures were released during Audi's centenary celebrations, and the clearest image, a sketch, shows the front headlamp styling and LED daytime running lights, as well as giving clues as to how the bonnet and grille will look.

The other images issued by Audi are not captioned, but appear to show the new Audi A8's front and rear cloaked under a sheet, and a long-distance shot of two styling models.

"Right now, the new Audi A8 is undergoing its final stages of fine tuning and is running test laps cloaked in strictest secrecy," said an Audi statement. "For the time being, we can't present you any more than the appetizer outline of a headlamp."

The new Audi A8 has been spied testing around the Nurburgring for several months, but it has always carried heavy disguising.

However, it is clear that the new Audi A8 will use a weight-saving aluminium spaceframe and be around 10cm longer than the current model.

It is also expected to get a cleaner and more efficient range of engines, including 3.0-litre and 4.2-litre V8s.

Audi has said the car will be unveiled in late autumn 2009, although it is not clear if this means it will be unveiled at September's Frankfurt motor show or at a later date.

The new Audi A8 is expected to go on sale in the UK in early 2010.

Thanks to: Autocar

Senin, 20 Juli 2009

First Sketch: Bentley Grand

Bentley has released a fifth teaser video for its Arnage replacement, revealing some of the design elements of the car.
Bentley design director Dirk van Braeckel says the new car has a “classic Bentley shape, details and proportions with a forward-thinking design”.

A number of sketches are shown, confirming the unusual twin-headlamp arrangement and showing a side profile similar to the Brooklands coupe.
The striking headlamps are a dominant styling feature of the car, which is due to be unveiled at next month’s Pebble Beach concours in California.
Van Braeckel also says the car has an instantly identifiable Bentley look and will be both “powerful and elegant”.
The sketches show the 'grand' Bentley will have tail-lights similar to those of the Flying Spur, albeit slimmer and more traditional.
Sticking with a 5m-plus length, the new Bentley will feature a lower roofline and softer body sections than its main rival, the Rolls-Royce Phantom.
Thanks to: Autocar

Unofficial Pictures: 2011 Hyundai Santa Fe

Here are the pictures that finally confirm drivers can expect a whole lot more from the next generation Hyundai Santa Fe.
These prototypes are almost totally undisguised, and clearly reveal a range of new details while also offer a first look at the car's uprated interior.
At the front, there's a new grille as well as new headlights while around the back the spacious SUV gets a new set of very flashy taillights.
A redesigned bumper should also be in store. The Santa Fe is currently offered with a 2.2-litre diesel engine, and that looks unlikely to change in the near future.
However, the firm has promised a raft of new hybrid models. For more details click here.
Thanks to: Auto Express

Spied: 2011 Suzuki Swift

You've got to be quick if you want to catch this shadowy supermini out on test... It's Suzuki's latest evolution of the top selling Swift.
Set to make its debut at the Paris Motor Show next year, this prototype is only in the first step in the firm's efforts to create a successor worthy of the original.
Despite the heavy camouflage it’s still clear that the new Swift will retain its unique design, with the rounded front end, the short rear overhang and purposeful stance all on show.
Offering front-wheel-drive, our spies report that the new Swift will be available with a choice of petrol engines, delivering between 90 and 130 hp.
A new 80-hp diesel will be added to the range and we’ve already heard rumours of a hybrid variant - set to follow in 2011.
Prices will be announced closer to the car's launch, but are likley to show a slight rise on those currently offered. For more details click here.
Thanks to: Auto Express

New Car: 2010 Acura ZDX

2010 Acura ZDX production details have arrived, and just as we outlined in our First Look some time ago, Acura's newest crossover will pack the brand's 300-hp 3.7L V-6 with 270 foot-pounds of torque under its hood.Aside from its powertrain specs, the ZDX is on track to be the one of the most luxurious vehicles Acura has yet put to market. Inside, five passengers are coddled with standard hand-stitched leather throughout the cabin and are entertained by a powerful CD/MP3 stereo system with Bluetooth connectivity. A panoramic roof adds a sense of extra roominess, while cargo access is an easy feat thanks to a power tailgate.

By checking off the Technology Package on the order sheet, owners get a navigation system with rearview camera. Select the Advanced Package and a blind spot warning system, collision mitigating braking, and adaptive cruise control are thrown in.But it's what's on the outside that's truly non-conventional for Honda's premium brand. Though it technically is a four-door hatchback, Acura is quick to maintain that the ZDX is a "sports-coupe" in much the same way that the BMW X6 is a "sports activity vehicle." Its sleek profile is at first a bit awkward looking, but does tend to grow on the eye with time. Much design work from the concept first shown at this year's New York Auto Show has made it to the final production car. Save for the LED-clad lights on either end, as well as the lower intakes up front, it's nearly the same vehicle as it was on the show floor.Since it is an Acura and a sort-of SUV, engineers implemented their much-loved 'super handling' SH-AWD for more grip during all on- and soft-road situations. A six-speed automatic with paddle-shifting operation controls all 300 ponies.The Acura ZDX arrives at dealers this winter and is set to be priced between the current MDX and RL models.
Thanks to: Motor Trend

New Car: 2010 Kia Rio

After five years, the second-generation Rio is getting a makeover. The surrounding images, which surfaced on Kia-World over the weekend, show the adaptation of design cues first seen at the Geneva auto show. The 2010 Rio ("Pride" in its hometown) has a grille that evokes the styling of the No. 3 concept car. You'll also find elements from the 2010 Forte, including the new front bumper. Kia has also added body-color side moldings. Per the Kia blog, the interior gets an update with a revised center stack, Bluetooth-enabled audio system, steering wheel, and instrument panel.

The current Rio, at $12,190, is the least-expensive car in the Kia lineup. It offers 110 hp and 107 lb-ft of torque from a 1.6L four-cylinder and five-speed manual. No word on powertrain updates yet.Reports pin the Korean on-sale date at next month, and U.S. availability is expected.
Thanks to: Motor Trend

Minggu, 19 Juli 2009

Hot News: Hyundai's Radical New Coupe

Hyundai will re-engineer its upcoming three-door Veloster coupe specifically for right-hand drive markets, a Hyundai source has confirmed.

The Veloster – a replacement for the soon to be discontinued Hyundai Coupe – has three physical hinged doors, similar in concept to the Mini Clubman, but unlike Mini, Hyundai will change the design for RHD markets despite the huge cost of retooling involved.

“There are some big markets out there for RHD such as the UK and Australia so it will be worth the cost of re-engineering,” said the source. “It’s going to be quite innovative in the way it’s laid out.”

First seen at the 2007 Seoul Motor Show, the Veloster is Hyundai’s answer to the VW Scirocco. It is a similar size to the Scirocco, measuring 4285mm long and 1790mm wide, and will share much of its platform with the front-wheel drive Hyundai i30.

Internally, Hyundai describe the Velsoter as a “compact ultility vehicle; a stylish coupe with hatchback practicality.”

The 2+2 Velsoter’s flagship engine will be the 168bhp, 1.6-litre turbocharged four-pot petrol engine, complete with stop-start technology and direct fuel-injection, which first appeared in the Hyundai ix-onic concept at Geneva this year.

The source described the new engine as “economical but also very quick” and the Veloster “is smaller than the current Coupe but it’s a more sophisticated car with lots of innovative technology.”

The Veloster will go on-sale in the UK at the beginning of 2011, with prices set to start at around £18,000, the same price as the outgoing Coupe.

Thanks to: Autocar

Jumat, 17 Juli 2009

Sneak Peek Up Date: 2011 Bugatti Bordeaux

In September Bugatti will be old enough to get a letter from the Queen and to celebrate they’re thought to be planning something big for the Frankfurt Motor Show.

This latest teaser shot gives a clearer look at what is thought to be a four-seater supercar named the Bordeaux that Bugatti are planning to officially unveil in Frankfurt.

The first thing to notice about the teaser is the Bordeaux’s eight exhaust pipes that suggests it will borrow the Veyron’s W16 engine. DB9-esque horseshoe rear lights and a vertical brake light complete the dramatic look.

The 8.0-litre quad-turbo W16, which puts out 1,001hp and 1025Nm of torque is likely to make the Bordeaux the fastest four-seater in the world. As a heavier car than the Veyron, 0-60mph is likely to be dealt with in 3.0 seconds and on to around 250mph.

The new shooting brake style body should offer improved practicality over the Veyron with more boot space and room in the back seats. Fine leather, suede and metal trim is expected to finish the interior. For more details click here.
Thanks to: Auto Express

Hot News: Audi Celebrates 100 Years

Audi has begun its centenary celebrations with a major ceremony featuring German chancellor Angela Merkel at the Audi Forum in Ingolstadt on Thursday night.

The ceremony featured the formal unveiling of the Audi A5 Sportback. You can see the full Audi A5 Sportback image gallery here.

The celebrations continue tonight, when the 'Audi Rocks 100' party is being headlined by popular German band Die Fantastischen Vier.

Then on Saturday Audi's racing history will be celebrated as several successful cars from its history lap the historic Donauring circuit.

Finally, on Sunday the Czech Philharmonic Choir and the Brno Philharmonic Orchestra will perform Beethoven's Ninth Symphony at a free concert.

Thanks to: Autocar

New Car; 2009 Mini First

This is the new Mini First, a budget model that starts from £10,950.

The Mini First has been introduced to take advantage of the UK’s scrappage scheme. An equivalent car has boosted sales in Germany, with up to a third of all German Mini sales as a direct result of the local scrappage scheme.

The Mini First is powered by the 74bhp 1.4-litre petrol engine with 89lb ft of torque that is also found in the Mini One, which starts from £12,460.

The Mini First hits 0-62mph in 13.2sec, has a top speed of 109mph and averages 53.3mpg while averaging 128g/km of CO2.

Buyers can spec up the Mini First with a variety of extras sold in packages. These range in cost from £390 to £855 and add items such as a three-spoke leather steering wheel, Bluetooth connectivity and front fog lights.

The Mini First is available with Mini's TLC package, which provides service and maintenance for five years for £185.

Thanks to: Autocar

Rabu, 15 Juli 2009

Hot News: Russian PM 'to Save Magna Deal'

Russian president Dmitry Medvedev is ready to step in and save Magna and Sberbank’s takeover of Opel/Vauxhall from GM.

Medvedev is visiting Germany this week and as part of his trip he will go to Munich to add his backing to the faltering deal.

A Kremlin aide said: “In Munich we will speak out in favour of this deal. It's a good deal. We hope others will support it as well.”

GM had originally agreed a deal with Canadian parts supplier Magna and Russian state bank Sberbank to buy a 55 per cent stake in Opel/Vauxhall.

Since the deal was agreed in May, progress has been slow and Chinese manufacturer BAIC and Belgian private equity firm RHJ International have both lodged bids for the firm.

RHJ is the latest company to bid for Opel/Vauxhall, a move which has angered the union leader of 55,000 GM Europe workers.

“If GM decides for RHJ, it will be business as usual,” said Klaus Franz. “That will kill the company.”

Thanks to: Autocar

Spied: 2012 Mercedes SLK

Mercedes-Benz engineers have been hard at work refreshing their premium-grade rides and have most recently been spotted flogging a prototype SLK hardtop convertible on the Nurburgring in Germany.

As you can tell, hardly a panel is left uncovered by hard plastic camouflaging. Judging by the substantial amount layered on both the fore and aft, a thorough redesign is in line for this young model. Sadly, despite the sun being out for most of the day, engineers diligently pressed on with their chassis development and didn't drop the top.

Word on the streets says a new lineup of engines is in store for the smallest of M-B convertibles. For the first time in SLK history, a clean diesel could be included for all regions. Currently U.S. iterations are powered by a 3.0L (228 hp) or 3.5L V-6 (300 hp), as well as the AMG-crafted 5.5L V-8 (355 hp).

The latest SLK was introduced to world markets back in 2005 and is expected to get the boot when the new model arrives sometime in 2012. By then, we'll probably see and hear plenty more about the SLK.

Thanks to: Motor Trend

New Car: 2010 Audi A5 Sportback

The wraps have been pulled off Audi’s new A5 Sportback, a hatch-totin’ sedan that basically combines an A4 wagon and an A5 coupe with the roofline of an upside-down whale, while offering none of those things’ respective practicality, sexiness, or baleen.

The A4-based car won’t be coming to America, but Europeans have six engines to choose from at launch, all of them direct-injected, and all of them turbocharged. Three TDI diesels are on offer: a 2.0-liter four-cylinder making 170 hp and 258 lb-ft of torque, a 2.7-liter V-6 good for 190 hp and 295 lb-ft, and a 3.0-liter V-6 that produces 240 hp and a mouth-watering 369 lb-ft. Acceleration to 62 mph is claimed at 8.7 seconds, 8.2 seconds, and 6.1 seconds, respectively.

There are gasoline engines on tap, too, including the ubiquitous VW Group 2.0-liter turbo four—it comes in 180-hp/236-lb-ft or 211-hp/258-lb-ft flavors—and a 3.2-liter V-6 rated at 265 hp and 243 lb-ft. Zero to 62 mph takes 6.6 seconds with the two most powerful motors.

Thanks to: Car and Driver

Hot News: Peugeot's Diesel Hybrid

Peugeot is set to launch the world’s first diesel hybrid, a 3008-based four-wheel-drive car, which it claims will offer 200bhp and 369lb ft and be capable of emitting just 99g/km of CO2.

Autocar has driven a prototype of the Hybrid4, which utilises a diesel-electric drivetrain that the firm says is less complex and uses more standard components than rival offerings.

Under the skin, the Hybrid4 is an otherwise-conventional front-drive car, powered by a 163bhp 2.0-litre turbodiesel engine fitted with a stop-start system.

However, the car’s rear axle has been modified to incorporate an electric motor (good for 36bhp and 147lb ft at full tilt) and twin driveshafts, which drive the rear wheels.

A battery pack and a pair of electronic control units have also been packaged under the boot floor. The hybrid system adds just 100kg to the weight of the car.

To reduce costs, Peugeot is using its existing ‘robotised’ six-speed ’box which is self-shifting thanks to the automatic clutch actuation and also comes with the option of wheel-mounted paddles.

The only connection between the two powertrains is a series of underfloor cables, some of which carry the electrical charge generated by the engine’s stop-start mechanism to the rear-mounted battery pack.

The Hybrid4 can run in front-drive, all-wheel drive, sport and purely rear-drive modes; the latter offers zero-emissions travel, though the range at city speeds is no more than a few miles.

Today’s prototype is already returning 109g/km, but sources say aerodynamic tweaks and low-resistance tyres could bring that down to less than 100g/km.

Peugeot engineers have just 20 months to finish the computer software that synchronises the two powertrains, and complete the testing in extreme conditions in Spain and Sweden.

This hybrid set-up requires few structural changes to basic platforms. It has been designed to fit both PSA’s Platform 2 (Citroën C4/Peugeot 308) and Platform 3 (Citroën C5/Peugeot 407).

Although the hybrid will cost at least 15 per cent more than a conventional top-spec 3008, sources say the hybrid premium will drop as the system is rolled out across more model lines.

Thanks to: Autocar

Hot News: 2012 Alfa Romeo Giulia

The Alfa Romeo 159 will be replaced with an all-new model called the Giulia within the next two years.

The Giuila, which can be seen in our conceptual illustration, will be based on a new platform developed by Fiat Auto to maximise the investment in its C-platform which underpins the Bravo.

Called C-Evoluzione, or C-Evo for short, the platform has a longer wheelbase, shorter overhangs and more sophisticated suspension that enable it to be used in more expensive and upmarket cars than the Bravo.

The C-platform was engineered from the start to be extremely adaptable, so developing multiple new cars with different mechanical configurations is not as difficult as it sounds.

So instead of the Bravo’s torsion beam rear suspension, the Giulia will get a multi-link set-up for improved handling and ride comfort. Entry-level Giulias will be front-wheel drive, with the option of Alfa’s Q4 four-wheel drive system.

Active Roll Control will be an option; expect Alfa’s new DNA system (introduced in the Mito), which offers three different modes that affect throttle response, traction control and steering weight, to be available too.

Although the 159 has won plaudits for its striking looks, it has been criticised for excessive weight. Alfa will be working to ensure the Giulia’s lengthened C-Evo platform is not hampered by the mass that afflicted the 159’s Premium base, once described by an Alfa source as being so over-engineered that it would have “won six EuroNCAP stars if there were such a thing”.

The Milano, which was revealed in spy shots last week, will be officially unveiled at the Geneva motor show next March, with sales starting in the summer.

The Giulia will surface towards the end of 2011, although sales may not start in the UK until 2012.

Thanks to: Autocar

New Car: 2009 Abarth 500 Competizione

Take a look at the rarest Abarth 500 ever! Only 10 examples of this Competizione-badged model will be built, each featuring a raft of visual upgrades over the flagship 160bhp Abarth 500 Essesse on which they are based.

Each model gets a black roof, unique 17-inch black alloy wheels along with special black Abarth stickers. Inside there are leather sport seats which carry a Competizione logo while standard equipment includes satnav, climate control, and a top spec stereo.

However, if you're thinking of placing an order at your local Abarth dealer, hold fire. The Competizione model is only available to buyers in Holland. For more details click here.
Thanks to: Auto Express

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