Sabtu, 30 Januari 2010

First Sketch: Pininfarina - Alfa Romeo Spider Concept


The Italian job is heading to Geneva. Celebrating its collective 180th birthday, Alfa Romeo and Pininfarina turn 100 and 80 respectively this year. And what better way to celebrate both manufacturers anniversaries than a collaboration between the pair. Based around an Alfa, the Pininfarina Concept will draw inspiration from spiders of the past and this first official sketch gives us a clear look at what the show car will look like.

Featuring alloy wheels borrowed from the stunning 8C Competzione, the concept will be a true 2-seater, steeped deep in Italian heritage and tradition. The concept looks like it won’t be short on style either, with smooth flowing lines and plenty of curves in all the right places.

Full details on the cars performance will be revealed when the concept makes its world debut on March 2 at the Geneva Motor Show.For more details click here.

Thanks to: Auto Express

Hot News: Ferrari to Show 599 Hybrid at Geneva Show 2010


While presenting the F10, Ferrari’s 2010 Formula 1 car, company president Luca di Montezemolo mentioned in passing his plans for the upcoming Geneva show. The big boss said that that’s where we’ll finally see a hybrid Ferrari.

The company’s first hybrid will be based on the 599GTB. Recent patents suggest it may be an all-wheel-drive affair, with electric motors turning the front wheels. The hybrid system likely integrates technology from Ferrari’s Kinetic Energy Recovery System (KERS), which was developed for the 2009 F1 season. Systems such as Ferrari’s were allowed but not required last year—they added weight and complexity but afforded extra 82-hp bursts for up to 6.6 seconds per lap. Ferrari struggled with the system on and off during the season and ultimately decided not to use it in the 2010 car. (F1, being the bastion of cost-savings that it is, also instituted a no-refueling rule that required everyone to redesign their cars for this year.)

Are we excited about the possibility of an electrified Ferrari? In a word, no. As with the F1 application, it will make the overall car heavier and even more expensive. But if it helps the company meet tightening efficiency standards and sells well enough to help fund the development of real Ferraris, we’ll begrudgingly accept the hybrid.

Thanks to: Car and Driver

Rabu, 27 Januari 2010

Hot News: Baby Porsche Boxster Gets Green Light


VW Group chairman Martin Winterkorn has given the first official confirmation that a new entry-level Porsche sports car is being evaluated.

Talking to Autocar in Wolfsburg as the new VW Polo received its the 2010 Car of the Year Award, Winterkorn said: "The Porsche model range is firmly based on the 911, Boxster, Cayenne and Cayman, and it will stay that way. We are also investigating opportunities for a smaller sports car and a smaller SUV - but I cannot say more at the moment."

When asked how likely the new models were to make production, he responded: "Let’s just say we do not usually waste our effort…"

Dubbed by some insiders as the “new 356”, the mid-engined machine will not, however, be a bargain basement model, despite initial rumours to the contrary. Given the final green light, it would cost from about £33,000 in today’s money.

Instead, the 356 is expected to be based on a new steel and aluminium platform that’s being developed by Audi for its own R4 mid-engined sports car.

Work on the R4 is already well advanced, and it’s due to be launched in June 2011. However, Porsche’s version of the car, which won’t arrive before late 2012, is expected to be significantly different.

Aside from its unique styling inside and out, the 356 is also expected to be one of the first Porsches to be fitted with a forced-induction flat four engine that is currently under development. This unit will also help ensure the Porsche and Audi have sharply different characters, even though the two cars have the same basic architecture.

It’s also likely that the Porsche will share its transmission with the Audi because the longitudinal unit used in the 911 and Boxster is thought to be too costly.

It’s expected the engine will be good for about 250bhp. That’s virtually the same as today’s entry-level Boxster, although fuel economy would surely be better.

However, there’s little chance that the 356 and Boxster will clash because, according to one rumoured product plan, the next-generation Boxster and Cayman could be moved sharply upmarket.

Thanks to: Autocar

First Sketch: Volvo Electric Concept


Volvo has shown this sketch of a future electric car - but has denied it has any plans to put it into production.

The sketch was shown during a presentation during an event hosted by lithium-ion battery manufacturer EnerDel, who will provide the electric vehicle platform for the electric Volvo C30.

It was accompanied by a caption reading: "a future Volvo electric car?"

A Volvo spokesman has confirmed the sketch was produced by one of its designers, but has insisted that it was produced to illustrate the concept of electric cars, rather than a definite model.

Thanks to: Autocar


New Car; 2011 Mazda Atenza/6


It's nip-and-tuck time for the Mazda 6! These are the first images of Japanese-specification versions of the company's Ford Mondeo rivalling family car.

Getting a mild restyling, new direct-injection 2.0-litre petrol engine, suspension changes and a revised cabin, they preview UK models which will arrive in showrooms next year.

On the outside, the 6 adopts the latest example of Mazda's family 'face' with a swooping front grille – inspired by the firm's 'flow' design language – while other changes include redesigned bumpers with extra air intakes, fresh alloys and new tailights.

On the inside, there's a new glossy, piano-black finish for the centre console, some extra chrome trim for the climate control dials, gear lever and door handles.

Under the bonnet, the 6 gets the same direct injection 2.0-litre petrol engine as the recently revised Mazda 5 MPV which will debut at the Geneva Motor Show in March. Other updates include revised power steering and suspension settings to improve handling and ride comfort.For more details click here.
Thanks to: Auto Express

Hot News: 2012 Mercedes SLK


THE lid has been lifted on the SLK! Auto Express can bring you the best pictures yet of Mercedes’ all-new drop-top – a sports car which will take the ‘baby SL’ tag to new heights with more powerful engines, sleeker looks and even greater luxury.

Set to make its debut later this year, the SLK will take on Audi’s TT Roadster and BMW’s Z4 when it goes on sale in early 2011. As with the Z4, it will be a two-seater – but whereas the BMW has grown in size, the new third-generation SLK will keep its compact dimensions, helping to retain its agile feel.

With a smart new look that refines the current car’s much loved shape, it will certainly turn heads. The major changes are at the front, where the SLR-style nose has been replaced by a more upright grille, aping that of the SLS. New headlights are joined by LED strips in the lower bumper to add aggression, too. At the rear are fresh tail-lights and classy chrome exhausts.

Borrowing from its SL big brother, the new SLK will also be available with the option of a panoramic glass ‘vario’ roof. Essentially a panel of toughened, tinted glass which replaces the central metal roof section, it is designed specifically to let extra light in – ideal if the weather is cloudy. The option is already popular on the SL, and is expected to be a welcome addition to the SLK’s equipment list.

High-quality insulation will mean that, with the roof up, the SLK will offer the refinement of a coupé. And, thanks to a new version of AIRSCARF – Mercedes’ brilliant neck-warming system – along with a clever AIRCAP automatic wind deflector, it will be more comfortable than ever to travel with the roof down. Inside, the focus will be on even more luxurious materials, including soft leather for the sports seats. Safety kit will incorporate drowsiness detection and adaptive cruise control.

The rear-wheel-drive chassis will be carried over from the current car, but tweaked to give a more comfortable ride and sharper steering. Power is set to come from a range of four and six-cylinder petrol engines, with the flagship AMG model likely to feature a 3.5-litre V6 twin-turbo producing in excess of 400bhp. There will also be a diesel for the first time, and a baby version of the SLS Gullwing, too. For more details click here.
Thanks to: Auto Express

Spied Up Date: 2012 Porsche 911


Porsche's perennial 911 is an icon that isn't likely to ever change its basic shape, but is continuously being updated. And though the 911 Turbo model was just revised for 2010, our spy photographers have captured what appears to be the next-generation car already testing in the snow.

Of course, car companies use various bodies and camouflage to disguise development mules to throw off onlookers such as us, but this tester most closely resembles the 911 Turbo. Notice the front fascia, which sports new LED turn signals along with LED driving lights, all of which are located above the brake ducts. Notice also the fog lights; these are all current-generation 911 features, though obviously updated.

Overall, the car appears wider, with slightly smaller and wider-set headlights, while the larger wheel arches are filled to the brim with monster wheels. All of these traits combine for a wider, lower, and more aggressive appearance than the current car.

Move around back and you'll find more new features. At the bottom, you'll notice quad tailpipes commonly found on current 911 "S" models, such as the Carrera 4S. The side scoops ahead of the rear wheels and the vents behind the wheels are both gone, though the side scoops have been painted on.

Hot News: Honda to Unveil Odyssey Concept at Chicago Show 2010


Honda has announced that it will bring a concept version of its next-generation Odyssey minivan to the 2010 Chicago auto show next month, previewing the changes it will be making to its all-new people mover.

The Odyssey, currently in its third generation, has been a mainstay on American roads since its debut in 1995. Although we'll only see the concept at the Chicago show, it's quite possible we'll see a thinly disguised version of the production van, which could reach dealers as soon as 2011.

Spied: 2012 Chevrolet Orlando


The 2012 Chevrolet Orlando has been conspicuously absent from the press since its concept debut at the Paris auto show in 2008. Yet General Motors is still prepping the vehicle for primetime, evident by these photographs of the compact people-mover taken by our valiant spy photographers.

Hot News: Spyker to Buy Saab


At what can only be described as the 59th minute of the eleventh hour, Dutch supercar maker Spyker has been approved by General Motors as the buyer for the Saab brand. It’s been a long and bizarre road; just since last August, a previous sale of Saab to Koenigsegg Group AB fell through, the brand was declared dead, some Saab assets were sold to a Chinese company, and the possibility of a sale was revived, with Formula 1 czar Bernie Ecclestone becoming involved.

Saab’s future has been in doubt since the ink was still wet on the General’s own agreement to buy the company—100-percent ownership was finalized in 2000 and Saab has bled red like a stuck pig ever since—but the storied Swedish company’s doom never appeared so imminent as in the aftermath of GM’s 2009 bankruptcy.

GM is hopeful that the deal should be wrapped in its entirety up by the middle of next month, at which point Spyker will create a new company—Saab Spyker Automobiles—placing both its ostentatious supercar and quirky Swedish sides under the same roof. The sale also means that the winding down and liquidation of Saab will be halted. The terms of the sale involve General Motors receiving $74 million in cash as well as $326 million in preferred shares of Saab Spyker Automobiles, although the latter portion is purely theoretical at this point. Even after the deal is finalized, GM will continue to provide what was termed "transition-oriented engineering resources," as well as powertrain components for an unspecified but "mutually agreeable period of time."

The deal was contingent on the securing of a $564 million loan to Saab through the European Investment Bank, a money-lending organization backed by the governments of the European Union; failure to secure the loan likely would have collapsed the deal and doomed Saab all over again. The loan has been guaranteed by the Swedish government, providing crucial funding that will allow Saab to continue operations.

Perhaps the most notable thing about this sale—besides the fact that someone actually wanted Saab—is that it means that a European brand is being bought by Europeans. Volvo is in the process of being sold by Ford to a Chinese company, and Jaguar and Land Rover recently were bought by Tata, an Indian conglomerate.

The Saab lineup is set to receive three all-new vehicles in the near future: the 9-4X crossover and the redesigned 9-5 sedan and 9-5 SportCombi. GM stands to benefit from more than just the money and stock garnered by the sale; in addition to the aforementioned resources, it will also provide fully assembled 9-4X units, utilizing existing plant capacity. Saab Spyker will pay GM for each 9-4X built—perhaps allowing GM to finally turn a healthy profit on a vehicle. Full-scale production of the 9-5 is scheduled to begin in April at Saab's Trollhättan plant.

Thanks to: Car and Driver

Senin, 25 Januari 2010

Spied: 2011/2012 Hyundai Elantra


Testing of the next-generation Hyundai Elantra is well underway, as these spy photos of the new Hyundai compact show. The sedan version of the new Elantra was caught in the lens as it hitched a ride during winter testing.

Though bundled up in camo, the Elantra manages to look sleeker and leaner than the frumpy current edition thanks to a sweeping coupe-like profile. And although well camouflaged, it's a good bet that the new Elantra will feature elements the "fluidic sculpture" design philosophy Hyundai has implemented on its new Sonata sedan. Our best guess is that it'll probably feature a prominent grille up front, a sharp body crease, and some chrome throughout. Wheelbase length has reportedly grown a bit, increasing overall passenger room.

Spied: 2011 Ford Edge


The big reveal of the refreshed 2011 Ford Edge will take place in about two weeks at the 2010 Chicago auto show, but why wait—these spy snaps give us a pretty clear idea of what form it will take. Not only that, but this prototype also previews the Sport trim, which should continue to be the sharpest-looking Edge in the drawer.

As with its twin, the Lincoln MKX, the angular Edge undergoes a dramatic mid-cycle revamp for 2011, starting with fresh front-end styling that actually has some radius edges. Indeed, shades of the Toyota Venza and the Honda Accord Crosstour—both prime competitors—can be seen in the Edge’s visage, with a vast majority of its frontal area devoted to the T-shaped arrangement of the headlamps and thick three-bar grille. It does not appear, however, that the new fascia will be affixed to new front fenders (the MKX, by comparison, is all-new from the A-pillars forward), but certainty on that point is complicated by this prototype’s black-and-white “cheese-puff” camouflage.

Other aesthetic changes for the standard Edge are expected to be minimal, although this Sport prototype wears flashier rocker panels and a diffuser-look rear bumper as conspicuous conceits to its Sport designation. And speaking of conspicuous, the 22-inch wheels seen here are kinda, sorta bitchin’, especially for a stock-out-of-the-box Ford family car. Rounding out the appearance changes are the new taillamps, which will feature LED elements.

Thanks to: Car and Driver

Jumat, 22 Januari 2010

Hot News: Great Wall V240 Recalled


The Chinese-made ute whose seatbelt failed in a round of ANCAP crash tests last year has been recalled.

The Great Wall Motors V240 -- the newer of the two available Great Wall utes -- had its front passenger seatbelt retractor fail during the independently funded test, and the driver and front passenger dummies struck the steering wheel and dashboard even though the vehicle was equipped with airbags.

The vehicle scored a "poor" rating of two stars out of five: the same as the other Great Wall ute that was tested, which was not equipped with airbags.

At the time, Ateco Automotive, the local distributor of Great Wall Motors vehicles, said it would not voluntarily recall the V240 until it had done a thorough investigation and/or was ordered to recall the vehicle by federal authorities.

The Department of Infrastructure and Transport officially ordered the V240 be recalled on December 15 and requested the seatbelts be replaced in the entire batch of 115 cars that the test vehicle was plucked from. The remaining 300 or so V240s were to be inspected.

However, Ateco Automotive has taken the recall a step further and elected to replace the seatbelts in all V240 utes sold so far, about 415 all told, and all V240 owners are advised to contact their local dealer.

The distributor temporarily stopped future shipments of the V240 until the new seatbelts could be fitted on the production line. This will likely lead to a dip in supply of the in-demand ute in the first few months of 2010.

The new seatbelt supplier for the V240 is international seatbelt manufacturer Autoliv.

The manufacturer of the faulty seatbelt in the V240 was Yizhong Safety Belt Company of Tianjing.

Yizhong supplies the seatbelt for the cheaper and older Great Wall SA220 ute, however the seatbelts and retractors are a completely different design to those originally used in the V240, says Ateco.

The seatbelt fitted to Great Wall's recently released X240 four-wheel-drive wagon is also supplied by Autoliv.

Company spokesman Daniel Cotterill told the Carsales Network: "We didn't launch into a recall [of the V240] at the time of the test because we needed to ascertain what the problem was and what the solution should be. We wanted to make sure we took the right remedial action, and not introduce a new problem.

"We did not want there to be any lingering perception regarding the safety of the vehicle. And, it must be said, Great Wall Motors themselves have taken the issue very seriously and worked very quickly to get this resolved. We have completely changed the suppliers of the seatbelts for this vehicle and introduced a change at the factory."

Other than during the ANCAP test, there have been no reports of a seatbelt retractor failure during a crash in a Great Wall ute in Australia, the company said.

The new seatbelt would not likely earn the V240 a higher safety rating if it were to be retested given that most of the injuries to the dummies occurred because of severe body deformation.

Thanks to: Car Point

Spied: 2011/2012 Peugeot 508


Like their partners at Citroen, Peugeot has a thing for dutifully disguising their prototypes from the peering lenses of our spy photographers. This moving glob of black plastic and rubber is supposed to be the upcoming 508 that is slated to replace the 407 and 607.

Other than that, we can't really tell you what to look for. Peugeot's recent design language has been anything but predictable. Just compare the automaker's Prologue and SR1 Hybrid Concept to get a gist of what we mean.

Kamis, 21 Januari 2010

Hot News: BMW to Release 6-Series 4-Door Coupe?


After years of turning the other, four-door, cheek, BMW is preparing to hit back at Mercedes-Benz's big-selling, slinky CLS four-door limousine.

Insiders insist BMW will build a four-door version of its upcoming 6-Series alongside the traditional coupe and convertible in an effort to stem the flow of cash attracted by Benz’s sexier E-Class. And it could come as soon as late 2011.

While its arch-rival has made piles of money by dropping the CLS's unique body and interior on top of the existing E-Class architecture, BMW has long explained that its 5-Series was sufficiently sporty and good-looking to compete with both Benzes.

But with the second-generation CLS previewed in sculpture at this month's Detroit Motor Show and Audi confirming it will build its own big, four-door "coupe", the A7, BMW has been forced to act.

"There won't be a coupe version of the new 5-Series; just a Touring and a long-wheelbase," our source confirmed, "But if I was you, I'd be looking very closely at the next 6-Series to see where our CLS rival will come from."

Sources have confirmed that BMW has spent the last few years developing its "Backbone" large-car engineering strategy to finally allow it to compete with the swoopy Benz. The Backbone strategy has appeared too late to underpin the Concept CS (pictured) that had all the makings of a competitor to the CLS. Hopes for that concept reaching production were dashed as BMW battened down in preparation for the Global Financial Crisis.

While the last-generation of the 7-Series and 5-Series shared very few parts, 5-Series Project Director, Josef Wüst confirmed the new 5- and 7- share around 55 percent, while the 5- and the 5-Series GT share closer to 70 percent.

"With backbone, a CLS rival could be built very easily. It makes it a difficult question for marketing and product planning, but a very easy question for technology and engineering," Wüst admitted.

"The 5 is already close to a coupe in its design. If we would do this kind of car, the character of a coupe must come out much, much more because it has to be a big step and then it is not for the traditional 5-Series customer.

"It has to be something different."

Thanks to: Car Point

First Sketch: Kia Ray Concept


This is the first image of the Kia Ray, a concept car that hints at the company's vision of a future plug-in hybrid car.

The concept will be unveiled in the metal at the Chicago motor show next month.

It was styled by the Kia Design Centre America, and the company says the Ray "will contribute to Kia’s ongoing development of alternative-fuel vehicles".

The Kia Ray features a working hybrid powertrain, while its exterior design is described as being "more of a concept, designed to show that hybrid cars can be good looking and sporty".

Kia already has hybrid fuel-cell prototypes being evaluated in California and Korea. Sister company Hyundai is putting a hybrid vehicle on sale in Korea later this year, and Kia is set to follow suit in 2011.

In addition, the firm will begin on-road testing of petrol and diesel hybrid vehicles in Britain this year, although no date has been set for when they will go on sale in the UK.

The Chicago motor show begins on 11 February.

Thanks to: Autocar

Hot News: 2011 Suzuki Swift to be Launched this Summer


The all-new Suzuki Swift supermini will arrive in the UK at the end of this summer.

Sources within the company describe the new car as “a design evolution of the current model. It looks more grown up, but will have the same sort of appeal.”

The small hatchback is the biggest-selling model in Suzuki’s line-up, accounting for over 54,000 sales in the UK since the car was launched in 2005, and the company makes no secret of how vital the new model is.

It will ride on a completely new platform, and will feature a range of small petrol engines that will utilise advanced variable-valve technology and possibly turbocharging to improve economy and performance.

There are no details regarding the diesel engines available, but with Volkswagen’s recently acquired 20 per cent stake in Suzuki there is speculation that the German maker could provide the diesel tech in the new Swift.

Expect prices to remain competitive, with the range starting at around £10,000.

Thanks to: Autocar

Hot News: Chevrolet Corvette Sedan?


Several senior General Motors executives are pushing for the Holden Commodore-based Pontiac G8 sedan to come back to America as a high-performance Chevrolet. GM Vice President Bob Lutz describes it as a "four-door Corvette."

"There's a possibility of [the Pontiac G8 coming back as] a high-end Chevrolet sedan that would be sold in limited numbers," Lutz told international media at the Detroit auto show. Volume would be limited because "with the U.S. fuel economy legislation, we just can't afford to sell too many of them."

Lutz is a great fan of Holden's rear-drive Commodore sedan, which is available in several high-performance variants. "The thrill of high-performance driving is unmatched by anything that doesn't have rear drive, bags of torque, and a nice transmission," he says. "I think of it as a four-door Corvette."

Lutz says the Commodore-based Chevy sport sedan could be on sale "well within five years" but declined to be more specific on timing. "I'd prefer to let Holden tell you when they're going to do their next aesthetic job," he said.

Earlier at the Detroit show, Mike Simcoe, the Australian-born head of GM's North American design studio, also hinted that the Pontiac G8 would "probably make a very nice Chevrolet." While at Holden, Simcoe led the design team that developed the Commodore.

"There is absolutely a chance the Commodore could come back to America," says Mark Reuss, the new president of GM North America. "I would love to have that car here."

Reuss, who headed GM's Holden operation in Australia until September and is intimately familiar with the Commodore program, says there is no impediment to bringing the car back other than the number of vehicles GM wants to put into the Chevy portfolio.
Thanks to: Motor Trend

New Car; 2011 Lexus SC430 Eternal Jewel


To spur more interest for its slow-selling SC430 hardtop convertible, Lexus is offering its Japanese market customers a limited "The Eternal Jewel" special edition. Production of the current-generation luxury model appears to be set to end in July, according to a rough translation of the Japanese press release.

When it hits dealers in March, customers will be able to further customize their SC with various interior leather color combinations, as well as hard top liveries. An "Eternal Jewel" engraving inside also denotes its uniqueness.

Rabu, 20 Januari 2010

Spied: 2011 Saab 9-5 SportCombi


No matter the automaker's uncertain future, Saab's engineers are continuing to put their new 9-5 through various harsh cold weather tests in Sweden. This is the first time our spy shooters have caught the SportCombi (or wagon) version in the wild.

Compared to the current edition, the new 9-5 will be bigger in every dimension. It's based on GM's Epsilon II chassis that can be configured for all-wheel or front-wheel drive operation. The platform currently underpins the 2010 Buick LaCrosse. Styling cues are said to come from the 2008 9-4x BioPower concept.

Spied Up Date: 2011 Citroen C4


Citroen is doing an excellent job of hiding its upcoming C4 from the peering eyes of our spy photographers. We've spotted the ride before during hot weather testing, but now it's time for some cold climate shakedowns.

From what we can muster, the car will take much design inspiration from the current C3. We're not too sure about those funky wheels, though. It could feature a panorama roof and is said to be lighter and more fuel efficient than past iterations. Rumors persist that the range will include a diesel hybrid version in addition to the regular diesel and gasoline engine offerings.

Hot News: Volkswagen Golf is Wheels Car of the Year


Volkswagen’s Golf has been awarded the 2009 Wheels Car of the Year.

The multi-award winning Golf has outclassed a field of 22 cars to collect what is widely considered to be Australia’s most coveted award.

To have been selected for this award, the Golf had to impress eight judges over an extensive week of testing.

Wheels magazine editor, Ged Bulmer, said: “The turbo-charged, five-door hatch Volkswagen range is outstanding.

“The Golf oozes sophistication, refinement and development – in an energetic package that comes with fundamentally good steering and balance,” he said.

Veteran judge and former editor, Peter Robinson said, “The level of overall refinement is worthy of two classes higher … balance and weighting of all controls [are] BMW-like in their consistency and tactility. Ride and handling, best in class.”

Volkswagen last won the Wheels Car of the Year in 1976, also for the Golf. While two years earlier Volkswagen collected the award with the Passat.

Volkswagen Group Australia managing director, Anke Koeckler, said:” I am very pleased to have received such a prestigious award for the Golf.

“The Golf’s selection as Wheels Car of the Yearis the crowning achievement of an extraordinary year for the new Golf after already being named ‘Best Mid size car over $30,000’by Australia’s Best Car Award and winning the 2009 Carsguide Car of the Year and 2009 DRIVE Car of the Year awards.

“Winning the Wheels Car of the Year is proof the new Golf is at the pinnacle of automotive design and engineering yet is still attainable, a winning combination obviously,” said Ms Koeckler.

Volkswagen launched the Golf in 1974, it was built in Australia until 1977 before being replaced with a fully imported model from Germany.

Now in its sixth generation, the Golf continues to hold universal appeal thanks to its original, unique and timeless design which creates a vehicle that is class-free.

The Golf, a perennial favourite in the Volkswagen line-up, has sold more than 26 million units in 120 countries, making it one of the top selling vehicles of all-time.

Thanks to: Press Portal

Hot News: 2014 Audi R4


Audi’s latest e-tron concept is the strongest hint yet at the firm’s intentions to build a smaller, lighter sports car known as R4.

The new two-seater has the same name as the bigger, more powerful concept car revealed at last year’s Frankfurt motor show and driven by Autocar last month.

However, this car is significantly smaller and, uncharacteristically for an Audi concept car with clear sporting intentions, it’s rear-wheel drive.

The latest e-tron, revealed at the Detroit motor show, is also more than just a one-off showcase for Audi’s zero-emissions plans; it confirms that Audi chairman Rupert Stadler has already given the go-ahead for a new, small, mid-engined sports car.

According to Audi sources, this new e-tron concept provides strong clues to a new production car that will be sold as the R4. It will share key components with the showroom version of Volkswagen’s BlueSport concept, and possibly a new entry-level Porsche roadster, when it arrives in showrooms sometime between now and the end of 2013.

Picking up on the styling theme from the first e-tron, the low-slung concept has a traditional sports car silhouette, with a long bonnet, a heavily curved roofline and a stubby rear end. However, the body is a lot edgier, with hard crease lines, taut surfacing and a heavily sculpted rear end providing it with a highly contemporary look that sets the tone for the upcoming R4.

Elements such as a large single-frame grille housing carbonfibre fins to direct air into the front end, and distinctive LED-enhanced headlamp graphics, clearly set the new car out as an Audi from the front. However, certain features at the rear end are highly reminiscent of recent Aston Martin models — in particular the rear light graphic.

Styled by a small team working under Audi’s British-born manager for concept car design, Steve Lewis, this e-tron was completed in just four months following a go-ahead from senior management last September.

“We wanted to push the electric car in a sporty direction without making it appear too futuristic,” said Lewis. “It was important to give the car a uniquely technical appearance in a bid to get across the message of the electrical package that lies beneath.”

At 3930mm long, 1780mm wide and 1220mm tall, the concept is shorter, narrower and lower than the original e-tron and the current TT. It rides on a wheelbase that, at 2430mm, is 170mm shorter.

At the heart of the e-tron is a new electric powertrain. It uses a pair of motors mounted within the rear axle producing a total of 201bhp along with a whopping 1954lb ft of torque — all of which is sent to the rear wheels only via a torque-vectoring differential.

Official performance figures put the sprint from 0-62mph at 5.9sec and 37-75mph (60-120km/h) at just 5.1sec, but the top speed is limited to just 124mph to conserve battery life.

Electrical energy is drawn from a bank of lithium ion batteries mounted behind the cabin in a space that, on production versions of the new R4, will be occupied by the engines. These are likely to include Audi’s 335bhp turbocharged 2.5-litre five-cylinder unit, which, Autocar has been told, could easily be packaged in the mid-engined slot.

Weighing a total of 399kg, the mid-mounted batteries have a capacity of 45kWh, or 2.6kWh more than the earlier e-tron. Fully charged, the concept’s range is put at 155 miles. Recharging takes 11 hours on a 230V system but on a 400V system this figure drops to just two hours.

As with the earlier R8-based e-tron, the R4-based version features an aluminium spaceframe to which Audi’s designers have attached body panels fashioned from carbonfibre-reinforced plastic. It’s an exotic combination that helps to provide the car with a kerb weight of just 1350kg, although at this stage it is unclear if the production version of the R4 will follow the same route.

With much of the weight concentrated at the rear, weight distribution is put at 40 per cent front/60 per cent rear, giving the concept — in the words of Audi R&D boss Michael Dick — “all the driveability of a go-kart — agile and neutral right up to the limit”.

Thanks to: Autocar

New Car: 2011 Mazda 5


Mazda’s new 5 MPV has been revealed ahead of its official launch at March’s Geneva motor show.

The Japanese firm has gone for style as well as function, with features including sliding rear doors to boost rear passenger access and a flexible seven-seat interior.

The 5’s styling brings it line with the rest of Mazda’s range. It has been designed with efficiency in mind, including a low drag coefficient, with optimal lift and air-flow stability features.

Among the engine range will be a new direct-injection 2.0-litre petrol unit mated to a six-speed manual gearbox. Stop-start is also included. This new engine achieves a 15 per cent reduction in CO2 emissions compared with the model it replaces.

Hideki Matsuoka, the Mazda 5’s programme manager, said, “Our team aimed to create a new MPV that combines superb practicality with the superior environmental performance these modern times demand and a new expression in stylish design.”

Full details will be revealed at the Geneva show, which starts on 2 March. The new Mazda 5 will go on sale later this year.

Thanks to: Autocar

New Car: 2011 Ford Shelby GT350


Shelby fanatics have waited more than four decades for a new GT350. Beginning in 1965, Ford Mustang GT fastbacks rolled into the Shelby American facility near Los Angeles International Airport. Carroll Shelby and his band of racers, mechanics, fabricators, and engineers then turned them into legend. Ford took over the Shelby Mustang program for 1968, and it was all over just two years later. Ever since Ford and Shelby got back together (for the Shelby-built GT-H Hertz rental program in 2006 and the Ford SVT-produced GT500 beginning in 2007), people have asked the question: "When will the GT350 return?"

The answer is: Now.

The 2011 Mustang GT 5.0 has made it possible. This Camaro fighter, packing all the design revisions and hardware upgrades of the 2010 model plus Ford's new 5.0-liter, DOHC, all-aluminum V-8, gave today's Shelby American (formerly Shelby Automobiles) the foundation it needed to reseed the icon. It's white-with-blue-stripes time, all over again.

The deal to do the car at all had been an on-and-off affair for years, then happened fast. Shelby didn't want to develop a GT350 based on existing 4.6-liter models, only to have to rework the engine package later for the impending 5.0. Everyone was on edge about the economy. And there were already plenty of specialty edition Mustangs on the 2008-09 roster, including the GT500KR and Bullitt. That air has cleared, the new powertrain has arrived, and the GT350 button was pushed late last fall.

Reinterpretation of the mid-'60s look was assigned to veteran automotive designer Larry Wood and in-house designer/development driver Vince Laviolette. Shelby American president Amy Boylan knew Wood from her tenure at Mattel, where he created numerous Hot Wheels models, including a pint-size GT350. "Amy called me," grins Wood, "and asked me if I'd like to try doing a full-size one this time."
Thanks to: Motor Trend

Unofficial Picture: 2011 Mini Crossover/Countryman


Mini is embarking on a proliferation binge, with its lineup doubling from the three models offered today—three-door hatch, convertible, and extended Clubman—to six within the next couple years. With a roadster and coupe just around the corner, a crossover, previewed by the Crossover and Beachcomber concepts, is also on the way. Its name has yet to be officially announced, but Countryman is being thrown about as the leading candidate.

While no additional information accompanies these photos, our first unofficial look at official photos has us breathing a collective sigh of relief. Although the beefed-up visual elements of the front end carry over from the two concepts, the detailing surrounding them has been toned down. Mini’s signature styling elements—a softly rounded body tub; an upright, blacked-out greenhouse; the angle-cut hood opening—translate very nicely to a crossover, and we are pleased to see that the Clubman’s contrasting rear trim remains exclusive to that model. The stance and taller hood add just enough toughness to set the crossover apart from Mini’s other offerings without looking contrived.

Thanks to: Car and Driver

Selasa, 19 Januari 2010

Hot News: Caterham to Reveal Electric Plans


Caterham will reveal its plans to go electric within six months, company boss Ansar Ali has told Autocar.

Ali first revealed at last year’s Tokyo motor show that the firm was looking into the feasibility of electric Caterhams and he told Autocar that talks are ongoing with several parties interested in working with his company.

“We’re trying to pull together some partners and there a lot who want to be associated with us,” he said. “We want to do this properly and with the right partners, not just stick batteries in the back of a Seven.”

Ali said that the firm had yet to be fully convinced that electric technology could work in a Caterham and it would be up to Caterham’s partners to convince him otherwise.

“We’re still at a very early stage,” he said. “We will consider it if it works although it would never be a volume product.”

Ali said that any initial electric Caterham would be a racing car and not a road-going Seven.

“We have no plans to produce an electric Seven,” he said. “We’re looking at motorsport applications but there’s uncertainty as to whether an electric car could handle race conditions. Is there the technology yet to support it?”

Ali believes that the shift towards electric cars will be inevitable if legislation penalises manufacturers for having high emissions across its range.

“If legislation goes that way, we will change what we find acceptable,” he said. “I sense that this is something that is not going to go away as the volume manufacturers have embraced it. With this momentum, it’s inevitable.”

Thanks to: Autocar

Senin, 18 Januari 2010

Sneak Peek Up Date: 2011 Audi A1


Audi's new A1 has been designed with the "sportiness of the R8 and elegance of the A8", according to the firm's latest teaser details about the car.

Audi's light designer Andre Georgi made the statement in the latest of a series of videos about the A1, designed to build up interest in the car ahead of its launch at Geneva in March.

"On the A1, the front gets its character from a completely new form of LED daytime running lights," he said. "We have given our newcomer the sportiness of the R8 and the elegance of the A8.

"The new LED technology with fibre optics enables us to draw extremely precise, continuous lines. In this way complex graphics are created in the interplay between the daytime running lights, the turn signals and the dipped headlights."

Audi says the A1's lights have been designed to mimic an eagle's wing or an athlete in the starting blocks. Pictures of the car with its ambassador Justin Timberlake leaked onto the internet before christmas.

Thanks to: Autocar

Unofficial Picture: 2011 Kia Sportage


This is the new Kia Sportage, which will go on sale late this year or early in 2011.

The pictures are taken from a European Registry patent filing, and show much of how the exterior of the restyled car will look. In particular, the front grille arrangement carries the new Kia family look, instigated by head of design Peter Schreyer.

The new Sportage will be based on the same platform as the new Hyundai ix35, but is expected to feature a two-wheel drive transmission to differentiate it from the four-wheel drive ix35.

New Cars: 2011 Mercedes SLK Grand Edition & SL Night Edition


As things get under way at the Detroit Motor Show, Mercedes has just announced the release of two special edition cars that won't be on the show-floor in America.

First up is the SL 'Night Edition', which is finished in a matt black paint and fitted with 19-inch AMG alloy wheels and darkened lights. A 'Night Edition' badge on the front wing identifies the new model.

Inside, the cabin is just as exclusive. Black leather upholstery dominates the interior but silver detailing in the seats and vents provides a stylish contrast.

Elsewhere, Mercedes also introduced the SLK 'Grand Edition', which is set apart from the standard car by its elegant graphite paint-job and 5-spoke, 18-inch alloy wheels.

The interior is finished in grey leather with red stitching and the glovebox and floormats are embossed with a 'Grand Edition' logo.

Both special edition cars are available to order now. Depending on the engine, the additional cost is between 3700 and 5200 Euro for the SL 'Night Edition' and between 2300 and 3500 Euro for the SLK 'Grand Edition'. For more details click here.
Thanks to: Auto Express

New Car; 2011 BMW 3-Series Coupe & Convertible


Rumors of an all-new car coming soon haven't stopped BMW from cooking up some updates for the 2011 3 Series Coupe and Convertible, which will hit dealers later this spring.

The first order of business in updating the two models was to address the drivetrain. While the 328i Coupe and Convertible both retain their naturally-aspirated 3.0-liter inline-six, good for 230 hp and 200 lb-ft, the 335i Coupe and Convertible both upgrade to BMW's latest turbocharged six, good for 300 hp and 300 lb-ft.

Those keeping score will note that the new engine's power numbers haven't changed at all from the outgoing mill. What has changed is how it achieves those numbers, with the new engine reducing complexity by using a single twin-scroll turbocharger instead of the old engine's twin turbos. Matched with direct fuel injection and BMW's Valvetronic throttle-less intake system, the new engine makes the same power using less gas and offers better response.

With the new engine onboard, both the 335i Coupe and Convertible will jet to 60 mph in well under six seconds. For the Coupe, 60 mph comes in just 5.3 sec with the six-speed manual transmission and 5.5 sec with the optional six-speed automatic. The convertible isn't far behind, hitting 60 mph in 5.5 sec with the manual and 5.7 sec with the automatic. Equip the Coupe with BMW's ground-hugging xDrive AWD system and you can drop your 0 to 60 time even further, doing it in 5.2 sec with the manual and 5.3 sec with the auto, according to BMW. Enthusiasts who live in congested cities will also be happy to learn that BMW has revised the automatic's shift paddles to pull-types only -- left for down, right for up -- rather than the push/pull types found on current models.

Complimenting the updates to the 3 Series Coupe and Convertible's power source is a light freshening of the exterior. In front, a slightly revised hood rests on top of BMW's iconic twin-kidney grilles which have been enlarged and stretched slightly for the new model year. Flanking them are revised headlights featuring LED-lit coronas and "eyebrows" and standard Xenon adaptive headlights. Below them, the lower fascia has been revised to deemphasize the vertical strakes breaking up the air intake and instead emphasize two new horizontal strakes that take the place of the wire mesh grilles on the 2010 cars.

Moving around the car, one might notice a new set of rearview mirrors and a lengthened character line in the door sills that gives the rocker panels a bit more pop. Moving to the rear, another character line has cropped up just above the twin tail pipes -- giving the rear bumper a bit more pizzazz. More noticeable, though, are the updated LED taillights with twin L-shaped accents.

Though the updated BMW 3 Series Coupe and Convertible will go on sale this Spring, pricing and fuel economy figures haven't been announced as of yet. The former is expected to fall in the range of the current car's pricing, which starts at $37,075 for the 328i Coupe, $42,535 for the 335i Coupe, $45,875 for the 328i Convertible and $52,075 for the 335i Convertible. The latter is expected to be a small improvement in fuel economy for the new single-turbo engine over the current twin-turbo engine's 17 mpg city and 26 mpg highway.
Thanks to: Motor Trend

Sabtu, 16 Januari 2010

Spied: 2012 Lamborghini Jota


When someone says "supercar," what image jumps to mind? More often than not, it's a Lamborghini and that legacy appears to be safe from pretenders as our spy photographers have captured what is believed to be the first images of the long-awaited Murcielago successor.

Rumored to be called "Jota," the new top-shelf Lambo will be the company's first all-new car since the departure of head designer Luc Donckerwolke and succession of Manfred Fitzgerald, best known for his work on the Estoque concept and the Reventon. This car has been captured for the first time winter testing at the Volkswagen Auto Group's secret test facility in northern Scandinavia and offers an early preview of the next big-banger Lambo.

There is no mistaking this car for anything but a Lamborghini. While Fitzgerald may take the design in a new direction, he's been careful not to stray far from the silhouette that made Lamborghini famous, one that harkens back not only to the Murcielago but to the Diablo and Countach before it. In fact, Lamborghini aficionados will note that the nose of this prototype bears a striking resemblance to the Murcielago with its massive air intakes, slim headlights and cab-forward design.

Move further back, though, and things start to get interesting. The big air scoops found directly in front of the rear wheels on the Murcielago have moved up and grown even larger and now take the shape of massive scoops that reach far up the doors to gobble as much air as possible to feed the big V-12 out back. Containing the massive engine is a new rear end that appears more upright than the Murcielago's with slimmer taillights and a profile that suggests hints from the Reventon, complete with rear window louvers. In all, our spy photographers say the Jota is roughly the same size as the Murcielago.

More interesting, though, is what lies beneath. According to our sources in Europe, Lamborghini is thinking even bigger when it comes to performance. Rumor has it that the big V-12 engine has been updated with direct fuel injection and now puts out as much as 700 hp. Complementing the increased power is a lighter chassis, with the Murcielago's steel tub frame swapped for an aluminum space frame cloaked almost entirely in carbon-fiber body work save for the aluminum roof and doors. Like nearly all modern Lambos, save the Valentino Balboni Gallardo, the Jota will most likely be all-wheel drive. Rumor has it Lamborghini is now working with Swedish powertrain experts Haldex on a new AWD system.
Thanks to: Motor Trend

Hot News: Mitsubishi Lancer Evo XI Goes Hybrid


You may have heard rumors the next generation Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution will be an electric car. Well, they're true. But before you start writing angry rants in the comments box, read on. According to one source inside Mitsubishi, the Evolution XI, due in 2013, will be the best Evo yet.

To be built off the same platform as the chunky PX-MiEV plug-in hybrid off-roader concept Mitsubishi revealed at the Tokyo Motor Show last October, the Evolution XI will benefit from the company's latest electric/hybrid technology. The new Evo's 2.0 litre MIVEC petrol engine, borrowed from the current Japan-spec Galant, will be mated to a new plug-in hybrid system with lithium-ion batteries. But here's the twist: the Evo's main power source will not be the gas engine, but an electric motor that will drive the front wheels. The 2.0 litre engine, when needed, will drive the rear wheels.

The Evo XI will give drivers the option of driving in EV mode, though only for short distances, improving fuel efficiency and CO2 emissions. But it won't be a namby-pamby eco-warrior. According to our source, the electric motor will be an upgraded version of the 63 hp permanent magnet synchronous motor used in the i-MiEV, and the 2.0 litre MIVEC gas engine is expected to generate around 320 hp. Depending on how Mitsubishi manages the power flow between the two, the Evo XI could effectively have up to 350 hp on tap. The current Evo makes do with a mere 291 hp.

Our insider suggests Mitsubishi engineers are working toward a target 0-60 mph time of 4.5 seconds. "The new electric motor will effectively work like a turbo, only smoother," he says, "so there's no need to worry about power delivery."

What hardcore drivers will be more concerned about are the handling upgrades, which include a couple of hi-tech handling gizmos that were not finished in time for the Evo X, launched two-and-a-half years ago -- Active Steering and Roll Control Suspension. The Evo XI will also feature a new electronically-controlled active yaw control system (E-AYC) that regulates torque distribution between the rear wheels.

We tested an Evo prototype fitted with Active Steering and Roll Control Suspension way back in February 2006 and were impressed. But Mitsubishi Motor's recall problems, restructuring, and a decision to focus development resources on fuel efficient engines and cleaner CO2 emissions, led to these key pieces of Evo techno-wizardry being put on the backburner. We can still recall an engineer sighing at the Evo X's reveal in 2007 as he whispered: "This is not the finished product, you know."

Our sketches give one artist's impression of how the new Evo XI might look. Whatever the final design, this much is clear: Mitsubishi is determined to totally re-invent one of the world's great performance cars.
Thanks to: Motor Trend

Detroit Show 2010 Highlights: Volkswagen NCC Concept


Are you ready for the year of the Volkswagen? The German giant is planning to release more cars in 2010 that it has in any single year in its history, and it'll start things off with a bang in Detroit. Meet the Volkswagen New Compact Coupe Concept, the latest in a new trend of sporty hybrids.

Sporty hybrids? Indeed. The trade-off for stellar fuel economy has long been lackluster performance and a boring drive, but today's automakers are looking to change that inequity. Not to be upstaged by Honda's new CR-Z hybrid, Volkswagen has unwrapped its own sport-oriented hybrid coupe, called the NCC for short.

Volkswagen says the NCC is meant to slot between Europe's sporty Scirocco and the larger CC, a position currently held by the Jetta. At 178.5 in. long, 70.1 in. wide, 55.6 in. tall, and riding on a 104.4-in. wheelbase, the NCC is within 3 inches or less of the Jetta in every dimension. It has a stretched wheelbase, identical width, and lower roof. Is this the next-generation Jetta coupe Volkswagen enthusiasts have pined after? Perhaps.

The NCC is powered by a 1.4L turbocharged and direct-injected four-cylinder gasoline engine making 148 hp and 177 lb-ft of torque mated to a 27-hp electric motor and Volkswagen's seven-speed DSG automatic gearbox, all driving the front wheels. Volkswagen says the combination is good for 45 mpg while emitting only 0.35 grams of CO2 per mile. While the thrust isn't exactly mind-numbing, its claimed sprint from zero to 60 mph in 8.1 sec (three-tenths quicker than a diesel-powered Jetta) on to a top speed of 141 mph.

To accomplish all this, the gasoline engine and electric motor work together as driving conditions dictate. Powered by a 1.1 kWh battery mounted in the back of the vehicle (the battery is small enough to make room for a 13.4 cubic-foot trunk, only 2.6 cu-ft smaller than the Jetta), the electric motor can start the NCC from a stop completely on its own up to an unspecified top speed before the gasoline engine kicks in. After that, the electric motor serves to supplement and boost the output of the gas engine as needed. The electric motor can also act as a generator to recapture braking energy, and both motors can disengage themselves during coasting to minimize friction and maintain as much speed as possible.

Thanks to: Motor Trend

Detroit Show 2010 Highlights:Toyota FT-CH Concept


When the production version of the FT-CH Concept Toyota rolled out at the Detroit show finally emerges, it will slot in below the Prius in both price and size, measuring about 22 inches shorter in length on a six-inch shorter wheelbase. The width is within a half-inch of today's Prius and the car is packaged to maximize passenger and cargo space.

Toyota, whose stated aim is to eventually build one million hybrid vehicles per year worldwide (a goal that battery supplier Panasonic is poised to support), also announced at the FT-CH unveiling that there will indeed be a Prius sub-brand of Hybrid Synergy Drive powered vehicles, including models both smaller and larger than the current Prius. It's a safe bet to assume that the production FT-CH will be badged as a Prius.

No details have been released as yet about platform, powertrain, battery, or performance, but it's likely that the car will be sufficiently smaller and lighter to accommodate an engine that's smaller than anything currently on offer in a U.S. Toyota. A smaller Nickel-Metal-Hydride battery pack will probably be used in order to keep the price down, but lithium-ion technology is not out of the question if the prices fall enough. Downsizing and light-weighting of all components, along with continued improvements in efficiency will probably lower prices to within spitting distance of rival Honda's Insight, though the more sophisticated hybrid system is likely to deliver superior fuel economy.

Toyota's European design center won the styling competition with this muscular hatchback shape that is aimed at engaging the "8-Bit" video-game set. Okay, if they say so. The airy interior suggests it will connect with any device an 8-Bit driver could possibly own, and as shown the seats are minimalist mesh units that look very light (it was locked, so we can't tell you what they feel like). Toyota officials suggest that unless the reaction to this styling model is negative, past history suggests we'll see a production version within 20 months, though the official green light has not been given as yet.

In other Toyota sustainability news, it was announced that a fully electric small car like the FT-EV2 will likely go on sale in 2012 with a lithium-ion battery, capable of traveling 100 miles. A fleet of 100 FCHV fuel-cell powered Highlanders is in use, achieving 431-mile range with 68-mpg (gasoline equivalent) fuel economy. Development is progressing toward a target on-sale date of 2015. And 150 plug-in Priuses are in the works with 13-mile full-EV range and a 65-mph top electric speed.

Thanks to: Motor Trend

Detroit Show 2010 Highlights: Mini Beachcomber Concept


Mini is going to the Detroit Auto Show with a doorless, roofless concept car - the Beachcomber - that previews its all-new fourth model line. This will be a compact crossover available with FWD and AWD. It is launched at the Geneva show in March and on-sale as a 2011 model.

Obviously the real car will have doors and a roof. Unlike the existing Clubman, all four side doors will be conventionally front-hinged, and the car is symmetrical left-to-right. The B-posts have been removed only for the concept.

At 160 inches, this is the longest Mini ever but will still be one of the smallest crossovers on sale. It is also wider than a hatchback or Clubman and will be available as a five seater with a rear bench, as well as the four-chair layout seen in the Beachcomber.

The platform is closely related to the standard Mini's, although wider. It has the same transverse engine layout and the same choice of 1.6-liter naturally aspirated and turbo motors as the Cooper and Cooper S. Transmission is six-speed manual or six-speed automatic. Euro models also get an economical 1.6-liter diesel.

But the crossover also has an optional add-on diff to channel power to the rear wheels when the fronts begin to slip. AWD will be optional with all engines and the FWD versions won't have any visual differences beyond badges.

This is very much a road-biased crossover, even in AWD form. Ground clearance is only about 4-in more than the existing Minis, and much of that is down to the tires - which by the way will be a lot less aggressive than in the concept.

The Concept does however show us the exterior sheet metal, and the production car's five-sided headlamp units and relatively tall hood line and vertical grille. It will likely have a conventional mesh grille though, rather than the grater pattern on the concept which is intended to evoke the classic Mini Moke. The production car will have a more vertical rear windshield than the concept.
Thanks to: Motor Trend
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