Sabtu, 30 April 2011

New Car: 2012 Chevrolet Corvette

Regular (and even irregular) readers already know this, so for those who are unfamiliar with this institution, an introduction: Hi, we’re Car and Driver, and we hate the seats in the Corvette. Today, Chevy’s plastic fantastic isn’t so much a sports car as it is a budget supercar. But, in our every encounter with it, we come away just as appalled at its seats as we are amazed at its capabilities.

Although the next-generation Vette is less than two years away, Chevrolet has nonetheless made some enhancements for 2012 models that include, at last, respectable thrones—specifically, the same ones found in the Centennial Edition Corvette. (But without the microfiber suede inserts, which will be optional.) With distinct lateral and shoulder bolsters, the seats should greatly help drivers and passengers enjoy the Corvette’s formidable performance without bouncing between armrest and center console.

Additional interior touch-ups include tweaks to the steering-wheel trim and additional padding on the center console and armrest areas. With two new tweeters on the dash, the optional Bose sound system ups its speaker count to nine, and for fancier tastes, the optional leather interior now offers contrasting stitching in red, blue, or yellow. Incidentally, the brake calipers can also be ordered in red, yellow, silver, or gray. How about one of each?

The 2012 Corvette also gets some performance-oriented upgrades as well, though the lion’s share of them go to the hard-core Z06 model, which arguably doesn’t need anything more than more grip to handle the 505 hp and 470 lb-ft of torque from its 7.0-liter V-8. Fortunately, additional grip it will get, in the form of newly available Michelin Pilot Sport Cup Zero Pressure tires. They will be available as part of the Z07 handling package for the Z06, and also for the ZR1 as part of its new PDE performance package. Measuring 285/30-19 in front and 335/25-20 in back, the new tires will help the Vette corner at more than 1.1g, according to Chevy. (That claim is not as outrageous as it may seem. We’ve recorded 1.07 in both a Z06 and a ZR1.) Also helpful are the new lightweight aluminum wheels paired with the new tires, which will be offered in satin black or machined finishes. More important, each wheel weighs about five pounds less than its counterpart on the current car.

Also new to the Z06 is Performance Traction Management, which, in a nutshell, is multiple, driver-selectable stability control programs and launch control. While we love tire smoke and yaw as much as anybody, the prospect of a more-controllable Z06 sounds good to us. Rounding out the changes for the 2012 Corvette are a newly available racing-style full-width rear spoiler for the Z06 and ZR1 as part of the Z07 and PDE packages, respectively. The Z06 also is available with a new carbon-fiber hood.

If you want to see these changes up close, your first opportunity will be a special event at the National Corvette Museum in Bowling Green, Kentucky, where production of the 2012 model commences this July. And if you’re us, you’re excited for another opportunity to belt in the test gear and head to the test track—this time, with better seats.

Thanks to: Car and Driver

Spied: 2013 Ford Fusion

More than five years after its introduction, the Ford Fusion remains one of the Blue Oval’s most popular models, but the end is in sight for the current car. Ford is hard at work on the next generation of its mid-size sedan, which will finally ditch its antiquated Mazda-based platform and ride on bones shared with its European counterpart, the Mondeo.

Captured here as a development mule wearing much of a current Mondeo body, the second-generation Fusion will arrive next year as a 2013 model. Like the new 2012 Focus and next-gen Escape, the Fusion will adopt Ford’s Kinetic global design language, which the Mondeo has worn since 2007. Just how much the 2013 model will evolve from the current Mondeo’s appearance remains to be seen, however, as heavy camouflage on this mule covers everything that isn’t a current-gen part, and even much of what is under the wrap looks to be largely current-production.

We are more confident discussing what Ford didn’t have to disguise: powertrains. Ford will likely offer the 2013 Fusion with at least one naturally aspirated four-cylinder engine making around 170 or so hp. A powerful V-6 like the one available in the current car isn’t likely, as a turbocharged EcoBoost four-cylinder should take over as the top mill. The turbo 2.0-liter will make 247 hp in the upcoming Focus ST, and would do quite well as the uplevel engine in the Fusion. The hybrid will definitely return, and we expect to see its combined fuel-economy rating squeak past the 40-mpg mark. (The current hybrid’s combined figure is 39 mpg.)

Our hope is that at least one of these engines will come with a traditional manual transmission (the European Mondeo certainly will offer the option), but six-speed automatics and dual-clutch trannies will do the shifting for the majority of American Fusions. More significant, perhaps, the Fusion will receive a fair amount of Euro-flavored chassis tuning to match its European styling. That bodes well for the Fusion: The more European Ford’s U.S.-market products feel, the more warmly they tend to be received—we just crowned the Focus champion of a hard-fought five-car comparison test. If the next Fusion is anything like its little brother, Ford won’t have any trouble maintaining the car’s sales momentum.

Thanks to: Car and Driver

Kamis, 28 April 2011

New Concept Car: Zagato TZ3 Stradale

Here's how to celebrate in style! Italian coachbuilding firm Zagato has unveilied a new addition to its TZ line up, the TZ3 Stradale, introduced as part of the firm's ongoing centenery celebrations in Alfa Romeo's honour.

While there's an Alfa badge on the bonnet, a trademark triangular front grille and swoopy styling normally associated with the Italian brand, the car is in fact American underneath. The stunning carbon-fibre bodywork hides the mechanicals from a Dodge Viper ACR - that means an 8.4-litre V10 engine with 600bhp, enough power to blast from 0-62mph in under four seconds.

It marks the fourth addition to Zagato's TZ range, which includes the TZ and TZ2 from the sixties as well as the TZ3 Corsa unveiilied last year at the Villa d'Este Concorso d'Eleganza on Lake Como, Italy.

That model was based on the Alfa 8C Competizione, but remained a one-off track-only special. The TZ3 Stradale on the other hand will be made in extremely limited numbers. Three have already been sold, for an undisclosed price, to American, Japanese and European collectors with another six still up for grabs. For more details click here.

Thanks to: Auto Express

Selasa, 26 April 2011

Hot News: Renault Plans Smaller Evoque

Renault’s Captur, the small crossover concept unveiled at the recent Geneva motor show, will be developed into two showroom models, say company insiders.

The mainstream version will be a small five-door similar in size to the Nissan Juke, with which it will share a Renault-Nissan Alliance platform. The other will be a three-door version, possibly with some unique design features; think of the three-door Range Rover Evoque, but on a smaller scale.

The coupé version could be the first of its kind in this class and will provide Renault with an unusual model of similarly stylish appeal to the Mini Cooper and Citroën’s DS3, against which Renault currently offers little competition.

The production version of the five-door Captur should appear well within two years, and the three-door probably shortly after.

Renault’s next concept will be a van inspired by the theme of ‘work’, the next stage in the cycle of life that design chief Laurens van den Acker has employed to rekindle Renault’s design flair.

The small, fully glazed van will hint at the next-gen Kangoo. It will appear first at the Frankfurt show this autumn.

Thanks to: Autocar

New Concept Car: LUXGEN Neora

Little-known Taiwanese manufacturer LUXGEN has unveiled a groundbreaking new plug-in saloon. With an impressive claimed range of 249 miles per charge – way over twice as far as a Nissan Leaf and Mitsubishi i-MiEV will travel – and with much more power than both of them combined, the Neora is an enticing proposition.

LUXGEN says that the Neora’s electric induction motor produces 241bhp, which is enough to whisk the 1600kg saloon to 62mph in 6.5 seconds and on to a top speed of 155mph, thanks to its aerodynamic outline. The company claims that the front wheel drive Neora’s 48kWh lithium ion batteries can be 80 percent recharged within one hour.

The interior is packed with technology including a heads up display, a LED screen for rear passengers and another nine inch screen on the dash for navigation functions and communication with other vehicles. The Neora’s centre console uses recycled wood, which is free from processing and dyeing.

LUXGEN has hinted that the concept will become a reality, but not whether it will make it to the UK. For more details click here.
Thanks to: Auto Express

New Car: 2011 Bentley Continental Supersport ISR

Bentley has released its most powerful car ever, the Continental Supersports Convertible ISR (Ice Speed Record). The car was built to celebrate the Supersports convertible breaking the world ice speed record in February with a speed of 205.48mph in the hands of four-time world rally champion Juha Kankkunen.

Limited to just 100 cars worldwide, the new ISR pumps out 631bhp and 800Nm from its six litre twin-turbo W12 engine, which helps it sprint to 62mph in 4.0 seconds and on to 100mph in 9.5 seconds. Four-wheel drive, 420mm carbon ceramic front discs and eight piston calipers provide grip and stopping muscle to match the power. A new exhaust provides a rortier exhaust note under acceleration.

Differentiating the ISR from the standard car is a dark grey ‘metallic look’ soft top and 20-inch dark tinted alloy wheels. The four seat interior is livened up with generous helpings of leather, diamond-quilted alcantara and red-weaved high-gloss carbon fibre, while red piping and stitching has been added to the seats, doors, steering wheel and gearshift panels. The car’s infotainment system includes a 30GB hard drive and eight-inch touchscreen which controls the car’s audio system, telephone, suspension settings and sat nav.

Bentley is also offering a Mulliner design package for more extroverted styling which includes bright red alloy wheels with a diamond turned metallic finish, red accented bonnet vents and a set of bold “Supersports ISR” graphics along the car’s flanks.

Despite the performance the ISR can run on petrol, E85 (bio-ethanol) or any combination of the two. This offers a potential reduction in CO2 emissions of up to 70% between fuel being mined and being burnt in the engine.

The ISR is available to order now at Bentley dealerships, priced at £189,300. For more details click here.
Thanks to: Auto Express

New Car: 2013 Opel/Vauxhall Astra GTC

Finally, it’s official... We revealed the best spy shots yet of Vauxhall’s new three-door Astra here – but only now has the company released approved pictures of the sleek, production-ready car.

The roadgoing version retains the dramatic styling of the model seen at last year’s Paris Motor Show, including the deep new front grille, blistered wheelarches and swept-back LED ‘eyebrow’ headlights.

At the back, the sloping roofline tapers neatly into the curved tail-lamps. And although details such as the 21-inch alloys and low rear bumper are axed, it will still be one of the best-looking hatches on the market, and take the fight to Renault’s Mégane Coupé.

Vauxhall is promising the GTC will be the finest-handling car in its class, and will seat five adults in comfort. Full details of the engine line-up and pricing won’t be revealed until UK sales begin on 7 June. Expect to see the same petrol and diesel units as in the five-door, with a 300bhp VXR model due early next year.

The production GTC will make its world debut at September’s Frankfurt Motor Show, ahead of first customer deliveries later in the autumn. For more details click here.
Thanks to: Auto Express

New Car: 2012 Opel/Vauxhall Corsa OPC/VXR

Infamous for cramming ever more power into ever smaller cars Vauxhall’s VXR hooligans have squeezed an extra 13bhp into the Corsa VXR Nurburgring Edition.

With a new total of 202bhp and 280Nm of torque from its 1.6 litre turbocharged engine the little Corsa will race from 0-60mph in 6.5 seconds and on to a credible 143mph. These increases result from tweaks to the turbocharger and engine management, a sports exhaust and the engine’s new-found appetite for 98 RON petrol.

Helping to harness the extra muscle the chassis and brakes have been beefed up and a mechanical multi-plate limited slip differential added to improve traction and reduce understeer. The VXR Nurburgring also sits on specially commissioned Bilstein springs and dampers that were tuned on the Nurburgring’s notorious Nordschleife north loop and lower the car by 15-20mm.

New 30 per cent lighter Brembo brakes add more stopping bite while the Corsa’s ABS, traction control and stability control have all been recalibrated. Helping the Nurburgring Edition to stand out from lesser Corsas are a stainless steel dual exhaust, forged high gloss grey alloy wheels and Nurburgring logos inside and out.

The Corsa VXR Nurburgring Edition goes on sale in late May at £22,295. For more details click here.
Thanks to: Auto Express

Spied: 2013 Cadilac SRX Plug-In Hybrid

Cadillac can’t seem to settle on a powertrain for its hot-selling SRX. The second-gen crossover was introduced in 2010 with Saab’s turbocharged 2.8-liter six as an option (it was sacked early this year; no big loss) and a 3.0-liter V-6 as the base engine (also gone for 2012). Both are being replaced by GM’s 3.6-liter V-6, which will be the only available motivator for now. A plug-in hybrid version—caught here by our covert photogs—should join the lineup soon enough. The 2013 model year also will bring a mild interior update with touch-sensitive controls.

These fresh spy shots show a pretty plain-looking SRX with one major exterior difference: a second fuel door stitched into the left rear quarter panel. (If it weren’t for the sloppy welds, we may not have noticed the extra orifice.) This Caddy’s range will be extended not by a second gas tank, but by a plug-in hybrid system charged through the port under that flap. And if you had any doubt that this is indeed a hybridized Cadillac, check the hybrid-badged Dell laptop sitting inside. Proof positive.

The system likely will be an evolution of the plug-in system almost offered on the Saturn Vue Green Line two-mode hybrid—the brand was killed before that ute could see the light of a showroom. As such, a V-6 (smaller than the 3.6 used in Saturn’s iteration) or even an efficient four-cylinder would suck the gas, while a lithium-ion battery would supply amps. The trap-door grilles offered in the eAssist Buick LaCrosse as well as the upcoming Chevy Malibu Eco may be applied here to aid aerodynamics.

Aside from the engineer’s computer cluttering up the cabin, this prototype show some other interior updates coming to all SRXs. Chief among them is a static center touch-screen display, which replaces the pop-up-toaster-style unit on the current car. Below that, you may notice a complete lack of controls. Instead, there’s some metal trim that resembles a Guy Fawkes mask, which we expect will become the touch-sensitive interface for multimedia, navigation, and climate-control adjustments. GM has already gone this route on the Volt, and it’s similar to Ford’s MyFord Touch and MyLincoln Touch systems, which use capacitive-touch sensors and sliders in place of buttons and knobs. Whereas the Volt gets its functions silkscreened onto the respective button-replacing areas, Cadillac appears to be going the backlit route, possibly so that functions can be changed depending on what’s being controlled.

The same style of controls also can be seen on the steering wheel, where the all-black areas will light up with their functions. The wheel sits below a revised gauge package; the hood over the pod has been reshaped, and the gauges themselves go more traditional, eschewing the current car’s center LCD. We expect most, if not all, of its info—plus hybrid-specific data—will instead be seen on the new, bigger center screen.

The updated interior should arrive at the same time as the plug-in model, and be a part of all SRX variants, regardless of powertrain. The touch-sensitive infotainment controls probably will spread throughout the Cadillac lineup. The CTS is a good candidate for a retrofit, and we already spotted the system in the upcoming XTS. As for the plug-in model, we’re hopeful Cadillac can get acceptably large rocker-panel decals to announce its hybridity—they’ve worked so well to move hybrid Escalades.

Thanks to: Car and Driver

Minggu, 24 April 2011

NY Show 2011 Highlights: Suzuki Kizashi Apex Concept

Suzuki’s Kizashi line consists of, well, just the Kizashi sedan. One engine, front- or all-wheel drive, stick or CVT. We don’t mind—a fact attested to by the praise littering the logbook in our long-term test car—but Suzuki needs more flavors of Kizashi if it wants to be a player in the mid-size sedan segment. At the 2011 New York auto show, the company is previewing two directions in which it could expand the Kizashi line: the hybrid EcoCharge concept and the rather more invigorating turbocharged Apex concept.

Behind the Kizashi Apex’s aggressive fascia and superbike-inspired graphics is a 2.4-liter four-cylinder boosted to between 275 and 300 hp by a Garrett turbocharger and an air-to-liquid intercooler. (That’s about 100 hp more than the production car’s max of 185.) The Apex is equipped with a six-speed manual transmission. Suzuki implies that if it puts this car into production—and we think it will—a manual will be the only choice. We definitely approve.

Other cool features found on the Kizashi Apex are LED fog lights, 19-inch wheels in a finish Suzuki calls “burnt asphalt,” and an interior finished in an intense combination of black leather and blue Alcantara.

Thanks to: Car and Driver

NY Show 2011 Highlights: Suzuki Kizashi EcoCharge Concept

Suzuki’s Kizashi line consists of, well, just the Kizashi sedan. One engine, front- or all-wheel drive, stick or CVT. We don’t mind—a fact attested to by the praise littering the logbook in our long-term test car—but Suzuki needs more flavors of Kizashi if it wants to be a player in the mid-size sedan segment. At the 2011 New York auto show, the company is previewing two directions in which it could expand the Kizashi line: the hybrid EcoCharge concept and the rather more invigorating turbocharged Apex concept.

At the other end of the spectrum is the kinder, gentler Kizashi EcoCharge hybrid concept. Combining a 2.0-liter inline-four producing 144 hp and 127 lb-ft of torque with a 20-hp electric motor and a six-speed automatic transmission, the pearl-white concept is said to achieve a 25-percent gain in highway fuel economy. That would take it from the 30 mpg of the current CVT Kizashi—with its 2.4-liter—to somewhere around 36 mpg. Since hybrids tend to offer greater benefits in the city than on the highway, its overall combined rating also could end up over 30 mpg.

As much as we dig the idea of a Kizashi with another 100 or so horsepower, variations with this sort of fringe appeal aren’t likely to get the Kizashi onto more shopping lists. Then again, they aren’t likely to knock it off anybody’s list, either. Bring 'em on.

Thanks to: Car and Driver

NY Show 2011 Highlights: 2012 Subaru Impreza

One of the more important debuts at this year’s New York auto show is the 2012 Subaru Impreza, shown in both sedan and five-door body styles. But the 2012 Impreza is more than just another transportation appliance; if you read Car and Driver with any regularity, you know that the Impreza is nothing but a WRX or an STI waiting to spread its turbocharged wings.

Subaru previewed the 2012 Impreza last fall at the Los Angeles auto show with the sinister-looking Impreza concept. Alas, the production version is predictably tamer, though it does have a more-protuberant chin, more-defined “hawk-eye” headlamps, and bulging fenders. Interesting details include a sharply raked windshield that starts nearly eight inches further forward on the hood than the glass on today’s model. Similarly, the beltline is considerably lower, and the windows are enlarged for improved visibility. Near-vertical body sides with squared-off bumper caps help reduce drag, à la Toyota Prius. Especially from the rear three-quarter angle, the 2012 Impreza is more than a little busy, but we’ll take busy over outright ugly any day.

While the 2012 Impreza looks bigger than the 2011 model, the only dimension that actually grew was its wheelbase, which increases from 103.2 inches to 104.1. Both hatchback and sedan models retain their 68.5-inch width and their overall lengths. Still, cargo space for the five-door manages to increase by 3.4 cubic feet with the rear seats up and by 5.3 with them folded. Best of all, the Impreza actually lost about 160 pounds, weight savings we hope will also apply to the forthcoming WRX and STI.

Subaru will offer the car in base, Premium, and Limited trim levels, but all Imprezas offer the same level of safety equipment, which now includes a knee airbag for the driver and the stability control that is government-mandated on all vehicles for 2013. What the Impreza seems to lack, however, is stirring interior design. Even in cushy Limited form, the interior wow factor is about nil.

Thanks to: Car and Driver

NY Show 2011 Highlights: Scion FR-S Concept

Whether you call it the Subelica or the Celibaru, Toyota’s version of the new rear-drive 2+2 sports coupe being co-developed with Subaru and codenamed the FT-86 will land in the U.S. as a Scion.

Blazing red, with a gaping maw and atomic-insect headlights, the two-door Scion FR-S (which means Front-engine, Rear-wheel-drive, Sport—woo, clever!) may represent a sort of defibrillator to the chest of Toyota’s youth division, where sales remain lackluster since the 2007 redesign of the xB and 2008 introduction of the xD. The tC was re-skinned this year, but looks starkly similar to the outgoing car. Also coming to Scion showrooms in July is a three-door mini-car called the iQ.

Just a clay model with no interior right now, the FR-S is currently slated to arrive in Scion showrooms in mid-2011, although the recent earthquake and tsunami in Japan have thrown Toyota's product timing into chaos. As Scion is strictly a North American brand, a Toyota-badged version will launch simultaneously in Europe and Asia. Expect that car and the production Subaru version to show up at this fall's Tokyo show.

With a length of 168.2 inches and a wheelbase of 101.2 inches, the FR-S is one to two inches shorter in both measurements than the last-generation Celica. Its 2.0-liter naturally aspirated flat-four engine—sourced from Subaru—uses Toyota’s D4-S fuel-injection system, which features both port- and direct injection and switches between them to optimize efficiency.

Horsepower figures were not quoted, but with direct injection in the mix to help boost specific output, the engine should be good for at least 200 hp. Toyota says the mounting of the flat-four low and behind the front axle will keep the center of gravity down and centered for better handling. It also helps front-to-rear weight distribution.

Buyers will have a choice of a six-speed manual or six-speed automatic with steering-wheel-mounted paddle shifters. A limited-slip differential will be standard. It’s hard to say how much of the FR-S is real (the roof, doors, hood, and trunk are probably production-spec) and how much is auto-show glam. The staggered-width wheels by Five Axis—20 x 8.5-inchers in front and 20 x 10.5 in rear—are certainly show-stand parts that won’t make it to production. The exaggerated rear undertray with dual exhaust “exits”—read: one exhaust, two tailpipes—also may be extra makeup for the show.

The arrival of the FT-86 as a Scion surprised some (especially if they had been under a rock for the last week), but division vice president and general manager Jack Hollis says the car was slated to be a Scion early in its development. It definitely represents a commitment by Toyota to the floundering brand.

The production FR-S will have narrow fenders, but likely will be similar in overall styling to this concept. According to Hollis, the car has undergone a styling makeover since Toyota president Akio Toyoda declared last year that the company's styling is too staid, and that it should be more passionate. An FT-86 concept shown at the 2009 Tokyo auto show had more slab-like sides and a less-aggressive face. Also, the FR-S's rear end draws strongly from the Lexus LF-A supercar, a characteristic not on the original FT-86 show car.

Thanks to: Car and Driver

Sabtu, 23 April 2011

NY Show 2011 Highlights: 2012 Porsche Panamera S Hybrid

Volkswagen's corporate parts bin is a great resource, and it's something from which all of its brands get to pluck. This includes Porsche, which took the easy route of adding a gas-electric version to the Panamera lineup by performing a little hybrid-system transplant surgery. The result, the 2012 Panamera S hybrid, makes its debut at the 2011 Geneva show.

The combination of a supercharged, direct-injected 3.0-liter V-6 and an electric motor is not only used in the Cayenne, but also in the Volkswagen Touareg hybrid; the 333-hp gasoline engine is an Audi unit that, in different states of tune, can also be found sans hybrid tech in the S4, S5 convertible, A6, and Q7. With the assistance of a 47-hp electric motor, total power reaches 380 hp, channeled here only to the rear wheels through an eight-speed automatic transmission. All other Panameras sold in the U.S. come with a ZF-supplied seven-speed PDK dual-clutch transmission, while Europeans also can choose a six-speed manual.

Porsche believes the Panamera hybrid's performance is good enough to justify adding the "S" badge. In reality, however, its performance may be closer to that of the standard, V-6–powered Panamera. With the hybrid, Porsche claims a 0-to-60-mph time of 5.7 seconds; top speed is 168 mph. The last 300-hp base Panamera we tested, equipped with the PDK and aided by all-wheel drive, hit 60 mph in 5.0 seconds and went on to a top speed of 160 mph. The corresponding data for the 400-hp, V-8–powered Panamera S: 4.7 seconds and 174 mph. That said, Porsche tends to conservatively estimate performance, but the lack of the fast-acting PDK transmission and all-wheel drive likely will hamper the hybrid’s launch.

Despite all of the power, the hybrid should shine in terms of fuel consumption, at least in the city. The regular Panamera S is rated for 16 mpg city/24 highway, and we (conservatively) estimate that the hybrid will return 21 mpg in the city and 25 highway. We'll have to wait for the EPA to rate the car for official figures.

What's a hybrid without the option to drive in full-electric mode? Maybe not as satisfying, as buyers of the Mercedes-Benz S400 hybrid are experiencing (or, rather, not experiencing). But the Panamera won't disappoint: Drivers can accelerate up to 50 mph on electricity alone, although the range in this mode is just 1.3 miles. Additionally, when the driver lifts off the accelerator at higher speeds, the gas engine will shut off and then be declutched from the drivetrain. Porsche calls this "sailing"; we'd call it coasting, and with the function active up to 103 mph, the cops will sometimes call it speeding.

Thanks to: Car and Driver

NY Show 2011 Highlights: 2012 Porsche Panamera Turbo S

This new Turbo S model is the fastest, most powerful variant of the Porsche Panamera yet.

The twin-turbo 4.8-litre V8 super-saloon has had a power hike over the Turbo model on which it is based, from 493bhp to 542bhp, taking it beyond its Mercedes S63 AMG (518bhp) and BMW 760Li (537bhp) rivals. The Turbo S’s top speed is 191mph, 3mph higher than the standard Turbo, while its 3.8sec 0-62mph time makes it quicker than a 911 GT3 RS (4.0sec).

Porsche engineers have fitted titanium-aluminium turbine wheels to the turbochargers and revised the engine control management of the Turbo S to boost power and performance. Torque is also up in the S over the standard Turbo, from 510lb ft to 553lb ft when driven in Sport and Sport Plus modes, and up to 590lb ft is available with an overboost function.

These increases have been made without sacrificing economy, which stays at 24.6mpg combined, due to the lighter weight and lower inertia of the turbine and compressor wheel in the turbochargers.

Several dynamic systems are offered as standard on the Turbo S. Porsche Dynamic Chassis Control boosts cornering stability, while Porsche Torque Vectoring Plus works with an electronically controlled limited-slip differential to apply a variable torque split to the rear wheels for greater traction and agility. A Sport Chrono Package Turbo revises suspension and engine controls for a more “sporting” drive in Sport Plus mode.

Styling changes include new 20-inch Turbo II wheels, a sports exhaust and a two-tone leather interior. The Turbo S goes in sale in June, priced from £122,623, a near £20k hike over the standard Turbo.

Thanks to: Autocar

NY Show 2011 Highlights: 2012 Nissan Versa

Nissan’s biggest news at the New York auto show is small in scale, but important in terms of a market segment that’s likely to expand in direct proportion to escalating fuel prices. Meet the 2012 Versa sedan, the second generation of Nissan’s four-door subcompact. While it will again have a five-door hatchback sibling, Nissan is spreading the auto-show love and brought only the sedan to New York. Riding on a new architecture with new sheetmetal and a revised engine, the 2012 Versa is about as new as new gets in the car biz.

Describing the new Versa’s shape as forgettable might sound like a backhanded compliment, but let us explain. The front-end styling of the original Versa drew catcalls and Bronx cheers from just about everyone everywhere it went. So the good news with the redesign is that the first gen’s jack-o-lantern visage is gone, replaced by a much more conventional design similar to other contemporary Nissans. It suffers from a certain degree of inconspicuousness, but, on the other hand, it can’t be called ugly—and it manages to look like a bigger car.

That’s a tribute to the design, because at 175.4 inches overall, the 2012 car is actually 0.6 inch shorter than its predecessor. The illusion is probably rooted in the proportions. Nissan has reduced the front overhang, added 2.7 inches to the rear overhang (which pays off in trunk space), and reduced the Versa’s height by 1.2 inches, bringing it down to 59.6. Inside, Nissan claims the new sedan’s rear seat provides more legroom than a BMW 5-series’, a Lexus LS460’s, or a Mercedes E-class’s. Nissan lists total interior volume at 90 cubic feet. And speaking of volumes, the new car’s trunk expands to 14.8 cubic feet, versus 13.8 for the current sedan.

That’s all thanks to the Versa’s new foundations. Although its wheelbase, width, and track are unchanged, Nissan insists that the architecture is new—specifically, that it is a new global platform, V (replacing B). The V platform is simpler than the structure it replaces, using 20 percent fewer components, with a corresponding reduction in curb weight of 150 pounds, a laudable achievement in an age of steadily escalating mass (in response to steadily escalating safety mandates from NHTSA).

Thanks to: Car and Driver

NY Show 2011 Highlights: 2012 Mercedes C63 AMG Coupe

Mercedes is aiming to outgun BMW’s M3 coupé and the Audi RS5 with this hardcore AMG version of its recently launched two-door C-class.

The C63 AMG coupé produces up to 480bhp from its normally aspirated V8 motor, putting it well clear of its two German rivals and giving the model raw acceleration that wouldn’t disgrace a mid-engined supercar.

Unlike the recent CLS AMG, the C-class coupé from Mercedes’ in-house tuning division sticks with the familiar 6.2-litre, normally aspirated V8 engine. In the latest spec, the unit produces 451bhp and 443lb ft, more power and considerably more torque than the BMW (295lb ft) or the Audi (317lb ft). That’s enough to take the C-class from 0-62mph in 4.5sec, with a limited top speed of 155mph.

However, Mercedes will also offer an AMG Performance Package for the car, swapping the front brakes for composite items, adding interior flourishes and adopting the pistons, connecting rods and crankshaft from the version of the engine used in the gullwing SLS AMG supercar. The tweaks increase power to 480bhp (torque stays the same), cutting a further 0.1sec from the 0-62mph time.

Just one transmission is available: AMG’s seven-speed Speedshift automatic. It offers a number of modes, accessed via a rotary controller (another SLS AMG carryover), that cut shift times to as little as 100ms. There’s also launch control.

The C63 AMG coupé gets a different chassis set-up from the regular two-doors, with three-link front suspension, multi-link rear suspension and wider track at both ends. There’s also more negative camber, thicker anti-roll bars and revised spring and damper rates.

The visual cues include an AMG front splitter, LED daytime running lights, side air vents, five-spoke AMG alloy wheels, bespoke side sill panels, a rear diffuser and twin chrome exhaust tips.

Interior features include an AMG performance steering wheel (coated in Alcantara if you specify the Performance Package), metallic trim, AMG sports seats, covered with a new breathable man-made fibre called Dinamica, and piano black finish on the instrument panel.

The C63 AMG coupé will be officially launched in July, around a month after the regular two-doors. Final prices have yet to be specified, but expect them to be around the same figure as the M3 coupé’s £57,190 sticker.

Thanks to: Autocar

NY Show 2011 Highlights: Mercedes A-Class Concept

With automakers from St. Petersburg to Seoul presenting show cars heralded as the future of wheeled urban logistics, the Mercedes-Benz A-class concept taking the stand at this year’s New York auto show is a breath of fresh air. (It also will be simultaneously unveiled at the Shanghai auto show.) There are no electric motors spinning the rubber here—a conventional engine and transmission motivate the curvaceous car. It previews Benz’s upcoming competitor for the Audi A3, Volkswagen Golf, and BMW 1-series.

Benz’s first preview of its next-gen small cars came via the F800 Style concept, and this A-class concept moves the design language one step closer to reality. Still, despite this car’s connection to an actual future product, don’t expect everything from the concept on the stand in New York to be duplicated in production.

Among the A-class’s pure auto-show fantasies: the LED-lit turn signals delicately integrated into the sliver of a mount for the side-view mirrors and the “star-filled sky” pattern on the grill and lower air dam. The same can be said for the wheels—very cool, but very much not happening.

Other aspects of the concept’s design are no less bold—but more realistic. The prominent strake starting behind the front wheel and sweeping up to the top of the rear fender is abrupt; it could be toned down for the real deal, and the same goes for the AMG-esque hood strakes. The elegant side-window profile recalls those on several Mercedes coupes, and the ginormous headlights, which here are illuminated by LEDs and integrate fiber-optic daytime running lights, are straight outta the CLS.

Both the current, second-gen A-class and its predecessor were front-wheel drive, and the next A will be no different. The concept packs a transversely mounted 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine under the hood—it’s turbocharged and direct-injected, and Mercedes says it’s good for 210 hp. The engine is from the automaker’s newest family of four-bangers. It’s hooked to a new dual-clutch transmission, and though the company is mum on its number of gears or provenance, we’d guess that it has at least seven cogs.

Unlike previous A-classes, however, this model and its spin-offs—more on those below—will sit much closer to the ground. The first two A-class generations had a “sandwich” floor meant to accommodate the batteries for an electric-drive system. It never happened in much volume—some 500 A-class E-cells were leased—but the layout meant that even the conventionally powered cars looked like mini MPVs. As the new A-class concept demonstrates, the dorky upright look will be reserved for the B-class, while the A is more reminiscent of Volkswagen’s racy Euro-market Scirocco.

Thanks to: Car and Driver

NY Show 2011 Highlights: Lexus LF-Gh Concept

The Lexus GS sedan can be considered the Jan Brady of luxury sedans. Capable, but generally unremarkable and hardly a segment-smasher. Evidently, Lexus’s middle child is ready to shake things up, and will strut its stuff as the LF-Gh hybrid concept on the show stand at the 2011 New York auto show.

Lexus claims to have started with a clean sheet of paper, but from the side it looks a lot like a scaled-up version of the IS sedan, while the body-side contouring appears virtually identical to that of the big LS. The LF-Gh measures 192.5 inches long by 73.6 inches wide, making it about 2.5 inches longer and almost two inches wider than today’s GS450h. However derivative of its production siblings the car may be, it should be noted that the LF-Gh’s more-conventional sedan shape represents a shift from the fast profile of GS generation three. But don’t rule out the introduction of a sexy five-door fastback to the GS lineup, to counter the likes of the Audi A7; it’s possible that the Japanese company could jump on that German-led bandwagon.

Among the immediately noticeable stylistic elements are LED headlamps rendered in funky bubbled glass; an attractive rear end with razor-sharp taillamps that wrap around the side; and of course, the massive, pinched “spindle-shaped” grille, which shows there’s a pulse at the Lexus design studio—it’s bound to stir up some controversy. Also worth noting are the separate L-shaped banks of LED running lamps up front and the sharp sheetmetal-to-bumper cutline at the rear. Lexus says that the LF-Gh concept “explores a minimization of traditional features such as side mirrors and door handles,” the result of which looks pretty cool here but definitely won’t make production.

The company was short on details regarding the interior other than to mention it will be driver-oriented—a sharp departure from the current GS—and will feature a clock with a three-dimensional face. (So, uh, a regular clock?) Lexus also declined to say much about what’s under the skin of the concept, other than to mention the 20-inch wheels are turned by one of its hybrid powertrains; presumably, this means a V-6/electric combo that will beat the current GS450h’s 292 hp, 267 lb-ft of torque, and EPA city/highway ratings of 22/25 mpg. Production models will certainly also have six- and possibly eight-cylinder gas-only options.

Oh, and get used to that grille—it previews the faces of Lexuses to come.

Thanks to: Car and Driver

NY Show 2011 Highlights: 2012 Kia Soul

Kia’s well-designed, well-equipped, and rather fun Soul has made a lot of friends around here. Now, two years after the boxy hatch’s launch, Kia is showing off a mid-cycle refresh for the 2012 model. Previewed at the 2011 New York auto show, the update includes more content, more power, and a few surprising touches.

First, the fun part: Thanks to direct injection, the base 1.6-liter four-cylinder now puts out 135 hp and 121 lb-ft of torque (up from 122 hp and 115 lb-ft for 2011’s 1.6). Fuel economy also increases, jumping from 26 mpg city/31 highway to 28/34. A six-speed manual replaces last year’s five-cogger as the standard transmission. The available 2.0-liter four also gets a boost, landing at 160 hp and 143 lb-ft of torque (versus 142 hp and 137 lb-ft), with fuel economy rising three ticks on either side of the equation, to 27/33. That consumption applies to both the six-speed manual and the newly available six-speed automatic. It will take more power than that, of course, to make the Soul truly fast, but a bump in output accompanied by an increase in fuel economy is a good start.

Exterior styling updates include new LED taillight clusters for higher-spec trims, along with ritzy LED projector headlights. All Souls get a redesigned hood and new front and rear bumpers, as well as body-color door handles and mirror housings.

The cabin is promised to be quieter, thanks to a thicker insulation panel in the dash, although the driver can offset that by exploring the upper volume ranges of the Infinity audio system now available on fancier trims. Top-spec Souls also offer the option of either navigation or Kia’s UVO voice-controlled infotainment system, although, oddly enough, the two options cannot be ordered in tandem. Other surprisingly upscale options include heated leather seats, automatic climate control, and a push-button starter. If that doesn’t seem particularly unexpected to you, consider that pricing isn’t likely to climb much from the $14K–$20K range of the current model. See now why we like the Soul?

Thanks to: Car and Driver

NY Show 2011 Highlights: 2012 Kia Rio Sedan

Kia's subcompact, the Rio, has always been misleadingly named. A more appropriate—but admittedly less alluring—moniker would have been the Kia Des Moines: a fine enough place to spend a few hours, so long as you can get out after that. With the 2012 Rio, unveiled at the New York auto show, the name is . . . well, it’s still misleading, but there are myriad substantial improvements.

When the outgoing Rio launched, a Kia exec was proud to report that the car would still offer U.S. customers the option of hand-cranked windows. Doing so cost the company more money than if the car had only been available with power windows, but the move was meant to convey the Rio's value. We're happy to say that, while new Rios still will be available with crank windows, the company has higher-tech ways of making the Rio easy on owners' wallets.

First, out comes the old 1.6-liter four-cylinder boat anchor, which made 110 hp, and in goes a new 1.6-liter that uses direct injection to crank out 138 hp. Of more interest to the frugally minded, Kia is estimating that the engine will be good for 30 mpg city and 40 highway when the EPA gets around to officially rating the new car. That means that, in addition to meeting the magic 40-mpg rating (Kia's ad agency will no doubt be thrilled), the Rio will join its sibling, the equally new Hyundai Accent, and the upcoming Chevy Sonic at the top of the horsepower ratings for the class. In comparison, our long-term Mazda 2 is rolling along with 100 ponies under the hood. While the Rio probably won't be as slender as the 2291-pound Mazda, Kia does tell us that the engine in its new subcompact is 29 pounds lighter than was its counterpart in the previous car.

The new Rio will be offered as a sedan or a five-door hatchback (known as Rio5), and in three trim levels: LX, EX, and SX. Both body styles will be offered with the choice of manual or automatic gearboxes packing six forward ratios. Even more underhood tech is available should buyers opt for the Rio's Eco package, which adds an engine stop/start system—we imagine this will be a necessary option to score that 30-mpg city rating.

Thanks to: Car and Driver

Shanghai Show 2011 Highlights: 2011 Jaguar XJ V6

Jaguar has introduced a new version of its luxury XJ saloon for the Chinese market, equipped with a lower-powered 3.0-litre V6 engine.

The 237bhp unit is mated to a six-speed auto’ ’box, which helps propel the Jaguar XJ from 0-62mph in 8.5sec and on to a top speed of 145mph.

Jaguar Land Rover China’s sales chief, Bruce Robertson, said the current Jaguar range "isn't right for China", as the market demands big cars with small engines.

The long-wheelbase model launched today counters that and, despite its smaller engine, comes fully loaded with equipment in a market with few owner-drivers.

It will be priced from around £95,000 in China and should help Jaguar hit its sales target of 5500 units in the country this year.

Thanks to: Autocar

Shanghai Show 2011 Highlights: 2012 Rolls-Royce Ghost EWB

Rolls-Royce chose Shanghai to introduce the first of a number of models to be spun off the platform of its new smaller saloon: the Ghost Extended Wheelbase.

Like Goodwood’s stretched Phantom, the Ghost ‘EWB’ is simply a longer and more spacious version of the standard four-door. The car has 170mm of extra space between the axles, but that extra length has been cleverly balanced visually, with only 35mm of extra length going into the rear doors.

Minimum kneeroom in the back of the car – the distance between the back of the front seat in its rearmost position and the front of the rear seat’s squab – has risen from 160- to 330mm.

The Ghost EWB also gets a panoramic sunroof as standard that, according to Rolls-Royce, allows more light into the rear of the cabin, enhancing the sensation of space. Styling distinctions outside include a new forged alloy wheel design.

The Ghost EWB is expected to be Rolls’ most popular model in China, and is the first of the firm’s models ever to be unveiled to the world on the Asian continent.

Explaining why anyone who wanted a larger Rolls wouldn’t just buy a Phantom, Rolls CEO Torsten Muller-Otvos told Autocar: “for some of our customers, a Phantom is just too much: too big, too ostentatious, too formal, too expensive. The Ghost EWB is a car that’s more usable every day; the sort of car that you can be chauffeured in during the week, and still enjoy as a driver’s car at weekends. And that’s an increasingly popular usage pattern in developing Asian markets."

The Ghost EWB will go into production at Goodwood later this year. UK prices have yet to be set, but in China, where taxes on expensive imported cars are prohibitive, the car will cost 5.118mil RMB – roughly 20 per cent more than a regular Ghost.

Muller-Otvos wouldn’t comment on when the ‘EWB’ will be followed by Coupe and Drophead versions of the Ghost, but did tell Autocar that customers are already already expressing interest in those particular versions.

Thanks to: Autocar

Shanghai Show 2011 Highlights: 2012 Citroen DS5

Citroën is using this week’s Shanghai show to launch the latest model in its ‘premium’ DS line-up: the family saloon-sized DS5.

The five-door hatchback is 4.52m long and 1.85m wide - so considerably shorter and slightly narrower than a Ford Mondeo. But Citroën still claims it can accommodate five adults.

Where the DS4 stayed surprisingly close to the C4, the DS5 looks considerably more daring than the C5, with a raised driving position and a coupé-esque roofline.

It features now-established DS cues at the front, including extensive use of chrome and LED lighting strips, but adds new flourishes such as the panel surfacing which ‘flows’ around the side indicator lenses.

The rear gets a pair of exhaust pipes integrated into the bumper, plus tail-lights that wrap around and extend along the side panels.

The DS5 is the first Citroën to offer the firm’s Hybrid4 diesel hybrid tech, which offers 200bhp through the combination of a 163bhp 2.0-litre turbodiesel motor and a 37bhp electric motor on the back axle.

Citroën says the system can operate on electric power alone during low-speed city driving - and that it gives the DS5 CO2 emLinkissions of 99g/km.

The cabin features extensive use of leather trim, plus a number of new design cues. In particular, there’s a driver-focused ‘cockpit’ feel to the front area, with skeletal switchgear in the centre console, a head-up display and more switchgear mounted in an aircraft-style roof console.

The interior also gets red and white ambient lighting. The DS5 show car is appearing in China in production form, albeit with a bespoke paint job and specially designed 20in alloy wheels.

The final production models will be offered with alloys in sizes ranging from 16in to 19in. The DS5 is still a year away from UK sales; it should arrive in spring 2012. Expect it to carry a premium over top-end C5s, with prices starting from between £25k and £30k.

Thanks to: Autocar

Shanghai Show 2011 Highlights: 2012 Kia K2

Kia has unveiled its new Rio-based model - the Kia K2 saloon – at the Shanghai motor show.

Specifically designed for China, the K2 shares the same underpinnings as the Kia Rio and takes its styling cues from the K5 saloon, with the signature “tiger nose” radiator grille.

On the inside, the K2 gets a futuristic interior and features a leather steering wheel, start-stop system and “smart key.”

Powering the K2 is either a 1.4-litre or 1.6-litre petrol engine and six trim levels will be offered with the car.

At 4370mm in length, 1700mm wide and 1460mm high, the K2 is bigger than the previous-gen Rio.

The new model will be positioned as a premium small car and is expected to be a "highly competitive offering in a segment that accounts for 16 per cent of all new car sales in China."

From August, the company will begin production of five-door hatchback version of the K2.

Thanks to: Autocar

Jumat, 22 April 2011

NY Show 2011 Highlights: 2012 Jeep Grand Cherokee SRT8

It was at the New York auto show six years ago that Jeep introduced the first Grand Cherokee SRT8. When it debuted, any context for the truck was nearly nonexistent—although a bizarrely appropriate challenger appeared at that same show in the form of the Chevrolet TrailBlazer SS. Now, though, with 500-hp SUVs becoming more commonplace, things have changed. As soon as the 2011 Jeep Grand Cherokee was announced, the question on everybody’s lips was, “Will there be another SRT8?”

Regardless of competitive set, the vehicle still makes almost no sense, but we’re pleased to say that, yes, there will be another SRT8. All the necessary bits—lowered suspension, huge wheels, monochrome exterior, honking Hemi V-8—are in place. Sadly, though, the wonderfully single-minded center-mount exhaust of the first-gen Jeep SRT8 is no more, the tailpipes on the 2012 model being splayed to the edges of the rear end. (The previous exhaust setup was hugely impractical—Jeep had to engineer a custom hitch for people who wanted to tow with their SRT8s, and the truck’s capacity was still only 3500 pounds.)

Don’t let the conventional exhaust get you down, though. The new SRT8’s Hemi has a little more displacement—365 more cubic centimeters, for a total of 6424—and a bit more blat than its predecessor: 465 hp and 465 lb-ft of torque, improvements of 45 in each category. Tied to that engine is the same five-speed automatic that served in the last SRT8, except this time around it gets paddle shifters mounted to the back of the steering wheel. Hopefully, it again is programmed for neck-snapping, nigh-self-destructive shifts. We ran a last-gen truck to 60 mph in just 4.4 seconds and through the quarter in 13.2; the extra power in this one should offset the weight gain—the new truck carries an extra 350 pounds or so—and keep acceleration times about the same.

Thanks to: Car and Driver

NY Show 2011 Highlights: 2011 Jeep Wrangler Mojave

Nearly every automaker churns out special editions, but few have been doing it for as long as Jeep, a brand that’s been dressing up its iconic off-roaders since the Tuxedo Park CJ-5s of the early 1960s. (Among the more famous special Jeeps is the Golden Eagle of the late ’70s—if you don’t remember that one, we’ll bet the words “Daisy” and “Duke” will jog your memory.) Available for both two- and four-door Wranglers, the Mojave is the latest such Jeep. Strangely, it was introduced in New York, a city both more than 2500 miles away from the namesake desert and trail and utterly lacking in suitable off-road obstacles, unless you count hobos and stockbrokers, which we do.

Starting with a Wrangler Sport, the exterior Mojavification involves slapping on Jeep’s handsome body-colored hardtop and fender flares in tan, white, or black—the only paints available. Jeep then adds the side steps from the Sahara model, as well as lizard decals on the hood and rearmost pillar. The Mojave dips into the pockets of another Wrangler trim, the Rubicon, for its 32-inch off-road rubber and gray 17-inch wheels. Power comes from the familiar and wheezy 202-hp, 3.8-liter V-6, and both the four-speed automatic and six-speed manual transmissions are available. (Sorry, no Pentastar or six-speed slushbox until next year, Wrangler fans.)

Inside, the Mojave gets dark saddle leather, embroidered lizards on the front seats, and tread-patterned rubber floor mats. The press release also says there is driftwood trimming the vents, dash-mounted grab handle, steering wheel spokes, and inner door handles, but it's not old dead trees—it's just a different silver color.

The Mojave will arrive in showrooms this June with a $29,945 starting price, hobos not included.

Thanks to: Car and Driver

NY Show 2011 Highlights: 2012 Jaguar XK

Jaguar has given the XK range a makeover after six years on sale and will cap the new line-up with what is probably the company’s fastest production car yet.

The XKR-S is powered by a 543bhp supercharged 5.0-litre V8 and can sweep to 100mph in just 8.7sec, says Jaguar. It features extensive changes to the chassis as well as to the exterior styling. Although the top speed is electronically limited to 186mph, the XKR-S’s unrestricted maximum is thought to be close to 200mph.

The XKR-S heads a revamped 2012 model year XK range that benefits from a redesigned nose with a new bumper and grille and new, smaller headlamps, with LED running lights. The front wings have been changed and now feature horizontal vents, something avoided until now because it was a styling signature associated with Aston Martin.

There will be a choice of 17 exterior colours, six new interior colourways and three new veneers. The XK interior gets a new steering wheel and switchgear, a rotary gear selector, upgraded instrument cluster and blue LED interior ambient lighting.

The flagship XKR-S is marked out by a much more aggressive exterior treatment, with a new front bumper and carbonfibre splitter, new sills, a prominent rear spoiler and a carbonfibre lower rear valance. Inside, it gets 16-way adjustable performance seats and leather embossed with a carbonfibre weave pattern.

The XKR-S uses an updated version of Jaguar’s familiar V8, with eight per cent more power than the XKR and nine per cent more torque. This means that it has five per cent more torque than the Porsche 911 Turbo and 10 per cent more power. It also gets a revised exhaust, to reduce back pressure and provide a more appealing engine note.

Jaguar has designed a new, more rigid aluminium upright for the XKR-S’s front suspension, and that is expected to reduce understeer and to deliver improved steering feel.

Bilstein continuously variable dampers (controlled by Jaguar’s own software) can monitor wheel position up to 500 times a second and aim to control body movements, including body roll and fore and aft pitch.

Thanks to: Autocar

NY Show 2011 Highlights: 2012 Ford Shelby Mustang GT500 Super Snake

The Super Snake name dates back to 1966 when two twin-supercharged, 800-horsepower Cobras were built for Carroll Shelby and his pal Bill Cosby. Cosby later immortalized the car in his “200 M.P.H.” stand-up routine, suggesting that the car was so deadly it should immediately be delivered to segragationist Alabama governor George Wallace.

Wallace died of septic shock thirteen years ago, but the Super Snake name lives on, having been applied to West-Texas-chili-grade Mustangs since 2008. The 2012 rendition brings the horsepower figure back up to the storied 800, using fewer cubic inches and only one supercharger. And now we know it’s scheduled to debut at the New York auto show this month.

Last year’s model started at 630hp, with 725 on offer for an extra four large. This year, 750’s the standard power figure, with the 800-hp motor commanding a premium. Shelby claims the full-boogie, melt-banana version will come in somewhere under $100k. How much under, we’re not quite clear, but given that last year’s Super Snake package started at just under 30k on top of the price of a $49,495-and-up GT500, we imagine the dollar figure will be somewhat in the same ballpark.

Thanks to: Car and Driver

Shanghai Show 2011 Highlights: BMW 5-Series Plug-In Hybrid Concept

BMW has launched a new plug-in hybrid version of the 5-series at the Shanghai motor show.

BMW chief Norbert Reithofer dubbed the long-wheelbase car ‘New Energy Vehicle’. “This model will be our e-car from China for China,” he said, adding that the car would be built in China. “This car will benefit from the strength and excellent reputation of the BMW brand.”

Reithofer also confirmed the launch of the new BMW 1-series in 2011, plus the much-delayed Mini Coupé.

BMW will also be fitting its twin-turbo technology to its forthcoming three-cylinder engines, Reithofer confirmed.

“We are gradually utilising the BMW TwinPower Turbo technology in all petrol and diesel engines within our new BMW EfficientDynamics motor range,” he said. “This innovative engine technology package is based on a modular strategy. This holds true for future four- and six-cylinder engines, as well as for our anticipated three-cylinder drive.

“This modular system will generate significant economies of scale. It will also facilitate the standardisation of interfaces and processes.”

Thanks to: Autocar

Shanghai Show 2011 Highlights: Kia Naimo Concept

Kia has shown this electric Naimo concept at the Shanghai motor show.

First seen in Seoul last month, the 'crossover utility vehicle' (CUV) is powered by twin 27kWh lithium-ion batteries located under the boot floor, which drive a 108bhp electric motor with 207lb ft of torque.

According to Kia, it will have a full-charge range of 124 miles and top speed of 93mph. An 80 per cent quick-charge (50KW) takes just 25 minutes, with full charge reached with a more realistic 3.3KW charge in five and a half hours.

Design features of the 3.9 metre Naimo concept include wrap-around windscreen, asymmetric sunroof, low-drag 20-inch alloy wheels and three-way split opening boot-lid for ‘versatile access.’

Further concept elements include its front and rear dot-style LED lights, high-intensity air jet, which replaces conventional windscreen wipers and small, camera-integrated door mirrors.

Much like the Hyundai's Curb concept from the Detroit motor show, the Naimo features rear-hinged, rear doors and short overhangs to maximise space in the four-seater city car.

On the inside, Korean oak is used for the entire floor and door panels, and Korean paper is used for the concept’s headlining. In contrast, modern interior features include a transparent LED display instrument panel and full connectivity.

Kia design boss Peter Schreyer said: “Naimo is a perfect balance of innovation, high-tech and Korean tradition, but combines this with cutting-edge technologies to deliver a truly premium experience.”

Thanks to: Autocar

Shanghai Show 2011 Highlights: 2013 Chevrolet Malibu

Chevrolet's new Malibu makes its debut at this week’s New York and Shanghai shows and will reach Europe — but not necessarily the UK — in 2012.

Chevrolet’s owner, General Motors, calls the Malibu its “first global mid-size car”. It’s a 4859mm-long saloon, broadly the same size as the Vauxhall Insignia, with which it shares its platform. Chevrolet claims the car has “European-influenced ride and handling” and plans to offer it across six continents, in left and right-hand drive.

The car’s wheelbase is shortened slightly for the latest incarnation, but the track is wider and Chevrolet claims that it has over 110 litres more cabin space. The firm also says it takes styling cues from the Camaro and Corvette.

The Malibu will offer a range of 10 powerplants across all its markets. The biggest seller could well be the combination of the new 2.5-litre, four-cylinder petrol motor, which produces 189bhp and 180lb ft, and a six-speed automatic transmission.

Interior features include a touchscreen display that moves up and down to reveal a storage compartment behind it, soft-touch materials on the dashboard, blue ambient lighting and Chevrolet’s MyLink infotainment and internet radio systems. Safety features includes 10 airbags, a lane departure warning system and a rear-view camera.

A Chevrolet UK spokesman said that the firm plans to “gauge public reaction” to the car’s launch — but admitted that the lack of a diesel engine in the initial line-up would be “a problem” for British dealers.

GM has already confirmed that plans are in place for a diesel model, though. This would probably use the 2.2-litre motor that already features in the Captiva, producing 180bhp.

Thanks to: Autocar

Shanghai Show 2011 Highlights: Subaru XV Concept

Subaru is using Shanghai to preview an Impreza crossover with this concept, called XV.

The four-wheel-drive show car is a little longer than the regular Impreza but around 20cm higher.

Its wheelbase is only slightly longer than an Impreza’s, though, indicating that it’s likely to share a basic platform.

Subaru describes the car as "a new generation of crossover vehicle, blending exceptional SUV practicality with a fashionable form”.

Subaru has already used the XV name in the past 12 months. At last year’s Geneva motor show, it revealed a jacked-up version of the Impreza known as XV and based on the US-only Outback Sport.

Thanks to: Autocar

Kamis, 21 April 2011

NY Show 2011 Highlights: 2012 Ford Shelby Mustang GTS

In terms of special editions, the Ford Mustang is among the hardest-working cars in the industry. In addition to Ford’s own limited-run Mustangs, countless tuners and aftermarket companies owe their entire existence to the Ford pony car. Chief among the companies cashing in on the Mustang’s performance potential is Shelby, who has pumped out a variety of special-edition Mustangs over the years. But, in addition to the 800-hp Super Snake Shelby unveiled at the New York auto show, the fabled company announced a plan that is fundamentally different from nearly everything it has ever done.

Shelby builds almost all its cars in runs of nearly identical cars. It sources Mustangs directly from Ford, converts them at its facility in Las Vegas, and then sells the completed vehicles. But, with the Shelby Mustang GTS, buyers procure their own Mustang, which they then take to Shelby to have the work done. Shelby will perform the GTS conversion on V-6 or V-8 cars and offers a number of options for the cars as well—including supercharging for either engine.

V-6 drivers will be in for at least $9995 for a Shelby transformation, while those with Mustang GTs have to pony up $11,995. The basic modification includes a Ford Racing handling pack with new springs, anti-roll bars, a strut-tower brace, Baer brakes, and a little more power from tweaks to the intake system and a Borla exhaust. Shelby won’t yet say how much it can extract from the V-6 without forced induction, but claims the V-8 will produce 430 hp, 18 more than stock. Cars will be recognizable as Shelbys thanks to a unique hood and front fascia, a black grille insert, and striping along the car’s center line and rocker panels. The requisite badging will appear on the fenders (“Powered by Ford”) and the center console (“Shelby GTS”).

From there, the GTS options list opens up. On V-6 models, the aforementioned supercharger will crank output up to 475 hp. Those with V-8 cars have two choices: 525 horses or 624. Shelby tells us no internal modifications are necessary to achieve those figures, although we’d recommend those with blown V-6 cars look into disabling that 114-mph governor. Additionally, customers can upgrade to six-piston front calipers, adjustable control arms, a Watts-link rear suspension, 18- or 20-inch wheels, and a two-tone leather interior.

While this approach puts Shelby on a different plane than the company usually occupies, it is a plane that is vastly more accessible. No Shelby creation has ever been cheap, but if you add the $9995 cost of upgrading a V-6 car to its base price of about $23,000, the GTS almost qualifies.

Thanks to: Car and Driver

NY Show 2011 Highlights: 2011 Dodge Charger Mopar SE

Picking up where the Mopar ’10 Challenger left off, Chrysler’s parts unit is offering a limited run of Chargers based on the new-for-2011 model. Called the Mopar ’11 Charger, the car offers some aesthetic tweaks and performance upgrades over the standard Dodge Charger R/T.

Starting as it does with a Charger R/T, the Mopar ’11 Charger has a 5.7-liter Hemi V-8 making 370 hp and 395 lb-ft of torque. A five-speed automatic is the only transmission available, although, on the bright side, it does have a retro pistol-grip shifter to constantly remind you that there’s no manual. The Charger R/T’s Super Track Pak option group—including a shorter final-drive ratio, a three-stage stability-control system, and a sportier suspension tune—is standard. Chrysler claims the Mopar Charger’s unique engine-control unit and even-shorter 3.91:1 final drive (versus 3.06:1 for normal Track Pack cars) will knock a couple tenths off of the R/T’s 0-to-60-mph time. The Track Pak add-ons also bring heartier brakes, beefier anti-roll bars, and 20-inch Goodyear F1 Supercar rubber, but the Mopar ’11 goes further with front and rear strut-tower braces for increased roll stiffness.

The Mopar ’11 Charger will only be available slathered with Pitch Black paint, and Mopar badges will adorn the grille and trunklid. The special rear spoiler and five-spoke black wheels lend a sinister cop-car feel. Offset stripes race up the hood, over the roof, and onto the trunk; they’re complemented by color-matched stitching on the leather seats and steering wheel. Company reps tell us that buyers will be able to order the stripes in hues other than the standard Mopar Blue; it’s among the first attempts to increase the personalization options offered by the automaker. An identification plaque, Mopar pedal covers, new sill plates, unique floor mats, and a Mopar-ized key fob round out the tweaks. A bundle of stuff including a certificate of authenticity and several Mopar promotional items also will be included with each purchase.

Starting at $39,750 and limited to 1000 examples (900 for the U.S., 100 for Canada), the Mopar ’11 Charger will be available for order the week of April 18, with deliveries commencing in late summer. While the Mopar ’11 commands a not-inconsequential $5K premium over a Charger R/T with the Super Track Pak, this tricked-out Charger offers both the mean looks and the exclusivity that have defined Mopar-tuned Chrysler rides since the 1960s.

Thanks to: Car and Driver

NY Show 2011 Highlights: 2012 Chrysler 200S

Chrysler has revealed its new 200 S saloon and 200 S convertible models ahead of the New York motor show.

The saloon version gets a new grille with an S model-only Chrysler-winged badge, tinted headlights and 18-inch alloys with S badging.

On the inside the S gets a leather steering wheel, heated seats with S badging and uprated sound-deadening measures.

To improve ride and handling for the S, suspension has been revised, track widened by 25mm, ride height lowered by 12mm at the front and 6mm at the back.

Powering the saloon model is the firm’s new 3.6-litre V6 engine, which produces 279bhp and 260lb ft of torque.

As with the saloon, the convertible gets S badging inside and out, 18-inch alloys and similar interior touches, as well as suspension revisions and the same V6 petrol engine, mated to a six-speed automatic gearbox.

Prices for the saloon version start from $26,790 (£16,415), with the convertible priced from $32,490 (£20,000).

Thanks to: Autocar

NY Show 2011 Highlights: 2012 BMW Z4

BMW has announced the introduction of a 2.0-litre, 4-cyl turbocharged engine for the Z4 range at the New York motor show.

The BMW Z4sDrive28i engine develops 236bhp and provides “increased torque, improved performance and reduced fuel consumption and emission levels compared with the existing 6-cylinder, BMW Z4 sDrive30”, according to BMW.

The engine uses high precision injectors as well as a turbocharger powered via two exhaust ducts and employs BMW’s double VANOS system.

The new BMW Z4sDrive28i will be launched towards the end of the year.

Thanks to: Autocar

Shanghai Show 2011 Highlights: Audi A3 E-Tron Concept

Audi has unveiled its Audi A3 e-tron concept at the Shanghai motor show.

Styling for the concept is based on that of the previously-shown A3 saloon concept.

Instead of the previous version’s 402bhp petrol engine, however, the Audi A3 e-tron uses a 211bhp 1.4-litre TFSI engine, mated to a 27bhp electric motor.

According to Audi, the concept will hit 60mph in 6.8sec, have a top speed of 144mph and an electric-only range of 34 miles.

The all-new production version of the Audi A3 is expected to launch in the second half of 2012, in both saloon and hatchback guises.

Thanks to: Autocar

Shanghai Show 2011 Highlights: Peugeot SxC Concept

This dramatic-looking Peugeot SxC concept is the firm's star for the Shanghai show - and it’s been designed and developed entirely by the firm’s Chinese technical centre.

The SxC concept is a jumbo SUV - although its name (Shanghai Cross Concept) indicates that the firm regards it as a crossover. It’s 4.87m long, 1.61m high and 2.035m wide; that’s a little longer, lower and wider than a Porsche Cayenne. It features reverse-hinged ‘suicide’ rear doors and sits on 22in wheels.

The car has been designed at Peugeot’s tech centre in Shanghai, but under the direction of the firm’s design chief Gilles Vidal. It has a development of the front-end styling previously showcased on the SR1, BB1 and EX1 concepts, with Peugeot’s new badging, what the firm calls “feline headlights”, and heavily textured surfaces.

The cabin blends leather and brushed aluminium finishes with blue LED lighting. It’s a strict four-seater.

The show car is powered by a 1.6-litre turbocharged petrol engine, developing 218bhp and driving the front wheels. But it’s mated to Peugeot’s Hybrid4 technology, which adds an electric motor at the rear axle to give a combined output of 313bhp in a four-wheel-drive layout.

The Hybrid4 system also allows the SxC to run in electric-only mode at low speeds. Peugeot claims the car would return combined fuel economy of 48.7mpg and CO2 emissions of 143g/km.

Peugeot hasn’t announced any production plans for the car. But it has acknowledged that it will launch “at least one new model per year” in China for the foreseeable future, and that the developing line-up is likely to include a large off-roader.

Thanks to: Autocar

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