Northwood University graduates first class of Automotive MBA students.

We don't usually toot our own horn but we want to congratulate our founder and editor on his recent achievement of graduating as part of the first ever Automotive MBA program offered by Northwood University. Albert Heiles was one of eighteen graduates of the first cohort to graduate with this prestigious honor on December 11th, 2010. The cohort made up of eighteen students from all areas of the auto industry from vehicle manufacturers to aftermarket product companies to dealers.

"This is a great program for anyone that wants to be challenged to transform our industry and also assess their own behaviors and attitudes," commented Elgie Bright, district sales manager, Chevy-Eastern Michigan, General Motors.

The program  also allowed for an excellent networking tool for students and friendships and relationships flourished over the course of the program.

The 27th month program included a comprehensive masters degree program focusing on business operations, finance, international trade, individual freedom and entrepreneurial values. Northwood University is no stranger to the auto industry. Since 1961 they have been the only university to offer a comprehensive degree focusing on the business side of the auto industry 

Congratulations to the 2010 Graduates of Northwood University.

Source: Northwood University.

[Press Release]

MIDLAND, MI – The DeVos Graduate School of Management celebrated the graduation of the inaugural class of its Dealership Executive MBA program (DEMBA) at Northwood University's commencement ceremony on Saturday, December 11, 2010.

The cohort consisted of students from all over the country representing the following companies. Association of Finance & Insurance Professionals, Autobahn Automotive Media,, Central Atlantic Toyota Distributors, Manheim Online Solutions, Credit Acceptance Corporation, DCH Auto Group, Flemington Car & Truck Company, Ford Motor Credit Company, General Motors, John Brothers, Inc., Nissan North America, Fidelis Systems, Performance Auto Group Family of Dealers, Performance Chrysler Jeep Dodge of Lincoln, Talisman Suzuki, and Vaughn Automotive New Vehicle Dealership.

"Northwood has a rich history with the automotive industry and remains committed to further developing leaders throughout the competitive automotive marketplace," said Dr. Lisa Fairbairn, dean of the DeVos Graduate School of Management at Northwood University.

Several recent DEMBA graduates expressed their experience with the program. Sara Villarin-Yi, comptroller at Talisman Suzuki, said, "I would have to say that whatever success my dealership will be experiencing it will be because of this program. I started not knowing much about the automotive industry but finished with a plethora of knowledge and great friends." "This is a great program for anyone that wants to be challenged to transform our industry and also assess their own behaviors and attitudes," commented Elgie Bright, district sales manager, Chevy-Eastern Michigan, General Motors.

Rick Levitin, Infiniti dealer product & service trainer at Nissan North America, added, "This Northwood MBA has given me the critical thinking skills necessary to meet the unique challenges of our dynamic automotive industry. I am able to quickly apply the curriculum material and best practices shared among classmates to my contact with the Infiniti dealer body."

The Dealership Executive MBA (DEMBA) program, introduced in 2008, is an innovative MBA curriculum specifically designed to meet the ever-growing needs of leadership development within the retail automotive industry.

Northwood University is committed to the most personal attention to prepare students for success in their careers and in their communities; it promotes critical thinking skills, personal effectiveness, and the importance of ethics, individual freedom and responsibility.

Private, nonprofit, and accredited, Northwood University specializes in managerial and entrepreneurial education at three full-service, residential campuses located in southern Florida, mid-Michigan and northern Texas. Adult Degree Programs are available in eight states with many course delivery options including an online option. The DeVos Graduate School offers full-time, evening and industry specific master's degree programs for entrepreneurs and executives in Michigan, Texas, Florida and Switzerland. The Alden B. Dow Center for Creativity and Enterprise in Midland, Michigan, specializes in creative thinking and innovation development. International education is offered through study abroad and in Program Centers in Switzerland, China, Malaysia and Sri Lanka. Northwood University also operates the Margaret Chase Smith Library in Maine.

Happy Holiday Greeting

I just wanna say, Happy Holidays for all reader and visitor. I hope God always blesses us. Amien. Merry Christmas.

Sneak Peek: 2012 Hyundai Veloster

Hyundai is excited — and Honda might be scared — about the Veloster’s Detroit Auto Show reveal. There’s a countdown timer on Hyundai’s Web site (we’re currently 19 days away from a reveal) and a teaser video you can view below.

We know the Veloster will have a direct-injection engine, possibly some form of the 2011 Elantra‘s new Nu 1.8-liter four-cylinder. In that compact sedan, output is 148 horsepower. The sporty Veloster will get a dual-clutch gearbox and, in the teaser video, Hyundai maintains the 40-mpg claim. If the Veloster is rated 40 mpg on the highway, it would surpass the fuel economy of the Honda CR-Z with the CVT and six-speed manual. However, it’s not clear whether combined mileage would come close to the CR-Z’s 37 and 34 mpg with the CVT and manual, respectively.

The Veloster will also have Blue Link Connectivity, undoubtedly a competitor to Ford’s SYNC system. With the rumored non-hybrid Honda CR-Z turbo possibly on the way, it looks like muscle cars aren’t the only sporty automotive segment to be receiving more interest lately from automakers.

Thanks to: Motor Trend

New Car: 2011 Aston Martin DB9 Special Editions

The end of 2010 is almost upon us, but that hasn’t stopped Aston Martin managing to squeeze in not one but three new special edition DB9s which have just gone on sale from Aston dealers.

The three editions are called the Morning Frost, Carbon Black and Quantum Silver, are available as either coupe or Volante convertible bodystyles and cost from £132,525 including VAT at the new 20 per cent rate.

The DB9 Morning Frost is intended to be a more luxurious offering, as it features pearlescent white paint, 19-inch 10-spoke alloys and silver brake calipers on the outside, while the interior gets metallic bronze leather on the seats and headlining, and piano black trim.

Both the Carbon Black and Quantum Silver editions feature either black or silver paint, different 19-inch alloys and a sports exhaust, plus more piano black trim, a semi-aniline leather roof lining and polished glass switchgear.

All cars are powered by the familiar 470bhp 6.0-litre V12 and six-speed automatic gearbox, and all get a laser etched sill plaque depicting the Aston Martin logo along with “Morning Frost”, “Carbon Black” or “Quantum Silver.”

The three new specials join a host of other limited Astons which have broken cover in 2010. This year has seen the debut of the V12 Vantage Carbon Black, DBS Carbon Black, DBS UB2010 – a limited run of 40 cars in tribute to the firm’s boss Ulrich Bez – and the V8 Vantage N420, inspired by the legendary Nurburgring where Aston’s R&D centre is located. For more details click here.
Thanks to: Auto Express

New Car: 2012 Toyota Vitz/Yaris

Meet the next Toyota Yaris! These are the first official pictures of the next generation Toyota supermini which will arrive in the UK in September 2011. The pictures show the Japanese market car, which is called the Vitz, but the Yaris will look much the same when it arrives here.

Toyota claims that the newcomer was designed under the words agility and sophistication. As a result, the new supermini features a more angular design than its predecessor, with a more sculpted bumper and pointy headlights adding extra attitude. The Yaris has also been designed to be more efficient, and boasts a competitive coefficient drag value of 0.285.

The new car is 100mm longer than the current car, with the extra 50mm in its wheelbase designed to improve cabin space, particularly in the rear. It’s also a useful 30kg lighter than the outgoing model, thanks to a host of minor weight-saving tweaks like only having one windscreen wiper, and tips the scales at a nice, round 1,000kg.

On the inside, Toyota claims to have improved comfort and refinement thanks to improved seats and better noise insulation. The centrally-mounted speedo has also been ditched in favour of a more conventional dash layout.

The engine range includes two petrol motors: a 68bhp 1.0-litre and a 1.33-litre with 93bhp. The larger engine gets stop start, helping fuel economy climb to 74.9mpg . The Japanese models get a CVT gearbox and even the option of four-wheel drive. However, in the UK the Yaris will be fitted with a manual as standard, and just front-wheel drive will be available.

There is a larger, 1.5-litre engine available which could make it to the UK at a later date, joining the diesel and hybrid models which should arrive here in 2012. For more details click here.
Thanks to: Auto Express

First Sketch: Kia KV7 Concept

Kia decided to play Santa early and gifted us with a teaser of its KV7 Concept, which is scheduled to debut next month at the 2011 Detroit Auto Show.

As you can see from the rendering, the KV7 Concept is a crossover whose lines resemble an extended Kia Soul or, if you squint a little, the Ford Flex (though albeit smaller). The KV7’s most funky feature, though, are those secondary passenger doors, which swing up straight up and out – gullwing style. Look out SLS AMG! Inside, the second row bucket seats can swivel to face each other and the rear of the vehicle. Wonder if there will be table inside?

Otherwise, rims match the rest of the Kia family, and it looks like the KV7 will get the Kia corporate face, with the right front headlamp which looking like an evolution from the Kia Kue Kue Concept which debuted back in at the 2007 Detroit Show.

Thanks to: Motor Trend

Sneak Peek: 2012 Toyota Prius MPV

Are you into skateboards and/or skateboarding? And the Toyota Prius? Well, we have just the video for you because this YouTube find shows all manner of grinds, aerials, and flips, plus an actual peek at the upcoming Prius MPV.

Deep into video, which includes pro skateboarder Bob Burnquist, we see the Brazilian-American padding up for another run in the rear cargo hold of the Prius MPV. Though we only see it in the open position, the MPV’s hatch lid is definitely affixed at a higher roof point compared to the standard Prius, and that’ll help accommodate extra interior volume. How much exactly? We’ll have to wait till next year to find out at the Detroit Auto Show.

From the billboard teaser we found earlier, we can already see the Prius MPV roofline rides at a greater height. And looking from the outside in, we also catch a glimpse of the rear quarter panel glass, which is definitely larger and a dead giveaway for the MPV’s greater dimensions.

Thanks to: Motor Trend

New Car: 2012 Mercedes C-Class

As the cheapest and humblest car in Mercedes’ U.S. showrooms, where it lives next to larger, more-powerful, more-luxurious, and more-prestigious vehicles, the C-class has had a tough time establishing itself as a full-cachet, no-apologies Mercedes-Benz. But a window of opportunity seems to be opening for the C-class come the 2012 model year, with its mid-cycle update arriving just as world events and economic challenges have precipitated a shift among luxury buyers toward “right-sized” vehicles containing full-size luxury amenities.

It will certainly try to impress. The restyled 2012 C-class will greet customers with a more upscale face highlighted by a sculpted front fascia and new, CLS-style headlamps that blend into the fenders. Distinct Sport and Luxury trims continue for 2012, with the Sport model being differentiated by its grille and thin chrome spears in the outboard air intakes, which also house the LED running lights that are now standard on all C-class models. The brightwork continues along the doors and around the new rear bumper. The taillamps are also new for 2012, with more distinct detailing and still more LEDs.

The biggest news is a more powerful naturally aspirated engine in the top-shelf C350 Sport, plus the addition of a new base model, the C250, with a turbocharged four-cylinder under its hood. The C350 Sport’s V-6 is a new, direct-injection 3.5-liter, and its output is raised from the outgoing C350’s 268 hp and 258 lb-ft of torque to a healthy 302 hp and 273 lb-ft. The mid-grade C300 retains its 3.0-liter V-6 with 228 hp and 221 lb-ft of torque, but now is offered only with 4MATIC all-wheel drive (and will be the only C-class available thus equipped). At the low end of the range is that new C250, powered by a direct-injected, turbocharged 1.8-liter four-cylinder that produces 201 hp and 229 lb-ft of torque. The C250 is slated to deliver among the highest fuel-economy of any Mercedes-Benz offered on these shores: an estimated 24 mpg combined. (For the record, the larger E350 BlueTec diesel is EPA-rated for 26 combined.) As for acceleration, Mercedes says the C250 should hit 60 mph in 7.1 seconds, a figure it also cites for the C300 4MATIC. The top-dog C350 is said to make the 0-to-60-mph sprint in 5.9.

Each of the three engines comes mated exclusively to a seven-speed automatic transmission, which means that you’ll no longer be able find a manual in the C-class when the 2012 model arrives next summer. (As if you could realistically find one in circulation before!) That means the current SLK300 will be the only U.S. Merc with a row-your-own option. As usual, auto-only also will apply to the 2012 C63 AMG, which also will be refreshed and goes on sale next summer or fall. It will retain the current 6.2-liter V-8, rather than moving to the twin-turbocharged 5.5-liter V-8 like other AMGs.

Thanks to: Car and Driver

Spied: 2013 BMW 5-Series Hybrid

It's no secret that BMW is preparing a hybrid version of its latest generation [F10] 5-Series sedan as the Bavarian automaker teased the model at the 2010 Geneva Motor Show with the Concept 5 Series ActiveHybrid study. And even though the prototype model seen in our latest spy pictures carries the 535i badge, the "Hybrid Test Vehicle" label on the boot pretty much explains everything.

Being a test mule, the prototype doesn't feature any of the (few) unique styling cues of the concept model, such as the LED strips, different front apron and special alloy wheels, but we assume these details will make it into the production car.

Underneath the body work, we expect to see a similar setup to the concept vehicle, which made use of BMW's straight-six gasoline engine with TwinPower Turbo technology (same as the one found in the 535i), an eight-speed automatic transmission, and an electric drive capable of delivering up to 54HP (40kW). Given that the 3.0-liter turbo is rated in the U.S. at 300 hp, the combined system output should be around the 340 hp mark.

According to BMW, the hybrid power train reduces both fuel consumption and emissions by more than 10 per cent over the conventional version, while it also allows all-electric, zero-emission motoring at low speeds.

The production version of the 5-Series Hybrid could be introduced at a major international car show as early as next year with sales most likely to follow in 2012.

Thanks to: Autocar India

New Car: 2011 Mahindra Thar 4x4

Mahindra & Mahindra has launched the Thar, an all-new off-roader that retains the looks of the Mahindra MM540 but comes with a new chassis and loads of features. The MM540 is popular among city-dwellers as well as the army and paramilitary forces.

Available in DI and CRDe versions, the company hopes to target a new lifestyle segment with the Thar and will customise the vehicle for buyers ready to pay more.

While the CRDe 4x4 BSIV variant is priced at Rs 5.99 lakh (ex-showroom, Delhi), the DI 4X2 variant is priced at Rs 4.47 lakh (ex-showroom, Jaipur).

The Thar will be launched in New Delhi, Chandigarh, Bangalore, Mangalore and Jaipur by end of December, and all over the country in January. Based on a chassis that is a mix of the Bolero and the Scorpio, the Thar offers 105bhp.

While the CRDe variant will be built at Mahindra’s plant in Kandivali, Mumbai, the DI variant will be built at Nashik. Company sources said that the estimated development costs were Rs 5 crore.

A customized Thar was showcased at the Mumbai launch equipped with alloys, black leather seats with red piping and a winch. According to Mahindra, customization options can cost around Rs 2 lakh over the standard variant, and all customizations will be done at dealers end.

Thanks to: Autocar India

New Car: 2012 MG 3

MG has given its new small hatchback, the MG3, a relatively low-key public debut at the Guangzhou auto show in China.

The firm's parent company, SAIC, revealed no technical information on the car. But it did give it a launch date: March 2011, ahead of the next major Chinese car show in Shanghai in April.

Styled under the co-ordination of MG’s studio in the UK, the MG3 looks like a neat production development of the Zero concept car. It's just under four metres long, 1.728m wide, and 1.517m tall; that makes it as long as a five-door Fiesta, but slightly narrower and taller.

SAIC seems keen to push the car's 'Britishness' - witness the Union Jacks displayed prominently on its stand - and personalisation, with contrasting roof colours and plenty of body stripes.

Information about just one engine spec has emerged from China; it's said to be a 1.5-litre petrol unit producing 109bhp at 6000rpm, and 99lb ft at 4500rpm, enough to get the MG3 to a top speed of 113mph. Those figures would put the car up against a 1.4 petrol Fiesta.

The other engines in the line-up are likely to be a 1.3-litre petrol, with around 67bhp, a diesel (SAIC is still in talks with potential suppliers) and a turbocharged version of the 1.5 petrol, with 156bhp.

The car is being aimed at buyers aged between 18 and 28. Top-spec models will get a CD player-based sound system, but more lowly specs are understood to offer just a USB socket and perhaps a solid-state memory-based MP3 player.

MG Motor UK has yet to even acknowledge the car's existence, let alone detail European specs or a launch date. But it's unlikely to reach UK dealers before 2012, particularly given the delays that have hit the on-sale date of its bigger brother, the MG6. Once pencilled in for a late 2010 release, it's now unlikely to reach buyers until the spring.

Thanks to: Autocar

New Car: 2011 Land Rover Discovery 4 Armoured

Meet the Discovery that’s armoured and ready! This is the latest Land Rover to be kitted out with full armour from the factory, and replaces the previous generation Discovery 3 Armoured. Changes to the new model include a switch from the 2.7-litre V6 diesel engine to the 5.0-litre petrol V8, plus a more luxuriously appointed cabin.

Although virtually indistinguishable from the standard model, the Discovery 4 Armoured features ballistic steel armour and glazing. Developed in partnership with the vehicle armouring specialists Centigon, the Discovery also provides blast protection against 15kg TNT or equivalent detonated in close proximity to the vehicle and under floor protection against two hand grenades.

All the additional armour ups the weight to 3,550kg, which has required uprated air suspension and bigger Alcon brakes to ensure the beefed-up Disco can cope. The extra weight blunts the performance of the standard car slightly – the 0-62mph sprint goes up from 7.9 seconds to 10.6 seconds.

Buyers can also add a host of extras, like hidden flashing blue lights, plus option packs like the ‘Essential Armour’ which includes a driver’s window which can open by 100mm to allow documents to be passed from the car, an auxiliary secondary battery supply, an anti-tamper exhaust and an intercom. For more details click here.
Thanks to: Auto Express

Spied: 2012/2013 Ford Focus EV

Despite the exhaustive testing, this Focus is missing a key component – its exhaust pipe! Our spies have just captured this Focus Electric mule undergoing testing, and it’s the first we’ve seen that uses the new mkIII Focus bodyshell.

Along with the blanked-off rear bumper, the car features disguises over the area where the fuel filler cap is on both sides, which could mean that the Focus Electric will feature plug sockets on both side of the car, making recharging easier.

Ford began its Focus Electric project with the launch of a number of prototypes based on the current generation car at the 2009 Frankfurt Motor Show. Called the Focus BEV, it had boot-mounted 23kWh lithium-ion batteries which powered a 134bhp electric motor. The range is 100 miles and top speed is 85mph.

At this year’s Geneva show, Blue Oval bosses confirmed that the Focus Electric will be based on the new Focus, and will go on sale in the US in 2011, before arriving in the UK in 2012.

Expect the production Focus Electric to feature similar specs to the BEV prototype, which will put it on a par with the Nissan Leaf for range and performance. The electric Ford will join an electric version of the Transit Connect, and is followed by two next-generation petrol hybrid-electric vehicles and a C-MAX plug-in hybrid in 2013. For more details click here.
Thanks to: Auto Express

New Car: 2012 Nissan Sunny

Sales of luxury cars may be on the rise in China, but plenty of buyers in the country’s automotive market are still looking for simple, affordable cars. Perhaps that’s why Nissan used the 2010 China International Automobile Exhibition to show off its all-new 2011 Sunny subcompact sedan.

Although the nameplate has been used on a wide array of Nissans since the early 1970s, this is the second time the Sunny name has been tied to a compact sedan tailor-made for price-conscious, emerging automotive markets. Like the last-generation Sunny Neo, the new Sunny will be built in China by Nissan’s joint venture with Chinese firm Dongfeng, but that’s where the similarities end.

While the last Chinese-built Sunny was an evolution of Nissan’s compact Pulsar range, the new 2011 Sunny is built atop a modified version of the Micra platform. Designers have blessed the car with rather dramatic sheetmetal, which bears some resemblance to larger offerings like the Sentra and Altima. Inside, the car’s interior is largely identical to the Micra’s cabin, although the new offering receives reshaped door panels, new seat fabrics, a redesigned instrument cluster, and a different (re: simpler) radio design.

Underneath the skin, the Sunny is a mechanical clone of the Micra. MacPherson struts are fitted up front while a simple (re: low-cost) beam axle is employed in back. The only engine offering at this point is a 1.5-liter I-4, which sends power to the front wheels either via a five-speed manual gearbox or an optional CVT.

Although the Sunny will be sold in a number of different countries, production will primarily be based in the Nissan-Dongfeng plant in Guangzhou, China. Although the Micra may potentially have a future in North America, the Sunny — which carries a price tag of roughly $12,400 — will most likely remain abroad.

Thanks to: Motor Trend

New Car: 2012 Li Nian S1

Automakers have been scrambling to gain a sizable piece of the Chinese auto market as the nation’s thirst for new cars has boomed in the last few years. Honda is no exception. In fact, after hinting at a value-driven model range for China earlier this year, the company rolled out the first example — the Li Nian S1 — at the 2010 China International Automobile Exhibition.

Although nowhere as sophisticated as the Everus concept shown at the 2010 Beijing auto show, the S1 does allow Honda to start making further inroads into the Chinese market. While the aggressive-looking concept appeared to be based off the current Honda City (which, in turn, shares its platform with the Fit hatchback), the S1 is essentially a gussied-up version of the previous-generation City sedan, albeit with a few cosmetic tweaks.

Honda has yet to reveal any firm specifications on the car, but did note that powertrain would essentially mirror the last iteration of the City. Both 1.3-liter and 1.5-liter I-4 engines have been confirmed, although power ratings are still under wraps. Transmission offerings will likely include a five-speed manual and a five-speed automatic, although a CVT — which was previously offered in select markets — could potentially serve as another option.

According to Honda, the Li Nian S1 is aimed specifically at young Chinese buyers, many of whom are shopping for their first vehicle. As a result, we wouldn’t be surprised to see an aggressive price tag on the S1, especially since it has to counter rivals like the BYD F3 and L3. Honda hopes such a model is key to expanding its footprint in China, but we’ll know for certain come spring, when the S1 rolls into Honda showrooms across China.

Thanks to: Motor Trend

New Concept Car: Mini Paceman

This is the Mini Paceman concept, which will make its public debut at the the Detroit auto show on 10 January - the 10th anniversary of the brand’s relaunch in the USA.

Substantially based on the five-door Mini Countryman, the Paceman concept is designed as an upmarket, compact coupe and is said to be strongly placed to go into production in 2012, although the green light has not yet been given.

BMW is calling the Paceman (so named because it follows on from the Clubman and Countryman) the first ‘Sports Activity Coupe’ in the small car segment. When the Paceman goes on sale it is likely to only be available with the most powerful Mini engines. One source told us, "There’s no chance of a 'One' version of this car," and the concept is being shown with a tuned version of the John Cooper Works petrol engine, now with 212bhp and hooked up to Mini’s ALL4 permanent four-wheel drive system.

However, in keeping with the car's intended upmarket feel, the production models will probably not be highly strung, high-performance racers. The emphasis will be on accessible torque for performance that’s effortless rather than urgent.

The Paceman is based on the current Mini Countryman, using the same platform and floor structure and the same inner structure up to and including the bulkhead. The car also uses the same windscreen as the Countryman, although it's had 20mm shaved off its height. From the screen rearwards, the Paceman gets an entirely new exterior. It's 4110mm long, marginally more than the Countryman, even though the front bumper is 20mm shorter.

The car's long doors are newly designed and have allowed the Mini design team to incorporate a rising window line, which flows into the new rear wing. This further kicks up towards the roof, giving the Paceman a much wedgier and dynamic profile than its sister car. There's also a marked shoulder over the rear wheels, which pushes the rear windows of cabin inwards, giving a sportier, more coupe-like feel and emphasising the width of the car’s rear tracks.

However, outgoing Mini design boss Gert Hildebrand says that there's no loss of shoulder room in the rear cabin compared to the Countryman. Unlike most coupes, the Paceman is also set to have significant rear legroom and more than adequate headroom.

As well as the rising waistline, the Paceman has a sloping version of the Mini family’s 'capped' roof which, combined with the rising waistline, further reduces the size of the side windows, emphasising the Mini’s 'three-layer' design theme of roof, windows and bodyside. The car’s C-pillar is tinted the same colour as the glass to give the impression of complete wrap-around glazing.

However, the big break from modern Mini tradition comes at the rear of the car. The vertical shutlines and vertical sheet metal that characterise the other models in the range have been replaced by a surface that’s much softer and more flowing.

Unexpectedly, Hildebrand and his team have dumped the rule that said Mini tail-lights are vertical and surrounded on all sides with painted bodywork. The Paceman's lights are substantial and cut right across into the tailgate, resulting in a most un-Mini-like rear elevation. However, the combination the wide track, sloping roof and narrower glasshouse means the rear wheels are well outboard of side windows, and it all combine to make the Paceman look extremely purposeful from the rear.

Inside, the concept uses the same interior as the Countryman (including the elliptical door trim design) but it will have redesigned seats in quilt-stitch tan leather front and rear. The two rear seats will be individually shaped, but manufactured in one piece, very similar to the layout in the VW Scirocco. Despite the coupe styling, the front seats will continued to be mounted higher than in a conventional road car.

The concept gets some very effective exterior touches in the copper-coloured fillet on the front wing and leather trim on the door handle and filler cap. The bronze colouring is repeated on the wheel’s rims. The roof colour ‘cold white’, a white with a blueish tinge. The body colour is ‘Jaded Green’ (in the sense of the stone, rather than design team's lack of morale) and is said to be based on the colour of a 1950s Jaguar. However, the shade is also very reminiscent of the Aston Martin DB4 Zagato cars and Autocar understands that the design team did look at equipping the Paceman concept with a Zagato-style 'double-bubble' roof.

When the Paceman arrives in production form, it will be the most expensive Mini so far. Prices are likely to start from £22,000 for a front-drive version, rising to £26,000 and beyond.

Thanks to: Autocar

5 New Electric Cars Available Right Now

Electric cars were popular in the US in the mid-19th to the early 20th century. They soon fell by the wayside with the introduction of the combustion engine. Now, electric cars are being revived again in the 21st century. Several auto manufacturers have joined the electric car production arena just in time to take advantage of the new era of “green technology,” and here are a handful of models that are currently available.

The Toyota Prius Hybrid

The third generation Prius uses the patented Hybrid Synergy Drive, which is a system that uses gas and electric to power the car. There are four models to choose from, but all are 1.8L, four cylinder engines with 98 horsepower, and an estimated 51 city and 48 highway mpg. You can expect to pay between $22,800 and $28,070 for a new Prius.

The Toyota Camry Hybrid

Toyota utilizes the same Hybrid Synergy Drive system for the Camry as the Prius, but the Camry Hybrid is a little more generous with interior space and a 2.4L engine with 169 horsepower. Fuel economy for the Camry Hybrid is 31 city and 35 highway and starts at around $26,575.

Chevrolet Volt

Due in Chevrolet’s 2011 line-up, you can contact your local dealer to place an order for the Volt. The Volt is a 4-door electric-gas hybrid sedan with an efficient 1.4 litre engine. The battery pack is backed by an 8-year, 100,000 mile warranty with an estimated cost of electric recharging of $1.50 per day. The Volt is emission-free and boasts an aerodynamic design, closed grille, and Goodyear Fuel Max tires to maximize efficiency. It starts at $32,780.

Ford Fusion Hybrid

Ford brings this four-door sedan with a 2.5L Atkinson-Cycle I-4 gas engine combined with an electric motor. A net 191 horsepower is available when the two power supplies combine. You can expect a speed of 47 miles per hour when the car runs on the electric motor alone, but assistance is available on demand from the gas engine when needed. Mileage is around 41 miles per gallon, and base price for this model is $28,100.

The Tesla Roadster

This roadster is not in everyone’s price range, but it will eliminate dependence on oil because it is 100% electric powered. It can be recharged on or off-grid and touts 88% efficiency compared to 20-25% efficiency of gas-powered cars. The Tesla is a stunning sports car that is capable of high-end performance with a 0-60 acceleration in 3.7 seconds and goes 245 miles per charge. You can order online from their website, or you can visit one of their dealers. The Tesla Roadster starts at $101,500.

Miles Walker is a freelance writer and blogger who usually compares car insurance deals over at CarinsuranceComparison.Org.

New Car: 2011 BMW X3 M Sport Package

BMW has unveiled its 2011 model year updates across its range, including the addition of the M Sports package for the new X3 SUV. The package comprises a range of suspension, aerodynamics and exterior and interior components developed by BMW’s M division.

Although there’s no hike in power – the package is available across the range on all engine variants – the M Sports package adds sports suspensions to sharpen handling, and has been calibrated to work with the new 18-inch M Sport alloy wheels. 19-inch and 20-inch wheels are on the options list.

The M Sports package also includes a bodykit, chrome tailpipes and gloss trim for the window surrounds and roof rails.

On the inside, changes include sports seats, an M leather-trimmed steering wheel, and door sills which feature the M logo. For more details click here.
Thanks to: Auto Express

New Concept Car: GMC Sierra All-Terrain HD

Despite everything you've read, there is still a market for big, expensive lifestyle pickup trucks. So GMC is tackling the Ford SVT Raptor/Dodge Power Wagon market with its own kind of executive off-roader, the Sierra All Terrain Concept. Unlike the Raptor, it's based on the Sierra 2500 HD. And keep in mind that at this point, it's only a concept. In fact, just as the Ford Super Chief concept hinted about the look of the latest F-150, the Sierra All Terrain hints at the next 1500 Sierra, due in the '13 model year.

The concept GMC previewed Thursday features a 39-degree approach angle and 31 degree departure angle. Built on an '11 Sierra 2500 crew cab body, with a 1500's five-foot, eight-inch box, the concept has a stock Duramax turbodiesel, making 390 horsepower and 745 pound-feet, like the production engine. Transmission also is stock, the Allison six-speed automatic. Thanks to the non-stock box/body combo, the concept's wheelbase is 149 inches, two inches shorter than a Sierra 2500 Crew Cab.

Suspension features custom upper- and lower-control arms, and Fox supplied second rebound shocks front and rear.

Tires are knobby 35-inch BFGs on 20-inch aluminum wheels. The front clip and hood is unique to the concept, with larger hood intakes to feed more air to the 6.6-liter Duramax.

On the profile, you'll notice a blacked-out b-pillar and anodized trim. A custom automatic swing-down entry/exit step stays out of the way for serious off-roading, and there's another swing-down step for the box just behind the rear doors, for easier loading and unloading.

It's no basic work truck, which means the leather interior is straight out of the HD Sierra Denali. A new radio includes an 80-gig hard drive. The concept adds lockable side storage compartments, with an electrical outlet, a compressed air outlet and a 360-degree floodlight in the box.

Way in back, the designers have added LED taillamps and an integrated skidplate, and dual exhausts.

So, any production plans? It would be easy for GMC to build this truck, mostly with off-the-shelf parts. And like the Ford F-150 Raptor SVT, it would be a low-volume, high-price halo truck, anyway. It's more important as a kind of hint about what the next Sierra will look like. The styling suggests homage to the ground-breaking "fuselage"-style GM pickups of 1973, though there's a bit of Ford F-Series in the grille graphic.

It's also a chance for GMC to facelift the current Heavy Duty Sierras, which were redesigned for '11. Due to budget constraints, GMC (and Chevy with the HD Silverado) concentrated on making a new truck under the skin. There's very little visual difference from the previous heavy duty trucks.
Thanks to: Motor Trend

New Car: 2012 Daihatsu Move

Toyota’s subsidiary company, Daihatsu, has unveiled its new Move in Japan.

Power comes courtesy of a 0.66-litre petrol unit - featuring stop-start - and produces 51bhp and 44lb ft of torque.

Shorter in length than Fiat’s 500, the Move is available with either front or four-wheel drive and is said to be the most efficient petrol car in Japan, the company claims.

Compared with its predecessor, the new Move is 35kg lighter, thanks to weight reductions in its instrument panel and door trim as well as the CVT unit and other components.

Prices in Japan will start at approximately £8000.

Thanks to: Autocar

Hot News: Mercedes Plans 320 hp Hatchback

Mercedes-Benz is planning to enter the hot hatch market in 2012 with a 320bhp AMG-badged A-class.

The hot AMG version of the new, third-generation A-class will have a turbocharged 2.0-litre engine and four-wheel drive. It is being developed by Mercedes’ AMG performance arm under the direction of its new boss, Ola Källenius.

The hot A-class is due on sale in the UK in September 2012. It will be priced to compete with the Audi RS3, Volkswagen Golf R and an M Sport-badged, turbocharged four-cylinder version of BMW’s second-generation 1-series hatchback — which suggests that it could be around £35k.

The new A-class will be based on Mercedes’ MFA (Modularen Frontantriebs-Architektur) platform — a newly developed unitary construction structure that ditches the heavy and expensive ‘sandwich floor’ of today’s model.

Codenamed W176, the car is radically different from its tall predecessor. It takes on a much lower and more conventional two-box silhouette, overlaid with taut surfacing and styling cues first seen on the F800 Style concept car.

The racy new look will be previewed on a concept at next year’s Shanghai motor show. It is designed to attract a younger customer than today’s A-class.

The look will be further embellished on the AMG version by uniquely styled bumpers, pronounced sills, chromed tailpipes and 18-inch wheels. The car is likely to be badged A25 AMG, according to insiders.

AMG had planned to use a 2.0-litre, direct injection engine running an electrically operated turbocharger from Swiss firm Hyprex. But concerns over its complexity and related production costs have forced a switch to a more conventional powerplant using a mechanical twin-scroll turbo.

Insiders with knowledge of the 2.0-litre, aluminium-block engine suggest that AMG’s powertrain department is aiming for a power output in excess of 300bhp. One source told us: “Something in the region of 320bhp is realistically possible with the technology at hand.”

By providing the car with a new six-speed, dual-clutch gearbox and a Haldex-style four-wheel drive system with a multi-plate clutch, Mercedes is hoping to dispel any concerns about traction. But in a bid to provide the A25 AMG with the dynamics to match its badge, the new driveline will feature a positive rear-drive bias, together with an electronically operated torque-vectoring clutch to juggle drive between each of the rear wheels.

Thanks to: Autocar

New Car: 2012 BMW 1-Series Coupe & Convertible

One could say the BMW 1 Series Coupe and Convertible looks more or less the same as when it first debuted, but there are a handful of changes for the 2012 model.

Starting with the obvious, the 128i Coupe and Convertible's front fascia have lost the more conservative look of their predecessor. As the red Convertible pictured above shows, the lower fascia is re-sculpted and the foglight housings have been redone. Tucked toward the outer edge of the foglight housings and barely visible in the photo are air ducts that are part of BMW's Air Curtain feature, which was first introduced on the 1 Series M Coupe. Air Curtain is standard on all 2012 128i models and directs high-pressure air from the front end to the sides of the front wheels to help combat the natural turbulence generated by the wheels' rapid rotation, all in the name of improved aerodynamic performance. Special Aero wheels will be up for order as well.

The 135i Coupe and Convertible appears to be mostly untouched on the exterior. The top-of-the-line 1 Series already comes with the M Aerodynamic Kit standard and doesn't add Air Curtain. Additionally, fresh design accents have been implemented into the 128i and 135i headlights and taillights.

Inside, a Gloss White interior trim is the latest option for the 2012 model year and certain switches and controls have been refined for a better look and feel.

The 128i remains powered by the 3.0-liter inline-six with 230 horsepower and 200 pound-feet of torque; the 135i puts the turbocharged, 3.0-liter inline-six with 300 horsepower and 300 pound-feet of torque to good use. A six-speed manual transmission is the norm, but a six-speed automatic (128i) and seven-speed Double Clutch Transmission (135i) are available too.

Both the 2012 1 Series Coupe and Convertible will go on sale Spring 2011.
Thanks to: Motor Trend

New Car: 2011 Acura RL

Acura is dragging its flagship RL luxury sedan kicking and screaming into the new decade, updating the car with a toned-down nose and a new six-speed automatic transmission.

Up front, the 2011 RL's new snout is less bulbous than that of its predecessor - a styling change possibly aimed at helping to silence critics of the controversial familial front end. New 18-inch alloys are perched in the wheelhouses and house special technology to quiet road noise. No other cosmetic changes have been made.

The real news lies underneath the 2011 RL's skin, with a new six-speed SportShift transmission replacing the five-speed used in for the 2010 model year (confirming our previous intel). The new gearbox is a welcome addition to the RL, and helps to boost fuel efficiency from 16/22 mpg city/highway to 17/24 mpg (combined fuel economy increases a full 2 mpg from 18 to 20). The additional cog could also make hilly driving a little less frantic than in the current car.

Pricing has not yet been announced for the 2011 Acura RL, though with the new transmission we expect a minor bump over 2010 prices. The big question now is how much longer the RL can soldier on with its upgrades -- and whether a next-gen car should be built.
Thanks to: Motor Trend

New Car: 2012 Vauxhall VXR8

The meanest Vauxhall is back! Sales of the muscle-bound VXR8 stopped in March, but now the firm has unveiled an updated model with a new, tougher look.

As before, the car is based on the Australian Holden Commodore – itself boosted by performance division HSV – and features a new matt-black ‘Shockwave’ grille.

Meanwhile, at the back are twin chrome exhaust pipes and a new rear spoiler. To go with its fresh look, the VXR8 also promises an improved driving experience thanks to Magnetic Ride Control – a first for the model. The system constantly adapts the ride to help find the best compromise between comfort and
handling agility.

Inside, leather trim comes as standard, as does Bluetooth and a colour touchscreen. In addition, the centre console is redesigned for a cleaner, more upmarket look. There’s been no toning down of the performance, however. Under the bonnet is the same 6.2-litre V8 as before. This sends 425bhp to the rear wheels via a six-speed manual or auto gearbox.

Performance is blistering, with 0-62mph taking only 4.9 seconds, aided by a new launch control system that kicks in when you floor the throttle. The bad news is a big price hike, from £37,105 to £49,500 for the base model. The updated VXR8 goes on sale in March. For more details click here.
Thanks to: Auto Express

New Concept Car: Volkswagen Taxi

All hail to the up! The latest addition to Volkswagen’s series of up! concept cars, called the VW Taxi Concept, is the last prototype before the city car goes into production next year – and this time designers have looked to our capital city for inspiration!

The final installation in a trio of ‘World Taxis’, the electric three-seater is designed to address the challenges facing cabs in modern cities, which include tighter emissions regulations and increasing demands on space.

Despite being unlike a London black cab in size or shape, the futuristic model features all the add-ons you’d expect, including a ‘Taxi’ light on the roof and the jet-black paint job.

Some more unusual cues include a monochrome Union Jack roof and the London coat of arms applied to the doors. But the smartest part is the use of space. Measuring 3.73 metres in length, 1.66m in width and 1.6m in height, it’s more compact than VW’s current smallest car, the Fox. But there’s still space for the driver plus two passengers, with legroom comparable to a saloon.

Luggage is stored where the front passenger seat would go, removing the need for a boot. The driver sits behind a touchscreen display which relays information on the vehicle’s vital functions, as well as fare and navigation data. Customers in the back are greeted by a large multifunction display showing weather information, their route and immediate location.

Based heavily on the Space up! and Space up! blue concepts, shown at the 2007 Tokyo and LA Motor Shows respectively, the newcomer has been restyled again. The swept-back headlights and vertical rear light assemblies have both been redesigned, while an asymmetrical door layout adds to the car’s functionality.

A conventional front-hinged door on the left allows the driver to climb on board, while an electric sliding door on the other side provides a much larger opening for passengers. Under the skin is an all-electric powertrain similar to the e-up! concept.

Lithium-ion batteries provide power to a single 113bhp electric motor, while the car’s total weight is 1,500kg – which points towards a 0-62mph sprint of 10 seconds and top speed of 74mph. VW claims a range of 186 miles between charges is possible.

The taxi-inspired concept made its debut at a dedicated event in the UK capital this week. The full production version of the up! city car will be revealed next summer. For more details click here.
Thanks to: Auto Express

Spied: 2013 Mazda CX-5

The compact crossover market is hot, hot, hot and Mazda may be looking at a way to increase its share. Recently, in the wintery clime of the Alps, our spy shooters found this prototype, presumably undergoing winter testing.

Looking very much like a shorter, chopped CX-7, this crossover is based on the Mazda3 and could be powered by one of Mazda's new breed of fuel-efficient engines - either the gasoline-powered Skyactiv-G or diesel-powered Skyactiv-D. Odds are that the new Skyactiv transmission can also be found here, helping to boost fuel economy yet another notch. We suspect the car would be dubbed CX-5, in relation to the current CX-7 and CX-9 vehicles.

The new 1.4-liter Skyactive engines will be direct-injected with extremely high compression ratios of 14.0:1. The gasoline variant is slated to achieve 70 mpg when it rolls out in the Japanese market Mazda2 next year. Skyactiv transmissions include dual-clutch types as well as CVTs.

It is predicted by our European correspondents that the Mazda CX-5 is a global vehicle and will be sold in Japan, Europe and the U.S. We could hope to see a near-production vehicle in the sheetmetal in late 2011.
Thanks to: Motor Trend

Hot News: GM May Debut Crossover Based-on Volt at Detroit Show 2011

General Motors has just begun shipping Chevrolet Volts to dealers from the Hamtramck factory in Detroit, and the firm estimates that it could sell more than 10 times the number of Volts it’s able to build in 2011. That’s not stopping the product planners from looking to the next phase of the company’s range-extended EV platform, though. It looks like the General is planning a five-passenger small crossover or MPV on the Volt’s architecture, which may be called the Chevy Amp and could debut at the Detroit auto show in January.

It’s a bit of an open secret that GM has been considering a five-door, five-passenger variant of the Volt. The company even showed the Volt MPV5 concept at the Beijing auto show in April, and has been very clear that, for economic reasons, it needs more vehicles using the Volt’s electric-drive system. A few weeks ago, GM’s European chief told a publication on the Continent that Opel is hoping to expand its Volt-underpinned products to include a five-passenger crossover and a more conventionally shaped five-door hatchback (instead of the Volt’s sedan-like silhouette).

Considering the relationship between voltage and amperage—volts equal amps multiplied by resistance—an Amp-branded MPV seems plausible. December trademark filings by General Motors show applications for Chevrolet Amp and Chevrolet Strobe, in addition to the recently announced Sonic, née Aveo. (As is always the case with trademark filings, keep in mind that companies frequently lay claim to certain names they wish to protect, but which will never adorn a vehicle; in this case, GM’s European brand Opel will be selling the Volt as the Ampera.) GM also has registered the domain names,,, and, the latter two being purchased just this past October.

We expect news of GM’s full concept and production-car lineup for the Detroit auto show soon, so check back for updates.

Thanks to: Car and Driver

Spied Up Date: 2012 Lamborghini Aventador LP700-4

The picture you see here is the best glimpse yet of Lamborghini’s V-12–powered Murciélago replacement, the supercar that’s all but certain to be called the Aventador LP700-4. The snapshot reached the light of day thanks to the Lamborghini Club of Los Angeles, who posted the photo on its Facebook page.

While the image may be below National Geographic standards, it’s enough to make any red-blooded car fan froth at the mouth. The Aventador’s bulging front fender dominates the picture, but it would be impossible to miss the air intake behind the driver’s door—it’s big enough to kick a football through. That intake will be gulping air for the all-new 6.5-liter V-12 (which we described in detail last month), and possibly cooling the brakes, too. Expect the latter to be huge, as it will take serious stoppers to rein in the Aventador’s 700 hp.

Our sources have confirmed that the Aventador will have a carbon-fiber monocoque, similar in theory if not execution to that of the Sesto Elemento concept, meaning it should be exceptionally lightweight. Add the trick, single-clutch transmission that the company says will shift faster than any dual-clutch unit, and it seems like the Aventador will—as any good Lambo flagship should—tick all the boxes on the bleeding-edge-supercar checklist.

Thanks to: Car and Driver

First Sketch: 2012 Ford Territory

Ford has issued an artist's impression of the upgraded Territory for 2011. It's the first official opportunity to gauge how the locally-manufactured SUV -- on the market since 2004 -- will look in upgraded form when it's launched before the end of the first quarter next year.

Between now and then, Ford will steadily drip-feed information to the media concerning the new model, which will introduce a version of the 2.7-litre turbodiesel V6 that powers the Land Rover Discovery 4. The turbodiesel will sell alongside the petrol six-cylinder in the Territory range.

It's clear, contrary to rumours doing the rounds, that the upgraded Territory will be a little more than just a tweak of the frontal styling via the medium of new bumpers and other details. There are obvious sheet-metal changes in the vehicle, based on the artist's sketch, which we presume is an accurate representation of the finished product.

Tail lights, what we can see of them, don't extend as far down the corner of the rear quarter panels as is the case with the current Territory. Furthermore, the beltline behind the C pillar doesn't follow the beltline of the doors -- again, unlike the current Territory. This suggests the sheet metal of the rear quarter panels has been revised, along with the front hang-ons.

Speculation within the industry suggests that the Territory will raise the bar high among softroaders in the medium SUV segment for NVH and dynamics -- not that Ford is admitting anything much on either score, but Ford President Bob Graziano did confirm big gains for the Territory in the press material accompanying the image.

"The Ford Australia team is taking the Territory to an all-new level of performance, refinement and quality, and customers will definitely experience these advancements when they drive it," Graziano was quoted as saying.

According to the press release, the Territory will also introduce a major redesign for the interior.

The Territory upgrade should end the popular perception that the SUV hasn't kept pace with the market. Toyota has just revised its Kluger and Holden is enjoying strong sales from its multifarious Captiva, which not only starts at a lower price, but also offers a diesel. The Territory has a little catching up to do...

But Ford anticipates that the diesel Territory will hit the spot with the buying public and the styling changes will re-awaken consumer interest in the SUV. The company saw an upswing in sales after the minor facelift marketed as the SY Series II model, which will be replaced by the upgraded Territory. If a minor facelift (and improved consumer confidence after the GFC) can boost sales, this forthcoming upgrade should kick some goals, the manufacturer hopes.

Until next year, when all will be revealed, the question likely to be the most pressing will be that of pricing for the diesel variants.

Thanks to: Car Point

Hot News: 2014 BMW 1-Series

Two roomy and highly practical front-wheel-drive BMWs are set to broaden the reach and appeal of the forthcoming second-generation 1-series.

The new front-drive models will be aimed squarely at the Audi A3. They will also provide added environmental credentials to BMW’s entry-level line-up through the introduction of a ground-breaking new three-cylinder engine.

Based around a modified version of the Mini Countryman’s front-wheel drive platform and aluminium-intensive chassis, the new entry-level BMW models will be a traditional five-door hatchback and a sporting estate. They are scheduled to begin arriving in UK showrooms in September 2013.

BMW’s first modern-day front-wheel-drive models are known internally under the codename UKL (an acronym for the German words Unter Klasse). They are totally separate from the company’s high-profile MegaCity Vehicle project and form part of a new six-strong 1-series line-up.

Included are a three-door hatchback, a five-door hatchback, a coupé and a cabriolet, all with rear-wheel drive, plus the five-door hatchback and estate versions running on the new front-drive architecture.

In its design and packaging, the UKL is a vastly different proposition from the second-generation rear-drive 1-series that will make its world debut at the Geneva motor show in March. The primary difference between the two is that the front-drive car has its engine mounted transversely under a comparatively short bonnet rather than longitudinally under a typically long bonnet.

With drive being sent to the front wheels rather than channelled via a propshaft to the rear wheels, the layout has given BMW’s designers the freedom to dispense with the transmission tunnel running back through the interior. This should increase the amount of available space, especially in the rear.

The new layout has also allowed BMW to rethink the car’s proportions, with the front bulkhead and A-pillars being brought further forward. This will increase the volume of the cabin to a level comparable with Europe’s best-seller, the Volkswagen Golf, and the Audi A3.

Thanks to: Autocar

Hot News: A New Concept Car from Mini at Geneva Show 2011

Mini is likely to show a super-small city car at the Geneva show next March, according to hints from the brand’s boss, Wolfgang Armbrecht.

The long-rumoured concept is expected to be the same size as the original Mini, competing directly with the Toyota IQ. It’s likely to be based on a version of today’s Mini platform, making it a candidate to be built in the UK.

Armbrecht was also quoted in a Financial Times Deutschland interview as saying that another, larger, Mini concept would be shown at the Detroit show in January.

However, industry reports say that BMW’s development chief Klaus Draeger has warned that the Mini brand should not build too many large cars, because of the potential risks to the brand.

Autocar sources have said that some in BMW’s senior management are cautious about the likely success of the Countryman project.

The five-door model would need to be judged a successful addition to the brand if it is to survive and become part of the next-generation Mini family based on the upcoming BMW group front-drive drive platform.

Thanks to: Autocar

Hot News: 2012 Subaru Impreza Coupe

Subaru is turning on the style! In a bold departure, the Japanese firm has an all-new coupé waiting in the wings – and it’s seeking to reignite enthusiasts’ passion for rally-inspired models, such as the Impreza, by reinventing the brand for a new audience. Our exclusive pictures show how the car will look when it hits UK roads.

The 2+2 coupé is being jointly developed with the Toyota FT-86. In a move to help reduce costs, Subaru will contribute the hardware for both cars. The chassis is a modified version of the Legacy’s platform, while the firm’s famous 2.0-litre four-cylinder boxer engine appears under the bonnet.

This unit currently produces 148bhp in the Impreza hatch, but a new cylinder head with revised camshafts, pistons and valves will raise that figure to 200bhp. The 0-62mph sprint will take less than seven seconds, while a top speed of 140mph is expected. Using Toyota’s expertise in fuel efficiency, economy of 40mpg should be feasible, too. However, we can expect a more powerful 300bhp turbo version to follow.

The suspension, steering and brakes will all be tuned to deliver the sharpest driving experience possible, and again will be shared between the two models, as will the rear-wheel-drive layout. It’s a leap of faith for Subaru, a company famous for using 4WD, but one that’s necessary for lightness and agility. For the same reason, both cars will use a six-speed manual gearbox, instead of a heavier dual-clutch unit.

Displaying a striking new look, the production model will take its inspiration from the Impreza Design Concept shown at the Los Angeles Motor Show last month. Specifically, the hawkeye headlights and front air vents with integrated LED running lights will be carried over, giving the car a purposeful face to match its performance.

Marking the Subaru out will be a prominent rear diffuser with twin tailpipes, body-coloured A-pillars – instead of the wraparound windscreen seen on the FT-86 – and a huge bonnet scoop to help cool the engine. The production version of Toyota’s coupé is scheduled to debut at the Tokyo Motor Show next October.

However, considering the common components of both cars, expect the newcomers to debut as a pair, and cost around £25,000 when they reach UK showrooms early in 2012. For more details click here.
Thanks to: Auto Express

First Sketch: 2012 Hyundai Sonata/i40 Wagon

Wagons roll at Hyundai! The Korean firm is set to take on the VW Passat from next year with this, the new i40. The newcomer has been developed by Hyundai’s German R&D centre in Russelsheim specifically with European buyers in mind.

So in order to coax people from their Passats and Avensis’, the i40 will debut as an estate first, with Hyundai claiming the car offers more space for passengers and luggage that its key rivals. The i40 debuts at the Geneva Motor Show in March. The estate arrives in the UK in May, and the saloon follows in November.

Underneath, Hyundai has borrowed the front and rear of two different platforms, the Elantra and Sonata respectively, to create a chassis which the firm hopes has what it takes to outhandle the competition.

The stop-start-equipped engine range is very much in keeping with the current downsizing trend. There’s just one petrol, an all-new 2.0-litre direct injection unit which develops 174bhp and emits 156g/km of CO2. However, the big sellers will be its 1.7-litre diesels. Two versions will be offered at first. Both are single turbo units, with 114bhp and 134bhp respectively, while a twin-turbo flagship arrives in 2012.

On the inside, Hyundai promises an upmarket interior made using high quality materials. Auto Express has seen it, and can confirmed that the swooping dash design is much like that of the Vauxhall Insignia, and features a wealth of soft-touch plastics and plenty of storage space.

Tech highlights include adaptive headlights and a self-parking system. Hyundai is yet to confirm prices or trim levels, but it will be specced competitively and will include the firm’s impressive five-year, unlimited mileage warranty. For more details click here.
Thanks to: Auto Express

Hot News: Lancia's 300C to be Called Thema?

A Chrysler Delta isn't the only Italian-American concoction destined for the 2011 Geneva Motor Show. In fact, reports suggest Lancia's new full-size sedan, based heavily off the forthcoming 2011 Chrysler 300, will also make its world debut at the Geneva Motor Show.

Fiat's luxury brand has been struggling to maintain momentum in the past several years; sales in 2009, for instance, fell to 112,000 vehicles in total. Still, the brand has hopes of tripling its sales within three years, thanks to a number of new products -- many of which may be shared with the Chrysler brand.

Chrysler management hinted months ago that the 300 could be sold as a Lancia, but Automotive News now suggests the final product, which may bear the revived Thema nameplate, could launch in Geneva by March. Apart from a new grille and revised bumpers, the 300 isn't expected to change much for its European tour of duty, although Thema buyers will have a few different engines to choose from. A 3.0-liter turbo-diesel V-6 may be offered with Chrysler's new 3.6-liter Pentastar gas V-6, but the majority of Themas will likely be built with the diesel offering.

Unlike previous Euro-spec 300s, which were built under contract by Magna Steyr in Austria, the Thema will likely be built alongside its LX platform siblings in Brampton, Ontario, Canada. Thema production will only account for 10,000-15,000 units annually, but Lancia hopes the car will boost its image.

Look for the Thema to debut alongside Chrysler's rebadged Lancia Delta at the 2011 Geneva Motor Show in March, and ultimately roll into European showrooms later next year.
Thanks to: Motor Trend

New Car: 2012 Jeep Compass

Chrysler’s been working its way through its lineup, giving nearly all 2011 Dodge, Chrysler, and Jeep vehicles reworked interiors and revised mechanicals, if not outright redesigning the entire model. Now it’s the diminutive Compass’s turn, and its treatment is more the former than the latter. The Compass shares most of its dirty bits with the Jeep Patriot, which has also been revised for this year. (You might remember that when the Patriot and Compass were being examined by focus groups prior to production, men favored the Patriot, while women preferred the Compass. Jeep intended to build only one of the two vehicles, but rather than actually, you know, make a decision, the company produced both. And here we are.)

The 2011 Compass will get a new face, nicer cabin materials, a new suspension, and a new, off-road-oriented optional AWD system. The most obvious changes are up front, where the Compass receives a new hood, fascia, fenders, grille, and headlights. The result looks like a Grand Cherokee that shrunk in the wash and gained an upswept grin; it’s more attractive than the gawky look of the outgoing model. The family resemblance is of course deliberate, and Jeep jokingly calls this the “Grand” Compass.

The rear is restyled with a new roof spoiler, LED taillights, and a new bumper, and the Compass Limited gets a chrome exhaust tip and bumper step plate. New chromed roof rails are available, and the lower body sides have protective cladding to help deal with off-road or—more likely—shopping-cart dings. Seventeen-inch aluminum wheels are standard, with chrome or aluminum 18-inchers available on the Limited.

The 2011 model’s interior gains a new three-spoke steering wheel with integrated audio and cruise controls, a redesigned center stack, higher-quality upholstery, soft-touch materials on the door panels, and newly backlit door switches. An armrest and cruise control are now standard for all Compass trims.

As for mechanicals, the Compass benefits from similar suspension upgrades as seen on the 2011 Patriot (and the 2011 Dodge Caliber, another platform-mate); these include higher-rate springs and shock absorbers, as well as a thicker rear anti-roll bar. There’s also a new All-Weather Capability package, which equips the SUV with Goodyear all-terrain tires, an engine-block heater, tow hooks, daytime running lights, and all-weather floor mats so your carpet won’t get all mussed when you drive your Compass in a typhoon, which is nice.

There are no powertrain changes: A 158-hp, 2.0-liter four-cylinder is standard on base and Latitude models, while a 172-hp, 2.4-liter unit is optional on those two trims and standard on the Limited. A five-speed manual is standard on the entry-level Compass, with a continuously variable transmission being optional; the CVT is standard for Latitude and Limited models.

Front-wheel drive is the default arrangement, while two different all-wheel-drive systems can be equipped. Freedom Drive I carries over from last year; it’s an active AWD system that can be locked into all-wheel-drive mode. New for 2011 is the Freedom Drive II package, a more robust setup that was previously only available on the Patriot. It bundles low-range gearing, skid plates, tow hooks, fog lights, and a one-inch suspension lift, and is designed for those who want to try serious off-roading with their Compass—a demographic we didn’t know existed.

The revised Compass will be in dealerships by the end of this month. While the new Grand Cherokee is both highly capable off-road and very competent on pavement, the Compass has heretofore been pretty terrible to drive, so regardless of the new suspension, any resemblance between the GC and this SUV may only be skin deep. Still, Chrysler has done a very good job instilling competence in many of its previously disappointing products—witness the Sebring-turned-200—and we’re looking forward to finding out if that’s the case with the Compass.

Thanks to: Car and Driver

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