Spied Up Date: 2011 Volvo V60

Gotcha! Our spies have caught the Volvo V60 completely undisguised at a photoshoot in America. The Swedish firm’s new Chinese owners aren’t due to unveil the load-lugger until the Paris Motor Show in October.

But despite being under heavy guard, and having its grille removed to conceal its identity, there’s no question that we were looking at Volvo’s latest wagon.

The V60 joins the XC60 and new S60 and completes the firm’s D-segment line-up. And as you can see, the estate shares the family look of the SUV and saloon - the upright S-shaped rear lights owe much to the XC60, while the coupe-like side glass mimics the roofline of the S60. Chrome brightwork and sleek, matt silver roof rails complete the stylish look.

The estate will use the same technology as the saloon, so expect the groundbreaking pedestrian detection system to feature.

Under the bonnet, there’ll be two five-cylinder diesels, with 205bhp and 163bhp, and two petrols – a 203bhp 2.0-litre turbo and a range-topping 304bhp turbocharged 3.0-litre straight six. For more details click here.
Thanks to: Auto Express

New Car: 2011 Audi TT

It's nip and tuck time for the Audi TT. The firm's stylish coupe and drop top will receive a number of unspecified upgrades which will premier at the Leipzig motor show in Germany on 9th April.

Alongside the revised TT, the firm will show no fewer than 25 production cars and two show cars, including the new Audi A1, A8 and the RS 5 Coupé. The firm will also show off the Audi A1-based e-tron show car and its A4 which won the 2009 German Touring Car Championship.

The Leipzig show has gained prominence in recent years despite its proximity to the Geneva Motor Show in the calendar. A number of the city's 500,000 inhabitants have jobs which depend on BMW's factory which builds the 1 Series three-door, coupé and convertible and the X1, and will build the firm’s forthcoming electric car; and Porsche's Panamera and Cayenne plant. For more details click here.

Thanks to: Auto Express

Sneak Peek: 2011 Nissan Quest

Back in January, we finally confirmed a report we brought you more than a year earlier -- namely, that the Nissan Quest minivan was officially taking the 2010 model year off. At the time of both reports, it wasn't clear if the minivan would return after its hiatus, but an initial teaser release and image from Nissan today confirms its people-hauler will indeed return in 2011.

Officially, the Quest bowed out for 2010 due to congestion at the Canton, Mississippi, plant where it was built. Nissan said the Quest, Armada and Infiniti QX56 would all be phased-out at Canton to make way for the new NV line of commercial vehicles. We were told that Quest and QX56 production would shift to Japan, while the Armada was apparently left out in the cold. We couldn't help but notice that sales for all three vehicles had also taken a serious hit in 2008.

So now we know the Quest is back, but that's just about all we know so far, short of the teaser image it's displaying during a presentation in New York on the eve of the 2010 New York show. Nissan did say that the new Quest will offer more functionality and comfort without sacrificing space or driving prowess. That, and it will go on sale in early 2011. Beyond that, what we know is what we can see, and what we can see is that while the last Quest looked something like a puffed-up Versa, the new one looks to be based in part on the 2007 Nissan Forum Concept. Though more restrained than the Forum, the new Quest clearly cribs some of its front-end styling from the concept. The rest, though, will have to wait until the van officially debuts, likely sometime later this year.
Thanks to: Motor Trend

New Car: 2011 Lincoln MKZ Hybrid

From the “Well, Duh” Department at Ford Motor Company comes the new hybrid version of the Lincoln MKZ. The MKZ hybrid is fitted with the same gasoline-electric system found in the hybrid versions of its corporate twins, the Ford Fusion and Mercury Milan.

The hybrid powertrain combines a 156-hp, 2.5-liter four-cylinder gas engine and 106-hp electric motor for a total system output of 191 hp; it’s rated for 41 mpg in the city and 36 on the highway in the Fusion and Milan variants. While we have yet to match those numbers (the Milan hybrid we tested returned 32 mpg combined), Ford says it expects similar EPA ratings for this MKZ. The company goes on to name the car’s Public Enemy No. 1, the Lexus HS250h, and says that the MKZ will offer the best fuel economy of any luxury sedan.

Lincoln’s take on the Ford hybrid theme, of course, will be much better equipped than either of its less-expensive brethren. It will include swiveling HID headlamps, cushy heated and cooled leather seats, and, of course, a slightly snazzier version of the nifty, configurable EcoGuide instrument cluster. In the Milan and Fusion hybrids, a screen-based botanical garden grows leaves and vines as a reward for fuel-efficient driving; the Lincoln adds pretty flowers! What’s next, rain-forest fragrances emanating from the HVAC system? (If so, we suggest Lincoln swipe an idea from the latest Infiniti M, which has a climate-control system that blows gentle “forest breezes” on occupants.)

Other standard goodies include Sync voice-activated controls; sustainable wood trim for the dash, doors, and steering wheel; and reverse and cross-traffic sensors. Pricing has not yet been announced, but we speculate it will cost around $38,000 to start.

Thanks to: Car and Driver

Ultimate chop top!!!!

 That's only about an inch and a half worth of window space to look out.

Ultimate Chop Top!!!!

Video: Biker lowsides on Mulholland, gives CHP an excuse — Autoblog

Biker lowsides on Mulholland Drive— Autoblog

And the bonehead of the year award goes to........

Roush and Barrett-Jackson pair up for special edition Ford Mustang — Autoblog

Caroll Shelby's not going to be too happy about this one. But he had his limelight with the Barrett-Jackson folks.

Roush and Barrett-Jackson pair up for special edition Ford Mustang — Autoblog

Sneak Peek: 2011 Hyundai Sonata Hybrid

This is the first picture of the hybrid Hyundai Sonata saloon, which will be launched at tomorrow's New York motor show.

The car will be differentiated by from the standard Sonata by a completely new front end, which adds a massive grille inspired by the Hyundai Blue-Will.

The car is expected to be powered by the same 2.4-litre engine in US market saloons, but re-tuned to operate on the more efficient Atkinson cycle. It is likely to use a conventional six-speed automatic gearbox in conjunction with a 30kW electric motor.

Thanks to: Autocar

Spied: 2011 Aston Martin Vantage

These are the first pictures of the facelifted Aston Martin Vantage, which will go on sale later this year.

Styling tweaks take inspiration from the V12 engined model, and are designed to give the car a more aggressive look and improve aerodynamic peformance.

These include a redesigned front bumper with new lower splitter, a new rear diffuser and a higher rear spoiler.

The car is also expected to be slightly lighter than the current model.

The 19-inch wheels, lightweight carbonfibre and kevlar seats and 1000-watt Bang & Olufsen stereo system, recently introduced on the current car, are expected to be offered as standard.

Thanks to: Autocar

Hot News: Mazda Leases Prius Hybrid Technology

Toyota is to license its Prius-based hybrid technology for use in a forthcoming Mazda hybrid.

Mazda says the Prius technology will be combined with its next-generation engines, with the resulting hybrid on sale by 2013.

These engines are known are part of Mazda's Sky project, which will come on stream in 2011 and offer petrol and diesel economy improvements of at leats 15 per cent.

Mazda says it believes licensing the company's hybrid technology is the quickest way to bring its own hybrid to market.

Mazda wants to improve the average fuel economy of its vehicles by 30 per cent by 2015.

Toyota said it will consider requests from other companies to license its hybrid technology.

Thanks to: Autocar

New Car: 2011 Mercedes R-Class

This is the facelifted Mercedes R-class.

The pictures leaked out ahead of the car's unveiling at this week's New York motor show, when further details are expected to be revealed.

With disappointing sales, Mercedes has opted to make significant revisions to the R-class's styling. Thes einclude a new front end, with a new headlamp, grille and bonnet design. At the rear the changes are more subdued, but the bumper and tail lights have been tweaked.

The interior pictures show a variety of new colour combinations available, as well as an AMG kit that includes leather setas, a new steering wheel, stainless steel pedals and a paddleshift gearchange.

Mechanical revisions are slight, with reports suggesting only the R350 CDI 4MATIC will get a tweak to 265bhp and lower emissions.

Thanks to: Autocar

New Car: 2011 Ford Focus RS500

The Focus is set to go out with a bang with the ultimate hot hatch! For the car’s swansong, before the all-new third generation arrives in dealers next year, Ford bosses have given the green light to a firebreathing new version.

Taking the already potent RS as a base, the RS500 features a revised engine that will really get fast Ford fans talking. The Volvo-sourced turbocharged 2.5-litre has been tweaked by UK-based tuner Mountune. The result is a power output boosted to 345bhp – a 15 per cent increase from standard. Plus, torque has risen from 440Nm to 460Nm, to give the engine yet more mid-range punch.

To squeeze out all the extra power, the RS500 is equipped with an enlarged intercooler, which feeds colder, denser air into the engine. A larger exhaust downpipe and new fuel pump have been fitted to keep up with the unit’s higher performance demands.

In addition, the engine management system has been recalibrated to optimise the delivery of power for maximum pace. As a result, the sprint from 0-62mph now takes only 5.6 seconds – three-tenths faster than the standard car – while top speed is up from 163mph to 165mph.

Other than the engine changes, there have been very few modifications to the car’s chassis. The RevoKnuckle front suspension system – which reduces torque steer – remains the same, as does the Quaife limited-slip differential. The brakes are also carried over, although the calipers are painted red to help set the RS500 apart from lesser models. Ford has retained the 19-inch 15-spoke alloy wheels, too, but given them a metallic black finish.

To prove that the chassis could cope, as part of the car’s development programme, three racing drivers were hired to lap the infamous 12.9-mile Nordschleife section of the Nürburgring circuit in Germany non-

stop 500 times. Following the test, chief engineer Matthias Tonn confirmed: “An eight-minute lap time is within reach.” tThat would make the RS500 the fastest hot hatch at the track, eclipsing the current record of eight minutes 17 seconds, held by the Renaultsport Mégane R26.R.

Ford will offer only one colour – a striking matt black foil finish, specially developed for the car by American technology firm 3M. The foil is applied by hand after each model rolls off the line at Ford’s plant in Saarlouis, Germany. A unique blue and red badge is also added to the tailgate.

Inside, a number of modifications have been carried out. The RS500 is based on the top-spec version of the RS, so it already gets air-con, parking sensors and Recaro seats. But in addition, each car is individually numbered with a plaque on the centre console. There’s a unique red colour scheme, with red stitching for the leather on the steering wheel, door trims and gearlever gaiter. The only options are a touchscreen DVD sat-nav and red leather seats.

The car will make its debut on 9 April at Germany’s Leipzig Motor Show, and go on sale in the UK late in June. As it did with 2003’s GT supercar, Ford will bring 101 examples to the UK. Demand is likely to be high, despite the predicted £34,000 price. Bosses are finalising a ballot system to decide the lucky recipients of the fastest Focus ever. For more details click here.

Thanks to: Auto Express

Unofficial Picture: 2011 Infiniti QX56

Someone on the Web was obviously unable to heed embargo information, leading to the leak of the first 2011 Infiniti QX photos ahead of this week's New York auto show.

Essentially a revised 2010 Nissan Patrol (which we drove last month), the 2011 QX wears Infiniti badges and restyled front and rear fascias. The face and butt aren't pretty, but then again, the QX was never that in the first place. It also gets the contemporary Nissan/Infiniti "helmet" with blacked-out A-pillars as seen on the GT-R.

New Car: 2011 Cadillac CTS-V Sport Wagon

We’re trying to figure out what to use our last two wishes on, because it feels like a genie just floated by the Car and Driver offices and granted one of our deepest longings. Cadillac has announced that it will be showing off a CTS-V wagon at the New York auto show, and that the car will go into production later in 2010.

The most beautiful thing about the CTS-V wagon? It’s exactly what you’d think it would be. No additional embellishments, no tweaking this or that for some nonsensical reason imagined by the marketing department; it’s just a CTS wagon with all the stuff that makes the CTS-V sedan so sweet. That would be the 556-hp, 6.2-liter supercharged V-8, the choice of six-speed manual or automatic transmissions, adaptive magnetorheological shocks, Brembo brakes, and fat 19-inch wheels shod in Michelin PS2 rubber. It gets the same body mods as the sedan, too, meaning that our wishful rendering was spot-on. It even gets the same three-inch tailpipes poking through the rear bumper, although we’re already excited about the inevitable conversion kits to swap in something like the CTS-V coupe’s sexy, 4.5-inch center-mount drainpipes.

Here, we’d like to insert an argument here about how Cadillac isn’t totally crazy for foisting a 556-hp wagon on a populace that so detests upright rear windows on things that aren’t pretending to be trucks. As much as we would love to nominate the CTS-V as the Wagon Ambassador that will rekindle America’s long-lost love affair with the family truckster, we know that this vehicle will appeal to few buyers.

So does Cadillac, which is calling the CTS-V wagon a “limited availability” vehicle. There’s no limit to the number the factory can build; this is a self-regulating limit governed by the scarcity of nutjobs who are drawn to something like this. For proof, may we call your attention to the Mercedes-Benz E63 AMG wagon, which sold like tofu sausage marinated in manure. But, like with the E63 wagon, we guarantee that those who buy it will love it. And, if the U.S. market ever returns to the wagon, Cadillac will be sitting pretty with the baddest-ass hauler in all the land.

Thanks to: Car and Driver

Unofficial Picture: 2011 Suzuki Wagon R

Here are some spy images of the new Maruti Suzuki Wagon R that will replace the existing car in April this year. The third generation Wagon R will be powered by the latest 1-litre K-series engine.

Under the skin this car is all-new. It has a stiffer chassis which should improve the ride and handling over the current car. Tailored blanks are used all over and these specially treated, sandwiched and layered pieces of steel help provide stiffness without adding wasteful bulk.

On the outside, the styling has rounded out the square edges of the car, particularly at the front end. This give the car more than just a technical look - it gives the front end a 'smiley' look similar to the Estilo. The slot-type front grille is now a bigger one-piece, shield type design. The car also gets a wider chin that looks to have been re-designed to increase air flow to the engine.

The interiors have improved and now sport dual tone interiors with alluminum touches all around. The steering wheel is borrowed from the Swift and it also gets a new-look rectangular centre console.

Maruti hasn’t messed around with the car’s strength; the tall roofline, high seats and ‘spacious for a hatchback’ interiors promise to keep this car on the top of the charts.

Thanks to: Autocar India

Hot News: Bugatti Galibier to be Launched in 2013?

The Bugatti 16 C Galibier super-saloon concept is poised to be given the green light for production, following positive reaction to the concept car.

The Galibier has been on tour since last September, visiting Bugatti customers, the media and motor shows as Bugatti assesses its suitability as a replacement for the Veyron. Production of the hypercar will end in 2012.

A decision on the Galibier had been expected this spring, but Bugatti’s position as the smallest of VW’s brands has meant it has had to wait its turn for Group funds. Each of the 300 Galibiers earmarked for production from 2013 is expected to retail for around £900,000.

Despite this high price, the funds required for development are small within the context of the group. But VW is currently trying to raise around €4bn (£3.6bn) in a share sale and has frozen any announcements on new products. It is worried that committing to a new Bugatti model will have an adverse effect on its attempts to raise the funds.

The reaction to the car has been overwhelmingly positive and Bugatti insiders claim there is now a strong will within the Volkswagen Group to make the car. It is almost certain to be signed off for production this summer after the share sale has ended.

“It will be made one way or the other,” said one insider. “We’re the smallest VW Group member and there’s a recession on so we’ve not been a priority.

“But we can expect to announce something by the summer; it looks good, people like it and it wouldn’t be a great financial commitment in the context of the Group.”

The Galibiers are influenced by the Veyron and the fuselage styling of the classic Bugatti Type 35.

Its doors and wings are constructed from aluminium, but the rest of the body is made from carbonfibre. Carbonfibre is also used in the front end of the chassis to add stiffness and keep weight down.

A weight hasn’t been given, although Bugatti wants the Galibier to be the lightest car in its class. The four-seat cabin is more luxurious than the Veyron and has a more minimal design.

Powering all four of the Galibier’s wheels is the Veyron’s W16 engine, tuned to produce around 800bhp, albeit using twin mechanical superchargers rather than the Veyron’s four turbochargers.

The Galibier probably won’t have the Veyron’s DSG gearbox, either; instead it’s expected to use a conventional eight-speed automatic transmission.

But like the Veyron, it will be exceptionally fast. Bugatti tech boss Wolfgang Schreiber has said he wants the production Galibier to “be the world’s fastest, highest accelerating and powerful four-door”.

Thanks to: Autocar

Unofficial Picture Up Date: 2011 Ferrari 599 GTO

We get spy shots of unreleased cars on a fairly regular basis here at MT, but spy shots of ultra-fast, ultra-expensive supercars are a bit more rare. Getting two on the same day is virtually unheard of, but here we are. Enthusiasts have captured both the Ferrari 599 GTO ahead of its official debuts.

The Ferrari comes to us by way of French auto enthusiast site Caradisiac, which somehow got its hands on a few pictures of the all-new and as-of-yet unannounced Ferrari 599 GTO. A street-tuned version of the Ferrari 599 FXX track car, the GTO is believed to offer over 700 horsepower and hit 60 mph in just over 3 seconds on its way to a top speed well above 200 mph. Though the first leaked image seemed dubious, these ones appear legit and the pricing sheet that slipped out yesterday backs them up. In case you were wondering, the GTO is expected to cost more than $425,000.
Thanks to: Motor Trend

Spied: 2012 Chevrolet Malibu

Chevrolet’s current Malibu was a huge success when the company needed it, winning a place on our 2008 10Best list and proving that the bow-tie brand could build more than monster SUVs and pickup trucks. Now that the compact Cruze, even smaller Aveo, and minute Spark are all on their way, the Malibu is up for a little refresh.

The current car is sleek enough, but the overall design isn’t particularly elaborate. The 2012 model will change that with a bit more rake to the beltline, echoed by a faint crease in the body side. The nose and tail will certainly see the most change, but our spies weren’t quick enough with their cameras to catch the front of the car. In the tail, we see additional ornamentation around the trunk, which is recessed deeper into the surround sheetmetal and plastic. The top of the decklid appears to taper into a sort of flat, ducktail shape, like the more-controversial BMW designs of the last decade.

While it won’t look worlds different, the new Malibu will be comprehensively altered beneath the skin. It will join the Buick Regal and LaCrosse on GM’s new Epsilon II platform, an evolution of the current car’s Epsilon I bones. It will be slightly wider and a little taller, alleviating our primary concerns about the interior. Materials used inside the car supposedly will be vastly improved, although we hope the money to do so didn’t come out of the design budget—the stylish cockpit is one of our favorite things about the current car. Expect to see the HiPer strut system recently unveiled on the 2010 Buick Lacrosse to find its way onto top Malibu trim levels.

No doubt this is just the beginning for spies stalking the Malibu, as the car’s introduction probably won’t happen until the 2011 Detroit auto show. Stay tuned for more photos—maybe we’ll even get one of the nose next time.

Thanks to: Car and Driver

10 Cars to Drive Before You Die - Feature - Auto Reviews - Car and Driver

10 Cars to Drive Before You Die - Feature - Auto Reviews - Car and Driver

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Report: iTop Gear/i blamed for motorsports' environmentally unfriendly image

Report: Top Gear blamed for motorsports' environmentally unfriendly image

Why is it that poor Jeremy, Richard, James and Stigie get blamed for anything and everything?

Report: GM scouring Internet for customer complaints and responding

Report: GM scouring Internet for customer complaints and responding

Interesting concept that GM is trying.

Spied: 2011 Bentley Continental GT

An intriguing Bentley Continental GT was spotted recently at the brand's Crewe headquarters wearing a few refreshed styling accents.

Unfortunately, the image shown is the only one our intrepid spy shooters could snap before security literally charged them. But it's enough to see a whole new front clip with redesigned lower intakes, smaller LED headlights, and smoother, Mulsanne-esque fenders. Its rearview mirrors have been sculpted into more fluid single-piece forms.

Spied Up Date: 2011 Ford Explorer

Two decades ago, Ford introduced a mid-size, body-on-frame SUV named Explorer that traded some off-road performance for a measure of on-road comfort. In so doing, the Explorer struck a chord with wagon-weary (and wagon-wary) families, ushering in the SUV era. Now, of course, that era has passed, and the final nail in the coffin comes in the form of the 2011 Ford Explorer, which, after years of speculation, has been spied on the street with new crossover-style proportions, abandoning its trucky body-on-frame construction in favor of carlike unibody.

What we can expect from the fundamental change is a far more comfortable—and relevant—Explorer. It will retain its up-to-seven-passenger seating (to differentiate it from the five-passenger Edge), sitting on a wide track and a long wheelbase, and thus is expected to bring comprehensive dynamic improvements, including a smoother ride, tauter handling, and better sound insulation. Aerodynamics will be far better than those of today’s brick-like Explorer for vastly better high-speed fuel efficiency and stability. Even more helpful will be the installation of more powerful and fuel-efficient powertrains, likely the same 3.5-liter V-6s cribbed from the Taurus and Flex, both with and without EcoBoost (Ford-speak for turbocharging and direct injection). That’s right, we are likely to see a 350-hp Explorer next time around. Also expected is a low-end model with a four-cylinder EcoBoost engine making up to 230 hp, as Ford has said that nearly all of its passenger vehicles will be offered with a four-cylinder in future iterations.

Styling-wise, the guessing game is over with this most recent batch of images. With very Taurus-like characteristics including the grille and upper body crease, the Explorer will have projector headlamps topped by amber turn signals, set in a very large and low-hanging front fascia. Squared-off window pillars; a broad, flat roof; and a smartly angled D-pillar are confirmed; and LED taillamps are visible from previous shots.

We don’t know which additional creature comforts will be installed in the new Explorer, though we think it’s safe to say that whatever Ford was able to cram into the Taurus should fit just fine in the Explorer. That list includes heated and cooled seats, Sony audio with Sync, radar cruise control, abundant soft-touch trim, blind-spot monitoring, and a rainbow of ambient-lighting choices.

Jeep is probably thrilled that its Grand Cherokee is losing its only real remaining off-road-worthy domestic competitor, although we can only expect that Honda, Toyota, Nissan, and GM are none too happy to see the Explorer crossing over, so to speak, into their territory. The Explorer is expected to hit showrooms this fall.

Hot News: 2012 Mercedes C-Class

Mercedes-Benz design chief Gorden Wagener is starting to reshape the future look of the Stuttgart carmaker. As such, some of the firm’s show cars of the recent past, such as the 2005 Bionic Car or the 2007 F700, primarily must be interpreted as design exercises. But with Wagener taking the helm in mid-2008, the direction of Mercedes styling has been whittled down to some precisely defined, common themes.

Indeed, the latest Mercedes concepts—for example, the BlueZero and the somewhat presumptuously named F800 Style—indicate more clearly where Wagener wants to take the brand. Long wheelbases, short overhangs, and fluid convex and concave surfaces will define the next generation of Mercedes cars.

These renderings demonstrate what shape the next C- and E-class are likely to take once they reach production. Our examples are based on the F800 Style, which is the most road-ready take on the new styling language. The concept slots in between the current C- and E-class in length, although it’s wider and has a longer wheelbase than both. Despite their coupe-like rooflines, the future C and E would offer very generous interior space thanks to the extra length between the wheels.

As the renderings show, the F800's sliding rear doors will be subbed out for a conventionally hinged setup on production models. And if your favorite view of the road is through a three-pointed star, don't despair. While cars spec’d with the grille shown here—which currently is available on sporty coupes, convertibles, and the C-class—ditch the traditional hood ornament, the look won't replace the classic M-B grille altogether. We are assured from within the company that the latter grille will prevail on the E-class.

Look for advanced versions of Mercedes' COMAND infotainment system inside the car. There will be even fewer buttons, and voice activation—which works surprisingly well even today—will become even more of a focal point. The army of nanny systems Mercedes has planted into its current cars is there to stay; we just hope the next generation of the tech will still keep the secrets of our irresponsible driving habits to itself.

Under the hood of the next-generation C-class and E-class we expect to find turbocharged four- and six-cylinder diesel or gasoline engines, and hybrids will play a big role, too. The traditional hybrids will without exception be full hybrids, says Mercedes’ R&D chief Thomas Weber, and range-extending and plug-in variations are in the plans. And model designations will be further disconnected from actual engine displacement. Given the greener, earth-friendlier tone of the powertrain lineup, the attractive E550-style exhausts on these renderings are unlikely to see much use in real life.

Thanks to: Car and Driver

Unoffcial Picture: 2011 Ferrari 599 GTO

This grainy picture claims to show the upcoming GTO version of the Ferrari 599.

The Ferrari 599 GTO was expected to be shown earlier this month at the Geneva motor show, but instead Ferrari revealed a hybrid version of the V12-powered supercar.

The GTO will be a more focused version of the 599 than the current GTB and HGTE models, and was confirmed by Ferrari boss Amedeo Felisa on a trip to Australia last month.

Power will likely be north of 650bhp, with a similar rise in torque and performance.

Weight will be reduced to less than 1650kg, and the car will also likely feature the higher performing ferous iron brake pad technology pioneered on the hardcore 599XX model plus, perhaps, the more aggressive gear shift software and certain elements of the aerodynamic upgrades seen on the 599XX.

Expect a price tag between £250-300k, depending on options and deliveries could start as early as June, according to previous reports.

Thanks to: Autocar

New Concept Car: GM EN-V

General Motors has unveiled its vision of the future. Called the EV-N Concept, the two-seater fully electric concept has been developed by GM alongside its Chinese business partner SAIC, and made its public debut today in Shanghai.

The ‘Electric Networked-Vehicle’ is designed as an ideal solution for urban mobility and seats two passenger side-by-side in an upright position. Propulsion comes from two electric motors, one in each wheel, producing 440Nm of torque for brisk acceleration, although the top speed is just 25mph and the maximum range 25 miles.

GM has worked closely with Segway to give the EV-N the ability to self-stabilise on two wheels, much like the Segway scooter. This means the vehicle can turn within its own footprint, while there’s space for two passengers plus luggage in a vehicle that takes up roughly a third of the road space of a conventional vehicle.

By combining GPS with vehicle-to-vehicle communications and distance-sensing technologies, the EV-N can be driven manually or entirely completely autonomously – leaving you free to get on with work or read the paper while it shuttles you to your destination. It can also communicate with other EV-Ns to get real time traffic information and ensure you’re always on the fastest route.

Using vehicle-based sensor and camera systems, EN-V can “sense” what’s around it, allowing the vehicle to react quickly to obstacles or changes in driving conditions. GM claims this makes it virtually uncrashable – allowing the bodywork to be built from lightweight carbon-fibre and plastic and keeping the weight below 500kg.

Three different versions of the EV-N were unveiled in Shaghai although they share almost identical dimensions – the blue Xiao (Laugh) created at the GM studio in Australia, the red Jiao (Pride) penned at GM’s European studio in Germany and the grey Miao (Magic) born out of the GM Advanced Design Studio in California. For more details click here.
Thanks to: Auto Express

Hot News: Cadillac XTS Gets Green Light

General Motors has given the large Cadillac XTS sedan the green light. The car will launch next year as a 2012 model. What's the big deal? After all, this car has barely been under covers since GM emerged from bankruptcy last summer as the all-wheel-drive large sedan, based on the front-drive "Super Epsilon" platform, culminating in a "concept" reveal last January at the Detroit show.

Hot News: Baby Mercedes AMG Will Get V6 Supercharger

The mill is based on the upcoming 3.5-liter engine that'll first make its home in the new CLS350. Also like the CLS, the smaller AMG (codenamed the *** EVO) will get similar coupe-like styling, meaning four frameless doors and a steeply raked profile.

New Car: 2011 Subaru Impreza WRX

“Wider is better.” It’s best remembered as a tagline used over the decades by Pontiac, but Subaru might want to see if GM’s willing to give up the trademark. That’s because the Japanese company plans to debut a revised 2011 Impreza WRX with an increased track and wide-body sheetmetal lifted straight from its STI big brother. The official unveil will happen at the New York auto show.

The 2011 WRX’s newly flared fenders will cover a 1.5-inch increase in front and rear track, in addition to a set of wider 17-inch wheels that should deliver improved grip. (The current 17s are seven inches wide; the new wheels will wear 235/45 rubber versus the previous model’s 225/45s.) The ’11 Rex also will get firmer rear subframe bushings to handle the increased g’s that come with added grip. Just 33 pounds are gained in the make-over, which comes on the heels of a pretty thorough sharpening for 2009.

Aside from the visual cues mentioned above, new WRX models will feature restyled bumpers and grilles that swallow more air, as well as newly blacked-out fog lights that are wider—it’s better!—than before.

Thanks to: Car and Driver

Hot News: 2012 Volkswagen Beetle

A second generation of Volkswagen’s reborn Beetle will be launched next year with more focus on dynamics and less on retro styling.

To be previewed as a concept at the Los Angeles motor show in November, the production Beetle will go on sale in the UK in May 2011. A cabriolet will follow about a year later.

As with today’s Beetle, the car will be assembled at VW’s Puebla plant in Mexico, alongside the next Jetta. The two cars share their front-drive underpinnings and some driveline combinations.

This gives the Beetle a reworked chassis with wider tracks and a longer wheelbase than today’s model. Insiders are confident it will better the current Beetle’s dynamics, with a more compliant ride.

Suspension is MacPherson struts at the front and a torsion beam at the rear. However, the 210bhp 2.0-litre range-topper will have a multi-link rear to improve handling.

We’ve yet to see how VW’s design team has chosen to update the Beetle, but sources close to design boss Klaus Bischoff indicate that the 2005 Ragster concept provides hints.

Describing the new car’s design, one VW insider said, “It is more contoured, with additional structuring and defined feature lines used to help to break up the simple surfacing and unadorned character of the current model.”

The new Beetle will have a similar roofline to the Ragster’s. “The screen angles are less extreme and the roof structure is less rounded than it is at the moment,” said our source.

But much of the design will continue to draw heavily on the original Beetle, with rounded headlights and tail-lamps, separate wings over each wheel and a high waistline.

Volkswagen has also developed a much wider range of exterior options for the Beetle. “We’ve recognised the need to provide buyers with the opportunity to individualise their cars,” said our source. “This is especially important on the Beetle.”

In response to criticism of the Beetle’s packaging - particularly the depth of the dashboard and the lack of rear space - VW has thoroughly reworked the interior. The wider tracks and longer wheelbase increase space, but a lower roof reduces head room. Boot capacity will rise, to a nominal 250 litres.

Engines will include a 105bhp 1.2, a 160bhp 1.4 and a 210bhp 2.0 litre. A US-bound 170bhp 2.5-litre five-cylinder is not destined for Europe. Diesels will include the new 105bhp 1.6 and a 140bhp 2.0 litre.

A hybrid is also planned, with a similar drivetrain to that of the Jetta CC from this year’s Detroit show: a 150bhp turbocharged/supercharged 1.4 with a 27bhp electric motor.

Thanks to: Autocar

New Car; 2011 Mazda MX-5 Miata Matte and Black Special Edition

Matte colors have been all the rage lately, and their popularity doesn't seem to be waning any time soon. Mazda has jumped on the trendy paint scheme bandwagon in France where it recently debuted its MX-5 Matte and Black Special Edition.

The core of the special edition is all cosmetic, with no engine or chassis changes installed. It'll make its world debut at the 21st annual Salon du Cabriolet Coupe, Coupe, & SUV in Paris, and an added bonus, gets crystals, gems, and rhinestones inside its cabin from French designer line LK by Laure Kczekotowska Paris.

Spied: 2011 Ford Fiesta EcoBoost

The Ford Fiesta is perhaps the Blue Oval’s most anticipated and most important launch of an all-new product in years. But the biggest news to hot-hatch hounds is the arrival of the EcoBoost model, which will be powered by a turbocharged and direct-injected four-cylinder. Ford will be introducing both 1.6- and 2.0-liter versions of the engine. While we’d love to see the 2.0 and its expected 230 horsepower appear in the Fiesta, that’ll probably be reserved for a hot Focus, with the 1.6 doing duty in the smaller car. We’re not too upset—we expect about 185 horsepower out of the smaller engine, and combined with a feathery curb weight of around 2400 pounds, it should make the EcoBoost Fiesta a demonic little car.

Today, our spies captured the first sheetmetal evidence of the EcoBoost Fiesta, prowling the streets of Dearborn. Adding to the anticipation is the fact that the car spotted is the mean-looking three-door hatch, a body style we’ve been told we won’t get here in the U.S. Maybe this is hope that Ford’s product planners realize how successful the Volkswagen GTI is here in that configuration? For now, we can only hope that the hot three-door won’t be reserved for elsewhere in the world.

Whether or not the three-door appears, the visual mods should carry over to the five-door and the sedan, the two layouts that have been confirmed for the U.S. Those include a new lower front fascia tweaked for more open area. Behind that fascia hides the intercooler, the big tip-off that this is the EcoBoost car. This Fiesta wears more-aggressive rockers, too, with a sharp rib adding a little bit of visual beef. Around back, there’s a mondo roof spoiler and a pair of wide-set tailpipes in a revised rear fascia. The wicked, matte-gray Speedline wheels are another question mark, but we can see them making the cut, since Ford otherwise has plenty of wheels it could fit to mules for around-town testing.

We still don’t know when the EcoBoost Fiesta might arrive in the U.S. Sales of the regular 118-hp Fiesta begin in April, and the turbo 1.6 should first appear in Europe late in 2010. That probably means a spring 2011 arrival for a U.S.-market hot Fiesta, and we can’t wait to drive it.

Thanks to: Car and Driver

Hot News: Volkswagen Creates R Division

Volkswagen is set to launch a new specialist department to cater for its hot models.

Volkswagen R GmbH has been created to take over from Volkswagen Individual, and will continue with the development, implementations and sales of Volkswagens hotter models.

The current R portfolio already includes the Scirocco and Golf Rs, as well as the R line design packages.

Ulrich Riestenpatt gt. Richter, general manager of Volkswagen R GmbH, said: "Our vehicles contribute to the emotionalisation and growth of Volkswagen brand."

The new operation, based just outside Wolfsburg, employs over 300 staff.

Thanks to: Autocar

New Car: 2011 Aston Martin DBS Carbon Black Special Edition

Aston Martin doesn’t have to do much to dress up a space aside from bringing a car or three. Starting this month, Aston is doing just that to supply some particularly sexy furnishings for a series of luxury events across the nation, hosted by audio partner Bang & Olufsen. Specifically, it has supplied two examples of its most dapper DBS flagship yet, the new DBS Carbon Black special edition, to be put on display and used for demonstration. This is the first time the DBS Carbon Black will be seen in America: Its world reveal happened late last year in England, where, incidentally, it was joined by a matching Carbon Black edition of Aston’s smaller, faster V-12 Vantage, which, is a car we Yankees can’t get in any color yet.

First of all, Carbon Black shouldn’t be confused with black carbon fiber, which would’ve looked really cool. It simply indicates a bespoke metallic black paint “especially formulated with a subtle metallic twist to create a deep, rich patina,” and which requires 50 man-hours of hand-painting to apply, according to Aston Martin.

In the interests of “aesthetic purity,” everything that can’t be painted black (i.e., upholstery, headliner, carpeting, etc.) is also rendered in black (Obsidian Black, this time), save the silver grille mesh and silver seat stitching. Aston tosses in its gorgeous 10-spoke, diamond-turned, 20-inch wheels with inserts that have been painted gloss black. Hey, even the tires are black!

Inside, the slick B&O sound system that is normally a five-figure option is also standard. Piano-black veneers and a choice of alloy-finished or Carbon Black sill plates are among the only options. No mechanical changes were made, save making the six-speed Touchtronic automatic the standard transmission; it mates to the DBS’s mouthwatering, 510-hp 5.9-liter V-12.

This summer, the DBS Carbon Black goes on sale in both coupe and convertible body styles—the latter featuring a black top, of course—at a price roughly five percent more than that of lesser (well, less-black anyway) DBS models, which start at $266,350 for coupes and $286,400 for ragtops.

Thanks to: Car and Driver

New Car: 2011 BMW 5-Series Touring

This is the new BMW 5-series Touring, the load-carrying variant of the new 5-series that will have a larger boot capacity than the model it replaces when it reaches British showrooms in September.

Priced from £30,380, it will join the new saloon and GT in the 5-series line-up and compete head on with the recently released Mercedes E-class estate.

The new Touring’s boot capacity with the rear seats up is 560 litres — 60 litres more than the outgoing model’s. Seats-down capacity is up 20 litres to 1670 litres. Despite these increases, the BMW’s load capacity is still dwarfed by the cavernous 695/1950 litres of cargo space offered by the E-class.

All Tourings feature 40/20/40 flat-folding rear seats and an opening rear window to help with the loading of smaller items.

At launch there will be two petrol and two diesel engines on offer. The biggest seller is expected to be the entry-level four-cylinder diesel 520d, which produces 181bhp and 280lb ft. This model has combined economy of 54.3mpg and CO2 emissions of 137g/km. Completing the diesel range is the six-cylinder 530d, with 242bhp and 398lb ft. A 535d is expected to follow later.

The six-cylinder petrol range consists of the naturally aspirated 201bhp/199lb ft 523i and the range-topping 302bhp/295lb ft turbocharged 535i. The 535i can crack 0-62mph in 6.0sec and reach a limited top speed of 155mph. All engines have a six-speed manual ’box as standard. An eight-speed auto is optional on all variants.

Each Touring also comes with self-levelling rear air suspension to improve ride and handling when carrying heavy loads. An optional Drive Dynamic Control system offers four modes — Normal, Comfort, Sport and Sport + — that alter steering and throttle responses and damper settings. BMW’s four-wheel Integral Active Steering is also optional.

Thanks to: Autocar

New Car: 2011 Kia Optima

Kia has now added these official images to the previously released quartet of renderings, but the company is still playing coy with information on its upcoming, completely redesigned 2011 Optima sedan. The car will make its official debut at the New York auto show this April. Kia claims that the new car’s “significantly longer” wheelbase will be accompanied by more space for people and cargo, which now looks more evident in these images than the early renderings, which had sliver-like windows.

Shown here, the production version has less severe proportions and windows people can actually see out of. But the toned-down styling still renders a much more dramatic shape than the model it replaces, yet is not as commanding as its platform-mate, Hyundai’s suddenly smokin’ Sonata. Regardless, in the hyper-competitive mid-size sedan market, Kia has nothing to lose and everything to gain by turning its milquetoast Optima into something other than what it is today.

The optimized Kia will be in U.S. showrooms this fall, but we’ll bring you more detailed information once Kia releases it at the New York show.

Thanks to: Car and Driver

AmericanMuscle BamaChips Partnership

Ford Mustang enthusiasts know the benefits of custom tuning for their muscle cars – more raw power and better performance, both on the road and on the track. Responding to that need, AmericanMuscle and BamaChips are rocking the aftermarket performance industry by announcing an exclusive partnership to create and deliver precision custom tunes.

The result? Free precision custom tunes for life for both AmericanMuscle.com and prior BamaChips customers, backed by a dedicated team with 25 years of tuning experience. What does the customer get? AmericanMuscle’s “free custom tunes for life” program, coupled with world-class custom tuning by Bama, and backed by free shipping and a customer support organization that is unparalleled in the aftermarket performance industry.

Doug Studdard, founder and President of BamaChips, brings many years of experience to the partnership, as well as an excellent reputation for developing technically superior tunes. “I’m extremely excited about the opportunity to work with AmericanMuscle’s organization,” he said during a recent stop at AM’s corporate headquarters. “It’s really energizing to focus BamaChips’ technical expertise on performance oriented Mustang enthusiasts who appreciate the added power that a custom tune can bring to their cars.”

“This is a win-win for our loyal customers,” explained Steve Voudouris, President of AmericanMuscle. “They get the benefit of Bama’s years of experience in custom tuning, coupled with the highest standard of customer service that separates AmericanMuscle from the rest of the industry. This partnership pushes both of our organizations to the next logical level.”

Bama Custom Tuning at AmericanMuscle has established an unmatched team of industry professionals, led by Mike Wilson, who brings over ten years of tuning experience to the team. Mike was one of the very first technicians in the country trained for SCT tuners, and also created custom tunes for Super Snakes after their original build from Shelby American.

The team is backed by a newly installed on-site dyno testing facility, which ensures expert refinement of the tunes prior to release to the customer. Additionally, SCT Performance LLC, the leading manufacturer of custom tuning equipment, will be working directly with the team to ensure the highest quality of tuning software is reflected in SCT’s hardware.

More exciting details and a great video on the exclusive Bama Custom Tuning at AmericanMuscle partnership can be found at this AmericanMuscle Blog after 8:30AM, 3/9/10.

Hot News: Next Generation Lexus IS to Offer Wagon Variant

Lexus is likely to introduce an estate variant on the next generation of its Lexus IS - and make the model range hybrid-only.

The Japanese firm's BMW 3-series and Mercedes C-class rival is in its second generation, and a third edition is due in 2011. But while the original model did offer an estate variant, called SportCross, the current car - introduced in 2005 - has never been available in a wagon.

Lexus insiders now admit that this policy has hurt sales of the car in Europe, where it must face the 3-series Touring and A4 Avant.

The next IS is also likely to only be available as a hybrid, fitting in with the firm's current push towards this technology. It already has two standalone hybrid models, the HS250h and the CT200h.

It is unclear how this switch could affect the prospects of a successor to the V8-engined IS F.

Thanks to: Autocar

Unofficial Picture: 2012 Porsche Panamera Cabriolet

Rumors of a Porsche Panamera four-door convertible are nothing new, but new patent drawings suggest Porsche is, in fact, working on just such a car.

Spied Up Dste: 2011 Ford Explorer

Ford fans have been waiting a long time for an update to the storied Explorer SUV, and it's finally expected to arrive by the end of this year. Until then, the Blue Oval is running prototypes all over Michigan to iron out every last ripple before the big debut, and our friends at Automobile caught one in the wild.

Don't take the looks of this prototype as gospel. In an effort to hide from prying eyes, Ford has trussed up the Explorer with parts from other models. What it does indicate is what lies beneath the skin. In a large break from tradition, the Explorer will abandon its long-running body-on-frame construction in favor of a unibody structure. Reports suggest the new rig will ride on Ford's D4 architecture, which underpins the likes of the Ford Flex and Taurus X (parts of both appear on this mule), and is similar to the D3 platform used in both the Taurus and Lincoln MKS sedans.

If you want a good look at the new Explorer's exterior form, we suggest you take a look at the Explorer America concept from the 2008 Detroit Auto Show. Like the show car, the new Explorer will also make use of a turbocharged engine -- in this case, the new 2.0-liter "EcoBoost" turbo four-cylinder introduced earlier this year with the 2012 Focus. The engine will be mated with a six-speed transmission (possibly Ford's new dual-clutch gearbox), and will reportedly yield a 25-percent improvement in fuel economy.

Thanks to a $180 million expansion, Ford will produce the new Explorer in its assembly plant outside Chicago, Illinois, that also builds the Taurus and MKS. Expect more details on the SUV to emerge later this year.

Thanks to: Motor Trend

Hot News: Mitsubishi Closes Ralliart Division

Mitsubishi is closing its Ralliart division, bringing to an end more than 25 years of high-performance, motorsport-related tuning and development.

A statement on the official Ralliart website from the division's president Masao Taguchi said, "Because of the sudden change of economy situation [sic] since the year before last, the business circumstances surrounding our company radically became worse.

"And so, this time, we have reached the conclusion that Ralliart Inc would scale down our business activities as of the end of March 2010."

The release states that Ralliart will end its support of motorsport customers, scrap new planning, development and merchandise of Ralliart products, and pull its internet information and news service.

The Ralliart name became most famous during Mitsubishi's successful rally campaigns in the late 1990s - although in truth, these activities were the work of Ralliart Europe in Rugby.

However, Ralliart has played a key role in developing Mitsubishi's Evo line of road cars, which continues to play a leading role in international Group N rallying. The statement indicates that this work will now be conducted "by Mitsubishi Motors Corporation as it is".

Thanks to: Autocar

Spied: 2011 Roewe 250

It’s the news Rover fans have been waiting for! Spied testing in Australia, these are the best pictures that we’ve seen yet of what the Chinese based firms Fiesta rival will look like.

Called the Roewe 250, or possibly even 150, the new Roewe will be the first small car the manufacturer has manufactured since its owners, the Shanghai Automotive Industry Corporation took over the MG Rover group in 2005.

We’ve already seen pictures of the 250 during its early stages of testing wearing a Fiat Punto shell, but these latest shots show the Punto was probably a mule used to test the engine. It is unlikely thought that the 250 will be based on the most likely Rover 25 platform, as going by the pictures it would be too long for a car like the 250.

The pictures also shows the car being tested in left-hand-drive guise and with the MG-F back into production in the UK, we think that it might not be too long before Roewe enters into the European market. Look out for a world debut towards the end of the year most likely at one of the Chinese shows, either Beijing or Guangzhou. For more details click here.
Thanks to: Auto Express

New Car: 2011 Nissan NV-Series

There’s nothing terribly creative about the name of Nissan’s new commercial van—NV stands for Nissan Van—but the Japanese Sprinter-fighter is a fresh take on the commercial carryall box. Nissan will launch the van in three strengths with a choice of a V-6 or V-8 engine.

The NV is a clean-sheet design; Nissan claims it spent five years researching the commercial-vehicle market to come up with the slab-sided, space-efficient package you see here. The NV has body-on-frame construction and doghouse-less powertrain packaging—for more interior room and easier servicing—as well as mobile-office interior features like a flat-folding passenger seat that can do desk duty, an optional removable center console, and plenty of nooks, pockets, and cubbies to stash the tools of the trade.

The lighted cargo area behind the two front seats has a floor length of 120.7 inches, a max width of 70.3 inches, and a height of 55.4 inches with the standard roof or 76.5 with the optional high roof, which is designed to allow (almost) anyone to stand up and work in the back. Nissan definitely kept upfitters in mind: there’s a no-drill roof-rack mounting system, weld-nut attachment points for interior shelving and racks, and optional pre-wiring for extra electricity-needing accouterments.

Three models will be available—NV1500, NV2500 HD, and NV3500 HD; information on their differences and equipment is coming later. All will be available with the standard roof, while the high-roof option will be limited to the 2500 and 3500 vans. Nissan’s 4.0-liter V-6 will be the base engine and its 5.6-liter V-8 will be optional, both paired with a five-speed automatic transmission. No power figures were quoted for this application. We’ve seen 261 hp from the V-6 Frontier and 317 hp from the V-8 in the Titan and expect similar, if not identical, numbers for the vans.

While it’s not quite as funkadelic looking as the NV2500 concept from 2008, the NV has a decidedly foreign look to it, more Sprinter than Ford E-series, although the grille is definitely Ford-esque. All of the special features aside, we think the availability of a powerful, modern V-8 will be the big differentiator between the NV and our current big-van favorite, the Mercedes-Benz/Freightliner Sprinter.

The NV will be built at Nissan’s Canton, Mississippi, plant and is scheduled to arrive toward the end of the year. Nissan has promised some more commercial vehicles as well, so we may soon be seeing something in the Ford Transit Connect size range or possibly a chassis-cab version of the NV.

Thanks to: Car and Driver

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