Spied: 2011 Lamborghini Gallardo Spyder

Take the fastest Gallardo available, remove the roof, and you have a LP570-4 Superleggera Spyder. Or is it?

The process appears to be making sense to Lamborghini, as the surrounding pictures indicate. Our spy photographers have caught what looks to be a drop-top version of the 562-horsepwer, all-wheel drive LP570-4 Superleggera as it briefly lapped the Nürburgring. On the other hand, it could very well be a 542-horsepower, two wheel-drive LP550-2 Valentino Balboni, sans roof.

Either way, the right bits are there; a large fascia, the big rear diffuser, and all the lines match up. The coupe's rear spoiler is absent, leading us to believe that a lower top speed is in store. Regardless of whether it's a Superleggera Spyder or a Valentino Balboni Spyder, we'll know more soon: Our photographer expects the car to debut at the Paris auto show in October.

Thanks to: Motor Trend

Hot News: GMC Granite Gets Green Light

UPDATE: GM has contacted us and refuted this report. General Motors is hosting its first annual Global Business conference today at its Warren, Mich., technical center, where its senior leadership is outlining the near-term strategy for GM’s worldwide operations. One of the biggest product tidbits from the conference came from GM North America VP Tom Stephens, who confirmed the existence of a production intent vehicle based on the GMC Granite concept while outlining GM's future product portfolio for financial analysts.

Introduced at the 2010 Detroit Auto Show, the Granite “urban utility vehicle” is reportedly underpinned by a version of GM's global Delta architecture also used by the Orlando small crossover. At 161.3 inches long, by 70.3 inches wide by 60.5 inches tall, the Granite concept is too wide, squat and short in length to be a minivan; too short in the nose and close to the ground to be an SUV.

The best bet at this point to propel the new vehicle is GM's new 1.4-liter turbo mated to a six-speed dual-clutch transmission. We suspect the Granite concept’s B-pillarless coach-style "carriage doors" are not likely to survive, but the overall size and shape of the vehicle should remain fairly close to that of the concept.

No word yet on when to expect a production version of the vehicle. In other product news from the event, GM also reportedly showed off an image of its new Impala and offered further confirmation of its coming new small Buick crossover. It also revealed that the next Chevy Traverse crossover will have a "Camaro inspired" grille.
Thanks to: Motor Trend

Spied: 2012 Hyundai i40 Estate

Hyundai’s new i40 estate has been caught testing for the first time ahead of its official launch next March.

The i40, which will replace the Sonata, was previewed in saloon form with the i-flow concept at the Geneva motor show. That car, along with the ix35 crossover, showcased Hyundai’s striking new design language.

The heavy disguise of this test car covers up the i40’s hexagonal grille and sweeping lines over the front wheels.

The photos also show the i40 estate’s rakish roofline, indicating that some practicality may be sacrificed for style.

The i40 will sit on a new platform that will also underpin the upcoming Kia Magentis. Engines are expected to include 1.7, 2.0 and 2.2-litre diesel motors, plus 1.6 and 2.0-litre petrols.

Hyundai has used the Mazda 6 as a benchmark in developing the i40. The estate is likely to undercut that car at around £18,000. The saloon version will follow six months later, but a hatchback version has already been ruled out.

Thanks to: Autocar

New Car: 2011 Mini Cooper

It’s time for a MINI facelift. To keep its premium small car range on terms with the new Audi A1 and the Fiat 500, the MINI Clubman, Convertible and hatch have all been given a mild refresh.

Headline news is the addition of a new 1.6-litre diesel engine, which replaces the old PSA-sourced unit. The engine is effectively the same as that used in the 116d, and features BMW’s latest common rail injection and variable vane turbo.

There are two version of the same unit: In the Cooper D hatch, it produces 110bhp and 270Nm, and in the One D hatch, 89bhp and 215Nm. Both engines emit 74.3mpg and 99g/km of carbon dioxide, thanks to stop start, on-demand use of the alternator and regenerative brakes.

The engines will be fitted in the Clubman and, for the first time, the Convertible. BMW claims that the latter’s 70mpg and 105g/km make it the most efficient full convertible in the UK.

Despite the efficiency gains, performance remains impressive – the Cooper D accelerates from 0-62 mph in 9.7 seconds and goes on to a top speed of 123mph, while the One D sprints from 0-62mph in 11.4 seconds and hits 115 mph flat out.

To compliment the technical changes, there are new bumpers, lights and wheels on the outside, and revisions to the centre console on the inside to make it easier to use.

All cars except the MINI First get DAB digital radios as standard, and buyers can now opt for MINI’s improved Connected system. It lets iPhone owners stream web radio, which allows you to listen to any radio station that has a web address. The system can also receive RSS news feeds and use the on-dash screen to display their latest messages on Facebook and Twitter.

The revised MINI range goes on sale on 18th September with prices expected to be close to the current model, to take the fight to the Audi A1which arrives in the UK at a similar time. For more details click here.

Thanks to: Auto Express

New Car: 2011 Aston Martin DB9

Aston Martin’s long-awaited update to the DB9, a car many consider to be as close to aesthetic perfection as any coupe or convertible can get these days, brings almost no changes to the exterior. How can we complain about that without sounding bratty? Although timelessness counts for a lot in this business, so does freshness.

So we sort of wish that the 2011 model changes, the most significant since the DB9’s 2004 introduction, went a little further than a new front fascia, brighter grillework, subtly reshaped side sills, and “new” headlamp bezels that we’re still struggling to see as different. (Where are the LED turn signals or DRLs, à la Rapide and Vantage, guys?) Diamond-turned 20-inch wheels, like those available on Aston’s other offerings, become DB9-isms for 2011 as well.

Under the skin, the only update of note is the fitment of Aston’s Active Damping System, which features Comfort and Sport settings, in place of last year’s passive (but hardly sloppy) system. Tire-pressure monitoring and Bluetooth connectivity have found their way into the DB9 for next year, and the options list has grown to include a new “Double Apex” alloy trim treatment and a Bang & Olufsen sound system, the latter also previously available throughout the rest of the Aston lineup. There are no changes to the sonorous, 470-hp, 5.9-liter V-12 under the hood, nor the six-speed manual or automatic transaxles. The engine and ZF automatic saw upgrades for the 2009 model year.

While the changes are limited in our eyes, Aston did have its hands full with development of the Rapide and One-77, so we’re willing to cut it some slack. Now, whether customers will bear that in mind as Aston asks them to hand over roughly $200K for a brand-new car that, while still aesthetically brilliant, nonetheless appears virtually identical to the last seven years of DB9s is a tougher call.

Thanks to: Car and Driver

New Car: 2011 Ford Mondeo

Ford has put the Mondeo under the knife! With styling updates, a more luxurious interior, new engines and technology, the blue oval’s family saloon – set to debut at the Moscow motor show in August – has been completely overhauled.

On the outside, the Mondeo gets new front and rear bumpers, a gaping lower trapezoid grille with chrome highlights and LED daytime running lights.

Ford is aiming for a premium feel on the inside, with new trim materials across the range, a new centre console design and LED courtesy lights. The Mondeo gets a new sat-nav system and a new sound system option with a 265-watt, eight-channel amp and 17-litre subwoofer.

There are big changes under the bonnet too, with Ford introducing new petrol and diesel engines. A 237bhp version of its 2.0-litre EcoBoost petrol unit with CO2 emissions kept down to 179g/km and a tuned-up version of its 2.2-litre Duratorq TDCi – with power up 12 per cent to 197bhp.

On top of those, there is Ford’s 200bhp 2.0-litre EcoBoost petrol engine and a range of 2.0-litre TDCi diesels available with 112, 137 or 160bhp. The firm’s dual-clutch Powershift transmission will come as standard on EcoBoost models and as an option for the 137 and 160bhp oil burners.

Too boost efficiency Ford is offering Smart Regenerative Breaking, Ford Eco Mode and an Active Grille Shutter System – which regulates airflow through the radiator and the engine compartment to reduce drag and help warm the engine up quicker.
A range of new driver assistance features will also be available, including Lane Departure Warning, Driver Alert, Auto High Beam, Blind Sport Information System and Rear View Camera.

UK specs, trim levels and pricing have yet to be confirmed but the new Mondeo is due to go on sale here in October. For more details click here.
Thanks to: Auto Express

Spied: 2011 Mini Countryman John Cooper Works

It's a Countryman, but with added attitude! The jury's still out on the MINI 4x4's challenging styling, but that hasn't stopped BMW from developing a sporty styling pack for its compact SUV. These images were leaked onto the web and clearly show an agressive new look for the Countryman and suggest a high-performance 4x4 variant is on the way.

Besides a more agressive splitter the front remains unchanged. Lower side sills with a trademark vent ahead of the rear wheel arch pump up the profile, while a lower rear bumper completely surround the twin exhausts.

And the kit's not all for show either. These leaked photos were taken in a wind tunnel during testing, suggesting the new bodywork has a positive effect on the car's aerodynamic performance.

The new look is virtually a carbon copy of the bodykit fitted to high-performance JCW versions of the hatch, cabriolet and Clubman - particularly the distinctive side sills. Larger diameter twin exhausts, and a taped-over 'ALL4' badge on the front wing - suggesting that this Countryman has some serious performance potential.

Expect the Countryman JCW to use the same 208bhp 1.6-litre turbocharged engine as other models in the range, and to hit 62mph from a standstill in under seven seconds. The sporty styling pack is also likely to be offered as an optional extra on the other models in the range. For more details click here.

Thanks to: Auto Express

New Concept Car: Mercedes SLS AMG E-Cell

It’s official. These are the first pictures of Mercedes’ electric-powered supercar, based on the SLS AMG. Resplendent in a lurid yellow paint scheme called AMG lumilectric magno, the SLS was always conceived with electric power in mind.

In order to make the switch from petrol to electric, AMG’s engineers haven’t had to make any changes to the SLS’s aluminium spaceframe chassis. However, the front suspension has been redesigned to accommodate the electric motors. The electric SLS is four-wheel drive, with a motor driving each wheel.

These are powered by lithium ion polymer batteries, developed especially for the car by Mercedes, located where the engine would be, and between and behind the seats.

Performance is impressive. The SLS E-Cell boasts 526bhp and 880Nm of torque available as soon as you press the throttle. Mercedes claims that the car will sprint from 0-62mph in 4.0 seconds, will hit 125mph in 11.0 seconds and will reach a top speed of 186mph. Range is currently at 100 miles, and charging takes an hour.

The car uses the optional ceramic brakes, which are 40 per cent lighter than the standard stoppers. The exterior design has been tweaked to include more vents, a different diffuser to account for the lack of exhausts, and a front splitter which extends at speeds of over 70mph, or can be controlled by the driver at any time.

On the inside, there’s a huge 10-inch touch screen on the centre console, which operates audio, climate, and navigation functions. There are new park, reverse, and drive buttons for selecting gears. The dash dials are changed too.

The car has been built as a halo model for AMG’s Performance Strategy 2015 which sees all the cars it produces go up in performance, but with reduced emissions. It will be built in limited numbers from 2013, where it will compete with the likes of the Audi R8 E-tron. For more details click here.
Thanks to: Auto Express

Spied Up Date: 2012 Saab 9-4x

It’s been a long time coming, but the SAAB 9-4X has finally been signed off and production of the Volvo XC90-sized SUV has begun at GM’s Ramos Arizpe plant in Mexico.

The car was originally previewed at the Detroit Auto Show at the beginning of 2008, and was slated to arrive in late 2009. However, the uncertainty surrounding the Swedish brand’s future has delayed the project until now.

With the 9-5 now on sale, bosses are keen to get the 9-4X into dealers, particularly in the US, where demand for SUVs of this type remain. The SAAB is built on the GM Theta platform, shared with the Cadillac SRX.

Despite its size, the 9-4X won’t be a seven-seater. Instead, it’ll offer more luxurious travel for up to five. A high level of standard kit is expected, with SAAB’s trademark night panel, green-on-black dials, intricate air vents and starter button mounted between the front seats all set to feature.

Under the bonnet, there’ll be a choice of two petrol units, a turbo 2.0-litre four-cylinder and a turbo 2.8-litre V6, and a 2.9-litre diesel co-developed by VW Motori in Italy. For more details click here.
Thanks to: Auto Express

Unofficial Picture: Infiniti EV

At the technical briefing for Nissan's revolutionary new Leaf electric vehicle in Japan last week, the press department flashed some images interspersed between reams of diagrams and figures expounding the Leaf's virtues. One of those images was a sketch the long rumored Infiniti EV the automaker is developing.

As far back as last October's Tokyo Motor Show, Nissan CEO Carlos Ghosn hinted that a stylish, compact, performance-oriented four-seat Infiniti with zero emissions was being developed in Japan. Expected to be based on a modified version of the Leaf platform but with a slightly more powerful motor, the Infiniti EV illustration at least looks to employ intriguing design elements -- like the C-pillar -- from the Infiniti Essence first seen at the Geneva show in 2009.

The vehicle is expected to be roughly in the same size class as the BMW 1 Series and Audi A3, and may also have a gas-powered engine option in order to broaden its sales potential. Don't expect to see the Infiniti EV on the road for several years yet, but with its Leaf underpinnings, it shouldn't be that big of a stretch to bring it to market.
Thanks to: Motor Trend

Hot News: Honda to Fuse S2000 and Beat Into One?

The Honda S2000 was recently killed and the Honda Beat 660cc minicar of 1991 all but forgotten, but in a strange comeback story, they both may live again -- fused into the one car. We have just caught word from a source close to Honda that the company is busy at work 'molding' the two together in a radical new project that is taking shape inside the halls of Tochigi's R&D Centre just north of Tokyo. Dropped onto a modified Fit (Jazz) platform, the new roadster will apparently employ a rear mid-engined layout. An illustration of what the new car could become is depicted.

It's an intriguing new sports car plan from a company that doesn't really have much left in that genre short of the Civic Si and the hybrid CR-Z (the Civic Type R will cease production in August). We did some background research and discovered that Honda has lodged a patent pending in Japan to build a roadster using a subframe and parts from current cars but adding technology to lower curb weight and reduce production costs. The patent actually refers to the "engine being fitted to a center frame" which translates from Japanese to mid-engined and rear-wheel drive. So it will no doubt be lightweight and have good front-rear weight distribution at the same time.

But whether that "mid-engine" refers to a hybrid, fully electric or fuel cell is still unclear. In recent years, Honda has dabbled in all three alternative forms of propulsion, so it's anyone's guess which way they will lean. It's unlikely the automaker will build the car with a gasoline engine option as that would restrict its international application. And if there's anything the company wants, it's to make this car a global success. Don't expect to see this car on the road before 2014.

In other rear-wheel drive compact coupe news, as we've reported, Toyota too is in the process of developing a vehicle, but it will be a gas-powered, 1.5-liter two-door based on the hot hatch concept from GRMN that it debuted at last January's Tokyo Auto Salon. For those who haven't been paying attention to the company's racing exploits at Nurburgring recently, GRMN stands for Gazoo Racing - Meister of Nurburgring. Called a mini-FT-86 in Japan, the new compact coupe is expected in showrooms by early 2013.

Thanks to: Motor Trend

New Car: 2011 BMW M3 Frozen Gray

As the 25th anniversary of the M3 approaches—the car was introduced in Europe in 1986, but didn’t make its way to the U.S. until the middle of the following year—BMW is launching a limited-run version of the current coupe. Teased earlier this week, the Frozen Gray special edition, so named for its signature paint, is loaded with special appearance and equipment upgrades. There will be just 30 copies, all bound for America.

Both the namesake matte paint and red-and-black leather interior come from the BMW Individual catalog. For now, this is the only M3 in the U.S. to offer the combo, although we suspect the paint will become more widely available in the future. All the cars come with BMW’s seven-speed, dual-clutch M DCT transmission and are equipped with the new Competition package. The package provides lightweight 19-inch wheels that widen the track with a more dramatic offset, a 0.4-inch suspension drop, reprogrammed electronic damping, and a higher threshold for the stability control.

The special edition also bundles the Premium package (power folding mirrors, BMW Assist, garage-door opener, carbon-fiber-look leather trim) and the Technology package (M Drive, Comfort Access keyless ignition, iDrive navigation system with traffic information, and voice recognition). Heated front seats, parking sensors, and an upgraded sound system with satellite radio and iPod connectivity also are standard.

Though steep, the $78,900 price tag—including a $1300 gas-guzzler tax—is only about four grand more than a similarly loaded M3 coupe and includes one day’s admission to the BMW Performance Driving School in South Carolina. Orders can be placed by calling 1 (800) 245-4269 June 21 beginning at 11:30 a.m. EST. We expect all 30 to be sold well before 11:31.

Thanks to: Car and Driver

New Car: 2011 Honda Odyssey

It’s an exciting time in the minivan market—woo!—with a couple of the major players redesigning their people movers this year. Toyota recently deployed an all-new 2011 Sienna, and now Honda has pulled the 2011 Odyssey out of the oven, releasing photos and information on the van, which goes on sale this fall.

We first saw the 2011 Odyssey in concept form at this year’s Chicago auto show; as is the case with most Honda concepts, the production version differs little. A grille that’s nothing less than garish on the Accord Crosstour actually looks decent here, and the “lightning-bolt” window line breaks up what would otherwise be a lot of bland sheetmetal.

But styling takes a back seat to utility for minivan buyers. Honda added 1.4 inches of track versus the outgoing model, which it touts as increasing stability and space. Up front, the new Odyssey boasts a “media tray” that slides out from the lower dash to hold cell phones and other electronics. Below the tray sits a “cool box” that can store up to six beverage cans or four 20-ounce bottles. The removable center console, which Honda says is commodious enough to swallow purses, has cup holders designed to secure anything from a Red Bull can to an extra-large fountain drink. There are also newly padded door panels and armrests.

Moving to the second row, the two captain’s chairs have a so-called “wide mode” whereby they each move two inches toward the doors, creating four additional inches of shoulder room for the foldable seat between. Wide mode also allows three full-size infant seats to be anchored across the second row, while that middle position can slide forward for easier access to a child from the front seats. A new entertainment system is available with a 16.2-inch widescreen display with split-screen, two-source capability, similar to the Toyota Sienna’s.

The back of the bus is roomier, too, and Honda says three adults will fit comfortably. We’ll believe it when we sit in it; while the van is wider and third-row legroom has increased by an inch, it’s hard to imagine three adults remaining content for longer than it takes to make a Slurpee run. While they’re back there, though, they’ll have access to HDMI and RCA inputs, and a 110-volt outlet. The third row remains stowable, of course, and the overall cup-holder count sits at 15.

The Honda Odyssey has long been our favorite minivan, going beyond utility and practicality to inject a semblance of driving enjoyment into the segment. We’re eager to see if the love affair continues, but bigger brakes and the increase in stability we expect from a shorter (by 1.6 inches) and wider vehicle can’t hurt. The engine will again be a 3.5-liter V-6 with three-mode cylinder deactivation, and Honda says it expects the EPA to return 19-mpg city and 28-mpg highway ratings. Further details—including other trims; Honda only revealed the top-spec Touring Elite model—will follow soon.

Thanks to: Car and Driver

New Car: 2011 Opel/Vauxhall Astra Sport Tourer

Get a load of the new Vauxhall Astra estate. These are the first official pictures of the carrier, which will be badged Sport Tourer, following its Insignia big brother.

It’s the second model in the Astra range, and is due to debut at the Paris Motor Show in October. Order books will open later that month, with the car hitting UK dealers by the end of the year.

The styling builds on the themes of the five-door, with an identical front end, but a larger tail for added practicality. Note the wide rear access and low boot lip for extra convenience, plus the bold Griffin badge between the light clusters.

Lift the tailgate, and the Sports Tourer should score well on practicality. Detailed pictures will be released closer to the car’s launch, but customers are promised a cargo area with flat wall linings to make the most of the available space. Vauxhall’s FlexFold system allows each section of the 60:40 split-fold rear seatbacks to be lowered simply by pressing a button housed in the boot walls.

Maximum load length is increased by 28mm over the hatchback – it’s now 1,835mm – while load volume with the rear seats in place is up by 30 litres to 500 litres. Fold the bench flat, and the capacity rises to 1,550 litres.

As the car is likely to appeal most to family buyers, Vauxhall has worked hard to enhance the cabin’s practicality. In total, there is 25 litres more cubbyhole space than in the outgoing Astra estate.

The Sports Tourer is another Brit hit for Vauxhall. It’s being built alongside the hatch at Ellesmere Port, Cheshire, was penned by UK designer Mark Adams and developed and tested at the company’s Engineering Centre in Bedfordshire.

From launch, customers will have the choice of six engines. Petrol options comprise a 98bhp 1.4, a 113bhp 1.6 and a 1.4-litre turbo with 137bhp. Diesel fans will be able to take their pick from 1.7-litre units with 108bhp or 123bhp, plus a 2.0-litre CDTI delivering 157bhp. The latter promises 55.4mpg economy and 134g/km CO2 emissions.

A new ecoFLEX model is due early in the new year – this will be one of the first Vauxhalls to get stop-start technology. It’s based on the 93bhp 1.3-litre diesel Astra, and uses a particulate filter and variable geometry turbo to give anticipated 70mpg economy and sub-110g/km emissions.

But whichever version you go for, the Astra estate should drive as well as the hatch. Engineers say the UK-specific steering has been carried over, and Vauxhall’s FlexRide adaptive suspension will be available as an option. For more details click here.
Thanks to: Auto Express

Unofficial Picture: 2011 Mercedes CL 63 AMG

The embargoes have been leaky this month, especially those emanating from Germany. Today's, though, comes from Stuttgart and purports to be the next S-Class Coupe -- known in the U.S. as the CL-Class.

Posted to fan site TeamSpeed, two images claim to show European-market advertisements for the new CL and CL63 AMG. We don't know for certain if these images are real, but all the pieces fit. We spied the CL-Class testing in the snow a few months back with only its nose obscured, so the nose job on the cars in the ads certainly fits with what we could see through the prototype's camouflage.

According to the source at TeamSpeed, the new CL63 AMG depicted above will be getting a new engine to go along with its new nose. That engine, reportedly known as the LM157, is said to be a 5.5-liter twin-turbo (Bi-Turbo in Mercedes-Benz speak) producing 544 horsepower. If true, that's a healthy increase from the current CL63 AMG's 518 horsepower despite a drop in displacement from 6.3 liters to 5.5 liters.

We don't know much more than that, nor do we have an official launch date for the CL-Class yet, so you'll have to stay tuned for more. In the mean time, tell us what you think of this facelift in the comments below.

Thanks to: Motor Trend

New Car: 2011 Volkswagen Jetta

In its first major stride toward achieving a rather batty dream of selling some 800,000 vehicles in the U.S. by 2018, Volkswagen has rolled out its new 2011 Jetta. Known during its development as the New Compact Sedan (NCS), the Jetta serves an important role in VW’s aggressive U.S. product strategy, which makes VeeDub’s decision not to unveil the new Jetta at a major auto show rather unusual.

What we know right now is that the 2011 Jetta will be offered in S, SE, SEL, and TDI trims, with the sporty GLI—basically a GTI sedan—also returning. VW has confirmed that the TDI will again be powered by the miserly 2.0-liter turbo-diesel. The remaining three engine options will include naturally aspirated and turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinders and the 2.5-liter inline-five. All Jettas will be offered with a manual transmission as standard and either an automatic or DSG automated manual as an option, depending on trim.

Thanks to: Car and Driver

New Car: 2011 Suzuki Swift

The new third-generation Suzuki Swift hits UK shores this autumn with the Japanese carmaker holding its premier line off ceremony in its Esztergom, Hungary production plant.

With new developments in styling, performance and sharply lower emissions, the new Swift features a longer body and wheelbase that uses higher strength steel to make shell lighter and stiffer.

A new 1.2-litre petrol engine incorporates Dual VVT (variable intake and exhaust valve timing), which makes it a stronger, better-performing powertrain than the previous 1.3-litre. Another improvement over the previous model is the significantly lower fuel consumption at 56.5 mpg, while emissions are lowered to 116 g/km.

A 1.3-litre option will become available for the UK in early 2011, offering better emissions and fuel consumption, as well as handling and performance all at once. For more details click here.
Thanks to: Auto Express

Hot News: 2014 BMW Z9

Watch out Audi – BMW is gunning for the R8! Auto Express has uncovered incredible plans for a sensational two-seater roadster, set to be badged Z9. Replacing the Z8, which went out of production back in 2003, it will be BMW’s flagship supercar, sitting at the very top of the range, giving the brand some extra glamour and a rival to the R8 and Mercedes SLS.

Its taken some time for the newcomer to come to fruition, first appearing at the 2005 Los Angeles Motor Show as the California Spyder concept. A sleek, low-slung drop-top with carbon-fibre bodywork to save weight and a 700bhp BMW F1 engine, which revved to 17,000rpm.

The firm’s top brass gave the green light for production, albeit with conventional powerplants. But the economic downturn caused the California Spyder to be put on ice in 2007, and since then BMW has withdrawn from Formula One, too. But with an improving financial climate, the car is back on the cards.

As you can see from our exclusive illustrations (inspired by the sketches of the California Spyder and the stunning Vision EfficientDynamics concept from the 2009 Frankfurt Motor Show), it’s no surprise that bosses want the roadster to happen.

The proportions are classic roadster: just like the smaller Z4, the driver is pushed right back to near the rear wheels, while there’s a long bonnet and tiny front and rear overhangs to give the car a real sporting character. At the back, the double-bubble deck is a retro touch similar to that on Porsche’s Boxster Spyder.

The car will feature some of the ‘layered surfacing’ design themes introduced by new styling boss, Adrian Van Hooydonk. Plus the active front splitter and rear diffuser will change shape at speed to optimise air flow around the car to improve fuel efficiency.

Key to the resurrection of the roadster project is BMW’s upcoming electric urban car. The machine will be made from carbon-fibre reinforced plastic (CFRP) to save weight, developed by Seattle-based SGL Automotive Carbon Fibers. The material will be used throughout the Z9 too, making it light and very strong.The flagship roadster will use BMW’s large car platform from the 5, 6 and 7-Series. Both aluminium and magnesium will be used in the subframes and suspension to save weight, while the passenger cell, which sits on top of the chassis, will be made from CFRP. Parts of the bodywork, including the folding hardtop, will also be made from the material.

A very minimalistic design will feature inside, as in the Z8. But instead of being retro-inspired, the dash will be cutting edge, with slimmed-down air vents and touchscreen controls.

Power will no doubt come from the new 4.4-litre twin-turbo that will power the next M5. Developing 600bhp, the engine would be mated to a highly efficient twin-clutch gearbox, providing power to the rear wheels through a torque vectoring M limited slip differential.

Brake-energy regeneration and stop-start would be standard.

An electric version could appear, too, rivalling the Audi e-tron and electric Merc SLS. A production car would not arrive before 2014. But when it does, the R8 and SLS will have a fight on their hands. For more details click here.

Thanks to: Auto Express

Spied: 2012 Volkswagen Passat Estate

We've seen camouflaged pre-production Volkswagen Passats. We've even seen a reportedly leaked picture of the new sedan from the front. What we haven't seen until now is the inevitable Passat Wagon.

As expected, a wagon version of the Passat is already under development and has finally been caught roaming the mountains of Europe. Like most wagons, the Passat Wagon is expected to be nothing more than a body style variant and mechanically identical to its sedan twin under the skin. Unfortunately, we don't know much about the sedan at this point, so we can't tell you much. We've heard, though, that it will offer a wider range of engines, and that will likely translate at least partially to the wagon if not completely.

Of course, at this point, we don't know how much any of this even matters to U.S. customers. Volkswagen is hard at work on the New Midsize Sedan exclusively for the North American market that many expect to replace the Passat here. If that's true, then these spy photos will only be of interest to our European readers, but Volkswagen has been extremely tight-lipped about its new sedans, refusing even to confirm the status of the Passat name in the U.S., much less the car itself. Regardless, the Passat is expected to debut in Paris this fall.
Thanks to: Motor Trend

Spied: 2012 Audi e-Tron

The silent supercar revolution is here! A production prototype of Audi’s e-tron has been spied testing in Germany just weeks before Mercedes-Benz’s AMG division launches its electric SLS.

The two German powerhouses are in a race to dominate the electric supercar world, and snapped testing not far from home in Bavaria, this mule is as notable for what it doesn't have as what it does.

For starters, there are no air intakes anywhere on the e-tron prototype and it has even blanked off the traditional front and side air intakes of the V8 and V10 R8s on which it is based.

First shown at last year’s Frankfurt Motor Show, Audi claimed the production version would have a total of 4500Nm of torque from the instant the driver stepped on the throttle – or about six times what the most powerful petrol-engined cars have on offer now.

It achieves that, plus 313hp of power, by having an in-board electric motor driving each wheel and a liquid-cooled, mid-mounted Lithium-Ion battery pack. While Audi claimed the e-tron would have a typical range of just under 155 miles, the concept car used enough torque to blast from 0-62mph in 4.8 seconds. Although top speed wil be limited to 125mph when it goes on sale next year. For more details click here.

Thanks to: Auto Express

Hot News: Ferrari 599 Open-Top Confirmed

Ferrari has opened up about its future! In a private press gathering in Central London, Luca di Montezemolo talked about Ferrari past, present and future - confirming in the process that an 'open 599' would be shown at the Pebble Beach Concours in August.

He also added: "The roadster will have a very romantic name," hinting that it could follow in the mould of the 2005 575 Superamerica. The limited run car featured a electric roof section that flipped back over the rear windscreen, plus 25bhp extra power to account for the extra weight.

But there was bad news too for fans of more focused Ferraris: "We will continue to produce one new model each year – but there will not be a 458 Scuderia," revealed di Montezemolo.

A seperate spokesman for the brand explained: "The more hardcore editions have been a huge success for us over the last few years, so that's certainly the plan with the 458 too. But unless we can present pioneering and innovative technology there's no point in making a 458 Scuderia regardless. At the moment it's hard to see how we could move the game forward significantly enough from the standard 458."

Regarding the firm's hybrid future di Montezemolo said: "The future for Ferrari is hybrid for the 12 and new [turbocharged] technology for the 8. Within 3-4 years we will be ready with a 12 cylinder hybrid based on the HY-KERS concept."

This means the Enzo replacement, plus the next generation of V12 cars including the next 599 and Scaglietti, will all benefit from the V12 hybrid technology. However, the next generation of V8s will not receive the hybrid tech, instead using turbo technology to meet performance and CO2 emissions targets. For more details click here.

Thanks to: Auto Express

Spied: 2012 Volkswagen Tiguan

Volkswagen's baby-off roader is getting a fresh new face! Judging by these shots, the German firm will be hoping to bring the Tiguan into line with the rest of the VW range with a host of styling updates and revisions.

Hiding underneath the heavy camouflage will be the latest Volkswagen family face, including a cleaner grille and more angular headlights.

Meanwhile, at the rear the revisions will be harder to spot with only a slight re-design due for the tail-lights.

Engines will mostly mimic the current lineup and should include the turbo- and supercharged 1.4-litre TSI engine, as well as 1.6 and 2.0 TDI variants. All engines can be mated to a traditional six-speed manual gearbox or, as an option, to Volkswagen's semi-automatic DSG gearbox.

Expect to see the facelift revealed at the Paris Motor Show in October this year, with new models going on sale early next year. For more details click here.
Thanks to: Auto Express

New Car: 2011 Panoz Abruzzi

Panoz has teased us with several close-cropped images of its upcoming sports car, but the cover has finally been lifted. The Georgia-based company unveiled the new Abruzzi “Spirit of Le Mans” coupe earlier today at the Circuit de La Sarthe in France, which is home to the famed 24 Hours of Le Mans race.

“[The Abruzzi] is a culmination of equal parts time, effort, and dreams,” said Don Panoz. “The Panoz brand always has prided itself on hand-building and delivering an exotic automobile experience to our customers. Our new offering takes this to a completely new level.”

If the Spirit of Le Mans suffix didn’t clue you in, the Abruzzi is very much inspired by Panoz’ past Le Mans race cars, especially the roadsters and coupes it fielded in LMP and GTR1 classes, respectively. The slinky body is designed to incorporate the company’s new three-stage cooling system, which incorporates a rear-mounted radiator and air intakes integrated into the rear and side quarter windows.

The sophisticated cooling system will likely be necessary for the Abruzzi’s monstrous engine. For now, Panoz hasn’t detailed the engine specs, but says it will produce 600 horsepower and 590 pound-feet of torque. That’s impressive, but coupled with the new composite material Panoz developed for the car, it’s likely to be blessed with an astonishingly low curb weight. The REAMS material is reportedly dent resistant, completely recyclable, and is both stronger and lighter than carbon fiber.

Corresponding to the car’s exotic nature, Panoz will only build 81 examples of the Abruzzi -- one for each 24 Hours of Le Mans race held from 1923 to 2013 (the year Abruzzi production will cease). The vehicle will be so intrinsically linked to the race that Panoz will incorporate the specific race date and initials of the winning driver in each chassis number.

Panoz will also deliver completed vehicles in a very Le Mans-centric way. Each car will be hand-built in Hoschton, Georgia, and then shipped to the Circuit de la Sarthe. There, the new owner will receive driving instruction on the Bugatti circuit of the track. New owners will be invited to attend the race as guests of the ACO -- a major sponsor of the Le Mans enduro -- but they’ll be invited to drive a parade lap around the track next year.

Pricing for the car has not yet been released, but unfortunately for those hoping to grab one in the U.S., it won’t be street legal in this country. Panoz says that the car will only be homologated for street-use in Europe.
Thanks to: Motor Trend

Spied: 2011 Mahindra Xylo Mini

Mahindra is developing a smaller version of the Xylo as can be seen from these exclusive spy pictures sent in by Autocar India reader Chandra Prakash Godara. The mini Xylo which is undergoing hot weather testing in Rajasthan will be less than four-metres in length and will come with a diesel engine under 1.5-litres to qualify as a ‘small car’ to avail of a substantial 12 percent saving in excise duty.

The mini Xylo uses a shortened version of the present Xylo’s body-on-frame chassis and the current 2.5 CRDe engine has been downsized as well. The engine capacity has been reduced from 2.5-litres to under 1.5-litres by eliminating one cylinder (the mini-Xylo will have a three cylinder engine) and reducing the bore and stroke. The mini Xylo will only have two rows of seats and hence a maximum seating capacity for five passengers.

The junior Xylo will be aggressively priced and we estimate it to retail for around Rs 5lakh when it goes on sale sometime in 2011. This new model could crack open a new segment which is presently occupied by the low key Premier Rio, the only SUV in the sub-4 metre category.

Thanks to: Autocar India

New Car: 2011 Toyota Innova Limited Edition

Toyota’s best seller Innova has successfully completed five years since its launch. To celebrate this, Toyota has launched a Special Edition Innova for Indian customers. This model will only be on sale from June to September 2010.

The Special Edition Innova will be available only in one shade, which the company calls Premium Super White. Priced at Rs 8,86,960 (ex-showroom, Delhi), it comes with features like power steering, power windows, power locks and air conditioning.

Body colored bumpers and grill are standard, although grab handles and side mirrors come in a shade of black. There is also a new body colored rear door garnish and new graphics with Special Edition written on the body to distinguish the Special Edition Innova from others. Since this is a Special Editon model, production is restricted to only 700 units.

Toyota had launched the Innova in 2005 that replaced the Qualis, which was again a best seller for the company. Innova leads the segment with close to 31% market share since its launch. It is Toyota’s smallest offering in its lineup of MUV/SUV’s for the Indian market, others being the Fortuner, Land Cruiser Prado and Land Cruiser Amazon.

Thanks to: Autocar India

New Car: 2011 Renault Latitude

This is the Renault Latitude, which effectively replaces the Vel Satis that was discontinued in 2009 as the largest car in Renault's range.

The Latitude is based on the firm's Laguna and Espace-related A34R architecture, which has also spawned the Korean market Samsung SM5 and Gulf state only Renault Safrane.

It will be the French marque's largest car when it goes on sale later this year. It is 4.89 metres long, 1.83 metres wide and 1.49 metres high.

The car is being billed by Renault as a vehicle that deliver "a truly high-end package that will position it as the spearhead of international Renault's saloon car range". Some sources say that the car is designed to evoke memories of the big (and successful) Renault 25, which offered a purely French take on the luxury large car format.

As such, Renault says it will be sold with a combination of cutting edge engines and high-end options, including a dual-mode air ionizer with double fragrance diffuser, triple-zone climate control, a massaging driver's seat and Bose Premium audio system.

Renault has only confirmed sales in Asia, Africa, Russia, Turkey, the Gulf, Australia and Mexico from this autumn. The car will be displayed for the first time at the Moscow motor show at the end of August. Company insiders say that the Renault brand is particularly well-respected in many of these markets, which will open the way into the booming large car segment.

However, a European version of the car will be shown at the Paris motor show, when Renault has promised to reveal more details of its "luxury" interior before it goes on sale in early 2011. It is not clear if the car will be sold in the UK, but if it is, it will be positioned above the Laguna.

Thanks to: Autocar

Hot News: 2012 Audi A3

We like the current Audi A3; it's sporty, compact, and stylish. But its fiercest competitor is a close relative, the VW Golf, a car that makes it hard to justify the big price of the little Audi. Since the debut of the current, sixth-generation Golf—essentially a highly successful face lift of the Golf MkV, a.k.a. Rabbit—the A3 looks somewhat dated. The current A3, after all, was launched seven years ago, just like the Golf V. A few minor freshenings have kept the Audi ahead of the now-gone Golf V in terms of style, but the Golf VI is so well executed that Audi needs a new car to keep up.

The next A3, to be launched in 2012, will make a leap forward. It is based on VW’s new “Modularer Querbaukasten” (MQB) architecture, meaning “modular transverse matrix.” As the name suggests, it's the Volkswagen Group's new modular transverse-engine platform, which is slightly longer and wider than the current A3 platform and designed to take further cost out of the many variations offered by Volkswagen and its Audi, SEAT, and Škoda subsidiaries.

Audi will continue to offer the A3 with front-wheel drive and Quattro all-wheel drive. Power will come from a number of direct-injection, turbocharged engines out of the VW Group's vast parts bin. Europe will even get a tiny, entry-level, turbocharged 1.2-liter gasoline engine; there will also be more-powerful 1.4-liter and 2.0-liter TSI engines, as well as several TDI oil-burners. The overly complex turbo- and supercharged 1.4-liter twincharger engine of Euro Golf fame is unlikely to be offered in the A3; on the other hand, we believe that the A3 lineup will be topped by an RS3, powered by the phenomenal 2.5-liter, turbocharged inline-five which makes 340 hp in the TT RS. Even the current A3 could still get an RS3 version, giving it a final and honorable send-off.

Before the new, MQB-based RS3 arrives in 2014 or 2015, there will be an S3 model, powered by a version of the 2.0-liter EA888 engine making close to 300 hp. (Engine-code geeks will note that this engine replaces the current S3's EA113 unit.) The most powerful A3 versions are likely to get dual-clutch (S tronic) transmissions as standard; a six-speed manual will be the standard box for the regular A3, with S tronic as an available option. Europe may still get entry-level versions with a five-speed manual. The smooth but thirsty 3.2-liter VR6, by the way, is history.

Thanks to: Car and Driver

Hot News Up Date: 2012 Hyundai Coupe

Hyundai’s long-awaited replacement for the Coupe is set to go on sale in the UK early next year, following its European debut at the Paris motor show in October.

The compact 2+2 has been designed as a direct rival to the VW Scirocco but is expected be several thousands of pounds cheaper.

Spied by Autocar on a recent trip to Hyundai’s Namyang R&D centre in Korea, the new Coupe looks short, with quite a long and flat-looking rear deck, but is otherwise a close match for the 2007 Veloster concept.

Company insiders suggest that the Coupe will have an asymmetric body, with two doors on the left-hand side of the car to make entry to the rear of the cabin easier from the kerb. The car will also have a conventional hatchback.

Powering the new Coupe is Hyundai’s latest 1.6-litre, direct-injection ‘Theta’ engine. In entry-level trim it’ll have 140bhp, and an optional twin-clutch gearbox. A 200bhp 1.6-litre turbo variant will arrive after launch.

Thanks to: Autocar

Hot News: Jaguar's Supercar on Hold?

While an expanded XF family and the launch a new F-Type were hinted at, Jaguar remains tight-lipped on the potential for a new supercar. At last year’s Detroit Motor Show, company boss Mike O’Driscoll suggested that the car was in the works.

According to our network of spies, the revolutionary sports car was being developed by the firm’s best engineers as a rival to the Audi R8. It was based on an all-new aluminium chassis, which was developed using the same know-how behind the XK and XJ. Early designs suggested the car would have aluminium panels stretched over an alloy and composite tub, while power would come from a tuned version of the 5.0-litre supercharged V8 from the XFR.

A mildly modified version of this engine has already propelled a near-stock XFR to 225mph on the Bonneville Salt Flats in the US. The new supercar would match this figure, while 0-60mph should take less than four seconds.

Originally, the plan to launch this 21st Century XJ220 would have seen the car revealed at a major motor show. However, it looks like work on the car has been suspended in favour of developing the new F-Type. For more details click here.

Thanks to: Auto Express

Unofficial Picture: 2011 Volkswagen Passat/Jeta

A picture has leaked onto the web today purporting to be lifted straight from a Volkswagen brochure and depicting the next-generation Passat. Is it the real deal, or another impressive rendering like yesterday's Explorer "leak?"

There's no way to be certain, but it certainly looks consistent with what we've come to expect the car to look like. We recently caught it testing in the Alps and careful consideration of the pictures revealed that the car would likely adopt styling cues from the latest Volkswagen models including the Golf and Touareg. The car in this picture certainly fits those expectations with its square headlight binnacles beneath the clear lenses, long, narrow grille, boxier shape and trapezoidal lower air intake.

No other pictures of the car have been leaked, but some details have already emerged. The interior is expected to lift a few cues from the up-market CC, helping this car to move up-market as well. Engine options are expected to expand from the single four-cuylinder option that is currently available to two four-cylinders, a V-6 and a diesel engine.

Despite the updates, the Passat you see here is not an all-new car. Rather, it is a substantial mid-cycle update. A full redesign is expected in 2014. This car, which will likely be billed as a 2011 model if not a 2012, is expected to debut at the Paris Motor Show in October. Will the refreshed Passat make it Stateside? In years past that would be a given, but with the new North American-exclusive New Midsize Sedan slated to start production in mid-2011, speculation is that the Passat will be solider on in Europe only. The upcoming NMS has been designed to bring a stronger fight to Camry and Accord as a slightly larger vehicle than the current Passat and a more budget-friendly price.

Thanks to: Motor Trend

Hot News: Next Nissan Z to Get Mercedes' Engines

Nissan is planning a radical shake-up of its next-generation Z-car that could even include diesel engines and a four-cylinder hybrid powertrain, sourced as part of the brand’s recent tie-up with Daimler.

Renault-Nissan is expected to supply three and four-cylinder petrol engines and electric technology to Daimler as part of the deal. In return, it will get four, six and eight-cylinder powerplants, and CEO Carlos Ghosn is said to be keen to install some of those units in the next Zed to keep the car ahead of tightening emissions regs. Greener variants could also help the car to attract buyers in Japan’s flagging domestic sports car market.

Nissan is considering three new engines for the Zed. First is a 3.5-litre V6 hybrid set-up used in Mercedes S400; Nissan also has the option of its own, similar-sized motor from the forthcoming Infiniti M hybrid.

Even more tempting are Mercedes’ diesel options: the V6 from the E350 CDI and the four-cylinder petrol hybrid from the forthcoming E300 Bluetec. The E300’s mix of 2.2-litre, four-pot turbodiesel and 15kW electric motor produces a total of 221bhp and more than 420lb ft of torque. In the E-class it returns a claimed 56mpg while emitting just 109g/km of CO2.

Another longer-term option would be Mercedes’ Diesotto engine, which combines diesel and petrol tech and can power cars as large as an S-class from just 1.8 litres.

Nissan’s Japanese rivals, Toyota and Honda, have struggled to maintain sales of sports cars in recent years. But while Toyota’s FT-86 small petrol coupé has now been pushed back until 2012 at the earliest, Honda is now enjoying strong sales with its CR-Z hybrid.

Thanks to: Autocar

Spied Up Date: 2011 Mini Cooper

These are the best pictures yet of the facelifted Mini hatchback, which will go on sale this summer.

Unsurprisingly, the exterior modifications are restricted to styling tweaks, as shown by the disguised parts on the spied car. These include the front air intakes, bumpers and lights.

Inside, expect to see similar materials to those shown in the Mini Countryman. The interior will feature new, classier surfaces, replacing some of the metal-effect finishes of the current model.

Mechanical changes are not expected, although a range of cleaner, more effecient engines is said to be under development.

The refreshed Mini hatch will go on sale around August.

Thanks to: Autocar

Hot News: Hot BMW 1-Series Confirmed

A hot BMW 1-series will go on sale next year, the M division's managing director has confirmed.

Dr Kay Segler officially confirmed the company's plans for the first time, adding that it will not be badged as an M model because of associations with the M1 mid-engined sportscar built between 1978 and 1981.

Autocar understands the car will be good for 350bhp and reach UK showrooms in 2011.

BMW’s M division has been working on its entry-level model in a bid to attract younger buyers to BMW’s performance cars.

Power for the model will come from a twin-turbocharged six-cylinder engine producing 350bhp. More than outright power, though, it is torque that is likely to play a more significant role in defining the new car’s character.

No figures have been released, but with BMW’s standard turbocharged 3.0-litre six already producing an M3-equalling 295lb ft, the newly developed M version of this engine should be good for at least 310lb ft.

The basis for the new M-car is today’s 1-series coupé. Its driveline is likely to feature a standard six-speed dual-clutch gearbox and an electronically controlled M differential.

With a kerb weight of not much more than 1500kg, its straightline performance should be close to that of the 1580kg M3. A relatively short 3.15:1 final drive promises a 0-60mph time of around 5.5sec.

Fuel-saving measures such as brake energy regeneration and possibly a stop-start system should also ensure the new M1 is no thirstier than the 135i, which delivers 30.7mpg in six-speed manual guise.

Underneath, the layout of the 1-series coupé’s MacPherson strut (front) and multi-link (rear) suspension will remain the same. However, M division engineers have set about altering the suspension properties, with firmer spring and dampers, and a new set of bushes.

It will slot into the range beneath the M3 coupé, and should cost around £38,000, £8000 more than the 135i Coupé M Sport. That means it will compete directly with Audi’s forthcoming RS3.

Thanks to: Autocar

New Car: 2011 Volkswagen Polo Saloon

This is the new Volkswagen Polo saloon, which was unveiled today in Moscow.

The Polo saloon will be built at VW's factory in Kaluga, Russia, and the firm says the car "has been developed specifically for the Russian market, bearing in mind its specific climate and street conditions". Small saloons are often popular in Russia, because they allow access to the boot without cold air entering the cabin in the winter months.

Just one engine is available in the Polo saloon: a 1.6-litre petrol unit producing 104bhp. It gets a five-speed manual transmission as standard, but VW is also offering the car with a six-speed automatic gearbox.

VW claims that the saloon has been engineered for Russian roads and fuel; it says it has tested the car extensively across the region, set up its suspension for poor-quality road surfaces, chosen heavy-duty paint to resist salt corrosion and tuned its engine to cope with varying petrol qualities.

Prices for the Polo saloon are expected to start at around 10,000 euro (£8300) in Russia; there are no plans for UK imports, however.

Thanks to: Autocar

Hot News: Mercury is Dead

If you didn’t already think Mercury was dead—the brand has been languishing for many years now—Ford has finally given it the official ax. The brand holds just 0.8 percent of U.S. market share, according to company spokespeople, and the Ford brand has grown its own market share already this year by over twice what Merc holds annually.

To the many previous claims by Ford that Mercury wasn’t going to be killed, the company maintains that the decision was not planned and discussions about Mercury’s demise only began this past week. We remain skeptical; one week seems like an awfully short time in which to decide to kill a 70-year-old brand, and the total lack of new product for Mercury in recent years suggests few people were planning its future.

Ford plans to begin offering special incentives this summer to clear out inventory and says it will end Mercury production in the fourth quarter of 2010. Compared to the quagmire GM has discovered can be created when closing a brand and abandoning franchises, Ford should have a relatively easy time of it. Of all 1712 Mercury dealers extant, not one is a standalone store. Ford and Lincoln dealers will of course continue to service Mercury vehicles and honor warranties on them.

Thanks to: Car and Driver

Breaking News: The end of the road for Mercury.

It's official. Ford Motor Company has sealed the casket on Mercury. After 71 years, Mercury will be shuttered to allow Ford to focus on expanding the Lincoln brand. Mercury currently only accounts for 0.8% market share for Ford. Per Ford, production is expected to come to an end in the 4th quarter of this year. FMC will also be working closely with dealers to help lessen the pain they will ultimately feel. I predict that many dealers who will now be stand alone Lincoln dealers will start looking into the options of either moving or selling their Lincoln franchises to their Ford brothers to combine both brands under one roof. Ford themselves may make this decision also. While we hate to see the brand die, it does make sense. Mercury really doesn't have a car that is unique to them, except for maybe the Grand Marquis. And the last really cool Mercury was the 2003-2004 Marauder. In recent years the company has really only been badge engineering Ford vehicles and stealing sales from Ford. In the mean time though, lets have a toast to the brand that gave us iconic cars like the 49/50 Mercury, the Cougar, the Marauder, and many more fine vehicles over the last 71 years. See the official press release below.

Source: Ford Motor Company.

  • Ford is expanding its Lincoln lineup with seven all-new or significantly refreshed vehicles in the next four years – including its first-ever C-segment vehicle
  • Lincoln's plan accelerates with more investment and attention on standout product design, class-leading technology and powertrains delivering top performance and fuel efficiency
  • Lincoln product development, marketing, sales and service resources expanding as the brand competes with Cadillac and Lexus in the marketplace
  • Ford will end production of Mercury vehicles in the fourth quarter of this year to fully devote its financial, product development, production and marketing, sales and service resources toward further growing its core Ford brand while enhancing Lincoln
  • Existing Mercury owners to receive continued access to parts and service support at Ford and Lincoln dealers; current Mercury vehicle warranties and Extended Service Plans will be honored; special offers available on new Mercury vehicles through the summer
  • Affected dealers to receive specialized support during the transition, as the company continues its transformation to a more profitable dealer network
DEARBORN, Mich., June 2, 2010 – Ford Motor Company will expand and enhance its Lincoln brand lineup with seven all-new or significantly refreshed vehicles in the next four years as part of an aggressive growth plan focused on standout product design, class-leading technology and new powertrains – all aimed at competing with Cadillac and Lexus in North America.

Ford also will end production of Mercury vehicles in the fourth quarter of this year to fully devote its financial, product development, production and marketing, sales and service resources toward further growing its core Ford brand while enhancing the Lincoln brand.

"We have made tremendous progress on profitably growing the Ford brand during the past few years. Now, it is time to do the same for Lincoln," said Mark Fields, Ford's president of The Americas. "The new Lincoln vehicles will transform luxury for North American premium customers through an unexpected blend of responsive driving enjoyment and warm, inviting comfort. We will also offer our customers a world-class retail experience through a vibrant retail network."

Lincoln's hallmarks will be refined, modern design, the most fuel-efficient premium powertrains and industry-leading technology that create a unique driver experience both in the cabin and on the road.

"Profitably growing Lincoln in North America is an important part of our One Ford plan," said Alan Mulally, Ford president and CEO. "Our Ford brand is gaining momentum and winning customers around the world. Now, we are going to use the same laser focus to further strengthen Lincoln and deliver even more products luxury customers really want and value."

Foundation Set

The future of Lincoln is building from a strong base that includes the all-new flagship MKS large sedan, the all-new MKT seven-passenger crossover and a significantly refreshed MKZ mid-size sedan – all now in showrooms. The hybrid version of the MKZ will reach showrooms later this year and is expected to be the most fuel efficient premium sedan on the market.

Lincoln's product actions continue later this year with the debut of the significantly refreshed 2011 MKX crossover, the first vehicle to feature MyLincoln Touch driver connect technology.

This will be followed by another six all-new or significantly refreshed vehicles within four years developed with Lincoln's DNA of standout design, precise and confident driving experience, class-leading technology and powertrains delivering top performance and fuel efficiency.

Lincoln will be led by expanded product development and marketing, sales and service teams to support the brand's growth plan and ensure it has a strong cadence of distinct products that are well positioned in the market. Plans for Lincoln include:
  • Lincoln's first-ever C-segment vehicle
  • New Lincoln-exclusive powertrains, including an all-new V-6 engine and advanced fuel-efficient transmissions
  • EcoBoost engines available in all Lincolns – from the Navigator full-size SUV to the new C-segment Lincoln
  • Fuel economy leadership with each new vehicle – leading to Lincoln emerging as the most fuel-efficient luxury lineup on the market
More useful technology and features than any other competitor – with a special focus on comfort and convenience. New advanced features include: fully retractable glass roofs; adaptive computer-controlled suspensions; electronic, push-button gear-selectors; active noise control; and exclusive MyLincoln Touch driver connect technology

"Lincoln vehicles will reward drivers with smooth, effortless power complemented by agile handling and responsive steering," said Derrick Kuzak, Ford's group vice president, Global Product Development. "The cabin is a sanctuary with segment-leading quietness, genuine materials and intuitive, useful technology."

Lincoln has started gaining traction with customers, as evidenced by market share gains during the past five years. Lincoln's share of the retail U.S. luxury vehicle market has grown from 4.5 percent in 2005 to 6.3 percent through the first quarter of 2010.

In addition, Lincoln's reputation with consumers has risen, with favorable opinion and purchase consideration reaching its highest level in the past five years. Lincoln's long-term durability was second only to Porsche's in the 2010 J.D. Power and Associates Vehicle Dependability Survey.


Mercury originally was created as a premium offering to Ford and was an important source of incremental sales. However, the continued strength of the Ford brand – particularly during the past three years – has accelerated the migration from Mercury to Ford for many customers.

Today, Mercury's customer profile, pricing and margins are almost identical to Ford, but Mercury's incremental sales have been declining.

The majority of current Mercury sales are to fleet buyers and customers purchasing through employee, retiree and friends and family discounts, which Ford anticipates largely can be satisfied by Ford brand vehicles.

Of Ford Motor Company's 16 percent market share in the U.S., Mercury accounts for 0.8 percentage points, a level that has been flat or declining for the past several years. That contrasts with the Ford brand, which has increased market share by 2.2 percentage points so far this year on the strength of new products and improved quality, fuel efficiency, safety, smart design and value.

Ford's strengthening financial position – including the return to profitability and positive cash flow – allows the company to absorb short-term costs associated with the discontinuation of Mercury and to consolidate future product investments into Lincoln.

Today, there are no stand-alone Mercury dealerships in North America. Ford is working closely with dealers to maintain properly located stand-alone Lincoln or Ford-Lincoln dealers, which will offer dealers and the company the greatest opportunity for long-term profitable growth.

New operational standards developed with the company's dealers will facilitate a Lincoln customer experience that exceeds the expectations of North American luxury customers.

Personal Attention

Ford will work closely with Mercury dealers and customers during the transition, including providing existing Mercury owners with continued access to parts and service support at Ford and Lincoln dealers and by honoring current warranties, including Ford's Extended Service Plans.

"We are 100 percent committed to supporting Mercury owners through Ford and Lincoln dealerships and working hard to keep them as valued customers in the future," Fields said.

"At the same time, we will work closely with our dealers to phase out Mercury franchises and continue to build a healthy, growing Lincoln with strong new products and a profitable dealer network that delivers a world-class customer experience."

Mercury owners will receive additional details in the coming days explaining the transition and assuring them that Ford and its dealers will continue to provide all necessary parts and service support for Mercury products.

Ford has notified Mercury dealers of the decision and provided details of a financial package that includes payment in exchange for resigning the franchise.

Ford today also informed dealers of special offers on new Mercury vehicles that will be available through the summer to support the sell down of current Mercury inventory and remaining Mercury vehicle production.

"We are taking decisive action and moving into the future with the right plan to deliver profitable growth for all stakeholders," Fields said. "These moves position us to continue building momentum through strong brands, great products and an unwavering focus on the customer."
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