Hot News: 2013 Fiat-Abarth Roadster to Compete with Lotus Elise

Abarth is set to complete its revival as a stand-alone brand within the Fiat Group by launching a sports roadster in 2012 — and it won’t need to buy in a chassis from Lotus or KTM to bring the car to market.

The new model is the latest step in an Abarth revival programme begun three years ago with the Punto Abarth, and continued with the arrival of an Abarth 500 plus a comprehensive range of ‘Esseesse’ performance upgrades for small Fiat models.

The planned roadster’s shape will be all-new. Its proportions and transverse, mid-engined layout will be roughly similar to that of the Lotus Elise. Its cockpit is also believed to use the same layout as the Elise: a fixed rear window with a simple, lift-out roof panel.

However, speculation on the internet that the car will use the Lotus’s chassis, or even the ultra-expensive platform from the KTM X-Bow, are “wide of the mark”, according to Italian sources close to the project.

The styling will come from Abarth’s own in-house department, led by the recently appointed head of design at the firm, Rubén Wainberg. The move is intended to recall Abarth’s 1960s heyday, when a series of specially designed Abarth sports cars were built and raced, using mostly Fiat components.

Abarth is working on its own tubular spaceframe for the car, which will follow tradition by making good use of proven Fiat/Alfa modular suspension components, as well as advanced and lightweight engines such as the recently launched turbocharged 1.4-litre MultiAir, available with outputs as high as 170bhp. Fiat/Alfa is also on the point of launching its own six-speed, dual-clutch gearbox, and admits seven-speed versions are a possibility for the future.

The entry price for the Abarth roadster is tipped to be “affordable” at around £25,000. This also clearly negates any relationship with the X-Bow, which uses an all-carbonfibre chassis and an Audi engine and costs £50,000 to £80,000.

Though engineering and design are at an advanced stage, the Abarth project’s business case is still under review and awaiting sign-off from group supremo Sergio Marchionne. Despite the success of the Fiat 500, which draws much from Fiat history, Marchionne is famously unsentimental about projects he suspects will not generate healthy returns.

One sticking point may be the size of the investment required for a car that will command worldwide sales of no more than 5000 units. Lotus’s current Elise/Exige volume is half that.

One point in the new car’s favour is that Fiat will soon have an ideal plant ready for its manufacture, just outside Turin. The group recently acquired the Grugliasco manufacturing plant of the struggling Bertone coachbuilding firm (the design side has been retained by the Bertone family) and is currently rebuilding it for the manufacture of various low-volume models and variants.

Work is due to be completed next year; that would be perfect timing for a new Abarth sports car that would appear a further 12 months down the line.

Thanks to: Autocar

New Car: 2011 Citroen C3 Picasso Blackcherry

Citroen has popped its cherry! The French firm has just released details of a new limited edition special model which coincides with a number of updates to the supermini MPV range.

Called the BLACKCHERRY, the newcomer is based on the VTR+ model and is powered by the firm’s 1.6-litre HDI diesel engine. Modifications include cherry red and gloss black exterior and interior detailing to compliment the metallic black exterior paint. The C3 Picasso also gets body colour roof bars and 17-inch cherry red diamond-tipped alloy wheels.

Standard equipment includes air conditioning, cruise control with speed limiter, Citroen’s Connecting Box (USB socket and Bluetooth system), electrically adjustable door mirrors and front electric windows.

Changes to the rest of the C3 Picasso range include a new Euro 5-compliant HDi 110bhp engine and six-speed transmission. The new engine returns just under 59mpg, with CO2 emissions falling by 5g/km over the previous Euro 4 unit to 125g/km. The remaining engines in the Picasso line-up have been rehomologated to reach full Euro 5 levels, with tweaks delivering more miles for every gallon of fuel consumed.

The firm has also made Michelin’s low rolling resistance Energy Saver tyres standard kit across the range, while the Connecting Box is now fitted as standard on VTR+ and Exclusive trim levels. For more details click here.
Thanks to: Auto Express

Hot News: Honda EV Concept to Debut at LA Show 2010

Honda has some electrifying news! The firm will whisk the dustsheet off what it describes as “an all-new Honda electric vehicle concept” at the LA motor show.

There are no further details as yet, but the car is significant, as the firm’s President and CEO Takanobu Ito will unveil the car, marking the first time a global Honda CEO has taken the stage during the Los Angeles Auto Show press days.

Ito has already made reference to Honda's electric car plans, stating in his mid-year speech that "Honda’s battery EV is scheduled to go on sale in Japan and the U.S. in 2012."

Honda will also reveal a plug-in hybrid platform which is designed to showcase the next-generation of the company’s hybrid technology. The hybrid system for mid-size to larger vehicles is currently under development. Vehicles equipped with this new system are scheduled to go on sale in 2012 in Japan and the U.S.

Both cars will be shown alongside Honda's FCX Clarity hydrogen fuel cell car (pictured). For more details click here.
Thanks to: Auto Express

Hot News: Volvo Begins Work on C30 Fuel Cell Electric

Volvo is looking to the future! The firm has announced its next step in the electrification of the car. Backed by the Swedish Energy Agency, Volvo will build two fuel cell range extender prototype chassis based on the Volvo C30 DRIVe Electric, to be ready for testing in everyday traffic in 2012.

Volvo boss Stefan Jacoby said, “This is an exciting expansion of our focus on electrification. Battery cost and size means that all-electric cars still have a relatively limited operating range. Fuel cells may be one way of extending the distance these cars can cover.”

The firm is working with Powercell Sweden to build a hydrogen range extender with a reformer, which breaks down petrol to create hydrogen gas. In the fuel cell, this hydrogen gas is converted into electrical energy, which is used to power the car’s electric motor. The only emissions are electricity, water and a small amount of carbon dioxide.

To test range extender, Volvo will fit the completed unit into two C30 DRIVe Electric models, testing of which should begin in 2012. This range extender is expected to increase the electric car’s operating range by up to 155 miles, giving a total of around 250 miles.

There is no word yet on when – or even if – this technology could make it to production. For more details click here.
Thanks to: Auto Express

New Car: 2011 Dodge Avenger

The Avenger name is pretty sweet, evoking an image of speeding through an apocalyptic wasteland, charging toward a moment in time where revenge can finally, deliciously be exacted upon those who have wronged you. If you bought a 2008–2010 Avenger, of course, that group of offenders would include Dodge—the name was among the car’s few redeeming qualities. While it was an okay effort, delivering a modicum of sportiness and a dash of style, a low-buck interior and coarse powertrains ultimately doomed the car to also-ran status in the family-sedan segment, as well as a seventh out of seven showing in its only comparison test.

And so Chrysler has rejiggered the Avenger for 2011, tweaking the powertrain lineup and installing a wholly redone interior, while at the same time bridging the gap until an ostensibly better replacement arrives within a couple of years.

The boorish 2.4-liter four-cylinder remains the base engine, although it now mates to an automatic transmission with six gears instead of four, and Dodge says the engine itself has been “recalibrated.” As on its mechanical twin, the Chrysler 200 (née Sebring), the V-6 option is now the company’s 3.6-liter Pentastar, mated to a six-speed auto and churning out an eye-popping-for-the-class 283 hp and 260 lb-ft of torque. The previous 235-hp, 232-lb-ft, 3.5-liter V-6 has been tossed into the great abyss.

To correct some of its predecessor’s sloppy dynamics, the 2011 Avenger receives a heavily reworked suspension, with what Chrysler says is “completely rethought” geometry. Twenty-six of the 30 suspension bushings have been retuned or redesigned, and the tires are wider, resulting in a track that grows by one inch. Dodge promises less body roll, sharper and more communicative steering, and fewer rattles.

Thanks to: Car and Driver

New Car: 2011 Dodge Grand Caravan

Chrysler recently announced a small update for the 2011 Town & Country, and —predictably—Dodge’s Grand Caravan will mirror its sibling’s changes. For 2011, the Grand Caravan will receive a new crosshair front grille and a more sculpted front fascia. Around back are a redesigned bumper and a liftgate sporting sharper creases and new lettering.

Like the Town & Country—and most other Chrysler products—the Grand Caravan receives the new 3.6-liter Pentastar V-6 engine. It’s tuned for 283 hp and 260 lb-ft of torque, more power than was offered by the 3.3-, 3.8-, and 4.0-liter sixes that it replaces in the engine lineup. The only transmission choice is a six-speed automatic with a “Fuel Economizer” button that adjusts shift timing for reduced fuel consumption.

Also aiding fuel economy are a half-inch reduction in the van’s ride height, lower-rolling-resistance tires, and a drag-reducing roof spoiler. Dodge hasn’t completed official EPA testing, but expects fuel economy will match or exceed the 16–17-mpg city and 23–25-mpg highway ratings of the previous engines even though the new V-6 is more powerful.

Thanks to: Car and Driver

Hot News: Jaguar Looks for Chinese Partner

Jaguar is “in negotiations” with a possible partner in China, Tata boss Carl-Peter Forster has said.

The partnership would see Jaguar entering into a joint venture with a firm which would both manufacture and sell its vehicles. Forster said that the firm was in "good discussions" with an un-named Chinese car maker.

He also told journalists in China that the believed the firm "tremendous potential" around the world, but it was "not as strong as we should be, most notably in China". Forster believes the firm had been "somewhat under-managed" before Tata took ownership of Jaguar Land Rover from Ford.

PSA Peugeot Citroen has this week confirmed its own assault on the luxury car market in the China, while both Volkswagen and General Motors are among several manufacturers looking to increase capacity there.

Forster added that Tata has also received a lot of overseas interest in the Nano, although no export markets have been agreed. “We have a lot of interest, certainly more interest than we can satisfy,” he said.

Thanks to: Autocar

Hot News: 2014 Porsche Cajun

Meet the baby Porsche with added spice! Our exclusive images preview a new SUV coupé that’s set to join the firm’s ranks.

Due to be called the Cajun, it slots into the range below the Cayenne and will go head-to-head with the Range Rover Evoque and BMW X4, which we revealed in Issue 1,137.

The Cajun is the first car to be developed under Porsche’s new owner, VW. And as the Cayenne was created alongside the VW Touareg and Audi Q7, so this model will have much in common with Audi’s Q5.

It will be slightly lower and shorter than the Q5, but around 90mm wider, giving an imposing, sporty stance. And it will tip the scales at around 1,700kg.

In a bid to distance the Cajun further from other models in the family, Porsche will offer it only as a three-door initially. Engines will be sourced from Audi, with buyers getting a choice of two petrol units, two diesels and a petrol-electric hybrid.

Kicking off the range will be a pair of four-cylinder variants: a 237bhp 2.0-litre petrol turbo and a 188bhp 2.0-litre TDI. Top-spec cars will get either a 3.0-litre TFSI petrol V6, producing 328bhp, or 3.0 TDI with 237bhp and 550Nm of torque. Flagship Cajuns are expected to cover 0-62mph in less than six seconds.

A six-speed manual gearbox or seven-speed PDK twin-clutch auto will be offered, while the four-wheel-drive system is to be biased towards tarmac use, so off-road features will be limited to hill descent control and all-weather tyres. The hybrid model is based on Audi’s forthcoming green Q5, which features a 210bhp 2.0-litre petrol engine mated to a 47bhp electric motor, and gives a zero-emissions range of 1.8 miles.

Although the Cajun is heavily based on the Q5, Porsche will fit unique suspension, damper and braking set-ups. The firm will also recalibrate the stability control for a sportier drive, and offer Porsche Active Stability Management as an extra, to control the new dampers.

The Sports Chrono package will be an option, too. This brings a sports exhaust to increase engine power, as well as launch control on cars with the PDK gearbox. VW Group design chief Walter de’Silva has already expressed interest in working on Porsche’s new models, and aims to move away from the controversial design seen on the Panamera. But the Cajun will still be striking, with a low, swooping roofline and short overhangs.

Inside, the four-seater cabin promises more luxury than the Q5. The centre console will be set higher, to cocoon the driver and give the car a small and nimble feel. Plus, the Panamera-inspired dash design and switchgear, set to appear in the new Boxster and Cayman next year, will ensure the model looks like a true Porsche.

When it goes on sale in 2013, it will be priced between the Q5 and Cayenne, which start from £27,980 and £41,404 respectively. The entry-level Cajun is likely to be slightly more expensive than the base Evoque Pure, which will cost from around £30,000. For more details click here.
Thanks to: Auto Express

Hot News: 2013 Volvo C30 5-Door

Watch out Volkswagen, Volvo is teeing up its Golf rival. The Swedish firm is set to launch a practical, five-door version of its C30 hatch. But creating the newcomer doesn’t merely involve grafting on an extra set of doors.

To compete with the best in the class, such as the Golf, Ford Focus and Vauxhall Astra, the C30 will be given a complete design makeover. Its look will usher in a more distinctive Volvo styling language, which new chief executive Stefan Jacoby is keen to implement.

He is concerned that the marque’s DNA has become diluted by pursuing its German rivals too intently. Instead, the firm’s new cars will have a renewed emphasis on Scandinavian design, which means keeping things simple and elegant on the outside, while interiors remain minimalist but with more interesting choices of materials. Technology inspired by Apple’s latest products is likely to make its debut in the new car, too.

Jacoby believes the XC60 is the model that’s closest to what Volvo should be doing, so expect the new five-door to be heavily influenced by the look of the SUV, with a distinctive nose, sculpted flanks and L-shaped tail-lights.

The model, due in 2012, will also require an overhaul inside. While the current three-door C30 looks the part, its rear seats are very cramped. The new car’s passenger and luggage space will rival that of the class leaders.

The five-door project has been promoted to the top of Volvo’s priority list, forcing the brand to put development of a replacement for the XC90 SUV on hold. It’s hoped that the new car will re-establish Volvo as a more significant player in Europe, as hatchbacks are still not big sellers in the US.

The firm will also seek to use its new Chinese owner Geely to its advantage, rapidly expanding its presence in that market and building a new factory there. Volvo is also putting the finishing touches to its US strategy, with the ultimate goal of increasing sales from the current 335,000 per year to 800,000 in a decade’s time. For more details click here.
Thanks to: Auto Express

New Car: 2011 Peugeot 207 Sportium

Peugeot has hatched a new special edition! Called the Sportium, the model is based on the 207 hatchback and comes with a choice of one petrol and one diesel engine.

The petrol unit is a 95bhp 1.4-litre four-cylinder which returns CO2 emissions of 137g/km, while the diesel is the 92bhp 1.6-litre four-cylinder which emits 113g/km and returns 65.7mpg.

The Sportium model picks up where the previous Millesim special edition left off, and benefits from a raft of standard equipment. All cars get air conditioning, front fog lights, USB and Bluetooth connectivity, 15-inch alloy wheels on petrol models and 16-inch on the diesels, and a Sportium interior pack with dark tinted rear window glass.

All 207 Sportium models also come with a free Nokia 5230 smart phone with Satellite Navigation and in car mounting kit.

The newcomer goes on sale in November, priced from £12,595. For more details click here.
Thanks to: Auto Express

Spied Up Date: 2012 Mercedes SLS AMG Convertible

It wasn't exactly a well-kept secret, and now it's officially out: Mercedes-Benz "is working on an SLS roadster," the company confirms. Stuttgart has simultaneously leaked pictures of a prototype that seems to be production-ready.

The open version of the SLS AMG, of course, loses not only its fixed top, but also its gullwing doors. The doors of the roadster version cut down deeper into the flanks and are operated with utterly conventional, Mercedes-sedan-style door handles, as opposed to the coupe’s pop-out pulls. In addition, the doors stretch farther forward than on the coupe, but the impression of an extremely long hood is still intact.

The photograph taken from above somewhat conceals the fact that the trunk lid is actually substantially taller, in order to cover the electrically operated convertible roof—and we don't believe there will be much space left for your luggage, either. Rollover protection is provided by two fixed roll hoops, and the seats don't look much different from those in the coupe. We doubt the leather-lined interior will be waterproof with the top down, despite the fact that the pictures were taken in the rain.

While AMG is starting to replace its high-revving, naturally aspirated 6.2-liter V-8 with the twin-turbocharged 5.5-liter V-8 (as seen in the S- and CL-classes), we suspect that the SLS roadster will keep the crazy 563-hp 6.2, which produces 479 lb-ft of torque. It is not only a trademark engine for the SLS, it fits the character of this sports car exceedingly well—and, with the top down, you will be even better able to listen to this engine's awesome soundtrack. With structural reinforcements and the convertible-top mechanism no doubt adding weight, performance could drop slightly.

Does the SLS AMG need an open-top version, since it is really defined by its gullwing doors? Well, this roadster proves that Mercedes is truly paying homage to the original 300SL, code-named W198; the gullwing W198 came in 1954, followed by a roadster version in 1957. Unlike its historical role model, however, the SLS AMG won't be entirely replaced by the roadster version. Rather, it will be complemented by it, with both cars being sold alongside each other.

While the SLS AMG coupe comes in at $185,750, the SLS roadster might break the $200,000 barrier. Mercedes-Benz could get away with it, as people are still lining up to get the revived gullwing coupe, so there is certainly no reason to sell this new variant at discount prices.

There's no rush for the carmaker, either: We don't expect to see the final car sans cover and tape before the Frankfurt show in September 2011, likely as a 2012 model. It will then compete with the Audi R8 Spyder, the Lamborghini Gallardo Spyder, and the top-level variations of the Porsche 911 Turbo cabrio.

Thanks to: Car and Driver

Hot News: Chevrolet Plans Baby SUV

Chevrolet is set to enter the baby SUV market with an Aveo-based five seater.

Although designs have yet to be finalised, the new car is being designed and engineered by GM Dat in Korea and could launch as early as 2012.

At a sneak preview of the clay model of the car at the Korean R&D centre, GM execs confirmed that it will be built on a slightly stretched Aveo platform and could be offered in both four-wheel drive and front-drive guises.

GMDAT design director Taewon Kim confirmed that it will have the same family look as the new generation Chevy models, but that pains were being taken to vastly increase interior quality over the Aveo.

There will also be more attention paid to colour and trim than current Chevy models, but the new SUV will also carry over the company’s trademark ‘dual cockpit’ design, seen on the Cruze small saloon.

A sneak peak at an interior styling buck also showed that the company is planning to use some switchgear sourced from the Vauxhall Astra and Insignia. It will also use a new generation digital display that will also appear in other future Chevy models. However, Taewon Kim was quick to point out that this didn’t mean that future Chevys will go head-to-head with Opel models. ‘There have to be differences between Chevy and Opel’ he told Autocar ‘but because of Opel we don’t want to push Chevrolet down’.

The company also showed off an Aveo saloon, which is likely to be first seen at the Detroit show in January, although it hasn't been confirmed whether it will go on sale in the UK. The hot Aveo RS, first seen at this year's Detroit show, was also being displayed, although it still hasn't been confirmed whether it will make production, although GM insiders are confident that it will get the green light soon.

Thanks to: Autocar India

New Car: 2011 Citroen C5

It’s facelift time for Citroen’s Mondeo-rival. The revised C5 saloon and Tourer estate feature new front and rear lights, re-homologated engines and the introduction of Citroen’s new eTouch Emergency & Assistance System.

Design changes are limited to headlights which feature daytime LED running lights, and new taillights which have darker light clusters.

More significantly, the C5 range now benefits from a fully Euro 5 compliant engine line-up. Citroen has introduced a cleaner Euro 5 1.6-litre diesel to replace the Euro 4 version, and re-homologated the 1.6-litre THP petrol engine and the 3.0-litre V6 diesel.

Both engines now offer improved fuel efficiency and lower CO2 emissions - fuel economy increases from 39.8mpg to 42.2mpg and 38.2mpg to 39.2mpg respectively, while CO2 emissions are down 14g/km and 6g/km respectively.

All Exclusive models now feature Citroen’s eTouch Emergency & Assistance System as standard. This service automatically or manually makes emergency calls and allows manual assistance calls - using a built-in SIM card - for a rapid response in the event of an accident. The service is free and available 24-7.

All model upgrades apply to both Saloon and Tourer versions and are available from November 2010. For more details click here.
Thanks to: Auto Express

Unofficial Picture: 2012 BMW 6-Series Convertible

The secrets of the 6 have been revealed! BMW debuted its all-new 6-Series with the four-door Concept Gran Coupé at April’s Beijing Motor Show, and then unveiled the two-door coupé in concept form at the recent Paris expo. And now, our spies have caught the 6-Series Convertible ahead of its public debut at the Detroit Motor Show in January.

The drop-top will be the first to appear in dealerships, arriving in March. That’s followed by the coupé in July, with the four-door Gran Coupé launching in 2012.

According to our source, the Convertible in our main picture was being photographed for an official 6-Series accessories brochure – which explains the large alloy wheels and deep side skirts. Our spy shot also reveals that BMW has elected not to adopt the folding hard-top seen on the Z4 and 3-Series Convertible; the new 6 will retain a traditional fabric roof to keep manufacturing costs and weight to a minimum.

As with the two and four-door models, the drop-top features BMW’s more reserved, elegant design language. The flowing tail and wraparound rear lights are a stark contrast to the current 6-Series’ challenging look. In a first for BMW, the newcomer will also feature all-LED headlamps.

Inside, the emphasis is on quality materials and hi-tech gadgets, including an optional Bang & Olufsen stereo. The top-seller is expected to be the 640d, with its six-cylinder twin-turbo diesel. This will go on sale alongside two petrol variants: a six-cylinder turbo 640i petrol and the 650i, which has a twin-turbo V8 offering close to 500bhp.

BMW is unlikely to offer an M6 version of the new model in order to distance it from the forthcoming Audi R8-rivalling supercar, inspired by the Vision EfficientDynamics seen at the Frankfurt Motor Show in 2009. For more details click here.

Thanks to: Auto Express

New Concept Car: Audi A1 Quattro

The S1 Quattro lives again! Audi is set to resurrect the name of its firebreathing world rally champ from the Eighties for a spectacular performance flagship of the A1. And purists needn’t worry – because the newcomer will pack plenty of power, style and, of course, the quattro four-wheel-drive system that made the original such a success.

Audi had considered using the name for the 182bhp 1.4 T version of the A1, revealed at the recent Paris Motor Show. But it backtracked at the last minute, fearing that the model’s two-wheel-drive layout would put off customers loyal to the brand.

Instead, bosses have decided to develop a new S1 alongside the Polo R, which is being readied by VW’s performance division in Germany. The cars will share underpinnings, to keep costs down, while VW may also add the scaled-down four-wheel-drive technology to its rugged CrossPolo and subsidiary Skoda’s Fabia Scout to further increase economies of scale.

But the full, sophisticated version of the quattro system will be reserved for the S1. And the car will continue Audi’s recent push to use innovations from its larger models on smaller products – the S1’s 4WD will have the option of the torque vectoring rear sport differential from the 
S4 and RS5, which promises agile handling.

Engine choices are still being considered, although the 1.4 TFSI from the current flagship won’t be used. Instead, to distance the S1 from the rest 
of the line-up, Audi is likely to employ one of the VW Group’s larger petrol turbos, which currently power the Golf GTI in 2.0-litre form and the top-spec Skoda Yeti in 1.8-litre tune.

A further option is a new 1.6-litre unit. Audi has already said it won’t return to rallying, but VW is planning an entry with a car prepared by a new team set up by Spanish former WRC ace Carlos Sainz. This is likely to be based on the Polo R, and as the sport’s rules dictate that cars be powered by a 1.6-litre turbo, the engine from this model could make it into the S1.

The Audi is likely to deliver around 240bhp – more than the 208bhp of the MINI Cooper S John Cooper Works – and offer scorching performance. The sprint from 0-62mph should take around six seconds, and top speed will be limited to 155mph. A choice of six-speed manual and seven-speed S tronic gearboxes will be available.

Despite the fireworks under the bonnet, the S1 won’t look vastly different to the 1.4 TSI. It will get a unique, deeper front bumper, more pronounced wheelarches to fit larger alloys, a gloss black rear diffuser and special badging. Two-tone paint will also be offered.

The high-spec interior boasts sports seats and a flat-bottomed sports steering wheel, plus drilled pedals and carbon fibre trim. The S1 is expected to debut as a concept later next year, before going on sale in 2012, with an anticipated starting price of around £25,000. For more details click here.
Thanks to: Auto Express

First Sketch: 2014 BMW X4

Small but packed with style – that’s the new baby brother to the X6, which these official sketches show is on the way. We stumbled across drawings of an ‘X4’ buried within the press material at the launch of the new X3.

Rumours of an aggressive SUV coupé based on the X3 have been circulating for some time, but these images give the clearest idea yet of how BMW’s three-door rival to the Range Rover Evoque will look. We spoke to the man responsible for the sketches, X3 designer Erik Goplen – and he told Auto Express that he would “love to see it made”.

We also cornered Markus Braunsberger, the project manager for the firm’s X models, who said: “There is certainly space in the product line-up for an X4 – but we have to make sure it doesn’t steal sales from
the X3.”

The newcomer is likely to use similar hardware and interior components to the X3, including its 3.0-litre six-cylinder turbo engine, which offers 300bhp-plus. According to our sources, the X4 has already gone from drawing board to concept stage, and we could see a show car next year, with a production model in 2013. For more details click here.
Thanks to: Auto Express

New Car: 2011 Lexus CT 200h F Sport

Lexus is looking to grow its F Sport line, and its efforts continue with the new 2011 CT 200h, due early next year.

The F Sport-treated compact hybrid made its debut at the Australian International Motor Show and features light alterations in an attempt to burnish its sporty credentials. Like many factory packages, changes to the appearance take the forefront. The Lexus hatchback receives alloy wheels, badging, an updated body kit, and a different interior with F Sport steering wheel, pedals, door-sill plates, gauge cluster, and tinted window glass. The Flame Blue color, which is nearly indiscernible to the IS F's Ultrasonic Blue Mica, can also be ordered.

The CT 200h is otherwise unchanged and remains powered by an adapted version of Toyota's Hybrid Synergy Drive with revised intake, exhaust, and programming for the 1.8-liter Atkinson-cycle inline-four. The suspension, called the Lateral Performance Damper System, allows Lexus to forgo strut bars and boost torsional rigidity while suppressing vibrations for a comfortable ride.

Thanks to: Motor Trend

New Car: 2012 Saab 9-4x

Nearly three years ago at the Detroit auto show, Saab showed a small crossover concept called the 9-4X BioPower, which was expected to hit showrooms about a year later. Since then, though, the automaker has endured a seriously rocky road, including a brush with death followed by new ownership, but the 9-4X has finally come to fruition relatively untouched from its concept form. Based on the same underpinnings as the Cadillac SRX, the 9-4X will be built by GM alongside the Caddy. The arrangement is among the last remaining ties between the Swedish brand and its former U.S. overlord.

The outer surface of the 9-4X shares many styling cues with the 2011 Saab 9-5. Up front, Saab’s new signature grille is flanked by swoopy headlights fitted with adaptive xenon bulbs, with trapezoidal fog-light housings below. The windshield is dramatically raked, and the pillars are blacked-out back to the thick D-pillar, wherein the “blade” of the hockey-stick-esque body line kicks forward, giving the 9-4X an aggressive look. The rear hatch shares the 9-5’s “ice-block” LED-strip, which spans the license-plate recess and connects the taillights. The standard rolling stock measures 18 inches, while Aero models receive 20-inch, nine-spoke wheels that mirror the turbine look of the 9-5’s. Overall, the 9-4X has a sleek look that quite possibly bests all of GM’s mid-size crossovers.

The interior is full of Saab cues, including a driver-oriented dash, green instrument illumination, “joystick” vent adjusters, and, of course, a center-console-mounted ignition. Optional equipment includes adjustable pedals, a Bose 5.1 surround-sound stereo, an eight-inch touch-screen nav system with a 10-gig hard drive, and the choice of faux carbon-fiber or wood trim.

Second-row occupants are treated to a three-angle adjustable seatback and their own climate controls. Additionally, an optional rear-seat entertainment package installs an eight-inch monitor with auxiliary video input into each of the front seatbacks.

In production trim, the 9-4X concept’s BioPower pretenses have fallen by the wayside, but the turbocharged engine has not. Just as with the Cadillac SRX, buyers will have their choice of a naturally aspirated 3.0-liter V-6 producing 265 hp, or the 300-hp, turbocharged 2.8-liter V-6, which will be exclusive to the top-spec Aero model. All-wheel drive is standard on the Aero trim and optional on the otherwise front-wheel-drive 3.0-liter. The Aero also includes Saab’s DriveSense adaptive suspension. Both engines are paired with a six-speed automatic transmission. Expect performance to match the Caddy—a 2.8-powered SRX we tested hit 60 mph in 7.2 seconds, and a 3.0-liter all-wheel driver took 8.4.

Our first in-person sighting of the 2011 9-4X will come at this year’s Los Angles auto show. The crossover will hit U.S. dealers in May of 2011, with European deliveries commencing in August.

The luxury crossover segment attracts a lot of buyers and accounts for loads of revenue—and, while we don’t love the Cadillac SRX, consumers are snatching it up. Saab is certainly late to this red-hot game, but the 9-4X’s unique look could make it the sales hit the company needs.

Thanks to: Car and Driver

New Concept Car: Subaru Forester S-Edition

Subaru has today revealed an exciting step-up in the SUV performance market, its Forester S-Edition bringing an additional 24kW/27Nm (now 193kW/347Nm) to the turbocharged 2.5-litre engine from the Forester XT on which it is based.

The Subaru Forester S-Edition is poised to join the model line-up in January next year adding significant additions to the specification sheet.

Included in the list, a paddleshift five-speed automatic transmission, revised sports suspension, variable torque distribution all-wheel drive system and 17-inch STI high-lustre alloy wheels join the mechanical package while inside, exclusive styling accents, Alcantara seat trim with S-Edition logos, drilled alloy pedals and luminescent instrumentation round out the extras.

Like every vehicle in the Subaru range, Forester S-Edition scores a five-star ANCAP safety rating and is protected by DataDot security.

"We're delighted and honoured that Fuji Heavy Industries (FHI) have chosen Sydney for the worldwide unveil of this Forester concept," exclaimed Subaru Australia managing director, Nick Senior.

"It points towards an exciting development in our Forester range early next year.

"Forester is firmly established as Australia's best selling compact sports utility vehicle, with the most recent addition to the range being the diesel variants that are proving a sales winner for our All-Wheel Drive brand.

"There's no denying Forester's appeal to Australians in both urban and rural environments, so we think this concept will only add to the huge interest."

Senior stated that the Forester S-Edition's Japanese launch won't take place for another month and the world debut in Sydney is recognition of the Forester's strong market appeal in Australia.

"This is a strong Forester market; we have at times outsold the Japanese market with Forester," he said. Senior told the Carsales Network that the demand for the S-Edition Forester chiefly came from buyers who were considering the purchas the Forester XT Premium, but were interested in a car positioned slightly above the naturally-aspirated variant.

"We've always done very well with the Forester XT -- at around 150 units per month. the customers were asking for something a little bit special, with the Forester. The XT still has its place and we don't expect XT volume to drop dramatically. I think this will probably be about a hundred units a month, incremental..."

Pricing will be announced closer to launch, although Senior informed the Carsales Network after the unveiling at the show that the new variant would be less than $4000 above the price of the Forester XT Premium auto. The vehicle on display at the show was built to Japanese specification, with a wing mirror on the near-side front quarter panel. According to Senior, the Australian version will feature a sunroof as standard.

Today's unveiling comes after FHI's recent announcement of its first all-new new engine in 21 years, which will debut on normally aspirated Foresters in Australia in early 2011.

The third-generation four-cylinder horizontally opposed Boxer engine will launch as a 2.5 litre in Australia and features a longer stroke, compact combustion chamber and lighter moving parts.

Thanks to: Car Point

Spied: 2012 BMW 1-Series Coupe

BMW is set to release a mid-life facelifted version of the 1-Series Coupe and Convertible. Our spy photographer snapped this facelifted version of the 1-Series Coupe undergoing testing near BMW’s headquarters in Munich. Changes to the stylish three-door are minimal, as demonstrated by the small amount of black tape applied to this car.

Tweaks to the taillights, front bumper and headlights are the only alterations to the car’s exterior. However, the baby BMW’s funky looks still look fresh, with just simple nips and tucks required to keep it looking sharp.

On the inside, upgraded trim materials and a new generation of the firm’s iDrive system, which features BMW’s ConnectedDrive in-car internet access, are expected.

Both the Coupe and Cabriolet will receive the fresh look, and will make their debuts at the Detroit Motor Show alongside the final production version of 1-Series M Coupe. For more details click here.
Thanks to: Auto Express

New Car: 2011 Mazda BT-50

Earlier today, Ford showed us the all-new, [semi] global Ranger which Ford developed alongside the Mazda BT-50, which the company just unveiled at the Australian Motor Show in Sydney.

Mazda's latest entrant into the compact pickup truck market is all-new, riding on a brand new chassis and suspension developed with Ford. The new suspension features double A-arms up front with coils on struts. At the rear, engineers equipped the truck with the expected leaf springs.

Although Mazda has yet to divulge what powertrains reside under the hood of the new BT-50, it's likely they'll mirror those of the new global Ranger.

For years, pickup trucks looked virtually the same with a simple, conservative boxy-cab attached to a bed. With its latest pickup though, Mazda wanted to create something expressive people would find desirable and would be proud to own. Mazda certainly succeeded in creating something different from the atypical pickup truck as the BT-50 has a rather athletic look to it.

The front fascia features a familial, five-pointed, angular grille, similar to that seen on the CX-9, only larger and with an added central bar. The grille is flanked by diamond shaped headlights, a shape mirrored in the fog light apertures below. At the tip of the headlights, Mazda designers started a character line that runs along the cab, helping to give the truck that athletic stance. Although the front of the truck features relatively rakish styling, the rear is a standard pickup truck affair.

Inside the new truck, Mazda designers worked to create a space as stylish and sporty as the exterior. As such, the center console was designed to wrap around into the asymmetric instrument panel. Mazda designed the instrument panel to wraparound and envelope the driver, as in a sports car, but left the passenger side open and airy. The center console also features a raised information display, which Mazda says is a first in a compact pickup truck.

As with the new global Ranger, Mazda has no current plans to import the BT-50 to the U.S. and will sell it primarily in Australia and Europe. Give us your opinion though, should Mazda do what Ford won't and import the BT-50 to the U.S.?

Thanks to: Motor Trend

New Car: 2012 Ford Ranger

After nearly three decades, the Ford Ranger is set for elimination in the United States, but not before its redesigned global iteration takes the stage front and center.

The pictured specimen is the 2012 Ranger's flagship crew cab, also known as the Double Cab, in XLT trim and painted Aurora Blue. Originally codenamed T6, overall design has moved away from the long-in-the-tooth, conservative look little changed since the 1980s and the truck's designers call its appearance "21st Century Tough." It possesses a different type of styling compared to our present F-Series, a style that was penned specifically for a new generation of truck owners from all walks of life.

"In many areas of the world, the role of Ranger has changed," said Craig Metros, the new Ranger's chief designer. "It still has to be a work vehicle with a durable interior and the ability to carry a heavy payload, but it also serves a dual role with refinement, comfort and more consumer-friendly features topping the list for many buyers."

A fresh chassis frame, suspension and steering system reside beneath the Ford truck's skin. The front suspension employs a double A-arm architecture with coils on struts and the rear utilizes the expected leaf springs. Damper valving and spring rates are individually set up per specific configuration, depending on the truck's curb weight, center of gravity, engine torque, and drive layout. Because this is a truck, cabs come in standard, extended, and crew form, along with the choice of rear- or four-wheel drive. The front brake rotors are reportedly the largest in class, measuring 302 millimeters wide and 32 millimeters thick (11.9 inches by 1.3 inches) and paired with twin-piston calipers.

Global engine selections are between two diesels and a single gasoline option. The gasser is a 146-horsepower Duratec 2.5-liter inline-four. The smaller diesel is a 2.2-liter straight-four with 148 horsepower and 277 pound-feet of torque, while the larger 3.2-liter inline-five puts out 197 horsepower and 347 pound-feet of torque. Transmissions include a five- and six-speed manual and a six-speed automatic. Payload and towing numbers haven't been divulged yet.

The new Ranger will be assembled in Argentina, South Africa, and Thailand, beginning in the Southeast Asian nation first next summer. Our domestic pickup truck market could indisputably use some fresh metal, but the only way this grown truck would feasibly make it to the United States is if F-Series sales fall off a cliff -- something not likely to happen anytime soon.

Thanks to: Motor Trend

New Car: 2011 Mahindra Bolero Attitude

Mahindra & Mahindra is somewhat akin to the Jeep or Land Rover of India (even though the latter brand is now Tata-owned and therefore technically Indian anyway), but this latest creation appears as though it's straight out of the Tonka Toys catalogue.

The cartoonish images you see here are of the 2011 "Attitude" version of its enduring Bolero all-terrainer. It's a commemorative edition of sorts, as it comes 10 years after the launch of the original Bolero, which itself was an updated version of the Armada (not to be confused with the gargantuan US/Middle East-focused Nissan of the same name).

Some quick history: Mahindra & Mahindra started out in 1945, initially assembling Willys jeeps for the Indian market, but it's since broadened its portfolio to include a varied range of products.

The Armada was pitched mainly at the army, police and other paramilitary forces, but it went on to find a more mainstream audience and sales grew appreciably from modest early tallies of around 250 vehicles per month.

Mahindra sold 70,554 Boleros in India during the financial year 2009-10, ranking it as the top-selling SUV in the country for the fourth successive year.

The company obviously sees this as reason enough to ditch its unpretentious, utilitarian roots in favour of something that looks like an accessoriser's wet dream.

The Bolero Attitude's accoutrements run from a pick-axe (?) to a hefty bash bar, snorkel, side steps, winch, faux fender vents, roof-mounted lights and even a quad-exhaust system (because the 2.5-litre diesel engine is obviously stifled by a single pipe).

Although far from technically sophisticated, Mahindra's products are at least robust and reasonably off-road capable.

The brand has a low-key presence in Australia, with the barebones Pik-Up one-tonner on offer locally, backed by a three-year/100,000km warranty.

Mahindra has over 40 dealers nationwide and is represented in all states and territories except the ACT, but the marque's sales volumes are hard to glean because Mahindra Automotive Australia does not report registration numbers to VFACTS, the industry's record keeper.
Thanks to: Car Point

Hot News: New Baby Ford

FORD’S stunning new baby is taking its first steps: Auto Express has learned that the blue oval is readying a fresh global small car.

The newcomer – which is set to be priced from £8,000 – will seek to regain the charm and sporty drive of the original Ka. The current model was co-developed with Fiat, and shares the 500’s underpinnings. But while its Italian cousin has been a success, Ford’s effort has been less so, as the firm has struggled to give the Ka a stylish look and make it drive as well as the rest of the range. Yet that is all set to change. This time around, the brand will produce a city car which lives up to the original.

Its styling will be based on that of the California-designed Start concept, which debuted earlier this year at the Beijing Motor Show. Under the bonnet, it will be powered by a new 1.0-litre three-cylinder EcoBoost engine with direct injection and stop-start technology. Developing between 80bhp and 125bhp, but returning around 60mpg and with sub-100g/km CO2 emissions, the unit will also be offered in the Fiesta, Focus and C-MAX ranges.

The new Ka will be introduced first in the emerging markets of China, India and South America. But just like the new Focus – which has 80 per cent of its parts in common no matter where it is being sold – and in line with Ford boss Alan Mulally’s OneFord mantra, it will remain broadly similar across the world.

However, equipment levels will be higher on European cars. Key to this will be the MyFord system, which allows the integration of smartphones with the car’s dash. So, as well as controlling the air-con and sat-nav, you can stream music, play videos and take calls – and control of all of these will be by voice or touchscreen. The car will have more personalisation options than ever before, too.

Ford offers exterior graphics and different trim colours with the current Ka, but the newcomer will feature a far more comprehensive set of options, ranging from vinyl wraps to colour-coded interior lighting, to ensure each example is unique.

Expect the new baby to go on sale in 2014. For more details click here.

Thanks to: Auto Express

Hot News: 2015 Lotus Elite Convertible

THE Lotus story is opening up before our very eyes! Hot on the heels of its stunning six-car debut at the Paris Motor Show last week, the Norfolk-based firm has released these first official images of its new Ferrari California rival – the Elite – with its roof down.

Set to go on sale in 2014, the car will be fitted with a folding hood as standard to take the fight to the California, as well as Mercedes’ SLS AMG Roadster and Aston Martin’s DB9 Volante.

Although little is known about the Elite’s roof mechanism – the car is a long way from reaching prototype stage – it will be made of a combination of metal and glass. This will allow lots of light to enter the cabin when the hood is in place, but keep overall weight down. Fully electric, it will tuck into a space behind the rear passenger seats. Power for the front-engined rear-drive 2+2 will come from a 5.0-litre V8, available in ‘standard’ 542bhp form, and as a 612bhp ‘R’ version.

Lotus claims the Elite will do 0-60mph in around 3.5 seconds, with a top speed of 195mph. It will also get a seven-speed twin-clutch semi-auto box and F1-style KERS hybrid drive.

Lotus says the convertible will be priced at around £115,000. For more details click here.

Thanks to: Auto Express

Hot News: Bentley's Rapide Rival?

LOOK what is hatching out at Bentley! The Crewe-based firm is working on an entry-level four-door coupé along the lines of Aston Martin’s Rapide, Auto Express can reveal. And our exclusive images show how the swoopy four-seater is likely to look.

Speaking exclusively to us at the Paris Motor Show, Bentley boss Dr Franz-Josef Paefgen confirmed that the firm wants to introduce a “third-generation model”. And the all-new car is expected to sit below the Continental and Mulsanne.

It will be pitched at the Rapide, Maserati Quattroporte and Porsche Panamera, and will also offer customers a more upmarket alternative to the Mercedes CLS and forthcoming four-door BMW 6-Series. While the Rapide is priced at £140,000, the Bentley could cost from around £85,000.

However, it will not come at the expense of the Continental-based Flying Spur saloon – still an important, and popular, model for the brand. So to differentiate itself, the newcomer will feature a dramatically sloping roofline that flows into the hatch. Up front the baby Bentley’s ‘face’ will take cues from the latest Continental GT.

Although it will be smaller inside than the Flying Spur and Mulsanne, it will be by no means cramped, with plenty of leg and headroom for a pair of adults in two individual rear seats. Throughout the cabin, expect Bentley’s usual peerless quality with generous use of metal, soft-touch leather and wood veneers.

Underneath will be a chassis borrowed from Audi’s A7 Sportback – the same platform that will form the basis of the all-new A6 due next year. Its 20 per cent aluminium construction has kept weight to a minimum, so the Bentley should weigh about 1,700kg – significantly less than the 2,350kg Continental GT.

Power will come from a new, more efficient 4.0-litre turbo V8, co-developed with Audi. This will drive all four wheels through an eight-speed auto. The engine will appear in the Continental GT next year and is anticipated to produce around 450bhp. According to Ulrich Eichorn, Bentley’s head of engineering: “The V8 is our hedge against fuel price spikes, carbon dioxide-related legislation and supercar market uncertainty.”

Bentley’s current range begins at £135,760 for the Continental GT Coupé, rising to £220,000 for the Mulsanne, which makes the cars particularly susceptible to fluctuations in the economy. It’s hoped this new baby will sell in big numbers, maintaining the company’s stability through future rocky financial times. And a large player in that plan is the Chinese market – where Bentley opened eight dealers last month.

With coupé and convertible versions of the Mulsanne in the pipeline, plus GTC and Flying Spur variants due of the Continental line-up, this newcomer would take Bentley’s range to seven models. That’s an all-time high for the company and proof that the marque is feeling more confident than ever. For more details click here.

Thanks to: Auto Express

Car crashes in to Pennsylvania drivers license center.

Earlier today a vehicle crashed into a drivers license center in Collier Township, Pennsylvania. Thankfully no one was seriously hurt. No word on if the student taking their test passed. Likely no, however there must have been that really awkward moment after the student at the instructor confirmed they we ok.

Source: WTAE Channel 4 News.

A car crashed through the entrance of a driver license center in Collier Township on Wednesday afternoon.A witness told Channel 4 Action News' Tara Edwards that a young driver appeared to be taking a test with an instructor when the car went through a window, sending glass shattering inside the center.Sky 4 flew over Chartiers Valley Shopping Center on Washington Pike as the car was removed from the driver license center and loaded onto a flatbed truck.A photo taken by a Channel 4 Action News viewer showed the vehicle sitting in the waiting area of the driver license center before it was removed.Emergency dispatchers said two people suffered minor injuries.Police have not said how the car ended up inside the building.

New Car: 2012 Chrysler 200

We reported on the Chrysler 200 teaser Web site yesterday, but since then our eyes have been treated to a slew of new photos.

All of the new images seem to focus on the exterior of the 200, which attempts to pull away from its Sebring predecessor. The grille is bigger and the projector-style headlights give the front a new angle, while the rear features a sleeker look with slimmer taillights and a fresh rear fascia. Even the Chrysler badging has taken a new direction.

Sitting beneath the pictured hood is the 3.6-liter Pentastar V-6, the upgrade for the base 2.4-liter inline-four. An old-school four-speed automatic transmission will be offered at the lower end of the lineup, but a six-speed auto will otherwise be standard gear-changing fare.

Thanks to: Motor Trend

Spied Up Date: 2012 Audi A6

Based as it is on the same architecture as the 2012 A6, the recently unveiled Audi A7 luxo-hatch previewed how the next A6 will drive. Now, we also know how Audi’s next midliner will look, thanks to spy photographers who caught this right-hand-drive prototype running wild with hardly any camouflage.

The photos more or less confirm what we stated—and illustrated quite accurately, we gotta say—back in our April story on the upcoming A6: that it will elegantly split the difference between the two-year-old A4 and the all-new 2011 A8 flagship. Notable styling features include its more laid-back stance, the upswept lower-body contour, taillights that extend onto the trunk (like those of the rest of the Audi line), and LED running lights with a checkmark graphic that is somewhat softer than the menacing diodes of the new A8. We’d like to see a sportier edge to the mainstream sedan’s appearance, but it appears that Audi will reserve the styling flourishes for the S6 and RS6 models, which will follow in subsequent model years.

We expect the next-gen A6’s engine lineup to include VW’s turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder, with the majority of cars powered by a supercharged V-6 in one of two strengths, as seen in the Q7. Although we’re not sure if we’ll actually get the RS6 in the U.S., the legendary twin-turbo V-10 powering the current car will give way to a twin-turbo V-8 pumping out something near the 10’s 580 hp. We also stand behind our dour prediction that we won’t see the Avant wagon version of the next A6—at least for a while. If Audi’s recent models are any indication, we are optimistic that the 2012 A6 will not only look good, but drive well, too. We should find out for ourselves within a year.

Thanks to: Car and Driver

New Car: 2011 Honda Civic

The Honda Civic has been given a range of subtle cosmetic styling changes for 2011. The facelifted Civic’s most noticeable change is the addition of the Type R’s front grille to the rest of the range.

New alloy wheel designs are now fitted as standard, including new 16-inch wheels for entry-level 1.4 Type S models. That model also gets colour-coded side skirts as standard.

Other exterior changes include new colour options, while there have also been some changes inside. SE and ES models get a half Alcantara interior; Si models get a half leather/half Alcantara interior with heated front seats.

Production of the revised Civic range gets underway at the firm’s Swindon plant next month; this month marks the end of Type R production in the UK after its high-revving 2.0-litre VTEC engine fell foul of European emission regulations.

Honda is expected to launch an all-new Civic in 2012, which is tipped to be lighter and more economical than the car it replaces, in line with Honda’s new strategy.

Prices for the 2011 Civic range are unchanged, starting from £13,995 for the Type S.

Thanks to: Autocar

Hot News: Lexus SC Replacement to be Called LC?

Lexus is said to be hard at work on a new model tentatively called the LC600h, slated to be the replacement for the recently discontinued SC 430. The LC will reportedly employ a shortened version of the next-generation LS platform as well as an updated version of the 5.0-liter V-8 hybrid system from the LS600h L, and all-wheel drive.

Like the outgoing SC, we hear the LC is also being developed as a convertible with a retractable metal roof. Expected to outperform its European competitors, the LC600h will reportedly generate some 500 horsepower and sprint from 0 to 60 mph less than five seconds. According to a Lexus insider, the company sees the new LC as the car that most captures the essence of what Lexus is all about -- performance, luxury, and the environment -- more than any Lexus model to date. It's an upscale configuration that should elevate the car to a status rivaling the Mercedes SL-Class. That's something the SC, with its unloved style and powertrain, was never able to accomplish.

Currently being developed in the shadows of the next LS, our contact tells us not to expect the LC before its four-door LS brother hits showrooms in 2014. "If we don't get anymore nasty surprises on the economic front, then any time after 2015 might be the right time for the LC."
Thanks to: Motor Trend

Sneak Peek: 2012 Chrysler 200

The 2011 Chrysler 200 is taking form and the Sebring replacement has received the benefit of a teaser site dedicated to its image.

The midsize 200 is scheduled for the Chrysler lineup sometime next year. Generating buzz now is important, and the teaser shots show potential in the wake of the first set of 200 photos. Up front, we see the headlights get tube-light accents but the changes don't appear to stray too far from original expectations following the 2009 Detroit auto show's 200C EV concept. An image of the interior is limited to a close crop of the leather stitching, although Chrysler says the 200 has a new instrument panel, soft-touch materials, and better seats over the Sebring. Power comes from either a 2.4-liter inline-four or the optional 3.6-liter Pentastar V-6.
Thanks to: Motor Trend

First Sketch: 2012 Nissan Versa

Development for the next-generation Nissan Versa is evidently underway, judging by this teaser sketch released today by the Japanese automaker. With swoopier styling and an arched roof, the next-gen Versa may help retain interest in the subcompact car. Nisan has also confirmed that the new Versa will be sold in North America.

The current Nissan Versa hit U.S. showrooms in 2006, with the sedan variant following in 2007. The 2011 model carries a $10,740 base price. Both cars are currently powered by a choice of a 1.6- or 1.8-liter engines worth 107 and 122 horsepower, respectively. Nissan has sold 76,736 Versas through September 2010, an increase of 20.4 percent year-over-year and significantly larger volume than Honda's Fit (40,936) and Toyota's Yaris (31,793).
Thanks to: Motor Trend

Sneak Peek: 2012 Toyota Prius MPV

Toyota brass took to the glitz and glamor of Sin City looking to rally U.S. dealers and gave its stateside family an advanced peek of the new Camry, FT-86, Prius, and Scion iQ.

There were no substantial photo or information leaks from the Las Vegas dealer conference, but Automotive News reports the mood among attendees was generally "upbeat," despite a rough year focused on high-profile recalls. More than 1000 dealers flocked to the Mandalay Bay casino and hotel where Toyota chieftain Akio Toyoda assured his masses that new product is on the way and on schedule for release over the next 18 months.

While dealers were the only ones to catch the latest glimpse of the upcoming Camry, FT-86, and Scion iQ, Toyota teased the upcoming Prius minivan yesterday through Facebook. Dubbed Alpha, it's hidden behind the current Prius in the teaser and sports longer overhangs and a higher rear roofline for added interior volume. The hybrid minivan will be the Prius lineup's first expansion effort ahead of the plug-in variant and a smaller and larger model due in 2013. According to AN, the larger Prius is designated the Prius-V and the even more compact version is called the Prius-C.

Thanks to: Motor Trend

Sneak Peek: 2012 Mercedes SLK

A mere week after the Paris Motor Show, Mercedes-Benz is already beginning to tease us for the next European auto show -- Geneva, in March. The German marque released the first teaser image in what is likely to be a long series of teasers of its upcoming 2012 SLK roadster.

Not much can be garnered from the teaser image apart from the fact that -- surprise! -- the SLK is set to keep its two-piece folding hardtop configuration. The roofline is very similar to the car's now, but the top itself is rather different. Instead of the standard metal roof, the teaser shows the SLK with a transparent glass roof.

Dubbed Magic Sky Control by Mercedes, the glass isn't just standard glass, but incorporates electromagnetic particles to adjust transparency. The system works using an electrical current to align the particles, causing varying degrees of transparency. If the system is switched off, the particles orient themselves randomly, blocking most light. When an electrical current is applied, the particles align themselves, allowing the glass to become transparent.

Magic Sky Control is a neat trick we've seen before on the likes of Ferrari's 575 SuperAmerica. However, we have to wonder what the point of it is on a convertible where you can drop the top completely in seconds. Mercedes gives us an answer though, saying that it's to give you the feeling of being outdoors when it's too cold to put the top down. Isn't that what AirScarf is for?

In any case, Mercedes has also given preliminary information on powertrains. Three gasoline engines will be available and one turbo-diesel. The turbo-diesel will likely be relegated to Europe and we'll likely only get two powertrain options -- a standard V-6 and the outrageous AMG version.

Stay tuned as the long wait for Mercedes' new roadster begins.
Thanks to: Motor Trend

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