New Car: 2011 Opel/Vauxhall Antara

Vauxhall’s Antara is looking sharp. These are the first pictures of the facelifted version of the firm’s SUV, which goes on sale next month.

To bring the Antara up to date, Vauxhall has added the firm’s new front grille and Griffin logo, as sported by the Corsa facelift, while SE models get fog lights mounted in leaf-shaped bezels.

New 19-inch alloys and tweaked rear light clusters complete the cosmetic modifications on the outside, while the interior gets extra storage, new trim materials and improved instruments.

Under the bonnet, the SUV gets a new 2.2-litre diesel engine, up from the current, single 148bhp 2.0-litre oil burner. The engine is available in two states of tune, 161bhp or 181bhp, but while power has increased, Vauxhall claims the unit is cleaner than before, although official emissions data hasn't yet been confirmed.

The 161bhp unit comes in front-wheel drive with a six-speed manual transmission only or all-wheel drive with either a manual or six-speed auto gearboxes. The 181bhp engine is four-wheel drive only, but buyers can choose manual or automatic transmissions. All cars benefit from revised spring and damper settings.
Prices for the new Antara start from £19,995, a saving of £2,835 on the outgoing base version.For more details click here.
Thanks to: Auto Express

Ok, I think we will

We're goin Buggy for VW Bugs!

Aother beautiful cal looker

The sun, the color, the sunroof, the wheels, the stance. P E R F E C T!

Boy that's nice

Nothing quite like a European interpretation of a classic California Look VW. This one's a 1963 built by the folks at The Bug Box.

The Bug Box

New Car: 2012 Opel/Vauxhall Corsa

You don’t need an eagle eye to spot the facelifted Corsa! A mid-life makeover has brought the Vauxhall supermini’s styling into line with its Insignia and Astra stablemates – and the new nose is dominated by the Luton company’s distinctive ‘eagle eye’ headlights.

The revamp is the work of chief exterior designer Niels Loeb. As well as the new headlamps – which incorporate a set of LED daytime running lights, and are similar to the units debuted on the latest Meriva – Loeb has given the FordFiestarival a fresh chrome grille and restyled front bumper with a wider air intake.

There are also five new exterior colour options, including striking Lime Green and Chilli Orange pearlescent paint. Completing the visual changes are fresh 16-inch alloys on SE and SXi models, while the range-topping VXR now gets 18-inch rims inspired by the 20-inch wheels on the larger Insignia VXR.

The cabin has been lifted with new upholstery shades and different colour door trims, centre console and handles. Vauxhall will also offer its new Touch and Connect multimedia system, which features a CD player, USB and auxiliary inputs, as well as Bluetooth compatibility and a five-inch touchscreen display for the sat-nav.

The cosmetic upgrades complement the numerous mechanical changes already introduced to the Corsa range. These include the addition of stop-start to the latest ecoFLEX engines.

The bargain of the facelifted range is the £9,995 entry-level three-door 1.0 ecoFLEX, which is effectively £200 cheaper than its predecessor when you take into consideration the 4 January VAT increase. Prices for all other models rise by 2.5 per cent courtesy of the Treasury, but Vauxhall’s own increases are only between around £60 and £75. The first cars will be delivered in February. For more details click here.
Thanks to: Auto Express

Unofficial Picture: 2012 Suzuki SX-4 Sedan

These are some recent pictures of the face-lifted Suzuki SX4, recently surfaced on a Chinese website.

The images show an overall refresh to the current SX4 styling; there is a new chromed-lined grill on the front. The headlamps are slightly re-styled which makes the front gives a little more shaper stance. The front bumper is also all new. On the rear, there are extensive changes to the boot lid, restyled tail-lamps which now look similar to the newly-launched Kizashi saloon.

There is not much information on engines but we can expect an inclusion of a diesel motor in future.
Thanks to: Autocar India

Hot News: Honda Brio

Honda’s all-new small car will be christened the Brio. Showcased at the Auto Expo in Delhi earlier this year, Honda’s small car concept (codenamed 2CV), will compete against arch rival Toyota’s small car Etios.

Honda will showcase a prototype of the Brio, which will be very close to the production version, at the 27th Thailand International Motor Expo, starting November 30, 2010. Based on a completely new platform, the Brio will be an entry level compact car that will be four meters long with an engine similar or smaller to the 1.2-litre motor of the Jazz. Honda is working on a 3-cylinder version of the same motor, but without the VTEC technology.

Expected for an early 2011 launch, the ‘2CV’ will boast of cutting-edge technology that would help return good fuel economy. Honda is hopeful of producing a car that will be the most economical car in its segment. While Honda has completely denied a diesel engine for its small car, the company has hinted towards a Hybrid version of the '2CV', following feasibility reports.

Interior packaging on the car is expected to be in line with the Jazz, so expect it to be high on comfort and space. If Honda could price the Brio competitively – unlike the Jazz – it could have a winner in its hands. Fitted with safety features like ABS and Airbags, Honda wants to tactfully price the Brio and has set a price target of under Rs 5lakh. Let's hope they achieve it!
Thanks to: Autocar India

Sneak Peek: 2012 Volkswagen Beetle

Oprah Winfrey teased her audience Monday with a full-size silhouette of the 2012 Volkswagen New Beetle's profile design and told the 275 men and women in her Chicago studio they would each get one of the cars when it goes on sale in the autumn of 2011.

No, the car behind the curtain doesn't tell you half of what the spy shots say, though it's no less than what "The Oprah Winfrey Show"'s audience got to see. Oprah says she drives a New Beetle. VW is giving away 275 to Monday's audience, including taxes and fees.
Devotees of "Alfred Hitchcock Presents" broadcast in the nascent days of the original VW Type 1 Bug in the U.S. will recognize the simple, elegant white lines on a black background, like those used for that show's opening credits. Unlike the 1999-11 New Beetle, the new one isn't quite as rotund as the famous suspense film director. VW confirms what spy shots have revealed; that the next Beetle will be a little bit more sleek, losing some of the curve in its greenhouse.

That curve served as a distinct, easily recognized look for the New Beetle, though it meant ample front-seat headroom at the expense of rear-seat headroom.
Beyond that, VW revealed precious little information about the '12 New Beetle. It will be available with the 2.0-liter turbo four and Volkswagen's new 2.0-liter turbodiesel engine. The company won't say whether there again will be a loss-leader base model, with, for example the 2.5-liter I-5 or even the iron-block 2.0-liter four that has reappeared in the value-priced version of the 2011 Jetta.

VW will launch a cabrio after the Beetle coupe's fall '11 on-sale date, probably no earlier than spring of '12. And VW plans to vastly expand its list of accessories and custom options, jumping on the Mini/Fiat 500 bandwagon. Volkswagen will have a full reveal of the design next spring. VW hasn't decided whether to introduce it at the New York International Auto Show.
Thanks to: Motor Trend

Hot News: Lamborghini to Produce Sesto Elemento

The wild and wicked Lamborghini Sesto Elemento is a concept and nothing more, correct? Perhaps not. Although the Italian sports car manufacturer insisted at the time that its 2010 Paris Motor Show star was simply a display of the company's future technologies, executives now suggest the firm could build a few examples to enjoy on a closed course.

In a recent interview with Autocar, Lamborghini CEO Stephan Winkelmann suggested the company is considering building the concept for its truly well-heeled clientele, noting the firm does not want to "produce and show cars just for a museum.
"It will, however, produce cars simply for the race track -- and that may be precisely what happens to the Sesto Elemento. In order to build the car exactly as shown in Paris, along with avoiding the requisite airbag installation and crash testing required to certify a car for sale in virtually every market around the globe, the Sesto Elemento may be offered to customers strictly as a race vehicle.
Certainly, the car could have an advantage on the track. As its name suggests, the Sesto Elemento contains plenty of the sixth element on the Periodic Table: carbon. The vast majority of the car is constructed from carbon fiber composites, allowing the vehicle to tip the scales at roughly 2200 pounds. The Sesto Elemento also utilized a new material Lamborghini dubs forged carbon-fiber, a non-continuous, fiber-reinforced composite that is shaped at cold temperatures and under extreme pressure, and is capable of holding up to increased strain.
The light curb weight, coupled with the 570-horsepower 5.2-liter V-10 cribbed from the Gallardo Superleggera, will likely render the Sesto Elemento a veritable rocket. We imagine the car will sell out just as quickly as it accelerates, despite an estimated base price of nearly $1.4 million. If the program is approved, Winkelmann suggests no more than 20 examples will ever be built.
Thanks to: Motor Trend

Spied: 2012 Chrysler 200 Convertible

Just last week, we took our first turn behind the wheel of the heavily reworked 2011 Chrysler 200 sedan. The former Chrysler Sebring underwent a very quick 12-month transformation, with nearly everything but the roof and the doors being replaced or redesigned. So we can give pretty solid predictions of what is hiding beneath the camouflage in these spy shots of the 200 convertible.

On the droptop 200, expect to see the same reworked front end, including the new grille, hood, fenders, fascia, and headlights housing LED accents. The rear should receive the same treatment as the sedan, with LED taillights bridged by an attractive chrome strip. We caught this mule wearing a cloth convertible top, but because the car keeps the same overall structure as the Sebring—and the two tops use the same mechanism with different skins—we expect to see the folding hardtop return as an option.

We’re trying to avoid sounding like a broken record, but in this case, it’s impossible. Like the sedan, the 200 convertible will welcome the new Pentastar 3.6-liter V-6 deploying its 283 hp through a six-speed automatic transmission. (Also like the sedan, it should retain the base 2.4-liter four, which is to be avoided.) To improve on the old Sebring’s atrocious ride and handling, we’re anticipating a similar approach to that which has greatly livened the sedan: lowered suspension with stiffer bushings, higher spring rates, and thicker anti-roll bars, as well as quicker steering. The interior will be greatly improved; like many other new Chryslers, the 200 will get a new one-piece, soft-touch dash pad accented by other high-quality plastics and chrome dressings.

We can say from firsthand experience that the 200 sedan is much improved over the car it replaces, and we’re looking forward to seeing those changes make their way to the 200 droptop. The convertible should debut early in 2011 and, if pricing stays in line with the sedan’s, expect a slight increase from the 2010 models, which started around $28,500. Considering the tremendous improvements to the car, it should be a fair deal.
Thanks to: Car and Driver

New Car: 2011 Audi RS3

Over a year ago, we speculated about the possibility of Audi bringing to market a screaming, top-of-the-line RS3. It would be a hot hatch to beat them all: Subaru Impreza WRX STI, VW GTI, Mazdaspeed 3, you name it.

Now, the RS3 has been officially confirmed, and it will hit dealerships this spring—but, alas, not in the U.S. Here, the most powerful A3 remains the 2.0T, with its 200-hp TFSI engine. We don't even get the 265-hp S3.

The powerplant in the RS3 is the single-turbocharged, 2.5-liter inline-five also found in theTT RS. Derived from the simple and inexpensive 170-hp engine available in the U.S.-market VW Golf and Jetta, it is basically an EA113 four-cylinder with an extra cylinder. But Audi left nothing unchanged in the RS overhaul. Direct injection, 17 psi of boost, an intercooler, and various tweaks inside the engine allowed Audi to double the 2.5’s power output, twisting it up to 340 hp. Maximum torque is 332 lb-ft, available from 1600 to 5300 rpm; the engine redlines at 6800 rpm. The firing order creates a unique roar that sounds a lot like the original, 1980s Quattro, which is exactly what Audi engineers had in mind and is one of the things we love about the TT RS. Performance should be outstanding, with Audi claiming a 0-to-62-mph sprint of just 4.6 seconds and a top speed governed at 155 or 174 mph. Quattro all-wheel drive is standard.
Thanks to: Car and Driver

LA Show 2010 Highlights: 2011 Nissan Quest

When Nissan desperately craved a minivan to sell in the 1990s, it partnered with Ford to rebadge the Mercury Villager as the original Quest, an arrangement that lasted for another generation. The Villager was killed in the early 2000s, so Nissan then struck out on its own to create the funky third-gen Quest on the bones of the Altima sedan, but sales were terrible, generating rumors that the company would pull out of the segment altogether. A fourth Quest wasin the cards, though, and to bring the van to life, Nissan found another partner: itself—specifically, the Japanese mother ship.

Indeed, the 2011 Nissan Quest is twinned with the Japanese-market Elgrand, a strategy that allows the automaker to hedge its bets against picky U.S. shoppers; if we don’t buy the thing, production ostensibly can be re-allotted to Japan. (That’s where this new Quest will be built, unlike the previous model, which was assembled in Canton, Mississippi.) It’s a strategy that makes sense, but might need to be enacted sooner rather than later: Innovative styling isn’t typically among minivan buyers’ highest priorities, and this new Quest is as bizarre-looking as its slow-selling predecessor. That said, we like this van’s samurai-helmet-meets-the-suburbs look, and its wraparound glass and slabby body sides create some visual drama—at least as much as you can expect from a minivan, anyway. The new model’s styling is based on that of theForum concept, which was penned in the U.S.

Bold looks tend to turn off minivanites, but features and ease-of-use get them hot and bothered. As you’d expect, the Quest’s second and third rows fold to accommodate all the flat-pack furniture you can buy, but the chairs aren’t removable and don’t fold into the floor; instead, they fold forward to make a flat load surface, which Nissan notes allows constant access to the deep cargo well behind the third row. That well gets its own 60/40-split cover, too. Dodge, of course, offers the Stow ‘n Go second row, where the seats fold into the floor. In the Odyssey, the third row folds forward like the Quest’s, and must then be flipped back into the cargo well to create a flat load floor, which Nissan’s press materials imply is a terrible inconvenience.

But the Quest comes with its own inconveniences. Total passenger volume is about what you’d expect for the segment—all range from 160 to 170 cubic feet or so, depending on equipment—but the Quest’s non-removable seats eat up a fair chunk of cargo room when they’re flattened. At a maximum of 63.6 cubic feet behind the second row, it lags 20 to 30 cubes behind the Honda Odyssey, Toyota Sienna, and Dodge Grand Caravan. And its 108.4 cubic feet with the second and third rows folded trails the Odyssey by more than 40 cubic feet. (Admittedly, that Honda figure is with the seats pulled out, and only Toyota gives a figure for a folded, but installed, second row: 117.8 cubes.) The Quest is in line with its peers behind the third row, with 35.1 cubic feet available, though, and Nissan says that the step-in height through the sliding side doors is lower than on other minivans, which is a nice touch for both small kids and older folks.
Thanks to: Car and Driver

LA Show 2010 Highlights: 2012 Saab 9-4x

This is the new Saab 9-4X, a model crucial to the firm’s continued recovery under new owner Spyker.

The 9-4X will give Saab a much-needed presence in the US’s booming crossover SUV segment. The new model is a sister car to the Cadillac SRX, sharing a platform and GM’s Mexican production facility, and has made its debut at today’s Los Angeles motor show.

Saab is pitching it as “a fresh, alternative choice for independently minded crossover buyers” and is the firm’s “next-step in its renaissance as an independent car manufacturer”.

Its design remains truthful to the concept car of the same name first seen at the 2008 Detroit motor show. Sitting between the 9-3X jacked-up estate and 9-5 saloon, the 9-4X gets several of Saab’s signature design cues including the firm’s front grille and headlight design, wraparound windscreen and gently-sloping roof line.

Two direct-injection V6 petrol engines are offered from launch, a 261bhp 3.0-litre or a 296bhp 2.8-litre. The latter gets twin-turbocharging, while both units are mated to six-speed automatic gearboxes. The 2.8 unit is the only one available to UK buyers from launch, however. A diesel engine is likely to follow, but hasn’t been confirmed.

Dynamic features include Saab’s advanced XWD all-wheel drive system and DriveSense adaptive chassis control. The 9-4X is based on a new platform called Theta Premium that mixes components from GM’s Theta and Epsilon 2 platforms.

Saab CEO Jan Ake Jonsson said the 9-4X “significantly broadened the appeal of the Saab brand”. He added that the new car would help “win new customers for the bramd”.

It will reach North American showrooms from May 2011, with UK sales starting from late 2011. Prices have yet to be revealed.
Thanks to: Autocar

LA Show 2010 Highlights: 2011 Acura TSX

The favorite Acura of enthusiasts, the TSX, gets a very minor face lift for 2011, including a few mechanical enhancements to help fuel economy plus a Sport Wagon variation that will arrive in early 2011.

A new front fascia breaks up the lower grille with a smaller, sportier mouth, while the upper grille shrinks ever so slightly; Acura says the reshaped chin spoiler and new underbody aero panels aid slipperiness. The taillamps have been reworked, and new 17-inch wheels have been fitted to the 2.4-liter four-cylinder model.

Inside, Acura has revised the center console styling by replacing a few trim pieces for bits that look darker and slightly more expensive, and also added contrasting stitching on the seats. LEDs take over some interior lighting functions, too. The optional navigation system now depends on a 60-gigabyte hard drive with the ability to accept 15 gigs of personal music and photos. Cabin noise is turned down thanks to a new acoustic-glass windshield, thicker side glass, and more underfloor sound-deadening material.

Engineers attacked friction in the engines and managed to eke out a 1-mpg improvement from both the 2.4-liter four and 3.5-liter V-6 in both the city and highway cycles. The five-speed automatic’s shift mapping has been updated for better economy, as well, and that transmission also gets a fluid warmer to improve cold-weather shift quality and longevity. The fuel-economy figures now look like this: 22/31 for the 2.4 automatic and 21/29 for the 2.4 with the six-speed manual, and 19/28 for the auto-only 3.5-liter.

In early 2011, the TSX Sport Wagon arrives with just one powertrain option: the 2.4-liter four and five-speed automatic, with a 30-mpg highway rating. The six-speed manual may become available later, but not at launch, says Acura. The wagon will be available with the sedan’s interior and comfort options, including the hard-drive navigation and entertainment system.
Prices for the 2011 sedan rise by $300 across the board, to $30,470 for the manual 2.4-liter and $36,010 for the 3.5-liter V-6. Acura says wagon prices will be announced closer to its on-sale date. Whatever they end up charging, we’re just glad to see another wagon on the market.
Thanks to: Car and Driver

LA Show 2010 Highlights: 2012 Buick Regal GS

When the Buick Regal GS concept debuted at last January’s Detroit auto show, future production was as safe a bet as you’ll find in the automotive world. Sure enough, this past spring, GM confirmed that the GS would head to showrooms, but released no further details. Now, finally, we’ve got the skinny on the first real performance Buick in a long time.

Staying true to the recent trend, wherein a concept car is nothing more than a production-ready vehicle with really expensive paint and a few exaggerated styling cues, the 2012 Regal GS looks almost identical to the car we saw in Detroit. Basic differences boil down to smaller vertical air intakes on the front fascia, slightly different trapezoidal exhaust finishers in the rear, and Recaro-like front seats in place of the concept’s actual Recaros. But the satin-metallic trim; integrated rear spoiler; rocker panel extensions; Brembo front brake calipers; and big, 20-inch wheels all make the cut for production.

The same uprated direct-injected, turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder found in the concept will be the production GS’s powerplant. It’s identical to the turbo 2.0 found in the Regal Turbo, but GM’s engineers have cranked up the boost and reduced backpressure with a larger exhaust, upping its output to (an estimated) 255 hp and 295 lb-ft of torque, increases of 35 and 37. At launch, the GS will be offered solely with a six-speed manual transmission—Save the Manuals!—while a six-speed automatic will be available later. The concept was initially claimed to hit 60 mph in under six seconds, Buick is now tempering its expectations, saying the production car will hit the mile-a-minute mark in “less than seven seconds.” We recently tested an automatic-equipped, 220-hp Regal Turbo to 60 mph in 7.5 seconds, and we predict the automatic GS will complete the sprint in 6.7 seconds or so.

While the concept sent power to all four wheels, the real GS will only drive its fronts. Admittedly, we were disappointed at this development, but at least the GS will employ the new HiPer Strut suspension system, which uses a modified MacPherson geometry up front to better maintain negative camber in cornering and reduce torque steer. We’ve sampled a Buick LaCrosse prototype with this system and found it rather impressive. The GS’s ostensibly tighter chassis also will include a 0.4-inch suspension drop all around and an adjustable driving-mode system like the Regal Turbo’s for tuning suspension settings and steering sensitivity. The system’s Standard and Sport programs are carried over, but the Turbo’s softest mode, Touring, is ditched in favor of a unique, super-sporty GS setting. Larger front brakes with Brembo four-piston calipers will hide behind the standard 19-inch wheels with all-season Goodyear Eagles; a 20-inch wheel of the same design wrapped in sticky Pirelli P Zero summer rubber is optional.

The interior of the GS will differ only slightly from those of lesser Regals, adding a special flat-bottomed steering wheel, metal pedals, more-heavily bolstered front seats, the satin-finished trim, and white lighting for the instrument panel when GS mode is engaged. The standard goodies list will include keyless entry and start, a 320-watt Harman/Kardon sound system, Bluetooth connectivity, backup sensors, and xenon headlights.
Thanks to: Car and Driver

LA Show 2010 Highlights: 2012 Buick LaCrosse eAssist

It’s been a very short time since the revampedBuick LaCrosse debuted, but it has already seen plenty of changes, including a reordered engine lineup and major suspension upgrades. For its third model year, the LaCrosse’s base engine—a 2.4-liter four-cylinder—will get some help from an upgraded transmission and an electric motor. Combined with the car’s aero-enhancing tweaks, GM says the electric motor could boost EPA-estimated fuel economy from 19 mpg city and 30 highway to 25/37. Oh, and did we mention it’ll be standard equipment?

A few years ago, GM sold mild hybrid versions of the Chevrolet Malibu and Saturn Aura that essentially replaced the alternator with an electric motor. This arrangement allowed the engine to turn off at stops—while keeping the accessories running—but couldn’t propel the car on electricity alone. The new setup, called eAssist, is fundamentally the same thing, but heavily upgraded. It uses a lithium-ion battery pack in place of the old nickel-metal hydride unit and delivers up to 15 hp of electrical assist, three times more than before. The boost in power should make eAssist more useful than the previous system. GM says it can cut fuel to the engine during deceleration, as opposed to the mild-hybrid setup that only cut fuel and shut the engine down when the car was stopped. Like the old system, the electric motor starts the gas engine when the driver takes his foot off the brake, but cannot propel the vehicle on its own.

The battery pack is located behind the rear seats and cooled by an electric fan that draws air from the cabin. The gas engine charges it, as does a regenerative-braking system that also has a function to keep the car from rolling back on inclines while the engine is off. The battery pack weighs about 65 pounds and reduces trunk space by 2.4 cubic feet, to 10.9, although it sits to one side and still allows for part of the rear seat to fold. Engineers say that the overall weight of the LaCrosse 2.4 will remain the same, as they have compensated for the added pounds in other areas, primarily by swapping the spare tire for an inflation kit.

The aforementioned aerodynamic tweaks also will help the LaCrosse reach those lofty fuel-economy estimates. The LaCrosse eAssist gets new aero-optimized underbody trays and active flaps behind the front fascia. These flaps close at higher speeds, reducing drag by forcing air to flow around the vehicle rather than get caught up in the engine compartment. Furthermore, eAssist will debut a new generation of the six-speed automatic transmission, with reduced internal friction and quicker shifts. Buick says that the additional power of the electric motor will reduce the need for downshifts, which we hope holds true—the busy transmission was our main complaint during our first drive of the four-cylinder LaCrosse. Finally, low-rolling-resistance Michelin tires will make their way onto the car. Inside, the only change will be the addition of an Eco gauge in the cluster.

Buick hasn’t given final pricing for the 2012 LaCrosse eAssist, saying only that the car will cost around $30,000. For reference, the 2011 2.4-liter started at $27,745. If GM’s fuel-economy claims prove true, Buick could have a cost-effective fuel-sipping hybrid-fighter on its hands when the eAssist goes on sale in the middle of next year.
Thanks to: Car and Driver

Tonight. On an all new Top Gear.......

That's right folks. Top Gear USA is finally making it's US variant debut on our shores. Tomorrow night, Sunday Nov. 21st at 10/9 Central on the History Channel. Hosted by Adam Ferrara, Tanner Faust, and Rutledge Wood, along with (non Ben Collins) Stig. I don't expect it to take the place of the original and still the best Top Gear from the BBC. Especially since the hosts so far aren't Jeremy Clarkson, Richard Hammond and James May. But it's worth a shot and will make for another automotive show to watch that doesn't revolve around Nascar. So that's a good sign. So who's the US Stig? I'm betting on Mario Andretti.

Top Gear USA

The days of wine and roses

From a time when it took a real man to chase down a split window corvette at over 100 miles per hour on bias ply white walls and a lap belt. These guys were serious race drivers.

A few more from So-sos.

Positive Camber

No one can deny the 1927 Bugatti type 37 as one of the greatest grand prix racers of the early 20th century.

LA Show 2010 Highlights: 2011 Chrysler 200

Meet the Chrysler 200. Baby brother to the 300C and replacement for the unloved Sebring, the new 200 shows off the latest Chrysler design language, which aims to woo punters with its refined, classy look.
The 200 is essentially a heavily facelifted Sebring, but features new bumpers, restyled head and taillights, and Chrysler’s new oversized front grille that will also grace the 300C from next year.
The interior has also been given a thorough refresh, with improved instruments, trim and better quality leather upholstery.
The 200 also gets Chrysler’s new engines, with the base model powered by a 173bhp 2.4-litre four-cylinder mated to either a four- or six-speed auto, while the range-topper gets a 283bhp 3.6-litre Pentastar V6.
The 200 arrives in Chrysler dealerships in the US next month, priced from ,995 (£12,600). For more details click here.
Thanks to: Auto Express

LA Show 2010 Highlights: 2011 Dodge Charger

Is there an angrier car on the road than the Dodge Charger?

No other car’s styling says, “Don’t f*&! with me” with such eloquence. There’s menace in the scowling headlights, the shield-like crosshair grille, and the shoebox-sized side windows. Those traits, and its fulsome dimensions, mean the Charger works perfectly as a police cruiser. Cops love the Charger because the car’s mere presence has drivers pulling over immediately, even if the lights aren’t flashing. Civilians love it for those exact same reasons.

But for all of its stylized rage, the outgoing Charger never really looked like a Charger. “It could have been an Intrepid, or even a Gran Fury, but we went with ‘Charger’ as it had the best name recognition,” president and Dodge-car brand CEO and senior vice-president of product design Ralph Gilles tells us.

The 2011 Charger is designed to be a Charger this time, but not just any one. “Forget the Chargers of the Eighties,” says Gilles. Dodge looked to the second-generation Charger (1968–’70) for the new body’s defining characteristics. “We went a little nostalgic in the look,” Gilles tells us. The most obvious throwbacks are the scooped-out hood and doors that recall the Gen-2 model. But those flourishes run deeper into the metal and are exaggerated here. Along the doors, the top of the punched-in crease becomes the shoulder line that broadens outward like a Coke bottle and defines the rear fender, another late-’60s Charger trait. The taillights, made up of 162 glowing LEDs, are a modern tip of the hat to the ’70 Charger. But aside from these design cues, the overall look avoids slavishly copying the past. If you want retro, buy a Challenger. The new car wears just enough vintage armor to satisfy the Charger gods, even if it still has two extra doors.

To make customers happy, all versions of the Charger get dual exhaust tips and the option of up to 20-inch wheels (17-inch aluminum wheels are standard). Choose the right options, and the V-6 Charger can look just like the Hemi V-8 version, spoiler and all. For those who can’t resist the lure of the Hemi engine, the 5.7-liter V-8 carries over from last year with an expected 370 horsepower. That engine has no trouble fulfilling the Charger’s muscle-car contract. But the V-6 isn’t the rental-fleet special any more. The corporate 250-hp, 3.5-liter V-6 and the 178-hp, 2.7-liter V-6 are dead, replaced by a new 3.6-liter V-6 that will make an estimated 292 horsepower. Both the V-6 and V-8 use a carry-over five-speed automatic; more gears are rumored for the future. While the six lacks the deep rumble and torque of the V-8, it can accelerate the Charger with plenty of thrust (we estimate 0 to 60 in 6.5 seconds). Despite the added V-6 power, the new engine should achieve fuel economy in the neighborhood of 18 city and 26 highway, numbers that would match the far less powerful 2.7-liter V-6, thanks to the five-speed transmission (up from four) and the new, more slippery body.
Thanks to: Car and Driver

LA Show 2010 Highlights: 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.

The exterior changes are few, and include a new grille and revised front and rear fascias. It’s inside that the Avenger receives its biggest aesthetic overhaul, with the instrument panel, gauges, seats, HVAC vents, ambient lighting, steering wheel, center stack, and upholstery all being either all-new or heavily reworked. Dodge promises soft-touch materials for the armrests and IP, as well as upgraded plastics for the switchgear. The door panels have been redesigned, as has the center console, and our impression from both the photos and our experiences with recent Chrysler interiors is that the 2011 Avenger will be a hell of a lot better inside than before.

We’ll have to wait a few weeks to drive the car before we can verify whether the revisions have righted the previous Avenger’s wrongs, but even if it remains uncompetitive with the segment leaders, it’s clear the 2011 model will at least offer buyers more than just a cool name.
Thanks to: Car and Driver

LA Show 2010 Highlights: 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.

Dodge says that extensive upgrades to the Grand Caravan’s suspension will improve ride comfort, steering feel, and handling. The changes encompass everything from new bushings and dampers to revised spring rates and retuned steering gear.

The cabin has been refreshed with a two-dial instrument cluster and smoother integration of the climate-control buttons and vents into the dashboard. The seats and door trim are said to be more comfortable and softer than before, and the Stow ‘n Go seats are larger, with new one-touch operation. New optional toys include a heated steering wheel, a driver’s knee airbag, and a larger center console with blue-green trim lighting. The aptly named Safety Sphere package bundles a backup camera, parking sensors, and a blind-spot warning system with rain-sensing wipers and automatic headlights.

The 2011 Dodge Grand Caravan reaches dealerships later this year. Per Dodge’s absurd new naming convention, the base model will be the Express trim level. Above that will sit the Mainstreet, with the Crew at the top of the line. They will be joined in spring 2011 by the Grand Caravan R/T, which Dodge dubs “the ultimate Man Van” and promises will offer a sportier driving experience. Despite the macho hyperbole, we were told the R/T is aimed at male and female drivers who drove sports cars before they had kids. We’ll reserve judgment on its sporting abilities until we get behind the wheel, but we wish “Man Van” was the official name of the trim level. It’s not like it’s any dorkier than Grand Caravan Mainstreet.
Thanks to: Car and Driver

LA Show 2010 Highlights: 2011 Dodge Durango

We’ll cut to the chase: This 2011 Dodge Durangois the brand’s best vehicle not called Charger. After a two-year hiatus, the Durango is back, with a unibody design based on the same underpinnings that spawned Jeep’s stellar 2011Grand Cherokee, which came in tops in its first comparo. As handsome as the last one was brash, the 2011 Durango offers rear- or all-wheel drive, standard seven-butt seating (the Jeep is shorter and seats only five), a swank soft-touch and chrome-trimmed interior, and assembly quality that rivals anything else in the segment. Although the new Durango is heavy—weights are quoted at 4750 to 5100 pounds with the V-6 and 5200 to 5350 pounds with the Hemi V-8—Dodge is nonetheless positioning it as a performance-oriented alternative to the current segment offerings, a claim backed up by the retention of rear-wheel drive and the resurrection of the Durango R/T, which nabs a standard Hemi V-8, unique exhaust tuning, sportier styling, and a lowered, tuned suspension.

We sampled V-6– and V-8–powered Durangos on the roads in and around Napa Valley, California, and as with the new Grand Cherokee, the Teutonic foundations—the architecture will also be put to work under the next Mercedes M-class—pay big dividends in the driving department. The base 290-hp, 3.6-liter Pentastar V-6 is quiet and smooth, although it needs to be revved to its 6400-rpm redline to access all 290 hp. Its torque peak of 260 lb-ft is also somewhat high at 4800 rpm, so we often found ourselves deep in the throttle in our attempt to drive with any sense of spirit. With 360 hp and 390 lb-ft of torque at a more accessible 5150 and 4250 rpm, respectively, the Hemi V-8 makes for brisker acceleration, with an extroverted rumble replacing the V-6’s mechanized whir.

We didn’t have time to strap on test gear to any vehicles, but we expect the heavier Durango to add 0.2 to 0.3 second to the 0-to-60-mph times we’ve attained from Grand Cherokees with similar powertrains (we recorded 8.4 seconds in V-6 Laredo trim and 7.5 seconds in V-8 Overland regalia, both with four-wheel drive). Chrysler’s planned swap of both vehicles’ ho-hum five-speed automatics for more modern units with at least one more ratio could help hasten acceleration. (Most Pentastar-equipped Chrysler vehicles have six-speed automatics; a ZF-designed, Chrysler-built eight-speed is also in the company’s future.) The extra gears should help raise the Durango’s marginal-to-awful fuel-economy figures, estimated at 16 mpg city and 22 to 23 highway for V-6 versions and 13 to 14 mpg city and 20 highway for V-8 models. (Many vehicles in the segment return similar numbers, but that doesn’t make them any more acceptable.)
Thanks to: Car and Driver

LA Show 2010 Highlights: 2012 Mercedes CLS63 AMG

Mercedes-Benz is out to raise the stakes with its rapid new CLS63 AMG — the third model to receive its torque-laden twin-turbocharged 5.5-litre V8.

The aggressively styled four-door, pictured here officially for the first time having made its public premiere at today’s Los Angeles motor show, is scheduled to enter production next year. It will go on sale in the UK next May.

The new twin-turbo 5.5-litre V8, first revealed in March, has been conceived to replace AMG’s naturally aspirated 6.2-litre V8.

The new engine will be offered in two states of tune. In standard guise, it kicks out 518bhp and 516lb ft of torque at 1750rpm. This gives the new CLS63 an additional 9bhp and 52lb ft over its predecessor.

However, a performance package will lift those outputs to 549bhp and 590lb ft at 2000rpm. The heady reserves are channelled to the rear through AMG’s seven-speed MCT gearbox.

Mercedes claims 0-62mph in 4.4sec in S (for Sport) and M (for Manual) modes — and 4.3sec with the optional performance package. Top speed remains limited to 155mph but an optional driver’s package can be ordered, which raises it to 186mph.

The CLS63 also gets a stop-start system that operates in tandem with brake energy recuperation, allowing AMG to decouple the alternator for stronger acceleration and lower consumption. Provisional figures put combined fuel consumption at 28.5mpg and CO2 emissions at 232g/km, which better the old model’s by an impressive 9.1mpg and 113g/km overall.

The new CLS63’s front track is 24mm wider and it rides 15mm lower than the standard CLS. The suspension has MacPherson struts with steel springs up front and a multi-link set-up with AirMatic air springs at the rear.

Compared with the standard car, the CLS63 gains a deep front bumper, a uniquely designed bonnet and wider front wings with ‘V8 Turbo’ badges. It also gets slightly wider sills, a subtle boot spoiler and a reprofiled rear bumper with a faux diffuser. The standard 19in wheels are shod with 255/35 (front) and 285/30 (rear) tyres.
Thanks to: Autocar

LA Show 2010 Highlights: 2011 Hyundai Elantra

In a flooded segment handily conquered by cars like the Honda Civic and Toyota Corolla, the current Hyundai Elantra is a forgettable-looking also-ran. But the 2011 model changes that. This new car, debuting at the L.A. auto show, boasts slick and attractive styling, boatloads of features, and an EPA rating of 29 mpg city/40 highway no matter which trim level or options you select.

Hyundai hit its stride with the 2011 Sonata, which offers not only first-rate ride and handling but delivers very distinctive styling in a price bracket sheltering some of the blandest cars on the road. In similar fashion, the Elantra is, dare we say, a strikingsedan for the budget-minded. Obviously modeled after its bigger sibling, with sharp creases and swoopy lines, the Elantra—together with the Sonata and Tucson—finally brings a consistent design language to Hyundai. With the Sonata on track to sell about 200,000 units in the U.S. this year, we don’t see why a smaller and cheaper version won’t be a similar sales success.

Beneath the surface, the Elantra rides on a wheelbase two inches longer than that of the outgoing car. Overall length increases by less than an inch. Width stays the same, but height is down 1.8 inches. Headroom takes a slight hit and the total interior volume is down by a little more than two cubic feet, but the Elantra still lords its EPA classification as a mid-size car over the Civic and Corolla, both of which qualify as compact.

Disc brakes reside at all corners. The front rotors grow 0.2 inch, to 11 overall, but the rears stay the same size. While the last Elantra was never a stellar handler, we’re interested to see how the 2011 behaves in comparison, as the rear suspension moves from a more costly multilink setup to a cheaper torsion-beam axle.
Perhaps the most significant upgrade is the new 1.8-liter four-cylinder engine. Dubbed Nu, it puts out 10 hp more than the old 2.0-liter, totaling 148 at 6500 rpm. Torque output is down 5 lb-ft, to 131, but its all-aluminum construction saves about 74 pounds. The Nu will hook to more ratios than its predecessor, with an available six-speed automatic transmission or a six-speed manual. Combine this updated powertrain with the Elantra’s new electric power steering, low-rolling-resistance tires, and decreases in both curb weight and coefficient of drag—0.28 compared to 0.32—and you’ve got that 29/40-mpg EPA rating.
Thanks to: Car and Driver

LA Show 2010 Highlights: 2011 Kia Optima Hybrid

The Kia Optima hybrid has made its debut at the LA motor show today.

Kia’s new hybrid saloon features a 2.4-litre petrol engine with 30kW electric motor - producing 40bhp - and it can run as a pure electric up to 62mph. The engine is mated to a six-speed automatic transmission.

Top speed is reached at 121mph and it will hit 62mph in 9.2sec with economy figures of 45mpg, the company claims.

Exterior features include chrome-tipped exhaust, wing-mirror-integrated indicators and 16-inch alloy wheels. On the inside, an ‘Eco guide’ promotes economical driving and satellite navigation comes as standard.
Thanks to: Autocar

New Car: 2012 BMW 6-Series Convertible

BMW has abandoned its traditional launch approach with the third-generation 6-series by introducing the soft-top version of the new two-door before the successor to the fixed-head coupé.

Pictured here officially for the first time, ahead of a public premiere at the Detroit motor show in January, the upmarket convertible is planned to go on sale in the UK in March, six months before the new 6-series coupé is set to reach local BMW showrooms.

The new convertible is a clear evolution of the outgoing model. It carries fresh new styling first revealed on the four-door BMW GranCoupé back in April, plus increased exterior dimensions and a roomier four-seat interior.

It also gets an advanced new multi-layer cloth hood, developed in partnership with German-based roofing specialist Edscha.

The fully automatic structure, which retains the characteristic buttresses that extend back over the bootlid, is claimed to open in just 19sec and close in 24sec.

It is covered by a plastic tonneau cover when lowered to preserve the car’s elegant new lines. The glass rear screen, mounted vertically, can be opened independently of the cloth hood.

At 4894mm in length, 1894mm in width and 1365mm in height, the new convertible is 74mm longer, 39mm wider and 9mm lower than its predecessor. It also rides on a wheelbase that has been extended by 74mm at 2855mm.

Inside, there’s a more driver-orientated dashboard and centre console than in the old model, and greater leg, head and shoulder room. Luggage capacity remains the same as before, at a nominal 350 litres when the roof is up and 300 litres in open-top guise.

The new 6-series convertible will be launched with the choice of two direct-injection petrol engines in combination with a standard eight-speed automatic gearbox.

The base model, the 640i, gets a turbocharged 3.0-litre straight six with 320bhp and 332lb ft of torque. It is claimed to hit 62mph in 5.7sec and a maximum of 155mph, while returning 35mpg and CO2 emissions of 185g/km.

Topping the initial line-up will be the 650i. It runs a turbocharged 4.4-litre V8 with 407bhp and 443lb ft, enough for 0-62mph in 5.0sec, but delivers 26mpg and 249g/km.

Other engines will follow, including a 286bhp turbodiesel. Also planned is a successor to the M6 convertible, which eschews the 407bhp naturally aspirated 5.0-litre V10 of today’s model for a version of M division’s new twin-turbo 4.8-litre V8, rumoured to push out in excess of 550bhp.
Thanks to: Autocar

LA Show 2010 Highlights: 2012 Range Rover Evoque 5-Door

This is the five-door version of the Range Rover Evoque, which has made its debut at today's Los Angeles motor show.

When the Evoque was unveiled as the Land Rover LRX concept in 2008, the idea was to combine the sportiness of a two-door coupé with the capability of a compact soft-roader. But after bosses decided the acclaimed “white space” concept was worthy of production, they decided a more practical, family-friendly version would be needed to maximise sales.

The five-door is identical to the three-door in most dimensions and details, including the same aluminium roof pressing. The big difference - apart from the number of doors - is roof height. The five-door’s roof is 30mm higher and set flatter than the three-door’s, which slopes gently towards the rear.

To allow the roof changes, the windscreen is lengthened by 60mm and the five-door gets an all-new, slightly deeper, composite tailgate. The higher roof improves headroom by 30mm in the front and 40mm in the rear cabin.

The five-door also has a little less tumblehome (the inward slope of the body sides), improving rear shoulder room by about 50mm. In common with the 
three-door Evoque, the five-door’s driving position is quite different from the Freelander’s. The driver’s seat is around 30mm lower, while the gearchange is about 60mm higher. The taller model weighs around 30gk more than the three-door.

Land Rover has announced for the first time that all Evoques get MagneRide adjustable shock absorbers (controlled through an enhanced Terrain Response system) to improve on-road handling without compromising off-road performance.

The five-door Evoque gets the same engine line-up as the three-door (148bhp or 187bhp 2.2-litre turbodiesels and a 237bhp 2.0 petrol turbo) and is available in both two and four-wheel drive.

The lower-powered, front-drive diesel three-door returns real-world fuel consumption close to 50mpg, with CO2 emissions below 
130g/km. The five-door, which has slightly more frontal area as well as the extra weight, is expected to be rated below 135g/km.

As with the three-door, there will be three trim levels: Dynamic, Prestige and Pure. The Dynamic (with body-coloured lower panels instead of the classier black of the others) appears to be the closest thing to an entry-level Evoque.

The price difference isn’t clear between three and five-door; earliest indications are that it won’t be significant. Land Rover says prices will start at around £30,000, which means plush models will hit £38,000 (going to over £40k with options).
Thanks to: Autocar

LA Show 2010 Highlights: 2011 Volkswagen Eos

Volkswagen has revealed a facelifted version of its Eos coupe-cabriolet that brings its styling in line with the rest of the VW range.

The revised model, officially launched at today’s Los Angeles motor show ahead of European sales in January 2011, is the latest in a long line of recent VW models to receive a Golf-style makeover.

This means it gets a re-designed front-end including a new headlight design incorporating LED daytime running lights, a new chrome-trimmed front grille and a lower, wider air intake at the bottom. New fog lights also feature.

Changes at the rear are also inspired by the Golf; its rear lights have been squared off, while the bumper has also been re-designed.

Changes to the interior are less substantial, however. Some material quality is improved and new leather trim options are offered, while there is also a new steering wheel and a new instrument panel.

New features include Light and Park Assist systems and keyless entry and start. The retractable hard-top roof can also be controlled by the wireless remote control.

UK engine options for the revised Eos haven’t been revealed. But European buyers can choose from a 138bhp 2.0 TDI engine mated to either a six-speed manual or six-speed DSG gearbox, as well as three petrol units: a 120bhp 1.4 TSI, a 158bhp 1.4 TSI and a 207bhp 2.0 TSI. All three petrol engines are available with a six-speed manual gearbox, while a six-speed DSG is available for the most powerful petrol unit.
Thanks to: Autocar

LA Show 2010 Highlights: Cadillac Urban Luxury Concept

Cadillac has revealed its Urban Luxury Concept at the Los Angeles motor show today.

It features a 1.0-litre, three cylinder engine with stop-start and "electric assist technology", while a dry dual-clutch transmission also features. With this, the company estimates fuel economy of up to 78mpg.

Cadillac has used its ‘Art and Science’ design for the ULC, which features a bold front fascia, scissor doors, and 19-inch alloy wheels.

Measuring only 3.8 metres long and 1.7 metres wide, the company has managed to squeeze four seats into the cabin, which are clad in leather. Other interior features include multi-touch switches wood trim, and brushed aluminium touches.
Thanks to: Autocar

LA Show 2010 Highlights: 2012 Lamborghini Gallardo LP570-4 Performante

Most people who drive the Lamborghini GallardoLP560-4 Spyder invariably come away depressed, thinking the same thing: With 552 hp, a 0-to-60-mph time of about 3.5 seconds, and a claimed top speed of 201 mph, this thing is too damned slow. Lamborghini gets it. Although public attention is focused on the upcoming V-12–powered Murciélago replacement, Lamborghini's engineers have given the Gallardo Spyder the Superleggera treatment, dubbing the result the Gallardo LP570-4 Spyder Performante. The car was shown by Lamborghini concurrently with the L.A. auto show.

At 562 hp, this car's 5.2-liter V-10 makes 10 more horsepower than the one in the regular Gallardo LP560-4 Spyder. Full power is available at a screaming 8000 rpm; maximum torque is 398 lb-ft at 6500 rpm. The small power bump comes entirely from adjusting the engine management software. Would this change alone justify the "Performante" label? Certainly not, so Lamborghini shaved weight, pulling off a claimed 143 pounds—the Gallardo coupe's Superleggera conversion dropped 154—which would place this thing around 3700 pounds by our estimates.

Forty percent of the weight improvement is achieved by using carbon-fiber composite materials throughout the Spyder Performante, including for the engine cover, the optional rear spoiler, the diffuser, parts of the underbody panels, and the mirror caps. Inside, carbon fiber covers the center tunnel, the trim around the gear selector, and—most important—the seat shells, which shave off a big chunk of weight. Alcantara substitutes for the regular Gallardo's leather, saving more weight and adding even more eau de exotic to a car that hardly needs the help. Twenty-nine pounds comes out of the car by way of fitting the Gallardo Superleggera's 19-inch wheels.

Between the weight savings and the horsepower boost, Lamborghini boasts that the Spyder Performante can dispatch a 0-to-62-mph run in 3.9 seconds on its way to a 201-mph top speed. We figure the acceleration claim to be conservative, though, and would expect a time in the low threes for a 0-to-60-mph run. The Spyder Performante features a sportier suspension tune than on regular Gallardo Spyders, as well as special rubber. Lamborghini's e-gear transmission, an automated single-clutch system, is standard, but the excellent six-speed manual with its gated shifter is available as a no-cost option. Lamborghini truly is doing heaven's work.

The Spyder Performante’s exterior is distinguished by a new, more aggressive nose, a body-colored grille, special body stripes, and the plethora of visible carbon-fiber bits. The car is officially available in yellow, orange, gray, black, and white, but it's hard to imagine that Sant'Agata Bolognese wouldn't paint one up in whatever color a customer requests—so long as the request comes with an extra sack of money. We recommend the Murci's nuclear Pearl Metallic Flue Green.

Badging will indicate Performante, rather than the Gallardo coupe's Superleggera moniker, and according to Lamborghini that's very much an intentional distinction. "We basically wanted to make an open version of the Superleggera," says Lamborghini design chief Manfred Fitzgerald, but he agrees that the idea of a Superleggera—which translates to “super-lightweight”—doesn't fit with the Spyder's extra heft. And so Performante seemed like a better fit for this model. We love the Superleggera and its fabulous dynamics, but when it comes to 10-cylinder Lamborghinis, a roofless one is the best way to enjoy the engine’s raucous symphony. If it happens to be a few dozen pounds lighter? All the better.
Thanks to: Car and Driver

LA Show 2010 Highlights: 2012 Porsche Cayman R

Porsche is guaranteed to have one of the stars of this today’s Los Angeles motor show with a lighter, more powerful, stripped-out version of its mid-engined Cayman.

Called Cayman R — and not Club Sport, as had been rumoured — the new model uses lightweight components and a number of alterations to the spec sheet to shed 55kg from the Cayman S. It loses air conditioning and the stereo, and adopts lightweight 19in alloy wheels (as seen on the Boxster Spyder), carbonfibre sports bucket seats and lighter interior door panels from the 911 GT3 RS.

A mild retune of the Cayman S’s 3.4-litre powerplant has yielded a further 10bhp, taking the R to 325bhp. Torque remains the same, at 273lb ft, but the slight increase in grunt and weight reduction gives the new car a power-to-weight ratio of 252bhp per tonne (247bhp per tonne with a PDK gearbox).

The R shaves 0.2sec from the Cayman S’s 0-62mph time, to 5.0sec, and reaches an increased top speed of 175mph (up from 172mph). The PDK-equipped R covers 0-62mph in 4.7sec and hits 174mph.

The chassis set-up includes a limited-slip differential as standard and sports suspension that lowers the car by 20mm. The car’s fuel tank is also slightly smaller, at 54 litres.

The standard kit list may not include air-con, but you do get what Porsche calls the Cayman Aerokit: styling add-ons including a fixed rear spoiler in a contrasting colour, black-framed halogen headlights, contrasting side mirrors and Porsche side stripe decals. The Peridot metallic paint shown on the launch car will also be exclusive to the R.

The Cayman R is due on sale in the UK in February. It’ll cost from £51,731 (with 20 per cent VAT) for a manual version, including a Driving Experience at Silverstone. That equates to a VAT-adjusted premium of about £5k over a Cayman S. Expect a PDK-equipped Cayman R to cost around £53,500.
Thanks to: Autocar

LA Show 2010 Highlights: Toyota RAV4 EV Concept

Toyota has revealed its electric RAV4 at the LA motor show.

The RAV4 EV concept is a collaborative project with Tesla, which uses Toyota’s SUV shell and the electric drive train of its project’s partner company.

Tesla’s involvement in the venture was in supplying the battery as well as other related parts that met specific Toyota engineering specifications.

Great focus has been placed on ‘customer experience’, so Toyota has skimmed dead weight off its EV to make it drive as close to a conventional RAV4 as possible. Suspension and steering has been modified too, as well as components relocated to better balance the increased weight of the battery pack. All in all, weight is up by 100kgs over its petrol V6 version.

Styling for the EV has also been updated and includes a new front bumper, grille, fog and headlights. On the inside, it features multimedia dash displays, push-button shifter and dashboard meters.

A total of 35 EVs will be built for testing throughout 2011, with final production reaching the US in 2012. The company claims it will have a range of up to 100 miles.
Thanks to: Autocar

LA Show 2010 Highlights: Subaru Impreza Concept

Subaru will spice up the next-generation Impreza next year, with vastly more contemporary styling in a drive to lift flagging sales.

Revealed as the Impreza Design Concept at today’s Los Angeles motor show, this new small saloon previews a European-flavoured design language with strong shoulders and more complex body surfacing, beefed up with wide sills and bulging arches.

The strong shoulders and arcing roofline look rather Volvo-like and emphasise strength much more than today’s bland design.

Subaru claims the concept “conveys a sporty and lively four-door coupé style” and says that it has “blended two design ideas — dynamic flow and confident stance — to showcase performance, driving enjoyment and quality”. The concept’s grille design is already on the current Legacy — but the gaping brake vents and angled headlights are new. And the Legacy’s pronounced wheel arch bulges are exaggerated further on this concept.

It is significant that the next Impreza is being shown as a four-door, the body style that’s provided the bulk of sales since launch in 1992. Subaru took a calculated risk to move today’s Impreza into the mainstream by designing a five-door hatch first and then spinning off a four-door, to take on Europe’s best brands in their heartland. But the plan misfired and the Impreza has failed to conjure up the magic of previous generations.

Subaru also hasn’t mentioned two-wheel drive — suggesting that the experiment with 2WD on today’s Impreza will also be abandoned, despite pressure to cut emissions.

Under the bonnet of the concept is a hallmark flat four engine in 2.0-litre capacity. It’s understood to be a new unit derived from the 2.5-litre boxer that powers the Forester in the US.
Subaru appears to be ploughing its own furrow in next-gen transmissions by mating the motor to a CVT, rather than a dual-clutch ’box. That also supports parent company Fuji Heavy, which supplies CVTs to other manufacturers, notably Nissan.
Thanks to: Autocar

LA Show 2010 Highlights: 2011 Chevrolet Camaro Convertible

Chevrolet has showcased its new Camaro cabriolet at the LA motor show today.

The new drop-top will be available in the same basic model range as the Camaro Coupe: the standard 308bhp, V6, or more powerful SS model featuring the 6.2-liter V8 engine producing 420bhp. It can get from 0-60mph in less than 5.0sec and has a limited top speed of 155mph.

A six-speed manual transmission will be standard, with an optional six-speed automatic.

Prices for the convertible Camaro will start at $30,000 (approx £18,700) and will be on sale in America from February 2011. Next year will also see the company release its special editions Synergy Series and the XM Accessory Appearance Package.

GM UK has officially confirmed that it will begin official UK imports of Chevrolet’s American muscle coupe, in the in the first half of 2011.
Thanks to: Autocar

LA Show 2010 Highlights: Mazda Shinari Concept

Mazda has revealed the first glimpse of its new design language: the Shinari concept, which has its motor show debut at LA later today.

The Japanese manufacturer first wheeled out the four-door coupe show car at a design event in Milan back in August, but chose not to bring it to September's Paris motor show.

The new design language is called Kodo, which means 'soul of motion' in Japanese. It's designed to replace the nature-influenced Nagare language.

The firm's global design chief, Ikeo Maeda, told journalists at the Milan event that the car "will lead to the next generation of Mazda design".

The future of the Shinari concept is less clear. It could be a close preview of the next-generation Mazda 6, test mules of which were unveiled at last week's Mazda engineering showcase.

Alternatively, a modified version of the Shinari could become an indirect successor to the RX-8, which has become a victim of Euro5 emissions regulations.

The Shinari's key styling cues include a prominent, gaping-mouth grille that does away with Nagare's 'smiling face', ultra-slim headlights and an Aston Martin-esque side vent just behind the front wheels. Inside, the concept is a strict four-seater.
Thanks to: Autocar

LA Show 2010 Highlights: Honda Fit/Jazz EV Concept

The Jazz is powering up! Honda has pulled a surprise out of the bag in LA, by unveiling an all-electric version of its Jazz compact MPV. Although the car you see here is still officially a concept, it shows precisely how a production version will look when it goes on sale in the US and Japan in 2012, and in the UK soon after.

The electric motor is borrowed from the FCX Clarity fuel cell electric vehicle, and delivers a top speed of 90 mph and an estimated 100-mile range per charge. Topping up the batteries takes three hours from a 240v household socket.
Driving range can be maximized by use of a three-mode electric drive system, adapted from the CR-Z. The system allows the driver to select between Econ, Normal, and Sport. While in Econ mode, practical driving range can increase by as much as 17 per cent, compared to driving in Normal mode, and up to 25 per cent compared to driving in Sport mode. Acceleration improves significantly when in Sport mode, generating performance similar to a vehicle equipped with a 2.0-litre petrol engine.

The Fit EV Concept displayed at the Los Angeles Auto Show features an exclusive Deep Clear Blue Pearl exterior color and distinctive five-spoke aluminum-alloy wheels with blue inserts. The Concept has unique LED headlights, a chrome front fascia, aerodynamic bumper, clear LED taillights and EV decals. Inside, the Fit EV Concept is outfitted in an eco-friendly gray bio-fabric on the seating surfaces.

Also unveiled was a new plug-in hybrid platform, which showcases Honda’s next-generation two-motor hybrid system. The vehicle can also run in a petrol-electric hybrid mode, the platform features a fuel-efficient 2.0-litre, 4-cyl engine, paired with an electric CVT gearbox. For more details click here.
Thanks to: Auto Express

LA Show 2010 Highlights: Nissan Ellure Concept

Nissan has revealed the design language of its future saloon models with this Ellure concept at the LA motor show.

Nissan insists the concept is not a preview to any particular model, instead acting as an intent to be able to offer a stylish and relevant model in the saloon segment. The firm is pitching the car at "women in their 30s or 40s with a sense of sophistication and rebellion" and has paid particular attention to the concept's interior as a result.

A long instrument panel dominates the front of the wrap-around cabin, while there is space for three in the lounge style rear cabin. Rear passengers also benefit from improved forward visibility thanks to the low shoulder height. Materials used in the cabin include "eco suede" and water-repellent wool felt for the carpets.

It uses a 2.5-litre four-cylinder petrol engine mated to a 25kW electric motor, with a combined power output of around 270bhp. The front wheels are driven through a CVT gearbox.
Thanks to: Autocar

LA Show 2010 Highlights: Nissan Murano CrossCabriolet Concept

Nissan has blown the SUV market wide open! It might seem like the most unlikely story of the year, but this is the first pictures of the a drop-top version of the Nissan Murano, unveiled at the LA show.
Called the Murano CrossCabriolet, Nissan is describing the car as “the world’s first four-wheel-drive crossover convertible”.
In order to make the switch from a fixed metal top to a removable roof, the Murano has been converted from a five-door to a two-door. This gives a sporty stance with the hood up or down.
The use of a traditional fabric roof, which stores behind the rear headrests, helps to keep weight down to a minimum and preserve the Murano’s short rear overhang.
Although details are scarce at this stage, Nissan has described the interior as “premium-level”, so expect leather upholstery, electric seats, sat-nav and climate control as standard. The newcomer has room for four adults plus luggage, even with the top down.
Our sources revealed that the CrossCabriolet has been on the drawing board for some time, but the firm had been reluctant to pursue it due to the economic situation. Just don’t expect to see too many CrossCabriolets on the road – Nissan bosses have admitted this is more of an image-building exercise than a money-making venture. For more details click here.
Thanks to: Auto Express

New Car: 2012 Mercedes CLS 63 AMG

Mercedes-Benz is out to raise the stakes with its rapid new CLS63 AMG — the third model to receive its torque-laden twin-turbocharged 5.5-litre V8.

The aggressively styled four-door, pictured here officially for the first time having made its public premiere at today’s Los Angeles motor show, is scheduled to enter production next year. It will go on sale in the UK next May.

The new twin-turbo 5.5-litre V8, first revealed in March, has been conceived to replace AMG’s naturally aspirated 6.2-litre V8.

The new engine will be offered in two states of tune. In standard guise, it kicks out 518bhp and 516lb ft of torque at 1750rpm. This gives the new CLS63 an additional 9bhp and 52lb ft over its predecessor.

However, a performance package will lift those outputs to 549bhp and 590lb ft at 2000rpm. The heady reserves are channelled to the rear through AMG’s seven-speed MCT gearbox.

Mercedes claims 0-62mph in 4.4sec in S (for Sport) and M (for Manual) modes — and 4.3sec with the optional performance package. Top speed remains limited to 155mph but an optional driver’s package can be ordered, which raises it to 186mph.

The CLS63 also gets a stop-start system that operates in tandem with brake energy recuperation, allowing AMG to decouple the alternator for stronger acceleration and lower consumption. Provisional figures put combined fuel consumption at 28.5mpg and CO2 emissions at 232g/km, which better the old model’s by an impressive 9.1mpg and 113g/km overall.
The new CLS63’s front track is 24mm wider and it rides 15mm lower than the standard CLS. The suspension has MacPherson struts with steel springs up front and a multi-link set-up with AirMatic air springs at the rear.

Compared with the standard car, the CLS63 gains a deep front bumper, a uniquely designed bonnet and wider front wings with ‘V8 Turbo’ badges. It also gets slightly wider sills, a subtle boot spoiler and a reprofiled rear bumper with a faux diffuser. The standard 19in wheels are shod with 255/35 (front) and 285/30 (rear) tyres.
Thanks to: Autocar
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