The VW New Bulli concept. Is this the next Microbus?

We've been hearing rumor that Volkswagen has been working on an entirely new Microbus. In 2001, VW showed a smart looking concept at the North American International Auto Show that was received well and even got a nod for production that would late be canceled. All this despite the public's longing for a new van from VW since the demise of the Eurovan in 2003 and the mediocre sales of the re-badged Routan.

Volkswagen is now unveiling the New Bulli at the Geneva Auto Show later this week. As Volkswagen puts it, "Some visions need to mature before they yield something new". While I see some similarities to the Concept Microbus of ten years ago, I also see a lot of the Up! concept cars from last year. And it definitely pulls some technology from those cars as well. The New Bulli is a zero emissions vehicle powered by a fully electric motor producing 85 kW of power and 270 Newton meters of torque. All of this makes for a range of 300 Km and will go from 0-100 Km in 11.5 seconds. Not to shabby for an electric car.

Perhaps the most interesting feature of the Bulli concept is the interior controls. rather than traditional dials and switches, all infotainment is controlled via an iPad. So yeah, there's an app for that. Like the exterior, the interior is also very retro and reminds the driver and passengers of the history of the Bulli.

While much smaller than the original Microbus and certainly much smaller than the 2001 concept, I would venture to say that the size would be similar to maybe a Scion xB than a traditional minivan. But that's just my guess.

Press Release:

Comeback of an automotive free spirit:
World debut of new Bulli by Volkswagen in Geneva

New compact van concept has pure electric drive
Original model of the Volkswagen Bulli was first van in the world
Wolfsburg/Geneva, 28 February 2011 - The Volkswagen bus, like no other car, stands for the spirit of freedom. It debuted over 60 years ago in 1950 with a contagiously simple design. Its internal Volkswagen code name was T1 for Transporter 1. The Germans called it the Bulli, and to Americans it was the Microbus. It was driven on all continents. And the world’s first van is still appreciated by a fan base which spans the globe. Now Volkswagen is reinterpreting the compact original form of this automotive legend and sending it into the future – in the form of a concept vehicle for a new generation Bulli! It is spacious like it was in 1950, it is as inspirational as ever, and it has clean styling like never before.

In this vehicle, Volkswagen is finishing what it started in 2001: ten years ago, the vision of a new Bulli led to an unforgettable concept vehicle known as the Microbus. But some visions need to mature before they yield something new. Now, the time is right for this vision. That is because the concept was sharpened, and the necessary, sustainable technologies are now at hand. More compact and affordable than the earlier concept vehicle, it is now being shown in Geneva. The new Bulli – powered by an electric motor and fitted with six seats and infotainment control via iPad.

This concept has the potential to establish a new, fifth brand of people carrier next to the Caddy, Touran, Sharan and its large counterpart – the Caravelle. The Bulli could even become an icon like the T1 Samba that still trades at extremely high prices today – one of those few vehicles that simply do not fade with time.

Zero emissions – up to 300 km on a single battery charge

Thanks to highly advanced drive technologies, the Bulli being shown in Geneva is what is referred to as a ‘zero emissions vehicle,’ because the concept is electrically powered. Zero emissions at the tailpipe. The Bulli’s electric motor outputs 85 kW of power and an impressive 270 Newton metres of torque. As is usual with this type of drive, its maximum forces are generated from standstill. The silent motor is supplied with energy from a lithium-ion battery with a maximum storage capacity of 40 kWh. This electrifying combination enables driving ranges of up to 300 km – a high value for an electric car. When the Bulli’s battery is charged at an "electric refuelling station" specially designed for electric vehicles, the charging process takes less than one hour.

The new Bulli accelerates from 0 to 100 km/h in 11.5 seconds, and its top speed is 140 km/h (electronically limited). Its range and driving performance not only make the compact vehicle ideal for short distances; but also ideal for most commuters and recreational activities with zero tailpipe emissions.

Naturally, the concept can also incorporate Volkswagen’s extremely efficient petrol and diesel direct injection engines as alternative drives. Engines with 1.0 or 1.4 litre displacement that are fuel efficient yet strong; this is downsizing by the book. Ideal for anyone who wants to cover maximum distances with minimal fuel consumption.

Bulli – the idea goes back 64 years

Without the Dutch Volkswagen importer Ben Pon, the T1 might not have existed, and of course neither would the Bulli concept vehicle at Geneva. That is because Pon was the person who on 23 April, 1947, sketched a picture of a compact bus in his notebook. Actually, the Dutchman’s drawing was a simple side view of a radically shortened public omnibus placed over the wheelbase of a Beetle with an "m" for "motor" written on it. That was it. The world’s first van was born. Great ideas usually just take a few strokes of the pen, but then they require a dedicated effort to implement them. Volkswagen designers took this sketch and created the bus that became an automotive icon with the characteristic "V" in front.

The Bulli concept vehicle now follows in the footsteps of the original bus and demonstrates the concept of maximum space utilisation with the characteristic "V" with VW logo at the front end and the cleanest of proportions. In the process, the concept vehicle’s design follows the maxims of the new Volkswagen "design DNA." Retro? Hardly. It is a Volkswagen! The team led by Walter de Silva, Head of Volkswagen Group Design, and Klaus Bischoff, Head of Design of the Volkswagen brand, developed the "design DNA" for the modern era based on styling principles of the bestselling Beetle, Golf I and T1.

Design – visual world of a masterpiece

The new edition of the Bulli is 3.99 metres long, 1.75 metres wide and 1.70 metres tall. The T1 was somewhat longer and taller, but narrower. With a wheelbase of 2.62 metres, the Bulli utilises the overall length very well. Also striking here are the Bulli’s relatively large track widths (1.50 m front and rear) in relation to body width.

Front end: Like the Samba bus before it, the Bulli being presented in Geneva also has two-tone paint – in this case white and red. The "V" on the bonnet, is kept white. The bonnet does house the engine: instead of rear-wheel drive with a boxer engine, as on the Samba, the Bulli has an electric motor located forward of the front axle and front-wheel drive. Here it is a compact integral drive whose primary components are an E-motor, high-voltage pulse inverter and DC/DC converter for the 12-Volt electrical system.

In keeping with the Volkswagen design DNA, there is a horizontal layout of the narrow dual headlights with L-shaped LED daytime running lights and turn indicators implemented as LEDs arranged in an inverted L shape at each outer corner. Incidentally, LEDs not only exhibit tremendous luminous power and long life; due to their low energy consumption they are ideal for the electrically powered Bulli of 2011. Located between the headlights in the bonnet is, as always, the VW logo. On the level beneath, one finds – once again arranged in a horizontal line – the air intakes for the passenger compartment and for battery cooling or for cooling the alternative conventional drives.

Finally, the bumper that is seamlessly integrated in the front end completes the design. Laterally, it exhibits a large round fog light on each side, another air intake in the middle, and a front spoiler in black below. This line matches the lines of the side sills.

Side profile: The Bulli’s two-tone paint also distinguishes the sides. Treated in white is the entire area above what is known as the character line. Originating in the wings is a white stripe that runs to the distinctive D-pillars; above them, the entire roof section is painted in this colour. The continuous line of windows creates an especially striking contrast between the white sections. Here the visually slender black pillars executed in the style of the 2001 Microbus concept are visually striking. Painted in red are the door mirror housings protruding from the line of windows.

Beneath the character line is the red body area. Design elements such as the distinctive wheel housings, the additional shape modulation in the door surfaces above the side sills and the headlights that wrap around to the sides with minimal seams are details that would not have been possible to manufacture in this form and precision on a T1. Concealed in the sandwiched floor behind the sills is the 1,450 kg Bulli’s lithium-ion battery. The white door handles are practical, opening in the direction of pull. The 18-inch alloy wheels are especially attractive. At their centres are stylised chrome hubcaps – another tribute to the bus of years past. Shorter than ever are the overhangs at the front and rear.

Rear section: The Volkswagen design DNA with its horizontal lines also dominates the rear of the new Bulli. Viewed from the bottom upwards, above the body-coloured bumper (including black, stylised diffuser) there is the tailgate that extends across the entire width of the vehicle. In the tailgate, the narrow LED rear lights continue a theme from the Microbus concept of 2001. At the centre, but smaller than at the front end: the VW symbol. When all six seating locations are fully occupied, there is a 370 litre bootspace behind the tailgate.

Interior space – melding of car and iPad

Like the body design, the interior is also marked by a level of clarity whose consistent application can only be found at Volkswagen. The passenger compartment – immersed in light during the day thanks to its panoramic sunroof – also harbours some surprises.

A practical highlight: like the T1 in times past, thanks to its level floor the new Bulli is also equipped with a single bench seat in front. The van offers space for three in the rear as well.

An infotainment highlight: a removable iPad in the centre console serves as a multifunctional touchscreen. Along with Internet-based iPad applications and the media centre, it also handles control of such functions as Bluetooth hands-free telephone and a navigation system. Integrated right on the iPad mount are controls for the climate control system and the centrally located hazard warning switch.

Typical Volkswagen: all cockpit details are clearly organised and designed to be intuitive. Running laterally across the entire width is a line with air vents. In front of the driver, there is a speedometer in the shape of a semicircle. A colour multifunction display, also semi-circular in shape, can be used to view and control (via multifunctional keys in the steering wheel and on it) the navigation system, telephone, trip computer and media centre – the entire unit of speedometer and multifunction display also communicates with the iPad. The key word here is sound: a system produced by legendary guitar and amplifier manufacturer Fender (USA) ensures that the music sounds as though it were being performed live. At Woodstock in 1969, Jimi Hendrix played "The Star-Spangled Banner" – the American national anthem – on a Fender Stratocaster guitar.

What is not found in the Bulli is a tachometer (unnecessary with an electric motor) or a conventional gear shift or gear selection lever (also unnecessary with an electric motor). The latter is replaced by a rotary switch to the right of the driver, which is used to activate forward and reverse gears. A pushbutton in the same switch is used to start and stop the motor. Another rotary switch to the left of the driver is used to control the lighting functions.

Seats become reclining surface in an instant

The outer and middle seat positions of the front bench seat can be folded down (2/3 split); the rear beach seat, meanwhile, can be completely stowed. When the rear bench seat is stowed, cargo capacity increases to 1,600 litres. In addition – and here the new Bulli is reminiscent of its legendary ancestor – the seat system can be transformed into a large reclining surface with just a few manual movements. This turns the compact MPV into a compact camper – the ultimate companion for a weekend trip.

At least as important for many users, however, is that the seating system should not only be versatile but also offer maximum comfort. The seat position is comfortably high and is equally relaxing. As an added benefit, it offers an optimised view forward as well. And that is how it was in the T1 too. Contributing to peace of mind aboard today’s vehicle is the fact that the new era Bulli is equipped with all conceivable safety features. And that is the crucial difference: the car has essentially been reinvented since the days of the first T1 aka the Bulli aka the Microbus.

Source: Volkswagen

Just some old Ford

How long do most people hang on to a car? 5 years, 10 years? How about 30 or 40 years? That's just the case with this 1964 Galaxie. The owner purchased this car in the mid 1970s while in the Army as just a car to drive. The Galaxie ended up being owned by a moonshiner and packed quite a punch thanks to a 427 R code V8 backed by a 4 on the floor. That makes for one impressive package. It may not be an original R code, but it's still one heck of a cool ride and it makes for a great story and video. Enjoy this film from Ben Pender-Cudlip.

Some Old Ford from Ben Pender-Cudlip on Vimeo.

Source: Vimeo

The Brooks Walker Fifth Wheel

 You think about the advancements today with self parking cars and it makes you wonder what took so long. Truth is, the idea of making parking cars easier has been around since at least the 1950s. 

A few years back we spotted this 1953 Packard at an area car show with a similar invention by a gentleman named Brooks Walker of San Francisco, Ca. It may very well have been created by the same gentleman that crated the Cadillac in the video above.

We did a Google search and were able to turn up some patent designs from Mr. Walker that date back to 1928. There are a few other similar patents out there, however Mr. Walker's seems to be the most thought out and engineered example. This patent from 1932 seems to be the most similar to the one in the video, but the application seems nearly identical to that on the Packard we saw. We also found this Life magazine article showing off Walker's invention.

Now the big question. How does it work? The spare tire is mounted to s separate frame that connects to the drive shaft that can be lowered from inside the car electronically or hydraulically. This lowers the spare tire to the ground lifting the drive wheels of the car off the ground. This allows the spare wheel the drive the car in to a parking spot.

Simple as that. It's a very cool idea in theory even if it may not be the most practical. Since there's little info on Brooks Walker's Fifth Wheel, we hope this will help to serve as a memory to his idea.

New Car: 2012 Tata Indica V2 Turbomax

Tata Motors will soon launch a powerful diesel version of its Indica hatch, called the Indica V2 Turbomax. The diesel hatch will also adhere to the stricter BSIV emission norms.

The new 1405cc CR4 diesel motor will develop a healthy 70bhp and 13.7kgm of max torque. As per the car manufacturer claims, the new Indica V2 Turbomax will be India’s most fuel efficient car with 46percent improvement on fuel efficiency over the older Indica V2.

The Indica V2 Turbomax will sport bigger 14inch wheels, fresh exterior and interior looks and come loaded with added features. At present, the Indica V2 diesel is powered by a 1396cc unit producing 52bhp and 8.5kgm of max torque. This gives the new Indica V2 Turbomax a power boost of 32percent and 65percent increase in torque as compared to the older V2.

Official prices of the Indica V2 Turbomax are yet to be announced, but be ready to pay a small premium over the Indica V2 prices. The new Indica V2 Turbomax will hit the showrooms by the first week of March 2011.

Thanks to: Autocar India

New Concept Car: De Tomaso SLS

The model that will relaunch De Tomaso at next week’s Geneva motor show will be this Pininfarina-designed BMW 5-series GT-rivalling luxury crossover concept, dubbed SLS.

Former Fiat marketing executive Gian Mario Rossignolo will present De Tomaso’s new SLS (meaning sport luxury sedan) at the Geneva show and the Italian is also planning to launch new coupé and luxury saloon models.

De Tomaso went bankrupt seven years ago. Rossignolo purchased it from a bankruptcy court in November 2009.

He signed a deal with Pininfarina a month later to rent its Grugliasco plant near Turin, having previously failed to acquire Bertone’s coachbuliding facilities. The SLS, which will be renamed for production, is going to be put together at the Grugliasco plant from 2012, with Rossignolo planning an annual production run of 3000 units.

The plant has an assembly line, body shop and paint shop and employs 900 people. Planned production of the luxury saloon is 3000 units, while 2000 units of the coupé will be made.

All will be built on an aluminium chassis using an innovative construction technique known as Univis, full details of which will be revealed at Geneva by Rossignolo.

In production, the all-wheel-drive SLC will be offered with 542bhp V8 and 296bhp V6 petrol engines and a 247bhp V6 diesel.

Rossignolo is investing 116 million euros (£98m) in the project. The LC is pictured here in these teaser images ahead of its full reveal at Geneva.

Thanks to: Autocar

Hot News: Opel/Vauxhall Astra Cabriolet Gets Green Light

It’s official! Vauxhall has confirmed that it will build a convertible version of the Astra that will hit the road in 2013.

The new Cabrio is part of the company’s €11 billion investment pledge announced a year ago as part of its plan for the future, which also includes the all-new Zafira and the Ampera range extender. 2013 is also the year when Vauxhall’s junior city car is scheduled to arrive.

Just as with the previous Astra TwinTop convertible, the new cabrio will use the underpinnings of the current five-door Astra and SportsTourer and will be built at Opel’s Gliwice plant in Poland, alongside other Astra models.

“The new Convertible will be a great addition to our product lineup,” said Vauxhall boss Nick Reilly. “It follows the long-standing tradition of highly emotional and legendary Opel/Vauxhall Cabrios that provided important halo effects on our brand. With its sleek and elegant design, our new Convertible will fully deliver on that same promise.”

Further details, such as the car’s name, price and spec, will be announced closer to launch. This will also include whether the car will continue with a folding metal hard top roof, of revert to a canvas top. For more details click here.
Thanks to: Auto Express

New Car: 2012 Chevrolet Cruze Hatchback

General Motors is continuing its drive to build up the Chevrolet brand in Europe, and its new Chevrolet Cruze Hatchback is one of cars it is hoping will help with the effort. These are the first official photos of the production version of the Cruze hatch, which is making its debut at next week’s 2011 Geneva auto show.

GM says the Cruze hatch will launch with a new range of engines, likely meaning a mix of f gasoline and diesel I-4s introduced on the Cruze and Europe-only Orlando MPV. This is evidenced by GM’s confirmation that the range-topping turbodiesel unit will be the same 160-horsepower, 2.0-liter I-4 as in the Orlando coupled to a six-speed manual transmission.

European sales are scheduled to start this summer. While we’re unlikely to see this car in the States anytime soon, we wouldn’t bet against it possibly coming here at some point, especially when considering its main U.S. rival, the 2012 Ford Focus, is available in both hatch and sedan body styles.

Thanks to: Motor Trend

More Rods

Another traditional rod day.

Just a nice classic looking 29 Model A.

Pittsburgh Vintage Grand Prix adds additional racing classes for 2011

The Pittsburgh Vintage Grand Prix is an event that we support and have participated in every year since 1997. Every year continues to get bigger and better and 2011 with the 29th annual event is no exception. Big news is that sanctioning for the vintage races held at both Schenley Park and at BeaveRun raceway has been transferred from the Vintage Sports Car Club of America(VSCCA) to the Pittsburgh Vintage Grand Prix Association (PVGPA). This means that now the race classes will be expanded to cover cars made well into the 1970s and thusly, lowering costs to racers participating in the events by $50.

Also new for 2011 will be improvements to the Schenley Park race course. This is welcome news as 360 days a year the course serves as public roads around and through Schenley Park and the Schenly PArk Golf Course. This includes repaving and the addition of new timing equipment.

On the car show side of the event, Porsche will serve as the 2011 Marque of the Year and along with the Allegheny Region of the Porsche Club of America celebrating their 50th anniversary. They are planning for this to be one of the largest Porsche gatherings in the U.S.

The Pittsburgh Vintage Grand Prix is unique in the world of vintage sports car racing in that all of the racing takes place on city streets, just like in the old days. Since 1983, the Pittsburgh Vintage Grand Prix has raised over $2.5 million dollars for the benefit of the Allegheny Valley School and the Autism Society of Pittsburgh with 100% of the proceeds from the races and combined car shows going to charity.  And has grown from a weekend event to a 10 motorsports festival filled with car shows, races, parades, parties, and much more.

This year the PVGP is set for July 10th through the 24th with race weekend and the famed international car show taking place July 23rd and 24th. The full schedule is available at

Press release:

Vintage Racers,
As the 2011 racing season draws nearer, we are very excited to welcome everyone to the 29th renewal of the Pittsburgh Vintage Grand Prix. Plans are underway and we anticipate another outstanding event at Schenley Park.
The best news is that Schenley Park will be less expensive in 2011. For those participants who enter early, the entry fee will be reduced by $50. In addition, there will be an option for the entry of a second car at nearly half price. Other benefits are available for those who want to enter both the Schenley Park and the BeaveRun races together.
The PVGP continues to encourage sponsorship of cars. Sponsorship funds directly benefit children and adults throughout Pennsylvania with autism and intellectual/developmental disabilities through the Autism Society of Pittsburgh and Allegheny Valley School. We anticipate continuing a car sponsorship program for 2011 with many benefits for both the sponsors and drivers.
We are going to continue the traditional large PVGP tent at the head of the paddock. It will be the site for the Friday night Happy Hour get-together and the Saturday night driver/volunteer dinner. Plans are underway to expand and upgrade the menu for the Saturday night dinner. As in the past, we will hold all driver meetings at this location and it will remain open during the event for dining and other functions.
Based on comments from prior participants, there will be changes in the dining arrangements. A continental breakfast will be provided on Saturday and Sunday mornings and is included with your entry. In addition, there will be several food vendors offering a wide variety of lunch items at reasonable prices. We hope that this will provide more flexibility and convenience for participants who make their own dining arrangements.
Improvements to the race course include repaving the start/finish straight as well as a permanent transponder line. If you have a transponder, you will be timed. Rentals will be available but limited. It is recommended that participants have their own transponder. As has been the case over the past several years, we are continuing to expand the eligibility in each of the groups to accommodate more cars. Rest assured that we are not going to open up eligibility to those cars that do not fit the unique course that is Schenley Park. We will not compromise safety for the cars, drivers or the spectators. All participants at Schenley are strongly encouraged to take notice of the PVGP Driver Policy as excessive exuberance or unsafe driving will not be tolerated.
Porsche will be the featured marque for 2011 and it is expected to draw a large number of participants in the marque race as well as a large representation on the show field. In addition, if participants wish to paddock together, we strongly encourage that they send the PVGP their space requirements. We are anticipating a large entry this year and paddock parking is expected to be very tight.
As Competition Director this year, I look forward to maintaining the tradition and uniqueness of the only city street road race in the country. I have been working in many capacities at the PVGP since its inception in 1983 and expect that the 2011 event will continue to provide all of the fun for participants and spectators that it has in the past. All of the PVGP team, including, Jim “Rocky” Farrar, Race Director, Mike Connolly, Assistant Race Director, Donna McDonough, Chief Registrar and all the other outstanding volunteers welcome and offer you the opportunity to enjoy and participate in the Pittsburgh Vintage Grand Prix, recognized worldwide as a premier vintage racing event, through the spectacular Schenley Park in Pittsburgh.
Please join us in making the 29th running of the PVGP the very best ever.

Richard Barnes – PVGP Schenley Park Competition Director 412-767-8611
Jim “Rocky” Farrar - PVGP Race Director
Mike Connolly - PVGP Assistant Race Director

Spied: 2012 Chevrolet Beat Diesel

These fresh undisguised pictures show the new Chevrolet Beat diesel being tested which will be launched sometime later this year. The car was spotted testing by our reader Abhinavgiri Goswami near Fatehgunj, Vadodara.

The Beat diesel will be powered by the much-anticipated 936cc three-cylinder common-rail diesel engine which is basically Fiat’s 1.3 Multijet unit minus one cylinder. This means it has a good crack at being really impressive. It is expected to produce 57bhp and an impressive 14.52kgm of torque.

If GM can give the car good driveability and reasonable performance, it will split the market wide open. Fantastic fuel economy and very low running costs can be expected, a significant advantage in this segment, if you take into account the Beat’s chic styling and fantastic interiors.

Earlier this month, GM had launched the LPG version of the Beat and will soon introduce the hatch with a new 1.2-litre SMARTECH petrol engine as well. With the new 1-litre TCDi motor, Beat will be the first in its segment to sport a diesel motor and this can further boost its sales – the hatch is selling around 3000 units per month.

Expect the Beat diesel to be priced at around Rs 4 – 4.60 lakh (estimated ex-showroom prices).

Thanks to: Autocar India

New Concept Car: Opel/Vauxhall Zafira Tourer

FOR years, Vauxhall has sold only one seven-seater model. But now, the line-up is set to expand. These are the first official pictures of the Zafira Tourer Concept – a plush new Ford S-MAX-rivalling people carrier that makes its debut at this week’s Geneva Motor Show.

And Auto Express can reveal that this is precisely how the final production model will look when it hits dealers in September to 
sit above the current Zafira.

Up front are the boomerang-style headlight clusters first seen on the Ampera hybrid, along with Vauxhall’s new single-bar grille. And another design feature seen in the firm’s latest models is the ‘blade’ crease in the side panels.

Interior flexibility and comfort are key to MPV buyers, though, and no expense has been spared in this respect. The cabin is 
bathed in light by a panoramic screen which flows seamlessly into a full-length glass roof.

Plus, Vauxhall’s Flex7 seating layout has evolved. At the push of a button, the centre seat in the middle row folds to reveal a pair of armrests in the outer chairs. These seats can then slide back and towards each other to increase space, while extending footrests enhance comfort further. There’s also pair of Apple iPads mounted on pivots in the rear, although these are unlikely 
to make it to production.

Under the bonnet, the 1.4-litre turbocharged engine is equipped with stop-start. FlexRide adaptive dampers also feature, hinting that the Zafira Tourer will deliver a new level of driver appeal when it appears in showrooms. For more details click here.
Thanks to: Auto Express

New Car: 2012 Fiat 500 Gucci

Fancy the ultimate fashion accessory? This is the 500 by Gucci. The tiny city car has been given a makeover by Gucci’s creative director Frida Giannini to celebrate the fashion firm’s 90th birthday,

There are two models to choose from, either in black or white, with bumper trim, wing mirror caps and shoulderline all highlighted in chrome. Black cars get an interior trimmed in black and white, while white cars get black interior trim.

Special Gucci-branded 16-inch alloys which hide green-painted brake calipers are complimented by Gucci script on the B-pillar and bootlid. Gucci’s trademark green-red-green stripe along the car’s side and on the seats, carpets, keyfob and even seatbelts.

Based on the 100bhp 1.4-litre petrol powered model, the 500 by Gucci made its debut on the opening day of Milan fashion week, and will also be shown at Geneva Motor Show as part of a Gucci pop-up store on the Fiat stand.

The car will then be displayed around the world before going on sale here in July. UK prices are yet to be set, but the 500 by Gucci costs from €17,000 (£14,500) in Italy.

Alongside the car’s launch, Gucci has also created a fashion collection, which includes travel accessories, leather goods, clothes, sunglasses and a watch, which will be available in select Gucci stores from April. For more details click here.
Thanks to: Auto Express

Hot News: Spyker Sells Sport Car Division

Spyker has signed a memorandum of understanding to sell its supercar business to CPP Global Holdings, a coachbuilding company based in Coventry.

The purchase price of €32million (£27million) is split - €15million (£12.7 million) is payable straight away, with the remainder to set to follow over a six-year earn-out period.

CPP is a coachbuilding company with a workforce of 250 automotive specialist designers, technicians and craftsmen. Vladimir Antonov, the Russian billionaire who is also the major shareholder in the Snoras Bank, owns CPP and had already signed a deal to build the firm’s new C8 Aileron supercar.

The deal ensures investment in the Spyker supercar brand, while also enhancing Antonov’s relationship with SAAB’s boss Victor Muller.

Antonov has also been rumoured to be planned to invest in the promoters of the World Rally Championship, securing the investment in the firm to develop and expand its coverage. As a long-time SAAB lover, it is believed that Antonov’s investment in North One is a precursor to SAAB entering the WRC with a car based on the forthcoming 9-1. For more details click here.
Thanks to: Auto Express

What is the most iconic car of all time?

This year, Jaguar celebrates the 50th anniversary of the launch of the E-type. The E-type is considered by many as THE car that defined the 1960s and is one of the most iconic cars of all times. This leads us to wonder what other cars are truly iconic cars. The Ford Model T? The VW Beetle? Mercedes 300 SL Gullwing? 1959 Cadillac? the 1986 Ford Taurus? How about the 1968 Corvette? Give us your insight and we'll compile a list of what our readers say are the most iconic cars of all time.

Jaguar to unveil the baddest cat of them all. The XKR-S.

Jaguar is billing the XKR-S as the most potent production car they have made in their 75 year history. And what a great way to celebrate it. Full specs won't be released until March 1st, but we do know that the XKR-S will pack a supercharged V8 making 550 horsepower with a 0-60 time of 4.2 seconds. The styling is much bolder than the current XKR especially in this bright blue hue teased to us. We do spy a touch of carbon fiber on the front fascia and on the rear spoiler and of course there's lots of piano black trim which makes for a very cool look. Still, nothing beats a fast cat in traditional British Racing Green. 

Press Release:


Jaguar will launch its most potent series production car ever, the all-new XKR-S, at the Geneva motorshow on March 1.

This all-new model will significantly broaden the appeal of the XK range, offering enthusiastic drivers a compelling, fresh choice in the luxury GT class.

With an uprated supercharged V8 engine, overhauled suspension and a new aerodynamically-driven design, the XKR-S is the ultimate expression of Jaguar’s long held duality of purpose: GT luxury with incredible performance.

“The XKR-S is a bold and exciting new model for Jaguar,” said Adrian Hallmark, Jaguar’s new Global Brand Director. “We expect to attract both loyal and new Jaguar driving enthusiasts who still want the comfort, opulence and class only a Jaguar can offer, combined with inspirational performance.”

The XKR-S produces 550PS and 680Nm of torque, enough power to offer a top speed of 186mph (300km/h). Its performance credentials speak for themselves: 0-60mph takes 4.2 seconds, with 0-100mph dismissed in just 8.6 seconds.

The XKR-S is not merely the quickest Jaguar ever, but also the most agile, responsive and driver-focused. It exploits the XK’s strong, lightweight aluminium body architecture to maximise both handling and economy. Alongside its incredible performance, the XKR-S is the only car in its class that emits less than 300g/km CO2.

Bespoke suspension changes to the front and rear offer ultimate precision, control and driver appeal, while a reprogrammed Adaptive Dynamics system allows the enthusiastic driver to explore the edges of the handling envelope.

Full details, images and video of the XKR-S will be available on Geneva press day – March 1.

Alongside the exciting new XKR-S, Jaguar will be marking the 50th anniversary of the E-Type with the first in a series of celebrations that take place during 2011.

Jaguar will be hosting E-Type drives at the Parc des Eaux Vives in Geneva, where the original car was launched by the marque’s founder Sir William Lyons half a century ago.

The appeal of E-Type transcended the automotive world. Such is the inherent rightness of its proportions, stance and purity of line, that it is a permanent exhibit in New York’s Museum of Modern Art.

Its influence is still apparent in Jaguar’s modern range - products that offer a peerless blend of performance, comfort, cutting-edge technology and award-winning design.

“It is impossible to overstate the impact the E-Type had,” said Ian Callum, Jaguar Design Director. “Here was a car that encapsulated the spirit of the revolutionary era it came to symbolise. We’re looking forward to celebrating achievement and looking forward with our all-new sports cars in Geneva.”

Source: Jaguar

59 Caddys are cool

But you can't get much cooler than a Series 75 limo that's slammed to the ground.

Unofficial Picture: ItalDesign Volkswagen Concept 2

Italdesign is preparing to show two ideas for small Volkswagens at next week’s Geneva motor show, judging from this series of patent images that have leaked onto the internet.

The two cars are a rakish three-door and a more upright five-door. The first of the pair looks like a prospective study for a replacement for the current Scirocco. It has a full-length panoramic glass roof and its front end is dominated by a particularly slim headlight and grille treatment.

The five-door’s upright stance makes it more likely to be a Polo replacement - or even a larger development of VW’s forthcoming Up vehicles. The car features a slimline front grille treatment that’s similar to that of the three-door concept, an angular waistline and a large glasshouse enhanced by a panoramic roof.

VW has yet to comment on the renderings. But given that the firm now owns Italdesign, and that the cars feature prominent Volkswagen branding, the reaction at Geneva could well affect the future styling direction of Golf, Polo and Scirocco.

Thanks to: Autocar

Unofficial Picture: ItalDesign Volkswagen Concept 1

Italdesign is preparing to show two ideas for small Volkswagens at next week’s Geneva motor show, judging from this series of patent images that have leaked onto the internet.

The two cars are a rakish three-door and a more upright five-door. The first of the pair looks like a prospective study for a replacement for the current Scirocco. It has a full-length panoramic glass roof and its front end is dominated by a particularly slim headlight and grille treatment.

There’s a deep scallop in the door, drawn from what looks like a small vent at the rear of the front wheel arch. The car also features a ‘pinstripe’ of colour that runs from front wing to the edge of the tail.

Italdesign - the firm of Giorgetto Giugiaro, the designer of the original Golf and Scirocco - is also using both cars to experiment with ‘panels’ (plastics, most likely) within the glass area. The coupé study has a spoiler in the middle of the rear hatch, while the five-door also gets a pronounced strip that floats within the side glass and houses a small camera instead of a side mirror.

Thanks to: Autocar

New Car: 2012 Saab 9-3 Convertible Independence Edition

SAAB has built itself a one-year anniversary present! But instead of the traditional paper gift, the firm has gone to town on a special version of the 9-3 Convertible.

Called the Independence Edition, the newcomer features a unique, Amber Orange metallic paint finish and 18-inch alloys. New leather seats, carbon-look trim and an orange-stitched leather steering wheel complete the tweaks.

One powertrain is available, the 180bhp 1.9-litre TTiD diesel engine, hooked up to a six-speed automatic gearbox. Just 366 examples will be produced, one for each day during the first year and one extra for the start of a second year. Only 80 of these vehicles will be produced for the UK. For more details click here.
Thanks to: Auto Express

New Car: 2012 Volkswagen Golf Cabriolet

After months of teasing and speculation, Volkswagen has finally released the first details and images of its all-new Golf Cabriolet — its first in nearly eight years — prior to an official launch at the 2011 Geneva Motor Show.

Since it is based upon the MkVI Golf, the new Golf Cabriolet largely resembles a two-door Golf with a missing top. Designers did take the opportunity to slightly restyle the front end of the car, blessing it with a tweaked grille, LED daytime running lamps, and a steeper windshield rake. The interior is virtually identical to those used in standard Golf models, although one longtime Cabrio hallmark — the fixed “basket handle” roll bar — has been eliminated in favor of a pop-up device.

Unlike VW’s other Golf-based convertible — the Eos — the Golf Cabriolet utilizes a traditional folding soft top. According to the automaker, the electro-hydraulic power top can be raised or lowered in just 9.5 seconds, and at speeds up to 18mph.

In Europe, Volkswagen will offer the Golf Cabriolet with a plethora of engines, including a 1.2-liter and a 1.4-liter I-4, along with a 1.6-liter turbo-diesel I-4. The Golf TDI’s 140-horsepower, 2.0-liter turbo-diesel I-4 is also available, but buyers seeking GTI-like performance can always opt for the gasoline 2.0-liter turbocharged I-4, which places nearly 210 horsepower on tap.

Production is scheduled to begin in Onsabruck, Germany (ironically, in the former Karmann plant that previously built earlier Golf Cabrios) later this year, but Volkswagen’s plans for the car in North America are still unknown. If the next-generation Beetle continues to be offered in a convertible guise, it may prove hard to squeeze three different drop-tops — Beetle, Golf, and Eos — into a single portfolio.

Thanks to: Motor Trend

New Car: 2012 Saab 9-3

An all-new Saab 9-3 is still several years away, but in the meantime, the newly independent Swedish automaker will unveil a revised 2012 9-3 line at the Geneva Motor Show in March.

What’s new? Let’s start underhood. Power continues to be provided by a turbocharged 2.0-liter I-4, but the General Motors-sourced engines receive variable valve timing, direct fuel injection, twin-scroll turbochargers, and E85 capability for the 2012 model year. Top-end Aero models are rated at 210 horsepower, but engines fitted to entry-level Turbo4 cars see their output dialed back to 163 horsepower. Both forms, however, can be paired with either a six-speed manual or automatic transmission, and can be coupled with Saab’s Haldex-sourced XWD all-wheel-drive system. We’ve been given no word yet on fuel economy ratings, but the outgoing 2.0-liter turbo had a combined EPA city/highway rating between 20 and 24 mpg, depending on transmission and drivetrain.

Outside of the engine compartment, the modest upgrades are sprinkled about the car to visually bring the 9-3 into line with the new 9-5 and 9-4x. Up front, the 2012 9-3 receives new trapezoidal lower air intakes, a larger Saab script logo, and blue-tinted headlamps. The rear end receives a script emblem in place of the company’s traditional griffin logo, while sedan models receive a standard decklid spoiler across the board. 16-inch wheels are standard across the line, although XWD models do receive 17-inch rims. Buyers will have a choice of new optional 17- and 18-inch wheels, including some patterned after the 9-5’s turbine design.

Inside, the 9-3’s cabin receives either titanium metallic or graphite fiber dash trim, depending on Turbo4 or Aero model specification. In addition to the current two-tone black and parchment leatherette seats, Saab has added a new shark grey seat fabric for the Turbo4, and irregularly ribbed grey leather skins for Aero models.

Thanks to: Motor Trend

Volkswagen reveals new 2012 Golf Cabriolet

After an 8 year absence from the marketplace. Volkswagen is bringing back the famed Golf Cabrio set to unveil at the Geneva Auto Show. No details on when the new Cabrio will hit the U.S. yet, but the car specs are very similar to the current 6th generation Golf/GTI with some cues taken from the GTI. Perhaps maybe the U.S. will see a GTI version? Who knows. The styling is crisp and fresh, but looks similar to the Eos in my opinion since the Golf has lost its trademark roll bar hoop. That said the top mechanism takes merely 9.5 seconds to drop and will fit flush into the body with the top of the roof acting as a boot. Probably most impressive is the fact that the new Golf Cabrio will be offered with diesel engine options as part of the six available choices.

Advance sales are set to begin tomorrow in Germany, but as we mentioned earlier, no mention of the U.S. market. It's questionable if we will get the Golf Cabrio because of the current Eos and the out going New Beetle convertible (no mention if the next Beetle will go topless). It may very well be possible that we won't see the Golf purely because of these two cars just as VW won't bring the Scirocco to the U.S. for fears of taking sales from the GTI. But then again, anything is possible.

Press Release:
Wolfsburg, 23 February 2011 - In its presentation of the new Golf Cabriolet at the 81st Geneva International Motor Show, Volkswagen is writing a new chapter of a global success story. The four-seater has an innovative soft top with an electro-hydraulic drive that opens the Golf’s top in just 9.5 seconds.

The new Volkswagen’s styling follows that of its hard-top three-door counterpart, but it shows a high level of independence with a new rear section, lower profile roof line and more swept-back angle of its front windscreen frame. The convertible’s image is especially dynamic when ordered with optional bi-xenon headlights. Always a standard feature: the LED rear lights like those of the GTI. Other standard safety features offering peace of mind are the automatically deploying roll-over bar, front airbags, side head/thorax airbags, knee airbag for the driver and ESP.

The new Golf is one of the quietest convertibles today. Its soothing quietness is attributable to the new soft top that was optimised in specific ways. It also has a standard hydraulic drive that opens the Golf’s top extremely quickly. The top can also be opened or closed during driving at speeds of up to 30 km/h.
Ideal for cruising with a convertible are the six turbocharged direct-injection engines whose power outputs range from 77 kW / 105 PS to 155 kW / 210 PS. Four of the petrol engines (TSI) and one diesel (TDI) are available with the DSG dual-clutch gearbox; while three of the engines are available with energy-saving BlueMotion Technology. Just how efficiently the new Golf Cabriolet handles fuel is illustrated by the 1.6 TDI with 105 PS and BlueMotion Technology: It only consumes 4.4 l/100 km (equivalent to 117 g/km CO2).

In Germany, advance sales begin tomorrow with prices starting at 23.625,- Euros. Essentially, all of the features offered in the classic, hard top Golf are also available in the new Golf Cabriolet. The only feature that will definitely not be offered is a sunroof …

Source: Volkswagen

New Car; 2011 Nissan Micra Dig-S

Nissan has revealed its supercharged Micra Dig-S ahead of its official launch at the Geneva motor show next week.

The Dig-S – or Direct Injection Gasoline-Supercharger – features a 1.2-litre, three-cylinder supercharged engine with stop-start system and produces 98bhp and 105lb ft of torque – "the same power expected from a conventional 1.5-litre four-cylinder engine," according to Nissan.

When mated to the manual ‘box, the Dig-S will reach a top speed of 112mph and achieve 68.9mpg with emissions of just 95g/km. The CVT variant will be less frugal, emitting 115g/km of CO2.

Sales for the Micra Dig-S start in the summer this year.

Thanks to: Autocar

New Car: 2012 Aston Martin Virage

Call it a spicier DB9, or a medium strength DBS... Aston Martin has exploited the middle ground between its two V12-powered coupés and resurrected a famous name of old to create a brand new model.

The new Virage offers the best compromise between the refined cruising ability of the DB9 and sporty prowess of the DBS, according to the firm – and updates features from both. Power is from Aston’s hand-built 6.0-litre V12. It delivers exactly 20bhp more than a DB9 and 20bhp less than a DBS, at 490bhp, and drives the rear wheels through a six-speed auto box.

The engine also features a new exhaust manifold for an even more intoxicating sound, and develops its 570Nm of torque low down in the rev range for maximum driveability. Beneath the skin is the aluminium VH architecture that underpins all modern Astons, while the Virage gets newly developed adaptive dampers. These offer five different stiffness settings in normal mode, and five more when owners press the Sport button on the dashboard.

This also sharpens throttle response, holds on to gears for longer and speeds up shifts. Carbon-ceramic brakes are standard, too. Striking xenon lights help to distinguish the Virage from other Astons, while there’s a five-bar aluminium grille – inspired by the One-77 hypercar – and a cleaner front bumper, with a single lower grille in place of the DB9’s three-part element.

Also fitted are fresh sills, 20-inch alloys and side vents with a chrome highlight that extends on to the doors. A new rear diffuser completes the look. Inside, the Virage gets upgraded leather seats, and Aston has finally responded to criticism of its ageing Volvo-sourced sat-nav and replaced it with the latest integrated Garmin.

Heated seats, a 700W stereo and Bluetooth hands-free also feature. The Coupé comes as a 2+2, or with a storage shelf instead of rear seats to save weight. A Volante drop-top is also available. Prices will be confirmed at next week’s Geneva Motor Show, but are expected to split the DB9 and DBS, starting at £150,000. For more details click here.
Thanks to: Auto Express

Spied: Renault R-Space Concept

The secret new Scenic has been exposed! Renault engineers had managed to keep their R-Space concept under wraps... until now. But our spies have scooped the people carrier just days before it makes its world debut at the Geneva Motor Show next week.

This striking bronze model was snapped during filming for a promotional video. It’s one of two concepts that will grace the Renault stand – the other is the Nissan Juke-rivalling Captur, revealed just a week ago.

The R-Space is the third of six concepts the firm plans to reveal over the coming months – a run that started with the debut of the DeZir sports car at last autumn’s Paris expo. These models are the work of new design chief Laurens van der Acker, and will dictate the look of Renault’s future product line-up.

Cues such as the large badge, a grille that narrows towards the car’s front corners and swept-back headlights will all grace the next Clio, Mégane and Scenic. The R-Space previews the latter.

Although it will be toned down considerably before it reaches dealers, it shows how Renault is set to get bolder with its people carriers. Curvy body panels give extra muscle, and the steeply raked windscreen gives a sporty stance. Added flair comes from the dramatic flowing shoulder line.

Designers will also inject a sporty feel into the newcomers’ interiors. In a bid to make the company’s MPVs exciting to drive again – rather than simply vehicles for taking people from A to B – the dashboards will be much more focused. Full details and more clues to the look and engineering of Renault’s future people carriers will be announced at the R-Space’s Geneva launch. For more details click here.

Thanks to: Auto Express

Hot News: Skoda to Show New Design at Geneva Show 2011

Skoda celebrated its best ever year in 2010, but the Czech firm has set itself the ambitious goal of doubling its sales by 2018. And to do this, the Geneva show will host the unveiling of a new concept car.

The as-yet unnamed concept sets out the firm’s new design language that will dictate the look of the next generation models of its current line-up, plus a Skoda version of VW’s Up! city car. According to Skoda, it “boasts clearly defined shapes and a great sense of detail.”

The concept will also feature Skoda’s new logo, which will feature on all of its cars by 2012. As well as its cars, the firm is promising that the design and layout of its showrooms are going to be substantially modernised, too.

Alongside its concept and regular range, Skoda will also unveiled the Fabia Monte Carlo special-edition which celebrates the firm’s 110th year of motorsport. For more details click here.
Thanks to: Auto Express

Spied: 2012 Peugeot 208

Peugeot’s new lion has been caught in the cold! This is the replacement for the 207, snapped testing in the snows of northern Finland.

And while these first shots don’t give much away, the 208 will feature a significantly different look to its predecessor as the firm aims to give the car much more interior space.

This is given away by the fact that the wheelbase has been stretched, with the front and rear wheels much closer to the corners of the car, and the A-pillar of this five-door car has been moved forwards.

Peugeot is also planning to up the perceived quality of its Fiesta fighter, with a design that borrows heavily from the firm’s SR1 and HR1 concepts and a more upmarket interior.

In addition to the three- and five-door hatchbacks, the 208 range will also include an SW estate and hard-top convertible, while the firm is also considering a Juke-rivalling small SUV and a small coupe, like the RCZ.

A sharper drive is also on the menu, as the firm bids to reconnect with its reputation for sharp driving hot hatchbacks established by the 205 GTI. Three- and four-cylinder engines will provide the power when the car arrives next year. For more details click here.
Thanks to: Auto Express

First Sketch: Volvo V60 PHEV Concept

We already knew that Volvo would be showing its production-ready 2012 V60 Plug-In Hybrid at the 2011 Geneva Motor Show, but the automaker released the first official photos and information on its semi-electric wagon earlier this morning.

Developed in partnership with European energy company Vattenfall, the V60 was developed in parallel with the automaker’s forthcoming C30 Electric, but that’s about where the similarities stop. The V60 sports all-wheel-drive, but allocates a 215-horsepower, 2.4-liter turbo-diesel I-5 to power the front wheels, while a 70-horsepower electric motor propels the rear axle. A 12-kWh lithium-ion battery pack is also integrated into the system.

How that powertrain is used is left entirely to the driver’s discretion. Three different drive modes — including one that renders the V60 as a pure electric vehicle — are selectable from behind the wheel. The so-called Pure method allows for up to 31 miles of pure EV driving. The conventional hybrid mode blends both power sources together to provide the most economical means of driving. A power mode combines both engine and electric motor to provide full power, and subsequently, all-wheel-drive.

In full power mode, the V60 PHEV can sprint from 0-62 mph in 6.9 seconds, but opting for the more efficient hybrid mode can allow up to 745 miles of travel before refueling the tank and recharging the battery. Volvo expects charging time to range from as little as three hours when using a 16-amp, 240-volt charger, to 7.5 hours when using a 230-volt, 6-amp supply — much like a conventional European household outlet. The car can also be pre-cooled or pre-warmed during charging, with those settings controlled either in the setup menu within the car in the car or via a mobile phone application.

The V60 Plug-In Hybrid is expected to launch in Europe sometime next year, and both pricing and rollout timing may be discussed next week at its Geneva debut. Executives have suggested the V60 PHEV may reach U.S. shores, but if it does, it may not retain the diesel engine. The swap could compromise range, but appeal to buyers in a traditionally diesel-unfriendly market.

Thanks to: Motor Trend

Unofficial Picture: 2012 Lamborghini Aventador LP700-4

As is so common these days, Lamborghini has carefully scheduled the release of photos and information pertaining to its upcoming Geneva debut, the long-awaited Murcielago successor. Unfortunately for Lambo, the automaker’s teaser images have just been usurped by this leaked frontal shot that leaves very little left to the imagination.

The photo, reputed to have been leaked from the pages of Evo Magazine Croatia, shows clear Reventon influence with an angular, jutting front fascia. Still overall, the body contours of the so-called Aventador LP700-4 are much more rounded than that of the Murcielago it replaces, while also appearing significantly wider. Just one frontal image has been revealed so far, and no official specs have been dropped.

All we know so far is that the car, likely to be the most advanced in Lamboghini history, will feature race-inspired pushrod-style front suspension, a curb weight of just 3472 lbs, and a 691-horsepower, 6.5-liter V-12 engine to push it all around with. As for the rest of the details, along with more photos, we’re still in the dark.

That means you’ll have to stay tuned for our live coverage of the Geneva Motor Show March 1 and 2 for the full scoop on this carbon-fiber-bodied, road rocket.

Thanks to: Motor Trend

Hot News: Cadillac ATS Goes Convertible

The convertible version of Cadillac’s 2014 3 Series-fighter, being designed under the codename ATS, will be a soft top, rather than a folding hardtop model. While the current BMW 3 Series convertible has a folding metal top, Cadillac’s decision saves money, complexity, and weight while lending the car a classic ragtop look. The ATS, a rear-drive car that will be smaller than the current Cadillac CTS, will be offered in sedan, coupe, convertible, and wagon body styles. It’s unlikely that all body styles will be offered when the car is launched some time in ’13, and the wagon may be offered in Europe only, depending on the sales success of the current CTS Sportwagon.

There has been a lot of speculation on what engine a Cadillac ATS-v (not its final name) would have. We’ve heard Cadillac is considering a twin-turbo 3.2-liter V-6, though recent reports suggest it will be the CTS-v’s supercharged 6.2-liter small-block V-8, making 470 horsepower. The 3.2-liter engine would be based on the V-6 GM developed with Fiat for Alfa Romeo models, reoriented to a longitudinal layout for the RWD Caddy.

The ATS-v may be a ’14 model, but we’ll predict that, like the CTS-v, it will launch up to a year after the standard ATS, as a ’15. That gives Cadillac a bit more time to decide between the two engines. Because it’s an overhead valve engine, the supercharged small block would fit and wouldn’t add too much weight to the ATS while competing with Mercedes AMG models. The twin-turbo V-6, though, would compete more directly with the next-generation M3 in terms of balancing power and responsible fuel efficiency.

Thanks to: Motor Trend

New Car: 2012 Jaguar XKR-S

Jaguar has been promising for some time that it would use this year’s Geneva auto show to celebrate the 50th anniversary of its iconic E-type. Many expected this nod to the company’s heritage would include the announcement of a new small sports car. That is not the vehicle you see here. This is the 2012 XKR-S, and it proves that someone decided to make the XKR very angry. The thing looks as if it’s been raised in the wild. By a pack of badly behaved race cars with an obsession for body jewelry.

On the subject of heritage, it should be noted that this is not the first time Jag has used these four letters in a row. The company brought a 550-hp XK-RS concept with a supercharged 5.0-liter V-8 to the 2004 Chicago show. And then in 2009, Jaguar built a run of 200 XKR-S models for European customers, giving the cars unique appearance bits but no additional power. The 2012 XKR-S happens to combine traits of both cars: the engine is a hopped-up version of the XKR’s supercharged 5.0-liter, and the car takes aesthetic crazy to new levels.

The 5.0, tuned to the same 550 hp of the XK-RS show car and producing 502 lb-ft of torque, propels the car to a claimed top speed of 186 mph. Jag projects a 0-to-60-mph time of 4.2 seconds, but we would expect to better that time; a 2010 XKR we tested, with its V-8 producing 510 hp and 461 lb-ft, hit the mark in four seconds flat.

Unique front and rear fascias are evident, the hood is mostly vents and nostrils, and there’s a big fixed rear wing. We believe Jaguar when it says the design of the XKR-S was “aerodynamically driven.”

We’ll be able to relay additional details on the XKR-S once it debuts in Geneva. We’ll also keep you up to date on the merriment surrounding the E-type’s 50th, should that bear any fruit of interest.

Thanks to: Car and Driver

New Concept Car: Mini Rocketman

Mini’s stand at the 2011 Geneva auto show is the launchpad for its slick little Rocketman, a concept car that evokes the spirit and packaging of the original Mini even more faithfully than the current Cooper. For one thing, at 11 feet, 3 inches long, the Rocketman is barely longer than its eensy forefather. Its width is closer to that of the new car than the old, but this is about as mini as a car can get while making room for four occupants.

Yes, four. Mini claims that the Rocketman’s reconfigurable cabin can be set up for two or three seats, or a 3+1 arrangement with, in Mini’s words, “an exceptionally efficient division of space” (read: everybody’s gonna hurt). That sounds like a challenge to us: second only to driving it, the most fun you could have in an original Mini—or contemporary Beetle or Fiat 500—was seeing how many friends you could stuff inside. Now we know that the Rocketman’s starting point is four.

Getting everybody in and out shouldn’t be too much of a challenge, however, thanks to double-hinged doors that move forward as they swing out. Once inside, those whose faces aren’t smashed against the windows might be able to see the central speedo, which incorporates 3D graphics. Rather than the tiny console-mounted joystick that controls the infotainment system in today’s Minis, a trackball on the steering wheel handles those functions in the Rocketman. Connectivity is facilitated by a removable control unit that can be hooked up to a home computer to program destination and contact information, as well as to manage music files. (And here we thought that cars were going to do that wirelessly. Hmm.)

Thanks to: Car and Driver

New Concept Car: Smart Forspeed

Smart has revealed its Forspeed concept ahead of its debut at the Geneva motor show.

The Forspeed is a zero-emissions roadster. It’s designed to complete Smart’s electric vehicle line-up, which also includes a scooter and a bicycle.

The company claims the Forspeed will reach a top speed of 75mph, thanks to a rear-mounted 40bhp electric motor with a 7bhp overboost function. It’s said to have a maximum range of 84 miles.

The car’s squat body features a high-end and seamless gloss finish, integrated solar cells in the wind deflectors to power on-board electrics, and a ‘smiling’ honeycombe grille. Mercedes's head of design Steffen Kohl says the Forspeed has a “unique and electric look, but is still recognisable as a Smart”.

On the inside, the car’s minimalist design mirrors the look of a motorboat, with individual binnacles for the driver and co-pilot. In front of the latter sits a Smartphone unit, which can be tilted 90 degrees to face the driver.

Other interior touches include leather door pulls, as well as a leather-trimmed steering wheel and gear knob. A boost switch located in the centre console frees up the extra 7bhp.

Smart boss Dr. Annette Winkler says the Forspeed is not planned as a limited series. “We have to be profitable with Smart so it won’t make production,” she said. But she added, “Elements of the car will be carried over into future projects.”

Thanks to: Autocar

New Car: 2012 Maserati GranCabrio Sport

Maserati has created a hardcore version of its graceful GranCabrio for next week’s Geneva Motor Show.

The Sport uses the highly tuned 4.7-litre V8 from the recently launched MC Stradale version of the GranTurismo coupé. This delivers 444bhp – an increase of 11bhp over the standard GranCabrio.

Although no performance figures have been released, the hike should cut the 0-62mph time to less than five seconds.

Shifting gears is a robotised manual transmission which is now positioned on the rear axle for better weight distribution, and allows the driver to swap ratios using paddleshifters.

Handling should be sharper than ever, with more advanced tuning of the Skyhook active suspension system. Grooved and drilled dual-cast brake discs also feature.

Marking the Sport out from the regular drop-top are black-look headlamps, plus body-coloured front corner splitters and side skirts.

Expect the GranCabrio Sport to cost around £110,000 when it goes on sale in the UK in October. For more details click here.
Thanks to: Auto Express

Sneak Peek: Rolls-Royce 102EX Concept

You know things are getting serious with EVs and looming emissions standards when Rolls-Royce announces it has begun testing an all-electric vehicle. Called the 102EX, the one-off Phantom is being billed by the automaker as ‘the world’s first battery electric vehicle for the ultra-luxury segment’ and will serve as a rolling lab for the brand.

The EV Phantom, which is set to hit the stage at the 2011 Geneva auto show, has been produced in large part to see what its extremely well-heeled clientele would make of an all-electric Roller (and more importantly, would they buy one). After Geneva, the 102EX will set out on a world tour where its customers will be able to experience the car’s attributes firsthand.

At this point, Rolls has no plans to build the 102EX. While it appears to be serious about deploying an alternative powertrain into its vehicles, it says it will only move forward if it can deliver the proper experience for its buyers. One thing’s for sure, the 102EX will be even quieter on the road.

“I must be convinced that any alternative drivetrain we choose for the future delivers an authentic Rolls-Royce experience,” said CEO Torsten Müller-Ötvös in a statement announcing the effort. “It must be a technology that is right for our customers, our brand and which sets us on a sound footing for a sustainable future.”

Rolls officials say any Phantom EV would have to have enough range between charges to satisfy customers and an ability to perform as intended in any weather condition. Oh, and it needs to work perfectly, all the time. The automaker has even launched a Web site at as a way for people to debate whether electric luxury is ‘perfection or compromise.’

We’ll know more about the 102EX including the details of its powertrain on March 1, the first day of the Geneva show.

Thanks to: Motor Trend

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