Unofficial Picture: 2012 Toyota Fortuner


Toyota’s very successful SUV the Fortuner, has been comfortably leading the Indian SUV market since its launch two years ago. The Japanese manufacturer however is planning to give it a facelift, as is evident from these leaked brochure pictures.

The nose is now all-new and is designed to appear wider and more aggressive. It features new headlamps that are slightly stretched, a restyled and sculpted bonnet with a larger scoop for the air-intake, a re-profiled bumper and a wider redesigned chrome grille that makes it resemble the Toyota Land Cruiser.

Toyota hasn’t changed the side profile of the Fortuner, but the rear now gets new clear-lens tail-lamps that have a different profile from the current ones. The roof-rack and scuff plate, as seen in the picture, however are likely to be optional extras, which may or may not come with this updated version of the car.

The current Fortuner is powered by a 3.0-litre common rail diesel motor that churns out a respectable 169bhp. This is the same motor that does duty in the larger Land Cruiser Prado as well, although the Prado gets more torque, and the Fortuner may be given this step up as well as an automatic version could be on the cards too, along with imporved interiors.

Toyota has been planning to increase the local content on the Fortuner for some time now and this facelift may provide the perfect opportunity. And this could be accompanied by a correction in price that would make it more affordable. But its not clear when this is likely to happen.

Expect the updated Fortuner to reach our shores by early 2012.

Thanks to: Autocar India

New Concept Car: FPV Black GT


Ford Performance Vehicles today revealed its first-ever 'concept car' at the Australian International Motor Show (AIMS) in Melbourne. The one-off, all-black GT-based FPV concept featuring a number of bespoke features and design treatments not seen before.

Powered by the same supercharged Boss 5.0-litre V8 found in the regular GT, the concept is finished in Silhouette black paintwork, topped by a unique matte finish stripe package that extends across the bonnet, rear wing, body sides and rear diffuser.

Up front, large brake ducts are incorporated into the modified front fascia, and at the rear, black framing is used to enhance the rear light graphics treatment. The show car also carries unique black GT badging.

The vehicle sits on 19-inch lightweight one-piece forged alloy rims, finished in black (of course). These are 8.0 inches wide at the front and 9.5 inches wide at the rear -- all are shod with Dunlop SP Sportmaxx GT tyres.

Underneath there's a track-tuned suspension specification and a full stainless steel high-flow twin exhaust system exhaust finished with quad black exhaust tips.

A performance brake package includes larger six-piston brake calipers up front and four-piston brake calipers at the rear, which are both also finished in black.

Inside, the all-black theme continues with black leather trim throughout and an all-black dash treatment that includes the interior command centre (ICC).

"Taking our iconic FPV GT, we have put together a package of performance and design enhancements to demonstrate what could be done by FPV in the future," said FPV general manager, Rod Barrett.

"The black-on-black treatment looks spectacular and it really changes the look of the car, so I'll be very interested to hear what FPV enthusiasts think."

"We've equipped the vehicle with the GT's 'most ticked' options, such as leather trim and reversing camera. That way, it's a reflection of what our buyers are choosing and gives us a 'real world' basis to get people thinking."

The FPV concept is joined by a supercharged Boss 335kW V8 GT-P and 315kW GS Ute on the stand at the Australian International Motor Show.

Thanks to: Car Point

Hot News: Audi Plans to Release 'Hot' Q3


The men behind the incredible 493bhp Audi Q7 V12 are cooking up another performance SUV, this time a version of the brand new Audi Q3 with turbocharged five-cylinder power.

Quattro GmbH technology boss Stephan Reil arrived at the press launch of the Q3 last week with a very early prototype of the car in question: a Q3 running the 335bhp turbocharged powertrain found in a TT-RS and RS3, which is currently under evaluation for low-volume production.

“This is just a temperature tester for us at the moment,” Reil told Autocar. “We needed some feedback on the idea, which is why I decided to bring it to the press. But the finished car will be very different: it will have adapted suspension and body parts, and so on.”

Although it shares some under-bonnet hard points with a standard A3, the five-cylinder engine doesn’t fit as neatly into the Q3 as you might expect.

“The engine mounts are 40mm further from the bulkhead in a Q3 relative to an RS3, so we can’t just slot the engine in,” Reil explained. “We’ve made prototype plumbing and wiring for the car, which we’ll have to investigate the cost implications of before taking the car forward.”

“So far the reaction to the car has been good,” the Quattro boss went on, “but we have to make the business case before going much further. Right now it’s a fun idea, but those don’t always turn into real production cars!”
Thanks to: Autocar

New Car: 2012 Ford Focus Estate


Ford has "attracted over 2000 UK customer orders" for its new Ford Focus estate, a model that joins the Focus five-door variant.

According to Ford, the outgoing Focus estate accounted for 12.5 per cent of sales since 1998, with the new version forecast to reach 18 per cent.

At 200mm longer and 100mm wider than the hatchback, the Focus estate has a maximum load capacity of 1502 litres (up from 1148 litres), therefore providing “generous interior accommodation for both passengers and their luggage.”

The new estate Focus is available with the same choice of engines as the hatchback, including Ford’s low Co2 diesel engine, the 109g/km 1.6-litre TDCi, which accounts for 43 per cent of UK sales.

Prices start from £17,100 for the all-new Focus estate, representing “over £1,000 additional standard equipment versus the equivalent outgoing model,” including Bluetooth, aluminium roof rails and torque vectoring control.

Thanks to: Autocar

Hot News: Aston Martin's Next Cars


Aston Martin has finally secured the funds to start designing an all-new generation of sports cars for sale in 2015/16.

Engineers are understood to have conceptualised the new family, which will replace the VH-platform Aston Martin DB9, Vantage and Rapide models that Aston first started selling in 2003. The detailed design and production engineering will get under way in early 2012.

Funding for these vital new models was put in place last week when Aston announced that a £304 million bond was fully subscribed by global investors. “This will provide long-term financial stability for the next seven years and support Aston Martin’s continued development,” the firm said.

Aston will pay 9.25 per cent interest per year on the bond for the next seven years, which is higher than the five to six per cent that many bonds are paying.

Before Aston moves to all-new platform technology, the alloy VH platform will be re-engineered to comply with new Federal FMVSS pedestrian impact rules, due in autumn 2012.

Aston will also facelift the DB9, Vantage and Rapide with new skin panels, revised interiors and tweaked chassis and engines.

When Aston replaces the VH platform, the major question for the all-new models is which platform they’ll be engineered on.

Aston is courting Mercedes-Benz as a partner, possibly with a view to accessing the alloy platform that underpins the new SLS and SL.

Thanks to: Autocar

New Car: 2011 Audi R8 Limited Edition


Audi is celebrating in style – the German firm has launched a special version of its 4.2-litre V8 engined supercar, called the R8 V8 Limited Edition.

The car has been produced to mark Audi's victory at the recent Le Mans 24hr race – and will be restricted to just 100 units.

Helping it to stand out from the crowd are a titanium-effect paint finish option and a 'carbon package', which includes carbonfibresideblades, door mirrors, inlays and door sill trims.

As standard, the R8 V8 Limited Edition gets titanium-look 19-inch alloys and red brake calipers inspired by the flagship R8 GT, while on the inside, there is crimson red detailing on the seats, centre console and dashboard.

Standard equipment includes sat-nav, Bluetooth and Audi's magnetic ride suspension system.
Prices start at £93,935 when the car goes on sale in July. For more details click here.
Thanks to: Auto Express

Spied: 2012 Hyundai Elantra Coupe


It wasn’t long ago that two-door variants of compact cars were both expected and somewhat popular, but the options lately have dwindled. Even the Americans—once mainstays in the segment—have backed out, with the new Ford Focus and the Chevy Cruze eschewing the formula, while Chrysler hasn’t had a little coupe since the first-generation Neon. Absent those, in which cars will high school girls of the future hang leis and plastic necklaces? A two-door Honda Civic or a Kia Forte Koup? No way. Those, like, aren’t even that cute.

Luckily, Hyundai is readying an Elantra coupe that should be totes cute. We confirmed this model’s existence back in February, but an eagle-eyed reader has sent these exclusive spy photos that provide a first look at the car testing here in the States. A bit of camouflage leaves something to the imagination, but the shots clearly show the two-door’s new roofline and fixed rear windows. Peeking through the black vinyl out back, the taillamps appear to be very similar—if not identical—to those of the sedan, and the decklid shape should follow suit as well. We expect that the front clip will go essentially unchanged, too, so the stylish design of the four-door should carry over nicely to this version.

Our previous speculation stated that the coupe will use the same 138-hp, 1.8-liter inline-four and pair of six-speed transmissions as the Elantra sedan, and we’re sticking with that theory for now. Other options that might show up include the Kia Forte Koup’s larger fours (a 156-hp 2.0-liter and a 173-hp 2.4-liter are offered), or the 210-hp, 1.6-liter turbo four that’s currently in development for Hyundai’s Veloster, but we don’t expect hot performance to be the Elantra coupe’s thing. The Korean company must, after all, protect both the funky-doored Veloster and the rear-drive Genesis coupe. This one will be all about two-door style, and that combined with the Elantra sedan’s engine should be enough for the high-school cheerleader set. (Well, at least until VW gets around to building a Jetta coupe.)

Thanks to: Car and Driver

Spied: 2014 Volkswagen Golf GTi/R


Here in the U.S., we’re still waiting on the Volkswagen Golf R, the 270-hp, all-wheel-drive über-GTI, but VW already is working on its replacement. The current, sixth-generation Golf, after all, is not much more than an extensive face lift of the previous generation, and the U.S. is chronically late to receive new VW product.

While we fully recommend that those searching for a hot hatch take a close look at the GTI—and that patient shoppers wait to drive the Golf R—the Golf VII is a good reason to extend the wait perhaps a bit more. Built on the Modularer Querbaukasten (or MQB) platform, the Golf VII will share its architecture with a large number of VW Group models, including the third-gen Audi A3. The next Golf not only will be more angular and aerodynamic, it will be entirely new under the skin, which means lighter and more agile.

These characteristics also pertain to the next GTI and R. Our photographers caught these two mules—wearing Golf VI bodies—testing in Europe. The new car will be slightly longer and wider, the latter evidenced by the plastic fender flares needed to accommodate the swollen rear track on these cars.

VW won't tinker with the formula of the GTI and the Golf R. The GTI will keep its EA888 engine, a 2.0-liter turbo four that drives the front wheels. It currently makes 200 hp in the U.S.—210 in most other markets—but could see a slight bump to 220 hp or so. That boost will be a welcome (and small) step in lessening the gap between the GTI and competitors such as the 263-hp Mazdaspeed 3. The XDS, a function of the stability control that mimics a limited-slip differential, will stay in place.

The changes to the Golf R are slightly more significant, in that this model will lose its current 2.0-liter EA113 engine and move to the coming third-generation 2.0-liter EA888 architecture. The EA113 is an older and somewhat sturdier design, but the next EA888 will easily handle the 300 hp that VW has envisioned for the Golf R. This model will remain all-wheel-drive, its 300 hp bringing it into the rally-bruiser territory occupied by the Mitsubishi Evolution and Subaru WRX STI. The Golf R, however, should be the most refined of the group.

Thanks to: Car and Driver

All this Chrysler Turbine talk....

With all this talk of the Chrysler Turbine, we thought we'd share some pictures from a recent trip to Detroit where we got to view not one, but two Chrysler Ghia Turbines. The first we found on display at the Walter P. Chrysler Museum at Chrysler's headquarters in Auburn Hills, Michigan. Along with one of the cars being on display is also a separate display motor and cut away display showing how it works.








The second, is at The Henry Ford in nearby Dearborn. Their automotive display is currently under construction, but the Turbine was considered one of their more important cars to keep on display nearby with several other cars from their impressive collection.


Both cars can be seen here.

The Walter P. Chrysler Museum

The Henry Ford Museum

Book Review: Chrysler's Turbine Car by Steve Lehto

A fascinating book came in to the office about a month ago that really grabbed our attention. Chrysler's Turbine Car: The Rise and Fall of Detroit's Coolest Creation. By Steve Lehto a forward by Jay Leno. With all of the talk of alternative energy and fuels and hybrid cars, you can't help but think back to the Chrysler Turbine program if you're a car nut like me. I had known about the cars themselves and a little about the user program from 1964 through early 1966. Outside of that, I had little knowledge of the program. That was until I picked up Lehto's book. It covers in fascinating detail the development of the turbine engine by Chrysler over a nearly four decade  period starting in the early 1950s by lead engineer George Huebner Jr and fellow engineer Sam Williams.

Lehto recounts many stories from those who worked on the program, including Bill Carry who was responsible for maintenance of the Turbine's used in the loaner program and may very well be the world's leading expert on these rare cars today. Starting in 1953, and ending just after Chrysler's first bail out in 1979, Chrysler developed 7 generations of Turbine powered cars. However, they never produced a single car for consumer consumption. The program became famous in the early 1960s with the launch and announcement of the Chrysler Ghia Turbine. The program gained popularity for the uniqueness of the cars, one being the ability to run on literally any liquid that could burn with oxygen and the cars jet like sound while driving.

Designed by Elwood Engel and built by Ghia in Italy. 55 cars were built and shipped to Chrysler in Detroit. 50 of those cars were lent to consumers all over the United States for free to use for about 3 months before going to another family. This was a ground breaking research and development project to see if consumers would actually BUY. The program was hugely successful thanks to lots of publicity. It also gave Chrysler over one million driving miles worth of research. Lehto recounts stories from many of the families that had use of the car also. Sadly a majority of the stunning Turbines were destroyed in 1966 by Chrysler, leaving only nine of these unique, entire hand built beauties left in existence. There is much speculation as to why the cars were destroyed, and the answer lies in the book, how ever we're not telling. You'll have to read for yourself.

The book then follows about further development thanks to money from the Government as an alternative to the traditional piston powered engine during the gas crunches in the 1970s and the eventual closing of the program after Chrysler's first bail out.

Had Chrysler not run out of money and killed the turbine program, who knows what would have or could have happened. Perhaps today we would have jet powered cars like many dreamed of in the 1960s. And with the original  car's performance being equal to if not greater than that of an equivalent piston engine, who know where performance could have gone. Maybe, we will see a resurgence in turbine technology combined with today's hybrid gas/electric powered cars? Only time will tell.

Chrysler's Turbine Car is 228 pages long with several black and white and color photographs. It retails for $24.95 and can be found in just about any major book store and of course online. We HIGHLY recommend it.

Spied: 2013 Peugeot 208


Peugeot’s all-new 208 supermini — spied here in summer testing for the first time — will be smaller and lighter than the 207 it replaces when it is launched next year.

Peugeot insiders say the 208’s smaller exterior dimensions will not impact on interior space and it could even grow in size inside. Up to 100kg could be shed compared with the current heavyweight 207.

The 208’s styling will be influenced by the firm’s SR1 sports car concept. The new car will ditch the 207’s oversize nose and grille in favour of the SR1’s sleeker, more elegant look. Indeed, the spy shots reveal a car with a lower nose and more elegant proportions despite the disguise.

Interior quality will also be greatly improved, with the focus on simple style and high-quality materials.

Engine development has centred on downsized turbocharged powerplants, with the star being a near-200bhp 1.6 unit powering a GTI model that Peugeot hopes will reclaim iconic status for the badge. A warmer — and cheaper to insure — GT version is also planned to appeal to younger drivers.

Thanks to: AutocarLink

Hot News: Porsche 550 Gets Reborn?


More details on the much-rumoured 'baby' Porsche have emerged, courtesy of our sources in Germany. The new model, which will be based on a mid-engined platform debuted by the VW Bluesport concept, is set to carry the legendary 550 tag of the original 50s Spyder.

It is also set to feature an all-new engine – a 1.6-litre flat-four-cylinder 'boxer' unit. This will be turbocharged giving a power output of around 200bhp. Driving the rear wheels through a conventional manual gearbox – although a PDK twin-clutch could be offered too – the new sub-Boxster machine will arrive in 2014.

There are no details regarding performance, but weighing around 1,200kg, the two-seater should be able to do 0-60mph in around 6.0 seconds and hit a top speed of 145mph. But it will also be efficient, returning 40mpg and emitting less than 160g/km of CO2 thanks to start-stop.

With a manually operated folding canvas roof, the two seater 550 will be a very back-to-basics Porsche. Smaller than the Boxster, it will be even more agile and one of the most driver-focused cars in the line-up.

The same mid-engined platform will spawn a production version of the VW Bluesport – which was revealed at the 2009 Detroit Motor Show – and an Audi-badged roadster to sit below the TT, badged R4. The latter will move the TT upmarket in terms of price, and the same will happen with the 550 and Boxster, with the new entry-level model starting at around £35,000 pushing the Boxster to £40,000+.

While we'll have to wait until the summer of 2014 for the new 550, plenty of Porsche sports cars will be launched beforehand. The wraps will come off the all-new 911 at the Frankfurt Motor Show this September while the new Boxster and Cayman are due in 2012.For more details click here.
Thanks to: Auto Express

New Car: 2011 Aston Martin Cygnet & Colette


Aston Martin has joined forces with boutique French fashion brand Collette to create an exclusive limited edition of it's tiny city car.

Strictly limited to just 14 examples, the Cygnet & collette special edition will be hand finished by the British brand's elite 'Works Tailored' personalisation service, and features a variety of extras to set it apart from the standard car.

The first of a series of Cygnet special editions, the exterior styling gets a race inspired, blue-rimmed grille and door mirrors, and custom blue alloy wheels and stripes reminiscent of Renaultsport's Gordini range.

Inside, the seats and doors are wrapped in quilted 'Bitter Chocolate' leather with blue stitching, there's a set of occasional scatter cushions for the rear seats, special badging and a bespoke solid aluminium key.

Other goodies to keep the Colette's fashionable buyers entertained in traffic include special sweets, a Paris city guide and a custom Sigg water bottle.

The Cygnet & colette is only available to order from the French firm's high tech flagship store, for £43,685 (€48,995) - around £13,000 more than the standard car. For more details click here.

Thanks to: Auto Express

Spied: 2013 BMW 6-Series Gran Coupe


If you liked the BMW Concept Gran Coupé at the Beijing auto show last April, prepare your checkbook: The Bavarians are readying it for a production launch next year. Our spy photographers caught what will be called the 6-series Gran Coupé looking remarkably showroom ready, with only a few camo stickers plastered over the side and rear.

Actually, BMW had plans to launch a large, elegant four-door a few years ago. Previewed by the Concept CS from 2007, the “four-door coupe”—a marketing phrase that makes as much sense as ”fixed-roof convertible”—was going to be longer, wider, and lower than a 7-series, and propelled by super-powerful V-8 and V-12 engines. But the project was killed when the economy turned turtle, and the man in charge, BMW M development guru Gerhard Richter, retired.

But the idea of a graceful, low four-door lived on at BMW. In Beijing last year, the company showed the Concept Gran Coupé, a sedan with the basic shape of the 6-series coupe. Aside from the number of doors and stretched roofline, it varied from the coupe only in minor details: larger air intakes, smaller side mirrors, a metal accent strip on the front fender, and rectangular exhaust pipes. Close inspection of the prototype seen in these shots shows that all of these details are gone. The front fascia is interchangeable with that of the 6-series coupe and convertible, and this car has a regular 6-series exhaust system.

A large panoramic sunroof is new, and hopefully doesn't add too much weight to the top of this already heavy car. The lightweight future that BMW loves to talk about will have to wait: Even though the company uses aluminum and composite materials for some exterior panels, we expect the Gran Coupé to tip the scales at around two tons. The previous 6-series was more consistent in its use of lightweight materials, with a complex front structure made entirely from aluminum.

Under the skin, the Gran Coupé shares virtually everything with the 6-series coupe and convertible— and, of course, the 5-series, which serves as the technological basis for the 6. Thanks to those roots, the Gran Coupé could theoretically be equipped with a large number of engines, including numerous inline-sixes and the super-powerful twin-turbo V-8 from the recently announced M5. But we suspect the lineup will be limited to remain in character with this model's elegant and discreet personality. Likely choices are the 300-hp, 3.0-liter, single-turbo inline-six; the 400-hp, 4.4-liter, twin-turbo V-8; and—in Europe—a 3.0-liter turbo-diesel six. Eight-speed automatics will be standard. The U.S. might get a six-speed manual, although we expect that option will remain confined to the two-door 6-series and the M5. All-wheel drive is technically possible, but unlikely.

Recently, BMW has ventured into perhaps a few too many niches—the so-called 5-series “Gran Turismo” comes to mind. But the Gran Coupé is a beautiful entry in a burgeoning segment that offers style and sophistication without the ostentation of a full-fledged luxury flagship like the 7-series. Direct competitors will include the Audi A7, Jaguar XF, and Mercedes-Benz CLS, while fully loaded Gran Coupés will encroach upon the territory of the Maserati Quattroporte and Porsche Panamera. Even in these spy photos, we can see that BMW's offering in this chic class will come with very few aesthetic compromises.
Thanks to: Car and Driver

New Car: 2012 BMW M3 CRT Lighweight Sedan


We first told you about BMW’s upcoming lightweight M3 sedan when it debuted as a concept car in April, following that up with a series of spy photos in May. Well, June is nearing its end, and we’d feel just horrible if we missed a monthly installment, so today we’re on to the thrilling conclusion in this three-part series. (At least until the surprise follow-up, when we drive the thing.)

In the lead-up to the Nürburgring 24 Hours race, BMW used its “M Night” celebration to debut the production version of this supersedan, officially called the BMW M3 CRT Lightweight Sedan, CRT standing for Carbon Racing Technologies. Unless you think every sports car needs a roll cage, which appeared on the M3 GTS coupe, the CRT won’t disappoint. (BMW has released video of the car; you can watch it here.)

Our earlier reports speculated that the sedan would make use of a standard M3’s 4.0-liter V-8, making a healthy 414 horsepower, but that won’t be the case. The CRT instead shares the GTS’s 4.4-liter, delivering 450 hp at a screaming 8300 rpm and 324 lb-ft of torque peaking at 3750 revs. Its crankcase is constructed out of an aluminum-silicon alloy, it has individual throttle butterflies, and its exhaust gasses exit through a sport exhaust system with a lightweight titanium muffler.

This car isn’t called the M3 CRT Big Horsepower though, so let’s get to the things that make it lighter than a standard M3 sedan. Benefitting from new manufacturing processes developed for the carbon-intensive BMW i3 and i8 models coming in 2013, the M3 CRT has a hood that consists of two carbon-fiber sheets encasing an aramid composite honeycomb for added rigidity. As a result, it has the strength of a traditional steel hood with just a quarter of the weight. Compared to a normal M3’s aluminum piece, the weight is halved. Inside the cabin, the front bucket seats use the same process and therefore benefit from the same weight savings. The result is a car that weighs just 3483 pounds despite standard equipment that includes a dual-clutch transmission, navigation, a high-end BMW Individual audio system, and parking sensors. BMW says that, while the official weight savings is 100 pounds, if all this equipment is considered, the real savings is over 150 pounds. And considered alongside the car’s added horsepower, the cuts are good for a ratio of 7.7 pounds for each pony to carry, an improvement of roughly one full pound over the regular M3 sedan.

The M3 GTS carry-overs continue behind each of the car’s 19-inch lightweight wheels (wearing 245/35 rubber up front and 265/35 at the rear), with a set of more-rigid subframes and individually-adjustable dampers. The six-piston front brakes, also from the GTS, use calipers made of a special low-weight compound construction and, in the name of consistent pedal feel, stainless steel brake lines have been fitted.

Thanks to: Car and Driver

Hot News: Think Global Bankrupt


Electric car manufacturer Think Global has filed for bankruptcy.

Under Norwegian bankruptcy laws, a court-appointed trustee will immediately take over the short-term operation of the Oslo-based company.

Think’s battery supplier, Ener1, which recently ended its four year deal with the firm will now begin recovering some £20m in unpaid loans and accounts receivable from Think Global.

Think's most recent product was the four-seat Think City micro car, an electric vehicle with a ‘100 mile’ range. It was due to hit UK soils this year carrying a price tag of around £23,000.

Think sold 'over 2500' city cars in Europe and the US since its introduction in 1999. The company has been in business for 20 years.

Thanks to: Autocar

Hot News: The New Renault Twingo


Renault is planning a final round of changes for its Twingo city car before an all-new model is launched in 2014 as a sister car to the Smart Forfour.

The current Twingo, including the Renaultsport model, will get refreshed front and rear styling alongside some interior tweaks by the end of 2011.

But the biggest change to the range is likely to be the addition of Renault’s new 0.9-litre, three-cylinder petrol engine, first seen in Renault’s R-Space concept at the Geneva show earlier this year.

The next-generation Twingo will increase in size to make way for a new, smaller Renault city car that will be based on the next-gen Smart Fortwo.

The two new Renault city cars are the latest stage in a wider co-operation between Renault and Daimler that was first announced last year.

Speaking to Autocar, Daimler boss Dieter Zetsche said the two firms “were moving forward on significant new projects” and both were exploring “more areas of mutual interest”.

Thanks to: Autocar

New Concept Car: Toyota GRMN Sports Hybrid II


Is this a successor to the MR-2? Toyota will take the wraps off a new mid-engined hybrid convertible at the Nurburgring 24-hour endurance race this weekend.

Called the GRMN Sports Hybrid Concept II, it may not have as catchy a name as the MR-2, but it's certainly not lacking in visual aggression – or outright punch.

Originally shown at the 2010 Tokyo Auto Salon, this new version features far curvier and more cohesive bodywork while under the skin is an uprated hybrid system. The whole car has been developed by Gazoo Racing – the team behind the Lexus LF-A supercar.

It uses a four-wheel drive set-up with an electric motor at the front and a mid-mounted 245bhp 3.5-litre petrol V6 and another set of electric motors driving the rear wheels. Total power output is 295bhp and with a kerbweight of 1,500kg, the GRMN concept should be able to do 0-60mph in under six-seconds.

Toyota claims the hybrid AWD system improves manoeuvrability, increases driving enjoyment and provides enhanced stability. There are no plans to put this car on sale, but the firm says it will take lessons learned and apply them to its road cars.For more details click here.
Thanks to: Auto Express

Spied: 2013 Mercedes A-Class


Mercedes-Benz released two prototypes of its next-generation small cars into the wild this weekend, and our spy shooters were able to capture heavily camouflaged versions of the A-class five-door and “four-door coupe” testing for the first time. The five-door hatch and Mercedes CLS–inspired sedan, along with the minivan-style B-class tall wagon and a possible crossover, are due to hit the U.S. market for the 2013 model year, and the four body styles all will share the same front-wheel-drive platform. The A-class will go toe-to-toe with Audi’s upcoming A3 sedan and hatch and the next-gen BMW 1-series while establishing a smaller and more affordable entry point for new Mercedes-Benz customers.

We have already seen images from European patent filings for the next-gen Mercedes-Benz A-class, and these spy photos confirm the small five-door’s look. Even though the A-class prototype is heavily armored with unwieldy camo, the side and rear glass, roofline, door-handle location, and basic proportions are dead on with what we saw in those drawings. The dramatic body line that sweeps up from the front wheel to the taillight is not visible through the prototype’s heavy camouflage, but its pinched butt and domed hood are.

Thanks to: Car and Driver

Spied: 2013 Jaguar XE Roadster


As we left this year’s Geneva auto show, at which Jaguar kicked off the iconic E-type’s 50th birthday party, we were disappointed. After the music had stopped, the champagne flutes sat dry, and the confetti lay lifeless on the floor, we still had no E-type successor or tribute. Today, though, our spirits are lifted, as our crafty spy shooters have caught Jaguar testing a mule of what will become the modern version of the E-type, likely called XE.

Whether or not the future two-seater will be able to pick up the torch of the famed E-type, it’ll fill that car’s role within the Jag showroom. At first glance, this mule appears to be just a rough-bodied version of the XK, complete with its updated headlights, but upon further study we can clearly see that the wheelbase—and consequently, the sheetmetal—have been shortened. Note how the surface between the leading edge of the front of the rear fender and the door seam is smaller than it is on the XK, which is why the body lines no longer match. Additionally, the rear overhang has been compressed on this mule, displacing the fuel door. The tacked on fender flares could indicate a wider rear track than the XK has.

It shouldn’t take much Sherlock Holmes–ing to determine what lies under the hood. As this car will be based on the XK platform, we fully expect it to receive either a naturally aspirated or supercharged version of Jag’s spectacular 5.0-liter V-8. Additionally, we know Jaguar is working on a new V-6 for the XF sedan and a forthcoming BMW 3-series–size sedan, and anticipate that’ll find its way into a base model of the XE.

The XE will eventually be offered as both a coupe and a convertible. The ragtop should be the first to market, possibly entering production as early as 2012. Its primary targets will be the Porsche Boxster, Audi TT, BMW Z4, and Mercedes-Benz SLK. Figure on the XE being priced toward the pricier end of that segment, or around $60,000. Stay tuned for more details as the E-type’s party really gets rockin’.

Thanks to: Car and Driver

Spied: 2012 Honda Pilot


The Honda Pilot isn’t as weird as a Citroën, nor is it as thrilling as a BMW M3. In spite of this—or perhaps because of it—Honda’s eight-passenger crossover SUV sells in substantial numbers, impressive work for a car that debuted in its second generation for 2008. (It joined our long-term test fleet soon after.) To keep shoppers interested, though, Honda’s making some tweaks for 2012, and our spy shooters have caught one of the face-lifted Pilots running around.

The most notable difference is the change in the grille. The current car’s cyborg-like front fascia was a bit of a styling risk from such a conservative company, and while it probably didn’t hurt sales, it didn’t win loads of fans either. It’s immediately apparent from these images that the flat grille will disappear, to be replaced with a three-slat insert. Tape on the rear bumper suggests some resurfacing there as well. Otherwise, the Pilot’s exterior remains mostly the same as it has been; it’s an inoffensive design and still looks fresh enough to satisfy families in the showroom.

Mechanically, the alterations to the Pilot will most likely be evolutionary. Honda has been upgrading most of its models’ five-speed automatic transmissions with six-ratio units; you can expect the Pilot to join the six-speed in-crowd. Between the new gearbox and—perhaps—some finessing of the engine’s greasy bits, we wouldn’t be surprised to see the Pilot gain an extra mile per gallon or two. For the folks who put cartoonish drawings of themselves and their pets on the rear window, this will be pleasant news.

We expect Honda to unveil the face-lifted Pilot sometime this fall, either at November’s Los Angeles auto show or at a less-full-of-fanfare venue. It’ll be a busy fall for the company’s crossover division, as we’re also expecting an all-new CR-V. We’ll bring you full info on both cars when it arrives.

Thanks to: Car and Driver

Spied: 2013/2014 Ford Fiesta SUV


The new B-MAX isn't the only small Ford on the way – our spies have shot up close shots of another Fiesta-based prototype. And it drops the strongest hints yet that the B-MAX will be joined by an SUV brother rivalling Nissan's Juke.

Most obvious is the raised ride height and increased gap between the wheels and the wheelarches, hinting at greater ground clearance for rough roads. But look closely at the the tyres and you can just make out that this rugged-looking Fiesta rides on Pirello Scorpion ATR rubber – the Italian manufacturer's on/off-road tyre.

They may only be 16-inches in size but with chunky tread, this prototype looks like it'll be very capable in a variety of terrains. In addition, the wheels also protrude past each side of the car, showing the wider front and rear tracks.

Although this model wears a five-door Fiesta body, expect the finished article to get a stylish look simlar to that of the Kuga. Turbocharged Ecoboost engines will include a 1.0-litre three-cylinder and 1.6-litre four-cylinder, both with start-stop.

Developed under the One Ford strategy, the Fiesta SUV will be sold throughout the world, including the US and Far East. Expect to see a concept at a major motor show next year.For more details click here.
Thanks to: Auto Express

Hot News: Lotus Confirms New V8 and City Car


British maker Lotus has confirmed that it will be building its own V8 engine for its upcoming range of new supercars. But at the other end of the line-up, it has also confirmed that a new city car will go on sale in the UK in 2014 too.

The new engine will be 4.8-litre V8, designed and built in Hethel, Norfolk. It will weigh around 170kg – that's 80kg lighter than the engine from the Lexus IS-F that was originally going to be used. The latter was vetoed by prospective buyers who thought the reborn firm should produce its own engines from the ground-up.

With a flat-plane crankshaft and a dry sump, the V8 will develop 570bhp and rev to 9,000rpm in standard tune. That figure will rise to 620bhp in even faster R versions.

The engine will be fired up on a test bench on August 18 and used in a new LMP2 racing car. It will then appear in the Esprit – due in 2013 in coupe and convertible form – and then the Elite 2+2 drop-top and Eterne four-door coupe. The engine will be a modular unit, so a four-cylinder unit (for the next-generation Elise) and a V6 will be produced from it too.

Lotus also confirmed it will build its city car concept, which will be based on the EMAS from parent company Prototon. Of the five sports cars revealed at last year's Paris Motor Show, the Elan has been shelved. Lotus boss Dany Bahar told Auto Express that the noses of the Esprit and Elan had been redesigned to distance the two cars from each other, but the Elan has now been put on ice completely. For more details click here.
Thanks to: Auto Express

Hot News: Audi Plans to Release 3 Sport SUVs by 2016


Audi will be adding three more SUVs to its portfolio, effectively doubling its current SUV lineup by 2016. Joining the odd-numbered Q3, Q5 and Q7 will be the sportier even-numbered Q2, Q4 and Q6. The new models are part of Audi’s strategy to meet the growing global demand for up-market SUVs.

“It’s clear that demand for SUVs and crossovers is still in an upswing phase and will remain so for some years to come. We want to make sure we have the coverage to satisfy it,” an Audi insider revealed to Autocar.

The new Q2 SUV will be the new baby in Audi’s SUV family. It will be based on an upcoming four-wheel drive version of the A1’s platform, which it will share with a Volkswagen cousin. The pair will fill the slot below the Q3/Volkswagen Tiguan and be about the size of the Nissan Juke – which “Audi designers admit to having in the design studio as a reference point,” according to Autocar. Although Audi is referencing the Juke design-wise the Q2 is set to compete head-on with the Mini Countryman. Expect engines to mirror those in the A1.

Built to rival Range Rover’s Evoque, the middle-of-the-pack Q4 will share platforms and most of its dimensions with the Q5. The one exception will be its roofline, which will be chopped just over two inches. Styling will be similar to the A5 Sportback, with more rake to its windshield than the Q5, shallower greenhouse and an angled liftback-style rear hatch. Fender flares reminiscent of 1980s rally Quattros are also a possibility. The interior will be similar to the Q5 but the middle seat on the second row is intended for limited use.

Expect engines for the U.S. market to include versions of the turbocharged 2.0 liter I-4 and the 270 hp naturally aspirated 3.2-liter gas V6. Other engine choices may include Audi’s 2.0-liter turbodiesel with 170 hp and 210 hp or a 240 hp 3.0-liter V6 diesel. An S-model for the North American market may feature Audi’s 328 hp supercharged 3.0-liter V6 gas-powered engine.

The top of Audi’s sporty SUV heap will be the Q6 which is set to rival BMW’s X6. Originally believed to be based on today’s Q7 it will utilize the MLB (‘modularen langsbau’ or modular longitudinal architecture) -based platform used by today’s Q5 and upcoming Q4 and Porsche Cajun. In an effort to reduce weight in all future Audis the big SUV’s body will be constructed mostly of aluminum and some composite plastic and carbon fiber.

Is six SUVs too many for Audi? Other manufacturers currently have several SUVs and crossovers: Ford has five (six if you count the Expedition EL separate from the Expedition) SUVs not including Lincoln versions (three); Toyota has seven not including Lexus (three) and Chevrolet has four not including GMC (four SUVs), Buick (one SUV) and Cadillac (two SUVs).How many SUVs are too many for one nameplate especially in today’s world of fluctuating fuel prices.

Thanks to: Motor Trend

New Car: 2012 Mini Cooper Coupe


Mini’s cars are known for their flingability, but the company is dragging its feet releasing info on its new Cooper Coupe. Last week, we got our first official photos of the car (albeit still partially covered in camouflage) and then got to drive a prototype (again, still partially covered in camouflage). This time, we’ve finally got photos of the whole car—not the concept, not spy shots of a camouflaged production car, not official shots of a camouflaged car, but official shots of a fully exposed production coupe, its thin quarter and rear glass uncovered, its helmet roof and racing stripes revealed in all their glory.

There is very little new information accompanying these new photos. For those of you who missed the last few stories, however, here is a recap of this re-capped Cooper: the Mini Coupe is a two-seat, trunk-ated (though not truncated) version of Mini’s feisty hatch, based on the Cooper convertible’s structure. It has the same footprint as the Cooper hatchback, but its roof is roughly an inch lower and it features a faster windshield angle. All three of the 1.6-liter engines offered on other Coopers sold in the States will be available in the coupe: the 121-hp naturally aspirated base four-cylinder, the raucous 181-hp turbocharged version of same, and the wild-child 208-hp John Cooper Works turbo four. Wheels will come in 15-, 16-, and 17-inch sizes, with plenty of different designs available as options.

Thanks to added bracing in the rear bulkhead and elsewhere, the Mini Cooper Coupe will be torsionally stiffer than the hardtop, but, at least in JCW form, it also will be roughly 55 pounds heavier. However, we already know that, thanks to bespoke suspension tuning and brake-based torque vectoring, the coupe is more fun to drive than any other Mini body style. (At least it is for now. Engineers on our drive of the JCW car told us the final calibrations could still change.)
Thanks to: Car and Driver

New Car: 2011 Peugeot 107 Sportium


Peugeot has launched its new Peugeot 107 Sportium Special Edition, a car that offers “£1050 worth of extra specification for only £350 more than the standard vehicle’s price,” according to Peugeot

For £9945, the special edition combines the standard specification of the Urban model - on which it’s based – and adds tinted rear windows, 14” alloy wheels, air-conditioning and white door mirror covers as well as revised interior detailing (standard spec includes electric front windows, MP3 and remote central locking).

Powering the 107 is Peugeot’s 1.0-litre petrol engine, which is mated to a five-speed manual gearbox. According to Peugeot, the 107 should be good for 62.8mpg, with Co2 emissions of 103g/km.

The Peugeot 107 Sportium Special Edition is on sale now.

Thanks to: Autocar


New Concept Car: Chevrolet Cobalt


The Chevy Cobalt is dead; long live the Chevy Cobalt? Although General Motors dropped the Cobalt nameplate when the 2011 Chevrolet Cruze finally launched in the United States, it recently surfaced on an all-new small car concept that debuted earlier today at the Buenos Aires motor show.

This isn’t a mere reskin of the Cruze’s mediocre predecessor. In fact, GM’s South American operations refer to it as a preview of an all-new small car, designed for cost sensitive markets like South America, Africa, and parts of Asia. GM is remarkably mum on the subject, but the new car could potentially replace a number of aging subcompacts sold in several South American and African countries.

For once, we can write with a straight face that the Cobalt sports some design flare. From some angles, the car looks like a mini Malibu, although the chiseled sides, unique swage lines, and upright taillamps do lend the car a character of its own.

Inside, the Cobalt sports a two-tone interior, along with a pseudo-dual cockpit dashboard, which is topped with an motorcycle-like gauge cluster, much like that found in the Sonic and Spark. This show car also sports two-tone leather seats, a panoramic glass roof, and dual rear-seat DVD screens. We wouldn’t be surprised if these are merely conceptual flourishes, or perhaps ultimately relegated only to high-trim models.

GM isn’t providing any firm specifications, but does note the Cobalt “could” be equipped with either 1.3- or 1.8-liter four-cylinder engines. That — along with the shape of the A-pillar — is leading some to speculate the car may well be based off the architecture used underneath the new Aveo/Sonic, but we’ve yet to receive any firm confirmation at this stage.

Thanks to: Motor Trend

Spied: 2013 Hyundai Veloster Turbo


Hyundai’s unique Veloster is due to arrive in the U.S. this summer with a 138-hp, 1.6-liter naturally aspirated four-cylinder, and now our spy shooters have captured a prototype that just might be the promised turbocharged version. We have prior confirmation that the car will get a turbo’d, 210-hp version of the Veloster’s little four on the Continent, and we have an inkling that we’ll see it here, too.

A number of clues point to this being the go-faster iteration of the funky-doored coupe. For starters, the front grille and fascia are very different from those of the standard 2012 Veloster—even camouflaged, it’s clear that this car’s intake openings are much larger. The gaping maw would allow improved airflow to an intercooler while also imparting a more aggressive look, and the front appears to house round fog lights—replacing the standard car’s trapezoidal units—above more-pronounced corner sculpting. The lower front fascia aligns with chiseled rocker-panel extensions; together, they give this Veloster prototype a lower-slung look. Moving around to the rear of the test Veloster, we find large round exhaust outlets instead of the normal model’s rectilinear ports.

This may simply be a non-turbo European-spec test car, but if this car is in fact a U.S.-bound blown model, it’s likely at least a year away. The Michigan manufacturer’s plate confirms nothing, as Hyundai maintains an R&D facility in Ann Arbor and automakers routinely test cars in America that will never be sold here.

While we haven’t yet had a chance to drive a workaday Veloster, we don’t see how more power couldn’t be more fun. Bring it on, guys.

Thanks to: Car and Driver

Hot News: Audi Plans to Release Evoque Rival, Q4


Audi is planning a Range Rover Evoque rival — a fastback-styled, sporty version of the Audi Q5 soft-roader. It will be badged Audi Q4, launched in 2014/15 and priced from around £30k.

The Q4 is already at the advanced concept stage at Audi’s Ingolstadt R&D centre in Germany. It is based on the same MLB (‘modularen langsbau’ or modular longitudinal architecture) as today’s Q5 and the forthcoming Porsche Cajun, which is likely to reach showrooms around the same time as the Q4.

The Audi Q4 is set to share its dimensions with the Q5, with a length of 4650mm and a width of 1880mm, but its roofline will be chopped by about 55mm to around 1600mm.

To keep costs in check, its wheelbase (2810mm) and track widths (1620mm front, 1615mm rear) will also mirror the Q5’s.

The Audi Q4 is still shrouded in secrecy, but Autocar understands that it will have a five-door body style and share certain exterior design elements with the popular A5 Sportback. It will feature a more heavily raked windscreen than the Q5, a glasshouse featuring relatively shallow side glass and a large and heavily angled liftback-style tailgate.

Wheel arch blisters, like those on the old RS6 and a feature on 1980s rally Quattros, are under consideration.

The interior will share much of its architecture with the Q5. It will be a five-seat cabin, with the central rear seat intended for occasional use.

Among the proposed engines are next-generation versions of the 2.0-litre turbodiesel with 170bhp and 210bhp, plus a 240bhp 3.0-litre V6 diesel.

They are likely to be joined in the Q4 line-up by a 270bhp naturally aspirated 3.2-litre petrol V6. In keeping with its sporting brief, the Q4 is also likely to spawn two separate S models.

One will be aimed at China, Russia and North America and feature Audi’s 328bhp supercharged 3.0-litre V6 petrol engine.

The other will be conceived for Europe and is set to be powered by the 308bhp twin-turbo 3.0 TDI V6 recently unveiled in the A6 Avant.

The same engines are set to find their way into more upmarket S versions of the Cajun, alongside which the Q4 could be assembled at Porsche’s Leipzig factory in Germany.

Thanks to: Autocar

New Car: 2012 Toyota Yaris


Toyota has revealed the first official pic plus details of the new Toyota Yaris, which now enters its third generation.

“Compact outside, spacious inside,” is how Toyota describes the car, which will be launched in the UK this summer and manufactured at Toyota’s Valenciennes factory in France.

Three engines will be available - 1.0-litre VVT-i and 1.33-litre dual VVT-i petrol units and a 1.4-litre D-4D diesel – and inside, the new Yaris marks a “breakthrough in its segment for affordable multimedia connectivity with the introduction of Toyota Touch and Go”, which features a 6.1-inch display.

President and CEO Toyota Motor Europe Didier Leroy said: “New Yaris represents Toyota’s strongest offer yet in the important supermini segment.

“With its new levels of ingenuity, efficiency and quality, we are confident it can build upon Yaris’s previous success and help Toyota rejuvenate its presence in Europe and move towards one million annual sales in the region in the medium term.”

Thanks to: Autocar

Hot News: Opel/Vauxhall Calibra Reborn


The Calibra is back. The famous badge is set to be dusted off for a pair of stylish new models in 2013: a coupé and a cabriolet. This glamorous duo is being tasked with pushing the brand upmarket – and it’s just the beginning of a stunning product avalanche from the Luton firm.

Both cars will be based on a stretched version of the Astra’s platform. This means plenty of room for four, despite the coupé’s swooping roofline and the need for space to stow the fabric hood on the convertible.

Our exclusive illustrations show how the stunning fixed- roof model will look, while the first sketch of the convertible has been released by Vauxhall bosses in the same week that our spies spotted a prototype testing in Germany.

The tin-top Calibra will take on premium coupés such as the VW Scirocco and Audi TT, with the emphasis on luxury, space and sporty handling. As a result, it’s expected to start from around £22,000.

Prices for the cabrio will be similar. It’s effectively a more upmarket replacement for the Astra TwinTop, but with a fabric hood. This is lighter and less expensive to produce than the TwinTop’s metal folding roof, and doesn’t compromise the styling.

The Calibra provides a taste of the exciting new products Vauxhall is planning over the next two years. We were given an exclusive look at the brand’s top-secret new wave of models by styling chief Mark Adams – the man who has masterminded the bold new design language.

The first to hit dealers will be the sensational Astra GTC three-door. Order books open this week, with prices starting from £18,495, for delivery in September. It will be followed at the end of the year by the Zafira Tourer – a much more stylish and upmarket version of the current people carrier. For more details click here.
Thanks to: Auto Express

New Car: 2012 BMW M5


Things are about to get a lot more normal under the hood of the BMW M5. The outgoing car packed an utterly insane 5.0-liter V-10, which made 500 hp—at a screaming 7750 rpm. Prior to that, the E39 M5, which was sold in the late 1990s and early 2000s, roared along with a 394-hp, 4.9-liter V-8. In terms of bringing ecstasy to drivers, that car didn’t so much compete with AMG-tuned Benzes as it did with freebasing. And now, BMW has given us the full scoop on the all-new, fifth-generation M5. Read on to find out just what the men from Munich have done to the 5er.

The present and future of the automotive industry—even in the salacious world of high-performance über-sedans—sees big, naturally aspirated engines replaced by smaller mills, force-fed air through turbo- or supercharging. BMW’s M5 is no exception, banishing the wild V-10 from last generation to the history books, and installing a direct-injected, twin-turbocharged 4.4-liter V-8. BMW North America will advertise the powerplant at 560 hp. That would be four more than the Cadillac CTS-V’s supercharged V-8. The company promises 502 lb-ft of torque starting at a mere 1500 rpm, as well. These numbers may sound familiar if you’re a fan of the Bavarian propeller brand: the engine is already in service, making slightly less horsepower, in the X5 M and X6M.

Where the powertrain differs from that of the monster SUVs, however, is in delivering the goods to the pavement. The M-fettled X5 and X6 use a six-speed automatic and feature all-wheel drive, M’s latest 5-series will instead feature a seven-speed dual-clutch gearbox—a close relative of the transmission doing duty in the M3 and 335is—and while it hasn’t been announced yet, we expect a six-speed manual to be on offer to us Yankees. Regardless of the transmission, power is dispatched to the rear wheels only.

BMW projects that the M5 will be capable of a 0-to-62-mph run in 4.4 seconds, and a top speed of 190 mph for cars fitted with the M Driver’s package. (BMW hasn’t yet indicated whether this option will be available in the U.S.) Considering that we’ve seen times in the low-four-second range for the last-gen M5, we won’t be surprised if BMW’s acceleration estimate turns out to be conservative.

Thanks to: Car and Driver

New Car: 2012 Volkswagen Beetle Turbo


Volkswagen launched this special Volkswagen Beetle Black Turbo Launch Edition - but it's only available in the US through VWs online Vehicle Pre-Order (VPO) programme.

Based on the standard 197bhp 2.0-litre TSI car, the Launch Edition marks the arrival of the first 600 cars to reach American dealers.

Inside, the limited edition Beetle features Bluetooth, iPod connectivity and sports seats, whilst on the outside the brakes are beefed up, calipers painted red and 18-inch alloys and a rear spoiler added.

Prices for the 2012 Volkswagen Beetle Black Turbo Launch Edition start from $24,950 (£15,200).

Thanks to: Autocar

New Car: 2011 Zenvo ST-1 50S


Danish supercar maker Zenvo Automotive has announced the arrival of a special edition “mighty Zenvo ST-1” for the US market.

Dubbed ST-1 50S, the special edition has been developed with Zenvo's US distributor Red Sea Distribution. It gets a raft of changes over the standard car, including a power hike of 144bhp from 1089bhp to 1233bhp. Torque also increases from 1055lb ft to a heady 1106lb ft.

Power comes courtesy of Zenvo’s own 7.0-litre supercharged and turbocharged V8 petrol engine, which is mated to a seven-speed automatic gearbox. According to Zenvo, the ST-1 50S will hit 62mph in under 3.0sec, with top speed limited to 233mph.

Inside, the supercar – of which only three will be built – gets individual monogrammed seats, and an exclusive complimentary, Swiss-made Aspen Zenvo watch worth £30,000.

Other features include the choice of three colours – one for each car – including Intense Red, Crystal White and Mediterranean Blue, magnesium wheels and a special edition plaque signed by the engineers and owners.

Prices for the Zenvo ST-1 50S start from $1.8 million (£1.1m) plus local taxes.

Thanks to: Autocar

New Car: 2012 Mazda Demio/2


Mazda has launched its first production car equipped with a super-frugal SkyActiv petrol engine.

The domestic market Mazda Demio (known as the 2 in the rest of the world) gets the new 1.3-litre petrol engine and a CVT ‘box to coincide with a mild facelift for the supermini.

Although sales are currently restricted to Japan, it’s expected that on the European drive cycle, the 2 would average around 85mpg and get a sub-100g/km Co2 rating, a remarkable result for a conventional petrol engine.

The new 1.3-litre Sky Activ engine has a very high 14:1 compression ratio, a dual sequential valve timing system, new six-hole injectors, much reduced internal friction and a new-generation stop-start system. The CVT ‘box also has a seven-speed manual mode.

A new on-board economy aid called i-DM records and displays the driver’s various inputs in real time in order to encourage an economical driving style. Although Mazda Europe wants to sell the Sky Activ 2, no supply deal has yet been reached.

Thanks to: Autocar

New Car: 2011 Renaultsport Megane Trophy


One of our favourite hot-hatches is set to get even hotter. Renault has announced a special edition of the Renaultsport Megane 250 called the Megane Trophy.

Riding on the stiffer Cup chassis, the newcomer gets power boosted from 247bhp to 261bhp, with torque increased by 20Nm for a total of 260Nm making this the most powerful road-going Renaultsport Megane to date.

With the increase in power comes slight improvements to performance. The 0-62mph time is cut from 6.1 seconds to 6.0 seconds and top speed increases by 2mph to 158mph.

To mark out the special Megane, Renault offers two paint finishes – a metallic yellow or a metallic black – and 'Trophy' red decals on the air-intakes and doors. A set of 19-inch alloys in gloss black and red also feature.

Inside, the Megane Trophy gets Recaro seats with yellow seatbelts and stitching.

Enthusiasts hoping for a successor to the previous generation Megane R26.R – a trackday machine which featured a stripped out cabin complete with roll-cage and harnesses – will be left waiting but a Renault spokesman refused to rule out an even more hardcore model further down the line.

The R26.R currently holds the front-wheel drive record at the Nurburgring and Renault has released a teaser video of engineers testing the Trophy at the famous track, suggesting they are attempting to beat the 8 minutes 16.9 seconds lap-time set by the stripped out hatch.

The Megane Trophy will be available from the 20th June, but buyers must be quick – Renault plans to produce 500 units in total with only 50 coming to the UK. Prices start from £27,280 – compared to £24,020 for the standard Megane 250 Cup – but the price includes free access to all Renaultsport trackdays in the UK.For more details click here.
Thanks to: Auto Express

New Car: 2011 BMW M3 Coupe Frozen Black


How can something get hotter when it’s frozen? Easy: when it’s a “frozen” BMW M3. Like the 30 Frozen Gray Edition M3s that BMW offered last year, the Frozen Black Edition is a limited-run two-door, although just 20 will be served up this time around. Every Black will be equipped with the Competition package, BMW’s M-DCT dual-clutch transmission, and a black leather interior with red stitching. The paint is a matte-finish metallic black, accented by red brake calipers and gloss black wheels and body trim (grille inserts, window moldings, exhaust tips).

The Frozen Black Edition comes loaded with pretty much everything else on the M3 options list, including the Premium Package 2 (power-folding auto-dimming mirrors, universal garage-door opener, power front seats, carbon leather interior trim, interior mirror with compass, BMW Assist with Bluetooth), the Convenience package (alarm system, keyless entry, rear park-distance control, voice-activated navigation, iPod and USB inputs), heated front seats, satellite radio, and the BMW Individual Enhanced premium sound system. The package, BMW says, is intended to celebrate the arrival of a whole line of “Frozen” paint colors to the BMW Individual customization program.

Want one? Get on the horn to 1-800-245-4269 at exactly 11:30 a.m. Eastern on Thursday, June 16, and be prepared to shell out $81,825. If you’re one of the lucky 19 to get through—one example is being held back for possible sale at a later date; hello, auction!—by the end of the summer, you may have one of the coolest E90 M3s ever built.

Thanks to: Car and Driver

Spied: 2013 Volkswagen Passat CC


When it was introduced for 2009, the Passat-based Volkswagen CC brought a sense of upscale fashion to its brand, the beauty of the Mercedes-Benz CLS for those on a Macy’s budget. (With the 2011 Sonata, Hyundai would then bring that style down to those on a Target budget.) But, based on these spy shots, it looks like the chic CC’s mid-cycle refresh will—unfortunately—include VW’s bland new corporate grille.

Beneath the camo of this car, caught in the mountains of the Old Country, we can see hints of the CC’s flatter, squarer, and likely more-boring front end. New, rectangular headlights like those on the 2012 Passat will accompany the new grille, and it looks like the lower intake also will be bracketed by four right angles. It’s hard to make out exactly what shape the tail will take, but we can speculate it’ll be more angular and sharp to better pair with the nose.

Last fall, the CC took down the Acura TSX V-6 and new Buick Regal Turbo in its first comparison test. Although it was much older than the competition and down on power, the CC’s smoothness, refinement, and responsive chassis helped it take the crown. Most of that should be unaffected by the face lift, including its sweet little workhorse 2.0-liter turbo four.

From the get-go, though, the CC’s cosmopolitan styling separated it from the other two cars in that test. While we’re particularly skeptical of how Volkswagen’s dull face is going to mesh with the rest of the CC’s curvaceous skin, we’ll withhold our final judgment until the camo slips off.

Thanks to: Car and Driver

Spied: 2013 Ford Flex


Spy photographers have nabbed the 2013 Ford Flex, providing visual evidence of the changes coming as part of the big box’s mid-cycle refresh.

Up front, the Flex’s previous corporate countenance is swapped for one more like that of the latest Ford Explorer. In place of the previous Schick-razor-like slats, the new model features a single, large chrome bar in the middle and thinner, more delicate pieces above and below. The headlamps don’t appear to be drastically changed, with projector beams again making an appearance, although the units themselves have been reshaped to accommodate the ends of the grille’s main bar, which splits the amber running lights.

They’re not visible here, but we wouldn’t be shocked to see Ford’s light-pipe LEDs, as seen on everything from the Taurus to the Edge, make an appearance, perhaps near the new fog lamps housed in the equally new bumper. Out back, the lower part of the liftgate is in for some tweaks, too, judging by the presence of camouflage. This prototype also rides on new wheels.

The interior photo provides proof that the Flex will adopt the MyFord Touch system, to which we say, “Boo.” Every one of our experiences with the system to date has involved frustration, cursing, system crashes, and general loathing. It’s not just us; the internet is alight with owners’ stories of similar woes. Apart from that, there are few changes beyond a new steering wheel—necessary to house the five-way MyFord switches—a new shifter, and updated gauges. Everything else is as it was.

The 2013 Flex should get a 230-hp, 2.0-liter four-cylinder EcoBoost mill, as well as the updated 3.5-liter V-6 that will make 290 hp and 255 lb-ft in the 2013 Taurus. In the transmission department, the Blue Oval’s recently announced eight-speed automatic will probably make an appearance. You can also expect many of the ’13 Taurus’s other mechanical changes to appear here, including a brake-based “limited-slip” functionality, electrically assisted steering, and a more robust brake system that aims to improve both feel and stopping power.

Despite it finishing fourth out of seven in a comparison test, we generally like this funky people-mover; if the refresh goes beyond looks to address some of the NVH and dim-witted handling issues of the current model, we’ll consider it successful. Look for more details on the 2013 Ford Flex to emerge in the coming months, and for the crossover to make its first public appearance at an American auto show this fall or early next year.

Thanks to: Car and Driver


Hot News: BMW Plans to Release 2-Series and M2


The critical acclaim enjoyed by the just-introduced 1-series M Coupé, based on the current 1-series, has spurred BMW to create a follow-up model on the second-generation platform.

The new coupé will be launched with its own, stand-alone identity — the 2-series — which will further emphasise its independence from the new 1-series range.

A trademark filing in the US also reveals that the hot coupé is likely to wear M2 badges, suggesting that its performance engineering will be true to its M division heritage.

Power will come from a new twin-turbo 3.0-litre six currently under development at M division’s headquarters on the outskirts of Munich. The motor is likely to produce around 350bhp.

BMW is also planning a convertible variant of the M2.

Thanks to: Autocar

Hot News: New Mini Cooper to be Built in UK


Mini models based on a new-generation front-drive platform will be built in Britain after BMW announced £500m of investment at Oxford.

Mini still hasn’t officially confirmed that the next-gen hatchback Mini will be built in Oxford, but well-placed sources indicate that it will. And BMW boss Norbert Reithofer said up to 10 Mini variants will be built off the new UKL1 platform, which will also underpin a range of front-drive BMWs.

The distinction between the new and current platform is important because the Mini range is expanding to eight models. Three new models — coupe, roadster and city-Mini — will be based on the current platform and built at Oxford.

Because the Mini’s front-drive platform will be shared with a new BMW hatch, fears had surfaced that Mini models on the new platform might make more sense to be built in Germany.

However, BMW has confirmed that the bulk of the £500m will be allocated to a new body-in-white facility at Oxford to assemble models on the new platform, a strong indication that the new Mini hatch will be built at Oxford.

Some of the investment will be allocated to the Swindon pressing plant and Hams Hall, where it will buy new component machining facilities.

It’s widely expected that there could eventually be up to 20 individual BMW and Mini-badged models, including small roadsters, built off the UKL1.

The platform will use MacPherson struts up front and BMW’s signature Z-axle at the rear. Four-wheel drive will also be offered, opening the way for a small BMW SUV slightly larger than today’s Mini Countryman.

Thanks to: Autocar

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