May 2011 Archives

Back in February, Ford Chairman Bill Ford Jr. confirmed that an EcoBoost engine would eventually be offered in the Mustang. There was some speculation that it could be the turbocharged 3.5L V6, but it seemed more plausible that the engine would actually be a four-cylinder.

Now we have more news on what we may see under the hood of the Mustang. Motor Authority is reporting that a four-cylinder powered Mustang is in the future plans of the Mustang, by around 2015. Ford has already announced plans to put the 2.0L EcoBoost four-cylinder under the hood of the 2013 Ford Taurus, but can we expect this same engine in the Mustang? According to sources, Ford is working on a 2.3L version of the same engine that will be offered in the Mustang. The 2.0L EcoBoost engine puts out 237 horsepower and will get at least 31 mpg in the Taurus. Since the V6 Mustang already gets 31 mpg, it wouldn't be a surprise to see the four-cylinder Mustang get closer to 40 mpg.

Ford is also reportedly working on a 2.7L turbocharged V6 that will be used both Ford's front and rear-wheel-drive models, which means that it could show up in the Mustang, Edge and maybe the Fusion.

Should Toyota Kill the Matrix?

The Toyota Matrix debuted with the last generation Corolla in 2002. Since then a new Matrix has been released, but sales have continued to decline. Because of this it looks like Toyota may not bring the Matrix back when the next Corolla debuts in 2013.

When questioned about a new Matrix, Toyota's Bob Carter told Ward's, "There's no change right now on the car, (but) we haven't made the decision yet."

The Matrix had its best year in 2002 with sales of 66,836 units, but since then sales have continued to sink. Last year Toyota only sold 14,492 Matrix hatchbacks, which was down from 26,121 in 2009 and 49,567 in 2008.

Critics would be quick to point out that hatchbacks don't generally sell that well in the U.S., but a number of C-segment models are offered in hatchback and wagon variants. The Ford Focus and Mazda3 quickly come to mind. According to Ford, the hatchback version of the recently launched 2012 Focus accounts for 43 percent of the Focus sales.

Matrix sales through April are down 37.3 percent compared to a year ago. One issue Toyota is trying to figure out is the fact that the Matrix sells well in Canada. "It's huge in Canada," Carter says.

What do you think? Should Toyota kill the Matrix? Or maybe Toyota should make a true Mazda3 competitor? The current Matrix is pretty boring to drive compared to the Mazda3 and new Ford Focus.

Nissan GT-R to Get More Power and Lighter Spec R Version

Nissan is determined to keep its GT-R supercar at the top of its game. The 2012 GT-R that is now in showrooms, and that was unveiled at the end of last year got a nice bump in power to 530-hp and 480 lb-ft. of torque. Now it's being reported that Nissan will add more power to the GT-R one more time before it is replaced.

Before the current GT-R heads off stage, Nissan is going to release one final model that will reportedly put out 30 more horsepower for a total 560-hp from the twin-turbocharged 3.8L V6. To make things even more exciting, a Spec R version is also supposed to be in the works that will be 70 pounds lighter.

When can we expect the even hotter GT-R? It looks like the earthquake in Japan has postponed its launch by several months.

Chrysler is finally going to address some of the issues that owners and critics have had with the Jeep Wrangler. This summer Chrysler is set to replace the underpowered 3.8L V6 engine with Chrysler's new 3.6L Pentastar V6. In addition to the much needed new V6, the 2012 Jeep Wrangler will also get a new 5-speed automatic.

Earlier this month the last 3.8L V6 rolled off the line at Chrysler's Trenton North engine plant, which marks of an engine that was produced for 20 years. The engine was previously used in Chrysler's minivans and adapted for use in the Wrangler in 2007.

In the current Wrangler, the 3.8L V6 only puts out 202 horsepower and 237 lb-ft. of torque. The engine is mated to either a six-speed manual or four-speed automatic transmission. Compare this to the 3.6L Pentastar V6 that puts out 290 horsepower and 260 lb-ft. of torque in the Jeep Grand Cherokee.

BMW Trademarks M2... BMW 2 Series on the Horizon?

Last week it was reported that the 2011 BMW 1 Series M will only live for one year due to a new 1 Series just around the corner. Well it's now being reported that BMW recently trademarked the M2 name, which has revived rumors that BMW is planning a 2 Series line.

Late last year it was also reported that BMW registered the 228, 230, and 235 names. So does this mean that the next 1 Series is going to be renamed the 2 Series? Of course there are rumors, but everything remains to be seen.

The successor to the current 1 Series, codenamed F20 is expected to be unveiled at the Frankfurt Motor Show, this fall. Stay tuned...

VW May Build the Tiguan in North America

In an effort to lower costs and make it more competitive, VW wants to build the Tiguan crossover in North America. VW already builds the Jetta and the 2012 Passat in North America. WirtschaftsWoche magazine is reporting that a proposal for the Tiguan is soon going to be decided by the board.

Currently the Tiguan is built Volkswagen's Wolfsburg plant in North Germany. VW recently celebrated the opening of its $1 billion U.S assembly plant in Chattanooga, Tennessee. It's unclear if the Tiguan would be produced at that plant or the plant in Mexico that build the Jetta.

Tesla Model X Crossover to Debut by the End of the Year

Tesla is currently working on its third model after the roadster and upcoming Model S sedan. Tesla is currently planning to unveil a prototype of the Model X crossover by the end of the year according to a filing with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission.

The filing stated that Tesla is "designing the Model X to incorporate the functionality of a minivan with the consumer appeal of a sports-utility vehicle." It noted that the electric powertrain developed for the Tesla Roadster "has provided the foundational technology for the Model S, the Model X and for electric powertrain components that (Tesla) has begun selling to Daimler and its affiliates that (Tesla) intends to sell to Toyota."

Late last year, Tesla CEO Elon Musk confirmed plans to introduce a battery-powered crossover in 2014, two years after the launch of the Model S sedan.

The filing also stated that production of the Tesla Roadster will end in December 2011.

Audi has unveiled the A1 Clubsport Quattro Concept finally brings Audi's all-wheel-drive Quattro system to the tiny hatchback.

Currently the Audi A1 is only offered in Europe with its power going to the front wheels. Audi is currently working on adding its all-wheel-drive system to the A1, but in the meantime we get a preview of what it could be like with the Clubsport Quattro Concept. The concept is powered by a five-cylinder 2.5L turbocharged engine. The engine is based on the same unit used in the Audi TT RS and RS 3 Sportback models, but with significantly more power in this concept. The TFSI engine puts out 503 horsepower and 487 lb-ft. of torque. Thanks to its small size and the fact that it only weighs just over 3,000 pounds, the concept can reach 0-62 mph in 3.7 seconds and its top speed is governed at 155 mph.

To give it an even stronger presence, the concept features front fenders, doors and side panels that have been widened by a total 2.36 inches. The body is painted in a Glacier White matt finish and the roof is painted in a high-gloss black, which is made of carbon fiber-reinforced polymer.

GM Cancels Plans for Plug-In Hybrid Based on the Cadillac SRX

According to sources, GM has canceled plans for a plug-in hybrid based on the current Cadillac SRX platform.

The plans to build a plug-in hybrid based on the current Cadillac SRX have been shelved since the project was seen as not being financially viable. The project was never officially made public by GM, but the plug-in hybrid was expected to share most of the same technology that GM is using in the Chevy Volt.

It was reported at the end of last year that GM was working on a Cadillac hybrid crossover and GM CEO Dan Akerson said in January that the model was "likely." People close to the project have now been informed that the project has now been put on hold.

One of the reasons that the project was canceled is because by the time the plug-in hybrid would have been ready for production, the current Cadillac SRX platform would be nearing the end of its life cycle, which would have added more costs. The current SRX has already been out for two years and the costs for developing the plug-in hybrid were already high. The plug-in hybrid will most likely be moved to the next SRX.

Fiat has officially relaunched in the US, with the introduction of the small 500. Fiat is currently working on its next model for the US-market, the successor to the Bravo. 2009_Fiat_Bravo_rear.jpg

Although many critics predicted that the Fiat 500 would not succeed in the US, its early sales have exceeded expectations. The 500 cabriolet has just been released and Abarth and EV versions of the 500 are also planned in the near future. Fiat is planning its next model in the US, which will be larger than the 500. Fiat's Laura Soaves recently stated that "Fiat will be the small car brand. It will never have anything larger than a C [segment]." This means that Fiat will not steal sales from Chrysler by not selling anything larger than a Ford Focus or Honda Civic.

Details remain scarce about what we can expect for the replacement for the Bravo, but Fiat boss Sergio Marchionne has stated that the car "will not be a traditional offering."

Last Cadillac DTS Goes to Bulgari Vice Chairman

The last ever Cadillac DTS has rolled of the line at GM's Detroit-Hamtrack plant and the sedan has been bought by Nicola Bulgari, vice chairman of the Bulgari luxury goods.

Bulgari, an avid car collector stated, "I like the DTS because it's a great sedan. It's the last of an era. I thought it would be wonderful to own the last Northstar in a DTS. It's one of the best engines ever designed - reliable and a performer."

The last DTS rolls off the line following the death of Cadillac's other sedan, the STS. Both sedans are being replaced next year by the Cadillac XTS.

BMW has announced that the current generation BMW 3 Series will end production this October. Production will end this fall, making way for the all-new 3 Series that is expected to go on sale in the spring of 2012.

The all-new 3 Series will be built on a new modular platform, with overall proportions that are similar to the current model. The final design will be more muscular with styling that is similar to the 5 Series. The sedan is expected to have a longer wheelbase and the front end will feature a "pushing nose" that is similar to the front end of the Z4 roadster.

The next-generation 3 Series will be powered by a range of turbocharged 4-cylinder and naturally aspirated and turbocharged 6-cylinder engines.

Details are slowly coming out about what we can expect from the next-generation Chevy Impala. GM recently announced that the next Impala will be built at GM's plant in Detroit-Hamtramck, Michigan, alongside the 2013 Malibu and Chevy Volt.

GM didn't release a timeframe of when we can expect the next Impala, but according to sources the 2014 Impala will debut at the end of 2012, with sales starting in early 2013. The 2014 Impala will also move upmarket as it will share its platform with the upcoming 2013 Cadillac XTS sedan. Both sedans will be built on an extended version of GM's re-engineered Epsilon platform.

Building the next Impala on the same platform as the Cadillac XTS will create more room between the Impala and the new Malibu, since currently the two sedans overlap too much in the Chevy lineup.

2012 Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG Roadster Officially Unveiled

Mercedes-Benz has finally released the official photos and details for the 2012 SLS AMG Roadster. The droptop version of the SLS AMG loses the gullwing doors from the coupe version, but the roadster is still awesome with its folding softop that cab be lowered or raised in eleven seconds at speeds up to 31 mph.

To keep the weight down, engineers used an aluminum chassis and body, which makes the roadster only 88 pounds heavier than the coupe. Under the long hood lies an AMG 6.3L V8 that puts out 563 horsepower and 479 lb-ft. of torque. The V8 is mated to a seven-speed dual clutch transmission.

Dr Dieter Zetsche, Chairman of the Board of Management of Daimler AG and CEO of Mercedes-Benz Cars: "The SLS Roadster is a super sports car, cruiser and highly desirable dream-car all in one. In its distinctive way, it continues the succession of iconic and exciting sports cars from Mercedes-Benz."

Saab to Restart Production After Six-Weeks Off

It's been six weeks since Saab was forced to stop production of the 9-3 and 9-5 models in Sweden due to a lack of money to pay its suppliers. Now that Saab has signed a new deal with China's Pangda Automobile Trade Co., production can restart.

Today is officially the first day of production since April 6th and Saab hopes to build around 100 cars a day.

Watching the first car roll off the line, Victor Muller said: "This is a great day for our company and it is great to see the plant running again. We have gone through a rough patch in recent weeks, but Saab is back in action again. I would like to express my deep gratitude to our fantastic suppliers who have worked so hard with us to make this happen, and to our loyal employees who have constantly stood by our side."

"We will work hard in the coming period to regain confidence and show our ability to become a successful car maker. We are fortunate that we are in the middle of the largest-ever product offensive in the company´s history. Last year we launched the all-new Saab 9-5 Sedan, while the 9-3 Griffin range went on sale earlier this year. The new Saab 9-4X, our first crossover, has enjoyed raving reviews from motoring media and we already sold all 9-4X cars for model year 2011. After the summer, we start delivering the much-awaited Saab 9-5 SportCombi to customers."

Chrysler Announces Ram Runner Kit for Off-Road Enthusiasts

Chrysler's Mopar has announced a new kit, the Ram Runner kit for Ram truck owners that want to make their trucks off-road ready.

The Mopar Ram Runner kit was developed with Baja off-road racer Kent Kroeker. It includes: Pre-Runner Stage II Lift Kit, off-road front bumper, off-road front and rear fenders, off-road rear-tire carrier, sport performance hood and cat-back exhaust. Buyers can purchase each element of the kit separately and can be installed by owners or in a Ram dealership. mopar_ram_runner_2.jpg

"At Mopar, our image vehicles showcase potential directions that we may take and the new Ram Runner kit is a good example," said Pietro Gorlier, President and CEO, Mopar, Chrysler Group's service, parts and customer-care brand. "We saw the reception that Ram Runner received last year and quickly moved to offer kits that will allow off-road enthusiasts to transform their stock Ram 1500 into a desert racer."

Mugen has been known for years as the performance tuning firm that has produced high-performance Honda Civics and most recently a more powerful version of the Honda CR-Z. Mugen Euro, which is responsible for the supercharged CR-Z, reportedly wants to make a high performance version of the Honda Fit, also known as the Jazz in Europe.

Mugen Euro already produces a number of styling upgrades for the Jazz, but the firm wants to make an even more powerful version of the small car. To put more power under the hood of the Fit, Mugen Euro could use either the supercharged hybrid powertrain from the CR-Z or a normally-aspirated 2.0L VTEC from the last Civic Type R.

According to Mugen Euro's general manager Colin Whittamore, it "wouldn't be much of a stretch" to put the 197-hp supercharged engine from the CR-Z hybrid in the Fit.

The supercharged CR-Z is going to be officially unveiled at the Goodwood Festival of Speed in July.

Ever wonder what kind of testing automakers put their vehicles though before they are released? GM has released a video that shows the extreme testing they put the Chevy Camaro Convertible through to make sure that the top is top quality.

To assure long-term durability, the convertible top underwent extensive testing during development, being opened and closed more than 22,500 times - three times more than would be expected in a typical 10 years of use. Some of those cycles were performed in extreme conditions; temperatures ranging from minus-22° F to 170° F and humidity of up to 95 percent.

"This past winter we even had our engineers driving 80 of these convertibles back and forth to work every day here in Michigan," said Al Oppenheiser, Camaro chief engineer. "They had to open and close the top five times each day no matter what the weather was like."

Every Camaro Convertible undergoes a water test as it completes assembly in Oshawa, Ontario. In addition, vehicles are randomly chosen to undergo an eight-minute water test at the assembly facility in Oshawa and at an identical facility at the GM Proving Ground in Milford, Michigan. More than 7,200 gallons of water are hurled at the car in a hurricane-like downpour at a pace of 900 gallons per minute.

Infiniti M25 Officially Not Headed to the U.S.

Infiniti is officially not bringing the M25 sedan to the U.S. according to a source that confirmed the bad news to Inside Line.

In Japan, the Infiniti M (called the Nissan Fuga) is available with a 2.5L VQ25VHR engine that puts out 218 horsepower. While the 2.5L does work in the G25, it isn't the right for the larger M sedan in the U.S. Does it really sound that exciting to drive a 4,000 pound sedan with 218 horsepower and 217 lb-ft. of torque?

An M25 would have brought the entry price for the M sedan down and it would have gotten better gas mileage to compete with models like the BMW 528i, but would you actually want it?

2011 Kia Soul Hamstar Special Edition Starts at $20,295

Do you love the Kia Soul commecials with the hamster's behind the wheel? Well Kia has released a special edition of the 2011 Soul that is inspired by those commercials, the Kia Soul Hamstar, which starts at $20,295.

The special edition Soul is based on the Soul+ trim and is dressed in custom Hamstar artwork, highlighted by a black star graphic with the signature Hamstar script logo on the hood and off-black matte finish stripes on the vehicle's sides. The exterior also features body colored bumpers with a rear bumper applique, power sunroof, fog lights, a rear sport spoiler, black 18-inch alloy wheels, black fender vents with turn signal indicator and a matte black alloy fuel door.

Last month the Honda Civic was the third best-selling car in the U.S., but due to the devastating earthquake in Japan in March, sales are expected to fall. Although some may expect sales to decline due to the redesigned and somewhat unexciting 2012 model, sales are actually going to decline due to production limitations. Through this fall, production of the Honda Civic is expected to only be at 50 percent.

Honda recently stated that production at its North American plants will not reach full production until August, but Civic production will take even longer to return to normal. The Honda Civic is built at Honda's plants in Greensburg, Indiana, and Alliston, Ontario. Honda doesn't expect production to return to full capacity until sometime this fall.

Honda spokesman Ed Miller said, "It's important to remember that it is our newest vehicle so there are many, many more new and redesigned parts in a car that's all new compared with a vehicle that doesn't change much from one model year to the next."

It's expected that the Ford Focus, Hyundai Elantra and Chevy Cruze will benefit from Honda's production struggles. Honda has also delayed the 2012 CR-V

All-New 2012 VW Passat Starts at $19,995

VW's all-new 2012 Passat starts at less than $20,000. VW has announced the pricing for the all new 2012 VW Passat that starts at $19,995.

What do you get for just under $20k? The 170-hp Passat 2.5L with a manual transmission. It comes standard with dual-zone climate control and Bluetooth. The SE model starts at $23,725 and includes additional equipment such as 17-inch alloy wheels, 8-way power driver seat, heated front seats, touchscreen Premium VIII radio, and a multi-Function leather-wrapped steering wheel.

The 2.0L TDI clean diesel Passat starts at $25,995. It gets 43 mpg on the highway and comes standard with 17-inch alloy wheels, heated front seats, Volkswagen's touchscreen Premium VIII radio and a six-speed manual transmission.

The most powerful Passat, the 280-hp 3.6L VR6 starst at $28,995. It comes standard with a six-speed automatic DSG transmission,18-inch alloy wheels, comfort sport seats, a sunroof, and a class exclusive Fender® Premium Audio System.

Maserati Wants a Version of the Alfa Romeo 4C

Alfa Romeo unveiled the 4C Concept at the Geneva Motor Show earlier this year. The 4C sports car is expected to also lead Alfa Romeo's return to the US, which has now been pushed back to 2013. Now it's being rumored that Maserati wants a version of the Alfa Romeo 4C.

Maserati reportedly wants a small mid-engine two seater. As of right now the details are very scare...

The Alfa Romeo 4C Concept is powered by a 1.75 turbocharged four-cylinder that puts out 200 horsepower. The concept only weighs 1,800 pounds and can reach 0-62 mph in less than five seconds and has a top speed over 155 mph.

Next-Gen Chevy Corvette to Get Small Turbocharged V8

GM is setting its sights on European buyers with the next-generation Chevy Corvette. GM's Mark Reuss has also already stated that the next Corvette will be "completely different." We've heard so many rumors about what could be in planned for the next Corvette, including a mid-engined layout and a split rear window.

The Corvette has always been about large V8s, but according to The Detroit Bureau, GM may also be working on a small turbocharged V8 engine that would appeal to European sports car buyers. If the reports are true, GM has approved the use of a small V8 that is slightly larger than 3 liters in displacement and will be of an overhead-cam with a dry sump oil system. The small turbocharged V8 is expected to put out over 400 horsepower and could have a red line near 10,000 rpms.

The next Corvette is due in 2013 and GM has announced plans to invest $131 million in the Bowling Green Assembly plant that produces the Corvette.

BMW X7 Seven-Passenger Crossover in the Works?

A while back it was reported that BMW was working on a crossover that would be larger than the BMW X5, but then those plans were scrapped. According to Automobile Magazine, BMW is once again thinking about releasing an X7.

According to the mag, the X7 would be based on the X5/X6 crossovers, but with a longer wheelbase to make it a true seven-passenger crossover. Codenamed F17, the model would go head to head with the upcoming Audi Q9 and Mercedes-Benz GL. The biggest challenge that BMW faces is the fact that large SUVs have fallen out of fashion and aren't good for CO2 balance sheets. An aluminum space frame architecture could help keep the weight down, but that would take even more time and money to develop.

Hyundai has announced the pricing for the refreshed 2012 Hyundai Genesis sedan. The entry price for the 2012 Genesis is $34,200 for the 333-hp 3.8L V6 Genesis.

On the outside the 2012 Genesis sedan gets a new grille with a more aggressive front fascia, new headlights with LED accents, refreshed taillights and new alloy wheels. Under the hood is where most of the changes are, with the base 3.8L V6 getting a nice bump in power up to 333 horsepower and 291 lb-ft. of torque. Those numbers are up from 290-hp and 262 lb-ft. of torque. The more exciting news is the addition of the 5.0 R-Spec Genesis that gets a 5.0L V8 with 429 horsepower and 376 lb-ft. of torque. The 5.0L V8 is mated to an eight-speed automatic transmission.

The 5.0L R-Spec Genesis sedan starts at $46,500. Check out the press release after the jump for all the details...

TopCar has released a new kit for the Porsche Panamera dubbed the Porsche Panamera Stingray GTR. The kit includes redesigned front and rear bumpers, bonnet, front and rear fender extenders, front and rear doors, side skirts. The kit significantly widens the Panamera.

In addition to the styling enhancements customers can order a bespoke interior and there are also two performance packages available for the Panamera Turbo. The first packaged includes a new sport air filter, intake manifold, motronik and valved exhaust system increases car power by 600 hp. The second package puts out 700 horsepower.

Production is being limited to just 25 units.

BMW 1 Series M Will Only be Around for One Year

BMW finally released the M version of the 2011 1 Series this year and it looks like this will be the only year that it is produced. If you were planning on writing a check for $46,135 for the 1 Series M, you better go do it now. The Detroit Bureau is reporting that the 1 Series M will only be produced this year.

The 1 Series M, which is just now hitting dealerships will go out of production by the end of the year. BMW's cheapest and smallest M Series model could return, but it won't be for a while since the next-generation 1 Series is about to be released.

The 2011 1 Series M will see less than 1,000 units produced.

GM has announced this morning that it is is adding two shifts and about 2,500 hourly and salaried jobs at its Detroit-Hamtramck plant. The plant will build the new 2013 Chevy Malibu and the next-generation Impala as well as the Volt and Opel Ampera electric cars.

"Filling this plant with new work is very satisfying because GM is dedicated to helping rebuild this city," GM North America President Mark Reuss said at the plant Wednesday. "We are confident in the flexibility of the plant, the excellence of our workers and the great cars assembled here."

GM will invest $69 million in tooling and equipment for the next-generation Impala. This follows an announcement last month in which GM announced a $121 million investment for the new Malibu.

The Detroit-Hamtramck plant currently employs 1,121 hourly and salaried workers.

Mazda RX-9 to Borrow Toyota's Hybrid Tech?

The latest reports confirm that Mazda is working on the rotary-powered RX-9, but according to sources Mazda has placed most of resources into developing its new SkyActiv powertrains and the next MX-5. So much so that there aren't much resources left for the RX-9.

According to one insider, ""We want to take the RX-9 to the next level but just can't find the man-hours to do it. We have a guideline. We know what we have to do. But as we must give priority to the next-gen MX-5, we only have a small band of guys working on the RX-9."

The RX-9 will be a coupe when it is released, unlike the RX-8 with its unique rear doors. This means that the RX-9 will be more like a modern day RX-7, but with a hybrid system under the hood thanks to a new partnership between Mazda and Toyota. The partnership will see Mazda's rotary engine mated to Toyota's hybrid drive system.

It will be sometime before we see the RX-9, since the next MX-5 is due before it. Will it look like the Shinari Concept from last year's Paris Motor Show? Lets hope so!

Infiniti Developing BMW Z4 Competitor with Help from Lotus

One model absent from the Infiniti lineup is a two-seater, but it looks like that spot will soon be filled. It's being reported that Infiniti is working on a new two-seater sports car with some help from Lotus.

The new two-seater will be aimed at models like the Audi TT and BMW Z4. It's rumored that the new model that will slot in below the G37 coupe will be unveiled at the Geneva Motor Show next year. The new sports car will have a classic front-engined, rear-wheel-drive layout.

Hopefully the new two-seat Infiniti will borrow some of the styling cues from the Essence concept.

Still getting used to the M versions of the BMW X5 and X6? Well BMW is planning an M version of its newest crossover, the X3. According to sources the X3 M is currently in the works and is set for a launch as early as 2012.

The X3 M is expected to be powered by a new turbocharged inline six cylinder, which according to sources will also power the next M3. The interesting fact is that it's being reported that the engine will feature three turbochargers (one electric and two exhaust-gas driven). The displacement of the engine is going to be slightly bigger at 3.2L compared to 3.0L. According to CAR the engine will be rated somewhere around 449 horsepower.

It's also being reported that the next X5 M and X6 M will still be powered by the twin-turbocharged 4.4L V8, but the horsepower will go up from 555 to 564 and it will be between 10-15% more efficient. Will there be an X1 M as well?

Lamborghini Mulls an "Everyday" Model

Lamborghini is currently considering the idea of adding a third model to its lineup that will be an "everyday" model. Chief executive Stephan Winkelmann recently told Reuters, "We are going to have a third model. It has to be an everyday car. We want to have a car which is able to be used on a daily basis."

Lamborghini was hit hard by the economic crisis. In 2008 Lamborghini sold 2,430 cars compared to only 1,302 in 2010. The new "everyday" car would not be the result of a partnership, but Winkelmann stated "We will use synergies where possible within the (Volkswagen) group."

Once the final decision is made it will take Lamborghini about four years to release the new model. This news provides more indication that the Estoque sedan concept could be produced.

Mercedes-Benz GL Grand Edition Gets Even More Luxury

It's doubtful that a person would actually criticize the Mercedes-Benz GL-Class for not having enough "luxury", but it's possible. For those buyers that want even more luxury in their GL, Mercedes has announced the GL-Class Grand Edition. mercedes_benz_gl_grand_edition_5.jpg

The new special edition "Grand Edition" adds light 20-inch alloy wheels, two-tone leather seats and wood trim in black ash on the inside. The Grand Edition is distinct from the other GL models with its dark-tinted headlights, the radiator grille with black louvres and a restyled front bumper with integrated LED daytime running lights. Mercedes also added metallic paint finishes, heat-insulating and infrared-reflecting laminated glass all round, aluminium-look running boards with rubber studs, and separated exhaust tailpipe trim.

The special Grand Edition is available on any of the GL models with prices starting at €80,206 for the GL350 CDI BlueEfficiency Grand Edition. The top model is the GL500 that starts at €99,127.

According to the latest reports Mercedes is working on a high-performance sedan that would fit in the lineup above the CLS and go head to head with the Bentley Continental GT.

The new four-door sedan is being described as an "über-CLS" and could have an even more dramatic shape than the coupe-like CLS. Growing demand for ultra-expensive, high-performance models in Europe and the Middle East is convincing Mercedes that there could be demand for a new high-end model. The high-performance four-door coupe would also rival the Porsche Panamera and feature AMG engines and chassis tuning.

There is also a possibility that a Maybach spinoff could be produced.

Mini and DSQUARED² Unveil the Mini Cooper S "Red Mudder"

DSQUARED² and Mini have teamed up to create a special one-off version of the Mini Cooper S, the "Red Mudder" for the Life Ball MINI 2011 in Vienna. The Life Ball is Europe's biggest AIDS charity event and this is the 11th year that Mini has supported it. Mini Cooper S gets a raised chassis, deep-tread all-terrain tires rally mini_dsquared_redmudder_3.jpg

The special headlamps, tinted side windows with grilles and the spare tire on the tailgate. The trademark DSQUARED2 maple leaf has been applied to the side doors and leather headrests.

BMW 5 Series GT is a Flop and it's Stealing 7 Series Buyers

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BMW released the 5 Series GT at the end of 2009 as an alternative to minivans and crossovers, but it's failed to meet sales expectations.

BMW expected the 5 Series GT to attract wagon buyers, but instead it has been taking stealing buyers that would normally buy the more expensive 7 Series sedan. 10 percent of 7 Series owners in Florida have replaced their cars with the 5 Series GT. BMW of North America CEO Jim O'Donnell recently stated that he wished that BMW hadn't stopped selling the 5 Series wagon in the U.S. last year.

O'Donnell told Automotive News, "The disappointment I have is that I thought a lot of our 5-series station wagon customers would go with the GT."

When BMW launched the GT in the US, BMW expected to sell between 4,000 to 8,000 units annually, but BMW only sold 2,848 GTs in 2010. This year is looking even worse for the GT, with only 720 units sold in the first four months of 2011. According to dealers, buyers dislike the hatchback configuration and styling of the 5 Series GT.

According to O'Donnell BMW is not going to make the same mistake with the 3 Series wagon. The 3 Series wagon will stay so that BMW doesn't lose sales to Mercedes-Benz.

VIDEO: Aston Martin V12 Zagato Revs its Engine

This past weekend Aston Martin took the wraps off the beautiful Aston Martin V12 Zagato. Here's a video of the Aston Martin V12 Zagato revving its engine at its debut in Lake Como, Italy. Enjoy the sound of that 6.0L V12!

Toyota May Build a 7-Seater Prius

Toyota is currently thinking of another new addition to the growing Prius family. This fall Toyota will launch the larger Prius V model, but Toyota is reportedly thinking about an even larger Prius model with three rows of seats.

The three-row Prius would not be the same model as the Prius Alpha that is sold in Japan. The Prius Alpha is basically a Prius V with a third row of seats crammed in the back. According to Bob Carter, Toyota's division manager, the new larger Prius would be large enough to hold seven passengers and all their stuff.

Carter claims that nothing has been decided, but a concept is being studied. Early next year Toyota will launch two more Prius models, the Prius C compact hybrid and a plug-in version of the standard Prius.

VIDEO: Ferrari Superamerica 45 Takes it Off at Villa d'Este

The one-off Ferrari Superamerica 45 was commissioned by collector Peter Kalikow and unveiled at the Villa d'Este Concorso d'Eleganza.

The Ferrari Superamerica 45 is painted in an exclusive Blue Antille that was meant to match one of Peter Kalikow's other cars, the 1961 400 Superamerica cabriolet. He commissioned the car to celebrate 45 years since he first became a Ferrari owner.

The car is simply beautiful and it's a shame that only one will be built. With the touch of a button the roof of the roadster flips back with ease. Check out the video after the jump.

Saab's financial troubles have stopped production in Trollhattan, Sweden, for the past six weeks, but there is still one place where a Saab is being produced. GM is still under contract to build Saab's crossover, the 9-4X, which shares its platform with the Cadillac SRX. Because of this, the Saab 9-4X is the only Saab that is currently being produced, in Ramos Arizpe, Mexico.

A Saab spokesperson stated that production of the 2012 Saab 9-4X recently kicked off at the GM plant in Mexico, despite Saab's financial problems that led suppliers to stop parts deliveries to Saab's plant in Sweden.

The 2012 9-4X starts at $33,380 and will be in showrooms sometime next month. The base 9-4X is powered by a GM sourced 265-hp 3.0L V6, while the top model is powered by a 300-hp turbocharged 2.8L V6 that was recently suspended from the Cadillac SRX and starts at $48,010.

Spy Shots: Subaru's Version of the FT-86 Caught on the 405

Last week we saw spy photos of Scion's version of the Toyota/ Subaru coupe, the Scion FR-S. Now here's your first look at the Subaru version driving down the 405 freeway in southern California. From the looks of this prototype, it looks like Subaru's coupe is going to be more conservative than what you will be able to get in Scion showrooms.

Both the Scion FR-S and Subaru coupe are expected to be unveiled at the Tokyo Motor Show later this year.

It's already being speculated that the next-generation BMW M3 will return to a six-cylinder engine due to increased emissions regulations and the fact that the next M5 is ditching its V10 for a twin-turbo V8.

The current M3 is powered by a 4.0L V8 with 414 horsepower, but it's being reported that BMW is currently testing four different engine options for the next M3.

1. S65 V8 Biturbo Engine: This is the engine that is currently being used, but BMW may rework it to give it more power and make it more fuel efficient by adding a bi-turbo.

2. Modified N54 Engine: This engine is currently being used by the 1 Series M Coupe and would be modified for use in the M3, but would it have enough power?

3. Modified S63 Engine: This is the same 4.4L V8 engine that is going under the hood of the 2012 M5. It's also used by the X5 M and X6 M. This engine could fit under the hood of the next M3.

4. V6 Based on the S63: This engine is supposedly being favored by BMW. It's essentially a smaller version of the S63 V8 turbo (two less cylinders) and will be turbocharged. It could also be used for M versions of the Z4 and X3. The problem with this engine is that it might upset BMW fans that love BMW's inline-six cylinder engines.

All-New 2012 Toyota Camry to Launch this Fall

An all-new seventh-generation 2012 Toyota Camry is going to launch this fall, according to a Toyota official.

Bob Carter, group vice president and Toyota general manager recently told Ward's, ""We haven't announced the next-gen Camry, (but) I will tell you (the current) Camry is very close to the end of its lifecycle, and a fall introduction is a pretty good educated guess." According to Carter, the next-generation Camry has not been delayed due to Japan's March 11 earthquake.

Although the Camry was the best-selling car in the U.S. last year, Toyota only sold 327,804 Camry's, its lowest total since 1994. The current Camry has been on the market since 2006.

The Camry has been Toyota's best selling sedan for years, but it looks like Toyota eventually expects the Prius to take the title. "(The) Camry and Corolla defined the brand in the '80s and '90s," Carter says. "In the 2000s, Camry has defined the brand. And when you get to the latter half of this decade, Prius will define the brand. That's where the customer is going."

Toyota and Subaru Versions of the FT-86 to Debut in Tokyo

We've been talking about the Toyota FT-86 since 2008, when Toyota and Subaru announced plans to jointly develop a new rear-wheel-drive coupe. Since then we've seen several concepts and discussed a lot of speculation about what we can expect from the new coupes.

Toyota and Subaru plan to officially unveil both versions of the sports coupe at the 2011 Tokyo Auto Show this December. Toyota released the latest preview of what we can expect in the form of the Scion FR-S concept. Toyota will officially sell its version of the coupe under then Scion brand when it is released some time next year. Production of the Subaru version is expected start in the spring of 2012.

The sports coupes will be powered by a 2.0L Subaru boxer-engine mated to a rear-wheel-drive system. Even though Subaru is widely known for its all-wheel-drive system, the coupe is being built on a unique rear-wheel-drive platform and there are no plans to release an AWD version. Unfortunately it looks like a turbocharged version is also not in the works. Thanks to the latest spy photos we do know that it will be available with a large rear wing, that brings back memories of the Toyota Supra.

BMW 328 Hommage Celebrates the 75th Birthday of the 328

The BMW 328 was labeled as one of the most successful sports cars of the 1930s and the 328 Touring Coupé still holds the record for the highest average speed on the Mille Miglia circuit. To celebrate the sports car's 75th birthday BMW has created a unique concept that pays tribute to the 328, dubbed the 328 Hommage.

With the BMW 328 Hommage, we wish to pay homage to the passion and inventiveness of the fathers of the BMW 328", explains Karl Bäumer, CEO of BMW Group Classic. "They created an icon, which is considered a milestone in the history of the automobile."

The 328 Hommage is a lightweight sports car thanks to the use of carbon fiber reinforced plastic (CFRP). In the 1930s aluminum and magnesium were used to keep a vehicle's weight down, but obviously that was before carbon fiber.

The BMW 328 Hommage is powered by a 3.0L six-cylinder engine. BMW didn't release any final output numbers.

VIDEO: Toyota FT-86/ Scion FR-S Shows off its Big Wing

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This week new spy photos of the upcoming Toyota FT-86/ Scion FR-S were all over the internet. These photos gave us an even closer look at the final production version, including the addition of a huge rear spoiler.

The guys over at ft86club have posted an almost 2 minute video of the FT86 in motion.

Check it out after the jump...

New Baby Jaguar to Come After the Next XF

It's been reported that Jaguar is planning a new entry-level sedan that would compete with the 3 Series and Mercedes-Benz C-Class. According to Autocar the new small sedan will not be released before the next-generation XF. jaguar_b99_bertone_concept_fr.jpg

The original plan was to release the new small Jaguar and a SUV based off the same platform by 2014, which was a year ahead of the new XF in 2015. But the next-generation XF is now being placed as a higher priority and will be released before the new smaller sedan.

According to Adrian Hallmark, "We definitely won't kill today's XF with a new small car. We'll kill it with the new XF." The next XF is expected to move up in size to compete with the BMW 5 Series and Mercedes-Benz E-Class. To remain competitive with the 3 Series and C-Class, the new small Jaguar will be about the same size as today's XF, which explains why the new XF has to be released first.

Aston Martin Unveils the V12 Zagato

Happy Friday! Here's your first look at the new Aston Martin V12 Zagato, which is having its world debut at the Villa D'Este Concours.

The Aston Martin V12 Zagato is the result of a renewed partnership between Aston Martin and Zagato, which goes back 50 years. The V12 Zagato concept draws inspiration from past models like the DB4GT Zagato, V8 Vantage Zagato and DB7 Zagato.

Dr Ulrich Bez, CEO of Aston Martin said: "The Zagato design language is a perfect complement to our design and engineering expertise. After 50 years of the two companies being associated with each other the partnership has produced some of the world's most iconic cars."

"Of course, fifty years ago Italian design houses were widely seen as leading the way with new designs but now and supported by our independency, Aston Martin has its own in-house design ability so this new venture with Zagato is more collaborative than it perhaps would have been in the past."

The V12 Zagato has a handcrafted aluminum body and is powered by the same 6.0L V12 engine as the V12 Vantage with 510 horsepower and 420 lb-ft. of torque.

The racing debut of the V12 Zagato will take place at the Nürburgring on May 28th.

Audi Has No Plans to Bring the 2012 A6 Avant to the U.S.

Audi officially unveiled the all-new 2012 A6 Avant yesterday, which is slated to go on sale in Europe this summer. When asked if the A6 Avant would be headed to the US, Audi of America spokesman Andrew Lipman said: "We don't have plans to bring the [new] A6 Avant to the U.S."

Audi currently sells the 2011 A6 Avant in the U.S. with a starting price of $46,075, but it looks like Audi is following the current trend of European brands pulling its wagons from the U.S. market. BMW and Volvo have recently pulled wagon models from the U.S. market due to less buyer interest.

Mini unveiled the Rocketman concept at the Geneva Motor Show in March and immediately rumors started to circulate that the small Mini concept could enter production. Well there are now new reports that indicate that the Rocketman is headed for production.

According to Auto Express, the Mini Rocketman could officially enter production as early as 2014. The Mini Rocketman would be smaller than the current Cooper line and create a new entry point to the Mini brand. The smaller Mini could also introduce three-cylinder engines and an electric version is also planned.

The smallest Mini will only be a few inches longer than the original Mini from the 1960s and feature a similar 3+1 seating layout as the Toyota iQ.

At this year's Villa d'Este Concorso d'Eleganza, Ferrari is going to unveil the Superamerica 45, a unique one-off model.

The Superamerica 45 was styled by Ferrari Design and engineered and built-in house. The car was comissioned by collector Peter Kalikow to celebrate 45 years since he first became a Ferrari client. The design is bespoke, featuring a carbon-fibre rotating hard-top which incorporates a rear screen. The boot is entirely new to house the roof when open, and is now in carbon-fibre with a design optimised to reduce drag and increase rear downforce.

The Superamerica 45 is painted in an exclusive Blu Antille, a color that matches another important car in the client's collection - a 1961 400 Superamerica cabriolet. The wheels are body-colored with a contrasting diamond finish to the spokes. The roof and other carbon-fiber elements of the bodywork - front splitter, side skirts and rear diffuser - are in a special contrasting darker blue, a theme that is carried over to the cockpit which features dark blue carbon-fibre dash trim and driver zone.

More Details Surface About Kia's GTI Fighter

Kia recently confirmed that it is developing a special Pro-Cee'd that will be a VW GTI rival. The new high-performance Kia will be based on the next-generation model and will be powered by a new direct-injection 1.6L engine with at least 200 horsepower.

It was originally thought that Kia would use a larger 2.0L engine, but to keep costs down, the 1.6L option was chosen.

Kia's Managing Director of Kia UK stated, "The sports models aren't there for volume. They'll just be a boost to the brand's image - particularly in the UK."

The GTI fighter will be unveiled at the Frankfurt Motor Show in the fall of 2013.

Chrysler's Ram is Planning a Honda Ridgeline Competitor

Chrysler's Ram truck brand is reportedly working on a new light-duty front-wheel-drive truck that will be based on a new minivan platform.

According to the latest reports, the new truck is expected to be aimed at truck buyers that would rather trade fuel economy for the hauling capabilities of larger full-size trucks. The Ram truck's main competitor will be the Honda Ridgeline.

The truck is being labeled as the TR Ram Life Style Truck and will be assembled at Chrysler's plant in Windsor, Ontario. The plant also builds the Chrysler Town & Country and Dodge Caravan minivans. Production is expected to be between 15,000 - 20,000 units annually, which is right around the same number of units that Honda sold last year (16,142 Ridgelines).

The new Ram truck is expected to launch in the fall of 2013.

2012 Audi A6 Avant Officially Unveiled

Audi has taken the wraps off the wagon version of the new 2012 A6, the A6 Avant.

The new A6 Avant adopts the all-new styling of the sedan version, but in a more versatile package. It will be available with a choice of six engines in Europe: two gasoline engines and four diesel units. The most powerful engine will be the 313-hp 3.0L twin-turbo TDI engine. The engines can be mated to either a six-speed manual, seven-speed S tronic, the continuously variable multitronic or an eight-speed tiptronic. Front-wheel-drive or Audi's Quattro all-wheel-drive system is available.

The body of the A6 Avant is made up of a combination of aluminum and steel to cut weight. The body is 20 percent aluminum, which has helped shave 154 lbs off the new A6 Avant.

Audi hasn't announced if the new A6 Avant will be joining the A6 sedan in the U.S., but it will go on sale in Europe this summer with prices starting at 40,850 euros. Of course we're more excited for the Audi RS6 that is rumored to debut sometime next year.

Nissan is celebrating 40 years of the Z with the 370Z GT Edition in the UK.

The 370Z GT Edition gets unique colors, GT stripes, darkened 19inch RAYS forged alloy wheels and a number of significant suspension and equipment changes. The 370 GT Edition is available in Pearl White, Kuro (metallic) black and Black Rose. Changes to the chassis have taken place at Nissan's Technical Center Europe (NTCE) based in Cranfield, Bedfordshire.

A rear view parking camera is now part of the Premium Connect satellite navigation system and as well as a tire pressure monitoring system. The 7-speed automatic transmission also now includes a a snow mode which, when applied, sets the car off in second gear and controls engine revs to prevent wheel spin on ice or snow.

"The 370Z is an iconic sports car and the GT Edition underlines its appeal to enthusiasts everywhere," said Pierre Loing, Vice President Product Planning, Nissan International SA. "The combination of outstanding performance and the dramatic looks of this very special 370Z more than lives up to the heritage of its illustrious forebear while its strong links to the race track shows its true pedigree."

It looks like there aren't any plans to bring this model to the U.S.

2012 Hyundai Genesis Prada Unveiled

Hyundai is far from the budget brand that it was in the 1980's. Today Hyundai has successfully entered the luxury market with models like the Genesis and Equus. To take the Genesis even further upmarket, Hyundai has unveiled the Genesis Prada edition for the Korean market.

Hyundai and Prada have teamed up to create the limited edition Genesis Prada. The Genesis Prada is based on the 2012 Genesis sedan and is powered by Hyundai's Tau 5.0L V8. Hyundai and Prada worked over two years together on the model. According to Hyundai the project reflects Hyundai's new marketing direction, "New Thinking. New Possibilities.", which aims to provide customers with new experiences and values beyond their expectations. This matches the brand image of Prada, which also balances tradition and innovation.

The Genesis Prada comes in three colors, Black Nero, Blue Baltico and Brown Moro. Dark chrome is applied to the radiator grille, emblem and door handles to reflect the unique palladium-coated buckles on Prada's bags. For the interior, the dashboard and the upholstery have also been revised and artisan-crafted in "saffiano" leather - Prada's signature top quality leather.

Hyundai only plans on making 1,200 units for the Korean market, a limited number headed to Middle Eastern and Asian countries, including China.

Honda's Supercharged CR-Z Mugen Officially Unveiled

Honda's CR-Z hybrid sports coupe has only received ok reviews, mainly because it doesn't really have that much "sport" under the hood. Mugen has responded to that criticism with the CR-Z Mugen.

Honda (UK) and Mugen have teamed up to create an even sportier CR-Z, the CR-Z Mugen and here are the first official photos. The CR-V Mugen is based on the standard CR-Z and still retains a hybrid powertrain. In order to increase its overall performance, the CR-Z Mugen gets a supercharger bolted onto its 1.5L IMA setup. The final output is expected to be 197 horsepower with 0-60 mph times around the same as the Civic Type R.

The CR-Z Mugen will be officially unveiled at the Goodwood Festival of Speed in July. Although the CR-Z Mugen is technically a concept, there have been reports that Honda is working on a turbocharged production CR-Z.

Spy Shots: First Look at the 2012 BMW M5 4.4L Twin-Turbo V8

Here's your first unofficial look at the 4.4L Twin-Turbo V8 that will power the 2012 BMW M5 thanks to M5board forums.

BMW unveiled the M5 concept in Shanghai last month and although the concept is pretty much what we can expect to see this fall, BMW did not give us a peak of what will be under the hood. BMW has confirmed that the new M5 will ditch the current V10 engine for the 4.4L twin-turbocharged V8 when it officially goes on sale. Although we do know that the new M5 will be powered by a V8, the official specs have not been released. It will be at least 25 percent more fuel efficient than the V10. An all-wheel-drive M5 is also reportedly in the works.

2012 Opel Zafira Tourer Unveiled Ahead of Frankfurt Debut

Here's your first look at the 2012 Opel Zafira Tourer, which is going to be officially unveiled this fall at the Frankfurt Motor Show. GM originally gave us a preview of the new Zafira as a concept model in Geneva, but here it is in final production form.

The Zafira Tourer brings the style and quality of the Insignia to the MPV segment. The third generation model brings more style to the third generation Zafira.

The Zafira is Opel's flexibility icon, and we wanted to bring more emotion and premium qualities into its third generation," says Mark Adams, Vice President, Opel/Vauxhall Design. "The Opel Zafira Tourer makes a statement with its sleek, sporty look and premium feel."

The final styling of the Zafira Tourer stays true to the concept with its distinctive front with its bold twin "boomerang" graphics which sweep from the headlights to the fog lamps.

When the Zafira Tourer launches in Europe this fall it will be available with three different versions of the 2.0L CDTI common-rail diesel engine with either 110, 130 or 165 horsepower. If you prefer a gasoline engine, the 1.4L Ecotec engine is available with either 120 or 140-hp. The engines can be mated to either six=speed manual or automatic transmissions.

Who knows if we will get the Zafira Tourer in the U.S., but at least we're getting the Astra GTC.

Mazda Announces New 1.3L SkyActiv Engine

Mazda has announced the introduction of its newest engine, the SkyActiv-G 1.3L engine. The new 1.3L gasoline engine will be the first of its next-generation SkyActiv engines to be introduced. mazda_1.3L_skyactiv.jpg

The 1.3L engine features direct-injection and according to Mazda achieves a high record high compression ratio of 14.0:1. The 1.3L engine will be the first direct-injection gasoline engine to be equipped in a compact car made in Japan, when it is introduced in the Mazda Demio in Japan. The engine puts out 83 horsepower and manages to get 30km/L under Japan's 10-15 mode test cycle thanks to Mazda's unique idling stop system, i-stop, and a continuously variable transmission (CVT).

The Mazda Demio is known as the Mazda2 in the U.S., but it hasn't been announced if the Mazda2 will be available with this engine here. Mazda has announced that the 2012 Mazda3 will be getting a SkyActiv-G engine. The SkyActiv-G engine in the Mazda2 is a 2.0L engine that puts out 155 horsepower and gets up to 40 mpg.

2012 Audi Q3 Starts at £24,560 in the UK

Audi's third crossover, the Q3 will have a sticker price starting at £24,560 when it hits UK dealerships later this year. The 2012 Audi Q3 will be available to order starting in June with deliveries starting in November.

In the UK the Q3 will be offered with four different engines: two gas and two diesel. The 2.0 TFSI engine will put out either 168-hp or 208-hp, while the 2.0L TDI will put out either 138-hp or 175-hp. The base engines are mated to a six-speed manual and the more powerful engines are mated to a seven-speed S tronic transmission.

The Q3 comes standard with rear parking sensors, 17-inch alloy wheels and roof rails. On the inside the Q3 has standard features like Bluetooth, iPod connectivity and dual-zone climate control. The S line package adds £2750 to the Q3 and comes with 18-inch wheels, an enhanced interior and exterior, LED daytime running lamps and LED rear tail lights.

There's no word yet if the Q3 will eventually be offered in the U.S.

Bmw i3 to Have 160-Mile Range and Start at $35K

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More details are surfacing about BMW's upcoming all-electric i3. We've seen spy photos and videos of prototypes testing out in the snow. Now we've learned that the i3 will have a range of 160 miles and will be powered by a 150 horsepower electric motor.

The rear-wheel-drive i3 is also expected to be priced around $35,000 when it is released in 2013.

VW Polo WRC Could Lead to a 200-HP Polo R in 2013

VW could be working on a high-performance version of the VW Polo due to the introduction of the Polo R WRC rally car.

VW board member Ulrich Hackenberg recently told Autocar that the introduction of the Polo R WRC into the 2013 World Rally Championship makes the chances of a production Polo R more likely.

"You can see how the World Rally Championship programme would increase the probability of an R version of the base model [Polo]", he said: "It is with the rally program, not before it. I can't give a precise date, but it's along those lines."

So the chances are high for a Polo R, but it won't come before 2013. The Polo R is expected to be powered by a 1.4L with around 200 horsepower. Hopefully by the time that the Polo R is released, the Polo will be on sale in the U.S.

Aston Martin is Working on an Electric-Powered Cygnet

According to the latest reports, Aston Martin is currently working on an electric version of its Cygnet city car.

The Cygnet is basically a rebadged Toyota iQ and since Toyota is preparing to launch an electric version of the iQ in 2012, an Aston Martin version is expected in 2013.

Production of the gas powered Cygnet has already kicked off with prices starting at £30,995 in Europe.

Hyundai to Invest $173 Million in Alabama Plant

Hyundai is going to invest $173 million to expand its engine plant in Alabama. The expansion of the plant is expected to be completed this fall, with production kicking off in March 2012.

The plant is going to produce the 4-cyl engine for the popular Elantra. The investment in the plant will create 214 new jobs and increase Hyundai's engine capacity by 300,000 units per year. The investment is also going to allow Hyundai to build more engines for the midsize Sonata.

2012 Chevy Camaro Gets More Power and Better Fuel Economy

The 2012 Chevy Camaro is a little "greener" thanks to some updates that give it more power, but at the same time saving more gas and putting out fewer emissions.

The 2012 Camaro 3.6L V6 gets a new integrated exhaust manifold cylinder head that replaces a cast iron exhaust manifold, six bolts, a gasket and a heat shield and three bolts. This change reduces the engine weight by 13 pounds, which has helped to improve the gas mileage of the Camaro. The Camaro 2LS model now gets 30 mpg on the highway.

"Reducing engine mass of this magnitude doesn't happen often," said Ameer Haider, GM assistant chief engineer for V6 engines. "Engineering usually looks for reduction in terms of grams not pounds. It's just like removing a set of golf clubs from your car when you don't need them - ultimately it saves fuel. When combined with other mass reductions, the customer will see better fuel economy over time with better performance." 2012_chevy_camaro_exhaust_manifold3.jpg

The 3.6L V6 now puts out 11 more horsepower (323-hp) thanks to a new larger intake valves, which have improved intake airflow by seven percent. Exhaust flow is also 10 percent better than the V6 in the 2011 model.

"The new, patented design benefits the customer in all the key areas without any tradeoffs, said Haider. "Emissions, performance, fuel economy, and noise all improve with the integrated exhaust manifold."

Oakley Design Previews the Lamborghini Aventador LP760-2

Oakley Design is most known for its tweaked Ferrari and Porsche models, like the Ferrari 458 and Porsche GT3. The design firm has just released a preview of its modified Lamborghini Aventador, the Aventador LP760-2.

The Aventador LP760-2 features an awesome 760 horsepower engine that gets around 10% more power thanks to a retuned ECU and a modified exhaust system. That power isn't put to the ground via an all-wheel-drive system, like the standard Aventador. Instead all of that power is sent to the rear wheels. The deletion of the AWD system does save some weight. The modified titanium exhaust system and lightweight alloy wheels also help shave off some of the extra pounds.

Production is limited to only five units and it looks like three have already been sold...

Spyker Reaches Deal with China's Pandga to Save Saab

Just a few days after a proposed deal between Spyker (Saab's owner) and China's Hawtai Motor Group fell apart, Spyker has announced a new deal with China's Pangda Automobile Trade Co. Ltd. The new deal is worth as much as 100 million euros.

Under the new deal, Saab will reportedly receive 30 million euros from Pangda for vehicles destined for sale in China, which will help Saab pay its suppliers and restart production. Saab's Trollhatten plant has been idle for almost six weeks.

"This is a good first step if it can lead to Saab talking to its suppliers about paying its bills," said Svenake Berglie, chief executive of the suppliers organisation, FKG.

Although Spyker has managed to find a new deal to hopefully save Saab, the deal could face the same problems as the earlier deal with Hawtai. Since Pandga is a distributor and not a manufacturer like Hawtai, hopefully there will be less hurdles to overcome.

Lexus CT 200h Makes its Racing Debut at the Nurburgring

A hybrid hits the famed Nurburgring in Germany? Yup the Lexus CT 200h has been prepped by Gazoo Racing, the same firm that is responsible for the racing Lexus LFA.

The Gazoo Racing CT is powered by the Lexus hybrid drive system, but features a larger 2.4L gas engine compared to the 1.8L in the CT 200h. Maybe this setup could make it into the more powerful CT that is reportedly in the works?

Next-Generation 2014 Hyundai Genesis to Get All-Wheel-Drive

Hyundai has released a bunch of upgrades for the 2012 Genesis sedan, but an all-wheel-drive version is still missing. It looks like Hyundai is not going to offer an all-wheel-drive Genesis until the next-generation model arrives for the 2014 model year.

Hyundai's CEO John Krafcik has stated that the Genesis sedan and coupe as well as the Equus would eventually all be offered with all-wheel-drive. Since the AWD system has been delayed until the next-generation Genesis, it's safe to assume that neither the Equus or Genesis coupe will get AWD versions until the next-generation platform is released.

For the 2012 model year, the Genesis gets an upgraded 3.8L V6 that now puts out 333 horsepower. The exterior has been updated with a new front fascia and new alloy wheels. There is also a new top trim model, the R-Spec, which is powered by an all-new direct-injected 5.0L V8. The R-Spec Genesis puts out 429 horsepower and gets a new eight-speed transmission.

2013 Mercedes-Benz A-Class Leaked Patent Drawings are Real

A few days ago leaked photos of what appeared to be the next-generation (2013?) Mercedes-Benz A-Class popped up on the internet thanks to The photos are supposedly from a European patent filing. Mercedes-Benz has yet to confirm if the photos are legit, but according to Car and Driver's sources, the photos are the rear thing. 2013_mercedes_benz_a_class_leak2.jpg

These photos are our first view at what we can expect from the five-door version of the next A-Class. It maintains many aspects from the A-Class concept, but of course it's design has been toned down and made more production friendly. The good news is that there will be at least four versions of the next A-Class: a three-door, five-door, four-door coupe and an MPV. All four are reportedly going to be offered in the U.S. including an AMG version.

The 2013 Mercedes-Benz A-Class will arrive sometime late next year in the U.S.

General Motors has announced plans to invest $109 million in its plants in Flint and Bay City, Michigan to support engine production for GM's current and future small cars.

"This investment marks the second major increase in engine and engine component output in less than six months - a sign that GM is moving quickly to meet growing demand for more fuel-efficient cars," said Terri Burden, Flint Engine Operations plant manager.

The announcement follows the plans that GM announced in November 2010 to invest $151 milllion and protect 143 jobs in the Flint and Bay City plants. $84 million of the proposed $109 million will go to the Flint plant to increase production of the new 1.4L Ecotec engine, while $25 million will go to the Bay City plant that produces the connecting rods and camshafts for the small engine.

"I am very excited on behalf of all of our employees here at the Bay City Plant about our announcement today and very thankful for the cooperation and support from the community," said Joe Mazzeo, Bay City plant manager. "This announcement comes about in part because of our great team and the focus we place on delivering great products, an outstanding work ethic and an excellent working relationship between our union and management team."

Japan's automakers have had to delay or slow the production due to the earthquake in March. Honda has already announced that many of its models will be in tight supply through this summer and the all-new 2012 CR-V will be delayed at least a month. Toyota is also experiencing many of the same issues, but if you are a Prius fan and have been eagerly awaiting the introduction of the 2012 Prius V MPV, Toyota has announced that it is still on track for this fall.

Although the Prius V is still on track for a fall introduction here in the U.S., the Japan-market Prius Alpha has been delayed.

VW ups the Price of the 2011 Jetta by $500

I'm sure we've all seen the VW commercials for the 2011 Jetta that boast about its $15,995 starting price. It's supposedly a great thing that the not so highly rated, 2011 Jetta has a base price that is now cheaper than before. Well it looks like that base price is now not quite as cheap. VW has quietly raised the base price of the Jetta by $500.

VW's website now lists the base Jetta at $16,495. For that you get the base Jetta S with a very weak 115-hp 2.0L engine. I recently purchased a new VW (not a Jetta) and I couldn't even sit in the Jetta for five minutes. That interior felt so cheap!

2011 Ford F-150 and Toyota Tundra Receive Top IIHS Safety Award

The 2011 Ford F-150 and Toyota Tundra are now the only large pickups to earn the top rating of good in roof strength tests from the Insurance Institute of Highway Safety hat measures occupant protection in rollover crashes. 2011_toyota_tundra_IIHS.jpg

The F-150 and Tundra earned the Institute's 2011 Top Safety Pick award after receiving top safety ratings in front, side and rear tests.

According to the IIHS, the Tundra was able to withstand a force 4.5 times its weight, while the F-150's roof was able to withstand a force 4.7 times its weight. A vehicle must be able to withstand a minimum four times its weight to earn a good rating. The Nissan Titan earned an acceptable rating in rollover protection, while the Chevy Silverado, GMC Sierra and Dodge Ram were rated as marginal in the test.

2012 Mercedes-Benz E63 AMG Wagon Headed to the U.S.

Mercedes-Benz is bringing a seriously fast wagon to the U.S. with the addition of the E63 AMG wagon for the 2012 model year. Mercedes-Benz has announced the changes to its lineup for the new model year and it includes the E63 AMG wagon joining the sedan version on our side of the Atlantic.

Mercedes-Benz already announced the changes to the 2012 E63 AMG, which includes a new twin-turbocharged 5.5L V8 under the hood. The new engine produces up to 550 horsepower with the available Performance Package. The engine puts out 518 horsepower and 516 lb-ft. of torque without the package.

Now you can enjoy all that extra power under the hood in a more family friendly version...

A new document has leaked that confirms that GM is working on a new coupe based on the Opel Insignia sedan.

The new coupe will be based on the Insignia's Epsilon II platform. It will be powered by a 2.8L turbocharged V6. In Europe the new Opel will be badged as the Calibra and a range topping VXR version is expected to have around 325 horsepower. It's expected to reach 0-62 mph in less than six seconds and have a top speed of 155 mph. The lesser powered models are expected to still have turbochargers under the hood. Production is expected to start in October 2012 with sales starting in 2013.

Why should we be concerned with this model? The Opel Insignia is also sold in the U.S. as the Buick Regal, so the coupe version of the Insignia could also come here. Anything is possible since Buick is reportedly getting a version of the Opel Astra GTC.

Hyundai i40 Sedan Officially Unveiled in Barcelona

Hyundai has taken the wraps off the all-new i40 sedan at the Barcelona Motor Show. The i40 sedan, is the sedan version of the i40 wagon that was unveiled in Geneva. It will compete in Europe's D-segment and will go head to head with models like the VW Passat.

The i40 sedan has styling that is very reminiscent of other Hyundai models sold in the North America, such as the new Elantra, but it is larger. According to Hyundai's European design chief Thomas Burkle, "We wanted to move away from the typical three-box saloon and create a car that was in keeping with the sporty nature of the i40 tourer.
By sculpting a low, elongated roof line, we've given the i40 saloon a striking coupe-like silhouette."

The i40 will be powered by a choice of gasoline and diesel engines. The diesel engines consist of a 1.7L turbodiesel with either 113 or 134 horsepower. At launch a 1.6L gasoline powered engine will be available with 138-hp. A 2.0L gasoline engine with 177 horsepower will also eventually be offered.

Hyundai is hoping to sell 60,000 i40s a year in Europe.

Porsche has unveiled another special edition version of the 911, the 2012 911 Carrera 4 GTS.

The 2012 911 Carrera 4 GTS comes in either the coupe or cabriolet versions. It gets a power 23 horsepower upgrade over the 911 Carrera 4S, for a total 408-hp, which allows it to reach 0-60 mph 0.1 second faster. It reaches 0-60 mph in 4.0 seconds when it's equipped with the seven-speed PDK transmission and the optional Sport Chrono Package Plus. It has a top speed of 187 mph.

The Carrera 4 GTS features a body with 44-mm wider wheel arches at the rear. It is also distinguishable by its SportDesign front apron, black side skirts from the 911 GT2 and a black panel between the rear tailpipes. It also gets 19-inch RS Spyder design wheels that are painted in high-gloss black. Inside the interior features Alcantara on the center sections of the seats, the three-spoke steering wheel and handbrake lever.

The 911 Carrera 4 GTS Coupe starts at $110,200 and the 911 Carrera 4 GTS Cabriolet starts at $120,100. Both models will be available this fall.

Saab Deal with Hawtai Motors Falls Apart

Last week Saab announced a new partnership with China's Hawtai Motor Group Company Limited. The deal included a 29.9 stake in Saab for 150 million euros ($216 million), but it looks like that deal has collapsed. It's being reported that Hawtai was unable to obtain the stakeholder support that it needed, which is means that the deal is off.

Saab and Hawtai are still trying to work on a deal, but Saab is also now talking to other potential partners.

2011 Kia Optima Hybrid Starts at $26,500

Kia has announced the pricing for its first ever hybrid in the U.S., the 2011 Optima Hybrid.

The stylish Optima hybrid starts at $26,500 and is set to arrive in dealerships in June. The 2011 Optima hybrid shares it powertrain with the Hyundai Sonata hybrid and is powered by a full hybrid system that can be driven in electric mode up to 62 miles per hour. The hybrid system mates a 2.4L engine to an electric motor and a lithium polymer battery. It gets 35 mpg in the city and 40 mpg on the highway.

To differentiate it from the gasoline engine powered Optima models, the Optima hybrid features unique a front grille design, 16-inch alloy wheel design, headlamp design, fog lamps, heated outside mirrors, front and rear lower bumpers and side sills and LED tail lamp design.

2012 Mercedes-Benz A-Class Gets an Early Unveiling

Mercedes-Benz has confirmed that the next-generation 2012 A-Class will finally be offered in the U.S. It also looks like the final production version will remain close to the concept that we saw in Shanghai. The official patent drawings of the 2012 A-Class have leaked on the internet and are available thanks to Belgian automotive site

If these photos are authentic, the 2012 A-Class will retain many details from the concept, but with a toned down grille and a few other elements being made more production friendly. In addition to this five-door model, a sedan and three-door versions are also expected. We will not be getting the three-door in the U.S.

GM is planning on introducing an all-new Chevy Corvette in 2013 and according to GM's 2012_chevy_corvette_centennial_edition_fr_new3.jpg Mark Reuss, the next Corvette will be "completely different." This is provides more fuel to the rumors that the next Corvette could adopt a mid-engined layout.

GM's senior executives have acknowledged that the current Corvette is not completely competitive with global sports cars from Ferrari and Porsche. GM's goal for the seventh-generation Corvette is to make it a truly global competitor when it's released in 2013.

There's a strong possibility that the Corvette could get a mid-engined layout, although it would be a major engineering shift. Even though it would be a significant change, sources claim that it wouldn't be completely out of line, since the Corvette has often served as a technological testbed for GM. There are also rumors that GM could also revive the split rear window design of the 1963 Corvette.

GM also claims that the interior of the next Corvette will be "absolutely world class."

Aston Martin and Italian design house Zagato have announced a new collaboration in the 50th anniversary year of the iconic DB4GT Zagato. The first result of the partnership will be shown off at the Villa D'Este Concours on May 21st 2011.

Dr. Ulrich Bez, Chief Executive said: "The DNA of both Aston Martin and Zagato has combined successfully to make some of the world's most desirable collector cars in the past and in this special anniversary year of the DB4GT Zagato it is appropriate to explore a modern collaboration.

"Now is the right time for a new Aston Martin Zagato and in combining our design intelligence I think we can create something fitting of the iconic DB4GT Zagato that has gone before and since established itself as one of the most famous Aston Martins of all time."

The initial concept is slated to debut this month with a production model coming in 2012. The first partnership between Aston Martin and Zagato came to fruition in 1961 after Aston Martin sought to remove even more weight from the very special DB4GT.

Yesterday the Japanese newspaper, Nikkan Kogyo claimed that the slow selling Mazda6 would soon get the axe, but now Mazda is refuting those reports.

Mazda recently told Car and Driver that "there is no intention to discontinue" the Mazda6. Mazda's U.S. CEO, Jim o'Sullivan also stated that the current generation Mazda6 will be around for the next several years. Although the Mazda6 is here to stay, there are no big changes planned for the sedan in the next two years, beyond the addition of the new four-cylinder SkyActiv engine.

Mazda has no plans to discontinue the Mazda6, but it may change where it's currently built. The Mazda6 is built in a facility in Flat Rock, Michigan, that Mazda shares with Ford. Mazda may move production to Mexico, where it would be cheaper to produce the Mazda6.

Ford to use Google Prediction API to Optimize Fuel Efficiency

Ford has announced plans to use the power of cloud computing, analytics and Google to identify technologies that could make tomorrow's vehicles smart enough to independently change how they perform to deliver optimal driveability and fuel efficiency.

Ford is currently applying Google's Prediction API to its own predictive driver behavior research. The Google API can convert historical driving data into real-time predictions, such as where a driver is headed at the time of departure.

"The Google Prediction API allows us to utilize information that an individual driver creates over time and make that information actionable," said Ryan McGee, technical expert, Vehicle Controls Architecture and Algorithm Design, Ford Research and Innovation. "Between Google Prediction and our own research, we are discovering ways to make information work for the driver and help deliver optimal vehicle performance."

"Once the destination is confirmed, the vehicle would have instant access to a variety of real-time information so it can optimize its performance, even against factors that the driver may not be aware of, such as an EV-only zone," said McGee.

Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG Gets the Medical Treatment

Mercedes-Benz has enlisted the SLS AMG as an emergency vehicle for the RETTmobil emergency vehicle expo.

No this doesn't mean that you will soon see the SLS AMG on emergency calls. This is a design study for the expo and is meant to highlight Mercedes' medical vehicle offerings and safety of their vehicles.

Ford 's Team RS and SVT engineering teams are currently testing 60 pre-production Focus prototypes in Europe and North America.

"The new Focus ST is eagerly awaited around the world, which is appropriate as this is our first global performance model," said Jost Capito, Ford's director of Global Performance Vehicles. "It must live up to Ford's reputation for producing affordable yet exciting and sporty versions of its smaller cars that reward and delight enthusiast drivers, but can also be used every day.

"We've done all the engineering groundwork, and now we're using some of the most demanding roads we can find in Europe and North America to validate and fine tune the performance and driving dynamics."

The 2012 Focus ST will be powered by a 246-hp 2.0L EcoBoost engine.

Toyota Regains Title as Most Valuable Automotive Brand

Toyota has regained its title as the world's most valuable automotive brand, despite all of the recalls Toyota had in 2010.

Toyota's brand value has jumped 11 percent to $24.2 billion in the BrandZ Top 100 annual ranking of the world's most valuable brands. Toyota has taken the top spot from BMW ($22.4 billion), which held the spot last year. Mercedes-Benz holds the number three spot and is valued at $15.3 billion and Honda is now at number four spot and is valued at $14.2 billion.

According to Peter Walshe, Millward Brown global brand director, Toyota's recalls did not have a significant affect on consumer's confidence in Toyota. He told Automotive News Europe, "It was a highly trusted brand before the recall and the company was always going to bounce back if it acted responsibly, which it did. It shows the resilience of the brand." Toyota was the most valuable automotive brand from 2006-2009.

According to the study, the most valuable brand in the world is Apple, which is valued at $153 billion, while last year's leader Google is now only valued at $111 billion.

Aston Martin's CEO Dr. Ulrich Bez has announced that he will auction off his Aston Martin Rapide sedan at this year's annual Bonhams auction at Newport Pagnell and all proceeds will go to charities providing aid to victims of the recent earthquakes and Tsunami in Japan.

Dr Ulrich Bez said: "Nobody could have failed to be moved by the recent events in Japan and we at Aston Martin are no exception. After many years presence in the market and closer ties being forged with the Japanese automotive business in recent projects, we have many friends in the region and we wanted to do something to help."

"The Bonhams Aston Martin Auction seems the perfect platform to encourage the extended Aston Martin family to support this cause, so we have decided to auction my Rapide which I have used in my role as Chief Executive to represent Aston Martin at numerous events in both UK and Europe. I hope this superb car will raise a substantial amount to help make a difference."

Subaru Tribeca and Mazda6 Could Soon be Dead

Nikkan Kogyo is reporting that two U.S.-built Japanese vehicles may soon be cut from their respective lineups. The Subaru Tribeca and Mazda6 will soon be cut according to the Japanese newspaper.

According to Nikkan Kogyo, Subaru has decided to stop work on the next-generation Tribeca SUV and production will end after the current model's run is over. Subaru has only sold 910 units through April and the SUV is currently taking up production space at Subaru's plant in Indiana. Subaru will needs the extra production space for the more popular Outback and Legacy models. It's not known when the SUV will be dropped, but it has been on sale since 2005. 2011_Mazda6_01.jpg

The Mazda6 sedan has failed to meet expectations. Mazda planned on producing 100,000 units a year at its Flat Rock, Michigan plant when the redesigned sedan was introduced in 2008, but of course that was right when the industry went south. Last year Mazda only produced 45,168 units. Supposedly, the Mazda6 is the reason why Mazda hasn't been able to produce a regional operating profit in North America. Mazda's plans are not yet known, but it could include producing a different model at the Michigan plant or stopping production at the plant completely.

Chrysler has announced the release of eight new custom grilles and six new wheel designs for the 2011 Chrysler 300.

"Mopar is offering a full menu of grilles and wheels for those looking to customize and personalize their all-new Chrysler 300," said Pietro Gorlier, President and CEO of Mopar, Chrysler Group LLC. "By itself, the Chrysler 300 makes a statement. Our grilles and wheels provide exclamation points. And unlike other aftermarket offerings, our grilles are specifically tested for aero, cooling and thermal, and our wheels are specifically designed and tested for durability and impact."

The eight new custom grilles, including two constructed of billet aluminum, range from $310 to $750. The six new wheel designs, range in size from 18-inch to 20-inch and are priced from $265-$610.

VIDEO: Oprah Gives the 2012 VW Beetle to a Lucky Fan

Last fall Oprah revealed the silhouette of the all-new 2012 VW Beetle on her show. The silhouette of the 2012 Beetle was unveiled as one of Oprah's "Favorite Things" and every audience member received the new Beetle. Now that the new Beetle has been officially unveiled Oprah had the car on her show again, in which it was given to one lucky audience member.

Of course this isn't the first time that Oprah has given her audience members new cars. Back in 2004 Oprah handed out the keys to a bunch of Pontiac G6s.

Ford offers a performance package on the Mustang V6 that according to Ford, "delivers on "fun, fast and affordable" and now it has an official name, thanks to the Mustang's Facebook fans.

Ford reached out to almost 1.4 million fans on the Mustang Facebook page and the fans chose the "Mustang Mayhem Package" as the official name for the V6 performance package.

"We saw great enthusiasm from fans, with tons of creative, unique names coming in," said Brian McClary, Ford social and emerging media specialist. "The contest was twofold - it let us engage with fans by letting them have a say, and it helped build awareness for the package."

Ford received over 3,000 submissions, but the winning submission came from a fan in Charlotte, North Carolina, who has won a three-year lease on a 2012 Mustang equipped with the Mayhem Mustang Package.

VW Golf GTI 35 Celebrates 35 Years of the GTI

To celebrate the 35th anniversary of the Golf GTI, VW has unveiled the Golf GTI 35.

Under the hood the special edition GTI gets a boost in power with final output now at 232 horsepower from the turbocharged 2.0L engine. On the outside the GTI 35 gets new headlights with LED daytime running lights, special edition wheels and "35" badges on the door sills and front fenders. On the inside the seats get the number "35" stitched into the seats.

Unfortunately this special edition GTI is only available in Europe with prices starting at 30,425 Euro.

Alfa Romeo to Launch a New Small SUV in Late 2012

Alfa Romeo is going to get a much needed SUV model by late next year. Internally the SUV alfa_romeo_suv_fr.jpg is codenamed C-SUV and will be about the same size as the BMW X3 and Audi Q3 models.

The new SUV is part of a plan to reposition Alfa Romeo as a competitor to Audi and BMW. Currently Alfa Romeo only has four models, the Mito, Giuletta and the 159 sedan and wagon. The 159 is set to be replaced by the Giulia in the beginning of 2013 and a five-door Mito and 4C sports car will also be released in 2013. In 2014 the Giuletta will get a facelift and an SUV based on the Jeep Grand Cherokee will also be added to the lineup.

The new Alfa Romeo SUV will be built at Fiat's Mirafiori plant in Turin in late 2012 alongside a new Jeep that will replace the Compass and Patriot SUVs. The SUV will be based on Fiat's Compact Plus Global Modular Architecture, which is an extended version of the Giuletta's platform.

And just in case you are wondering, it looks like Alfa Romeo's return to the U.S. has been pushed back to 2013.

Toyota to Make Plug-In Technology Standard on Prius by 2014

Japan's Nikkei is reporting that Toyota will make plug-in technology standard on the Prius hybrid starting in 2014.

The plug-in Prius will be launched in 2012 with lithium-ion batteries, but it won't be until two years later that the technology will become standard on the Prius. Toyota is apparently is hoping that the infrastructure that is necessary to support more electric vehicles on the road will be in place by then.

Cadillac Quietly Kills the STS to Make Room for the ATS

Cadillac has officially ended production of the STS sedan at its plant in Lansing Grand River.

The death of the STS sedan will be followed by the birth of a new small Cadillac sedan, the ATS. GM spokeswoman Erin Davis said the end of STS production won't result in any layoffs. The STS and STS-V were produced at the plant since August 2004. The plant will shut down for 1 1/2 months starting next month to get things set up for the new sedan. Once production kicks off again in July, the plant will produce the CTS until the new small sedan debuts in 2012.

Cadillac is also working on a new large sedan, the XTS, which will eventually take the STS's spot in the Cadillac lineup.

R.I.P. Cadillac STS.

Tesla to Seek Additional Funding for an Electric SUV Model

Tesla is still hard at work on its second model, the Model S sedan, but the company is reportedly also thinking about adding a third model to its lineup. Currently Tesla offers the roadster electric vehicle, but Tesla may soon seek additional funding to help it produce a third electric model, the Model X, which would ben electric powered SUV type of vehicle.

The Model X would use the same powertrain as the Model S sedan.

"We do have enough capital to reach cash-flow positive without raising another dollar," Musk said on an earnings call. "There's a decent chance we will raise a secondary for the Model X activity and some additional potential headroom growth on the Model S production."

Tesla currently has 4,600 reservations for the Model S, which requires a down payment of $5,000. Pricing for the base 160-mile range Model S is expected to start at $49,900 after the $7,500 federal tax credit. The model that can travel up to 230 miles on a single charge costs $10,000 more and the top model with a 300 mile range starts at $74,400 before any tax credits.

Mercedes-Benz has released a mini film starring the 2012 Mercedes-Benz C-Class coupe.

"Drive & Seek" is a quick 9 minute action movie that involves a bank robbery, hot women and of course the all-new C-Class coupe.


Audi Cancels R4 and Delays A2

It had been rumored for years that Audi was planning on releasing a smaller sports car dubbed the R4, which would essentially be a smaller version of the R8 supercar. The R4 was expected to also draw inspiration from the e-tron concept. There were also similar models planned for the VW and Audi brands, but now it looks like Audi has canceled plans for the R4.

It looks like the main reason for killing the R4 is because it was seen as being too similar to the Porsche Boxster and would also cannibalize sales of the Audi TT. VW has also canceled plans for the VW variant, the VW Bluesport. vw_bluesport_concept_16_new.jpg

It also looks like Audi is delaying the launch of the new A2, due to delays in developing its platform.

Hyundai i40 Sedan will be Unveiled in Barcelona

Hyundai has released a sketch of the i40 sedan that is going to be unveiled at the 2011 Barcelona Motor Show next week. Hyundai unveiled the i40 wagon at the Geneva Motor Show this past March.

The i40 will replace the Sonata in the European market. It will also get the same engines as the wagon, which includes the 1.7L diesel engine.

Come back next week to see all the photos and info.

Porsche has unveiled a new special edition version of the Cayman S, the Cayman S Black Edition. The Cayman S Black Edition marks the end of the current generation, before the all-new Boxster and Cayman launch within the next year.

The Cayman S Black Edition is powered by the same 330-hp 3.4L flat-six cylinder as the Cayman R, which is 10 more horsepower than the Cayman S. The engine is mated to porsche_cayman_s_black_edition_3.jpgeither a six-speed manual or seven-speed (PDK) dual clutch transmission. According to Porsche, the Cayman S Black Edition will reach 0-62 mph in 5.1 seconds with the manual and 5.0 seconds with the dual clutch gearbox. With the optional PDK Sport Chrono package it can reach 0-62 mph in 4.8 seconds. It has a top speed up to 173 mph.

Inside the black theme continues with black trim, black sport seats and "Black Edition" scuff plates.

Porsche only plans on building 500 units with pricing starting at $68,450 when it goes on sale this July.

Jaguar C-X75 Concept to be Built in 2013

Jaguar is going to produce the C-X75 concept that was unveiled at the Paris Motor Show, last fall, by late 2013.

The new Jaguar supercar will be developed with help from the Williams Formula 1 team. Tata chief Carl-Peter Forster stated this morning that the deal between Jaguar's parent jaguar_c_x75_concept_side.jpgcompany, Tata and the Williams F1 team will affect everything Jaguar does for decades to come. The Williams F1 team will be providing weight-saving technology and engine technology directly related to the four-cyl Williams engine.

The production version of the C-X75 concept will be powered by a plug-in hybrid system with dual electric motors and a four-cylinder engine with all-wheel-drive.

"People expect us to be innovators," says Adrian Hallmark, Jaguar brand director. "The jaguar_c_x75_concept_rear.jpg C-X75 received an incredible reception as a concept car. We've been building on that momentum and there is a clear business case for the exclusive halo model. No other vehicle will better signify Jaguar's renewed confidence and excellence in technological innovation than this."

Jaguar is only planning on producing 250 units of the yet to be named supercar with prices starting around £700,000.

More Rumors that Acura is Reportedly Working on a New RSX

Acura killed the RSX in 2006, so its current smallest car is the TSX. There has been new interest in small luxury hatchbacks brought on by the Lexus CT200h, Audi A3 and upcoming Mercedes-Benz A-Class. It looks like Acura is planning on bringing back the RSX in the near future.

According to sources the new RSX will be powered by a version of the 2.4L i-VTEC engine that powers the recently launched 2012 Civic Si. The 2.4L will be mated to a six-speed manual transmission and helical LSD. We haven't seen any spy photos, but sources claim that it will have an interior inspired by the current Civic Type R, that isn't offered in the U.S. The exterior will be a sharp, wedge shape.

Honda is reportedly also working on a new C-segment sports coupe that will borrow its hardware from the Accord.

Opel gave us our first official look at the 2012 Astra GTC late last month, which is set to be unveiled this June and in Frankfurt later this year. The new Astra is much sleeker and sportier than the last model, which if you recall was sold here as the Saturn Astra. That model obviously failed and went down with the rest of the Saturn brand. It looks like GM is set to bring the Astra back to the US, but this time it will be badged as a Buick. 2012_opel_astra_gtc_rear.jpg

Lexus and Audi both have small luxury hatchbacks in the US and Mercedes will be bringing the A-Class hatch here soon as well, so it makes sense that Buick try to capture a piece of that market as well. The Astra is already coming here in the form of the Verano sedan, but we're expected to get the much hotter GTC version as well. The GTC is being offered in Europe with a range of four-cylinder engines that have up to 300 horsepower. In the US, it is likely that the GTC will get the same engines as the Verona, a 177-hp 2.4L and a turbocharged 2.0L with 220-hp.

The GTC is pretty much confirmed for the US, but a convertible could also make its way over that will be based on the same Delta platform as the Astra and Verano. Although it will be based on the same mechanicals as the Verano, Astra and Cruze, it's expected to get its own distinct styling. The new convertible is expected to launch as an Opel in late 2012, but it remains to be seen if it will come here as a Buick.

Today is Cinco de Mayo and to celebrate getting margaritas later here is a funny VW video for the 2011 Tiguan.

Volkswagen states, " At the scene of a child's birthday party, the strength of the 2011 Tiguan is demonstrated when even a father cannot break the SUV-shaped VW piñata."

Check out the video after the jump...

Lamborghini Sesto Elemento Slated to Arrive this Fall

Lamborghini hasn't officially announced anything yet, but there are reports that a production version of the Sesto Elemento concept is going to launch this October.

Auto Motor und Sport has reportedly received confirmation that the limited production Sesto Elemento will start arriving in dealerships in the third quarter of 2011. Production is expected to be limited to 10-20 units with pricing around $2.8 million.

The Sesto Elemento is expected to be powered by a naturally-aspirated 5.2L V10 engine with 570 horsepower. It will reach 0-62 mph in 2.5 seconds and have a top speed over 186 mph.

Mercedes-Benz has released spy photos of the upcoming SLS AMG Roadster before the car's official unveiling at the Frankfurt Motor Show this fall. The pre-production model that is shown in these photos is barely wearing any camouflage with the bare minimum only covering the badges and the front and rear lights.

The roadster version of the SLS AMG loses the gullwing doors from the coupe and gets a folding cloth top that opens or closes in only 11 seconds at speeds up to 31 mph. Mercedes claims that the weight gain due to the convertible top has been kept to a minimum. The SLS AMG Roadster will be powered by the 6.2L V8 with 563 horsepower and 479 lb-ft. of torque.

McLaren has released more photos, videos and specs for the McLaren MP4-12C GT3 race car. McLaren Automotive, McLaren Racing, McLaren Electronic Systems and McLaren Applied Technologies join forces with CRS Racing in development and support of new MP4-12C GT3.

20 MP4-12C GT3 race cars will be homologated for GT3 racing in 2012 and the new race car will make a special appearance at the Goodwood Festival of Speed.

Cadillac ATS-V Will be Powered by a Twin-Turbocharged V6

The success of the Cadillac CTS-V means that Cadillac is going to produce a high-performance version of the upcoming ATS, obviously dubbed the ATS-V. While the thought of the supercharged V8 from the CTS-V being wedged under the hood of the smaller ATS sounds awesome, the ATS-V will be powered by a twin-turbocharged 3.0L V6.

The CTS-V goes head to head with models like the BMW M5, but the ATS-V will be targeted towards smaller models like the M3. The next-generation M3 is expected to ditch its current V8 for a twin-turbocharged inline six-cylinder. Because of this, the ATS-V will be powered by a twin-turbocharged V6 with around 380 horsepower. The engine will be mated to six-speed automatic and manual transmissions.

Kia is far from the budget brand of the mid-1990's with its new lineup that includes the new Optima, which is finally competitive against sedans like the Camry and Accord. Now that Kia has managed to build an Optima that people will actually buy, what is next? Well a premium rear-wheel-drive sedan based off the Hyundai Genesis could be in the works.

Kia Motors Australia COO Tony Barlow told Drive, "We have an interest in all new models under development. A rear-wheel-drive premium sedan could be seen as a logical step from the Optima to the next level of Kia development."

In 2009 there were rumors that Kia was working on a new flagship sedan, which was referred to as the K9. Peter Schreyer, Kia's chief designer didn't confirm that a new rear-wheel-drive sedan is in the works, but he did say, " "I think when you can work with the rear-wheel drive proportion it is always good for the designer. For a big sedan it is the better proportion; fantastic proportion of course."

When he was asked if the K9 would represent a new design direction for Kia, Schreyer stated, "Always we try to do that ... but I cannot talk about things that are probably in development."

According to the latest rumors Kia may unveil a concept or production version of the K9 at the Frankfurt Motor Show this fall.

BMW Officials Confirm All-Wheel-Drive BMW M5

Its been rumored that BMW is going to release an all-wheel-drive version of the next-generation M5, but now there is even more proof. BMW officials have confirmed that BMW will indeed offer all-wheel-drive on the next M5, which is expected to debut this fall.

A concept version of the M5 was unveiled last month in Shanghai and the production version is expected to be revealed in Frankfurt this fall. Officials have also denied that BMW has any plans to make an M version of the long-wheelbase 5 Series that is sold in China.

"The long-wheelbase platform is reserved for standard versions of the 5-series sold in the Chinese market," said one source. "There are no existing plans for an M5 on this structure."

GM Announces Plans to Invest $131 Million in Corvette Plant

GM has announced plans to invest $131 million in the Bowling Green Assembly plant to support production of the next generation Chevy Corvette. The investment will add another 250 jobs to the plant.

The Bowling Green plant in Kentucky is the exclusive producer of the Corvette and will continue building the current generation for the next two years. During the next two years GM is going to invest in the plant to prepare it for the next Corvette.

"This is a significant day for anyone who believes that America should build world-class, high-performance products," said Mark Reuss, GM North America president. "Corvette has no domestic peer for performance and pedigree and stands alongside the world's best supercars with almost 60 years of continuous heritage."

The Corvette has been produced in Bowling Green since 1981.

Mini Teams up with DSQUARED² for the 2011 Life Ball

Dean and Dan Caten, better known as the designer duo DSQUARED², mini_dsquared_lifeball_2.jpghave designed an exclusive Mini for the 2011 Life Ball. For the past 11 years Mini has supported Europe's biggest AIDS charity event, the Life Ball. Each year a special one-off Mini is produced for the event and auctioned off.

The brothers of DSQUARED² stated, "If we were a car, it would be rugged and robust. Our MINI 'Red Mudder' is an accurate reflection of that. With the maple leaf on both doors and the DSQUARED² logo on the front shield and wheels, this is unmistakably our style."

VW Releases a Bunch of New Photos of the 2012 Golf Cabriolet

VW's Golf Cabriolet is officially back for the 2012 model year and if you've been wanting to see more pics of the new convertible VW has released a bunch of new photos.

The bad news is that, although production has already kicked off, plans to bring the small convertible to the U.S. have not been announced. Sales begin this summer in Germany.

Lamborghini Aventador Roadster to Debut Next Year?

Lamborghini hasn't officially announced anything yet, but it's expected that a roadster version of its sold out Aventador will debut sometime next year and be released in 2013. If Lamborghini follows a similar schedule that it did with the Aventador's predecessor, the Murcielago, we can expect the roadster to launch two years after the fixed-roof version (the Murcielago Roadster launched two years after the Murcielago in 2004).

We'll see...

Mercedes May Release an Electric S-Class

Mercedes-Benz is hard at work on the next-generation S-Class. While hybrid and plug-in hybrid versions are already planned, there is a possibility that an all-electric S-Class could also be produced.

Mercedes' technical boss, Thomas Weber stated, ""At the moment, we are looking at customer demand."

The S-Class will also continue to be powered by V6 and V8 engines as well as a 4-cylinder diesel engine. The styling of the next-generation S-Class is said to borrow some elements from the F800 Style concept that was unveiled in Geneva last year. The next S-Class is due in 2013.

Nissan NV200 is NYC's "Taxi of Tomorrow"

Nissan has won the bid from the New York City Taxi and Limousine Commission (TLC) as the exclusive taxi of New York City beginning in late 2013. The Nissan NV200 taxi will be the official New York City taxicab for ten years.

Nissan Americas Chairman Carlos Tavares stated, "Nissan is proud to provide the next generation of taxis for the City of New York. The NV200 taxi will give Nissan the opportunity to showcase our dedication to vehicle quality and urban mobility to more than 600,000 passengers every day."

"The city's Taxi of Tomorrow is the Nissan NV200 - and it's going to be the safest, most comfortable and most convenient cab the city has ever had," said Mayor Bloomberg. "We started this process to leverage our taxi industry's purchasing power to get the highest quality taxi, one that that can expand and redefine the legendary image of New York City taxicabs. The new taxis will be custom-designed to meet the specific demands of carrying 600,000 passengers a day in New York City traffic and the vehicle meets the top priorities identified by the public in our on-line survey."

What Were the Top-10 Best Selling Cars in April 2011?

Here's the top-10 list of the best-selling cars last month in the U.S. The effects of the earthquake in Japan are now showing up in the sales numbers. The top-10 list is now comprised of more American and Korean models.

Last month Hyundai had a great month with sales up 40.3 percent and GM had a great month with sales up 26.4 percent. Hyundai's sales were largely bumped up thanks to the all-new Elantra, which saw sales increase by almost 129 percent, moving it up to the number 9 spot on the list. GM's popular small car, the Chevy Cruze also had a great month and joined the top-10 list for the first time ever.

The numbers will most likely be skewed more towards the American and Korean models for most of the year, with Toyota, Nissan and Honda continuing to have supply issues.

Check out the full list after the jump.

Saab Saved Again...Sells 30 Percent Stake to China's Hawtai

It looks like Saab has been saved yet again. Saab has sold up to a maximum of a 29.9 percent equity stake to Chinese automaker Hawtai Motor Group Company Limited. The deal includes a €120 million subscription deal for 24.6 million shares of Saab, as well as a €30 million convertible loan. Of course the deal needs the final approval from the Chinese governmental agencies, the European Investment Bank and the Swedish National Debt Office.

Victor Muller, CEO of Spyker and Chairman of Saab Automobile, said: "The partnership with Hawtai allows Saab Automobile on the one hand to continue executing its business plan since we secured the required mid-term financing subject to meeting certain conditions, whilst on the other hand it allows Saab Automobile to enter the Chinese car market and establish a technology partnership with a strong Chinese manufacturer."

So who is Hawtai? Hawtai is a China-based automaker that was founded 10 years ago. Hawtai currently produces 350,000 vehicles, 300,000 clean diesel engines and 450,000 automatic transmissions. By 2015, Hawtai aims to have raised this capacity to 1 million vehicles, 1 million engines and 1 million automatic transmissions.

Back in 2007 Audi unveiled the Cross Cabriolet Quattro Concept at the LA Auto Show. The concept combined the drop top fun of a convertible with the body of a small crossover. It was basically a preview of the Q5, but Audi never announced any production plans for the concept, but it could happen.

According to Audi's USA boss, "if there is enough demand, about 5,000 units per year, then the Q5 Cabrio limited edition production can go." Colder European countries would likely not have much demand for a Q5 Cabriolet, but fair-weather countries like the U.S. would probably have more demand.

24 feet long, 198-inch wheelbase and almost 80 inches tall makes one huge truck! Yup those are the dimensions of Ram's newest concept, the Long-Hauler concept truck.

Ram is showing off its Long-Hauler concept truck at selected events throughout the U.S. It's powered by an inline six-cylinder 6.7L Cummins turbo diesel with 800 lb-ft. of torque that is mated to a six-speed automatic transmission. This truck is definitely not a truck that you would drive to the office. Just think how much it would cost to fill up that 170 gallon tank!

Of course it's just a concept, but if you love it, go tell Chrysler!

Cadillac Will Soon Offer Four-Cyl Engines in Several Models

Large engines are out! The days when you gloated about your large V8 engine under the hood of your big, heavy GM model are a thing of the past. GM continues to release new models that have downsized engines and it looks like Cadillac will be next. Who doesn't dream about getting behind the wheel of the CTS-V with its supercharged V8? But of course that model isn't extremely practical with gas prices getting closer and closer to five bucks a gallon.

Fuel-efficiency is in and even luxury models are getting smaller engines. Cadillac is soon going to offer four-cylinder engines on several of its models. Cadillac's upcoming ATS and XTS models are expected to offer turbocharged Ecotec four-cylinder engines, which will put out between 220 and 260 horsepower. If buyers respond well to the four-cylinder versions of the ATS and XTS, the SRX crossover and next-generation CTS will also get four-cyl engines.

Audi offers four-cylinder engines, Mercedes-Benz is going to offer a four-cylinder in the C-Class and BMW has also announced plans to bring four-cylinder engines back to the U.S. starting this fall. Would you buy a four-cylinder powered Cadillac?

Lincoln to Debut New Small Concept in LA this Fall?

Once again gas prices are insane, which is prompting most automakers to continue to think small. Mercedes-benz has announced plans to finally offer its A-Class here in the US and other automakers like GM are thinking about small luxury cars with the Cadillac Urban Luxury Concept.

Not to be left behind, Lincoln is said to be working on a new small car that will be based on Ford's global compact platform. According to sources Lincoln designers are hard at work on a new concept vehicle and it's likely that it will debut at the Los Angeles auto show this November.

Ford has already stated plans to build a new Lincoln model off of its compact car platform, so there is a good chance that we will see a concept version by the end of the year.

2012 Honda CR-V Delayed due to Earthquake in Japan

Honda's all-new 2012 Civic is just starting to arrive in showrooms and luckily the Civic escaped any large delays due to the unfortunate earthquake in Japan, in March. Honda's other all-new model for 2012, the CR-V isn't going to be as lucky. The all-new CR-V is expected to launch this fall, but it's being delayed at least a month since parts are still scarce.

Honda's part suppliers continue to ramp up after the earthquake and are still trying to return to normal production levels. Honda's production in Japan is expected to "remain at significantly reduced levels" through the summer. This means that models like the Honda Fit, Civic Hybrid, CR-Z and Acura TSX will remain in short supply until sometime around the end of the year.

Lexus is starting to lose the battle against other luxury brands like BMW and Audi and is expected to not be the top selling luxury brand in the U.S. this year. For the most part its lineup is aged and Lexus is missing certain vehicles from its lineup that luxury buyers are interested in.

Lexus is hoping to fix this with an onslaught of new models. Lexus' Australian chief Tony Cramb recently told The Age about Lexus' future plans, which will include a new compact SUV and a more powerful CT. Cramb stated, ''New arrivals are going to play a big part [of our push towards record Lexus sales]. 'We've still got some pretty major gaps [and] we've got to overcome them,

Lexus' newest hybrid, the CT 200h recently went on sale and it looks like Lexus is planning a more powerful version, possibly named the CT 300h. The more powerful CT is expected to get a bigger gas engine as well as a larger electric motor.

Lexus currently doesn't offer a seven-passenger crossover, since the only crossover in Lexus' lineup, the RX 350 only offers room for five. If you want a Lexus with more than five seats, buyers have to choose from the body-on-frame GX and LX SUVs. Lexus is going to fix this with a larger crossover model that will give Lexus more competition against models like the BMW X5 and Audi Q7.

While Lexus is working on a larger crossover, Lexus is also working on a crossover that will be smaller than the RX. ''Obviously, we need a smaller SUV ... that's something that's high on the agenda for us.''

Lexus is also expected to release a new GS sedan this fall, which was previewed by the LF-Gh concept (above).

BMW Delays X1 Launch in the U.S. Until End of 2012

BMW's X1 crossover has been immensely popular in Europe. So much so that all of the production has been taken up by the demand in Europe and there isn't enough supply left over to introduce the model in the U.S. The X1 was originally supposed to launch early this year in the U.S., but then was pushed back until the end of 2011. Now it looks like BMW has pushed it back again until the end of 2012.

Jim O'Donnell, CEO of BMW of North America confirmed that supplies are tight for the X1, which could lead to an introduction being further delayed. According to O'Donnell, the X1 was envisioned as being a niche vehicle in the U.S. with only 5,000 units a year. BMW's new X3 sold 5,710 units in the first quarter of this year. Demand is so high for the X3, that BMW may sell 25,000 X3s in the U.S. this year. BMW only sold 6,075 X3 models last year.

So for now if you were looking forward to the X1 coming to the U.S. you will have to wait a bit longer. If you want to see it in person, head up to Canada, where it is on sale...

2012 Porsche Panamera Diesel Unveiled

Porsche has unveiled the diesel version of the popular Panamera, which is scheduled to go on sale in the UK this August.

The diesel-powered Panamera is powered by a 3.0L turbodiesel V6 that puts out 250 horsepower and 406 lb-ft. of torque. The engine is mated to an eight-speed Tiptronic transmission that sends the power to the rear wheels. It reaches 0-62 mph in 6.8 seconds and has a top speed of 150 mph. Porsche claims that the Panamera diesel will get 43.5 mpg on the European cycle, which will allow it to travel up to 745 miles on a single tank. 2012_porsche_panamera_diesel_6.jpg

The model will come standard with Porsche's Active Suspension Management system, front and rear park assist, bi-xenon headlights and a navigation system. The only way that buyers will really be able to differentiate the diesel powered model from the other Panamera versions will be the "diesel" badging on the front doors.

Pricing is set to start at £62,134 in the UK.

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