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September 2011 Archives

September 1, 2011

2012 Nissan Maxima Gets a Nip and Tuck

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Nissan has announced the changes to the 2012 Nissan Maxima, which is already on sale.

The 2012 Nissan Maxima gets a refresh on the outside with a new front grille design, new rear combination lights, and new 18-inch and 19-inch aluminum-alloy wheels. Inside the 2012 Maxima gets a new meter cluster illumination color, Dark Piano-hairline trim, Atlantic Cherry wood tone trim, a new metallic-finish trim, and a new Cafe Latte interior color.

The Maxima now comes with a special Limited Edition Package for the 3.5 S model, which includes smoked headlights, Xenon headlights, a compass in the rearview mirror, 18-inch aluminum-alloy Dark Hyper Silver finish wheels, a rear spoiler, dark satin chrome front grille and fog lights.

The Maxima is powered by a 290 horsepower 3.5L V6 mated to a CVT transmission. The Maxima 3.5 S starts at $31,750 and the Maxima 3.5 SV starts at $34,450.

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Kia's RWD Sport Sedan Concept to be Named Veredus?

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Kia is going to debut a new rear-wheel-drive sport sedan concept at the Frankfurt Motor Show this month. Although the automaker has released the first official photos of the concept, we've yet to hear an official name.

Car and Driver
is reporting that the concept may be dubbed "Veredus" due to a recent patent filing. According to Car and Driver, the sport sedan concept is the only vehicle in Kia's short-term plans that still needs a name, so it makes sense that it would be applied to this concept. There is a possibility that the name will be used on a production vehicle, such as Kia's version of the Hyundai Azera or its upcoming rear-wheel-drive sedan based on the Hyundai Genesis.

Stay tuned...

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Lotus to Unveil Three New Models in Frankfurt

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The Frankfurt Motor Show is almost here. It's being reported that Lotus is expected to unveil three new models at the show, in addition to the Evora GTE for the European market.

The Lotus Evora GTE was unveiled in Pebble Beach last month. It was originally planned for just the Asian market, but the overwhelming response to the model has prompted the automaker to expand its original plans.

Lotus chief Dany Bahar stated, "The response to this model in China has been so incredible, within days we had sold out with 114 orders. In response we decided that the only logical step from a business perspective was to increase production and widen our reach."

One of the other models that Lotus is bringing to the show will be the Elise S, which replaces the Elise SC. The Elise S will be powered by a new 200-hp 1.8L engine.

Lotus hasn't released many details about the other two models that are debuting at the show other than the fact that one will be one of the fastest Lotus' ever built and the other will likely be an Exige based rally car.

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DJ David Guetta Gets Banned from Driving...For Life!

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Oh snap! World famous DJ David Guetta has reportedly had his license revoked in France for speeding.

During a recent interview with Bild to promote his latest album Nothing But the Beat, David Guetta revealed that he was given a lifetime driving ban because he has been caught speeding too many times.

The ban is supposedly only in France. But Guetta doesn't seem to care, "Never mind. I'm not always the guy who has a garage full of expensive cars."

Luckily Guetta is wealthy enough to have a driver chauffer him around and his wife Cathy is also there to drive.

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Chevy Camaro = Best Selling Sports Car and Most Popular Car on Facebook

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The Chevy Camaro currently holds the title of the best-selling sports car in the U.S., a title that it stole from the Ford Mustang in 2010. Now the Camaro is also the most popular car on Facebook.

The official Camaro page on Facebook has over 1.8 million fans, which is more than any other official vehicle page.

"The community that has grown around the Camaro is truly remarkable," said Carolin Probst-Iyer, digital consumer engagement manager for Chevrolet. "With nearly 2 million fans, people are constantly posting new photos and content, which in turn inspires comments and engagement from other fans. As a result, the community provides an invaluable way for us to communicate directly with the most passionate Camaro enthusiasts and to understand what they like most about their favorite sports car."

GM expects the Camaro to become even more popular with the introduction of the 2012 Transformers Camaro and the Camaro ZL1.

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Frankfurt 11' Preview: 2013 Lexus GS 450h Debut Confirmed

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This was already reported, but now Lexus has confirmed that the 2013 Lexus GS 450h hybrid will have its world debut at the 2011 Frankfurt Motor Show, later this month.

The 2013 Lexus GS 450h will be powered by the second-generation Lexus Hybrid Drive system, which means it will pair the 3.5L V6 from the GS 350 with an electric motor.

According to Lexus, the 2013 GS 450h "is set to deliver improvements in both environmental and driving performance."

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2012 Porsche 911 Online Configurator Powers Up

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Porsche is going to officially unveil the all-new 2012 Porsche 911 at the Frankfurt Motor Show later this month. If you can't wait to spec. one out your dream 911, Porsche's online configurator for the 911 Carrera and 911 Carrera S is now live.

Pricing for the 911 Carrera starts at $82,100, while the 911 Carrera S starts at $96,400. As you can see it's very easy to get that price over $100k.

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September 2, 2011

Lexus LFA Nürburgring Package Laps the Ring in a Record 7:14

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News has hit the web that the Lexus LFA with the optional Nürburgring package has lapped the infamous Nurburgring-Nordschleife in 7:14. The news comes from EVO Magazine's Chris Harris who tweeted the news.

Lexus test driver Akira Iida reportedly managed to lap the ring in the LFA Nürburgring Package in 7:14, which beats the 7:38 time for the standard LFA. The time also beats other cars like the Porsche 911 GT2, Chevy Corvette ZR1 and Dodge Viper ACR.

The Nürburgring Package adds an additional $70,000 to the $375,000 base prive of the LFA. It includes an extra 10 horsepower for the V10 engine, bringing the total to 562 horsepower. The package also adds modifications, such as a larger front spoiler, fin-type side spoilers, a canard fin and a fixed rear wing.

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2012 Honda Insight Gets More MPG and a Facelift

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Honda is going to unveil a revised 2012 Honda Insight at the Frankfurt Motor Show this month. The revised Honda Insight will hopefully address some of the problems that have plagued the Insight.

The 2012 Insight will be more fuel efficient thanks to a more aerodynamic exterior, reduced engine friction and modifications to the CVT transmission and air conditioning system. Honda has also revised the suspension to improve the Insight's ride quality. According to Honda the improvements to the European 2012 Insight will allow it to achieve 57 mpg on the European cycle. Honda hasn't released the specs for the US-spec 2012 Honda Insight, but if it gets the same revisions, the US-spec Insight could get as high as 46 mpg, up from its current 40/43 mpg rating.

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

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August is officially gone! Most of the automakers had a good month with GM's sales up 18 percent and Nissan up 19 percent, but Toyota and Honda's sales continued to suffer. Toyota's sales were down 12.7 percent, while Honda sales fell 24.6 percent.

Even though Toyota's sales were down, the Toyota Camry held onto the top-selling car spot with the Nissan Altima right behind it. The Honda Accord returned to the top-10 list, but only at the number nine spot.

Honda and Toyota expect their sales in September to improve, since production is back at 100% following the tsunami in March.

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September 3, 2011

2012 Toyota Tacoma Officially Unveiled

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Toyota has officially unveiled the revised 2012 Toyota Tacoma. The 2012 Tacoma gets a revised exterior, which mainly focuses on a new front fascia. The interior also gets some updates, but the four-cylinder and V6 engines carry over.

The exterior of the Tacoma is new from the A pillar forward. A new more angular grille is mated to new headlamps, a new hood and a revised bumper. The interior of the 2012 Tacoma gets a redesigned instrument gauge panel and a revised center console. The SR5 model also gets a new seat fabric design.

The 2012 Tacoma is available with the same engines as before. The 2.7L four-cylinder puts out 159 horsepower and 180 lb-ft. of torque, while the 4.0L V6 generates 236 horsepower and 266 lb-ft. of torque. The four-cylinder can be mated to either a five-speed manual or four-speed automatic transmission, while the V6 can be mated to either a six-speed manual or five-speed automatic.

Toyota has also announced the T|X and T|X Pro packages that are available in conjunction with the TRD Off-Road Package. The T|X package adds TRD 16-inch black alloy wheels, black side steps, a stainless steel exhaust tip and unique exterior graphics. The T|X Pro package adds a TRD cat-back performance exhaust system to give the V6 a throatier sound and a little more power.

Toyota hasn't announced the pricing for the 2012 Tacoma.

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September 5, 2011

Frankfurt 11' Preview: 2012 Alpina B6 Biturbo Convertible Unveiled

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Alpina is going to debut its version of the BMW 6 Series convertible at the Frankfurt Motor Show this month, the B6 Biturbo.

The B6 Biturbo is powered by BMW's 4.4L V8 with 507 horsepower and 516 lb-ft. of torque. It reaches 0-62 mph in 4.8 seconds and has a top speed over 190 mph, but unfortunately its top speed will be electronically-limited to 155 mph.

Alpina hasn't released the pricing for the B6 Biturbo.

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September 6, 2011

VIDEO: Check out the 2012 Porsche 911 7-Speed Manual in Action

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The all-new 2012 Porsche 911 is scheduled to debut next week at the Frankfurt Motor Show. One of the unique features on the new 911 is an available seven-speed manual transmission. We're used to seeing more gears in automatic and dual-clutch transmissions, but five-speed and six-speed manuals have been the norm, until now.

Porsche is adding a seventh gear on the 2012 911 to help improve fuel consumption at highway speeds. According to Porsche gears 1-6 have a sports ratio and the top speed is reached in sixth gear. The seventh gear has a longer ratio for lower engine speeds even when traveling at high speed and reduces the 911's fuel consumption.

Check out the video after the jump.

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2012 Buick Verano Starts at $23,470

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GM has announced the pricing for the the 2012 Buick Verano, which goes on sale later this year. The 2012 Buick Verano starts at $23,470 and GM boasts that it features more passenger and cargo room than the Acura TSX and Lexus IS 250.

"Verano is a great new addition to Buick because it expands the brand's reach," said Tony DiSalle, U.S. vice president of Buick Marketing. "With Verano, we're inviting new customers into the Buick family, giving us the opportunity and privilege of building longtime Buick loyalty."

The compact Buick Verano is powered by a 2.4L four-cylinder with 180 horsepower and 171 lb-ft. of torque. The 2.4L is mated to a standard six-speed automatic transmission.

The Verano is offered in three models with the top model starting at $26,850. Standard features include leatherette seating, high-resolution 7-inch diagonal LED backlit color-touch radio display with IntelliLink technology and 10 standard air bags. Automatic climate control, remote start, power windows and steering wheel radio controls are also standard.

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2012 Hyundai i30 Officially Unveiled

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Hyundai has officially taken the wraps off the 2012 Hyundai i30 ahead of its world debut at the Frankfurt Motor Show next month.

The i30 hatchback features styling that is similar to other new Hyundai models with its fluidic sculpture design theme. It will be powered by four-cylinder gasoline and diesel engines. It remains to be seen if the i30 will eventually be offered as the Elantra Touring in the U.S.

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Frankfurt 11' Preview: Jaguar C-X16 Concept Revealed

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Jaguar has officially given us a preview of the future of the automaker with the unveiling of the C-X16 concept. The C-X16 concept coupe is a compact, two-seater looks to the future of Jaguar.

The C-X16 is powered by a supercharged 3.0L V6 that packs 376 horsepower and 332 lb-ft. of torque. The V6 gets even more power from a Formula 1-inspired hybrid boost system with a steering-wheel mounted button for on-demand acceleration. A 92 horsepower electric motor has been integrated into the eight-speed transmission. The battery pack for the electric motor is mounted behind the seats for ideal 50:50 weight distribution. The electric motor is capable of propelling the concept up to 50 mph alone.

The C-X16 concept reaches 0-62 mph in 4.4 seconds and has a top speed of 186 mph.

Adrian Hallmark, Global Brand Director, Jaguar Cars: "The C-X16 embodies the established Jaguar strengths of sensual design, animal-like agility and inspirational performance and combines these with attributes that set us on a course to create sustainable sports cars of the future."

Ian Callum, Director of Design, Jaguar Cars: "Jaguars have always been dramatically different. With the C-X16 we have moved the current award-winning design language on to the next generation, creating a car that is the very essence of future Jaguar performance."

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September 7, 2011

Frankfurt 11' Preview: Audi A2 Concept Debuts

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Audi has released the first photos of the A2 Concept that will be unveiled in Frankfurt next week.

The A2 concept comes some six years after the original A2 production car. The A2 concept is a pure electric car that will go head to head with other electric models like the upcoming BMW i3 when it is released in two years.

The A2 concept is powered by an electric motor mated to a single-speed transmission that powers the front wheels. The A2 concept has a range of 125 miles and can be fully charged in as little as four hours with a 240-volt outlet.

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2012 Volvo XC90 Gets Some Small Updates

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Volvo has yet to release an all-new XC90, which has continued largely unchanged since it was introduced in 2002. For 2012 Volvo has updated the XC90, but you'll probably have a hard time noticing the updates.

The 2012 Volvo XC90 gets new LED daytime running lights, a redesigned bumper, silver roof rails and new lower door moldings. The taillights have also been revised with LEDs and new six-spoke 18-inch wheels in silver matt finish are available.

Inside the 2012 XC90 gets a new three-spoke steering wheel, aluminum decor and a watch dial-inspired instrument design with white lighting.

The XC90 is powered by either a 243 horsepower 3.2L V6 or a 200 horsepower diesel or 163 horsepower diesel.

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Toyota to Halt Camry Imports from Japan

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Toyota is set to launch its all-new 2012 Camry this fall and the automaker plans to stop exports of the Camry from Japan to North America.

Toyota is going to stop importing Camry's into the U.S. in an attempt to boost local production, which will offset the current exchange rate losses. Toyota claims that the U.S. production of the Camry is sufficient enough to support the local demand. Toyota hopes to sell 360,000 Camry's a year. Camrys will be produced at Toyota's Georgetown, Ky plant and Subaru's factory in Indiana.

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Restyled 2012 Toyota Tacoma Starts at $16,875

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Toyota has announced the pricing for the refreshed 2012 Toyota Tacoma. The base Tacoma starts at $16,875 for the regular cab 4x2 model with a 2.7L four-cylinder and five-speed manual transmission. The top of the line Tacoma Double Cab 4x4 long bed equipped with a 4.0L V6 and five speed automatic transmission starts at $27,835.

As previously reported, the 2012 Toyota Tacoma gets a new front fascia with a new hood, grille, headlights, bumper and fog lights. Inside the 2012 Tacoma gets a new center instrument panel design with a revised gauge cluster, as well as a new steering wheel. The center stack also gets new controls for the air conditioning and heating systems.

The four-cylinder and V6 engines carry over unchanged. The 2.7L puts out 159 horsepower and 180 lb-ft. of torque, while the 4.0L V6 packs 236 horsepower and 266 lb-ft. of torque.

The Tacoma will also be one of the first Toyotas to offer the new Entune multi-media system. The Toyota Entune system is a collection of popular mobile applications (like Pandora) and data services, with three years of complimentary access.

The 2012 Toyota Tacoma will begin arriving in dealerships this month.

Continue reading "Restyled 2012 Toyota Tacoma Starts at $16,875" »

VIDEO: Toyota Teases FT-86 II Again Ahead of Frankfurt Debut

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When will the final production version of the Toyota FT-86 be unveiled? Toyota is bringing another updated version of the concept to the Frankfurt Motor Show next month. Toyota has released another teaser video of the FT-86 II. Scion_FR-S_II_Concept_Video_2.png

The concept that we will see next week is the fourth FT-86 concept since it first debuted back in 2009. We will also see Subaru's version of the rear-wheel-drive coupe in Frankfurt, dubbed the BRZ. The Toyota version of the coupe is expected to be sold in the U.S. under the Scion brand and dubbed the Scion FR-S.

The Subaru BRZ and the Scion FR-S are expected to be powered by a flat-four cylinder Subaru engine with around 200 horsepower.

Stay tuned...

Continue reading "VIDEO: Toyota Teases FT-86 II Again Ahead of Frankfurt Debut" »

Buick Regal Wagon Ain't Gonna Happen

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Buick has been a roll reviving its lineup with models like the new LaCrosse, Regal and upcoming Verona. There has been speculation ever since the new Regal debuted that GM would create additional variants of the sedan. We've even seen spy photos of a Buick-badged Opel Insignia Sports Tourer in the U.S. But even though there was speculation that GM would produce a wagon variant of the Regal, a spokesman has confirmed that the Regal wagon is not in Buick's product plans.

The spokesman recently spoke to Inside Line:

"Absolutely not," he said about Buick doing a wagon. "There is no Regal Wagon in our future plans."

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Goodbye Dodge Nitro... Production will End by December

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Chrysler has already announced plans to kill the Dakota pickup and the Dodge Caliber, but there's another model getting the ax after the 2011 model year. The Dodge Nitro SUV will be done by the end of the year.

Chrysler has decided to produce the Nitro until December since demand is up 24% this year. The last Nitro models to be produced will be the Heat model with its 210-hp 3.7L V6 and the more powerful R/T Nitro, which packs a 260 horsepower 4.0L V6.

The Jeep Liberty, which is built on the same platform as the Nitro will continue to be produced until an all-new Liberty is ready, which is expected in 2013.

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September 8, 2011

Frankfurt 11' Preview: Volvo Teases New Concept You

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Volvo has released a teaser video of its Concept You that is scheduled to debut next week in Frankfurt.

The Concept You is expected to show Volvo's future engine technology and its upcoming Scalable Platform Architecture (SPA). The new platform will be used on a variety of future Volvo models. Volvo also recently announced a new range of four-cylinder engines, Volvo Environmental Architecture (VEA) that will be more fuel efficient and powerful than the six-cylinder engines that they will replace.

The Concept You is also expected to be a preview of the next Volvo S80.

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Toyota CEO in Favor of More Lexus F Models... GS F Coming in 2014?

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If Lexus wants to fully compete with BMW's M division and Mercedes AMG the automaker needs more F badged models than the current IS F. Lexus recently unveiled the all-new 2013 Lexus GS 350, but Lexus has yet to confirm if a GS F is in the works. Although Lexus remains quiet on a high-performance version of the GS, Toyota CEO Akio Toyoda recently hinted about the model at the GS debut in Pebble Beach.

Toyoda held a meeting with journalists in which he stated, "I want Lexus to compete around the world with global Lexus models. And don't worry about high-performance Lexuses like F Sport and F models going away."

That sounds like a pretty strong hint that Lexus is going to produce a GS F. If it does happen the GS F will likely get a 550 horsepower supercharged version of the 5.0L V8 used by the IS F. The supercharged V8 could also show up in the next-generation IS F. The next IS is expected by the end of next year.

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Is it the End of the Line for Saab?

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Yesterday Saab filed an application for protection from its creditors, but this morning that application has been rejected by the Swedish court. Saab's application was meant for protection from its creditors, which would prevent the automaker from being pushed into bankruptcy.

If the plan government protection had been approved, Saab would have undergone a voluntary reorganization, but now that the court has denied the request, what's next? Saab plans to appeal the court's decision, but the court does not believe that a reorganization will work for Saab.

Currently Saab's workforce has not received their August wages and production remains at a standstill. This latest ruling by the Swedish government could lead to Saab's creditors forcing the automaker into bankruptcy.

Saab currently owes its suppliers $210 million.

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Frankfurt 11' Preview: Opel/ Vauxhall Electric Car Concept Revealed

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It looks like small electric vehicles will be the theme at this year's Frankfurt Motor Show, which kicks off next week. VW and Audi have already shown off their electric car concepts and now Opel is jumping in with its own two-seat electric car concept.

The unnamed Opel/ Vauxhall electric car concept features room for two passengers that ride in tandem. According to the automaker the concept has a range of 60 miles and can reach a top speed of 75 mph.

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2012 Honda Civic Type R Mugen 2.2 Debuts

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Honda's Mugen division has unveiled the 2012 Honda Civic Type R Mugen 2.2, but sadly there are no plans to bring the high-performance Civic to the U.S.

The Honda Civic Type R Mugen 2.2 gets a sports suspension, more powerful brakes and a bodykit. Under the hood the cylinder bore and stroke have been increased, which has bumped up the power to 260 horsepower.

The Civic Type R Mugen 2.2 is seen as a tribute to the Honda K20 2.0L engine, which is no longer being produced in Japan.

Hiro Toyoda, vice-president of Mugen Euro stated, "Environmental pressures mean naturally aspirated engines are rapidly being superseded by other engine architectures and technologies. We may never see the like of the K20 in a mainstream production car again, so it felt only fitting we mark the occasion with this special 2.2 version of the Honda Civic Type R."

We'll see the all-new European Honda Civic in Frankfurt next week.

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Frankfurt 11' Preview: Kia GT Concept Images Leaked

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The first official images of Kia's new rear-wheel-drive four-door coupe concept have leaked ahead of the concept's official debut next week. It was originally thought that Kia's new V8 concept would carry the Veredus name, but now its been confirmed that the concept will be dubbed the Kia GT.

The GT name isn't something new, but the concept takes Kia into a new area that it's never existed in before. Although Kia's parent, Hyundai has the rear-wheel-drive Genesis and Equus sedans, Kia has yet to release a rear-wheel-drive sedan. The details still remain scarce about the GT concept, but it is known that it will be powered by a V8, which could be a version of the 5.0L V8 that powers the Genesis R-Spec.

Kia is expected to release a rear-wheel-drive sedan next year and the GT concept is expected to be based on the same platform.

Come back for more next week!

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September 9, 2011

2012 Chevy Camaro ZL1 Officially Pumps Out 580 HP

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GM has officially announced the specs for the 2012 Chevy Camaro ZL1. The 2012 Camaro ZL1 was unveiled early this year, but GM failed to release the official specs for the ZL1, until now. The 2012 ZL1, which borrows its name from the 1969 model packs 580 horsepower and 556 lb-ft. of torque from its 6.2L supercharged LSA V8. Those numbers are more than was originally planned and more than the Cadillac CTS-V, which packs the same engine.

Those official specs means that the ZL1 also has more power than the Mustang GT500. The ZL1 beats the GT500 by 30 horsepower and 46 lb-ft. of torque.

"The Camaro ZL1 delivers supercar performance and technology in the sports-car segment," said Al Oppenheiser, Camaro chief engineer. "For sheer power, the ZL1 delivers more horsepower than a Ferrari 458, more torque than an Aston Martin DB9 V12, and a better power-to-weight ratio than a Porsche 911 Carrera GTS.

To get all that power the ZL1 uses a unique induction system, with a lower-restriction air filter, dual inlet paths, and improved airflow through the supercharger housing. It also uses a higher-efficiency supercharger intercooler and electric power steering system, which consumes less engine power than hydraulic-steering systems.

ZL1 buyers can choose either a six-speed manual or automatic transmission.

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September 10, 2011

Frankfurt 11' Preview: Maserati SUV Photo Leaked?

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Maserati is going to unveil a concept version of its upcoming SUV at the Frankfurt Motor Show next week, but the first photo of the new SUV has reportedly been leaked thanks to a guide book for the show.

It's already been confirmed that Maserati is set to get an SUV based on the Jeep Grand Cherokee, although the two SUVs will not look the same. If this photo is authentic, the Maserati SUV will not share any resemblance to its Chrysler cousin. The Maserati SUV will instead feature Maserati's signature grille and will have a shape that is more similar to the BMW X6 than the Jeep in which it is based on.

Stay tuned for the official unveiling next week.

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September 12, 2011

2012 Ford Focus ST Unveiled in Hatchback and Wagon Versions

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Ford has officially unveiled the high-performance version of the new Focus that we've been waiting for. The 2012 Ford Focus ST is set to have its official world debut this week at the 2011 Frankfurt Motor Show.

The 2012 Ford Focus ST will be available in over 40 markets and is powered by Ford's 2012_ford_focus_st_4_press.jpg 2.0L EcoBoost engine that packs 247 horsepower and 265 lb-ft. of torque. The 2.0L engine is mated to a 6-speed manual transmission. The previous Focus ST was powered by a five-cylinder engine that had a distinct sound. The five-cylinder engine may be gone, but Ford's engineers have worked hard to make sure the sounds from the new four-cylinder are equally as satisfying.

For buyers that love everything about the Focus ST, Ford has also unveiled a new wagon version of the Focus ST. Unfortunately only the Focus ST hatchback will be available in the U.S.

"The new Focus is a fantastic car to develop an ST model from," said Matthias Tonn, chief program engineer for the Focus ST. "It's a solid shell with precise handling as standard, as customers around the world have already found out. It doesn't compromise on any area in any region of the world, and Focus ST builds upon that strength to give our global performance customers the car they want, the car they have been asking for."

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2012 Honda Civic Hatchback Debuts in Frankfurt

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In the U.S. we only get sedan and coupe versions of the Honda Civic and while our Civic debuted this spring, Honda has yet to debut the European version of the Civic, which gets a more versatile hatchback design.

The 2012 Honda Civic hatchback is having its world debut this week in Frankfurt. From these photos it looks like our friends in Europe will get a much better looking Civic than we get here. According to Honda, "the designers of the new Civic wanted to keep the sporty and advanced elements of the car's character but tailor them to communicate the new model's more dynamic feel." Honda claims that the new Civic also draws inspiration from a 'blended wing body' airplane in which the fuselage and wings blend into a single body for superior aerodynamic performance.

Honda hasn't announced the official specs for the 2012 Civic, that will debut tomorrow. It is expected to be released in early 2012.

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2013 Lexus GS 450h Unveiled

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Lexus already unveiled the all-new 2013 Lexus GS 350 last month in Pebble Beach and now the second version of the new GS is debuting this week. The 2013 Lexus GS 450h is the hybrid version of the GS. On the outside the GS 450h looks identical to the GS 350, but under the hood it's powered by a hybrid system that puts out a total 338 horsepower.

The GS 450h is powered by a Atkinson cycle 3.5L V6 with a 13:1 compression ratio and is mated to an electric motor. The Lexus Hybrid Drive system gets its power from a nickel-metal hydride battery. The hybrid gets a new drive mode selector that features four drive modes in addition to the normal setting: Eco, Sport S, Sport S+ and EV modes.

"The all-new GS 450h will provide our customers with an exciting blend of performance and precision in a new hybrid package," said Mark Templin, Lexus group vice president and general manager in the U.S. "With its dynamic exterior styling, roomy interior and advanced technology features, the GS 450h further demonstrates Lexus' mastery of the luxury hybrid."

Lexus hasn't released the fuel economy numbers, but does claim that the hybrid will reach 0-60 mph in 5.6 seconds and a top speed of 131 mph.

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Ford Racing Reveals the Focus ST-R in Frankfurt

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Ford is showing off two new high-performance versions of the Ford Focus, one thats ready to take on the road (Focus ST) and the Focus ST-R race car that you see here. The Focus ST-R may take some of the styling cues from the Focus ST, but its meant for the track. The Focus ST-R is a fully-prepared competition car that will soon be available to North American motorsports teams.

The Focus ST-R is powered by a 2.0L EcoBoost engine and features a FIA regulation roll cage, uprated brakes and track-tuned suspension. The Focus ST-R has been designed to compete in a huge variety of series, including Grand-Am ST, World Challenge TC and Canadian Touring Car Series.

"We're thrilled to be taking the Focus ST-R from concept to reality for motorsport enthusiasts initially in North America and potentially around the world," said Jamie Allison, director, Ford Racing.

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2012 Audi RS5 Packs 450-HP and is Headed to the U.S.

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Audi is finally intent on offering its high-performance RS line here in the U.S. Following the release of the 2012 TT RS, Audi has officially announced that the second RS model headed to the U.S. will be the 2012 RS5.

The 2012 RS5 is the most powerful A5 available and is pwoered by a 4.2L V8 that is related to the V10 that does duty in the R8 supercar. The 4.2L FSI V8 packs 450 horsepower and 317 lb-ft. of torque. The V8 is mated to a seven-speed dual-clutch transmission and Audi's quattro all-wheel-drive system. According to Audi the RS5 reaches 0-62 mph in 4.6 seconds and has a top speed of 174 mph.

One interesting feature on the 2012 RS5 is the fact that the front fascia will only have one fog light. It does look a little off, but the RS5 does get standard xenon headlights with daytime LED running lights.

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2012 Ford Focus Gets 1.0L Three-Cylinder EcoBoost Engine

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Ford has announced that the European Ford Focus is going to get a new 1.0L three-cylinder EcoBoost engine in early 2012. The 1.0L engine will offer the performance of a larger 1.6L with less than 120g/km CO2 emissions.

The smallest EcoBoost engine available will feature technologies like turbocharging and direct injection. Two versions of the 1.0L will be available with either 99 horsepower or 118 horsepower. The engine can be mate to either a five-speed or six-speed manual transmission. Other European Fords to benefit from this new 3-cylinder EcoBoost engine include the C-Max in 2012, followed later by the all-new Ford B-Max.

Ford plans on offering the 1.0L engine in Ford models in North America, China and in other regions.

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September 13, 2011

Ford Fiesta ST Concept Unveiled

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Ford showed off the 2012 Ford Focus ST yesterday with its 247 horsepower turbocharged engine and now Ford has taken the wraps off the high-performance Fiesta ST concept in Frankfurt.

The Ford Fiesta ST concept is powered by a turbocharged 1.6L EcoBoost engine with around 175 horsepower. The four-cylinder is mated to a standard six-speed manual and propels the Fiesta ST from 0-62 mph in less than seven seconds.

The Fiesta ST concept also gets sportier styling that mirrors the styling of the Ford Fiesta WRC competition car. The front fascia features a large trapezoidal grille with a honeycomb mesh design that mimics the Focus ST and the rear gets a dramatic diffuser design that includes a twin exhaust. The Fiesta ST concept rides lower than the regular lower than the regular Fiesta and on 17-inch alloy wheels.

Ford claims that the Fiesta ST concept is a preview of the future direction of a high-performance Fiesta.

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Infiniti Releases Second Sketch of 2015 Infiniti EV Sedan

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Infiniti has released a second sketch of its upcoming electric sedan that will launch in 2014. Infiniti hasn't provided many details at all about five-seat electric luxury vehicle, other than stating that it will live up to the brand's promise of "Inspired Performance."

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Volvo Concept You Previews the Next Large Volvo Sedan

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Volvo has officially given us a glimpse into the future of the brand with the Concept You, which previews the next large Volvo sedan. The Concept You follows the Volvo Universe Concept that was unveiled earlier this year. The Concept You is basically an evolution of the Universe Concept.

Stefan Jacoby, President and CEO of Volvo Car Corporation stated, The blend of contemporary Scandinavian design, exquisite craftsmanship and intuitive technology will appeal to luxury car buyers all over the world."

The Concept You features a four-door coupe-like design that honors the sweeing, elegant lines of classic Volvo models. It rides on 21-inch polished aluminum wheels and is painted in a light blue liquid metal.

Inside the Concept You gets smart pad technology that makes the traditional owners manual a thing of the past. Touch-screens replace the conventional buttons and controls in today's cars. The Concept You's controls consists of a digital Driver Information Monitor (DIM), a head-up display on the windscreen, a touch-screen in the upper part of the center console and a touch-screen between the two individual rear seats. The wood/leather steering wheel has aluminium and glass paddles with integrated touch-screens.

When will the next large Volvo sedan debut? It remains to be seen...

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Honda Confirms New NSX in Frankfurt

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Honda's CEO Takanobu Ito has revealed that the automaker has begun work on a new sportscar that will be a successor to the original NSX.

Although a new sportscar is reportedly back on from Honda, it will be very different than the original NSX. Ito claims that Honda's goal is to create a car with a significant power-to-weight ratio rather than outright power.

Ito spent the early part of his career with Honda developing the original NSX. "I really enjoyed that experience, and learned much, so it is my wish that Honda engineers have the experience of developing a sportscar like the NSX in future."

Honda originally planned on releasing a new NSX in 2010, but plans were killed in 2008 during the economic crisis.

Honda has been criticized a lot lately for abandoning its sporting past, but Ito claims that the automaker is addressing those concerns.

"Our recent efforts have been focused on fuel efficiency, and that perhaps gives the impression Honda is behind with pushing the brand image of sportiness, but let me assure you that is not the case," said Ito. "We will address that impression with our new generations of cars."

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Maserati Kubang SUV Concept is a Cayenne Rival

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Maserati is set to enter the SUV segment with a new SUV that will borrow its platform from the Jeep Grand Cherokee. Maserati has given us a preview of its new SUV today with the Kubang concept at the Frankfurt Motor Show.

Although the concept that is debuting in Frankfurt is new, the Kubang name is not. Maserati originally used the Kubang name for an SUV concept at the 2003 Detroit Auto Show. Unlike the original concept, the newest Kubang concept is a result of the new partnership between Fiat and Chrysler.

The Maserati Kubang is going to go head to head with models like the Porsche Cayenne. Although it will share some of its architecture with the Grand Cherokee, Maserati says that its engines will be designed in Modena and produced by Ferrari. The engines will also be mated to a new eight-speed automatic transmission.

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Mercedes-Benz F 125! Looks Ahead to 2025

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Mercedes-Benz has unveiled what it thinks we will be driving around in the year 2025, the F 125! research vehicle. After 125 years of making cars, Mercedes-Benz is presenting the F 125! hydrogen powered concept as its vision of the future of the luxury segment.

"With the F 125! we want to show that large, comfortable and safe saloon cars have an excellent future, partly because they are able to operate with no emissions. The legend that is the S-Class will continue into the future thanks to intelligent solutions that always have the customer's needs in mind," says Prof. Dr. Thomas Weber, member of the Board of Management of Daimler AG, responsible for Group Research and Mercedes-Benz Cars Development. "The new research vehicle illustrates and underlines this claim to leadership with innovative ideas and traditional Mercedes strengths in the areas of design, safety, comfort and performance."

The F 125! employs a host of future technologies, like lithium-sulphur batteries, an e4Matic all-wheel-drive system with four individual electric motors and a lightweight body made up of a combination of carbon-fiber, aluminum and steel.

The concept has a range of 1,000 kilometers and can reach 0-62 mph in 4.9 seconds.

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VW Beetle R Concept Debuts in Frankfurt

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It's been rumored that VW is set to prove that it's serious about making the Beetle far sportier than the we've ever experienced with a high-performance R variant. VW gave us a preview of what the Beetle R could be like with the debut of the Beetle R Concept in Frankfurt.

In the past even though VW has offered a turbocharged engine in the Beetle, it still wasn't anything that would be described as overtly sporty. The 2012 Beetle is attempting to change that with the Beetle Turbo that is powered by the same 200-HP 2.0L turbocharged engine as the much loved GTI. VW is taking the Beetle even further with the R concept. VW already has R variants of the Scirocco and Golf. The Beetle R represents a possible third R version, although VW is still labeling it as a design study.

The Beetle R concept is painted in Serious Grey and rides on 20-inch Talladega wheels, which are the same design that the Golf R and Scirocco R use, although they are smaller on those two models. Immediately you can tell that this is not a normal Beetle by the concept's reworked front and rear bumpers, which have been widened by 1.2 inches.

The interior of the Beetle R concept gets motorsport bucket seats for the driver and front passenger. The seats are embossed with the R logo and are covered in black Nappa leather.

VW hasn't announced the exact power specs for the Beetle R Concept, but when it is likely put into production it will have power that mimics that of the Golf R and Scirocco R, which is around 260 horsepower.

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Land Rover DC100 and DC100 Sport Concepts Preview the Next Defender

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The original Land Rover Defender debuted in 1948 and after selling two-million units Land Rover remains committed to replacing the iconic Land Rover Defender by 2015.

John Edwards, Global Brand Director, Land Rover stated, "The entire Land Rover team is excited about the opportunity, and the responsibility, of creating the replacement for the iconic Land Rover Defender. Loved the world over for its simple, honest and distinctive design, we are determined that the new Defender will be true to its heritage while meeting the requirements of a changing global market. We plan to engage with existing and potential customers to help us finalize the details of the new vehicle. One thing's for sure, it's going to be an exciting journey, and we can't wait to get going."

The DC100 and DC100 Sport concepts are being revealed at the 2011 Frankfurt Motor Show and represent a possible direction for the next Defender. Both concepts are described as modern interpretations of the Defender.

Both concepts are powered by 2.0L four-cylinder gasoline and diesel engines with hybrid and plug-in capabilities. The concepts bring the Defender into the 21st century with new technology like the Terrain-i scanning device that warns the driver of obstacles when off-roading and can suggest alternative routes. "Wade Aid" uses sonar technology to assess water depth and advise the driver of optimum speed for water fording. The paint even has self-cleaning and healing capabilities.

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September 14, 2011

2012 Toyota Prius Gets a Refresh

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Toyota has chosen the this week's Frankfurt Motor Show to debut the restyled 2012 Toyota Prius.

The 2012 Toyota Prius gets updates to the exterior and interior. On the outside the Prius gets a revised front bumper with an enlarged lower grille that gives the Prius a more dynamic face. Daytime running lights have been integrated into the bumper and the headlights have been restyled with revised LED lights. The rear of the 2012 Prius gets revised taillights.

On the inside the 2012 Prius gets a higher quality interior thanks to a new color scheme that has gone from dark grey to black. Silver inserts have been added and the seat fabrics have been upgraded. Other changes to the interior include a revised push start button that is now hybrid blue and the multi-information display has been improved with a 16 gradation-step Vacuum Fluorescent Display (VFD) which gives a clearer and more three dimensional display.

The 2012 Prius doesn't get any changes under the hood.

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Alfa Romeo 4C to Come Alive in 2013

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Alfa Romeo unveiled the 4C concept at the Geneva Motor Show in March and the concept was brought to Frankfurt in a silver "fluid metal" exterior paint color. Up until now Alfa Romeo has given very little details about an eventual production version of the concept, although it was expected. We now know that the 4C will enter production in 2013.

Alfa Romeo CEO Harald Wester, stated at this week's Frankfurt Motor Show, "Light weight and efficiency, Italian style, advanced technology and vehicle dynamics are the core values that will lead Alfa Romeo in the future. This philosophy continues with the 4C, which represents our greatest advancements to date and is a precursor of future development.

The 4C concept is powered by a turbocharged 1.75L engine that puts out more than 200 horsepower. The concept has a top speed of 155 mph and reaches 0-62 mph in less than five seconds.

According to sources Alfa Romeo is planning on building 15,000 - 20,000 units over five years with another 5,000 - 10,000 units destined for Abarth. Pricing in Europe is expected to start at 45,000 Euros.

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Infiniti to Produce Etherea Concept on a Mercedes Platform

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Infiniti and Mercedes-Benz have announced a new partnership that will produce a new Infiniti compact car based on the Mercedes-Benz MFA platform. The Mercedes-Benz MFA platform is also the basis for the 2012 Mercedes-Benz B-Class.

The upcoming Infiniti compact will launch with both gasoline and engine versions in 2014. Nissan executive vice president Andy Palmer recently told Automotive News Europe that the compact will be based on the Etherea concept that was unveiled in Geneva and again at the Frankfurt Motor Show this week.

The B-Class is expected to come to the U.S., but it's not yet known if Infiniti will release the new concept in here, although it will most likely happen. The compact Infiniti is predicted to account for 40 percent of Infiniti's sales in the U.S.

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September 15, 2011

2012 Chevy Sonic Named IIHS Top Safety Pick

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The 2012 Chevy Sonic has been named a Top Safety Pick by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety.

In order to be named a Top Safety pick by the IIHS a vehicle must get the top score in front, side, rear and rollover tests.

"We developed Sonic to exceed our customers' expectations of the subcompact market, both in the fun-to-drive performance characteristics and the segment-leading safety features," said Joaquin Nuño-Whelan, Sonic vehicle line director and vehicle chief engineer. "This designation by IIHS confirms that Chevy customers can buy a subcompact with top safety performance."

The 2012 Sonic has 10 air bags, which is more than its competitors. The subcompact also has a body structure that incorporates a single welded side ring unit and more than 60 percent of the vehicle safety cage consists of high-strength steel.

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2012 Subaru XV Bows in Frankfurt

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Subaru has officially unveiled the 2012 Subaru XV crossover in Frankfurt. The Subaru XV is basically a more offroad ready version of the new 2012 Impreza.

To allow to tackle the unpaved roads, the XV has more ground clearance than the standard Impreza at 8.6 inches. The XV also gets extra body cladding, which makes it look tougher. In Europe the XV will be powered by 1.6L and 2.0L boxer engines in addition to a diesel.

The XV is expected to come to the U.S. next year.

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Lamborghini Officially Confirms the Sesto Elemento

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It's been rumored for months, but now it's official. Lamborghini is going to build the Sesto Elemento concept. Lamborghini CEO Stephan Winkelmann recently confirmed in Frankfurt this week that the automaker will build the supercar.

The Sesto Elemento is powered by Lamborghini's 5.2L V10 with 562 horsepower and 398 lb-ft. of torque. Thanks to the heavy use of carbon fiber it comes in at a very light 2,200 pounds. The Sesto Elemento reaches 0-62 mph in 2.5 seconds and has a top speed over 186 mph.

Unfortunately Lamborghini is only going to produce 20 units of the track-only model. Even worse is the fact that all 20 units have already been spoken for...

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2012 Chevy Sonic with 1.4L Turbo Rated at 40 MPG

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GM has announced that the 2012 Chevy Sonic equipped with the 1.4L turbo gets an EPA estimated 40 mpg on the highway and 29 mpg in the city when it's equipped with the six-speed manual transmission.

"Sonic changes the sub-compact stereotype and puts an end to the term 'econobox,'" said Joaquin Nuño-Whelan, Sonic vehicle line director and vehicle chief engineer. "The 1.4L turbo saves money at the gas pump and is a ridiculously fun car to drive. So, our buyers are getting a safe, exciting and fuel efficient car at a great price with the 1.4L turbo."

The 1.4L turbocharged engine puts out 138 horsepower and 148 lb-ft. of torque. The 1.4L is also used in the larger Chevy Cruze.

The Sonic is also available with a 1.8L that gets up to 35 mpg on the highway.

"Our engineers wanted to bring a car with an athletic feel and an excellent ride and handling to a segment not known for excitement," said Nuño-Whelan. "Combine these driving characteristics with the 40-mpg fuel economy rating and we think we have a winning combination for Sonic drivers."

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September 16, 2011

Ford is Almost Done with the Design of the 2014 Mustang

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The Ford Mustang is going to get a complete redesign for 2014 and it's being reported that the styling for the next Mustang is "being locked down."

Ford's design chief J Mays recently stated in an interview that the next Mustang, which arrives to coincide with the 50th anniversary of the Mustang, will not be an evolution of today's retro Mustang.

According to Mays the next Mustang will not follow the retro inspired designs of the 2005 and 2010 Mustangs. The next-generation will follow a different road.

He stated, "The challenge or the opportunity for 2014 with a 50th anniversary car is to not just look back over your shoulder, but to try to win all of the Mustang faithful yet bring the brand forward as well. It has to look like a Mustang. But you go down a list of things that might or might not be necessary to make the car look like a Mustang.

It's been reported that the next Mustang will be smaller and made to appeal to buyers in Europe in addition to North America. It's also been rumored that the next Mustang will get a turbocharged four-cylinder engine...

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September 17, 2011

Toyota Officially Announces 2012 Prius Plug-in and Prius V Pricing

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Toyota has officially released all the details and pricing for the 2012 Prius Plug-in hybrid and the larger 2012 Prius V.

The 2012 Prius Plug-in hybrid is expected to get 87 MPGe (miles per gallon equivalent) in combined driving and 49 MPG in hybrid mode. The Prius Plug-in can travel up to 15 miles in EV mode and at speeds up to 62 mph. It only takes 2.5 to 3.0 hours using a 120v household outlet or 1.5 hours using a 240v outlet to recharge the lithium-ion battery pack. The Prius Plug-in hybrid starts at $32,000, while the Prius Plug-in Advanced starts at $39,525. The model is expected to be eligible for a $2,500 federal tax credit.

The 2012 Prius V is designed for buyers that want a Prius, but need more space. The more versatile Prius V has 58 percent more cargo capacity than the standard Prius. The Prius V gets 44 mph city and 40 mpg on the highway. It starts at $26,400.

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September 19, 2011

2012 BMW 6 Series Gets All-Wheel-Drive

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BMW is now offering all-wheel-drive on its 6 Series coupe. BMW hasn't made an official announcement, but a quick visit to BMW's USA website confirms that AWD is now offered on the 650i coupe.

The 650i xDrive coupe starts at $86,000, which is only $3k more than the rear-wheel-drive 650i coupe. The 650i convertible is not being offered with all-wheel-drive.

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Toyota to Expand its Coupe Line Up with CT 200h Coupe, Supra Successor and LFA Tokyo Edition

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Toyota once had coupes like the Celica and Supra, but its been years since Toyota has had anything its lineup to satisfy those wanting a high-performance coupe. That is obviously going to change with the introduction of the rear-wheel-drive FT-86, but it's being reported that Toyota is also working on some new projects.

This fall Toyota is expected to take the wraps off the Lexus LFA Tokyo Motor Show Edition, which is going to get an exposed carbon fiber roof and rear spoiler. Not everyone can afford the LFA supercar, so there is a rumor that Toyota's engineers are working on a successor to the Supra. Of course the rumor has been denied, but it's being reported that a new rear-wheel-drive coupe is going to be released by 2014.

An additional coupe is also in the works for Lexus that will be a front-wheel-drive model, which could possibly be a coupe version of the CT 200h.

Lastly its also being reported that future Toyota/ Lexus high-performance models will switch from naturally aspirated engines like the IS F and LFA currently use, to smaller turbocharged engines.

The only bad news is the new report that it looks like plans for the LFA Roadster have been canned...

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2013 Chevy Malibu Gets Standard 2.5L Ecotec Four-Cyl

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GM has announced that the all-new 2013 Chevy Malibu will get an all-new Ecotec 2.5L four-cylinder as its standard engine. 2013_Chevy_Malibu_Ecotec.jpg

The new 2.5L engine generates 190 horsepower and 180 lb-ft. of torque, which is approximately 12 percent more horsepower and 16 percent more torque than the current Ecotec 2.4L. The final MPG figures haven't been released yet, but GM expects the four-cylinder to get more than 30 mpg on the highway. The new engine will be available next summer in the all-new Malibu.

GM expects the engine to be one of the quietest and most refined engines in the segment.

"The noise intensity is 40 percent less than our 2.4L direct-injected engine, which was named one of Ward's 10 Best Engines," said Mike Anderson, global chief engineer. "Engineers also tuned the 2.5L to deliver more of its torque at lower rpm, giving the Malibu a stronger feel at launch and during on-demand maneuvers, such as passing or accelerating on a freeway entrance ramp."

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BMW Kills the ActiveHybrid X6

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Well that was short lived! BMW has reportedly killed the hybrid version of the X6 crossover, the ActiveHybrid X6. The ActiveHybrid X6 was BMW's first hybrid and the result of a joint partnership with Daimler, Chrysler and GM. The ActiveHybrid X6 is powered by a dual-mode hybrid system mated to a twin-turbo V8. It generated a total 480 horsepower, but only managed to return 19 mpg on the highway...

With a base price at $88,900 the ActiveHybrid X6 isn't cheap, which definitely didn't help it's case. Dave Buchko, a spokesman for BMW recently confirmed that the hybrid crossover has ended production.

The major issues with the X6 hybrid were that the model launched with a system that was already dated when it was released at the end of 2009. The X6 hybrid was way too expensive for most of us and at 19 mpg, the hybrid version of the X6 gets worse gas mileage than the regular V8 powered X6 at 20 mpg. One could make the case that the hybrid X6 was more focused on performance than fuel efficiency, but for basically the same price, buyers could opt for the X6 M with its 555 horsepower V8 and 17 mpg.

There aren't any plans to create another X6 hybrid or upgrade the hybrid system.

Although BMW has killed the hybrid version of the X6, BMW is set to release its next hybrid model, the 5 Series ActiveHybrid.

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Jeep CEO: Wrangler Pickup is At Least 4 Years Away

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Have you been dying for Jeep to release a pickup truck? Well if you are and also aren't satisfied with the Jeep Wrangler Unlimited Pickup conversion, you will have to wait another four years for a true Jeep pickup.

According to Jeep CEO Michael Manley, a Jeep pickup is high on Jeep's priority list, but it won't happen until the next-generation Wrangler is released. ""It is too late in Wrangler's product cycle to add a pickup. The 2015 or 2016 time frame makes more sense."

Manley is keeping an eye on the demand for the kit that is offered by Chrysler's Mopar aftermarket division that essentially turns the Wrangler into a pickup. The kit costs $5,499 and includes a steel bed, inner and outer bedsides, sport bar extensions, Freedom panel assemblies, fiberglass hardtop and bulkhead.


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September 20, 2011

Kia GT Concept Proves that Kia is Ready to Move Upmarket

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Kia officially unveiled the GT concept in Frankfurt last month. The concept featured a new four-door coupe design that was unlike anything with a Kia badge before. The overwhelming positive response to the rear-wheel-drive GT proves that Kia is ready to move beyond its budget focused lineup.

"Almost everyone has accepted the GT as being the right kind of car for Kia, and that says we're ready to stretch the brand further," said Kia's European boss Paul Philpott. "If we can get the same reaction globally as we did in Frankfurt then the GT can play a key role in moving the whole brand forward."

The Kia GT is expected to go into production in 2013 once Kia has completed changing its existing lineup.

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Audi Still Hasn't Decided if the U.S. will get the Q3

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Audi is still mulling the idea of bringing its newest crossover, the Q3 to the United States. According to Johan de Nysschen, president of Audi of America it could finally come here in three years when the crossover gets its midlife update.

Nysschen stated, "We have to look at the economic feasibility, and it has to hit targets. We have to overcome certain challenges." The biggest hurdle will be pricing the Q3 low enough to make it attractive, but at a level that Audi can still make a profit.

Peter Schwarzenbauer, Audi AG board member for sales and marketing stated, "I think the U.S. is ready for a car below the Q5."

Audi has also been focusing more on the upper segments like the A8 and A7 in an effort to improve the brand's presence in those segments. The lower priced Q3 is at the opposite end of the luxury segment.

One model that could push Audi to bring the Q3 here is the BMW X1 crossover, which is about the same size. After several delays, the X1 will be re-evaluated for the U.S. in about another year and a half, when the X1 gets its midlife facelift.

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Chrysler to Release Dodge Durango SRT8 in 2013?

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Chrysler recently introduced the SRT8 version of the 2012 Jeep Grand Cherokee and now comes word that the automaker is considering a high-performance version of the Dodge Durango, that shares the same platform as the Jeep. Chrysler hasn't confirmed a Dodge Durango SRT8, but according to sources it is seriously being considered.

If Chrysler does build a Durango SRT8 it will be powered by the same 6.2L Hemi V8 as the other SRT8 models. The only major hurdle is the fact that the current performance version of the Durango, the Durango R/T isn't selling as well as Chrysler hoped. The Dodge Durango R/T is powered by a 370 horsepower 5.7L Hemi V8. Out of all the Durango's sold this year, only seven percent have been the R/T model.

Maybe a 470 horsepower Durango SRT8 would be more exciting. What do you think? Another issue would be the price, would a Durango SRT8 that costs over $50,000 find any buyers?

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September 21, 2011

2012 Honda CR-V Official Patent Drawings Uncovered

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The all-new 2012 Honda CR-V is expected in showrooms before the end of the year, but Honda has yet to officially unveil the new crossover. Honda gave us a preview of the new CR-V with the CR-V concept back in July, but we most likely won't see the production model until we get closer to the LA Auto Show in November. Until then the official patent drawings of the new CR-V have been uncovered, which officially shows off the final design. 2012_Honda_CR-V_patent2.jpg

These patent drawings show a CR-V that is pretty close to the concept, which is an evolution of the current CR-V. Honda hasn't released any official specs for the new CR-V, although it's expected to only be powered by a revised of the current four-cylinder engine with front or all-wheel-drive.

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2012 Infiniti M35h Hybrid Sets Record for World's Fastest Hybrid

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Infiniti's first hybrid the M Hybrid has set a Guinness World record for being the fastest accelerating full hybrid. Driven by journalist Tim Pollard and overseen by Guinness World Records, the 2012 Infiniti M35h hybrid covered the standing quarter mile in 13.9031 seconds.

The M35h set the record on August 23, 2011 at the UK's Santa Pod Raceway.

"The Infiniti M35h proves that hybrids can be fast as well as frugal," said Tim Pollard, associate editor of the UK's CAR Magazine. "At Santa Pod you could feel the instant torque of the electric motor away from standstill - the car just leapt off the line. I did try changing gears manually, but it was fastest left in automatic. That was when we achieved the fastest single run of 13.8960 seconds."

The Infinti M35h hybrid is powered by a V6 engine mated to an electric motor for a total output of 360 horsepower. It reaches 0-62 mph in 5.5 seconds and can travel up to 62 mph in electric-only mode. The M35h hybrid also gets up to 32 mpg on the highway.

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Subaru BRZ Concept to Debut in LA in November

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Subaru officially confirmed the name for its rear-wheel-drive coupe that its developed with Toyota, but we have yet to see an official concept version of the Subaru BRZ. It's being reported that Subaru will unveil a concept version of the BRZ at the LA Auto Show in November.

Although we will finally get to see a concept version of the BRZ, the production version will not share any body panels with the concept. The Toyota's FT-86 concepts also will not share any body panels with the Toyota's version of the coupe. We will not get to see the production versions of the Toyota/ Scion and Subaru coupes until the Tokyo Motor Show later this year.

Other details about Subaru's version of the coupe have also surfaced ahead of its debut. Although Subaru is known for its all-wheel-drive vehicles, the BRZ will remain rear-wheel-drive only. It's also expected that the coupes will be powered by a 2.0L Subaru boxer engine with around 200 horsepower. Subaru is going to produce all versions of the coupe (Toyota, Scion and Subaru) at its plant in Gunma, Japan, starting next spring. The biggest differences between the coupes will be the front fascias, while all the coupes will share the same sheet metal. The Scion and Toyota versions will be identical except for the badges.

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September 22, 2011

BMW Confirms X4 Crossover in the Works for 2014

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BMW's CEO Norbert Reithofer has confirmed plans for a new crossover known as the X4, which will be a sportier version of the X3. Think of the X4 as a baby X6.

This isn't the first time that we've heard reports about a BMW X4, which will be positioned above the X3 in the BMW lineup. The X4 will share its platform and engines with the X3, but will be smaller and it will only have room for four. It's styling is expected to mimic the larger X6 with its coupe-like roofline. BMW is expected to also release an X4 M version.

The BMW X4 is expected to go on sale in 2014.

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Audi RS5 Cabrio Coming in 2012?

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Audi officially unveiled the 2012 Audi RS5 in Frankfurt earlier this month. The high-performance version of the Audi A5 is officially headed to the U.S. and now there are rumors that Audi is working on a convertible version of the RS5.

Leaked patent drawings of a 2012 RS5 Cabrio have showed up and provides some proof that the high-performance convertible is actually planned. The convertible RS5 will likely have a soft top like the A5 and S5 cabrios. It will also get the same 450 horsepower 4.2L V8 as the coupe. It's not known when the convertible will be released.

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Opel Astra GTC Could Show Up as a Buick

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We've heard rumors before, but now there are new reports that Opel's recently unveiled Astra GTC could come to the U.S. and be badged as a Buick. Opel's Karl-Friedrich Stracke recently stated, "I could easily see it as a Buick."

The United Auto Workers (UAW) also recently negotiated a new contract with GM that could provide even more proof that the Astra GTC is headed to the U.S. According to union officials GM is set to build a new compact vehicle that will create more than 500 jobs.

GM unveiled the 2012 Opel Astra GTC in June. It rides 15 mm lower than the five-door Astra with wider front and rear tracks. It also gets a sportier suspension. In Europe it's offered with the choice of a diesel or three different gasoline engines. The top engine is the 180-hp 1.6L turbocharged engine. An even more powerful Astra OPC is expected to debut next year.

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Mitsubishi Diamante Successor is a Rebadged Infiniti M

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Mitsubishi is going to release a new flagship sedan that will be a successor to the Diamante that was killed in 2004. Rather than create its own sedan, Mitsubishi has reportedly signed a new agreement with Nissan, which will bring the Nissan Fuga (Infiniti M in the U.S.) to the Mitsubishi lineup.

This is reportedly only going to happen in Japan, but Mitsubishi is going to start selling a rebadged Nissan Fuga next summer. Mitsubishi has no plans to sell the rebadged Nissan outside of Japan.

Mitsubishi is set to finally remove the Galant from its U.S. lineup in 2013, would you like to have the rebadged Nissan as a replacement?

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2012 Honda CR-V Concept Debuts in Orange County

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We're still waiting for the official debut of the 2012 Honda CR-V, but the concept version has had just debuted at the Orange County Auto Show. Fortunately the concept version looks basically the same as the production version.

"The 2012 CR-V Concept strongly hints at the more dynamic and refined look of the upcoming model," said John Mendel, executive vice president of sales for American Honda. "As the best-selling SUV in each of the past four years, the 2012 CR-V promises to build on its highly successful formula with even more style, innovative features and higher fuel economy."

The all-new 2012 CR-V will go on sale by the end of the year and according to Honda it will get more distinctive and bolder styling than the outgoing model. The new CR-V will have a more aggressive stance and a bolder face.

The new CR-V will also get a more fuel-efficient engine and will be lighter. Honda also says that the interior will also be more accommodating and spacious.

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September 23, 2011

Acura RSX Return Confirmed

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There have been rumors circulating for a while that Honda is going to revive the RSX badge for a new entry-level model, but now its been confirmed by spy photos of a new small Acura that was recently caught testing. Although the previous RSX was a coupe, it looks like the RSX badge may be applied to a new entry-level sedan for the Acura lineup.

The new Acura compact sedan will be based on the Honda Civic platform. Although it's based on the Civic platform, the Acura sedan looks nothing like the Civic, which is a good thing. The RSX will be larger than the Civic and obviously more upscale. It's expected that a coupe and possible convertible version will follow a year or two after the sedan debuts. It remains to be seen if the RSX will arrive in 2012 or 2013, but either way the arrival of the RSX means that the TSX will disappear after 2013.

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2013 Chevy Malibu to Get 250-HP Turbocharged Four-Cyl?

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GM is going to be releasing an all-new 2013 Chevy Malibu in the first quarter of 2012. GM has already released the details for the new 2.5L Ecotec four-cylinder, which replaces the current 2.4L Ecotec. The new 2.5L puts out 190 horsepower and 180 lb-ft. of torque, which is a modest improvement over the old four-cylinder. That's great news, but if GM really wants to go head to head with the Camry, Accord, Sonata, Altima and Fusion models it really needs something more powerful. 2013_Chevy_Malibu_Ecotec_new3.jpg

Inside Line is reporting that a turbocharged version of the new 2.5L four-cylinder is a strong possibility. A turbocharged four-cylinder Malibu would follow the same strategy that Hyundai has used for the Sonata, since Hyundai no longer offers a V6 in its midsize sedan. Inside Line believes that a 250 horsepower turbocharged version of the new 2.5L is a strong possibility. The displacement of the 2.5L could be tweaked a bit, but it's pretty much expected that GM will release a turbocharged Malibu in the near future...

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September 24, 2011

Toyota Debuts Three Trims for the 2012 Venza

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The Toyota Venza crossover is getting three trim levels for the 2012 model year, which is a change from the former model, which was only offered in one trim with several option packages.

The 2012 Toyota Venza will be available in LE, XLE and Limited trim levels, which brings it inline with Toyota's other models. The LE and XLE models are available with either a 182 horsepower 2.7L four-cylinder or a 268 horsepower 3.5L V6, while the top trim Limited model is only available with the V6.

The base LE trim comes standard with dual-zone climate control, eight-way power driver's seat, Bluetooth, and an audio system with a six-disc CD changer and USB port. The XLE adds leather seats, power passenger seat, heated front seats, power rear lift gate and the Smart Key System with push button start. The Limited model gets a standard navigation system, panoramic glass roof and HID headlights.

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2014 Chevy Corvette to Get Seven-Speed Manual

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Porsche just released the all-new 2012 Porsche 911 with seven-speed manual transmission and now it's being reported that the next 2014 Chevy Corvette will also be available with seven-speed manual.

It remains to be seen if the seven-speed manual will get the extra gear solely to improve the Corvette's fuel efficiency. It's suspected that the engine will continue to use two overdrive gears like the current six-speed manual transmission. The two overdrive gears would give GM's engineers the ability to tighten the ratios of the lower gears for better low-speed performance.

The next-generation Corvette is expected to continue to be powered by a pushrod V8, but the engine will be revised. Direct-injection and a variable valve lift system are some of the enhancements that we can expect to see in 2014.

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September 26, 2011

First 2012 Camaro ZL1 Sold for $250,000

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The first 2012 Chevy Camaro ZL1 offered to the public has sold for $250,000 at the Barrett-Jackson auction in Las Vegas. The 2012 Camaro ZL1 was offered by Fairway Chevrolet-Buick-GMC in Las Vegas, with 100 percent of the auction proceeds benefitting the YMCA of Southern Nevada.

The lucky new owner of the Camaro ZL1 is Rick Hendrick, owner of Hendrick Motorsports and chairman of Hendrick Automotive Group. Hendrick's Camaro ZL1 will be the the only 2012 Camaro ZL1 coupe produced with a Carbon Flash Metallic exterior. It's also the 69th ZL1 produced in tribute of the 1969 Camaro ZL1, of which only 69 were produced.

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Lincoln to Say Goodbye to the Waterfall Grille

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Lincoln's controversial waterfall grille is set to be replaced according to the latest sources. Lincoln is going to release an updated MKS sedan and MKT crossover next spring and both models will get a different grille.

According to one source the grille on both models will be "completely different." It will not be as pronounced as the current grille and will be "more elegant."

The new MKS and MKT are expected to debut at the LA Auto Show in November.

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Future Toyotas to be More Aggressive and Emotional

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Toyota has long been criticized for its overly conservative designs, but that is about to change according to Toyota's new global styling chief, Dezi Nagaya.

"Toyota has been criticized for being quiet and nonoffensive, of having too friendly an image while lacking emotion," Nagaya recently stated in an interview.

"We are going to be more dynamic, more masculine, sportier, with a more obvious design theme and a face to represent the company and the brand. We have eliminated emotion. We need to pump that up."

Future Toyotas will try to move away from the traditional conservative Toyota designs, but it isn't going to be easy for Nagaya who was also one of the creators of the Lexus "L-Finesse" design language. Conservative designs have been part of Toyota's culture for generations so it is going not going to be easy to add passion and emotion into Toyota's future vehicles.

The Toyota FT-86 concept is a preview of more emotional Toyota models. The FT-86 concept will arrive next year as the Scion FR-S. Creating new sporty models like the Scion FR-S will definitely be easier than trying to create a more emotional Camry.

"The Camry has a wide selection range with customers who don't want something too aggressive," Nagaya said. "But it has the responsibility of being the highlight of the lineup."

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2012 Kia Rio 5-Door Hatchback Starts at $13,600

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Kia has announced the pricing for the all-new 2012 Kia Rio 5-door hatchback, which starts at $13,600 for the base model with a manual transmission. Adding an automatic transmission pushes the price up to $14,700. The 2012 Rio's starting price is now lower than the outgoing model.

The 2012 Rio comes standard with air conditioning, electric power steering, an AM/FM/CD/MP3 audio system with USB and auxiliary ports and SiriusXM satellite radio. The top of the line Rio EX starts under $18,000 and comes standard with 17-inch alloy wheels, LED headlamp and tail light accents, a sport-tuned suspension with larger front brakes, projection headlamps, twin chrome exhaust tips, fog lamps, and a standard voice-activated infotainment system with a 4.3-inch color touch screen and rear camera display.

All 2012 Rio trims are powered by a 138 horsepower 1.6L four-cylinder engine. The base LX model can be equipped with either a six-speed manual or six-speed automatic transmission, while the other trim levels come standard with the automatic. Start-stop technology is also offered on the Rio, which Kia refers to as ISG. The Kia Rio with the ISG technology gets 31/40 mpg.

Kia hasn't announced the pricing for the Rio sedan.

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2013 Nissan GT-R to Pack 570-HP?

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Nissan's supercar the GT-R already packs 530 horsepower and reaches 0-60 mph in under 3 seconds, but Nissan isn't stopping there. Now comes word that the 2013 GT-R is going to get some upgrades that will add another 40 horsepower under the hood, for a total around 570 horsepower.

Nissan recently held a press event in Europe for the 2013 GT-R, in which some of the upgrades were discussed. The 2013 GT-R will get more power thanks to increased boost and revisions to the intake and exhaust systems. The transmission and suspension settings have also been tweaked and the underside of the GT-R has been modified to improve the cars aerodynamics.

There is also a report that Nissan is readying a new "Track Edition" that will only be right hand drive and available in markets outside the U.S. Lastly the 2013 GT-R will not get any styling updates to differentiate from the 2012 model.

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Nissan Juke with GT-R Twin-Turbo in the Works

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First there were reports that Nissan is working on an even more powerful 2013 GT-R and now comes word that Nissan is preparing an uber fast Juke (Super Juke) that will be powered by the GT-R's engine.

It's been confirmed that Nissan Europe is currently working on a super fast version of the Juke, known internally as the Super Juke. Given the fact that the Juke is expected to put out between 480-520 horsepower, suggests that the small crossover will get a detuned version of the GT-Rs twin-turbocharged V6.

The first official sketch of the one-off Super Juke has leaked onto the internet. It shows the Juke with a full kit and GT-R style wheels.

Expect to hear more news about the Super Juke next week.

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September 27, 2011

2012 Ferrari 458 Spider Starts at $257,000

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Ferrari has announced that the pricing for the 2012 Ferrari 458 Spider will start at $257,000. Compared to the coupe version, the pricing for the Spider costs about 15 percent more. Sales will kick off in Europe next month, with sales in the U.S. starting in January 2012.

The Ferrari 458 Spider is powered by a 562 horsepower 5.2L V8 that is mated to a dual-clutch F1 paddle-shift gearbox. The hardtop is made of aluminum and retracts in 14 seconds.

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Fiat Announces the 2012 Fiat 500 Pink Ribbon Edition

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Fiat has announced the 2012 Fiat 500 "Pink Ribbon" edition model. Fiat has teamed up with The Breast Cancer Research Foundation (BCRF) to produce 250 "Pink Ribbon" models. The collaboration allows breast cancer awareness advocates to express their support for the cause in modern iconic Italian style.

Fiat will donate $1,000 for each of the special Fiat 500 Pink Editions that are sold, with a minimum $50,000 contribution to BCRF.

"We are honored to partner with an upstanding organization like The Breast Cancer Research Foundation that supports a cause so important to our consumers and our company," said Laura Soave, Head of FIAT North America. "The Fiat 500 Pink Ribbon edition offers our FIAT consumers a unique and stylish way to express their support, help fund breast cancer research and ultimately drive change."

The Fiat 500 Pink Ribbon edition is based on the 2012 Fiat 500 Lounge model and comes in either silver or white with a signature dark pink bodyside stripe with "500" logo and an accenting "ribbon" in light pink. The interior also gets pink accents that contrast the black interior. The black leather seats get pink accent stitching and a pink ribbon has been embroidered on the floor mats.

The 2012 Fiat 500 Pink Edition starts at $22,500.

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Subaru XV Coming to the U.S. by 2013

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Subaru unveiled the XV crossover in Frankfurt earlier this month, which is basically a version of the all-new Impreza that is more capable off-road. Subaru has confirmed that the higher riding Impreza XV will come to the U.S. in 2013, but likely with a different name.

In the past Subaru has offered a similar version known as the Outback sport, but that version mainly had two-tone paint and a raised suspension. The XV is more differentiated from the Impreza with its higher ride height, body cladding and unique alloy wheels. In the meantime, Subaru is offering the 2012 Impreza sport model that has an all-weather package and 17-inch alloy wheels.

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September 28, 2011

VIDEO: Maserati Kubang is on the Move

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Maserati gave us a preview of its upcoming SUV at the Frankfurt Motor Show earlier this month. The Kubang concept shares its name with a concept from 2003 and its platform with the Jeep Grand Cherokee thanks to the recent Fiat/ Chrysler marriage. The Maserati Kubang is set to debut sometime in 2013 and will be produced in the U.S.

Maserati has released a video which shows the Kubang concept in motion. You just have to get past the first half of the video, which is more about the brand.

Check it out after the jump.

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GM Kills Plans for Cadillac ATS Convertible

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GM is currently working on a new smaller rear-wheel-drive sedan, known as the ATS, which will sit below the CTS in the lineup. The ATS is based on a new Alpha platform that will also be the basis for the next Camaro. Originally GM had planned on releasing sedan, coupe, convertible and wagon variants of the ATS, but unfortunately the plans have changed.

According to GMI, GM has canceled plans for a convertible version of the ATS due to its lower volume. An unnamed source stated that that the convertible was axed because volume projections were not high enough to justify the extra development costs. The ATS wagon is also not gonna happen, since plans for that model were apparently killed before the program was finalized. Luckily plans for a coupe are still on.

The ATS sedan will arrive in 2012 with a new version of GM's 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder and a 3.6-liter V-6. All-wheel-drive is also reportedly going to be offered. Although we will see the sedan sometime next year, the coupe isn't expected to arrive until 2015.

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Is this What Toyota's Revived Supra Should Look Like?

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There is a rumor that Toyota is working on a successor to the Toyota Supra, but right now nothing has been officially confirmed. If Toyota were to bring the Supra back to life, what do you think it would look like?

Artist Andreas Fougner has given us his vision for the future Supra. Fougner drew his inspiration from the past Supra models combined with lines that are similar to the Toyota FT-86 concept. Fougner said he wanted to create a concept that is both classy and sporty.

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September 29, 2011

2012 Ford F-150 SVT Raptor Gets New Torsten Differential and Off-Road Camera

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The off-road ready Ford F-150 SVT Raptor is getting a few updates for the 2012 model year. Ford remains committed to making the F-150 SVT Raptor the truck for off-road enthusiasts. For 2012 the truck gets a new Torsten front differential, which increases grip on the front end of the truck and improves its handling capability. An internal helical gearset is used to help force torque from the wheel that is losing traction to the wheel with traction.

"This system is key for letting Raptor customers tackle new ground in their truck," said Kerry Baldori, Ford SVT Global Performance Vehicle chief functional engineer. "Its extreme capability lends itself well to rock climbing situations."

The 2012 Ford F-150 SVT Raptor also gets a new class-exclusive off-road front camera system that allows the driver to be able to see what is going on in the front of their truck. The system uses the 8-inch navigation display to let drivers see what is directly in front of their trucks.

"It's a surprise and delight feature that works during low-speed crawling, and it's particularly useful for seeing in front of the vehicle when tackling large inclines," said Jamal Hameedi, Ford SVT chief engineer. "We found the system particularly useful for avoiding large rocks or placing a tire on a rock. It can even take the place of the spotter at times, which is a great feature when the truck is in one foot of mud."

The F-150 SVT Raptor is powered by a 6.2L V8 with 411 horsepower and 434 lb-ft. of torque.

Continue reading "2012 Ford F-150 SVT Raptor Gets New Torsten Differential and Off-Road Camera" »

Hyundai is Working on a 10-Speed Transmission

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The days of four-speed automatic transmissions are long gone as automakers have moved up to six, seven and eight speed transmissions in order to improve fuel consumption. Hyundai recently launched a new eight-speed transmission in for the 2012 Genesis and Equus.

Hyundai is now reportedly working on a new 10-speed transmission that will be used in its luxury models like the Genesis and Equus. The new 10-speed transmission will be released in 2014.

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Scion Unveils the 2012 xD RS 4.0 and XB RS 9.0

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Scion has announced the introduction of the 2012 xD Release Series 4.0 (xD RS 4.0) and xB Release Series 9.0 (xB RS 9.0) models at the 2011 State Fair of Texas.

The 2012 Scion xD Release Series 4.0 comes standard in a Blizzard Pearl color and gets 16-inch alloy wheels that are finished in smoked platinum. The Blizzard Pearl color is also used on some interior trim pieces like on the center console, steering wheel and door panels. The Release Series logo has also been applied to the floor mats. Scion is only going to produce 800 units of the xD RS 4.0 with pricing starting at $16,250.
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The 2012 Scion xB Release Series 9.0 comes in a Hot Lava color and the front fascia gets a unique honeycomb lower grille. A unique feature is that the Scion badges on the front and rear of the car illuminate when the car is unlocked. The xB RS 9.0 also gets perforated synthetic suede front and rear seats with an embossed Scion logo. Scion is only going to produce 1,500 units of the xB RS 9.0with pricing starting at $18,110.

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GM Unveils World's First Front Center Air Bag

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GM has announced the introduction of the auto industry's first ever front center air bag that is designed to protect drivers and front passengers in far-side impact crashes where the affected occupant is on the opposite, non-struck side of the vehicle.

The new front center air bag will be standard on the 2013 Buick Enclave, GMC Acadia and Chevy Traverse crossovers. The front center air bag deploys from the right side of the driver's seat. It's designed to provide protection in passenger-side crashes when the driver is the only front occupant and also acts as an energy absorbing cushion between the driver and front passenger in both driver- and passenger-side crashes.

GM's analysis of NHTSA's reporting found that far-side impact crashes, accounted for 11 percent of the belted front occupant fatalities in non-rollover impacts between 2004 and 2009. Far-side fatalities also 29 percent of all the belted front occupant fatalities in side impacts.

"The front center air bag is not required by federal regulation, and no other air bag in passenger vehicles today offers the type of restraint and cushioning this air bag is designed to provide for front occupants," said Scott Thomas, senior staff engineer in GM's advanced restraint systems.

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2012 Ford F-150 Gets new FX Package and Driveline Updates

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Ford has announced the updates to the Ford F-150 pickup, which gets a new FX appearance package for the 2012 model year.

The FX appearance package includes unique 20-inch flat-black wheels, a stylized bodyside graphic and black badges with red lettering. The interior gets black leather seats with red trim, brushed-metal accents and a red-stitched steering wheel.

"The new FX package delivers a distinctive style that truck buyers are looking for without compromising on any of the F-150's rugged qualities," said Raj Sarkar, F-150 Marketing manager. "It expands our range of specialty vehicles with custom elements that customers previously could find only in the aftermarket."

The FX luxury package also adds cooled and heated front seats.

Other upgrades to the 2012 F-150 include a new standard hill start assist system that keeps the truck from rolling back on a hill. Lariat, King Ranch and Platinum trim models also get a new 4x4 system that offers four high and four low modes in addition to a 4x4 auto mode. Neutral tow capability on 4x4 equipped models means customers can now flat-tow their F-150.

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Toyota Unveils the 2012 Tacoma TRD T/X Baja Series

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Toyota has unveiled the 2012 Tacoma TRD T/X Baja Series limited truck at the 2011 Texas State Fair. The Tacoma T|X Baja Series is inspired by Toyota's Baja racing heritage and is based on the refreshed 2012 Tacoma.

Bob Carter, group vice president and general manager, Toyota Division stated, "The limited edition TRD T|X Baja Series adds another chapter to Toyota's truck legacy by offering a new level of capability for off-road enthusiasts."

The T|X Baja Series is equipped with a 4.0-liter V6 engine with either six-speed manual or a five-speed automatic transmission. It gets technology like an electronically-controlled locking rear differential, Active Traction Control (A-TRAC), Hill-Start Assist Control (HAC) and Downhill Assist Control (DAC). It also gets Gun-Metal Gray finish bead-lock style off-road wheels with F Goodrich T/A KO tires. A TRD Cat-back exhaust, increased front ride height of nearly two inches, Bilstein shocks and unique Baja Series graphics complete the package.

The The T|X Baja Series can be applied to the Tacoma Access and Double Cab 4x4 models equipped with the TRD Off-Road Package. There is also a possibility of it being offered on the Tacoma PreRunner models. Production kicks off in the spring.

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September 30, 2011

2012 BMW ActiveHybrid 5 Officially Unveiled

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BMW may have recently decided to kill the hybrid version of the X6, but BMW is still committed to growing its hybrid line. Its latest hybrid the ActiveHybrid 5, which is based on the 535i sedan, has been officially unveiled.

The 2012 BMW ActiveHybrid 5 mates BMW's TwinPower turbocharged inline six-cylinder engine with an electric drive system and an eight-speed automatic transmission. The system has a total output of 335 horsepower. The ActiveHybrid 5 can drive up to 37 mph on electric power alone and reaches 0-60 mph in 5.7 seconds. It can also drive in all-electric mode for 2.5 miles at an average of 22 mph. BMW hasn't released the official fuel economy specs.

The ActiveHybrid 5 will reach U.S. showrooms in March 2012.

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Consumer Reports "Chrysler 300 Best Chrysler Car in Decades"

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Consumer Reports recently tested the revamped 2011 Chrysler 300C and labeled the sedan as the "best Chrysler car we've seen in decades." The 2011 Chrysler 300C received a total test score of 80, which is up from 64 for the previous model.

"The 300C's quick, muscular 5.7-liter V8 engine is now complemented by responsive handling and a more comfortable ride. And thanks to a major upgrade, its roomy interior is now quieter and more luxurious."

Consumer Reports tested the Chrysler 300 against the Hyundai Genesis, Toyota Avalon and Acura TL. The Hyundai Genesis took the top score with a test score of 92 points.

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Lexus Unveils LS 460, ES 350 and CT 200h Special Edition Models

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Lexus is introducing special edition versions of the LS 460, ES 350 and CT 200h models for the 2012 model year.

"The Special Edition models will offer our customers choices to fit their luxury and sporty needs," said Mark Templin, Lexus Division group vice president and general manager. "With the unique and exclusive package offerings, the Special Edition models further demonstrate Lexus' commitment to our customers."

The 2012 LS 460 Sport Special Edition includes the Sport package and is distinguished from other LS models by an Obsidian exterior. Other features include a two-tone black and topaz beige interior, a navigation system, Brembo brakes, 19-inch alloy wheels and a sport-tuned air suspension. The special edition LS 460 starts at $77,000.

The 2012 ES 350 Touring Edition is only available in two colors, Stargazer Black and Starfire Pearl. It comes with 17-inch alloy wheels in Liquid Graphite finish, heated and cooled front seats, a navigation system and Saddle Tan leather-trimmed seats. It starts at $40,475.

The 2012 CT 200h F Sport Special Edition is offered in three colors, Nebula Gray Pearl, Starfire Pearl and Tungsten Pearl and is only available on the premium model. It comes with F Sport 17-inch alloy wheels with Liquid Silver finish, the F Sport package, an F Sport suspension, a unique front mesh grille, Ocean Blue NuLuxe trimmed seats, and the navigation and premium audio packages. It starts at $37,995.

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