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The AutoGuide News Blog is your source for breaking stories from the auto industry. Delivering news immediately, the AutoGuide Blog is constantly updated with the latest information, photos and video from manufacturers, auto shows, the aftermarket and professional racing.
 |  Oct 14 2010, 9:24 AM

With the launch of the all-new Swift in other markets, we’ve heard rumors that Suzuki will eventually bring the small hatchback back to North America, and if this concept makes it to production, we’ll really be crossing our fingers.

Revealed well ahead of its planned official debut at the upcoming Beijing Auto Show, the Suzuki Swift R Concept takes inspiration from (where else) the GSX-R bikes. It sports an aggressive body kit, big fender flares and some larger and wider tires. To go along with there there’s a custom suspension.

No official engine specs have been released, but the Swift R is expected to be powered by a turbocharged 1.4-liter 4-cylinder making around 180-hp. Better yet, this little front-driver hot-hatch is also expected to get a 7-speed dual-clutch transmission – just one of the many ways Suzuki is benefiting from it’s tie-up with Volkswagen.

We’ll be sure to bring you more on this hot-hatch when we get it, but with the Beijing Auto Show not until April of next year, we’ll be waiting a while.

 |  Apr 28 2010, 11:21 AM

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Having been to BYD Auto’s facilities in Shenzhen, China, we have witnessed first-hand the development stages of China’s new-age automotive manufacturers. What was most entertaining was how BYD Auto blatantly copies well-established auto manufacturers when it comes to the styling of its vehicles. In fact, one of the vehicles they had displayed in their museum was a clear replica of a Mercedes-Benz SL-Class.

Universally mocked for outright copying products, China’s auto industry has come to earn a deservedly bad rep over the decades.

New to the pack is Chinese automotive manufacturer Huatai (or better known as Hawtai in English) with its B35 SUV. With the Beijing Auto Show opening last week, lots of surprises are pouring out from Mainland China, the latest being these photos of the B35 SUV. There is quite the blend of styling throughout the car, noticeably screaming Porsche Cayenne with a hint of Audi, Bentley and maybe even Jaguar and subtle Maserati. Based on the images, it looks like the SUV will be powered with a 1.8T – possibly a diesel, as Hautai is known for.

We’re more curious as to how well this vehicle will actually perform on the streets, especially when it comes to safety. It’s really hard to argue though how quickly China is rising in the automotive market and how it could be shaping things to come over the next decade or so. We wouldn’t be surprised to see some Chinese automobiles prowling our streets over the next few years. But for now we’ll just continue to point and giggle while we await for something original to come out of China.

GALLERY: Huatai B35

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 |  Apr 26 2010, 6:47 PM

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BMW will bring its Gran Coupe concept to life, its first foray into the “four door coupe” segment currently en vouge with German manufacturers.

BMW has yet to decide on a name for the car (“…we don’t know what to call it yet,” said Adrian van Hooydonk, BMW’s head of design), but the revival of the famous 8-series nameplate is a possibility. The concept indicates that the design of the Gran Coupe is almost finalized, and the dashing looks will carry an appropriately premium price tag as well.

While BMW has made a big effort to promote their MegaCity electric car project, the Gran Coupe represents a 180 degree shift away from a small, eco-friendly urban vehicle, as BMW looks for a flagship to join the 6-series two-door coupe and the 7-series luxury sedan.

[Source: Car and Driver]

 |  Apr 26 2010, 11:53 AM

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Honda CEO Takanobu Ito criticized the “complacent” nature of his company at the Beijing Auto Show, taking aim at poor sales figures, a lack of product direction and a need to focus on improving the company’s hybrid systems.

Honda’s market share slid by 0.4 percent, with Ito citing the disappointing sales of the Insight hybrid as a particular sore spot. In Insight has been pitched as an alternative to the Prius, but poor reviews, lower fuel economy numbers and the lack of cachet surrounding the vehicle has seen the Insight get trounced in the sales race, with Toyota selling 5 times as many Prius hybrids.

The most surprising part of this candid interview was Ito’s admission that “It’s possible we grew complacent about the good performance of the Accord, Civic and CR-V.”  The Accord recently lost a major Car and Driver comparison test to the Hyundai Sonata, while the CR-V faces stiff competition from a growing segment, including Hyundai’s new Tucson. Ito also cited Hyundai as a major threat, and said that Honda must change its course to compete with the Korean giant. “The biggest problem is we’re not selling the value of our products. We have to improve the performance of our products as well.”

Ito also announced plans for a new hybrid system for large cars, involving two large electric motors, one which charges the battery, the other which gives the gasoline engine a power boost. The system will be used on an upcoming Acura hybrid, as well as minivans and mid-size cars.

Honda has traditionally resisted a number of technologies employed by its competitors, including turbochargers, rear-wheel drive and V8 engines, and stuck to their formula of light-weight, efficient and practical vehicles. But Ito’s comments could indicate that the “Honda way” is beginning to falter, and some new direction is needed at the venerable Japanese firm.

[Source: Automotive News]

 |  Apr 24 2010, 9:18 PM

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Cadillac‘s Converj electric car, reported to be dead, has made an appearance at his year’s Beijing Auto Show, sparking speculation that the opulent alternative fuel vehicle is still alive and kicking.

The Converj, which mates the Chevrolet Volt’s electric powertrain with the features and amenities of a Cadillac, can travel about 40 miles on electric power alone, and then uses a gasoline motor for propulsion. The car can be plugged in to recharge its batteries as well. And did we mention it looks awesome?

While Bloomberg had reported in March of this year that GM had decided against producing the Converj, its Beijing appearance suggests that their may be renewed interest for the luxury hybrid. So pass the rumor along: the ConverJ isn’t dead yet.

GALLERY: Cadillac Converj

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 |  Apr 23 2010, 4:20 PM

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The Beijing Auto Show has brought a slate of new releases from companies like Ferrari, Lamborghini and Bentley, but the most opulent and outrageous vehicle is a homegrown Chinese product.

The Hongqi may look like a poor imitation of a Rolls Royce, but the Hongqi Limo is a serious car in its own right. At 21 feet long, the Hongqi is a whale of a car, requiring a V12 engine producing 405 horsepower to help the vehicle move. Soundproofing is said to be so good that the cabin is dead silent. One can only assume that armor plating and other security measures befitting of the Chinese Head of State add further mass to an already portly vehicle.

It’s unlikely that the Hongqi will ever reach our shores, but you can buy one in China for a cool $1.1 million, a significant sum by North American standards, but all the more astonishing when you factor in that the average income for a city-dwelling Chinese citizen is closer to $5,000 per year.

GALLERY: Hongqi Limo

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[Source: Cars UK and Hongquiche]

 |  Apr 23 2010, 11:01 AM

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BMW chose the Beijing Auto Show as the venue to unveil its new Concept Gran Coupe – which by all accounts appears to be a near-production rival to the Porsche Panamera. Using BMW’s coupe-like stylings to design a 4-door, this new concept isn’t nearly as dramatic as the Concept CS, which debuted back in 2007. In fact, it looks more like the current 6 Series stretched into a sedan.

The aim with this concept, says BMW, is to show that the brand is capable of building a high-performance vehicle with space for more than just two people. The length of the concept is roughly 196.4-inches, about 4-inches longer than the current 5 Series. It’s also lower than the 5 Series by roughly two inches at just 55-inches, giving it a low center of gravity.

BMW won’t specifically say anything about sending the Gran Coupe from concept to production, but judging from the production-ready look, we’d say it will be in dealerships sooner than you’d expect. Plus, it’s not hard to read between the lines when BMW’s press releases sates quite clearly that the Concept Gran Coupe was designed to, “illustrate the aspiration of the brand BMW to build 4-door high-performance coupes with the sportiest proportions and the most elegant design.”

As more production details leak out, we’re eager to see if BMW really intends to take on the Panamera or if the Gran Coupe is more of a Mercedes CLS fighter.

GALLERY: BMW Concept Gran Coupe

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Official release after the jump:

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 |  Apr 23 2010, 12:30 AM

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Like many high-end automakers displaying at this year’s Beijing Auto Show, Lamborghini has decided to unveil a special edition model exclusively for the Chinese market. Lambo chose its flagship model, the Murciélago LP670-4 SuperVeloce, dubbing it the “China Limited Edition” and has delivered it with a stunning new paint scheme and interior trim changes. Just 10 LP670-4 SV China Limited Edition models will be offered to a growing number of Lambo enthusiasts in the world’s most populous country.

Like the other 350 LP670-4 SV models, the Chinese Edition gets a massive 6.5-liter V12 engine with 670-hp and 487 ft-lbs of torque enabling a 0-62 mph sprint of just 3.2 seconds. It also gets the same lighter body, weighing 220 lbs less than the standard LP640.

Special “Chinese Edition” trim items include the orange stripe down the length of the gray-painted car, which Lambo says symbolizes an erupting volcano. In addition, every vehicle will get a numbered plaque with the badge of the owner engraved on it.

Lamborghini has already had considerable success in the Chinese marketplace and with limited edition models like this it is showing an increased enthusiasm for the future. “Last year, Automobili Lamborghini achieved 11 percent growth in China,” said CEO Stephan Winkelmann at a press conference for the debut of the LP670-4 SV Chinese Edition at the Beijing Auto Show. “At the beginning of this week on 20th of April, we have launched our seventh Automobili Lamborghini China dealership in Shenzhen. The inauguration of our eighth showroom in Xiamen will come soon. It is our pleasure that we can share our passion for Lamborghini with China’s super sports car drivers, collectors and fans.”

And in a nod to a bright future, Winkelman also commented on Automobili Lamborghini’s, “unwavering commitment to China and the development of a super sports car culture here.”

GALLERY: Lamborghini Murcélago LP670-4 SuperVeloce China Limited Edition

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Official release after the jump:

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 |  Apr 22 2010, 5:02 PM

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If you’re like us, you probably forgot all about Maybach when you saw the new interior of the Audi A8L, set to debut at the upcoming Beijing Auto Show. Apparently the folks at Maybach were equally impressed and have decided to “refresh” their current lineup for next year. You’d think that “refresh” would mean the platform has been upgraded so it no longer rides on an 11-year old S-Class chassis, but unfortunately, we aren’t so lucky.

Production will continue on the 57, 57S, 62 and 62S limousines with a handful of cosmetic, interior, and electronics tweaks to justify the undoubtedly astronomical price tag. All models get new grilles, including a different grill for ‘S’ models, and additional sound dampening to keep road noise down. ‘S’ models also get a few extra ponies squeezed out of the V12, now up to 630-hp.

Inside, passengers get a divider to separate themselves from their drivers, and optional 19-inch monitors in back instead of the standard 9.5-inch units, wireless internet, quilted leather, Swarovski Crystal trim, plus an optional perfume atomizer from the Zeppelin. Of course technology has been improved, with available wireless internet now available.

The updates to the Maybach lineup are minimal in a halfassed attempt to maintain some interest in the models before Mercedes admits its mistake and eliminates the brand by 2014.

GALLERY: 2011 Maybach Models

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 |  Apr 22 2010, 4:43 PM

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China is now Bentley’s third largest market, having sold 421 cars there in 2009. Now, the British luxury marque is launching yet another special edition of its Continental GT. Dubbed the “Design Series China” edition, the car, which is set to debut at the Beijing Auto Show Friday features an exterior wing badge, door sill plates and a dash plaque bearing the “Design Series China” label, while customers can pick from a selection of exclusive exterior paint and a three-tone leather interior.

Also making its debut is the Flying Spur Speed China, which features a special comfort tuned suspension, a quieter exhaust system, similar badging to the Continental GT and the addition of the Bentley logo on the C-Pillars.

Pricing details have yet to be announced, but if you have to ask…

GALLERY: Bentley Design Series China Edition

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GALLERY: Bentley Flying Spur Speed China

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Official release after the jump:

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 |  Apr 22 2010, 1:09 PM

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Chevrolet has just released details of the new Volt MPV5 Concept car, which debuts today at the 2010 Beijing Auto Show. Based on the Volt’s platform, this 5-seater adds plenty of functionality (not to mention style), as well as including the Volt’s revolutionary range-extender Voltec powertrain.

Despite the MPV in the name, Chevy still refers to this car as a crossover. Compared to the Volt, this MPV5 Concept has a wheelbase that is just 15mm longer, with a 181mm (7-inches) longer overall length. Its also wider and taller than the Volt by 73mm (2.9-inches) and 182mm (7.2-inches), respectively. This allows for added passenger and cargo room with a total of 30.5 cubic feet behind the rear seats and a total of 62.9 cubic feet with the rear seats folded flat.

Like the Volt, power comes from an electric motor and lithium-ion battery with the gasoline engine adding additional range. Chevy claims a pure electric 32 mile range on an EPA city cycle, with an additional 300 miles once the gasoline engine kicks in.

With the launch of the original Volt set for later this year, GM is using concepts like the MPV5 to show that the Voltec propulsion system is adaptable to different platforms – many of which we are likely to see in the years to come.

GALLERY: Chevy Volt MPV5 Concept

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Official release after the jump:

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 |  Apr 22 2010, 11:27 AM

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Ford has just released a selection of photos of a futuristic-meets-retro mini car, powered by a “near production” EcoBoost 3-cylinder engine. Using a 1.0-liter 3-cylinder combined with a turbocharger and direct-injection technology, Ford says the new engine in the Start Concept delivers power comparable to that from a traditional 4-cylinder engine. On the concept car this engine is mated up to a six-speed manual transmission and Ford says it has “sporty handling.”

As with all modern Ford’s the Start Concept also places a great deal of attention on technology. Premiering on the Start is a new MyFord Mobile technology concept, that allows owners to dock their smart phone and then control most features of the phone though voice commands.

Ford has designed the car to meet the needs of an increasingly urbanized world and while there’s no mention of production potential, we’re certain FoMoCo isn’t sitting idly by and watching cars like the Fiat 500 filter into its home market. Not to mention a premium-styled version of the Start Concept could be an Audi A1 competitor overseas. As for the new EcoBoost 3-cylinder engine, we wouldn’t be surprised to see it in a future Fiesta or Ka model.

GALLERY: Ford Start Concept

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[Source: FoMoCoNews]

Official release after the jump:

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 |  Apr 22 2010, 11:07 AM

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Volkswagen has just revealed its new 2011 Phaeton flagship model ahead of the car’s scheduled debut at this year’s Beijing Auto Show. The car will be offered as either a standard wheelbase or extended wheelbase (a popular option in China). All-wheel drive and an air suspension will be standard and customers will have the choice of four different engines, ranging from 6-cylinders to 8-cylinders, all the way up to a big W12.

The two entry-level offerings are both V6 engines, one a diesel, the other gasoline. The gas-powered V6 makes 276-hp, while the turbodiesel V6 makes 236-hp and plenty more torque. The V8 is quoted at 330-hp, while a W12 engine tops the range with 444-hp (nothing new there).

The 2011 Phaeton measures 5.06 meters long (199-inches) and grows by 12 cm (4.7-inches) in the extended wheelbase model. VW will offer two rear seat configurations, with either a traditional bench seat or two individual chairs with a large center console.

The body of the car has been modernized, but isn’t a huge departure from past models. As for the interior it’s a luxurious oasis that would make even a Lexus blush, with 4-zone climate control, 18-way seats and a long list of customizable features.

And while the updates to the car’s look and engines aren’t overly noteworthy, VW has added some technological features like Dynamic Light Assist – which adjusts the amount and range of light from the headlights based on oncoming traffic. There’s also a blind spot assist feature, a navigation system that can integrate info from Google, plus a front camera that can “see” road signs and project the image onto the touchscreen panel on the center console.

Rumours continue to persist that VW will bring back the Phaeton to North America, but considering the car’s past lack of success, don’t count on it.

GALLERY: 2011 VW Phaeton

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Official release after the jump:

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 |  Apr 20 2010, 2:02 PM

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While the trend for luxury cars in Europe and North America seems to be heading towards smaller vehicles, that’s not the case in China. The Chinese think that bigger is better and the Germans certainly aren’t going to argue with them. Case in point: the scheduled debut of the extended wheelbase BMW 5 Series at the Beijing Auto Show later this month.

Developed in Germany but set to be manufactured in Shenyang, China specifically for the Chinese market, we’re surprised at how the 5 Series Li looks so well proportioned. For those who don’t know, this isn’t the first extended-wheelbase 5 Series either, with BMW offering the previous gen model in a limo-version.

The wheelbase is 5.5-inches longer than the standard model, giving the 5 Series Li a total length of 198-inches and a wheelbase of 122.4-inches. BMW will offer the extended wheelbase 5 Series as a 523Li, powered by a 204-hp 2.5-liter inline-six; a 528Li, powered by a 258-hp 3.0-liter inline-six and a range-topping 535Li with a turbocharged 3.0-liter inline-six making 306-hp.

GALLERY: BMW 535Li

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Official release after the jump:

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 |  Apr 20 2010, 10:32 AM

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Ahead of its debut at the Beijing Auto Show, Mercedes has just unveiled its new Shooting Break Concept – which by all accounts is a near-production vehicle. In many ways this is the CLS equivalent of the E-Class wagon although its not quite as innovative as this new wagon-meets-hatchback design is already being popularized by German rivals BMW and Audi with vehicles like the 5 Series GT and A5 Sportback.

The design of the Shooting Break Concept takes from the Mercedes Fascination design concept as well as the new F800 Style Concept – not to mention the brand’s new SLS exotic. Mercedes says this new concept takes the coupe design in a new direction. Mercedes, after all, can be credited for introducing the 4-door coupe with the original CLS.

As for what’s under the hood, well, Mercedes is previewing a new direct-injection 3.5-liter V6 with 306-hp and improved fuel economy that is expected to make its way into numerous other Mercedes products – and is much needed too. In addition, reports suggest a new single-turbo 4.6-liter V8 will deliver over 400-hp and 400 ft-lbs of torque.

Scheduled to debut at the Bieijing Auto Show, there’s a possibility the Shooting Break Concept Car (codenamed X218) could be joined be a concept or production version of the second generation CLS.

Will the Shooting Break be the next CLS in terms of setting a trend and starting a new segment, or is it more likely to have the success of the R-Class? Leave your comments below:

GALLERY: Mercedes-Benz Shooting Break Concept

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Official release after the jump:

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 |  Apr 16 2010, 12:02 PM

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Chevrolet will unveil a new Orlando-based concept car at the Beijing Auto Show, powered by an adapted version of the powerplant found in the Chevy Volt. The team at GMInsideNews has provided us with a patent sketch for the vehicle, which was filed in August of 2009, but made available just yesterday. Associated with the sketch is GM designer Bob Boniface, the lead designer for the Volt.

The vehicle also appears to be the very same model that GM leaked in a YouTube video last year. Seen below, the Orlando-based model is smaller than the Orlando, but most certainly displays Volt-like styling.

We’ll be sure to bring you more when Chevrolet officially unveils this concept in Beijing later this month.

GALLERY: Chevy Orlando Voltec Concept

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[Source: GMI]

 |  Apr 16 2010, 11:00 AM

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With the A8 L making up the vast majority of A8 sales in the U.S., it’s not surprising that Audi went to tremendous lengths in designing the new extended wheelbase model. With the standard A8 for 2011 being a good deal sportier, the more luxurious A8 L is in a whole new realm of luxury.

Normally we focus on a car’s engine, which on the A8 L is an impressive W12 unit totaling 6.3-liters with 500-hp and 461 ft-lbs of and giving an speedy 4.9 second 0-60 mph time, but the A8 L deserves more mention on the interior. With a total length of 17.28 ft, the L is roughly 6-inches longer than the standard A8 – with all that space coming between the wheels to deliver half a foot extra in rear seat room.

In that extra six-inches of space Audi has crammed the sort of luxury you might only expect on a yacht – and as much wood as a yacht too. The rear seats are heated and ventilated and can not only more forward and back, but also provide settings for cushion depth and seat back angle. And of course, there’s lumbar support and massagers built in. We particularly like the feature in the full-length center console that allows the rear seat passenger to push a button and have the front passenger seat move forward – making it easier to stretch out with the flip out ottoman and enjoy one of the two 10.2-inch LCD screens.

Other highlights include a fridge and folding table in the center console, as well as a 1,400-watt, 19-speaker Bang & Olufsen Advanced Sound System

The 2011 Audi A8 L will officially debut later this month at the Beijing Auto Show, with pricing announced sooner to the yet unreleased on-sale date. When the A8 L does hot dealerships, the 500-hp W12 motor will be offered initially, with additional diesel and gasoline engines to follow.

GALLERY: 2011 Audi A8 L

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Official release after the jump:

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 |  Apr 16 2010, 10:10 AM

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Yesterday Ferrari gave the official first showing of its new 599 GTO Supercar at a private event in Italy. Held at Modena’s Ducal Palace military academy, the new “Fastest Ferrari” was presented by company head Luca di Montezemolo, as well as chief executive Amedeo Felisa and vice-chairman Pierro Ferrari, the son of Enzo Ferrari himself. In attendance were 500 guests of honor, including cadets from the academy. At the unveiling Ferrari also announced that there was no need to reach for your wallet – as all 599 models have already been spoken for.

Limited edition Ferraris like this one always sell out and we can particularly see why with the 599 GTO. After all, as we already mentioned, Ferrari claims its the fastest prancing horse ever with a record setting 1:24 second time around the Fiorano test track. As for the GTO itself, well, Ferrari has equipped it with a version of the standard car’s 6.0-liter V12, making 670-hp at 8250 rpm and 457 ft-lbs of torque at 6500 rpm. Ferrari claims a 0-62 mph time of 3.35 seconds and a top speed in excess of 208-mph. Helping to achieve quicker acceleration is a reprogrammed six-speed F1 transmission with 60 ms shift times and the ability to drop several gears at a time. Ferrari engineers also focused on weight reduction, dropping the GT car’s curb weight to 3,538 lbs. Along with lighter bodywork, including thinner aluminum panels, the GTO also gets thinner glass, a lighter exhaust and transmission and an even lighter second-generation carbon ceramic brake setup.

New aerodynamic improvements were also made resulting in improved downforce but no more drag. New ducting around the wheels reduces drag, as do wheel doughnuts. A new front lip creates more downforce at the front axle, while new side skirts help streamline airflow under the body. It’s also hard to miss the new racing-style rear diffuser.

Suspension improvements have also been made with stiffer springs and rear anti-roll bar, as well as a second-generation magnetorheological suspension control system (SCM2). More importantly, Ferrari says the SCM2 setup works with a tighter steering ratio, VDC (Vehicle Dynamic Control) and the updated F1-Trac traction control systems to be incredibly responsive to inputs.

Also helping in the handling department are new 20-inch wheels, with wider 285 front tires. And what’s more important to getting the most out of the car than the driver? No, Ferrari doesn’t include your own Felipe Massa, but the 599 GTO does come with the company’s Virtual Race Engineer system designed for the 599XX. It constantly monitors all aspects of the car and is able to tell the driver how close to the limit he is operating the car.

Ferrari will give the 599 GTO its first public showing at the Beijing Auto Show later this month.

GALLERY: Ferrari 599 GTO Unveiling

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GALLERY: Ferrari 599 GTO

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For a video introduction to the car (dubbed over in English) see after the jump:
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 |  Apr 15 2010, 11:19 AM

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Ahead of its expected debut at the Beijing Auto Show later this month, several shots have appeared online showing a fully uncovered (and quite handsome) Buick Excelle. In case you’re wondering why you might care about a Chinese market Buick, well, it’s because the Excelle is slated to arrive in North America next year – possibly badged as the Verano.

We’re really liking the front-end design – just like on the larger LaCrosse, but the rear end isn’t doing anything for us. As for the rather basic looking interior, expect somewhat of an upgrade for the U.S version, as it will have to at least be a slight step above the Cruze – which is already quite nice.

Slotting in under the new Regal model, the Excelle is based on the same chassis as the Opel Astra – making it a sister car to the Chevy Cruze. That being said, its easy to surmise that the base engine is likely to be the 1.4-liter turbocharged Ecotec motor with 138-hp, while a larger 1.6-liter turbocharged motor (currently used in the Opel Astra Hatch) will make 180-hp. Recent spy photos of an Excelle GT also raised speculation that the car might be offered in high-end GS trim when it arrive in the U.S. with the Regal’s 2.0-liter turbocharged 4-cylinder making 220-hp and 258 ft-lbs of torque.

GALLERY: Buick Excelle Spy Photos

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[Source: Autohome.com.cn via Carscoop]

 |  Apr 15 2010, 10:58 AM

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BMW has announced it will expand the current 5 Series Gran Turismo lineup by offering the new luxury hatchback with its xDrive all-wheel drive system. All current models offered will be available with xDrive, including the 535i and 550i offered in North America, as well as Euro-spec models like the 530d and 535d.

No pricing for the xDrive option has been announced, but it is expected to add roughly $3,000 to the price of the 5 Series GT, which currently retails for $56,000 for the 535i and $63,900 for the 550i model. The announcement really shouldn’t come as a surprise, as the car rides on a chassis similar to the one used for the 7 Series, which BMW also recently announced will be offered as an all-wheel drive version. Plus, the 5 Series GT is aimed at being a more functional luxury machine, slotting in somewhere between a traditional sedan and a crossover or SUV.

The 550i xDrive GT will be available in June, with the 535i xDrive GT hitting the market in September. BMW claims an impressive 5.4 second time to 62 mph with the 550i xDrive GT.

In addition, BMW has also said it will offer xDrive on the new 740d model in markets where it is currently available.

The new 5 Series GT xDrive will debut at the Beijing Auto Show at the end of the month.

GALLERY: BMW 5 Series xDrive GT

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 |  Apr 08 2010, 10:31 AM

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It’s the fastest road-going Ferrari ever says the Italian maker of the world’s finest exotic cars. The 599 GTO is the latest Ferrari and is in many ways a street legal version of the 599XX track car. Making a total of 670-hp from its 6.0-liter V12 engine and using an upgraded transmission, lighter weight and improved aerodynamics, it has achieved what Ferrari says is a record 1 minute 24 second lap at the automaker’s Fiorano test track.

The engine itself has been modified from the factory vehicle with friction reducing components as well as a redesigned crankshaft and new new intake system to make all 670-hp at 8250 rpm, while a total of 457 ft-lbs of torque is available at 6500 rpm. Ferrari claims a 0-62 mph time of 3.35 seconds and a top speed in excess of 208-mph. Helping to achieve quicker acceleration is a reprogrammed six-speed F1 transmission with 60 ms shift times and the ability to drop several gears at a time.

Ferrari engineers also focused on weight reduction, dropping the GT car’s curb weight to 3,538 lbs. Along with lighter bodywork, including thinner aluminum panels, the GTO also gets thinner glass, a lighter exhaust and transmission and an even lighter second-generation carbon ceramic brake setup.

New aerodynamic improvements were also made resulting in improved downforce but no more drag. New ducting around the wheels reduces drag, as do wheel doughnuts. A new front lip creates more downforce at the front axle, while new side skirts help streamline airflow under the body. It’s also hard to miss the new racing-style rear diffuser.

Suspension improvements have also been made with stiffer springs and rear anti-roll bar, as well as a second-generation magnetorheological suspension control system (SCM2). More importantly, Ferrari says the SCM2 setup works with a tighter steering ratio, VDC (Vehicle Dynamic Control) and the updated F1-Trac traction control systems to be incredibly responsive to inputs.

Also helping in the handling department are new 20-inch wheels, with wider 285 front tires. And what’s more important to getting the most out of the car than the driver? No, Ferrari doesn’t include your own Felipe Massa, but the 599 GTO does come with the company’s Virtual Race Engineer system designed for the 599XX. It constantly monitors all aspects of the car and is able to tell the driver how close to the limit he is operating the car.

Ferrari will officially unveil the 599 GTO at the Beijing Auto Show at the end of the month.

GALLERY: Ferrari 599 GTO

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 |  Apr 07 2010, 12:20 PM

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Chevy is getting set to expand its lineup of Cruze offerings with a high higher performance version of the compact car set to debut at the Beijing Auto Show at the end of the month. According to the China Car Times, a new model with a 1.6-liter turbocharged 4-cylinder will be offered  the same engine that is currently offered in the Buick Excelle in China with 184-hp.

It’s not clear if GM has any plans to bring the 1.6T model to North America, but a more potent 4-cylinder is both need and expected in the Cruze lineup here, with the current top engine being a fuel economy-minded turbocharged 1.4-liter with 138-hp. Still, even at 184-hp, the 1.6T motor seems unlikely to take up the halo position as an SS model, with the Cobalt SS currently making 260-hp.

Get more Chevy Cruze news and info at CruzeTalk.com

[Source: China Car Times]