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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.
 |  Jan 20 2012, 2:45 PM

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Hatchbacks have their place in the U.S. but the term evokes a less-than-sporty image that sullies the sexy feel luxury manufacturers seek to embody.

That opinion is probably part of the reason why Audi is discontinuing the hatchback A3 for North America with the 2014 model year. Hatchbacks can make fantastic use of a relatively small space— at an aesthetic cost to some. While the decision may be frustrating to certain consumers, it will be hard to argue with the distincly Audi and definitely sexy new A3.

We got our first look at the A3 sedan during last year’s Geneva Auto Show, when the car was billed as a concept. At the time, Audi had a 408-hp turbocharged 5 cylinder shoehorned into the concept, which was actually about 6 inches longer than the A3 hatchback. It’s unlikely that we’ll see such a serious engine in the production model slated for North America, though our hopes still remain for an RS3 version.

Instead, a 2.0-liter 4 cylinder and a diesel option stand much better chances of shipping under the hood. The A3 is aimed directly at entry-level luxury consumers, young professionals who would be scared off by otherwise high luxury price tags. That means you can expect similar craftsmanship as other Audi interiors, albeit at a lower starting price of around $30,000.

GALLERY: 2014 Audi A3 Sedan

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[Source: Road & Track]

 |  Mar 10 2011, 10:06 AM

Remember the retro-tastic Bulli from Geneva? If not, then this link should refresh your memory. Well, Volkswagen research and development boss Ulrich Hackenberg says it wasn’t just a snazzy show concept—the company plans to put it into production, under the MDS (modular design system) platform.

The platform, previously known as the MQB, will enter production next year with the third-generation Audi A3; yet after that it will spread like pollen to a whole host of new Volkswagen products, including the Bulli, which will be sold as the Microbus.

And for American fans of the original VW van, the Microbus will be built in Chattanooga, Tennessee, or probably Mexico—where it will go up against the Scion xB as an uncharacterizable tall wagon/crossover sort of deal. Luckily for VW, the Microbus already has a rabid fanbase cultivated over 60 years, because you can’t put a price on nostalgia (without horrendous dealer markup, anyway).

GALLERY: Volkswagen Bulli Concept

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[Source: Autocar]

 |  Mar 08 2011, 7:48 PM

Like a scorned prom date, Jaguar has turned down the B99 concept that Bertone showed at Geneva this month, rejecting the Italian design studio’s vision of a possible X-Type replacement.

“We appreciate the fact that Jaguar is interesting enough for people to do a concept around,” said Adrian Hallmark, Jaguar’s global brand director. “It is just not for us.”

Jaguar certainly has the right to believe that they are interesting, given the rumors that they had commissioned Bertone for the sleek purple car—and considering how terrible the X-Type was. They will bring out a small car in 2013 or 2014 themselves, said Hallmark, to go against the BMW 3-Series and Audi A4: “We have concepts all over the place. A lot of work has been done.”

Hopefully the new small car will take in Bertone’s styling cues without becoming slavishly retro like, well, Jaguar’s previous lineup. A racing edition wouldn’t hurt, either.

[Source: Automotive News]

 |  Mar 04 2011, 9:43 PM

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Known for debuts of high-performance and exotic cars, the 2011 Geneva Auto Show did not disappoint with the world premieres of both the Ferrari FF and Lamborghini Aventador.

While impressive, those two flagship models represent only a small fraction of the overall talent on display in Geneva. Other major debuts included the Mercedes C-Class Coupe, Audi A3 Sedan Concept, Lexus LFA Nurburgring Edition, MINI Rocketman Concept, Nissan ESFLOW, Infiniti Etherea, Mazda Minagi and let’s not forget the Toyota FT-86 II Concept.

See AutoGuide’s video coverage of all these models from the 2011 Geneva Auto Show after the jump:

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 |  Mar 04 2011, 9:06 AM

Drumroll, please…the three finalists for the overall 2011 World Car of the Year are the 2011 Audi A8, the BMW 5 Series and the Nissan Leaf.

The three performance car finalists chosen are the Ferrari 458 Italia, the Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG and the Porsche 911 Turbo. Competing for the spot of Green Car of the Year are the Nissan Leaf, Chevrolet Volt and the BMW 320d EfficientDynamics Edition, and competing in the category of design are the Aston Martin Rapide, Alfa Romeo Giulietta and the Ferrari 458 Italia.

The three cars were whittled down from a list of 39, and announced at Geneva this week. The winners will be chosen on April 21st when the New York Auto Show rolls around. Stay tuned.

 |  Mar 03 2011, 11:04 PM

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For the first time at the Geneva Auto Show, Lexus had on display the very special Nurburgring Edition version of the LFA supercar.

With the standard vehicle limited to only 500 units, just 50 of those will be Nurburgring edition models, sporting custom aerodynamics like a large front splitter, cannards and a massive rear spoiler.

Output from the 4.8-liter V10 engine has been upped just 10-hp to 570-hp total, helping the carbon monocoque machine hit 62-mph in 3.7 seconds and a top speed of 202-mph (slightly lower than the standard model due to the massive downforce generated by the rear spoiler).

Additional upgrades include quicker shift times, custom wheels, plus a retuned and lowered suspension (10mm).

Available in Matte Black, Black, White or Orange (as seen here), the interior can be had in Black and Red, Black and Pur­ple or all Black. Plus, all Nurburgring editions get added carbon fiber interior bits, plus carbon racing seats.

Priced at $375,000 for the standard model, the Nurburgring edition runs an extra $70,000 and includes training on the world famous race track by top instructors.

 |  Mar 03 2011, 2:53 PM

They still build the 9-3? You betcha, bucko, and they still like the 9-3 enough to give it a few more last hurrahs. But as fans of the original 900 know, all good things must come to an end – and when the replacement for the 9-3 is launched, it will draw much of its development from Saab’s PhoeniX concept.

The next-generation 9-3 is expected to drop soon, in 2012, riding on a newly re-engineered platform that will be flexible enough to be shared with future models. Saab is already planning to use it for the second-generation 9-4X crossover, even while the current 9-4X is just going into production, as well as the next 9-5. And just as likely, the PhoeniX concept will indicate the direction of technology and styling for these future Saabs.

“I think this is an excellent solution for us as a small manufacturer,” said Jan Ake Jonsson, CEO of Saab. “We will be able to get as much as we can get out of one architecture. It will give us the ability to build all of our cars in one plant so you can reduce your investment in the plant.”

Like the concept car, the platform is internally dubbed “Phoenix,” after the mythical car company that escaped near death in the clutches of a multi-brand conglomerate and arose from the ashes of bankruptcy restructuring through a last-minute buyout from the Dutch.

[Source: Automotive News]

 |  Mar 03 2011, 2:44 PM

Tata has been trying to dip its toe into the wild, wacky world of the European automobile market ever since they released their $2,500 Nano supermini. They made an attempt at appeasing discerning European customers with the Nano Europa, an “upscale” Nano with alloy wheels, power steering, and an extra cylinder (bringing the total to three).

But the Pixel, shown at Geneva, is Tata’s most dedicated effort yet. A slick, white little egg, the Pixel is only 10 feet long but can still seat four, who enter through upward-opening scissor doors. The small size enables the Pixel to turn within its own space – it rotates the rear wheels in separate directions, thanks to what Tata calls a “Zero Turn toroidal traction-drive Infinitely Variable Transmission,” whatever that means. Result: its manuverability in parking is perfectly matched for the city streets of Europe.

Inside, the Pixel features smartphone connectivity through “My Tata Connect,” which allows the driver to control the car’s functions from his phone. And the driver will be in control of a 1.2-liter three-cylinder turbodiesel engine that is expected to return more than 60 miles per gallon.

If Tata is serious about selling the Nano in Europe, and eventually America, then the Pixel indicates the direction they’re planning to take their next small car.

[Sources: Autoblog, Tata]

 |  Mar 03 2011, 1:55 PM

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Looking to return to its roots in a high-tech way, the brand famous for thinking small has unveiled a new more-mini MINI at the Geneva Auto Show.

Called the Rocketman concept, this isn’t a production car and it’s easy to see why, with a state-of-the-art carbon fiber spaceframe that allows it to be incredibly light – although oddly enough, MINI didn’t listing any figures relating to its weight.

There’s also no word on a powertrain, although MINI claims it’s capable of 94-mpg.

Size wise, it’s 11-feet 3-inches long, which is just over a foot shorter in length than the current Cooper hardtop. For added perspective, the Smart fortwo is nearly 9-feet in length.

Inside there’s seating for 3+1 (similar to Toyota’s iQ) with three seats for adults and an occasional use seat for a child. Getting into and out of the car is made easy thanks to innovative doors that have double hinges, allowing them to open extra wide when there’s room or to almost slide open when in tighter spots. Improved ease of access is also possible as when the doors open there is no sidesill to step over. Instead the bottom of the car moves with the door, as the carbon frame means rocker panels no longer have to be structural elements.

In terms of styling, it’s always hard to tell how close a MINI concept is to production. Most automakers get pretty wild with their concepts, but MINI’s designers are too concerned with crafting the car to look like a MINI to be overly creative. There are, however, a few unique elements, like the 18-inch carbon fiber wheels designed with aerodynamics in mid. And let’s not forget the glass Union Jack roof.

Inside, it’s typical MINI too, with a large center speedo with a 3D display, and a futuristic look at MINI Connected with a joystick on the center console and steering wheel mounted controls to help you stay more connected.

MINI says the Rocketman concept is a look at a possible future model, taking into account the brand’s core values, which include premium trim, a creative use of space and a dynamic driving experience. Production-bound it may be, but that is likely only to be for the European market (at least at first) with MINI U.S.A. boss Jim McDowell recently commenting that more mini-MINIs are not in the plans for North America.

 |  Mar 02 2011, 6:49 PM

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Roughly a foot shorter in length than the current A4, the A3 sedan concept foreshadows a possible smaller 4-door for the Audi range. While other automakers are targeting younger buyers with coupes and hatchbacks, this concept is poised to bring to market a proven sports sedan package that does away with much of the size and weight (not to mention the price) that have made increasingly large models both unattractive to the Gen X and Gen Y crowd.

Making it as enticing as possible, Audi has built this show car as more of an RS3 sedan, featuring bold styling, 20-inch wheels (made of carbon fiber no less) and a seriously potent engine.

Under the hood is Audi’s turbocharged 5-cylinder powerplant making 408-hp and delivering a 0-62 mph time of 4.1 seconds.

Helping to deliver that time is a low 3,400 lb curb weight, thanks to a body made of carbon composite. More than just a fancy detail on a concept car, the use of carbon fiber in this way can be seen as a statement by Audi that it is seriously looking at incorporating the high-tech material into future production models – and not just outrageously expensive ones like the R8.

Look for Audi to push ahead with this concept, a particularly enticing vehicle for the North American marketplace where Audi is eager to bolster surging sales.

GALLERY: Audi A3 Sedan Concept

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 |  Mar 02 2011, 2:51 PM

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Whether you love or hate the way the Nissan Juke looks, it’s hard to argue that it’s anything but a blast to drive. Renault seems to be taking a few things from corporate partner Nissan, and emulating the Juke with their Captur, a concept that debuted at the Geneva Auto Show.

Powered by a 158-hp 1.6-liter dCi diesel engine, the Captur also uses a dual-clutch gearbox rather than a CVT like the Juke, with a very uncanny torque-vectoring AWD system like its Nissan counterpart. No details were given as to the likelihood of production, but we’d be surprised if the Captur ended up not making it to the streets.

GALLERY: Renault Captur

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 |  Mar 02 2011, 1:01 PM

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Set to take on BMW in the luxury sport coupe segment, Mercedes-Benz has introduced the C-Class Coupe at the Geneva Auto Show.

With a profile similar to the E-Class coupe, it gets a slightly more simplistic front end borrowed from the C-Class sedan. It has a sportier edge to it as well, thanks to a roofline that is 1.5-inches lower.

The most exciting news is that the C350 Coupe will be powered by a new direct-injection version of Merc’s 3.5-liter V6 making 304-hp. Using the automaker’s 7-speed automatic transmission, it will hit 60 mph in just 5.9 seconds. Also available will be the C250 coupe using a new turbocharged direct-injection 4-cylinder that makes 201-hp and 229 lb-ft of torque for a 0-60 mph time of 7.1 seconds.

See more of the C-Class Coupe in the video above of the photo gallery below.

GALLERY: Mercedes C-Class Coupe

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 |  Mar 02 2011, 12:15 PM

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Maserati convertibles are for the kind of guys who like to wear their shirts open way past their neck and put their arm on the windowsill so everyone can see their rose gold Hublot Big Bang.

If said customer opts for the new Maserati Gran Cabrio, pedestrians may not be able to get a glimpse of the driver’s status symbols, since horsepower is up by 11 to 444, while an improved Skyhook suspension should help drivers negotiate their sweeping driveways a little better.

Most of the other changes, like blacked-out headlights and some color-matched bodywork bits, are cosmetic but apparently the brakes are “upgraded”. Whatever, as long as it looks cool.

GALLERY: Maserati Gran Cabrio Sport

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 |  Mar 02 2011, 11:02 AM

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We’re all familiar with the Smart ForTwo, which is a polarizing vehicle to say the least, but initial impressions of their newest concept, the Forspeed EV Roadster, which debuted at the Geneva Auto Show, are all lining up in one direction, and it’s not exactly positive.

Sure, the chopped roof and windshield are kind of cool, but the front end treatment looks like two Lifesaver candies and a sheet of chickenwire, and the three-spoke wheels look to be inspired by mid-1990′s MOMOs you could have purchased from TireRack. The electric powertrain puts out around 40 horsepower, with a 7 horsepower “overboost” function and a top speed of 75 mph. We’ll stick with the standard ForTwo. If we must.

GALLERY: Smart Forspeed EV Roadster

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 |  Mar 02 2011, 10:51 AM

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Faster? Sure. But better looking? Well, they’ve done it. The team at Aston Martin has beefed-up and beautified an already incredible car, turning the Vantage into the Vantage S.

On display at the Geneva Auto Show for the first time ever, the Vantage S gets a revised front fascia with an even larger front air intake, new side sills, a modified rear bumper and some stunning 19-inch wheels.

A modified suspension package and new ratios for the power steering help improve the driving dynamics, while the engine gets a slight bump in power to 430-hp.

The most significant change, however, is what’s attached to that engine with a new 7-speed gearbox that has shorter gear ratios and 20 percent quicker shifts. No performance data has been released, but the S is most certain to be a quicker car.

GALLERY: Aston Martin Vantage S

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 |  Mar 02 2011, 9:22 AM

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Never one to disappoint, Mansory has revealed a host of new models at the Geneva Auto Show, including this rendition of the Mercedes-Benz SLS.

With an all-new carbon fiber shell, Mansory claims the car is almost 200 lbs lighter than the stock vehicle. Rather than just replace parts, Mansory got creative with the body, adding some wild additions up front, flared fenders (by 2-inches up front and 3-inches in the rear) and a massive rear spoiler.

Also helping cut weight are the ultra-thin spoke center-lug wheels, which sit deeper in the wheel wells thanks to a suspension that has been lowered almost an inch.

Mansory says power has been upped to 651-hp, while a 789-hp package is in the works.

As for that name Cormeum, it comes from a “operatic aria” called Vide Cor meum, that’s based on Dante’s “La Vita Nuova.” (Hey, at least we avoided any references to Dante’s “Inferno”).

GALLERY: Mansory Cormeum

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 |  Mar 02 2011, 9:13 AM

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After famed styling house Italdesign was swallowed up by Volkswagen back in May 2010, we knew it was only a matter of time before the two came out with some kind of physical manifestation of their union. A little over 9 months later and their new bundle of joy, the Volkswagen Giugiaro Tex concept has burst forth at the Geneva Auto Show.

According to Italdesign, the Tex is an “interpretation of tomorrow’s sporty Volkswagen, and what else could power such a vehicle besides a hybrid drivetrain. The Tex uses VW’s proprietary plug-in hybrid system which apparently has a range of 21 miles on electric-only power.

Inside, the Tex eschews the outlandish cabins of most concepts for a pretty production ready interior. The VW flat-bottom steering wheel will be familiar to anyone who’s spent time in a GTI, and if the exterior is an indicator of the future design direction of a VW hot hatch, we’re all for it.

GALLERY: Volkswagen Giugiaro Tex Concept

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 |  Mar 02 2011, 8:43 AM

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Looking remarkably close to a production car, the Nissan ESFLOW is a look at what an electric sports car could be. From the company that brought us the Leaf (the world’s first mainstream production car), there’s little doubt that Nissan lacks either the know-how or drive to bring it to market soon.

Much smaller than a 370Z, it still resembles that car but with a progressive twist. A company known for building fun-to-drive cars, the ESFLOW promises to fulfill the needs of Nissan drivers with two electric motors powering the rear wheels. Lithium ion batteries are situated just ahead of the rear axle, mounted centrally and low for optimum weight distribution and a low center of gravity.

Nissan claims a 0-62 mph time of under 5.0 seconds wit a range of 150 miles.

GALLERY: Nissan ESFLOW Concept

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 |  Mar 02 2011, 8:20 AM

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Infiniti‘s new Etherea concept is at the same time an incredible niche-market vehicle, while also trying very hard to be a car for the everyman. Part, hatchback, but with coupe styling, it’s also part crossover with a raised ride height, while even featuring a little practical hatchback thrown in for good measure. Let’s not forget that as an Infiniti it’s a luxury car and (yes, there’s an “and”) it’s also a hybrid.

Designed to attract younger luxury buyers, the Etherea is powered by a 2.5-liter V6 engine, mated to a supercharger and an electric motor. Making 245-hp, it uses the same twin-clutch setup as found in the Infiniti M Hybrid.

Infiniti tout the Etherea’s functionality, although there’s no mention of cargo room – an area where Infiniti SUVs and crossovers have always been lacking in.

Taking Infiniti’s already bold design language a step across the line, it’s not what we’d call ‘a looker’, however, knowing Infiniti its sure to make up for ‘out-there’ styling with driving dynamics that are hard to resist.

GALLERY: Infiniti Etherea Concept

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 |  Mar 02 2011, 8:09 AM

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During Audi‘s presentation at the 2011 Geneva Auto Show, a company spokesman praised the Audi Q5 Hybrid’s as a usable everyday car and not “…a complicated political statement. While this swipe at a well-known rival may be over the line to some observers, the fact is that they compete for two very different customer bases.

Audi claims that the Q5 Hybrid will best all segment rivals in terms of performance, practicality and efficiency. While we don’t have the numbers off-hand, we’re sure that for the kind of urban driving that crossovers tend to do, the Q5 Hybrid makes a lot of sense. Starting with Audi’s much loved 2.0T engine, the Q5 adds a 44-horsepower electric motor to the already potent 208 horsepower. Total torque output is 354 lb-ft, helping the car get to 60 mph in 7 seconds.

With an electric-only driving range of just under 2 miles, trips to the store could probably be done emissions free. Not that most buyers will care. The status of owning a hybrid is all they need to do their part for planet earth.

GALLERY: Audi Q5 Hybrid

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 |  Mar 02 2011, 7:49 AM

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The Kia Rio used to have the ignominious honor of being a “penalty box”, a car you didn’t want to spend time in unless absolutely necessary. But with the upswing in quality from Kia, and shared underpinnings from the promising new Hyundai Accent, the all-new Rio, shown for the first time at the Geneva Auto Show, might just be a solid little car for entry level buyers.

On sale in the U.S. this fall, the Rio features Kia’s new corporate styling cues, but still maintains a very close resemblance to the Ford Fiesta – not a bad thing in this segment. While only European specifications were announced, the North American version will probably use the 1.6L 138-horsepower 4-cylinder engine that the Accent uses, which will also deliver about 30-mpg in town and 41 mpg on the highway. The Rio should also boast one of the lightest curb weights in its class, and may even undercut the Accent’s MSRP.

Gallery: Kia Rio

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 |  Mar 02 2011, 6:40 AM

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Ever pushing the limits of performance and design, Ferrari has unveiled its new FF model at the Geneva Auto Show today. An original creation for far more than just its design, the FF is a four-seater and includes the brand’s new 4RM all-wheel drive system.

Powered by a direct-injection 6.3-liter V12 engine with 651-hp and 504 ft lbs of torque, the FF can hit 62 mph in just 3.7 seconds. It’s also modestly efficient, getting roughly 15-mpg thanks to Ferrari’s HELE (High Emotion, Low Emissions) system that includes start-stop technology.

The 4RM system adds grip to the FF while still delivering a rear-wheel drive experience with power only being transmission to the front when required. Splitting torque individually to each of the four wheels, the FF takes AWD systems a step further and should prove incredibly capable.

Watch the video above or browse through the gallery below and give us your feedback on this unique machine.

GALLERY: Ferrari FF

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 |  Mar 02 2011, 6:10 AM

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This may be the most boring post you will ever read about the Volkswagen Golf R. Even though it has an awesome 270 horsepower turbocharged 4-cylinder, all-wheel drive and a choice of 6-speed gearboxes, Volkswagen decided to milk the car for every last drop of “publicity” by launching 4 dubiously dubbed “concept” editions at the Geneva Auto Show.

The “concepts” are merely some Golf R models with unique interior and exterior combinations. The “Oryx White” model is available with a “St. Tropez” interior, while the “Carbon Steel Grey” model has the inside trimmed in “Almandine Red”. A third “Space Grey” model features a carbon fiber interior. The final model apes the “Space Grey” car’s exterior treatments but is finished in Aplomb Blue.

Frankly, we couldn’t care less. Just give us the damn car already. It could be painted in Pig Vomit Brown with an interior made of Hyena hides and we’d still drive it. Unfortunately, we won’t be getting those awesome bucket seats shown in the photos.

Gallery: Volkswagen Golf R Concepts

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 |  Mar 02 2011, 4:34 AM

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The Volkswagen Golf Cabriolet has always been a 4-wheeled shot of estrogen, and the new car, is no exception. While at first glance the Golf Cabrio looks identical identical to the Volkswagen Eos, the two cars have a couple key differences.

The Cabrio shuns the complex folding hardtop used on the Eos in favor of a traditional fabric roof. The soft top can be dropped in 9.5 seconds, and allows for greater trunk space. The two cars have an identical wheelbase and interior dimensions, but the Eos is longer overall.

Volkswagen hasn’t commented on whether we’ll see the Golf Cabriolet in America, but it seems to us that the Cabrio and Eos are a bit like the Scirocco and the Golf GTI – two cars that are too similar for their own good to be sold in a relatively small market like America. We can’t say we’re too choked up, and if VW was going to bring a low-volume specialty car, we’d much rather have the Scirocco than this sorority girl special.

Check out AutoGuide’s Geneva Auto Show coverage here

Gallery: Volkswagen Golf Cabriolet

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