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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 10 2012, 4:41 PM

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MINI is bringing a race inspired convertible into the market with the unveiling of the Roadster at the 2012 Detroit Auto Show. This is the first two seater open topped vehicle in the English brand’s history and makes the MINI lineup six vehicles strong after the recent introduction of the Coupe (read our review here).

The Roadster will be offered with four engine options, although the Diesel variant will not be offered in North America. The John Cooper Works packaged Roadster will be the largest engine offering possible for the MINI with a 1.6-liter twinpower turbo putting out 208 hp and accelerating the roadster from 0-60 mph in 6.3 seconds. The MINI Cooper S Roadster will be outfiitted with the same 1.6L twinpower turbo, but without some of the race inspired upgrades of the JCW Roadster, and will crank out 181 hp and run from 0-60 mph in 6.7 seconds . The MINI Cooper Roadster is the base model and will sport the 1.6L four cylinder as well, but without the turbo unit, and will generate 121 hp and run 0-60 mph in 8.7 seconds.

The MINI Roadster borrows quite a few features from MINI’s race teams, including a rear spoiler which lifts at 50 mph, stainless steel roll bars, an Electronic Differential Lock Control, and even the choice of sport stripes for the exterior. These features come standard with JCW edition of the roadster. The MINI Roadster also stands 20mm lower than the MINI convertible which shows the cars push to be sportier and even better handling then any of MINI’s other offerings.

In terms of looks, the Roadster keeps all the same classic MINI styling like the round headlights and half moon grill, but appears a little more race inspired thanks to the lower stance, harder swept back windshield and low to the ground skirts.

All in all the MINI Roadster looks like a fun little car.

GALLERY: MINI Roadster

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See AutoGuide’s complete 2012 Detroit Auto Show Coverage here

 |  Jan 10 2012, 10:39 AM

Every major auto manufacturer is always developing new and creative ways to improve their vehicles for the future. Today at the 2012 Detroit Auto Show, Toyota rolled out its NS4 concept complete with all of the new research and development advancements that the brand hopes to be including as standard production equipment in the near future.

The look of the NS4 seems to somewhat follow the lines of the Prius, but has been made longer with a bit more of a futuristic look with very rounded corners, soft flowing lines and a prominent rounded nose which sits over the Toyota trapezoidal grill.

In terms of technology, the NS4 is loaded with goodies. A pre-collision wave radar will not only alert the driver of imminent impact with either another vehicle or a guard rail etc., it will actually steer the vehicle away from danger and back into the center of a lane. Smart headlights which adjust and adapt to the conditions outside to avoid glaring into oncoming drivers eyes were shown on the NS4 concept as well. To further their safety features, Toyota has replaced the mirrors on the NS4 with a camera system which displays for the driver a full view around the vehicle. And to add to their hybrid and electric powertrain models, the NS4 was also seen with a solar panel roof.

The NS4 will be a dedicated plug in hybrid, separate from the Prius family. Toyota did not release official fuel economy numbers, but based on the Prius numbers we can expect at least 100MPG average.

GALLERY: Toyota NS4 Concept

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GALLERY: Toyota NS4 Concept

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 |  Jan 09 2012, 6:24 PM

The Volvo XC60 is getting a makeover for 2012, but not in the looks department. Aesthetically it will remain the same, but the power plant in the Volvo is getting quite an upgrade.

There are many ways that Volvo is trying to improve fuel economy with this new hybrid system. The XC60 will be run by a four cylinder 280hp turbocharged gasoline engine as well as a 70hp all electric engine which combines to give the XC60 a total of 350hp. There are three power delivery options that you can choose from while driving the XC60; The all electric or ‘pure’ mode that operates the vehicle on just the electric motor and has range of 35 miles, the standard hybrid mode which is a mix of both the electric and gasoline engines and according to the U.S. certification standards gets 50MPG, and the ‘power’ mode which uses both engines to deliver the maximum amount of power and and torque for the vehicle.

The new AWD system on the XC60 will split the gasoline power to the front axle and the electric power to the rear for use in fast accelleration scenarios and getting started in thick road conditions such as snow or mud. The hybrid system will be mated with an eighth-speed automatic transmission which will also help to improve low end torque and fuel consumption.

Volvo claims that on a standard 110V power outlet the cars lithium-ion battery pack will fully charge in 7.5 hours.

In terms of technology, the Volvo is not being left behind. There is an app which has been created so that the driver can check the amount of charge in the car’s batteries. The app will also make it possible to change the climate control settings and see what the status of an ongoing charge is.

The XC60 plug in hybrid has a lot of tricks up its sleeve to save consumers some money on fuel, but we will have to wait and see how this intricately designed system is priced.

Check out the styling on the XC60 in the video after the break.

GALLERY: Volvo XC60 Plug-In Hybrid

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GALLERY: Volvo XC60 Plug-In Hybrid

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 |  Jan 09 2012, 4:13 PM

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Acura is bringing a dead legend back to life with the unveiling of their NSX concept at the 2012 Detroit Auto Show.

The all new super car has lost some weight thanks to lightweight build materials and Acura’s race inspired philosophy of a well balanced power to weight ratio. The new NSX will be powered my a mid-mounted direct injection VTEC V6 engine which will utilize Acura’s hybrid super handling all wheel drive system. The SH-AWD system consists of two electric engines which operate independently of each other and can generate positive or negative torque to the front wheels during cornering. The V6 SH-AWD system will be paired with a dual clutch transmission outfitted with its own electric motor giving the NSX three separate electric power plants.

The styling on the new NSX is very much a classic supercar look, using low ground clearance, aggressive angles in the nose, a very low profile roof line and a windswept look running into a small rear spoiler to achieve its supercar style. Hard angles are all over the NSX which gives it a very rigid  and serious stance.

President and CEO of Honda Motor Co. Takanobu Ito said, “In this new era, even as we focus on the fun to drive spirit of the NSX, I think a supercar must respond positively to environmental responsibilities.” Ito also revealed that the NSX will be a production model within the next three years and it will be built in an Ohio car plant.

GALLERY: Acura NSX Concept

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GALLERY: Acura NSX Concept

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Watch AutoGuide’s first look video of the new NSX below:

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 |  Jan 09 2012, 2:12 PM

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It’s not intended for production, but rather showcases just what possibilities are out there when it comes to Volkswagen‘s best loved car. The new 2012 Beetle is proving that interest in the iconic Bug is still strong, so given the current trend towards EVs, why not have some fun and make a sporty, zero emissions concept out of it.

Although not a true roadster (the roof is fixed), the E-Bugster lends a feeling of fun and intimacy due to its two-seat cabin, cropped windshield and swoopy roof, which does actually look like a removable hardtop.

As it’s name suggests, the E-Bugster relies on pure electric power for motivation, in this case an 85 kW (114 hp) electric motor and lithium-ion battery pack. Projected range is over 100 miles according to VW, while three charging options are available.

Level 1 operates off a standard household 120-volt system, Level 2, off 240 volts and Level 3 is a quick charge setup. For the latter, VW says that around 80 percent of battery capacity can be restored in 30 minutes. Inside VW has fitted EV specific gauges to monitor charge and and driving range, as well as the intensity of battery power generation.

The electric drive system in the E-Bugster, dubbed Blue-e-Motion by Volkswagen, will probably pop again in the near future, as it’s slated to be fitted in an upcoming version of the bread and butter Golf Hatchback. And who knows, depending on its success in the marketplace, perhaps we’ll see another E-Bugster a few years from now, one you’ll be able to actually lease or buy.

GALLERY: Volkswagen E-Bugster Concept

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 |  Jan 09 2012, 2:00 PM

Out of all BMW‘s sold worldwide, 1 in 3 is a 3 series sedan. The BMW 3-series is one of the German automakers most iconic name plates and has been revamped with quite a few new options and new exterior styling.

The new 3 series sits a little bit longer and a little bit wider than its predecessor but has managed to trim some fat; 88 pounds of fat to be exact. The most noticeable change at first glance is the headlight brackets, taking the iconic circular front lights and stretching them out to meet the kidney grills which gives the front end of the car a much more angry and aggressive look. The longer and especially the wider stance is noticeable thanks to horizontal lines that are continuous along the front and rear of the car.

The 328i will come standard with BMW’s newest engine offering, a turbocharged 2.0L four cylinder which delivers 240hp and propels the 328i from 0-60mph in 5.7 seconds. The 335i will also be an option in the 3 series lineup and will come packing a turbocharged 3.0L six cylinder engine which puts out 300hp and runs the 0-60mph test in 5.4 seconds.

Each BMW 3 series will now be offered with a choice of three product lines, each differing from the others in small ways, but distinct enough to get noticed. The three choices are the Sport Line, the Luxury Line, and the Modern Line. The Sport Line will come with black exterior styling bits, a 10mm lower suspension setup, and black and red color scheme on the interior. The Luxury Line will come standard with wooden accents on the interior and chrome styling bits for exterior including a different grill. The Modern Line builds off of the luxury line and takes it a little further with matte chrome exterior styling bits, a choice of aluminium, pearl metallic, or textured wood finish on the interior and a “dark oyster” dashboard and steering wheel. Eventually, BMW will offer an M version of its 3 series which will be designed for racing and performance enthusiasts.

The new 3 series can also be outfitted with the all new Active Hybrid system which mates the six cylinder turbo engine with an all new electric engine, giving the 3 series upgraded fuel economy. The combined output of the Active Hybrid system is 340hp and pushes the 3 series from 0-60mph in 5.9 seconds. BMW says that the average fuel consumption of the Active Hybrid model will be between 40 and 44mpg and will have the capability to be driven in all electric mode.

All of the engine options for the 3 series will be combined with a six speed manual gearbox as standard technology but can be had with an eight speed automatic transmission which is all new.

The new 3 series is not a major departure from the previous five iterations, but its adds some really convenient and cutting edge features to an already successful car.

GALLERY: BMW 3 Series

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GALLERY: BMW 3 Series

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 |  Jan 09 2012, 11:31 AM

Chevrolet rolled out two new concepts today at the 2012 Detroit Auto Show, and the Code 130R is definitely the more ‘out there’ design of the two.

With a wide and long stance, the Code 130R looks like a very strong and powerful four seat coupe. Unlike the TRU 140S, Chevy’s other concept revealed today (see here), the Code 130R has a much more bold stance and strong in your face styling thanks to its long hood and square lines. Chevrolet is targeting a youthful demographic with both of these vehicles and has clearly tried to juxtapose the sporty European styling of the TRU 140S with the bold, boxy, strong look of the Code 130R.

The Code 130R is powered by Chevrolet’s 1.4L Ecotec engine, putting out 148 hp and getting an estimated 40 mpg on the highway. As for the interior, Chevrolet has only begun to design specifics for this concept, ”The interiors currently exist in 2D only. This allows us the flexibility to continue the discussion and encourage more dialogue as we continue to develop these concepts,” said GM North America advanced design studio director Frank Saucedo. We do know that the Code 130R will be available with the MyLink infotainment system which helps integrate all of today’s latest technology with your car.

Chevrolet will be looking to start the Code 130R at a base price in the low $20,000 range.

GALLERY: Code 130R Concept

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GALLERY: Code 130R Concept

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See AutoGuide’s First Look Video of the Code 130R below:

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 |  Jan 09 2012, 10:55 AM

With a slick low roofline and wild exterior styling, the all new Chevy TRU 140S concept was called an “affordable exotic” at its unveiling today at the 2012 Detroit Auto Show.

The TRU 140S has a very low profile and looks very sports car-esque. Chevy executives say that this new concept is designed for the youth of today, and that they are really trying to capture the imagination (and wallets) of young people with this concept.

The car is a a four seat coupe and is powered by the 1.4L Ecotec engine that can also be found in the Sonic RS, which puts out 148 hp and is estimated by the company to get 40 mpg on the highway. It’s front wheel drive (boo!) and is based on the same platform as the Chevy Cruze and Volt.

The interior of the TRU 140S is as of yet only sketches and ideas, but it appeared to be somewhat following the guidelines of the Sonic RS’s sporty youthful approach including the MyLink infotainment system and smart phone connectivity.

Chevy is aiming to start the car at a base MSRP in the low $20,000′s range.

GALLERY: Chevrolet TRU 140S Concept

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GALLERY: TRU 140S Concept

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See video of the Tru 140S below:

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 |  Jan 09 2012, 10:08 AM

Chevrolet’s Sonic compact car is getting some sporty new upgrades. Chevy is adding an RS badge to the Sonic, and all the features that go along with it.

Coming standard with the Sonic RS will be a 1.4L turbocharged Ecotec four-cylinder engine cranking out 138hp and 148 lb-ft of torque. A six-speed transmission in either automatic or standard configuration will be standard with the RS. Along with the added horses, the RS will get lowered and stiffened suspension with performance tuned dampers, four wheel disc brakes and a sport tuned exhaust.

The RS package will feature some new paint and plastic to try and make the compact Sonic look the part of a sport tuned race car. A new grille and front facia, new fog light design, 17-inch rims, new mirror caps, rear facia and spoiler and even a chromed out exhaust will give the RS package the sports car look. To complete the look four new paint options will be included with the RS, they are Victory Red, Summit White, Cyber Grey Metallic and Black Granite.

The interior of the compact will be getting a few upgrades as well to complete the package. New front sport seats, a flat bottomed race inspired steering wheel, aluminium pedals, custom interior RS styling and a custom shift knob for the manual transmission. The Chevrolet MyLink system will also come standard which integrates smart phones with the cars infotainment system.

The Sonic RS should add some much needed get up and go to the compact car’s personality.

GALLERY: Chevy Sonic RS

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GALLERY: Chevy Sonic RS- 2012 Detroit Auto Show

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 |  Dec 12 2011, 6:35 PM

Honda is conceding defeat to Mercedes, BMW and Lexus but that could be good news for fans of the brand.

Their reassessment means a fully-refreshed line including new cars as soon as this spring. The first in line is their new ILX compact sedan which will be based on the global Civic platform. The move signals Honda’s recognition that their brand isn’t competing with other luxury labels.

“Our sedans haven’t been doing the job for the brand,” said Vicki Poponi, American Honda assistant vice president for product planning, at a Detroit briefing for dealers and the media.

Honda plans to correct their habit of releasing cars that seem too similar, saying that the ILX will bare no resemblance to the Civic though the body is still under wraps.

“All the suspension settings will be tuned to be Acura,” Poponi said. “Consider it as different as the TL is from the Accord or the MDX is from the Pilot.”

Even within the car itself, customers will have the chance for significant differentiation. A 2.0-liter direct injection 4-cylinder will be available mated with an automatic transmission. If you prefer a more performance oriented ride, Acura hits you with a hotter 2.4-liter four and a six-speed manual. If saving gas gets you going, there will also be a 1.5-liter hybrid version available.

The company hopes the first of their new generation will boost sales beyond current averages thanks to clear differences between models.

Acura will step back from competing at the top-level luxury segment to offer a more refined mid-level Honda experience. The ILX might have a good shot at breaking into that territory given it’s “well below $30,000″ price tag. Acura hopes it will sell 40,000 units annually compared to the 31,998 highpoint for the TSX in 2008.

The Acura ILX Concept will debut at the Detroit Auto Show this January.

[Source: AutoWeek]