AutoGuide News Blog
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.
If successful it will be the first time anyone has driven (yes, driven) from Russia to Canada, thanks to special vehicles with over-inflated tires that will allow the arctic trucks to float on water.
The group of Scientists, including two Canadians, plan to study polar bear populations and climate change, but the bigger goal is to test Russia’s GLONASS satellite navigation technology – a rival to GPS that the Russian government wants to make the basis of cell-phone and navigation technology in the country and beyond. It’s also a chance for Russia to exert its claim on arctic lands, in an increasingly heated battle to solidify ownership of the oil-rich region
The journey begins February 17th and is expected to take until the end of June, crossing in to Canada some time in May.
Audi has been busy courting Canadian media outlets with some of their hottest product. Sympatico Autos, a popular portal in the Great White North, was given exclusive drives of the A1 Quattro, RS3 and (earlier in the year) TT-RS.
Given the penchant for smaller (and premium) cars north of the 49th parallel, we understand the movie, and Audi seems to be putting its money where its mouth is by unveiling the 340 horsepower TT-RS at the Canadian International Auto Show in Toronto. The CIAS usually falls on the same dates as the Chicago show, and we know that there will be simultaneous unveiling of the 2012 Acura TL at both shows. On the other hand, we have no word on when the TT-RS will make its official debut in the United States, so this could potentially be an interesting story. Audi Canada would only confirm that this was the Canadian unveiling of the car, but we’re pretty sure that an American launch is imminent.
AutoGuide will have live photos of the Audi TT-RS launch in Toronto on February 17th, so stay tuned for the first images of Audi’s newest sports car.
Kia‘s Rondo small minivan and Borrego SUV have been dumped from the U.S. lineup, ostensibly after slow sales forced Kia to cease importation.
Although originally reported by Automotive News, Kia declined to comment on the matter. The Borrego was never a strong seller in the U.S., although the large SUV, along with the Rondo small minivan will continue being sold in Canada and other markets. The Rondo is successful north of the border, and with the arrival of the Ford C-Max and Chevrolet Orlando (also exclusive to Canada), the car’s future looks pretty solid in that market.
Audi‘s finest test drivers got to wring out the new RS3 Sportback in on some powder-strewn Canadian roads this past week, and lucky for us, they were kind enough to film the whole thing. Powered by the same 340 horsepower 5-cylinder in the TT-RS, the cost of the TT-RS will likely stop it from being imported, but at least we can marvel at its capabilities from afar.
Hit the jump to see the video
BMW‘s upcoming X1 crossover will be delayed by almost a year, due to extreme demand in the European market. BMW’s Leipzig, Germany plant can barely produce enough vehicles for Europe, and BMW USA has decided to delay the small crossover’s American launch until at least the fall of 2011.
Canada will be getting the X1 on schedule, due to their smaller market and the fact that Canadian consumers overwhelmingly gravitate towards compact vehicles. The X1 makes its North American debut at the Montreal Auto Show today.
[Source: Car and Driver]
Canadians get a raw deal when it comes to cars. Even though their dollar is worth a little bit more than the greenback (and is projected to rise in the near future) cars still cost about 30 percent more on average. Due to the discrepancy, it’s common for Canadians looking for luxury vehicles to buy their cars in the United States, and import them back to Canada, where savings can be in the thousands, despite importation fees and taxes.
Porsche cars have been a popular choice for importation, due to the significant delta between USA and Canadian pricing. A base Boxster, for example, cost about $46,000 in the USA, while the Canadian MSRP was $58,000. The difference in higher end vehicles, like the 911 GT3 or 911 Turbo S was even higher, edging closer to a $20,000 gap.
Porsche Canada has responded by cutting the MSRP of its cars closer to USA prices. A Boxster now rings in just under $55,000, but still remains shy of the USA’s $47,600 sticker. Discounts remain similar for much of the range, but notably exceptions like the 911 Turbo S get a 5 figure discount.
Regardless, the price cuts don’t come close to bringing the prices to parity. With one-tenth the population, and different equipment requirements for such a small market, not to mention a small dealer network, the extra costs that can’t be amortized over a larger population are passed on to the consumer. Whether the discounts are deep enough to stop consumers from going over the border remains to be seen, but according to one dealer who AutoGuide spoke to before the discounts, the entire run of Cayennes has been sold out for the year, with Panameras moving briskly. Evidently, those with the means to buy a Porsche may not have the time to go through the hassles of importation to save an amount they consider inconsequential.
The 1999 and 2000 Honda Civic Si (known as the SiR in Canada) have been named as Canada’s most stolen cars, with the 2000 model taking the top spot, and the 1999 following it.
Previous years have seen the Subaru Impreza WRX, Acura Integra GSR and Integra Type R claim the title, but the Civic Si, with its twincam VTEC motor, was built in substantial numbers and has proved to be an attractive target for thieves. The Cadillac Escalade, Acura RSX Type-S, Acura Integra, the “Audi Quattro sedan” (we assume they mean the Audi A4) and the Hummer H2 round out the top 10.
Canadian auto theft is split roughly between chop shops looking to sell desirable parts and organized crime rings, who take vehicles and ship them to overseas locations where they are re-sold.
Sure we don’t get the special edition Mitsubishi EVOs with even more horsepower, or the Civic Type R, but things could be worse: you could live in Canada. That’s right, while many high-performance vehicles have been denied to us, our friends to the North have had to do without Nissan‘s 370Z NISMO.
But that’s about to change with the announcement by Nissan Canada that it will debut the higher-performance Z at the upcoming Montreal Auto Show, going on sale later this year as a 2012 model. The car has already been on sale for a full model year in the U.S.
With 350-hp the NISMO edition car gets an increase of 18 ponies over the stock Z. Torque is also up, but just slightly, to 276 ft-lbs – an increase of 6 ft-lbs. Power is also achieved at a higher rpm with the 3.7-liter V6 strung-out to 7400 rpm to acheive maximum horsepower, as opposed to the stock cars, 7000 rpm max power level. And possibly better than the added power (for those who really appreciate track days) is a standard limited slip differential.
To give the car even better track performance, Nissan stiffened up the chassis with special “body dampers” on the front frame rail and below the rear cargo area. And of course, the car comes with a NISMO springs and a big NISMO strut tower bars front and rear.
Larger brakes are also included and sit inside a set of amazing looking 19-inch NISMO wheels. Manufactured by RAYS forged, the new wheels measure 19×9.5-inches up front and 19×10.5-inches in the rear with front 245/40/19 tires and rear 285/35/19 tires.
As mentioned earlier, the NISMO Z does get some styling additions, although they are more than just aesthetic. The new front bumper, side skirts, rear bumper and rear spoiler are all functional, reducing lift on the front axle and increasing downforce in the rear.
Inside, the NISMO branding is obvious with the name stitched onto the special seats made of a grippy fabric. Also inside the cabin can be found plenty of red stitching and some nice NISMO gauges.
Along with the introduction of the NISMO Z, Nissan will also give both the Leaf EV and the new 2011 GT-R their Canadian debuts at the Montreal show.
GALLERY: Nissan 370Z NISMO
Official release after the jump::
The government of Canada is auctioning off a Lamborghini Countach, with bids starting at the low price of $58,000. The vehicle was forfeited to the Canada Revenue Agency (the Canadian IRS) with only 54,000 miles on the clock.
The vehicle was originally listed for an opening price of $70,000 but failed to get a single bid. We’re sure that the Canadian government employees at the non-descript storage facility housing the Countach are just fine with the car sticking around. The government worker seen posing with the car probably had a poster of a Countach in his childhood bedroom.
A resident of Vancouver, British Columbia saw his Ferrari get auctioned off by the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, after they seized the vehicle for excessive speed in September.
The Ferrari was racing a BMW M6 in the north end of Vancouver, and was clocked traveling 124 mph in a zone designated for speeds of around 40 mph. Reports state that the Ferrari narrowly missed a mother and her children.
Provincial laws allow the police to seize and take possession of vehicles involved in excessive speeding or reckless driving incidents. The Scuderia ended up selling for $306,000, with the money divided between the vehicle’s owner and the government in an 80/20 split. The BMW M6 will be auctioned sometime next week.
[Source: The Province]
Fiat released their list of retail outlets in the United States and Canada, and one interesting tidbit jumped out at us. While 99% of Fiat franchises are paired with Chrysler dealers, one company, the Remo Ferri Group of Automobiles, which operates two Ferrari locations in the Toronto area, is listed as a distributor.
A more detailed list shows two outlets, one at 200 Autopark Circle in the Toronto suburb of Vaughan, where the Ferrari-Maserati of Ontario dealership is located, and the other at 101 Avenue Road, site of a smaller boutique in the ritzy Yorkville district the currently houses Ferrari and Maserati products, as well as a lone Alfa Romeo 8C. At this time, representatives from the Remo Ferri Group have not commented on their Fiat sales plans.
Get more Fiat 500 news and info at Fiat500Owners.com
Where do old Cadillacs go when it’s time to retire? They used to go to the Cadillac ranch in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada. But now that the ranch is set to close its gates, old Caddies no longer have a place to roam the open ranges.
C.R. Auto, located in Hay Lakes, is home to hundreds of old Cadillacs. The ranch was opened in the early 1980s by Randy Berfelo, who brought along his brother Andrew for the ride. It all started when Randy started to restore a 1962 Cadillac convertible, and it grew from there. It soon turned into a parts warehouse, body shop and service facilities, and his original plan was to stock 500 Caddies to save and sell. Unfortunately, when he died in an accident in 1989 at the age of 32, the lot held only 225 cars.
“I never called it a junkyard, it’s a Cadillac retirement center,” said Andrew Berfelo. “It was Randy’s dream, and I kept it going, but it’s time for it to end.”
Carrying on his brother’s dream, Andrew continued to acquire and sell parts from around the world, and even General Motors refers calls to him when Caddy owners are looking for antique parts. Now, at the age of 64, he’s ready to retire as well. But there’s the question of what to do with all the spare parts –this 160-acre farm is stocked with 330 Cadillacs, all between the model years of 1947 to 1979, and there are also plenty of bins full to the brim with parts.
“I’d like to sell all the cars rather than crush them next year, and all the parts, rather than put them in a Dumpster,” he said. “A couple of people have shown some interest in buying, but being interested and coming up with the money are two different things.”
[Source: The New York Times]
Audi’s craziest TT, the TT-RS will officially make it to the United States after an online campaign by Audi convinced the automaker to bring the 360-horsepower sports coupe to America.
Audi executives were initially skeptical of the sales potential of the TT-RS, but planned a limited run of just 250 cars for the Canadian market, where a strong economy and higher vehicle prices would allow Audi to turn a profit on the car. A subsequent petition by Audi showed 11,500 handraisers, as well as a series of positive reviews from American media led the company to go ahead with sales in both markets.
So far, we only know that the only TT-RS available will be the coupe variant, with specifications and pricing still under consideration. We look forward to the arrival of the TT-RS, and the chance to sample a 5-cylinder turbocharged Audi yet again. On the other hand, they will be pricey, and the number of potential buyers is likely a fraction of the 11,500 petition signers.
While Scion vehicles have been available in the United States for a number of years, they have never been officially brought to Canada, despite numerous grey market imports from south of the border.
Now, Scion’s are finally available and Toyota Canada has announced pricing for the distinctively styled compacts. The 5 door xD hatchback starts at $17,200, while the xB will set you back $18,270 loonies. The tC sport coupe will start at $20,850, pricing it competitively with the Honda Civic coupe.
Scion should have a fair amount of success in the Canadian marketplace, with small vehicles being immensely popular in the land of $4/gallon gasoline. Why it’s taken Toyota so long to bring the product here is anyone’s guess.
Hit the jump to see the official press release
Chevrolet‘s Orlando micro-van has had its first pictures shown ahead of its debut at the Paris Auto Show. Based on the Cruze platform, the Orlando won’t make it to the United States, but is expected to be a strong seller in world markets, as well as Canada, where the compact minivan market has entries from nearly every automaker.
Under the hood is a 1.8L gasoline four-cylinder engine putting out 143 horsepower, along with two 2.0L diesels, making 133 and 165 horsepower. Styling takes on Chevrolet’s “corporate face” out front, while the rest of the car looks conservative and squared off. Inside, the cockpit is said to be inspired by the Corvette with seating for seven passengers.
Autoguide will be on hand in Paris for the Orlando’s debut. Stay tuned for more pictures and info.
Gallery: Chevrolet Orlando
Hit the jump to see the official press release
A 19-year-old man near Toronto, Canada has been charged with careless driving after bragging about going 87 mph in a 25 mph residential zone.
Vladimir Rigenco was given a 2006 BMW M5 by his parents as a reward for doing well in high school. Predictably, Rigenco also had a proclivity for speeding and bragging about it online – so much so that fellow forum members expressed alarm and notified the police after one incident.
Rigenco posted a thread about speeding in a subdivision, where he wrote comments like “I hit 140 [kilometers per hour] in like 6 or less seconds lol,” and “I cant stop racing with this car.”
A forum member in the United States tipped off police, who then canvassed the neighborhood. Police eventually found an eyewitness who saw Rigenco’s unsafe driving, and decided to lay charges.
Rigenco’s lawyer Aaron Spektor claimed that Rigenco’s parents aren’t knowledgeable about cars and were unaware of the M5′s capabilities.
“What business does he have behind the wheel of an M5? A 500-horsepower car?” “Suffice it to say, it’s gone. He doesn’t have it anymore. They took it.”
[Source: The Toronto Star]
Auto parts maganate Frank Stronach, who founded Magna International Inc. is being given a $1 billion dollar golden parachute for him to exit the giant corporation he founded in 1957.
Stronach is something of a folk hero in Canada, where Magna is based. A penniless immigrant from Austria, Stronach founded the company and grew it from a small auto parts maker into a massive conglomerate that assembles vehicles like the BMW X3 and the Mercedes-Benz G-Class. The deal must be approved in Canadian courts before it can go through.
[Source: Toronto Star]
Jacques Villeneuve, the Canadian Formula 1 world champion and Indianapolis 500 winner, is headed back to NASCAR for the famous Brickyard 400 in Indianapolis.
Villeneuve will be returning with the Braun Racing team, which campaigns Toyotas in NASCAR. Villeneuve has had a series of infrequent NASCAR drives, as his road course skills are highly sought after during NASCAR’s rare road course races. He finished in 25th in his last start at the Watkins Glen road course. This event will be on an oval track, a far more typical layout for the series.
[Source: The Globe And Mail]
A musical based on the story of the ill fated Bricklin SV-1 is set to debut in the Canadian province of New Brunswick, where the SV-1 was assembled over three decades ago.
The play, dubbed “The Bricklin” is set to open in the city of Fredericton on July 27th. “It’s a story about hopes and dreams, and at its heart are these two larger-than-life characters,” said Tim Yerxa, executive director of the Playhouse theater in an interview with the New York Times. The main characters of the play are Richard Hatfield, New Brunswick’s top politician, and Malcolm Bricklin, namesake of the Bricklin sports car.
“Here we’ve got this audacious guy who wants to build a car, and this politician who recognizes an economic initiative and wants to do right by the people who elected him,” Mr. Yerxa said. “There’s a song called ‘High Risk Venture,’ and it’s during that number that Bricklin wins over Hatfield.”
The star of the production is undoubtedly the orange Bricklin SV-1 purchased for the play. It’s been specially outfitted so that the gullwing doors and pop-up headlights will work without having to turn the engine on.
[Source: New York Times]
Nearly a year after Nissan Canada launched a successful social media campaign for their Cube subcompact, the company is getting ready to launch their Juke compact SUV with an innovative microsite.
The microsite features an interactive, 360 degree view of the Juke, as well as product information relating to styling, technology, performance and “adaptability”. In addition, technical specifications, photos and videos are made available.
Donna Trawinski, senior manager, marketing communications at Nissan Canada, told Marketing Magazine that the Juke’s marketing campaign will be focused on digital efforts. “That’s where we believe the target buyer lives,” said Trawinski. “We call them urban adventurers, young people who are very connected, savvy and plugged in.”
[Source: Marketing Magazine]
For more Nissan Juke news and information visit JukeForums.com
The Canadian province of Ontario announced that the Nissan Leaf will qualify for the full $8500 rebate on electric vehicles sold in Ontario. The provincial government offers incentives of $5,000 to $8,500 Canadian dollars will apply to electric vehicles sold in the province. The incentives vary based on the size of a cars battery, but the Leaf is able to qualify for the full $8,500 rebate.
On sale in Canada at the end of 2011, the Leaf has already attracted 2,500 “handraisers”, and the $8,500 credit is sure to make it an attractive proposition in an area where gas hovers around the $4/gallon mark.
[Source: Nissan Canada]
Honda dealers in the Canadian province of Ontario are chipping in to help out with the Honda Indy in Toronto, sponsoring the Friday practice on July 16th, and allowing fans to watch the action for free.
The Ontario Honda Dealers Association is not only sponsoring the practice sessions, but also the car of hometown hero Paul Tracy, who drives the #15 KV Racing Technology car. Both Tracy and the dealer association will also be donating significant sums of money to the Make-A-Wish foundation, a charity that grants terminally ill children their “last wish”. The two were able to raise $100,000 for the foundation last year, and it is expected that a similarly substantial donation will be made this year.
In addition, seats for the Friday practice will be available on a first-come first-served basis, meaning that even the most expensive seats (save for corporate boxes) will be up for grabs.
Honda Indy manager Charlie Johnstone praised the initiative in an email to the Toronto Sun, stating ““This is one of the most significant initiatives in the history of the event for the community at large.” “To have free access to a world class event is unprecedented and wouldn’t be possible without the generous support of the Ontario Honda Dealers Association. For this we are truly grateful.”
[Source: The Toronto Sun]
We tend to think of America, Germany, Italy or Japan as the pre-eminent nations where the automobile is the national obsession. But a new study in Canada shows that Canadians would rather give up junk food, cigarettes or sex than give up driving.
In a study conducted by the World Wildlife Foundation, 36 percent said they would give up junk food before they gave up driving, 14 percent said coffee, 6 percent said television and 2 percent said sex. Those polled were generally frequent drivers and the most prolific motorists had children under 18, stable jobs and a “good or very good income.”
Despite the enthusiasm for driving, 79 percent of Canadians said they were concerned about the environmental impact of driving. The World Wildlife Foundation, which commissioned the study, was pragmatic about the results in an interview with the Toronto Star.
“We’re not saying people should give up the car entirely. That may not be feasible,” said Josh Laughren, director of communications for WWF. “But while it might seem easier to take my car to work, it may be better for me and my pocketbook and my stress levels and my quality of life to take transit.”
[Source: Toronto Star]
First the Mazda2 Yozora, then the Chevrolet Orlando. Now Acura has its own Canada-exclusive model with the TL A-Spec. Canada has gotten previous iterations of the TL in A-Spec trim, but this marks the second time the A-Spec is exclusive to the Great White North.
Available with all-wheel drive and either an automatic or manual gearbox, the A-Spec is basically an appearance package that adds 19″ wheels with summer tires, a body kit, darker chrome grille and A-Spec badging. While Honda says that the A-Spec won’t make it to America, optional Acura accessories like spoilers and wheels can emulate the look, minus the badging. The TL A-Spec retails for $51,290 CAD.
Press release after the jump