Keeping pace with Hyundai, Kia unveiled its latest production car today: the 2013 Forte 5-Door.
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Thanks to neglect and mismanagement Chrysler was forced to go years without a decent small car in its lineup. The recently departed Caliber was anything but a competent vehicle. It put the “rude” in “crude.” Thankfully, Chrysler got back into the compact-car segment in a big way last year with the Dodge Dart and it’s expanding the lineup this year.
According to a leaked spec sheet, Ford‘s upcoming Focus ST global hot hatch will start at $23,700 ($24,495 with the $795 destination charge).
Since its inception, Ford’s former Global Performance Vehicles chief Jost Capito intended for the Ford Focus ST to be at the top of its class, ”We want to have the best hot hatch in the sector. We want to be better than a VW Golf GTI, better than a Renaultsport Megane 250 – and we believe we have achieved that with a car that can be used day-to-day but is also extremely entertaining for enthusiastic drivers.”
Packed with the robust EcoBoost 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine, the Focus ST produces 247-hp and 265 lb-ft of torque. Offered with a 6-speed manual transmission, the driving enthusiast’s gearbox of choice, the Focus ST lays down a 0-to-60 mph time of 6.5 seconds.
Although the latest hot hatch is certainly a lot of car for an affordable price, tacking on additional trim packages and equipment groups can quickly drive the price closer to $30k. Order codes ‘Equipment Group 201A and 202A charge for $2,505 and $4,840, respectively. A moonroof will cost $895, navigation is an additional $795, the special Tangerine Scream Tricoat Paint finish will cost another $495, and finally, an engine block heater will set you back another $35.
Depending on trim levels and combinations, a fully equipped Focus ST should fall close to $29,000, drawing it near basic Ford V6 Mustang territory. Despite the risk of overlap, these two sport oriented cars are distinct enough as to not risk the cannibalization of sales.
With the Focus ST set to arrive in dealers later this year, it’s only a matter of time before Ford releases a Fiesta ST hot hatch for the US as well.
GALLERY: 2013 Ford Focus ST
During an interview with Chrysler Canada president and Dodge brand CEO Reid Bigland, he noted that sedans make up 90 percent of the compact segment, and are 25 percent of the overall Canadian new-car marketplace. “We’re going to go right up the middle of where the demand is. Right now, the evidence is overwhelmingly on a four-door sedan.”
Reading between the lines, Reid Bigland’s “right now” suggests the possibility of new layouts in Dart’s future. What’s more, Bigland also acknowledged that the success of the hatchbacks or coupes available for the Honda Civic, Hyundai Elantra and the Mazda3 have helped the cars become top sellers.
When asked about Dodge Dart’s predecessor, the Caliber Hatchback, Bigland defended, “I don’t think the Caliber soured anyone on hatchbacks. There’s a functionality edge with the hatchbacks, no doubt.”
GALLERY: 2013 Dodge Dart
[Source: Globe And Mail]
Discuss this story at the Dodge Dart Forums
Based on a tidy Ford Fiesta platform, the heart of the B-MAX is Ford’s clever 1.0-liter Ecoboost engine producing 123-hp while reaching an equally impressive 59 mpg. The tiniest powerplant of the Ecoboost family, the innovative direct-injected turbocharged engine is exclusive for the European market for now but will eventually make its way into the North American and Chinese markets as well. For those looking for something even more frugal than the Ecoboost, Ford also offers a diesel B-MAX fitted with a Durotorq TDCi engine.
To set the Ford B-MAX apart from the competition in its class, Ford approached the new mini-minivan with a focus on functional design. The B-MAX features wide-open access for drivers, passengers and luggage. Minimizing obstructions, the center B-pillars are integrated into the doors. Ford also promises to present supreme craftsmanship as well as high quality materials, flexible seating arrangements and class-leading cargo room.
Chairman and CEO of Ford Europe, Stephen Odell, said, “The B-MAX combines an exciting, innovative design with features that only previously have been found in bigger cars. It’s a brand new car that responds to the needs of an increasing number of customers who want more from their small cars.”
Stay tuned for more information on the C-MAX when Ford president and CEO Alan Mulally performs the unveiling at the upcoming 2012 Geneva Motor Show.
GALLERY: Ford B-MAX
Our intrepid spy photographers are at it again, catching the Mercedes-Benz A-Class undergoing winter testing in an undisclosed Northern country.
The new car looks to be a radical departure from past versions, ditching the goofy tall-wagon look for something much more akin to an Audi A3. This further differentiates it from the smaller, though visually similar B-Class, which will retain the “MPV” bodystyle so popular in Europe.
The A-Class will be powered by a range of small 4-cylinder engines, but we don’t have many specifics on technical details. Expect the car to bow at March’s Geneva Auto Show.
Gallery: Mercedes-Benz A-Class
With an illustrious past in motorsports, Ford expands its racing activity by introducing the Ford Focus ST-R, a turn-key race version of its popular hot hatch.
Right out the box, the ST-R will be eligible to race in a selection of professional series including the Grand Am ST Class, World Challenge ST Class, Canadian Touring Car, as well as European endurance racing events, such as the Nurburgring 24. What’s more, while most competition vehicles are exclusive to well funded race teams, the Focus ST-R intends to be sold to amateurs and privateers that wish to get their start in racing.
While the Focus ST-R is a serious racer, it shares a lot of hardware with the regular ST. The body is fundamentally identical; the same dashboard, center-console, and door handles are used although the interior will be stripped of everything else; and a tuned version of the regular ST’s 2.0-liter EcoBoost will be used. The substantial changes include an FIA-regulation roll cage, racing brakes, racing suspension, and hip hugging racing seats.
Racing conversions don’t come cheap. Hand over $98,995 and the local Ford dealer can order your very own Focus ST-R through the Ford Racing catalog.
GALLERY: Ford Focus ST-R
[Source: Motor Authority]
As the compact luxury car market continues its growth in the United States, Acura intends to join the ranks of the Lexus CT200h, Audi A3, BMW 1-series, and Mercedes A-Class.
Based on the Honda Civic, the Acura promises that the ILX will attract younger buyers that find brand name, efficiency, and styling to be most important. Acura have also found that this particular demographic have a preference to the three-box modern sedan styling, and will deliver the ILX as such, even though Acura briefly considered the possibilities of an entry two-box hatchback as well.
Starting under $30,000, Acura engineers also promised there will be enough hardware to differentiate the more upscale ILX from the plain Honda Civic, as we have seen from the Accord and TL or Pilot and MDX. Powertrains for the ILX include a 2.0-liter inline-4, producing from 150 to 160-hp and approximately 145 lb.-ft. of torque. A hybrid will be available with a 1.5-liter engine producing 90-hp and 97 lb.-ft. of torque and an electric motor delivering 23-hp and 78 lb.-ft. of torque. But best of all, a sportier 2.4-liter engine only offered with a six-speed manual gearbox is available for driving enthusiasts. Delivering 201-hp and 170 lb.-ft. of torque in Civic Si form, Acura has yet to answer whether the 2.4 liter will undergo any changes in ILX form.
The ILX will debut at the upcoming Detroit Auto Show and will be available in showrooms by early summer of 2012.
The Audi A3 was caught by our spy photographers undergoing winter testing in Sweden. Despite heavy camoflague, we already know what the next A3 will look like – look at any current Audi for clues to what the front and rear treatments will resemble.
The new A3 will come in three and five door variants (dubbed the Sportback) a convertible and interestingly, a sedan. Audi previewed the sedan at the 2011 Geneva Auto Show, and while the production version may not be as radical as the awesome looking concept (which packed a 408-horsepower 5-cylinder engine and a 7-speed dual clutch gearbox), the car will definitely be attractive, and pack a full suite of turbocharged gasoline and diesel engines, dual clutch gearboxes and all-wheel drive.
North America will definitely get the sedan, and likely the five-door hatch, but we may not get the 3-door or ragtop versions, as those have previously been the exclusive domain of world markets.
Gallery: Audi A3 Spy Shots
Dodge revealed teaser shots of their Dart compact car, designed to replace the wretched Caliber crossover, and so far it looks to be the first hit of Alfa Romeo-inspired product for North America.
Using the underpinings of the lovely Alfa Giulietta compact, the Dart will use a 1.4L turbocharged Fiat MultiAir engine – good for 168 horsepower and 180 lb-ft of torque while returning a reported 39 mpg. Other engines include a 2.0L and 2.4L “Tigershark” 4-cylinder, mated to a 6-speed dual-clutch gearbox. A 9-speed automatic is said to be available at a later date.
Other features include a dual exhaust and 4-wheel independent suspension. The Dart will be built at Chrysler’s Illinois plant, and will get a proper reveal at the 2012 North American International Auto Show.
GALLERY: 2013 Dodge Dart
Discuss this story at DartForums.com
The current state of economy and the ever rising price of fuel is changing car buying habits in American households. Where once mid-size sedans like the Honda Accord and the Toyota Camry ruled, those spots are now being replaced by smaller cars like the Honda Civic, Toyota Corolla and Hyundai Elantra (above).
Consumer survey specialists J.D. Powers and Associates is forecasting that for the first time in two-decades, the compact car will outsell the mid-size car by the end of this year. It also predicts that by 2015, about 20% of cars sold in the U.S. will be compacts, and mid-size vehicles will occupy only 14% of the market.
Part of the reason for this shift in vehicle sizes has to do with the size and technology of compact cars sold currently. These days, you can find all manner of gadgets and luxury features in a compact car, plus they are getting bigger in size. For instance, the current Corolla is only 10-inches shorter than its Camry sibling, so it is no longer a small, small car.
With all the advantages of a bigger vehicle available in a slightly smaller, more fuel efficient package, at a considerably lower price tag (typically $5000 less), no wonder more and more people are choosing to downsize their vehicles.
Mercedes-Benz is prepping an AMG version of their B-Class hot hatch, and while a front-drive tall wagon may not sound like ideal AMG material, we’re pretty jazzed about the rumored specs.
A turbocharged 4-cylinder engine making 325-350 horsepower will be on board, as well a dual-clutch gearbox (with six or seven speeds). All-wheel drive will be needed to tame the prodigious power, as will bigger brakes, wider rubber and upgraded suspension tuning. Mercedes dealers have been asking for the B-Class as an entry-level product, but Mercedes hasn’t made a decision. On the other hand, the B-Class is already sold in Canada – which happens to be one of AMG’s biggest markets per capita in the world. So the hot B-Class could wind up making its way to the Great White North without ever heading to the USA.
Gallery: Mercedes-Benz B-Class AMG
Honda CEO Takanobu Ito stepped up and assumed responsibility for the Honda Civic’s miserable start in the United States, telling Automotive News that ”The ultimate responsibility rests with me.”
The Civic was left off the Consumer Reports list of recommended vehicles, a rarity for any Honda product. Cheap interior materials were blamed, and many reviewers reported dull styling and driving dynamics as other disappointments. Civic sales are down 15 percent this year, and Honda product planners are hoping for a model refresh as soon as 2013, well ahead of Honda’s usual vehicle schedule.
While Honda decided to stick with a smaller footprint and reduced content for the new Civic (betting on a downward economy) competitors like Hyundai, Chevrolet and Ford went in the opposite direction, offering advanced features like backup cameras, self-parking, powerful engines and bold styling. This approach won out in the end, with the Hyundai Elantra, Chevrolet Cruze and Ford Focus reporting strong sales in the segment.
[Source: Automotive News]
Volkswagen is out testing the 7th generation Golf, as seen here in spy shots, and the new car looks like it will retain much of the current car’s styling, but get a lower, wider and more aggressive profile.
For North America, expect the 2.0TDI diesel to carry over, but the base 2.5L 5-cylinder is out, to be replaced with a 1.8L turbocharged 4-cylinder (based off of the much-loved 2.0T motor). Golf production may move to the United States, but Volkswagen has been very tight lipped about details, as it remains Volkswagen’s bread-and-butter car in virtually every market except the United States,
Gallery: Volkswagen Golf MKVII
BMW‘s i3 may not be getting as much buzz as the 2012 3-Series, but their upcoming compact city car is probably the most important vehicle they’ll launch all decade.
With the i3, BMW is moving in a totally different direction, both in terms of technology and sustainability. The i3 will have a chassis made of carbon-fiber reinforced plastic, a first for a volume production car, and will help offset the weight of the car’s electric powertrain.
BMW claims that the i3 will make 170 horsepower and 184 lb-ft of torque, good enough for an 8 second 0-60 mph time. While BMW has previously said that the i3 is a pure electric car, the vehicles spied here displayed decals declaring the i3 a “hybrid test vehicle”, leading us to wonder whether there will be some kind of range extender on board. Regardless, the i3 will require just one hour of charging to replenish the batteries by 80 percent, a figure that has us optimistic regarding the i3′s usefulness.
Our spy photographer noted that the styling is fairly close to the concept, and that the i3 will have rear suicide doors similar to the MINI Clubman, where the front door will have to be opened to access the rear doors.
Gallery: BMW i3 Spy Photos
Jaguar‘s design genius and restless thinker, Ian Callum, has announced a personal desire to design a premium small car for the historically British marque.
During an interview, Ian Callum told British automotive publication, What Car?, “It’s a personal view, but there’s room for a premium small car. It would be a high-end small car for city use. The big challenges would be economic and creating a business case for it, along with making a small car feel like a Jaguar and having the right levels of refinement and luxury.”
Keeping an open mind, Callum did not confirm whether the city car would be executed as a hatchback, coupe, or small saloon but intends to design a model that will “break the mould and be a car that people just want.”
That’s better than what rival brand and fellow countryman, Aston Martin, can say. There are few people that just want a Cygnet.
Toyota will add another vehicle to the Prius lineup shortly, with the upcoming Prius c subcompact. Intended to be the entry point into the Prius range, the Prius c will supposedly get over 50 mpg in the city.
Technology will also be at the forefront of the Prius c, which comes with an integrated app suite for use with websites like Bing, MovieTickets.com, Pandora and OpenTable, along with Bluetooth integration and a host of safety features.
Expect the Prius c to be about the size of a Toyota Yaris, but positioned as a more premium product. Performance details have not been announced, aside from the obvious use of Toyota’s Hybrid Synergy Drive hybrid system mated to a 1.5L 4-cylinder engine. The Prius c will get its official unveiling at the 2012 Detroit Auto Show in January.
Gallery: Toyota Prius c
Mitsubishi has confirmed that two top executives at their American divison have left the company, and that Mitsubishi has no plans to replace them – a curious development for an automaker with mercurial fortunes.
Mitsubishi has struggled in recent years, but has enjoyed a sales surge in recent months, as well as the launch of their all-electric city car, dubbed the i. Gregory Adams, vice president of marketing and product strategy for Mitsubishi Motors North America, and Mike Krebs, vice president of corporate planning and incentives both left the company on October 31st, with Krebs having been at Mitsubishi for over a decade.
Adams position may have an impact on the launch of the i, which is relying on social media and other unorthodox marketing methods to make an impact on consumer perceptions. A Mitsubishi spokesman told Automotive News that day-to-day operations wouldn’t be impacted by the departures.
[Source: Automotive News]
The Scion iQ has still yet to go on sale, but Scion came out in full force with their new subcompact, presenting a multitude of concepts aimed at all corners of the aftermarket segment.
The Pit Boss iQ by Cartel is the wildest interpretation of the iQ we’ve seen so far, with the roof completely chopped off and an electric blue paint scheme applied. Massive 18″ wheels and an iPad with an integrated Wi-Fi hotspot are also included, though it adds an extra element of danger in the event of rain.
At the other end of the spectrum is the iQ-RS, designed to look like a full-blown race car. With a classic white paint scheme, red wheels, a front splitter, rear wing and fender flares, the iQ-RS looks the part, and a roll cage, racing seats and a stripped out interior re-enforce the iQ-RS’ mission.
Finally, the Scion iQ-MR blends race car style with the ever popular “stance” movement, with both a roll cage, fender flares and Axis Sakura wheels fitting flush to the iQ’s body. A mid-engine conversion has been carried out to make the iQ rear-wheel drive while the engine itself features a thorough re-build and new internals. KW Variant 3 coilovers let the car sit low to the ground while offering excellent damping.
Check out more SEMA coverage here
Gallery: Scion iQ
While reviewing the SCCA B-Spec rules, we came across a list of entries for the upcoming class and stumbled upon a few interesting candidates – namely the Volkswagen Polo, which the rule sheet claims may be imported for 2012.
Other entries, like the Hyundai Accent, Scion iQ and xD and Fiat 500 are interesting in their own right (especially since the Accent will face off against the Kia Rio, while the Scions will go against the Toyota Yaris B-Spec), but the Polo has long been rumored for a U.S. debut, and VW is said to be debuting a couple new products at November’s Los Angeles Auto Show. Could this be the introduction for a Volkswagen subcompact in America. Check back November 16th when coverage of the L.A. Auto Show begins.
[Source: Daytona Prototype]
The Ford Fiesta B-Spec is intended to be Ford’s offering for the newly created B-Spec racing class, which allows racers a (relatively) affordable way to go road racing in production cars.
Based on the same Fiesta available to consumers, the B-Spec cars have their interiors gutted to make way for a rollcage, a bucket seat, race harness and ballast, designed to keep weight levels even among the various cars. Engine work is minimal and rules are still in flux, but certain vehicles will have restrictors fitted to the intake – no word yet if the Fiesta will be subject to this handicap.
Tires and suspension will also be subject to the same strict regulations, but again, rules are still being worked out. Ford is evidently behind the program in a big way, and we’re looking forward to a full field when racing gets under way in 2012.
Gallery: Ford Fiesta B-Spec
Check out more of AutoGuide’s SEMA coverage here
Chevrolet unveiled the first of what will surely be many concept cars based on their new Sonic compact car, with a lifestyle/tuner car designed with input by Motocross legend and NASCAR driver Ricky Carmichael, and a ready-to-go racer intended for SCCA competition.
The Sonic All Activity Vehicle – Ricky Carmichael Concept features a full suite of interior and exterior accessories, including OEM Z-Spec body treatments, an interior made by Fox Motocross from their board short material, and the familiar 1.4L Chevrolet turbocharged 4-cylinder engine to ensure that there’s some go to back up the “show” element.
The Sonic Super 4 Concept, despite the goofy name, is a full-blown race car that is intended to be a turnkey, SCCA-legal car with a proper rollcage, harnesses and a fire suppression system, the Sonic Super 4 is the perfect counterpart to the Ricky Carmichael Concept – it ain’t pretty, but it’s probably very good at its intended mission. The Super 4 uses the same 1.4L turbo 4-banger and 6-speed gearbox as the Ricky Carmichael Concept, but in this application, definitely gets put to much better usage.
Check out the rest of AutoGuide’s SEMA coverage here
Gallery: Chevrolet Sonic Ricky Carmichael Concept and Super 4 Concept