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.
An all-new MINI is ready to be released but if sporty dynamics and a scrappy demeanor isn’t enough for you a high-performance John Cooper Works version of the car is under development. Not surprisingly the company revealed just such a design study on day one of the Detroit Auto Show.
Like a papier-mâché coffee cup photos of the new Audi A3 cabriolet have leaked, landing not on your lap but instead on the vast expanses of the INTER-n3tz. Thankfully neither your groin nor the web have been scalded by this hot emission. Here’s the skinny on Audi’s latest compact drop-top.
The New Face of Zoom-Zoom
Zoom-Zoom, it’s what sets Mazda apart from other car companies. The small Japanese manufacturer focuses on driving dynamics far more than other mass-market automakers. The result of that relentless toil is a lineup of cars and crossovers that are more entertaining than their competition. Paraphrasing one of the company’s TV commercials, if it’s not worth driving it’s not worth building.
One of Mazda’s most important products is the compact Mazda3. Available as either a hatchback or sedan it’s the cornerstone of the brand’s global sales. It’s never an easy task updating a successful product; drastic changes can attract new buyers but they also risk alienating existing customers. Fortunately for everyone the company has made common-sense updates to the 2014 model that should actually please everyone. Here are 10 things you absolutely must know about the new Mazda3.
Like a Broadway premiere the 2014 Mazda3 will take a bow in New York City today. Mazda’s best-selling compact car has received a bumper-to-bumper redesign along with some significant improvements. The company’s latest C-Segment offering brings a healthy dose of style, performance and technology to an extremely competitive slice of the market.
What has and hasn't changed
In case you hadn’t heard, the Toyota Corolla is receiving a complete overhaul for 2014.
The same design we have seen more or less since 2003 is finally being put to rest. This overly conservative approach to the Corolla has been a great sales success for Toyota. Last year it, along with the Matrix, sold 290,947 units. That was good enough to claim the title as America’s 8th best-selling vehicle; up one spot from 2011.
So the refresh this year is a big deal for the folks at Toyota. Although they do want to attract new customers to the Corolla, the manufacturer needs to be careful to not alienate existing customers either. Here are the top ten most important features of the new Corolla.
Keeping pace with Hyundai, Kia unveiled its latest production car today: the 2013 Forte 5-Door.
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.