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.
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
Toyota is setting targets of between 1,000 and 2,000 units per month for the rollout of its Scion iQ city car, and the new vehicle will see a tiered launch that involves an initial rollout on the West Coast this winter with a Midwest and East Coast launch this spring.
The Japanese-built iQ will also have to work around Toyota supplier schedules, which have yet to fully come back online following March’s earthquake and tsunami. While the iQ starts at under $16,000, Scion VP Jack Hollis said that a continued economic downturn would be bad for the car, as it would leave the youth demographic without the funds to purchase the car.
While General Motors has had major success in South Korea, Japan has eluded GM for some time. The American automaker is hoping to reverse that trend with the introduction of their Chevrolet Sonic small car, which will be positioned above domestic entrants like the Honda Fit and Toyota Yaris.
GM is launching a television campaign, a rarity for an American automaker, and pricing the Sonic at 1.89 million yen, or about $24,550. Japanese consumers consider a price tag of 2 million yen (about $26,000) as the cut-off for an “affordable” car. GM is hoping that the Sonic, which will only be offered in fully-loaded trim levels, will appeal to Japanese consumers that want to stand out from the crowd.
Chevrolet’s sales in Japan are minimal, but the brand has a high profile as an importer of quintessentially American vehicles like muscle cars and SUVs, which has given Chevrolet a cult following in Japan.
[Source: Automotive News]
New rules to Britain’s MoT inspection program, used by the government to declare whether vehicles are roadworthy or not, could end up costing motorists thousands of dollars for non-essential repairs.
European Union regulations, which Britain is subject to, require that electronic stability control systems must be checked, and any vehicle that doesn’t pass will be declared unfit for British roads. One reader of British magazine Auto Express complained that he recieved a bill of $2,715 to fix the system in his Vauxhall Astra compact car, when the system was fitted as an option. The reader noted that an Astra that didn’t have the system at all would be declared road worthy.
Systems like airbags, catalytic converters and factory-fitted Tire Pressure Monitoring Systems will also be tested, and any defects could result in similarly expensive repair bills. This issue has left us wondering whether the OEMs are setting us up for a fall by making these systems so costly to repair, leaving some owners to abandon their perfectly good vehicles for a new car, rationalizing their purchase as an alternative to throwing money at an old car.
Hyundai has already admitted that they have two sets of tooling for their three-door Veloster, so that Hyundai can switch the door’s location for either left or right-hand drive markets, and the company has admitted that a Veloster with two rear doors is a possibility for the future.
Hyundai is apparently planning a five-door version for European markets, and company representatives were coy when asked whether it was coming to the U.S. Hyundai was similarly evasive regarding the Elantra Touring coming to the U.S., but with previous versions having already made the trip across the ocean, we might as well expect it at an upcoming auto show.
[Source: Car and Driver]
Anyone who has spent time looking for fake watches, knockoff handbags or other wonderful Asian products has likely come across the site Alibaba.com
Today’s find on the slightly notorious site is a lot of 150 right-hand drive Dodge Neons in Singapore. The vehicles are advertised as brand new and look like they have about 14 years worth of dust on them. For only $1,350 a piece, you can have your very own brand new car from 14 years ago – but whether it runs is another matter.
Alternately, The Truth About Cars has suggested a different use for the Neons – a spec racing series. There’s an idea we can get behind.
Kia will unveil its first electric vehicle by the start of 2012, but did not say whether the vehicle would be sold in the United States.
The EV will reportedly be based on the Hyundai i10, a vehicle considered much too small for North American tastes. A production run of just 2,000 units is expected in 2012. A second electric vehicle is expected to follow in 2014 for Kia, with Hyundai launching a mass market EV in 2015. Hyundai currently has a small fleet of i10-based EVs testing in South Korea.
[Source: Automotive News]
Chrysler has launched their first two re-badged Lancia product in the UK (where the Lancia brand has been defunct for a number of years), with a pair of hatchbacks based on the Lancia Delta and Ypsilon compact and subcompact cars.
The Ypsilon shares a platform with the Fiat 500 and will be available with the 900cc TwinAir two-cylinder turbocharged engine, as well as a 1.2L 4-cylinder and a 1.3L diesel engine. The Delta is about the size of a Ford Focus and can be optioned with either 1.4L, 1.6L or 2.0L engines.
Hit the jump to see the official press release
Gallery: Lancia Delta & Ypsilon
Sales targets for the Fiat 500 were set at an ambitious 6,000 units per month, and surprise surprise, the car isn’t meeting them. This might be due to the fact that it’s a subcompact, foreign branded car in a market where gasoline is (relatively) cheap and large vehicles reign supreme. Or it could be the fault of your marketing agency, if you ask Chrysler.
Fiat marketing chief Oliver Francois told trade publication Advertising Age that the brand has an “awareness problem”, and apparently, a product placement in a Jennifer Lopez music video didn’t help matters. Fiat has also reportedly dumped their ad agency, which formerly employed Fiat North America CEO Laura Sove.
So far Fiat has sold 11,088 examples, far off the 72,000 unit annual target. The axe has to fall on someone, and we’ll be waiting to see who ends up taking responsibility for this matter.
[Source: Advertising Age]
Kia will launch their 2012 Rio Hatchback with a starting price of $13,600, plus a $750 destination charge (bringing the total to $14,350).
The base car will come only with a manual gearbox, while an automatic transmission equipped version will cost $14,700 ($15,540 with destination included) while the top-of-the-line SX model will set you back $18,000 ($18,750 with destination included). The Rio will come generously equipped with air-conditioning, power steering, stability control, ABS, a hill-holder for manual transmission cars, and a 1.8L 138-horsepower engine capable of returning 30/40 mpg.
The Rio will also offer a start-stop feature, a class exclusive, that will boost city fuel economy to 31 mpg.
Suzuki may be an also ran in America, but in India, their Maruti Suzuki partnership can boast the title of “best-selling car” with their Alto subcompact. With a population of 1 billion people, the Indian market is a significant one, and the Japanese auto maker is facing competition not just from home grown efforts like Tata, but Hyundai as well.
The Alto is a pretty antiquated platform, and Hyundai is hoping that their new effort, dubbed the Eon, will not only be more technologically advanced, but price competitive, at around $6,000. Powering the Eon will be a 1.2L 4-cylinder engine making 80 horsepower.
The 2012 Ford Focus will get a 1.0L 3-Cylinder Ecoboost engine, but it will only be offered in the North American market. Ford says that the motor will make 118 horsepower and 125 lb-ft of torque at just 1300 rpm.
An overboost feature will provide short bursts of up to 147 lb-ft of torque, while the flywheel and front pulley are designed to reduce vibrations without the need for a balance shaft. Ford says that the engine will also be used on the European C-Max van and the B-Max crossover.
[Source: Left Lane News]
Infiniti will adopt Mercedes-Benz’s small car architecture, used to underpin the front-drive B-Class, as part of the technology sharing agreement signed between the two companies.
Nissan CEO Carlos Ghosn told Autocar that ”you’d be very surprised if in five or six years that Mercedes and Renault/Nissan had only cooperated on small cars,” signalling a much wider cross-pollination for the two companies. Mercedes engines are expected to be used in the new Infiniti M, while the B-Class platform will underpin a new, small minivan-esque vehicle for Infiniti.
The Dodge Caliber is scheduled to go out of production this November, as a new Fiat-based compact car takes its place. Chrysler enthusiast website Allpar confirms the Caliber’s demise, and lists November 23rd as the final date for the ill-fated Dodge compact.
The Caliber’s replacement is said to get 40 mpg thanks to a government requirement for taking bailout money. Fuel economy was a chief complaint among Caliber owners, and the vehicle never really moved well in the marketplace. As time wore on and sales withered, the Caliber became little more than rental car fodder, and Chrysler’s decision to end production was probably a wise one.