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.
Probably the best automotive app ever created, the only complaint we have is it should have been invented sooner. After making an account, drivers can post their favorite stretches of roads or routes to the app’s internal Google Maps feature. Posted routes can be viewed by other users and they can visit these roads and rate them on a scale from 1 to 5.
While this sounds like the day-trip cousin to yelp.com, MINI Motoring app comes with a twist. Users get virtual points for their activity on the app. Non-MINI owners that use the app can receive digital items such as smartphone wallpapers and physical promo items are in the cards as well. MINI owners can get access to their MINI Financial Services lease or loan accounts and get points through paying their bills through the app as well.
The app is free and available at the Apple App Store and the Android Marketplace now.
[source: Motor Trend]
Polestar, Volvo‘s racing outfit founded in 1996 for competition in the World Touring Car Championship, will finally be introduced in the United States.
Specifically, Polestar is offering a factory-authorized performance tuning software for Volvo C30, C70 and S40 models that are 2008 and newer and fitted with the T5 engine. Priced at $1,295, the software enables increased airflow into the T5′s combustion chambers and advancing spark timing to promise a bump in power of another 23-hp and 29 lb-ft of torque while fuel economy remains unaffected.
Chris Dauerer, VCNA vice president of customer service explained, “Our performance-oriented customers have told us they wanted a tuning option for their vehicles. With Polestar, we are able to unlock the power potential of our engines which leads to impressive acceleration and a more memorable driving experience – not to mention it adds value to the vehicle.”
Best of all, the factory-authorized software product retains the original manufacturer warranty.
GALLERY: Volvo C30 Polestar Performance Concept
For long one of the most beloved hot hatches in Europe, the Ford Fiesta ST Concept will be unveiled at the 2011 Los Angeles Auto Show. Recently at the Frankfurt Motor Show, Ford revealed a three-door ST concept, a sign that perhaps the hot-hatch sub-compact would not be offered in North America. This new five-door concept changes all that.
North America’s first Ford hot hatch since the 2004 Ford Focus SVT, the Fiesta ST concept’s mission at the LA show is to show Ford Motor Company’s global performance strategy. The Fiesta ST Concept combines dramatic and aggressive styling with a dynamic sports chassis and a high-performance powertrain that will deliver both power and impressive fuel economy with low emissions.
Using a 1.6 liter Ford EcoBoost engine that is in very close relation to the engine used in the Fiesta RS World Rally car, the Fiesta ST features twin independent variable camshaft timing and turbocharging to produce 180-hp and 177 lb-ft of torque. The fiesta will also be using a six speed manual transmission to ensure driving pleasure.
In terms of styling, the Ford ST utilizes a the bold and distinctive honeycomb mesh trapezoidal grille that’s found on the larger Focus ST. The rear features a serious twin-exit exhaust wrapped around by stylized diffuser. Finally, the Fiesta ST receives a lowered stance and a ST body kit with widened wheel arches that are snugly filled by 17 inch wheels and low profile tires.
According to Ford director of Global Performance Vehicles Jost Capito, “With the Focus ST, we promised to deliver uncompromised sports performance and styling to a truly global audience for the first time, without sacrificing Ford’s key value of quality, green, safe, and smart. With the Fiesta ST Concept, we are demonstrating that our global performance plan has legs. The Fiesta ST Concept shows in the most dramatic way possible that the qualities that define an ST are not limited to one model.”
If that’s not a 99 percent confirmation that Ford will in fact bring the Fiesta ST from concept to reality, we don’t know what is.
GALLERY: Ford Fiesta ST Concept
While AutoGuide got its first glimpse of the Ford Focus ST at the 2010 Paris Auto Show last September, this was our first chance to take a good look at the car without security guards and PR staff circling like birds of prey.
We know so far that the Focus ST will have Ford’s 2.0L Ecoboost motor displacing 247 horsepower and 260 lb-ft, with a choice of a 6-speed manual or 6-speed dual clutch gearbox, along with ATE brakes and some very supportive technicolor sports seats. Peeking inside also revealed a Sony headunit that looked like it was ready for the much-loathed MyFordTouch infotainment system.
Check out AutoGuide’s coverage of the 2011 SEMA Show here
Gallery: Ford Focus ST
Kia has released pricing details for its 2012 Rio sedan, starting at $13,400 or $200 less than the 5-door version. That price is before the $750 destination and handling fee.
The cheapest version comes with a 6-speed manual transmission, but if you aren’t willing or can’t drive stick the price jumps to $15,250 with a 6-speed automatic.
The Rio comes in three trim levels: LX, EX and SX, all powered by the same 1.6-liter gasoline direct injection (GDI) making 138 horsepower. The same applies to the sedan as did our review of the 5-door sibling. Even at it’s most basic, you’re getting a well equipped car, though it won’t be impressive to driving enthusiasts, of course that isn’t the market Kia caters to.
The Rio is all about value and practicality with a host of standard features and an estimated 30 mpg with city driving and 40 mpg on the highway. Fuel economy gets a boost thanks to and Idle Stop and Go generally reserved for hybrids and luxury cars. The engine shuts down when the car isn’t moving and starts when the driver’s foot comes off the brake pedal.
Standard features include air conditioning, electric power steering, an MP3-capable audio system with USB ports, SiriusXM Satellite Radio with three months of free service, electronic stability control, ABS, hill control assist and vehicle stability management.
If you opt for the premium SX package (starting at $18,250), Kia dolls the car up with LED accent lights on the front as well as LED tail lights. The interior gets also gets improvements with a leather wrapped steering wheel and metal pedals. Dual illuminated vanity mirrors and power-folding side-view mirrors and a backup camera are also meant to add a luxurious feeling.
Finally, the car comes with their Supervision meter cluster and a voice-activated “infotainment” system.
GALLERY: 2012 Kia Rio Sedan
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.
Two employees at Italian tuning house Abarth have been arrested for selling $1.3 million in stolen parts, while 23 other employees and Italian postal service workers have been summoned for questioning after an 8-month investigation.
Abarth became aware of the scam after several dealers complained that several tuning kits, used to upgrade Fiat 500 and Punto Abarth models into the hardcore Esseesse versions, had missing parts or failed to be delivered altogether. After repeated complaints by dealers, Abarth notified Italian authorities and an investigation was launched.
The two alleged culprits were said to be selling parts like ECUs, for 80 percent off via an online store set up by employees. Bucket seats, turbochargers, brake parts and even branded merchandise like clothing, were all offered for sale.
[Source: Left Lane News]
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]
Volkswagen is recalling 168,000 diesel engine vehicles produced from 2009-2012 over a possible leak from the fuel injectors that could start a fire.
The vehicles in question are Volkswagen Jetta, Jetta SportWagen and Golf models as well as the Audi A3 TDI. 161,144 VWs and 7,131 Audis are involved in the recall, while no injuries or accidents have been reported so far. Volkswagen says that about 20 percent of the vehicles in question have fuel injector lines that could be potentially faulty. The company will begin notifying dealers and owners in November.
[Source: The Detroit News]
The SEMA Show (Specialty Equipment Market Association) provides the unique opportunity to let suppliers and aftermarket tuners showcase their new products and innovations. This year, Brandmotion, an award winning supplier of OEM-grade custom products, earned the opportunity to work with FIAT to customize a 2012 FIAT 500.
FIAT launched a competition for aftermarket suppliers to come up with a practical yet creative line of customization options for the active drivers who want to find a fun driving experience.
Brandmotion president Jeff Varick says, “We’re extremely pleased to receive this honor. The new FIAT 500 is a stylish, well-built vehicle that shows a very fresh way of thinking about the modern automobile. The competition tasked us with thinking of the vehicle as if we were building it, not modifying it. We pride ourselves on providing highly functional interior personalization solutions that target the emerging needs of vehicle buyers, and our efforts were rewarded with this selection.”
Brandmotion’s project, known as the Urban Loft 500, represents a “Space that is minimal yet functional, with amenities that are readily accessible. It’s small enough to be practical, but with enough space and style to provide an upscale experience.”
Watch out for the Urban Loft 500 at the SEMA Show located at the Las Vegas Convention Center from November 1-4, 2011. Also, visit Brandmotion’s facebook page to check out their progress so far.
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]
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.
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]
Chevrolet cranks up its production capacity for the fourth quarter as the Azia Avto plant in Kazakhstan agrees to support the production of three new Chevy models.
As the largest automaker in Kazakhstan, the Azia Avto plant is responsible for more than 87 percent of all passenger cars in the country. GM considers Kazakhstan and areas of post-Soviet Russia as one of the most promising for future growth as Chevrolet has already earned the top step for the best-selling automaker there for multiple years mainly due to their affordable prices.
Among the new cars scheduled for assembly at Azia Avto are the Chevrolet Cruze hatchback, the Captiva SUV and the seven seat Orlando minivan.
GALLERY: Chevrolet Cruze Hatchback
For the European market, the thought of another high performance Ford Focus has become banal, but North America is eagerly awaiting the launch of the first “Euro” hot hatch variant of the Focus, with the upcoming Ford Focus ST.
The original Focus SVT was based on a European model called the Focus ST170, but the new Focus ST marks the first time that there will be a single unified Focus performance model – with one exception. A Focus ST “wagon” (shown above) will be sold in world markets, but not North America.
With a 2.0L Ecoboost 4-cylinder making 250 PS and 265 lb-ft of torque, the Focus ST relies on an electronic torque-steer management system to put power down through a 6-speed manual gearbox via the front wheels. Big brakes and Recaro seats on offer, as are a specially tuned chassis, 18″ wheels and Goodyear Eagle F1 tires with an asymmetric tread pattern. Stay tuned to AutoGuide for live shots of the Ford Focus ST starting on Tuesday, September 13th as coverage of the Frankfurt AutoShow kicks off.
Ford will show a concept version of their l0ng-awaited Fiesta ST hot hatch at the 2011 Frankfurt Auto Show. An ST version of the Focus hatchback has long been confirmed, and many correctly suspected that a hotter version of the smaller Fiesta would follow.
With the Focus making 250 horsepower from a 2.0L Ecoboost 4-cylinder engine, the next logical step down is Ford’s 1.6L Ecoboost, with an output of around 180 horsepower. Stay tuned to AutoGuide for more info as coverage begins on Tuesday, September 13th.
Lately it seems like auto shows have become just another venue for another automaker to unveil another electric vehicle concept. The 2011 Frankfurt Motor Show will be no different, as Audi is set to display its new electric A2 concept alongside the introduction of the new Audi S6, S7, and S8.
Now this might come as a bit of a surprise, but from the electric A2 concept’s press release, there were no numbers on efficiency, range, or charge duration provided. Instead, Audi has been using the electric A2 concept as a platform to advance innovations in materials use. Pioneers and trendsetters of the LED lighting movement, Audi’s A2 will bring an even more advanced light design. According to Audi’s release, LED headlights will feature hi-res, non-glare high beams as well as efficient low beam light modules. Taillights get even more interesting as Audi studies the use of laser lighting. Brake lights are given special treatment as well, designed to vary in illumination depending on the amount of force applied during braking.
We fully expect the new generation of automotive lighting to be available and make their way across the entire Audi line-up once the technology matures.
GALLERY: Audi electric A2 Concept
Last weekend, Nissan Canada officially began the reservation process for the all-new electric Leaf. Within two hours, all Leaf inventory was reserved.
On August 27th, Canadians attended one of 27 Nissan Leaf certified dealers and were invited to reserve the electric vehicle for a refundable $99 deposit. Judy Wheeler, Nissan Canada’s director of marketing, said, “Response from Canadians since we first revealed the Nissan Leaf in 2009 has been astounding, so we’re not surprised that our first inventory of 40 model year ’11 cars were snapped up so quickly”.
Nissan says that Leaf deliveries will begin sometime in September for Canadians that reserved the vehicle. Nissan will also be selling 600 units of the 2012 model year Leaf sometime soon.
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.
While Hyundai CEO John Krafcik didn’t give us full pricing on the upcoming Hyundai Veloster, a tweet by Hyundai’s head honcho did reveal that the highly anticipated sports coupe will start at $17,300 for a 6-speed manual version, while the Dual-Clutch Transmission will cost $18,550, while delivering 40 mpg on the highway.
In addition to a $760 freight charge, options include a “Style” package (featuring 18-inch wheels, a chrome grill, fog lights, a panoramic sunroof, leatherette and an 8-speaker audio system) and a “Tech” package (which must be ordered with the “Style” package and features different 18-inch wheels, navigation, automatic headlights, keyless start, backup sensors and a backup camera).
The Honda CR-Z starts at $19,345 and is capable of 39 mpg on the open road. The CR-Z hasn’t fared well in the marketplace, and Hyundai’s massive marketing machine, cheaper base price and superior fuel economy bragging rights may spell doom for Honda’s own sports coupe.
We’ll be driving the Veloster in early September, so check back for more at AutoGuide.com
Hit the jump to see the official press release
Ken Block has released the fourth installment of his Gymkhana video series, aptly titled Gymkhana 4, for the flatbill wearers of the internet to enjoy and play ad nauseam.
We won’t spoil any of the video for you, but it’s an appropriate follow-up to the last three mini-films. Check it out below.
Get the Flash Player to see this player.
Today, Nissan North America announced U.S pricing for the 2012 Versa Hatchback, a model that is carried over from the previous year, despite the fact that the 2012 sedan is all-new. Continuing on the popular first-generation design, it is available in 1.8 S and 1.8 SL models.
The 1.8-liter S hatchback model has been priced at $14,380 with the 6-speed manual and $1000 extra for the 4-speed automatic transmission($15,380). The 1.8-liter SL version with the CVT transmission will be priced at $18,390. The 1.8-liter DOHC 4-cylinder engine produces 122-hp, with fuel consumption rated at 28 mpg City /34 mpg Highway and 30 mpg combined for the SL with the Continuously Variable Transmission. The 6-speed manual and 4-speed automatic models offer 26/31/28 mpg and 24/32/27 mpg respectively for City/Highway/ Combined ratings. The Nissan Versa is already on sale in either the hatchback or sedan platform offering amazing bang for your buck.
Check out pricing for the all-new, and significantly cheaper 2012 Versa sedan here!
Toyota’s new Yaris just made its local debut at the 2011 Melbourne auto show, ahead of its showroom release at the end of the year. The current Yaris is the third most popular compact car in the Australia, behind the Mazda2 and the Hyundai Getz.
Toyota stretched the Yaris to help create more space for rear seat passengers. Fuel efficiency has been improved by more advanced aerodynamics and the windshield gains “UV-reducing” glass with a single large wiper blade. The new Yaris will be offered as a three-door, five-door hatchback and four-door sedan. Toyota stated that this new model was designed with more of a European flavour than its predecessor.
Engine choices for the new Yaris are expected to be similar to the outgoing model, including a 1.3-liter and 1.5-liter powerplant. Toyota Australia will not release any more details until its launch.
Gallery: 2012 Toyota Yaris
Rumors of a Chevrolet Cruze 3-door hatchback appear to be just that, after an interview with General Motors North American President Mark Reuss surfaced, stating that the Cruze is too late in its North American product cycle for a hatchback.
On the other hand, reports are emerging that Buick may get a hatchback version of the Opel Astra GTC, which could end up being a variant of the Verano (shown above). The new car is expected to bow in 2014, and hopefully the Verano Turbo’s 2.0L 4-cylinder making 250 horsepower is offered. Buick will have to plan carefully for this product, as GM’s Saturn division has already tried importing a version of the Astra, and was met with an utterly dismal response from consumers.
[Source: GM Inside News]