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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.
Alfa Romeo has treated 21 very-special customers to a unique ownership experience. Last weekend lucky European buyers who purchased the special “Launch Edition” of the brand’s sultry 4C sports car enjoyed two days of fun in Italy.
The slow-selling Fiat 500 hit another snag after NHTSA gave the compact car a three-star crash test rating, a dismal score in an era where five-star ratings are practically ubiquitous.
While the 500 got four stars in the frontal crash and rollover tests, the side impact result was a poor two stars. Only the now-dead Dodge Caliber and the Ford Escape (set to be replaced after a decade in production) have achieved similar ratings. The 500′s fellow subcompact competitors like the Toyota Yaris, Honda Fit and Chevrolet Sonic have yet to be crash tested.
The Fiat has been plagued by slow sales, with Chrysler reporting a 173-day supply for the vehicles, and three consecutive months of declining sales figures.
[Source: Automotive News]
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
With the previous generation Alfa Romeo Spider now firmly in the ground, Alfa is looking to the next generation, and reports indicate that it will be a substantial break from the last car (pictured above), based on the stunning but portly Brera sports coupe.
Alfa is eager to fast track the Spider in time for Alfa’s 2013 launch in North America. Brand recognition for Alfa Romeo remains high in the United States, thanks in part to Dustin Hoffman’s iconic Spider in the 1960′s classic film The Graduate. Power should come from a 1.7L turbocharged 4-cylinder making roughly 150 horsepower and weigh an amazing 2200 lbs.
AutoGuide’s spy photographers caught an updated version of the Ferrari California testing near Ferrari’s home base of Maranello, Italy and our photographers noted that an unusual whistling sound – possibly that of a turbocharger, was heard emanating from the engine bay.
Ferrari hasn’t done a turbo V8 since the psychotic F40 of the 1980′s, and given the California’s reputation as a bit of a hairdresser’s car, the addition of some extra juice might not hurt. The mysterious hump in the car’s hood may also point to some kind of forced induction system. Given that the California has been out for a few years now, it seems like the timing is right for an aesthetic refresh and a power boost as well.
GALLERY: Ferrari California Refresh
The Sports Car Club of America’s B-Spec class is meant to give automakers and racers alike a relatively affordable platform to go racing with machines similar to those available from the factory. While safety and chassis modifications are allowed, engine power is restricted to keep the playing field even.
Honda and Mazda were among the earlier adopters, fielding Fit and Mazda2 B-Spec prototypes respectively. Now, Fiat and Ford are looking into the series, and the automakers tested Fiat 500 and Fiesta B-Spec cars at Michigan’s Grattan Raceway last week. Kuno Wittmer and Andy Vrenko piloted the 500 and Fiesta, while Peter Cunningham and Charles Espenlaub represented Honda and Mazda. All cars were equipped with engine restrictors and 100 pounds of ballast, while engineers were on hand to compare lap times between the four cars.
If the formula gains traction among racers, 2012 could be a banner year for American sports car racing, as an entry-level series has long been needed to reinvigorate interest among potential participants.
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]
Legendary design firm Pininfarina is ending its auto production business, but will retain its engineering and design divisions. Pininfarina said it will shed 127 jobs due to the division’s closing.
“Unfortunately we are having to stop our production activities, given the way the car market is. So we are focusing on design and engineering,” a Pininfarina spokesman told Reuters.
Pininfarina has a long and storied history, having designed most Ferrari and Alfa Romeo vehicles, as well as numerous other vehicles.
2012 is going to be a big year for Ferrari, with two major product launches at the upper-end of the Italian supercar manufacturer’s model range. Ferrari will be bringing out replacements for its now defunct Enzo supercar and its 599GTB grand tourer.
The Enzo successor will have carbon fiber construction and a midship V12, as well as a hybrid system. Ferrari CEO Amadeo Felisa confirmed that the system would be in place, and also have benefits beyond performance, with an eye to increased efficiency as well.
Felisa also noted that the next 599 will be a more extreme car than the current version, and make over 700 horsepower. The current 599GTO (above) makes 661 horsepower, so squeezing more out of the front mounted V12 is certainly within the realm of possibility.
[Source: Car and Driver]
Ferrari‘s been making a big push to promote the winter driveability of their cars, even going as far as to set up a winter driving school in Colorado featuring their new, AWD Ferrari FF.
Now Ferrari has released a video of their rear-drive California tearing up the slopes in St. Moritz, Switzlerland. It’s actually a pretty uninspiring video as far as hooning and speed go, but seeing any Ferrari driving on a snowy course is a novelty.
Hit the jump to see the video
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]
Ferrari is launching their first winter driving school on American school in January, 2012, with the aptly named Winter Driving Experience in Aspen, Colorado. Participants will get to use the all-wheel drive Ferrari FF 4-seater, and conduct a variety of driving exercises on both snow and ice.
Ferrari didn’t announce further details regarding specifics of the program, but expect it to cost big bucks and resemble Porsche’s excellent Camp4 program.
Although Lamborghini‘s Sesto Elemento concept was originally designed as a concept, whispers regarding its production-ready nature seemed to start as soon as it was unveiled.
Now, Lamborghini CEO Stephen Winkelman has confirmed the obvious, announcing a limited run of 20 cars – all of which are sold out. While the Sesto Elemento uses the same 5.2L V10 as the Gallardo, its mostly carbon-fiber construction allows it to hit 60 mph in just 2.5 seconds, thanks to a 2200 lb curb weight.
No timeline or pricing information has been given but expect this one to take a few years to come to market, with a price tag well into the seven figures.
Given all the attention the Lamborghini Aventador has been getting of late, it would seem that it’s older sibling, the Gallardo has been left out in the cold.
Well, Laborghini has decided to give the smaller car some love, bolstering the lineup with the hottest version ever; the LP 570-4 Trofeo Stradale.
Unveiled at Volkswagen’s Press Night, during the 2011 Frankfurt Motor Show; the spicy new Gallardo is derived from the racers that compete in the one-make Lamborghini Blancpain Super Trofeo series, hence the name.
Key features include carbon composite aerodynamic aids that improved aerodynamics over the regular Gallardo, including a manually adjustable rear spoiler (which result in a three-fold increased downforce); as well as improving stability through the corners.
There’s also a quick release, race car style engine cover ; plus a 570 horsepower mid-mounted V-10; race-derrived six-speed gearbox with standard steering wheel paddles; plus a Blancpain Super Trofeo based suspension, featuring aluminum double wishbones at all four corners. Monster brakes with eight piston front and four-piston rear calipers plus aluminum rotors round out the chassis features.
Riding on ultra-lightweight, black finished 19-inch wheels, shod in Pirelli P-Zero Corsa rubber and complimented by a Rosso Mars exterior hue with black accents (optional for the roof; standard on the spoiler , air intakes and mirror housings), the Trofeo Stradale is truly a sight to behold (Lamborghini says it will also offer the car in Grigio Telesto or Bianco Monocerus, fancy terms for gray and white, for those so inclined).
Weighing at just 1340 kg (2954 lbs), it promises to be the best performing of the breed ever; 0-62 mph (0-100 km/h) in 3.4 seconds; with a top speed of 198 mph (320 km/h). It’s shame that the company says it will only be producing 150 examples, though for the lucky few that managed to put one in their garage, there’s no question they’ll have a bonafide future collectible.
Gallery: Lamborghini Gallardo Trofeo Stradale
Fans of Italian cars should prepare to dry heave, as Lancia has just released an image of their new Flavia Cabrio, looking like a poorly rebadged Chrysler 200.
The only engine available is a 175-horsepower 2.4-liter V6 mated to a 6-speed automatic. Thrilling. Lancia will also get a re-badged Chrysler Town & Country, known as the Voyager as part of their rejuvenated, Chrysler-infused lineup. You can check back for AutoGuide’s for live Frankfurt coverage starting on September 13th.
Hit the jump to see the press release below
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.
The Chrysler 200-based Lancia Flavia, unveiled at March’s Geneva Auto Show, may never see the light of day beyond the auto show floor, according to the latest reports from a Dutch publication.
Parent company Fiat was apparently concerned that the Flavia would not be profitable enough to sell as a Lancia, and would not sell in large enough volumes. European consumers were never fans of the Chrysler Sebring, the 200′s predecessor, and a simple re-badge is unlikely to win them over.
Lancia will apparently wait until 2013 for an all-new 200 to debut, one designed with European consumers in mind. In the meantime, Lancia will sell a re-badged version of the Chrysler 300, a poor seller, but one flashy and competent enough to make a splash in the marketplace.
[Source: Left Lane News]
With Ferrari having done away with manual transmissions already, Lamborghini is the next supercar manufacturer to follow the two-pedal trend, with the Bolognese outfit announcing that the next Gallardo will not be available with a manual gearbox, similar to its Aventador sibling.
Car enthusiasts will undoubtedly cry foul at this announcement, but Lamborghini R&D boss Maurizio Reggiani claims that as little as 1 percent of Lamborghini cars leave the factory with a stick-shift. The Gallardo is available with the proprietary e-gear sequential gearbox, while the Aventador’s new 7-speed ISR system has been universally praised by critics.
While manual transmissions are arguably more fun, Lamborghini argues that the dual purpose nature of their cars (comfortable around town, blindingly fast on the open road) can only be actualized with an automated paddle-shift transmission, stating that the manual gearbox offers an interruption in the vehicle’s various functions. We’d argue that perfection has a price, and it’s one we’re willing to pay, but customers have evidently voted with their wallets, and Lamborghini has listened loud and clear.
[Source: Motor Trend]
It’s not good enough to drive the flashy car – you need the keys to go along with it. And if you’re all about the bling, Ferrari now offers car keys studded with precious metals and gemstones to make you shine.
The Bespoke Ferrari Car Key was created by S.P.Green & Co, features 1160 diamonds (a total diamond weight of 7 carats) and available through Camaél London, bringing the luxe Ferrari experience to a whole new level. You can get it customized with precious metals and gemstones if diamonds aren’t your thing. Once you’ve made your pick, the diamonds and gemstones are polished and lovingly secured onto the key. If you have other ideas for your blingtastic key, Camaél is open to your suggestions – if you’ve got the cash to back them up.
The Bespoke Ferrari Car Key will run you around $23,147 (£14,500). When a key costs that much, you’re going to want to take extra pains not to lose it. We wonder if you can insure your car keys?
[Source: Born Rich]
Bruce Wayne’s ride of choice in The Dark Night was a Lamborghini Murcielago LP640, but the Murci met an early demise halfway through the movie.
Fortunately, Wayne is fabulously rich, and if it wasn’t for the wrecked Lambo, he’d probably want the newest model anyways (who can bear being seen in last year’s model anyways?). Luckily, there’s a shiny new Aventador waiting for him. One lucky gent managed to spy the Aventador (with Gotham plates) outside what is supposedly Master Wayne’s new digs – quite a step up from his old penthouse, but equally as lavish.
GALLERY: Lamborghini Aventador Batman: The Dark Knight Rises
Watch some incredible Aventador video after the jump:
For anyone who grew up with posters of the Countach or Diablo on their wall, the idea of an “everyday” Lamborghini is utterly laughable. By definition, a Lamborghini has always been a loud, crude, in-your-face supercar that makes absolutely no concessions in the way of comfort or convenience.
But Lamborghini CEO Stephan Winkelmann claims that things are about to change, with a new addition to the model lineup designed to be a daily driver. Speaking to the Reuters Global Luxury and Fashion Summit, Winkelmann said ”We are going to have a third model. It has to be an everyday car. We want to have a car which is able to be used on a daily basis.”
Details are practically non-existant, since Winkelmann seemed to state that the car has been recently approved, and would take another four years to hit showrooms. Lamborghini has previous previewed a 4-door sedan model, dubbed the Estoque (seen above), while Ferrari’s new four-seat, four-wheel drive FF pseudo-hatchback will be on sale in 2012.
Chrysler filed documents with the Security and Exchange Commission that revealed that parent company Fiat has a one year option to increase its stake in the American automaker to as much as 70 percent.
The increase is contingent on Chrysler repaying its government loans, and the automaker will be issuing new debt in a bid to allow Fiat to up its stake from 30 to 46 percent. Currently, the United States treasury holds an 8.6 percent stake in the company, but that should be reduced by year end, when Fiat begins production of an American made vehicle capable of hitting 40 mpg. The United States government is hoping to fully divest itself from Chrysler as soon as possible.
[Source: Automotive News]