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.
AutoGuide Five-Point Inspection
This week AutoGuide took a ride in the Infiniti’s glitzed to the ritz IPL G Convertible to see if it keeps up with the brand’s German-fighting luxury reputation.
As always, the Five-Point Inspection is a jot-note review meant to cut the fat and go straight to the point.
Mercedes‘ flagship SLS AMG Black Series was spied, and reports say that the new car will make 650 horsepower out of its 6.2L V8, one heavily revised by Mercedes’ AMG division.
Revised bodywork and new wheels will also be included, but you’ll pay dearly – expect the Black Series to start at $338,000 according to exchange rates.
Check out the video here
[Source: GT Spirit]
With Europe having a long history of taxing cars based on engine displacement, automakers have long dodged this levy by placing diminutive engines in even their largest vehicles.
Infiniti is hoping to get around this by following the same path, and starting in 2012, the Infiniti M will feature a pair of 4-cylinder engines borrowed from Mercedes-Benz; a 204 horsepower turbocharged 1.8 L, and a a 170 horsepower 2.1L turbodiesel. Both engines are from the Mercedes-Benz C-Class, and will be some of the first technology sharing to come from the agreement signed by Mercedes-Benz and Nissan.
The vehicles are expected to be introduced at March’s Geneva Auto Show.
[Source: Left Lane News]
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
Reports are coming in that Japanese auto manufacturers are looking for ways to cut costs on vehicles being exported to the United States in order to squeeze profits due to the record high yen against the dollar. A prime example is the new GS 350 from Lexus, that has been highly anticipated and praised by the American media.
Though many of the cost-cutting measure will be unnoticeable to the average day consumer, knowing that certain things were done to a luxury sedan is disheartening. For example, Lexus used asphalt spray instead of laminate sheeting for noise suppression on the underbody and recycled plastic instead of virgin for the protective cover beneath the engine, in order to cut costs. That’s not all, as some technical decisions seem to have been impacted due to the surging yen, as we’ll be seeing Lexus’s old six-speed transmission rather than a new seven- or eight-speed that competitors are offering in their new luxury sedans.
Slightly reassuring though is that Yoshihiko Kanamori, chief engineer for the GS 350, did state that ”There were no items omitted that I would like to have, but with this exchange rate we will have to raise the price.” A compromise that Lexus found is offering all the bells and whistles in their F Sport variant which will undoubtedly be drastically different in price from the base GS 350.
[Source: Automotive News]
Our spy photographers have done it again, this time finding the 2013 Mercedes-Benz S-Class in the wild.
The S-Class is an important product for Mercedes, but this generation has the added burden of replacing the now-dead Maybach sedans, as well as acting as the flagship for Mercedes-Benz.
Expect to see VIPs, celebrities and African desposts chauffeured around in these starting in 2013. There’s a good bet your local hedge fund manager will have one, too.
Check out the video after the jump
The report states that the ELR has been dubbed a 2+2, meaning two small seats in the rear, similar to a Porsche 911. The Volt uses a t-shaped battery pack that is adapted for a front-drive layout, but a 2+2 configuration would allow for the battery pack to be mounted in such a way as to clear a driveshaft sending power to the rear wheels.
Rick Kranz, the author of the piece, suggests that rear seat room would be compromised, but the 2+2 layout of the coupe – plus the use of the rear-drive platform shared with the Cadillac ATS – would allow for Cadillac to justify a price premium over the Chevrolet Volt, something that new sheetmetal and an advanced infotainment system would not be able to achieve. If this report turns out to be accurate, then the ELR could be a game changer, as the first front-engine rear-drive electric car on the market.
[Source: Automotive News]
Toyota has announced that starting in 2013, it will sell Lexus vehicles in India. No specific products were announced for sale, but likely contenders include the LS and GS sedans, as well as the RX crossover. Given India’s less than perfect roads, the LX and GX SUVs (based on the popular Toyota Land Cruiser SUVs) may also make it over.
While Lexus has been around for over 20 years, the brand didn’t expand beyond North American and Europe until 2o05. Asia, Russia the Middle East and now India are its latest conquests, and Toyota is hoping to repeat its success in markets like The United States. Unlike some luxury manufacturers, like Mercedes-Benz, Toyota will import Lexus vehicles from Japan and elsewhere. Mercedes chooses to assemble vehicles locally to avoid expensive import duties.
[Source: Left Lane News]
BMWs in certain markets may be getting a “Made In China” code in their VIN numbers starting at the end of 2011, as the company plans to export Chinese made 5-Series sedans to certain markets.
The Truth About Cars quotes the CEO of BMW’s Chinese operations as stating “We will find some markets, maybe in the Middle East, somewhere in Asia, or some other markets that welcome the products where we can test this export effort. The main market of course is here (in China), because we can’t even supply enough here.”
The 5-Series is built in China as part of a joint venture with Brilliance. TTAC’s China expert Bertel Schmitt claims that the quality of cars built in Chinese/foreign joint ventures is no worse than vehicles built in Japan, America or any other country (and sometimes better). The 5-Series is a popular vehicle in China, with a long-wheelbase version regarded as a status symbol for wealthy Chinese who can afford a driver.
[Source: The Truth About Cars]
While Mercedes had high hopes for the brand, Maybach’s sales have slumped to around 200 units annually, whereas targets called for sales of 1,000 cars per year. Daimler CEO Dieter Zetsche told German Newspaper Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung “It would not be sensible to develop a successor model for the current Maybach.”
Ultra-luxury versions of the next Mercedes-Benz S-Class will replace the Maybach in 2013.
[Source: Automotive News]
12. Toyota Camry
While automakers and outside research firms publish sales figures and earnings reports on a regular basis, one metric we rarely get a glimpse of is how profitable each vehicle is. In an era of re-badging and platform sharing, one would think that the most profitable vehicles are those with a large number of derivatives to spread the cost around. But a new report from Bernstein Research suggests that two factors – price point and volume – are the keys to making big bucks off vehicles. And judging by the list, longevity seems to help as well.
Number 12 on the list is the Toyota Camry, and for good reason. The Camry has a number of factors in its favor – massive volumes, an accessible price point and its made in America (currency fluctuations, particularly a rise in the euro or yen, can make exports unprofitable). Bernstein’s report notes that high volume cars at a medium price point are one of the keys to profitability, and the Camry might be the textbook definition of this formula. The Camry’s twin, the Lexus ES350, was absent from the list, but no doubt earns its keep, as a gilded version of the Camry.
The BMW 5-Series ActiveHybrid will make its debut at this December’s Tokyo Auto Show, featuring BMW’s familiar twin-turbo I6 engine and an electric motor that will produce a total output of 340 horsepower. Backed by an 8-speed automatic, the car will be able to operate in pure electric mode up to 37 mph.
The ActiveHybrid’s 55 horsepower electric motor will be powered by a trunk mounted lithium-ion battery pack, and also allow the driver to coast with the gasoline engine shut off. A boost function will also enable rapid acceleration, though BMW did not elaborate on its exact nature. An energy management system is said to work in concert with the car’s GPS unit to adjust for road conditions.
BMW also markets hybrid versions of the 7-series and X6. A 3-Series Hybrid will bow in 2012, while the i3 and i8 electric cars will debut in 2013 and 2014 respectively.
The 2013 BMW 3-Series will start at $35,775 when it goes on sale in February. For that amount of coin, you can walk away with a base model 328i, while a 335i will set you back $43,275.
The base price for the two models has only been bumped up by $300-$350, but the newest 3-Series is a radically different car from the outgoing version, chock full of technology and gadgets that weren’t previously available like a self-parking system and a no-charge 8-speed automatic gearbox. 328i models now get a turbocharged 4-cylinder making 240-horsepower, while the 335i continues on with BMW’s legendary turbocharged inline-6.
Diesel, hybrid and wagon variants will all arrive and some point, as will a coupe and convertible, but the only confirmed tidbit we have is that an M-Sport edition will be hitting our shores in July, and carry a $5000 premium over the base car. Consider the M Sport a stop-gap until a new M3 gets here in a few years time.
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
Porsche took the wraps off their Panamera GTS sedan Wednesday at the 2011 Los Angeles Auto Show, billing it as “The Purest Panamera Yet”. The Panamera GTS offers a 30 horsepower increase over the standard Panamera 4 and Panamera 4S, and comes with standard all-wheel drive and a 7-speed PDK dual-clutch gearbox – no manual transmission will be available.
Upgraded brakes, a 10mm lowered ride height and Porsche Active Suspension Management are all standard, as are 5mm wheel spacers to give the car a wider track. Bespoke interior fittings distinguish the Panamera GTS from plebian versions. A revised intake and exhaust will give the driver more seductive V8 engine sounds, and a standard Sport Chrono pack and Launch Control allow for a rawer driving experience.
The exterior is given minor aesthetic tweaks, as well as an adjustable spoiler borrowed from the Panamera Turbo, but only the Porsche faithful will be able to spot the real differences. GTS motifs, both inside and out, complete the whole package. Pricing has not been announced.
Hit the jump for the official press release
Gallery: Porsche Panamera GTS
Cadillac‘s long awaited XTS flagship has been officially revealed with a whole suite of technology features that should help it establish a niche among buyers interested in more than just rear-drive handling dynamics.
The XTS is based on a front-drive architecture, a move that has come under fire among some critics as counter-productive, considering that rear-drive is a supposed hallmark of prestige employed by European and Asian rivals. With the XTS, Cadillac has chosen to use a Haldex all-wheel drive system, similar to brands like Audi and Volvo, which should match nicely with the direct-injected 3.6L V6, as well as provide a strong selling point in Snow Belt states.
On the performance side, the XTS will also employ a number of GM’s most advanced techologies, including Magnetic Ride Control, a rear air suspension, a HiPer Strut front suspension and Brembo brakes. Traditional large-sedan attributes have also been given sufficient attention – the XTS boasts 4 more inches of rear seat leg room and more trunk space than most German competitors – no doubt a way to position the XTS as a livery car as well.
As with most modern premium cars, the XTS places a heavy emphasis on both safety and technology, with the two themes interwoven in a variety of systems that Cadillac is heavily touting. The XTS will use a variety of radar sensors to control features like Adaptive Cruise Control (which can speed up or slow down the vehicle automatically), Front and Rear Automatic Brakes (which can bring the vehicle to a complete stop if necessary to prevent low-speed collisions) and Rear Cross Traffic Alert (which lets the driver know if there is pedestrian or vehicle traffic when backing out of a parking spot). The XTS will also have a vibrating alert placed in the front seat, which will allow the XTS to warn the driver of threats on either the left or right side that may be out of sight.
Other safety features like a Blind Spot warning system and a Lane Departure warning system will be made available, as well as 10 standard airbags. Cadillac’s CUE infotainment system will make its debut on the XTS, with an 8-inch screen that is said to offer an iPhone-like touch screen interface. An LCD instrument panel that can be completely customized will also be available, and is said to be an industry first.
GALLERY: 2013 Cadillac XTS
Check back later as AutoGuide brings you live shots of the Cadillac XTS at its live reveal at the Los Angeles Auto Show.
General Motors is recalling a certain production run of Cadillac CTS models built between October 21 and October 26, 2011. According to reports, “the power vacuum brake boost pushrod retention nut may not be torqued to the proper specification.”
This defect could cause catastrophic consequences, specifically brake failure, and lead to accidents. Cadillac dealers began a recall on November 1st and will inspect the part and fix the defect if necessary. Owners can contact 800-458-8006.
Lexus has dropped a few serious hints that it is planning a coupe version of its all-new GS350. While attending the launch of the luxury sedan (we’ll have driving impressions once the embargo lifts November 23rd) we spoke to Lexus Corporate Manager of Product Planning Ben Mitchell, pushing him for details on a possible GS-F to sit as a rival to the BMW M5.
To our dismay Mitchell responded that there was “nothing to announce”, but then surprised us with a shred of info, disguised as a question. Speaking to a group of assembled journalists he asked our impression of the Audi A5/S5.
Response to the car was unanimously positive. The two-door Audi models are roundly considered to be some of the most beautiful vehicles on sale today, and we enjoyed our time with the S5 immensely.
As though Mitchell’s question didn’t reveal enough about Lexus’ intentions, he also commented that with the demise of the SC430, there is now a space in the automaker’s lineup that needs filling.
Of course, this isn’t an official confirmation, but considering the legendary silence that greets most questions regarding future products, this is a very strong hint that there will be another two-door Lexus joining the lineup beyond the current IS250C and IS350C models. And judging by our time spent behind the wheel of the new GS, this is one to wait for.