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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.
Typically a Saab news story nowadays is either to do with financial woes or plant shut downs, however, thanks to the company’s recent injection of investor cash, both these issues will be dealt with by the end of August.
With plans to move forward, Saab is now talking about the future, with an eye on its past.
According to Tim Colbeck, President of Saab North America, the company might drop the 9-3 name and revive the 9-2 name for its upcoming 2013 model.
The 9-2 was a popular model produced by Saab back in the 1940′s, and while it was resurrected shortly in 2004, it was nothing more than a slightly re-skinned Subaru WRX wagon.
Saab’s CEO Victor Muller is a huge fan of the original 92 and their chief designer Jason Castriota has already shown five possible designs for a future model.
Given Castriota’s design flair and Muller’s love for modern-retro designs, a modern day 9-2 could make its way into showrooms. Afterall, Saab cars were once popular because they were stylish, functional and affordable. That recipe can work for them again.
[Source: Automotive News]
The current Lotus Exige is on the way out. Production has stopped for the European spec model since last December, because its current 1.8-liter, four-cylinder engine does not meet current emission standards. And here at home, Lotus just announced a Final Edition model to bring the car’s run to a close.
So what is Lotus to do with the Exige now? Simple answer, make a V6 version with the engine out of the Evora. But it is no easy swap. The Toyota-sourced V6 engine is bigger, so Lotus has been running a test mule with a wider track and a longer wheelbase.
Don’t think the next Exige will be some Frankensteinien-like disfigured monster either, cobbled together hastily. The new car will be mostly new and its styling will be quite different. Lotus design boss Donato Coco thinks their current line-up looks “too weak” and wants to inject more style in their future models.
So expect the new Exige to have the new family look as previewed by Lotus at various auto shows over the last year. Their first completely new model will be the Esprit, which is due in 2013.
For the time-being, an updated Exige along with the current Evora should allow Lotus to bridge the gap between their current and their future cars.
Some believe that if you are a true petrol-head, you have to have owned an Alfa Romeo at least once in your life. Taking a look at their history, its easy to see why. This Italian brand has produced some of the most gorgeous automotive designs ever, like the Montreal, GTV6 coupe and the 8C Competizione.
Now Alfa fans will soon have another model to lust after, the 4C. Previewed at the Geneva Motor Show in concept form, now it seems that Alfa Romeo will be unveiling a near production model at the upcoming Frankfurt Motor Show.
To start us drooling, Alfa Romeo has released a teaser picture of the new 4c. The head-on shot reveals that it’ll look very much like the concept version, which is no bad thing.
Mechanically, it will use a 1.75-liter, turbo-charged, four-cylinder motor that is capable of producing 230-hp. Since the car is expected to weight just over 1,900 lbs., it should be a rapid car.
European sales for the 4C are expected to start next near, although US-sales will like commence in 2013, along with a full range of other Alfa Romeos. We cant wait.
GALLERY: Alfa Romeo 4C Concept
Discuss this story at 4CForums.com
It has been two-years since Bugatti pulled the covers off their Galibier super-sedan concept, and while they had made much noise about the concept when it was revealed, not much has been said about this car since.
With Veyron production coming to a close in the near future, speculation has been endless regarding Bugatti’s next move.
Apparently, Bugatti has been working secretly on the Galibier, and according to Wolfgang Dürheimer, the man in-charge of running both Bentley and Bugatti, the production version would hit the market sometime next year.
The Galibier is expected to use a detuned version of the Veyron’s W16 motor. Rumors suggest it’ll have 800-hp, which should be adequate to propel this luxury limo.
Bugatti hopes to produce between 1000 – 1500 Galibier’s, so it won’t be as rare as the Veyron, but don’t expect it to be any cheaper, as the starting price is said to be $1.45 million.
This minimalist two-seater has won the approval of not only the motoring press, but also with its customers, who see it as the ultimate in no-frills motoring. Some even call it a four-wheel motorbike.
Now Ariel is preparing to launch a umm… two-wheeled motorbike!
According to Ariel boss Simon Saunders, a superbike will be offered by his company in 2012. He also says this superbike will be inspired by the Atom and will also feature a Honda engine, although he didn’t specify which Honda engine.
Saunders mentioned that he plans on building between 100 to 200 bikes per year, each custom made for its owner. With prices expected to start from about $30,000, it won’t be cheap, but given Ariels experience in building exciting machines, we bet it’ll be worth every cent.
If you are an avid viewer of Top Gear, you are then probably aware of the Bowler Nemesis. This custom-built off-road vehicle can tackle just about any terrain, and now its maker is hoping to make one for the high streets.
According to Bowler’s managing director Steve Haywood, they are looking to make a “Supercar SUV” based on the Range Rover Sport. Haywood, who was previously a chief engineer over at Range Rover, says his first job at Bowler is to develop the fourth-generation model of the Nemesis. Along with the hard-core Rally-Raid version, a road going version is also in the pipeline. This more luxurious version will be priced around $246,000.
Bowler is currently owned by Coventry Prototype Panels (CPP), a company which also owns Spyker and is also looking to take over the Italian design house Zagato.
Given the companies in CPP’s portfolio, they should have no problem developing a new super SUV and broadening their market. Bowler currently produces 15 to 20 vehicles a year. Haywood believes there is a market for 150 to 200 vehicles per year.
Expand the idea to a full-size vehicle, and the results are certainly thrilling. So far, all fully-electric vehicles have had a drawback, their single-speed gearbox, which tend to neuter the driving experience.
No one has been able to adopt a multi-speed gearbox to work reliably with an electric motor, but Henrik Fisker is working on just that for his Karma plug-in hybrid sedan.
Fisker believes he has a solution, which if it works reliably, would offer Karma drivers “Veyron levels of performance.” That means that the four-door sedan could accelerate from 0-60 mph in under 3-seconds.
No timeline has been given as to when this system will become available, but with such impressive performance figures, we can hardly wait.
The Volkswagen Golf GTI is the original hot-hatchback. While many have followed this recipe of putting a tuned engine in a practical hatchback, thanks to its ever evolving state, the GTI is still on the scene and getting faster and faster.
Now news from Europe suggests that the next generation GTI will just get a mild tweak of its current motor. Since the GTI we buy in North America has a different engine than what our trans-Atlantic cousins are driving around in, maybe this tweaked version of the EA888 (as the 2.0T 4-cylinder motor is known to the VW faithful) will finally make its way over to us.
Early guesstamates suggest that power output will be around 220-hp, which would bring it a step closer to the Golf R spec motor. Thanks to detailed remapping of the engine management system, the new version will also be cleaner than the out-going motor.
To handle its torque-steer, a new electronically controlled, mechanical locking differential will be added to the GTI and R models.
VW is also looking to put the “R” version of the Golf Cabriolet into production. However, no word yet if this model will ever be made available on our shores.
German auto giant BMW wants to become a bigger giant, as it looks to expand its annual production volume from 1.5-million vehicles/year to 2-million vehicles by 2020.
Herbert Diess, BMW’s board member in charge of purchasing said in a recent interview that this expansion will come by the way of reducing purchasing costs, while keeping a keen eye on quality. BMW has already cut its annual parts purchasing costs by $5.5-billion, but thanks to good quality parts, their warranty costs have also decreased. Currently, BMW spends $37-billion on parts purchasing alone. Diess says this number will grow with the increase in production numbers.
Diess also said that the type of purchasing will also change. Engines with fewer cylinders are becoming more popular and the electrification of the auto industry is only going to grow over the coming years. To prepare itself for this change, BMW is starting their own sub-brand called “i” which will cater to electric and hybrid vehicles.
The industry is also changing its preferences in materials. Instead of steel, more and more parts are being made from lighter aluminum, and soon carbon-fiber will become available on normal cars, not just high-end exotics.
In order to move forward with its plan, China is an important factor, as 75% of the foreign purchasing BMW does is with the Chinese. America is another benefactor, as the new X3 will also be produced in Spartanburg, South Carolina.
[Source: Automotive News]
One of the “it” cars at the moment is the new Ferrari 458 Italia. All those who have been lucky enough to drive it say it is perhaps one of the best driving machines ever made.
However, those who prefer to drive topless (we mean, with the roof down) have been waiting for the Spider version. Now according to new rumors, Ferrari is working on the drop-top 458 and it will likely feature a folding hard-top.
This won’t be the first Ferrari to adopt a retracting hard-top, since this feature has been available on the current California model for a couple of years now. A 180-degree rotating roof was also offered on the 575 Super America model, which had a special glass roof.
As for this models official unveiling, it is suggested to be in Frankfurt this year. That means, you’ll be able to enjoy the magic of the 458 Spider by next summer. Better start saving up now because if the current coupe has a base price of $225,000; the convertible will certainly be more expensive.
First came the Audi TT, followed by the TTS a few years later. Now Audi fans in North America will finally be able to park the TT RS in their garage, at least those who have $56,850 (not including destination charges and other fees and taxes) to spend on a new car.
This hottest version of the TT comes equipped with a 2.5-liter, five-cylinder motor that features TFSI direct injection technology and a turbocharger/intercooler setup. The result is a powerplant that produces 360-hp and 343 lb/ft of torque.
Power is fed to all wheels via the famous Quattro system, and the only gearbox being offered is the six-speed manual, so this will be a true drivers car.
The TT RS comes well equipped, wearing 19-inch alloy wheels and a big fixed rear spoiler. Inside you get 10-way power sport seats, BOSE sound system and an Audi navigation system that provides real-time traffic updates.
It has been a few years since Audi has offered an RS-model to the North American buyer, with the last one being the 2007 RS4. The TT-RS should be on sale sometime this summer.
However, it now seems that the project is finally well on its way to hit the open road, as the first Karma is set to be delivered later this month, to none other than Hollywood A-lister Leonardo DiCaprio.
Other notable names on the order list of this plug-in hybrid super sedan include Al Gore and Colin Powell.
The Karma as many of you know, is powered by two electric motors, which can power this car for about 80-miles on just battery power alone. Once the battery runs out of juice, a GM sourced 2.0-liter, turbo-charged, four-cylinder engine will come into play to take you the remaining distance. The idea is, you get green motoring without any mileage limitations.
Fisker says they have secured about 3000 orders for the Karma, which is being built by Valmet in Finland. Currently only 5 cars a week are rolling out, but that number will jump to 300 per week from November.
Henrik Fisker, the CEO of the company has said, “Our sales are split 50:50 between early-adopting car enthusiasts and total non-car enthusiasts who just like that we are bringing something totally new to market. They recognize the infrastructure isn’t there for electric cars, and see we offer a stylish, stress-free alternative with no range compromises.”
The Karma sedan is priced from around $100,000. Later, a convertible and wagon version will also be offered.
With the glamor of the Goodwood Festival of Speed behind us, car enthusiasts in Britain will no doubt turn their attention to the Cholmondeley Pageant of Power. This annual event is held at Cholmondeley Castle in Cheshire.
At this year’s event, which runs from July 15 to 17, a very special Subaru is hoping to take the crown as the fastest car on this challenging 1.2-mile track. This special Subaru is an Impreza STi that has been tuned by Cosworth. The model is called the STi CS400 and produces 395-hp. Apart from the power gain over the standard model, the car also gets lighter 18-inch wheels by Pro-Race, and six-piston caliper brakes by AP Racing.
Taking the fastest car crown at this track won’t be easy, since there will be some other fast machines hoping to take the glory. Cars such as the Ariel Atom V8, Lamborghini Gallardo LP-570-4 Performante, and the McLaren MP4-12C are just some of the other cars taking part. Last year, a Gallardo LP570-4 Superleggera set the fastest time ever on this circuit with a time of 62.68 seconds.
To give the Cosworth STi its best chance of winning, the car will be piloted by British Rally Champion Mark Higgins. He recently set the fastest timed lap of the Isle of Man TT circuit in a Impreza STi. So they have the right man for the job, but will the car deliver? That we have to wait and see.
You probably have not heard of a car company called Joss, and you probably won’t see one running around in your neighborhood either, but this new Australian supercar builder will be unveiling their first production model later this year.
So far known as the JP1 (official model name will be announced at the cars launch), this 2200-lbs supercar will feature a 6.8-liter V8, producing about 500-hp. Power will be fed to the rear wheels by a Albins Zero-Shift automated manual gearbox, which should see it accelerate from 0-60 mph in a claimed sub-3.0 second range, and onto a guesstimate top-speed of 224 mph. Sounds impressive and we hope it can actually back those claims with real world numbers.
A rendering of this $500,000 car was shown recently at the 2011 Australian Motor Show, with the current prototype taking center stage on their booth. Only 25 examples will be built each year, let’s hope they each find nice garages to call home.
[Source: Motor Authority]
When Aston Martin first unvieled the V12 Zagato coupe at the recent Villa d’Este concours event, the British exotic car manufacturer said this is just to celebrate the relationship between them and coachbuilder Zagato. They went onto say that just a racing version will be produced to take part in numerous endurance racing events this year.
Sure, the racing version did come out to play at the Nurburgring 24-hour race recently, but now a street version is being prepared for consumer consumption.
Aston Martin has been denying such rumors, however the Zagato was just added in the model line-up of their website, and even stresses that “Only a strictly limited run of road going cars will be built.”
While Aston Martin has not sent out an official press release on the road-going V12 Zagato, expect some official news to come very soon indeed. So if you want one, you better start saving up, limited run exotics aren’t known for being affordable.
GALLERY: Aston Martin V12 Zagato
Swedish car firm Saab has been in the news much more than even they would have liked to in recent months, mostly because the company seems to be on the verge of bankruptcy on a weekly basis.
But while its CEO Victor Muller is looking for the money train to keep the company on track, Saab itself is preparing to launch the 9-5 Sport Combi in the US-market.
According to a pre-launch brochure that has made its way onto the internet, the Sport Combi will come very well equipped. The standard list of equipment include panoramic sunroof, heated seats, keyless start and a cooled glove box. An eight-inch touch-screen navigation system is also included. All this standard equipment will mean the base price won’t be cheap, and no pricing has been announced yet.
The launch engine will be the 2.0-liter, turbo-charged, four-cylinder unit which produced 220-hp and 258 lb-ft of torque. That motor will be mated to a six-speed automatic gearbox and Saab’s Cross-Wheel Drive (XWD) system.
So if you’ve been lamenting the passing of the Volvo wagon from our shores, Saab might be coming to the rescue, if only they can only stay afloat.
Check out the leaked brochure below.
GALLERY: Saab 9-5 Sport Combi Brochure
Those who have been waiting to park the stylish new Range Rover Evoque on their driveway would be pleased to know that they won’t have to wait too long now. The vehicle will go on sale in just a few months time, but Land Rover has just announced US-pricing for this model, which starts at $43,995 (not including destination charges). That’s for the four door model with the coupe priced from $44,995.
This is easily the cheapest Range Rover model offered by its maker, and thanks to its 2.0-liter, turbo-charged, four cylinder motor, it will be cheap to run also. EPA figures suggest it will do 19-mpg in the city, and 28-mpg on the highway, which are very impressive numbers. Part of the reason it is so efficient is because thanks to weight-saving materials used in its construction, it only weighs 3680-lbs.
Expect these to ornament posh neighborhoods driveway very soon, no wonder they hired ‘Posh Spice’ Victoria Beckham as one of their brand ambassadors.
GALLERY: Range Rover Evoque
One of the most evocative names in Porsche‘s trophied history has to be the 550 Spyder. Some remember it as one of the best road-racing cars of its era, while some remember it as the car in which James Dean died.
Now according to some reports, the 550 name is about to make a comeback in 2014 on a new entry-level model which will be positioned below the current Boxster line-up.
Reports suggest this new 550 model will feature a 1.6-liter, turbo-charged, four-cylinder engine, and it will produce about 200 hp. Transmission choices will include a normal manual gearbox and PDK, Porsche’s dual-clutch gearbox.
When it goes on sale, it should be priced from around $40,000. So if you’ve been wanting to park a new Porsche in your garage but couldn’t afford to do so, perhaps now you’ll be able to.
[Source: World Car Fans]
Many fans of the original MINI complain that the new cars bearing the name are just too big. They certainly won’t be happy to learn that the next generation model of the MINI Cooper, also known as the F56, will offer a five-door variant along with the three-door offering.
This new five-door model will not be replacing the Clubman, instead be an all-new additional model. It would simply be like a normal Cooper, but with suicide doors for easy access to the rear, and unlike in the Clubman model, the Cooper five-door will have suicide doors on both sides.
So why have a five-door Cooper and a Clubman in your line-up?
Rumor has it that the next generation Clubman will gain more length, so hence will appeal to customers looking for extra space.
The F56 Cooper will go on sale next summer, but expect to wait an extra year for the five-door model.
[Source: Motoring File]
As part of the celebrations for the World Environment Day, Chevrolet showcased an electric version of their Beat sub-compact car in India.
The Beat BEV (Battery Electric Vehicle) is powered by 300 lithium-ion battery cells, which will take eight-hours to charge from a standard 240V house outlet. On a full charge, the Beat BEV can travel 130 km (80 miles), under normal driving conditions. Impressive numbers, but not exactly ground breaking. Power is sent to the drive wheels via a single-speed transmission.
At the launch, Karl Slym, president and managing director of General Motors of India said, “General Motors is committed to providing customers around the world with electrification technologies that will reduce their fuel consumption, helping them save money. GM India will lead in this ‘tailored for India’ demo program for battery electric technology, with Chevrolet Beat chosen as the best way to evaluate the technology. We are delighted that Chevrolet selected India as an important market to test battery electric technology, while recognizing the capabilities of our engineering team to help identify ways to make this technology more affordable.”
Will this particular version of the Beat just be a concept or will it go into production is not known at the moment. GM India is already offering a range of alternate fuel vehicles including the Chevrolet Beat LPG, Chevrolet Spark LPG and Chevrolet Aveo CNG to its customers.
Chevy is expected to bring a gasoline version of the Beat to North America as early as next year.
Indian-owned British car firm Land Rover is about to launch their new Range Rover Evoque in the North American market in a few months time. However, these days almost everything is available in extra-large sizes (especially fast food servings) and hence Land Rover is already planning for a extra-large version of its baby-SUV to not only appeal to a wider demographic (no pun intended), but also to bridge the gap closer between it and the Range Rover Sport.
Being referred to as the Grand Evoque at the moment, this model will be around 12-inches longer with half the space going towards extending the rear-seat legroom and half going towards a longer cargo bay. It will also gain about 4-inches in height over the standard Evoque.
Land Rover is predicting that such a model will be especially appealing to North American and Chinese buyers, where bigger is still considered better.
Not many technical details are currently available, but expect the same 2.0-liter, turbo-charged, four-cylinder engine being offered in either as a front-wheel drive or all-wheel drive package.
Considering Range Rover Sport prices start at around $60,000 and the Evoque will be priced closer to $40,000, expect the Grand Evoque to split that difference clean in half.
Japanese luxury car brand Lexus seems to be taking note of what its German rivals are able to do successfully, that is selling models with appearance packages for what would otherwise be boring luxury sedans.
So now Lexus has taken the LS460 sedan, which is an incredible luxury sedan, but lacks visual character, and added a bit of aesthetic gravitas.
Called the LS460 Touring Edition, this limited edition model will feature a sporty body kit, sport seats, and a wood and leather steering wheel. Plus you also get a new grille and 19-inch wheels for some extra curb appeal. So if you’ve wanted your LS to stand apart from all the other LS’s at the country club parking lot, this new version would appeal to you.
“The Touring Edition adds excitement to our flagship sedan,” said Mark Templin, Lexus Division group vice president and general manager. “The package on this car enhances styling and comfort, allowing us to attract younger buyers to the LS line-up.”
This new model will be available in both rear-wheel drive and all-wheel drive versions, with prices starting at $73,000.
GALLERY: Lexus LS460 Touring Edition
Car companies are no strangers when it comes to collaborating on a vehicle and selling it in different markets. Case in point, what we call the Mitsubishi Outlander, in France is sold as the Peugeot 4007 and the Citroen C-crosser.
Typically, such collaborations start from the very beginning, but that is not the case with Nissan and Mazda. While Mazda has been selling its Mazda5 mini-van (called Premacy in Japan) for a few years now, Nissan has just rebadged a version of it for itself, and are calling it the Lafesta Highway STAR, and it will be on sale in Japan, not some market where Nissan exists and Mazda doesn’t.
The Lafesta Highway STAR is simply a Mazda5 with a new grille, even the interior is exactly the same, including the 2.0-liter, four-cylinder engine with direct injection technology. Also included is an“Idling Stop System” which cuts the engine when the vehicle is at a stop, this vehicle can achieve 10-miles/liter of petrol. That means it qualifies as a low emissions vehicle in Japan.
The Lafesta Highway STAR can be had either as a front-wheel drive vehicle with a five-speed automatic transmission or all-wheel drive with a four-speed automatic transmission.
This model is on sale in Japan now, so if you’ve always wanted a Mazda with a Nissan badge, your prayers have been answered.
The newest generation of the Volkswagen Beetle might not have hit our showrooms yet, but that hasn’t stopped its maker from planning additional future models.
The latest rumors are that a Beetle R version will bow at the Frankfurt Auto Show in September of this year, and this will feature the engine from the Golf R. That means it will have an output of nearly 270-hp from a 2.0-liter turbocharged unit. The current engines available in the Beetle include the 2.5-liter five-cylinder motor producing 170-hp and the 2.0-liter turbo, four-cylinder that produces 200-hp.
The Beetle R would thus be a step above the Turbo model, and would be priced at nearly $30,000. Despite taking a lot of technical bits from the Golf R, it won’t be using its all-wheel drive unit.
If the demand is there, VW might even consider doing a convertible version of the Beetle R, but that only time will tell.
This is not the first time a hot Beetle has been offered, back in 2001 VW had launched the Beetle RSi, which featured a VR6 motor, mated to a six-speed manual gearbox and 4Motion all-wheel drive. Only 250 examples were built, but sadly none were offered in the United States.
Let’s hope this time around, we do get our hands on this latest fast Beetle.
[Source: Car and Driver]