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.
Ask AutoGuide No. 36
Unlike past installments of Ask AutoGuide we’re taking a moment to help one of our own this week. Don’t like it? Well then, how about you send us some car-buying questions then? How’s that sound? In any event road-test editor Mike Schlee could use a new ride. He’s the proud owner of a first-generation Mazda Miata that’s sitting just shy of 200,000 miles.
You don’t get much more extreme than a completely open top Lamborghini Aventador. And as far as cars go you don’t get much more expensive than $2.1 million.
Those are just a few of the features of the new Aventador J, Lambo’s newest and rarest supercar. Unveiled today at the Geneva Motor Show, get all the details in AutoGuide’s first look video below.
GALLERY: Lamborghini Aventador J
The Roadster and its sibling, the new MINI Coupe, were developed in tandem, but to appeal to very different segments of the population. And perhaps more importantly, they were developed to bring in buyers who might not have otherwise bought a MINI.
Speaking with AutoGuide at the Detroit Auto Show, McDowell explained how when research into the cars started several years back a trend became immediately obvious in respect to the open-top two-seat segment. “We were amazed at how much the market had contracted over the last 10 years,” he said. “In fact, it contracted almost as fast as the average price went up.”
A BMW Z3, which started at just $31,200 back in 2000, has now transformed into the Z4, with a sicker price of $48,650. The MINI roadster, however, will start at just above the $25,000 mark. Miata aside, “There has not been such an attractively priced roadster in a long, long time,” says McDowell.
Ignoring, rather obviously, the Mazda MX-5, McDowell does comment that there’s a certain equity to the Roadster being a European model. “I wouldn’t call MINI owners snobs,” he says quite frankly, instead stating that they simply appreciate the attention to detail and quality common to European vehicles. And yet the MINI offers another quality that pricey German machines can’t match.
True the Roadster is an oddity in the segment, as a front-driver rather than a rear-wheel drive machine, though McDowell has commented in the past that he doesn’t believe it matters what wheels power that car, so long as it’s fun to drive.
Along with the attractive $25,000 starting price, a MINI, says McDowell, is the sort of thing you can still drop your kid off at school in without looking like you’re showing off. “A MINI is always socially acceptable.”
Still, McDowell says the Roadster will draw people from many brands, particularly those top-down drivers that once existed and McDowell believes they still do. “With this car we will bring back dormant roadster drivers that have disappeared,” he declares.
The Roadster is the latest model to join the expanding MINI lineup, which now includes the Coupe, Countryman, Clubman, as well as the conventional MINI Cooper and its convertible counterpart.
GALLERY: 2012 MINI Roadster
MINI is bringing a race inspired convertible into the market with the unveiling of the Roadster at the 2012 Detroit Auto Show. This is the first two seater open topped vehicle in the English brand’s history and makes the MINI lineup six vehicles strong after the recent introduction of the Coupe (read our review here).
The Roadster will be offered with four engine options, although the Diesel variant will not be offered in North America. The John Cooper Works packaged Roadster will be the largest engine offering possible for the MINI with a 1.6-liter twinpower turbo putting out 208 hp and accelerating the roadster from 0-60 mph in 6.3 seconds. The MINI Cooper S Roadster will be outfiitted with the same 1.6L twinpower turbo, but without some of the race inspired upgrades of the JCW Roadster, and will crank out 181 hp and run from 0-60 mph in 6.7 seconds . The MINI Cooper Roadster is the base model and will sport the 1.6L four cylinder as well, but without the turbo unit, and will generate 121 hp and run 0-60 mph in 8.7 seconds.
The MINI Roadster borrows quite a few features from MINI’s race teams, including a rear spoiler which lifts at 50 mph, stainless steel roll bars, an Electronic Differential Lock Control, and even the choice of sport stripes for the exterior. These features come standard with JCW edition of the roadster. The MINI Roadster also stands 20mm lower than the MINI convertible which shows the cars push to be sportier and even better handling then any of MINI’s other offerings.
In terms of looks, the Roadster keeps all the same classic MINI styling like the round headlights and half moon grill, but appears a little more race inspired thanks to the lower stance, harder swept back windshield and low to the ground skirts.
All in all the MINI Roadster looks like a fun little car.
GALLERY: MINI Roadster
Mercedes will launch a new entry-level sports car in 2013, using a rather unconventional engine and drivetrain pairing. While we expect to hear about front-drive 4-cylinder economy cars, from, say, Honda, it’s a surprise to learn that Mercedes is prepping this reliable combo for its new SLA roadster.
Based on the same platform as the upcoming B-Class the SLA is tipped to be a front-wheel drive machine, making use of a 1.6-liter gasoline 4-cylinder, or a 1.8-liter diesel engine. Look for some solid transmissions, with either a 6-speed manual or Merc’s new 7-speed dual-clutch unit.
In a bid to keep cost and weight to a minimum, the roof will reportedly be a soft-top only.
Styling won’t look anything like the Vision SLA Roadster Concept from back in 2000. Instead, look for inspiration to come from the new A-Class Concept.
Back in the 1980s a new Italian supercar was born. It was called the Cizeta V16T, and it came on the scene with a gorgeous design and technical specs that would cause any car guys heart to beat a little faster.
It had a 6.0-liter, quad-cam, 64-valve, 16-cylinder motor which produced 540 hp and 400 lb-ft of torque. That is not bad for 1988, especially when you compare it to other supercars of the day like the Ferrari F40, which produced 478-hp.
The Cizeta was ahead of the game, and its Marcello Gandini designed body was striking to look at also. However, some things didn’t go as planned. First, Gandini sold a similar design to Lamborghini, which became the Diablo, and then by the time the Cizeta was ready to go into production in 1991, the economy went bust, and that had a severe effect on sales. Most wealthy clients either simply walked away, or went and bought the Diablo, which looked very similar but was half the price of the Cizeta. Plus Lamborghini was a well-known name while Cizeta wasn’t.
Cizeta struggled but managed to make 11 coupes in the 1990s. In 2003, a convertible version called the TTJ Spyder was unveiled, which was a special order by a Japanese client. Only one such example exists and that very car is now listed for sale.
The dealer advertising this yellow on red example says the car only has delivery miles, but no price is given.
We contacted Cizeta’s president Claudio Zampolli, to find out more about this vehicle. He verified this was the only roadster ever made, and that he would love to get a hold of this example himself.
He also told us that Cizeta, the company, is still very much alive and that he will be announcing some news about the company in the near future. Being big-fans of this car, we can’t wait to hear what he is working on next.
Follow the link to see the posting for the Cizeta Spyder for sale.
[Link: F.A. Automobile]
In some respects the next generation Mercedes-Benz SL will be heading back to its roots, shedding up to 440 lbs in weight, thanks to extensive use of aluminum in the car’s body structure instead of high-strength steel employed on the current model.
Other changes will included moving production of the car car to Mercedes’ main plant in Sindefingen, where it will be built alongside the upcoming SLC (the first time both models will have been assembled there since 1981).
The seventh generation SL will remain roughly the same size, with evolutionary styling, but will ride on a slightly longer wheelbase, mostly to improve interior space and packaging. Features will include Mercedes’ Magic Sky Control roof panel, which electronically adjusts the amount of tint to combat UV rays, simply by pressing a button.
In terms of engines, a 302 horsepower 3.5-liter V-6 and a 429 hp twin-turbo 4.6-liter V-8 are likely on the cards, as is a 5.5-liter twin-turbo V-12, said to produce around 630 hp. The latter will incorporate cylinder shutdown at part throttle in an effort to improve fuel economy.
There will also be a twin-turbocharged 536 hp V-8 powered AMG version at some point, but with the V-12, this seems perhaps a tad superfluous.
The new SL, internally coded R231 is scheduled to go on sale in European markets, sometime early next year, with North American deliveries commencing sometime after that.
For years the Infiniti G37 has been the closest rival to BMW’s 3 Series in terms of driving performance, and now it appears the Nissan luxury division is preparing to take on the German automaker’s Z4 roadster.
According to a report by AutoExpress, the unnamed new model will be a two-seater with a front-engine, rear drive layout. Perhaps most exciting is word that Infiniti is consulting with Lotus on the car’s suspension and chassis development – which can only be a good thing.
In addition to this model, Infiniti is expected to soon debut its version of the Nissan Leaf, as well as a small hybrid designed to take on the Lexus CT200h by 2015.
Aerosmith front-man and American Idol judge Steven Tyler is known for his big voice and his eclectic fashion sense, and it seems his choice of cars is equally unusual.
Now his old Panoz AIV Roadster (the yellow car in the back ground in the above picture) is up for sale, not by Mr. Tyler, but from the car’s current owner. The ad says it has been signed by Steven Tyler, has a Cobra engine and is “virtually flawless.” It currently has 9,103-miles on it.
The seller, whose name is not mentioned, says he is the star of the movie “The Secret” and that he is the author of the book “The Attractor Factor.”
Well if he is an author, he should take some writing lessons, because the ad is terribly written and the quality of the pictures he provided are horrendous.
The seller also says he wants a minimum of $100,000 for this car, which is much more than this car’s actual market value.
If you’re a serious Steven Tyler fan, maybe this car is for you. We would rather… walk away.
Kia is currently investigating a plan to bring a small two-seat roadster model to market to help set the tone for the brand. The car has even been called Kia’s MX-5 by company execs, including European CEO Paul Philpott.
According to Philpott 2011 and 2012 are all about setting a new foundation for the brand with solid volume models. Beyond that, he says the plan for 2013 and 2014 is to bring to market, “halo models that stretch the company forward.”
The aim is to solidify what the brand stands for, while setting it apart from parent-company Hyundai. Philpott intends to solidify the brand with a focus on youth.
Back in 2003 Kia showed-off the KCV III Concept (above), a wild-looking 4-seat roadster, a sign that the company has been looking at such a project for a very long time. Look for an all-new design for this new model, wearing Kia’s current corporate grille.
Additionally, Kia is reportedly planning a big change for the Soul, moving the car into a new space and giving it AWD. Such a change would likely position it against Nissan’s new Juke.
To help celebrate the MX-5 Miata’s 20th anniversary, Mazda will show the MX-5 Superlight concept at the Frankfurt auto Show this September. And to wet our appetites, the Japanese automaker has released a few renderings of just what this speedster will look like.
An homage to early race cars, the Superlight has no windscreen or door handles and will be significantly lighter than the standard MX5. Mazda wants to illustrate how through the reduction of weight it can improve performance, handling and fuel-economy. There is no word on an engine but it’s likely to use either Mazda’s 1.8-liter or 2.0-liter four-cylinder.
It’s unlikely the MX-5 Superlight will ever see production, at least not as a road car. There is, however, the possibility that Mazda could build a limited number of the cars for track use, much like how Lotus built 2-Eleven for the same purpose.
GALLERY: Mazda MX-5 Superlight
[Source: Car Magazine]
Of course, this isn’t any old milestone; the MX-5 has been around for 20 years exactly – worming its way into our hearts since its debut in 1989. To some it is single handedly responsible for reviving the small sports car market that many thought had died with the British motor industry.
The chances of the MX-5 Superlight being put into production are, we think, remote. But then you never can tell with companies like Mazda.
We wouldn’t go so far as to say that the folks at AutoExpress are just making stuff up, but the prospect of a smaller MX-5 Miata (the MX-2) does sound unlikely.
Still, the British auto pub is reporting that such a vehicle is in the works and could be here as early as 2012. This would put ensure it arrived well ahead of possible competitors like the MINI Speedster or Nissan Urge. For the record, however, the Speedster is still just a rumor and the Urge, which debuted at the North American International Auto Show back in 2006, has reportedly been scrapped.
Motivation could come from an engine as a 1.6-liter four-cylinder or as small as 700ccs. The 1.6 option would be the high-performance model with as much as 160hp.
AutoExpress cites a company insider who says we should expect to see an MX-2 concept soon.
Lamborghini has just released dozens of stunning new photos of its latest exotic, the LP560-4 Spyder. This drop-top Lambo first launched at last year’s L.A. Auto Show and news of the model has been relatively quiet. The release of these photos, however, comes as customers start to take deliveries and the Italian automaker begins to once again drum up interest in its latest creation – so you’re sure to see plenty of LP560-4 reviews over the next few weeks and months.
Be sure to check out our huge gallery below:
GALLERY: Lamborghini LP560-4 Spyder
Drop-top German exotic expected to debut in Frankfurt this Fall
Those waiting for a drop-top version of Audi’s R8 won’t have to wait much longer. The car is set to debut at the Frankfurt Auto Show this September and it appears as though Audi is out doing some final testing – as these Nürburgring spy photos show.
In Frankfurt Audi is expected to debut the 525hp V10-powered version of the four-ringed exotic as well as a 420hp V8 version.
A soft top, and not a hard top, is the top-down route Audi has chosen. Not only will it help keep weight down (always a problem with Audis) but it is better for packaging and cost. Besides, every other Audi convertible has a rag top.
The only question remains, what will it be called? R8 Spyder? R8 Roadster? Or the R8 Convertible?
[Source: Car & Driver]
[Photo Credit: Car Spionage]
Convertible minicar could be branded as a Scion in the U.S.
Toyota appears to be readying a convertible version of the iQ minicar that is currently on sale in Japan and Europe. The report comes from Japan’s Best Car magazine, which suggests much of the basics will be kept including a 1.3-liter four-cylinder engine that makes 99hp and 92 ft-lbs of torque. Fuel-economy for this engine is rated an an average of 51 mpg – although Toyota offers even smaller and more fuel-efficient powerplants including a 1.0-liter four-cylinder and a 1.4-liter turbodiesel.
Presumably cabriolet or roadster model would do without the two rear seats found in the coupe – which are by all accounts entirely useless.
Pricing in Japan could be 2 million Yen, which works out to a rather steep $20,300.
While it seems unlikely, there is potential for this car to make its way to North America. At the recent New York Auto Show, Toyota youth-brand Scion debuted a concept based on the iQ. This showed that Toyota is certainly interested in exploring whether or not to bring the iQ to the U.S. and apparently it sees the Scion brand as a better fit for the car. And as small a niche market as a vehicle like this may seem, the iQ Cabriolet already has a competitor with the SMART fortwo Cabriolet.
Best Car also suggests that Honda will bring back the Beat in order to compete with this new model from Toyota.
Diesel sports car not a viable business case during recession
Sadly it looks like the very-cool Volkswagen BlueSport Roadster may never see the street. VW has not confirmed the car’s status but apparently a company representative told a group of media who were in Australia for a Volkswagen press event that it just didn’t make economic sense considering the global recession.
This would no doubt mean that Audi and SEAT versions of the little roadster would suffer a similar fate.
The concept won’t be scrapped entirely, however, and may be resusetated once the economy recovers.
The BlueSport Roadster Concept launched at the North American International Auto Show this year, and boasted a 180hp turbo-diesel engine that can get 55mpg and hit 62 mph in 6.2 seconds.
Last week French auto pub L’Automobile reported what it said was a leaked photo of an upcoming MINI vehicle and now they have more news to share. Unconnected to that vehicle, the magazine says MINI will bring a Roadster concept to the Frankfurt Auto Show this Fall.
The new model would use a soft-top but do without the rear seats (in true roadster fashion). Without those rear seats the Roadster would weigh considerably less. Apparently offering a light-weight model is one of the reasons for the Roadster and so there may be other measures taken to help reduce the vehicle’s mass.
Little else is known about the supposed Roadster concept other than it will make use of a shorter and less angles windscreen.
It’s not exactly the sort of news worthy of a celebration, but some cautious optimism is certainly appropriate as word comes that the Pontiac Solstice and Saturn Sky might not suffer the same fate as almost every other fun vehicle under the General Motors umbrella.
Fritz Henderson, GM’s new CEO said that the company would be willing to part with the plant where the two sports cars are assembled. The Wilmington, Del. plant is also the location where GM manufactures the Opel GT – a European version of the car.
“If someone were to approach with a proposal that made good sense for our people, we’d be open to it,” Henderson said.
Both the Solstice and Sky were introduced in 2006 as front-engine, rear-wheel drive roadsters. The models come standard with a 173hp four-cylinder, with a turbocharged 260-hp four-cylinder optional.
General Motors is still intent on selling off the Saturn brand and scuttling the Pontiac nameplate, however, it won’t rule out selling the Wilmington facility as there is likely to be some interest in the niche-market vehicles.
Last year GM moved close to 20,000 units of the two American models, with the Solstice selling 10,739 units and the Sky 9,162 units.
The move is similar to the one made by Chrysler in regards to the Dodge Viper. Chrysler has yet to find a buyer for that iconic nameplate.