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.
This Week’s Five-Point Inspection takes a look at the soon-to-be-overhauled Mercedes-Benz E-Class, what we love about it and what we’d like to see changed.
About to become redundant, there is a mid-cycle refresh coming for the 2014 model year which will put the current E-Class out to pasture. This doesn’t mean the E-Class is necessarily a bad vehicle, but in the ever evolving world of luxury automobiles, it is either constantly improve your brand or get left behind.
With a base price of $51,905 after transportation charges, the E-Class may be the most versatile vehicle in the automotive kingdom. There are no fewer than four distinct body styles, five engine choices, three fuel options and two drivelines.
Mercedes-Benz chose the hallowed ground of the Detroit Auto Show to unveil its redesigned 2014 E-Class, which is the brand’s second-most-popular nameplate in the U.S. The lineup includes sedan, wagon, coupe and convertible models, but that’s not all! The high-powered AMG version also got reworked, and was just revealed in Motown.
Ford made several important product announcements at a media event in Detroit this morning. Borrowing from its global portfolio, the Dearborn-based automaker is bringing an impressive array of commercial vehicles to the North American market, including a brand-new version of the Transit Connect.
Originally marketing its CTS cars in 2003, Cadillac stepped away from styling that said “sunset years” and “Florida” in favor of a more modern luxury look.
The move helped America’s poster boy luxury brand resurge into a market otherwise overtaken by German and Japanese alternatives, but a decade later that success will either dwindle or grow. Cadillac is well aware of that fact and is taking steps to counteract is smoldering fire by introducing the entry-level ATS and making the CTS bigger to better compete with BMW‘s 5 Series.
Until recently, that left questions about the coupe and wagon’s continuation in the product line, but according to Car and Driver both variants will remain in the lineup.
What isn’t totally clear is where those versions will fit in. Making a larger CTS two-door almost seems like a return to the automaker’s previous image, which is still alive and well, but no longer the market mainstay. Instead, a smaller ATS coupe might seem like a reasonable option, especially because that would position the car to work well with a smaller engine while still feeling powerful.
The wagon, on the other hand, is a little more of an enigma. Downsizing the relatively successful vehicle might alienate American customers who want space, but a larger version might actually slot in nicely with Europeans next to the BMW 5 Series wagon. Older North American luxury customers are also likely to find the extra space useful, or at least unlikely to complain about it.
[Source: Car and Driver]
Positioned as a Subaru Outback competitor, the Volkswagen Alltrack concept is virtually identical to the Passat Alltrack displayed at the Tokyo Motor Show last November, which is headed for Summer delivery in some overseas markets.
While station wagons have historically seen little success in the North American market, the Volvo XC70 and the Subaru Outbacks are exceptionally popular. Both featuring mild styling and more ground clearance than other station wagons. Now, Volkswagen is also betting that wagons with a dash of rugged aesthetics just might be the recipe for popularity.
The Alltrack Concept features a 4Motion system that offers an off-road mode that functions at speeds below 18 mph to allow variable calibrations on vehicle systems including stability control for a milder, more progressive throttle response in low traction situations. Hill descent control also automatically engages to approach downhill slopes exceeding grades of 10 percent. Thanks to a 1.2-inch raise in ride height, approach and departure angles for the Alltrack concept are 16 degrees and 13.6 degrees, respectively, with a 12.8 break over angle in between. Under normal driving, the 4Motion sends about 90 percent power to the front wheels but can give 100 percent to the rear when necessary.
Power will come from the 2.0-liter turbo-diesel four-cylinder engine, producing 140 hp and 236 lb-ft. of torque, mated to a six-speed dual clutch automatic gearbox.
Volkswagen emphasized that production on the Alltrack has yet to be confirmed but a positive response at next week’s New York Auto Show is more than likely to cement the possibility of a production model.
GALLERY: Volkswagen Alltrack Concept
Well, it was nice while it lasted, but Audi has decided to drop the new 2012 Audi A6 Allroad from the U.S. market. The original Audi Allroad was introduced in 1999.
Debuting at the 2012 Geneva Auto Show, the all-new A6 Allroad features an extra 2.3 inches of ground clearance than the standard A6, and also comes available with front and rear skid plates. The A6 Allroad will also be available in four distinct powerplants, including a strong 3.0L TDI capable of 308-hp and 479 lb-ft of torque.
While the A6 Allroad won’t be available in the United States, Audi’s new A4 Allroad will join the Q5 and Q7 SUVs in showrooms this June.
GALLERY: 2012 Audi A6 Allroad
Cadillac‘s 2012 SRX crossover and CTS sports sedan and wagon models received a crash safety rating of 5-star overall. According to the National Highway Traffic Adminstration, only 21 vehicles earned the overall high score for 2012.
The SRX and CTS sedan and wagon were tested under NHTSA’s revised New Car Assessment Program first put to effect for the 2011 model year. This revision requires vehicles to pass frontal, side and rollover tests. The 5-star overall rating takes into account the combined results of all the tests.
GM executive director of Vehicle Safety Gay Kent expresses, “Receiving five stars under the new rating system is an impressive feat– on that clearly demonstrates the strength of the SRX and CTS advanced structure, overall crashworthiness and effectiveness of the models’ state-of-the-art safety technologies.”
Hit the jump to watch the video:
It caused quite a stir back at the Geneva Auto Show in March, now Volvo is in the process of causing another one, having announced that the production version of its V60 Plug-in Hybrid wagon is heading to dealers next year as a 2013 model, albeit in the fourth quarter.
The V6o Plug-in Hybrid uses a 2.4-liter five-cylinder turbo diesel and a six-speed transaxle to power the front wheels, while the rears are turned via an electric motor that makes the equivalent of 70 hp. The electric motor receives its power from a 11.2 kilowatt per hour lithium-ion battery pack located underneath the floor of the car.
The V6 Plug-in Hybrid can operate in three different modes; Pure (electric), Hybrid, and Power (diesel only). In Pure mode, provided the battery is charged, the V60 Plug-in Hybrid can deliver a range of up to 32 miles on electric power alone.
In Hybrid form, both the electric powertrain and diesel engine are engaged, which happens automatically on vehicle startup. In this mode, the two power sources collectively aim to provide an ideal balance between low emissions, fuel economy and power when needed.
In Power Mode, where the turbo diesel engine is exclusively engaged, the V60 Plug-in Hybrid can accelerate from 0-62 mph in around 6.2 seconds, aided by 215 hp and some 324 lb-ft of torque.
As a Plug-in vehicle, the V60 PIH can be charged using a 230-volt outlet on 6, 10, 16 amp current cycles, though Volvo says a full charge using a 10 amp cycle takes approximately 4.5 hours (an hour less with 16A).
Other interesting features on the V60 Plug-in Hybrid include an electrically activated on-demand all-wheel drive system, that uses a central control unit to transmit power between the diesel driven front tires and the electric rears when needed (the electric motor also tops up the battery pack in AWD mode to ensure there’s adequate energy supply for the rear wheels); plus a two-stage braking system with regenerative action on the rear anchors that serve as the primary brakes (the hydraulically activated fronts are only engaged when additional braking force is required).
In addition, there’s also both electric and diesel engine operated heating systems, a further nod to maximizing overall vehicle efficiency in cold weather.
Volvo says it plans to build just 1,000 V6 Plug-in Hybrids next year, all will be aimed exclusively at European customers and all of them will be finished in just one exterior color; Electric Silver.
Other standard features include 17-inch alloy wheels, gloss black accents and small, discreet “Plug-in Hybrid” logos on the front fenders and rear liftgate. Volvo says it expects around 80 percent of sales to be company car orders, while 30 percent of total production will be targeted to Nordic customers (Sweden, Norway and Finland). Once the initial batch of 1,000 cars has been sold, Volvo says it plans to up production for the 2014 model year, to around 4,500 plus units. Given that the projected price (in the UK at least) is close to $80,000 ( minus government subsidies) it will be interesting to see if Volvo meets its sales targets with the vehicle.
At present, there’s been no word of offering a V60 Plug-in Hybrid in North America and given our market’s preference for gasoline engines, as well as ultra-strict diesel emissions requirements, if one does eventually materialize it will likely be different to the version offered in Europe.
According to Inside Line, Saab may be ready to re-start production at its factories in as little as 8 weeks, after being sold to two Chinese automakers for $142 million.
While Saab was valued at $660 million this summer, both Pang Da and Zhejiang Youngman Lotus Automobile Co. managed to purchase the company at a rock bottom price after a number of other deals failed to materialize. Chinese companies now own both Saab and Swedish automaker Volvo.
Saab’s Swedish factories have been idled since March, but could be up and running in as little as 2 months. The company claims to have 11,000 vehicle orders on the books, and may even bring the 2012 9-5 SportCombi station wagon to this April’s New York Auto Show if all goes smoothly in the upcoming months.
[Source: Inside Line]
Since the A4 is Audi’s best selling model, it is important to be evolutionary, rather than too revolutionary, in design. While Audi has made updates to every surface including the headlight and taillight treatment, front fascia, bumpers, and hood, the A4 remains readily familiar.
As for the interior, trim pieces are further refined and Audi has also improved user-friendliness on their MMI infotainment system.
Perhaps the greatest change for the new A4 is the addition of the A4 Allroad wagon. Available for the European market will be a selection of six turbodiesels and four petrol engines. For the North American market, we expect the 211-hp 2.0 liter turbocharged four as well as the Audi S4 spec 333 horsepower 3.0 liter supercharged six.
Quattro continues to be available across the line. Transmission options include the six speed manual, a dual clutch auto, as well as a CVT available for A4′s in front wheel drive trim.
Audi will release the new A4 and S4 in North America during the summer of 2012 as a 2013 model.
GALLERY: 2013 Audi A4 line-up
However, due to a fall in demand, this model was axed in the North American line-up. But in Europe, the wagon lived on, albeit with a different nose and badge. It was called the Chrysler 300C estate, which was basically a Magnum body with a 300C nose.
According to Chrysler-Lancia CEO Saad Chehab “sales in the US for estates are too slow to justify the development costs.” Since we didn’t get an estate version of the 300C, neither will any other market.
What the Europeans will still get that we don’t are diesel versions of the 300C. And while they will start getting all-wheel drive variants and petrol engined models, there is no official word if they will get the SRT-8 hot rod version.
The new 300C will arrive in Europe next year.
Not so long ago, Volvo had announced that it was working on a plug-in hybrid version of their V60 wagon. Now according to Volvo, the V60 may be out by as early as next year.
Volvo said it is working on two variants, a gas-electric plug-in hybrid for North America, and a diesel-electric plug-in hybrid for the rest of the world. Volvo’s system, which uses lithium-ion batteries to power the electric motors, has a range of 31-miles on battery power alone, after which the combustion engine will kick in to take you home.
No figures are known what the gas-electric versions will achieve, but the European diesel-electric version is said to be good for 124-mpg.
With the combustion engine powering the front wheels, and the 70-hp electric motors powering the rear, this is effectively an all-wheel drive vehicle also. Volvo said it will be more expensive than a regular V60, but will cost two-thirds less to run.
The V60 Plug-In Hybrid will go on sale in 2012, first in Europe, followed by the rest of the world in the same year.
[Source: Motor Authority]
For 2012, the outgoing Subaru Impreza Outback Sport will merely consist of a limited set of trim options before it will make way for a completely redesigned model known as the Subaru XV.
While it features the requisite all wheel drive, a taller ride height of 8.6 inches, and body cladding, the XV’s appearance is a grand departure from its predecessors and really provides a splash of excitement for the Impreza range.
Available under the hood are a 1.6-liter or 2.0 liter boxer-4 engine with Subaru’s new start/stop technology. The XV will also have a CVT transmission to optimize its fuel economy.
While it is unclear whether the name “XV” will be kept, expect to see the Outback’s new replacement in showrooms by 2013.
GALLERY: Subaru XV
Subaru has recalled 69, 590 2011 Outback and Legacy models over defective sunroofs. Vehicles manufactured between August 3, 2010 and July 1, 2011 can have the sunroof’s glass panel detach from the sunroof entirely.
This could understandably cause a serious safety hazard to owners and occupants, as well as other vehicles on the road. Owners can contact Subaru at 800-782-2783, and owners will be notified in October. Dealers will carry out necessary repairs free of charge.
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.
Audi has unveiled their latest iteration of the S6 and S6 Avant, and the mid-size sports sedans look to continue the engine downsizing trend, moving from a 5.2L V10 to a 4.0L V8 with twin turbochargers making 420 horsepower and 405 lb-ft of torque.
The new S6 will sprint to 60 mph in 4.8 seconds (while the Avant does it in 4.9) while consuming only 24 mpg (a figure we assume is on the highway). Power is transmitted to all four wheels via Audi’s S-tronic dual clutch ratio with seven cogs, and the active sport differential will also be an optional, similar to the S4.
An air suspension, 19″ wheels and a noise cancelling system (to keep the cabin silent) are all standard. No word on pricing, or North American availability, but we’d assume that the sedan is a shoo-in, while the Avant will sit this one out.
Check back for more updates when AutoGuide covers the Frankfurt Auto Show live on September 13th.
Gallery: Audi S6 and S6 Avant
Despite poor showings in various quality surveys, not to mention anecdotal evidence abound, Volkswagen is tackling its vehicle quality problems head on, and is openly discussing the steps it will take to remedy them.
The J.D. Power Initial Quality Survey, regarded as the gold standard among industry types, pegged VW at 29th out of 32 brands, a poor showing for a company eager to sell 800,000 vehicles per year in the United States by 2018.
Volkswagen said that its warranty costs were down by 10 percent last year, and are on track for the same figure this year – a figure that’s adjusted for a new free maintenance program and a shorter warranty term. VW will be looking to improve its score on the J.D. Power survey, which includes not just defects but consumer complaints about functioning parts of the vehicle – a criteria that some automakers have begun criticizing.
[Source: USA Today]
With the passing of the Volvo V70 and VW Passat in North America, European wagons are becoming harder to come by. But BMW is considering bringing the 5-Series Touring back to our shores to make up for disappointing 5-Series Gran Turismo sales figures.
Nothing has been confirmed, however some sources have learned that the comeback may be a strong possibility. Sales of the 5-Series GT haven’t been particularly exceptional, but the model outsold the previous 5-Series Touring since its arrival last year, even with its controversial appearance and mundane reception.
GALLERY: BMW 5-Series Touring
Ferrari will offer a special winter driving course in Aspen, Colorado, with the goal of elevating driver skill and enhancing appreciation for the all-season FF GT, which hits dealerships this fall.
The program stems from the “Pilota on Ice” program recently offered in Italy, and the all-new and all-wheel drive FF will be the star of the program. Sessions will begin in January, and will run for 6-7 weeks, exclusively for Ferrari owners. The program will allow owners to experience the FF’s AWD system in snow and icey conditions. The 4RM all-wheel drive system was designed to retain the sporty dynamic driving characteristics of a traditional Ferrari, in low grip situations. Aspen offers a beautiful setting to test out the vehicle on a custom-made snow and ice course, where the FF truly comes to life.
More information on the winter driving program will become available in late summer.
[Source: Team Speed]
Subaru announced today that it will exhibit the all-new XV model at the 64th Frankfurt Auto Show this September. The vehicle will be unveiled at the Subaru press conference, scheduled at 9:30 on September 13th.
The crossover will go on sale in Europe later this year, however there has been no confirmation as to whether the XV, currently known as the Impreza Outback in the U.S., will come stateside. In fact, the Euro-XV maybe the basis for the next Impreza Outback wagon, or or it could be an entirely different model. Stay tuned for more details coming out of Frankfurt.