>> Tuesday, March 31, 2009

KEMPTEN, Germany – January 22, 2009: Simultaneously to the Detroit Auto Show Asia’s leading trade show in the automobile sector took place from January 9th through 11th: the Tokyo Auto Salon. With over 600 cars being presented and more than 300 exhibitors, the convention is the worldwide biggest of its kind.


Hulme conducts first public shake down test for Can Am Supercar

Caparo has shown how close you can get to the reality of driving a road-legal F1 car with its T1, and now New Zealand’s Hulme has revealed that development of its equally extreme Can Am Supercar has been completed. Hulme’s race car built for the road made its first public shake down test over the weekend at the Taupo stage of the A1GP in New Zealand and will soon be ready for sale at approximately $400,000. We first saw the Hulme Can Am Supercar back in 2006 when it was still in the prototype stage.
Hulme V8 Can Am Supercar prototype


Chrysler 'viable' by spring, but profit still too far off to gauge

The recently announced alliance to be forged with Fiat notwithstanding, Chrysler's current position in the market is regarded as precarious by buyers and analysts alike. Vice Chairman Jim Press is more optimistic, however, stating that Chrysler will be 'viable' during the first half of the year. He carefully defines viability as the ability to avoid bankruptcy and develop new products, reports MSNBC, but he cautions that profitability is still too far off to predict. The viability claim - definitionally tenuous though it may be - rests on an assumption of just 10 million cars being sold in the U.S.


Mission Motors unveils electric motorcycle with 150 mile range and 150mph top speed

Today’s Technology, Entertainment and Design (TED) conference held in Long Beach, California, saw the unveiling of a new all-electric motorcycle that its makers claim is the fastest of its kind in the world. The motorcycle is the new Mission One from American sports bike design firm Mission Motors. The Mission One is the first product from the Californian start-up and it is destined to go on sale next year in a limited run of just 50 examples. Each bike will be priced at a substantial $68,995 but will be followed soon after by more affordable versions.
Mission One electric motorcycle


Renault unveils facelifted Clio

The Clio line of cars are very popular in Europe due to the flexibility of their small size, wide range of body styles and relatively long features list. To help bolster the range and boost sales further, Renault has today revealed a facelifted version of the basic three-door hatchback. The new car will enter the market as a 2010 model and make its debut at next month’s Geneva Motor Show. Taking styling cues from the recently revealed Megane, the facelifted Clio features an updated front-end, revised tail-lamps, and a new rear bumper.
2010 Renault Clio facelift


Lexus prices 2010 RX 350 to start at $36,800

The RX line of SUVs has been Lexus' best-selling luxury utility vehicle since its launch in 1998, and the new generation takes the vehicle into a larger, more powerful realm, while at the same time adding new efficiency-enhancing measures in the hybrid model. Launched in Los Angeles at last year's show, the RX today received its first price tag. The RX 350, the combustion-engine-only variant of the new RX line, will start at $36,800 in base FWD form. Upgrading to AWD raises the price to $38,200.
2010 Lexus RX


New coalition formed to promote diesels in U.S.

Diesels may account for half of all vehicle sales in Europe but in the U.S. their numbers still hover barely above the 3% mark. A lack of availability, a dirty image, and higher prices for the fuel itself have all had negative effects on the popularity of diesels in the U.S. but a new coalition has now formed that aims to promote the benefits of modern diesels and hopefully speed up the importation. The new group is called the U.S. Coalition for Advanced Diesel Cars (USCAD) and their plan is to urge federal, state and local legislators and regulators to support public policies helping to foster energy independence, reduce CO2 emissions and create jobs in this alternative powertrain technology. The founding members of USCAD include automotive parts suppliers BorgWarner and Robert Bosch, both of which produce many of the components required for diesel powertrains.


Shelby unveils Prudhomme 800hp GT500 SuperSnake drag race package

Don "The Snake" Prudhomme is one of the best-known names in drag racing, and today Shelby Automobiles announced the legendary duo has rejoined for a limited-edition GT500 conversion. The car will be an 800hp (597kW) drag-race special bearing both Prudhomme's and Shelby's names. With a 5.4L supercharged V8 cranking out 800hp on race gas or 750hp (560kW) on standard 93 octane pump gas, the package will cost interested parties $100,000 on top of the purchase price of the car. Only 100 of the packages will be offered.
Shelby GT500 Prudhomme Super Snake drag race package


Subaru designs custom Impreza WRX STI for rally champ Travis Pastrana

Subaru may no longer be a competitor in the World Rally Championship (WRC) but the carmaker is still showing its support for rallying with the unveiling of a one-of-a-kind Impreza WRX STI. The special edition model has been designed for Subaru’s factory rally driver Travis Pastrana and it is set to be on display at this week’s Chicago Auto Show. Subaru worked closely with Pastrana to create a brilliant yellow "199" liveried WRX STI to commemorate his third consecutive Rally America National Championship.
Subaru Impreza WRX STI


Bob Lutz to retire from GM at end of 2009

Bob Lutz, the iconic and often polemic Vice Chairman of General Motors' global product development team, has announced he will be retiring from the company at the end of 2009. Until then, Lutz will adopt a new role as Vice Chairman and Senior Advisor starting April 1. During his 46 year career in the automotive industry, Lutz has worked for all three of the major U.S. automakers, plus BMW. His roles have included Chairman of Ford Europe during the 1980s, President and COO, later Vice Chairman at Chrysler, and a number of other high-powered roles.


Kia considers production of Soul’ster pickup

Kia rolled out an oddly styled pickup concept based on its new Soul compact car at last month’s Detroit Auto Show as way to drum up excitement for the regular hatch model which is set to go sale in March. The concept, called the Soul’ster, was never intended to be produced but strong positive responses from attendees at the Detroit event has got Kia’s management now thinking about production. Speaking with Automotive News, Kia spokesman Alex Fedorak said the “response was so overwhelming” that the company has decided that it needs to take a closer look.
Kia Soul in U.S. production guise


Rafael Reston imagines the Viper if it had been born in 1967

Flights of fancy in the automotive design world are common, if vain, but occasionally they yield some treasure that shows what might have been. Rafael Reston, a Milanese designer, has done just that, capturing a Viper that might be from a parallel universe where the car made its debut in 1967. The 1960s tribute places the Viper as a competitor to the Corvette, and borrows some styling themes from that legendary line. The sharp horizontal folds contrasted with flowing longitudinal curves speak of the core ethic of 1960s sports car design, yet at the same time the long nose, pinched cabin and broad stance of the modern-day Viper shine through. The car's interior is minimalist, as appropriate not only for a Viper, but for a sports car of the era.


Japan's Troubles Mount: Plant Closings, Job Cuts, and More

Japan's Troubles Mount: Plant Closings, Job Cuts, and More - Auto News - Motor Trend
As Slump Spreads, Honda, Nissan, Toyota Taking Pages from Detroit Three Playbook in Effort to Reverse Flow of Red Ink

Long seemingly immune from the routine ups-and-downs of the American market, Japanese automakers are suddenly facing some of the same problems as their Detroit Three rivals. In recent weeks, even the most powerful of the Asian makers, such as Toyota and Honda, have seen their sales tumble, a situation worsened as the automotive slump spreads around the globe.


Beyond Genesis: Will Success Spoil Hyundai?

Will Success Spoil Hyundai - Features - Motor Trend
Fundamental Questions Arise as Korean Automaker Ponders Next Moves in U.S.

As it enters its third decade in the U.S. market, Hyundai certainly has reason to celebrate, despite the generally dismal state of the American market. Its market share has never been higher. And it has pushed into Japanese territory on most of the credible automotive quality studies. It also scored an unexpected victory this month when a panel of 50 North American journalists voted the automaker's first luxury model, the Genesis sedan, its North American Car of the Year (NACOTY). The Genesis also ranked high as a 2009 Motor Trend Car of the Year finalist.


Chrysler Weighs Options, and Bankruptcy Isn't One of Them

Chrysler Weighs Options, and Bankruptcy Isn't One of Them - Motor Trend
Struggling Automaker's Plan Considers Three Scenarios

Chrysler's plan considers three scenarios. A bankruptcy study was required, and chairman Bob Nardelli says the $20- to $25-billion debtor-in-possession Chapter 11 would require an entity no smaller than the federal government to step forward, otherwise it's liquidation. "This is not a course of action we're recommending," Nardelli says.


Jaguar XE: Jag's 911 Fighter

Jaguar XE: Jaguar's 911 Fighter - Motor Trend
New Sports Car Will Celebrate E-Type's 50th Anniversary in 2011

Jaguar is working on a new sports car that will be positioned under the XK, and aimed squarely at Porsche's 911. To be called XE, the car will likely make its debut at the 2011 Geneva Show, on the 50th anniversary of the iconic Jaguar E-Type, its spiritual successor

Photo Gallery: Jaguar XE: Jaguar's 911 Fighter - Motor Trend


2011 Honda CRZ: 21st-Century CRX

2011 Honda CRZ - Auto News - Motor Trend
Honda's Upcoming Two-Seater is Designed to Prove Hybrids Can be Fun

Honda's CRZ hybrid coupe remains on track as a 2011 model, on sale in late 2010. Honda wants sports-car enthusiasts to buy it not because it's green, but because it's fun. The carmaker considered doing a non-hybrid version of the CRZ, but it desperately wants to be seen as a hybrid supplier on par with Toyota and believes it needs a range of dedicated hybrid-only models to achieve that.

Photo Gallery: 2011 Honda CRZ - Auto News - Motor Trend


Tata Safari/Indicruz Spy Photos

The next generation of the Tata Safari was caught by the spies while stopping for petrol. Fans are hoping for a lighter, more powerful SUV from the Indian company.


The Stig is Revealed

Rampant speculation about The Stig's identity has led to a confirmation from insiders at Top Gear. The truth may terrify you.


Skoda Octavia vRS Limited Edition Announced (UK)

The Octavia vRS comes with a Anthracite Grey metallic paint, 18-inch alloy wheels and premium grade bespoke black and grey Italian leather. Customers have a choice between the 2.0 liter TFSI with 200 hp or the 2.0 liter TDI CR diesel with 170 hp.


Mitsubishi Online Car Game - Win a three day ice racing trip to Finland

Mitsubishi has announced a new online game where contestants can attempt to qualify to win a three-day ice-racing holiday in Finland.


Knight XV Armoured Biofuel SUV to be Displayed at Barrett-Jackson Event

The massive 12,000 pound bio-fuel Knight XV is fully armored, completely impenetrable, and fun for the whole family.


Farbio GTS Track Car Released - GTS launched in Japan

Meet the 2009 Farbio Track Day Car, which starts at 350 brake horsepower, but can output as much as 450 bhp!


Barack Obama's 2005 Chrsyler 300C set to Fetch $100,000 on eBay

President-elect Barack Obama's 2005 Chrysler 300C Hemi is now being auctioned off on eBay. Starting price for the sedan is listed at $100,000, but the price could easily go much higher.


Tokyo Motor Show Still On

A spokesman for the 2009 Tokyo Motor Show says the exhibition will definitely not be canceled. Rumors of the show's disbanding surfaced in the Automotive News.


Who Killed the Ford F-100

As gas prices spiraled skyward last year, Ford product planners became more than a little concerned over the long term future of the company cash cow, the F-150 pickup. Although the all-new F-150, then undergoing final testing before launch, was a careful evolution of a highly successful formula, no-one knew whether that meant much anymore.
In May, as the average price of a gallon of gas neared $4.00, the F-150 was knocked off the top of the monthly sales charts for the first time in 17 years, outsold by Honda Civic, Toyota Corolla, Toyota Camry, and Honda Accord. That sent a chill through Dearborn: Ford's product planners knew that for most of the 30-plus years the F-150 had reigned as America's -- the world's -- best selling vehicle, gas had cost $2 a gallon or less. The world had changed. America was changing. Maybe the F-150 would have to change, too.

2009 Ford F-150

The solution wasn't rocket science: develop a pickup truck that was smaller and lighter. The product planners looked at three options -- adapting the T6 Ranger pickup being developed by Ford Australia for the world market; engineering a unibody pickup off the Ford Flex's D4 platform; or engineering a lighter, more fuel efficient truck using as much existing F-150 hardware as possible.
The T6 Ranger was discounted because it was simply too small. A D4-based unibody truck looked costly and time consuming. That left a lighter truck built around the new F-150 hardware.


Robots taking over: Ironhide, Twins and Megatron revealed

As we get closer to the June 26th release of Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen, we can expect that more and more bits will leak out regarding the various plot lines and, more importantly for Autoblog, the robots and their alt-mode vehicles. Such is the case today with new images and a few details regarding Ironhide, the Chevy Beat and Trax "Twins" and Megatron, who may or may not make a return appearance in the sequel.
After looking at the pics, which are from the website for Activision's Transformers: The Game (it's since been taken down), we're a bit worried the Twins that we expect to transform into the Chevy Beat and Trax will take on a Jar Jar-like role in ROTF, but we remain hopeful after our early misgivings regarding the first film were (mostly, some, not at all?) unfounded. Megatron is sporting a different look too, with what some believe are tank treads on his legs. Want more? A trailer for the upcoming movie is scheduled for the Super Bowl this Sunday.

The Game teasers


GM bringing Bumblebee 2 and Autobots to Chicago Auto Show

We usually know what vehicles an automaker will debut at a major auto show the weekend before, but General Motors has kept us in the dark about its plans for the Chicago Auto Show next week. As such, we're not expecting any major product reveals, but today we learned that GM will be introducing us to the new Bumblebee from the movie Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen. He's the same Bumblebee from the first film, but the Camaro into which he transforms has been spiffed up for the sequel with a new front bumper, chin spoiler, hood scoop and different wheels. Whereas the first Bumblebee was based on the Camaro Concept, it appears that the new one is based on the actual production car.

Bumblebee and Autobots from TF2

Joining the orange Camaro in Chicago will be other characters from the film in their car forms. New additions to the sequel brandishing a GM badge include a 2010 Chevy Volt called Jolt, a Chevy Spark called Skids and a Trax concept called Mudflat (together known as the Twins), and a character called Sideswipe based on the still-yet-to-be-revealed Corvette Centennial Concept. GM didn't specify in its press release (included after the jump) which characters are accompanying Bumblebee to Chicago, but the venue at McCormick Place is one of the largest exposition centers in the world, so the more Transformers the merrier.
[Source: General Motors]


BMW Alpina B6 GT3 Race Car - Auto Shows

Based on the last-gen BMW 7-series, the 500-hp B7 supersedan was the last product available in the U.S. from tuner/carmaker/BMW specialists Alpina. A B7 building upon the all-new 2009 7-series is on its way—it debuts at this year’s Geneva show—but Alpina hasn’t yet confirmed that it will make it stateside. That’s the bad news.

The good news? If you’re an American and absolutely have to have a new Alpina—and happen to own a racing team—the company confirms to us that its 6-series-based B6 GT3 race car, which is also making its first public showing in Geneva, is available for any U.S. racing team interested in campaigning the car. Alpina also says the B6 GT3 will be made available to collectors and other clients of the company.

Keep Reading: BMW Alpina B6 GT3 Race Car - Auto Shows


2010 Alfa Romeo MiTo GTA - Auto Shows

Even before Fiat boss Sergio Marchionne started talking to Chrysler about a possible alliance, he spoke of his goal of reintroducing Alfa Romeo to the U.S. Alfa's most recent offering is the subcompact MiTo, based on the Fiat Grande Punto platform also shared with GM's Opel Corsa. But all three models are very different in character. While the Grande Punto is styled with clear, crisp lines in the classic Italian design tradition, the Corsa tries to look cute and friendly. The premium MiTo, on the other hand, comes across as decidedly retro, with strong visual ties to the Alfa Romeo 8C Competizione supercar.

We have driven just about every car built on this platform, including the 153-hp Grande Punto Abarth and the 189-hp Opel Corsa OPC. The Fiat is reasonably quick, and the Corsa is one of the fastest cars in its category. But the Corsa’s performance will easily be dwarfed by the MiTo GTA, Alfa's biggest news at the 2009 Geneva auto show. It is being shown in concept form, but a production version is a done deal and should appear by early 2010.

Keep Reading: 2010 Alfa Romeo MiTo GTA - Auto Shows


GM Plan Reveals 2011 Cadillac CTS Coupe, Deaths of Hummer, Saab, and Saturn - Car News

Among the plethora of information gleaned from the viability plan submitted by General Motors to the U.S. government this week is the first image of the production 2011 Cadillac CTS Coupe, which will be built alongside the sedan and Sport Wagon in Lansing, Michigan, starting in 2010. The shapely two-door that debuted as a concept at the 2008 Detroit auto show originally was to be released later this year as a 2010 model, but the automaker recently delayed the project as a means to save development funds. While the coupe is expected to be available with a range of powertrains, including a possible 556-hp CTS-V variant, GM’s documents only confirm the direct-injected 3.6-liter V-6 and six-speed automatic will be the most fuel-efficient combination offered.

GM also confirms it will eventually rid itself of the Hummer, Saab, and Saturn brands, all of which are under strategic review. Hummer and Saab are being shopped around to interested parties—which are few and far between—with Saab possibly entering reorganization as early as next month if a buyer is not found and a bailout deal fails to materialize with the Swedish government. Saturn, however, likely will remain in operation for several more years. GM says it is open to a spin-off or sale of Saturn during that time, but plans to phase out the brand at the end of its existing product lifecycle. With GM’s weakest brands gone, Chevrolet, Cadillac, Buick, and GMC will receive the bulk of the company’s attention, while Pontiac will soldier on with a limited lineup of niche models in the essences of the current Solstice roadster and coupe and the G8 sedan. The automaker’s overall U.S. dealer count is expected to drop from 2008’s 6246 to 4700 in 2012 and 4100 in 2014.

Keep Reading: GM Plan Reveals 2011 Cadillac CTS Coupe, Deaths of Hummer, Saab, and Saturn - Car News


Car and Driver’s Juiciest Traffic Tickets - Feature

We don’t hire sociopaths, we don’t condone socially irresponsible behavior, and all of our published performance figures are obtained on a closed test facility. But we do drive a number of high-powered cars in any given year, and not always at the track. Trying to keep some of our test cars under the speed limit on public streets can feel like sleeping in the world’s finest bordello and having the madam tell you that all you can do is look the girls in the eye and say “how do you do?”

As you might imagine, we don’t always listen to those instructions. And sometimes, the madam catches us in the act. Read on for a sample of our better traffic-ticket stories, and watch for more as we make this a semi-regular feature on CARandDRIVER.com. Don’t try this at home.

Two For the Price of… Two

I’ve collected plenty of tickets over the years, but this one has always stood tall in the landscape of my memory. It was 1974, I was driving a rental Ford in northern New Mexico on I-25, headed for Denver’s Stapleton Airport, and I was running a little late.

Traffic was all but non-existent and I was pushing the car—a Ford LTD—along at about 90 mph. This was in the early days of the national 55-mph speed limit, passed as part of the Emergency Highway Energy Conservation Act, signed into law on January 2 of that year.

Drivers, of course, hated it, and most ignored it. Cops and municipalities in need of revenue loved it. And there happened to be a cop sitting at the top of an on-ramp as I whistled by. He wrote me for all of it—90 mph. I didn’t kick, scream, or plead, because the clock was ticking, and I didn’t want to hear any more trooper rap about speed kills and fuel conservation and so on. I didn’t want to go to jail, either.

Keep Reading: Car and Driver’s Juiciest Traffic Tickets - Feature


Lexus Expands F-Sport Performance Parts Line - Auto Shows

Introduced last spring, the Lexus F-Sport Performance Accessories line was initially shown for the IS250 and IS350. Aimed at giving entry-luxury owners the option to add some performance flare to their new rides, the program has apparently seen some success over the past year—enough so that the big L has decided to expand it to include the GS, all-wheel-drive IS sedan, and the all-new IS convertible.

Performance enhancements now available to these models include improved intake and exhaust systems, front and rear brake upgrades, Bilstein dampers, larger-diameter sway bars, and a rear chassis brace. A short-throw shifter and more aggressive clutch are available for IS models equipped with manual transmissions.

Keep Reading: Lexus Expands F-Sport Performance Parts Line - Auto Shows


Travis Pastrana Subaru Impreza WRX STI - Auto Shows

On his new mayhem-packed MTV showNitro Circus, rally star Travis Pastrana and his band of durable friends test their mettle in a series of stunts, often damaging or destroying the metal on or in which they’re riding (not to mention parts of their musculoskeletal systems). After seeing the first episode, we’d think twice before giving Pastrana a shiny new custom Impreza WRX STI.

Nonetheless, Subaru says Pastrana has earned the car—to be shown first at the 2009 Chicago auto show—after his three consecutive Rally America national championships. Pastrana was signed on as Subaru’s first U.S. factory rally driver for 2006, after winning the gold in the first-ever X Games rally competition (he won it again in 2008).

We’ll Keep Our Wheels, Thanks

Pastrana’s new STI was built by Vermont SportsCar, the shop that prepares and maintains his #199 rally Subaru. They’ve put in a performance-tuned ECU and custom down pipe to coax more than the factory-packed 305 hp from the 2.5-liter flat-four STI mill. A boost gauge, noticeably absent on stock STIs, has been added to facilitate further tuning. There’s also a short-throw shifter attached to the Subie’s six-speed.

Keep Reading: Travis Pastrana Subaru Impreza WRX STI - Auto Shows


RMR Red Bull Hyundai Genesis Coupe - Auto Shows

At its press conference at the 2009 Chicago Auto Show, Hyundai boldly proclaimed that it is charging headlong—well, moresideways, actually—into the U.S. motorsports fray with the help of rally racer/drifting superstar Rhys Millen. According to Hyundai, Millen—the son of off-road racing legend Rod Millen—and his racing firm Rhys Millen Racing (RMR), are already hard at work transforming one of Hyundai’s new rear-drive Genesis coupes into the “RMR Red Bull Hyundai Genesis Coupe.” The resulting vehicle will feature a 550-hp engine, a stripped, strengthened body, and pretty much nothing else.

A Shell of its Former Self—Literally

Turning a relatively benign Genesis coupe into a tire-melting, single-minded asphalt-o-philiac with a target weight of 2400 pounds will involve removing all interior components not required to anchor the driver in place, stripping the chassis of all insulation, rubber, and adhesives, and then stitch-welding the structure for rigidity. The car’s sheetmetal is exchanged for widened carbon-fiber panels built from the same molds used for the Millen-designed Hyundai Genesis “Art of Speed” SEMA star, featuring splitters, air dams, and ducts pretty much everywhere that air can be split, dammed, or ducted. The drifter is capped off with a Cessna-sized APR GTC-500 rear wing, and of course, a suitably unsubtle blue, silver, and bare carbon-fiber color scheme designed to flatter Red Bull and other corporate partners. RMR then plans to install lightweight 18- by 8.5-inch front and 18- by 9.5-inch rear Enkei RPF1 wheels that are certain to see more than their share of 225/40-18 front and 265/40 rear Toyo Proxes R1R tires.

Keep Reading: RMR Red Bull Hyundai Genesis Coupe - Auto Shows


2010 Saab 9-3X - Auto Shows

Swedish automaker Saab will be showing its latest addition to the 9-3 family, the 9-3X, at the Geneva auto show next month. Essentially a lifted and beefed-up version of the existing 9-3 SportCombi XWD, the 9-3X is very similar to Audi’s Euro-only A6 Allroad Quattro, the Subaru Outback, and the Volvo XC70 in offering an all-terrain-ish version of an existing model.

Sporting a 1.4-inch raise in suspension height, the 9-3X also features the automaker’s new XWD all-wheel-drive system—a technology that debuted last year in the limited-production Turbo X and is now available across the 9-3 lineup. Updated front and rear bumpers, wheel arches, and rocker panels all get a grained texture to better protect against dirt and scratches, and the exterior is completed with fog lights, twin tailpipes, a roof rack, and 17-inch aluminum wheels—all of which are standard. The interior gets a minor makeover by way of metallic finishes on the door trim, glove box, and shifter surround.

Keep Reading: 2010 Saab 9-3X - Auto Shows


2010 Chrysler 300 and 300C Revealed - Car News

A few details and a look at the next-generation Chrysler 300 full-size sedan—as well as the 2010 Jeep Grand Cherokee—have seeped out via Chrysler’s viability plan recently submitted to the U.S. government.

Slick Styling

As did Audi when redesigning the TT, Chrysler faced the difficult challenge of reinventing an icon when it went to the drawing board for the next 300. The new 300 possesses a shape similar to that of its predecessor, but looks more elegant. Up front, Chrysler moves to a new corporate grille, first previewed on the Imperial concept and most recently, the 200C EV concept shown at the 2009 Detroit auto show. The thin horizontal chrome bars are sleeker than the eggcrate worn by the current car, and they give the new 300 less of a boxy, road-barge look. Headlight clusters are squared and smoothed, while the front bumper is much more integrated, tightening up the chin.

Keep Reading: 2010 Chrysler 300 and 300C Revealed - Car News


Zagato Perana Z-One - Auto Shows

The best thing about the Geneva auto show isn’t the opportunity to finally use those few Swiss francs lingering in your wallet or bust out up your French, German, Italian, or Romansch—the four official languages of Switzerland. No, the best thing about the Geneva show is the complete madness represented by the full European supercar cottage industry. No other auto show boasts so many outrageous low-volume exotics. It’s like SEMA, but populated with series-production cars instead of one-off customs.

Geneva’s supercar class of 2009 will include the Perana Z-One, the result of collaboration between Italian design house Zagato and South Africa’s Perana Performance Group. Perana representatives tellCar and Driver the company seeks to be the new TVR, which we assume means it hopes to emulate the British company’s performance-focused, lightweight products, rather than its endless corporate tumult.

Keep Reading: Zagato Perana Z-One - Auto Shows


Chrysler Outlines Future Product Plans Resulting From Fiat Agreement - Car News

In accordance with the terms required to secure a loan from the U.S. government—and in a plea to not have its legs broken—Chrysler had no choice but to spill lots of juicy info on future products in its viability plan submitted to the U.S. Treasury last week. (The company revealed product plans through 2015 via a chart/map included with the plan.) It also presented details and answers to questions regarding its proposed alliance with Fiat. What does Fiat want from Chrysler? What benefits is Chrysler looking for from the alliance? Sifting through the 177-page document answers a lot of these questions, but it also raises many more in the process.

A Quick Overview

According to Chrysler, Fiat is among the 10 best-selling brands in Europe and it also builds the vehicles that produce the lowest level of CO2 emissions. Chrysler also cites 60 percent of Fiat’s sales as coming from A-, B-, and C-segment cars, precisely the types of micro, small, and compact vehicles Chrysler is most interested in obtaining through a Fiat partnership, along with small engines that have low emissions and good fuel economy. It is also hungry for tech bits that aren’t currently in its arsenal, such as high-pressure common-rail diesel technology and dual-clutch transmissions (Getrag was initially tapped to source DCTs to Chrysler, but the agreement was abruptly cancelled last fall). On the other side of the coin, Fiat is looking to add strength to a couple of areas of weakness: larger vehicles and bigger engines. Chrysler is the neediest partner in the proposed alliance, which is why Fiat would obtain a 35-percent stake in Chrysler and an option to acquire an additional 20 percent based on achieving performance targets. The partnership would effectively create the sixth-largest global automaker by volume if it goes ahead. Will it be approved? Will it work? It’s anyone’s guess, but here’s a rundown of what could spawn from the relationship.

Keep Reading: Chrysler Outlines Future Product Plans Resulting From Fiat Agreement - Car News


2009 Maserati GranTurismo S Automatic - Auto Shows

In English,gran turismo literally means “grand tourer” or “grand touring,” and typically evokes images of lazily conquering hundreds of miles of scenic byways at speeds that normal cars just can’t achieve. In terms of body styles,gran turismo also refers to fixed-roof coupes with a front- or front-mid-mounted engine and rear-wheel drive. The aptly-named Maserati GranTurismo is a prototypical example of both of these concepts. (Incidentally, the old five-door Hyundai Elantra GT is not emblematic of either concept.)

Keep Reading: 2009 Maserati GranTurismo S Automatic - Auto Shows


2009 Carlsson Aigner CK55 RS Rascasse - Auto Shows

German tuning company Carlsson Autotechnik is dropping its ultra-luxurious (and two-tone!) take on the Mercedes-Benz GL550 during the 2009 Geneva auto show. Officially called the Carlsson Aigner CK55 RS Rascasse, the SUV is a joint effort between Carlsson and luxury leather company Etienne Aigner. The two firms recently worked together on an outrageous 695-hp version of the Mercedes-Benz S65 AMG sedan. That car, called the Blanchimont, stickered at nearly €464,000 (almost $600,000) in Germany.

That makes the €228,500 ($290,000) pre-tax asking price of the Rascasse a veritable bargain. Like the Blanchimont—itself named for a corner at Spa Francorchamps—the Rascasse gets its name from a famous racing bend, in this case the sharp right-hander that serves as the penultimate corner of the Monaco street circuit. (Carlsson also offers the Eau Rouge, a CL-class-based super-coupe that was released before the Blanchimont.) Only 20 examples of the CK55 RS Rascasse will be built.

Keep Reading: 2009 Carlsson Aigner CK55 RS Rascasse - Auto Shows


2010 Hyundai Genesis Coupe 3.8 - Road Test

C’mon, really? Hyundai? No pedigree. No racing history. No factory museum filled with dusty glory machines. Yet here’s what Hyundai dares—dares!—to call the phosphorescent-Slurpee spill of paint on our Genesis coupe: Lime Rock Green.

Puh-leeze! Weren’t these jokers riding around on donkeys when Bob Sharp was running 240Zs at Lime Rock? There’s also Nordschleife Gray and Interlagos Yellow. On a Hyundai? They can’t be serious!

Uh, they’re serious. On sale since March, the Genesis coupe is a revelation, no pun intended. It’s a genuine yardage gain for the yin-yang team and a serious kink in the law dictating that rear-drive hoots must cost big bucks.

Is it HUN-dye, hi-WON-dye, or hi-YOON-day? (Around the factory, at least, it’s the latter). If we can’t concur on a pronunciation, let’s agree that Hyundai has come a long way. Lately, the workmanship has stood with that of the Japanese masters. The designs are fresh, and the dynamics have firmed up and flattened out.

Keep Reading: 2010 Hyundai Genesis Coupe 3.8 - Road Test


Racing 101: The Crash Course - Feature

We introduce a new generation of C/D hotshoes to the Nelson Ledges 24-hour race. We win our class. We don’t win much respect.

We knew going in we couldn’t win. Even if we finished first. We knew this because it said so, right there in the “supps.”

Supps is Sports Car Club of America shorthand for the supplementary regulations that are published for every SCCA club-racing event, and in the minds of the officials orchestrating those events, they have the weight of the Holy Writ, like the heavy documents Moses lugged down from Mount Sinai.

Among the provisions in the supps for the Longest Day of Nelson ’08 at Nelson Ledges Road Course in eastern Ohio, it said “a maximum of six drivers.” Right there in black and white. TeamC/D had 10.

We should point out that having 10 drivers is not remotely advantageous. Most 24-hour teams have no more than four, and the drivers do double shifts, which saves time in the pits—no fumbling around with belts and radio hookups during driver changes.

Nevertheless, we had 10 guys we wanted to put into the action, and the chief steward made it plain that we could forget about the big—and, by the way, amazingly ugly—winner’s trophy if we happened to complete more laps than anyone else.

“It’s right there in the supps,” he said. End of discussion. Race chairperson Ann McHugh worked out a deal that allowed us as many drivers as we wanted, provided we didn’t try to claim that big trophy. Also, we had a good chance of winning our class—ITE (for Improved Touring Endurance, an SCCA catchall) slash M (for Media)—as we were the sole ITE/M entry.

Keep Reading: Racing 101: The Crash Course - Feature


2009 Subaru Legacy Sedan and Outback Wagon - Review


Subaru’s Legacy and Outback are largely identical, but the Legacy is a sedan and the Outback wears station-wagon sheetmetal. Beyond the wagon body, though, the Outback earns its adventurous name with some three additional inches of ground clearance.

Station wagons at a middle-income price point are rare. Audi, BMW, Mercedes-Benz, Saab, and Volvo all sell wagons in the U.S., but they all carry a pricing premium. Plenty of five-door hatches flood the market, but the only competition for the Outback in the low-$20,000 wagon sector is the Volkswagen Jetta SportWagen. Subaru also sells an Outback Sport, but that model is based on the smaller Impreza hatchback.

Like all current Subarus, all-wheel drive is standard, as is the associated fuel penalty. Although similarly powerful to competitive vehicles, the Legacy and Outback max out at 20 mpg in the city and 27 on the highway, a function of the higher mechanical resistance inherent in all-wheel-drive systems.

Although four driven wheels are a given, powertrain choices facing potential Legacy and Outback buyers are nonetheless daunting. Available engines include naturally aspirated and turbocharged 2.5-liter flat-fours with 170 and 243 hp, respectively, and a 3.0-liter flat-six that produces 245 hp. Transmission options with the naturally aspirated four are a four-speed automatic or a five-speed manual, while those opting for the more powerful turbo four can select a five-speed automatic or a five-speed manual. The higher-performance Legacy 2.5GT spec.B gets a six-speed manual. Go with the 3.0-liter boxer-six and your only transmission choice is the five-speed automatic.


Both the Legacy and the Outback are inoffensively handsome inside and out, with their attractiveness only enhanced by their rarity relative to others in their segments. Pricing starts at a competitive level, but adding options gets expensive, likely contributing to their smaller sales numbers. They are immensely popular in more volatile climates, where their all-wheel drive—and the Outback’s additional ground clearance—make them a practical and more maneuverable alternative to SUVs and crossovers.

Keep Reading: 2009 Subaru Legacy Sedan and Outback Wagon - Review


2011 CTS-V Coupe - Spied

Relax, Cadillac fans. As we surmised, General Motors’ decision to shutter its High-Performance Vehicle Operations will not leave the highly anticipatedV-badged CTS coupe stillborn. While the Detroit automaker’s financial problems have pushed the shapely two-door CTS’s rollout back a year to 2010, as well as prompted the discontinuation of the XLR roadster, these spy images reveal that the car’s development has progressed substantially since we last saw a camouflaged mule running around last summer.

Photographed in near-production form (notice the tape over theV-series badges), this CTS-V coupe clearly displays the bulging bodywork, wire mesh grille, bigger brakes, and larger wheels and tires of the current V-series CTS sedan. Also visible are dual center-exiting exhaust pipes, which are expected to expel gases from the same 556-hp, 6.2-liter supercharged V-8 found in the four-door. Six-speed manual and automatic transmissions and a more-sporting interior will be part of the package as well, with the upgrades allowing the vehicle to take over the brand’s high-performance-flagship role from the XLR-V.

Keep Reading: 2011 CTS-V Coupe - Spied


Maxximus G-Force: First (and Last) Glimpse of a 1600-hp Beast - Car News

The invitation was brief, but intriguing. “Philanthropist and businessman David McMahan unveils the world’s newest, fastest, street legal supercar, officially certified by the World Records Academy. Please join us for breakfast and viewing this remarkable, beautifully crafted, one-of-a kind car, harnessing over 1600 horsepower.” Three eye-popping numbers that suggested that, if not the fastest, the G-Force might be one of the quickest cars in the world: 0–60 in 2.134 seconds; 0–100 in 4.541 seconds; 0–100–0 in 8.861 seconds.

We’re not sure if there is a real good way to harness 1600 hp, but if any car is going to be able to snatch “world’s fastest” status from the current titleholder, it’s going to need all the horsepower it can get. The record is currently held by, depending on who you ask, either the 1001-hp, 253-mph Bugatti Veyron 16.4 or the 1183-hp SSC Ultimate Aero (built by Shelby Supercars), the latter of which the Guinness Book of Records certified as the world’s fastest production car when it hit 256 mph in 2007. The 2009 Ultimate Aero now makes 1287 hp, for what it’s worth.

We arrived at the Peninsula Hotel in Beverly Hills, stood around the car’s satin-draped form, and waited, ready with questions. What is Maxximus? Where is it based? What exactly is under the hood of the G-Force? How much will it cost? How many will be built? And of course, when do we get to drive it? Within minutes, the regal Dr. McMahan wafted in, accompanied by Marion Kirby, the builder of the G-Force, to give us the answers.

The Ultimate Ultima

How does one build a car that beats the fastest cars in the world? Well, for an outfit as “mini” as Maxximus, starting with a solid basis was key. Kirby chose as his starting point Great Britain’s featherweight, mid-engine Ultima GTR720, which has been available as a kit or turnkey car in more or less the same form for a quarter of a century. The Ultima GTR is hardly new, but it’s always been quick. Our most recent GTR test happened way back in April 2000. An expensive car at $152,150 as tested, that example’s 345-hp Corvette-sourced LS1 V-8 powered the 2314-pound skateboard to a 3.3-second 0–60 time and an 8.2-second 0–100 time. It also pulled 0.98 g on the skidpad. Those are all impressive figures, even today. The later GTR720 uses a 720-hp small-block Chevrolet engine to generate acceleration figures that are among the best of all “production” street cars in history: 0–60 in 2.6 seconds, 100 mph in 5.3 seconds, and 0–100–0 in 9.4 seconds, according to Ultima.

Keep Reading: Maxximus G-Force: First (and Last) Glimpse of a 1600-hp Beast - Car News


2010 Lamborghini Murciélago LP670-4 SV SuperVeloce - Auto Shows

Two months after the New Year, it’s time to ask yourself, are you making good on your resolution to lose weight? The Lamborghini Murciélago is, and it is looking hotter than ever in its newest form, the LP670-4 SuperVeloce. Shedding a total of 220 pounds while adding 29 hp, this supermodel will sprint down the catwalk for the first time at the 2009 Geneva auto show.

A Modified Hide

The exterior of the SuperVeloce—SV for short—is easily distinguished from all those other Murciélagos we see running the streets. Up front, a redesigned fascia lengthens the nose on this bull and is finished by a large carbon-fiber chin spoiler painted matte black. New front fenders now incorporate air intakes located near the cowl for added cooling to the carbon-ceramic discs that sit behind unique 18-inch wheels wearing Pirelli P Zero Corsa tires. SV decals can be found on the doors, and the side scoops feeding the oil cooler are also finished in matte black. Swing around to the rear and you won’t miss the new two-level diffuser and optional boy-racer “Aeropack” wing, both made from carbon fiber. Lambo claims the huge wing significantly increases downforce over the available smaller spoiler, although terminal velocity differs depending on which one you choose. The Aeropack allows for a top speed of 209 mph, while a Murcié SV with the less ostentatious wing can reach 212.

Keep Reading: 2010 Lamborghini Murciélago LP670-4 SV SuperVeloce - Auto Shows


2009 Volkswagen Polo - Auto Shows

It's not sold here, but globally, the subcompact Volkswagen Polo is one of the most important models for the German brand. Here at the 2009 Geneva auto show, VW is unveiling an entirely new generation. It’s the fifth new Polo since 1975, when the car was first launched as a stripped version of the radically modern Audi 50, whose sales it completely cannibalized within a few years.

Mature, Handsome Styling

Styled with crisp, bold lines, the new Polo offers a fresh and very welcome interpretation of a subcompact car. Its styling is deliberately not of the cutesy, happy-face school that dominates the segment, an aesthetic that can be acutely embarrassing to some who move down-market from more “grown-up” vehicles. Instead, the Polo resembles the acclaimed, one-size-up sixth-gen Golf. Since the new Polo didn’t use a carryover platform, the design team had even more freedom to express Volkswagen's new styling direction.

Keep Reading: 2009 Volkswagen Polo - Auto Shows


2010 BMW Alpina B7 - Auto Shows

Before Alpina got into the business of making BMWs faster and more exclusive, the company specialized in office supplies. The move into the car world began more than 40 years ago when company founder Burkard Bovensiepen steered the family business into BMW tuning with a dual Weber carburetor kit for BMW’s then-new 1500 sedan. BMW’s top brass was impressed enough by the quality of Alpina’s work that by the mid-1960s, Alpina-tuned cars were covered under the standard BMW factory warranty. The two companies have been working closely together ever since.

In fact, just as the totally redesigned 2009 7-series reaches American shores, Alpina has a high-performance variant on display at the Geneva show. As with the previous Alpina-massaged 7-series, it’s called the B7. This latest model uses a more powerful version of the 400-hp, direct-injection 4.4-liter twin-turbo V-8 found in the new 750i and extended-wheelbase 750Li.

Keep Reading: 2010 BMW Alpina B7 - Auto Shows


Pagani Zonda R - Monza Track Pictures

pagani zonda r monza racetrack

Here are some photos of the recently completed Pagani Zonda R spotted at the Monza racetrack in Italy. Yes that is snow on the track as Monza is in the northern part of Italy which does see some season snowfall during the winter.


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