Kia's Soul hatch just made its debut at the 2008 Los Angeles Auto Show in November, but already Kia is teasing a new Soul-based concept to be unveiled at next week's Detroit Auto Show. Little has been revealed so far, but initial speculation pegs the Soulster as a three-door coupe variant on the five-door Soul hatch. The name itself - Soulster - seems to imply a roadster derivation, but the teaser images make it clear that the vehicle does indeed have a roof. The images also reveal that the Soulster will have much in common with the production Soul, including its basic front end, though the rear shows a glass segment in place of the Soul's stout C-pillar.
The global downturn in car sales is a familiar topic these days, and even the production juggernaut of Toyota is facing unseen declines in demand for its products. To help realign output with that demand, the company has planned to shut down all 12 of its Japanese plants for a total of 11 days in February and March. Toyota's move in Japan echoes similar cutbacks already made by the carmaker in the U.S. as the company struggles to find the right balance of production. A report by the AP reveals that the issue of slow sales isn't just limited to SUVs and pickups.
For many car companies, finding a clear and coherent brand identity isn't as easy as it might seem. Case in point: Pontiac. The rip-snorting G8 hasn't been the success it might have been if fuel prices and economic woes hadn't struck as it made its debut, and now the G8 ST, or sport truck, won't even see the light of day according to the latest reports. According to information from 'industry sources', enthusiast site PickupTrucks is reporting that the 2010 G8 ST won't see production. The sources indicate the decision comes as part of a redefinition of Pontiac's image and a simple cost-cutting measure - reducing Pontiac's line from six vehicles to three or less by 2012.
Industry cutbacks, especially in the areas of advertising and marketing, are taking more and more visible forms as carmakers such as Nissan decide to skip major shows such as the 2009 Detroit Auto Show. Previously, though the company itself had decided to pull out of the show, local Detroit-area dealers were planning to offer a Nissan presence out of their own pockets, but due to a request by Nissan, that won't be happening either. The decision to skip the Detroit show makes good sense on Nissan's part: they just unveiled all of their new or significantly redesigned cars at the Los Angeles Auto Show in November (including the 370Z, the Cube and the Infiniti G37 convertible).
Next year will the launch of a new compact hatch in the form of the Audi A1, which is expected to arrive on the market as a 2011 model. The car won't be an affordable city car in the same vein as the Toyota iQ and the production version of the Volkswagen up! concept, but rather a premium compact hatch designed to rival cars like the Mini Cooper. And just like the aforementioned Mini, which has a high-performance Cooper S model, latest reports indicate that the Audi A1 will have its own sporty S1 variant.
Japanese tuning house Matchless Crowd Racing (MCR) has revealed some early shots of its customized 2009 Nissan 370Z – less than a week before the car is due to be unveiled at the Tokyo Auto Salon. The images reveal the new 370Z with handsome aerodynamic modifications and fitted with a MCR titanium sports exhaust system. The aerodynamic kit will include a custom front spoiler, side steps, a rear spoiler and a rear wing, as well as custom wheels. All the parts of the kit except for the wheels and the rear wing will be available in either carbon-fiber or fiberglass. The wheels are provided by Enkei and are wrapped with Yokohama rubber.
In a sign that Americans may truly be ready to embrace electric vehicles, including living with any shortcomings and paying a significant price premium, demand for BMW's Mini E electric vehicle has outstripped supply by 4-to-1. The Mini E, which was revealed late last year at the Los Angeles Auto Show has a range of about 120 miles on a 2.5 hour charge and is being leased at $850 per month (about three times the prices of the regular petrol model). The savings in fuel costs will offset the lease price somewhat, though the recent return to sane petrol prices in the U.S.
Bentley's sporty GT Speed coupe has been on sale since August 2007 and back in June last year we saw the introduction of the Flying Spur Speed saloon. However, there's one more derivative of the Bentley Continental family that is yet to receive the Speed treatment and that is the stylish GTC convertible, which is set to make its debut next month at the Detroit Auto Show. The new model is Bentley's most powerful convertible ever and inspired by Bentley's legendary 'Speed Models' from the 1920s.
Late last year we captured spy images of the E63 AMG version of the next-generation Mercedes Benz E-Class testing in Germany, then camouflaged prototypes for the new 'Estate' wagon were spotted, and in December we brought you a barely disguised shot of the sedan, followed by blurry leaked official photos. Now we have what appear to be new official photos of the 2010 Mercedes E-Class. The main differences at first glance include the design of the new grille and headlights. The next E-Class is expected to debut at the Geneva Motor Show before going on sale later this year as a 2010 model.
Talk of a new, lightweight and high-power variant of the aging Lamborghini Murcielago dubbed the 'superveloce', or SV, has been circulating the web for months now. A new report from an enthusiast forum has revealed what appear to be credible details of the car's specifications and design. The SV model would be used to breathe life into the soon-to-be-replaced Murcielago. To do so, Lamborghini is expected to reduce weight and boost power for a truly hardcore driving experience. The new report, sourced from Ferrari Chat forums via Jalopnik, reveals that the car will bear the model number 'LP670-4 SV', and using Lamborghini naming convention, that would imply a 670hp (500kW), four-wheel drive powertrain configuration. Going AWD would be in direct opposition to earlier reports that the SV would be a RWD-only variant to save the weight attendant to an AWD powertrain.
Diesel engine sales have stagnated in the U.S. because of lingering perceptions of the clattering, foul-smelling contraptions of the 1970s and earlier. Many carmakers have been reluctant to even offer them in America because of the cost of emissions certification and small profit margins, but Renault-Nissan have just announced their first-ever V6 diesel engine and it will be coming to the U.S. in the Maxima sedan. Many other Renault-Nissan vehicles will also get the powerplant, which is rated at 235hp (175kW) from its 3.0L displacement.
The UAW's near-stranglehold on the domestic auto industry has taken a lot of the blame for the current condition of the carmakers. Whether it's a fair conclusion or not, however, for companies like General Motors to survive, there will have to be concessions from labor and investors alike. Formal concessions negotiations with a range of partners begin this week, with the spotlight on the UAW. Delving into the UAW's labor contracts will be a hard-fought issue, however, as the union is expected to resist at every turn.
Ever since the sleek new Genesis Coupe hit the scene, speculation about a possible convertible version has been brewing, but today Hyundai shut down all hopes, stating flatly that there are no plans for a drop-top Genesis. Miles Johnson, manager of product public relations for Hyundai Motor America explained the decision, reports Edmunds. "The coupe wasn't developed to be a convertible from the ground up," he said. "It was developed as a global car. The wind in your hair doesn't work in Korea, and there's not enough volume in the U.S." A simple and straightforward reason behind a final and authoritative decision.