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12:21 AM

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Lincolns are first to get Ford parking-assist technology

Rafay Ansar


UPDATE: To see a YouTube video of Ford's Active Park Assist in action, click on this link: www.youtube.com/watch?v=xW-MhoLImqg

Are you the type who will circle the block several times or drive an extra few blocks to avoid having to parallel park? Ford has an answer for you--at the push of a button.

The Lincoln MKS sedan and upcoming MKT crossover will be the first Ford products to get the Active Park Assist technology.

The system uses ultrasonic sensors at the corners of the vehicle to measure the size of the parking space and guide the vehicle into the slot, while also watching out for oncoming traffic. The driver still works the throttle and brake pedals, but the system does all the steering.

Ford says its ultrasonic system is more accurate than camera-based self-parking systems, such as one available on the Lexus LS sedan.

The key component to Ford’s system is the electric-power-assisted steering. The steering system also helps boost fuel economy by up to 5 percent, Ford says, since there is no load on the engine from a belt-driven hydraulic pump.

The Lincolns get the self-park system next summer. And Ford plans to spread the technology throughout its lineup quickly after that.

All you need to do is remember to carry some change to feed the parking meter.

12:18 AM

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Matte grey Lamborghini Gallardo Superleggera

Rafay Ansar


The color craze has been matte for quite a while now. More and more people are ordering their new cars in a matte color or a matte wrap, given that painting in matte is time consuming. After seeing matte black and matte white we received a matte grey Lamborghini today!

The Lamborghini we are referring to was spotted in the East European country, Hungary. It's becoming an everyday thing that we see amazing spots from countries like these, where the difference between the rich and the poor are enormous . The Gallardo Superleggera in question comes from Austria and is most likely just visiting the capital city of Hungary, Budapest. We've never seen the Superleggera in matte grey before, but it does look rather nice. Just like matte white, matte grey is not as noticeable as for instance matte black, you really have to look twice before you can see which color it is. For our spotters the matte color is positive because they wont have the annoying gleam in the paint of the car while they are taking pictures of it. Since we can now add a matte grey Gallardo Superleggera to the list of matte cars, one question remains, when will the first matte orange Lamborghini be spotted?

12:13 AM

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Hyundai's New Fuel Efficient Automatic Transmission

Rafay Ansar

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To help meet its goals of improving fuel efficiency and reducing CO2 emissions, Hyundai has completed the development of an all-new six-speed automatic transaxle that will boost fuel economy by more than 12.2 percent.

Designed for transverse engine applications in passenger cars and SUVs, the new compact transaxle puts Hyundai into an elite class of auto manufacturers who have designed their own six-speed automatic (after Toyota and a GM/Ford joint venture), demonstrating Hyundai's advanced powertrain engineering capabilities.

"The strength of our design is its completely unique layout, which makes it smaller, more compact and lighter than any other six-speed on the market today," said Hong-Min Kim, the project manager of the transaxle at Hyundai R&D Centre. In fact, the design is so unique and so advanced, Hyundai has applied for nearly 300 patents related to the technology.

The transaxle will first arrive in the new Hyundai Grandeur equipped with a 3.3-litre V6 petrol engine. In this application, it delivers a 12.2 percent gain in fuel economy and is 2.5 percent quicker in zero to 62mph (100km/h) acceleration times (7.8sec versus 8.0 sec). It also delivers an 11 percent improvement in 60km/h to 100km/h overtaking performance (4.0 sec versus 4.5 sec).

The unit is also maintenance-free: the gearbox is 'filled for life' with automatic transmission fluid and needs no topping up, reducing servicing costs.

Developed over a four-year period, this new six-speed automatic gearbox offers numerous technical merits. Despite the extra gear, it is 12kg lighter than the five-speed it replaces. It is also 41mm shorter and considerably simpler having 62 fewer parts, which is a key to increased durability and lower cost.

When it comes to gearsets, more is definitely better. The addition of a sixth gear enables closer spacing between ratios providing a better balance of performance and fuel economy, while the wide overall gear ratio helps deliver strong acceleration.

The gearbox has three planetary gearsets whose hallmark is simplicity of design and a unique flat torque converter, which shortens the unit's overall length by 12mm. Four pinion differentials improve durability and further minimise size.

Another example of engineering ingenuity is to be found in the design of the hydraulic pressure control unit. There are always slight manufacturing deviations from one solenoid valve to the next, which cause fluctuation in the hydraulic pressure and affect shift precision and quality. To rectify this, the transaxle features cleverly integrated adjustment screws in the valves which enable each of the eight valves to be calibrated at the factory.

This novel feature ensures stable hydraulic pressure at any shift point, which facilitates a high degree of precision and control needed to deliver ultra-fast, smooth and precise shifts throughout the engine speed range.

The new six-speed went into production this month (December 2008). A total of five variants of the transaxle will be produced to accommodate a wide range of petrol and diesel engines. A total of 16 different Hyundai models will get this transmission including a redesigned Santa Fe, which is due to arrive in late 2009 and early 2010 in some markets.

12:07 AM

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2010 Audi A8 / 2011 Audi S8

Rafay Ansar

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Plutocrats take heed! Ingolstadt readies its next-gen flagship, and you’re going to want one

udi is charging ahead with its third-generation A8, set to be unveiled at the Frankfurt auto show in the fall of 2009. Once released, it will battle a slightly face-lifted Mercedes-Benz S-class, expected to be unveiled next spring, and BMW's all-new 2009 7-series. But unlike the rather conservative 7-series, which backed away from the audacious styling of its predecessor, the next Audi A8 will show a new look and carry the brand forward stylistically.

Audi's chief designer Stefan Sielaff explains: "The first generation was very dogmatic and product-design-like. With the second generation, the theme was 'elegance'—softer, flowing lines. The upcoming third generation will be stronger, sharper, and more precise."

Highlighting the Technology Within

While the design of the current, second-generation car is pleasing to our eyes, you could argue that it doesn’t properly convey the advanced chassis technology under the skin—the A8’s all-aluminum structure is lighter and stronger than those of its steel-intensive competition. The next A8 continues to use an aluminum space frame and aluminum exterior panels, all of which bring weight down compared to a conventional steel design. Sielaff says that the next-gen Audi A8’s styling will play up that distinction. "It will highlight the aluminum aspect, and it will have a strong three-dimensional theme. In that respect, the next A8 will be the first of a new styling language at Audi. We are entering a new phase with a clear top-down strategy."

The A8 will be futuristic, but it will also have enough chrome to please customers in emerging markets such as Russia and China. There will be both short- and long-wheelbase versions, the latter to be launched in mid-2010. The A8 uses Audi's new modular longitudinal architecture, introduced on the A5, A4, and Q5. Compared to the current A8, the front axle is shifted forward.

The A8 will keep the Quattro all-wheel-drive system, but an entry-level front-wheel-drive version is again possible if the market demands it. In Europe, such a model is currently offered as an especially fuel-efficient alternative. Initial engine offerings will likely include a 4.2-liter gasoline V-8 and a 4.2-liter V-8 turbo-diesel, both equipped with an all-new, ZF-sourced eight-speed automatic (a gearbox which will simultaneously go into the BMW 7-series). Audi will also offer its 3.0-liter V-6 turbo-diesel, an extremely popular engine in Europe, and the supercharged 3.0-liter V-6 from the A6 and S4. And even though the current W-12 engine is no more than a footnote in the A8's European home market, expect Russia and China to demand a successor of the prestigious powerplant. Audi could also offer a version of the V-12 turbo-diesel introduced in the Q7, although modifications would be required to fit this big and heavy unit into the A8's engine bay.

We expect the next S8 to become available sometime in late 2010 or early 2011, and it will use the turbocharged V-10 found in the high-performance, Euro-only RS6. It will likely be even more powerful than the RS6, though, which could mean 600 hp—or more.

A Fantastic Interior Gets Better, the Dance Moves Get Sportier

Audi engineers tell us to pay special attention to the interior, which they say represents as much a step forward as does the exterior. A large center screen and a new MMI architecture will be "more innovative" than the current system. We hope Audi won't tinker too much with MMI, a system we’ve always liked.

On the road, we expect the A8 to give the BMW 7-series a fight for the title of sportiest offering in the segment. The A8's all-wheel-drive system will be rear-biased, and it will be available with the same torque-vectoring system ("sport differential") that we found impressive during our drive of the latest S4.

In Europe and China, the current A8 has caught up with the 7-series and S-class in terms of sales and image. With the next generation, Audi may be able to pull off the same trick in North America.

12:25 AM

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No Doze: Mercedes E-Class alerts drowsy drivers

Rafay Ansar


With fatigue causing more than 100,000 crashes and 1,500 deaths annually on roads in the United States, Mercedes-Benz has rushed to make the world’s first drowsy-driver detection system standard on next year’s new E-class sedan.

Mercedes, which has been working on the system for more than 10 years, accelerated its development and will reveal it at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit next month.

Mercedes claims its system is an independent judge of fatigue, constantly monitoring a driver’s behavior to send warning chimes and flare a coffee-cup sign when it senses a serious drop-off in alertness levels.

“Studies show that after just four hours of driving, the risk of an accident doubles,” Mercedes-Benz Attention Assist expert Jorg Breuer said. “It increases eightfold after six hours, and drivers often fail to recognize drowsiness early enough.”

To identify the point when drivers slip from awareness to weariness, engineers fitted almost 600 drivers with brain-wave-monitoring skullcaps. They figured out that there were 70 parameters that would give a better measure of fatigue than proposed camera-based systems. But the key was steering inputs.

As a result, while other safety innovations such as airbags have meant major engineering changes, the E-class’s Attention Assist demanded just one new mechanical part: a more accurate steering sensor. In addition, the system monitors braking, acceleration, the time and road conditions to judge a driver’s behavior.

Breuer noted further benefits of the system: “It is also sensitive to distracted drivers who are on the cell phone or talking to the kids in the back seat. They will get a warning, too.”

He added, “The effects of alcohol are very, very similar to the effects of drowsy driving, and we would assume it would work for that, too.”

12:23 AM

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Back on Track: TrackPack suspension leads Mustang mods

Rafay Ansar


We drove a herd of 2010 Ford Mustangs last week on the road and at a pretty good racetrack, and we can say with certainty that the muscle car is alive and well in America.

Changes to the 2010 model are relatively minor, with freshened skin and a few suspension improvements that make the car a little more stable and a lot quieter.

The Mustang is still all muscle car, not sports car, so the 4.6-liter V8 remains the star attraction from a driver’s point of view, with power bumped up to 315 hp thanks to cooler air going in and smoother exhaust routing going out. It spins the rear tires through your choice of five-speed manual or five-speed automatic transmission and out to that solid rear axle. There is still no independent rear, not even as an expensive option. That won’t bother drag racers and stoplight heroes, probably the majority of the Mustang faithful. Those looking for a road racer probably will look elsewhere, to the Nissan 350/370Z and the like.

Zero to 60, a muscle car’s bread and butter, should stay in the low fives, depending on when and how well you engage the clutch. We got into the high fives on what might have been a flat stretch of empty highway, timing it with a highly inaccurate handheld wristwatch. A little practice, with the clutch and the watch, will get it into the low fives for sure.

The Mustang also is a little more capable on curves now. Engineers upped rear spring rates on the GT by 25 percent compared with the ’09 model and retuned the dampers at all four corners. As a result, the GT model is tied down a little better, with a little more control of roll while cornering and of pitch under braking.

The V6 model gets similar improvements plus an antiroll bar for 2010, which it didn’t have in ’09.

“From ’09 to 2010, the V6 model is now like the old GT was, and the V8 base car in 2010 is like the Bullitt but more controlled because of improvements to the shock valving,” is how vehicle engineering manager Tom Barnes described the handling changes.

But the best handling news for the 2010 Mustang is an optional package coming next summer called the TrackPack. The $1,495 option will get you 255/40 Pirellis with a summer tread pattern mounted on 19-inch wheels. Combine that with the antiroll bars, rear lower control arms and strut top mounts from the GT500 and better brake pads, and you have a potent package for the road course.

We did many a lap of the Streets of Willow out in the California desert in 2010 Mustangs, all GTs with and without the TrackPack setup. All cars had Ford’s AdvanceTrac stability program, which could either be delayed a bit with a sport mode button or turned off. We found it far less intrusive than earlier stability programs, but mostly, we just shut the thing off going around the track. The best combination, of course, was a TrackPack-equipped car with everything turned off.

Ford says lateral grip in TrackPack-equipped cars goes up from 0.90 to 0.93, and stopping distance goes down by 10 feet to the low teens. In a lane change or a slalom, Ford says to expect about 2 mph more than the base GT and three seconds on lap times at tracks where 1:20 is the baseline time.

“The whole thing is more of a track-day-type car,” said Barnes. “It’s not a race car, but it’s a huge uplift in performance.”

While high-volume sedans cruise quickly through four- or five-year product cycles, the mighty Mustang must take

redevelopment at a slower pace. As in the past, this updated version of Ford’s iconic pony car is part of what looks like a 10-year cycle plan, which means that when the car’s 50th anniversary comes in 2014, watch out!

Check out AmericanMuscle.com and their large selection of
Mustang Decals.

9:49 AM

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Small but perfectly formed - Honda Beat and Suzuki Cappuccino

Rafay Ansar


If you're looking for something compact yet quirky, and fun yet frugal, then you might want to consider a Kei convertible.

'Kei' (meaning 'light automobile) is the generic name given to a group of curious little cars from Japan, which even today, long after many have ceased production, have proved to be the inspiration behind a whole new generation of cheeky drop-tops.

Originally designed to exploit Japanese tax and insurance regulations, these pint-sized machines are perfect for urban driving. Their micro dimensions mean you should be able to nip through traffic and squeeze into small parking spaces with ease.

Here's the What Car? guide to the kooky Kei convertibles, and some of the cars they inspired.

Honda Beat
Produced '91-'96
Engine size 656cc
Power 63bhp
Economy n/a
Size 3295mm x 1395mm
Used price range £1600-£3200

Originally styled by famous Italian car designers Pininfarina, the Beat was a true Kei car, with an engine no bigger than 660cc, and no more than 63bhp. It looks a little sportier than some, but don't be fooled into thinking it's a performance car.

Never officially sold in the UK by Honda, all the cars in this country are imported by individuals or specialist dealers. It's hard to lay your hands on a Beat, and even seeing one on the road is an event. Spares and repairs may be a problem as a result.

Suzuki Cappuccino
Produced '91-'98
Engine size 657cc turbo
Power 63bhp
Economy 41mpg
Size 3295mm x 1395mm
Used price range £1600-£4500

Just like the Beat, the Cappuccino is a true Kei car, being under 3.3 meters long and narrower than 1.4 meters wide.

The Suzuki was officially available in the UK from 1993, with roughly 1200 sold in either red or silver. In '95, tighter European emissions rules meant that it was no longer viable to import the car in such low numbers.

An improved Cappuccino was produced from '95 onwards and, although not officially available, an unknown number were imported into the UK. It's not as rare as a Honda Beat, but it's far from common. Specialist servicing and repairs are advisable.

9:48 AM

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Time for a New President!

Rafay Ansar

We in the U.S. surely know the excitement of a new president to replace one who oversaw an economically crunched country. The same holds true in Japan with the Toyota Motor Corp. The ailing Japanese car company is to promote Mr. Akio Toyoda to the president role, whose past creds include executive vice-president as well as a founding family scion. Current President Katsuaki Watanabe, who has headed Toyota since June 2005, will take on the Sarah Palin role of vice-chairman of the company.

Toyota cut its group operating forecast to a loss of 150 billion yen (S$2.46 billion) for the year to end-March. It made a record profit of 2.27 trillion yen last year.

Like the Royal Family of England, Mr Toyoda is the a grandson of company founder Kiichiro Toyoda. This is the first time in almost 14 years that a member of the founding Toyoda family would hold the company’s presidency

2:23 AM

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Look How They Do It In France!

Rafay Ansar

The French are known for many things, such as the advent of the beret. But look how they are handling their auto industry bailout. French President Nicolas Sarkozy is ready to offer new financing assistance to the country’s troubled auto industry, which include PSA/Peugeot-Citroen, and Renault, not to mention their suppliers and dealers and everyone else associated with the industry. But there are strings attached—French style. Sarkozy will only grant assistance if the companies promise to keep manufacturing in France. Renault and PSA/Peugeot-Citroen already manufacture in such places as Brazil, Columbia, Romania, Russia, India, Poland and Turkey.

Sarkozy wants commitments that the automakers aren’t going to take the money and run, while France’s companies have to ask themselves if winning access to new government-backed credit at low interest rates outweighs the risk of state intervention in their day-to-day activities.

How would the U.S. auto companies react to such a proposal from Obama? Let’s hear your thoughts.

2:20 AM

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New York State Might Take 5% Luxury Car Bite

Rafay Ansar

Here’s an idea that strikes me as stupid: New York State is considering a 5% tax on expensive cars.

No, it’s doesn’t strike me as stupid because it’s anti-car, or because I’m pro-tax or any such stuff. It strikes me as stupid because all it is is a revenue generator; it’s not going to stop someone from buying a huge, inefficient car. If someone like (famous New Yorker) Donald Trump has to pay 5% more for a Rolls, he, like a lot of other rich people, wouldn’t even notice. This is why flat taxes are a dumb idea - Lambos go up by XX%, rich don’t notice, loaf of bread goes up by the same percent, the poor DO notice.

At any rate, The Empire State, finds itself it a bit of a fiscal crisis (hey, join the club guys), and looks at this proposed new luxury tax as a way to make up for that.

And there’s more head scratching in the details, such as, what constitutes a “luxury” car. In the case of New York state, that’s any car that costs more than $60,000

Seems a little low to me, especially when you consider that in the same bill, they want to tax luxury boats too … starting at $200,000.

Seems like a bit of disparity to me.

12:10 AM

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BMW and Sirius XM Radio Extend Relationship

Rafay Ansar

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BMW will continue to offer SIRIUS as a factory option with a one-year bundled subscription
Woodcliff Lake, NJ - November 10, 2008... BMW has extended its relationship with SIRIUS XM Radio (NASDAQ: SIRI) through September of 2011.

"Satellite radio's exceptional content fits well with BMW, delivering a premium mobility experience to our owners. More and more BMW owners are choosing to equip their vehicles with SIRIUS and we are pleased to continue making it available to current and future BMW owners," said Jack Pitney, Vice-President of Marketing for BMW of North America.

"BMW provides their customers with a superb driving experience and our commercial-free music and great sports, talk and news programming affords BMW owners the best in-vehicle entertainment anywhere," said Mel Karmazin, CEO of SIRIUS XM Radio. "We are very pleased to continue to extend our partnership with BMW."

SIRIUS satellite radio is available as an option on all BMW vehicles with a one-year bundled subscription included in the price of the vehicle.

12:03 AM

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2009 Kia Sedona Named as a "Best Buy" by Consumers Digest

Rafay Ansar


. Kia minivan offers abundance of standard safety features and amenities
. Value-laden minivan honored once again for design and performance characteristics

Already a recipient of numerous awards and accolades, including a "Good" rating by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS), a five-star crash safety rating from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and topping Strategic Vision’s Total Quality Index (TQI) survey, the 2009 Kia Sedona is now named as a Consumers Digest "Best Buy" for the second consecutive year.

"It is an honor to have Sedona recognized yet again" said Byung Mo Ahn, group president and CEO of Kia Motors America (KMA) and Kia Motors Manufacturing Georgia (KMMG). "Being named a ‘Best Buy’ by Consumers Digest goes to the heart of Kia Motors’ commitment to offering consumers value-minded and comfortable vehicles with outstanding safety features.

Basing its decision on a vehicle’s purchase price and ownership costs in relation to factors including comfort, performance, styling and utility, Consumers Digest determines a "Best Buy" by evaluating each vehicle against a checklist of various design and performance characteristics, including styling, interior ergonomics, seating, accessories and amenities, cargo space, fit and finish, starting and acceleration, shifting/transmission, steering and handling, braking, ride quality and fuel economy.

The current generation Sedona, both Long and Short Wheel Bases, offers standard safety features including six standard airbags (dual advanced front and front seat-mounted side air bags, and full-length side curtain air bags for all three seating rows), a four-channel, four-sensor, antilock brake system (ABS), electronic brake distribution (EBD), a traction control system (TCS), a brake assist system (BAS) and a tire pressure monitoring system (TPMS).

In addition to superior standard safety features and amenities offered on the previous generation model, the 2009 Sedona also now offers SIRIUS satellite radio capability, with auxiliary and MP3-USB connection, standard on all trim levels with three months complimentary service and an optional navigation system for the EX trim line.

9:54 AM

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2010 Chevrolet Equinox

Rafay Ansar


Chevy’s next-gen trucklet gets a welcome revamp, including a pair of new fuel-efficient engines.

Amid the dark fog of uncertainty pervading the future of General Motors, the automaker debuts the latest revision to its Chevrolet lineup at the 2009 North American International Auto Show in Detroit: a heavily redesigned 2010 Equinox mid-size crossover. Set to go on sale in mid-2009 in LS, LT, and LTZ trims, the new model adopts the brand’s split-grille mug introduced on the 2008 Malibu sedan and will be one of the first GM vehicles to feature all-new and direct-injected inline four-cylinder and V-6 engines.

Dimensionally, the new Equinox rides on the same 112.5-inch wheelbase of the previous model, yet is one inch shorter and wider. A more steeply raked windshield gives a sleeker profile for improved aerodynamics, while available 17-, 18-, or 19-inch wheels pushed closer to the corners provide greater stability and allow for a more spacious cabin. The Equinox’s overall design is more aggressive than its bigger brother, the Lambda-based Chevrolet Traverse, with a more-sculpted front end, bold wheel arches, and distinct creases in the sheetmetal below the beltline. The rear sports stacked round taillights and dual exhausts, yet is reminiscent of the Mercedes-Benz ML-class with its forward-canted C-pillars and flush-fitting, wraparound side glass.

Direct Injection, Whether You Like It or Not

With cross-town rival Ford waving a turbocharged and direct-injected EcoBoost finger in GM’s face, Chevy’s new trucklet will come out of the gate fitted with a pair of efficient DI engines: a 2.4-liter four-cylinder making 182 hp and 174 lb-ft of torque, and a 3.0-liter V-6 rated at 255 hp and 214 lb-ft. Both powertrains are backed by six-speed automatics and optional all-wheel-drive systems (front-wheel-drive is standard), with the new inline-four developing nearly as much power as the previous Equinox’s 3.4-liter V-6. DI technology also endows the new 3.0-liter V-6, with output almost matching the current Equinox Sport’s 264-hp 3.6-liter V-6.

Combined with electric power steering and better aerodynamics, the new engines help four-cylinder models achieve up to a claimed 21 mpg in the city and 30 mpg on the highway. Outfitted with the V-6, GM says fuel economy drops slightly to an estimated city/highway rating of up to 18/25 mpg. However, enlarged fuel tanks allow for more than 500 miles of driving range, regardless of engine choice. And, like the 3.6-liter DI V-6 in the Cadillac CTS and GM’s Lambda large crossovers, both engines are happy with regular unleaded.

Help Where It Was Needed Most

While a stiffer body structure permits more-responsive tuning of the independent front and rear suspensions, drivers likely will consider the new interior the greatest improvement to the Equinox. The previous model’s considerable panel gaps, hard plastics, and overall rental-car build quality garnered little praise from us in the past. But the new cabin, which takes on GM’s new design direction and adopts styling cues from the Malibu and Opel Insignia sedans, appears to have advanced considerably. An attractive ‘floating’ center stack dominates the sweeping dash, with ice-blue ambient lighting around the console, cup holders, and door pulls. Both cloth and leather seating are available, and all trim levels include an adjustable rear seat that slides up to eight inches fore and aft for what GM says is best-in-class legroom.

On the technology front, the Equinox will be available with navigation and a seven-inch touch-screen monitor, as well as Bluetooth and USB connectivity, upgraded sound systems, and a dual-screen entertainment system for backseat passengers. Also featured are a powered and programmable liftgate, rear-view camera (displayed through either the navigation screen or rearview mirror), and an intelligent remote-start system that warms the cabin and activates the heated seats depending on outside temperature. Safety highlights include standard electronic stability and traction control, along with front, head-curtain, and seat-mounted side airbags.

Joining a Crowded Party

The updated Equinox looks promising at first blush and potentially could up the ante for the Ford Escape, Toyota RAV4, and Honda CR-V, particularly in regard to its new high-tech powertrains. However, we’ll have to wait for our turn behind the wheel to see where it fits in one of the fastest-growing segments in the market. It shouldn’t be too hard for the new Chevy to improve upon the previous model. That is unless GM’s financial breakdown necessitates significant last-minute changes or postponing production altogether.

9:48 AM

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Toyota FT-EV Concept - Auto Shows

Rafay Ansar

Toyota to debut some sort of electric something in Detroit.

Toyota announced today its intention to debut an all-new electric-vehicle concept at January’s Detroit auto show. The vehicle will be called the FT-EV, and the single image released shows only the badge, affixed to a translucent, amber­-colored surface. As to the vehicle’s actual identity, FT is simply Toyota shorthand for ‘future,’ so the FT-EV could be anything, really.

To wit, Toyota showed the FT-HS sports-car concept—HS for Hybrid Sports—at the 2007 Detroit auto show. The FT prefix was also applied to the FT-SX concept, which eventually morphed into the production Venza crossover, as well as the FTX concept, which became the current Tundra pickup.

We’ve got our fingers crossed for something sporty, but we’ll have to wait until the show’s press days to find out. Stay tuned for more details.

Toyota will also debut the next-generation 2010 Prius at the Detroit show, where it will battle the 2009 Honda Insight for attention.

10:08 AM

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Lexus HS 250h confirmed for Detroit

Rafay Ansar

Back in August rumors started swirling around that Lexus was hopping on the eco bandwagon and developing their own stand-alone hybrid. Back then we even suspected it would show up at the Detroit Auto Show in January. Turns out we were dead on with this one.

Toyota confirmed that there will be a new model called HS 250h will be shown in Detroit. It will be no suprise if this hybrid is Prius sized, which would make it smaller than a Toyota Camry, larger than a Corolla, and about the size of a Lexus IS. In fact while bodystyle may be a little different, don’t be surprised if the spec sheet on the next Prius and the HS 250h will pretty much be interchangeable.

Now all Lexus has to do is convince the rich green-minded folks out there that an interior full of leather and real wood is eco friendly.

10:05 AM

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Revenge GTM-R supercar coming to Detroit

Rafay Ansar

Tuner Revenge Designs is about to make the jump into building complete cars. The company that has mainly focused on adding speed to Pontiac products has announced it will premier its GTM-R supercar at the Detroit Auto Show.

If Revenge can keep the weight and the price low, it may have a hit on its hands. According from a posting dating back to at least this summer, the GTM should come with "500 to 650 horsepower GM Performance Engine, 20-inch x 325 rear tires, six piston calipers, air craft style leather sports interior, digital instrumentation, large touch screen navigation system, reverse cameras, premium sound system, hands free phone, driver controlled adjustable suspension, integrated air conditioning and DNA VIN number recorded security system." Top speed is rumored to be around 180 mph.

Pics lifted from Revenge’s website give a little bit of a preview of what will be seen in January. Possibly a mix of Ford GT and Saleen S7. We’ll know more when the Detroit Show opens, and we’ll pass along all the good stuff.

9:48 AM

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Hyundai Motor America design chief Piaskowski resigns

Rafay Ansar

The Genesis Coupe isn't even out yet and the primary pen behind it is leaving the company. Joel Piaskowski, Hyundai Motor America's chief designer since 2003, is walking out the door.

Besides his work on the upcoming Genesis Coupe, Piaskowski is also known as being the driving force behind Hyundai's HCD concepts like the Hellion (above), and has been credited with beginning to develop a consistent design language among the automaker's vehicles.

For an interesting interview on car design featuring Piaskowski, General Motors' Ed Welburn, Franz von Holzhausen (formerly of Mazda, now with Tesla), and the New York Times' Phil Patton, check out this video on the Charlie Rose show by clicking here.

Piaskowski's tenure ends at the end of this month, and there is no word yet on where he is expected to end up.

9:45 AM

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Ford Fusion Hybrid rated 41 city/36 highway

Rafay Ansar

Sure, the 2010 Ford Fusion Hybrid may have a base price that's more expensive than a Toyota Camry Hybrid ($27,270 vs. $26,150), but you get oh so much more. Aside from more interesting styling and a trick LCD display called SmartGauge, Ford Fusion Hybrid owners will be able to travel 41 miles in the city for every gallon of gas they use. So says the Environmental Protection Agency, which has finally released official fuel economy numbers for Ford's most miserly vehicle. The 2010 Fusion Hybrid's official rating of 41 mpg city and 36 mpg highway bests the Toyota Camry Hybrid by 8 mpg and 2 mpg, respectively. Ford points out that it even beats the smaller Honda Civic Hybrid by 1 mpg in the city. Credit goes to Ford and its engineers who developed the Fusion Hybrid's new hybrid drivetrain, which is based on the same one used in the Ford Escape Hybrid but features many advances like smaller and lighter nickel-metal hydride batteries and the ability to run up to 47 mph on electric power alone. That last ability alone raises the bar substantially for hybrids and puts the Fusion Hybrid in a class of its own... for now. The next-generation Toyota Prius will debut in January at the 2009 Detroit Auto Show, and we expect the Toyota Camry Hybrid to benefit greatly from adopting its new Synergy Drive hybrid drivetrain.

12:50 AM

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KIA wins President’s Design Award

Rafay Ansar

KIA have this year received the President’s Award for Design at the 10th annual Korea Design Awards in recognition of the company’s design-centred management strategy implemented in multiple stages since 2005.

The prestigious award was presented by the President of the Republic of Korea, Mr. Myung-bak Lee, and recognises KIA’s leadership in design.

Since the strategic appointment of Chief Design Officer Peter Schreyer in 2006, KIA has designed and produced a series of new and refreshed models, and concepts, focused around what Schreyer calls a “linear and minimalist” design language.

The backbone of this drive has been the creation and operation of a global design network which has included the opening of dedicated KIA design centres in North America and Germany.

The award also recognized the creative, above-the-line corporate advertising campaign introduced in the Korea market since 2007 as well as newly designed vehicles recently released locally, including the Mohave (known as Borrego in other markets), Lotze Innovation (Optima or Magentis), Forte (Cerato or Spectra) and Soul.

The Korea Design Awards are sponsored by the Ministry of Knowledge Economy, and supported by the Korea Institute of Design Promotion. The annual awards are considered the definitive design awards in Korea.

12:47 AM

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Wagoner: GM needs federal help before Obama takes office

Rafay Ansar

General Motors CEO Rick Wagoner says GM's financial distress is so dire that it must line up financial assistance from Washington before President-elect Barack Obama takes office in January.

"This is an issue that needs to be addressed urgently," Wagoner said during an exclusive interview today with Automotive News. Now is the time to "overshoot, not undershoot" when it comes to assistance for the auto industry, he added.

In return for financial aid, General Motors is willing to offer the government preferred stock, set limits on executive compensation and speed the introduction of fuel-efficient vehicles.

But Wagoner said he is not prepared to resign in return for government aid. "I don't think it'd be a very smart move," he said. "I think our job is to make sure we have the best management team to run GM. It's not clear to me what purpose would be served. …"

Wagoner conducted his interview three days after GM posted its fifth straight quarterly loss and said it may run out of cash within a few months.

GM reported that it had burned $6.9 billion in cash during the third quarter, dropping its cash reserves to $16.2 billion. To stay in business, the company must maintain reserves of $11 billion to $14 billion.

Wagoner said the company's cash burn in the fourth quarter will ease to $1 billion a month. "We expect our fourth-quarter cash burn -- even with a very weak industry -- to be more like the first two quarters," he said.

Wagoner declined to say how much money GM needs from Washington. But he said GM's turnaround plan assumes industry sales of 11.7 million new cars and trucks next year.

"I'd say the funding request that's gone into Washington would cover us under that scenario," Wagoner said.

Without government assistance, the automaker will not survive if industry sales stay mired at 11 million units, Wagoner said. "I'd question whether the U.S. industry as a whole could survive that without support," he noted.

Even with government aid, Wagoner said, GM will have to do "significantly more restructuring" if industry sales stay this low. But if annual industry sales return to 15 million units in a few years, Wagoner said, "We'd be doing pretty good."

12:31 AM

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2010 BMW V Series Exclusive Video

Rafay Ansar

2010 BMW V Series Exclusive Video Check Out The Upcoming BMW Model 2010 V Series And Please give your opinions...

12:15 AM

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All New 2009 Nissan 370Z Road Test

Rafay Ansar

The Nissan 370Z Road Test Tell Your Opinion Do u like this car or not.

12:13 AM

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2010 Honda Insight Hybrid

Rafay Ansar


Honda to unveil all-new Honda Insight at Paris auto show

Honda has released some information and pictures of the concept car that will become the 2010 Honda Insight hybrid. The Honda Insight hybrid concept car will debut at the 2008 Paris auto show in October. Going on sale next spring in the U.S., the production Insight hybrid will be a 5-door, 5-passenger hatchback whose design will probably not stray much from the images you see here.

Honda says that the new Insight hybrid will be smaller than a Honda Civic, which means that it should be a half-size smaller than the Toyota Prius hybrid as well. Word on the street is putting the 2010 Honda Insight hybrid fuel economy as high as 60 miles per gallon.

A Hybrid Bargain

A second piece of big news comes from the good news that the Honda Insight hybrid will be priced well below any of the other hybrids on the market, including the Honda Civic Hybrid and Toyota Prius. That means less than $20,000, and we wouldn't be at all surprised to see the Insight start between $16,000 and $17,000.

The savings in the 2010 Honda Insight hybrid are attributed to a more cost-efficient evolution of Honda's Integrated Motor Assist gasoline/electric hybrid technology.

Looking for all the world like a scaled-down version of the Honda FCX Clarity fuel cell car, the Honda Insight concept car is a prime example of Honda's mastery of small-car design. We haven't seen the interior yet, but if the 2009 Honda Fit is any indication, the Honda Insight hybrid should also provide a clean environment, as it were -- something that could not be said of the original Honda Insight from 1999.

We'll be able to tell you more about the Honda Insight hybrid concept -- as well as the Honda Insight production car -- in our 2008 Paris auto show coverage later this month. For now, all you really need to know is that next spring, the 2010 Honda Insight hybrid -- a compact 5-door hatchback -- will be appearing in Honda dealer showrooms at a price that makes Insight very appealing as a first car, a student car or a commuter car, with fuel economy that earns it high cred in the green-car world.

12:11 AM

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NCTD: 2009 Dodge Challenger

Rafay Ansar


The new modern classic musclecar is a home run, in spite of the times.

After a hiatus of more than 30 years the Dodge Challenger returned as a new model for 2008. And Chrysler's biggest styling hit since the PT Cruiser promptly sold out. For 2009, the Challenger lineup is expanded to three models: the new SE, the new R/T, and the high-performance SRT8.

Challenger is all about the in-your-face attitude that's a Dodge hallmark: big car, big presence, big power. Style rules, yet asks few compromises. Some will opine about the timing of the Dodge musclecar's return, while others will note Chicken Little was last seen impaled in a Viper grille somewhere. Much as happens with its principal competitor, Ford's Mustang, each version of the Challenger will appeal to a different buyer.

SE owners will be swayed by the look, a desire to be seen in something more visually amusing than the average V6 sedan or big coupe, and using it every day. SE comes with a 250-hp 3.5-liter V6 and four-speed automatic EPA-rated 18/25.

R/T buyers may be older and wanting to replace the Challenger they lusted after in younger days; some will choose the new one over a far-more-expensive auction car that goes like stink but needs considerable acreage to stop or change directions. Others still, not content to leave anything alone, will buy the R/T as the basis for their next hot rod and blow all the money saved on an SRT8 on more power, accessories, and modifications. The R/T can be used as a daily driver, at least for shorter distances and fuel consumption, and will compete with the Mustang GT, over which it has both advantages and disadvantages. Challenger R/T runs a 5.7-liter Hemi V8 rated at 370 horsepower and 398 pound-feet of torque with the standard five-speed automatic; power increases to 375 hp and 404 pound-feet of torque on premium fuel with the optional six-speed manual/Track Pak group. The Hemi uses a multiple displacement feature that switches off cylinders to save fuel, but EPA ratings are 16/23 mpg with the automatic and 15/23 mpg with the six-speed manual.

SRT8 buyers want the ultimate performance model. The SRT8 is fast, stable and ready to go to any track, Dodge's fastest car this side of the twice-the-price Viper. Yet it's compliant and controlled just enough that it won't beat you up on daily chores or weekend cruises. At $10/pound, you'll enjoy it a lot longer than that sirloin on your barbecue. Challenger SRT8 comes with a 425-hp 6.1-liter Hemi (EPA 13/19 mpg), the same transmission options as the R/T, big Brembo brakes, the firmest suspension; and a limited-slip rear differential.

The Challenger is a big two-door, but expect it to face some competition from Pontiac's G8 GT, a four-door sedan. Not Challenger-distinctive in appearance, it does offer the same rumbling V8, rear-drive musclecar recipe (without a manual gearbox option), and again like the Challenger, good independent suspension and brakes for about the same price as an R/T.

Challenger features an entirely new body, but many of its parts, systems and structures are shared with the Chrysler 300 and Dodge Charger (and Magnum). If you can't locate a Challenger to test drive before ordering, driving Chargers will give a good indication of the relative differences between engines. With the Chrysler 300 and Dodge Charger having proven their reliability, the potential for new-car bugs and quirks should be significantly lower in the Challenger than in most new cars.

12:25 AM

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Car companies gone WILD!

Rafay Ansar

What are you guys going to do for holiday vacation? I’m going to Cabo. How about you? Holiday vacation is for everyone. In fact, Chrysler plans to close its factory for a month. That’s right all you autoworkers—YOU GET THE WHOLE MONTH OFF! Woo-hoo! Well…….having the whole month off might sound good if you’re in college, but it’s not so great if you’re working in the struggling U.S. auto industry.

In order to save money, while waiting for the US government to bail them out, Chrysler is going to halt production for one month on ALL OF ITS 30 PLANTS! It’s car companies gone wild, except for the fact that all the factory works are going to be unemployed for the entire month. Impacted employees will not return to work any sooner than January 19th; with the possibility left open that the plants may remain closed longer than that. Not to be left out of the fun, on Wednesday Ford announced that it’s normal two-week Christmas shut-down will extend past the normal two-weeks. Looks like for those who works in the auto industry, it’s going to be like summer all-year-round except I don’t think anyone is going to be going to Cabo.

12:21 AM

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Top Hollywood Movie Cars in 2008

Rafay Ansar


Batmobile (Tumbler) - The Dark Knight. Christian Bale returns as everyone’s favorite Dark Knight in The Dark Knight. Though Heath Ledger almost steals the whole show donning the Joker’s maniacal makeup, one of the true stars of the movie is the famed Batmobile. Looking like a light tactical vehicle that could storm at ease through the streets or a war zone.

Mach 5 - Speed Racer. Sure this movie took a big nose-dive flop at the box office; that’s because the Wachowski brothers only cared about the cars, especially the Mach 5. The live-action film looks like cartoon, alienating and thrilling fans all at once. Go, Speed Racer, go!

Dodge Viper - Wanted. Ok, the plot is a little bit weak: A frustrated office worker learns that he is the son of a professional assassin, and that he shares his father’s superhuman killing abilities. But the Wanted does star Angelina Jolie, while the car chase is high octane. No one steers with their feet while firing heat like Jolie.

Aston Martin DBS - Quantum of Solace. Though no Sean Connery, Daniel Craig is really holding his own as James Bond. And how can you have a great Bond movie without a few hair-raising car chases? The movie, in fact, opens in a middle of a car chase with Bond’s signature Aston Martin while in the midst of a tunnel where tractor trailers veer every way but loose. Also noted is the pivotal role of the Ford Ka alongside the film’s beautiful but feisty leading lady, Olga Kurylenko.

You name it - Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull. Speaking of sequels, Indiana Jones is back– that means non-stop action. The mark of the Spielberg school is evident in the movie’s car-chase sequences. The most spectacular chase is through the Amazon forest, a wildly imaginative deployment of every possible combination of vehicle, weapon, obstacle, and flying human body

5:52 AM

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Hot Car - The Aston Martin Vanquish V12 S

Rafay Ansar

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The fastest production model ever to be built by Aston Martin made its world debut at the Paris Motor Show on September 23, 2004. With a maximum speed in excess of 200mph (321km/h) and a 6.0 litre V12 engine developing 520 horsepower, the Vanquish S has been designed to deliver even greater performance, complemented by subtle suspension and steering changes and a number of interior and external style revisions.

Rather than relying on some form of supercharging—and there is not much room under the Vanquish hood—the Aston V-12 has been developed in the old-fashioned way. It’s gotten a higher compression ratio, new cylinder heads with subtly reshaped combustion chambers and fully machined inlet ports, new forged connecting rods, a revised injection system, and a remapped electronic control unit. It revs higher than it did (maximum power is at 7000 rpm), allowing shorter overall gearing but still achieving a claimed top speed of more than 200 mph. The Vanquish we tested in 2001 hit 60 in 4.4 seconds and 100 in 10.3, and it’s likely the S will improve on those times by a couple of 10ths.

Starting the Vanquish is still a nice piece of theater: Switch on the ignition, wait for the check lights to clear, press the brake, select neutral by pulling on both steering-wheel paddles, then press the central starter button, and—whuummff! The deep thrumming exhaust note, which returns beyond 4000 rpm, is wonderfully exciting. The electrohydraulic gearshift—basically, the same as Ferrari’s—changes down smartly, blipping the throttle automatically, but upshifts can feel hesitant. The S is clearly more eager in the midrange and goes very fast indeed on a wide open road but, oddly, feels less fierce than the original Vanquish.

In the flesh a Vanquish is an impressive sight, the squat body giving it a purposeful, almost menacing, expression. But big on the outside does not translate to big on the inside. The front seats are more comfortable than a Ferrari’s and more luxurious than a Porsche’s but headroom is limited. Boot space is also restricted.

This car was also the official 007 car for the movie Die Another Day. Pierce Brosnan owns one Vanquish V12 S. “The Vanquish S V12 is a combination of state-of-the-art aerospace technology and hand craftsmanship,” and “It is the flagship model of a confident and growing company that is proud to display its heritage but is also determined to make the most technologically modern and inspirational sports cars in the world”, says a car expert.

VEHICLE TYPE: front-engine, rear-wheel-drive, 2- or 2+2-passenger, 2-door coupe

BASE PRICE: $255,000

ENGINE TYPE: DOHC 48-valve V-12, aluminum block and heads, port fuel injection
Displacement: 362 cu in, 5935cc
Power (SAE net): 520 bhp @ 7000 rpm
Torque (SAE net): 426 lb-ft @ 5000 rpm

TRANSMISSION: 6-speed manual with automated shifting and clutch

Wheelbase: 105.9 in
Length: 183.7 in Width: 75.7 in Height: 51.9 in
Curb weight: 4150 lb

Zero to 60 mph: 4.2 sec
Zero to 100 mph: 10.1 sec
Standing 1/4-mile: 12.6 sec @ 115 mph


EPA city driving: 11 mpg
EPA highway driving: 18 mpg

5:51 AM

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Miley Cyrus Got A Porsche Cayenne!

Rafay Ansar

Hannah Montana star Miley Cyrus had receiver her learner’s permit last Wednesday and I think she’s going to enjoy it because her mother hand her down her old automobile, a Porsche Cayenne.

“Tish got a new car recently, so she’s giving Miley her old car,” a source tells PEOPLE. “She’s so excited. Her mom lets her drive to work when she’s with her.”

The Anatomy of A Porsche Cayenne 2008 model

The Porsche Cayenne ranks in the bottom half of this highly competitive group though it offers one of the nicest interiors in the classit has an underpowered base engine combined with a steep sticker price.

With a lineup that stretches from the low $40Ks to six-digit territory and engines that range from a V6 to a 500-horsepower twin-turbo V8, the Porsche Cayenne isn’t your typical midsize SUV. Nor is it the most practical or family-friendly. Indeed, the Cayenne’s relatively small cargo area, high load floor and lack of a third-row seat option limit its real-world functionality.

The Cayenne is available in four styles, each with its own engine. The base Cayenne is the most economical but also the weakest, with a 3.6-liter V6 producing 290 hp. Its standard equipment list offers little more than the luxury SUV staples, but interestingly, it’s the only Cayenne available with a manual transmission. All others feature a standard six-speed automatic with steering-wheel-mounted manual shift controls known as Tiptronic.

Packing 500 hp and 516 pound-feet of torque, this engine is a Teutonic tour de force with ample power to accelerate the 5,191-pound Cayenne to 60 mph in about five seconds and on to a factory-rated 171-mph top speed. Bragging rights to the world’s fastest SUV are part of the Cayenne Turbo’s portfolio of driving delights (although the Spyker D12 Peking to Paris could challenge that).

The Cayenne features a subframe-mounted double-wishbone front suspension and a multi-link rear suspension that reviewers find plenty adequate. The Fort Worth Star-Telegram says even the base model’s suspension is “tuned like that of a sports car, allowing the vehicle to hug the pavement quite well on the curves. The Cayenne has the feel of a low-slung sports car, something you won’t find on other SUVs.” The Turbo model comes standard with an air suspension with Porsche Active Suspension Management (optional on the other models), which raises the vehicle height for off-road driving.

Generally almost all car review sites agree that they are happy with the Cayenne’s driving characteristics while issuing mild criticisms for fussy ergonomics, weak acceleration with the V6, tight rear-seat legroom and limited cargo space. Additionally, in spite of its impressive list of off-road hardware, the Cayenne is not as capable a rock-crawler as many of its competitors. Most of the blame goes to its street-biased, low-profile tires.

12:26 AM

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Mercedes-Benz BlueZero concept cars

Rafay Ansar

Mercedes-Benz is to reveal a trio of 'green' concept cars at the Detroit motor show.

The vehicles will be badged under the company's new BlueZero range and use a combination of battery power, fuel cell and conventional engines.

The BlueZero E-Cell has a lithium-ion battery capable of covering up to 120 miles between charges, while the E-Cell Plus uses a 1.0-litre turbocharged petrol engine to create a hybrid with a claimed range of up to 370 miles. The third new vehicle, named the F-Cell, uses a fuel cell.

All three cars share the same design that allows the weight of the battery to be placed lower in the car. The use of this floorplan improves handling and reduces the amount of space required – allowing a larger cabin area.

This structure is based on the current A-Class's platform, which Mercedes will recycle and use for production versions of the BlueZero vehicles.

The environmentally friendly concept cars will all be capable of 93mph, and reach 62mph in under 11 seconds.

Mercedes claims its new liquid-cooled lithium-ion batteries can provide a 30-mile range from just 30 minutes of charging, with a full charge taking two hours and giving 240 miles.

A limited number of fuel-cell vehicles will enter the Mercedes product line-up next year, according to the firm. Electric cars will follow in 2010.

12:24 AM

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Future glimpsed in Volvo S60 concept

Rafay Ansar

This is Volvo's S60 concept car – a preview of the company's next challenger to take on the likes of the BMW 3 Series and Mercedes C-Class.

The concept car will be shown for the first time at the Detroit motor show next month, ahead of the production car's debut in 2010.

In true concept car style, the S60 concept blends design features that are unlikely to make it to production with more real-world technology that you can expect to see in the new car.

Viking ship silhouettes in the headlamps and a crystal-covered floating central stack fall into the first category, but new technology to protect pedestrians is much more likely to reach the production S60.

The safety innovation is designed to detect pedestrians who step into the path of the car, automatically activating the brakes if the driver fails to respond.

The concept car also has a number of features designed to cut carbon dioxide emissions, starting with the car's 180bhp 1.6-litre petrol engine. It has a system that injects the fuel directly into the combustion chamber under pressure, and Volvo says emissions will be less than 120g/km.

The new engine will be introduced into Volvos towards the end of next year.

The Detroit motor show takes place January 11-13

10:20 AM

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Hyundai HED-5 i-Mode Concept - Auto Shows

Rafay Ansar

Bride of Chewbacca: Hyundai goes a little crazy trying to make its upcoming people-mover exciting.

Europeans love their MPVs (multipurpose vehicles), which we North Americans would categorize as mini-minivans. Hyundai used the 2008 Geneva auto show in March to debut its take on the segment with the six-passenger i-Mode concept, and is now showing an updated version at the 2008 Los Angeles show.

The HED-5 i-Mode concept showcases advanced materials and construction, some in partnership with suppliers Recaro, LG, and Bayer. The interior is inspired by natural forms and landscapes, as evidenced by the organic shapes on the dash, doors, and seats, as well as the earthy brown, cream, and blue color scheme. Among its more novel features are a passenger seat that swivels and pillarless doors.

The exterior features more surface detail than a wedding cake, and a skunk-stripe body panel surrounded by glass on the roof. We don’t expect most of it to make it to production, which several in attendance think isn’t such a bad thing.

The original i-Mode concept was powered by a 2.2-liter R diesel engine with sequential turbochargers that made a total of 212 hp and 340 lb-ft of torque. For its North American debut, Hyundai has fitted a direct-injection version of its Theta 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder gas engine. The new powerplant has a maximum output of 286 horsepower and will be used in unnamed future Hyundai products.

Reports out of Europe say the concept rides on a modified version of the platform used for the i30 in Europe, which will be sold as the Elantra Touring in the U.S. Hyundai now says that a vehicle based on the HED-5 concept will make it to the States, though timing is still unknown.

The name HED-5 denotes the fact that it is the fifth in a series of vehicles from Hyundai’s European design studio. The HED-4, also known as the QarmaQ concept, is a crossover made of composites and thermoplastics that first bowed at the 2007 Geneva show. The QarmaQ’s futuristic design is said to telegraph cues for the next-generation Tucson.

10:14 AM

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Toyota Camry CNG Hybrid Concept - Auto Shows

Rafay Ansar

Toyota reserved its official L.A. auto show press conference for the new Lexus RX350 and RX450h crossovers, but the company also quietly showed off this twist on the Camry hybrid.

As you may have surmised, this concept replaces the Camry hybrid’s gasoline fuel system with one designed to deliver compressed natural gas to the 2.4-liter inline-four. Two carbon-fiber-wrapped tanks hold the natural-gas equivalent of 8 gallons of gasoline at a maximum of 3600 psi, giving the CNG concept a 250-mile range. The tanks live in the spare-tire well, so the fancy 19-inch wheels wear run-flat Bridgestone rubber. Toyota estimates fuel economy of 32 mpg city and 34 mpg highway, a sacrifice of just a single city mpg against a standard Camry hybrid. The mileage may not be much different, but combusting CNG results in fewer NOx emissions versus burning regular gas, so the CNG concept is cleaner.

The CNG hybrid would be pretty easy to pick out of a Camry-crowded room; if the billboard graphics didn’t tip you off, the specialized front fascia would. With no grille opening, Toyota’s current snaggletooth look disappears, and so the CNG Camry concept looks much better than its production kin. The rear bumper is also altered to hide the tailpipe.

Toyota actually marketed a CNG Camry to California fleet customers in 1999, but low gas prices combined with a lack of natural-gas refueling infrastructure curbed interest, and the program was shelved after just a year. Today’s fluctuating gas prices might encourage more companies to choose a natural-gas Camry, but the infrastructure situation remains the same: there are just 774 CNG stations nationwide, according to the U.S. Department of Energy–sponsored Alternative Fuels and Advanced Vehicles Data Center.
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