Sunday 30 December 2007

Restyling for the big Maserati

A more heavily disguised prototype of the 2009 Maserati Quattroporte was caught testing in Sweden this week and the extent of camouflage makes us suspicious of the degree of the Quattroporte's mid-lifecycle freshening.

With this amount of camouflage, it looks as if the complete front end could be revised. The powerful sedan's headlamps look bigger and there will likely be larger air intakes in the car's new front bumper.

Spy photographers were unable to snap shots of the Quattroporte's rear, but the shooter tells us that the rear bumper was also disguised with black tape so expect changes to the Maserati's back end as well.

The next Quattroporte is due in 2012 rivalling the Porsche Panamera and the Aston Martin Rapide.

Related link:

Maserati Quattroporte facelift

When a test drive goes horribly wrong

A teenager from Victoria, Australia went to their local Holden dealer and took a Holden VY HSV Clubsport out for a test drive. It was all going well untill the teen put their foot down on the gas pedal on the last corner before the Holden dealership.

The teen loses control of the sporty Commodore which went flying into the air after hitting a kerb.

The car went through the dealership’s gate, landing on several cars.

Baby Alfa Romeo in the dark

Good things come to those who wait - and here is the proof!

Fans of the Alfasud have been killing time for more than 23 years and now the very first spy photos of the new Junior have surfaced the Web.

The "Junior" is set to be revealed at the upcoming Geneva motorshow in March and will rival the upcoming Audi A1 and the Mini Cooper whilst slotting under the 147 in the firms line-up.

Although there is no official name yet, Alfa Romeo let Internet users name the car. The winning name was "Furiosa" but Alfa executives decided to ditch the name after the results came in.

The first photo doesn't reveal much except from a foglamp but we expect the new comer to feature the trademark nose treatment which can be seen on the Brera coupé, 159 and the Spider. Its shield shaped grille will be flanked by a trio of projector style headlights. The rear photo gives us a glimpse of the rear bumper and uncovered the oval shaped exhaust tips.

Under the hood will be the brand's JTD diesel engines alongside direct-injection petrol units which will deliver power to the front wheels.

Mazda2 hatchback & sedan go on sale in January (China)

Mazda has launched the Mazda2 five door hatchback and four door sedan in China with the first deliveries starting in early 2008. The hatchback variant comes out in January with sales of the sedan following after. The new model was introduced in China, in November, at the Guangzhou motor show.

The Mazda2 is built in Nanjing by Mazda parent company Ford's joint venture, Changan Ford Mazda Automobile, a new plant completed in September 2007. Mazda is targeting sales of 55,000 or more Mazda2 hatchbacks per year in the growing China market and overall Mazda sales of at least 180,000 units there. Mazda has said that it targets 300,000 sales in China and 300 dealers by 2010.

Next on Mazda's list for China is the Mazda3 five-door hatchback which is due to go on sale in China in mid-2008.

Related links:

Mazda2 diesel UK pricing

Mazda2 crash test results

Mazda UK wants Mazda2 MPS

Mazda2 production starts

Teaser: 2008 Mercedes SL-Class facelift

Yesterday, Mercedes Benz announced the addition of two new top-of-the-range AMG models to its SL product range; the SL63 & SL65 AMG. To uphold some momentum ahead of it official launch, Mercedes published only a three-quarters rear view teaser image of the V12 bi-turbo SL65 flagship model, leaving the front end restyling open to assumption.

Apart from the antagonistic new rear air diffuser with the standard AMG quad exhaust pipes, a small rear spoiler and what appears to be "997 Turbo"-inspired wheels, the rear of the facelifted SL AMG model barely looks different from the pre-facelift model.

As far as we know, the SL65 will be powered by a 6.0-litre bi-turbo V12 powerplant developing around 612 hp and torque in excess of 1,000 Nm. The SL63 which will replace the SL55, will receive a 525 hp V8 with 630 Nm of torque. Joined with AMG's seven-speed "SPEEDSHIFT MCT" gearbox, these latest AMG beasts should offer true 'Fahrspa.'

Saturday 29 December 2007

Audi A4 sedan proves popular (EU)

Successful start for the new Audi A4:

The new Audi A4 sedan has been available for test driving at Audi dealerships for just a few days now – in Germany, Austria, Switzerland, Luxembourg, Italy, Belgium and the Netherlands.

“At the time of market launch in the first European countries we already counted 33,000 customer orders,” said Ralph Weyler, Member of the Board of Management at AUDI AG for Marketing and Sales. “The orders received and the impressive response from customers and the media have exceeded all our expectations. From our perspective, this is an extremely positive sign. As our most-sold model, the Audi A4 holds a special significance with respect to our ambitious goals.”

Although the new A4 sedan is just now being launched, it has already won some major awards. The new A4 was honored with the “Golden Steering Wheel” as best midsize car by Bild am Sonntag newspaper, and also received the Auto Trophy 2007 from Auto Zeitung magazine. The sedan outdid its competitors handily in the numerous comparison tests performed by Auto Zeitung and auto motor und sport magazines. In the individual test carried out by auto motor und sport, it achieved the top five-star rating.

With these honors, the new A4 moves seamlessly into the successful footsteps of its predecessor. As the eighth generation of the midsize sedan, the new model replaces a highly successful generation that rolled off the line for the last time in November of 2007, and one that sold about 2.2 million units worldwide.

In January 2008 the new Audi A4 will also be launched onto the market in France and Spain, and will then gradually be introduced in the remaining European countries. In the United Kingdom, Audi’s strongest export market in terms of sales, the A4 will start selling at the end of February 2008.

New Car: 2008 Nissan Fuga facelift (Japan)

Nissan Motor Co., Ltd. today announced the release of the new Fuga luxury sedan, which went on sale at dealers across Japan today. Since its debut in 2004, the Fuga has been highly praised by customers for its exceptional performance, class-leading interior roominess and a variety of luxurious interior trim options. The new Fuga takes each attribute to a new and higher level.

The new Fuga features a revised model lineup, a redesigned exterior and interior, Nissan's new VQ35HR and VQ25HR engines and the world's first*1 Distance Control Assist (Intelligent Pedal) System*2, among other refinements, the combination of which further advances the car's all-around qualities as a premium sports sedan.

Living up to its marketing tagline of “SHIFT_luxury,” Fuga transforms the traditional notion of a luxury car. Fuga is available in three grades (GT, GT Type S and GT Type P) for three engine variations (V6 2.5-liter, V6 3.6-liter and V8 4.5-liter). 4WD version is available for 350GT.

A Redesigned Exterior With Substantial Presence:

The new Fuga announces its substantial presence and premium class image with a new “look” featuring redesigned headlights, grille, front and rear bumpers and rear combination lamps. Making even more of a statement is the GT Type S model, with an exterior styling package that includes new side sill spoilers and a “smoky chrome” finish to the inside of the headlights.

New wheel and tire packages add to the sporty look of the new Fuga, with new 18-inch aluminum wheels standard on the 450GT Type P, 450GT, 350GT, 250GT and 350GT FOUR models, and new 19-inch aluminum wheels standard on the GT Type S model.

Seven body colors are available on the Fuga, including five all-new colors - Crystal White Pearl, with three coats of pearl paint; metallic Blade Silver; a pearl metallic Stratosphere Blue; a metallic Warm Satin Silver; and a titanium metallic Titanium Gray. Nissan’s advanced “Scratch Shield” – a special “self-healing” clearcoat paint treatment – is also available on three colors - Super Black, Stratosphere Blue and Titanium Gray.

A Luxurious, Detailed Interior:

Fuga’s interior has been revised to enhance the feelings of luxury and craftsmanship, with special attention paid to the interior materials and details of all controls and trim panels.

Improvements include new three-dimensional instrument dials with white and blue violet illumination, new bubinga wood and grain pattern of the genuine wood finishers (from rosewood), the addition of pure silver accents to the piano-black interior finisher trim, new billet aluminum center stack control switches, new rear seat fabric and a new full-automatic air-conditioning system with a Plasma Cluster Ion® anti-bacterial function*3.

A top-grade option on the new Fuga is a new semi-aniline genuine leather interior trim package featuring the finest grade of leather. This new package includes semi-aniline genuine leather seats, hand-polished genuine wood trim finishers with a rare grain pattern, genuine leather-wrapped steering wheel and shift lever knob, and a suede-like headliner. Additional comfort is provided by a front passenger seat with a power ottoman (standard on all models except for 250GT and 350GT FOUR) and power reclining rear seats (standard on GT Type P).

A Responsive Driveline:

Fuga showcases the latest in Nissan engine technology with its choice of 3.5-liter VQ35HR and 2.5-liter VQ25HR engines, which combine high levels of power and torque with low fuel consumption, as well as producing sounds that befit its position as a sports luxury machine.

Both powerplants are backed by a standard full-range electronically controlled 5-speed automatic transmission with a DS mode. The DS mode works to provide maximum performance by optimizing gear selection for the applicable driving conditions. Additional control is available through magnesium paddle shifters, which are standard on the GT Type S model. (4.5-liter VK45DE engine is also available for 2WD models.)

Advanced Technology:

Fuga is one of Nissan’s most technologically advanced vehicles, and the new Fuga carries forward that reputation. Standard on all models is an HDD-based CARWINGS navigation system, along with a standard side blind-spot monitor and back-view monitor. Also available is a factory-installed Bose® surround sound audio system.

The highlight of the new Fuga’s technology is the adoption of the world's first Distance Control Assist (Intelligent Pedal) System, which is standard on the 450GT Type P/Type S and 350GT Type P and optional on the other models. Using an accelerator pedal actuator, this system assists drivers in controlling the distance between their car and the vehicle in front, reducing the driver's workload in a variety of driving situations - from city driving to expressway cruising.

Also available is a revised Intelligent Cruise Control system incorporating “all-speed following capability” and the world's first “navigation-cooperative control function,” standard on the 450GT Type P/Type S, 450GT and 350GT Type P, and optional on other models. This system has the capability of stopping the Fuga when the vehicle in front comes to a stop, and can control vehicle speed from a standing start to approximately 100 km/h (the previous system had a range of 5 km/h to 100 km/h). Additionally, the new system features a “navigation-cooperative control function” that assists in controlling the Fuga’s speed according to the reading of an upcoming curve in the road.

All of these technological features combine to provide a more comfortable driving experience for Fuga owners.

Sales target : 620 units per month

Price range : 3,969,000yen to 6,279,000yen

*1 As of December 2007.

*2 Based on information obtained with a radar sensor installed in the front bumper, this system controls the brakes according to the distance to the vehicle ahead and the relative speed of the two cars. If the driver is pressing the accelerator pedal at the time, the accelerator pedal actuator generates force to push the pedal upwards, helping the driver switch to the brake pedal.

*3 This product incorporates Sharp Corporation's Plasmacluster technology. Plasmacluster and Plasmacluster Ion are registered trademarks of Sharp Corporation.

Mazda2 diesel pricing announced (UK)

The Mazda 2 will be available with a 1.4-litre turbodiesel engine as of March 2008.

The 67bhp diesel Mazda 2 comes in two trim levels; TS and TS2 with the TS costing £9,499 and the TS2 at £10,999 respectively.

Mazda’s baby oil-burner produces 118lb ft of torque and only 114g/km of CO2, costing only £35 a year to tax and avoiding the London congestion.

Even more of an incentive to wait for the diesel Mazda 2 is the 65.7mpg combined figure, which gives a range of nearly 600 miles to each 42.8-litre tank of fuel and class-leading fuel economy.

The Mazda 2 came second place to the Fiat 500 in the 2008 Car of the Year competition and is considered the benchmark for driving dynamics and practicality.

The addition of the diesel engine will increase sales of the already popular supermini, so get your order in now if you want delivery in March.

Mazda2 crash test results

Mazda UK wants Mazda2 MPS

Mazda2 production starts

New Car: 2008 Lancia Phedra

The New 170 HP Phedra 2.2 Multijet presented at the Brussels International Motorshow
New 170 HP engine Revised exterior and interior VIP Service included

Latest generation infotelematics:

From January 17 to 27, 2008, the 86th edition of the Brussels International Motorshow will exhibit what is new in the world of automobiles and motorcycles. Together with the New Musa – recently presented at Frankfurt and Bologna - Lancia will introduce the New Phedra, the best example of the “Italian art of living” now offering revised looks for vehicle exterior and interior, a more comprehensive range and above all a new 2.2 Multijet 170 HP powerplant coupled to a 6-speed manual or automatic transmission (the latter coming on stream next Spring).

Produced as a joint-venture with PSA of France, in line with the mutually beneficial collaboration dating back to 1994, the new model reproposes the generous overall dimensions, i.e. 4.75 length by 1.86 width by 1.75 height, combined with the luxury of an interior carefully planned in the smallest details and provided with a set of safety, comfort and telematics devices placing it right at the top of its class, as confirmed also by the 5-star Euro NCAP award.

Thus, the Nuova Phedra motorist can choose the dimension of mobility, as well as the extent of conviviality. Without, however, renouncing the vision of the automobile as an object of design, precious materials recognizable by feel, quietly relaxing, comfort at hand, driving and riding pleasure. On board the Lancia Phedra one discovers how engineering and performance combine to assure a sensation of wellbeing.

But the outstanding novelty of the new model is the introduction of the brilliant 2.2 Multijet which delivers 170 HP at 4,000 rpm for 370 Nm max. torque starting from as low as 1500 rpm. Excellent performance, also thanks to the sequential-parallel twin-turbo unit providing fast response times right from low revs for high elasticity, driving pleasure and performance.

Coupled to a 6-speed manual, the powerplant propels the Nuova Phedra 2.2 Multijet to 200 km/h max. speed with 0-100 km/h acceleration in 10 seconds (against the 11.4 seconds of the 136 HP 2.0 Multijet for virtually the same fuel consumption). Overall, this outstanding performance makes for high cruising speeds, good acceleration and pickup, with an eye to fuel consumption. Yet again, Nuova Phedra is at top of its class with a perfect balance between style, habitability and comfort (capacity of up to 7 adults) and excellent driving pleasure. Moreover, emission levels are down thanks to the adoption of a DPF particulate filter.

Finally, in some markets it will be available with “Lancia VIP Service”, the exclusive mobility package with its mobile shop active 24/7 ready to intervene in the unlikely event of trouble, and at no extra cost for the life of the warranty. Also, the owner no longer has to turn in his vehicle for scheduled service: Lancia provides a taxi service for seamless mobility.

A new style in the tradition of Italian elegance and taste:

A quick look at the Nuova Phedra is all it takes to discover a front end now even more imposing and refined. This is due to the exclusive grill and chromed bumper inserts ideally matching the new Lancia logo. And the same emblem is to be found also on both the side pillar and rear end, paired with the new lettering “Phedra”, in smart italics, and with the engine symbol “170 HP”: a match wonderfully representing the temperament of the 2.2 Multijet, coupled to the innate class of the Lancia SUV.

The outline of the new Lancia is made even more appealing by the special 16” bi-color alloy rims. And owners may choose from eleven bodywork colors (including the three new metallics now available, i.e. Guercino Grey, Lorenzetti Bordeaux and Florentine Blue, and 5 types of cloth interiors in Alcantara® or leather.

Thus, only a few exterior touches to make the outline of the Nuova Phedra even more refined and distinctive. Inside the vehicle the comfort and style excellence typical of Lancia is all around, as confirmed by the sensation of muffled elegance upon entering. The spacious interior is limousine-like, and the front seats which swivel through 180 degrees facilitate conversation, or work face to face, or an improvised family picnic. Not to mention the feeling of warmth, protection and welcoming of luxurious materials such as Alcantara® or leather which, emphasized by a discreet insert of tanganykan or brazilian rosewood, cover the entire interior with a cocooning effect for the occupants.

Comfort features also include tilting tables on the rear of the seat backs, leather lined grab handles on center pillars (assisting second and third row occupant entry and exit) and drawers under the front seats. Not forgetting the luggage compartment with a capacity of 324 dm3, increasing to almost 3,000 dm3 with rear seats folded.

The Nuova Phedra has a reflex-free dash with two large closed compartments, covered with a combination of PVC for the frontal area and Alcantara® Starlite at top and bottom. Also the seats have been improved. For example, the Argento version has Castiglio (a chocolate color) side trim and cloth (Tex Carbony) Magnesium color cloth (Tex Carbony) center trim. The other two versions , namely Oro and Platino, come with Alcantara® Starlite Blue or two-tone Beige/Chocolate upholstery as standard equipment (a luxurious perforated leather in the same color is available on request).

In short, all the distinction and prestige of a great sedan for the élite, with the flexibility and room of a large SUV: this is the Nuova Phedra. All of which is rendered appealing by Italian class and elegance, recognizable in the most minute details. In fact, the new Lancia model is the right solution for motorists wishing to travel in style, comfort and safety, who are curious, on the move, seeking interesting places to discover and share the experience with others. But without detracting from their exclusive lifestyle, or without giving up the habit of surrounding themselves with beautiful objects which in their category represent the best the market has to offer. Indeed, the Nuova Phedra fits perfectly the concept of ”Italian art of living”.

Outstanding safety:

Elegant and innovative, Lancia Phedra is also one of the safest models of its segment, having won the coveted five stars of the European New Car Assessment Program (Euro NCAP), which places it at the top of the segment in terms of safety (both active and passive).

This important award is above all the recognition of Lancia’s unsparing attention to all aspects of driver and passenger protection, an established part of the design process covering both body and vehicle components, from dash to seats, to occupant restraint systems. For the Nuova Phedra this effort yielded excellent results, as shown by the Euro NCAP award. To attain this goal, designers reviewed all types of possible impacts, including front, side, overturn, rear end and fire hazard. Impact speeds were also taken into account, together with the different types of obstacles and different types of occupants. In-depth evaluation of all these parameters resulted in various technical options which make the Nuova Phedra one of the safest cars of the entire segment.

Total protection, starting with an array of passive safety devices fitted as standard equipment, including dual multi-stage front airbags, two front side airbags, two window airbags protecting side passengers of the three rows of seats. Moreover, the Nuova Phedra incorporates passenger seat sensors (for airbag activation on impact) and visual and audible warning systems for front seat belts. Plus lap-and-diagonals with pretensioners and load limiters (excluding center seat of second row), headrests adjustable for height and rake (front). And the centralized door locking system, as well as the Isofix mounting points for child safety harness, supplemented by grandangle rearview mirror for monitoring rear seats and driver controlled sliding door and rear window lockup. Finally, automatic door lock release and fuel supply cutoff in case of impact.

The Lancia SUV behaviour on the road is always consistent and predictable, is forgiving in case of driver’s errors and will help him to pull away from critical situations without trouble. As regards active safety the Nuova Phedra, in addition to a high-performance brake system, boasts leading-edge electronics for dynamic vehicle control during braking and traction.

All versions have ABS and EBD (Electronic Brake force Distribution), a device which adjusts brake pressure to the rear axle to prevent wheel lockup, thereby ensuring that the vehicle is under control at all times and in all conditions. Standard equipment also includes a Brake Assistance Device (BAD) for emergency braking; on cars fitted with ESP the BAD function is electronically controlled by the ABS ECU and is known as HBA (Hydraulic Brake Assistance).
For maximum vehicle control in all circumstances, all Lancia Phedras incorporate ESP (Electronic Stability Program), a device which is designed to cut in in limit conditions, i.e. when vehicle stability is at risk, helping the driver to resume full control. Moreover, the new model is equipped with ASR (Anti-Slip Regulation), a device designed to control driving wheel spin on low-adhesion road surfaces. This automatic traction control system operates regardless of speed to adjust torque in relation to the coefficient of wheel adhesion. When changing down suddenly from a higher gear in low-adhesion conditions, the MSR (Motor Schleppmoment Regelung) cuts in to increase engine torque, thereby avoiding wheel skidding due to lock-up. A comprehensive package aimed at improving safety when the Nuova Phedra is on the move. To govern these devices, an ECU-driven ‘intelligent central nervous system’ was purpose-designed to process signals received from sensors located around the vehicle and react accordingly.

Last but not least, the highly effective brake system of the Nuova Phedra ensures prompt and progressive vehicle deceleration and reduced stopping distances. On sudden, prolonged braking, the automatic emergency warning system cuts in turning on the hazard warning lights to promptly alert the following drivers. Some versions also incorporate headlamp washers, cruise control, Xenon lamps (standard on the Platino) rain sensor, park sensors, auto. external lights activation sensor and deflated tire sensor.

The range:

The range includes three outfits, namely Argento, Oro and Platino, three turbodiesel powerplants and three seating configurations, i.e. standard five-seat, optional six- and seven-seat (for Italy seven-seat standard, six-seat optional). There are eleven bodywork colors to choose from and five for the interior, namely Castiglio/cloth, Alcantara® Starlite and perforated leather (optional), for a total of up to 52 combinations for utmost personalization, for the most demanding of motorists.

This sophisticated SUV can be supplied with either of three turbodiesel common rail powerplants, i.e. the 2.0 Multijet (120 HP), the 2.0 Multijet (136 HP) with particulate filter and the brand new 2.2 Multijet (170 HP) also with particulate filter, all coupled to a manual transmission (the 170 HP version is also available with a 6-speed automatic transmission), for maximum performance, quiet running, ride comfort and fuel efficiency.

With minor changes depending on market, the three versions come with an extremely plentiful array of standard accessories. First level Argento has 16” wheel rims and heated, defrost, power rear view mirrors on the outside, and zone auto. air conditioning system, car radio with CD reader and Mp3 file, trip computer, hydraulic power steering, second seat row curtains and tinted glass windows (power operated front and rear) on the inside. Standard safety features include ABS, ESP, 6 airbags, headlamp beam adjust and luggage restraint net.

In addition to the above, the Nuova Phedra Oro has Privacy glazing, third seat row curtains, 16” alloy wheel rims, cruise control, pivoting seats and park sensors.

The welcoming, smart interior of the Nuova Phedra Platino incorporates extra refinements which point to the care and attention paid by Lancia in order to pamper the motorist. In addition to the features of the Oro version, the Platino has heated and power-operated front seats, rain sensor and auto. external lights activation sensor, Xenon headlamps, headlamp washers, electrochromic interior rear view mirror and leather lined steering wheel and gear control.

Nuova Phedra owners will be able to personalize their car choosing from a comprehensive range of optionals including lift and roll alarm, power-operated side doors and triple sunroof. The Nuova Phedra can also be provided with Bluetooth hands-free telephone and an innovative sat-nav system. The telephone system makes for maximum driving safety, enabling conversation even with the bluetooth mobile in a jacket pocket or briefcase, automatically muting the car radio (if switched on) and using the stereo speakers to listen. Another optional feature of the Nuova Phedra is the innovative sat-nav system comprising car radio RDS with CD reader, GSM dual band hands-off phone, voice controls for radio and phone, map-based dynamic navigation through 7", 16/9 color display. The device comes with a high-capacity hard disk (10 GB) with which to save up to 180 hours of music files, a map of Europe, 3D Navteq maps, route calculation options, hands-free GSM (by inserting SIM in navigator) and video viewing during stops.

Tuesday 25 December 2007

New Car: 2009 Subaru Forester



* All-New Design with Improved Comfort, Space and Utility

* All-New Platform With Sport-Sedan Dynamics

* Standard Vehicle Dynamics Control (VDC)

Subaru of America, Inc. today released the first official photos of the all-new, third-generation 2009 Forester, a total re-design of the award-winning crossover utility vehicle (CUV) that will debut at the 2008 North American International Auto Show (NAIAS) in Detroit in January. The 2009 Forester, which arrives in Subaru dealerships this spring, builds upon its predecessor’s reputation as an icon of safety, dependability and versatility. The new-generation 2009 model projects a bolder, more SUV-like design and making a major leap in safety technology, comfort, refinement and driving dynamics. As with all Subaru models, the 2009 Forester comes equipped as standard with Symmetrical All-Wheel Drive. An all-new platform featuring a 3.6-inch longer wheelbase (now 103.0 inches) and double-wishbone rear suspension improves crash-worthiness and at the same time provides crisper handling, a quieter ride and increased interior space and cargo room. The 2009 Forester once again blends positive SUV attributes including a high seating point and interior versatility with passenger car comfort, handling and fuel efficiency. All Forester models for 2009 feature standard side-curtain airbags with a rollover sensor, and the Vehicle Dynamics Control (VDC) stability and traction control system is standard on all models for the first time. With the Subaru Dynamic Chassis Control Concept (Subaru DC3), Subaru optimized all elements of the Forester’s chassis to deliver a better balance of ride, handling response, quietness and overall traction performance than offered by competitive vehicles. A comprehensive array of elements contributes to that goal, including the new, high-strength body structure, standard Symmetrical All-Wheel Drive, VDC and four-wheel disc ABS brakes with the Brake Assist safety system. Manual-transmission models also feature Incline Start Assist, which can momentarily prevent the vehicle from rolling backward when being driven away from a stop on an incline. Even with its bolder exterior and roomier interior, the new 2009 Forester is only about three inches longer than its predecessor, thus retaining the trim exterior packaging cited by Forester owners as one of this model’s most essential features. A robust body structure, heavy-duty raised four-wheel independent suspension system and up to 8.9 inches of ground clearance help make Forester equally adept at negotiating twisty roads and absorbing ruts and bumps.


The 2009 Forester offers naturally aspirated and turbocharged/intercooled 2.5-liter Boxer engines, both revised to provide better low-end and mid-range torque for more responsive everyday performance. New interior materials, including double-stitched fabrics and high-grade plastics, impart a feeling of higher quality. As before, Forester is offered in a wide array of models, with the 2009 Forester 2.5 X offering one of the best values in the crossover SUV segment and the range-topping Forester L.L.

Bean Edition offering more luxury without compromising the vehicle’s sporty nature. The 2009 Forester offers a navigation system for the first time as well as advanced audio system upgrade options. The 2009 Forester comes pre-wired for XM® or SIRIUS® Satellite Radio. An auxiliary audio input jack enables connection of an iPod® or MP3 player.

First 2 images show a U.S spec Forester while the rest are JDM Forester's

Monday 24 December 2007

Ford Fusion sedan caught cold

Ford's future 2009 Fusion has now progressed from the mule stage into a finished prototype. The Fusion, caught on the streets of Dearborn, is heavily camouflaged on its front and rear ends but changes are still noticeable.

Traces of the thick horizontal bars remain on the new Fusion's grille opening but their spacing and orientation look quite different. A heavily revised front bumper design reveals a more angular, trapezoidal grille, and bold new air intakes are spaced wide — above the front foglamps. Sporty honeycomb mesh fills both of these secondary air inlets, replacing the two chrome bars that sit in the low center intake on the current Fusion. The new look suggests that the influence of Ford's 427 concept will be greatly de-emphasised on the next-generation Fusion.

Changes to the Fusion's rear are less apparent. A new rear bumper design and some taillight tweaks are certain, but the extent of the changes can't be fully discerned on this prototype. The Fusion's dash is covered beneath the prototype's windscreen, suggesting that interior updates are also in the works alongside a hybrid (visit link below).

Ford Fusion Hybrid

See the Jaguar XF on your iPhone or iPod Touch

Jaguar Launches First Broadband Multimedia Magazine for Apple iPhone:

Jaguar continues its trend of being a leader in innovative media technology as it launches the industry's first broadband multimedia magazine specifically for Apple iPhone and iPod Touch users. The largest Broadband 2.0 Video Network, 29HD Network, developed this unique spin on the traditional website for Jaguar. By going to, iPhone and iPod Touch owners can experience the new Jaguar XF like never before. The broadband magazine features the XF in vibrant photos and dramatic videos, all cropped to perfectly fit the portable devices' displays and take full advantage of their widescreen format.

With just a tap of the screen, users can flip through the dynamic photos of the broadband magazine, each of which also features an accompanying video that can be viewed with just another tap. All content is editorial based and will be updated regularly as the XF's release date approaches.

The new 2009 Jaguar XF is the first production car that reflects the new design direction for the brand, and will go on sale in USA in March 2008 with a starting MSRP of $49,975 (includes destination and delivery charges).

About Jaguar:

From its beginning as a manufacturer of motorcycle sidecars in 1922, Jaguar Cars has grown to become one of the world's premier manufacturers of luxury sedans and sports cars and with that, one of the most recognized commercial brands. The company's vision is simple: To produce beautiful fast cars that are desired the world over. The company operates two manufacturing plants in the United Kingdom and is fully engaged in environmental programs, community work and brand awareness exercises such as motorsports.

29 HD Network:

29HD Network is the largest Broadband2.0 Video Network for Auto and Racing. With sites that have larger format streaming videos and RSS Video feeds, the network was created and run by a team that are pioneers in Broadband Editorial.

Audi Q7 recall (China)

FAW-Volkswagen, one of China's biggest automakers, is recalling more than 4,000 imported Audi Q7 SUV’s to correct a software defect.

The manufacture said it has exposed a problem with software that controls the opening of the tailgate. The alert is related to a potential safety issue during loading or unloading if the air-actuated springs simultaneously break down.

The vehicles involved in the recall were made between June 2006 and July 2007. Free repairs are being offered to consumers.

FAW-VW is a joint venture between First Auto Works and the Volkswagen Group.

Audi Q7 accident

Sunday 23 December 2007

Chrysler ends Crossfire production

Chrysler hoped that its ill-fated Crossfire would die a quiet death. The end came without official word or fanfare from the firm on 17th December, when the assembly of the vehicle ended at the Karmann plant in Osnabrück, Germany.

The final Crossfire that came off the production line is apparently bound for darkness too. "There are no plans to put the final vehicle in a museum," said Michele Tinson, a Chrysler spokeswoman on Thursday.

Pulling the plug on the Crossfire is "part of our initiative to have the right products at the right time," Tinson said.

On 1st November, Chrysler announced that the Crossfire, Pacifica, PT Cruiser convertible and Dodge Magnum which are all slow sellers were being axed in response to dealer requests.

"These actions reflect our new customer-driven philosophy and allow us to focus our resources on new, more profitable and appealing products," said Jim Press, Chrysler vice chairman and president. "Further, these product actions are all in response to dealer requests."

Tinson said she was unable to give 2008 volume numbers for the Crossfire, saying "We don't track it. Germany does."

But figures compiled by Automotive News showed Chrysler sold only 193 Crossfires in November and still had 1,000 unsold cars left in stock on 1st December.

Mazda adds new special edition to MX-5 line-up (UK)


The latest Mazda MX-5 can truly be described as an all-weather, all-year sports car with its enhanced heating and air-conditioning systems. Now, to celebrate its continuing status as ‘Britain’s favourite sports car brand’ this winter, Mazda is introducing a pair of special edition ‘Niseko’ models, named after Japan’s most prestigious skiing resort.

As the latest edition of the world’s best selling roadster, the rear-wheel drive Mazda MX-5 Niseko boasts unrivalled handling and driving dynamics, and represents extremely competitive value for money. Available from £17,995 on-the-road, the Niseko offers up to £2,000 worth of additional or exclusive extras over and above the equivalent standard models.

On sale from 1 January 2008, both the ‘entry-level’ 1.8i Niseko soft-top (126ps, five-speed) and the £19,995 2.0i Niseko roadster coupe (160ps, six-speed) are available in an exclusive new bespoke colour ‘Icy Blue’ metallic, as well as Sunlight Silver metallic – for no additional charge.

“Mazda MX-5 customers have traditionally given a warm welcome to each new ‘special edition’ model introduced during our roadster’s 18 year history,” commented Mark Cameron, Mazda UK marketing director. “Now, for the first time with the Niseko, we are offering a ‘special’ model in both soft-top and roadster coupe forms and with co-ordinated brown leather seats and interior trim. Personally, I think the new ‘Icy Blue’ colour is going to appeal particularly to women buyers, although since launch the third generation Mazda MX-5 has achieved a 50/50, male/female sales mix as predicted.

“Traditionally, MX-5 buyers spend more on accessories and do more to individualise their cars, than other Mazda owners. Although the majority of those buyers use their MX-5s all-year-round, the peak ordering period is from February through to May, so the introduction of Niseko in January will boost sales at the back end of winter and give us a head-start for a spring sales boom,” added Cameron.

Special exterior features of the Mazda MX-5 Niseko include: unique design 17-inch alloy wheels, unique body-colour finish for the style bar trim, front fog lamps, Chrome Pack (door handles and headlamp bezels, and surrounds for the side-repeaters, front grille and fog lamps) and special edition ‘Niseko’ badging on each front wing, plus a unique dark brown premium cloth for the fabric roof (soft-top only).

Inside, both Niseko models feature unique dark brown heated leather seats with co-ordinated door trim and icy blue stitching, plus dark brown leather steering wheel, gearknob and handbrake. They are also equipped with a dark-silver dash panel, stainless-steel scuff plates and Niseko-branded luxury interior mats, with a suspension strut tower bracing bar beneath the bonnet.

As well as adding the special Niseko features, the generous standard equipment of the donor vehicles ensures that buyers can enjoy: driver’s seat height adjustment, electric windows, central locking, MP3-compatible radio/single CD player with six-speaker audio system, climate control air-conditioning, stainless-steel scuff plates, twin chrome exhaust tail pipes and a Thatcham Category 1 alarm and immobiliser.

Niseko owners will also enjoy a degree of exclusivity as production of this latest Mazda MX-5 model will be restricted. Just 240 examples of the Mazda MX-5 1.8i Niseko soft-top and 560 units of the MX-5 2.0i Niseko roadster coupe will be made available in the UK.

Despite all of the additional specification, both Mazda MX-5 Niseko special editions remain in the same insurance groups as their standard counterparts – 11E (1.8i) and 13E (2.0i).

Toyota adds new flagship to Auris range (UK)

New sports-focused Toyota Auris SR180 flagship model

Toyota Motorsport lowered suspension and rear spoiler

Dark-tinted rear privacy glass 17-inch alloy wheels 175bhp 2.2 D-4D engine gives nought to 62mph acceleration in 8.1 seconds

On sale on 1 January 2008 Prices £17,995 (three-door) and £18,495 (five-door)

A new flagship Toyota Auris hits the streets early next year, giving the range a new sporting edge. The SR180 does not stint on eye-appeal, with Toyota Motorsport lowered suspension springs giving it a ground-hugging stance and a neat new rear spoiler positioned atop the tailgate. Dark-tinted rear privacy glass and five-spoke 17-inch alloys add further to the style factor, while the choice of body colours includes an über-cool Pure White.

The SR180 is far from being all-show-and-no-do. The 2.2-litre D-4D engine generates 175bhp and a maximum 400Nm of torque from 2,000rpm, giving responsive and rewarding driving performance through the six-speed manual transmission. Benchmark acceleration from nought to 62mph is 8.1 seconds, while the D-4D engine’s strong fuel efficiency returns an official 45.6mpg in combined cycle driving.

Further driving rewards are delivered by the dedicated, lightweight double wishbone rear suspension, tailored specifically to meet the demands of the model’s higher performance characteristics. Vehicle stability control (VSC) with traction control (TRC) are provided as standard.

In keeping with its flagship status, the SR180 has a high equipment specification with automatic dual-zone air conditioning, dusk-sensing headlamps, rain-sensing wipers and cruise control all part of the standard package.

The new model is available to order now (for delivery in January), with both three and five-door versions available, priced respectively £17,995 and £18,495 on the road.

Friday 21 December 2007

Mercedes C63 AMG pricing announced (UK)

Mercedes-Benz has announced prices for its C-Class flagship models, the C 63 AMG saloon and estate. Available to order now and on the road in spring, the latest additions to the highly acclaimed range will retail at £51,317 for the saloon and £52,567 for the estate, increases of just four and 4.5 per cent respectively over the previous generation C 55 AMG. That’s despite a substantially more powerful engine and enhanced equipment levels.

Prodigious performance is delivered courtesy of AMG’s new 6208 cc V8 engine, which produces 457 hp at 6800 rpm – up 90 hp on the 5.5-litre V8 of the C 55 AMG. Even more outstanding is the torque delivery which peaks at 600 Nm, a figure unprecedented in this class. What’s more, the driver always has more than 500 Nm on tap between 2000 and 6250 rpm, ensuring supreme flexibility throughout the rev range.

On the road that translates into a 0 to 62mph figure of 4.5 seconds for the saloon and 4.6 for the estate (C 55 AMG 5.2 and 5.4 seconds respectively), while top speed is electronically limited to 155 mph. As you might expect, there’s a delicious V8-sound track to match – all thanks to AMG’s race-winning heritage.

The engine is perfectly complemented by the seven-speed AMG Speedshift Plus 7G-Tronic transmission which features Sport, Comfort and Manual shift modes. Shift speeds are around 30 per cent faster in Sport compared to Comfort and 50 per cent faster in Manual mode using the steering wheel mounted shift paddles. There’s the added satisfaction of an automatic blip of the throttle as you downshift manually, which helps to maximise stability, particularly when braking into a corner.

The latest AMG models are more clearly differentiated than ever before, with a wide road hugging stance accentuated by flared wheel arches and two prominent power domes on the bonnet signaling the cars’ latent power. A honeycomb grille, large front apron, side skirts and a rear apron with black diffuser insert complete the assertive look. The standard light alloy wheels are titanium painted 8.0 x 18 five-spoke items at the front and 9.0 x 18 items at the rear. Optional 19 inch multi-spoke items are also available at £600.

A decidedly sporty interior features AMG sports seats with integral head restraints upholstered in luxurious Nappa leather with cross-piping and AMG badging. The small diameter AMG steering wheel has a flat lower edge and perforated leather trim and the trademark AMG tube-style instrument cluster adopts AMG specific lettering together with a 6.3 V8 logo in the rev counter. Front seats are fully electrically adjustable with memory, including adaptive backrests with side bolster and lumbar adjustment.As an alternative to the standard aluminium trim elements, carbon fibre trim is an option at £1520.

In common with all C-Class models, the C63 AMG features the readily intuitive central control system with colour screen, allowing rapid access to audio, navigation and telephone functions, and complemented by the multifunction steering wheel. Unique to AMG models is the Racetimer feature appearing in the central display which enables lap times to be recorded.

Naturally the estate model offers all the practicality of its siblings, including 1/3: 2/3 split rear seat, bag hooks and load ties, stowage compartments with covers, a collapsible shopping crate and a combined luggage cover and retaining net. Even more convenience comes courtesy of the standard Easy-Pack tailgate which automatically opens and closes at the push of a button. Able to swallow up to 1500 litres (VDA), no other premium estate in this class offers the C 63 AMG’s mix of performance and exceptional load carrying capacity.

AMG sports suspension with an all-new three-link front axle, a 35 mm wider track and the longer wheelbase common to all C-Class models delivers outstanding grip and agility.

The redesigned front wheel location is 100 per cent more rigid than the previous model to give more precise steering precision and more responsive braking, while the suspension geometry, larger anti-roll bar, and rebound buffer springs provide greatly improved lateral dynamics and higher cornering speeds. Feedback from the speed-sensitive AMG sports steering is also improved.

At the rear the multi-link suspension has been re-engineered with a 12mm wider track and more camber for enhanced cornering performance.

Stopping power is provided by 360mm discs with six piston calipers at the front, 330mm with four piston calipers at the rear.

New, three-stage ESP® can be turned off altogether for track use or switched to a Sport setting whose higher dynamic thresholds and corresponding drift angles allow greater driver interaction. Braking while in Sport mode or with the ESP® deactivated restores all normal ESP® functions until the brakes are once more released; traction control is active in all three modes.

Options unique to the C63 AMG models include the AMG driver’s package which increases the limited top speed and includes attendance at an AMG ‘Power and Passion’ driving event (£2160); and a Performance Package which comprises compound front disc brakes, a limited slip differential, performance suspension and a Nappa leather and Alcantara trimmed steering wheel (£3120).

New Car: 2008 Mercedes SLK

The Mercedes-Benz SLK-Class Roadsters have long captured the hearts of sports car enthusiasts. Incorporating around 650 newly developed parts, the SLK models of 2008 are even more dynamic and now offer an even more emotionally charged driving experience. Key visual enhancements include new-look front and rear sections as well as a meticulously modified interior with a new instrument cluster and three-spoke sports steering wheel. A fast-running V6 sports engine developing 224 kW/305 hp and an optionally available direct-steer system truly bring the bold, dynamic character of the two-seater SLK 350 to the fore. Furthermore, all of the engines in the line-up are now far more economical on fuel and, therefore, emit even less CO2, despite a substantial increase in output in many cases. The new-generation SLK models will be available from April 2008, pricing will be announced early in 2008. Since their first appearance in 1997, the compact SLK Roadsters have come to symbolise Mercedes-Benz' dynamic brand image. Already a familiar sight on our roads, the second-generation two-seater is to be further enhanced with the implementation of a raft of measures in 2008, to further emphasise the car's sporty character and continue the SLK-Class success story by introducing new, dynamic, powerful elements. Sales of the SLK-Class Roadster are now approaching the half-million mark with over 495,000 sold, over 40,000 of which were sold in the UK. The new-generation SLK displays new sporty highlights, further enhancing the appeal of the successful two-seater with the trendsetting vario-roof that transforms the car from a roadster into a weatherproof coupé in a matter of seconds.

Distinctive character: even more pronounced arrow shape at the front end and a diffuser-style rear end:

The designers have given the already dynamic-looking two-seater cult model an even sportier appearance. Eye-catching features include the new-look front bumper with a modified air-dam arrangement and a more pronounced arrow shape. Plus the area around the Mercedes star has been restyled to render it even more succinct. In addition, the designers have modified the rear end by introducing a diffuser-style lower section that makes the Roadster appear more powerful when viewed from behind – an effect that is enhanced considerably by the trapezoidal exhaust tailpipes and the AMG-inspired darkened tail lights. The now larger exterior mirrors feature LED indicators with a pronounced arrow shape, while the range of light-alloy wheels is also almost entirely new.

High-quality cockpit and new three-spoke sports steering wheel

Many of the interior details have also been redesigned and upgraded following a careful process of material selection. Particular importance was attached to optimising the interior to make it even more driver-oriented. Centrepieces include a new three-spoke sports steering wheel with multifunction buttons and a new instrument cluster with captivating dial surrounds. Enhanced audio and telematics systems

Mercedes-Benz is installing the new NTG 2.5 audio and telematics generation in the SLK for the first time. It is easier to operate and offers an even wider range of useful functions. Standard features integrated in every radio include a hands-free system with Bluetooth technology and a new media interface in the glove compartment, allowing the full integration of mobile audio devices such as an iPod, which can then be operated via the audio system's user interface.

Together with the new telematics generation, Mercedes-Benz is also offering the LINGUATRONIC voice-operated control system as an optional extra in the SLK-Class for the first time. Voluminous surround sound even when the roof is open

Passengers can enjoy a unique listening experience, regardless of whether the vario-roof is open or closed, thanks to the optionally available harman kardon® Logic7® sound system. Rich and voluminous surround sound makes for crystal-clear listening pleasure, the like of which has never before been associated with a roadster. Fast-running sports engine: higher output and much lower fuel consumption

The sporty credentials of the 2008 SLK generation are further enhanced by three modified powerplants that consume less fuel and, therefore, emit less CO2. The four-cylinder powerplant in the SLK 200 Kompressor and the six-cylinder sports engine in the SLK 350 both offer substantially more power and torque. Only the SLK 55 AMG retains its familiar engine – an eight-cylinder unit that has lost none of its mesmerising performance capability and remains a unique selling point in the SLK segment.

The Mercedes-Benz engineers paid special attention to the fast-running V6 sports engine that makes its debut in the new-generation SLK, totally altering the six-cylinder unit's character by making sweeping changes to the mechanical setup. Although the displacement remains the same at 3498 cc, the engine now develops 224 kW/305 hp at 6500 rpm – some 24 kW (33 hp) more than its predecessor. The peak torque has also been boosted, by 10 Nm, and now stands at 360 Nm when the engine is running at 4900 rpm. This result was achieved by raising the engine speed limit to 6800 rpm; it can even be increased to 7200 rpm for a brief period – oil temperature and other engine parameters permitting. Other changes introduced include a higher compression ratio, a new intake manifold and an extensively modified valve train.
Further aspects which add to the emotionally charged appeal of the new engine include deliberately powerful sports-engine acoustics with a strikingly emotive sound design when decelerating. In combination with the 7G?TRONIC automatic transmission, the engine management system also blips the throttle automatically during downshifts. As well as producing an extremely sporty sound, this throttle-blipping function reduces load alteration effects.

Despite the higher output and high-calibre performance, the SLK 350 consumes considerably less fuel. With the six-speed manual transmission on board, combined fuel consumption is just 29.7 mpg; if the 7G-TRONIC automatic transmission is fitted, the sports powerplant returns a combined fuel consumption of just 30.7 mpg. Lower fuel consumption means that CO2 emissions are also reduced – by 23 g/km to 219 g/km in the automatic version and by 28 g/km to 227 g/km in the manual version.

The engine line-up for the second generation of the successful SLK-Class is being augmented by three further variants:

The output of the four-cylinder supercharged engine has been boosted by 15 kW/21 hp (to 135 kW/184 hp), while its torque has been increased from 240 to 250 Nm. Combined fuel consumption has been reduced to 36.7 mpg whilst CO2 emissions have been reduced by 27 g/km to 182 g/km.

The SLK 280 has also been further improved with respect to fuel economy and, therefore, CO2 emissions. Fuel consumption has been cut to 30.4 mpg (if an automatic transmission is fitted, the figure is 31.0 mpg), while CO2 emissions have been reduced by 11 g to 220 g/km (if an automatic transmission is fitted, the figure is 6 g lower at 216 g/km).The SLK 55 AMG is still equipped with the familiar 5.5-litre V8 powerplant developing 265 kW/360 hp and a peak torque of 510 Nm.
Standard equipment for the three new SLK models includes a precise six-speed manual gearshift, while the SLK 55 AMG still comes with the 7GTRONIC Sport seven-speed automatic transmission fitted as standard. Optional extras available include a five-speed automatic transmission for the SLK 200 and the 7G-TRONIC seven-speed automatic transmission or, alternatively, the 7G-TRONIC Sport with shift paddles on the steering wheel for the six-cylinder SLK 280 and SLK 350 models. New direct-steer system for outstanding agility and tangible driving pleasure A newly developed direct steering system with variable steering assistance, available as an optional extra (standard for the SLK 55 AMG), further highlights the qualities of the sporty chassis, combining agility and manoeuvrability when driving on twisting rural roads with steering comfort when parking and assured steering characteristics when travelling at high speed. The direct-steer system is based on the previously installed speed-sensitive power steering system and operates by purely mechanical means, meaning that there is no need for elaborate actuators and complex sensors. At its heart is a new rack with slick gearing, which ensures that the steering gear ratio changes in tune with the steering angle. The ratio is indirect when the steering is in or around the central position so as to ensure excellent straight-line stability and, therefore, a high degree of assuredness when travelling at high speed. At a steering angle of just 5 degrees, the ratio starts to increase extremely rapidly and the steering feels much more direct. As a result, the number of steering wheel revolutions from lock to lock is reduced by around 25 percent if the new direct steering is fitted. This means that, even in city traffic, relatively little steering wheel movement is required to correct the car's path. Fast sequences of bends on rural roads can be negotiated almost intuitively with relatively small steering movements – with assurance, precision and a healthy dose of driving enjoyment.

Visually enhanced SLK 55 AMG:

On a technical level, the SLK 55 AMG remains almost unchanged. The only differences are a few visual enhancements. The front end of the AMG model now features a new apron with a black-painted cross strut and side air outlets as well as darkened headlamps. The trendsetting SLKAs trendsetters and technology leaders, the SLK-Class Roadsters have long enjoyed the image of a modern cult car. Even after the extensive modifications, the familiar outstanding qualities remain, for example, the vario-roof that transforms the roadster into a coupé in 22 seconds, not to mention the extensive standard-equipment package, including head/thorax sidebags, adaptive front airbags and two-stage belt-force limiters. Plus the roadster also comes with the option of the unique AIRSCARF neck-level heating system, which allows open-top driving pleasure all year round, even in winter. UK pricing for the new-generation SLK will be confirmed early in 2008.

A diesel engine could even find its way under the hood in 2009.
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