Sunday, 31 August 2008

Hyundai Sonata Hybrid to debut at LA autoshow


Hyundai is to show a petrol/electric Sonata saloon at the Los Angeles autoshow in November. This will have new generation lithium-ion batteries, and will be based on the facelifted 2009 Sonata sedan. However, it will not reach production until 2010.

Hyundai is not importing the revised Sonata to the UK, thanks to very slow sales. Instead, it is waiting for its all new mid-sized model, dubbed i40. This comes to Europe in late 2010, and will be completely different to the U.S Sonata. The i40 will be available as a sedan and wagon, with the latter expected to be the most popular in the UK.

Heated seats can affect men's fertility


Men who use heated car seats may be putting their fertility at risk, according to research by scientists in Germany.

A study, undertaken at the University of Giessen in Germany and reported in the New Scientist magazine, reveals that heated seats could damage sperm production by raising men’s temperature to unhealthy levels. Scientists tested the effect of heated car seats on 30 healthy men. They were asked to sit on different types of car seats for 90 minutes. The scientists said that on unheated seats the average temperature of the scrotum was 36.7°C, but on the heated car seats the average was 37.3°C. One man’s scrotum was measured at 39.7°C after sitting on a heated seat.

The discovery follows warnings that keeping a mobile phone in a trouser pocket for too long or extensive use of a laptop can also impact on fertility. An optimal temperature of 35-36°C is needed to produce healthy sperm.

Most new cars have heated seats as standard or as an option.

Hyundai recalls 65,000 Elantra sedans (U.S)


Hyundai Motor America has issued a recall affecting 65,000 units of the Elantra for a fuel pump defect. It affects MY2008 models produced between 5th November 2007 and 28th June 2008.

The defective fuel pump may lose pressure and hinder the engine's performance. All affected models are equipped with the 2.0 litre Beta 4-cylinder engine that produces 138bhp. Injuries have not been reported due to this defect. Hyundai USA has said that its dealers will replace the fuel pump for free. The recall is expected to begin in during September 2008.

Produced in Hyundai's Ulsan plant in South Korea, the Elantra is the second best selling Hyundai in the U.S, behind the Sonata.

Saturday, 30 August 2008

New Car: 2009 Seat Ibiza Cupra/Ecomotive








2009 Seat Ibiza Ecomotive:

Seat introduced its most frugal and eco-friendly version of the new Ibiza. Available in both 5 door and 3 door forms (SportCoupe), the Ibiza Ecomotive is equipped with VW Group’s 80bhp 1.4 TDI turbo-diesel engine with a DPF (diesel particulate filter). According to the Spanish carmaker, the Ibiza Ecomotive has a CO2 emissions figure of only 99g/km while consumption is also low. Seat hasn’t released any official figures yet but expect them to be very similar to the outgoing Ibiza Ecomotive.

Along with the updated engine software, the Ibiza Ecomotive also features revisions to the gearbox and the gear ratios, low resistant tyres and improved aerodynamics through the new closed front grille and new rear spoiler that reduce resistance to movement and therefore decrease mechanical effort as well as fuel consumption and emissions.

2009 Seat Ibiza Cupra:

Seat has revealed the hot Seat Ibiza Cupra ahead of the car’s Paris show debut in October. The Ibiza Cupra gets its sporting potential from a 178bhp, 1.4 TSI twin-turbo engine and a seven-speed double-clutch DSG gearbox, combined with stiffened sports suspension, and a host of driver aids including ESP and traction control. The Ibiza Cupra will produce lower CO2 emissions than the outgoing model.

The styling of the Cupra is much closer to the Bocanegra concept that preceded the Ibiza, including its larger, more sharply defined black grille, revised air intakes and a centrally placed trapezoidal exhaust. Other standard equipment on the Cupra includes cornering lights, bucket seats and 17-inch alloys.

No performance figures or prices have been released, but expect the Cupra to compete with the RenaultSport Clio 197, Ford Fiesta ST and Vauxhall/Opel Corsa VXR/OPC. Seat’s new offering should go on sale before the end of the year.

Related link:

Mid-sized Suzuki sedan spied









Suzuki engineers are hard at work, trying to get the Kizashi into showrooms ASAP. We first saw the original incarnation of the concept series at the 2007 Frankfurt motorshow, followed by the updated version at the 2007 Tokyo motorshow, before we saw the final concept unveiled at the 2007 New York autoshow.

Judging by these latest spy shots caught by our spies whilst undergoing testing, the vehicle is sporting heavy disguising, hiding much of the specific details. Some mules are wearing clear rear-light clusters buth this Michigan plated prototype isn't.

Under the hood, expect the base model to be equipped with a 150bhp, 2.3 litre 4-cylinder engine, and the flagship Kizashi will be powered by a 3.6 litre V6 (with 280 to 300 bhp), mated to a 6 speed automatic transmission.

The newcomer will battle the Ford Mondeo, Renault Laguna, Citroen C5, Skoda Superb and the forthcoming Toyota Avensis and Seat Exeo in the European market, meanwhile in the U.S, it will rival the Toyota Camry, Ford Fusion, Chevrolet Malibu, Mazda6, Honda Accord and Nissan Altima. Judging by the interior picture, hard plastics will dominate most of the dashboard, which falls below class-leaders....

The Suzuki Kizashi will be built in Sagara, Japan and will arrive in U.S dealerships in early 2010. The sedan will be joined by a wagon in 2010 to replace the Korean built Forenza.

Related link:

Thursday, 28 August 2008

Production of Mitsubishi Concept-ZT cancelled


Plans to put Mitsubishi’s Concept-ZT into production have been cancelled. Company bosses have decided there is no business case for a car that would be positioned against the BMW 3-Series.

Previewed by the four-door concept at last year’s Tokyo motorshow, the ZT would have slotted into the firm’s range between the Lancer and the American-market Galant.

The concept used an aluminium spaceframe body, an ultra-clean 2.2-litre turbo-diesel engine and the Evo’s four-wheel drive system. Mitsubishi had been considering putting the ZT into production with a steel body and an unchanged drivetrain.

New Car: 2009 Daihatsu Move Conte (JP)






Japan’s biggest city-car maker, Daihatsu, introduced its new Move Conte. Although the 5-door Move Conte is slightly shorter than the Fiat 500 measuring in at just 3,395 mm in length, Daihatsu supports that the city-car will offer ample space for four passengers thanks to its innovative interior packaging. Offered in both front and four-wheel-drive versions, the Move Conte will be available with two 3-cylinder engines, the naturally aspirated KF-VE developing 58 and the turbocharged KF-DET producing 64bhp.

Daihatsu, which is 51% owned by Toyota, said that the yearly sales target is 50,000 Move Contes a year in Japan with the suggested retail prices ranging between 990,000 yen to 1.595 million yen (excluding consumption tax).

More information can be found here.

New Car: 2009 Hyundai ix55 (EU)









Updated: 04/10/08

The VeraCruz has been on sale in the U.S for sometime now, but now Europe will have to wait six months or so until the ix55 reaches European showrooms. A full production car was unveiled at the recent Moscow International Motorshow.

The ix55 uses a newly developed 3.0 litre V6 turbo-diesel engine mated to an automatic transmission. The new engine kicks out around 240bhp. It will accelerate to 100km/h in just 10.4 seconds, while returning good fuel economy of 9.4L/100km on the combined fuel cycle and emitting 249g/km CO2. The chassis has been heavily tuned for European roads.

The seven seat ix55 is a flexible and functional vehicle. When not in use the 3rd row seats can be folded flat, creating a huge cargo space of 598 litres (VDA) or, for even more luggage room, both of the rear rows of seats can be folded flat to provide 2,457 litres of space.

Hyundai wants to pitch the ix55 as a premium SUV, so it will rival the Mercedes M-Class, BMW X5 and Range Rover.

Press Release:

Introduction:

Hyundai’s luxurious new seven-seater ix55 luxury utility vehicle makes its European debut at this year’s Paris Mondial de l'Automobile. The flagship ix55 sits ahead of the current Tucson and Santa Fe models and effectively completes the company’s dynamic and engaging SUV range. Based on the acclaimed Veracruz from the North American market, ix55 has undergone an extensive redevelopment program to prepare it for the European market. The single-model line-up is powered by a sparkling new V6 CRDi turbo diesel engine mated to a slick six-speed automatic transmission. Both the diesel power plant and the gearbox are firsts for Hyundai, and the refined and powerful V6 diesel power train has been tuned specifically for the European market.

Similarly, ix55’s dynamics have been extensively recalibrated for Europe, with updated suspension and a more direct and feel some steering set-up resulting in engaging and spirited ride and handling characteristics. Sleek and modern styling, meticulous attention to perceived and actual build quality and exceptionally high levels of standard luxury, convenience and safety equipment all underpin Hyundai’s commitment to meeting – and exceeding - the expectations of the demanding European market.

Style and Design:

Hyundai’s ix55 follows in the bold design footsteps of the new i10, i20 and i30 with sleek and modern styling that’s distinctly European in look and feel. From its bold, optional xenon headlamps and imposing grille, its muscular flanks, chunky 17” and 18“-inch alloy wheels and rakish roofline, to its wrap-around taillights and integrated exhaust pipes, ix55 cloaks its robust stance with sleek styling and balanced proportions. With its raised ride height and robust on-demand drive train that delivers all-wheel traction the instant it is needed, ix55 is perfectly equipped for towing horseboxes or boats, as well as tackling snowy or muddy passes and unsurfaced roads. This go-anywhere ability is complemented by a spacious, sumptuously appointed and intelligently configured cabin. With its flexible seven-seat layout, it offers real-world versatility for families on the move.

Interior:

As befits its flagship status, the ix55’s cabin is the last word in luxury. Using high-grade woods and leathers, Hyundai’s designers have created a spacious cabin that is both versatile and elegant.

Standard equipment levels are class-leading and include suede-covered seats – electrically adjustable for the driver – RDS radio and a high-specification Infinity MP3-compatible audio system, multi-function trip computer, rear privacy glass, blue backlit instrumentation, dual-zone climate control with separate controls for rear passengers, a leather-wrapped fully adjustable multifunction steering wheel and cruise control. There is an equally extensive list of options, available through four additional equipment packages.

Suspension, Ride Quality and NVH:

The new ix55 – based on the award-winning Hyundai Veracruz sold in North America – has undergone an extensive dynamic overhaul to ready it for arrival on the European market. Its front strut and multi-link rear suspension is fitted with up rated springs and dampers for tauter and more athletic ride and handling characteristics, while the steering’s geometry and assistance have been retuned for a more positive feel.

The ix55’s advanced 3.0-litre V6 CRDi turbo diesel is an all-new powertrain, and its latest-generation common-rail fuel injection system and variable geometry turbo technology deliver exceptionally quiet and smooth power delivery. The compacted graphite iron block is immensely stiff and significantly increases running refinement, as does the power train’s ISS (Instant Start System) and advanced EGR exhaust gas recirculation cooling system. The ISS technology ensures the CRDi’s glow plugs heat instantly for immediate ignition in even the coldest conditions, while the EGR system lowers the temperature of the exhaust gas to boost its thermal efficiency.

Powertrain:

New ix55 marks the global debut of Hyundai’s all-new clean and muscular 3.0-litre V6 CRDi turbo diesel engine. With its aluminum head, compacted graphite iron block and hollow camshafts, this compact and lightweight Euro IV-compliant power plant was designed specifically for Europe and features a high-pressure, 1,600-bar common rail fuel injection system with sophisticated Piezo injectors to deliver 240PS at 3,800rpm and an impressive 451Nm of torque at 1,750-3,500rpm.

Breathing through an innovative variable intake system with swirl control technology, the 24-valve engine features an electronically controlled VGT variable geometry turbocharger to ensure instant throttle response throughout the rev range. A DPF particulate filter will be available from early next year.

Driving the ix55’s torque-on-demand all-wheel drive train through a smooth shifting six-speed automatic gearbox – a Hyundai first – with the option of Shiftronic manual gear selection, the ix55 posts an exceptional combination of performance and economy. It will accelerate to 100km/h in just 10.4 seconds and onto an electronically limited 200km/h top speed, while returning an excellent fuel economy figure of 9.4l/100km on the combined fuel cycle and emitting 249g/km CO2.

Safety:

The arrival of ix55 reinforces Hyundai’s class-leading safety levels. With its robust computer-optimized unitary passenger safety cell, sure-footed all-wheel drive, piercing xenon headlamps, powerful brakes and high-riding visibility, ix55 offers an exceptionally high degree of on-the-go security for those on board. This is complemented by its extensive list of standard safety features six airbags with side curtain airbags for all three rows of passengers as well as the latest generation of ESP electronic stability programme, TCS traction control system and ABS with EBD electronic brake assist. Further safety elements fitted to ix55 include active front headrests, three-point seatbelts for all seven passengers with pre-tensioners and load limiters, seatbelt reminders for driver and passenger.

Convenience:

The new ix55 has been developed from the ground up to deliver exceptional family-oriented versatility. Key to this is the flexibility in its full seven-seat layout. When not in use, the two rearmost seats fold flat into the cargo floor to create a huge 598 litres (VDA) of luggage space. When additional seating is needed, the rear chairs, complete with three-point seatbelts, can be quickly and easily erected. Hyundai’s engineers have installed an easy access system to the rear seats, too with easy walk-in access from both sides. And of course, both second and third rows offer split folding mechanisms, allowing ix55 drivers to easily juggle passenger and luggage space, with a vast 1,746 litres of space available. Factor in a myriad of storage facilities and intelligent features like numerous 12v outlets, memory function that save power mirrors, seat and steering wheel settings, a cooled centre console glove box, keyless proximity entry, rain-sensing wipers and parking sensors, and ix55 comes fully equipped to handle the rigours of modern life.

Related links:


Smart ForTwo maybe built in USA (U.S)


The once financially broken Smart is now struggling to keep up with demand for its iconic ForTwo city-car, with managers considering building a second plant and adding more models. German media is reporting that a second production facility in either the U.S or Asia could be on the cards as the current facility in Hambach, France, is nearing capacity.

Additionally, managers at Smart are considering a new model with more seats than the current ForTwo. Smart’s COO Rainer Schm├╝ckle hinted at the possibility of expanding the lineup back in January, and it appears that those statements were not just in passing, with several company sources mentioning a new model is under consideration.

The insiders revealed that the new model would likely be a four-seater, and would arrive together with the introduction of the next-generation ForTwo in 2012. Smart’s resurgence in popularity has been fueled by the growing trend towards smaller and more fuel efficient vehicles, especially in the U.S, where soaring demand has caused the official distributor, Penske Automotive Group, to revise its 2008 sales forecast. Penske now expects to sell between 24,000 and 27,500 ForTwos by the end of the year, up from 20,000 predicted original, and believes that up to 32,000 sales could be made next year if enough vehicles are supplied for the U.S market.

Related links:


Tuesday, 26 August 2008

Mahindra Appalachian delayed for 6 months (U.S)


Indian automaker, Mahindra wants to make sure their truck is absolutely right before they introduce it to the American public. As such, they have decided to delay the trucks introduction by six months. By that time the test vehicles will have clocked up 3.2 million miles of testing on U.S roads. The company has a lot riding on this truck, so they are being extra careful with the rollout. Expect it to show up in late 2009.

A 2.2 litre turbo-diesel mated to a 6-speed automatic will be available. The newcomer will have a 2,600 pound payload. Later, a hybrid diesel will be offered. In addition, it will come with a 60,000-mile, four-year bumper-to-bumper warranty.

New Car: 2009 Holden Barina (AU)





Following in the footsteps of the facelifted European and North American Chevrolet Aveo that was released earlier this year, GM’s Australian subsidiary Holden has revealed an updated version of its Barina hatchback. Like its Aveo counterpart, the 2009 Barina has received a subtle facelift highlighted by the new front fascia and minor rear-end treatments.

Inside, the new Barina features an updated instrument panel, console and new fabric trim while all models now receive driver, front passenger and side airbags as standard. Equipped with a 102 bhp/ 76kW 1.6-litre petrol engine, the Barina is priced in Australia from $14,490 AUD.

Holden Barina recommended retail pricing:

3-Door Hatch starting from $14,490
4–Door Sedan starting from $15,990
5-Door Hatch starting from $15,990

Optional ABS and alloy wheels (4) pack $1,190

2009 Seat Exeo and 2010 Tribu leaked











The EU Trademark office has leaked 2 of Seat's forthcoming vehicles. The leak includes the Exeo sedan and wagon, along with the Tribu SUV.

2009 Seat Exeo:

Images of Seat’s forthcoming Exeo saloon and estate have leaked onto the Internet after the design of the car was registered with trademark authorities in Germany. This isn't the first time a top-secret leak has happened. The E.U Trademark office leaked out the upcoming Mazda3 and MX-5.

The Exeo is based on the previous-generation Audi A4, and the images make clear that, apart from its new nose and tail, the Seat looks almost identical. The images also confirm for the first time that Seat will be using the A4 Avant bodyshell to produce an estate version of the Exeo.

Production of the car is scheduled to begin in December, with UK sales starting early next year.
Details of the prices, specifications and powerplant options will have to wait closer to its launch, but Seat insiders say the Exeo will be priced at a similar level to the Skoda Superb, suggesting a range from around £15,000 to £23,000.

2010 Seat Tribu:

At the Frankfurt 2007 motorshow, Seat unveiled the Tribu concept, it was announced that this three-door SUV model offered a preview of upcoming models. The full confirmation of the production model was announced earlier this summer when the brand's schedule leaked onto the web.

The EU Trademark office has struck again after these low resolution designs of the Tribu leaked out revealing the basic design of the model.

The design of the front fascia very much mimics the concept version, it features the signature Seat grille along with large air vents directly below the headlights and on the bumper. The rear takes a large step away from the concept's extravagant styling with a toned down production type style. The VW Tiguan based Tribu will only be available as a five-door when it is launched in 2010, rather than as a three-door as seen on the concept.

Related link:

New Car: 2009 Renault Safrane





Renault is making a big saloon again, but this time it won't be sold to Europeans.

This is the reborn Safrane, a large Korean-built saloon that the French manufacturer is aiming to sell in the Middle East. It's powered by a 2.3-litre V6 engine producing around 170bhp or a new 2.0-litre four-cylinder engine; both units are mated to an automatic transmission driving the front wheels.

Renault is keen to pitch the Safrane as a premium item (climate control, leather seats, Bose stereo etc), but it sports one of the most complex, muddy bloodlines of any car on the market; it's essentially a rebadged Samsung SM5 (a model only available in Korea), which is essentially a rebadged Nissan Teana (a model available in Japan and China), which sits on the same platform as Nissan's Maxima and Altima.

The new Safrane will be built in Busan, South Korea, alongside Renault's first joint venture with Samsung Motors, the Koleos SUV. Sales start in early September.

Sunday, 24 August 2008

Sienna gets restyled




Production of the upcoming Sienna MPV is in full swing. This prototype was spied in Death Valley, CA outside a restaurant. The popular large MPV was facelifted back in 2004 before the new model came out in 2006.

The prototype appears to utilise most of the current Sienna's bodywork, so we initially thought it was facelift of the current Sienna. But there are some very rough sections which seems to point to this as a mule for the next-generation Sienna. Judging from the construction and packaging of this prototype, it would appear that Toyota product planners are content to stay with a package similar to the current Sienna, with all of its traditional minivan cues.

While many other automakers are bailing from the minivan product segment with line-blurring crossovers, it looks as if Toyota will stand toe-to-toe with Honda and Chrysler to slug it out for the attention of "soccer mums" everywhere. Given the minimal changes visible to overall shape of this mule, we sense that Toyota may be sticking with the current Sienna's platform, albeit with significant updates, in order to save costs. With a 3030.2mm wheelbase, the 2010 Sienna provides a class-leading 4,219 litres of cargo capacity, and it's unlikely Toyota will want to move away from that distinction.

No engine specifications have been released for the upcoming Toyota Sienna. The current model comes standard with a 266bhp, 3.5 litre V6 and front or all-wheel drive in seven and eight passenger configurations.
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