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Electric vehicles and various hybrid systems are taking over the front pages of the automotive world as of late. One of the areas where hybrids and EVs haven’t completely infiltrated is the world of pickup trucks. Well, that’s until former GM executive, Bob Lutz, joined forces with the little-known Via Motors.

Via Motors has quite literally taken the electric truck, SUV, and van ball and run with it, and has started carving itself a nice little niche in the automotive world. One of its entrants is the Vtrux, which is a range-extended electric truck. The information on this new green pickup is not 100 percent available yet, but Via has posted a good amount of information on this pickup’s upcoming release.

The question on the mind of the automotive world is can an electric truck actually do well in this world of powerful diesel- and gasoline-powered pickups? The answer to this question is very simple, but to get to that answer, we have to tear into the Vtrux and find out what makes it tick.

Click past the jump to read all about the Vtrux and find out the answer to that all-important question.

The Toyota iQ, which us in the States know as a Scion iQ , is never mistaken for a speedster or a sports car. However, weighing in at only 990 kg (2,182 lbs) means that it doesn’t take too much power to make it quick. The folks at GAZOO Racing decided to see what happens when they toss a supercharger on a Toyota iQ with the optional 1.33-liter engine.

The end result is a super-lightweight car that pumps out an impressive 122 PS (120 horsepower) at 5,200 rpm and 174 Nm (128 pound-feet) of torque at 4,800 rpm in a compact package. This means that the supercharger added a full 28 PS (27 horsepower) and 56 Nm (41 pound-feet) of torque. GAZOO Racing is building a very limited number of these iQs – 100 to be exact – and they have dubbed this machine the Toyota iQ GRMN Supercharger.

In addition to a supercharger, GAZOO Racing included an updated suspension and transmission. Also added in were 4-wheel disc brakes, allowing its driver to bring this micro-machine to a halt quickly.

The Toyota iQ GRM Supercharger retails at 3,550,000 Japanese Yen, which is $45,367 at the current exchange rates. That’s a full $27,332 more than the base-level Scion iQ, which is quite a price hike.

The 100 units are already sold out, so if you are looking to snag one of these iQ GRMN Superchargers, you’re going to have to check out the used car market and hope you’re lucky enough to find one.

Peugeot 208 GTi Concept

In February, we gave you some information on the 208 GTI concept car . Just like most concept cars, we were not certain when, or even if, the GTI model of the 208 hatchback would ever see the production line. Well, the mystery is over, as Peugeot has officially greenlighted the production of the 208 GTI. There is still no concrete release date, but at least we know it will be released at some point.

This hot hatch will include a version of the 1.6-liter 4-cylinder engine that the Mini Cooper and Citroen DS3 uses. This turbo-4 will have two variants, one that pumps out 154 ponies and the other that punches out a stout 204 horsepower.

The 204-horsepower model is rumored to be dubbed the 208 GTI Racing and can zip to 60 mph in sub-7-second times, which is truly impressive for a compact hatchback. Despite its quick nature, the GTI will not boast any suspension upgrades, so you can anticipate almost identical handling to its base 208 counterpart.

As usual with Peugeots, the U.S. Market won’t even get to sniff one, unless it is imported from overseas and brought up to U.S. Safety and emission standards.

We are still hanging tight to hear what kind of pricing we are looking at for this hatch, so we will keep you up to date with that and the anticipated release date, when they become available.

Aston Martin V12 Vantage Roadster

Aston Martin is not exactly your poster child for fuel economy, as every model, sans a re-badged Toyota iQ , boast either a V-8 or V-12 engine. That about puts them near the bottom of the list in average fuel economy. With new CAFE and emission standards coming about each and every year, Aston Martin needs to get up to speed with creating slightly more efficient cars.

According to a report from Autocar, Aston Martin boss, Ulrich Bez, said that Aston is “open to the concept” of using small-displacement engines under the stipulation that they do not hamper the boutique automaker’s desirability. This ultimately translates out to “as long as it is still fast.”

This need for speed means that the likely replacements for the powerful V-8s and V-12s that Aston Martin uses would be 6-cylinders with some serious boost. A supercharger certainly would not give a 6-cylinder the kind of pop that Aston Martin would require, so a turbo or pair of turbos would definitely be the only route to take.

We have already seen BMW making use of forced air to pump up its in-line 6-bangers. Take the 2012 BMW 335i xDrive Coupe for example; it has a 3.0-liter engine that pumps out a healthy 300 horsepower. Of course, BMW also de-tuned it a little to avoid it conflicting with M3 sales. At full tilt, we would anticipate a boosted 3.0 to crank out upward of 400 horsepower.

That would give Aston the chance to just about match their V-8-powered cars’ current output rating while helping save a few mpg. It would obviously be a win-win situation, with the exception of the likely price hike for the increased technology.

We’ll keep an eye on this situation and update you as more information becomes available.

Source: Autocar

The SEAT Ibiza is not what most enthusiasts would qualify as a hot-hatch, except when fitted with the 1.4-liter TSI or 2.0-liter TDI engine, which produce 150 PS (147 horsepower) and 143 PS (141 horsepower), respectively. Leingarten-based custom auto enthusiasts, JE Design, has managed to turn even the lower-level Ibiza models into a semi-hot hatch, or at the very least, a sharp-looking and peppy hatchback.

The 2012 SEAT Ibiza is available in three body styles, 3-door hatch, 5-door hatch, and station wagon. The JE Design kit is built to fit any of the body styles that the Ibiza comes in. The SEAT Ibiza itself starts at €9,995 and ranges up to €16,340. This upgrade kit, of course, goes on top of the cost of the car, but with the SEAT Ibiza’s low cost, the entire package becomes rather affordable.

Click past the jump to read what JE Designs has done to make the SEAT Ibiza more stylish, comfortable, and even a little bit faster.

Mini Paceman

Love `em or hate `em, you can’t help but be impressed with how far MINI can go in stretching out one basic design. In late-2011, MINI debuted a new coupe version of its Countryman and dubbed it the Paceman – no, not the Pac-Man – but gave us very little info. Then over a year went by before we heard anything else, then finally after a year and two months, MINI announced that the Paceman would be shown in Paris in 2012, but under the Clubman Coupe name.

Well, MINI is finally prepared to announce this new models release, but it will, oddly enough, not bear the name we all expected. Dr. Kay Segler, the senior VP of Mini, told about 1,000 Mini enthusiasts at this year’s Mini Takes the States rally that "The Mini Paceman is the official name of the brand’s seventh model, which will be launched next year in the U.S."

In one quick statement, Segler killed two birds with one stone. First, he cleared up the fact that this new coupe will indeed bear the Paceman name, as opposed to the Clubman Coupe. Secondly, we now know that the Paceman will hit showrooms some time in 2013. Though no official date was given, we anticipate that it will be fairly early in the year, as this is really not a new model, but rather just a Clubman with two doors.

This now expands the MINI lineup to seven models based on the same basic appearance. We are starting to wonder if MINI will ever get tired of producing the same car over and over again. Then again, as long as people keep snagging them up, why change?

We will continue to provide you with more updates on this upcoming model as we get closer to its release date.

Source: Auto Blog

While Mazda of America is busy working on its SkyActiv system, back at home in Japan, it is hard at work creating a new micro-mini vehicle. This latest micro-mini to hit the Japanese market is the Mazda Flairwagon, which is a relatively appropriate name given this new wagon has plenty of flair to show off, with its odd-shaped body.

Underneath all of the Mazda badging is a car that is not even related to Mazda in any way, as this new micro-mini wagon is really nothing more than a Suzuki Palette with Mazda badges. Unlike other rebadged cars like the Cavalier and Sunfire, Mazda didn’t really bother changing anything but the badges, which is pretty strange. Then again, this Suzuki also prowls the streets bearing the Nissan Roox name. In the Roox’s case, Nissan at least changes the headlights a little to separate it from its Suzuki donor.

Is this compact and odd-looking wagon something that will actually sell and will it ever find its way outside of the Japanese market? To find out the answers to these questions and learn all about this “new” micro-mini by Mazda, click past the jump.

Tesla Model S

In what was more of a publicity stunt than anything, Tesla delivered its “first” Model S to its “first” owner about two weeks ago. Well, said owner just so happened to be an executive with the company that likely didn’t pay much, if anything, for the car. Now we are ready to announce yet another milestone for this all-new electric-powered sports sedan, and that is its official EPA ratings.

Keep in mind, that these ratings are all based on the 85-kWh battery, not the smaller and less expensive batteries. The Model S came in at a respectable 88 MPGe in the city, 90 MPGe on the highway and 89 MPGe combined. MPGe is basically how far an electric car will travel on the electric equivalent of the energy contained in a gallon of gasoline.

The EPA didn’t stop there, as it also had to put the Model S’s claimed 300-mile range to the test. In this test, the Model S came up pretty short, as it could only hit 265 miles on a single charge, which is a pretty significant 11 percent drop. In overall scheme of things, the Model S trumps the other, less expensive, EVs, like the Honda Fit , Nissan Leaf , and Focus electric in total range. In combined MPGe, however, the aforementioned EVs beat it out, as they net 118 MPGe, 99 MPGe, and 105 MPGe, respectively. The “as tested” Model S also has a base price of $69,900, which is over $30,000 more than the most expensive EV of the group, the Focus Electric.

Then again, the “as tested” Tesla Model S also zips to 60 mph in under 5 seconds and looks flat out awesome doing it. None of the other EVs can boast that combined with impressive range and MPGe. So, even though the Model S came up a little short, it is still impressively economical.

TV buffs get the Emmys, movie buffs get the Oscars, and music lovers get the Grammys; so, where does that leave us gearheads? Well, the International Engine of the Year Awards, of course, and the 2012 results are hot off the press!

Ford took home the top prize of International Engine of the Year, with its 999 cc engine found in the European Focus . This engine, despite its petite size, cranks out 125 PS (123 horsepower) and manages to squeeze out 56.5 mpg. The 1.0-liter engine didn’t win a close battle either, it took home top honors by a full 113 points. Points are accumulated based on fuel economy, smoothness, performance, noise and drivability and each engine can only receive 15 of each voter’s total 25 points to give. Needless to say, that was quite a landslide victory.

That’s not the biggest news though, as BMW brought home top honors in four different categories. Bimmer took home the 1.4- to 1.8-liter prize with its 181-horsepower, 1.6-liter engine found in the MINI Cooper S . In the 1.8- to 2.0-liter class, BMW took first prize with its 241-horsepower, 2.0-liter twin-turbocharged four-pot. In the 2.5-liter to 3.0-liter class, BMW wrapped up top honors with its bi-turbo 3.0-liter six-cylinder engine and its 335 horsepower. Last, but certainly not least, BMW took home 1st place in the 3.0- to 4.0-liter class with its 414-horsepower, 4.0-liter V-8 engine.

Despite all of the accolades, the highest mark that BMW achieved in the Engine of the Year award was 5th place, with its 2.0-liter twin-turbo four-banger.

Click past the jump to see all of the results of each class.

BMW 3 Series Sedan

We already know that BMW has officially approved the manufacture of its much anticipated hybrid sports car, the i8 and we are well aware that the gasoline engine behind it is a 1.3-liter three-banger that pops out a sweet 223 horsepower. When combined with the electric motor on the front wheels, the i8 hits a healthy 354 ponies.

BMW has just revealed yet another detail on its upcoming i8, and that is that the thee-pot gas burner that powers it will hail from Jolly Ol’ England… Hams Hall factory in Birmingham Birmingham , to be precise. Head of engine development at BMW, Peter Nefischer, mentioned before that the boosted three-cylinder could find its way into the 3-Series in the future and the fact that this engine is being built in the same factory that manufactures the 3-Series engine could add some validity to this possible downsizing of the 3-Series .

With the 328i already coming stock with a 240-horsepower turbocharged 2.0-liter, there is no reason that an extended fuel range model boasting this 223-horsepower, 1.3-liter engine cannot become a possibility. Granted, it likely wouldn’t have quite the drivability of the 2.0-liter, but the extended fuel range would help traveling business people a great deal, while still having a little pep in its step. In addition, those 223 ponies still far exceed the paltry 201 ponies pumped out by the Mercedes-Benz C250 .

We can say with some certainty that a three-cylinder 3-Series variant will definitely happen, it’s just a matter of when it happens and how BMW tunes the engine to retain the comfortable feel that the 3-Series is notorious for. We’ll update you if any other news pointing toward a three-banger 3-Series pops up.


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