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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.

Tesla Model S

We always see new little wrinkles in automotive dealerships to try and make the car-buying experience seem less stressful and forced. Two key examples are the “No-Haggle” promise offered by now-defunct Saturn and the “Sign-and-Drive” deals offered by several manufacturers now, but started by VW . These are less about making the process easier for the consumer and more about increasing the dealer’s profits while displaying the illusion of an easy-going sales force, which is an oxymoron for any commissioned sales job.

Tesla appears to be going into a realm where car buying is a simple and stress-free environment. How they are achieving this is by beginning with the elimination of the traditional dealership and replacing it with smaller stores in local malls. The second step is to eliminate all commissions and pay the employees a salary. The third step is to not require car sales experience as a prerequisite for hiring, which eliminates the high-pressure “Sell now or sell never” mentality. To get a good picture of what to expect, walk into an Apple store in a local mall and see how laid back it is. You can walk in and play with all of the gadgets without a single sales person bothering you until you ask.

You may be wondering about the floor models and demo models. Keep in mind that all Teslas are built to order, so stores only need a handful of models on the floor and a few test vehicles in the mall’s parking lot. The biggest focus of these stores is to simply educate the customer about Tesla models, and what better place to get plenty of people to educate than a traffic-heavy mall?

Our hats go off to Tesla in its new approach to vehicle sales, but we have a sneaking suspicion that we will see Tesla dealerships and commission-based sales in the near future. Especially if sales start taking off and more models have to be kept on hand for the I-want-it-now customer. So we’ll see exactly how long Tesla can hang onto this low-pressure buying experience before converting into your typical high-pressure dealership.

Saab 9-4X

We reported just a few days ago that despite twice being bumped out of the bidding war for Saab, Zhejiang Youngman Lotus Automobile, reentered the bidding with a $552 million bid. Apparently, this was still seen as an unsafe bid and the Chinese firm was again stuck with the highest bid, but no car company to show for it.

This time around, it looks as if Saab has finally found itself a home. Sweden-registered and Hong Kong-based firm, National Electric Vehicle Sweden AB, has been awarded the folded automaker and what’s left of its assets, according to a Swedish newspaper. The winning bid is estimated to be between $208 million and $250 million. That is less than half of the last reported bid by Youngman, which really shows that the Chinese firm was either demanding the parts operation, which the NEVS AB deal does not include, or just not seen as a trusted bidder.

The deal is expected to be finalized and pen is expected to hit the “Sign Here” line in about a week, if the reports are accurate. After that, NEVS AB can take complete ownership of what’s left of Saab, which is little more than an S, a pair of As, and a B. We are not aware of NEVS AB’s plans with Saab, but we can say with a lot of certainty that it will involve alternative fuels (i.e. electric, hydrogen, hybrid, etc.)

We have yet to receive official confirmation on the deal, but this looks to be the real deal, FINALLY. We will keep you updated as more information becomes available on the ongoing Saab saga.

Tesla Model S

Tesla has yet to officially launch its latest EV, the Model S, and already the upstart automaker is setting up some pretty lofty goals. In an interview with CEO, Elon Musk, it was made clear that the company is confident that it will achieve 20,000 total models sold in 2013. With the Nissan Leaf eclipsing just 9,500 total sales in the U.S. in 2011, those are some pretty stratospheric goals.

This is especially difficult considering that Tesla is not expected to infiltrate the European and Asian markets until mid-2013. We do see the logic behind this though, as the base $57,400 price is relatively affordable, considering what you get at that level. Also add in the fact that the Model S is more stylish and ego-massaging than the very odd-looking and soft-feeling Leaf , and Tesla just may be able to hit those numbers.

Once Tesla debuts the Model X SUV, the automaker anticipates a huge upswing in sales at the tune of 75 percent. Yup, Tesla anticipates 2014 sales to eclipse the 35,000 mark thanks to its newest EV SUV, which means the Model X’s sales are expected to hover around 15,000 for the year.

Overall, these are very high goals to achieve for an automaker that really has no reputation or customer base to attach its wagon to yet. However, there are tons of enthusiasts out there that would love nothing more than a 300-mile-per-charge supercar that hits 60 mph in 4.4 seconds and still hauls the family around. So, if Tesla remains true to its promises with the Model S, we could all see this new automaker well exceeding its projected goals.

We’ll be closely monitoring the sales of the Model S to see if the demand is there and if this upstart can provide ample supply if the demand is high.

Mitsubishi Mirage

It looks as if the Evolution lineup in Mitsubishi may be getting bigger, but not too much bigger. Rumor has it that the struggling Japanese automaker is currently working on developing an Evolution trim level for its incoming hatchback, the Mitsubishi Mirage .

Details are still pretty thin on this potential model, buy Japanese magazine, Best Car, is all but certain that the model is underway and it will join the Mirage lineup shortly after its 2013 release. Seeing a subcompact hatchback like this bearing the “EVO” badge may seem a little strange, given the fact that the original Lancer Evolution has always been a four-door sedan with monstrous performance numbers.

This version of the EVO will not quite have the power numbers of the Lancer EVO, but it will be extremely powerful, given its puny specifications. Under the hood, we all expect to see a 1.5-liter three-banger engine that pumps out a respectful 150 horsepower, thanks to the help of a turbocharger. Where this new Evolution will make up ground is in the diet that Mitsubishi has this hatchback on. When it is all said and done, it is expected that Mitsubishi will have the Mirage weighing less than 2,000 lbs, giving it around a 12.5 pounds-per-horsepower rating, which is very respectable for its class.

Other than those few bits of information, everyone’s lips are pretty well sealed on the possible Mirage Evolution. We will continue to monitor the rumor mills for you and keep you up to date on all of the latest rumors and leaks, as we keep our fingers crossed for this performance subcompact hatchback.

Source: Best Car

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