Europe

Europe

In honor of the recent release of “The Amazing Spiderman” TopSpeed brings to you what happens when Spiderman, bearing full-on spidey senses, hops behind the wheel of an F2 car. Well, not really, but this 19-year-old racer, Dino Zamparelli, certainly looked like he had the web shooter’s reflexes at a recent race.

As Zamparelli was pulling away from a yellow flag, which was caused by an earlier wreck, he got up to about 150 mph when suddenly out of the mist appeared a group of very slow-moving cars. Most of us would have likely soiled ourselves and started crying for our mommies, but not Mr. Dino. Nope, he quickly swerves to the left and narrowly avoids the rear, left side of the car in front of him.

On top of his impressive reactions, he also managed to gain a full four positions in the race in the process. How in the world he managed to pull that maneuver off in the pouring rain, with a soaking wet track, and no cockpit to keep the rain from beading up on his helmet’s visor is beyond us.

After he regains control of his car, you can tell that he takes just a few seconds to recollect himself and wonder what the hell just happened. Just a few seconds it was too, as he quickly downshifted after that brief pause and continued on as if nothing happened.

Check out the above video to see this amazing driving feat by this young man.

Chevrolet popped into the FIA World Touring Car Championship in 2005 with a fully modified Lacetti and was a near immediate success. In 2008, Chevy switched over to a modified Cruze and the wins kept coming. Actually, Chevy pretty much dominated the series for eight years, taking home the checkered flag in 59 races, taking home two drivers’ championships, and two constructors’ championships.

Despite all of its success, Chevy has chosen to end its stay in this not-so-popular racing series following the 2012 season. This comes as quite a surprise, given the fact that Chevy once again leads the drivers’ championship and constructors’ championship boards this year. Rarely does a manufacturer have such success in a series and chooses to pull out so sudden.

A silver lining to this announcement is that it is just mid-season, so all of its drivers and other various workers can try to find work elsewhere in the series or maybe in other racing series. With all of the success it has had, we are willing to bet that all of the employees and drivers on this team will have no trouble at all finding work, and some may even move onto bigger and better things.

The exact reasoning for Chevy pulling out was not given. We can connect dots pretty well and when you have a brand that is struggling to sell in Europe, despite its success in a European racing series, it is obvious that pouring money into said European racing series is throwing good money after bad.

Ever since crossovers became a hot thing in the early-2000s, seemingly every car manufacturer has taken the leap into the nearly full crossover pool. The newest market is the compact crossover market, which is just getting started. Fiat has decided that it’s going to get into this side of the pool early on with a 500-based crossover.

This new crossover, which is set to debut in Europe next year, will add to the growing 500 lineup, which currently includes the 500, 500C, 500L and the 500 Abarth. This new vehicle, which the consensus says will be dubbed the 500X, will feature three different engines, Fiat’s two-cylinder turbocharged TwinAir engine, a 1.4-liter and a 1.3-liter turbo-diesel, and will be based on the 500L’s chassis.

If this model makes it to the U.S. – nothing is concrete on a U.S. release yet – it will have stiff competition from the MINI Countryman and a slew of new arrivals. No renditions or teaser images have been released yet, so we are all stuck using our imaginations. I seem to picture something similar to the Suzuki X-90 – one of my top-10 cool, yet ugly, cars – but with a hatch.

We honestly do understand Fiat’s slow-moving tactics here, but buyers are soon going to grow tired of the 500 model. Making subtle changes to an existing model to build buyer interest is a safe bet at first, but eventually buyers will start wondering what’s next and lose interest altogether. It has only been a year since Fiat’s return to the U.S., but it might be time to start considering moving more models to the U.S.

Then again, Fiat is on a slippery slope, as it is also trying to keep Chrysler’s head above water while trying to reintroduce its brand to the U.S. So let’s cut them some slack, for now…

Updated 07/04/2012: During the official debut of the new 500L, Fiat has also dropped some teaser images and a video on the upcoming 500X that will go on sale sometime in 2014. Hit he jump for the video. (Omniauto)

Renault Alpine A110-50 Concept

We love gossip just about as much as a 16-year-old schoolgirl, but our gossip is about [ahem] manly stuff; you know? Things like the rumor out of France that Renault will in fact re-launch the Alpine brand that it shuttered up a little less than two decades ago. You read that right, the Alpine sports car brand is returning… if the rumors are true.

According to comments made by Renault chief of design, Laurens van den Acker, the French automaker is trying to develop a car that is more similar to the A110Berlinette from the `60s and `70s and that it is trying to do with Alpine what BMW has done with MINI . Now, before you go getting all excited about seeing a production model of the A110 concept, you can scratch that, as Renault wanting a design similar to the `60s and `70s Alpine A110 nixes that possibility.

To add some validity to the reports, Jean-Pascal Dauce, Renault’s motorsports department head, was reported saying that they anticipate producing 5,000 to 10,000 Alpines per year. Rumors also point to this limited lineup of sports cars running between €35,000 and €40,000 ($44,000 to $50,000), which makes them relatively attainable.

The final tidbit of info leaked is that Renault is anticipating its release to occur sometime in 2015. Unfortunately, there is no information on whether the new Alpine lineup will be available in the U.S. or not. We are certainly hoping that it does, given what we have seen from the A110 concept.

We’ll keep you posted on anything else that comes across the rumormill.

Saab 9-3

Just when we thought that the Saab saga was reaching its closure, a new wrench gets thrown into the mix. When NEVS purchased Saab’s assets a little while ago, we were under the impression that this sale included the rights to the “Saab” name and logo. According to reports coming out now, this is not the case.

Apparently, the sale of Saab only covered the failed Swedish automaker’s physical assets. The truck-building company, Scania, and Saab AB still own the rights to the Logo and the “Saab” name. For NEVS to legally use the name, both Scania and Saab AB will need to sign off on the usage, and the companies are reportedly in talks about how to handle this.

We would assume that Scania has no issues at all and just wants a piece of that Saab resurrection pie. Saab AB, on the other hand, still runs Saab’s line of parts, which was not included in the bankruptcy. Saab AB could benefit by using this opportunity to negotiate their way into new dealerships when NEVS starts rolling out new electric-powered Saabs. Saab AB also has to consider protecting its brand image, and it NEVS completely botches this revival, it will make Saab AB look bad as well.

We’re confident that a deal will be struck between the three companies to allow NEVS the rights to the name and logo, but Saab AB will likely have a heavy hand in how the name is used.

As always, we’ll keep you updated as additional information comes to the surface on this seemingly endless Saab saga.

Recently, we haven’t had much good to say about Lotus and trust us, that is not by choice. We actually love Lotus and everything it once stood for in the performance car world. Unfortunately, it has undergone some serious changes and the CEO that it had decided to abandon what we all loved about Lotus.

In addition to the woes that Lotus underwent on the retail car front, it also underwent similar struggles on the racing front. Due to funding issues, its engines fell drastically behind the competition and its newly-signed-up partners all abandoned ship. It’s only two remaining partners ended up finishing dead last in May.

Part of the problem was that due to funding issues, Lotus entered its revised engine plans for approval by INDYCAR too late and it was stuck running its original engines. Well, it looks like the downpour of bad news is starting to dry up for Lotus, as Lotus’ INDYCAR manager, Oliver Picquenot, was quoted saying "Lotus has been working with outside engineering firms, in conjunction with Mr. John Judd and his enterprise.”

This obviously means that INDYCAR has finally given Lotus its much-needed permission to upgrade its engine via its engineering partner Engine Devel Devel opments Ltd. This should give lotus the chance to at least close the INDYCAR-estimate 2.5 percent gap between its engines and everyone else’s, and Lotus is saying that it expects huge improvements.

So let’s hope for the best here and see if Lotus can make some money off of racing, or at least garner a little interest via finishing better than dead last to help calm its rocky seas.

Just an update, resigned Caterham Managing Director , Ansar Ali, is still a free agent and we already see a good fit between him and Lotus. So we’ll continue to monitor that situation, as well as Lotus’ INDYCAR improvements, as it tries to dig itself out of the hole a certain “someone” put them in…

To say we absolutely love every Shelby Cobra to death is an understatement. This also breeds a little hatred in our hearts for those that take a hacksaw to them and start modifying stuff. However, here are some modifications to Shelby Cobras that we can stomach and some that we completely fall in love with at first sight. Magnis Jinstrand’s modified Shelby Cobra just happens to fall squarely in the latter classification…

This beautiful example of automotive genius boasts a disgustingly sexy 6.0-liter Mercedes V-12 with an equally disgusting loud-mouthed supercharger strapped to its intake. There’s no information on the power pushed out by this mean machine, but judging by the above video, we would have to estimate it to be in the 700-horsepower range.

The exposed supercharger really just does it for us. Not only does it look awesome, but it is about the only whining that I can say I want to hear while driving a car. This blower obliges by providing plenty of it in audible goodness.

We are unsure what other modifications this Cobra has on it and we are also unsure if this is actually a real AC Cobra or not. Chances are that it’s a kit car sitting on a custom chassis, especially given how well it handles. Regardless of its authenticity, it is still one sexy beast. We will update you if we happen to come up with any of the vehicle’s specs. Until then, crank your speakers up and enjoy.

Mini Cooper & Cooper S

The web tying varying automakers to one another is a very complex, yet delicate thing. One strand heading the wrong direction can cause an automaker to break off another connection, and we see it every day. One prime example was when AMG hacked off its advertising ties with Ducati just because Audi bought the company. Really, what do motorcycles have to do with your competing with Audi in the automobile realm?

Well, we have another bit of info to pass on in regards to one partnership killing another. Recently PSA, the parent company of Peugeot and Citroen , increased its stake in a partnership with GM affiliate, Opel, to develop four vehicle platforms together. This leads BMW to believe that PSA will not have the ability to fulfill its partnership duties in reference to BMW’s developing Hybrid platform.

A BMW spokesperson said “We are discussing conditions for the exit of PSA but we will not make any payments,” in an interview with Reuters. In addition, PSA has accepted the fact that this new relationship with GM will force it to “change the conditions” in its partnership with BMW. This likely means that BMW will buy-out PSAs share of the investment in the project and take development into its own hands.

This will not, however, affect the other relationships that BMW and PSA have going on. The largest of these relationships is the partnership between the two to build the MINI Cooper ’s engine.

We’ll keep an eye on what’s going on with this development and let you know if anything else pops up. For now, this seems like a pretty open-and-shut case.

Source: Reuters

The Camaro was first launched in 1967, in response to the overwhelming popularity of the Ford Mustang, which hit the market three years earlier. It carried on as a North American model only, just like the Mustang, for 35 years before being discontinued. It picked up where it left off as a North American model in 2010 when Chevy re-introduced it.

In 2013, the Camaro is set to makes its biggest move ever, as for the first time ever, the Camaro is heading over to the European market, legally. For many years, Camaro enthusiasts had to spend thousands of dollars in shipping fees, taxes, and registration to import a Camaro into Europe, but that’s all over for 2013.

Ford is still massaging the new Mustang body for release in Europe, making a model that is almost unrecognizable as a Mustang, but Chevy isn’t going that route. The Euro-Spec Camaro, on the surface, is just about identical to the American model. Now, under the skin, the Euro-Spec is a little different than the American version, but not in the way you would expect it.

Click past the jump to read our full review on the Euro-Spec Camaro.

Ahh, rumors in the automotive world spread just about as fast as the rumor that the captain of the football team was kissing the head of the girls’ chess team under the bleachers at the homecoming dance… And we love ‘em. The latest rumor is an interesting one that actually has a fair amount of validity.

Lancia is one of the many companies under the protective umbrella of Fiat Automobiles S.p.A. and it loves to borrow its models from Chrysler , add a few small touches, and call it their own. One of the latest models to make the Lancia conversion was the Chrysler 300 Chrysler 300 , which prances around Europe bearing the name “Lancia Thema” (image above). That’s not the rumor though, as we already know all about that.

The rumors being whispered are that Lancia really wants a full-size coupe for its European market and the only car available to possibly satisfy this itch is the Chrysler 300 . Ask any custom coach builder and he will tell you that turning a four-door body into a two-door car is not as tough as you may think, but going the other direction is nearly impossible.

So, if Lancia decides to hack up the B-pillar on the 300, shorten the opening a little and slap two fewer doors on the 300, would this model make it to the U.S.? The two-door full size car essentially died with the downsizing of vehicles in the late-1970s, but a small niche market may be in order.

This also spawns the possibility of Chrysler finally satisfying its nostalgia buffs by taking the two-door blueprints that Lancia would create and turn that into a two-door Charger . The pair of extra doors have always been a thorn in the side of Charger buffs, so Chrysler could breathe a little extra life into both models – not like the 300 needs more life, but extra sales can’t hurt – by offering two-door models of each.

This is certainly an interesting rumor to ponder and we are more likely to see pigs fly before we see a two-door 300 and Charger, but we’re telling you there’s a chance.


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