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Audi officially buys Ducati

The ink on the $1 billion deal that sent Ducati motoring over to Audi’s ownership is still not quite dry yet, and AMG, Mercedes-Benz’s performance group, has officially ended its “marketing relationship” with Ducati.

Ducati and Benz officially announced the shared marketing deal back at the 2010 LA Auto Show, but AMG just couldn’t keep the deal moving now that Audi, a direct competitor, owns the brand. First off is the awkward timing of the announcement, as the Diavel AMG – a Ducati and AMG collaboration bike – just hit showrooms. Audi hasn’t made an announcement regarding the AMG collaboration bike, but it’s likely to remain until all of the units are sold.

Honestly though, this looks almost like AMG is dropping the shared marketing plan out of spite by saying “The company takeover by a rival car manufacturer has understandably resulted in the end of any further collaboration.” Maybe we’re reading too much into it, but this is reminiscent of a teenage argument over whom is whose best friend and you can be friends with her because I don’t like her.

Honestly, with all of the mergers and collaborations that go on in the automotive and motorcycle realm, why would AMG really car if its rival car manufacturer bought a bike manufacturer that it shares advertising with. There has to be a little more to the story that will surely come out at some point.

Following in the Cayenne GTS’ footsteps from three years ago, the Panamera is getting introduced to its own GTS package. Porsche has unveiled the new Panamera GTS which will go on sale in February 2012. US prices will be announced at a later date.

The GTS in the car’s name stands for Gran Turismo Sport and promises the same extraordinary Porsche performance that started with the legendary 904 Carrera GTS back in 1963. The Panamera GTS uses a modified 4.8-liter naturally aspirated V8 engine, the same engine used in the 4S trim model, but it now develops 30 hp and 14.75 lb.-ft. of torque more. It also has a faster-revving engine with a maximum engine speed that has been increased by 400 rpm to 7,100 rpm.

Next to more power, the GTS has also received a more aggressive design thanks to reduction of ten millimeters in ride height, a high-gloss black exterior package, upgraded brakes, and a sportier interior.

UPDATE 11/22/2011: Porsche has released the first promotional video for the new Panamera GTS unveiled at the Los Angeles Auto Show last week. Check it out!

UPDATE 02/14/2012: Porsche has unveiled today a new video for the Panamera GTS presenting Rally legend Walter Röhrl on a lap around the Ascari circuit in Spain.

Hit the jump to read more about the new Porsche Panamera GTS.

With just one day before its official debut at the 2011 Los Angeles Auto Show, the 2013 Ford Mustang has been fully unveiled. It will be offered in four different packages: V6, GT, Boss 302, and Shelby GT500. All models will be built at the AutoAlliance International Plant in Flat Rock, Michigan with sales beginning in Spring 2012.

Changes for the 2013 MY include a more aggressive design with a more prominent grille, a new hood, and new LED signature lighting. There is also an optional GT Track Package that brings an engine cooler, an upgraded radiator, performance friction brake pads, and the same Torsen differential found on the Mustang Boss 302.

Power for the 2013 Mustang will comes from a 5.0-liter V6 that delivers a total of 420 HP - a 8 HP increase over the previous 412 HP.

"The new Mustang is the perfect example of continuing to build on excellence. It takes the greatness of the 5.0-liter and V6 and pushes the refinement to the next level," said Dave Pericak, Mustang chief engineer. "The car has been spot-on functionally and now we’re adding more features and technology to further improve the driver’s experience."

UPDATE 02/16/2012: Ford found a very interesting way to promote their latest Mustang GT model. The company has placed an advertisement page in the 2012 Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Edition that shows a very cool Mustang and, next to it, the even hotter Dalena Henriques. If her name doesn’t sound familiar to you, it’s because the hot model doesn’t actually exist. Ford decided to have a little fun and invent a model to pair with their new Mustang. So far, it’s working. Any time someone wants to look up this "model," the only pictures they’ll find is of the Mustang. Well done, Ford!

Hit the jump to read more about the 2013 Ford Mustang GT.

Jaguar made a sensational decision in producing the XKR-S Coupe and they have decided it’s time to expand the impressive line-up with the addition of a new Convertible model. The new XKR-S Convertible made its world debut at the 2011 Los Angeles Auto Show and is the most powerful and fastest open-topped GT Jaguar has ever built.

The convertible uses the same 5.0-liter supercharged AJ-V8 engine as the coupe version. It delivers a total of 543 HP and a peak torque of 502 lbs-ft; enough power to sprint the car from 0 to 60 mph in 4.2 seconds on its way up to a top speed of 186 mph.

Just like the coupe version, the XKR-S Convertible received an impressive aerodynamic package that helps maintain stability in an open-topped car capable of speeds as high as 186mph. More than that, all the exterior changes make the XKR-S look more aggressive and sportier than ever.

Adrian Hallmark, Jaguar Global Brand Director says, "There is nothing as liberating as life behind the wheel of an open-topped Jaguar and the new XKR-S Convertible takes the Jaguar GT experience to new heights."

UPDATE 02/02/2012: Jaguar has unveiled a new video showing the XKR-S Convertible as it plays in the snow somewhere in Finland. Enjoy!

More details on the 2012 Jaguar XKR-S after the jump.

The highlight of the 2011 Chicago Auto Show was the beautifully seductive Camaro ZL1 Coupe, and the ZL1 Convertible is getting ready to follow in its footsteps. Chevrolet will be unveiling the brand’s most-powerful convertible ever in November at the 2011 Los Angeles Auto Show. Sales will begin in late 2012.

"The Camaro ZL1 convertible will be one of the most powerful and most capable, convertibles available at any price," said Al Oppenheiser, Camaro chief engineer. "This is a car that is guaranteed to put a smile on your face every time you drop the top – or hit the gas."

As with the coupe model, the ZL1 Convertible is powered by a
6.2 liter "LSA" engine that delivers a total of 580 HP and 556 lb.-ft. of torque. The engine will be combined with chassis technologies designed to deliver exceptional performance on the road or track. The ZL1 Convertible will also be offered with the third-generation Magnetic Ride and Performance Traction Management.

UPDATE 01/17/12: Just like its coupe counterpart, the Camaro ZL1 Convertible has fresh new photos straight out of the Chevrolet oven. You can browse through all of them in the gallery below!

Hit the jump to read more about the Chevrolet Camaro Convertible ZL1.

Back in 2009, Lamborghini unveiled the Gallardo LP 550-2 Valentino Balboni - a 550 HP special edition limited to only 250 units. This model was only offered in a coupe version, but at the 2011 Los Angeles Auto Show, Lamborghini has brought out a Spyder version to offer a "stunning level of open-air driving fun that can come only from a super sports car with a folding roof and an unbelievably agile and spontaneous handling." The new roadster model has dropped the "Valentino Balboni" name and is simply called the "Gallardo LP550-2 Spyder."

"With the Gallardo LP 550-2 Spyder, we are expanding the Lamborghini lineup with a purist model that adds yet another dimension of driving fun. This will appeal in particular to a very special group of customers that enjoy a spirited driving style and also like to experience the sheer pleasure of open-air driving," says Stephan Winkelmann, President and CEO of Automobili Lamborghini. "This special model with rear-wheel drive is a logical expansion of our lineup of spyder models with all-wheel drive."

Just like the coupe model, the Gallardo LP550-2 Spyder uses a 5.2-liter V10 engine that delivers a total of 542 hp and 398 lb-ft of torque. With a total weight of 3,351 lbs, the roadster will accelerate from 0 to 60 mph in 4.2 seconds on its way up to a top speed of 198 mph.

UPDATE 01/16/2012: Lamborghini has announced that the new Gallardo LP550-2 Spyder will go on sale this March at a starting price of $209,000, excluding the $2,995 delivery and gas-guzzler charge.

Following the 500 (Cinquecento) and the 500 Cabrio , Fiat has also brought the 500 Abarth - otherwise known as the most powerful 500 currently available - to the American market. The American 500 Abarth Abarth made its debut at the 2011 Los Angeles Auto Show. It brings world-class performance and precision, purposeful and aggressive styling, and high power-to-weight ratio. The model will be offered in a limited edition.

The new Fiat 500 Abarth still maintains all of the elements from its European version, designed for track-day enthusiasts and driving-purists who want the ultimate high-performance small car with the pedigree of an exclusive Italian exotic. It is powered by a 1.4-liter MultiAir Turbo engine that delivers a total of 135 HP and a peak torque of 152 lb-ft of torque. The list of standard equipment includes an Abarth-tuned suspension and brake system, a race-inspired design, and technology features not traditionally included on a small car.

"Bringing the 2012 Fiat 500 Abarth to the U.S. enables us to reach out to driving enthusiasts who want Italian performance at an attainable price," said Olivier Francois, Head of FIAT Brand and Chief Marketing Officer — Chrysler Group LLC. "With its lightweight, track-tuned handling and purpose-built design, the Fiat 500 Abarth brings to life the legendary racing heritage of the brand and becomes the Italian high-performance car for everyday driving."

UPDATE 12/06/2011: Before its official market launch, the new 500 Abarth made its first stop at Jay Leno’s Garage. Find out what he thinks about the car by watching the video after the jump!

UPDATE 01/12/2012: Chrysler has announced prices for the American version of the Fiat 500 Abarth. The model will go on sale at a starting price of $22,000 (not including destination).

UPDATE 05/02/12: Romanian model Catrinel Menghia is back, only this time, it’s three times bigger, better, and hotter than before. Fresh off of the success of their Super Bowl collaboration, Menghia and Fiat Fiat have returned with three new commercials featuring the smoking hot super model and the equally lovely Italian hatch. Check out the ads and enjoy them!

Remember Porsche announced a few days ago it will bring a new mid-engined sports car in LA? Here it is! It is called Cayman R, and not CS as we expected; with R standing for responsive and refined, and of course racing. The name pays tribute to the first Porsche with the "R" designation, the 911 R of 1967. It will go on sale in February 2011, at a price of $66,300.

What makes the difference between a standard Cayman and the R version? First the engine. The Cayman R is powered by a tuned-up 3.4-liter six-cylinder engine that develops an impressive 330 HP. The the sprint from 0 to 60 mph, now made in 4.9 seconds (or 4,7 seconds with the optional Sport Chrono packages) and the top speed of 175 mph with manual gearbox, or 174 mph with PDK.

But that’s not all. With the new Cayman R, Porsche also focused on reducing the car’s weight. For that the company used only lightweight components and renounced to any convenience equipment. There is also a new set 19 inch light wheels. The result is a total weight of 2855 lb and a power-to-weight ration of 8.6 lb per horsepower.

Also for the exterior the Cayman R gets distinctive fixed rear spoiler, high-quality silver-painted wheels and numerous sporting highlights, black-framed headlights, black exterior mirrors and the "PORSCHE" lettering on the side – in contrasting black or silver, depending on the body color.

UPDATE 12/23/2011: It’s been a while since Porsche revealed any details on the spicy Cayman R, but they have now unveiled a new video in which Porsche’s Chief Driving Consultant Gordon Robertson explains the benefits of the Porsche Cayman’s layout as he explores the nuances of the car’s handling and balance. Hit the jump for the video!

The 2011 LA Design Challenge produced some pretty interesting and futuristic Hollywood rides. But after the dust had settled, we had a repeat winner taking home the 2011 title.

The Smart 341 Parkour, which was designed by folks from the Mercedes-Benz Advanced Design Studios in Sindelfingen, Germany, won the LA Design Challenge, on the back of a clever Hollywood story involving Annie Angle and her super sleuthing skills in Carntpark City.

This is the second year in a row that Smart has won the LA Design Challenge. Last year , the Smart 454 WWT shared top honors with the Cadillac Aera after judges declared a tie on a four-passenger car being built under the premise that it tips the scales at just under 1,000 lbs.

This year’s theme involved not just developing a perfect Hollywood car of the future, but also about inventing a story that puts the car in the forefront. With the 341 Parkour, Smart conveyed the theme to a tee by designing a car that combines innovation and functionality with an exciting film plot.

Just in case you’ve forgotten the capabilities of the 341 Parkour, the designers envisioned this revolutionary ride using parkour as an inspiration. So instead of people jumping in and around whatever obstacles in a given location, the 341 Parkour does all of that itself.

Congratulations to the Mercedes-Benz Advanced Design Studios for their back-to-back LA Design Challenge titles. Now the pressure’s on to hit a "three-peat" in 2012.

Source: Daimler

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