When Lotus chose to pull out of the 2012 Paris Motor Show, the same show that the struggling car company released five new concepts at two years ago, we had a sneaking suspicion that this was the calm before the model-trimming storm. It looks as if our suspicions were true, as according to reports, Lotus has cut out all of Bahar’s brainchildren, with a possible exception being the revamped Espirit.
As we always say, sports car lovers are a fickle bunch. They know what they like and do not deal well with changes. Ferrari and Lamborghini lovers want fat sports cars with even fatter engines, whereas Lotus lovers want svelte and nimble machines that they can toss around at will. The models that Lotus has axed were very fat, by Lotus standard, and were not warmly received by enthusiasts.
Also scrapped in the process was the crazy notion that Lotus would produce its own engines for these new models. If the consistent lapping of Lotus-powered vehicles in INDYCAR isn’t enough of a deterrent for Lotus building their own engines, the sheer cost of the project is.
This is all clearly a cost-controlling measure by DRB-Hicom and Lotus to try and save the failing company, but it does have a bit of the undercoating of a jab to Bahar’s ribs. Regardless of the possible shot at Bahar’s ego, this is just one of the many necessary evils that Lotus has to go through to get back to being a profitable business.
Another necessary evil is the fact that Lotus will have to lay off 50 contractors hired to work on these new projects, which were part of Bahar’s “Five-Year Plan.”
Lotus and DRB-Hicom have submitted a new business plan to their creditors in hopes of getting some leeway in their debts and maybe freeing up some loan money to help inject some life into Lotus. We certainly hope to see Lotus back near the top of the boutique automaker list and we’ll keep a keen eye on this situation with many more updates likely coming your way.
Volvo is expanding its lineup this year with the addition of the new XC40, a new compact crossover built on the V40 architecture. This higher-riding V40 will be making its debut at the 2012 Paris Auto Show in September, but a couple of months is still too long for us to wait, so we decided that a clear look at the upcoming Volvo XC40 was in order. Enter our rendering specialists.
We’ve already mentioned the fact that the "new" XC40 will be built on the V40 platform, but it seems as though everything will be borrowed from the V40, minus the higher ride and the features needed to prepare the XC40 for off-road use. Under the hood, the XC40 will continue borrowing from the V40. There will be a turbocharged 1.6-liter petrol engine and a 2.0 liter engine with power ranging from 150 to 240 HP. Diesel fans will get a 155 HP engine. The top versions will be offered with an all-wheel-drive system.
The "brand new" XC40 is being built as a competitor to the Audi Q3 and the BMW X1. Of course, we’ll have to wait until the Paris Auto Show to determine whether it can actually be considered competition.
To say that Lotus has had a very prosperous year is akin to saying that the economies in Spain and Greek are both doing fine.
It wasn’t that long ago when Lotus had ambitious plans to become a player in the supercar market, having unveiled a total of six new concepts that would inevitably give run to a fleet of production vehicles.
So it’s with a dash of irony that this year, Lotus has announced that they would be skipping the 2012 Paris Motor Show, only two years removed from bringing those six concepts at the 2010 Paris Motor Show.
From the optimism of those days, the company has been in dire straits recently, no more evident than the messy firing of former CEO Dany Bahar, who incidentally was the driving force behind the company’s ambitious plans two years ago. The company today is also in financial disarray; sales have been extremely low and there’s even word that the company will go back to its roots as a factory for lightweight sports cars.
Despite the messy year the company has had, there are still some signs of optimism, particularly with the increased interest in their two new vehicles, the Exige V6 S and V6 Roadster. Whether they can jump start the company’s fledgling business remains to be seen, but one thing we do know is that it won’t come at a fast enough time to save Lotus from heading to the same auto show were only two years ago, they set out on an ambitious plan that ended up with nothing more than lost promises.
Since an official debut for the Adam will be made in September at the 2012 Paris Auto Show, Opel is rounding out testing for their new small hatchback and prepping it for its media release. This is no more evident than in these images taken of the unclothed Adam during a photoshoot in Spain.
The spy shots reveal the car in four exterior colors and editions, but most likely, the options list will be much longer than even that. As previously reported, the next Adam will be about 3.7 meters long and will only be offered in a three-door variant.
The small hatchback will use a small engine family of three- and four-cylinder units co-developed with Opel’s China partner, SAIC. Customers will have the option of choosing between engines with displacements from 1.0 liters to 1.4 liters with direct injection and turbocharging capabilities. The top version will get a 1.6-liter diesel and a 1.6-liter turbocharged gasoline unit.
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.
Most automakers have already begun to offer hybrid versions for at least one SUV in their line-up, so Mitsubishi is actually a little late in the game with this one. The company is currently working on an Outlander Plug-in Hybrid EV and will have it ready for the 2012 Paris Auto Show in September. The new model will go on sale in Europe in 2013, but at this point, Mitsubishi hasn’t said anything about bringing it over to the U.S. market.
The new Mitsubishi Outlander Hybrid will share the same architecture with the soon-to-be-introduced New Outlander’s ICE versions and will feature a unique drive train combination of front electric motor plus rear electric motor plus front traction/generator petrol engine. It will offer a choice of three driving modes: Pure (Twin Motor 4WD EV), Series (Twin Motor 4WD - EV supported by generator), and Parallel (ICE engine supported by Twin Motor 4WD). Mitsubishi also promised that the new Outlander Hybrid will come with a driving range of 800 kilometers (497 miles).
Even though it is not slated to come to the U.S., nor are any Peugeots, we have kept a watchful eye on the new Peugeot 301 four-door hatchback. Behind the scenes and obviously out of our prying eyes’ range, Peugeot has been working on a different version of the 301, a sedan, or saloon for you U.K. folks.
Yup, this new 301 looks just like the 301 hatchback that we have seen frolicking around, but has the hatch hacked off and a trunk put in its place. This new 301, which is set to debut at the Paris Motor Show in September 2012, is positioned in the automaker’s developing market lineup – Turkey, Central and Eastern Europe, Russia, Ukraine, Greece, Middle East, Gulf and African States, and certain Latin America markets.
Even though its release is not scheduled for a few more months, Peugeot has decided to give us a sneak peak at this new model and a short press release to let us now about some of its key features.
UPDATE 07/23/12: French automaker Peugeot has just come out with a fresh batch of photos for the 301 Sedan. Check out the car in action on the road in the gallery!
Click past the jump to rear our full review on the upcoming Peugeot 301 Sedan.
Chevrolet has announced it will unveil a new global SUV in September at the 2012 Paris Auto Show. The new model, called Trax, will be offered in more than 140 markets, with Mexico and Canada being the first ones privy to it. As of right now, there are no plans to introduce it in the U.S. market.
The future Trax will feature the same pioneering spirit and expressive design that defines each new Chevrolet, but it will be distinguished by a muscular exterior design and wide athletic stance. Chevrolet states that the interior will come with standards usually found in more expensive vehicles.
"The Trax provides Chevrolet an entry into a growing small SUV segment and delivers the flexibility, great fuel economy and car-like handling that urban explorers around the world require," said Mary Barra, GM senior vice president of Product Development. "After a record sales year in 2011 and a record first quarter, Chevrolet continues to meet customer needs by expanding its portfolio with strong new entries."
We all watched as Mazda rolled out the sexy Mazda Takeri concept car in New York. At that same time we learned that the 2014 Mazda6, which we will see at the 2012 Paris Auto Show, will be “strongly influenced” by the Takeri concept and we became rather excited by its potential. With those “look at me” body lines we assumed that there would be some hot V-6 option for this new stylish body. Unfortunately, Mazda went in a completely different direction, according to Mazda spokesperson Jeremy Barnes, via Automotive News.
Barnes made it quite clear that there are no plans to place a V-6 option or any other performance engine option under the 2014 Mazda6’s new hood. Actually, Mazda is even axing the somewhat impressive 170-horsepower, 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine. The likely replacement for both engines is the Skyactiv 2.0-liter four-banger that cranks out a respectable-for-its-size 155 horsepower and 150 pound-feet of torque. However, if you have to add “for its size” in front of something, that’s typically not a good thing.
The goal of this freshly revised Mazda6 is obviously fuel economy, which we can respect Mazda for doing. In all honesty though, they could produce a turbo-charged four-cylinder or even borrow an EcoBoost engine from Ford, who still owns a small share of Mazda. A possible performance engine would be the 250-horsepower, 2.0-liter EcoBoost engine slated for the upcoming Focus ST.
Having said all of that, Mazda did not completely rule out a future optional Skyactiv V-6 option for the Mazda6, but for now we will only see a four-cylinder engine.
We just hope that Mazda isn’t cutting its own throat by offering an under-powered four-cylinder for this hot-looking model. Then again, the automotive world tends to change with the wind, so you never know what may actually happen between now and the 2014 Mazda6’s release in the first quarter of 2013.
With sister company Nissan digging into the depths of its history to revive the old Datsun nameplate, Renault felt a little out in the cold. Well, the constructeur automobile Français, err, French automaker has decided yet again to revive its long lost sports car, the Alpine A110, sort of.
Renault has announced that a 50th anniversary Alpine A110 model will make an appearance at the 2012 Paris Motor Show (Mondial de l’Automobile 2012), which opens on September 29th and runs through October 14th. Keep in mind, Renault once explored this topic before, but axed it in 2009.
The original Alpine A110 debuted in 1961 and lasted through the 1977 model year. It had a rather Porsche-like design and had a number of engines ranging from a 66-horsepower 1,108 cc engine to an impressive 140-horsepower 1,605 cc engine.
There is no word as of yet what engine this retro revival will feature, nor what it will look like. Chances are, however, it will be very similar to the original. Given the fact that Renault also owns a large portion of Nissan, this tribute car will likely bear a few Nissan components.
An actual production model is unlikely, as Renault already features a compact sports car, the Wind, and having two similar cars in an already massive lineup could be harmful. Then there’s the fact that Renault-Nissan’s marketing head said “...for an Alpine to make sense financially, it would have to sell in North America and China.” We haven’t seen a Renault in the U.S. since 1989, so it’s a real stretch for it to ever see production.
Ultimately, Renault left us pretty much empty handed on details, so we all just have to wait patiently until September. Unless Renault decides to play nice and give us at least a glimpse.
UPDATE 07/01/2012: 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.