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Top Gear Season 17 moved to June 26?

Every holiday season, one of the most anticipated shows on television is Top Gear’s Christmas Special. Remember when the Nutcracker always used to play on TV during Christmas? At some point, A Charlie Brown Christmas took over for the Nutcracker as the main Christmas special. These days, at least for us car nuts, it’s the Top Gear Christmas Special that we schedule our day around.

There’s only one problem, there won’t be a Top Gear Christmas Special this year... at least not until February.

In an obviously disappointing turn of events, the Top Gear Christmas Special won’t be aired until February. According to Captain Slow himself, James May, the show’s delay stemmed from production delays that, according to May, pushed filming until "quite late in the year and there is a lot of editing putting it together.”

In addition, the new season will only carry six episodes, instead of the traditional eight, putting an even bigger pout on our faces. Nevertheless, we expect loads of the same thing with Top Gear, even if the season is going to be two episodes shorter and won’t start until ‘Top Gear’s February Christmas Special’ airs.

Guess we’ll just have to settle for old, reliable Charlie Brown this year…

Source: Express UK

Before the 2013 model year, the top trim level of the Passat in the UK was the SE trim, which was relatively decked out, but lacked some of the extras that most premium sedans came with. In 2013, VW plans to change that by offering up a replacement for the outgoing SE trim level, the Passat Highline. Not only does the “Highline” name sound more luxurious than “SE,” but it also boasts an array of standard features that the SE did not.

This new addition affects both the Passat Saloon and the Passat Estate, which are a sedan and wagon, respectively. This gives the Passat lineup three trim levels in each body style, starting with the base-level S, the mid-grade BlueMotion, and capping off with the Highline. The real test is whether the additions to the top-level trim on the Passat really warrant the price the VW will place on it.

Click past the jump to read the full list of features and more.


The Seat Mii isn’t necessarily the coolest car on the planet, but any time a car company does something to help out an important cause, we can’t help but notice. The Mii Miinx began its life as a normal old Deep Black Metallic Mii Sport, but in celebration of Breast Cancer Awareness month, a Seat dealership chose to make it into a one-off show car.

After pulling this Mii Sport and its 75 PS (74-horsepower), 1.0-liter engine off of the showroom floor of Dales Seat in Cornwall, it was wrapped boot to bonnet in a gloss-pink vinyl wrap. To help add a little more of a custom look to this otherwise bone-stock Mii, the folks at Dales Seat tinted the headlights.

This Seat Mii Miinx comes relatively well-equipped, featuring: 15-inch alloy wheels, air conditioning, leather-wrapped steering wheel and gear shift, tinted rear windows, fog lamps, and a sports suspension.

The base Mii Sport goes for £11,500 ($18,298 at the current exchange rates), but, as you can tell, this is no normal Mii Sport. There are no immediate plans to sell the Mii Miinx, but Dales Seat has received numerous offers via Twitter and telephone. We’re sure the car will eventually be sold off to some lucky buyer for a good bit more than its base price.

In the meantime, Dales Seat will be donating £100 ($159 at current exchange rates) to Breakthrough Breast Cancer charity for every Mii it sells. Even if you can’t pick up the Mii Miinx, you can still snag up a Mii and have a portion of its profits go to a great cause.

Click past the jump to read Seat’s full press release.

Aston Martin DB9

With premium automakers like Bentley , Porsche , Land Rover , and Lamborghini all being snatched up by more mainstream automakers, like Volkswagen and, dare we say, Tata , it is pretty obvious that it’s tough going for independent, niche automakers. Even Ferrari , which is doing extremely well so far in 2012, has a parent company in Fiat S.p.A.

Aston Martin is one of the few niche automakers that is almost going it alone, as Ford only holds a 15-percent share in the premium sports car company and the rest is shared between privateer David Richards, and Kuwaiti investment firms Investment Dar and Adeem Investment Co. Of those three, Investment Dar owns the majority of the company, which sits at 68 percent.

According to reports from Bloomberg Businessweek, Investment Dar is searching for a new home for Aston, but having a rough time selling the brand. It is trying to sell its share of the company for the same $800 million that it bought the company for just five years ago. One possible buyer is Mahindra & Mahindra Ltd., the current owner of SsanYong, but it appears as if Mahindra is not in the market to blow that kind of cash on the British automaker.

Another potential suitor, which is a bit of a surprise, is Toyota. The Japanese automaker actually went as far as to hire an outside auditor to do a week-long survey on the possibility of buying Aston Martin. From the looks of things, that audit didn’t turn out too well, as that happened two months ago and there is still no movement by Toyota.

As expected, Toyota and Mahindra declined to comment on the situation, and Investment Dar outright denied the claims that Aston is up for sale. Regardless of denials and lack of confirmation, the debt that Aston Martin has accumulated – about 1.37 billion dinars ($4.9 billion at the current exchange rates) – via an Islamic bond needs to be paid off and selling the company may be the only option.

Short of that, we may see Aston Martin go the way of the dodo bird…

Most of you are familiar with the awesome Opel Insignia OPC , or the Vauxhall Insignia VXR if you are from the British market. With an impressive output of 325 horsepower, this model can hit a top speed of 155 mph. Today, however, the company has improved this model even further with the addition of a new VXR SuperSport edition that can hit an astounding top speed of 170 mph.

The new VXR SuperSport is powered by a turbocharged 2.8-liter V-6 Ecotec engine. This engine features a micro-alloy forged steel crank, classic 60-degree cylinder angle and a die-cast alloy sump. It delivers a total of 325 horsepower, which launches the car to 60 mph in just 5.6 seconds.

In order to deliver the best possible handling at high speeds, the new SuperSport has been equipped with a HiPer Strut front suspension, which maintains negative camber and improves grip levels in wet and dry. Also included on the SuperSport is the FlexRide adaptive damping system.

Vauxhall has also placed blue "Brembo" lettering on the front brake calipers plus additional increments on the speedometer in order to help customers identify the model.

The Mercedes-Benz 300SL Gullwing is a rare enough car, as there were only 3,258 examples ever built. Of those, only 1,400 were coupes. So, when you start talking about special edition models, you are getting into some of the rarest cars in the world.

When the SL300 was busy kicking ass at venues like the 24 Hours of Nürburgring and 24 Hours of Le Mans , it was not the standard road-going model that you saw. In fact, the car you saw boasted a completely different body. All of the road-going cars, prior to the car’s retirement from racing boasted a steel body and the racing models featured a lighter allot body.

After the 300SL’s retirement from racing, the alloy body became a 5,000 Deutsche Marks option on the already pricey base 300SL. Because of this massive markup, only 29 models were ever built and sold to the general public, thus making it one of the rarest Mercedes-Benz’s available today.

To read more about the 300SL Alloy Gullwing, click past the jump.

The Ford Focus ST has quickly become one of our favorite hot hatchbacks on the market today, as the U.S.-spec model pumps out a monstrous 252 horsepower and 270 pound-feet of torque, and gets this hatchback to 60 mph in just 6.2 seconds. The UK-spec Focus ST is slightly detuned – wow, we actually got the upper hand in performance for once – as it has 250 PS (246 horsepower) and 360 Nm (265 pound-feet) of torque, which gets it to 62 mph in 6.5 seconds and gives it a 154 mph top speed.

Apparently, the UK thinks so highly of Ford’s newest version of the Focus that it has been approved by the National Policing Improvement Agency (NPIA) for use by UK police officers. While Ford does not go into many specifics about what’s under the hood, we assume by the lack of information that this Police Patrol Vehicle pumps out the same 250 PS and 360 Nm of torque, which will give it a huge upper hand on most of the cars roaming the streets of the UK.

Inside, the Ford Focus ST PPV is a mobile data terminal, which allows the police to activate the various functions of the car and likely acts as the in-car computer system for checking up on bad guys. Atop the Focus’s compact body sits the obligatory blue-and-white light bar boasting long-lasting LED technology. The body of the demonstrator car that Ford is dragging around the UK is draped in white with your typical police livery.

Local police forces can pick up the Focus ST PPV for £21,995 ($35,156 at the current exchange rates) in hatchback form or for £23,095 ($36,915) for the estate (wagon) model.

Click past the jump to read Ford’s press release.

Toyota GT 86

Love them or hate them, the Toyoscibaru triplets are a relative success and the Scottish Car of the Year award brass have confirmed its UK dominance by gracing it with the “Best Coupe ” award. While the GT86 may not be a powerhouse, pumping 200 horsepower and 151 pound-feet of torque from its 2.0-liter Subaru-built flat-4 engine, its lightweight body and low stance make it a true “driver’s car.”

Ultimately, its “driver’s car” feel combined with its 164 g/km of CO2 emissions and 39.8 mpg was what convinced the voting members of the Association of Scottish Motoring Writers to give the Toyota the award. There is no mention of what other cars contended the GT86 for the title, but the press release alludes to the fact that the Toyota GT86 was a come-from-behind winner this year.

Congrats to Toyota on its latest achievement. This only leads us to wonder what else Toyota has in store for us, especially considering the fact that Toyota recently confirmed that the GT86 is just the first of a series of sports cars that the automaker will release. We all anticipate the other two being a return of the Celica and a redo of the MR2 that would hopefully put to bed the underachieving MR-2 Spyder that we saw in the mid-2000s.

Click past the jump for the full press release.

Volkswagen Polo R-Line

Volkswagen’s compact hatchback positioned right between the Up! and the Golf – the Polo – is all set to put on its big-boy pants. That’s right; VW is giving the Polo the “R” treatment. No, we’re not talking about the “R-Line ” treatment, which is little more than some aesthetic changes. We mean the balls-to-the-wall high-performance “R” treatment, much like what the Golf is getting .

The details on this model are not yet complete, but we do know that it will borrow the 2.0-liter 4-cylinder engine from the outgoing GTI mk6. VW will then punch up its horsepower to the 225-pony range and ship it to the front wheels – no AWD option. According to reports, the Polo R will bolt to 60 mph in just over 6 seconds and give it a 150 mph top speed, making it extremely quick for its class. Sure, the Focus ST will smoke it, but it’s a step under the Focus’ class.

Much like the Polo R-Line, the Polo R will feature some extra ground effect and larger rims to give it a sportier look, but the complete details on the exterior are not yet known. We also expect the suspension to be lowered and the brake system to be upgraded, giving it better handling and braking to better work with the 45 extra ponies.

According to reports, the Polo R is all set to debut at the Geneva Motor Show in March 2013. Rumors are also afloat that the Polo R will hit European showrooms in mid 2013, but there is no confirmation yet. Of course, the Polo will not be offered in the U.S.

We expect to see the Polo R to go head-to-head against the Renault Clio RS and the Peugeot GTi, which each feature a 197-horsepower, 1.6-liter engine. Depending on the weight difference, this could give the Polo R a significant advantage.

We’ll add more information to this review as VW releases more details.

Image Note: All images are of the Polo R-Line


For the vast majority of the automobile’s life, horsepower has reigned supreme as the bragging right of most car owners. Torque snuck its way in through the 1980s and is now a little more relevant, but it was all about that almighty HP for the most part. Well, as the emission standards and fuel crisis of just about every decade emasculated muscle cars more and more, a new spec started rearing its wallet-friendly little head: miles per gallon.

With the price per gallon of gas tickling Abraham Lincoln’s feet in some areas of the U.S., mpg is becoming more and more important. In fact, just months ago, Consumer Reports did a survey that showed 37 percent of car buyers actually make their car-buying decision based on the mpg of a car. The next highest percentage chose build quality, and that tallied up to only 17 percent of the people polled.

It has gotten to the point now that even Lamborghini has introduced a start-stop feature on the 2013 Aventador , Ferrari and Porsche are building hybrids, and there is an electric-powered sedan hat hits 60 mph in 4.4 seconds while getting 90 mpg equivalent. This leads us to the inevitable, the sports car world is the next thing that has to change or die off altogether, as the supercar world is already rolling toward the mpg side.

There is mention of the Mustang and Camaro both switching over to turbocharged V-6 or, god forbid, 4-cylinder engines . If the pony cars can do it, chances are the sports cars of the world – Nissan 370Z, Porsche Boxster, Mazda Miata, etc. – are all going to have to push their mpg to extremes to remain competitive. This could ultimately increase sticker prices significantly and might result in buyers having no problems saying, “yeah, my car only has 100 horsepower and looks like a shoe, but it gets 75 mpg!”

The UK has been dealing with terrible gas prices for ages and you can see it in its cars. For example, the Nissan 370Z Nissan 370Z costs $33,120 in the U.S. and gets 26 mpg highway. In the UK, however, Nissan Nissan had to tweak it to meet the EU’s more stringent fuel economy regulations, raising its highway mpg to 36, but bringing the 370Z’s cost to an astronomical £29,975 ($48,202 at the current exchange rates). Would you pay nearly $50K for a base 370Z? I know I wouldn’t.

This may very well result in the death of the sports car, what a scary thought. Ultimately it is a change-inexpensively-or-die situation for the sports car as we know it in next 10 years…


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