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2009 Cadillac Converj

2009 Cadillac Converj

Here’s a sexier approach to the Chevrolet Volt. Cadillac’s Converj concept takes the electric car with a gas back powertrain (now called Voltec) from the Chevy and wraps it in a sleek body that reminds of a larger version of the CTS coupe. The Converj is a strict four-seater. While this is used to give this car a sportier image, this is also necessary because a big center section is taken up by the "T" shaped battery used to power the car. The battery pack contains more than 220 lithium-ion cells that can power the car for up to 40 miles. After the battery runs out, the electric will be replenished by a gas-powered generator. Just like the Volt, the car is designed to be fully charged after plugged in for eight hours on a normal household 120-volt outlet (three hours for 240v).

There is plenty of function to the Converj form. The dark roof contains solar panels to help recharge the car and the sleek body helps cheat the millage-killing wind. Now all that has to happen is for General Motors to find the capital to put the Cadillac of electric cars in production.

UPDATE 08/12/11: After a few jumps on both sides of the fence, Cadillac has officially given the green light for the production of the Converj. The latest news about Cadillac’s resident electric car concept is that GM executives have finally gone ahead and given their blessing to have the Converj hit the production block for a 2013 launch leading up to a release as a 2014 model. Took them a while to finally decide, but hey, better late than never, right?

Press release after the jump.

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2009 Pagani Zonda R

2009 Pagani Zonda R

The Zonda is on its way out, but that doesn’t mean it will go quietly. So before the replacement for Pagani’s current supercar arrives, there is one more edition of this wild Italian and Pagani has revealed it in Vienna at the Luxury Motor Show.

The Zonda R is limited to only 15 units, each priced at €1.4 million euro (about $1.85 million at current rates). It will compete with models like the Ferrari FXX and Maserati MC12 Corse. Just like those Italian exotics, don’t bother trying to hang a license plate on this Zonda; this car is track only.

The Zonda R is powered by a V12 AMG engine that delivers 750 hp (100 more than the Zonda F) at 8000 rpm and 524 lb. ft. of torque. Although it looks like other Zondas, this only uses ten percent of the Zonda F components. New parts include a suspension forged in Avional (aluminium alloy), a new Pagani six-speed transversal sequential gearbox, and a carbon fiber monocoque chassis.

UPDATE 12/10/2010:Marchettino has provided an eight-minute video devoted solely to one of our favorite cars in the world, the Pagani Zonda R. There aren’t a lot of cars on this planet that we can watch for eight minutes straight, but the Zonda R is definitely one of them. In this video, the Zonda R is being driven by former Formula One driver Andrea Montermini, where he takes one of the fastest cars in the world for a number of driving demonstrations, including launches, full throttle standing starts, tire-screeching accelerations, full-limit revs, and even fly-bys. Check it out after the jump!!

Hit the jump to read more about the Pagani Zonda R.

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2010 BMW X5 M

2010 BMW X5 M

While a tall SUV with more power than a BMW M5 may not be the most ideal vehicle, if a company was going to create one, at least its BMW. At this week’s New York Auto Show the BMW X5 M will make its first public appearance. The superfast SUV will share the stage with its mechanically similar stalemate, the X6 M.

The X5 M is powered by BMW’s twin-turbo 4.4-liter V8 engine. The new turbos combined with a revised exhaust manifold creates 555 hp in this application. THis is a 205 hp step up from the next most powerful X5, the 350 hp X5 xDrive48i. It’s mated to a six-speed M Sports Automatic transmission, and both the engine and transmission are shared with the X6 M.

As we’ve seen from the lightly covered spy shots, the X5 M gets new front bumpers with large jowls to help with air intake. The M package also includes 20-inch alloy wheels and a full body kit.

More pics and full breakdown in the press release after the jump.

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2010 Lincoln MKT

2010 Lincoln MKT

The 2010 Lincoln MKT made its world debut at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit. This will be the sixth model in Lincoln’s lineup, and slot between the MKX and the Navigator.

The Ford Flex cousin will be offered with a choice of two engines: a 3.7-liter V6 that delivers 268 hp at 6,500 RPM and 267 ft.-lb. of torque at 4,250 RPM; and a 3.5-liter twin-turbocharged EcoBoost V-6 that delivers 355 hp at 5,700 RPM and 350 ft.-lb. of torque at 3,500 RPM. The upgraded EcoBoost engine should provide similar fuel economy as the standard (non-turbo) 3.7-liter engine. Both engines are mated to a six-speed SelectShift automatic transmission. The 3.5 liter version is being offered standard with AWD system, while for the 3.7 version the AWD is optional.

The MKT uses a lot of design touches that have become known throughout the Lincoln family such as the split waterfall grille, single piece rear light, and large greenhouse area. Much of the curves in the design look like they came from the same pen that gave us the surprisingly handsome MKS we had in our fleet.

UPDATE 01/18/2009: Lincoln has just announced prices for the 2010 Lincoln MKT. Sales will begin this summer at a price of $44,995 for the front-wheel drive model and $49,995 for the all-wheel drive version.

Press release after the jump.

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2010 GMC Terrain

2010 GMC Terrain

Pontiac’s Torrent was not exactly the best fit to share the platform of the Chevrolet Equinox SUV. So for the new Equinox, the SUV-friendly GMC get the variation with the Terrain. Prices for the 2010 Terrain range from $24,995 for the SLE1 model and go up to $29,995 for the SLT2 model.

Just like it’s Equinox twin, the GMC Terrain will be offered with a choice of two engines: a 2.4-liter four-cylinder engine that delivers 182 hp (estimated 30 mpg) and a more powerful 3.0-liter V6 engine with 264 hp. Both engines will be mated to a six-speed automatic transmissions, and will be available in front-wheel drive and all-wheel drive.

While on paper this may seem like a purely badge-engineered version of the Equinox, there is more to the Terrain. Although mechanically similar, the Equinox still goes for the look of a Lexus RX 350, the Terrain is going after a tougher truck-like market.

Video and press release after the jump.

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2010 Mercedes E63 AMG

2010 Mercedes E63 AMG

The press days for the New York Auto Show are a week away, but Mercedes can’t wait that long. The company revealed today the first official details and images on the most powerful model in the E-Class line-up.

The quickest of the E-Class is powered by a 6.3-liter V8 engine plucked directly from the SL63 AMG. Although rumors had the power up to 525 hp, the E63 makes the same 518 hp as found in the SL63 (European versions of both cars make 525 hp). This is a 10 hp bump from the predecessor, and fuel economy has still improved by twelve percent to 22 mpg.

Also from the SL63 is the Speedshift MCT seven-speed double-clutch automatic transmission. This is coupled into four driving modes: Controlled Efficiency, Sport, Sport Plus and Manual. The whole package should be good for a 0 to 62 mph (100 kmh) time of 4.5sec, and top speed is limited to Germany’s standard 155mph.

Sales should begin in Europe in August, and the U.S. should follow soon after.

Press release after the jump

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2009 Mercedes S 63 AMG and S 65 AMG

2009 Mercedes S 63 AMG and S 65 AMG

Mercedes waited for the Shanghai Auto Show to debut the AMG versions of the 2010 S-Class sedan.

The big difference for any AMG car is the engine, and while both engines are carried over from the 2009 cars, they still offer exception performance in a full size sedan. The S 63 AMG 63 gets the 6.3-liter V8 that makes 518 hp (525 hp in European cars) and should keep the 2009’s 0 to 60 mph time of 4.5 seconds. The S 65 AMG gets the 6.0-liter twin-turbo V12 that makes 604 hp (612 hp in European cars) and should keep the 2009’s 0 to 60 mph time of 4.2 seconds.

The largest exterior upgrade is the LED lighting package also given across the S-Class line, so there are no surprises here. Other feature such as the wider air intake on the front lip, special wheels, and quad exhaust pipes are all AMG mainstays.

Both sedans are governed by the German gentleman’s agreement to 155 mph. European sales will begin in June and spread quickly to other countries though the end of the year.

Press release after the jump.

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2009 Porsche Cayman

2009 Porsche Cayman

The Porsche Cayman has always had a suspicious place in the Porsche lineup. The extra-potent "S" model comes very close to hitting performance figures of the base 911, at much reduced cost. But now that 2009 refreshening adds extra power to the Cayman, how will this stack up?

The second generation of the Cayman is making its debut at the Los Angeles Auto Show right along side its Boxster sibling. Just like the drop top, the 2009 Cayman is being offered in two versions: Cayman and Cayman S (the Cayman S Sport version goes away.)

The Cayman is powered by a 2.9-liter flat-six boxer engine that delivers 265 hp (an increase of 20 hp); the Cayman S gets a 3.4-liter power unit that delivers 320 hp (25 hp more). The Cayman S with PDK dual-clutch automatic and Launch Control can do 0 to 60 mph in 4.9 seconds. That’s a 0.2 second improvement from the previous Cayman S and is within 0.2 seconds of the published figures for the base 911.

As it turns out the increase in power will not mean worse fuel economy. The Cayman equipped with PDK averages 26.3 mpg, and 25.5 mpg for the Cayman S. That’s about a 4 mpg improvement from the Tiptronic automatic transmission cars.

Design improvements take cues from the V10 Carrera GT. The 2009 Cayman gets new front and rear ends with new halogen headlights with integrated direction indicators, new LED rear lights, new air intakes and new rear panels with a wind deflector plate.

Both the Cayman and the Cayman S will go on sale in February 2009 in Europe. It’s expected that the new Cayman will reach these shores soon afterward with only a marginal price increase.

Full details in the press release after the jump.

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2009 - 2010 Infiniti G37 convertible

2009 - 2010 Infiniti G37 convertible

Infiniti revealed at the Los Angeles Auto Show the first ever convertible model in the G line-up. The car doesn’t stray much from the G37’s original recipe, and it carries over the coupe’s platform and engine. The biggest addition to the car is the extra sky available form the folding hardtop. Sales of the topless G will begin in spring of 2009.

The G37 convertible is powered by the same 3.7-liter V6 engine as the coupe version that delivers 325 hp @ 7,000 rpm and a peak torque of 267 lbs-ft @5,200 rpm. The engine is mated to either an electronically controlled 7-speed automatic transmission with available magnesium paddle shifters or a responsive close-ratio 6-speed manual transmission.

The model is offered in two different trim versions: the G37 Convertible and the G37S Convertible Sport 6MT, which adds sport-tuned steering and larger sport brakes, along with 19-inch aluminum-alloy wheels and W-rated performance tires.

The problem with many convertibles is that top-down motoring can create a lot of wind in the passenger cabin. The G37 convertible combats the effects in two ways. When the three-pieces folding steel top is down, the Bose audio system will change the radio setting depending on detected outside noise. Also, the climate control system will adjust fan speed in accordance to top position and vehicle speed.

For the Bloomingdale’s Holiday Catalog, Infiniti added a G Convertible Premier Edition limited to only 200 units.

Updated 02/09/2010: The Japanese luxury automaker Infiniti will continue to offer the G37 Convertible for the 2010MY. Prices start at $44,350 for the seven speed automatic version and goes up to $46,950 for the six speed sport version. The 2010 G37 Convertible comes complete with standard features like a RearView Monitor and safety features like available automatic rain sensing flat blade wipers, Pre-Crash Seat Belts and Intelligent Cruise Control with Preview Braking.

Full details in the press release after the jump.

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2010 Audi TT RS

2010 Audi TT RS

Audi revealed today at the Geneva Motor Show the most powerful TT version ever: the TT-RS, in both coupe and Roadster versions. Sales of the Audi TT RS begin in March; deliveries are scheduled to begin this summer.

The RS model distinguishes itself from the rest of the TT line with larger front air vents, twin-spoked alloy wheels, a fixed wing at the back and a new rear diffuser.

Under the hood Audi placed a turbocharged 2.5-liter engine with direct gasoline injection that produces 340 bhp and 330 lb.-ft. of torque. The TT RS Coupé makes the 0 to 100 km/h sprint (0 to 62 mph) in 4.6 seconds, and the Roadster needs a tenth of a second longer. Top speed is limited to 250 km/h (155 mph), but Audi offers an option to raise the limit to 280 km/h (174 mph).

The five-cylinder unit marks Audi’s return to the odd numbered engine. This is important for Audi because it’s had a long tradition of five-cylinders in performance cars. It dates back to 1976 when Ferdinand Piëch developed the unit for the 5000 series, that was later used in the rally-dominating Quattro cars of the 80s.

Press release after the jump

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2010 Jaguar XK and XKR

2010 Jaguar XK and XKR

The updated versions of Jaguar XK and XKR coupe and convertible made its official debut today at the Detroit Auto Show. This represents some small adjustments to the interior and exterior and a big adjustment in the engine bay.

Just like the XFR that’s also debuting in Detroit, This update marks the appearance of Jaguar’s enlarged 5.0-liter V8 engine. In the standard XK this means an 85 hp bump to 385 hp. The supercharged XKR gets an 83 hp bump for a total of 503 hp. and 461 lbs-ft of torque. Jag claims the new XKR should be good for 0 to 60 mph sprints in 4.6 seconds (0.3 second improvement). Jaguar still mates the engine to an electronically controlled, six-speed ZF automatic transmission, and top speed is still electronically limited to 155 mph.

Now that we know the engine, here come the rest. The biggest visual changes to the outside of the car are two new vertical slats just below the headlights and XF-inspired LED rear lights. Inside the car, the J-Gate shifter has finished its slow death, and is replaced with the rising knob from the XF. The XKR also gets two new exclusive colors called the Salsa and Kyanite Blue.

The new cat should be in U.S. showrooms by this summer.

Press release after the jump.

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2009 BMW Z4 Roadster

2009 BMW Z4 Roadster

Welcome back BMW. The last Z4 looked like a merger of compromise. It brought together round designs and aggressive cuts that made the car never too cuddly and never too aggressive. It was the girlfriend you went out with not because of how she looked, but because she had a good personality.

Now that’s all changed. There is only one look to this car, and its pure evil. The body now has more better proportioned design, and with the new hard top up, the rear half has a profile that resembles the previous generation Z4 coupe. The most important part is the front. The new Z4 has an intimidating and shark-like look that wants to say, "I have a secret...and that is I could kill you."

The interior has improved slightly. The new Z4 has switched the position of the radio and climate controls from the previous generation, and everything comes closer to looking like the BMW Z8’s interior (without the confusing center-mounted dials.)

The new Z4 comes in two models for North America, both using the same 3.0-liter inline-six cylinder engine. The sDrive30i has 255 hp, and the sDrive35i uses twin-turbos (one turbo designated for three cylinders each) to upgrade to 300 hp. All variants of the new BMW Z4 come as standard with a 6-speed manual gearbox. As an option, the BMW Z4 sDrive35i is available with BMW’s newly developed double-clutch sport automatic gearbox.

The BMW Z4 sDrive35i makes the 0 to to 60 mph sprint in 5.1 seconds with the manual transmission and 5.0 seconds with the seven-speed double clutch sport automatic. The sDrive30i accelerates from a 0 to 60 mph in 5.6 seconds with a manual and 6.0 seconds with the automatic. Both models are limited to a top speed of 130 mph (150 mph with the optional Sport Package).

The new Z4 will be seen in the flesh next month at the Detroit Auto Show, and sales will begin on May 9th.

Full details in the press release after the jump

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BMW Z2 to be revealed at the Frankfurt Motor Show?

BMW Z2 to be revealed at the Frankfurt Motor Show?

A new rumor suggests the BMW Z2 is ‘game on’ for Frankfurt. Was BMW just trying to throw all of us off the scent by denying the Z2’s existence? Or are rumors getting jumbled that overlap with the Z10 ED? We don’t have all the answers yet, so we’ll just keep scratching out heads until September.

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Red and gold Mercedes SLR - money can't buy taste

Red and gold Mercedes SLR - money can’t buy taste

Ueli Anlicker of Switzerland is out to prove money can’t buy sophistication. He may have finally hit this point home with a $4.3 million investment in a Mercedes SLR. Anlicker added rubies, real gold and even a functional bodykit, but unfortunately he left out one small element: style. The car is rumored to have 999 horsepower (382 more than the standard car,) which at least means it can get out of sight faster.

Like the golden Porsche, someone please steal this so the world doesn’t have to see it again.

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Video: Lamborghini Diablo crashed

Maybe this is why Lamborghini now only makes cars with all-wheel drive. It seems this driver forgot about the Diablo’s rear weight bias. Sometimes the price one pays for showing off is the repair bill. But unlike some others, at least this one can be repaired.

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Porsche Panamera configurator

Porsche Panamera configurator

Now that Porsche’s first sedan, the Panamera is on sale, it’s time to go build your own. It may not be as much of a time-waster a the paint your own Panamera page, but at least this ones official.

So sit back and pretend like you still have the $89,800 to $132,600 that was in your stock portfolio last year. It’s time to build the ultimate soccer dad’s Porsche.

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2011 Nissan GT-R spy shot?

2011 Nissan GT-R spy shot?

We’re not exactly sure what this is yet, but it’s been a while since we’ve seen a Nissan GT-R with any body camouflage. This car was caught running around the Nurburgring at the same time Nissan was going for its record run.

One theory pegs this as a 2011 mule. Where the 2009 to 2010 changeover saw more horsepower (a whole five more ponies,) the 2011 car may be more about aerodynamics. All that is known right now is that this car features a different rear air diffuser and new venting on the underspoiler. While this may not seem like much, we found out from Nissan’s Colin Price that aerodynamics on the GT-R are everything.

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Renault prepares a Twingo Convertible

Could Renault finally be coming out with the Twingo C+C? "We are working on a small convertible for 2010," said Renault executive Yves-Eric Morel. If so, this €15,000 roadster may give the U.S. a new reason to want Renault back. We’ll have to wait for the Frankfurt show in September to find out.

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2009 Ford F-150 SuperCrew

2009 Ford F-150 SuperCrew

A while ago trucks had a much simpler mission. Owners only demanded two things from their trucks: the steering wheel is connected to the wheels, and that the owner died before the truck did.

Now truck ownership has reached the premium levels. The previous requirements are still the same, but now there are more items added. Trucks are no longer just on the farm and the job site, but they are also in the corporate parking lots used for the do-it-yourself crowd who has learned how to build an addition on the house in a few weekends. So while a truck still has to be tough enough to carry the rocks and gravel in the back, it has to make sure it doesn’t wrinkle the suits up front.

A place where this is really evident is in the 2009 Ford F-150 SuperCrew Lariat that joined our fleet. Ford has almost 60 years experience assembling F-Series trucks, so there is no doubt about it’s tough as nails ability. We just didn’t expect to be so comfy in a workman’s truck.

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Video: Aston Martin One-77 exhaust note

Video: Aston Martin One-77 exhaust note

Aston Martin One-77 made its first appearance as a completed car last weekend. So now that the car is moving under its own power, the question is what does £1 million (currently about $1.47 million) sound like?

One more video after the jump.

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Mercedes and BMW to bring back the four-cylinder engines

Mercedes and BMW to bring back the four-cylinder engines

Tighter emissions standards and fuel economy demands means we know BMW and Mercedes will return to four-cylinder engines in the U.S.; it’s just a question of how many versions will they bring? BMW North America’s CEO Jim O’Donnell said, "The plans will be firmed up when we have definite news from Washington on what the fuel standards are going to be."

BMW is no stranger to four-cylinder engines. It’s the four-cylinder engine that helped BMW get into modern car production. In fact, its headquarters in Munich, Germany was built in the shape of four cylinders as a tribute. So it’s almost ironic that BMW has not sold a car with a four-cylinder engine in the U.S. (one of its largest markets) for over a decade.

The first Bimmers in North America with the smaller engines should be the 1 and 3-Series lines, including the X1 and X3 SUVs. These smaller engines will likely also include turbochargers.

The return for Mercedes won’t be quite as dramatic. It only stopped selling turbo fours in the U.S.-bound C-Class cars in 2005. It will likely return the gas-powered turbocharged four-cylinder engine to the C-Class and add it to the GLK.

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Rolls Royce Ghost at Concorso d'Eleganza Villa d'Este

Rolls Royce Ghost at Concorso d’Eleganza Villa d’Este

Rolls-Royce showed off its future sedan for the first time with the name “Ghost” officially attached. The first production version of the car was shown off at the Concorso d’Eleganza this past weekend in Lake Como, Italy.

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Volkswagen's new mid-sized sedan to be revealed in 2012

Volkswagen’s new mid-sized sedan to be revealed in 2012

Volkswagen’s Passat replacement for the U.S. was originally expected as early as next year, but now it seems that it may be 2012 when sedans roll out of VW’s new Chattanooga factory. VW is splitting up Passat production to give the U.S. and China a larger car. This is in a similar fashion to how Honda makes two separate Accords (the European version of the Accord is a smaller car and is sold in the U.S. as the Acura TSX.)

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Ferrari F430 crashed in Russia

Ferrari F430 crashed in Russia

Maybe we should start a petition to get Italy to have a trade embargo with Russia. Although this breaks the streak of Lamborghinis crashed in Russia, a wrecked Ferrari F430 doesn’t hurt any less.

This situation seems to incorporate two people with more money than brains: the 19-year-old driver and his bank manager father who bought him the Italian exotic.

The kid was driving was reported to be driving at over 200 km/h (124 mph) on Moscow city streets when he lost control and hit a Range Rover. The driver and passenger were injured but will survive, and the occupants of the Rover were not seriously hurt.

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Aston Martin One-77 revealed at Concorso d'Eleganza

Aston Martin One-77 revealed at Concorso d’Eleganza

The Aston Martin One-77 is close to becoming a reality. We were able to see a full scale design model as well as a full chassis skeleton in Geneva. Now Aston has shown off a full working model last weekend at Concorso d’Eleganza in Italy. Aston was reward for all it’s hard work; it took home the Design Award for Concept Cars and Prototypes.

The One-77 is powered by Aston’s 6.0-liter V12 engine that delivers 700 hp in this application. It will make the 0 to 60 mph sprint in 3.5 seconds and will hit a top speed of 200 mph. It will be limited to only 77 units priced at £1 million each (about $1.47 at current rates.)

Press release after the jump.

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Pontiac is officially dead

Pontiac is officially dead

RIP Pontiac. General Motors announced today that Pontiac will not live to see its 85th birthday.

GM’s original plans for Pontiac were for it to become a niche brand under its new viability plan. Now the cuts have gone deeper, and Pontiac is completely cut off. All fans of GM’s performance division can do now is hope for a revival sometime in the future.

This will be a quick death. GM announced “The Pontiac brand will be phased out by the end of 2010”, which is the equivalent of a fire sale in the automotive world. But Pontiac is not the only one to be hurried out the door. The revised plan moves up the “resolution” of Saab, Saturn, and Hummer to the end of 2009, “at the latest”.

There is no word about if any of Pontiac’s car will be absorbed into other lines. The only cars that are unique to Pontiac in the U.S. are the G8 and Vibe. Disposing of the G8 should be as easy a stopping the boats from Australia, but the Vibe, which is joint venture with Toyota, may be harder to untangle.

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Audi A5 Sportback spy shot

Audi A5 Sportback spy shot

What’s not quite an Audi A5 and not quite an A4 Avant? Well it’s the long (or never) awaited A5 Sportback. This spy shot of a camo-free car confirms its place in the Audi lineup. The future car is basically a hatchback built on the A4/A5 platform, but Audi believes its curvy enough to be lumped in with the A5’s coupe family.

The Sportback will likely come with the 265 hp 3.2-liter V6 from the standard A5, and possibly the 354 hp 4.2-liter V8 from the S5. If the A5 Sportback isn’t Audi’s mystery model of the summer (yeah, we doubt it too,) then it will have its first official showing in September at the Frankfurt Motor Show.

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2009 Volvo C30, S40 and V50 DRIVe R-Design

2009 Volvo C30, S40 and V50 DRIVe R-Design

Trying to be safe, sporty and a little stylish? Volvo wants to remind that there is more to Swedish style than what’s found in an Ikea store. It’s showing a conservative wild side with the R-Design line of appearance packaging.

Press release after the jump.

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2009 Bugatti Veyron special anniversary editions

2009 Bugatti Veyron special anniversary editions

Last week we got a preview of the special edition Bugattis that were appearing Villa d’Este Concorso d’Eleganza last weekend. Now we have the official details as well as pics of the Veyrons from Lake Como, Italy.

This is all part of Bugatti’s 100th anniversary celebration. These four cars pay tribute to the Type 35 Grand Prix racers that racked up an impressive 2000 wins over ten years. The cars are mechanically similar to a standard Veyron, but it combines polished aluminum wings and doors with a driver’s corresponding national racing color — Jean-Pierre (France - blue), Achille Varzi (Italy - red), Malcolm Campbell (England - green) and Hermann Zu Leininger (Germany - white).

While some companies make a limited number of vehicles for a special edition run, this is it for Bugatti. There will be no extra copies made of these Veyrons. Each car is rumored to cost €1.6 million (currently about $2.08 million) per example — about €400,000 more than a “standard” Veyron.

This is the second time Bugatti is celebrating it’s 100th anniversary. The first time was with the Bleu Centenaire in Geneva, and Bugatti is also planning a century-mark celebration for Pebble Beach in August. This will all be leading up to a grand finale at its headquarters in Molsheim, France in September. So between now and the year’s end, Bugatti should still have at least two more surprises up its sleeve.

Press release after the jump.

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Ultra-rare 1967 Ferrari 330 P4 going to auction

Ultra-rare 1967 Ferrari 330 P4 going to auction

Every auction usually has one feature to help bering attention to the entire event, but when the auction is nothing but Ferraris, there’s probably more than one “special” car. So at the Ferrari Leggenda e Passione this may, if the 1957 250 TR doesn’t set a record, this 1967 330 P4 just may.

This prototype racer is one of three ever built. The 330 P4’s V12 engine made 480 hp. It was part of Ferrari’s mid-engine V12 race car renaissance that happened throughout the 60s to help the prancing get back on top of the racing world (the 330 P4 took second place behind the Ford GT40 at the 1967 24 Hours of Le Mans).

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Morgan Aero SuperSports

Morgan Aero SuperSports

Another company that’s celebrating the century mark is Morgan. Unlike Mercedes or Audi, Morgan has not evolved much in the last 100 years. It’s a source of pride for Morgan that the cars are still built by hand, and even its more modern cars like the Aero 8 still use wood in part of the construction. So when Morgan announces a new model, we tend to take notice.

This past weekend the Aero SuperSports premiered at the Pebble Beach of Italy, Villa d’Este Concorso d’Eleganza. Based on the AeroMax coupe, the SuperSports has two aluminum roof panels that turn it into a targa. It’s powered by the same 4.8-liter BMW-sourced V8 engine that’s in the AeroMax. So we suspect it will make a similar 367 hp. It will enter into production in early 2010 and will be priced at £127,000 (about $185,000 at the current rates).

That may sound like a lot of money, but a Morgan is so much more than just a car. It stands for some of the world’s best craftsmanship and displays old world opulence at its finest. The release of the AeroMax coupe and SuperSports have helped Morgan join the modern era as well. Refinements to the chassis, engine and styling have made this car one of the most desirable cars on the road.

Hit the jump for more details on the Morgan Aero SuperSports.

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Video: Driving lessons on snow and ice

Video: Driving lessons on snow and ice

So maybe it’s a little late to learn about driving on the snow and ice, but unlike the other videos of Nissan GT-R, Lamborghini Gallardo, or Bugatti Veryon on ice, this one gives a real lesson. So start watching this video now and by next winter we may all be ice racers.

One more video after the jump

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Audi will unveil mystery model on July 16

Audi will unveil mystery model on July 16

This year Audi will celebrate its 100 anniversary. To celebrate, the company is going to unveil a new mystery model on July 16th. Audi’s Chairman, Rupert Stadler only gave one hint, "You have to be aware of your roots if you want to shape the future with new ideas and innovations."

The new cars we expect from Audi include the A5 sportback, RS5 and R8 spider. But the car that would fit Stadler’s hint the closest would probably be the pure speculation of the Quattro comeback. What ever the mystery is, we’ll have to wait until this summer to find out.

This is not exactly Audi’s 100th anniversary. It’s founder August Horch, started his first company which carried his name a century ago. He then lost it, and started a new company called Audi (Horch sounds like “listen” in German, which was then translated into latin as “audible” or “audio”.) In 1932 Audi joined Horch, DKW and Wanderer to become Auto Union (symbolized by four interlocking rings.) After World War II, the other names under Auto Union faded away, and Audi is the one that remains today.

Press release after the jump.

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Ferrari 612 successor spy shots

Ferrari 612 successor spy shots

We’ve seen this Ferrari 612 test mule earlier this month, but this time there may be more info. A new rumor is suggesting that the stacked exhaust pipes and new hood are not part of a facelift, but a full-on replacement. The 612’s replacement could even feature a 4x4 system to provide a direct rival to the all-wheel drive Lamborghinis (although the 612 seats twice as many.)

What makes us a little skeptical that this is a whole new car planned for 2011, and not just a 612 touch-up, is Ferrari’s other plans. We know Ferrari is working on a successor to the F430, plus there are rumors of a refreshed 599 GTB, 599 Spyder and California Mondial. If even half of these rumors are true, Ferrari would likely be too busy to put together a whole new car.

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Land Rover will bring new Defender in 2013

Land Rover will bring new Defender in 2013

Land Rover has overhauled almost its entire line with the 2010 updates to the Range Rover, Range Rover Sport and LR4 (Discovery), but the one vehicle that hardly gets touched is the one that started it all. The car now know as the Defender may be set to get its largest makeover in its over sixty-year history.

Land Rover is set to reveal a new Defender for 2013. This can be extremely tricky because the reason Britain’s Jeep remained largely untouched since its birth is because of its loyal following. Customers like its basic utilitarian structure, which has made it a European workhorse. What will not help the new Defender’s acceptance with the loyalists is that it will likely be based on the Discovery in order to reduce costs. This will include trading in the coil spring suspension for an independent setup that may include air bags for adjusting ride height.

Land Rover currently sells about 25,000 Defenders per year. It’s now hoping that the updated and modernized vehicle will push sales to 40,000. No word yet on if this means a return of the Defender to the U.S. Land Rover had to stop selling the Discovery here in 1997 because of safety regulations, but a modern car may finally account for current rules.

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The unsurprising “shockers” of the week

This past week there were two big automotive bombshells: Pontiac may disappear, and Chrysler may file for bankruptcy. If you’re a car enthusiast and follow the news, then neither should be a big shock. But neither fate may be as bad as it sounds.

Let’s take them each individually:

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Video: Hennessey Camaro in action

Video: Hennessey Camaro in action

Hennessey Performance Engineering already has big plans for the Camaro, so it’s wasting no time and getting its first Camaro SS out on the track. Watch as it gives its brand new 426 hp beast a thumping, including 0 to 60 mph in 3.9 seconds, and a 11.9 second quarter mile run.

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SLS AMG Gullwing Spied in White

SLS AMG Gullwing Spied in White

Yes that’s a white car under all that camouflage. It seems Mercedes still wants to keep the design of the SLS somewhat of a secret until September’s unveiling at the Frankfurt Motor Show. For the new shot we can see the large rear exhaust cut outs and get a better look at how the gullwing doors are incorporated into the body.

The design is the only secret Mercedes has left about its future supercar. The official details have already been revealed including the 571 hp 6.3-liter V8, 0 to 60 mph in 3.8 seconds, and the 195 mph top speed.

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Audi drops 3.2 V6 engine in U.S.

Audi drops 3.2 V6 engine in U.S.

Audi is not finding middle ground in the U.S. The 3.2-liter V6 engine is the powerplant that bridges the gap between the 2.0 four-cylinder models and the the hot S models in lines like the A4 and TT (it’s the upper end in the A3 only because we don’t get the S3.) But it seems people just want either entry level luxury or full-on S hotness, and the 3.2 is only chosen about ten percent of the time.

So as Audi prepares to return the S4 to a V6, its also going to usher out the the 3.2-liter V6 as its go-between engine. For those who are die-hard 3.2 fans (really, anyone?) it’s not going away completely. Some cars like the A5 and Q5 depend solely on the the 3.2, so it will solider on in those vehicles.

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2009 Aston Martin V12 Vantage N24

2009 Aston Martin V12 Vantage N24

If Aston Martin is going to install its largest engine in its smallest car, then of course it will the car racing. The Aston Martin V12 Vantage got a few minor tweaks to get ready for the Nürburgring 24 hour race on May 23 and 24.
Aston says the V12 Vantage race car will be close to production model, with only essential safety modifications, reduced weight and re-tuned suspension. The car has not had any additional aerodynamic enhancements.

It will be powered by the same 6.0-liter V12 engine that can be found in the road-going V12 Vantage and the DBS. It produces 510 hp and 420 lb.ft of torque, which is a 100 hp improvement over the V8 N24.

Press release after the jump.

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Ferrari working on 599 Scuderia?

Ferrari working on 599 Scuderia?

Ferrari seems to be spending a lot of time working on the 599 GTB. Not only did we see the HGTE package and the 599XX racer in Geneva, but there was a revised version spotted testing only a month later. Now another version, rumored to be a track-focused Scuderia version, is peeking its head out of the Ferrari nest.

The raised tailpipes in the spy shot is what’s starting this rumor (yes, little things like tailpipes can do that.) They are similar to placement to those on the 599XX. Since that car is no longer a secret, it starts the rumormil on what Ferrari is trying to hide.

A Scuderia version would make sense. After all if Ferrari spent a lot of time working on the 599XX, it just has to dial back some of the absolute hardcore track nature, and it would have the perfect racercar-for-the-road 599 Scuderia.

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2009 Mercedes CL 500 Anniversary edition

2009 Mercedes CL 500 Anniversary edition

Mercedes-Benz is sort of like an old married couple. Everyone currently thinks of them as one, but there was a time that each had it’s own identity. By coincidence, each company was established in the summer of 1909, and then the two came together in the summer of 1926. So think of it as 1909 as a birthday, and 1926 as their anniversary as a couple.

The reason to bring this up is that 2009 means Mercedes and Benz are each have its 100th birthday. To celebrate, Mercedes is releasing a special edition of the CL coupe on the European market.

The anniversary edition starts with the AMG appearance package. It then includes items like special paint from the designo collection, upgraded leather, black piano lacquer trim and plenty of anniversary badging.

Possibly one interesting sidenote is that after the 2009 model year, the CL-Class name may be retired. It will be replaced by the name S-Class coupe. Yeah it’s just a coincidence, but think of it as a birthday gift.

There’s no word yet if this car will be available in North America, because Mercedes doesn’t sell the CL 500 here — although it does have the same engine as the U.S.’s CL 550.

Full details in the press release after the jump.

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How many times does a Murcielago go into a Santa Fe?

How many times does a Murcielago go into a Santa Fe?

Ever think Lamborghini drivers have their heads up their rears? Well this Murcielago driver was kind enough to go up someone else’s. This accident happened in Seattle on Monday morning. No one was hurt, so it’s ok to laugh.

The only way this could have possibly been funnier is if the Lambo belonged to a proctologist.

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2009 Mosler MT900 GTR XX officially on sale (Europe only)

2009 Mosler MT900 GTR XX officially on sale (Europe only)

Lucky Europeans. Although Mosler is headquartered n Florida, it’s only going to sell its MT900 GTR XX across the pond. Any European who wants a road-going version of the MT900 R, just needs to put down €250,000 (currently about $325K) and get in line because sales started today.

Press release after the jump.

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2009 BMW X5 Security Plus

2009 BMW X5 Security Plus

Even BMW’s own X5 Security isn’t safe enough for some people, so now BMW has introduced the X5 Security Plus.

So what new in the world of bad business? Well, the tires can now run about 60 miles longer at 50 mph with no air. Also the armor has been upgraded. The standard X5 Security could withstand .44 Magnum rounds (insert Dirty Harry joke here), and now the Plus can also take on the most popular assault weapon on the block, the AK-47 (insert slightly more obscure Jackie Brown joke here).

All these upgrades do take their toll on performance, which may mean the baddies could get in an extra shot or two. The Security Plus has the same 355 hp 4.8-liter V8 that’s in the regular model, so 0 to 60 mph time has been raised 0.7 second to 8.2 and top speed has been lowered 18 mph to 112 mph.

Of course we’re missing the root of the problem here...Once someone gets to this level of need for safety and security, wouldn’t it just pay off more to be a nicer person?

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Spyker Peking-Paris will drop V12 engine

Spyker has been threatening to bring the Peking-Paris to market for over three years. Now rumors are going around that Spyker has got financial shot in the arm and has droped the V12 fror a 550+ hp supercharged V8. All this should get the Peking-Paris on the streets by this fall. A $300K SUV launched in this economy?! We’ll believe it when we see it (or drive it, please.)

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2009 Mitsubishi Outlander SE AWD

2009 Mitsubishi Outlander SE AWD

Small SUVs play an interesting role. They must be able to hold at least five people, fit in tight parking spaces, carry a Home Depot haul, and sometimes even go off-road. Yes, most people usually forget about that last one when buying an urban SUV.

So we decided that we would reintroduce the idea of an SUV made for the off-road with our 2009 Mitsubishi Outlander SE AWD tester. We made sure it was a 4x4 so we could follow the road less traveled… at least that’s what we planned. While the Outlander was in our fleet, we went looking for the hills and the mud, but that just usually made us late for soccer practice. So we were a little disappointed that our SUV fell into the usual suburban trap, but we still made it out alive…

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Future 1-Series will get three-cylinder engine

Future 1-Series will get three-cylinder engine

While Audi is chopping down its V8 and V10 engines, BMW may actually take a hatchet to a four-cylinder. In an effort to reduce emissions, the 2012 1-Series may use a turbocharged three-cylinder engine to replace the 2.0-liter unit in the international lineup. This doesn’t have an effect on North America because the 1-Series only comes in 3.0-liter form.

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XFR and XKR promotional video

Take a look at the video we made for Jaguar when it let us have a track day with its new XFR and XKR.

Ok, maybe we didn’t so much make the video, and just Jag showed it to us right before going out on the track... but it’s still really cool.

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Audi officially confirms the Q3 SUV for 2011

Audi officially confirms the Q3 SUV for 2011

The Volkswagen Group loves to get the most out of every platform, so it’s no surprise that Audi confirmed production plans for the Q3 small SUV. Making the most of the compact platform, the Audi Q3 will be to A3 just like the Tiguan is to the Golf. In fact, the Q3 will be built at the VW Group’s Martorell, Spain, facility where another platform sharer is already being built, the Seat Leon.

Like the rest of Audi’s SUV lineup, we expect this one to carry the quattro all-wheel drive system and have some sporty handling characteristics. No engine choices have been announced, but it will likely include the 2.0-liter turbocharged unit that currently tops the Tiguan range.

Although no sales plans have been announced, out of the all variations of the A3 lineup (including S3 and RS3), the Q3 is likely bound for the SUV-loving U.S.

Press release after the jump.

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2010 Mercedes E-Class coupe

2010 Mercedes E-Class coupe

Mercedes revealed today the E-Class coupe ahead of the public unveiling scheduled for the Geneva Motor Show in March. Unlike its predecessor, the CLK, which stood in-between C-Class and the larger E-Class sizes, this model leaves no question to where it fits in the family lineup.

The design of the coupe version takes many of its cues from its sedan brother, especially the rectangular headlights. One of the hallmarks that carries over from the CLK is the absence of a b-pillar, which means with all the windows down the car gets the cool open look and hardtop convertible feel. Mercedes also claims that the slick looks makes the E-Class coupe "the most aerodynamic model in the world." The coupe has drag coefficient of 0.24, which betters the super-slick Prius’ .25.

Like the sedan, the E-Class coupe will be offered internationally with a choice of engines with four, six and eight cylinders, with output between 200 and 382 hp. The base version is the E250 CDI that develops 200 hp and a peak torque of 368 lbs-ft and has a fuel consumption of about 44 mpg. The top version should be a V8 gas engine that powers the E500/550 models and develops 383 hp and 390 lbs-ft.

Sales will begin in Europe in May, and U.S. sales should begin shortly there after. European prices will start from 44,684.50 Euro for the E 250 CDI BlueEFFICIENCY Coupe and will go up to 66,045.00 Euro for the E 500 Coupe.

Press release after the jump.

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2010 RSR Jaguar XKR GT2

2010 RSR Jaguar XKR GT2

We had no complaints when we got Jaguar’s new V8 on the track, so it’s no surprise a full-on racecar is making its debut. Rocketsports Racing (RSR) revealed the XKR GT2 racing car that will compete in the American Le Mans Series.

The 2010 XKR GT2 racecar was designed as a joint effort between the American racing team RSR and Jaguar’s Advance Design Studio, which is headed by the automaker’s chief designer Ian Callum. The experience of the veteran racer and Jaguar’s main body man has resulted in over 1,100 man hours molding clay and laying carbon fiber to create a shape that is fast and manages to maintain the feel of the factory vehicle.

This Jag will take on cars such as the Corvette C6R GT2 and Aston Martin Vantage GT2. This means although RSR will be using the naturally aspirated version of the 5.0-liter V8, the engine will likely be modified to make more than the 385 hp it generates in cars like the 2010 XK.

The race car began its life as a brand new Jaguar XK-R, and despite being a fully built race car maintains much of the original car’s aluminum body panels; like the roof, doors and deck lid. Intensive computational fluid dynamics analysis by the automaker’s aerodynamics department has led to some interesting body work, like the trailing GT style rear wing, redesigned front bumper and extremely wide front fenders. The new 2010 XKR GT2 racecar is a vehicle that both Gentilozzi and Jaguar feel will become one of the most competitive Jaguar racing cars to compete in one of the most competitive ALMS GT2 fields in a long time.

The XKR GT2 will not be ready for the track until the summer of 2009 and will only run a partial season. So even if it is a contender this year, this is just a practice run for 2010.

2010 Racing Debut: The American Le Mans Series racing team RSR, headed up by long time Jaguar privateer racer Paul Gentilozzi has finished working on the next generation XK-R racing car in time to compete at the 1,000 mile Petit Le Mans in Braselton, Georgia. When the green flag drops at 11:15 AM on September 26, 2010, the hills surrounding Road Atlanta will roar with the sounds of fire breathing race cars, but there will also be a new voice in the crowd, the XKR GT2 car with a trio of seasoned racers behind the wheel; the American Scott Pruett, the Belgian Marc Goossen and RSR team owner Paul Gentilozzi. If anyone can handle pulling a double duty like this one, Gentilozzi can.

Update 09/24/2009: This article has been updated to include additional specs and its 2010 racing debut.

Update 05/27/2010: Check out the new video on the Jaguar RSR. It’s part of the Jaguar Return to Glory video series and illustrates Jaguar’s intentions to return to the track as a feared competitor.

More pics and full breakdown in the 2009 and 2010 press releases after the jump.

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Golden Porsche Cayenne

Golden Porsche Cayenne

TO THE THIEF WHO STOLE THE GOLD PORSCHE 911: Here’s your match set.

Unfortunately for that thief, this Porsche is a few thousand miles from Moscow. This Cayenne is in the home of chrome cars, Dubai. The thief probably interested anyway. From the looks of the perfect shine, this is most likely not actual gold but just a wrap instead.

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New Nissan GT-R crashed

New Nissan GT-R crashed

In the hands of a professional driver, the Nissan GT-R can beat a Porsche around the Nurburgring, but it in the hands of this amateur, even 93 mph is a problem. The accident happened in Romania. The GT-R driver rear-ended another car and then lost control, eventually winding up in/on a tree. No one was seriously hurt, except for the driver’s ego.

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For Porsche small doesn't mean weak

For Porsche small doesn’t mean weak

Porsche has made no secret about returning to four-cylinder engines, but power-hungry Porsche fans shouldn’t fear. The first four-cylinder cars will likely be first used in the next generation of the Boxster and Cayman. Not only will these 2012 cars be lighter than the current models, but they may also be available with superchargers.

More after the jump.

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Peugeot RC-Z production version to be revealed in Frankfurt

Peugeot RC-Z production version to be revealed in Frankfurt

Here’s a new reason to wish the French sold cars in the U.S. Peugeot showed up to the Frankfurt Motor Show two years ago with the 308 RC-Z, a concept coupe based on it’s 308 series of small cars. Now it’s coming back to Frankfurt this year with the production version.

Unlike many production cars, much of the concept’s lines are rumored to be unchanged. This includes elements like the dual cowl top, large rear glass area, and sweeping roofline.

The top end 308 RC-Z should come with the same 218 hp 1.6-liter engine from the concept. Pricing should start at around £20,000 (about $29K at direct current rates.) That’s not too bad considering a base Audi TT coupe with 197 hp starts at about £25,000.

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Bugatti Veyron 16.4 Centenaire Editions - first images

Bugatti Veyron 16.4 Centenaire Editions - first images

Even if the planned run of 300 Bugatti Veyron coupes ensures that every car will be special, Bugatti still likes to make special editions. But unlike some that are only about appearance, the four cars its brining to Villa d’Este Concorso d’Eleganza in Italy are about celebrating history.

They are called the Bugatti Veyron Centenaire Edition. Each pays tribute to the Pre-WWII Type 35 Grand Prix racers and their drivers. The cars are mechanically similar to a standard Veyron, but it combines polished aluminum wings and doors with a driver’s corresponding national racing color — Jean-Pierre (France - blue), Achille Varzi (Italy - red), Malcolm Campbell (England - green) and Hermann Zu Leininger (Germany - white).

These limited edition cars also include special LED lighting and a special badging featuring the name of the selected race driver. There is no word yet on how limited this special edition will be, but expect to shell out €1.6 million (currently about $2.08 million) per example — about €400,000 more than a “standard” Veyron.

More pics in the gallery.

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Lexus LF-A will once again race the Nurburgring 24-hour

Lexus LF-A will once again race the Nurburgring 24-hour

Lexus has cried wolf so many times about the LF-A that despite official word, we are still skeptical that there will be a production version shown at the Tokyo Auto Salon this October. But maybe Lexus has a good reason to make the LF-A the ultimate tease...Maybe Lexus is just trying to get some serious Nürburgring credentials before the car is released to the public. That would explain why its taken almost five years to go from concept to production version, right?

No matter the lame excuses, the LF-A will attend the 24-Hour Race on the Nürburgring this May (it ran this race last year and was just there in April). As always, the LF-A will be competing in the SP8 (engine ‘close-to-production’) class — this means at least race officials believe Toyota/Lexus’ story about getting the LF-A into production.

Most of the news we’ve heard up until now gave the LF-A’s powerplant as a 5.0-liter V10 making abound 500 hp. The only thing that has seemed to have changed is the engine now officially displaces 4.8-liters.

Press release after the jump.

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Ferrari 612 Scaglietti Camouflage edition

Ferrari 612 Scaglietti Camouflage edition

Is this owner trying to disappear in the urban jungle?

While this camouflage isn’t as bad as Nigro’s Mercedes Benz AMG 300SL, this still offends our senses. The rumor is that his is only a wrap around the car, so the damage to this Ferrari 612 is only temporary.

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Porsche reviving the 928?

Porsche reviving the 928?

It’s the return of the rumor of a new Porsche 928. Ever since the four-door Panamera had been a rumor, there were coupe rumors to go with it. Now the Porsche’s first sedan is about ready to hit the streets, while rumors of a coupe has slowly faded away. Now the coupe buzz is back, and this one’s pretty credible.

At a press meeting about the Panamera, Porsche’s design chief Michael Maur confirmed that he’s working on a new coupe project. It seems that sales at Porsche are moving away from entry level/smaller cars such as the Cayman and Boxster and are moving towards the larger vehicles like the 911 and Cayenne. So Porsche is looking to place another large car in its lineup. While the Panamera will likely be the base of the new 928, there is no word yet on how different the sheetmetal will be.

The original 928 was designed to replace the 911, but history had other plans for it. The 911 proved evergreen, which gave the 928 an awkward and doomed place in Porsche’s lineup. This time if the 928 comes back, it will be for 911 owners who need more room, and as a direct competitor to more luxurious sportscars like Bentley’s Continental GT.

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New Bentley Continental GT to arrive next year

New Bentley Continental GT to arrive next year

Bentley is seeing the light at the end of the tunnel. It thinks that the economies of the world will have recovered enough by next year that its customer base will be back to buy. So now Bentley is moving up the schedule for the new Continental GT (possibly previewed in the Supersports) to give customers something to look at when they are back in the money.

"We know that coming out of the dip is when new models will pay off," Stuart McCullough, Bentley’s board member for sales and marketing told Automotive News. "We have done enough work with our customers to understand what they are thinking and when they are likely to be back in the market."

Just like Jaguar’s development plans, Bentley is realizing the best way to win in the long term is to have fresh products when bank accounts are on the upswing. That means making the tough decision to spend on development when pockets are still empty. Good for you Bentley.

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2009 Volkswagen Scirocco GT24-CNG

2009 Volkswagen Scirocco GT24-CNG

VW is taking a green racer to the Green Hell. This May it will bring two versions of the Scirocco GT24 to the 24-Hour Race on the Nürburgring powered by natural gas. VW says the 2.0-liter turbo engine will make “nearly 300 hp” and is a testbed for future applications.

Press release after the jump.

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Golden Porsche stollen

Golden Porsche stollen

Remember the gold plated Porsche of last summer? Well if you’re in western Europe, and you spot it, there may be a little gold in it for you.

Proving that it doesn’t take a genius to steal a car, the golden Porsche was taken during a test drive. The owner found a prospective buyer over the internet, and then he let this person take a few laps alone in a Moscow parking lot. After a couple of laps, the driver sped off in the precious Porsche and hasn’t been seen since.

The car and the 45 lbs of added gold has been currently valued at about $600,000.

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2009 Buick Business Concept

2009 Buick Business Concept

China is the most important market to Buick. It not only sells more cars in the Orient than here, but the unloved by the U.S. Terraza minivan was also a real hit over there. So at this year’s Shanghai Auto Show it revealed a special car with Chinese influence called the Buick Business Concept.

So why is a MPV shown as a business car? Unlike in the U.S. where minivans are the shame of the soccer field, their size is seen as something of prestige in China. As far as design goes, this is a relatively good looking for a minivan. The flowing lines are reminiscent of the Mazda Biante.

For all those minivan fans out there, this may be as close as most of you will get to this Buick. Although production plans and distribution areas have not yet been announced, it’s likely that this will not be a world car for GM.

More pics and info in the press release after the jump

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Ferrari 599XX - new image gallery

Ferrari 599XX - new image gallery

Ferrari released a new image gallery of the 599XX special edition revealed at the Geneva Motor Show. Engineers started with the 599 GTB Fiorano and modified the 6.0-liter V12 to go from 612 hp to 700 hp. But turning the 599 into a track star wasn’t just about power. The body was also lightened through composite materials including carbon fiber, and the shift pattern was changed to be 60 ms quicker.

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Lamborghini LP670-4 SV spotted in California

Lamborghini LP670-4 SV spotted in California

It seems the guys at Lamborghini seem to have an appreciation for enthusiasts. Although the Lamborghini LP670-4 SV didn’t make it to the New York Auto Show, it did make it to Cars & Coffee, a somewhat informal, but celebrated, car show in Irvine, California.

Autoblog caught the supercar on a detour to it’s private unveiling in Las Vegas. The LP 670-4 SV delivers 670 hp and has a weight reduction of 220 lbs. It makes the 0 to 60 mph sprint in 3.2 seconds and can hit a top speed of 212 mph.

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Rolls Royce won't give up the Ghost

Rolls Royce won’t give up the Ghost

Rolls-Royce has officially announced that it will be resurrecting (at least partially) a historical name for the production version of the 200 EX. At the Shanghai Motor Show Rolls-Royce CEO, Tom Purves, officially announced the the baby Roller would be called “Ghost”.

Rolls-Royce produced the Silver Ghost from 1906 to 1925, and it was the car that established the brand as a world standard. By only calling the car “Ghost”, instead of using the full “Silver Ghost” name puts Rolls-Royce in a peculiar situation. By dropping “silver” from the name it no longer has to explain to uninformed customers why the car is available in multiple colors, but it also dilutes the history of the name and leaves Rolls using a the less desirable part of the identity.

Then again, this gives Rolls-Royce an interesting lineup name with Phantom and Ghost. Anyway, despite the name, this is one ghost most people will not want to get out of their home.

Press release after the jump.

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Bugatti Veyron "Le Mans" spotted in Monaco

Bugatti Veyron "Le Mans" spotted in Monaco

This Bugatti Veyron was spotted in Monaco with some special “Le Mans” badging. Does this mean it has more horsepower? Is it the special paint? Did someone just attach $5 worth of hardware store letters to their $1.5 million supercar?

Unfortunately we don’t have the answers, but it does give us a good excuse to show off this 1001 hp car.

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Porsche Panamera premieres - new video and image gallery

Porsche Panamera premieres - new video and image gallery

We got our first glimpse at the Porsche Panamera at the end of last year, but it wasn’t officially unveiled until now. Porsche used the Shanghai Motor Show to stand behind its first sedan.

Since Porsche doesn’t come out with new models very often, it wanted to do something special for the Panamera. Part of the unveil took place at what Porsche called the “world highest event platform”, 94th floor of the Shanghai World Financial Center in China. The only problem getting the sedan 1400 feet in the air was it has to go vertical on a freight elevator.

Ground-bound Panameras will start churning out of Porsche’s Leipzig factory soon, as European sales will begin in September. The first cars hitting the streets will only be V8 version making 400 and 500 hp. Fuel efficient six-cylinder and hybrid model should follow in about a year.

Until we can actually get our hands on one, enjoy some driving footage and new pics:


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Firebird might come back

Firebird might come back

Ok this is a big “if” rumor. If Pontiac survives the GM carmageddon that’s on the horizon, we may see a Firebird revival. Spreading the cost of the Camaro over another car, plus giving Pontiac an inexpensive way to boost sales, should be good enough for GM to reconsider a Firebird... but Pontiac has to survive first.

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2010 Porsche Panamera

2010 Porsche Panamera

Panamera made its world debut in April at the Shanghai Motor Show. It will be the fourth stand alone model in Porsche’s line up (next to the the 911, Boxster/Cayman and Cayenne). Sales will begin in late summer of next year.

Porsche has learned a hard lesson with cars like the 928. It seems people know Porsche best for the 911, so now design doesn’t stray too far from the 911. This is why even though the Panamera is a front-engined car, it still looks like a stretched Carrera. The Panamera will measure 76.0 inches in width, 55.8 inches in height and has an overall length of 195.7 inches.

Porsche revealed today details on two different trim-levels: Turbo and 4S. Unlike the 911 and Boxster/Cayman, the Panamera will not have a boxer engine. Instead the lineup will take its cues from the Cayenne and have engines in the more traditional V6 and V8 arrangements. Power will range from 300 to 500 bhp depending on trim level and will be mated to either a manual six-speed gearbox or seven-speed Double-Clutch Gearbox (PDK). Porsche is also preparing a hybrid version for the near future.

Full details in the press release after the jump.

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Maserati GranTurismo MC - new image gallery

Maserati GranTurismo MC - new image gallery

There’s is only one reason to strip out all the Italian goodness from a car, and it’s to go racing. So now we’ve got more pics of the lighter faster version of Maserati’s GT car, the GranTurismo MC. These were taken as the GT4 competitor made its debut at the Paul Ricard circuit, in France.

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2010 Jaguar XJ first teaser

2010 Jaguar XJ first teaser

Jaguar revealed the first teasers and some info today of the 2010 XJ at the Shangai Auto Show. The data from Jag was stuff the we pretty much already knew - the new 5.0-liter V8, including the 510 hp supercharged version, will be available as well as a carryover of the diesel V6 (but not likely in the U.S.) It will have a light aluminum body and even a panoramic roof.

But the big news are the new threads. The current XJ has been an evolution of a 40+ year-old design, and Jaguar has made no secret of its intentions to change the style for the 2010 car. Just look at the front end:

We shouldn’t have to wait too long for more information to start hitting the streets. Jaguar plans to have the official reveal of the next XJ in London on July 9th, and the cars should be on the streets by early 2010.

Press release after the jump.

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Bertone's ZR1-based Mantide unveiled

Bertone’s ZR1-based Mantide unveiled

While we haven’t followed every web episode, Stile Bertone did peak our interest about it’s new supercar. Teased as the “Project M”, it’s now known as the Mantide. Although the name sounds like a bar for alternative-lifestyle sailors, it’s actually the Italian name for Mantis.

Just as promised, the car uses the underpinnings from a production car, and as a nice surprise, the Italian has turned to American muscle. The Chevrolet Corvette ZR1 donated its mechanical bits including the aluminum chassis and 638 hp supercharged V8 engine.

Because the Mantide is made from carbon fiber and has better aerodynamics, Bertone says it can out run the Corvette it spawned from. Performance is put at 0-62 mph (100 km/h) in 3.2 seconds and a top speed of 217 mph (about 12 mph higher than the ZR1.)

More pics and info in the press release after the jump.

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2009 Range Rover HSE

2009 Range Rover HSE

While there are plenty of luxury SUVs out there, only a few have cut their teeth on a crowd that actually goes off road. In fact, there are only three that are still in production that come to mind: Mercedes G-Class, Toyota Land Cruiser and Land Rover’s Range Rover (the Hummer H1 is long gone).

The difference between the three is who buys them. The G-Wagon is for those likely to take over a small country, and the Land Cruiser is for those who are likely to take aid to a small country. The Range Rover leads a more sedate life. It’s for people who may like to go for a small ride in the country…

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New Murcielago crashed

New Murcielago crashed

Another Lamborghini has been crashed in Russia. What originally just seemed like a lot of bad driving, it’s now possibly being suggested these cars are getting totaled for the insurance money.

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Audi TT RS - German prices announced

Audi TT RS - German prices announced

Audi announced the German prices for the new TT RS. The coupe will start at €55,800 (currently about $73600) and the roadster at €58,650 ($77400). The 2.5-liter turbo five-cylinder engine in TT RS makes the 0 to 60 sprint in 4.5 seconds. Although this is quick, it’s not exactly cheap speed.

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McLaren's has big plans for the future

McLaren’s has big plans for the future

The McLaren P11 was shown at a press event in the U.K. last week. Unfortunately no photos were allowed, but Autocar was able to confirm hat we already suspected. When the car arrives around 2011 it will be powered by a reworked Mercedes V8 and will carry many design elements of the McLaren F1.

The real shocker from the event was McLaren’s ambition for the future. The British firm wants to make about 4,000 examples of the P11 annually, and the supercar firm doesn’t plan to move this amount of cars through budget pricing. Antony Sheriff, managing director of McLaren Automotive, said the cars will be "more exclusive and priced at a premium" compared to rivals. The P11’s expected €100,000 price tag (currently about $130K), which is higher than a Porsche 911, but it is well under a 911 Turbo

There are also reports that the supercar company wants to expand into a three-car lineup, including an F1 revival. To full accomplish this, McLaren needs to appear to stand on its own. It’s building its own dealer network as well as planning a brand new factory.

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Video: E-Class Coupe Commercial

Video: E-Class Coupe Commercial

Mercedes revealed it’s first commercial for the newly launched E-Class coupe. These was a time when a high-brow company like Mercedes didn’t have to use implied sex to sell its cars. But hey, in this economy anything goes, and we’re not complaining.

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Novitec TuLesto: building a better Ferrari?

Novitec TuLesto: building a better Ferrari?

Noveitec has made a name for itself tuning Ferraris, so when it says it built its “own” supercar that looks a lot like a Ferrari F430, we might be a little suspicious. But regardless of its origins, cool is cool, so we’ll let this one slide.

It’s Noveitec’s 20th anniversary, and its giving the world the TuLesto as a present. It’s powered by a 4.4-liter V8 with dual supercharges that produces 777 hp. That’s quite an improvement if the F430’s 490 hp 4.3-liter V8 was used as the engine basis.

The car utilizes materials such as carbon fiber and aluminum (hmmm, the F430’s chassis is already made from aluminum.) The total weight of the car is about 2770 lbs, about 320 lbs. lighter than a F430. This featherweight status helps the TuLesto achieve a claimed 0 to 60 mph time of 3.4 seconds and a top speed of 217 mph.

There will be only a handful of people helping Novitec celebrate two decades of life. The TuLesto will be limited to only eleven units.

Press release after the jump.

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Drink 'n Type?

Drink ’n Type?

While following up on my project car quest/stimulus package, I discovered something a little odd along I-95 north in Martin County, Florida (insert your obscure Super Troopers reference here.)

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Video: Lamborghini Gallardo Super Trofeo at Monza

Video: Lamborghini Gallardo Super Trofeo at Monza

Lamborghini of Munich was nice enough to share some video of the Gallardo Super Trofeo in action on the Monza race track. While the footage is nice, the dealer should know better then to drown out the great exhaust note with techno music.

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First Drive: 2010 Jaguar XKR and XFR

First Drive: 2010 Jaguar XKR and XFR

When Jaguar first started showing off its 2010 XKR and XFR earlier this year, we were pretty excited. After all, both cars would now get 90 extra horsepower stuffed into bodies we already liked for their the handsome British looks.

We weren’t the only ones. Most of the press seemed to latch on to the new 5.0-liter V8 engine and didn’t pick up on the other improvements that make these two R-cars all-around performers. Jaguar has picked up on this and is going across the country to give the XKR and XFR a proper introduction.

It’s a seven-city journey called the Jaguar Legendary Performance Tour. This invite-only occasion allows Jag owners as well as owners of competitor cars to come out to local raceways across the country and put the R-cars through the ringer. Didn’t get your invite in the mail? Don’t worry Jaguar let us smoke the tires on the 510 hp XKR and XFR at Palm Beach International Raceway before the guests had a chance to flog them.

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Volkswagen "R" models may come to U.S.

Volkswagen "R" models may come to U.S.

Don’t get too excited by the headline. Volkswagen is developing the Golf R20 with eyes on the U.S. market, but that’s not the R Line that this is about. Instead this has to do with appearance package cars like the Tiguan R Line.

The R Line Tiguan features a sportier design with lowered wheelbase, 18" or 19" wheels, matte chrome highlights, a small spoiler above the rear window. VW of America spokesman Steve Keyes told Inside Lines, "The R Line Tiguan is under consideration but no decision at this time."

If the Tiguan version makes it here, that may also open the door for other R Line cars from VW’s in-house customizers, Volkswagen Individual. While all this may seem promising, the estimated $36K starting price for a U.S. R Line would probably be a little high for a car that is only available with a 200 hp 2.0-liter turbocharged four cylinder engine.

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Honda working on new Beat

Honda working on new Beat

Japan has some interesting rules that allows for cars extremely small cars with small engines (63 hp max) to qualify for large tax and regulations discounts. These lightweight “kei” cars produced some very interesting offspring, including the Honda Beat of the 1990s. With its go-fast looks, mid-engine/rear-wheel drive design, and roadster body, the Beat was like a Toyota MR2 that got shrunk in the wash.

It’s been thirteen years since the last Beat was made, but now Honda may be looking to get back in the business of small car fun for the 2011 model year. If the Beat does come back, it will likely share the platform of Honda’s other current kei cars, the Life and the Zest. This means it would be a front-engined car with either front-wheel drive or all-wheel drive. So while it may not be everything the original Beat was, the OSM-inspired styling will still be a more attractive alternative to Daihatsu’s Copen.

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Ferrari F450 - new rendering and more details

Ferrari F450 - new rendering and more details

The folks over at Car seem to have a different take on Ferrari’s future F450. While it’s believed the F430’s successor will have it’s 4.3-liter V8 enlarged by 0.2-liter to create 500 hp, there is now a suggestion that Ferrari may instead turn to turbocharging - reminiscent of the days of the 288 GTO.

One element that should be guaranteed in the F450 is better performance. Not only will it be more powerful than it’s predecessor, but the F450 should weigh less. This will include incorporating elements like the aluminium/composite honeycomb material picked up from the Mille Chili concept. Initial reports suggested that the new sports car would take advantage of the F1-inspired KERS energy recovery system, but it now seems that it won’t be ready for consumer use when the F450 debuts in 2010.

While many of the renderings we’ve seen have taken the F430’s body and made it sleeker, the version coming from Car suggests the F450 could go in another direction. While the F430/360 lineage is still recognizable, this car may get its aggression from sharp lines and creases.

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AMG Sports package for the 2009 S-Class and the CL-Class

AMG Sports package for the 2009 S-Class and the CL-Class

Now that Mercedes has unveiled the updated 2010 S-Class sedan, it may need a new promotion to close out the 2009 models. So now Mercedes is offering a AMG Sports appearance package for this year’s remaining flagships.

Just like our S550 tester, the package has the 19 inch AMG light-alloy wheels and a little extra flair in the bodywork. The AMG package also includes a new front apron, rear apron, rectangular tailpipe trim in polished stainless steel, , perforated brake discs and silver-painted brake callipers featuring Mercedes-Benz lettering.

Since the pricing has only been given so far in Euros (between €5,831 and €7973 — about $7750 to $10500), there has not been confirmation of the AMG package in the U.S. yet. But interested European customers can start looking like a full-size AMG Mercedes in June.

Press release after the jump.

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Video: Audi TT RS driven by Tom Kristensen

When Audi wants to win at Le Mans, it hands the keys to Tom Kristensen. Audi also gave Kristensen the keys to a TT RS, but not to race, just to show us all how much fun we’re not having. If we keep our fingers crossed, the TT RS may make it to the U.S.

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2009 Seat Leon Cupra

2009 Seat Leon Cupra

Want an Audi S3, but can’t swing the cash? Well then the Volkswagen Group’s Spanish bargain-basement brand may be able to help. There is one catch: just like the S3, this car is not available in the U.S.

The Seat Leon shares a platform with the Volkswagen Golf and the Audi A3, so bolting the S3’s 2.0-liter turbocharged engine to make a Leon Cupra was an easy fix. Audi fans don’t get too scared, while the Leon Cupra makes 240 hp, the S3’s price premium buys an extra 21 hp.

The S3 also keeps the quattro all-wheel drive system exclusive. Instead the Leon Cupra keeps the front wheel drive setup of the lesser models, but that does also include XDS and ESP traction control/performance enhancing systems. The whole package is good for a 0 to 62 mph (100 km/h) sprint in 6.4 seconds and a top speed of 153 mph.

Press release after the jump.

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Video: Crash tests - big versus small

Video: Crash tests - big versus small

These videos are making the auto industry nervous. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) conducted a test that pitted some car companies smallest cars against versus the smallest offering in an offset crash. It’s the Smart ForTwo vs Mercedes C-Class, Honda Fit vs. Honda Accord, and Toyota Yaris vs. Toyota Camry.

The ForTwo is shown above and the Fit and the Yaris videos are after the jump. While the small ones have some pretty horrific damage, each of the small cars featured earned the IIHS’s top score of “good” in most of its other testing. The manufactures say that the test is not reflecting real-world conditions.

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Cadillac Converj is a Catch-22

Cadillac Converj is a Catch-22

Just as we suspected, the Cadillac Converj is stuck in a conundrum. Yesterday’s story of a General Motors insider confirming the Converj’s production was matched by an official statement from GM. Cadillac spokesman David Caldwell told Inside Line, "There is no change to the status of Converj. It is a concept — a proposal — and it’s being reviewed, and the review is not completed."

No surprises there. Yesterday’s story was about an insider, not an official statement. But another insider let the beans spill even more. This one suggested to IL that the Converj’s fate lies in the hands of the presidential automotive task force that is helping GM create it’s viability plan. So Cadillac will likely have to prove that it needs to spend the money on the Converj to make money — that’s not an easy thing for a bureaucracy to understand.

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Video: Woman driver vs. Police Officers

Video: Woman driver vs. Police Officers

Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned... Back in December, a Chinese woman towed a tow truck that wouldn’t let her go. Now this footage of another woman, this time on a Los Angeles area freeway, shows that no matter what continent it’s on, if she’s angry get out of her way.

Guys are much better at this police chase thing...We think it’s better to leave the car on try to outrun the cops on foot.

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2009 Mitsubishi Lancer Ralliart

2009 Mitsubishi Lancer Ralliart

Someday the real world calls us all. No longer can a car just be purely fun; it now has to keep up some appearance of civility. While the Mitsubishi Evolution X makes rides to the grocery store as fun as a lap around a rally circuit; it’s loud exhaust and harsh ride will turn any date into deaf, stiff-walking old lady. Also the Evos appearance only gains respect from underlings in the corporate parking lot.

Enter the Lancer Ralliart. Where the Mitsubishi’s Evo X competes with rally uber-sedans like the Subaru Impreza WRX STI, this one competes with cars like the plain ‘ol WRX, Volkswagen R32 and Mazdaspeed 3. Compared to the Evo X, the ride in the Ralliart is less harsh, there is more noise dampening material, the bodykit is less dramatic, there is less power, and the base price is about $6,500 less. The Ralliart is not a soft Evo X; it’s just softer.

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Nissan 370Z sales lowered by two thirds

Nissan 370Z sales lowered by two thirds

The Nissan 370Z is a product of bad timing. No matter how cool Nissan makes the car (and Downshift Rev Matching is pretty damn cool), when the world’s cupboards are bare, sports car sale suffer. Nissan originally wanted to sell 30,000 units of the 370Z globally, but that now been reduced to 10,000 - the number Nissan originally hoped to sell in Europe alone.

More after the jump

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The Fast and The Furious will get a 5th installment

The Fast and The Furious will get a 5th installment

Oh no! Due to the overwhelming success of the fourth Fast and Furious movie at the box office, the Hollywood executives are green lighting yet another installment of the F&F franchise. In order to keep the gravy train rolling, Paul Walker explained, "This was supposed to be it — but without question, Vin and I will be coming back, we’re making the fifth one and we’re going to Brazil."

Of course we all secretly enjoy seeing the cars racing and the stunts even more, but the thin plots and seriously deep bromance (best parodied by SNL) are becoming a couse for concern.

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Nissan GT-R slams door on Porsche with Nurburgring time

Nissan GT-R slams door on Porsche with Nurburgring time

Nissan just ruined Porsche’s summer vacation. Instead of having some quiet time to work on the 998 generation of the 911, Porsche is now going to have to try and recapture bragging rights at the Nurburgring from the 2010 GT-R.

There has been some bad blood between Porsche and Nissan lately over the legitimacy of the 2009 GT-R’s 7m 29s run around the Ring. Porsche claims the car was heavily modified, and Nissan claims Porsche is a sore loser over the slower GT2.

Just to prove its point, Nissan took a 2010 GT-R (which got a 5 hp bump and a few other minor tweaks) back to Germany. The result: a lap time of 7m 27.56s, which now even beats Porsche’s top ring time of 7m 28.71s in a Carrera GT.

Nissan says it’s not done making lap record attempts. The next stop is the Corvette ZR1’s 7m 26.4s time, but that’s still a far cry from the production car top spot of the Dodge Viper ACR’s 7m 22.1s.

Press release after the jump.

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Video: 2010 Cadillac SRX in detail

Video: 2010 Cadillac SRX in detail


Lynden Schneider, Chief Engineer on the new Cadillac SRX goes over some of the features of the luxury crossover, including engines, all-wheel drive system and interior. While the SRX no longer shares a chasis with the CTS, it still has the many of the same interior features we liked in the CTS we had in our fleet.

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2010 Lotus Evora 2+2 - new image gallery

2010 Lotus Evora 2+2 - new image gallery

Lotus revealed a few more images of their latest addition to the line-up, the Evora 2+2. Unlike the Elise, the Evora can carry four people (some very small). But just like the Elise, the Evora will be a lightweight, track-ready sports car with Toyota-sourced engine. It’s the 3.5-liter V6 that’s also found in more everyday cars like the Camry, but the 276 hp should be good for 0 to 60 sprints in under five seconds.

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2010 S-Class promotional video

2010 S-Class promotional video

Mercedes is in full roll-out mode for the refreshed 2010 S-Class. Yesterday we saw details on the AMG versions, and now a detailed video on the whole line has been released.

The engine lineup will carryover the same four models in the current car: 382-hp V8 S550, 518-hp V8 S63 AMG, 510-hp V12 S600 and, 604-hp V12 S65 AMG. There is also a new S400 hybrid model that combines the 275 hp 3.5-liter V6 with a ithium-ion battery pack, which gives up to a 20 hp boost. The S400 should have a combined fuel economy of 29 mpg.

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Cadillac Converj headed for production?

Cadillac Converj headed for production?

Cadillac stunned us at the Detroit Auto Show with the Converj, and apparently we we not the only ones. A source inside General Motors told Motor Trend the buzz from the car has caused GM to green light the hybrid car for production.

Although GM won’t officially confirm the car’s production, the target is to have the Converj on sale in 2011 as a 2012. That’s pretty ambitions considering Chevy is working overtime to reach the 2010 target date on the Volt, the car on which the Converj is based. While the Volt’s set up of the lithium-ion battery pack with 1.4-liter combustion engine backup will be a good starting point, it will take Cadillac a while to develop its own exterior and interior. Also Cadillac will likely modify the Voltec platform to accept more batteries, allowing for more speed and greater luxury (weight).

The Converj will be a step in the right direction for the fuel-efficient cars GM needs to show on its viability plan. This makes the Converj in charge of its own fate, because the only way the Converj can go into production is if the government approves the plan due on June 1.

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