Monday, September 26, 2011

Nissan Introduces 2012 Juke with Improved Fuel Economy in Europe

Nissan Introduces 2012 Juke with Improved Fuel Economy in Europe:
Nissan continues to fine-tune its Juke small crossover, which has received some mechanical tweaks in Europe that promise to further reduce emissions and lift fuel economy.

The Japanese company says both the 1.6-litre petrol and 1.5-litre dCi diesel drivetrains have undergone an optimisation programme that includes revised gear ratios for the manual transmission models.

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Ford E-Bike Concept Debuts at 2011 Frankfurt Auto Show

Ford E-Bike Concept Debuts at 2011 Frankfurt Auto Show: The Ford E-Bike Concept, which debuted at the 2011 Frankfurt Auto Show, shows how the automaker is tinkering with "future mobility solutions."

Kubatech Gives the Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG Some Wings

Kubatech Gives the Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG Some Wings:
In cooperation with Mcchip-dkr, German tuning firm Kubatech has presented a soft performance upgrade for the new Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG Gullwing.

The kit is limited to a software optimization for the ECU. The Gullwing model's 6.3-liter naturally aspirated V8 engine normally lays out 571-horsepower and 650Nm (479 lb-ft) of peak torque at 4,750 rpm, and this package will bump those figures to 625-horses and 680Nm (501.5 lb-ft).

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2012 Honda CR-V Concept Fully Revealed in Pictures and Videos

2012 Honda CR-V Concept Fully Revealed in Pictures and Videos:
The time is up for Honda to toss the wraps off the new 2012 CR-V Concept, which made its public debut today at the Orange County International Auto Show in Anaheim, California.

The close-to-production concept previews the new looks of the 2012 CR-V that will receive its world premiere in final form at the Los Angeles Auto Show in November and go on sale in the United States before the end of the year.

The JDM model will follow in December at the Tokyo Motor Show, while European buyers will have to wait until fall of 2012.

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British Team to Race Range Rover Evoque with BMW Straight-Six at the 2012 Dakar Rally

British Team to Race Range Rover Evoque with BMW Straight-Six at the 2012 Dakar Rally:
More than 9,000 km in 14 days in extremely demanding conditions: this is the world-renowned Dakar Rally in which every year hundreds of competitors strive not just for the win, but for a chance to cross the finish line having lived an outstanding experience in the most prestigious off-road race on earth.

The British Excite Rally Raid Team will race three cars commissioned by RaBe Race Cars and driven by an all-British line-up consisting of Martin Rowe, Andrew Coley and John Hardy. And if the photo reminds you of something, you are right: the T3 race car’s body shell is that of the brand-new Range Rover Evoque.

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New Subaru Turbos Coming in 2012

New Subaru Turbos Coming in 2012: In 2012, Subaru will introduce two turbocharged variants of its latest-generation direct-injection four-cylinder boxer engine, including a 300-horsepower STI version.

Ice, Ice Baby: Ferrari Offers Winter Driving Course in Aspen for the Low Price of $11,399

Ice, Ice Baby: Ferrari Offers Winter Driving Course in Aspen for the Low Price of $11,399:
Some things just don't make sense, no matter how vivid your imagination is. Envision Land Rover racing at Le Mans, or Maserati manufacturing an SUV. Doesn’t it sound absurd? Actually, scratch the last example about Maserati: it will actually happen.

Well, up until recently, you wouldn’t imagine a four-wheel drive Ferrari either. Thankfully, despite sporting the 4RM AWD system, the FF remains a pure sports car. Now, Ferrari wants to show its versatility to its American customers, so it’s adapting its “Pilota on Ice” driving program for the US.

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The Continental’s Frankfurt Notebook: VW and Suzuki Woes, Paceman Could be Named Countryman Coupe, and Lots of Small Cars

The Continental’s Frankfurt Notebook: VW and Suzuki Woes, Paceman Could be Named Countryman Coupe, and Lots of Small Cars:

Each week, our German correspondent slices and dices the latest rumblings, news, and quick-hit driving impressions from the other side of the pond. His byline may say Jens Meiners, but we simply call him . . . the Continental.

The Volkswagen-Suzuki alliance has collapsed. In December 2009, VW took over 19.9 percent of Suzuki; the Japanese carmaker, in turn, received 1.5 percent of Volkswagen. VW had hoped to learn from the Japanese how to turn a nice profit on minicars, and to ease entry into the Indian market. Suzuki, in turn, had hoped for access to VW’s electric and hybrid technology. But the partnership has been dysfunctional for almost a year now. Several projects, such as one for a jointly developed SUV, turned out to be a major disappointment; VW engineers told me back then that Suzuki’s contributions were “useless.”

In July, VW publicly said that the cooperation was going more slowly than anticipated. On September 11, the Germans gave a notice of what they perceived as an infringement of the cooperation agreement, when Suzuki opted to buy diesel engines from Fiat instead of VW. Suzuki reacted quickly: One day later, chairman and CEO Osamu Suzuki said that “the partnership is no longer compatible with Suzuki’s management philosophy of autonomous financial and operational decision-making.” But his wish that the companies part ways amicably may not come true: VW is not amused, and it is quite possible that the Germans will attempt to take over the Japanese carmaker entirely—with or without the chairman’s consent.

On a more pleasant note, Volkswagen design will get new headquarters in Braunschweig, 20 miles southwest of Wolfsburg. There, design chief Walter de’Silva—whose current company car, by the way, is a Mk VI GTI with polished Lamborghini Gallardo wheels—will oversee Group design, together with former Lambo and SEAT design chief Luc Donckerwolke.

VW is developing a new dual-clutch automatic for its upcoming modular-transverse platform. The seven-speed, wet DQ500 dual-clutch transmission, which is used for the Audi TT RS and RS3, is overbuilt and not right for the task, an Audi source tells me. After all, it is the same transmission used in the Volkswagen T5 van. Now Audi and VW will get a wet seven-speed dual-clutch transmission that is lighter and more compact.

Just back from China, Bosch CEO Franz Fehrenbach tells the assembled business press that the Chinese leadership under Wen Jiabao is less conviced about pure-electric vehicles than they used to be. Says Fehrenbach: “The Chinese are increasingly interested in the potential to reduce the consumption of the internal-combustion engine.” For reference: The Chinese car and light-commercial-vehicle market is expected to grow from 17.1 million in 2010 to 28.7 million by 2018.

Mini CEO Kay Segler tells me that while the Mini Paceman—it may also be called Countryman Coupé—is a sure thing, the small Rocketman is still under consideration. Truest to the original Mini in size and concept, it would be difficult to position in the market. Perhaps it won’t be a downsized regular Mini, but stand on a different platform and use externally sourced engines and technology.

While Mini is pondering another car, Smart is dressing up its current one with a styling package jointly developed with weSC, a Swedish apparel company whose name stands for “We are the Supreme Conspiracy,” and who has been identified as a “streetstyle expert” in Daimler’s most recent press release. The more-or-less tasteful execution includes matte and high-gloss gold panels, as well as black wheels, and—lo and behold—high-gloss headphones. Daimler says you can order yours via, subject: WeSC tailor made. Just know that “the gold-plated horse-head knob, which adorns the shift lever of the WeSC original, is a one-off and not for order,” to quote the release for a last time. What a pity.

The Toyota Avensis—Europe’s Camry—has been face-lifted for the Frankfurt show. Regular readers of this column know that European customer preferences are markedly different from Americans’. In the midsize segment, the take rate for station wagons is over 50 percent, and for diesels around 70 percent. Therefore, Toyota offers two gasoline engines but three diesels on the Avensis, which comes in two body styles; there is a manual, an automatic, and an automated manual transmission. The top-of-the-line diesel makes 295 lb-ft of torque. We like the fact that there is far less evidence of cost-cutting in the U.K.-produced Avensis that in some American-made Toyotas.

Ford launched “Econetic Technology” versions of the Fiesta and the Focus at the Frankfurt auto show. The 1.6-liter diesel makes 94 hp in the Fiesta and 10 4hp in the Focus. Thanks to a stop-start system, brake-energy recuperation, and sophisticated aerodynamics, consumption is rated at 71.2 and 69.2 mpg, respectively, on the European cycle. The instrument cluster displays a blue flower, similar to the one on my recent Ford Mondeo test car. It was supposed to illustrate the eco-friendliness of my driving style and managed to wilt at an astonishing rate.