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Lamborghini Building Smaller, Supercar-Styled SUV

On: Thu, Nov 11, 2010 at 5:22PM | By: Chris Weiss

Lamborghini Building Smaller, Supercar-Styled SUV test 1-1

Rumors of the development of a new LM002 have been heating up of late and Auto Express reports some new details today, based on conversations with "industry insiders." The original LM002 was phased out back in the early 1990s and the SUV market has undergone much change since then—from the explosion around the turn of the century to the more modest, fuel-obsessed state of the market today. Lamborghini's new SUV effort will reflect today's market, aiming to be a smaller crossover, rather than the big, brutish "Rambo Lambo" of the late 80s and 90s.

Mustang Boss 302 Offers New Track Mode Feature

On: Thu, Nov 11, 2010 at 4:57PM | By: Sherry Christiansen

Mustang Boss 302 Offers New Track Mode Feature test 1-1

Ford announced that the company will be offering an innovative “TracKey option” for the new 2012 Mustang Boss 302. The TracKey will shift the powertrain module into a software system that will enable 200 separate settings from the sports car’s street mode settings. Mustang Boss now offers full race calibration and two-stage launch control, as well as stock calibration.

The TracKey software is installed as an option after the Boss is purchased. The dual-path powertrain control module (PCM) is accessed by a specially programmed vehicle key. The new code coexists with stock Boss software, allowing drivers to choose between street or track use simply by selecting a key.

Belgium's Supercar Gets a Successor

On: Thu, Nov 11, 2010 at 4:33PM | By: Chris Weiss

Belgium's Supercar Gets a Successor test 1-1

It seems that no matter how long I write about supercars and the automotive industry, there's always some random exotic company out there—often in northern Europe—building a supercar that I've never heard of. The latest company to point to my insufficient supercar knowledge is Automobiles Gillet. Its new Vertigo .5 Spirit is a successor to the original Vertigo that was launched back in the 1990s and promises to deliver even more performance.

Opel Ampera: Meet Volt's Attractive German Step-Sister

On: Thu, Nov 11, 2010 at 4:26PM | By: John Welch

Opel Ampera: Meet Volt's Attractive German Step-Sister test 1-1

The Chevrolet Volt is cool enough on its own, any vehicle as complicated and well executed as the Volt would have to be, at least, sort of cool. But it could be sooo much cooler. It could look like a DTM car, it could look like a rocketship, it could look like the Opel Ampera.

The Ampera is the Volt, just draped in stylish Germanic sheetmetal. The wheels are slick, the headlight treatment divine. Around back, the Volt's taillights are in place, but there are vents and curves not seen on Volt flanks. It makes the Volt look less like a Prius. I understand the need for differentiation between markets, but c'mon . . . This is the difference between the Ford Mondeo and the Ford Contour. The Holden Commodore and the Pontiac G8. The Honda Civic Type R and Si. The Sierra and XR4Ti . . . the Euro version is better.

Pricing on the old continent is a little difficult to pin down. We pay $41,000 dollars, before tax credits and other incentives for the Volt. The Opel Ampera could be as much as 42,900 euros, but countries such as Germany offer their own discounts. Some, again, like Germany, are substantial. A German Ampera could dip as low as 36,000 euros. Look for the little Opel's to dot the old country by the thousands by the end of 2011. This is probably the last time we will mention the Ampera so you'll find a proper image gallery inside the post.


Pricing Announced For New Chryslers, Can We Really Call Them New?

On: Thu, Nov 11, 2010 at 3:24PM | By: John Welch

Pricing Announced For New Chryslers, Can We Really Call Them New? test 1-1

Chrysler rolled out a series of awful disappointments in the years leading up to their controlled bankruptcy in 2009. New Italian management has stepped in to right the listing ship left stranded by Cerebus and Daimler, and they are setting about bailing the water from Chryslers' decks. One of the first tasks ahead of them pertains to aging models nobody wants. Specifically, the Chrysler Sebring and Town&Country. I have written at great length regarding my distaste for any commuter car being named "Sebring", and since Chrysler is going to label its new people-mover the "200", I won't go into a long, anit-front drive tirade. The Town&Country retains its moniker, and, along with its Dodge Caravan cousin, receives a raft of updates for 2011.

We have covered the 200 in previous posts, nothing has developed on that front, accept for pricing. Expect $19,995 for the base model Chrysler 200, the LX. The fancier Touring model will open at $21,995, while the even more fancy Limited will be $24,495. All of these prices include a $750 destination charge. Something we didn't cover in previous posts; power trains. The base LX Chrysler 200 will feature the usual Mitsu-Chrysler "world engine", in 2.4 liter guise. This four cylinder should supply excellent fuel economy, but forgive us if we are expecting glacial acceleration. The upper trim levels are packing the new PentaStar V6. Highly anticipated, this engine pounds out a class leading 283 horsepower, and is mated to a modern six speed transmission. About damn time.

If the Chryselr PR machine is to be believed, every surface inside the Town&Country has been reworked, enhancing the tactile feel of the vehicle. This is a good thing- we got our hands on a then-new 2010 T&C at last years' Tampa International Auto Show. It was a startlingly bad vehicle, shamed by the quality of the Kia's and Subaru's being shown next door. The dash was hard and unsightly, the trim brittle and falling apart. The stitched leather on the sift knob was peeling off, in a show car! It was a disgrace, and needed improvement about as badly as Mel Gibson needs an anger coach. The Stow&Go functioned well on the show van, the interior tricks were all very impressive, but the van as a whole left lots to be desired. Considering the $25,000 Rolls Royce, I mean, Subaru Legacy sitting next to it, the T&C was a complete joke. It belonged in Mel's rose garden. It was, in a word, terrible.

I'm not reporting anything here that Chrysler isn't aware of. They know what they did, and they know what they have to do to fix it. As evidenced by the C6 Corvettes' seats, that knowledge is not always heeded in the automotive world. Looking at the images Chrysler was nice enough to provide, I'd say the Town&Country has improved, but then, the old van didn't look that bad. Only when you actually got inside did you realize just how cheap and flimsy it actually was. Hopefully not the case with the new T&C. For full press release and image gallery, click inside this post . . .

GM Profits Top Toyota, Ford Tops Everyone

On: Thu, Nov 11, 2010 at 11:47AM | By: John Welch

2011 Chevy Cruze test 2

In a storied turn around the likes of which no pessimistic auto scribe was able to predict, the US auto industry has reversed its fortunes in a short two year span. We aren't out of our global economic anemia just yet, but the car market is already bouncing back in a big way. Global sales may go as high as 70 million vehicles this year, and because of smaller work forces, factory closings and fewer actual brands, automakers have positioned themselves to reap higher profits as the world revives its taste for cars.

Not that they aren't working hard for that money. GM has improved its products across the board, Honda is kicking relative ass on the strength of brand loyalty, VW continues its steady march toward world domination and Ford simply shalacks them all! Here are some hard numbers for you: In the first three quarters of 2010 GM has turned a profit of $4.77 billion. Toyota has only managed $4.46 billion in the same nine month period, while VW claims $4.9 billion. Honda is second on the list with $5.34 billion in profits before September 30th, and Ford demolishes them all with $6.37 billion; more than doubling its profit for the entire 2009 calendar year. The Ford Fiesta and Super Duty trucks are raking in the dough, and now Alan Mullay is enjoying the praise and recognition he so rightly deserves. What happened Toyota? Recalls got you down?

Lake Mirror Classic Auto Festival 2010, The Lost Roll

On: Wed, Nov 10, 2010 at 5:18PM | By: John Welch

Lake Mirror Classic Auto Festival 2010, The Lost Roll test 1-1

I can hear it already . . . "The 'lost roll'?! What does that mean?" I am of course referring to film, something we don't use all that often in 2010. Instead we carry digital celluloid with us to car shows, and we squeeze every last megabyte out of our CF treasure chests. Because space is limited and time is short, we aren't always able to present the full battery of images taken at each event. We can make up for it later though, ressurecting images that weren't used in the original posts but probably should have been.

This gallery contains the usual mix of shiny paint and even more shiny chrome, as well as a few avant garde shots. The images were snapped by either myself, Drew Christy, or Drew's wife, Stephanie. We have a boat-load of shots left; look for another "Lost Roll" post before the end of the month . . .

Volkswagen Working on Ice/Fog-Free Windshield

On: Wed, Nov 10, 2010 at 4:49PM | By: Chris Weiss

Volkswagen Working on Ice/Fog-Free Windshield  test 1-1

The rate at which companies solve problems that don't really exist while leaving much more pressing problems untouched has always perplexed me. In vehicles, for instance, we have cushy options like heated seats, lumbar support, and cruise control, while more basic, important problems remain completely unaddressed.

Volkswagen is taking a slightly different approach, addressing an elemental vehicle problem. Its technology won't be nearly as cool or flashy as heated memory seats, but it could prove much more useful to actually driving. The automaker is working on an ice-free, fog-free windshield coating that could eliminate two of the most irritating visibility impediments on the modern automobile.

London Set to Take a Lead In EV Charging Infrastructure

On: Wed, Nov 10, 2010 at 4:33PM | By: Chris Weiss

London Set to Take a Lead In EV Charging Infrastructure  test 1-1

Here in the United States, we've heard President Obama's goal of getting a million plug-ins on the road by 2015. It's a good goal, but so far the implementation of a charging infrastructure has been rather slow and piecemeal.

London recently revealed its own plan for plug-in vehicle charging infrastructure, a plan that could serve as a model for Europe and other countries worldwide. The plan calls for the addition of 1,300 EV charging stations around the city by 2013. The U.S. might want to watch closely.

Return Of The Morgan Threewheeler

On: Wed, Nov 10, 2010 at 11:22AM | By: Chris Weiss

Return Of The Morgan Threewheeler test 1-1

British specialty car firm Morgan is bringing back one of its legends of yesteryear: the Threewheeler. Built between the beginning of the 20th century and the 1950s, the Threewheeler looks like an interesting cross between a car and a partially faired motorcyle. Morgan is reintroducing it as a 2011 model.

The New MAZDA5; Is It a Minvan, Crossover, or SUV?

On: Wed, Nov 10, 2010 at 11:22AM | By: Sherry Christiansen

The New MAZDA5; Is It a Minvan, Crossover, or SUV? test 1-1

Although Mazda is calling the 2012 MAZDA5 a Crossover/SUV, many critics are calling it a minivan. Whatever you call the vehicle, it is equipped with all of the features of a minivan; features such as sliding doors for convenient loading of cargo and passengers, and the roominess of a third-row seat configuration, with three person bench seat. The 7-passenger vehicle will debut at this years’ Los Angeles Auto Show.