Friday, July 31, 2009

VW Polo for the US?

When Volkswagen released information about its latest generation Polo, they also announced that the US will not get the hatchback version. Instead, Americans will get sedan and a Fit-like versions of the Polo. German magazine Auto Bild has created a few illustrations of the Polo in sedan, plus size, and wagon form. When the Polo actually comes to the US it should look like the sedan in the illustration and possibly like the Polo Plus. This is the first time the wagon version has been mentioned, but it could be another possibility for the US market. It is expected that the Polo for the United States will be built at the upgraded VW plant in Mexico.

Original Auto Bild article in German

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Bugatti Bordeaux/Royale

A pair of leaked teaser photos of the upcoming Bugatti give only hints at how the production version might look like, but here is a better look at the new Bugatti. Clearly visible is the split rear window and the controversial 8 exhaust pipes that were seen on the teasers. The future Bugatti sedan is said to share a lot of components with the Veyron hypercar, including its 1,001 horsepower 8 liter W16 engine. By using the powertrain out of the Veyron, Bugatti can minimize costs. To make an even better business case it is also possible that the Royale chassis might be shared with future Bentleys. Expect the upcoming sedan to possibly be called the Royale, Bordeaux, or Atlantic. Regardless of the name it will be as extravagant and as expensive as the Veyron.

Click for additional photos and information

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

BMW To Leave Formula 1 in 2010

The German newspaper Auto Bild is reporting that BMW will not compete in Formula 1 in 2010 citing costs and dissapointing results. Last year BMW was best of the rest as its 135 points only trailed Ferrari and McLaren, but this year BMW has only accumulated 8 points and is at the bottom end of the standings.

Original Auto Bild article in German

Car and Driver Comparison Test: Audi A6 3.0T quattro, BMW 535i, Infiniti M45, Jaguar XF, Mercedes E 350

Car and Driver recently compared this group of five mid size luxury sedans priced in the high 50 to low 60,000 dollar range. After doing several days of evaluating the cars they concluded that no one would be making a mistake buying any one of these cars. However, here are the results.

Mercedes-Benz E 350: 5th place.

The engine was the weakest of the bunch and a little coarse. Works better on the highway than the hills.

Jaguar XF: 4 th place.

The 300 horsepower V8 is no stronger than the competing V6s. Jaguar's fancy gear selector was problematic, and like the Mercedes it wasn't at home on the twisty roads. Not very spacious for the rear occupants.

Infinit M45: 3rd place.

Strong acceleration from the 325 horsepower V8. The sport package that comes with rear steering steering which didn't work too well. Car and Driver did find the Infiniti roomy and liked the transmission and the short breaking distances of the M45.

BMW 535i: 2nd place.

The only car with a manual in the test and the lightest of the group, the BMW was the quickest of the group. The BMW was also the most expensive of the group, almost reaching 64,000 dollars.

Audi A6 3.0T quattro: 1st place.

Car and Driver was impressed by the dynamics of the supercharged V6, best in test steering and good break feel. They also found the ride compliant and the automatic gearbox did what it was supposed to. On the negative side there was tire noise and a few weird controls.

2010 Mercedes-Benz S400 Hybrid Will Achieve 26 MPG

The EPA has released the fuel economy ratings for the 2010 Mercedes-Benz S400 Hybrid. The EPA predicts that S400 drivers should achieve 19 miles per gallon in the city and 26 on the highway. The S400's fuel economy is significantly better than the V8 powered S550 that only manages 14 city and 22 highway. Even the smaller C350 only gets 17 city and 25 highway. Will Mercedes S class buyers trade the performance of the V8 S550 to get the fuel economy of the S400 Hybrid?

Ferrari 458 Italia

Ferrari has released a batch of photos of its latest creation, the 458 Italia. The Italia is the replacement for the F430. Unlike the California, the 458 Italia is a pure performance machine. Like the California, the 458 also gets a direct injection V8, that's put in front of the rear wheels like it was in the F430. Ferrari says that the 458 is a "massive leap forward" from the F430. The massive leap forward begins under the huge glass rear window, where the new V8 is good for 562 horsepower and 398 pound feet of torque. Significantly better than the F430's 490 hp and 343 lb-ft. Thanks to direct injection the fuel economy is also improved and C02 emissions fall 24%. The new V8 gives the Italia almost identical engine specs to its nearest competitor, the Lamborghini Gallardo LP-560. However, the Gallardo's power figures are probably very conservative based on its 130 mile per hour quarter mile trap speed. Nevertheless, the 458 Italia should be able to keep up with the Gallardo and Ferrari quotes 0-62 mph in 3.4 seconds and a top speed of 202 mph. The 458 also takes a giant leap forward with styling, breaking away from the F430 and the 360 Modena. The 458 might remind many of the Enzo, especially form the side and the rear. Compared to the F430 the Italia has smaller air intakes upfront while the headlights have been squished form the sides and feature LEDs. At the rear two lights replace the 4 seen on the F430. The tailpipes migrate to the center and there are three of them. Ferrari states that a lot of the design of the Italia comes from aerodynamics. While this is good for downforce, the design isn't as good looking as the F430. However, if you were not a fan of the F430 you will likely appreciate the Italia more. Still, the 458 promises to raise the bar on performance and that's what Ferrari should really be about in the first place.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

2010 Jetta To Get Refreshed Interior, New Model Coming Soon

The MKVI Volkswagen Golf features an extremely high quality interior, especially impressive considering that it's a compact car. The so called "Golf with a trunk" Jetta will borrow a few elements of the MKVI Golf interior, namely the gauge cluster, steering wheel, and HVAC controls. While the overall interior is not as impressive as the new Golf's, it's a decent upgrade for the Jetta. The Jetta itself also looks like it will be replaced in the near future. VW has recently began investing a billion dollars into its Mexican plant which will build the New Compact Sedan. It looks like the NCS will indeed be the next Jetta. And this time around it looks like the Jetta will no longer be just a "Golf with a trunk" as VW looks to give it a separate identity. The new Jetta could make its debut towards the end of 2009 in LA, or at the 2010 Detroit auto show. Watch this space for updates.

Click the picture for a bigger view.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

The Dirtiest Cars for Sale Today

The current cars and trucks for sale in America are significantly cleaner than the vehicles sold in the past, emitting only fraction of the pollution of the old days. The vast majority of the models listed in the EPA Green Vehicle Guide have an EPA pollution score of at least 6. However, there are quite a few bad apples that don't fair nearly as well when it comes to pollution.

  • The vast majority of "heavy duty" pickups and vans have EPA pollution score of 1, 2, or 3 out of 10 depending on configuration. (Ford F-250/350 and E-250/350 , Dodge Ram 2500/3500, Silverado 2500/3500 and Express 2500/3500, GMC Sierra 2500/3500 and Savana 2500/3500)
  • The Dodge Avenger and Chrysler Sebring with the 2.7 V6 have a score of 3 in all states except California and Northeast.
  • The Lexus SC 430 has a score of 3 in the same states.
  • Toyota Scion xD has a score of 3 in the same states.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Saab Goes Slightly Retro With Its Latest 9-5 Model

Saab has seen its market share evaporate and has consequently become irrelevant when it comes to the US car market. If anyone would ever want to create an antonym to the phrase "sells like hot cakes" Saab's top of the line 9-5 model makes a compelling case. Saab wasn't even able to convince 100 people to buy its aging sedan and wagon (99 recorded sales to be precise). This is what happens when you let your flagship age way past its expiration date. Following "better late than never" logic Saab has finally made a second generation 9-5 model a dozen years since the original debuted. With its latest model Saab has used styling cues from its original and more successful 900 model. When compared to the old 9-5, the new one features a more upright A pillar with a sharp transition to the roof (similar to the GT-R), a slanted roof line and a more curved C pillar reminicant of the Saab 900. Overall, the new 9-5 is not an exceptionally stunning car, but at least it now gives Saab and its new owner, Koenigsegg, a chance to compete with other premium brands.

Classic Saab 900

Old 9-5

New 9-5

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

The New Grand Bentley

The New Grand Bentley will have its first public showing at the famed Pebble Beach Concours d'Élégance in less than a month, but this didn't stop the folks at Car and Driver from coming up with a rendering of how the flagship Bentley will look like. Bentley itself has launched an elaborate reveal campaign filled with numerous videos and several teaser shots. Grainy photos of the flagship have also been snuck out of the Bentley factory. And a heavily camouflaged Grand Bentley was recently seen undergoing testing. Yet, these renderings provide the best look at the upcoming Bentley to date. Bentley has decided to shape its next flagship based on an evolution of the current Arnage instead of using styling cues from its hugely popular Continental line. The Bentley in the renderings has a general shape that's consistent with the recent spy shots. The vehicle pictured has elegant lines and styling that make it worthy enough to carry the Bentley badge. It is expected that the Grand Bentley will feature a thoroughly revised version of its 6 and 3/4 liter V8 with around 600 horsepower. Also expect it to be larger in size than the current Arnage and possibly almost as big as the Rolls Royce Phantom. It now seems that the only secret remaining about the new Bentley is its official name.

Follow the link for more information on the new Bentley along with Car and Driver's picks of their favorite Bentleys.