Monday, February 28, 2011

Volkswagen Microbus Concept Reborn as Bulli

Volkswagen has reprised its well-liked 2001 Detroit Microbus concept in the form of the 2011 Geneva Bulli concept. During its 10 year autoshow absence the original concept has shrunk considerably to 156 inches in length or about 10 inches shorter than the Golf. It also gains a 113 horsepower electric motor and a 40 kilowatt-hour battery pack that's good for 186 miles before needing a charge. The Bulli, which is what the original Volkswagen Bus was meant to be called, stays true to its 2001 version style-wise for the most part but features sharper lines and creases. Inside the Bulli features a minimalistic interior that uses an iPad instead of a traditional console. While Volkswagen missed a great opportunity by not producing the Microbus concept it has a chance to redeem itself by greenlighting the Bulli into production.

Lamborghini Aventador LP700-4

Another day and yet another Geneva debut, this time its the official debut of the Lamborghini Aventador. Featuring a brand new 700 horsepower V12 engine coupled with a 7 speed quick shift transmission, carbon fiber monocoque and pushrod suspension front and rear the Aventador promises tremendous performance. And it delivers with a 0-60 time of only 2.9 seconds and a top speed of 217 mph while reducing fuel consumption by about 20% compared to the Murcielago. While the incredibly high performance was a given the pressing question was always going to be the Aventador's styling. Considered by many to be the definition of supercar styling Lamborghini had a reputation to uphold. The Aventador does not dissapoint with a blend of Gallardo, Reventon and Estoque concept elements. The Estoque's influence is most visible in the rear taillight design. As with the Murcielago air scoops and vents play a prominent role in exterior styling. Inside the Aventador uses a TFT-LCD display in place of a traditional speedometer and tachmoeter, a separate 7 inch display is used for navigation and multimedia through a Human-Machine Interface (HMI) system. The interior design is dominated by a prominent central console and is clean and luxurious.

Like previous Lamborghinis the Aventador is named after a fighting bull, a particularly famous one that won the "Trofeo de la Pena La Madronera" for its courage in 1993. Click on the image below to see the Aventador in its full glory.

Horsepower: 700 hp @ 8,250 RPM
Torque: 509 lb-ft @ 5,500 RPM
0-62: 2.9 seconds
Top Speed: 217 mph
Engine Weight: 518 lbs
Gearbox: 7 speed ISR with 50 millisecond shift times
Length/Width/Height: 188.19/88.98/44.72 inches
Wheelbase: 106.29 inches
Dry Weight: 3,472 pounds
Price: 379,700 US dollars

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Geneva Motorshow Concepts

We've taken a look at some of the upcoming Geneva production debuts and now it's time to look at some of the most exciting concepts at the show. Since you have already seen the sketches of the A3 Sedan Concept let's move on to two of Geneva's most anticiapted concepts: the Subaru and Toyota rearwheel drive coupe twins. Both Subaru and Toyota will show close-to-production concepts of their coupes. While Subaru and Toyota will show nearly prodcution looking concepts others will be more adventorous in style and reason. The BMW ConnectedDrive concept is a modern take on the classic roadster meant to showcase the upcoming possibilites of auto tech. Another concept to watch for is the Bertone B99. It's the Italian design house take on the much talked about upcoming 3-series/A4/C class size Jaguar. Infiniti will be presenting its Etherea conecpt which gives the Genevav audience a preview of how an upcoming compact Infiniti might look like. Nissan will also present an electric sports car featuring a mix of 370Z and GT-R styling cues and the Leaf's battery pack. And Geneva Motorshow would not be the Geneva Motorshow withous a Rinspeed concept. This year the Rinspee Bamboo is an electric powered retro-styled summer beach cruiser.

Click on the photo to start the Concept Gallery.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Geneva Preview Show

With the Geneva Motor Show only a week away the floodgates have opened and many manufacturers have released images of the cars that they will debut in Geneva. Without a doubt the most highly anticipated Geneva debut is the upcoming Lamborghini LP-700 Aventador. Lamborghini has slowly but surely revealed its upcoming hypercar by showing the engine, suspension, and its carbon fiber monocoque. While Lamborghini has done an excellent job drumming up excitement over the Aventador without revealing too much, a certain European magazine has revealed a glimpse of the real deal. The Aventador will not be the only high powered Geneva debut as Jaguar has unveiled its most extreme version of its XK to date, the 550 horsepower XKR-S. The S adds an additional 40 horsepower and 41 lb-ft of torque to the XKR along with more aggressive styling. Fellow British based Aston Martin will also be revealing its newest model, the Virage, at Geneva as well. The 490 horsepower Virage slots between the DB9 and the DBS performance and style-wise while incorporating the latest chassis improvements to the Aston aluminum platform. There will also be a convertible version called the Virage Volante. Maserati has a high-performance convertible ready for Geneva as well, the GranTurismo Convertible Sport. It features 11 extra horsepower and 15 additional lb-ft of torque along with sportier transmission and suspension tunings and unique styling elements. On the other side of the performance envelop Volkswagen will be showing its Europe-only Golf convertible featuring a soft top roof that needs only 9 seconds to go down.

Click on the photo to launch the gallery and see photos of all upcoming Geneva debuts and stay tuned for more news throughout the week.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Audi A3 Sedan Concept Sketches

Audi pulled a quick one on the unsuspecting masses by revealing sketches of its Geneva bound A3 sedan concept on a Sunday. The A3 sedan will preview the styling of the upcoming A3 model range that as the concept indicates will be joined by a sedan for the first time. The next generation A3 will also be the first Audi to use the upcoming MQB modular platform. Powering the concept is a 408 horsepower 2.5 TFSI engine last seen in the fall on the quattro concept. A 340 horsepower version powers the current generation RS3 and TT-RS thus this concept is a good indication that the RS3 will continue into the next generation. The A3 sedan concept measures 174.8 inches in length thus splitting the difference in size between the current A3 Sportback and the A4. The sedan bodystyle will be paramount in the A3 picking up its sales in the USA. Take a look at the sketches below.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Lamborghini LP700-4 Video

Here is the best video of the upcoming Murcielago replacement to date. Featuring footage inside and out the video gives brief glimpses of the interior and of course gives a good representation of the new Lamborghini V12's glorious sound. Check out the Geneva bound Aventador driving around a snowy countryside below.

Future Audi S6 and S8 Engines Revealed

Audi just recently unveiled its brand new A6 and the A8 has only been on sale for a few months, but the brand is soon to augment its lineup up with high performance S models. Long rumored to receive a turbocharged V8 to replace the naturally aspirated V10 of the previous generation we can now confirm the horsepower output of the S versions. The S6 and S8 will both feature a 4.0 TFSI engine, the S6 will have 408 horsepower while the S8 will have 518 horsepower. It's likely that the S6 (and S7) will use a single turbocharger while the S8 will rely on a twin-turbo setup to deliver the extra 110 horsepower. The S6 will use a 7 speed dual-clutch gearbox while the S8 will have an 8 speed auto. The regular A8 will also use the 4.0T, delivering 420 horsepower in that application. The S6 and S8 are set to go to production towards the end of 2011 so expect a public debut soon. In related news the new A6 will also receive the long expected twin-turbo 3.0TDI engine with 313 horsepower in August.

The last generation S6 and S8 also shared a common engine, the 5.2 liter V10, but with a much more similar state of tune. The S6 V10 made 435 horsepower while the S8 made 450. This time it appears that the S6 will be repositioned in the same manner as Audi has done with the S4 previously. The S6 will become the sole V8 option (until the RS6) in the A6 lineup much like the S4 is the only V6 option for the A4. And for those concerned with the horsepower drop from the V10 I suspect that the new S6 will easily outperform its predecessor much like the latest supercharged V6 S4 had done compared to the old V8 powered S4.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Chicago Day One Recap

Day one at the Chicago autoshow is over and the emerging trend is high horsepower V8s. Going against the grain of the past few autoshow seasons Chevrolet, Dodge and Hyundai dominated day one with their new performance offerings. Chevy introduced the ZL1 version of the Camaro with a supercharged 550 horsepower/550 lb-ft of torque LSA V8. The highest performing Camaro of all time also receives the expected agressive exterior enhancements along with a beefed-up drivetrain, magnetic ride suspension, and bigger brakes. An all black interior and a dual mode exhaust are also exclusive ZL1 features. The ZL1 is set to bring the challange to the Mustang GT500 in about a years time.

Not to be outdone Dodge also unveiled the SRT8 version of its new Charger. Looking a little like a four-door GT-R the latest SRT8 features more unique styling compared to the first generation SRT8. The biggest change aside from the 465 horsepower/465 lb-ft of torque 6.4 liter Hemi V8 is the large blacked-out Evoesque grille upfront. The SRT8 also receives unique 20 inch wheels, Brembo brakes, a larger rear spoiler, and heavily bolstered seats. Dodge predicts high 4 second 0-60 time along with a 1/4 mile time in the high 12 second range when the Charger goes on sale this fall.

Rounding out the day was a yet another V8 powered sedan, the Hyundai Genesis R-Spec. The Genesis R is the first application of Hyundai's new 5 liter direct injected V8. The 429 horsepower/376 lb-ft V8 will be paired up with a new 8 speed automatic in the 2012 Genesis which also receives new Audiesque LED daytime running lights, updated tailights and restyled fascias. Hyundai also promises to up the sport factor on the R-Spec with bigger stabilizer bars and brakes, and recalibrated steering.

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Best Commercials of Superbowl XLV

Amongst the usual Bud Light and Doritos commercials, Superbowl XLV brought us a heavy dose of automotive commercials not seen in the past few years. The automotive commercials much like the rest of the ads were all over the place ranging from good to not so good to very much not good. So without a further ado here are the five best automotive commercials of Superbowl XLV.

Number 5: Chevrolet Silverado HD
In this ad the Chevrolet Silverado HD is the hero as it saves the day numerous times while demonstrating its heavy-duty capabilities.

Number 4: Chevrolet Camaro
This was the best of the many Chevrolet advertisements during the game. In this ad a couple of guys are in charge of making an ad for the Camaro, they end up with the Camaro being driven by several beautiful women with the last one being a teacher.

Number 3: Kia Optima
It's not every day that something actually lives up to its hype when the word Epic is envolved, but in this case the Kia Epic Ride commercial does quite well.

Number 2: Chrysler 200
In the second Eminem commercial of the night Chrysler does an excellent job of using Detroit imagery (and 8 Mile soundtrack) to portray Motown as a place that can build luxury auotmobiles. Perhaps they should have used the 300C though.

Numer 1: Volkswagen Passat
Volkswagen scores a win in the automotive category, and perhaps overall, with its pint-sized Darth Vader and plenty of "aww" factor.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

January 2011 Sales At a Glance

January was another good month for the auto industry as a whole with all but four brands turning in increased sales. The month also brought a few pleasant surprises with Mitsubishi, Smart, and Suzuki all improving on last year's sales. Cadillac led all brands with a 49.1% improvement over last January with Jaguar right behind at 48%. The Jeep brand (up 47%) is doing exceptionally well with its new Grand Cherokee and is quickly catching up to Dodge in overall sales. Also doing well for the month was the previously mentioned Mitsubishi that posted its best monthly sales since 2009. Not to be outdone Subaru and Audi posted record January sales. On the flip side the biggest surprise of the month was the large drop suffered by Lexus (17.1%) which forced Lexus to give up its luxury crown to Mercedes. Of note was the continued slow rollout of the Chevrolet Volt and Nissan Volt selling 321 and 87 units respectively. While Obama is promising a million plug-in vehicles on the road by 2015, at this point in time you are more likely to see an Italian exotic on the road. Expect the sales of the Volt and Leaf to increase as they go on sale nationwide later in the year.