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Nov 252010
 

Day 2 at the LA Auto Show gave us a chance to spend more time at the LA Convention Center, take more photos and delve further into automotive offerings for 2011.

BUICK PULLS OFF THE COVERS ON THE NEW REGAL

Normally, we’re not big fans of sheet metal from Detroit but this Buick made us do a double take. We’re waiting for our chance behind the wheel to decide whether the double take was based on just a mirage or some real substance.

FLAT IS IN AT MERCEDES

Yes, it’s the Mercedes AMG CLS 63 hyper sedan that you see before you. But that’s not what we’re showcasing. Look a little closer. Notice the flat paint? No, it’s not a custom job. Rather, it’s a factory option available to you. Frankly, it was novel when car customizers first started giving cars the flat treatment but it’s rather played out at this point.

CADILLAC UNVEILS FUNKY LITTLE CONCEPT FOR THE “URBAN” SET

The Cadillac Urban Luxury Concept (ULC for short) is a small city car designed for urban dwellers that just can’t do without some bling to complement their brownstone in upper east side Manhattan. Powered by a teeny, weeny 1.0L turbocharged 3-cylinder engine, the ULC supposedly generates 56mpg in the city and 65mpg on the highway with a cadre of technology including start-stop and brake energy recovery system (a la Formula 1 KERS?). Call us skeptics but we can’t see this car seeing the light of day unless Cadillac’s intention is to meet the even more stringent average fleet fuel efficiency mandate set by the EPA. There are already city car-type variants out there (the Smart, for one) and wonder if we really need a microcar studded with so much unnecessary bling. Keep it simple, stupid. That’s what we say.

DROP TOP CHEVY CAMARO

Open top version of the Chevy Camaro. Nothing else to say about it, really.

FORD FINALLY BRINGS THE FOCUS ST STATESIDE

We’ve always been big fans of “hot hatches,” but the announced arrival of the Focus ST didn’t quite have the effect Ford may have intended. With us, at least. This car has been in existence in Europe since 2009 (the turbocharged 5-cylinder variant killed off due to Europe V emissions regulations). Yet again, American consumers are left getting a car far later after introduced to the rest of the world. I personally find the front end boring, looking quite a bit like a fish; resembles nothing like the aggressive snub nosed design on the original European Focus ST.

GMC’S FORAY INTO THE SUBCOMPACT SEGMENT

When you think of GMC, what comes to mind? Fun cars? Probably not. Utilitarian trucks, SUVs and vans? Absolutely. Perhaps the make is looking to change all that with the introduction of the GMC Granite concept. The front end is large and aggressive, keeping in line with the GMC lineage, but the rest of the vehicle is sleek. The rear end looks particularly similar to the current gen VW GTI. Not sure if this little compact will ever see production, but if it does, it will be the first to shake things up in the segment since the original Scion xB.

JAGUAR’S STUNNER

Wow. That’s about most appropriate word we can use to describe the stunning “green” C-X75 concept. With lines not see since the XJ220 hyper car from the Thatcher era, the concept will hopefully bring new excitement over the old English marquee. But what you find under the sheet metal is completely new school. Each wheel is driven by its own electric motor, with a range of 68 miles from a 6-hour charge at home. Once that juice runs out, however, its lithium ion batteries are recharged by micro gas turbines, extending the “theoretical” range to 560 miles.

Did we mention its claimed top speed of 205mph?

KIA EMERGES FROM HYUNDAI’S SHADOWS

New sheet metal, dimensions, interior and more add up to quite the competition for offerings from sister brand Hyundai. Call it a one-two combo, but Honda, Toyota and Nissan have much to fear from Kia (and Hyundai).

LEXUS’ SPORTY HYBRID HATCH

Funny enough, when we spoke with our friends at Lexus PR, they too agreed that the car looks quite a bit like the Mazda3 / Mazdaspeed3. Mind you, that’s not a bad thing, sharing similar lines as one of our favorites in the segment. No MSRP on this 5-door hatch but we’re hoping to get more info and perhaps our dirty mittens behind the wheel in the near future.

MAZDA’S GORGEOUS CONCEPT

The Shinari concept vehicle in Mazda’s booth was epic. No, it was spectacular. It’s kind of what I envisioned the Aston Martin Rapide would look like, expect this design came from a place a little closer to the shinkansen rather than the tres grande vitesse. No matter. There were more curves and organic forms on this concept than ALL cars on the show floor combined. Perhaps it’s a good indication of things to come from Mazda, as rumors are aplenty about the return of the turbo rotary.

Well, that’s it for us from the second and final press day of the 2010 LA Auto Show. This year’s show was particularly notable as we saw more alternative fuel vehicles than ever before (ed – our take on that coming soon) but came away happy to see that the manufacturers aren’t forgetting about style, sizzle and performance in their offerings.

Until next year!

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Nov 182010
 

Yes, it’s that time of the year again. Kicking off with the Paris Auto Show, the US rounds made their start today with the opening of the LA Auto Show. Although the general public is not admitted until Friday, November 19, press members – including yours truly – are admitted for a couple of days to check out all the wares from various manufacturers.

Here is what we dug up today on day 1 of the LA Auto Show:

HONDA CR-Z MUGEN EDITION

New Honda CRZ Mugen Edition

We welcome back the return of the hatch from Honda. Although the hybrid powertain is not as exciting as that found in the original CRX, this little number definitely looks like something we’d like to check out in person. The Mugen edition here definitely adds a racy flair to the CRZ, but that rear spoiler really has to go. Why a front wheel drive vehicle needs all that excess weight and downforce at the rear is beyond us.

NEW OFFERINGS FROM PORSCHE

(No, this isn’t a new Porsche offering; rather, it’s a mint old school Speedster found at the entry to the Porsche exhibit)

I guess it shouldn’t surprise us that even a “traditional” manufacturer of sportscars (which are also thirsty for petrol) would jump on the bandwagon. The Cayenne Hybrid is already in the offering and they’ve been heavily marketing the innovation through a television commercial featuring the GT3 RS Hybrid as seen below. We don’t know how effective the hybrid system may be, but it’s an absolutely gorgeous piece of machinery.

As an homage to Porsche’s 60 year history, the Stuttgart make is releasing a brand new Speedster. Quite sleek. Quite fast. Quite limited. And… quite expensive.

Finally, as if the GT2 needed any more power, refinement (or a higher price tag), the new GT2 RS is here. With rear wheel drive goodness and an even lighter chassis to match, this car is quite the handful. As a matter of fact, we can’t imagine the average Joe being able to drive this car very fast without killing himself in the process.

SUBARU PULLS OUT SOME REFINEMENT

The Subaru Impreza WRX STi – even though I personally own a Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution – has always been a car to be reckoned with. Great power output, good looks and a reasonable price tag have all been the keys to the STi’s popularity. Although the hatchback version of the newest STi has had its fans, it has had an equal share of detractors. Well, Subaru is going to satisfy both parties, as they introduce a 4-door sedan edition. But don’t fret if you had your eyes on the hatch version – Subaru will continue to produce the STi in hatch form.

Subaru also pulled out all the stops in introducing the new Impreza Concept. At first glance, it looks quite a bit like a natural evolution of the existing Subaru Legacy, although those horizontal slats on either side of the front bumper remind me of the front end of the current Honda Civic. Take a look and you decide.

NISSAN’S NEW OFFERINGS

No, your eyes aren’t playing tricks on you. That really is a convertible version of the Nissan Murano. Now, we’re not quite sure from whom this car is intended, as we’ve never heard of anyone actively advocating the creation of a convertible SUV but I’m sure Nissan did their homework before launching this vehicle. We’ll get our hands on one soon and let you know if it’s worth your consideration.

The other shiny object inside the Nissan booth is the Ellure Hybrid concept. I don’t know about you, but the exterior is absolutely gorgeous. I hope they will retain most of the design cues if this car hits production. The interior is certainly very high tech looking as well. We don’t yet have the proposed technical and performance details but will let you know as soon as we know.

Alright, gang. Day 2 awaits us tomorrow. Will have another editorial up by weekend’s time with even more photos and discoveries at the LA Convention Center!

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Apr 022010
 


Lexus, a division of Toyota, is launching new cars faster than most of us can keep up. The latest new vehicle, the CT 200h, looks very promising. Our primary gripe about hybrids has always been… the lack of any personality, character or style whatsoever. Let’s face it. The hybrid is designed with mostly function in mind. Sure, you can sing your own praises about gas efficiency and saving the planet but no one is going to grant you any style points.

The new Lexus CT 200h, however, is one hybrid we wouldn’t mind at all. It’s a combination of a number of different looks from different vehicles, mashed together to create a pretty decent looking package. The front fascia is definitely taken from that of the Lexus IS-F, a true barn burner in every respect. The side profile and beltline remind us of the Toyota Matrix, a decent little car, and the rear reminds us of a combination the RX SUV series with a bit of the Subaru WRX thrown in for good measure.

Sourcebox

Lexus, a Division of Toyota Motor Sales, U.S.A
P.O. Box 2991-Mail Drop L201
Torrance, CA 90509-2991
1-800-255-3987

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Hit the page jump for the full press release on this new Lexus.

Continue reading »

Mar 212010
 

To be frank, I would buy a Lexus / Totoya regardless of recent noise about throttle / brake cables. Perhaps it’s even more timely that Lexus launch a new vehicle to offset some of the media hype.

The Lexus IS series is an attractive one, a true competitor to the Audi A4 and BMW 3-series line ups. To further raise the bar, Lexus announced the introduction of the IS 350C F-Sport Special Edition. What is F-Sport? It’s an in-house performance-oriented aftermarket brand creating a distinct identity for those models that go a step beyond showroom stock – think “LF-A,” “IS-F” and so forth. With an MSRP of $57,500, the 350C F-Sport certainly isn’t your entry level convertible. So what do you get for the extra cash outlay?

  • Exclusive color offering – Tungsten Pearl or Obsidian (basically, metallic gray and black)
  • 19-inch forged wheels with exclusive design, shod with Michelin Pilot Sport tires (a step below our favorite tires, the Michelin Pilot Sport PS2, but great UHP rubber nevertheless)
  • Front and rear brake upgrade for “firmer pedal feel and enhanced fade resistance,” i.e. more aggressive pad material
  • Unique F-Sport front grill
  • Lowering springs with specially valved Bilstein dampers – we’re translating this into faster rebound stroke
  • Firmer sway bars, front and rear
  • Floor mat and shift knob with F-Sport logo

With only 100 units available across the US, this is a small production run that will most likely sell out very quickly. So if you want a piece of this factory tuned convertible, head out to your local Lexus dealer for more information.

Sourcebox

Lexus, a Division of Toyota Motor Sales, U.S.A
P.O. Box 2991-Mail Drop L201
Torrance, CA 90509-2991
1-800-255-3987

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Feb 072010
 

The Nissan R35 GT-R, one of our all time favorite performance platforms, is an awesome package right out of the box. But as any die-hard gearhead can attest, there’s never enough power to go around. In that spirit, HKS USA recently introduced a new front mount intercooler system for the Japanese supercar.

Featuring two lightweight, large capacity intercooler cores, polished aluminum piping and a size-matched carbon fiber air duct, this setup will improve overall intercooler air volume capacity and cooling efficiency. In addition, the design of the core has been revamped, leading to minimum pressure loss under high boost levels – who doesn’t want high boost levels?! – and should reduce weight.

Suggest retail price is $4,795.00 and is available through Authorized HKS USA Dealers. And also make sure to check out other GT-R performance parts from HKS and other topline manufacturers.

Sourcebox

HKS USA
13401 S. Main Street
Los Angeles, CA 90061
(310) 491-3300

Dec 172009
 

Daniel Lewis

As the year of 2009 nears its end, there are a number of  cars to look forward to next year. The cars below are some of the cars that are likely to excite both automotive consumers and those who are in the automotive industry. Which new cars in 2010 are you waiting to hear about?

Sports Coupe: 2011 Cadillac CTS Coupe

2011 Cadillac CTS Coupe
The Cadillac CTS Coupe was officially unveiled on November 23rd, 2009. In 2008, the Cadillac CTS was supposed to be the model to uplift the Cadillac brand. It looks like Cadillac is on the ball again, launching their next two-door vehicle since 2002. The only parts that the CTS coupe shares with the sedan are the instrument panel, console, headlamps, front fenders and grill. Another thing that makes this generation’s CTS apart from others is the optional between RWD and AWD. This will definitely be a Cadillac to check out.

Hybrid/Electric Car: 2011 Hyundai Sonata Hybrid

2011 Hyundai Sonata Hybrid
With the current mid-sized hybrid sedan market ruled by Toyota and Honda, it is always refreshing to see how other manufacturers answer back. So what you ask did Hyundai do, to take their Sonata one step further? Current hybrids use nickel metal hydride batteries, where as the Sonata will use lithium polymer batteries. Hyundai states that the lithium batteries weigh 30% less, have a 50% less volume, and are 10% more efficient. It will be interesting to see how this new battery, from LG Chem, will hold up against nickel batteries.

Compact Car: 2011 Mazda 2

2011 Mazda2
In 2008, the Mazda 2 was awarded World Car of the Year. Why do most of us not know/remember this? Well, apparently, World Car of the Year, was not good enough for sale in the U.S., mostly because Mazda thought that such a small car would not offer much profitability. Well, with the boom in sales from Nissan’s Versa, and Honda’s Fit (and also partially due to the economy and rising gas prices), Mazda was definitely pounding their foreheads on that decision. It makes one wonder, is Mazda 2 late?

Exotic Car: 2011 McLaren MP4-12C

2011 McLaren MP4-12C
When McLaren teamed up with Mercedes to build supercars, they awed us all with the McLaren F1 and the SLR. That was the past, and the future will be without Mercedes-Benz. McLaren is now their own automotive division. So what does the McLaren MP4-12C offer that the Ferrari 458 Italia or Lamborghini Gallardo LP560-4 doesn’t? The entire frame is one piece, which makes it lighter and more rigid. We can’t wait to see how the McLaren will compete against Ferrari and Lamborghini.

Luxury Car: 2011 Hyundai Equus

2011 Hyundai Equus
Hyundai did great things with the Genesis sedan, which went after the Lexus GS and Mercedes E-Class. We are hopeful to once again be surprised by Hyundai’s quality, that will excel the Equus above the Lexus LS, Mercedes S-Class, and the rest of its competitors. Hyundai may have to bring back that commercial of different “manufacturer executives” yelling the name Hyundai.

SUV: 2011 Land Rover LRX

2011 Land Rover LRX
With India’s Tata Motors recently purchasing Land Rover and Jaguar, it will be interesting to see Tata’s future plans for these automotive brands. Apparently, the 2011 Land Rover LRX will be Land Rover’s first more fuel efficient Land Rover.

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Dec 042009
 

With the LA Show set to open to the public tomorrow, there is sure to be a big crowd on hand over the next week or show to check out the cars on display. But if you can’t make it, do check out the highlights feature here. Then take a peek at the assortment of automotive delights in our photo collage below. Enjoy!

la_auto_show_collage

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