Subaru's 'new course' soon to be outlined

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Back in June of last year, Ikuo Mori took the helm as Fuji Heavy Industries' CEO. His task: end Subaru's five-year long sales slump. Subaru's retail efforts have not lived up the automaker's expectations set in 2002, with a failed attempt at moving the brand up market and the slow sales of its visually challenged B9 Tribeca SUV (does the backend remind anyone else of a Morlock?) doing little to improve the brand's bottom line.

Little has been revealed about Mori's turnaround efforts, but in Subaru's annual report, he hinted that the automaker's focus on engineering over consumer appeal might be one of the first things to be nixed. A more focused effort on the c ompany's core business - automobiles - will be at the forefront, with a reduction in some of FHI's outlying endeavors, including its work in the aerospace industry.

Whether or not the future of Subaru lays in better brand management, with a special focus on its devotees, remains to be seen. But outside of several niche automakers, Subaru has a number of dedicated buyers in the U.S. and if Subaru wants to expand its market share, they'll have to make an attempt to encapsulate that enthusiasm to attract more people into their showrooms.

[Source: Automotive News - Sub. Req.]

 

[via] Autoblog

In Montreal, sell on Sunday, get pelted on Monday

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Quebec is probably the last place in North America where some businesses are still forbidden to open on weekends. Although the practice has long since dissipated in other retail sectors, car dealerships in Montreal still adhere to an archaic 35-year-old policy that dates back to when the Catholic church still had a strong hold on French Canadian society.

One dealership in this writer's home town is departing from that policy, and he's facing tough opposition. Pie IX Dodge Chrysler (pronounced pee nuf, on the street named after Pope Pius the 9th) is a dealership on the island's predominantly French east end, next to the Olympic stadium that once hosted the Montreal auto salon before it moved to the convention center downtown. They decided to open on weekends, selling cars on Saturday and Sunday, a move opposed by other area dealerships and their association (which also organizes the annual car show). Pie IX's sales have gone up, despite the protests outside. The demonstrators include salesmen from other dealerships (which remain closed on the weekend) and from nearby used car lots (which are open on the weekend). If new car dealerships were to open on weekends, the association says the salesmen will be overworked, while the used car lots will lose business. One protestor even went so far as to hit the manager at Pi e IX Dodge Chrysler in the head with a block of ice and was arrested for assault. Demonstrators were also thought to have jammed the dealership's phone lines.

Despite the opposition, and with support from DaimlerChrysler, owner Claude Leclair says he plans to keep his dealership open on weekends, quoting sales figures of over a dozen cars each weekend, while competing dealerships are suspected to be operating in the red. Kinda gives new meaning to the old Quebec separatist slogan "Vive la Quebec Libre" - long live a free Quebec.

[Source: The Montreal Gazette via Jalopnik]

 

[via] Autoblog

RR of the Week - Poll Results

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At 1:30 AM EST this morning, we closed voting on the closest Reader Ride of the Week poll we've ever seen. During the battle over the weekend, the margin between Adam's 1972 Austin Mini and Oli's Audi S4 was as little as one vote. As the polling continued, jockeying for the top slot became even more heated, until mid-Sunday, when the S4 gained a bit more momentum, finally propelling the autocross attack machine to victory with a scant 38 addtional votes.



We like to end things on a high note, so we'll be taking a brief hiatus from our RR of the Day feature as we regroup, mull over some proposed formatting changes and increase our cache of potential entrants. In the meantime, we'd encourage you to submit your own ride to our Flickr pool by following the directions after the jump, making sure to provide us with enough details to make an interesting post out of your whip.

But fear not, the RR of the Day will return! Show your support by submitting your ride and if you'd like to propose an idea or two, click on through to submit a comment.

Continue reading RR of the Week - Poll Results

 

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BOLD MOVES: THE FUTURE OF FORD A new documentary series. Be part of the transformation as it happens in real-time

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Nihon Car drives the Impreza WRX STi Spec C Type RA-R

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The guys who run Nihon Car (née Nihon Car & Bike) were able to get seat time in Subaru's latest limited-edition street-legal rally car, the Impreza WRX STI Type RA-R. Only 300 of the backroads bombers are being produced, and they're only being sold in Japan. Fortunately, the boys at Nihon are there to bring the goods to us Western folk via the Internet.

Their video review of the car is embedded after the jump. and hearing the RA-R's WRC-style exhaust note made us want to dial up Shatner for help in Pricelining our way over to Japan, pronto. Alas, that's not in the cards, so we'll live vicariously through Nihon Car. Their full review is here, and they have a photo gallery of their yellow tester that's car porn of the first order. Highly recommended.

To watch the video, follow the jump. Nihon Car also has a streamable and downloadable HD version of it on their site

[Source: Nihon Car]

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Continue reading Nihon Car drives the Impreza WRX STi Spec C Type RA-R

 

[via] Autoblog

If you've got 'em, hang 'em from your bumper, or not!


Most people are content to just leave their trailer hitch bare when they aren't pulling anything. Most people are also content to keep their reproductive organs in their pants when they're driving. And then there are those that feel as though they must use their hitch to show the world what they wish they had. For that latter group, they created bumper-nuts. The name and the photo above are pretty self-explanitory, so any further elaboration would be even more egregious than the nuts themselves, although if you must know more I would highly recommend the discourse on the subject in Episode 64 of the Bob and AJ show, where topic is covered with all the required delicacy.

Now however, in the wake of a failed attempt to ban indecent mudflaps in Arizona, Maryland Delegate LeRoy Meyers Jr. has decided to try and castrate afficiandos of vehicular testes. Meyers' district has apparently been overrun with big balls (there is no word on whether drivers of such vehicles also tend to crank AC/DC) and he feels they are vulgur and immoral. He has introduced a bill to prohibit drivers from displaying anything that looks like "anatomically correct" or "less than completely and opaquely covered" human or animal genitals, human buttocks or female breasts. Fresh roadkill or deer hunting trophies would be exempted because they are apparently real. Are there no larger issues to address in Maryland than trying to legislate bad taste?

[Source: Washington Post]

 

[via] Autoblog

More rendered speculation: Dino

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Ferrari Dino speculative rendering
Click for gallery

Along comes Infomotori to throw accelerant on the raging fire of Dino speculation. The return of the Dino has been rumored far and wide, and we'd all love to see a Ferrari that may be a little more obtainable for us plebians. Andrea Rosati has dreamed up a car that looks an awful lot like what we've already seen in the form of the 42 0 Dino. One welcome change from 99% of Ferrari pictures out there is Rosati's use of giallo instead of the ubiquitous rosso. Speculative minds churning feverishly, Infomotori goes on to imagine a 300hp V6 displacing 3.0 liters offering up performance on par with the Porsche Boxster.

True or not, the idea of an entry-level Ferrari never fails to excite. It's not the flat-out performance, but the entire package. Sumptuous old-world interiors, unabashed style (sometimes good, sometimes bad, always engaging), glorious sounds from the machinery -- these cars are not about shuttling you around from chore to chore. Ferraris are about the the goods under the skin. We have no doubt that the new Dino will be the bottom of the range should it ever emerge, but there will be nothing cheap or second-rate about it. Every marque needs to have an entry point, and a Dino would likely be in $100,00 0 territory. Still, it'd be cheaper than its stablemates - and there is no such thing as a cheap Ferrari. A "project car" Mondial will still run you 10 grand.

[Source: Infomotori]

 

[via] Autoblog

Enter the rumormill: VW planning rear-engined answer to the MINI?

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Is the world really desperately crying out for another ass-engined ride? An even better question might be: if Volkswagen really wanted to compete with MINI on the diminutive nostalgia front by making a rear-engine compact, why wouldn't they just scale down the new Beetle and put its engine where it was originally intended? Granted, that's a loaded question, since the amount of engineering resources necessary to fit any mill able to get out of its own way into the cramped confines of a new Beetle would be beyond even the most geeky of Deutschland's engineers. But we digress.

Our boys at the German Car Blog are helping to spread AutoBild's rumor that VW is planning a rear-engine vehicle to fight it out with the MINI. As GCB pointed ou t, "...it would certainly fit [sic] Dr. Winterkorn's statement to go into lucrative niches." Sure it would. And if this comes to fruition, we'll eat AutoBild's first road test of the RR V-Dub.

[Source: AutoBild via the German Car Blog]

 

[via] Autoblog

VIDEO: The Magnificent 5 from Wide-Trac Country

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It's been a while since I threw an old TV spot up for your enjoyment (though Dan has done a fine job serving up tasty nostalgia nuggets of late), and John's post on Winding Road's pie-in-the-sky Firebird Trans-Am future-fantasymobile had me flipping through my YouTube faves for something related to our fine flaming-feathered friend from Pontiac.

While that hypothetical TA clearly looks to the 70s for inspiration, I'm going back to the previous decade for today's bit of retro-marketing fun. It's got everything you'd expect: great old cars, enter taining period voice-over work, clever needling of the competition from Mercury, Ford, and Plymouth, plus a soundtrack that somehow lends the whole affair a sense of urgency. In fact, after viewing this I felt a strong desire to fly home in a magnificent new Pontiac Firebird...tonight.

Enjoy! The video's after the jump.

[Source: YouTube]

Continue reading VIDEO: The Magnificent 5 from Wide-Trac Country

 

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BOLD MOVES: THE FUTURE OF FORD A new documentary series. Be part of the transformation as it happens in real-time

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Now Playing: Revised GM ad, sans suicide, humor

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This story is more played out than Monica Lewinsky jokes, so we'll say that officially, this is the last time we'll mention the inanity of pulling GM's dreaming, suicidal robot ad. The lawyers have won and the new ending is playing over at GM's page on dependability. We're not going to spoil the revised conclusion for you, we'll just say that it really, truly, undeniably sucks and it probably isn't worth the amount of effort it would take to click here to view it.

However, if someone could find the Daily Show's revised ending and post a link to it in the comments, it would make us feel a little better about this whole ordeal.

[Source: Brandweek]

 

[via] Autoblog

Is this Honda Racing F1's new livery?

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Honda RA107
Click image for hi-res version

Thanks to tipster Joseff, we think the answer is a resounding "YES!" Once again, it appears that the discovery was made by playing with URL strings, in this case, the tinkering took place in the Honda Racing F1 gallery. The photos immediately preceding this one are of the unpainted RA107 undergoing testing (and are featured on the gallery homepage). The Earth-liveried car happens to be the next photo in line, which leads us to believe that the official reveal is coming very soon (this weekend, perhaps?). In any case, we reported that the final look was to be revealed in February, and the month's just about over.

The domain name shown on the car's rear wing is not yet active, but it is registered to 19 Entertainment, which counts American Idol among its numerous endeavours. We're sure what it means will all be made clear when the official unveiling takes place.

As we said when BlueOvalNews dug up teaser shots and press releases of the renamed Ford Taurus and Mercury Sable, if your photo is online and is not behind some kind of security, it will be found. A web-savvy person doesn't need to be a detective to see when photos are numbered in sequence. Trying the next ones in line is a logical step. Once again, an intrepid reader proves this to be true.

Joseff, thanks for the tip!

[Source: Honda Racing F1]

 

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BOLD MOVES: THE FUTURE OF FORD A new documentary series. Be part of the transformation as it happens in real-time

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Audi releases official info on A5 / S5 with NEW PICS!

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click above image to view our high-res gallery of the Audi S5 and below for the A5

This evening Audi released its official press release heralding the arrival of its new A5 and S5 coupes. The cars will be available to order presumably in Europe only at first on March 6 with deliveries scheduled to begin in June. The boys and girls from Ingolstadt point to the Nuvolari Concept as the source of inspriation for the A5 / S5. Clearly the resemblance is there, as well as all of the other cues from Audi's current design language.

The A5 will be offered with two gas engines, the new 1.8T FSI that produces 170bhp and a 3.2L FSI V6 that makes 265bhp and 243 f t-lbs. of torque. The TDI motors include a 3.0L oil burner making 240bhp and 369 ft-lbs. of torque and a smaller 2.7L mill making 190bhp. It appears that only the 2.7L TDI is front-wheel drive only, while the other three models are available with quattro all-wheel drive. All models of the A5 will come with a standard six-speed manual transmission, while the 3.2L FSI and 2.7L TDI models are available with Audi's CVT transmission called multitronic. One can also choose an S-line sports package for the A5 that makes it look the part of a performance coupe. Unfortunately, Audi made it clear in its press release that no TDI models will be made available in the U.S.

The S5, meanwhile, features a V8, presumably the venerable 4.2L unit, though Audi doesn't mention its displacement. It does, however, reveal the S5 will produce 354bhp and peak torque of 325 ft-lbs. at 3,500 rpm. A six-speed manual and quattro all-wheel drive come standard of course, and help the S5 reach 6 2 mph in 5.1 seconds, so we're guessing it will hit 60 in 5.0 seconds or a bit under. In addition to the more powerful engine, the S5 benefits from a sharper suspension and larger brakes.

There's more info contained in the official press release after the jump, and Audi released a brand new batch of high-res images to ogle, as well.

[Source: Audi]

Gallery: Audi A5


Gallery: Audi S5

Continue reading Audi releases official info on A5 / S5 with NEW PICS!

 

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BOLD MOVES: THE FUTURE OF FORD A new documentary series. Be part of the transformation as it happens in real-time

[via] Autoblog

POLL: RR of the Week

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How could we best describe this week's selection of Reader's Rides? Diverse? Too vague. Erratic? Too negative. How about a motley hodgepodge of four-wheeled absurdity? Sure. We'll run with that.

Absurd doesn't even begin to describe the idea of piling several of your soon-to-be closest friends into a short bus, destined to travel from one end of the earth to the other, all in the name of charity. But that's exactly what the Penitent Yanks did and that's why they made it onto our page Tuesday. The school bus was the high water mark of insane conveyances, but Oli's autocrossing S4 wasn't far behind, followed by a much more sedate Passat Syncro, '69 Bug and the oh-so-delectable classic Mini.

We can't pick our favorite, so we'll leave it up to you. Vote below and be sure to submit your own ride to our Flickr pool by following the directions after the jump.

RR of the Week
Austin-Mini
GMC Short Bus
VW Beetle
VW Passat Syncro
Audi S4

Continue reading POLL: RR of the Week

 

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BOLD MOVES: THE FUTURE OF FORD A new documentary series. Be part of the transformation as it happens in real-time

[via] Autoblog

Spy Shots: BMW Z4 (not Z9)

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Way back in January, we saw pictures of what many thought was the new Z9, but we Autobloggers weren't so sure. The folks over at KGP Photography captured a series of spy shots that shows that it's extremely likely that this future BMW is likely the Z4 or even a still smaller Z2.


The size of the vehicle, which led many to believe that it was an ultra-exclusive Z9, is turning out to be little more than clever camo. Obvious gaps at the base of the windshield show four to six inches between the padding and the actual vehicle. Also visible were cloth seats, which could be evidence of a less pricey convertible. The mythic Z9 has been a dream to BMW enthusiasts all over the world, but we're sure they won't mind a more affordable Bimmer roadster either.

[Source: Winding Road]

 

[via] Autoblog

Winding Road gets seat time in the JAS CTR

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As 2006 drew to a close, a few details and pictures about JAS Motorsport's race-prepped Civic Type-R hit the web. Little was known at the time about what modifications had been made to the Euro hatch to ready it for its assault on the Group-A rally circuit, but our fortunate friends over at Winding Road were able to get some seat time while the CTR underwent testing on the Autodromo do Estoril race track in Portugal.

Unfortunately, we'll have to wait for a full rundown of Matt Davis' time in the hot seat, but until then, we'll direct you to th e video, posted after the jump, to see what well a sorted FWD racer is capable of.

[Source: Winding Road]

Continue reading Winding Road gets seat time in the JAS CTR

 

[via] Autoblog

Geneva Preview: Opel planning surprise that will please Saturn fans

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GM Europe has announced it will be holding a special event during the Geneva Motor Show next month at which an all-new Opel Concept will be unveiled. The only official hint we have is the picture above that shows the car concealed in a cloak of darkness, with only its headlights and outer edges distinguishable. The reason that this concept car will be of interest not only to Euro folk is that we hear its styling will preview the look of the next Opel Vectra / Vauxhall Insignia, the car with which the next-generation Saturn Aura will share its mecanicals and looks.

Many mistakenly believe the current Aura and Vectra are built on the same platform and share sheetmetal, but that's not quite true. The Vectra is built on the Epsilon platform, while the Aura is built on a stretched version of the Epsilon and they really d on't share many if any common body panels despite their similar styling. The Epsilon II platform, however, will underpin the next-generation Vectra, and that car will be a body double for our next-gen Saturn Aura due to debut around 2011. Moral of the story? This concept car will give us some far reaching clues as to what the 2011 Saturn Aura will look like. Until then, we are expecting that the Epsilon II platfom will appear first in the U.S. with a Saturn badge as an Aura Wagon. Though it's strange to offer a wagon version on a different platform than its sedan counterpart with entirely different sheetmetal, it's thought that the Aura Wagon will be positioned upmarket like an Audi Allroad.

[Source: GM Europe, Autocar]

 

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BOLD MOVES: THE FUTURE OF FORD A new documentary series. Be part of the transformation as it happens in real-time

[via] Autoblog

You get a sticker: 500 Wants You reveals five finalists

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The triumphant return of the Fiat 500 back into production, which has been moved up to July of this year, has created an outlet for artist types to express their affection for the little city car. The 500 Wants You website was set up a while back to wrangle these expressions together, specifically in the form of the 500 Sticker Art Contest. Artists were encouraged to design large graphics for the 500 that express the car's flavor, attitude and meaning to the European motoring public. Five finalists have been chosen from 800 entries, and include such designs as feet, barcodes, argyle, the Eiffel Tower and a programmable digital message display mounted to the car's roof. You can view each entry and vote on which graphic you'd like to see on your 500, that is if you live in Europe and can get one when they go on sale.

Another competition centered around the return of the 500 had industrial designers stretching their imaginations to come up with products in the categories of 500 Accessories, 500 Lifestyle and 500 Everywhere. Put on by Designboom.com, The winners for this competition have already been chosen and include a special paint applique that shows images on the 500's sheetmetal at certain angles, a 500-inspired DustBuster vaccuum (shown) and a 500 equiped with a projector and sound system to play feature length films on the walls of building. We've just wasted about a half hour going through the list of entrants that didn't win, which are just as unique and curious to behold.

[Source: 500 Wants You]

 

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BOLD MOVES: THE FUTURE OF FORD A new documentary series. Be part of the transformation as it happens in real-time

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VIDEO: Top Gear takes a Reliant Robin to the heavens... and back

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If you missed the most recent episode of Top Gear (download it here via bittorrent), we feel obliged to bring you this clip of what was by far the show's highlight. As if the Clarkson, Mays and Hammond haven't learned already that disaster lurks around every corner, they thought it would be a smashing idea to build a space shuttle out of a Reliant Robin. The goal would be to send the craft up into the heavens and have it guide back down to earth safely via remote control. That's right, they did learn one lesson from Richard Hammond's near death experience and decided to hide the humans safely within bunkers.

The contraption certainly looks the part, but we expected the thing to blow up Mythb usters style when the launch sequence reached 00:00:00. We'll let you watch for yourselves what happens and how the story concludes in the video after the jump, but we're pretty certain that with the show's track record that you can guess the outcome. Skip to about 2:29 left in the video to see the launch if you don't care about the build up.

[Source: Engadget]

Continue reading VIDEO: Top Gear takes a Reliant Robin to the heavens... and back

 

[via] Autoblog