Suzuki releases new Splash pics and details

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Suzuki has released some new info and pictures of the forthcoming Splash compact headed for Europe. The Splash is the Suzuki version of the vehicle that will also be sold as the new Opel/Vauxhall Agila by General Motors. Built on a shortened Suzuki Swift platform and sporting different front and rear-end treatments than the Agila, the Splash design team focused specifically on the European market's tastes as it worked toward the final product shown here. It will be formally introduced to its target audience in September at the Frankfurt Motor Show.

European sales begin next Spring, and three engines will be available to customers: a 1.0-liter 64-horsepower 3-cylinder, a 1.2-liter 4-cylinder with 84 horses, and a 73-horsepower 1.3L 4-cylinder diesel. The compact 5-seater will be produced in Hungary alongside its GM-badged mechanical twins. From what Suzuki's shown so far, it's a nice-looking little car, with a simple, straightforward interior design. We're looking forward to seeing it (and its Agila sibling) in person come September.

Press release follows after the jump.

[Source: Suzuki]

Gallery: Suzuki Splash

Continue reading Suzuki releases new Splash pics and details

 

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Man up with the Ford Falcon XR8 Ute

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It's very much a man's world in this new TV spot for Ford's Aussie-market Falcon XR8 Ute. It's a land where sandwiches are delivered by the paperboy in the morning, the ice cream man is replaced by the ice-cold beer man, 280 inches seems like a perfectly reasonable size for a TV, every store sells tools, and metrosexuals are feeling the heat. In the land of the XR8 Ute, blokes rule.

It's a great, clever, funny spot for the Down Under Ranchero. Follow the jump to see it for yourself. For more, visit the commercial's homepage, where a "making of" video will be available sometime soon and you can also see it in higher res.

Thanks to Daniel for the tip!

[Source: Ford Australia, YouTube]

Continue reading Man up with the Ford Falcon XR8 Ute

 

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Espionage in the fast lane: Ferrari F1 secrets given to McLaren

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With no disrespect to Fernando Alonso or Michael Schumacher, the first eight races of this year's Formula 1 World Championship have probably been more entertaining on- and off-track than the previous four or five seasons combined. The latest shenanigans come via the two front running teams, McLaren and Ferrari. Ferrari has been saying for a while that someone gave away its technical secrets, finally fingering Technical Manager Nigel Stepney last month. Ferrari said it had evidence of illicit behavior, but Stepney claimed it wasn't him. Now it turns out that Michael Coughlin, Chief Designer at McLaren, has been suspended by the team for receiving Ferrari technical information, which was found when police searched his house. No one's been charged yet, but Stepney and Coughlin have known each other for 17 years, and Stepney was miffed last year at not being promoted by Ferrari to fill Ross Brawn's shoes. McLaren, meanwhile, says it has conducted a thorough investigation and found that no Ferrari information was given to any other team member or used in the design of its cars. The FIA is now investigating.

[Source: F1 Technical]

 

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Jaguar XF to get 500 bhp and diesel power

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The Jaguar XF will make its pre-production intro at September's Frankfurt Auto Show. The car that sits on the dais, however, will not be the ultimate XF, which won't appear for a few years yet, according to Jag. The first XFs will be offered with V6 power at 2.7- or 3.0-liters, and the 4.2-liter V8 with or without a blower. The supercharged V8, though, won't be an "R" version -- it will instead get an "S" moniker. The XFR will get the hottest lump of any Jag on the road: a supercharged V8 with 500 bhp and 500 lbs-ft that will also do duty in the next Range Rover and Range Rover Sport. And according to the same sources, around the same time a 250 bhp twin-turbo diesel version of the car will be offered when it comes in for its first facelift. No matter whether Jaguar is sold, we are crossing our fingers in hopes that everyone involved gets this car right.

[Source: Autocar]

 

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BMW and Mercedes may hook up for subcompact

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Auto Bild is reporting that Mercedes and BMW may consider collaborating on subcompacts in the coming years. BMW's keeping an eye on the MINI plant in Oxford, England. If the factory doesn't run at full-tilt, BMW takes a monetary hit. Shacking up with Mercedes to build the next generation A-Class at MINI's facility and on the MINI platform would keep production humming right along. Other potential partners have been mentioned as well, such as Honda and PSA. Mercedes and BMW are working on hybrid technology together already, but Mercedes will only say that while it remains open to collaboration where sensible, there are no current plans to partner further with BMW.

[Source: Reuters]

 

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The Serpent F180: possibly the coolest scale model car ever

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The Serpent F180 is the kind of car we could spend a lot of time with. A 1/8-scale replica of a formula racer, it has all-round independent double-wishbone push-rod-activated suspension, self-bleeding shocks, rear diff, 4-wheel disc brakes, a lay down engine with pushbutton starter, and a polished exhaust. In addition to the rear geometry, track width and suspension settings, you can adjust the brake balance and front anti-roll bar stiffness. Each car also comes with a carrying case and a keychain that features the car's unique serial number. Even if we could be trusted to build it properly -- it come with two manuals -- there's no way we could be trusted to get any work done once it was finished.

Thanks for the tip, KP!

[Source: Serpent Model Racing]

 

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Pitt Bullitt: classic McQueen remake to begin production

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UPDATE: Don't fret all you Steve McQueen fans. After reading our post, Ford got in touch Brad Pitt's management, who don't know anything about the remake or Pitt's involvement. The credibility of this rumor's source, Monsters and Critics, was also called into question. Still, with all the positive buzz GM has earned for its involvement with Transformers, you'd think Ford would be all over a remake the stars Brad Pitt next to a recently released Bullitt Mustang.


Not unlike the retro styling and resurrection of old nameplates sweeping the car industry, some film critics bemoan the lack of originality inherent in the Hollywood trend of remaking old films, while others relish the opportunity to refresh classics for younger generations. One way or another, the latest Hollywood announcement has us frothing at the mouth, as the green-light has been given to start production on a remake of the most iconic of gearhead films of all time: the Steve McQueen classic "Bullitt".

Endeavoring to fill the legendary McQueen's pedals will be none other than Brad Pitt, who will take on the role of Lt. Frank Bullitt of the San Francisco Police Department, hunting down the hitman who killed his fellow officers. Pitt's co-stars have not yet been announced, but with the anticipated launch of the new Bullitt Mustang, the smart product-placement money would be on its inclusion in the new movie along with the Dodge Charger R/T, the two cars that made the famous race scene in the original.

This should be interesting.

[Source: Monsters and Critics via Mustangblog]

 

[via] Autoblog

Live from Dearborn: Driving the Harley Davidson F-150


Click the Harley truck for a high-res gallery

The most powerful vehicle we got to try out during Ford's 2008 model year preview in Dearborn was the new F-150 Harley-Davidson edition. The Harley truck gets the supercharged 5.4L V-8 similar to the one in the GT500. In the 2WD crew-cab pickup the engine spins out 450hp and 500lb-ft of torque.

Ford specifically told the assembled group not to do any tire spinning since they didn't want any rubber stripes on the test surfaces, but some judicious use of the throttle allowed us to still experience some serious acceleration even without a smoky burnout. If you decide you need to change direction at speed you'd better find something to brace yourself against because although the seats appear to have some nominal side bolsters, they provide exactly zero lateral support.

Continue reading Live from Dearborn: Driving the Harley Davidson F-150

 

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Game on: Truck incentives set to soar

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2007 Chevy Silverado

The slumping housing market and gas prices have hurt truck sales, so automakers are going to have to step up on givebacks to keep metal moving. Toyota has taken the first shot with thier five month old Tundra, with 0% financing and buckets of cash. Edmunds tallied final Tundra incentives at $5,083 per unit last month, which is second to only the much older Dodge Ram. The new Silverado, which currently carries only $1,500 to $2,000 on the hood, is set for a bump in incentives to help level the playing field vs. the fierce competition, and older offerings from Ford and Dodge will have to follow suit. With Toyota's deep pockets, there may be no end to how far the folks from Aichi will go to reach their stated sales goal of 200,000 units in 2007, so $5,000 may just be the beginning.

If you've been waiting on your truck purchase, we have a feeling your patience is about to be rewarded. Everybody's pickup offerings are stronger than they've ever been, and with more competition comes more money in your pocket.

[Source: Detroit News]

 

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Live from Dearborn: Autocrossing with the 2008 Ford Fusion

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Click the Fusion for a high-res gallery

During Ford's 2008 model year preview they set up an autocross course on their vehicle dynamics area and provided a lineup of three Ford Fusions, a Mercury Milan and a Lincoln MKZ to toss around. After a reconaissance lap with a Ford staffer at the wheel, we were allowed two laps in each vehicle. In the twenty five minutes we had allotted I only had time to try the Milan and two different Fusions.

The available Milan and one of the Fusions were both equipped with the older 3.0L Duratec V-6 and all-wheel-drive. The second Fusion was a front wheel drive 2.3L automatic model with the new Sport Appearance package. The new package adds red inserts in the seats on the inside and a small lip spoiler on the trailing edge of the trunk lid. Out front the three bar grille gets a darker black-chrome finish and most importantly, each corner gets an 18" machined aluminum wheel.

Continue after the jump for driving impressions and video.

Continue reading Live from Dearborn: Autocrossing with the 2008 Ford Fusion

 

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Craigslist Find of the Day: Propane-powered '86 Suzuki Samurai

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It's coated in new flat black paint, has a set of driving lights mounted to the fenders, is lifted two inches, and has removable doors. It also has a range of 290 miles per tank of fuel, and a full tank only runs the owner twelve bucks and change. That's because this '86 Samurai's been converted to run on propane, and since its wee little bed is outfitted with a pair of forklift-style storage cylinders. The buyer also gets the original carburetor in the deal. $3,500 cash, a Buell XB motorcycle, or an inboard-engined ski boat are all it'll take to get this LPG 'Zuki into your driveway. It's located in Dalton, GA (32 miles outside Chattanooga, TN; 88 miles outside Atlanta) and you can read the original listing here.

Thanks to "mehugtree" for the tip!

[Source: Craigslist]

 

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Sean John F1: Puffy wants a part of the action

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An F1 team owned by a rapper? You've got to be kidding, right? Well, he might be, but Sean "Puffy" Combs is reportedly considering buying a team. If car manufacturers, retired drivers, clothing labels and even beverage companies can own F1 teams, why can't a recording artist? In the fast-changing world of Formula One, if you've got the green, you can have the team. And nobody's more about the Benjamins than Puffy.

The notoriously impulsive hip-hop icon made the announcement that he intended to buy an F1 team at a party in London celebrating the launch of his new cologne, where he was seen spending most of the night talking with Lewis Hamilton. We'd be seriously surprised if Diddy actually went through with it, but at the very least this looks like the premise for a movie only slightly better than Soul Plane.

Feel free to post your jokes and speculation in the comments section below...just keep it tasteful, biotch!

[Source: London Times via Jalopnik]

 

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Benvenuto! Fiat 500 finally here

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click above image to view over 100 high-res pics of the new Fiat 500

The wait is over for Europeans eagerly anticipating the new Fiat 500, which made its debut yesterday on the 50th anniversary of the original, iconic Nuova 500. The new-age version goes on sale immediately and pays homage to its predecessor in glorious retro style. The little Polish-built 3-door will bow with a 1.3L 16-valve turbodiesel good for 75 horses, a 69-horsepower 1.2L 8v four, and a 1.4L 16-valve good for 100 hp. A hopped-up Abarth version is well into development, and will satisfy the enthusiasts who want a little more juice with their new Cinquecento. Word is, we could see that version after 2010. Until then, the cute little bugger will remain an ocean away.

Click the gallery below for a fresh batch of over 100 newly-released official photos of the 500. Sorry for the delay in getting this post up, but we wanted to make sure our gallery included every single shot released by Fiat, which was a big bunch of snaps to gallerize.

[Source: Fiat]

Gallery: Fiat 500

 

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Spy Shots: Jaguar X-Type

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The Jaguar X-Type looked dated before the first sedan came off the line back in 2001, and the last generation Mondeo-based model hasn't aged gracefully from there. Sales bottomed out at 32,500 units worldwide last year, and rumors persist that the X-Type will soon be discontinued in the US - but the X-Type's demise may be exaggerated.

Car online has uncovered spy shots of a face-lifted X-Type out and about, and changes look very subtle. As evidenced by the strategic camo, the front grille, front and rear bumpers, moldings, and rims are likely to see an update, and changes to the X-Type's aged interior are probable as well. No word on updates to the X-Type's powertrain, but we'd expect little or no changes due to a lack of corporate options. We're not optimistic that cosmetic changes will alter the fate of PAG's biggest pimple, and we're not sure why Jaguar would even bother.

[Source: Car online}

 

[via] Autoblog

States looking to crack down on in-vehicle electronics

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Cell phone usage has proven to be very distracting for drivers, and several states have banned the use of the hand-held devices for drivers. Now lawmakers in a dozen states are taking a broader approach to what electronic devices should be banned. Although there is little in the way of concrete evidence that links front seat DVD players, fax machines, iPods, and computers to accidents, it's pretty obvious that they're a distraction to the driver. To curb the usage of these devices, states like Texas and New York are considering fines ranging from $50 and $600 for offenses.

California has had some level of success enforcing these laws, as they've pulled over 3,200 drivers since 2003 for watching DVD movies. We agree that text messaging and watching a movie is way too much of a distraction for anybody that is simultaneously operating a two-ton vehicle, but it's tough to foresee how well such a law could be enforced. Users of their favorite digital devices may feel like they're being singled out, since major distractions like kids (I have three) and makeup application are still legal.

What is the craziest thing you've ever seen someone doing while driving?

[Source: USA Today]

 

[via] Autoblog

Video in the FastLane II: Lutz on Buick

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The GM FastLane Blog revealed that its first video interview with Bob Lutz that addressed GM concept cars was actually supposed to be the second one released. This new video just released today was to be the first, but technical issues pushed it back. Here we have Lutz in front of the lens addressing the most commonly asked question about Buick, specifically its relation to the raging Chinese division and its position in General Motors as a whole.

When answering why Buick's Chinese division is getting better looking luxury cars than the U.S., Lutz simply fires back, "I don't think they are." The consumate diplomat, he says the door is always open for the rear-wheel-drive Zeta-based Park Avenue that will be sold in the Chinese market to make its way to the States, but we'd have to disagree that the U.S. market LaCrosse and Lucerne hold a candle to what's coming down the pipeline for the Chinese.

When asked about Buick's role in GM, Lutz takes up most of his time explaining Cadillac's role as a world leader and then places Buick just below it. It's interesting that he says, "The days of taking some Buicks and pricing them with Chevrolets... will never be repeated." The $32,790 price tag of the new Enclave CUV compared to its other Lambda-based offerings from GMC and Saturn is proof positive that Buick will be positioned near the top of GM's portfolio.

So there you have it, a little Lutz on Lutz action for your Thursday evening.

[Source: GM FastLane]

 

[via] Autoblog

Range Rover receives Ford's designer du jour

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Ford has reportedly announced that its current chief designer at Ford of Europe, Phil Simmons, is being moved over to Land Rover. Rather than having a man with such experience oversee the design of the entire Land Rover brand, Simmons will become the studio director for just the Ranger Rover line of premium SUVs. Simmons is actually the one responsible for the Ranger Rover's current design, having spent a decade at Land Rover before being sent to Ford in the U.S., where he also oversaw the Blue Oval's family of midsize sedans, the Ford Fusion, Mercury Milan and Lincoln MKZ. He's been at Ford of Europe since 1999, and thus also must've been partly responsible for the Kinetic design language that debuted on the Iosis concept and matured into the production design of the current Mondeo.

Is it a waste (or a demotion) to shift such talent to a brand that's on the verge of being sold from the corporate fold, and then to only give him control over one vehicle line? The Range Rover is certainly key to the success of Land Rover as a whole, but does it need its own design steward? We're a bit perplexed at the appointment, but the rest of Ford's loss is Range Rover's gain.

[Source: The Car Connection]

 

[via] Autoblog

Bristol break-in stops the presses

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Bristol, a little known British builder of expensive luxury and sports cars, opened up its shop this past Monday in Patchway, England to find a rude surprise. Thieves had broken into the factory over the weekend and, instead of stealing cars, ripped off the company's presses that stamp out body panels for its pricey lineup. Ten presses in all were boosted that make body panels for the Blenheim range of coupes. Fortunately, since Bristol only manages to produce about 2 or 3 cars a week, its current inventory of roof, wing and door panels will last for a while, but presses are hard to come by and eventually the company will slow down its snail-pace production to a halt when supplies run out.

The robbers apparently used huge cranes to steal the presses, as well as drove in and out of the complex multiple times to complete the job. No one noticed a thing and they've gotten away scott free for now, but ten presses won't be easy to sell on the black market. Chances are they'll be cut up and sent to China or India to be sold as scrap metal. We can't imagine the criminals will actually start producing Bristols of their own because, quite frankly, they're a bit ugly with a face that only a wealthy Brit could love.

Thanks for the tip, Dylan!

[Source: thisisbristol.co.uk]

 

[via] Autoblog

Cruel, sick joke: Bentley Continental badged as a Hyundai

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click above image for high-res views of this abomination

Some rich people have too much time on their hands and a sick sense of humor. Witness this, a perfectly good Bentley Continental GT adorned with Hyundai badges - HYUNDAI badges!. It's not as if the owner just stuck them on with double-sided tape, either - the hood badge, logo on the trunk lid and in the center cap of each wheel look professionally applied, as if they were meant to be there all along. (We checked with Bentley, they're not ever supposed to be there.) But hey, if you're wealthy, you may as well do it right, you know? Actually, we're thinking this guy lost a bet with his Ferrari buddies and was forced to transform his six-figure Conti into a Tiburon wannabe. Sigh... check out the rest of the pics in our gallery below. They were shot and sent us to us by Autoblog reader Michael in L.A.

 

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Green is for poseurs: 50% of Prius buyers want to "make a statement"

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Right now gas prices suck, and Prius sales are through the roof. It doesn't take a rocket scientist to figure out that a lot of people are buying the fuel-conscious, peculiar-looking little hatch to save some money at the pump. Petrol prices aside, a recent study from CNW Marketing Research shows that over half of Prius buyers primarily want to make a statement about themselves. If you just found yourself swallowing a little vomit, all apologies. The key to purchasing a Prius versus, say, a Honda Civic hybrid, is that Toyota's gas-electric vehicle is a hybrid-only model. The Civic, like the Camry and Ford Escape, can be purchased with a run-of-the-mill gasoline-only powertrain, and the only difference between it and the hybrid model is a little badge.

In the 80's, people making a statement wore Guess jeans and Polo-branded shirts. In the 90's it was $130 Nike shoes (Umm, they had those in the 80s, too - Ed. ), and now to show off in the new millennium, you apparently have to drive a Prius. We've noticed that the many Prius hatchbacks traveling our nation's freeways aren't exactly driving 57mph in the right lane to optimize fuel economy. If other automakers want to make a real splash in the hybrid game, they'll have to follow Toyota's lead and make a hybrid-only vehicle that helps owners feel better about the fact that others think they're "green".

[Source: Detroit News]

 

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