Spy Shots: Gen VI Volkswagen Golf/Rabbit spotted

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KGP Photography was spending its weekend in beautiful Death Valley when its photogs snapped a whole lot of pics of the next VW Rabbit in testing. Judging from the VW engineer flipping off the camera (will they ever learn how bad that looks?), we're pretty sure the Volkswagen testers didn't want any pictures out just yet. A new, stronger character line can be seen spanning the Rabbit's flank, and the door handles no longer intersect said crease. The front and rear of the car are pretty well covered, but the general shape doesn't look very different than the Rabbit we already know and love. Powertrains are likely to remain largely unchanged, with a Euro-style range of petrol and diesel engines.

The Rabbit/Golf is perhaps the most important car in the VW stable, as it sells worldwide at very high volume. One place where the Rabbit isn't as popular is here in the States, which is part of the reason we didn't get the Gen V Rabbit until only recently. Expect to see the new Golf swing in to European showrooms in 2008, with the bunny-monikered version arriving here a couple of years later. Click the read link below to view more spy shots of the Rabbit over at Winding Road.

[Source: Winding Road]

 

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Bring the Toys! Nissan's new Dualis, Skyline die-cast cars

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Click image for photo gallery

Nissan's got a good thing going with its official shop, which actually does sell some pretty cool stuff. In addition to all the execu-type items (like leather goods and pens), branded wearables, and miscellaneous tchotchkies, they have a nice selection of die-cast cars. This week, two new ones were added to the roster: the Dualis crossover (Qashquai in Europe), and V36 Skyline sedan (a.k.a. Infiniti G35). Both cars are offered in 1/43 scale in a selection of factory paint colors. The detailing, as you'll see in the attached gallery, is pretty good, too. They're priced at ¥2,900 (around $24 bucks before shipping).

They join a raft of other cars in the automaker's die-cast stable, like the Fairlady Z, Cube, and several others. Collectors who browse the website should be sure to click on the Gr.A Skyline GT-R banner/button, as the first three in a series of six 1/18 scale die-cast Group A Skyline GT-R racers are available as well. At ¥13,000 yen (around $108 USD, not including shipping), they're not cheap, but they are cool.

[Source: Nissan]

 

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Ford Fiesta Crossroad not for offroad

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Does anyone really think the world needs another tiny hatchback posing as a sport-ute? We were hoping nobody did, but apparently some guys over at Ford Europe thought this was a good idea. And so they've rolled out the Fiesta Crossroad.

We'll preemptively answer your first question in the negative: it does not have all-wheel-drive, or any real off-road equipment to speak of over the standard Fiesta. It comes down basically to some body cladding: the very worst kind of product engineering. The Fiesta Crossroad might look taller or higher off the road than its standard counterpart, but alas, it's all an illusion.

For an approximately one-thousand-euro premium, buyers get new bumpers, wheel arches and lower door panels in a contrasting shade, some roofr ails and (ooh, get this) special floor mats. We'd venture that the latter was to prevent getting mud all over the interior when the poseur driver mistakenly tries to tackle a dirt road only to get stuck like any ordinary car.

[Source: AutoWeek - translated]

 

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H&R drops the Audi A5/S5, before you can even buy one

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Even though the Audi A5 and S5 won't be available until spring of '08, H&R, purveyors of all things sprung and stiff, have announced the availability of lowering springs for both models. When you do finally get your hands on Audi's newest hotness, you'll be able to choose a drop of 10-35 mm, depending on the package.

Additionally, you can push your 18- or 19-inch rolling stock out with a set of aluminum wheel spacers sized between 6mm and 60 mm, and H&R has announced the development of a full coilover setup and anti-roll bars. Can't wait to see the first widebody kit on these cars.

You can view all the available options at H&R's site, and click on through for the suspension wizard's press release.

[Source: H&R]

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Aston Martin offering Sirius Radio with lifetime subscription

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Beginning this August, Aston Martin V8 Vantage and DB9 buyers will start getting Sirius - as in Sirius Satellite Radio. It will be available as a factory installed option, and better yet - drumroll please - it will come with a lifetime subscription to the service. That would normally run you about $500. Maybe not a huge deal on a six-figure automobile, but every little bit counts, right? And you'll also never worry about that $12.95 monthly bill should your fortunes ever reverse. It's a nice little touch that might push some buyers into pulling the trigger, but will more likely come as a pleasant surprise when they find out about the bonus in the deal.

[Source: Sirius]

 

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Bentley booming in first half of '07

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First half sales reports have been rolling in and it looks like things are just peachy for the crew at Crewe. Bentley is reporting increased sales for the fourth year in a row. Sales were up nearly 19 percent compared to first-half '06, meaning 5,600 individuals called themselves new Bentley owners in the past six months. During that time, the company had its best month ever, delivering 1,200 Bentleys in March alone. Thanks in large part to the GTC and the new Brooklands, things are indeed good at Bentley, and its fortunes don't seem to be slowing down any time soon. Being the ride of choice for jewelry thieves and setting ice speed records didn't seem to hurt either. The brief press release is after the jump. Read on to find out about a turnover that was tagged at 739 million Euro, which seems awfully spendy for a pastry, and an operating profit of 85 million Euro.

[Source: Bentley]

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In So. Cal.? Drive the new Impreza WRX on August 11th

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Although all the major media outlets have posted their reviews of the new WRX, nothing compares to actually getting some seat-time in Subaru's latest iteration of the Impreza. If you're willing to look beyond the stagnant styling, the new 'Rex still has the potential of being every bit as good as its predecessors (although the plastic intake manifold concerns us), and there's no better place to wring it out than on a closed course under the guidance of professional drivers.

Mark your calenders -- on Saturday, August 11th, Subaru is allowing visitors to the Santa Anita Park in Arcadia, California to do just that. Beginning at noon and continuing through 8 PM, potential buyers, and anyone willing to put up with DJs from Blender, can head out on a closed course to get a feel for the new Impreza. Not only will you get some track time, but afterwards, you can play WRC co-pilot on a special "rally stage" to see how the pros work the 224-hp 2.5-liter boxer and AWD system to their full potential.

You can get all the details in Subaru's press release after the jump. And if you do attend, leave a comment in this post with your Impreza impressions.

[Source: Subaru]

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Volvo recalling 42,000 XC90s

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Volvo has revealed that it's recalling 42,000 XC90 SUVs to inspect a suspect battery switch. Only North American vehicles had this switch, which apparently creates the risk of short circuits if the jack handle comes into contact with it. Volvo seems particularly concerned that this could happen on vehicles that were serviced by technicians in such a way that the potential for a short circuit was created. The recall is only for the 2005 Volvo XC90, though. Volvo dealers will check the recalled cars and slap a sticker on them somewhere to instruct future service technicians how to avoid the risk of a short circuit. Apparently it's a preemptive strike by Volvo, as there haven't been any reports of short circuiting so far.

[Source: Reuters]

 

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My precious: Nissan's new cat cuts down on expensive metals

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Nissan has developed a new catalyst for its gasoline-powered cars that requires only half the amount of precious metals that current designs call for. The catalyst or catalytic converter is a piece of the exhaust system filled with a mix of platinum, rhodium and palladium that captures harmful toxins in a car's exhaust such as nitrogen oxide, carbon monoxide and hydrocarbons by triggering a chemical reaction.

Engineers at Nissan used new nanotechnology to prevent the gathering of the precious metals in the catalyst under high temperatures, which meant less of the expensive stuff was required to clean the exhaust.

Less metal means less cost, which means more savings for customers. Nissan will be sharing the technology with its French partner Renault and the first cars with the new system should be on the market by early '09. Hopefully this will also mean a reduction in the number of catalytic converters being stolen.

[Source: Reuters]

 

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Forbes identifies the commutes that kill

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Ever feel like one more day of commuting will kill you? You might be right, especially if you live in Riverside, California. Or Atlanta. Or Los Angeles. Those are the top three cities on Forbes' list of the 25 with the most unhealthy commutes.

The combination of dangerous drivers, the stress of dealing with them and high levels of air pollution is apparently taking a serious toll on big-city commuters' health. Forbes quotes one study showing Americans commute an average of 25 minutes every day, but are exposed to 50% of the day's pollution during their drives. One study found diesel particle levels four to eight times greater inside commuters' cars than outside. That's nothing to sneeze at.

Southern California gets four spots on the list, with Houston, Miami, Detroit and Washington, D.C., taking some of the others.

There are ways to make your drive to and from work healthier, though. Forbes recommends you roll up your windows and set the air to recirculate. That will reduce some of the incoming air, and maybe some of the particulates that clog up your respiratory plumbing. Another health-saving solution is to take the long way home. Taking that curvy road home will not only give your inner F1 driver an outlet, but it will also avoid all those particulates spewed by diesel trucks on the highways.

[Source: Forbes, photo by K.C. Hohensee]

 

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RE: buhbye - Zetsche bids farewell to Chrysler employees via e-mail

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Looking to exit, stage left on a melodious note, Doc Zee has bid the Chrysler team a semi-farewell via email. The message was a polite "thank you," instead of the possibly more appropriate "thanks for letting us swoop in from Stuttgart, blast through your cash and let your product line languish." Dieter Zetsche and Tom LaSorda dashed off the e-mail to all Daimler and Chrysler workers this morning. The sale of the Chrysler unit to Cerberus Capital Management is wrapping up, and the executives extended thanks to employees for all the hard work they've performed over the past nine years. While they are splitting, the rhetoric in the e-mail indicates that there will be some intertwining of the two businesses going forward.

Collaboration will continue on electrical components (we hope Chrysler can teach Mercedes a thing or two about making reliable electrics), platform architectures for unitized SUVs and power units. Those collaborations were likely far underway when the schism occurred, and both companies will benefit from the cross pollination. We bet Dieter can bang out a convincing "Free BIrd" on that axe.

[Source Detroit Free Press]

 

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Will there be anything left? Tulsa Belvedere set to be de-rusted

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The SS Belvedere emerged from its not-so-dry-dock almost two months ago, in all its ferrous oxide glory. Apparently the offer of restoration by Boyd Coddington has either been refused or rescinded, but either way, the Mopar is headed to New Jersey for a spa treatment. Safest Rust Remover, a product of the Ultra One Corporation, is going to take a crack at dissolving just the rust, and leaving everything else intact. It makes us wonder, once you dissolve that rust, will there be merely the lacy suggestion of a '57 Plymouth, rendered in mid-century steel?

A website has been launched so you can keep an eye on the progress. All reports about the Safest Rust Remover product are positive, and the non-acid mixture is used to clean Manhattan's Holland and Lincoln Tunnels. A vat half the size of an Olympic swimming pool might be needed, but maybe there's hope for the old girl yet. The game plan for the car is to not restore it, just clean it up and get the engine running -- once those goals are met, a re-unveiling back in Tulsa will be planned. They should get those Skoda bakers for the event so there's at least one perfect looking Belvedere there.

[Source: Hemmings]

 

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Have money, need growth: GM to invest $6b in Daewoo

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GM has been rapidly expanding in countries outside the US, and South Korea-based Daewoo has been a major contributor to the company's growth in developing markets. GM is redoubling their commitment to Daewoo by investing $6 billion in the once bankrupt automaker over the next few years. President and chief executive of GM DAT Michael Grimaldi says the money will be used to expand design, engineering, and for new plants and products. Among the projects on the table are a mini car and a small car, which could mean that some form of the Beat, Trax, or Groove could be in the pipeline. With relatively low labor costs and a free trade agreement with the US, GM Daewoo could expand their role of providing low-cost economy cars to our shores, but with a Chevy badge.

[Source: Channel NewsAsia]

 

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Sketched speculation: Infiniti FX37/FX50 concept

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Although the CAR crew seems to have the inside line on Audi's future releases, with its recent spate of "official" images posted earlier this week, Top Speed was able to procure some details about Infiniti's new FX-series crossover.

The artist depiction shows a revised front end that draws cues from the new G-series sedan, with more tautly drawn headlamps flanking a revised grille and more muscular front fenders. However, everything aft of the A-pillar appears to carry over from the current model -- pretty much what we've expected.

More important than the exterior changes is what lies underhood, and according to Top Speed the new FX will come equipped with either the new 3.7-liter VQ V6 or a 5-liter V8, producing 390 HP and 369 lb.-ft. of torque. Naturally, the new models' badging will reflect their newfound power: FX37 and FX50, respectively.

Beyond the upgraded powerplants, expect the new FX to come equipped with a back-up camera, radar-assisted cruise control and mirrors that will automatically adjust when the seating position is changed.

Although Top Speed simply cites an internal source for all these details, most of the information seems entirely plausible. We'll just have to wait until next year, when Infiniti pulls the cover off of the new FX in Geneva for confirmation.

[Source: Top Speed]

 

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Confessions of an automotive quality engineer

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Photo used for illustrative purposes only. Not one of the actual plants from article.

Ever wonder how seriously the workers really take their jobs on the automotive assembly lines of the world? Seriously, do they really think about us consumers when they are bolting together that subassembly? Are there definitive differences between the way domestic and import vehicles are made that we can really see in the finished product? Well, even if you haven't wondered, we have. And so has Christopher Neiger of AOL Autos. To get some answers, he interviewed an automotive quality engineer who has worked in several plants around the world, for domestic and import manufacturers. His findings are really fascinating. Click over to read the whole story, but let us tell you that there are definite differences between the imports and domestics, that the workers do care about the finished product, and that there are many more parts to this equation than we might imagine. It's well worth the clicking 'Read' below.

[Source: AOL Autos]

 

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LEAKED: Supposed Kia Mesa interior shots

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TheCarBlogger just published three leaked pics of what they are claiming to be the first official images of the interior in the new Kia Mesa, nee HM. And just like we were when we saw the interior on the Veracruz, we have to say we are pretty impressed. Nothing cutting edge, but definitely styled to put it in the luxury car camp. The materials might not hold up to that opinion, but they at least look good in the pics. And the admittedly faux wood gives this UV an air of luxury most people probably wouldn't expect from a Korean vehicle. Light and modern, that wood is slathered throughout, even on the steering wheel.

What we see in the pics as far as the multimedia navigation/AV system goes is likely the home market setup. Chances are that the States will get the same LG unit we profiled in the Veracruz. There doesn't seem to be any reason why the AUX input jack and a Push-Start button won't make the trip over, however. We're not sure when the Mesa will make its public debut, but we're guessing somewhere between Frankfurt and the end of this year, with sales starting early next year. Click one of the images to view all three shots.

Thanks for the tip, William!

[Source: TheCarBlogger]

 

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2008 F1 Calendar: Valencia and Singapore in, Montreal in jeopardy

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Several big (albeit anticipated) changes were made to the Formula One calendar for 2008, which was released by the FIA yesterday.

The F1 circus will make two new stops at the new circuit in Singapore and at the Valencia track in Spain, previously used primarily for testing. Singapore will slot in right before the grands prix in China and Japan, and most teams are expected to stay out east for the three-week stretch. Valencia joins Barcelona as the second race in Spain, banking on Fernando Alonso's popularity and following the cuts made to second races in Italy and Germany for this year. The race at the Nurburgring will be labeled the German Grand Prix, while Valencia will pick up the European Grand Prix moniker.

Follow the jump for details about North America and the full provisional 2008 FIA Formula One World Championship calendar.

[Source: GrandPrix.com]

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Re-designed Saab 9-3 due in American showrooms in September

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Click the Saab 9-3 for a high res photo gallery

The revamped 2008 Saab 9-3 will be arriving in North American dealerships in early September. The lineup will start with the 2.0T Sport Sedan at $28,385 while the Aero V6 will cost at least $35,365. The four and six cylinder convertibles run $39,710 and $45,665 respectively. The new features include rain sensing wipers, OnStar, XM radio and remote top opening for the convertible.

[Source: General Motors]

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Iron Man alter ego Tony Stark's R8 at Comic-Con!

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Our sister blog, Cinematical, is covering Comic-Con in San Diego and lo and behold, what did they spot out in front of the convention center? Tony Stark's Audi R8. This is just an early tease for Fanboy Nation, and this major product tie-in that will also see several other Audis cross the screen in Iron Man. The silver R8 was parked out front sporting the plate "Stark 4." Priceless. Robert Downey, Jr. portrays the armor-sporting hero in this newest comic-book-to-big-screen adaptation, which, if the reports on the footage shown at the convention are accurate, is going to kick ass. Click over to Cinematical for a few more pics.

[Source: Cinematical]

 

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Great Scott! Could new DeLoreans be coming?

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There's still a Delorean Motor Company, but it's not in the business of building new vehicles. At least not yet. The Texas-based firm purchased a lot of the assets of John DeLorean's original entity when it went belly-up, and it, along with its regional affiliates, does a brisk business keeping the dream alive. There are about 6,500 of the 9,000 DeLoreans produced still out there, but stocks of viable restoration candidates are petering out. Every time some child of the 1980s builds a replica of the Back To The Future time machine, we lose another candidate to stupidity. The recreations do serve to keep the popularity of the gullwing GTs up, we suppose, but the modifications required end up making a car that is more conspicuous than a bright red Maybach in Amish country.

My overbearing opinion out of the way, the crux of the biscuit is that DeLorean Motor Company may soon start building new DeLoreans. They'll be produced as kit cars, side-stepping the tighter restrictions placed on truly serial-produced cars. Once DeLorean Motor Company has cleared its plate of restoration work, likely by March or April 2008, it'll start on the new cars. We'll be keeping our eye on what materializes on the DMC front - being old enough to have seen BTF in the theatres, of course we've got a lust to have a DMC-12 sitting in our driveway, whether or not we have the optional Mr. Fusion installed.

Thanks to tipster Doug.

[Source: LA Times]

 

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Thirty minutes with the 2008 Jetta Sportwagen

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As station wagon lovers ourselves, we were just as disappointed as many of you were when we heard the news that the new Jetta Sportwagen had been delayed due to a plant fire which destroyed 12,000 - 15,000 cylinder heads. After all, with nearly as much space as the average SUV or minivan but with much better fuel mileage and more sport to go with it, what's not to like? And those are just the practical considerations. What about how the car drives? That's an excellent question, so, when we got a chance to get some seat time in an '08 Jetta Sportwagen at the 2007 American Station Wagon Owners Association Convention, we jumped on it.

Here are a few quick details to keep you interested enough to keep reading after the break, which is where you'll find our driving impressions. The wagon (or... wagen) version of the Jetta has 32 cubic feet of cargo space with the back seat in place, and more than double that with the seat folded down at 66.9 cubic feet. Engine choices start with the 2.5 liter inline 5 cylinder with the 2.0T engine as an upgrade. If you're into saving gas with an oil-burner, the 2.0 TDI will be available too. That engine will give up to 60 miles per gallon on the highway..

Follow the jump for more.

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