Artega won't stop, can't stop: GT is only the beginning

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Click the image above for a gallery of live shots from the Geneva Motor Show.

After our Geneva-induced jetlag subsided, we were able to take stock of what vehicles struck us as the showstoppers. Some were obvious, while others were more unlikely; the Artega GT remains one of them.

However, when we discovered that the Henrik Fisker-designed podium princess was strictly a shell, lacking a functional drivetrain and interior bits, the wind quickly left our sails. Even worse, according to an article in AutomobilWoche when the GT goes on sale, the Germans will be the only ones able to pick up one of the 500 models produced.

There is a light at the end of the tunnel though. The article states that Artega's coupe will come equipped with a 3.6-liter VW VR6, complete with a DSG gearbox, and will tip the scales at a paltry 2,400 pounds. Even better: with the backing of Karl-Heinz Kalbfell, formerly of BMW, Maserati and Rolls-Royce, Artega plans on offering a roadster model that will be sold in Asia, the Middle-East and even here in the States.

There's no word on when we'll see the next model from the niche manufacturer, but if we had to put money on it, we'd plunk down a twenty-spot for Geneva '08.

[Source: AutomobilWoche via Motor Authority]

Gallery: Artega GT

 

[via] Autoblog

Aston Martin Vanquish S by Mansory, as in "Man, sorry"

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Click for more images of this Mansory-tuned Vanquish S

Somewhere in Heaven, an angel has lost his wings. For there can be no excuse for letting this one slip by without payback. The Aston Martin Vanquish S is one of, if not the, best looking cars of the modern era. Those bulging flanks somehow merge raw aggression with sensual curves that result in a form that melds elegance and high performance in one. And look at what German tuner Mansory has gone and done to it.

Rather than just redo some engine bits to boost the already prodigious V12 output to ludicrous capabilities, they kept it stock. What they focused on instead were upgrading the brakes (now bigger Brembos) and wheels (20-inch forged alloys with 275/30R20s up front and 315/35R20s in the rear), and lowering the ride height by a full inch using higher performance springs. That's all fine and dandy, but it's what they did next that should have them banned from Aston Martin tuning forever.

Mansory fitted its own carbon-fiber front spoiler that incorporates a new grille, CF side air intakes, and a new rear fascia with a carbon-fiber diffuser. It might not sound that bad, but this is one car that doesn't need any help in the styling department, at least not on the outside. They've even fitted some anodized aluminum air outlets on the hood, and chrome -- yes, chrome! -- stripes on the trunk. Really it's not as bad as we're making it out to be, but they unfortunately chose a black and yellow paint scheme for the show car that makes our eyes involuntarily search out forks to impale themselves upon. If that heresy isn't enough for you, Mansory will go as far as your budget or conscience allows.

[Source: Inside Line]

 

[via] Autoblog

Frankfurt Preview: Mercedes to unveil F700 luxury sedan

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The Frankfurt Auto Show is still a month away, but that hasn't stopped the car companies from dropping previews and tip-offs of new concepts they have planned for the show. Mercedes-Benz will have one of the biggest presentations at the event, showcasing no less than 18 new models and concepts cars, and the underlying theme for the show will be its new green initiative.

One of the concepts it has planned will be a 'radical' proposal for a large luxury car labelled the F700. Though this doesn't sound very green, the concept will feature Mercedes' new 1.8L turbocharged DiesOtto engine. The tiny motor is said to deliver an amazing 238hp and 295ft-lb. of torque, while returning fuel consumption of around 39 mpg in a large S-class saloon.

Other cars planned for the show include the new C-Class estate, more Bluetec diesel cars and the automaker's new electric hybrid range.

[Source: 4Car]

 

[via] Autoblog

So good it hurts (the eyes): Gemballa GT2 650 EVO R

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We've said it before, and we'll say it again: messing with perfection is a risky business. And when it comes to motoring bliss, the Porsche 911 sits atop a heap of high-dollar, high-power machinery. However, Gemballa has proven over the years to respect Stuttgart's rear-engine masterpiece, but by the looks of things, they're skating on the razor's edge of acceptability.

The Avalanche GT2 650 EVO R (catchy, ain't it?) comes in two flavors: one packing 650 hp and a claimed run to 60 in 3.3 seconds, while the other boosts output to 750 hp and will eclipse the double century mark by eight miles-per-hour.

While prodigious power output is all well and good, what concerns us more is the styling direction the German tuning haus took with this orange monstrosity. The wing is one thing, but the blistered fenders, air intakes and mid-mounted dual exhausts leave us as cold as the setting for the photo shoot. And while Porsche's tiptronic tranny is one of the best we've sampled, we're a bit perplexed as to how it will handle all those extra ponies.

[Source: Pistonheads]

 

[via] Autoblog

Third-row seats new target for thieves

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SUV owners love the flexibility that their removable or stowable third-row seats afford them, and thieves have taken note. A growing number of third-row seats are being stolen and sold at swap meets, and the removable seats on the Chevy Tahoe are one of the main targets. Chevy designers made the seats easy to install and remove, with only two bolts keeping the additional seating attached to the vehicle. Police officials in Long Beach, CA told Inside Line that the problem is so bad right now, crooks are "breaking into parked SUVs and grabbing third-row seats in the middle of the day". Police are offering to engrave metal under the the seats in several spots to help identify the stolen goods.

[Source: Inside Line]

 

[via] Autoblog

Chrysler lost $1,111 per vehicle in 2006

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For most managers, it makes sense that if you're losing money on every product you sell, then perhaps you're in the wrong business. Try telling that to the execs working for the Detroit 3, which on average lost a substantial $1,073 on every vehicle sold in North America last year. While GM and Ford can rely on significant sales in more profitable global markets, struggling Chrysler is much more severely affected by trends back home.

So it's no surprise that Chrysler fared the worst of the three, losing $1,111 on each car it sold in North America. GM didn't do too badly, losing "only" $146 per vehicle last year. By contrast, Japan's main automakers, Toyota, Honda, and Nissan, all made roughly $1,593 on every vehicle they sold.

This is the biggest problem facing Chrysler at the moment. Top of the agenda for its new CEO Robert Nardelli will be to cut back on labor costs. In the longer term, managers will have to look at improving efficiency and reducing the number of platforms currently used. The changes better come quick because Chrysler may not be around for long the way it's going.

[Source: Detroit Free Press]

 

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Ford lets you Sync for just $395

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Every now and then carmakers come out with gadgets that actually make life a little easier, but then charge the world for it. Not Ford, as its new Sync voice-activated in-car communications and entertainment system can be optioned at a relatively low $395, or you can get it completely free with any Lincoln product. All up, Sync will be available in 12 Ford, Lincoln and Mercury products this fall, and, it'll eventually spread to nearly all Blue Oval products within the next two years. Some high-spec Ford models such as the Ford Edge Limited or Ford Focus SES will also get Sync as standard.

For the $395 asking price, you get the ability to connect digital media players such as an iPod and Bluetooth cell phones to your car and control them with your voice or steering wheel mounted buttons. According to Ford's own research, up to 70% of new car buyers are looking for the ability to use such devices in their cars, and there's not much else out there that's as easy and convenient to use as the new Sync. Considering some luxury carmakers charge exorbitant rates for such technology or don't offer it at all, it's nice to see one of the domestics taking the lead and making it affordable for the average consumer.

[Source: Ford]

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First Drive of 2008 Honda S2000 CR pops up

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Want this as your desktop wallpaper? Click above for high-res images

Honda recently invited select members of the automotive media to Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course to sample the track prowess of its new 2008 Honda S2000 Club Racer. We'll just assume our evite got lost in the ether. Though driving impressions were supposed to be embargoed until 8/15, someone jumped the gun. It wasn't Inside Line, but we refer you to their account of the car since it's the only one we can find now, and we just want to know what the S2000 CR is like.

According to IL, the S2000 CR is "the most tightly focused, single-minded performance roadster on the market. Even a Lotus Elise has air-conditioning." That last charge against the S2000 CR is really the crux of the matter, as Honda has stripped the S2000 here of all manner of civility. No soft-top, no radio, no A/C. In their place goes a curb-scraping front chin spoiler and a rear wing that will blot out the sun.

[Source: Inside Line]

Continue reading First Drive of 2008 Honda S2000 CR pops up

 

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Buick ties Lexus for top spot in JD Power 2007 Vehicle Dependability Study

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You would expect Lexus to be No. 1 in vehicle dependability, just like it has been in J.D. Power's Vehicle Dependability Study for the past 11 years. It is No. 1 again for 2007, but for the first time, Lexus has tied with another automaker for the top spot, and you'll never guess who it is - Buick.

Three-year old (2004) Lexus and Buick vehicles each scored 145 problems per 100 vehicles, the lowest scores of all automakers in the study. The results kind of make you wonder when we're going to cut our own domestic automakers some slack and begin admitting they're turning things around, building better, longer-lasting vehicles. Also consider that Cadillac (162) took the third spot, and Mercury (168) the fourth. Honda (169), meanwhile, earned the fifth spot.

Though Buick ranked highest among nameplates, none of its vehicles managed to earn the highest ranking in their respective segments. (Whoops, one did. The Buick Century was highest ranked Midsize Car.) Lexus vehicles, however, led five categories, the most for any nameplate. Its parent company, Toyota, also added an additional four vehicles that led their segment, while Ford, Honda and... what?... Oldsmobile each had two vehicles that led their segments. Remember, this study focuses on 2004 model year vehicles, which means Oldsmobile was still operating when these cars were built. The Bravada and Silhouette each led their segments in dependability, which likely means those workers building Oldsmobiles near the end took pride in their work.

Feel free to check out all the rankings as posted by J.D. Power in our gallery below.

[Source: J.D. Power]

 

[via] Autoblog

General Motors accelerates battery development with A123 Systems

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Bob Lutz and A123 CEO Dave Vieau

This morning at the Management Briefing Seminars in Traverse City, MI, General Motors Vice-Chairman Bob Lutz announced that they were promoting battery supplier A123 Systems from Tier 2 to Tier 1 supplier status. That means that A123 will effectively no longer just be a sub-contractor to other companies that do battery pack integration.

GM will now work directly with A123 systems on the development of their nano-phosphate lithium-ion battery chemistry for use in motor vehicles. A123 will still work with companies like Cobasys and Continental on pack integration for applications like the plug-in Saturn Vue hybrid and the Chevy Volt, which Lutz said he expects to be ready for sale by 2010. Check out the live blog post at AutoblogGreen as well as the announcement.

 

[via] Autoblog

BBC America to air full Top Gear episodes for seaon 8

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Final Gear is reporting that the BBC America will start airing full episodes of the 8th season of Top Gear later this month. No more of those watered down 30-minute "specials" we saw on BBC World. No more downloading overseas episodes from the net. No more American Top Gear with no recognizable connection to the real deal. Just the same one-hour episodes they get in the UK, piped straight into our homes via BBCA. Jeremy Clarkson, Richard Hammond, and James May engaging in stunts and challenges, celebrity guests trying their hand at lapping in identical, moderately priced vehicles, and The Stig wringing the most from the latest crop of hot hatches to supercars -- it's all there. The new episodes will start airing August 20th at 8PM ET. We can't wait.

Jay, thanks for the tip.

[Source: Final Gear]

 

[via] Autoblog

Porsche prices Limited Edition Boxster from $49,990, available in September

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click image above for pair of high-res pics

The 2008 Porsche Limited Edition Boxster that was first shown privately at the New York Auto Show last April will go on sale this September with a base price of $49,990 (Original MSRP $45,800). The higher-performance Limited Edition Boxster S, meanwhile, will start at $59,990 (Original MSRP $55,700).

Dipped in the same eye-popping orange paint as the 911 GT3 RS, the Limited Edition Boxsters also feature the SportDesign package that adds front spoiler lips, a new automatically extending rear spoiler, and slightly altered rear trim to allow for an integrated diffuser. Add to that standard 18-inch black alloy wheels (19-inch for the Boxster S) and additional black trim pieces on the exterior, and you've got a fairly stunning exterior package that overshadows a garden variety Porsche Boxster with ease.

Black carries over to the interior where it's applied to most surfaces including the seats, carpet, dash and door panels. The interior is also trimmed with Alcantara and additional pieces that match the exterior's orange body color. And while the motors in both cars were left alone, each gets a new sport exhaust system that may liberate some extra power by offering less restriction.

The 2008 Porsche Limited Edition Boxster and Boxster S officially go on sale September 28th, and since Porsche is only building 500 examples, you may want to get your deposit in now.

[Source: Porsche]

Continue reading Porsche prices Limited Edition Boxster from $49,990, available in September

 

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Autoblog Podcast #73

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We're back this week for episode #73 of the Autoblog Podcast. It was a tough fight against technical difficulties to get this week's 'cast recorded, so it clocks in at an abbreviated 32 minutes. That short duration is packed with goodness, though. First, we analyze Chrysler's new CEO, Robert Nardelli. Big Bob left Home Depot as something of a pariah, and we wonder out loud how much of that reputation is earned, and if it's being ported to Chrsyler, LLC. For those of you still with us after we kick the ball around about what will ultimately be perpetrated upon Chrysler by Cerberus, we move on to the best.Trailblazer.evar. Be as hostile as you want to the Saab 9-7x Aero, but the reality is that the most powerful Saab in history is a hell of a nice truck, even better than the Trailblazer SS, upon which its based.

Read on for more.

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Continue reading Autoblog Podcast #73

 

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Ferrari adds XM Radio, NavTraffic to 612 Scaglietti

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xm in ferrariThe satellite radio option is about as common in new cars as the near-omnipresent AUX jack for portable music devices. You can argue that the presence of the latter essentially eliminates the need for the former, but some people like being able to tune in to a radio station where there's the outside chance of hearing songs they may not necessarily own yet. Most luxury marques, from Audi to Rolls-Royce, already have the satellite base covered. So it was a bit of a surprise to learn that Ferrari hadn't gotten into the game. That's over though, as Modena has selected XM as its extra-terrestrial radio provider of choice. The first car to get it is the 612 Scaglietti, which is fine and all, but we can't figure out why anyone would want yet another audio source to compete with the sweet music made by the car's V12. At least the NavTraffic feature can help keep the Ferrari on roads whose conditions allow it to maintain a proper pace.

[Source: XM Radio]

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Spy Shots: BMW 1-series cabrio

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Just a prototype, but here's another pic of the new BMW 1-Series Cab that was caught undergoing testing in Germany. While we expect to see the final form at the Frankfurt Motor Show next month, we still enjoy getting glimpses of this littlest ultimate driving machine whenever possible.

This particular photo, which you can see in full size over at MotorAuthority, shows the 1-Series sporting a fabric top. And even though this is still a prototype, it looks like the rear end has been modified, ostensibly to accommodate the convertible mechanism.

The cabrio should get the same range of engines as the coupe, starting with the 177-hp, 2.0-liter turbodiesel and going all the way up to the 306-hp, twin-turbocharged, 3.0-liter straight-six in the top-of-the-line 135ci, at least overseas. The U.S. will likely get the 125ci and 135ci, with an M1 still just a rumor at this point.

[Source: MotorAuthority]

 

[via] Autoblog

Mulally not proposing a gas tax - but he's not against it

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The hallmark of the environmental debate is that there are so many important players on so many different sides. Eminent scientists and intellectuals have taken every side of the debate, challenging their eminent colleagues. When it comes to the two most involved and highly charged players, the automakers and politicians, things get even more curious. On the same day that Bush opposed a gas tax to give states more money to repair bridges, Alan Mulally said he supports the idea of a gas tax to encourage customers to buy more fuel efficient vehicles.

Mulally believes Congress' CAFE standards represent failed policy and has hurt automakers. Regulating fuel efficiency has, in his opinion, only lead to consumers buying more cars and driving more. While making sure to stress that he and Ford are all in favor of fuel efficient vehicles and environmental health, he wants some of the onus put back on consumers. He said, "I just think it's so important that we all join in this debate and we really decide what we want to do about energy security and global warming. A piece of that could be a tax."

[Source: Detroit News]

Continue reading Mulally not proposing a gas tax - but he's not against it

 

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VIDEO: Huey Lewis! Michael J. Fox! Integra?

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Here it is folks, the ethos of at least the second half of the 1980s, neatly encapsulated in 30 seconds. This 1989 home-market commercial launching the DOHC VTEC engine in the Honda Integra plays up the American appeal baked into the car. Badged as an Acura here in the States, the Integra was cementing the reputation of Honda's upmarket rides in a market that still viewed Honda as a maker of economical, inexpensive cars. The bludgeon-y juxtaposition of an Integra zipping around and Alex P. Keaton Michael J. Fox doing backflips tells you how elated the Integra is supposed to make you feel, but this commercial just makes us feel old. From the opening chord stabs on the Yamaha DX7 to the Huey Lewis soundtrack, this little spot brings 1989 flooding back with a veangance. Many a sunny summer afternoon was whiled away cruising the bike lane with a mongrel Diamondback Viper picked from the trash and resurrected. Integras were starting to get noticed as cars enthusiasts could love, and being junior enthusiasts, we took notice when one motored by. They look especially good when sunset is near, on a winding road dappled with golden sunlight. Ahh, memories - white or red are particulary striking, too. What's nice to see is that MJF could handle something other than a DeLorean, but we still want to know, "hey kid, what's with the life preserver?"

Check the video after the jump.

[Source: Winding Road]

Continue reading VIDEO: Huey Lewis! Michael J. Fox! Integra?

 

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Volvo aims for BMW

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As long as BMW doesn't own Volvo, then the Swede is allowed to target the roundel's cars as competitors. Autocar reports that Volvo is shaking up the lowest two rungs on its sedan line to put more space between them, and to better compete with the 3 Series.

The smallest sedan, the S40, will be be made over from a 4-door sedan into a 5-door hatchback along the lines of the A3 and BMW 1-series. The very name S40 might also be sacrificed, changed instead to V40. The S60, instead of disappearing entirely, will get a longer wheelbase, a better interior, shared tech from the S80 and Mondeo, and a chassis that does a better job at challenging 3 Series dynamics. Part of that redesign, if the renderings are accurate, will be a flared three-section front bumper that is the new hotness in car design. Regarding the car's sporting aspirations, engineers are said to be battling accountants for funds to design a more sporting chassis. Engines for the S60 will include a 2-liter and 2.2-liter 4-cylinder diesels, the D5 5-cylinder diesels, as well as a 2-liter gas turbo.

It is claimed also that the Volvo logo will also be altered, losing the diagonal bar that spans the grill. Only the circle and arrow -- a stylization of the chemical symbol for iron -- will remain. All of these changes are slated to appear in 2009-10.

[Source: Autocar]

 

[via] Autoblog

Saleen names Paul Wilbur new President & CEO

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Hancock Park Associates, the parent company of Saleen, recently wrapped up its purchase of American Specialty Cars Incorporated (ASC), the specialty roof and body maker based in Southgate, Michigan. As part of the deal, Hancock also got Paul Wilbur, the current President and CEO of ASC.

Respecting his leadership in the few years he has been at the helm of ASC, they just announced that he will take over the same duties at Saleen, as well. There appear to be some significant synergies between these two companies, so it looks like a good move. They are both niche vehicle manufacturers, but in slightly different areas.

Together they can now offer OEMs a fuller range of custom systems and services. For now, ASC and Saleen will remain separate entities, although it's easy to foresee a time in the not-too-distant future where the operations can be streamlined. They are already working together on the 2008 Saleens, Ford Harley-Davidson F-150s, and painting all 2008 Dodge Vipers. The next generation special edition Mustangs and F-150s are also on the drawing boards for the next two years.

There's a full press release after the jump.

[Source: Saleen]

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Chrysler announces "ultimate door prize" vehicle giveaway

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To help celebrate its new era of Cerberus stewardship, Chrysler has announced a giveaway. While we were thrilled to give away a Nitro during our relaunch, Chrysler will be giving away 15 different vehicles. The promotion is being referred to as "the ultimate door prize." Sadly, there is no Viper on the list. You'll be able to get the full details and learn how to enter at participating U.S. Dodge, Chrysler, and Jeep dealers on August 15, which Chrysler has dubbed "The New Chrysler Premiere Event" at its dealerships.

Vehicles on the list of prizes include the Chrysler Aspen, Crossfire, 300C and Pacifica; Dodge Caliber, Charger, Dakota Crew Cab, Durango, Magnum, Nitro and Ram Mega Cab; and Jeep Commander, Compass, Grand Cherokee and Liberty. You can click the "Read" link to visit Chrysler LLC's new website and find a participating dealer near you.

[Source: Inside Line]

 

[via] Autoblog