VW gets going with the new up! city car

Volkswagen has released the first information and photos of the new up! city car (enough with the lower case letters and punctuation). Think bigger than a smart, but about the same size as a Toyota (Scion in the US) iQ and base Mini. In Europe the up! will get two three-cylinder, 1.0-liter engines (gas and diesel) that promise excellent economy. The up! has some innovative thinking like the "boxes" that will be available like the kid's box that comes with a bag for the many small items that are essential with small children, a cuddle toy, and a lunch box for snacks. The up! will come in three flavors: up!, move up! and high up! (top-of-the-line). One interesting option is the City Emergency Braking system that uses lasers to monitor cars in front of you that will stop your up! if you fail to hit the brakes in time. Usually this option is not available to cars in this class. An infotainment system (PID - Portable Information Device) will also be available. The interior will come in a variety of colors and trims depending on the up! level you select. The up! will be available in Germany in the fourth quarter with US deliveries sometime in 2012. Expect to see the up! at the LA or Detroit auto shows. An electric version is expected in 2013. Where is the people-mover version (the van) that was shown in LA? More to come...

Source: Volkswagen - Press release and pics (4) after the jump.

2013 Lexus GS 350 revealed

This folks is the all-new 2013 Lexus GS 350 that was shown in concept form at the Shanghai and New York Auto Shows (see post links on sidebar). In fact I used the clipped front end shot for the sidebar links pic. To bad Lexus watered the design down. While the 2013 GS is a step up, it will look dated very quickly. Lexus (and Toyota for that matter) designers often scale back their designs and make them ultimately look kinda bland and extremely conservative (maybe it's the execs that give the final okay that're the problem). They tend to over-design details (look at the weird angles on the rear three-quarter shot below) but miss making a statement with the basic design. For example, the side view (pic after jump) breaks no new ground and the strange chrome detail after the window on the C-pillar may look odd with dark colors. Don't get me wrong, this new Lexus may be just your cup of tea and that's okay, especially since Lexus does luxury very well. The only model announced so far is the GS 350 with the 3.5-liter V6 (306 hp) and six-speed auto that will get you to sixty in under six seconds. Rear-wheel drive is standard and all-wheel drive is available. Expect the typical Lexus leathers and woods, not to mention options like the Mark Levinson Premium 7.1 surround audio system and a navigation system that comes with a 12.3 inch split screen, high-res display and more. Expect a possible hybrid model. The 2013 GS 350 will be available in early 2012. Lots of info is available in the press release after the jump with more to come...

Source: Lexus - Press release after the jump. Video post.

Cadillac Ciel concept debuts in Pebble Beach

Cadillac's Ciel Concept is interesting for many reasons. They introduced the car at Peeble Beach to a "high-brow," target crowd. The Ciel is a four-door convertible flagship model and the styling variates from Cadillac's hewn-from-a-block (of soap?) styling. The square-jawed front visage hides the headlights next to the front clip's chrome accents. The rounded sides add a muscular look to the otherwise unadorned sides and the 22-inch wheels don't hurt either. The rear view (see pic after the jump) shows a lot of rear overhang when compared to most of today's cars, but makes the car look sleek. Did I mention that it's a pillar-less four-door convertible? With front-opening rear "suicide" doors? And that it's big (the wheelbase is a foot longer than a CTS sedan)? The car is fitted with some of the best Caddy has to offer like a 3.6-liter direct-injected V6 mated to a lithium-ion hybrid system that produces 425 hp and 430 lb./ft. of torque. Real wood and the finest leathers adorn the interior that is set-up for four with a floating console to separate the riders. The Cabernet paint flows over the body panels. The real news is that the Ciel (sky in French) foreshadows a possible flagship model and that the styling shows Cadillac's new styling direction (although they call it an evolution). We shall see. This week Caddy announced (again) the production of the Converj Coupe that uses the Volt drivetrain, so I'm a little wary about any concept's production possibilities, but the Ciel could give you a glimpse of Cadillac's new flagship sedan.

Source: Cadillac - Press release, specs, pics (2), and video after the jump.

Fiat 500C by Gucci coming to a dealer near you - Update

Italians love Italian things (nothing wrong with that) and that includes their cars and design houses. Once again, Fiat has collaborated with Design House Gucci for a special-edition 500C cabriolet, the (wait for it) 500C Gucci. The 500CG will be available in white and black with a black soft-top that has the Gucci stripe running down the center. The interior gets a similar treatment with Gucci stripes on seatbelts and down the center of the seats. It's actually not bad looking and not too over the top. Beverly Hills High School look out. The 500CG gets special retro-style, 16-inch wheels and plenty of standard equipment like seven airbags, automatic climate control, special badging, and more all for 20,000 euros or about $28,300 in today's bucks. The 500C Gucci will be available worldwide and ordering will begin this month (3,000 pre-orders have been taken at www.500bygucci.com). Those interested will appreciate the pic after the jump with the models holding various Gucci bags and wearing Gucci eyeglasses, etc. Update - The Gucci 500 will hit the US in October.

Source: Press release and pics (3) after the jump.

2012 Infiniti FX shown

The Infiniti FX crossover has been freshened for 2012  with a revised interior and front fascia that borrows design cues from Infiniti's Essence Concept. The FX is a fairly large crossover that has always been the looker in Infiniti's line-up with its rounded greenhouse and muscular body. The grille however, started to become a problem with the strange (to these eyes) bowed shaped that just seemed off. The new approach seems to be an improvement. The FX is a full-on luxury/performance ute with a 303-hp V6 as standard (FX35) up to an optional 390-hp V8 (FX50) all paired with seven-speed automatics. Rear-wheel drive is standard with all-wheel drive available. All the good stuff can be had in various groups such as the Premium, Deluxe Touring, Technology, and Sport Packages. Bose premium sound is around as are the Infiniti Intelligent Key, Intelligent Cruise Control (Full-Speed Range), Around View® Monitor system, and more. Prices have changed a little for 2012 with the FX35 (rwd) starting at $43,450 (plus taxes, licnese, fees, options, destination) running up to the FX50 (awd) starting at $59,350+. For 2012, every FX also comes with the Infinitii's complimentary Personal Assistant benefit, which provides new Infiniti owners with unlimited 24-hour access to a live team of professional assistants and is included in the price for the first four years. Kind of a consierge service through your mobile phone. Also for 2012, Infiniti is offering a special FX35 Limited Edition AWD (only 550 will be built) that comes in a unique Iridium Blue (below) with 21-inch wheels and lots more for $51,550+. If the Limited Edition sounds like your thing, get to your dealer fast (with delivery in October). For more info and a couple of pics, check out the press release after the jump.

Source: Infiniti - Press release after the jump.

New EcoBoost Edge EPA-certified at 30 mpg

Ford's EcoBoost engines have made a big impact in the marketplace replacing larger engines with smaller high-tech ones yet returning high mpg numbers relative to a vehicle's size. Such is the case with the new mid-size Edge crossover's new EcoBoost 2.0-liter. The 2.0-liter turbocharged and direct-injected four-cylinder engine creates 240 hp and 270 lb./ft. of torque and delivers 30 mpg/highway (EPA-certified) and 21 mpg/city ratings with a six-speed automatic. The Edge gets low-friction lubricants and active grille shutters to further enhance economy. These numbers are close to the smaller Escape Hybrid's 34/city and 31/highway ratings. This new Edge engine should deliver acceleration numbers on par with other automaker's V6 offerings but with significantly better mileage. Check with your dealer for availability info.

Source: Press release after the jump.

Mazda CX-5 crossover to debut in Frankfurt

Mazda will debut the new CX-5 crossover at the Frankfurt Motor Show next month. The CX-5 will be the first production model to use Mazda's new KODO (Soul of Motion) design language. I wish they'd spend more time on the actual design than the do coming up with new design language names. As with many Japanese vehicles, the design in often in the details and this first look shows an interesting character line that accentuates the front wheel arches, but I'm not sure about the swoosh indentation in the door below it. We'll have to see this one in person probably at the LA show in November. Mazda will also show more of its SkyActiv tech as well as a refreshed Mazda3. More to come...

Source: Mazda - Press release after the jump.

Mini UK gets new Soho edition

Few companies do special editions as well as Mini and this is the latest, the mini Soho. The Mini Soho edition is based on a Cooper or Cooper D Hatchback or Convertible and adds exclusive ‘White Silver’ metallic paint (which is not available on any other current MINI Hatch or Convertible model), black roof and exterior accents, 17-inch Black Star Bullet alloy wheels, Bi-Xenon headlights with black interior reflectors and white indicators on the outside. Inside the Soho has an Anthracite headliner, a 3-Spoke sport leather steering wheel, and ‘Piano Black’ interior surfaces.Of course as with any Mini, you can add to this list with the available options. This is a good-looking treatment and it's too bad that it probably won't make it across the pond, just like the diesel engine (which gets over 70 mpg on the Imperial combined cycle). I really like the metallic white paint (pics are fairly high-res).

Source: Mini UK - Press release after the jump.

Just For Fun: 2012 Jeep Grand Cherokee SRT8 running footage

Maybe Jeep should call their performance Jeep ORT8 (Off-road Racing Track, 8 cylinders) and follow Ford with an extremely capable off-roader like the Raptor F-150 and leave the hi-per wagon duty to a rumored new Dodge Magnum SRT8.

Source: Jeep - Previous post.

Top Ten Posts as of 7-31

As you can see, I've added five additional posts to this week's post countdown. This will allow some new posts to get a little visibility, since the Top Five are pretty much the same as previous weeks.
This week's Top Ten:
  1. 2012 ZL1 reveals Chevy performance Camaro-style,
  2. BMW 328 Hommage recalls early sports car,
  3. Jeep celebrates 70th Anniversary with special editions,
  4. 2012 Honda Civic shown,
  5. Top Five Posts as of 7-24,
  6. ACWWG: Renault Wind Gordini  (above),
  7. Nissan Altima, Ford Transit Connect and Taurus approved for NYC taxi duty,
  8. BMW i3 and i8 Concepts preview production models (above right),
  9. Aveo out, Sonic in at Chevrolet,
  10. ACWWG: 2012 Citroen DS4.
Recent posts at sister site
uautoknow.net GenNews.

Summer fun with the BMW Beach Collection (right),

Toyota announces registration site for potential plug-in Prius buyers,

Audi A1 e-tron wins EV rally,

Th!nk emerges from bankruptcy with new owner and name.

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BMW i3 and i8 Concepts preview production models

BMW's i Group has released "concept" versions of the upcoming i3 (formerly known as the MegaCity vehicle) and the i8 (formerly known as the Vision concept) to an awaiting world. The i3 sedan is an EV or electric vehicle that has an optional range extender option called REx. REx is a combustion engine that is used solely as a generator to provide extended range and to reduce EV anxiety. The i8 is a plug-in hybrid supercar that uses lightweight construction (and materials) and plug-in technology for excellent performance and incredible (for a supercar) mileage. The i8 has a high-output three-cylinder engine that makes over 200 hp that when combined with the hybrid system provides a 0-60 run in under five seconds, yet returns between 50 - 90 mpg on the Imperial cycle. The i-Series cars have unique styling with an emphasis on outward visibility and "layered" interior spaces. We shall see what makes it to the streets when the official production vehicles are unveiled (the BMW i3 in 2013 and the BMW i8 in 2014). Check out the very extensive press release and pics (with interior shots) after the jump as well as the video post.

Source: BMW i Group - Press releases (one over 50 pages) and pics (5) after the jump. Video post.

Just For Fun: Innovative BMW i3 and i8 Concept video

Video of concept versions of BMW's upcoming i3 EV sedan and i8 plug-in hybrid supercar. (Make sure to up the resolution to at least 480p.)

Source: BMW i Group

Aston Martin confirms V12 Zagato limited production

Aston Martin produces some of the most beautiful high-performance cars in the world today and the V12 Zagato joins that list of fine automobiles. Design house Zagato has restyled cars from various manufacturers including several Astons. Zagato's designs and concepts can be controversial, but it helps when they start with something as incredible as the V12 Vantage. The AM V12 Zagato wears the Design houses' signature twin-bubble roof. It will be interesting to see how much the production car will change from the concept (shown). For example, I don't think the front and rear fascia would pass the bumper crash test in the US as is. But the good news is, for those with the appropriate bank account, that the AM V12 Zagato will go into limited-production in 2012. Up to 150 examples will be built for the princely sum of $540,000 in today's dollars (£330,000 GBP) plus taxes, license, fees, etc. For your half a mil, you get the 510-hp 6.0-liter V12, six-speed mid-mounted auto-manual, bonded aluminum body, extensive use of lightweight materials, and one-of-a-kind styling. The Aston Martin V12 Zagato will be built at Aston Martin’s global headquarters at Gaydon, Warwickshire England. Orders are being accepted now.

Source: Aston Martin - Press release, specs, and pics (2) after the jump.

ACWWG: Renault Wind Gordini

The Renault Wind is a unique vehicle, sort of a spiritual successor to the Honda Del Sol. The Wind features a unique drop hardtop that turns the sporty coupe into a roadster (the Del Sol had a similar top that wasn't offered in the US due to litigation concerns, huh?). This model is the top-of-the-Wind line, the performance-oriented Gordini and the model shown is the unique Gordini "French Touch." As the top-of-the-line, the Wind Gordini gets all of the good stuff like automatic climate control,
special audio with CD and MP3 playback, Bluetooth®, black translucent instrument cowl, trip computer, automatic headlight and windscreen wiper activation, cruise control, electronic stability control ESC, heated seats, foglamps, and more. Options include 17’’ blue diamond wheels (shown), metallic paint, wind screen and more. The "French Touch" model adds Metallic Malta Blue bodywork with two white stripes; Glacier White mirror housings, grille trim, and rear power bump; glossy black roof; special “Gordini” badges; special black/blue leather interior with white top-stitching and Gordini accents and yes, more. Unfortunately, this is another one that goes into the Another Car We Won't Get files. The Del Sol did good things for Honda, so why not a Nissan version for the US (remember Renault and Nissan have a corporate alliance). After all, nobody does funky and unique (a good thing) better than Nissan. Prices start in Europe at just under $20,000. Check out the press releases and the top slideshow at the end of the second release.

Source: Renault - Press releases (2), top slideshow, and pics (3) after the jump.

Ford expands Explorer line-up with high mileage EcoBoost option

To say that Ford's redesigned Explorer is a sales success is an understatement. The all-new Explorer has doubled its sales and some dealers can't keep the popular SUV/crossover in stock. This new EcoBoost economy option could make things even worse. While many enthusiasts with families have hoped for the 3.5-liter V6 EcoBoost (350 hp) and all-wheel drive as a performance option, this ain't it. This is Ford's new 2.0-liter EcoBoost four that makes 240 hp and 270 lb./ft. of torque yet delivers 28 highway mpg. That number beats highway mileage ratings of smaller vehicles like the Honda Pilot and the Toyota Highlander. If the EcoBoost four option is offered in line with Ford's F-150 offerings, the new engine will be at the top of the Explorer line-up. We shall see. More info (like pricing) will be available closer to the new drivetrain's intro. With the move to smaller engines across all models and makes, expect other crossover manufacturers to play catch up with the new Explorer, fast.

Source: Ford - Press release and pics (4) after the jump.

Updated 2012 Cadillac SRX debuts in August

The Cadillac SRX was redesigned for 2010 and the folks at Caddy aren't resting on their laurels. For 2012 the SRX got a drivetrain transplant, the 3.6-liter, 308 hp V6 and six-speed automatic from the Camaro. Even with the bump in horses, the SRX maintains current levels of fuel economy due to the more efficient engine with its driver-selectable ECO mode. Also available for 2012 is Bluetooth connectivity, new paint choices, new 20-inch wheels, and an ebony interior option with contrasting stitching. SRX also features HID headlamps with Adaptive Forward Lighting, Bose 5.1 surround sound with navigation, a full-color LCD Driver Info Center, a rear-view camera system, and much more. GM's OnStar is standard and features myCadillac and OnStar RemoteLink mobile apps, and Stolen Vehicle Assistance. All-wheels drive and other options are available. Cadillac's SRX is one of the best-looking crossovers available today (my current fav) and this new engine (most powerful in its class) should make more folks head to their Caddy dealership. The 2012 SRX will hit dealers in August with a starting price of $35,185 (plus taxes, license, fees, options, and $875 destination).

Source: Press release and pics (2) after the jump.

2012 Chrysler 300 SRT8 set to hit the streets running... fast

Some worried that the new 300 had lost its edge when the new 2011 model debuted with its crisp lines intact, but with a touch of elegance thrown in. Not to worry. The 300 is more refined but, especially with the new SRT8, out performs the previous 300 in every way. Let's look at the 300 SRT8's drivetrain stats. Let's start with the new 6.4-liter Hemi V8 that makes 470 hp and 470 lb./ft. of torque that pushes the the 300 SRT8 to 60 from a standstill in the high four-second range to a top speed of 175 mph. This is not Granddad's Chrysler sedan. How about Brembo brakes for stopping power. Add an adjustable adaptive damping suspension for optimal control and 20-inch alloy wheels and the standard features list goes on and on. Inside leather is standard as is the EVIC (Electronic Vehicle information Center), Chrysler's UConnect infotainment system, carbon-fiber accents, 8.4-inch full color display, and heated and cooled SRT seats. Options include a Black Chrome exterior package (including wheels) to further enhance the 300 SRT8's body kit, and unique front and rear fascia. A full leather interior (dash, door panels, console) and a 19-speaker, 900-watt, Harmon Kardon premium audio system with GreenEdge technology are among the interior options. In other words, this is the top 300 in performance, standard features, and available options. Oh yea, and price. With a 300C in the mid 40s with all the options, the SRT8 model should crack $50,000 with ease with a heavy hand on the options checklist. There may be other cars that compete with the 300 SRT8 in terms of price, few have the swagger and abilities of Chrysler's full-size performance sedan.

Source: Chrysler - Extensive press release after the jump. Video post.

New 2012 Honda CR-V breaks cover in concept form

Looking like a miniature Crosstour, Honda unveiled the 2012 CR-V Concept which previews the styling of the new CR-V that will go into production by the end of this year. The CR-V Concept is a looker compared to the current model which is in its fifth year of this model cycle (read getting long in the tooth). Honda has released Concepts of production models before like the CR-Z Concept. Unfortunately, by the time that car reached production the styling was very watered down and less cohesive. Let's hope that doesn't happen to this new CR-V. Right off, lose the big wheels, the darkened glass and headlights, the lower body flare accents (unfortunately) and you should be close to the real deal. Let's hope Honda gives the CR-V updated powertrains with the company's six-speed auto, etc. A hybrid CR-V maybe? They've got the drivetrain in the Civic, which the CR-V shares some components with (or did). After all the Escape could use some competition and when the new Escape debuts later this year (or early next year), there is no word whether the hybrid model will continue. Could be an opening Honda.

Source: Honda - Press release after the jump.

Top Five Posts as of 7-24

Due in part, I think, by the gap in posting, this week's Top Five looks a lot like last week's. As a reminder, the post numbers are collected by page view. In other words you, the reader, hit the read more button to check out the press releases, pics, specs, and other good stuff posted after the page break. That's the only way the numbers can be tabulated. So here we go...

The most popular post of the week is the 2012 ZL1 reveals Chevy performance Camaro-style (above) entry.

The number two spot belongs to the BMW 328 Hommage recalls early sports car posting.

The 2012 Honda Civic shown post is still on the list this week at number 3.

Number four is 2012 Nissan Leaf gets new (standard) features and pricing.

Rounding out the Top Five is the Aveo out, Sonic in at Chevrolet (right) post.

Don't forget to check out these recent posts at sister site

uautoknow.net GenNews.

Chevrolet confirms diesel-powered Cruze for 2013 .

New Volkswagen Beetle production begins.

2013 Chevy Malibu gets help from Oscar the ergobot (video, pic right).

Ford using Wi-Fi to download Sync into (new) vehicles (2 videos).

Don't forget to visit the uautoknownet Channel at YouTube.

Just For Fun: 2012 Chrysler 300 SRT8

Source: Chrysler

Nissan Altima, Ford Transit Connect and Taurus approved for NYC taxi duty

Some of you may remember that the New York City Taxi and Limousine Commission held a competition to select the "Taxi of Tomorrow" and Nissan's NV200 (below) was selected. Now comes word that Nissan's Altima sedan (2012 sedan shown right) and Ford's Transit Connect van (above) and Taurus sedan have also been approved for livery duty in the "Big Apple." What gives, you ask? Well the NV200 will hit New York streets in 2013 and be the exclusive taxi choice for ten years. In the interim, the Altima (hybrid and gas-powered), TC, and Taurus may be used to replace the city's dead Crown Vics (since they are no longer in production). This means that by 2013 you'll have bright yellow Crown Victorias, Tauruses, Altimas, Escapes, Transit Connects, NV200s and old Honda Odysseys (are any of these still running?) to dodge when walking NYC streets.

Source: Ford, Nissan - Press releases after the jump.