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.