Amazing BMW Zagato Coupé debuts

BMW is debuting its latest piece of I-wish-it-was-mine rolling art at the Concorso d’Eleganza Villa d’Este, the BMW Zagato Coupé. The Concorso d’Eleganza Villa d’Este is a gathering of the auto industry’s leading coachbuilders who use the event to display their latest and greatest for the public. Some models are concepts only, while others are available for purchase as limited editions (or might be if interest is good like last year's Aston Martin V12 Zagato). While the BMW Zagato Coupé is listed as a concept, the car looks production ready. The Zagato Coupé looks similar to BMW's current Z4 hardtop convertible (remember those?) and would certainly make a nice update to the current model. Maybe offer a coupe and convertible this time BMW? Anyway, the Zagato Coupé is a beautiful, lust-after automobile that features muscular haunches, a Kamm-effect tail, and enough BMW style to let you know that this coupe hails from Bavaria but with a touch of Italian flair. The car has numerous Zagato design elements like the coupe roofline and the twin roof bulges, that go hand in hand with Zagato's attention to detail. Click on the pics to see what I mean. Even the grille is a sea of floating Zs (pic after the jump). Imagine the Zagato Coupé with BMW's new 2.0-liter Turbo Four (bumped up to 270 hp or so) with a six-speed manual or BMW's smooth eight-speed automatic (for those that don't want to row, just go) mated to a nimble Z4-like chassis and you'd have an efficient, sporty, and fast two-seater. I don't know about you, but I like what I see...a lot. More info, pics, and a short video are available after the jump. Now if BMW would just produce it and I could win the lottery...

Source: BMW - Extensive press release, video, and pics (6) after the jump.

Volkswagen shows first ever production GTI Convertible

Okay, don't get too excited. Volkswagen's convertible plans for the US are still influx so there is no word on whether we shall see the new Golf GTI Convertible on these shores. But we should. While the GTI Convertible is expensive at just over 31,000 Euros (about $40k in today's dollars), that price may be the major stumbling block. Just ask you VW dealer about the $40,000 EOS models sitting on the lot. But the new droptop takes all that is good from the GTI and adds it to the Convertible like good handling, performance (0 to 60 in about 7 seconds), and even more style. The new GTI Convertible adds the signature GTI bits like the 2.0-liter turbo four, six-speed manual transmission (or optional seven-speed dual-clutch automatic), red-frame grille, 17-inch "Denver" alloy wheels, body kit, the "Jacky" tartan fabric, and more. The soft top is elector-hydraulically actuated and can drop in nine seconds. Why is this coming up now you ask? Cause the GTI Convertible will hit dealer showrooms in Germany in June. If you like what you see and think it would look good in your driveway, let VW know. Who knows, it might be cheaper when it's built in Mexico (you know those pesky exchange rates). More info and a slideshow after the jump.

Source: Volkswagen - Press releases (2) and slideshow after the jump.

Top Five Posts for the week ending 5/20

Here are the Top Five posts for the previous week in descending order (1st to 5TH).

2012 ZL1 (Convertible above) reveals Chevy performance Camaro-style,

BMW debuts new 3-Series Touring,

2012 Honda Civic shown,

Audi Q3 compact CUV shown,

2013 Buick Enclave: Refreshed, renewed.

Recent posts from sister site - GenNews:
2013 Roush Stage 3 Mustang (right) to be auctioned for charity,

All-new 2013 Ford Escape tops eco charts for automatics,

Chevrolet preparing for Cruze Diesel,

Ford Focus Electric to pace NASCAR race - Update.

Have you seen these posts?

BMW 6-Series Gran Coupe debuts - video,

2013 Acura RDX debuts in Windy city

2013 Mustang Shelby GT500 V8 to produce 662 hp,

All new 2013 Nissan Altima steps out (above pic) - NYIAS .

Bentley Continental GTC V8 shown in New York

Bentley used the New York International Auto Show to debut the newest Continental model the GTC V8. Yes folks, the Continental GT (Coupe) and GTC (Convertible) can now be fitted with a more environmentally-friendly V8 versus the V12 that has been standard since the model's introduction. While the GTC V8 is down on power (500 hp for the V8 vs. 631 hp for the V12) it is by no means a slouch with the zero to sixty run taking 4.7 seconds with the eight-speed automatic. Official EPA numbers aren't available, but Bentley is expecting a forty percent increase in fuel efficiency. Oh, and it's cheaper too, although Bentley buyers don't usually concern themselves with money issues. The standard equipment list is quite long but includes things like, all-wheel drive, exclusive V8 grille design (I kinda like it better), Red-Enamel Bentley badges, unique front and rear fascia, figure-eight exhaust tips, Dark Fiddleback Eucalyptus interior accents, short center console, V8-specific 20-inch wheels (21s optional), four optional hood colors, and more with even more info to come. Stay tuned.

Source: Bentley - Press release after the jump.

VW shows Black Dynamic "intern edition" GTI at Worthersee

Volkswagen GTI aficionado get together annually at a festival held in Worthersee, Austria and VW (the company) uses the event to showcase custom "Dubs" that have given a peek at future products and options from the automaker. This year, nine of Volkswagen's interns put together the Black Dynamic GTI shown here as part of their vocational training and for, you know, fun. As the song sez, nice work if you can get it... Using their own "sporty driving" theme, the interns upped power to over 300 hp; lowered and re-tuned the suspension;  added matte wrap graphics; special wheels; a revised interior with black and red Alcantara and leather seating, accents and stitching; an 1,800 watt sound system with nine loudspeakers (under plexiglass in the rear compartment); Deep Black Metallic exterior paint; oversized exhaust system; eight-piston caliper brakes; and more. Giving you any ideas?

Source: Volkswagen - Press releases (2) after the jump.

Fiat Abarth 695 Maserati Edition debuts in Italy

Take a Fiat 500C that's been given the Abarth treatment, add even more horsepower (up to 180), add Maserati paint and leathers, add just about every option available, and you've got the Abarth 695 Maserati Edition. The Abarth 695 will be limited to just 499 examples for the world with most copies going to Europe, but US availability has not been ruled out. Besides the more powerful engine and dual-clutch competition gearbox (with paddle shifters - sort of an automatic clutch in this case), the Abarth 695 will come equipped with the "Bordeaux Pontevechio" paint from Maserati, Xenon headlamps, Titanium Grey soft top, automatic climate control, leather steering wheel with audio controls, "Blue & Me" TomTom 2 navigation system, leather seating and accents, carbon-fiber dash accents, special Maserati-inspired "Neptune" 17-inch wheels, dual-mode exhaust, JBL premium audio, a bag set by Tramontano, and more. No pricing was given but this special edition won't be inexpensive (think Mini by Rolls Royce). If the Claret-colored paint or the major boost to the scoot gets you going, let your local dealer know of your interest. You might just be one of the few to get your hands on one of these pretty little beasties. For more info check out the press release after the jump.

Source: Fiat/Abarth - Press release after the jump.

Ford taking orders for new 2013 C-Max Hybrid

Ford's new C-Max people mover will hit showrooms this Fall, but early adopters can order their own C-Max Hybrid at their local dealer now. The C-Max is a popular vehicle in Europe and Ford is taking an interesting strategy with the C-Max in the US. Firstly, we will only get the five-passenger model (while Euro customers can choose a seven-passenger model) and the US C-Max will only be electrified with three versions, the C-Max Hybrid (above and available first), the C-Max Energi (which is a plug-in hybrid), and the C-Max Electric (which is a full EV). The C-Max will be available with all of Ford's tech including, MyFordTouch, Sync, hands-free parking, a hands-free liftgate, and more (see video after the jump). But the good news is that the new C-Max Hybrid ($25,995 + taxes, license, fees, and options) will undercut the Prius v by $500, will get better mileage, and have more interior room. Ford says that the C-Max Energi will beat the mileage of the new Prius Plug-in, but the Energi model won't be available until late this year. Check out the press release and video for more info. Look for a full post when the C-Max hits showrooms.

Source: Ford - Press release after the jump.

All-new Volvo V40 shown in Shanghai

To say that the new Volvo V40 is a looker is an understatement. I've always liked the C30 two-door (that the new five-door V40 shares some structure and styling with), so if you like the C30, you should like the V40 (and C30 owners I've asked, love their cars). As the nomenclature tells you, the V40 is not a sedan (like the S60) or a coupe (like the C30) but a wagonesque thing (like the V50 and V70) aka people and stuff hauler. Recent Volvo designs have been stunning and the V40 continues that tradition with svelte curves and details. As with all Volvos, the V40 comes with all of  the Swedish (Chinese-owned) automaker's latest safety equipment (too numerous to list here, check out the second press release for all the info). The Euro releases list all engine options, but we can expect the US V40's lineup to mirror the C30 with the T5 2.5-liter five-cylinder engine (254 hp) and the six speed automatic being the top drivetrain available. The new V40 is not a "stripper" or base vehicle so expect high-levels of standard and optional equipment to go along with the extensive safety suite. Information regarding the US V40 will be made available closer to the new model's arrival (probably later this year). Check out the press releases and teaser video for more.

Source: Volvo - Press releases (4) and video after the jump.

BMW 135i can get a little "s" for 2013

The BMW 135i Coupe and Convertible will be given the "s" treatment for 2013. As with other BMW "s" editions, the 135is gets increased performance and handling courtesy of a 3.0-liter turbo V6 (320 hp, 317 lb-ft of torque) and a re-calibrated suspension that features a sport suspension incorporating an aluminum double-pivot front suspension and a five-link fully independent rear suspension in lightweight steel. Also part of the package are a six-speed manual transmission (or optional seven-speed DCT automanual), special 18-inch wheels, Dynamic Stability Control (DSC), Dynamic Traction Control (DTC), an improved rear differential, and improved engine cooling. Exterior visual changes include a unique high-gloss black kidney grill, black mirror caps, and special exterior badges in additional to the standard M Sport Package components. Interior highlights include stainless steel pedals, special interior badges and optional black leather seats with blue stitching for the standard sport seats. In other words, pretty much everything available on the top 1-Series cars. When you add the little "s" to the 135i, prices start at $44,145 (includes destination, must add taxes, license, fees, options) for the 135is Coupe and $48,845 for the 135is Convertible. The 135is will be at your local BMW dealer this Fall, but it is available for order now. Wanna be the first, get there first.

Source: BMW - Press release after the jump.

Quick Look: 2012 Toyota Prius Plug-in Hybrid

Whether you call it Prius Plus, Prius 2.5 or its real name, Prius Plug-in Hybrid, the newest Prius slid into showrooms recently with little fanfare. The little Prius c is selling extremely well and dealers reportedly can't keep the Plug-in model in stock. In fact, Toyota's hybrid models accounted for almost 25 percent of total sales last month. The Prius Plug-in uses the same drivetrain as the regular Prius but utilizes a lithium-ion battery pack for additional capacity and EV range (11 miles) which gives the Prius Plug-in EPA ratings of 95 mpge (miles per gallon equivalent that factors in EV only range) and a full hybrid rating of 50 mpg combined. The Prius Plug-in sort of sits at the top of the Prius range with higher standard content (including chrome exterior accents, LED lighting, and badging) to go with the updated power package. Many items that require an update to Prius levels 2 and 3 come with the Plug-in model with an Advanced Package the only Prius Plug-in upgrade. Of course this good stuff comes at a price with the Prius Plug-in starting at $32,000 (plus taxes, license, destination, fees, and options). The Advanced package adds about $7,525 + and gets you HDD Navigation with Entune2 and JBL® GreenEdge™, smartphone apps (Charge Management, Remote Air Conditioning System, Charging Station Map, Vehicle Finder and Eco Dashboard), head-up display, Dynamic Radar Cruise Control, Pre-Collision System, LED headlamps with auto on/off feature and integrated fog lamps, SofTex-trimmed seating, an eight-way power adjustable driver’s seat, Safety Connect, and more. While a $40,000 Prius may be hard to swallow, remember that there should be some Federal and State tax credits to ease your burden and a loaded regular Prius can top $32k, so... The Leviton home charging stations will set you back some more bucks (up to $999 for the 240v quick charger) and give you a full charge in less than 2 hours (240v - 4 hours at 120v). For more specific info, check out the releases and video after the jump.

Source: Toyota - Press releases (2) and video after the jump.

Mini shows John Cooper Works GP at Mini United Festival

The "hot hatch" market is big in Europe with automakers taking one of their smaller hatchback models and stuffing in a big engine, revised suspensions, body stiffening, and modified interiors. This is Mini's latest hot hatch, although many would say that most Minis are hot hatches, the Mini John Cooper Works GP. Shown for the first time at the Mini United Festival, to get a John Cooper Works GP you take a Mini Cooper S with the JCW kit, remove the rear seats (for weight reduction); tweak the engine and underpinnings; and add aerodynamic body pieces, special paint and trim and you end up with a Mini that is the fastest production Mini ever to run the Nürburgring’s Nordschleife circuit. The best part for the Mini performance faithful is the the JCW GP will go into limited production with a run of 2,000 vehicles. No word on whether any JCW GP's will cross the pond, but you could use the JCW GP as inspiration for your Mini by adding the special body pieces like the rear wing and red accents. More info will be available closer to the new model's availability. To the US Mini faithful, keep your fingers crossed and tell Mini that you'd really, really like one and maybe some of these special-editions models will make it stateside.

Source: Mini - Press release after the jump.

BMW debuts new 3-Series Touring

The BMW 3-Series has long been considered the standard by which all other sports sedans are judged. The new 2012 3-Series raised the bar once again, with improved performance and fuel economy, lighter weight, a new engine, and updated styling that calls to mind the lovely 5-Series (a very good thing). What you see here is the new BMW 3-Series Touring, which in the olden days we would have called a station wagon here in the US and that Euro carbuyers might call an "estate." While this body style may have fallen out of favor here is the US (but seems to be coming back a bit), it is very popular in Europe and other parts of the world which means that some automakers still supply the market with these people and stuff haulers. VW sells all the Jetta wagons it brings to the US (especially with the diesel engine) and BMW has had limited success with its Touring variants. The good news? The new 3-series Touring is reportedly coming to the US but BMW has not announced with which engine(s). I would expect a 328i Touring (with the new 240 hp 2.0-liter four and the eight-speed automatic) with optional x-Drive (all-wheel drive) which is the model we've gotten in the past. I think a diesel would go nicely with the new Touring and provide even better fuel efficiency than the new four (23 city/34 highway in the lighter sedan) and Americans are warming up to diesels once again. Obviously, you get more space for stuff and elongated styling with the new Touring, but the new version gets an automatic tailgate with separate rear window opening and a low loading sill, as well as options like an adaptive attachment system with variable plug-in elements for the load compartment floor and a hands-free tailgate opening function added to the features that come standard or are available with the regular 3-Series Sedans. Pricing and specifications should be announced closer to the new model's intro to the US late(r) this year. Stay tuned. Check out the Euro press release after the jump.

Source: BMW - Press release after the jump.

2013 Buick Enclave: Refreshed, renewed

Why mess with success? Many would look at the 2013 Buick Enclave and ask, "what changes?" Firstly, most would agree that the Buick Enclave is an attractive, large, three-row crossover that can comfortably haul you, your family, and most of their stuff in comfort and luxury. Style is a personal choice, but the Enclave is partly responsible for Buick's resurgence so they must be doing something right, right? Changes for 2013 include a revised front fascia with Xenon HID headlamps, LED daytime running lights, and a revised black chrome "waterfall" grille (more in keeping with current designs); revised rear fascia with integrated exhaust outlets and LED taillights; new 19- and 20-inch wheel designs; a more monochromatic exterior with chrome accents; new Ice Blue interior ambient lighting; IntelliLink in-vehicle communications with touch-screen control and navigation; and new interior color combos. The 2013 Enclave also comes standard with the first front center airbag (deploys from the inside edge of the driver's seat) that further protects front seat passengers. Buick has further tuned the Enclave's ride and handling to deliver a "smoother, more controlled driving experience." The Enclave comes equipped with Buick's 3.6-liter V6 (288 hp, 270 lb-ft of torque) mated to a six-speed automatic. Front-wheel drive is standard and all-wheel drive is available. If you need a large people and things hauler and want a little luxury and style from your ride, then the new Enclave should be on your list of "must see and test drives." For more info, check out the press release after the jump. Pricing and EPA info will be released closer to the 2013 Buick Enclave's arrival in the fall.

Source: Buick - Press release and spec. charts after the jump.

2013 Acura RDX debuts in Windy city

I've always liked Acuras. I used to sell them for goodness sakes, but the styling of recent models has left me cold...even repulsed somewhat. The all-new 2013 RDX is at least a step in the right direction. Not quite there yet, but closer. I hate the smiley face front ends that some Japanese-brand cars have (you too Mazda). Acuras used to have aggressive front fascia and styling, but lately it seems that designers have been watching too much Anime. (They even put a smiley face on the new NSX.) I like the new fender bulges, tail, and the greenhouse styling, but I still don't like the grille (though improved) and does the rear bumper seem too small to you? (The tailgate dips into the bumper, check it out below, which could be hell and expensive in small rear-enders.) For 2013 the RDX is a V6-only affair with Acura's 273-hp, 3.5-liter V6 mated to a six-speed automatic. Estimated EPA mpg numbers are 20 city/28 highway/23 combined for the front-wheel drive model and 19/city/27 highway/22 combined with the optional all-wheel drive. The "base" RDX comes extremely well equipped with standard leather, power everything, multi-information display, premium audio, and much more (see press releases) for $34,320 (plus taxes, license, destination, fees, options). Check the box for the the $3,700 Technology package and you add surround-sound premium audio, AcuraLink® Satellite Communication System, Acura Navigation System with Voice Recognition™, W-VGA color monitor, rear-view camera, Pandora® internet radio, GPS-linked dual-zone automatic climate control system, and a couple of other things. All-wheel drive will set you back about $1,400 and there are a few dealer-installed options. With the new RDX you get a well put together little runabout that hits the streets with style, grace, and competitive performance. Acura pits the RDX against the BMW X3 and Audi Q5 which are both larger vehicles, but both BMW (X1) and Audi (Q3) have new, smaller utes on the horizon. My guess is that if you choose the Acura, you will be happy. As with any vehicle, drive it first too see if it meets your needs and desires. For lots of information, check out the numerous releases and video after the jump.

Source: Acura - Press releases (7) and video (after the releases) after the jump.

Quick Look: 2012 Hyundai Azera

I was out walking the other day and I saw this strange looking Hyundai Sonata, or so I thought. On closer inspection, I noticed the curvaceous haunches and realized that it was a new Azera, Hyundai's "full-size" sedan. Now I have bemoaned the fact before that many carmakers today, believe that all of their cars must look alike, the whole family resemblance thing. This is okay, if like current Hyundais, the cars are attractive, but unfortunate, like current Acuras, if they're not. It can take five years to redesign a new vehicle and that's a long time to be out of step with current popular design. Why do I bring this up? Cause I'm not sure that the styling differences between the two Hyundais is enough to justify the price differential. But the Azera is the nicer car with more features than the more mainstream Sonata. Think of the Azera as the Hyundai equivalent of the Toyota Avalon (in relation to the Camry). In those terms, the Azera is a winner costing thousands less than the large Toyota. Oh and did I mention that it's better looking than the current Avalon, but then there is a new Avalon on the horizon..

Anyway, think Avalon and you'll get the Azera. With the Azera you get a 3.3-liter V6 (293 hp), six-speed automatic, 23 mpg (combined), nine-standard airbags, leather interior with heated front seats, Blue Link infotainment with Bluetooth, standard navigation with rear-view camera, automatic climate control, and more, yup, standard. Optional is the $4,000 Technology Package that gets you a lot of good stuff like panoramic sunroof, 19-inch wheels, HID Xenon headlamps, Infinity premium speakers with subwoofer and external amplifier, sunshades, ambient lighting and much more. So the 2012 Hyundai Azera is a good-looking, well-equipped, full-size sedan that will set you back $32,000 (plus taxes, license, fees, dealer-installed options, and $875 delivery/freight) or $36,000 for the Azera with the Tech Pack. The 2012 Hyundai Azera is on sale now. For more info, check out the extensive press releases after the jump or visit your local dealer.

Source: Hyundai - Press releases (2) and pics after the jump.

All-new 2013 Porsche Boxster on the way

For 2013, Porsche is giving the Boxster its first major makeover since the model was introduced in 1996. The 2013 Boxster two-seat roadster/convertible is lighter, more powerful, and returns better fuel economy than its predecessor. The smallest Porsche (for now) will continue to be available in Boxster and Boxster S variants with the S model offering the additional Sport Chrono package that adds unique features and increased performance to the already outstanding S. The Boxster's 2.7-liter six makes 265 hp and is available with a six-speed manual or seven-speed PDK automanual. EPA- fuel numbers are 20/city, 30/highway with the manual and 22/city, 32/highway with the PDK. Boxster S gets a 3.4-liter six (315 hp) mated to the same transmission choices. Styling has been tweaked to be more fluid and muscular with improved aerodynamics. The passengers are faced with a roomier and redesigned interior with a raked center console and a new fully electric top, which now dispenses with a convertible top compartment lid. Porsche's 2013 Boxster will hit showrooms soon (some say June) with the basic list price of $49,500 for the Boxster and $60,900 for the Boxster S (not including a $950 destination charge, license, fees, taxes, of options). For more info and specs (including performance data), as well as additional pics, check out the releases after the jump. If you want to be one of the first to get one of these good-looking sports cars, get thee to your dealer...NOW.

Source: Porsche - Press releases (2), specifications, pics (5) after the jump.

BMW 6-Series Gran Coupe debuts - video

In June, US luxury-four-door-coupe buyers will have a new sporty choice, the BMW 6-Series Gran Coupe. Take the breathtaking 6-Series Coupe and add two doors and you've got the Gran Coupe (I guess Gran means two more doors in BMW-speak). Initially, the 6-Series Gran Coupe will be available as the 640i model with the 3.0-liter turbo six that produces 315 hp and 320 lb-ft of torque mated to the standard eight-speed automatic. Later, a 650i Gran Coupe will hit the streets with a new 4.4-liter twin-turbo V8 (445 hp, 480 lb-ft) that will hit sixty mph in just 4.5 seconds using an eight-speed sport automatic. The 650i will also offer an all-wheel-drive option. (Unfortunately, the US won't get the 640i Diesel that creates 313 hp and great fuel economy). The 640i will set you back $76,895 (plus taxes, license, fees, options) and the 650i will start at $87,395+ ($90,395+ with x-Drive all-wheel drive) and pretty much every BMW option (including a full Nappa leather interior, Bang & Olufsen premium surround-sound audio, and more) can be added to you new 6-Series Gran Coupe. It would be easy to get into six figures. Check out the US press release (1st) for all the info you might need including package and separate option prices. This is one of  those cars that might make me go out and buy a lottery ticket.

Source: BMW - Press releases (2), pics (4) and video after the jump.