Cadillac unveils new 2016 CTS-V hi-per sedan with 640 hp and 200 mph top speed - w/video

When Cadillac introduced the ATS, it allowed the automaker to move the CTS model upmarket to more directly compete with Mercedes E-Class and BMW 5-Series models (the last gen CTS was close to these competitors in size). The CTS now has similar features, sizing, and pricing to match these other "mid-size" sports sedans. The 2016 CTS-V is being introduced to compete with various AMG and M vehicles. Let's see how it matches up. The CTS-V gets upgraded "aero" styling tweaks with the extensive use of lightweight materials; a 6.2-liter supercharged V8 (640 hp, 630 lb/ft/ of torque) mated to a performance eight-speed automatic with launch control; Brembo brakes; strengthened body structure (25%); adjustable Magentic Ride Control suspension; Performance Data Recorder; 200 mph top speed; 0-60 in 3.7 seconds; CUE infotainment; Bose audio; 19-inch alloy wheels with Michelin Pilot Super Sport tires; OnStar 4G LTE connectivity with built-in Wi-Fi hotspot; 20-way performance-oriented heated and ventilated front seats trimmed in semi-aniline leather, with sueded microfiber inserts and seatbacks; and more. Lots of good stuff. Pricing hasn't been announced, but it should start well above $50k. The changes to the CTS for "V" duty are nice (especially the grille) and don't look like the car has developed a glandular condition like many other performance cars do. The carbon-fiber hood features a power dome with vents that exhaust hot engine air over the vehicle instead of under it to reduce lift and the thoughtful touches and performance enhancement lists go on and on. If you've got the bucks, you could do much, much worse spending your performance dollars at you local Caddy dealer. If you want to be the first on your block with the new CTS-V, get to your dealer ASAP. For more info, check out the press release, spec charts, pics, and video after the jump.

Source: Cadillac - Extensive press release, pics, specs, and video after the"read more" jump.

New Mercedes-Benz GLE Coupé set to challenge the BMW X6 - w/videos

Firstly, the new Mercedes GLE Coupe is to the M-Class/E-Class as the BMW X6 is to the X5/5-Series. The original X6 took the body of an X5 SAV and put a sporty coupe greenhouse on top to create a vehicle that was less functional, but more stylish. Sales exceeded expectations. So it was only a matter of time before Mercedes produced their own sporty 'ute. While the newly restyled X6 looks more bulbous and less sporty, the new GLE Coupe is a clean, sporty design that puts the latest generation X6 away. The GLE Coupe will come with three engines, a 258 hp diesel (not sure about US availibility), the 333 hp V6, and the GLE 450 AMG Coupe which is fitted with the biturbo V6 that creates 367 hp. The 9G-TRONIC nine-speed automatic transmission comes mated to the 4Matic all-wheel drive system regardless of engine choice. Pretty much all of Mercedes' safety suite is also standard with the Airmatic adjustable suspension available as an option (see press release for more info). If you like the X6, you'll probably like (love?) the GLE Coupe and the GLE can be spec'ed out as a nice sports ute or maxed out with every available option depending on your budget but the GLE Coupe, like the X6, won't be cheap. I like it. Now if it came with non-rock-hard seats... Expect the GLE Coupe at you dealer next year. For more info, check out the informative press release, pics, and three videos after the jump.

Source: Mercedes-Benz - Press release, pics, and videos after the "read more" jump.

Audi Exclusive releases RS 5 Coupe Sport limited edition for 2015

Audi's A5 models are lookers, and have been since their introduction years ago. The classically styled sport coupe's design was so "right on the money," that few changes have been made...period. For 2015, Audi's Exclusive group has put together a special, limited-edition model that comes with just about everything, the RS 5 Coupe Sport (the rear end shot below is a regular A5). Being an RS performance model, the RS 5 Coupe Sport comes with the 4.2-liter V8 (450 hp and 317 lb-ft of torque), a seven-speed S tronic transmission with launch control program, special suspension tuning, special 20-inch V spoke wheels with red brake calipers, quattro all-wheel drive, RS Sports seats in black with Crimson Red accents, Nappa leather interior, and more. The RS 5 Coupe Sport is available in Daytona Gray pearl effect or Nardo gray paint with multiple Audi exclusive paint colors available optionally. The best of everything doesn't come cheaply, though. The '15 RS 5 Coupe Sport will start at $87,575 plus taxes, license, fees, destination and options. If the RS 5 Coupe Sport looks like your ideal car, get to your local Audi dealer ASAP, since only 75 units will be built for the US market. More info after the jump...

Source: Audi - Press releases after the "read more' jump.

Mazda's all-new, curvaceous 2016 MX-5 (Miata) makes US debut in LA - w/videos

I like sports cars. One of my favorite cars that I've owned was an early 60s MGB, the quintessential sports car (mine was an older, pre-government reg. model) that I bought very used, but very loved. A sports car has two seats, the top goes down, and they're a blast to drive. Period. Anything else is a grand tourer or something all together different. Call me a purist, but one of the only cars available today that can wear the sports car crown is Mazda's MX-5 Miata (I think they're phasing out Miata). Sports cars aren't the fastest, but they can put a smile on your face on even the worst days. Mazda's MX-5 is one of those vehicles. The styling of the previous MX-5s were more of an homage to early sports cars, but the new MX-5 is its own curvaceous beast with flares that let you know what this car is all about. Funny though, the car seems less impressive in person than in pictures, but that is probably due to Mazda hiding the one example (the RHD model shown here) in the back of their LA Auto Show display. They sell a lot of these little beasties in LA, so I would have expected a greater presence. Anywho, a few more details were released regarding the new '16 MX-5. The 2.0-liter SkyActiv four will be the power source through a standard six-speed manual (I'm sure an automatic will be available) that is mounted closer to the driver for a more mid-engine location. Handling should be even better than before. Did I mention that it is wrapped in a striking body? Few automakers offer true sports cars anymore and enthusiasts should send Mazda a "thank you" card for the MX-5 and its continued development. You'll be able to get your new 2016 MX-5 next year. It should be worth the wait. Detailed press releases, and three videos after the jump. Enjoy.

Source: Mazda - Press releases, pics, and three videos after the "read more" jump. Previous post.

Fiat unleashes the Abarth 695 biposto "smallest supercar" on an unsuspecting world - w/videos

FCA's Fiat division owes a lot to the popular 500 sub-compact, The 500 saved Fiat from obscurity (and potential ruin) and Fiat has repaid the little runabout with continuous updates and model derivations. Fiat's Abarth performance group has had a really good time with the 500 and this is their latest effort, the Abarth 695 biposto racing/rally/street car. This is probably the closest thing to a racing/rally car that you can buy from an Abarth purveyor and still drive on the street. Yep, it's "street legal." Abarth took out all the unnecessary weight (including the rear seats) and used light-weight materials wherever possible. The 1.4-liter turbocharged four has been massaged to put out 190 hp and the manual transmission can be fitted with a "Dog Ring" kit for better shift performance. Four-point racing harnesses are anchored to the anti-rollbar and fitted through the Abarth Corsa by Sabelt carbon-fiber racing seats. Other features include the MXL2 digital data logger by Aim (for continuous monitoring of the car's performance), "ultra-light" OZ rims, matte Performance Grey paint, fully-adjustable suspension, performance exhaust, body kit, unique front and rear fascia, and much more. You can even order fixed front windows with movable poly-carbonate panels for even more weight-savings. Needless to say, Abarth is calling the 695 biposto the "smallest of supercars." Whatever you call it, the little speedster should be a hoot to drive. No word on US sales plans. For much more info, check out the press releases and videos after the jump. Make sure you have the sound on to hear that little engine wail.

Source: FCA/Fiat - Press releases, pics, and three additional videos after the "read more" jump.

Chevy Trax set to break into US small crossover market - w/video

Chevrolet announced their intention to introduce the Trax small crossover/SUV to the US market at the New York Auto Show early this year. Now that the new year is upon us, the Trax is making its way to local Chevy dealers for an early 2015 on sale date. Chevy's Trax puts the cute in :Cute ute" with attractive styling save the unfortunate Chevy family grille. For just over $20k, customers will get a nice compact crossover that features a turbocharged 1.4-liter engine (138 hp/148 lb-ft of torque) that comes mated to a standard six-speed automatic. All-wheel drive is a $1,500 option. Chevy's MyLink infotainment system is standard as are OnStar with 4G LTE and a built-in Wi-Fi hotspot, Siri Eyes Free, a USB port with MP3 playback/iPod music device support, a 7-inch-diagonal color touch screen, 16-inch wheels, rear-view camera, and more. Trax comes in three flavors: LS, LT and LTZ with prices and options tailored to your needs and budget. The new 2015 Trax should be a home-run for Chevy, but the market has gotten a little more crowded with new entries like the attractive Mazda CX-3, the Honda HR-V, the Fiat 500X, and the Jeep Renegade 1 / 2, not to mention the Trax's sibling the Buick Encore. If the new Trax looks like your kind of compact crossover, make tracks (sorry, couldn't resist) to your local Chevrolet dealer and be one of the first to take home Chevy's littlest utility vehicle.

Source: Chevrolet - Press releases, pics, and video after the "read more" jump. Previous Trax post.

Dodge adds two new Viper models for 2015

Dodge's Viper has had an interesting year. The current generation Viper is arguably the best one yet, with more of everything including power and refinement. Some might argue that the "refinement" part of the equation isn't necessarily a plus, but when a car's base price hovers just below six figures, you begin to expect more. As a result, Viper sales fell off. To spur sales and to get the Viper back on track, Dodge dropped prices by $15k (Viper SRT base priced at $84,995 +)  more inline with the original car's base pricing when adjusted for inflation. Sales have taken off. To celebrate this renewed interest and to celebrate racing victories, Dodge has added two new models to the Viper portfolio, the track-focused TA 2.0 Special Edition and the more luxo GTS (pics on this page). The Viper TA 2.0 prices start at $101,995 (+ taxes, license, fees, options, destination, gas guzzler taxes) and feature SRT standard features plus a high-performance Aero Package, competition rear spoiler and front lower dive planes, two-piece Brembo Rotors, 18/19-inch Matte Black Sidewinder Wheels, Pirelli P Zero Corsa Tires, dual-mode suspension, five-mode ESC, black Brembo brakes with orange lettering, performance brake pads, carbon fiber structural X-Brace, rear carbon fiber applique, TA front splitter, TA aero wing assembly kit, TA front decal, TA sill decal, interior accent stitching, and a car cover. The Viper GTS prices start at $107,995 (+) and add Laguna leather seats; Alcantara headliner; Harman Kardon 18-speaker sound system; a Nappa leather dash, console, and doors; 18/19-inch polished aluminum Venom wheels; power six-way driver and passenger seats; and unique GTS badging. The GTS Ceramic Blue Special Edition with Ceramic Blue exterior color, Black stripes, orange brake calipers, rear carbon fiber applique, and GTS gloss black badging is a new option. 2015 Vipers also receive the refined 8.4-liter V-10 engine and Tremec six-speed manual transmission that delivers 645 horsepower and up to 20 miles per gallon on the highway. Production of the 2015 Viper has commenced with cars appearing at your local dealer in early 2015. For more info, check out the release and Viper SRT pics after the jump.

Source: FCA/Dodge - Press release after the "read more" jump.

Nissan freshens Juke and adds Color Studio - w/videos

Nissan's Juke is one of those vehicles that incite "love it" or "hate it" reactions from folks. Personally, I love it and the 2015 Juke gets some updates for the new year. The front clip is freshened with a new grille (with V-Motion inset), projector beam headlights, and revised lower valance. The rear-view mirrors get integrated LED turn-signal repeaters and the rear fascia received more aggressive shaping with revised taillights and LED accents. Additionally, new standard features include Nissan Intelligent Key® with Push Button Start, RearView Monitor, NissanConnect℠ with Mobile Apps (with a 5.0-inch color display), USB connection port for iPod® interface and other compatible devices, Bluetooth® Hands-free Phone System, Streaming audio via Bluetooth® and Hands-free Text Messaging Assistant. New colors include Super Black, Solar yellow (above), and Cosmic Blue. For 2015, Juke is available in five trim levels: S, SV, SL, NISMO, and NISMO RS. A second-generation 1.6-liter Direct Injection Gasoline (DIG™) Turbo, 16-valve DOHC aluminum-alloy inline 4-cylinder engine (188 hp,/177 lb.ft. of torque) is standard in the first four trim levels with NISMO SR models getting the engine upgraded to 215 horsepower (at 6,000 rpm) and 210 lb-ft of torque (from 3,600 to 4,800 rpm) for the 6-speed manual transmission-equipped front-wheel drive model (CVT XTronic engines rated lower). A six-speed manual and the XTronic CVT (continuosly-variable transmission) are the transmission options and all-wheel drive is available. The big news is the new Color Studio that lets Juke owners personalize their vehicles (see the silver/orange, blue/gold vehicles). The front and rear bumper accents, headlight trim rings, side mirror caps, door handle covers, side door sills, rear roof spoiler, hatch handle finishers, lower hatch accent, interior inserts (tweeters and vents), floor mats, 17-inch aluminum-alloy wheels and center caps may be painted in one of eight colors, Red, Yellow, Orange, Electric Blue, Black Purple, White, Matte Black and Carbon-fiber Look; (Piano Black also available for interior inserts) to help your Juke make a statement. Color Studio accents can be added at home or by your dealer and may be specified when you purchase your vehicle and financed. Looks like Nissan's funky Juke just got, well, funkier. Check out the three press releases and two videos after the jump. Additional pics will be added when they become available. Enjoy.

Source: Nissan - Press releases; pics, and video after the "read more" jump.