Beijing 2010: BAIC (Saab) C60 and C71 and swappable batteries


It didn't take long for Beijing Automotive Industries Company (BAIC) to start making use of the old 9-3 and 9-5 tooling it bought from Saab last fall. After grafting on a new nose and taillights, both have been reborn as the C60 and C71.

It's not clear what's propelling the regular versions of these two reworked Saabs, however, there was a second ex-9-5 on display dubbed the C71EV. That version had a battery pack inserted into the floor and featured what BAIC was labeling as a fast battery switch system (ala Better Place).

The sign next to car claims a 90-mile range, but we think that's highly optimistic given the size of the sedan and the comparatively small battery pack. Of course, that's assuming this is actually a functional car.

Beijing 2010: Honda Li Nisn Everus sedan concept

Li Nian Everus Sedan

The Beijing Motor Show is well under way, and Honda is showing off a new concept slated for the Chinese market. Called the Li Nian Everus, the car is the fruit of a partnership between the Japanese automaker and its Chinese partner, Guangqi Honda Automobile. We don't have too many details on the sedan other than the fact that at this point, it's nothing more than a concept.

Judging by the renderings, we're tempted to guess this thing has more than a little Civic DNA swimming around in its blood stream, though it looks like Honda raided the Acura design department for the car's less-than-traditional nose and rear-end.

Speaking of the Civic, it would make some sense if Honda swapped a little sheet metal and called it a day. Honda's compact is sold under the Dongfeng Honda banner, leaving Guangqi Honda Automobile without a comparable model. Our guess is that when the Everus comes to market, it will be slightly more upscale and boast more standard niceties than its sibling.

Beijing 2010: 2011 Audi A8 L W12 stretches onto the stage

2011 Audi A8 L W12

Measuring approximately 17.5 feet long, the 2011 Audi A8 L W12 is certainly quite grandioso. And while the 500-horsepower 12-cylinder engine and new eight-speed automatic transmission are certainly nothing to sneeze at, what's most impressive about the long-wheelbase A8 is the rear seat accommodations. Holy mackerel.

You want gobs of leather, a full-length center console, heated and cooled seats that massage you as well as a folding ottoman for premium comfort? You got it. The A8 L's 122.9-inch wheelbase means there's tons of legroom (duh), and we're seriously eager to get some R&R time in the back of this luxury barge.

Beijing 2010: 2011 Volkswagen Phaeton ups the luxe

2011 Volkswagen Phaeton

As impressive of a vehicle as the seminal Volkswagen Phaeton may have been, the uber-luxe German sedan was an unqualified flop of an experiment here in the United States. In some other parts of the world, though, VW's BMW and Mercedes-Benz (not to mention VW-owned Audi) competitor is still going strong.

Hence, VW has seen fit to give the Phaeton a mild update for the 2011 model year, and it tellingly used the Beijing Motor Show as the platform to reveal its top-shelf sedan. In case you missed the exterior changes, take a closer look at the front and rear fascias, where you'll find tighter lines and new LED lighting.

It's inside the cabin where the Phaeton gets the bulk of its improvements. Included in the refresh is VW's latest navigation technology, along with a helpful seeing-eye camera that can monitor speed limit and no passing signs and inform lazy drivers of the data. There is also a lane-departure system that keeps the car between the proper lines and Dynamic Light Assist that adjusts the headlights to keep from blinding oncoming traffic.

Powertrain options remain the same as before, with a 450-horsepower 6.0-liter W12 engine taking top billing over a 335-hp 4.2-liter V8 and a 3.6-liter V6 that puts out 280 ponies. Finally, those looking to save a few bucks at the pump can opt for a 3.0-liter diesel V6.

Beijing 2010: MG Zero Concept

MG Zero Concept

MG has its eyes set on the juicy Chinese small hatch segment, and the company's first crack at the market debuted in the form of Zero Concept at this year's Beijing Motor Show. At shave over 13 feet long, the pint-sized five-door is designed to offer up more style than space. MG says the vehicle was penned by Anthony Williams, the brand's British director of design, and offers drivers a unique interior loaded with your standard concept-tech. The Zero boasts a floating center console, complete with touch screen controls, as well as some kind of communication system on the rear of the vehicle. Yeah, we don't get that part, either.

MG hasn't said much about the vehicle's details, including powerplant options, fuel economy or when we might expect to see a production version crop up. While we aren't exactly smitten with the car's nose, the rest of the design would do well in a segment dominated by the drab. Though concrete information is suspiciously absent at the moment, the company says the Zero should be a clear indication of where the brand is headed in the coming years.

Beijing 2010: Geely's London Taxi-aping Englon TXN

Englon TXN

As promised, Geely brought its Englon TXN to this year's Beijing Motor Show. In the flesh, the intended successor to London's black cab throne looks more than capable of hauling drunken tourists from place to place. The car appears to have stuck pretty close to the renderings we saw earlier this month, though we have to say the exterior looks quite a bit better under the show lights than it did photoshopped among England's various landmarks.

The company also displayed its TX4 � a more spacious version also built just for taxi duty. Both cars are motivated by either a 2.4-liter gasoline engine mated to a five-speed automatic gearbox or a 2.5-liter diesel powerplant that can be had with a five-speed manual transmission. So far Geely hasn't released any power numbers.

We do know that the cars will command a price tag that should fall in the $30,500 range at current exchange rates � not exactly cheap by anyone's standards. Will British taxi companies will be willing to give up their old rides for these new, Chinese-built examples? Hard telling, but at least they look the part.

Beijing 2010: Mercedes-Benz CLS Shooting Break concept is the four-door coupe of wagons

Mercedes-Benz CLS Shooting Break concept

The shooting break (yes, it's 'break,' not 'brake', according to M-B's marketers) design isn't something new � we've seen it before in smaller vehicles like the original BMW Z3 M Coupe. Today, though, Mercedes-Benz takes the shooting break concept one step further with the addition of two rear doors and a healthy dose of next-generation style. It's the CLS Shooting Break Concept, folks. Think of this as the four-door coupe for the wagon segment.

The exterior design is awash with swoopy shapes that mimic both coupe and hatchback/wagon elements. Full LED headlamps and sharp 20-inch wheels round off the whole outside package, and if we're honest, we really like it.

Under the hood lies a direct-injected 3.5-liter V6 capable of producing 306 horsepower and 273 pound-feet of torque (the exact same output as a Cadillac CTS, for what it's worth). Mercedes-Benz hasn't released estimates, but the automaker says that the concept car "sets new standards among the competition in terms of fuel consumption."

Beijing 2010: Chevrolet Volt MPV5 concept, HHR goes future tech

Chevrolet Volt MPV5 concept

While Chrysler has failed to find a way to update or replace the retro-styled PT Cruiser, we can definitely see this as a forthcoming replacement to the Chevrolet HHR. The Volt MPV5 is slightly larger than HHR, but fills a similar market niche. While Chevrolet hasn't announced a firm production commitment, it wouldn't be surprising to see the MPV5 built in both conventional and ER-EV forms to help jack up GM's light truck CAFE numbers. The roomy interior will likely find a bigger audience than the smaller Volt while still yielding a 32 mile electric range, and if we had to guess, we'd see the Orlando-inspired plug-in EV hit the market by 2013.

Beijing 2010: Ford Start concept

Ford Start Concept

As we were checking out the new Ford Start concept at the Beijing Motor Show, we ran into the head of Ford's advanced studio in California, Freeman Thomas, and the mini car's lead exterior designer, Jeff Nield.

According to Nield, he wanted to create a vehicle that retained elements of Ford's "Kinetic Design" language while at the same time create something more subdued, able to stand apart from the noise surrounding the show. Thus the Start has a cleaner simpler shape that's slightly more serious than past concepts. Nield mentioned the Mini and how it's always had a cute, happy demeanor about it. He wanted to create something different � a thing of beauty injected with very natural, organic elements.

Thomas explained that the designers wanted to experiment with a hybrid construction consisting of a mix of aluminum, high strenght steel and composites. This allowed the creation of a very open, airy cockpit, with thin pillars for good visibility, while also providing occupants a feeling of safety with the high belt line.

One of the more interesting interior details is the monorail front seat tracks that have the thrones on a central pedestal, thus increasing foot room for rear passengers. There are no production plans for any of this right now, but some of the ideas could shine a light on where to go next � and that turbocharged 1.0-liter three-cylinder is definitely finding its way to market.

Beijing 2010: BMW surprises with Concept Gran Coup�

BMW Concept Gran Coup�

Four-door coupes are nothing new these days, what with vehicles like the Mercedes-Benz CLS and Volkswagen CC proving that these stylish sedans do, in fact, have a place in the automotive world. What's more, Audi's swoopy A7 is nearing its final stages of development, and higher-end coupe-sedans like the Aston Martin Rapide and Porsche Panamera have indeed caught our attention in recent months. BMW is now jumping on that train, and the automaker has officially debuted its Concept Gran Coup� at this year's Beijing Motor Show.

Strip away the rear doors, and the design of the Gran Coup� is awfully close to what we'll see on the next-generation 6 Series. The sporty, flat design of the concept is really stunning, and BMW points out that the Gran Coup� is actually 100 millimeters (four inches) flatter than both the 5 and 7 Series sedans. Combine that with frameless doors and LED lighting all around and what we have here is a rather stunning design.

BMW is one of the only luxury automakers not currently participating in the four-door coupe niche market, and we won't be surprised if a production version of the Gran Coup� hits the streets within the next couple of years. Even so, we're interested to see how this new design language influences the rest of the automaker's portfolio, even beyond the 6 Series.

[Source: BMW]

Beijing 2010: 2011 Hyundai Accent debuts as Verna across the Pacific

Hyundai Verna

Hyundai's fluidic sculpture design language has now spread to the smallest vehicle in its lineup, and the new sub-compact slated to take the place of the aging Accent was unwrapped on the floor of the Beijing Motor Show. We've been seeing spy shots of the next generation Accent for some time and it very clearly follows the same design path as its big brother the Sonata.

The little sedan, badged the Verna outside the U.S., has the same rounded coupe-like greenhouse and rising crease up the sides. Inside the Verna/Accent definitely has a more attractive, higher-quality feel than the current model, although calling it up-scale would be slightly disingenuous. We'll have to wait and see what kind materials the North American model gets before making a decision.

Power is slated to come from either a 1.4- or 1.6-liter inline-four, producing 106 horsepower and 120 hp, respectively, with a standard five-speed manual gearbox or four-speed automatic. Expect the U.S. version to come packing the larger four-pot when it goes on sale early next year.

Beijing 2010: Chevrolet Volt MPV5 crossover revealed

Chevrolet Volt MPV5 concept

The rumored extended range electric crossover we saw revealed in General Motors' design patent drawings is now a reality. The Chevrolet Volt MPV5 concept will make its debut tomorrow at the Beijing Motor Show, and just as we suspected from seeing Volt design chief Bob Boniface's name on the patent, this five-passenger crossover rides on the same Voltec architecture as the Volt.

The new Chevrolet concept integrates design elements from the Volt, including the headlight, taillamps and grille, with a five-door hatch body style very similar to the larger Orlando and a length about four inches longer than the current HHR.

Propulsion comes from the same 150 horsepower engine and 16 kilowatt-hour battery used in the Volt. However, its larger frontal area and increased drag mean that this one only has a 32-mile electric range as opposed to the Volt's 40 miles. The Crossover has full seating for five and 30.5 cubic feet of cargo space behind the seats. The dashboard appears to be lifted directly from the Volt, including the dual LCD displays. We wouldn't be at all surprised to see this as the second Voltec product in the GM North American lineup. If built, this would likely be classed as a light truck and do wonders for GM's CAFE numbers on that side of the business.

[Source: General Motors]

Beijing 2010: 2011 Ferrari 599 GTO, glorious front-engined prancing horse

Ferrari 599 GTO

The fact that Ferrari chose Beijing as the official coming out party for its fastest ever front-engined road car is a clear signal of the importance of this market to the crew from Maranello. Whatever the reasons, we're always happy to finally get our first glimpse of the new 599 GTO, a proper Ferrari if there ever was one.

Only 599 GTOs are scheduled to be built and the entire run is reported to be sold out. However, we're pretty sure that anyone with the correct financial wherewithal will find a way to park one in their garage. And there's even bigger news about the 599 GTO's N�rburgring lap time. Stay tuned...

Chrysler posts financial results, loses $197 million in first quarter


Chrysler just released its first financial report since emerging from bankruptcy last year. The company announced that while it's still operating at a net loss of around $197 million, it somehow managed to create $1.5 billion in cash during the first three months of 2010. That cash, along with an additional $7.4 billion from past cash reserves, went toward putting a dent in the company's remaining debt.

The smallest of the Big Three also managed to increase its market share one percent compared to the last three months of 2009. What's more, it produced a whopping 56 percent more vehicles in North America from January to March than it did during the same period last year, despite seeing sales decline by 5.3 percent. That bump in production is largely thanks to the fact that Chrysler idled many of its plants through 2009.

The company says that despite the loss, it's still on track to meet its goals and return to profitability by the end of this year. That's due to the fact that revenue increased by around $300 million from the fourth quarter of 2009 to the first quarter of 2010 and that the company is continuing to reduce its debt. At the same time, a rash of new models, including the long awaited 2011 Jeep Grand Cherokee will be hitting the market soon.

[Source: Chrysler via Freep]

Kia Forte awarded IIHS 'Top Safety Pick'

2010 Kia Forte sedan

Much like parent company Hyundai, Kia has been working hard to revive its brand image. New products like the Soul and Forte have been relatively well received so far, and with new stunners like the 2011 Sportage and Optima on the way, Kia should benefit from a healthy boost in sales. But strip away the sleek new designs and clever interior packaging, and you'll find that Kia's core value of crafting extremely safe vehicles is still holding strong, especially now that the 2010 Forte sedan has been named a Top Safety Pick by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety.

The Forte received ratings of "Good" (the highest achievable) in front, side, rear and rollover impact crash tests � something that safety-minded buyers will surely appreciate. What's more, this gives the Forte more ammo to compete head on with the Honda Civic and Toyota Corolla, its two main competitors, which have also been dubbed as Top Safety Picks by IIHS. Curiously, only the sedan was mentioned in the IIHS study, so we can't say if this prestigious honor carries over to the two-door coupe Koup.

Why It's Not Coming Here: VW Amarok priced at $35k in Europe

Volkswagen Amarok

One of the last details concerning the Volkswagen Amarok, its price in euros, has been filled in: �26,203, or $35,260 U.S. in the ever misleading straight-up conversion from euros to dollars. Subtracting the 19 percent duty folded into that price in Germany, you're still left spending �21,224, or $28,555 U.S. That's what you call "Holy smokes!"

If we want to make the admittedly difficult attempt to put some context around that without diving into European taxes and price structures, let's take the Golf. The most basic two-door version is �16,650, or $22,399 U.S. Subtract that 19 percent duty and you're at �13,487, which is $18,144. That matches up quite nicely with the U.S. price for the base two-door model: $17,620.

Back to that bog-standard Amarok � at $28,555, you're just a grand short of a Ford F-150 XL Super Cab, which decimates the 122-horsepower Amarok in everything but gas mileage. By the time you get to the Amarok in Highline trim, you're up to 163 hp and you've added four-wheel-drive, but you've also got a �37,169 ($50,022 U.S.) bill before taxes and fees. And that, ladies and gentlemen, is why there will be zero VW Amaroks sold in these fifty states. For the rest of you, start saving.


DetNews: Toyota recalling Lexus GX to address rollover concern [*UPDATED*]

Lexus GX

The moment Lexus GX owners have been waiting for since Consumer Reports first blacklisted the SUV last week has finally arrived � Toyota has recalled the vehicle. According to The Detroit News, the Japanese manufacturer will announce the move later this afternoon, and the recall is expected to cover around 5,000 vehicles currently on the road. As expected, Lexus dealers will install new traction control software to correct potentially dangerous handling characteristics.

Last week, Consumer Reports branded the Lexus GX with its infamous "Do Not Buy" rating after the vehicle failed a standard test. During hard downhill braking, the traction control would allow the vehicle's rear-end to step out much farther than normal. On a public road, CR says, that could lead to a rollover.

The GX recall joins a flurry of others that have cropped up over the past few months. From stuck accelerators to rusting frames and corroding spare tire carrier cables, Toyota has had to deal with one problem after another. At least this time the company acted swiftly enough to comply with department of transportation regulations. The carmaker recently agreed to pay a $16.4 million fine for failing to recall 2.3 million vehicles in a timely enough fashion.

*UPDATED: Official Toyota press release added after the jump. 9,400 Lexus GX 460 units recalled.

[Source: The Detroit News]

Zagato teases Alfa Romeo TZ3 Corsa ahead of Villa d'Este

Alfa Romeo TZ3 Corsa by Zagato

A couple of weeks ago, we reported that Zagato was planning to unveil a new Alfa Romeo at the upcoming Concorso d'Eleganza Villa d'Este. Now the stoic Italian carrozzeria has released the first teaser image (above) and initial details of what it has in store for us.

The TZ3 Corsa follows in the footsteps of the original Alfa TZ and TZ2, drawing on some 90 years of collaboration between the two companies and commemorating Alfa's centenary. It's based on a carbon fiber tubular chassis overlaid with a lightweight aluminum body. But instead of a show car like the Pininfarina 2uettottanta and the Bertone Pandion that bowed in Geneva, the TZ3 Corsa is a full-on competition machine, commissioned by an unidentified German gentleman racer.

The overhead view looks strikingly similar to the 8C Competizione upon which it's based, and Zagato has released a handful of images of its historic Alfa racers to mark the occasion. The most prestigious of open-air auto shows takes place this year from April 23-25, so stay tuned for more details.

2011 Audi A8 L arrives with 500-hp W12, seating for a king-maker

2011 Audi A8 L

Audi is pulling out its biggest gun yet for the Beijing Motor Show, and while the big news for the A8 L might be the 6.3-liter W12 and the sedan's longer wheelbase, it's the rear seat accommodations that have us frothing at the mouth.

Seriously, just look at it.

With an overall length of nearly 17 and a half feet, the A8 L is almost a half-foot longer than its standard sibling, with a wheelbase of 10.24 feet. Those extra inches are put to good effect, with an interior that's enough to make a Maybach look downright spartan.

Open the lengthened rear doors and occupants are greeted by acres of leather, a full-length center console and two power-adjustable, heated and ventilated seats that not only move fore and aft, but include adjustments for cushion depth, lumbar support and seat back angle. Ten remote-controlled air-bladders massage your cares away, and if the front passenger seat � with its power-adjustable folding ottoman � cramps your style, you can move it forward with the flick of a switch.

The standard four-zone automatic climate control is manipulated by no less than 25 adjustable motors, and the massive center tunnel contains everything from a folding table to a refrigerator. It's all first-class, from the ambient lighting to the Valonea leather, and when the time comes to put the laptop away, crank up the 1,400-watt, 19-speaker Bang & Olufsen Advanced Sound System and enjoy a movie on one of the two 10.2-inch LCD displays.

If you're ready to give your chauffeur a rest, take solace in the fact that the W12 puts out 500 horsepower and 461 pound-feet of torque through Audi's new eight-speed automatic transmission and Quattro all-wheel drive. The result is a remarkably quick 4.9-second run to 60 and a electrically-limited top speed of 155 mph.

The W12 will be the standard engine at launch, with a few diesel and petrol-powered engines available further down the line. We'd expect pricing for the A8 L to be revealed shortly after its official debut later this month.

Jeep EV Concept, 2008

Jeep EV Concept, 2008

The Jeep EV development vehicle is a Range-extended Electric Vehicle that provides a glimpse into the future of a "Go Anywhere, Do Anything" vehicle with renowned Jeep Wrangler capability.

The Jeep EV combines Wrangler's unmatched off-road capability with the ultimate "Tread Lightly" mindset by providing nature ambassadors with the ability to roam the planet and take care of it at the same time.

The Jeep EV Range-extended Electric Vehicle uses an electric motor, an advanced lithium-ion battery system, and a small gasoline engine with an integrated electric generator to produce additional energy to power the electric-drive system when needed. The 200 kW (268 horsepower) electric motor generates 400 N�m (295 lb.-ft.) of torque. With approximately eight gallons of gasoline, the Jeep EV has a range of 400 miles, including 40 miles of zero fuel-consumption, zero-emissions, all-electric operation.

The instant high torque of the electric-drive motor and the ability to precisely control each wheel independently results in off-road capability ideally suited for the Jeep brand, without compromising on-road driving capability.

Jeep Cherokee, 2008

Jeep Cherokee, 2008

The new Cherokee will launch in the UK in May 2008 with a choice of manual or automatic transmission and one equipment level - Jeep Cherokee Limited.

Inside, the all-new Jeep Cherokee Limited will feature a Luxury Leather Package which includes supple leather-trimmed seats featuring French-seam stitching. The passenger grab handle, console-storage cover and front-door trim panels also receive the same leather treatment, complete with the French-seam stitching. The parking brake handle and transmission shifter receive exclusive leather treatment, brushed stainless-steel door-sill plates welcome passengers, and the floor carpet is augmented with premium floor mats all as standard.

Standard features now include automatic temperature control system, tilt steering column, luxury leather-wrapped steering wheel, power and heated fold-away mirrors, power windows with driver-side one-touch, fog lamps and 17-inch aluminium wheels.

Classic Jeep Design
The exterior design of the all-new Jeep Cherokee takes its cues directly from the Jeep brand's legendary 65-plus years of heritage. Familiar design characteristics, such as the clamshell bonnet, seven-slot grille, trapezoidal wheel openings and rugged stance provide the vehicle with its classic Jeep style.

Standard across the range is the signature seven-slot grille. A front-end module that spans across the vehicle houses the grille and headlamp system in a single unit. The structure is designed to meet pedestrian impact and other crash standards for all markets. Front lamp modules contain halogen headlamps and standard fog lamps. The front fascia is body colour on all vehicles.

Industry-Exclusive Sky Slider Full-Open Canvas Roof
The all-new Jeep Cherokee brings the open-air experience with the industry-exclusive Sky Slider full-length open canvas roof. The Sky Slider roof can be moved to several positions, including full forward, full rear or partially open to any position in-between with a convenient express one-touch switch.

The Sky Slider roof is made of a reinforced acrylic cloth, similar to a convertible top, which is weather-resistant and leak-proof. The top panel nests into a weather strip seal to help minimise wind noise. The roof utilises anti-pinch software that will prevent the roof from moving should it detect an object in its path. The Sky Slider roof is an optional feature.

Functional Interior Space with More Available Amenities
The interior of the all-new Jeep Cherokee delivers simple, functional styling and provides customers with ample storage and organisational space.

Standard 60/40 split fold-flat rear seats and a fold-flat front-passenger seat are perfect for loading and hauling. The rear seats also incorporate a recline feature for more adjustment for passengers. The front and rear seats feature wide inserts and heavy bolstering designed to cradle occupants for a secure feeling. The seats have tall, square shoulders, and the bottom cushion has been lengthened for better thigh support. Leather, heated seats are standard on the Limited model.

Audio and Navigation Systems
The Jeep Cherokee is available with a variety of audio systems, and will offer the innovative MyGIG Multimedia Infotainment System that features built-in navigation, audio, entertainment and communication systems as an optional extra.

The voice dialogue system recognizes more than 100,000 words. The navigation system features both 2-D and 3-D bird's-eye views of roads and multiple route calculation alternatives. Maps and guidance are displayed on a motorized, flip-down 6.5-inch thin-film-transistor (TFT) colour display. The TFT screen uses an active matrix for viewing from angles up to 180 degrees - perfect for the centre of an instrument panel.

Cargo and Utility
There are several storage and convenience features designed into Jeep Cherokee's spacious rear cargo area.
Both left and right trim panels have cargo tie-down loops for securing items to the load floor. The left trim panel houses a concealed compartment for jack storage and tools.

The load floor system has a reversible carpeted surface. Dual latches on either side release for access to a 10-centimetre deep waterproof storage bin beneath the lid - perfect for muddy boots.

Economical and Powerful 2.8L CRD
The Jeep Cherokee is also available with a new 2.8-litre DOHC 16-valve common-rail turbo diesel engine. With its Variable Geometry Turbocharger (VGT) and rapid throttle response, this engine enables the Cherokee to claim best-in-class torque of 460 Nm (339 lb.-ft.) at 2,000 rpm with the five-speed automatic transmission, and best-in-class towing capacity of up to 2,800 kilograms and a driving range of 450 miles. Maximum power is 130 kW (177 hp DIN) at 3,800 rpm.

The new 2.8-litre CRD engine also provides a weight savings of approximately 6 per cent, achieves increased cam belt life (durability now of 140,000 kilometres) and features Piezo fuel injectors and a 2000-bar fuel system to improve fuel-system speed and control.

A forged steel crankshaft now features eight counterweights compared to the prior crankshaft which had four. A structural oil pan assists in reducing noise, vibration and harshness on the new engine.

The VGT now has an electronically controlled actuator as opposed to a pneumatic actuator on the previous engine. This provides improved cold launch performance, and it also allows the turbocharger to spool up faster from idle, minimising turbo lag and providing good low-end and high-end torque.

All-new Full-time Four-wheel-drive System
The all-new Selec-Trac II full-time four-wheel-drive system is standard on all Jeep Cherokee models. The Selec-Trac II four-wheel-drive system is a full-time, active on-demand system that anticipates and prevents wheel slip before it occurs. It is ideal for a wide range of road settings, including dry pavement conditions not typically suited for conventional part-time four-wheel-drive systems.
Electric shifting between 2WD, 4WD Auto and 4WD Low is accomplished with a console-mounted switch. A pushpin button is used to shift to Neutral mode.

Jeep-engineered Hill Descent Control
The same Jeep-engineered Hill Descent Control system introduced on the new Jeep Grand Cherokee is now available on the all-new Cherokee (with an automatic gearbox only). The system was designed to mimic the downhill control and flexibility afforded by the ultra-low gearing found in a Jeep Wrangler Rubicon with its 4:1 ratio transfer case and six-speed manual transmission. This gearing provides for six speeds of controlled hill descent.

Operational in the 4WD Low position, Hill Descent Control provides downhill assistance at a controlled rate of speed with more precision and smoother operation than simply using the brakes. By means of electronic brake control, Hill Descent Control supplements the gear reduction and engine braking that a traditional mechanical low-range transfer case provides. Unlike most of its competitors, the new Jeep Cherokee with Hill Descent Control offers extremely smooth transitions between speeds and allows the driver to use the throttle and brakes without turning the system off, with a smooth and controlled return to the preset speed after the driver releases the throttle or brakes.

Hill Descent Control is standard on all Jeep Cherokee models with automatic transmissions.

Proton Impian, 2006

Proton Impian, 2006

From the initial design sketches, through prototyping and development to production of the Proton Impian, first passenger car to be created entirely in Malaysia, Proton engineers have set out to reward owners with a driving experience in the highly competitive D sector that is second to none.

That they have succeeded is due in no small measure to a unique combination of engineering excellence and design flair. Proton's pragmatic approach to worldwide market requirements blends the best of Malaysian creativity with European engineering precision and Japanese manufacturing skills.

To create a safe and soothing environment for driver and passengers, Proton engineers have been supported by a Malaysian-based project team established by EDAG, the German body engineering specialists, while the Proton Impian's ride comfort and pin sharp handling reflect the silky skills of Lotus suspension tuning experts previously paraded in Proton's acclaimed Satria GTi.

The result is a car with clean, crisp styling that provides occupants with impressive safety standards and drivers with full control, no matter what the conditions. The reinforced body structure is among the strongest in its class, giving greater torsional rigidity for less body roll, better road-holding and a solid, European feel to the driving experience.

Setting even higher quality standards, the Proton Impian is manufactured using the latest modular construction techniques in a new factory alongside Proton's main plant at Shah Alam near Kuala Lumpur. Modular integration allows each module to be stronger and more rigid, at the same time reducing weight.

A state of the art emissions laboratory at the centre is fully approved by the UK's Road Transport Department Vehicle Certification Authority, while sophisticated suspension compliance and measurement rigs coupled with training from Lotus specialists has given Proton engineers the ability to achieve world-class ride and handling standards.

Malaysia's primary national car manufacturer has come a long way since the first Mitsubishi-based car rolled off the production line in 1985 and the Proton Impian personifies a new ambition to produce products that are technically advanced, great value and satisfying to drive.

Inner Strength
Thicker steel has been used to reinforce the entire body structure of the new car for maximum rigidity and reduced deformation in collisions. This has also helped to minimise road vibrations and noise transmitted through the suspension mountings.

A recyclable plastic fuel tank module is 15 per cent lighter than in previous Proton models and is designed to withstand a 30 mph rear impact from another vehicle. Modular construction is also used for the doors, front suspension assembly, strut and shock absorber mountings and for brake mountings.

Longer, wider and taller than the Proton Wira, the Proton Impian is also crucially 100 mm longer in the wheelbase. This adds up to more leg, head and shoulder room for added comfort. Spacious accommodation for up to five adults is supported by a wide, easy to load 15.5 cubic feet luggage compartment, which houses a space saving spare wheel and storage tray.

Safe and sure footed
Coil-sprung MacPherson strut front suspension and coil-sprung multilink rear suspension are enhanced by stabiliser bars to create the right balance between precise handling responses transmitted through rack and pinion progressive power steering and ride comfort.

In tuning the spring rates and dampers to achieve this goal, Lotus Engineering conducted exhaustive development work on steering effort and response, linearity, straight-line handling, cornering, lane changing, body control, wheel control and smoothness of ride before the Proton Impian was brought to market. The result is a car that scores eight A's in every facet of ride and handling.

In benchmark tests against such established and acclaimed D sector models as the Audi A4, Honda Accord and Vauxhall Vectra, the Proton Impian established a clear lead in overall ride and handling. With just 2.8 turns from lock to lock, steering response from the alloy wheels shod with 195/55R 15 tyres is direct and positive.

The driver's control of vehicle dynamics is further enhanced by the fitting of traction control as standard equipment to UK-spec cars. Dependable braking over all road surfaces is assured by 10in diameter disc brakes all round, ventilated at the front, plus four-wheel electronic ABS.

Flexible performance
Lower fuel consumption, noise and vibration levels, plus improved flexibility and response are delivered by the latest version of the lightweight Mitsubishi 1.6 litre 4G18 S4 petrol engine fitted to the new model.A plastic intake manifold and redesigned pistons, fuel injectors and distributor have saved space and reduced weight, while a new cooling system, engine stay and cylinder block reinforcement contribute to quieter running.

The four cylinder engine's design features improved cooling and lubrication of the cylinder block. A metal head gasket and wider timing belt ensure even better reliability and consumables such as transmission and engine oil, filters and spark plugs boast extended service intervals.

The new engine delivers increased power and torque than previous 1.6 engines used by Proton for enhanced driveability and economy, while emissions comply with European Step III regulations. Drive is either through a five-speed manual gearbox or optional four-speed electronic automatic transmission.

Safety and comfort
Ergonomic layout of all controls coupled with use of high quality materials in harmonious shades have dictated the design of the new model's passenger compartment. Fascia and seat styling reflects the latest thinking on interior design, with all functions within easy reach and view to help the driver maintain concentration on the road at all times.

Speedometer, tachometer and ancillary gauges monitoring water temperature and fuel level are positioned alongside a warning light panel directly ahead of the driver. Face level fresh air vents are positioned either side of the instrument panel and the driver's view ahead is protected from instrument glare by a stylish curved hood. Below the vents in the strategically-angled centre console are push button controls for secondary functions and a built-in stereo system, which has been ergonomically designed and acoustically tuned by Clarion specially for the Proton Impian.

Controls for the sound system are high mounted in the driver's field of vision to avoid driver distraction and push button controls for volume and station search are incorporated in the 14in. three spoke height adjustable steering wheel, which also houses an electronic driver's airbag.

Easy to use controls for the standard air conditioning are also to be found in the centre console, which sweeps down to incorporate an ashtray, cigarette lighter, cubby hole, gear shift, handbrake, cup holders and centre armrest concealing a storage bin. Ahead of the front passenger is a fascia-mounted airbag above the large glove compartment and both front seat occupants gain addition impact protection from side airbags.

Body hugging, reclining front seats with adjustable head restraints have 240 mm of fore and aft adjustment, while the driver's seat has hand controls to adjust seat height and lumbar support. Velour upholstery and deep pile carpeting is standard fitment, while the 1.6X is trimmed with Connolly leather upholstery.

Rear seats incorporating vertically adjustable head restraints and a folding central armrest feature 60/40 split and a child seat restraint anchorage. Moulded interior door trim conceals six-piece impact protection that complies with EU side impact safety requirements and windows are electrically powered front and rear. Finger-tip safety-touch controls for all four windows plus child-proof security lock are conveniently located for the driver in the front door armrest, while grab handles above each door and sun visors flush-fold into the moulded headlining.

Proton GEN-2, 2004

Proton GEN-2, 2004

Following Proton Berhad's acquisition of a 100 per cent controlling interest in Group Lotus Plc, personnel from the British sports car manufacturer's engineering division have been closely involved in the development programme of GEN-2; both at the Lotus headquarters in Hethel and at Proton's �62 million vehicle design and development centre in Malaysia.

Proton GEN-2 has been styled to attract a wider customer base; the Lotus Design Studio has had a major influence on the design of the curvy muscular bodywork that looks simply sensational in a range of new colours. From the bee sting aerial to the dashboard instrument panel, reminiscent of the Lotus roundel, the GEN-2's sporting pedigree is undeniable.

The 1.6 litre CAMPRO engine, designed in collaboration with Lotus, delivers exceptional torque output. The double overhead-camshaft engine produces 110bhp.

Power is matched by agility, with handling developed by Lotus. The Proton GEN-2 has outstanding stability when cornering and changing lanes, making it an exciting, responsive drive while maximising passenger comfort.

Sleek, sporty lines continue throughout the interior. The design combines ergonomic comfort with classic minimalism, while exclusive touches from Blaupunkt have brought fingertip controls to life.

Optimal protection is provided by increased body rigidity and strategic crumple zones. Four-wheel ABS on the GSX model ensures stability and good braking performance, whilst the Electronic Brake force Distribution (EBD) system prevents wheel lock up as the driver makes avoidance manoeuvres whilst braking.

Vauxhall VXR8, 2007

Vauxhall VXR8, 2007

Motoring enthusiasts across Britain mourned the passing of the Monaro. The only Australian-built car to be sold in the UK offered raw and exciting performance thanks to its 6.0-litre V8 and rear-wheel drive set up.

But the thunder from down under hasn't stopped yet - in fact it's only going to get louder. Vauxhall has announced the arrival of a new Aussie musclecar - the VXR8 - and it's more powerful and exciting than even the legendary Monaro.

The dramatic-looking new saloon is powered by the same 6.0-litre V8 as the outgoing Monaro VXR, but revisions to the engine have made it even more efficient. It now develops a massive 420PS and 550Nm of torque, giving it enough grunt to sprint from 0-60mph in just 4.9 seconds. No other supercar offers this sort of power for anywhere near the VXR8's price.

Yet the VXR8, based on Australia's Holden HSV Clubsport R8, offers more in the way of practicality than the outgoing Monaro, with four doors and space for all the family.

Though practical, with a spacious boot, comfortable, long-legged cruising ability and luxuries such as climate control and leather trim, the VXR8 is certainly no softie. Driver aids such as the stability system and traction control can be turned off at the flick of a switch - perfect for drivers who want to hone their skills on a track day!

VXR8 goes as well as it stops, too, with powerful 365mm front disc brakes that slow the car down from 60mph to a standstill faster than a Lamborghini Murcielago or BMW M5.

In response to customer demand, the VXR8 will also be the first VXR model to be offered with an automatic gearbox. In order to maintain the control which VXR buyers require, the optional �1,400 self-shifter has a manual override and a sport setting which ensure the performance isn't blunted - in fact the auto is only half a second slower to 60mph than the manual!

Satellite navigation and 20-inch wheels will be offered as options for those who want to make their VXR8 look more distinctive and help find their way to the best driving roads. Even with all the option boxes ticked however, the VXR8 is still around half the price of other cars with comparable performance.

Vauxhall Corsa 5-door, 2007

Vauxhall Corsa 5-door, 2007

Vauxhall Corsa 5-door, 2007

The new version of the Gamma platform has been codeveloped by Fiat and Opel. It will be used by the 2006 Fiat Grande Punto (a stretched version of the Fiat Punto), 2007 Opel Corsa and future versions of Lancia Ypsilon and Fiat Idea. GM Daewoo will take responsibility for future development of the Gamma platform, so the production of the future Corsa might be outsourced to South Korea as well.
The first official pictures of the 2007 Corsa were released by Opel in May 2006. Based on the photos of the Corsa, it is very likely that the 3-door and 5-door versions will remain. This car will also be sold as a Vauxhall in the UK.

Vauxhall Corsa 3-door, 2007

Vauxhall Corsa 3-door, 2007

A new version of the Gamma platform has been codeveloped by Fiat and Opel. It will be used by the 2006 Fiat Grande Punto (a stretched version of the Fiat Punto), 2007 Opel Corsa and future versions of Lancia Ypsilon and Fiat Idea.
GM Daewoo will take responsibility for future development of the Gamma platform, so the production of the future Corsa might be outsourced to South Korea as well. The first official pictures of the 2007 Corsa were released by Opel in May 2006. Based on the photos of the Corsa, it is very likely that the 3-door and 5-door versions will remain.
This car will also be sold as a Vauxhall in the UK.

Vauxhall Antara, 2007

Vauxhall Antara, 2007

The Opel Antara is a mid-size crossover SUV, which is based on General Motors' Theta platform. It is closely related to the Chevrolet Captiva (made in Korea by GM Daewoo, also sold as the Daewoo Winstorm), and shares the engine lineup with it, but has a different exterior and interior, as well as different exterior dimensions. The Antara is scheduled to be launched towards the end of 2006. In the UK, the model will be sold as Vauxhall Antara.

* 2.0 L turbodiesel I4, 150 hp (112 kW) (developed with VM Motori) - 5-speed manual
* 2.4 L Ecotec I4, 142 hp (106 kW) (from Holden) - 5-speed manual
* 3.2 L Alloytec V6, 225 hp (168 kW) (from Holden) - ActiveSelect automatic

.Alfa Romeo Giulietta hits the European market

Alfa Romeo Giulietta

Ladies and Gents, say hello to the new Alfa Romeo Giulietta. Then say goodbye. Because although Alfa Romeo says this car is slated to reach "all major markets," apparently that doesn't include North America.

Following its public unveiling at the Geneva Motor Show last month, Alfa has finally released full details and a whole slew of photos of the new five-door sport-hatch. And whether it makes it Stateside or not, this stands to be a pivotal, make-it or break-it product for the stoic Italian marque that celebrates its centenary this year.

Aside from this being a new Alfa � which is reason enough for many to sit up and pay attention � what you're looking at here is Italy's chief contender for the coveted Ford Focus/Volkswagen Golf segment. And quite a contender it is, from the looks of things.

The Giulietta is the second new vehicle Alfa has introduced to replace the long-serving 147 hatchback, joining the three-door MiTo in anchoring the brand's range while reviving a classic nameplate for the marque. Stylistically, it's also the third model to follow the company's newest design direction, following the lead set by the flagship 8C Competizione and the aforementioned MiTo. And while the styling may have lost some fans in its transition from supercar to supermini, it appears to translate better to the Giulietta's longer frame better.

The interior likewise draws its inspiration from the 8C Competizione, particularly around the dashboard. Despite the relatively high belt-line � especially in the back � the cabin has a much airier look and feel than the more cocooning MiTo, thanks in part to the expansive optional sunroof. It's also packed with all the features you'd expect of a new product from a major automaker, topped by an options list that includes Bose sound, TomTom nav and the Blue&Me connectivity system developed with Microsoft.

The tech isn't limited to the cabin, however. At launch, Alfa is offering the Giulietta with four engine options: gasoline-burning 1.4-liter turbo fours with 120 or 170 horsepower (the latter assisted by Fiat's MultiAir variable valve technology) and a pair of turbo-diesel, displacing 1.6 and 2 liters and producing 105 and 170 hp, respectively. The Quadrifoglio Verde � bearing Alfa's legendary cloverleaf badge � will follow, packing a 1.8-liter, direct-injection turbo four with 235 horsepower on tap, as will a new dual-clutch transmission. In the meantime a six-speed manual serves all four engine options.

Market-wise, the Giulietta presents a compelling case. Although its upscale stature, coveted badge and equipment list puts it squarely in league with premium hatchbacks like the Audi A3 and BMW 1 Series, its pricing comes closer to a Golf or Focus, giving Alfa a serious contender against models in both segments.

You can read more details about the Giulietta in the press release below, and view all the high-resolution photos in the gallery. But as important a product as the new Giulietta is for Alfa Romeo and its parent company Fiat, it's also the harbinger of things to come for the brand and the rapidly expanding auto giant. The new Giulia is slated to be based on a modified version of the same platform, replacing the stylistically brilliant but dynamically flawed 159 sedan and sportwagon, to say nothing of the successor to the Brera and Spider models. Sources also expect a slew of new Chrysler models to borrow the same architecture. So whether or not the Giulietta as we see it here makes it to American shores, its platform, engines and other features almost certainly will.