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Ford Vertrek Concept Revealed

Ford Vertrek Concept

Although having a quick look at the Vertrek Concept will make you say that the design is inspired by mixing the Focus with the Kuga, it does look very good in my humble opinion and it is definitely a step forward regarding the design of the CUVs made by the company. Ford’s Vertrek Concept which debuted at the 2011 Detroit Auto Show is the preview of the Blue Oval’s next small crossover which will replace the Escape in North America and the odd-looking Kuga in Europe.

The car you see in these pictures is equipped with a new generation of the 1.6-liter EcoBoost 4-cylinder engine and comes with the gas-saving Start/Stop technology, making it very efficient. The design of the Vertrek wears the company’s Kinetic design language which was first launched on the small Fiesta hatchback and later on implemented on the new generation of the five-door and sedan versions of the popular Focus models.

Ford Vertrek Concept

According to the press release, 90% of the cars made by Ford will have an EcoBoost option by the year 2013 and this fuel-efficiency trend will expand on most of the manufacturer’s lineup of cars. The EcoBoost technology can deliver a 20% gain in fuel economy while at the same time is capable of lowering CO2 emissions by up to 15%. The Auto Start/Stop function is capable of further lowering the CO2 emissions by another 5%, making the cars very eco-friendly.

The company said in their press release that from the preliminary data they have gathered until now, a production car based on the Vertrek Concept would be at least 5% more aerodynamically efficient in comparison with the current Escape and Kuga models. On the company’s new C-segment platform there will be at least 10 new models in the future and by 2012, the Blue Oval will sell about 2 million units, according to the estimates made by the company.

Ford Vertrek Concept

Without any doubt, the Ford Vertrek Concept looks great but we highly doubt that the production model that will be derived from this one will have the same futuristic design.

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Honda Exhibits Civic Sedan And Coupe Concepts

Honda Civic Coupe Concept

Although advertised as concepts, the production versions of both the coupe and the sedan will look very similar to these if we were to judge the company’s history with concepts. This means that the upcoming Civic Coupe will have an Accord Coupe-inspired styling which should make it very appealing in our opinion, considerably better than the outgoing generation. If you are interested in the sedan version, it will look just about the same as the 2011 Civic. Although in the front it will look a little bit angrier in comparison to what you were accustomed to, the headlights along with the carried-over grille are very familiar to most of us as Honda decided to stick to what they know, and they know well.

Honda Civic Coupe Concept

According to what Honda said, for the first time in history, the natural-gas Civic will be available in all 50 states in comparison to previous generations when the cars were available only in selected areas. According to the press release, the i-VTEC (“intelligent” variable valve timing and Lift Electronic Control) technology will be more efficient for the upcoming 2012 models. The soon-to-be-released Hybrid version of the Civic will feature the latest generation of the IMA – Integrated Motor Assist gasoline-electric hybrid system and will have the very first application of a lithium-ion battery pack in a hybrid made by Honda.

Honda Civic Sedan Concept

Most of the upcoming Civic models will get the Eco Assist technology that is already available in the Insight and CR-Z hybrids. The 2012 Civic will be the first Honda model delivered in the United States that will benefit from the Eco Assist technology in a gas-only powered car. As we mentioned before, Honda will be working on expanding the availability of the gas-powered model (GX) which is at the moment the only OEM-built, dedicated CNG passenger vehicle that is assembled in the United States.

Honda Civic Sedan Concept

As far as safety is concerned, all of the 2012 Honda models will be fitted as standard with VSA – Vehicle Stability Assist. In addition, the upcoming 9th generation of the popular Civic will have the company’s proprietary ACE – Advanced Compatibility Engineering body structure for managing the front collision energy.

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Mini Family Just Got Bigger

Mini Paceman Concept

Although shown as a concept, BMW’s smallest division Paceman Concept will be the basis of Mini’s eight production vehicle. The Paceman is actually a Countryman without the two rear doors and with a gradually sloping roofline. Although it may seem a little bit sportier, it will however limit the car’s visibility.

Similar to the Mini Cooper S Countryman, the rear apron of the Paceman Concept has a diffuser that is capable of channeling the airflow between the twin exhausts and according to the press release, will enhance the vehicle’s aerodynamic properties. The car measures 4,110 mm in length, 1,789 mm in width and 1,541 mm in height.

Inside the car, you will find the company’s distinctive and unique design language with a couple of new touches. The gearshift, Central Speedo and the central air vents have outer rings finished in a contrasting color while the generous side air vents underline the company’s traditional design ideas. The slim center console construction of the Paceman Concept was created in order to improve legroom for both the driver and the passenger. The shaped armrests have generous stowage compartments while the ergonomically shaped door pulls round up the design. In the back of the two front sports seats Mini installed two individual rear seats that have backrests.

Mini Paceman Concept

The car was fitted with the most powerful Mini engine available at the moment, the John Cooper Works 1.6-litre twin-scroll turbocharged power unit that offers 211 hp and a generous torque of 192 lb-ft. With the overboost function activated, it can offer 207 lb-ft. The engine can be linked to either an automatic transmission or to a 6-speed manual gearbox.

The Paceman features the proprietary MINI ALL4 permanent AWD system that has an electromagnetic center differential installed on the final drive that is capable of varying the distribution of the power between the front and back axles. Most of the time, 50% of the drive is transmitted to the rear wheels of the car but in extreme road conditions even 100% can be directed towards the front.

Mini Paceman Concept

As far as the suspension is concerned, in the front the Paceman Concept has been equipped with MachPherson spring struts. Combined with the electric power steering with the speed-sensitive power assistance, the car promises to be very agile and responsive. In the back, the car has a multi-link axle developed in collaboration with the BMW Group and it can be used for both the AWD and the RWD configurations.

We are eager to find out more about other Mini cars, like the Coupe and Roadster which should be launched late 2011 and 2012, respectively. Of course, we are curious to see which production model will be derived from this Paceman Concept that is in fact a high-riding crossover with a sporty vibe here and there.

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Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG E-Cell Announced

Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG E-Cell

The most interesting car brought by Mercedes at Detroit is the SLS AMG E-Cell. Except this one, the Germans brought a wide range of eco-friendly cars, like the B-Class F-Cell and many BlueTec diesel engines. Getting back to the E-Cell, you probably have already seen this eye-searing yellow paint before. What is interesting about the car, except for the paintwork is the power it packs – 525 hp and a massive 649 pound-feet of torque, all thanks to the four synchronous electric motors. These are installed close to each of the four wheels which means that there will not be any unsprung mass problems of the hub-mount configuration in order to aid the car’s handling capabilities. These four compact electric motors are capable of achieving a maximum rpm of 12,000 rpm.

According to the official press release, the Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG E-Cell is capable of doing 0-60 mph in only 4 seconds, similar to the 563 hp 6.3-liter V8 SLS AMG which does it 0.3 quicker. To stop this electric supercar, the Germans fitted it with AMG ceramic composite brakes. The prototype exhibited at Detroit had these types of brakes which will be offered as an optional feature for the standard production model. The carbon fiber-strengthened ceramic measure 15.8×1.5 inches in the front and 14.2×1.3 in the rear and they feature an integral design all around. In comparison with normal brakes, the ceramic discs are 40% lighter. This significant reduction improves agility and handling but also adds a little bit to the grip of the car and the driver’s comfort.

The front apron of the SLS AMG E-Cell has been brought further forward and it now further optimizes the airflow to the underbody of the supercar, reducing downforce and improving wind resistance at the same time. For the exact same purpose, an extendable front splitter was installed which extends towards by 3 inches when the car is running at speeds of over 75 mph. The E-Cell rides on 10-spoke light-alloy rims developed by AMG, covered by 265/35 R 19 tires in the front and 295/30 R 20 in the back.

Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG E-Cell

The model showed at Detroit sports dynamically shaped full-LED headlamps that feature integrated daytime driving lights. The radiator grille of the E-Cell has been updated and is offered with transverse slats unlike the ones found on the normal SLS AMG that have a diamond pattern.

Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG E-Cell

Being an electric vehicle, the interior couldn’t have remained the same as the normal SLS AMG. As a consequence, the AMG instrument cluster as well as the center console received a new design. The first one offers information about estimated range, charge status of the battery and speed. The latter offers a 10-inch touch screen for the navigation, climate and audio functions. In addition, the driver can find more about the flow of power from the four electric motors.

Inside, the driver will find a black/white color combination of the high-quality premium leather. The steering wheel was wrapped in alacantara and leather, similar to the door linings and the broad center console.

The car will be available for ordering sometime next year at a yet undisclosed price.

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Porsche 918 RSR Unleashed

Porsche 918 RSR

One of the highlights of at this year’s Detroit Auto Show is without any doubt the Porsche 918 RSR. Based on the 918 Spyder Concept, Porsche decided to roll out a race-bred version and this one has the same drivetrain as the 911 GT3 R Hybrid concept car. According to the Germans, the car will be able to offer a combined power of 767 ponies. 563 of them will come from the V8 6.2-liter that can rev up to 10,300 rpm while the rest from the two electric motors that are installed on each of the front wheels.

These two electric motors will feature a torque vectoring function with variable torque distribution to the front axle. This will translate into more agility on the road and increased steering response. The mid-engine V8 is linked to the same gearbox found on the RS Sypder race car. This 6-speed constant-mesh gearbox is operated by using two shift paddles located behind the steering wheel.

Porsche 918 RSR

The motor racing character of the car is enhanced by the air intake located in the roof right between the wing doors; the two roof-mounted aerials for pit radio and telemetry; the doors that open upwards; the 19-inch wheels with central locking and the list could go on.

Unlike the 918 Sypder concept car, inside the RSR the racing atmosphere is predominant. The car has bucket seats, the gear will flash on the racing wheel and the display on the steering wheel will notify the driver with all the necessary info. The console of the RSR features a minimalistic design with rocker switches; completely differ from the Spyder’s futuristic design with the touch-sensitive interface.

Porsche 918 RSR

Instead of installing a useless second seat, the people over at Porsche decided to fit the 918 RSR with a flywheel accumulator which is an electric motor whose rotor is capable of rotating up to 36,000 rpm in order to store rotation energy. This charging situation occurs when the two above mentioned electric motors located on the front axle reverse their function while the car brakes and they operate just like generators. The driver can use that accumulated force when he is accelerating or overtaking, just by simply pushing a button. This extra power can be used within eight seconds after the system is fully charged.

Similar to the 918 Concept, the Porsche 918 RSR features a carbon fiber reinforced plastic structure and its body was penned in order to pay respect to the iconic racers like the legendary 917 short-tail. It is without any doubt, one of the most beautiful racing cars ever made and we are eager to find out how it will handle on the circuit.

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Top 50 Worst Cars In All History PART 2

If the first part got you intrigued then grab a cup of coffee as we dive into the history of the most awful cars ever made.

Waterman Aerobile

Let’s start things with the Waterman Aerobile. Waldo Waterman had a dream. Seriously, he wanted to create a roadable airplane and he spent years developing it. He finished off his first successful prototype in 1934. His “Arrowplane” was in fact a high-wing monoplane that had tricycle wheels. While on the ground, the wings folded against the fuselage like those of a fly. Although it was a stupid project, it will however remain as the first authentic flying car. Twenty years later, he perfected his prototype and came up with the Aerobile which was created as a swept-wing “pusher” (basically it had a prop in the back). Surprisingly (or not) there were a couple of … let’s call them enthusiasts that wanted one of those things. Waldo’s only working Aerobile is now resting in the Smithsoian and God willing it will remain there.

Ford Edsel

Moving on, we find the Ford Edsel. Many of you might say that nothing was wrong with the car. Although it was kind of expensive and ate fuel like there was no tomorrow, it wasn’t an automotive disaster. However, it did make it into our top as it was the very first victim of the Madison Avenue hyper-hype. The marketing schemes of the Blue Oval advertised this as a wonder car, packing hundreds of horsepower under the hood when in fact it was a Mercury with a Ford badge. Other people say that the reason why it failed was because the front grill looked very similar to a vagina.

MGA Twin Cam

The MGA Twin Cam was another automotive flop. Introduced back in ’55 as the replacement of the popular TD model, it was itself put to sleep in ’62 when the MGB was launched. The car was anemic when it was first launched so the engineers at MG decided to offer an optional high-performance power unit with dual overhead cams. It was a complete disaster, the pistons were burning, the engine was leaking, and basically nothing worked. Several years after the engine was discontinued, it was discovered that all of the malfunctions of the car were caused by the carburetors. Too little, too late.

Zunndapp Janus

Here is one fascinating car – the Zunndapp Janus! Look at it! Even Mr. Bean wouldn’t want to drive this monstrosity. One of Germany’s piece of engineering, it was made in Nuremberg by a well-known motorcycle company and was based on the Dornier prototype. This baby had a groundbreaking 14 hp engine, allowing it to reach a top speed of 50 mph. The “cool” thing about it is that it had a rear-facing back seat.

Amphicar

Moving to something a little more innovative we find the Amphicar, based on the Nazi Schwimmagen. It was a piece of crap, awful as a car, terrible as a boat. On water, it was slower than a frog as it had a top speed of only 7 mph. Although it might come as a shock for you, between 1961 and 1968, there were 4,000 units of the Amphicar made and some of them are still working, sort of. A fun fact you might say: there were some flooding in UK a couple of years ago and the Amphicar severed as a water taxi.

Chevrolet Corvair

We all know how great rear-wheel drive cars can be and how many advantages they can offer, but by putting the car’s most heavy component in the back, it will have the tendency to spin out. The guys over at Chevy knew that the Corvair was a lovely air-cooled car with a 6-cylinder engine in the back, similar to the VW Beetle, but they got cheap and not invested some money for the swing-axle rear suspension to make it more manageable. Its spinning tendency wasn’t the only thing wrong with it. In case of an accident, the driver had great chances of being impaled by the Corvair’s single-piece steering column. But wait, there’s more! The car didn’t like oil very much and leaked like a Panzer. The heating system was terrible as it would pump noxious fumes in the car.

Peel Trident

What can we say about the Peel Trident? It doesn’t look like a proper car but more like a science project that our kids have to do for school. We have no idea why was this thing created and for whom. What we do know that it was based on the P-50 and it might be the smallest car in the world, correct us if we are wrong. Kinda short on words but look at it…

AMC Gremlin

Here is a classic car, the AMC Gremlin. Richard Teague will remain in the history for creating some of the coolest cars of the 70s, but the Gremlin does not fall into that category, not by a long shot. It will remain in our minds for being one of the most curiously proportioned cars of all time with its truncated tail and long front overhang. If you wanted the cheapest car money could buy in the early 70s, this was the one.

Triumph Stag

This is a beautiful car, in our opinion. The Triumph Stag was definitely a looker during those days but it was doomed because of very bad engineering. To make the body structure stiffer, it had a T-bar that connected the roll hoop to the windscreen. The V8 3.0-liter engine was great, during those seconds when it actually worked.

Chrysler Imperial LeBaron Two-Door Hardtop

The last car in today’s article is the Chrysler Imperial LeBaron Two-Door Hardtop. The legend of the Imperial name was killed with this awful car. This vehicle had some of the longest fenders in all automotive history. It had a silly-huge 440 cubic inch V8 power unit and measured over 19 feet long! If you have never seen a third-world casino and have the possibility of getting inside this car, it is the same thing!

Join us tomorrow for another 10 automotive disasters. Stay tuned.

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Lamborghini LP 700-4 – New Details Emerge

Lamborghini LP 700-4

Lamborghini has recently unveiled new information about the 700-4 model (most likely to be called “Aventador”) which will be the successor of the Murcielago. The new info regarding the car is in its body and chassis construction which will be made entirely from carbon fiber. In order to accomplish this, the company teamed up with Boeing Corp. and the University of Washington for creating this material.

The body and the frame of the car feature a stiffness of 35,000 Nm per degree of deflection. This is more impressive than the stiffness found on supercars like the Koenigsegg CCR (28,100 Nm), the iconic Ferrari F50 (34,600 Nm) and way better than the outgoing model, the Murcielago (20,000 Nm).

As said in previous entries, the car will be equipped with an upgraded engine that will have a different bore and stroke and will be able to output 700 PS and 690 Nm. The engine will be linked to a 7-speed automatic (single clutch with dual synchronizers) transmission, developed by Graziano Trasmissioni Group. When in “Corsa” mode, the shift times are just 50 miliseconds, a little bit more than a F1 car (40 ms).

Lamborghini LP 700-4

All these goodies come in only a 3,472 pounds package which will allow the car to reach 60 mph in 2.9 seconds, onto a top speed of 217 mph.

The car will be officially unveiled at the 2011 Geneva Auto Show which will take place in March. Once it will be launched, we will offer all the info.

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In Depth – Chevrolet Camaro Convertible

2011 Chevrolet Camaro Convertible

After a couple of annoying delays, the 2011 Chevrolet Camaro Convertible is finally available and the wait was worth it.  Four years ago Chevrolet showed us the Camaro Convertible Concept, a year later after the original Camaro Concept. They planned since then a convertible version but due to bankruptcy issues, the production model was unfortunately postponed.

After the crisis has passed, sun worshipers can now enjoy the Camaro Convertible if they can afford it, of course. Taking the recipe from the standard Camaro, the convertible version sounds better, is better and is more fun to drive than the original model. It was a risky business for Chevrolet to remove the roof of the Camaro and at the same time maintain the car’s eccentric look, but somehow they did it. In the coupe version, the roof of the car is pulled in tight over the massive flat rear fenders while for the convertible model, the roof meets the haunches in a more natural way and fills the space on the rear deck better.

A neat trick is the AM/FM antenna which hides in the rear spoiler, maintaining the smooth look of the roof. At the moment the roof is available in black and tan, but later on the manufacturer will introduce other colors as well.

Of course, driving without the roof improves the driver’s visibility greatly and even more interesting is that with the roof up; the Camaro convertible is easier to see out of than its coupe sibling. Just as you have might expected, the rear window of the car is considerably smaller, but in actual visibility you wouldn’t notice it that much. The downside is that from the windshield forward, the convertible is identical to the coupe which means that those huge A-pillars are still there and you will have some trouble looking through the corner. The visibility is quite low but those A-pillars are necessary for the rollover protection.

You will forget about this downside once the wind is in your hair. In order to remove the roof, you need to grab the single center-installed latch, then pull it down and twist it to the right. After that, you need to push and hold the roof-control switch which is conveniently located nearby and let the car take care of the rest. It should take about 16 seconds to go topless. In order to have the necessary space for all of the roof parts, the trunk space has been lowered to 10.2 cubic feet in comparison to the 11.3 offered by the coupe version. If you decide to fold the roof, you will only have 7.9 cubic feet of space. A similar feature that you can find in the Cadillac XLR is the pull-out screen that is capable of protecting the soft roof from your cargo.

A more difficult chore is putting the roof back on the Chevrolet Camaro Convertible. If you have got the $200 optional tonneau cover in place, it must go back in that tiny trunk. After that, the roof needs to come up and it will do so in about 25 seconds.

2011 Chevrolet Camaro Convertible

The Camaro Convertible uses a front suspension consisting of struts, coil springs and an anti-roll bar while for the back it has coil springs and also an anti-roll bar. To stop it, Chevy engineers equipped the Camaro with 14-inch vented discs in the front and 14.4-inch vented discs for the back wheels. The car rolls on 8×20-inch wheels in the front and 9×20-inch rims in the back, covered by Pirelli PZero 245/40ZR20 103Y / 275/40ZR20.

People over at Chevy claim that their Camaro Convertible is stiffer than the highly-acclaimed BMW 3-Series Convertible; we will let you decide that. The Camaro packs new V-braces under the front and rear of the vehicle, a new front shock tower brace, a new transmission brace and a new sheer panel situated below the driveshaft. All of the additional parts, including the ones for the folding roof, added 253 pounds to the overall weight of a car that was already quite hefty. The good side is that the weight distribution is now closer to the 50:50 magic ratio.

Driving the car you will not notice the extra weight of the convertible and it feels just about the same as the coupe model. People over at Chevrolet said that they have been working very hard at improving the car’s handling for both of the configurations. Both models benefit from updated damper settings for less understeer and better on-center feel. The downside is that this additional weight is felt in the engine performance because the SS V8-powered model will do the 0-60 mph sprint in 4.9 seconds which is 0.2 more than the coupe version.

The good thing about the added weight is that the car feels more planted while driving in comparison to the coupe and it is more deliberate while cornering. This confidence during driving always allows a better driving experience.

Although the Camaro Convertible might be fashionably late in this segment, the timing is just perfect for it. We are very curious to see how well this new model will sell if we take into consideration that it will only be available in the LT and SS trims and not in the entry-level LS. This means that the base price of the car will be $30,000 for the one powered with the V6 engine and $37,500 for the more powerful V8 engine. This means that the Camaro convertible is $2,000 more expensive than the Ford Mustang convertibles. Probably this difference in price tag will not affect sales, taking into consideration the fact that Camaro coupe buyers are already paying $500 more in comparison to Mustang buyers.

According to the EPA ratings, the 2011 Camaro Convertible it will do 16 mpg in the city and 24 mpg on the highway. CO2 emissions stand at 1.03 lb/mile. All things considered, it is without any doubt one of the most interesting convertibles of this year.

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Initial Review: 2012 Infiniti M35h

2012 Infiniti M35h

The Infinity M35h (Nissan Fuga Hybrid in Japan) is the company’s first hybrid of the 21st century. Back in 1999, the company launched the Tino hybrid, following Toyota into the hybrid automotive era. Although it had a lithium-ion battery pack which put Nissan ahead of rival Toyota, the Tino was made in only 100 units which was just a splash in the ocean and the model was not relevant enough in order to put the company on the hybrid car map. Later on, Nissan borrowed Toyota’s technology and made a hybrid version of the Altima which was a stopgas measure.

Design-wise, there are no differences between the standard Infiniti M, except for the chrome-coated 18-inch alloy rims. The car will rival with the BMW 5-Series and the Mercedes-Benz E-Class, once it will be available at dealerships starting with this spring. It will be Infiniti’s first production hybrid car. The model is fitted with Nissan’s 3.5-liter engine as well as one electric motor / two-clutch parallel hybrid system that the company refers to as “intelligent dual clutch control.” This system is clever enough to combine a significant number of environmental technologies. Both the V6 engine and the electric motor are linked to a 7-speed electronic transmission that has a manual shift mode for old-fashioned drivers.

The concept is similar to the one found in the Cayenne Hybrid from Porsche, but Nissan did not implement a torque converter which means that although it can provide better fuel economy figures, it will also produce more noticeable shift shock. Initially the company wanted to use the V6 3.6-liter power unit for the M Hybrid, but after searching for the optimal combination between fuel economy and power, they chose the 3.5-liter engine.

2012 Infiniti M35h

Once you start the engine of the car you basically won’t hear a thing, similar to most of the modern hybrids. The car packs enough power comparable with a V8 engine as the 302 hp / 258 pound-feet of torque @ 5,000 rpm offered by the V6 along with the 67 hp / 200 pound-feet of the electric motor, allow it to reach 60 mph in only 5.5 seconds which is quicker than most of the large V8-powered sedans. The car is almost quiet like a Lexus but feels like a true Infiniti – refined yet very sporty.

The Infiniti M35h offers a pleasurable drive thanks to its double wishbone suspension with four-wheel active steering. With almost perfect weight distribution and a highly rigid chassis, the car is a delight to drive. Although it may sound like a bold statement, the M35h is the most fun to drive in the hybrid class.

2012 Infiniti M35h

Similar with the all of the electric and hybrids cars available at the moment, the car is equipped with the AVSP– Approaching Vehicles Sound for Pedestrians feature that sounds from takeoff until the car reaches 20 mph in order to alert hearing impaired people as well as children when the car is running in EV mode. Other worth-mentioning features are the Bose 10-way sound system and the “forest air” climate control system.

The car will do 25 mpg in the city and 30 mpg on the highway, according to manufacturer estimates and the CO2 emissions stand at 0.72/mile (estimates). The estimated base price for the 2012 Infiniti M35h is $53,000.

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Driving The 2011 Audi Q7 TDI

2011 Audi Q7 TDI

The Audi Q7 TDI is one of the few vehicles that were able to change the perception that diesel-powered cars are stinky, crude and black smoke-spewers. The 2011 model is better than its predecessor and the biggest improvement is the 8-speed automatic gearbox which replaces the 6-speed unit from the 2010 model. With this new gearbox, the Q7 shifts more smoothly and seamless. The engine is the same as before and still is capable of offering a pleasurable drive. Although it is a diesel, once you fire it up, you will not be bothered by the noise which is very perceptible in other diesel-powered cars. Upon start you can barely hear it and it gets even more silent as the power unit warms up.

The TDI engine offers 406 pound-feet of torque at only 1750 rpm which means that you will not have to hit the gas pedal very hard to pass in traffic or accelerate. The steering of this SUV is typical for an Audi as it offers all the accuracy you could want without feeling even a bit nervous. The car will do just fine on straight roads and on highways but once you take it for some off-road adventure; the Q7 will feel like an athletic sedan that packs lots of torque.

The 2011 Audi Q7 TDI will do 0-60 mph in 8.6 seconds which isn’t very bad taking into consideration the fact that its gas-powered brother (4.2-liter V8) will do it in 7.6 seconds. The 2011 model is 27 pounds easier than the 2010 VW Touareg TDI, despite the fact that it has a third row of seats. Although the VW is a little bit heavier, it is in fact faster than the Audi as the Touareg will do the 0-60 mph sprint in 8.1 seconds. If you are not interested in the TDI versions of the Q7, your gas-powered choices are the V6 3.0-liter that outputs 272 hp (which replaced the 3.6-liter V6) and the more powerful supercharged V6 3.0-liter (which replaced the 4.2-liter V8) that churns 333 hp, both linked to an 8-speed automatic gearbox.

2011 Audi Q7 TDI Interior

Interior-wise, the 2011 Q7 TDI from Audi comes with high-quality leather, comfortable and supportive seats as well as a clean layout. For the new model, the SUV packs a panorama roof and HD radio. The A-pillars are a little bit thick and will reduce the front side visibility but nothing to serious. If you haven’t been inside a Q7 you will have problems opening the glovebox as there is no lever or handle. The glovebox can be opened by pushing a button located next to the MMI / navigation screen. Inside it you will find a useful iPod connection.

With this engine, the Q7 TDI will do 17 mpg in the city and 25 mpg on the highway and has a fuel range of about 660 miles. It is without any doubt, a modern SUV that handles very well and is both fast and efficient while at the same time keeping the engine noise to a minimum.

2011 Audi Q7 TDI

All of these goodies come at a considerable price. The entry-level model costs $51,450 and comes with 19-inch rims with all-season tires, Audi Parking System, chrome accent package with full paint finish, power tailgate, 7-passenger seating, leather seating surfaces, heated 12-way power front seats, LED taillights, HomeLink universal remote, Bluetooth mobile phone preparation and HomeLink universal remote control. The Premium Plus trim will set you back $57,450 and offers MMI Navigation plus, BOSE Surround Sound, Audi parking system plus with rearview camera, Audi Xenon plus headlights with automatic self-leveling and integrated LED daytime running lights, driver memory and panorama sunroof. The top-of-the-line model is the Prestige and packs 20-inch rims with all-season tires, adaptive headlights, advanced key, side assist, ventilated front seats, warm weather package and power adjustable steering column. The Prestige trim is available for $63,450.

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2012 Chevrolet Sonic Officially Revealed

2012 Chevrolet Sonic

After some preliminary info, the 2012 Chevrolet Sonic has been officially revealed, both in sedan and hatchback configurations. It will go up against the Ford Fiesta and the Hyundai Elantra once it will be available at dealerships. In comparison with the Blue Oval model, the Sonic offers more room for the backseat passengers and also more cargo room thanks to its rear bench folded flat design. The production of the Sonic will begin later this year at GM’s Orion Assembly Center in Michigan, USA.

Design-wise, the new model is quite different from the Aveo predecessor as now it has a more aggressive front look with generous headlight arrays. Inside the car will get better materials in comparison to the cheap materials you find in the outgoing model. The “Aveo” badge will still be carried for the European-spec model.

One of the engines available for the new model from Chevrolet includes the efficient 1.4-liter turbo Ecotec capable of outputting 138 hp (103 kW), which is 18 hp (14 kW) more than the Ford Fiesta. According to the press release, it is the same power unit used on the Chevrolet Cruze in a lighter and smaller package. The engine is linked to a 6-speed manual gearbox. Some of the most important features of this Ecotec engine includes the electronically controlled thermostat, the variable-flow oil pump, chain-driven cams, piston-cooling oil jets and integrated oil cooler, roller-finger camshaft followers, dual overhead camshafts with VVT – variable valve timing and low-mass hollow-frame cast iron block. As standard, the car is fitted with an Ecotec 1.8-liter engine that is paired with either a 5-speed manual gearbox or a 6-speed automatic transmission.

2012 Chevrolet Sonic

The car features as standard electronic power steering as well as StabiliTrak electronic stability control with rollover sensing technology. As far as connectivity is concerned, the Sonic pack 6-months Turn-by-Turn navigation, USB, Bluetooth, XM Satellite Radio as well as MyChevrolet mobile application with OnStar MyLink car connectivity. A few goodies that you won’t see in many cars from this segment are the heated front seats, sunroof and remote start. Safety features consist of 10 airbags, electronic brake force distribution as well as brake assist with the Automatic Crash Response.

2012 Chevrolet Sonic Interior Look

Inside the car you will find a detailed instrument cluster that has a round analog tachometer set within an asymmetrical LCD readout featuring a digital speedometer display. The tubular outboard climate outlets of the Sonic protrude from the instrument panel surface and the automatic shift knob features a “cobra head” look and for the cars fitted with manual transmission, the car has a chrome-finished knob.

All of the 2012 Chevrolet Sonic models are offered with a MacPherson suspension in the front with a stabilizer bar and coil springs while in the back; the car is fitted with a semi-independent, torsion beam axle-mount compound link-type rear suspension that features a tubular robust “V”-shaped beam that has gas-chocked shocks. The car features power-assisted front disc brakes and drum brakes in the back. The four-channel ABS and the electronic power steering round up the safety features of the car. The Sonic is available with a rich array of rim sizes, including 17-inch wheels with sport tires.

No pricing details have been revealed for the 2012 Chevrolet Sonic.

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Top 50 Worst Cars In All History PART 1

Horsey Horseless

First, let’s start with the Horsey Horseless created by Uriah Smith from Battle Creek, Michigan. As you can see from the picture (and it wasn’t “fixed” in Photoshop) this (let’s call it) car had a wooden head attached to the front in order to make it look like a horse and carriage. Smith suggested that this horse head should be hollow in order to contain volatile fuel, another brilliant idea in our opinion, wouldn’t you say? I for one would like to see this so-called car for real, if there are any left as it isn’t very clear if it was actually built. Also, I would like to meet someone that purchased this “car”.

Ford Model T

Here is a car that 99% will not agree as being suitable for this top – the Ford Model T. Yes we know that this is the car that put American on the wheels and so on. The “Tin Lizzy”, who’s mass-production technique, was discovered by William C. Klann, who visited a “disassembly line” of a slaughterhouse, gave Americans the chance to visit the country on four wheels. Nothing wrong you would say, no? However, putting all these aside, if it weren’t for gas-powered vehicles, the air would be considerably fresher; the cities would not be suffocated by hundreds of thousands of cars and so on. Speaking of the Model T, it was a piece of junk with its crude instruments and body panels, think of it as a Yugo of its day.

Overland OctoAuto

Now, here is a “looker”, the Overland OctoAuto. Milton Reeves, the creator of this thing, didn’t hear that the all cars should have four wheels because it’s NORMAL. He must have had poor eyesight when he created the OctoAuto by welding in some bits to a 1910 Overland and by adding two more axles and four wheels. The car was presented at the first edition of Indianapolis 500. How many orders did he receive for this car? None of course! However, he didn’t stop here because next year he made the Sextauto which had a 6-wheels / single front axle design that shared the same faith as the OctoAuto. Milton Reeves will remain in the history of the automotive world not because of these cars, but for the fact that he is considered the inventor of the muffler.

Scripps-Booth Bi-Autogo

Who wouldn’t like to drive a 3,200-lb motorcycle? If you could go back in the past, you could drive this awful Scripps-Booth Bi-Autogo (even the name is terrible). Let’s not forget that it was powered by a V8 engine and it had training wheels. James Scripps-Both is the guy responsible for this monstrosity which is basically a two-wheeled vehicle that carries the 3,200-lb of weight on the 37-inch wooden wheels (the bling-bling of those days). The car will remain in history as being the first car powered by a V8 engine that was made in Detroit.

Briggs and Stratton Flyer

Here is another vehicle that blew us away, the Briggs and Stratton Flyer. In the 20s, cars were no longer considered as a primitive experiment as Cadillac, Rolls-Royce and Hispano-Suiza were already making luxurious and potent vehicles that had the newest technical discoveries. This vehicle wasn’t one of them. It was a motorized park bench on regular bicycle wheels. It had no windshield, no bodywork and no suspension! With its “massive” 2 hp engine and rear-wheel traction control, imagine what it was capable of doing, absolutely nothing. It was the 20s idea of the cheapest car, poorly implemented.

Fuller Dymaxion

Fuller Dymaxion is the product of R. Buckminster Fuller, one of the nutjobs of the 20th century. Conceived as a flying automobile/drivable plane, it had inflatable wings and jet engines. This awful-looking thing was in fact a three-wheel ground-bound zeppelin that had an enormous levered A-arm carrying the rear wheel. The first one created died due to the wobbly rear wheel while the next two iterations were heavier, bigger and slightly more maneuverable. Another one was made and it featured a stabilizer fin on top but it didn’t do anything to fix the instability in crosswinds. Its public appearance was doomed because of a fatal accident of unknown causes. Although it was a piece of crap, it remained one of the most futuristic cars of the 30s, along with other rear-engined vehicles like the KdF-wagen and the Tatra.

Chrysler/Desoto Airflow

If it was launched 20 years later, it would have been a huge hit; we are talking about the Chrysler/Desoto Airflow. It had many engineering and design innovations including a steel-spaceframe construction, aerodynamic singlet-style fuselage, light weight construction and near 50:50 weight distribution. The first cars made had very severe engine problems which didn’t made it very popular among Americans. Its appearance wasn’t also very appealing to them which is why Chrysler changed the grill with one that had a more conventional design and the car also received a raised trunk, but it was too late.

Crosley Hotshot

The first post-war American sports car was the Crosley Hotshot which was simply put, awful. With its 1,100 lbs weight and measuring 145 in. long, it was very slow and dangerous. Creator Powel Crosley Jr. fitted the car with a dual-overhead cam .75 liter 4-cylinder power unit that was brazed together from pieces of stamped tin.

Renault Dauphine

The Renault Dauphine (it originally got the name Corvette) is considered by many one of the slowest cars of all time. People over at Road and Track took it for a “spin” and were able to reach 60 mph from start in “only” 32 seconds. Due to the fact that it was a very cheap car, it sold in more than 2 million units, although it was poorly constructed and very rust-prone.

King Midget Model III

The King Midget Model I was launched in the late 40s and was sold as a $500 home-built kit, it was a very awful car, both inside and out. Introduced in ’57, the Model III was powered by a 9 hp engine and still was a piece of junk. Luckily, Government safety standards ended its misery life.

The top was inspired from Dan Neil’s “The 50 Worst Cars Of All Time“.

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Shanghai GM’s Buick GL8 Now Available

2011 Buick GL8

Since its debut in the Chinese market which occurred in 1999, Buick has managed to sell 330,000 units of the GL8 model and for 2011, China’s first family of executive wagons builds on the luxury MPV heritage of the first generation, according to the official press release. Available starting with this month, the new model brings 27 technological breakthroughs and seven innovations. The car was developed by Shanghai General Motors in close collaboration with the PATAC – Pan Asia Technical Automotive Center.

The new design of the GL8 is highlighted by the company’s distinctive double sweep spear running from front to back. The chrome portholes and the waterfall grille are new to the 2011 model alongside with the decorative metal bands.

2011 Buick GL8

The 2011 Buick GL8 luxury MPV has a length of 5,256 mm, a width of 1,878 mm and a height of 1,800 mm. According to Buick, the car offers plenty of space for all of its passengers and the interior “merges Eastern and Western aesthetics.” Inspired by luxury yachts, the GL8 has a 360-degree wraparound design and ice-blue atmosphere lightning.

Some of the most important amenities of this luxury MPV include the following: 10.2-inch WVGA HD display located in the back, 7-inch touch screen located upfront, 5.1-channel Bose sound system with 10 speakers, one-touch electric lift rear door, electric anti-pinch sliding door, two-piece panorama sunroof, two-tone ergonomic genuine leather seats as well as communication and security service.

The suspension of the car has been enhanced by the independent front and back sub-frames that will offer a smooth ride, Shanghai GM promises. The proprietary QuietTuning developed by General Motors will reduce, block and absorb the interior noise.

The new model will be available with one of the two following engines: a V6 SIDI 3.0-liter intelligent direct injection power unit or with a 2.4-liter Ecotec. As standard, both engines are linked to a 6-speed automatic gearbox.

As far as safety is concerned, the 2011 Buick GL8 has a super-solid body frame and premium handling is guaranteed by the Bosch 8.1 ESP system, the company promises. Some of the models are fitted with large disc brakes and tires alongside with six airbags. In order to ensure maximum visibility, Shanghai GM fitted the car with multi-dimensional blue ray Bi-Xenon HID headlights as well as chrome LED taillights.

2011 Buick GL8

The car will have a retail price between RMB 288,000 and RMB 388,000, depending on the trim level and engine choice.

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Special Edition Ford Mustang Up For Auction

2012 Ford Mustang Grabber Blue Boss 302 Laguna Seca

At the 40th Annual Barrett – Jackson Scottsdale Auction there will a one special edition Ford Mustangs listed. The Grabber Blue Mustang Boss 302 Laguna Seca will be auction for charity on Saturday, January 22nd, in order to help Barrett-Jackson celebrate its 40th Annual Collector Car Auction in Scottsdale, Arizona. All of the earnings above the MSRP will go to the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation, which is a leader in research as far as curing Type 1 diabetes.

Considered the best-handling Mustang ever, the Boss 302 Laguna Seca is powered by a V8 5.0-liter capable of outputting 444 hp. A one-of-one production car, it was made entirely for this auction and will have a Grabber Blue surround, Recaro Seats with Grabber Blue seam embroidery as well as distinctive black accents on the C-Stripe, Citic Dicastal wheels, spoiler, mirrors and on the roof. The Laguna Seca package borrows the technology of the 2012 Boss 302, offering an aggressive suspension, chassis as well as some aerodynamic tweaks.

The Boss Mustang was developed to be the fastest, straight-production, best-handling Mustang of all times made by Ford. The company will not give this Mustang the green light for production until it proves to be better than the 2010 BMW M3. In comparison to the standard Boss edition, this one is one tenth of a second quicker in the 0-60 mph sprint, offers 1.03g of lateral acceleration and has the capability of stopping three feet quicker from 60 mph in comparison with the standard Boss. The company expects that the car will be two seconds quicker on a normal road course.

The limited edition of the Laguna Seca will be manufactured at the AutoAlliance International Assembly Plant in Flat Rock, Michigan, alongside with the Mustang Boss 302.

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New Details Of The Ford Focus Electric

Ford Focus Electric

Although the Nissan Leaf and Chevrolet Volt were the big hit as far as electric cars in 2010, Ford is hoping that their new Focus Electric will steal all the thunder of EV cars in 2011. The Focus EV, a zero-emission car will make its official debut at the 2011 CES – Consumer Electronics Show and officials at Ford have said that the car will be available at North American dealerships at the end of this year and as far as Europe is concerned, customers will have to wait until 2013.

Looking at the car, you will notice that it looks a little bit different than the conventional Focus, employing an Aston Martin-inspired front fascia, the necessary charging port that has a LED ring and is located to the left of the driver’s door. In addition, the Focus EV will have a new set of 17-inch 15-spoke rims which will be covered by low-rolling resistance tires. The car will have improved aerodynamics in order to improve the drag. The conventional Focus has a LED eyebrow above the headlamp only for the European model, but Ford said that the North American Focus EV will also be available with this feature.

Moving on to the most important aspect of the car, the Focus EV will be powered by a 100-kilowatt electric motor that will have a 23-kWh battery which is capable of outputting 123 hp and a respectable torque of 181 pound-feet. Although the company didn’t say anything about the official capable range of the car, they did mention the fact that it will be able to reach a top speed of 84 mph.  Some sources say that the car will be able to do about 100 miles on a single charge, just like the Nissan Leaf. According to Ford, a full charge will take about three hours using a 240-volt outlet and about 20 hours on a 120-volt outlet.

Ford Focus Electric

The most interesting aspect about the car is how the manufacturer will be able to make electric vehicle ownership a piece of cake. The wall-mounted two-piece charging stations will be available for purchase from Best Buy and the people over there will be responsible for install them. In addition, Ford developed the all-new MyFord Mobile application which allows the Focus EV owner to monitor and interact with the car at all times. Ford has formed an alliance with Microsoft for offering value charging, a new system that “allows our customers to reduce their electricity costs by taking advantage of off-peak or other reduced rates from their utility without a complicated set-up process.”

The Ford Focus EV will be built together with the conventional Focus at the company’s Michigan Assembly Plant, located in Wayne, Michigan.  Ford is at the moment thinking where will the European-spec Focus EV be built starting with 2013.

Getting back to the MyFord Mobile application, it will offer the owner of a Focus EV (and other future EV cars from Ford) the following data: info about the vehicle’s status information; capability of performing key functions remotely; monitor the vehicle’s state of charge as well as current range; get alerts when the vehicle should be charged or when the charging has finished and also the possibility to remotely program change settings and download the car’s data for analysis.

Ford Focus Electric

As far as the batteries are concerned, Ford teamed up with supplier LG Chem in order to develop the advanced lithium-ion battery system that uses heated and cooled liquid in order to help maximize the life and fuel-free driving range. This active liquid system is capable of heating or chilling a coolant before pumping it through the system in charge of the battery cooling. This loop will be capable of regulating the temperature throughout the entire system against external conditions. During the hot days of the year, the chilled liquid will absorb the heat coming from the batteries and will disperse it with the help of a radiator, prior to pumping it through the chiller again. During the cold days, the heated liquid will warm the batteries and will bring the system temperature to a level in a gradual manner which will allow it to accept charge energy in an efficient way and will provide the necessary discharge power for expected car performance.

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