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Smart Roadster, Set To Make A Comeback

Smart Roadster (rendering)

According to our esteemed colleagues from Auto Express, it seems that there are big plans over at Smart as not only we shall see an all-new Roadster, but also a 4×4 model. A Smart consumer and a reader of Auto Express made a visit to a local dealer where he found out that successor of the Roadster model and a 4×4 rival for the MINI Countryman are in the works.

These photos that you see are renderings of how the models could look like when they will be launched. The Roadster model draws its inspiration from the cool ForSpeed concept that made its official debut back in March during the 81st edition of the Geneva Motor Show and at the same time it stays true to the original 2003 model, featuring a distinctive low stance while at the same time with a few modern design finishes like the intricate detailing and the sculpted flanks.

Smart 4x4 Model (rendering)

As far as the 4×4 model, it is a rather bulky 5-door that reminds us of the ForFour model which was axed from the Smart lineup back in 2006. It has the company’s traditional two-tone body and it will most likely be the largest model ever launched by the automaker.

Probably, this 4×4 model is going to be based on the all new platform that has been developed for the upcoming Mercedes-Benz B-Class while for the Roadster things are not certain at the moment.

The new generations of the ForTwo and ForFour will hit the dealerships sometime in 2014.

Source: Auto Express

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Electric Bus Catches Fire On Road In China

According to the Chinese media, an electric bus caught fire in Shanghai this Monday and it appears that unfortunately this isn’t the first incident of this type. A report revealed by Reuters indicates that at least one earlier incident has been reported in the last three months. We don’t know if the bus you see in this photo was stationary, in service or parked by the roadside but what we do know (and what really matters) is that nobody got hurt after this incident.

The bus that caught fire was a part of a test fleet that uses ultra-capacitors in order to store energy from a network of charging points. These buses are almost entirely different from the regular EVs sold in the United States, including here the Volt and the Leaf, which store the energy in lithium-ion batteries that as you already know, charge at very slower rates. These cars do not use ultra-capacitors so these cannot store a lot of energy but can provide a high level of power very fast.

If we do a little bit of math, these ultra-capacitors may recharge at 182 kilowatts which is a lot faster than any EV on sale today. At a 65% efficiency rate, 60 kW (or more) of heat may be shed during the recharging process, which is a lot if you think about it.

EVs charge either at 3.3 or 6.6 kW on dedicated 240V Level 2 charging stations or a maximum of 50 kW on the Level 3 DC Quick-Charge stations.

Source: Reuters, Shanghaiist via Green Car Reports | Photo: Eastday

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2012 Audi A8 L W12, Priced From $135,675

2012 Audi A8 L W12

At the beginning of this week, Audi of America affirmed that the 2012 A8 L W12 has a base price of $135,675. If you think that this is the most expensive model from its lineup in North America, you’re wrong as the 2012 R8 GT will set you back at least $198,050 and adding a few goodies on it will make it hit $200,000.

2012 Audi A8 L W12

The price tag for the A8 L W12 includes the $1,300 gas guzzler tax and an $875 destination charge. According to EPA, the vehicle is able to return 14 mpg in the city and 21 mpg on the highway. The elegant car is powered by a huge 12-cylinder 6.3-liter engine that generates 500 hp and is mated to an 8-speed automatic gearbox.

2012 Audi A8 L W12

Some of the goodies that you will get if you order the car include 20-inch rims, 22-way comfort seats that have massage and ventilation functions, along with rear-seat entertainment, panorama sunroof and Audi connect with Google Earth.

2012 Audi A8 L W12

Although the car costs a lot of money, it still is more affordable than its sister brand as the 2012 Bentley Continental Flying Spur that is priced at $189,795.

Source: Audi via Inside Line

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CarTech Fiat 500 Abarth Coppa Revealed

CarTech Fiat 500 Abarth Coppa

You’ve probably seen dozens of tuning programs for the Fiat 500 and now you can add another one to the list. The German tuners over at CarTech took the Abarth version of the 500 and gave it a little bit more oomph. By modifying the power unit with bigger turbochargers, they’ve increased the output of the engine to 240 hp and a peak torque of 380 Nm. To get this impressive hp figure, they also optimized the air intakes, updated the intercooler and installed a titanium steel exhaust system that benefits from Race mode in order to produce more noise.

CarTech Fiat 500 Abarth Coppa

With these upgrades under the hood, the CarTech Fiat 500 Abarth Coppa is able to do the 0-62 mph sprint in only 5.9 seconds and completes a lap of the Hockenheim Ring in only one minute and 16 seconds, which is a whopping 6 seconds faster than the standard Abarth version of the Fiat 500.

CarTech Fiat 500 Abarth Coppa

Aside from these upgrades, CarTech also installed a lightweight bodykit that sports a huge air splitter and a wing, along with a vented hood, bigger tailpipes as well as a few tweaks in the suspension and chassis department in order to improve the handling of this pocket rocket. Remember, all that power is sent to the front wheels so better handling was certainly necessary.

Source: CarTech via Motor Ward

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Rare Porsche 911 GT1 Straßenversion For Sale

Porsche 911 GT1 Straßenversion

If you are in the market for a very rare car, you might want to have a closer look at this Porsche 911 GT1 Straßenversion which despite its radical looks, it is a street legal 911. In fact, the car you see in these photos is the fully road-legal version of the GT1 race car that Porsche launched in 1997.

Porsche 911 GT1 Straßenversion

Although this is based on the 993, it comes with a lot of modifications, some of the most important being the exclusive carbon fiber body that was developed in order to improve the aerodynamics of the car and reduce the weight as much as possible. It also has a detuned version of the turbocharged 6-cylinder engine available in the competition model, but it delivers about 540 hp. However, the owner of the car has uprated the output of the engine to about 700 hp.

Porsche 911 GT1 Straßenversion

According to Porsche, only 20 units were ever built and now you can grab one of these very rare and precious cars if you are willing to pay $1.7 million (1.2 million Euros). At the moment, the car is located in Tokyo Japan, according to the seller so if you’re nearby, it’s definitely worth to stop by and have a closer look at this supercar.

Source: Mobile via GTspirit via Carscoop

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Spy Shots – 2012 Fiat Panda

2012 Fiat Panda

One of the most important cars in Fiat’s recent history is the Panda and pretty soon the all-new model will make its way into the showrooms. Carscoop’s photographers managed to grab a couple of spy shots with the upcoming model while undergoing some tests in Europe. As you can see, the prototype was wearing a lot of camouflage and cladding so we can’t say too many things about its design but as you can see for yourselves, it seems that it is going to retain the shape of the 2nd gen Panda.

2012 Fiat Panda

The 2012 Panda is based on the same architecture that has been used for the latest generation of the stylish Lancia Ypsilon and both of them will have pretty much the same engine lineup, including here Fiat’s tiny 2-cylinder turbocharged 0.9-liter along with the bigger 1.3-liter MultiJet II turbodiesel.

2012 Fiat Panda

An official debut of the all-new Panda will most likely occur this September at the Frankfurt Motor Show and according to various reports; the car will enter the production phase in November and should hit the market in early 2012.

Source: Carscoop

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2012 Hyundai Sonata Gets Facelifted In South Korea

2012 Hyundai Sonata

Perhaps one of the most beautiful cars ever made by Hyundai, the Sonata has received its very first facelift for the 2012 model, the one sold in South Korea. Some of the subtle changes include an updated front grille that has less chrome around the sides and on top, new LED taillights, redesigned mirror casings and a bunch of new alloys to choose from, including here a sleek set of 18-inch alloy wheels.

2012 Hyundai Sonata

Inside the cabin, the 2012 Hyundai Sonata gets new trim options, LED spot lights, higher quality materials and more standard equipment along the entire lineup.

2012 Hyundai Sonata

Just like the non-facelift model, the 2012 Sonata is going to be offered with a 4-cylinder 2.0-liter engine that churns 165 hp. However, they decided to ditch the 2.4-liter gasoline power unit in favor of a more potent turbocharged 4-cylinder 2.0-liter engine that develops 271 hp.

No word about the possibility to include these styling changes to the international market of the Sonata but our guess is that pretty soon all versions of the Sonata will get this mild update.

Source: Hyundai via Carscoop

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2012MY Chevrolet Volt Production Starts At Tripled Capacity

If you remember, June was the month when the 2011 Nissan Leaf took the lead in the United States in EVs sales from the 2011 Chevrolet Volt. Last month, the Japanese automaker managed to deliver 3,875 units of its Leaf model, despite the fact that the company had to face some serious problems caused by the tsunami and earthquake that struck Japan a few months ago, causing production delays.

In the meantime, Chevrolet sold 2,745 Volts in June and one reason of the lower sales numbers are due to the inventory levels that can’t meet the demand. This situation with the inventory is the direct consequence of the Detroit-Hamtramck assembly plant retooling where the EV is being built. After a month of production halt, this week Chevy began assembling the 2012MY Volt and Hamtramck promises to build 3,750 cars each month.

With a tripled production capacity, the plant should be able to roll out 45,000 units of the Volt each year.

Source: Chevrolet via The Detroit News via Green Car Reports

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AMS Alpha 12 Nissan R35 GT-R Unleashed

The Nissan GT-R is perhaps one of the most impressive cars out there but the engineers over at AMS Performance though that it needs more powerf and there is still some potential to explore. And so they did as this AMS Alpha 12 produces an incredible 1309 hp (1327 PS / 976 kW) and a peak torque of 995 lb.-ft (1347 Nm), allowing the car to do the 60-130 mph acceleration in only 3.46 seconds. It needs only 9 seconds to do the quarter mile (402 meters) and when it reaches it the car is going at 166 mph (267 km/h).

Source: AMS Performance via Motor Authority via WCF

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VW Golf 7 GTI Will Be More Powerful

According to the British car magazine Autocar, the GTI version of the upcoming Golf 7 is going to get the same 2.0-liter engine as found in the current version but it will be uprated to 220 hp. For the GTI and R models, the German engineers will install an electronically limited, mechanical locking differential in order to provide as much grip as possible when the driver accelerates the car.

In addition, the seventh generation of the Golf will get an updated version of the 1.4-liter “twincharger” engine which will lose its supercharger. Instead, it will be a soft-turbo unit that will develop 150 hp. Most likely, the Golf Cabriolet will be offered in the R version, rather than a sporty GTI model.

According to various reports, the VW Golf 7 R will most likely go on sale before the GTI due to the reason that the German automaker estimates that it will bring bigger profits.

Source: Autocar.co.uk

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Mercedes-Benz SLK55 AMG Will Get New V8 5.5-Liter Engine

It seems that the new generation of the Mercedes-Benz SLK55 AMG is going to be powered by a new V8 5.5-liter engine. The car with this engine is set to make an official debut at the upcoming Frankfurt Motor Show which will be organized this September. This hand-built 5461 cc power unit is in fact a normally aspirated version of the massive V8 5.5-liter twin-turbo unit that powers the CLS63 AMG as well as the E63 AMG models.

They had to remove the twin turbos in order to keep the weight of the engine down to a minimum and now it weighs only 187 kg. In addition, according to a Mercedes-Benz inside, they didn’t want to make the more affordable SLK faster than the SL.

In comparison to the old V8 5.5-liter engine, the new engine is 60 hp more powerful which means that it is able to generate 416 hp and torque has also risen from the previous 376 lb.-ft to 398 lb.-ft. The good news don’t end here as the German engineers have managed to improve fuel economy by a whopping 30% while the CO2 emissions stand at 199 g/km. As standard, the new SLK55 AMG gets the stop/start system.

The new generation of the Mercedes-Benz SLK55 AMG is going to be offered with a brand new exhaust system with two independent silencer flaps in the back that at engine speeds below 2,000 rpm will stay closed and after that progressively open as the driver of the car applies more throttle. The aforementioned new V8 engine benefits from an F1-inspired AMG Cylinder Management shut-off system that allows the power unit to run on only four cylinders under partial loads in order to reduce the fuel consumption.

Also at Frankfurt, the German automaker will present a diesel version of the SLK, which will be a premiere as Mercedes has never installed a diesel engine in the sexy roadster. This SLK 250 CDI is going to be powered by a 4-cylinder turbodiesel that generates 201 hp, an engine that the company has been using on a lot of its models.

Both cars will arrive in the showrooms in early next year. According to various reports, the SLK55 AMG will have a base price of about 55,000 pounds while the diesel version will cost from 34,000 pounds.

Source: Mercedes-Benz via Autocar.co.uk

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Porsche Teases Upcoming 911

Porsche has decided to roll out a teaser for its highly anticipated next generation of the very popular 911 (991) which will make its official debut later on this year, probably at the Frankfurt Motor Show which will occur this September. This clip was recorded somewhere in South Africa and offers us a glimpse on what to expect from the new 911.

As a reminder, the Carrera S version is going to be powered by a 400 HP engine while the standard Carrera is going to share its 3.4-liter (350 hp) with the Boxster S model. Customers will be able to choose from one of the two transmissions available, a 7-speed PDK and my personal favorite, a 7-speed manual. For both transmissions the German supercar maker will offer the Launch Control.

The 2012 Porsche 911 is going to be 2.5 inches wider than the outgoing model and it will also have a 4 inches longer wheelbase. This longer wheelbase will accommodate the future HYBRID drivetrain which will be out sometime in 2016 when the mid-cycle refresh will arrive. The new 911 promises to be 12-15% more fuel efficient than the model it replaces and it is going to get an electronic parking brake as well as a full-length sunroof.

As standard, the 911 Carrera is going to ride on 19-inch rims, while the Carrera S gets 20-inch alloys. Buyers can opt for the optional 20 inch alloy wheels for the standard Carrera model.

Source: Porsche via WCF

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Porsche Releases Video With Panamera Turbo S

I don’t know who made this clip but they’ve managed to make the Porsche Panamera look kind of nice but I still think that there is a lot of room for improvement, as far as the aesthetics of the car are concerned.

Anyway, the Turbo S variant of the Panamera is powered by a massive V8 bi-turbo 4.8-liter engine that churns 542 hp (550 PS / 405 kW) and has a peak torque of 590 lb.-ft (800 Nm) with the overboost function and 553 lb.-ft (750 Nm) as standard. With such a powerful engine, no wonder that the car is able to do the 0-62 mph sprint in only 3.8 seconds, before hitting a top speed of 190 mph (306 km/h).

The Porsche Panamera Turbo S went on sale in June and has a base price in Germany of 167,067 Euros, including VAT.

Source: Porsche via WCF

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2012 Nissan Leaf Will Get Several Updates In North America

2011 Nissan Leaf

The 2012 Nissan Leaf is going to be offered with several upgrades when it will hit the market on August 4th this year. The most important one is in the SL variant which will get as standard the DC fast charge port, allowing the EV to be charged at 480V. This means that the owner of the Leaf can charge the batteries of the car to 80% of their capacity in less than half an hour. Aside from this upgrade, all of the variants of the Leaf are going to be offered with a heated steering wheel, heated seats and a battery warmer.

The base price for the 2012 Nissan Leaf is $35,200 and it will be available for order in new territories, like Pennsylvania, Indiana and Nevada.

Source: Nissan via WCF

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Toyota RAV4 EV, Available From Next Year

We have some good news for those of you that are waiting for the EV version of the Toyota RAV4 as a couple of days ago the Japanese automaker confirmed the fact that the car will hit the market next year and contrary to previous reports, it is going to be offered to all customers. These previous reports mentioned that the Toyota RAV4 EV is going to be offered only to car-sharing companies and fleet purchasers.

Toyota also mentioned that they are going to roll out two EVs next year, the other one being the funky Scion iQ EV, which will be available only to car-sharing firms and fleets.

Source: Toyota via WCF

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