Rpmgo.com – Read the latest auto news and opinions, see the coolest cars – Part 126

OK, seriously, tuners just don’t know when to quite when it comes to the Ford Focus RS. Already being an extremely powerful front-wheel drive hatchback, we’ve seen performance kits that take the power output even higher. Now, the team at Mcchip has revealed its two-stage tuning kit which modified the output of the Ford Focus RS to a dizzying and downright ridiculous 401 HP.

The first stage involves just a remapping of the ECU, and takes the hot hatch to 345 HP and 520 Nm. The second, which also includes an intercooler, performance spark plugs, more optimized electronics and a sport exhaust system, takes the Focus RS to 401 HP, with a torque of 612 Nm. The top speed, after the two stages, is rated at around 278 km/h (173 mph).

If you want to experience the horrible torque steer associated with such a power increase in a FWD car and to forget cornering at higher speeds, the first stage costs €799 while the second €4,499 (that’s $1,140 and $6,400, respectively).

Read More: “Mcchip introduces 401 HP Ford Focus RS”

Volkswagen has been slowly getting bigger and bigger in the past few years, and has even achieved to dethrone Toyota as the world’s biggest carmaker. This is largely due to its big portfolio of brands, from accessible ones like Skoda or Seat to luxury like Audi or Bentley.

In the last few months of 2009, the company announced two big purchases, 49.9% of Porsche, which will soon grow next year so that the two companies can merge, and 19.9% of Suzuki, heralding the entry of VW onto the Japanese market’s small car segment.

But don’t worry, VW won’t slowly take over the world, as its CEO, Martin Winterkorn, has just revealed that the company will refrain from making any other purchases anytime soon, and that it will focus on building the brands it currently has under its wing.

“There are some who knock on our door,” he said. “Some really want to come under our roof as they see we’re on a good path strategically. But we are satisfied with the current line-up. I don’t see any need [to make more acquisitions].”

The VW executive also revealed that only time will tell if its share stake in Suzuki will rise. Until then though, the German corporation has some big plans which will be revealed in the near future.

Read More: “Volkswagen promises to refrain from world domination, won’t acquire any other companies”

Even though the auto industry is already getting into the holiday spirit, Chevrolet doesn’t stop and has just revealed the special edition Indy 500 Camaro SS Pace Car, which will be showcased at the prestigious Nascar race next spring.

Built as a tribute to the original 1967 Camaro SS which paced the race that year, this new model has everything needed for such an endeavor, and even sports the special Inferno Orange Metallic paint, complete with White Diamond rally stripes.

On the inside, the Camaro SS is powered by a 400 HP 6.2-liter V8 engine, coupled with an automatic gearbox. Other changes are completely cosmetic, and include a multitude of Indy 500 logos on everything from the doors to the fenders or seat headrests. In case you’re wondering, the strobe light system is mounted inside the rear window, and not on the roof like other pace cars.

You can admire the Indy 500 Chevrlet Camaro SS at the Indianapolis Auto Show, which kicks off on December 26, and after that at the Indy 500 race on May 30, 2010.

Read More: “Indy 500 Chevrolet Camaro SS Pace Car revealed”

After one week of hiatus, Top Gear has finally returned with a very impressive episode, in more ways than one.

From testing out the new Noble to inviting the reigning world Formula 1 champion, Jenson Button, episode 5 of season 14 was filled with unexpected twists and also contained a heavy dose of culture. Hit the jump to read our review.
Read More: “Top Gear Season 14 Episode 5 review”

At the beginning of October we announced the finalists for the 2010 North American Car and Truck of the Year awards. Now, from that shortlist only three vehicles in each category have remained, with the winners to be announced in January at the Detroit Auto Show (NAIAS).

In terms of cars, the battle will be between the Buick LaCrosse, Ford Fusion Hybrid and the Volkswagen Golf. The trucks which will be fighting for their own prestigious award will be the Chevrolet Equinox, Ford Transit Connect and the Subaru Outback.

It’s quite a feat for Ford to have a finalist in each category, and considering it won the 2009 Truck of the Year with its F-150, hopes are quite high in their camp. What are your predictions? Sound off in the comments section below.

Read More: “2010 North American Car and Truck of the Year final finalists are revealed”

Michael Schumacher’s name is, thanks to 7 world Formula 1 titles, linked to Ferrari. But lately more and more rumors are saying that the German racer might make a comeback into F1, even though he retired a few years ago.

But the shocking part about these rumors is that he will race for Mercedes-Benz’s new F1 team, which was formed after the carmaker bought reigning world champion team Brawn GP. Left without a start driver, as the current champion Jensen Button will race for McLaren, Mercedes is keen on signing Schumacher, reportedly giving him a huge amount of money.

Speaking to the press, Ferrari boss Luca di Montezemolo has revealed that he has in fact talked with Schumacher, and that he told him there is a strong possibility to make a comeback for Ferrari.

“I hadn’t spoken to him [Schumacher] since Abu Dhabi but I spoke to him on Wednesday,” said di Montezemolo. “He phoned me and he told me that there is a very, very, very strong possibility [of racing for Mercedes-Benz]. Having said that, it is not 100 per cent decided. But that is what he said yesterday morning.”

As you may have heard, Schumacher was in the cards of returning to Ferrari in the middle of the 2009 season, but an old neck injury prevented him. Now, considering his neck is fully healed, we might see him race under Mercedes. Montezemolo also added that given the long time collaboration between the Italian company and the German driver, they will still remain close friends, no matter what his decision will be.

What do you believe? Should Schumacher return to Formula 1? Share your thoughts with a comment.

Read More: “Ferrari boss confirms Schumacher might race in Formula 1 for Mercedes”

Guard rails are used in order to protect cars and their drivers but given the wrong circumstances, they can turn things from bad to worse. Such is the case with a Greek driver of this Audi R8, which supposedly fell asleep behind the wheel.

As a result, the car veered off the road and went straight into a guard rail, which impaled the R8 right through the steering column and went out the rear window. Miraculously though, he driver escaped, although he did have some serious leg injuries.

Judging by the pictures dug up by the guys at WreckedExotics, he should definitely thanks his lucky stars he made it out alive.

Read More: “Audi R8 gets impaled by guard rail, driver miraculously escapes”

Alfa Romeo isn’t in the best of situations right now, as its parent company, Fiat, ordered a financial review to see if the brand is profitable enough to justify its existence.

But given the new Alfa Romeo Giulietta hatchback model, I say money doesn’t matter. The car is gorgeous and exemplifies the essence of Alfa Romeo. Hopefully the audit will allow the brand to be kept alive, and continue to release cars which break the norm in terms of design.

Until we hear the concrete details early next year, you can visit the dedicated website Alfa has launched and enjoy this new photo gallery of the Alfa Romeo Giulietta.

Photo Gallery: Alfa Romeo Giulietta

Read More: “New Alfa Romeo Giulietta photos appear, gallery included”

Don’t count Swedish carmaker Saab out just yet, as Spyker has revealed that it has made one last bid on the company, which is scheduled to be terminated by its current owner, General Motors.

The 11-point proposal was given yesterday and GM is expect to reveal an answer later today concerning the definitive fate of its Swedish brand. According to the CEO of Spyker, Victor R. Muller, the new proposal is in compliance with all the requests GM made, and might get approved by the US company.

“We have made every effort to resolve the issues that were preventing the conclusion of this matter and we have asked GM and all other involved parties to seriously consider this offer,” said Muller. “We are very confident that our renewed offer will remove the impasse that was standing in the way of an agreement on Friday, and this would still allow us to conclude the deal prior to the expiry of the deadline originally set by GM of 31 December.”

Hopefully this new offer will be the one GM’s been looking for, and will guarantee the revamp of the Swedish brand. All we can do now is wait until GM makes an official statement.

Read More: “Spyker makes one last bid to save Saab”

There have been plenty of rumors regarding the electric model Mercedes-Benz is preparing, based on its latest SLS AMG supercar. Now, the boss of the AMG division, Volker Mornhinweg, revealed many interesting details, including the fact that it is scheduled to appear in 2013.

First off, he said that the electric SLS will be a proper sportscar, with a 0 to 62 mph (100 km/h) time of around 4 seconds and with a battery range of around 110 miles (177 km). Its estimated power outputs will be around 525 HP with 649 lb-ft of torque, but given the added weight of the batteries, its performance won’t be on par with the gasoline-powered SLS AMG, but according to Mornhinweg, it will still offer a great experience.

“Effectively being four-wheel-drive does alter its character, but our torque vectoring systems give us opportunities to make it as good,” he said. “It’s important to get the emotional level of an EV right and we have some solutions.”

How do you feel about the electric Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG? Leave a comment with your thoughts.

Read More: “More details appear on electric Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG, will appear in 2013”

Great news for Mustang lovers, as thanks to some essential leaks, we have found out that the 2011 Ford muscle car will be getting a 5.0-liter V8 engine, developing 412 HP.

The new power unit will essentially put the Mustang on equal ground with its much beefier opponents like the Chevrolet Camaro SS, with its 6.2-liter V8 and 422 HP, or the Dodge Challenger SRT8, with its own 6.1-liter HEMI that develops 425 HP.

For the true muscle car fan, the decission is quite simple. No other details were spilled though, meaning that we’ll have to wait for the Detroit Auto Show in January to find out.

Read More: “2011 Ford Mustang gets 5.0-liter V8 with 412 HP”

Nick Reilly, the man recently placed in charge of the destiny of GM’s Opel/Vauxhall brands has revealed a few projects that his company is currently working on, and which will mark the entrance of the two brands on a new market segment, while establishing itself on other ones.

The first new model, which might arrive in 2013, is a new crossover, based on the current Corsa platform, and will mark the entrance of Opel in that new mini-crossover market. And speaking of small models, Reilly also revealed that a new city car will also appear, which will sit alongside the Agila, and rival the Mini. The new CEO didn’t confirm nor deny that the new car might be the new Allegra. He also axed any rumors about the termination of the Agila, as the car was developed in partnership with Suzuki, who is now collaborating with Volkswagen.

“All existing projects with GM [including Suzuki] will be continued,” Reilly said. “I personally believe that there is room for two models in this segment: one that is positioned more practically than the Agila and another that comes from the sporty and lifestyle side and will be future mini.”

Hybrid and electric cars were also revealed by Reilly, which said that the push will be led by the Ampera hybrid, which he hopes will sell around 15,000 units in 2011, when it will be launched. “We will have hybrid engines in our program in the next five years,” he said. “We expect [to sell] 10,000 to 15,000 vehicles [Amperas] a year at the start. Later it could quickly become substantially more.”

Read More: “New Opel/Vauxhall CEO says Corsa-based crossover and Mini-rivaling city car will soon arrive”

We’ve already talked about UK-based rally Prodrive and its possible plans to introduce the upcoming Mini Countryman crossover into the WRC competition, but after the presentation of the Beachcomber concept, last week, new details have appeared.

It seems that after the Countryman will be officially presented at the 2010 Geneva Motor Show, in March, two mode variants of that platform will arrive. A lower-riding five-door model, which will evoke an estate model, and a performance edition of the Countryman, likened to a GTI edition, which might use the BMW’s 2.0-liter diesel engine.

It is this special Countryman GTI which will receive the rally treatment, new rumors say, with the team at Prodrive aiming to throw it against Citroen’s upcoming DS3 WRC special edition, which is due to replace the C4 WRC in 2011.

Mini did have an impressive rallying history, culminating with the 1964 Monte Carlo rally where it showed bigger models like the Ford Falcon or Citroen DS who’s boss, so BMW might have plenty of things to gain from entering the UK brand into such competitions.

Read More: “Performance version of Mini Countryman crossover might race in WRC”

Car companies, including Toyota, already believe that racing video games are to blame for the lack of interest young people are showing towards real cars, as they can easily take them around the virtual roads instead of the real ones, with only a fraction of money spent.

But Japan’s Garage Studie has taken the whole concept one step forward, and outfitted an old BMW E30 M3 model with a huge LCD TV in the hood, and a PlayStation 3 in the dashboard, so that you can control the virtual car with the real steering wheel.

The result? One of the most realistic racing game experiences. Too bad the car isn’t on some sort of machine to rock it around through bends, but that would’ve been overkill.

Read More: “Ultimate racing game rig: BMW E30 M3”

When you think about Subaru, a few things come to mind, from the performance it offers with its Impreza, to the all-wheel drive system it employs on every model. But if it will actually release its own version of the rear-wheel drive coupe it has been developing in partnership with Toyota, it will certainly change that.

Seeing as how the Toyota FT-86 concept, which came to life due to the collaboration between the two companies, already enjoys a fair amount of popularity, due to the many Celica fans, Subaru is very inclined to bring its own take on the concept to life.

But speaking with Wards Auto, the spokesman for Subaru USA, Michael McHale, revealed that “We’re an all-wheel drive brand,” but also mentioned that: “If it doesn’t affect the core of the brand, maybe we’d bring it in as an interesting option.”

So even though a rear-wheel drive coupe might change the way people view Subaru, it might be a worthwhile gamble for the Japanese company. If not, McHale also said that he hopes the customers will be able to “forgive us a one-off exception.”

What do you believe? Should Subaru keep on developing the rear-wheel drive coupe or should it place its resources into the Impreza and its all-wheel drive system? Leave a comment with your view.

Read More: “Subaru’s version of Toyota’s FT-86 rear-wheel drive coupe might change the way people think of the brand”