Rpmgo.com – Read the latest auto news and opinions, see the coolest cars – Part 80

Audi has some big plans for the next few years, and not surprisingly, these include increasing efficiency and slowly offering viable alternatives to the gasoline and diesel engines it currently offers with its models.

We’ve already seen the attractive Audi e-Tron roadster concept, its little brother the A1 e-tron and the big A8 hybrid, but according to the company, other such models will soon appear. And don’t go thinking they will be limited to concept stages, as production variants are being worked on as we speak.

Hybrid lovers will get to see such a version based on the next generation A6 limousine, while the Q5 crossover is preparing both its engine and electric motor for a debut in the near future. Depending on the media and public reaction, this initiative will be continued.

In terms of electric vehicles, Audi isn’t decided on what type of technology to pursue. Either a pure all-electric, like the e-tron roadster, or an extended range electric vehicle, like the smaller A1 e-tron. Either way, the badge will be developed more and more in the future, so we’ll get to see it become as popular as the quattro one.

Regular internal combustion engines are also going to be improved in the next few years, with Audi aiming at a 30% increase in the efficiency of both gasoline and diesel units.

Are you confident in Audi’s long term strategy? Share your thoughts below.

Read More: “Audi planning more hybrids and electric vehicles”

Volvo is lining up with the big trends followed by other European carmakers and is reportedly planning a compact crossover model, set to be based on the popular C30 three-door hatchback model.

The new car, presumably following the already known name convention, will be called the XC30, and will most likely slot in below the current Swedish crossover model, the XC60. Expect many of its underpinnings to be almost the same as the C30′s, while a heightened suspension and a few off-road features will be added.

In terms of design, it will definitely be a mix of the regular small hatch and the XC60. Expect almost the same types of engines and transmissions. It will be interesting to see if a flex-fuel engine will also be a part of the future XC30 lineup.

A V30 wagon variant of the current C30 is also rumored to appear in the near future, but don’t cross your fingers just yet, as Volvo is more focused on the XC30 which will likely appear around 2012.

Read More: “Volvo reporteldy planning XC30 compact crossover based on C30 hatch”

Toyota’s name in the last few months has been synonymous with recalls and problems. But besides the over 8.5 million vehicles called back to service due to unintended acceleration problems, the company has just announced that it will also look into engine stalling concerns for Corolla and Matrix models manufactured between 2005 and 2007.

As you may remember, the NHTSA has already opened an investigation into the matter back in December last year, after receiving 26 complaints that Corolla and Matrix models are stalling in the most various conditions, from idling on the freeway to crossing intersections and things like that.

Now, the company released a letter to federal authorities saying that it wants to meet and set up a testing procedure to see just what is the cause of the stalling concerns. It also revealed that it doesn’t consider the problem to create “an unreasonable risk to motor vehicle safety.”

While the company did have a lot of things to take care of in the last few months, the invitation to the NHTSA to sit down and investigate the matter is a bit late, to say the least. Hopefully some results will appear and the faulty cars will be fixed soon enough.

Read More: “Toyota also investigation engine stalling problems in 1.2 million Corolla and Matrix models”

Volkswagen bet big when it launched the New Beetle model, hoping that its retro-inspired looks would attract people to the car. Sadly its high price and the lack of many customization options meant that the car would gather attention only with the plethora of special editions announced for it.

But the German company is saying that with the next generation Beetle, things will improve, as it has learned from its mistakes. No other official details are known, but luckily the guys at Autocar have spoken with an insider and have a lot of details to share.

First off, the new platform of the next Beetle is both wider and longer, in order to facilitate better handling and more space for the inside. The looks are rumored to be heavily inspired from the Volkswagen Ragster concept which was shown many years ago (pictured above), but a lot of modifications will be made to its design.

More customization options, especially for the exterior will be made available for the new car, so that everyone can create their unique model. It is believed that the new Beetle will set its sight on the brand to beat in the small car segment: Mini.

The car is set to be previewed later this year at the Los Angeles Auto Show, and manufacturing will commence shortly thereafter at the Mexico VW plant. Among the rumored engines are gasoline units like a 105 HP 1.2-liter, 160 HP 1.4-liter, and a 210 HP 2.0-liter engine. The US is rumored to receive a 170 HP 2.5-liter five-cylinder petrol unit as well. Diesel fans will likely enjoy a 105 HP 1.6-liter and a 140 HP 2.0-liter. A hybrid option, likely based on the New Compact Coupe‘s 150 HP 1.4-liter engine running together with a 27 HP electric motor, will also be featured.

Overall, the new Volskwagen Beetle sounds pretty good. In the end though, it’s up to the company to price it competitively and market it accurately if it wants to really contend with cars like the Mini Cooper or Fiat 500.

Read More: “Next generation Volskwagen Beetle detailed”

EA wants to get its Need For Speed racing franchise in contact with more and more people, and part of this endeavor is the upcoming NFS World title, which will let anyone around the world race with other people in a living virtual environment.

The Massively Multiplayer Online (MMO) racing game has now revealed that it is officially entering beta stage, and will host many closed beta programs in which people can try out the game and find any potential problems, bugs or issues.

The first closed beta will begin today, March 19th, at 4pm GMT. Those who want to participate can go to the NFS World website and sign up. More beta stages will follow, so don’t worry about being left out.

If you want to get more excited about the online racer, set to be released this summer, hit the jump and watch the first trailer of NFS World.
Read More: “Video: NFS World online racing game announced closed beta”

Canada is getting some pretty sweet deals these days in terms of cars. After being able to order the R performance package for the Kia Forte Koup, the country will now be getting its hands on the very hot Audi TT RS and will be able to get the new BMW X1 in sDrive variants (that’s rear-wheel drive) instead of just the plain xDrive ones.

The Audi TT RS is the choice for any respectable Audi roadster fan, delivering 335 HP to anyone with the money to afford it. But while Europeans have been enjoying the hot roadster for some time now, North Americans were denied this pleasure. Now, a lucky few (around 250) will be able to purchase the TT RS, as the Ingolstadt manufacturer will ship a limited batch of models. No other details are known, like what body type (coupe or convertible) the cars will be, but plenty of US fans will definitely be bummed if some don’t appear on US land.

Secondly, it seems BMW saw fit to deliver the rear-wheel drive goodness of the X1 to Canadians, as opposed to US citizens who can just order the all-wheel drive edition of the small crossover. But as we revealed in our test drive with an xDrive variant of the BMW X1, if you really want to do leave the comfort of regular asphalt, AWD is the best choice. Still, a lot of BMW fans will be bummer that the tail-happy variant of the X1 will be exclusive to those in the North.

Read More: “Audi TT RS and rear-wheel drive BMW X1 heading to Canada”

The Barrett-Jackson auction event set to take place on Saturday, April 3 in Palm Beach, Florida is certain to attract a lot of car enthusiasts. That’s why the famous auction house has teamed up with traditional Ford Mustang tuner Roush Performance and announced that a limited edition muscle car will be auctioned off during the event.

Only 50 units will comprise the limited run of the Roush Barrett-Jackson Ford Mustang, 25 based on the 2010 model year and the other half on the 2011MY ‘Stang. Besides the traditional Roush upgrades, which we will detail below, the limited edition models will be the first to be completely repainted by Roush, according to the specs of the owner.

Besides the custom paint scheme, future owners will also enjoy the whole array of Roush Performance accessories on the limited Mustangs. For the 2010MY, a R2300 ROUSHcharger will be added, alongside new engine components, that up the output of the V8 to 540 HP and 510 lb-ft of torque. Besides these mods, a sports exhaust system, new front brakes and an overhauled suspension system are also included in the package.

In terms of style, the limited edition Barrett-Jackson Roush Mustang will have revamped grilles and 20-inch chrome wheels wrapped in performance Cooper RS3 tires. On the inside the buyers will get four-piece performance pedals, Roush illuminated sill plates, a new short throw shifter with a black or a white ball, as well as leather seats with the Barrett-Jackson logo and a badge with the serial number of the car.

The package for the 2010 model year Ford Mustang will cost $41,495, not including the base car. Prices at the auction are bound to rise, so check your bank account before you start bidding. Details for the 2011MY Mustang will be revealed at a later date.

Read More: “Limited edition Ford Mustang by Roush and Barrett-Jackson showcased”

Toyota is upping the style of its Aygo city car with the reveal of a special model, “cleverly” named the Black Edition.

Basically an upgrade for the Aygo+ trim line, the Black edition will add a sleek Alcantara and leather interior to the small model, as well as leather on the steering wheel, a set of 14-inch alloy wheels and *shocker* Black paint.

No upgrades to the diminutive engine, which is still the 1.0-liter VVT-i gasoline unit. Available transmission options include the standard five-speed manual and the Multimode gearbox, the latter being available only on the five-door models.

Prices will range between £9,460 for the three-door manual Aygo Black and £10,810 for the five-door automatic Aygo.

Read More: “Toyota Aygo Black edition revealed”

Welcome to a new edition of our RPMGO Awards feature, where we recount some of the most important and some of the worst news from the last seven days.

We’ve seen some pretty big announcements this week, including new releases and details for already revealed vehicles, but also some pretty sad and unfortunate things. Without further ado, let’s start with the Perfect Shift category.

Perfect Shift

McLaren officially details the MP4-12C – McLaren finally decided to detail its upcoming supercar, the MP4-12C. It’s 600 HP and plethora of Formula 1 tech will make competitors like Ferrari or Mercedes-Benz shake in their boots, to say the least. It’s already gathered a lot of positive momentum, but until the early 2011 release, we have a lot of waiting to do.

Bugatti 16C Galibier concept receives new details, photos – Bugatti also decided to release more details this week about its hyper sedan concept, the 16C Galibier. Although not officially greenlit for production by VW bosses, the massive twin-supercharged 8.0-liter W16 engine gives us enough reasons to petition the Wolfsburg HQ.

Lexus LFA reportedly getting Nurburgring performance edition – The Lexus LFA is a mighty impressive feat of the Japanese luxury carmaker, one which has definitely gone well with enthusiasts as almost all of the scheduled 500 units have been pre-ordered. That’s why the possibility of an even more powerful Nurburgring edition will definitely make a lot of rich people happy. No word yet on if it actually exists, but the leaked pictures say a lot of things.

Video: Pagani Zonda R ad is the stuff dreams are made of – By far one of the best stories (at least in our opinion) of the week. What do you get when you combine two Pagani Zonda R models, a wet racing track, a glorious film crew and a majestic orchestral score? Pure automotive pleasure.

Over Rev

GM’s Bob Lutz confirms Cadillac Converj death – The Cadillac Converj concept proved that GM’s Voltec drive train could also be used on luxury cars, not only on the Volt mainstream model. That’s why we’re sad to hear that the project is officially dead. While we may live to see it at a much later date, when GM has more money to spend, it’s still some bad news.

NHTSA investigating cosmic rays in Toyota unintended acceleration problems – The NHTSA’s investigation into Toyota’s unintended acceleration problems took a turn for the bizzarre, after the federal association revealed that it will look into cosmic rays as a possible source of problems for Toyota models. As you can imagine, many people weren’t exactly thrilled to hear how their tax dollars were being spent.

Insurance fraud foiled by YouTube video of owner crashing Nissan GT-R – YouTube plays a pretty big role in the lives of many of us, but for insurance investigators, it is a new way of finding criminals who commit insurance fraud. The latest one involves a young driver who wanted to trick the insurance company after crashing his Nissan GT-R model. Too bad he didn’t check YouTube for the footage of his crash.

Video: Guy tries to show off during BMW burnout, fails completely – This video should be shown to any guy thinking he can drift or do burnouts with his car. Don’t try to show off, always wear your seatbelt and check that the doors are actually locked before attempting anything in your car.

Those were our nominees. Sound off in the polls below and check back tomorrow for the winners of our RPMGO Awards.

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Today McLaren has finally taken the first step in becoming a proper carmaker with the release of the MP4-12C supercar. The company’s new division, McLaren Automotive, will soon reveal new models and won’t stick to collaborations, like the recent Mercedes-Benz McLaren SLR or limited models like the iconic McLaren F1.

The new MP4-12C was officially detailed, complete with power ratings and a release window of early 2011. The car will be powered by the M838T engine, a twin-turbo, direct injection V8 unit, capable of 600 HP and 443 lb-ft of torque at 7,000 rpm, and can supply 80% of that torque between 2,000 and 6,500 rpm. For those fond of comparisons, the numbers are bigger than the Ferrari 458 Italia, the Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG or the Lamborghini Gallardo.

The power is, of course, sent straight to the rear wheels, through a bespoke seven-speed dual-clutch gearbox. The special transmission has a Pre-Cog system, meaning that if you gently take your foot off the accelerator after stepping down, it will immediately have the next gear ready, so that you can step down once more and get immediate power.

McLaren boss Ron Dennis revealed that while the MP4-12C won’t be the absolute best in technology or power, customers will be treated with the outmost respect and will enjoy the best build quality around. As testimony to this, he showcased the various Formula 1-inspired systems like the electronic differential system, the brake steer system, an air brake (like the one on the SLR) and a new system of hydraulic actuators, which completely replace anti-roll bars. These actuators allow for wider wheel motions in a straight line, and begin to tighten up, when cornering.

Many of the components in the McLaren MP4-12C were painstakingly engineered for the best efficiency, and the car itself saw countless hours in the F1-spec wind tunnel and over 1 million miles in endurance tests.

This doesn’t meant it will be a bare-bone track car like the famous F1, as on the inside McLaren spare no expense, and even added a novel portrait-mode seven-inch touch screen, which runs the Microsoft software thanks to a 1.6 GHz Intel processor. The IRIS infotainment system, as it is known, will offer a wide range of features and even WiFi or Bluetooth connectivity.

For those of you bent on purchasing this new model, there will be 35 authorized dealerships in 19 countries, and only 1,000 models are set to be made during 2011. You most probably won’t be in those lucky few, as Ron Dennis said there are already 1,700 pre-orders for the MP4-12C. Until 2011 though, you can check out the MP4-12C in the photo gallery below.

Photo Gallery: McLaren MP4-12C

Read More: “McLaren officially details the MP4-12C”

The day that many hardcore BMW fans have feared is upon us, as BMW’s chairman, Dr. Norbert Reithofer, has officially confirmed to the press the rumors that his company is researching a new small car platform capable of supporting front-wheel drive and all-wheel drive.

“[The small car] segment is expected to grow further. And we will take advantage of this opportunity. We are exploring the possibility of developing a joint architecture for the front and four-wheel drive systems of these cars. In other words: There will be front-wheel drive BMWs in the smaller vehicle classes in the future.”

*Gasp* The apocalypse is upon us! (just kidding). While many of you may worry about this prospect, the BMW exec says there’s you shouldn’t, as the FWD tech is going to be used only on small cars, and won’t appear for any of the current models, be it 1,3,5,6 or 7 Series.

Now only will the new platform allow BMW to enter the new premium small car segment, but also the goal which is bugging a lot of performance carmakers: reducing fleetwide CO2 emissions. In BMW’s case, the drop needs to be around 25 percent between 2008 and 2020.

So, has hell frozen over? We think not. It was bound to happen sooner or later, but before you cast judgment, let’s wait and see just how these new FWD small BMWs will handle and perform.

Read More: “BMW officially confirms front-wheel drive on future small cars”

In the midst of bad press for both Lexus and Toyota models, the Japanese company decided that it should further promote its untarnished Scion brand more, and has just presented the 2011 xB facelift model.

The popular boxy car has received new looks and interior options in order to further attract the young crowd. First off, the design has been improved, specifically at the front, where the headlamps have been slightly restyled, and a honeycomb grille was added. Larger outer vents in the bumper were also fitted, for better cooling. In the back, the biggest change focuses on the rear backup lamp, which was integrated in the tailights. Potential customers now have two more colors to choose from, Army Rock (whatever that is) and Elusive Blue.

On the inside, clients will find redesigned front seats, for better comfort, as well as a new center console with more storage spaces. A sliding armrest and a new, fully-adjustable steering wheel were also added to the 2011 xB.

Cost-conscious customers will be happy to hear that the new xB starts from $16,000 for the manual while automatic versions will begin at $16,950, both having a minor increase in price ($150) over the outgoing 2010 model.

Until you can rush out to dealerships at the beginning of April to check out the 2011 Scion xB, you can take a look in the photo gallery below for some high-res shots.

Photo Gallery: 2011 Scion xB facelift

Source: Scion

After a lot of rumors deeming certain an even more powerful edition of the LFA supercar, presumably named the Nurburgring, Lexus has come forward with an announcement about its performance supercar and the famous German track.

Sadly, it’s not the announcement many people have waited, as the Japanese company revealed that it will be racing two LFA track cars at the famous 24 Hours of Nurburgring endurance competition, taking place between May 13 and 16.

The two cars will be raced by the Gazoo team, a longtime racing partner of both Toyota and Lexus. They will be driven by a mixed crew of Japanese and German drivers, all with extensive racing pedigrees. In case you didn’t know, this isn’t the first time the LFA participated in the race, as it has attended in prototype stage the 2008 and 2009 editions.

Judging by this announcement and the rumored performance edition, it’s fairly certain that after the race, Lexus will reveal the Nurburgring limited edition of the LFA. Until May though, we’ll have to wait and see.

Read More: “Lexus to race LFA track cars in 24 Hours Nurburgring endurance event”

The electric vehicle market is still a young one, but with many new models, be them purely plug-in ones or extended-range vehicles, being announced left and right, the competition is going to get extremely intense.

Who will come out on top? Well at least according to Nissan‘s boss, Carlos Ghosn, he is (how modest!). He recently talked about his company’s electric vehicle strategy, focusing on the Leaf EV, which is set to appear on the market later this year.

“Frankly, I mean so far there is no competition,” said the executive. “Let’s be serious. It’s not because someone is coming with a prototype and one car that this is competition. The question is how much capacity are you building… What I am sure is that in 2011, I am going to be the only one on the market.”

Nissan, as opposed to other carmakers dipping their toes into the EV market, like Chevrolet with the Volt, is busy outfitting its Sunderland plant with equipment in order to mass produce the Leaf. The goal is to have the 500,000th Leaf roll off the assembly line by 2012, which is quite optimistic.

While some may categorize his statement as cocky, not a lot of carmakers are as close as Nissan to mass production for their EVs. But while the factory can supply new cars, it’s up to the company to market them successfully.

Read More: “Nissan’s Carlos Ghosn confident in Leaf EV: There’s no competition”

In case you didn’t notice, we love cars around here, and if you’re reading this, chances are you’re pretty fond of them too.

But during our searches on the Internet, we found a lot of people who took their love for cars and/or specific brands further, and got tattoos of them on their bodies. Some of them were extremely impressive, resulting in true works of art, but others weren’t all that fortunate, ending up with some pretty hilarious results.

We decided to compile a photo gallery of some of the most unfortunate ones we found on the web. From funny, to weird, to frightening and even bizarre, you’ll find them all right after the jump.
Read More: “The funniest car-related tattoos”