Rpmgo.com – Read the latest auto news and opinions, see the coolest cars – Part 81

A few years ago, when General Motors announced its Voltec extended range electric vehicle drivetrain, it showcased it on the Chevrolet Volt and on the Cadillac Converj.

But while the Volt, coupled with its Opel-badged brother, the Ampera, blazed through development as beacons of revival for the old GM, the Cadillac Converj only stayed alive through the statements of GM executive Bob Lutz, who always supported it and said that a production variant will arrive after 2012.

After a February report by Bloomberg deemed the Converj project dead, due to lack of funding, the final nail in the coffin of the electric Caddy has been added by the biggest support of the project, Lutz himself.

Speaking with Automotive News, the VP, who will retire in May, revealed that the death of the Cadillac is due to “priorities and the conviction that the Volt and Ampera will use all available capacity for years to come”.

While it is sad to hear, the Converj only attracted through its looks and design. Perhaps with more research in the ER-EV technology and in the Voltec powertrain in particular might see the car be resurrected in the future.

Read More: “GM’s Bob Lutz confirms Cadillac Converj death”

Audi is staying true to its Vorsprung durch Technik motto, and is promoting its brand image and new models through novel ways. One such method is the use of the PlayStation Home virtual world, where the German company has its own showroom, filled with interesting models and concepts, from the e-tron (which you can race in the virtual environment) to the A1 or the RS5.

When it first announced the partnership with Sony, many were skeptic of Audi’s success, but the manufacturer said that its Home space was an overwhelming success. Now, the company released a special video, detailing just how the Audi space came to be, from idea, to design to interface.

You can check out the video after the jump.
Read More: “Video: See how the Audi space in PlayStation Home was created”

American Idol is a pretty big thing, and seeing as how the last 12 finalists were chosen for this season, Ford saw fit to kick up its sponsorship deal.

As such, it has teamed up the contestants with four bright designers in order to create unique paint schemes for the upcoming Fiesta hatchback. Fans of both American Idol and of the new Fiesta can now go to the special Ford Music Challenge website, where they can enter a contest to win a brand new Fiesta, with a choice of the 12 designs, as well as a trip to participate in a Ford Music Video with the remaining Idol finalists.

The contest has just begun, and is open until May 21, with a new video appearing every week. The 12 designs are pretty interesting, to say the least. You can check them out in the gallery below, and don’t be shy to express your favorites by leaving a comment. You can enter the contest at the link above.

Photo Gallery: Ford Fiesta American Idol designs

Read More: “Ford promotes Fiesta with unique models designed by American Idol finalists”

One major flaw with the car industry, at least according to us, is that some cars aren’t available globally. This is why the Kia Forte Koup, which is, as of yet, just for sale in North America, has been beyond our European grasp since it was launched.

In order to further twist the blade in the wound, Kia Canada has just announced that dealerships across the country will be able to offer and install a new R performance package for the Forte Koup. The kit will only be available for the SX and EX editions, at a premium, but many customers will definitely be interested in it.

Included in the package are things like a performance exhaust system, a performance air filter, stiffer springs and a strut tower brace. It seems these mods won’t affect the power output, but you can be sure that the handling of the Koup will improve.

In terms of visuals, the R package will add a restyled body kit, comprised of front skirts, side sills and a rear spoiler, a lot of badges both outside and on the inside, as well as 18-inch Europa wheels, wrapped in Yokohama S-Drive tires.

Customers will be able to order the R package in May, and dealers will also be able to install the kit on already purchased Kia Forte Koup models. No word yet on US availability though.

Read More: “Kia Forte Koup gets R performance package … in Canada”

As you all know by know, this year Mazda celebrates the 20th anniversary of its extremely popular MX-5 (or Miata) roadster. We’ve already seen a limited edition for the UK market, decorated with special livery, and now the company has released a new edition for its French customers: the Black & Matte MX-5.

Aiming to cater to the fashion sense of many Mazda clients, the company teamed up with fashion house LK, led by designer Laure Kczekotowska. She took a 2.0-liter MX-5 roadster coupe, painted it with matte black, and, from what has been revealed in the press release, added various rhinestones, gems and crystals.

Now perhaps the treatment was made for the inside of the car, because we don’t see anything on the outside except the matte black paint, the chrome contour of the grille and the special wheels. Perhaps the beatiful lady standing besides it had something to do with it.

Either way, if you want a more fashionable MX-5, then it’s off to France for you, mon ami.

Read More: “Mazda unveils Black & Matte limited edition MX-5 Miata”

We revealed a couple of weeks ago that Audi might be working on an even more powerful version of its R8 supercar, which harnesses more ponies out of that V10 engine and might use some new technologies.

Now, Autocar has revealed that the main source of inspiration for this new version might be the R8 GT3 race car, which is crushing its opposition in various competitions and is experiencing huge demand from private teams and professional drivers.

Seeing the potential in the track-only model, Audi might be tempted to release a road-legal version, in order to satisfy performance enthusiasts. The offer, according to some voices, will be similar to how Porsche released the 911 GT3.

The official decision to manufacture such a car hasn’t been made yet, but Audi officials are already researching ways of making the current R8 lighter (hint: carbon fiber and spaceframe technology) and to squeeze more power from the 5.2-liter V10 engine. As you may know, the engine produces 518 HP in the R8 V10 but is capable of as much as 570 HP, as seen in the Lamborghini Gallardo LP 570-4 Superleggera.

A more powerful R8 is bound to appear sooner or later, but for the sake of Audi fans, the Ingolstadt manufacturer might need to hurry up a little.

Read More: “Audi looking to release road legal R8 GT3 performance model”

Bugatti stunned a lot of rich people when it revealed the 16C Galibier concept sedan last year. After that though, it left many enthusiasts in the dark, saying only that the Galibier was a concept study, and that there are no plans to manufacture it … yet.

But while the high ranking officials from the Volkswagen Group aren’t that willing to dosh out the money required to make this twin-supercharged 8.0-liter W16 sedan come to life, Bugatti has released a new set of pictures, showcasing an all-black edition.

Besides offering an obscene amount of luxury features and even a special luggage set, the 16C Galibier is set to reach around 217 MPH and develop a lot of HP. This does come with a hefty price, and some say it might even trump the $1 million+ asking price of the two-door Veyron when/if it will be manufactured.

Until then though, we can enjoy the new photos in the gallery below with this prestigious model.

Photo Gallery: Bugatti 16C Galibier

Read More: “Bugatti 16C Galibier concept receives new details, photos”

Aston Martin is looking in new directions to make a profit these days. But besides the Cygnet city car, which is just a customized Toyota iQ, it seems that the British brand might open up a new division, which can completely customize any model in the range, for people willing to pay for such a privilege.

According to the Aston Martin design director Marek Reichman, the experience gained from building the One-77 hypercar from scratch has generated a new train of thought in the company: why not offer an even wider choice range, so that customers can create their own one-off model.

Think of it as how Ferrari can create new editions based on current models, like it did with the 599-based P540 Superfast Aperta. As such, you will be able to order new body types for DB9 or Rapide models, with an interior made just the way you like it. Expect a considerable premium to be added to the base price, but I’m sure potential customers won’t mind.

Do you think this is the way to go for Aston Martin? Leave your thoughts in a comment below.

Read More: “Aston Martin might offer completely customized one-off models”

Peugeot is borrowing a page from Citroen’s play book, and has just announced that it will establish, with the release of the RCZ roadster, a new premium sub-brand, called Hors-série.

As you may remember, Citroen is getting a lot of attention because of its new DS lineup, which takes regular models from the French company and adds luxury features, moving them upmarket in terms of quality and price. Seeing that, its partner in the PSA Group, Peugeot, will do the same, as hors-serie means “built outside the regular, mass production, in French.

The RCZ is set to lead the pack, followed by a wagon variant of the future 508 sedan, which will also feature some interesting additions to the standard trim line. After this, another model, which hasn’t been detailed, will follow in 2012.

For what it’s worth, Citroen is set to make some pretty big sales with the DS lineup, so Peugeot might be onto something. Hopefully it will be able to market it correctly and succeed.

Read More: “Peugeot launching luxury sub-brand: Hors-série”

After analyzing almost all of the electronics in Toyota vehicles, the NHTSA is now looking towards a more “interesting” explanation for the unintended acceleration incidents which plagued vehicles from the Japanese company: Cosmic Rays.

Before you burst out into laughter though, it seems that cosmic rays pose a pretty big problem for electronic systems, as airplanes and rockets have specially-shielded equipment, due to the various types of radiation coming from outside the Earth and frolicking in the atmosphere.

That’s why it seems that the NHTSA received an anonymous tip explaining that such rays could have made it to the surface of the Earth and might interfere with the electronics from Toyota vehicles.

The company replied to the accusations and said that the systems used in cars are different from normal ones, meaning cosmic rays can’t interfere with them. The only way to confirm these hypotheses is to literally throw a Toyota into a particle accelerator and see how it performs.

Either way, this report does present a rather unique take on the whole unintended acceleration scandal. Who knows, maybe next week the NHTSA will investigate voodoo and other supernatural things.

Read More: “NHTSA investigating cosmic rays in Toyota unintended acceleration problems”

In the midst of Audi‘s media blitz regarding the highly awaited A1 city car model, this little tidbit of news slipped through until now. The new A1 will be getting a special Competition Kit, besides the already revealed S Line accessories.

This special package is inspired, as you can see above, by the iconic Audi Quattro Sport S1 rally car, being decorated in similar livery and sporting the number 1 decal on the exterior as well as the central rear view mirror housing and even the gear shifter housing.

Special decals are also available with this Competition kit, alongside a new set of alloy wheels and leather on the steering wheel and gear knob. No word if the kit will include performance upgrades, so don’t cross your fingers for that.

Until the price is announced, you can enjoy the video of the Audi A1′s Competition kit after the jump.
Read More: “Video: Audi A1 gets Competition kit”

Honda has just announced that all 2007-2008 model year Odyssey and Element vehicles will be recalled in April due to a potential problem with the Vehicle Stability Assist (VSA) system.

It seems that over a period of time, air can enter the VSA module and affect its performance. This in term influences how the brake pedal behaves, most often causing a slower response or a longer pedal travel.

344,000 Odyssey and 68,000 Element models are covered by the recall. Owners of these cars will receive a letter next month, detailing the steps required to get it fixed and how they can contact their local dealership. If these brake problems have already appeared, you shouldn’t wait anymore.

Read More: “Honda recalls 410,000 Odyssey and Element models over brake problems”

We’ve already talked about the massive Ferrari World Abu Dhabi theme park set to be opened late this year on the Yas Marina island in the United Arab Emirates. The massive construction, the first of its kind, will dwarf all other constructions on the island, including the Formula 1 circuit.

But besides the many offers it will have, the Ferrari World park will also boast the cheapest ride in a Ferrari you’ll ever experience. No, it won’t offer actual cars for test drives, but it will be dressing up its roller coaster cars as Ferrari F430 models, so you can experience the excessive speeds behind the wheel of the Italian model.

Besides the aforementioned GT Racing Coaster, the theme park will also feature 20 other rides, from the vertical shooting one to another roller coaster, designed to offer Formula 1 thrills to the riders.

Hit the jump to check out a special video made by AMEinfo about the Ferrari World Abu Dhabi theme park, which is still under construction at the moment.
Read More: “Video: Ferrari World Abu Dhabi boasts cheapest Ferrari ride”

While Europeans have been falling in love with the Fiat 500 city car for quite some time, North Americans have been deprived of the small model. That’s going to change though next year, as thanks to the new partnership between Fiat and Chrysler, the Mexico plant will start cranking out little 500s by the ton.

It also seems, according to some new reports, that Americans will get an even better offer, as Fiat is rumored to use its new A car platform, which will debut on the 2011 Lancia Ypsilon and Fiat Panda, for the US-spec 500. Benefits of the new underpinnings include improved safety rating, reduced ride noise and vibration.

Sadly, for Europeans at least, the new platform won’t be used in the current factories making the 500, due to the expensive overhaul required. This means that until the next generation city car appears, we’re stuck with the noisy and vibrating old version (not that anybody complained about that up until now).

Besides the new platform, reports are also saying that Fiat isn’t decided on the name of the US-spec city car. While the 500 is the most obvious option, the Italian spelling Cinquecento does have a ring to it, at least for Fiat.

Either way, we’re sure many Americans will be thrilled to receive the Fiat 500, no matter the platform or name.

Read More: “US-spec Fiat 500 to get new platform, new name a possibility”

In an attempt to sway muscle car fans into its direction, Dodge has just revealed that customers who buy its retro-looking Challenger will receive $2,000 worth of accessories from its performance division, Mopar.

The so-called Mopar Bucks can be spent on anything the customers wants, from performance parts, to visual accessories or even extended maintenance and things like that. We already revealed to you a few months ago many of the Mopar accessories , but a refresher is in order.

The exterior appearance package will cost you $1,995 (what a “coincidence”) and include a body color hood scoop and a rear GO-Wing spoiler plus stripe graphics. For those who want a bit more power, you can opt for the $1,190 cat-back exhaust system, and throw in the $790 interior accessories package, which includes a T-handle shifter and lots of chrome finishes. Classic Mopar T/A hood is also available, for $1,275, while you can also add a rear decklid spoiler, for $316.

Overall, this is a great offer from Dodge, and Challenger fans should hurry up, as it last until April 30th.

Read More: “Dodge Challenger gets $2,000 worth in free Mopar accessories”