Rpmgo.com – Read the latest auto news and opinions, see the coolest cars – Part 95

General Motors is quite confident in the appeal of its Chevrolet brand, and after seeing some good growth in recent years for its entry-level brand in Europe, it is now setting up a whole new strategy which will culminate with selling more than 1 million units in the old continent by 2015.

That alone sounds pretty impossible, but according to Chevrolet’s European president, Wayne Brannon, nothing is unattainable, and revealed that with the launch of new generations for popular products like the Spark, Aveo, Cruze, Orlando or even the Volt, sales are bound to increase.

Seeing as how popularity for the American brand is slowly increasing, they just might, but this may come at a price, as Opel, one of GM’s most important European brands, has recorded decreased sales in the last year. According to Brannon however, sales data indicate that Chevy and Opel cater to different types of customers, which aren’t considering models from the two brands at once.

In the end, it’s a pretty big goal, but with some clever marketing, big improvements with new models and positive word-of-mouth, Chevrolet might attain it. What do you believe? Share your thoughts below.

Read More: “GM hopes to sell 1 million Chevrolet units in Europe by 2015”

Citroen‘s biggest upcoming launch is the new DS3 hatchback, which will take the brand into a more upscale segment, and try to tackle rivals like the Mini Cooper, Alfa Romeo MiTo or the another upcoming premium city car, the Audi A1.

But not only does Citroen hope to revive its iconic DS badge and start a whole new upmarket lineup of cars, which will be continued with the DS5 for example, it also hopes that new customers will be drawn in to the current Citroen lineup as well.

“We have the price positioning for this car to be extremely competitive against rivals like the Mini and Alfa Romeo Mito,” said Citroen UK fleet director Andy Wady. “But there’s more to the DS3 than just that. We think it will give us additional strength in the user-chooser lists by attracting a much wider range of buyers who are new to Citroen.”

Part of the French carmaker’s strategy is to offer the DS3 to fleets or rental companies, in order to get the new premium hatchback into the hands of as many people as possible, so that everyone can be convinced of the improvements Citroen has made.

Read More: “Citroen hopes DS3 will attract new customers to the brand”

The Mini Cooper S provides some of the best fun you can have on a small little car without stepping into a kart. But even though its performance figures are quite impressive: 175 HP and 187 lb-ft of torque, there is always room for improvement.

A such the team at Superchips decided to tweak around with the ECU of the British city car, improving things like the ignition timing, or the fueling and turbo boost parameters, in order to squeeze every last horse from the BMW 1.6-liter turbocharged engine.

The result? 195 HP and 206 lb-ft (282 Nm) of torque, which are mostly available from 2,500 to 5,250 rpm. This basic performance package costs around €500 ($700), and comes with a warranty good for 12 months or 30,000 miles.

Read More: “Superchips tunes the Mini Cooper S”

Hello and welcome to another edition of RPMGO answers, where we take a stab at explaining in more layman’s terms various automotive debates or technologies.

We’ve already covered a few basic things, and now we’re treating something a bit more in depth: What’s the difference between four-wheel drive (4WD) and all-wheel drive (AWD) vehicles?

Now you may be inclined to say that there isn’t any difference, but this is due to marketing terms and various PR work from carmakers, as there are quite a few things setting the two systems apart. If you want to find out what they are, hit the jump.
Read More: “RPMGO answers: What’s the difference between four-wheel drive (4WD) and all-wheel drive (AWD) ?”

As you all know, Toyota has issued a huge recall affecting a big number of its vehicles due to unintended acceleration worries, as the gas pedal, after being subjected to extensive wear, would stop responding and remain in an open state.

Now, Toyota has revealed the fix for this problem, which is a “precision-cut steel reinforcement bar”, that will be installed into the pedal assembly and prevent the friction between a shoe and the adjoining surface where the defect occurred.

According to the Japanese company, the fix has already been tested and will be installed in around 30 minutes at any service. The company, through the voice of its USA president, Jim Lentz, revealed that letters will be sent out to all owners affected by this recall, with instructions to visit their local dealership and schedule the maintenance on their vehicle. In order to facilitate all of the customers coming in, many dealerships will be open for extended hours, even working non-stop, until everyone is safe. For those of you which are also affected by the floor mat recall, Toyota says it will coordinate with dealers in order to solve that problem too in one trip.

Hit the jump to see the video posted by Toyota’s executive Jim Lentz, which details the solutions and apologizes to existing customers affected by these problems.
Read More: “Video: Toyota president explains gas pedal fix for unintended acceleration recall”

BMW is quite happy with its market status as a luxury and performance carmaker, but that doesn’t mean it won’t expand its lineup to include other vehicles.

According to a report from Auto Motor und Sport, it seems that the Bavarian manufacturer is working on two new models, which will sit below the current 1 Series, both in terms of size and price, and will arrive around 2014.

The first one is a small electric city car, presumably the oft-rumored Megacity model, and will use the electric drivetrain from the current 1 Series ActiveE concept, which has already been presented at the Detroit Auto Show at the beginning of the year.

The second one has also been rumored for quite some time, being named the 0 Series, and will rival cars like the upcoming Audi A1, in the premium B segment. BMW will either choose the Mini platform, or use a new front-wheel drive one, developed in-house, or in partnership with another carmaker, with more experience in the field.

What do you think about these new BMW projects? Will they develop the brand in a new direction or just spoil the current robust lineup?

Read More: “BMW preparing two new models, smaller and cheaper than the 1 Series”

Last week Renault’s convertible edition of the Twingo city car was spoiled by a scale model, which betrayed the overall lines of the new car, that we believed would be badged as the Twingo CC, just like its bigger brother, the Megane CC, which was set to join it at the Geneva Motor Show.

But it seems Renault wants to depart from that nomenclature, and revealed the Wind today. No, not the meteorological phenomenon but the new convertible Twingo-like model, which according to the French carmaker, will be a hit with young people who want to feel the wind (pun not intended) in their hair.

Many details weren’t given, but Renault was quick to boast the innovative pivot folding hard top, which not only can be activated in 12 seconds, but also doesn’t impact the size of the boot, which is constant at a respectable 270 liters.

Until we will see the Renault Wind at the Geneva Motor Show this March, you can check out the photo gallery below.

Photo Gallery: Renault Wind

Read More: “Renault Wind presents itself, the convertible Twingo you’ve been waiting for”

Cadillac is experiencing a big revival these days, as not only did it impress many fans and won over a lot of other people with the CTS (and it’s performance editions, the CTS-V and the Coupe) but it is also thinking into the future with the XTS Platinum concept it showed off in Detroit, and is still working on the rumored ATS.

The new entry-level executive model will be aimed at competitors like the Mercedes-Benz C Class, BMW 5 Series or the Audi A4, replacing the unpopular BLS in Europe while it will slot in below the CTS in North America.

In order to take on its European and Japanese rivals, Cadillac will offer the ATS in all types of body styles, including a sedan, which will be premiered possibly at the end of the year, and also a wagon, a coupe and a convertible. In terms of the latter, according to InsideLine, opinions are divided as to whether a soft or a hard top will be used.

Either way, with the ascending trend in popularity it has been experiencing, Cadillac definitely needs to carefully plan the ATS so that it will be a hit with the new fans.

Read More: “Cadillac ATS still on track for 2012, will arrive as sedan, coupe, wagon and convertible”

Valentino Rossi, the famous and successful MotoGP rider took advantage of the recent vacation between the seasons of the bike competition, and went to the Ferrari Formula 1 team and asked them to take their car on the circuit.

His performance impressed everyone, and even prompted the boss of the Yamaha team, for which Rossi rides in MotoGP, to say that he feels threatened by Ferrari. Now, the boss of the Italian sportscar manufacturer, Luca di Montezemolo, revealed that the team would welcome Rossi, and said that he has the potential to become an F1 champion.

“He’s a friend and an undisputed champion, from Emilia-Romagna, a great fan of Formula 1 and engines, and also a potential Formula 1 champion,” he said. “If there was the possibility in 2011 and he wanted to do it and had the possibility for testing and adapting to F1, then why not?”

Montezemolo also talked about the much debated third car issue in F1, which would allow teams to have more drivers in the competition. This debate currently has two sides, the big teams which can afford putting a third car on the track, and the smaller ones, which can’t really invest in maintaining a third racer.

But Montezemolo believes a compromise can be reached, as the cars would be given to independent racers, which would only need to take care of the maintenance, and be spared of spending a huge amount of money developing the car from scratch.

Now though, the third car for F1 teams is still just in the idea phase, and might take some time before it is really up for discussion at FIA, which supervises the motorsport competition.

Read More: “Ferrari boss: “Valentino Rossi can become a Formula 1 champion””

The Mazda stand at the Geneva Motor Show will be a pretty busy one, as the Japanese carmaker will not only unveil the facelifted Mazda6 and the new Mazda5, but also a special edition of the MX-5 roadster, celebrating the 20th anniversary of the model.

The limited run of just 2,000 models, as highlighted by a numbered plate, will feature unique options, and will be based on the 1.8-liter SE version of the popular roadster. Available paint options, as you can see above, are True Red, Crystal White Pearl or Aurora Blue, and will match the chrome accents on the grille, door handles and headlamp surrounds, as well as the 17-inch alloy wheels.

Expect 20th Anniversary badges to adorn the limited edition, and a slight improvement in handling, as a front suspension bracing bar will be added to the 2,000 models. Pricing and other details will be offered at the Geneva Motor Show this March.

Read More: “Mazda to unveil 20th Anniversary MX-5 special edition in Geneva”

Toyota is in a lot of trouble these days as it has recalled a huge number of vehicles, from almost everywhere around the world either due to faulty gas pedals, which get stuck, or because of floor mats which wind up pushing on the accelerator pedal.

But while this gave the Japanese company a lot of problems, it also seems that it has given some people a great thing to blame for accidents, as two recent crashes involving Toyota vehicles have happened in the span of just a few days.

The first one involved a woman from Pennsylvania, which allegedly tried to park her 2007 Camry in the lot of a laundromat, but, according to her own statement plus one from a laundromat worker, the car started accelerating on its own, and ended up crashing into the building itself. According to the police, the floor mat of the vehicle was found on top of the gas pedal, which could’ve caused the whole crash.

Another incident happened at a Toyota dealership in Louisiana, where a truck owner went to allegedly service his truck and receive the fix to the unintended acceleration problems. But, according to him, he was told to wait a long time, which he refused, and attempted to leave the dealer. This is when the truck started accelerating out of control, and like the Camry above, crashed into the building.

But while the Camry story might have some true facts, this last one is a bit fishy, as some reports indicate that the man was extremely furious, and demanded that the dealer take back the truck and give him his money back. When the representatives declined and tried to explain that the problems will be fixed, he refused, and was quite upset.

Do note that we’re not really pointing fingers, as the investigations are ongoing, but it’s interesting that these accidents happened immediately after the whole recall went public. What do you think? Share your thoughts in the comment section below.

Source: Autoblog, The Advocate

General Motors desperately wants to get rid of its bleeding brands, and not only did it close down a few of them, like Saturn or Pontiac, but it is carrying tough negotiations for other brands as well. Seemingly, the Saab deal between it and Spyker is done, but the other negotiation process, between it and China’s Sichuan Tengzhong, for the sale of Hummer, has now captured the spotlight.

As you may remember, when the two companies announced that the negotiations are underway, they also said that a conclusion will be reached at the end of January. But as you clearly know, the month has ended, and no concrete announcement was given.

According to a new report, it seems that the two corporations have pushed the deadline to the end of the month, as the deal still has to be regulated by a few Chinese government organizations. While it is expected that all the necessary paperwork will be completed until then, one of the main Chinese entrepreneurs behind this deal, Suo Lang Duo Ji, has gone on the record saying that he hopes the process will be completed by this spring, so we might be in for another delay after February ends.

Read More: “GM and Tengzhong push negotiation deadline for Hummer sale to the end of February”

A few months ago we presented the Infiniti FX Millionaire Edition, which was basically a full option SUV with even more exclusive features added, in order to justify an even larger price, which couldn’t be afforded by someone unless he was a … well millionaire.

Now, the European division of the Japanese luxury brand is at it again, and released the Limited Edition FX, for all the non-millionaires who couldn’t get one of the aforementioned 100 special models. It will be available for both versions, the FX37 and FX50, and, much like the Millionaire, will boast a scratch-resistant Obsidian Black or White Moonlight paint, and a lot of other special features.

These include things like the dark graphite trim, the 21-inch turbine-like wheels, a mix of Alcantara and carbon fiber on the inside, alongside the Connectiviti+ package, which includes satellite navigation or a high end 11-speaker Bose audio system with 10GB hard drive.

In terms of pricing, the Limited Edition FX model will be cheaper than the Millionaire one, coming in at around $88,000 (£55,855) for the FX37S, and just a bit over $100,000 (£62,035) for the FX50S. Just 100 models will be made, so if you want your SUV to be truly exclusive, you’ll need to hurry.

Read More: “Infiniti presents FX Limited Edition for Europe”

2009 was largely crippled by the economic downturn, and because he wanted his corporation to withstand and not waste any big sums of money, Fiat’s CEO Sergio Marchionne imposed a spending freeze, which delayed quite a few models from being released on the market.

Now though, the freeze has been lifted, and Fiat is once again preparing new models for the European market like the upcoming Alfa Romeo Giulietta, which will premiere at the Geneva Motor Show this March.

Marchionne also seized the opportunity in a recent conference call to confirm that a replacement for the Panda is being prepared, alongside rebadged versions of the Chrysler 300C, Voyager, Sebring sedan and cabriolet, which will sport the Lancia name in Europe.

While up until now we were talking about seeing Lancia models get the Chrysler badge treatment, as it has happened already with the Delta hatchback, it seems Marchionne will also take from the US company and give to its Italian brand, in order to strengthen it.

Read More: “Fiat highlights 2011 plans: new Panda and Chrysler models rebadged as Lancia ones”

Hello and welcome to another edition of Motorsport Weekend, where we roundup the most interesting results from the last three days.

Although winter is still in full swing, that hasn’t stopped two competitions from taking place and providing some great thrills on the snow or ice filled rally stages: the Arctic Rally Lapland from the Finnish local championship, and the Sno*Drift competition, which is the first stage of the Rally America Championship.

Hit the jump to find out results from Travis Pastrana, Kimi Raikkonen or Ken Block.
Read More: “Motorsport Weekend 29-31 January: Finnish Arctic Rally and Rally America’s Sno*Drift results”