Thursday, March 22, 2012

2013 Lexus GS 350

The 2013 Lexus GS 350 is a much-needed step in a new direction for Lexus. Of new GS in an attempt to lure younger buyers is not only more sporty than its predecessor (after it is spent much time around Germany Nürburgring), but also with devices and things that the young techies are sure to love. While it is not the huge leap forward we had hoped we might be we are already sure that there much more than car be often forgotten predecessor.

Under the hood 350 offers on the 2013 GS the same 3.5-litre V-6 as the 2011 model, but with a slight power bump 306 HORSEPOWER and 277 lb-ft of torque. It is covered only to a six-speed automatic transmission in the rear drive or all-wheel drive configurations. Lexus claims a 0-60 mph time of about 5.7 seconds, which is just as fast as the current generation of GS. The electronically limited top speed Gets a small blow up to 142 mph, 140 miles per hour. Two more GS models are be revealed from the time that a dealer showrooms 2012 - beginning of 350 hits hybrid, and a F-sport. The hybrid, will be revealed the on the next Frankfurt auto show, is likely to keep the drive train of the 2011 GS 450 h, and Lexus released a teaser of photo a model of that name. The F-sport will have the same engine as the regular GS 350 but with 19-inch wheels, sticky tires, larger brakes, adjustable-rate control, and an Adaptive chassis.
That V-8 model out of the lineup will be dropped, with the hybrid, as his replacement was Lexus officials. While that much complaining among enthusiasts could result, it's not all bad. Chief Engineer Yoshihiko Kanamori says the 2013 GS 450 h hybrid is the latest generation of V-8-powered GS 460 to surpass. For comparison sake, went we tested last eight GS of 0-60 mph in 5.6 seconds. Lexus is currently Mama on fuel economy ratings, other than to say it from the old model of the 19 / 26 mpg city / highway EPA rating just improved...

2013 Lexus GS 350
BASE PRICE $48,000 (est)
VEHICLE LAYOUT Front-engine, RWD/AWD, 5-pass, 4-door sedan
ENGINE 3.5L/306-hp/277-lb-ft DOHC 24-valve V-6
TRANSMISSION 6-speed automatic
WHEELBASE 112.2 in
LENGTH X WIDTH X HEIGHT 190.9 x 72.4 x 57.3 in
0-60 MPH 5.7 sec (mfr est)
EPA CITY/HWY FUEL ECON 19-20/26-27 mpg (est)
ENERGY CONSUMPTION, CITY/HWY 169-177/125-130 kW-hrs/100 miles (est)
CO2 EMISSIONS 0.86-0.90 lb/mile (est)
ON SALE IN U.S. Winter 2012

Monday, March 5, 2012

New Land Rover Evoque Convertible

Land Rover is exploring a convertible version of the Evoque and will make a production decision ‘within six months’. Design director Gerry McGovern unveiled the concept, that will make its debut at the Geneva Motor Show next month, at Pinewood Studios.
Land Rover Evoque Convertible

Land Rover Evoque Convertible

McGovern said that “Land Rover has a history of creating new segments; with the convertible, we believe we have an opportunity to do it again. It’s another twist on the Evoque story.”

The Evoque convertible concept has a powered soft-top roof with a glass rear screen, which is stowed in a recess below the rear deck. The boot is re-engineered to fold down like the original Mini’s tailgate, while pop up rollover protection would be packaged behind the rear seats.

McGovern and his team were able to neatly package the roof with the help of the Evoque’s waistline, which rises to the rear of the vehicle. The convertible gets a bespoke alloy-wheel design and a pimento red leather interior to contrast the causeway grey exterior paint.

An engineering team under David Mitchell will look at the underbody stiffening required to compensate for the now convertible roof as there is still some conditioning to do – McGovern is looking into lowering the suspension to drop the body down which ensures that the rear end doesn’t look too bluff and the Evoque’s agile handling is still maintained

After Geneva, Land Rover will show the Evoque convertible at the New York show to gauge reaction in the US market which is critical for convertible sales.
Land Rover Evoque Convertible

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New 2012 Ferrari F12 Berlinetta

Ferrari F12 Berlinetta

Ferrari F12 Berlinett
The new 2012 Ferrari F12 Berlinetta, the new 599 successor, will be unveiled at the upcoming Geneva Motor Show. The new front-engined V12 supercar from Maranello will be revealed in a glitzy three-layer Rosso Berlinetta paint colour.

The F12 Berlinetta is the most powerful road car ever produced by the Italians with the 6262cc V12 deploying 730bhp at 8500rpm and 509lb ft at 6000rpm. In terms of its actual speed, Maranello quotes ‘over 340kph’ reaching 0-62mph in just 3.1 seconds but Ferrari is making great claims over the dynamics too calling it a ‘mid-front-engined sports car’, with the V12 mounted far back under the bonnet for more neutral handling.

The packaging of the vehicle is as interesting as it styling at 4618mm long, it’s shorter than the Ferrari 599 it replaces, with a stubbier wheelbase and the gearbox slung out back in a traditional transaxle. The engine, dashboard and seats are all lower to reduce the centre of gravity.

Long-time technical and design partner Scaglietti assisted in designing the aluminium spaceframe chassis and bodyshell using a dozen different types of alloy to cut weight by 70kg. Weighing in at 1525kg, with no fluids, Ferrari claims the structure is 20% more rigid, despite being lighter and no need for composites, says Maranello.

Active aero plays a major part in F12′s appearance. Something called the Aero Bridge at the nose generates downforce at the front by channelling air away from the top of the lid and along the flanks where it hits turbulent air from the wheels to decrease drag. Active brake cooling ducts open only at high temperatures to cool the carbon discs, minimising drag by remaining flush for most of the time.

This 6.2-litre V12 has its banks set at 65deg. It’s naturally aspirated – no downsizing here – yet 80% of that 509lb ft torque spike is available from 2500rpm. A twin-clutch F1 transmission promises quick gear changes and clever calibration brings a 30% cut in fuel consumption to around 18mpg, while Ferrari claims 350g/km of CO2.

While no price has been set yet it is expected to be priced somewhere between the GTB and GTO at an estimated £250,000.

read more;

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Acura prices 2012 TSX range, including new Special Edition

Acura TSX 2012
Acura has priced the 2012 TSX sedan and wagon, including the one we're most interested in, the new TSX Special Edition. Visual changes on the SE include a revised body kit and 17-inch alloys with a polished finish against a dark gray background. Inside, the SE gets black perforated-suede seats with red stitching and highlights.

Pricing for the 2012 TSX SE begins at $30,810* with either a five-speed automatic or six-speed manual . That's just a grand more than the base TSX, which strikes us as a pretty fair deal. Order the Technology Package, which adds an upgraded audio system and navigation, and the MSRP rises to $32,910.

The aforementioned prices are for TSX models with the 201-horsepower 2.4-liter four. Upgrading to the 280-horsepower V6 (and required automatic) increases the cost of entry to $35,350, or $38,450 with the Technology Package.

Finally, wagon lovers can score the cargo-maximized TSX for $31,160 or $34,810 with all the tech goodies. All models also carry a $885 destination charge. Hit the press release after the break for the full rundown.

Acura Announces Pricing for 2012 TSX Sports Sedan and Sport Wagon

New TSX Special Edition adds sporty appeal to the TSX line-up

Acura today announced pricing for the 2012 TSX sports sedan and Sport Wagon. Increasing $200 (or 0.6%) across the line-up, the 2012 Acura TSX continues to offer exceptional value and serves as the entry-point into the Acura brand. In addition, a new Special Edition model delivers added sportiness in the form of unique interior and exterior enhancements.

"With a sub-$30,000 starting point, the Acura TSX represents a great value for customers entering the luxury market," said Jeff Conrad, vice president of Acura sales. "Recently named US News and World Report's Best Upscale Small Car for Families, the TSX is great for families and with a sporty new Special Edition, it now has even more appeal for youthful, performance-minded buyers."

The 2012 TSX Special Edition package consists of numerous upgrades to the exterior including a more aggressive front spoiler, rear bumper fascia and side sills, 17x7.5-inch, 5-spoke aluminum wheels with a dark grey finish and a "Special Edition" badge on the trunklid. Inside, the TSX Special Edition makes use of exclusive seating surfaces with perforated black Lux Suede® inserts and red backing. Unique red stitching and red-lighting are used throughout the interior, and aluminum pedal covers add a race-inspired look. Finally, a black headliner material replaces the standard grey headliner used on other TSX models.

Pricing for the TSX sports sedan starts at $29,810. The new TSX Special Edition, available with a close-ratio 6-speed manual or Sequential SportShift 5-speed automatic transmission, is priced at $30,810. The TSX V-6 is priced at $35,350 and a Technology package, consisting of items such as Acura's award-winning ELS audio system and hard-drive based navigation system, is available on the TSX and TSX V-6 for $3,100.

For 2012, the TSX Sport Wagon now features a compact tire repair kit that allows for a significantly larger underfloor storage area. The TSX Sport Wagon starts at $31,160 and an available Technology Package is priced at $3,650, including a power rear tailgate. Destination and Handling charges for all TSX models are unchanged at $885.

The TSX and TSX Sport Wagon go on-sale today with the new Special Edition model available at the end of the month. The TSX Special Edition makes its public debut at the Orange County International Auto Show on September 22nd.

TSX 5AT 29,810
TSX Special Edition 5AT 30,810
TSX Special Edition 6MT 30,810
TSX w/ Technology Package 5AT 32,910
TSX V-6 5AT 35,350
TSX V-6 w/ Technology Package 5AT 38,450
TSX Sport Wagon 5AT 31,160
TSX Sport Wagon w/ Technology Package 5AT 34,810

*MSRP excluding tax, license, registration, $885.00 destination charge and options. Dealer prices may vary.

News Source: Acura

2012 Mazda 3 news, pictures, and information

The 2012 Mazda 3 made its Ú.S. debut at the 2011 New York International Auto Show. Face-lifted wîth an even more refined exterior and interior, the 2012 Mazda 3 also is the first application in North America of Mazda's innovative SKYACTIV fuel-saving and performance-oriented technologies, achieving 40 mpg on the highway. The Mazda 3 model is Mazda's best-selling vehicle worldwide and accounts for nearly half of all Mazda sales in the Únited States, making the vehicle a prime candidate for introducing SKYACTIV to consumers lòòking for dynamic performance coupled wîth high fuel efficiency.

'SKYACTIV is not just an engine; it is the next generation of advanced vehicle performance and efficiency,' said Jim O'Sullivan, President and CEO, Mazda North American Operations (MNAO). 'SKYACTIV embodies Mazda's philosophy of engineering only vehicles that are fun to drive, satisfying to own and environmentally responsible; and there is no better vehicle to start wîth than the Mazda 3, one of the most exciting sport compact cars on the road.'

Redesigned for the 2010 model year, the refreshed 2012 Mazda 3 is Mazda's first application of SKYACTIV technologies in North America, receiving an all-new SKYACTIV-G gasoline engine as well as the all-new SKYACTIV-Drive six-speed automatic transmission and all-new SKYACTIV-MT six-speed manual transmission. (posted on It also features improved sporty driving dynamics, responsive handling and a comfortable cabin space. The exterior design also has been refined to express a bolder stance, alongside new interior appointments creating additional functionality without sacrificing the touch-and-feel quality. Additional safety features complete the package.

Mazda 3, SKYACTIV Reach New Heights

In addition to the Mazda 3's current MZR 2.0-liter dual-overhead-cam 16-valve four-cylinder engine is the all-new high-efficiency direct-injection SKYACTIV-G 2.0-liter gasoline engine. Mated to a standard SKYACTIV-MT six-speed manual transmission or optional SKYACTIV-Drive six-speed automatic transmission, SKYACTIV will be available in either the sedan or hatchback models. The MZR 2.0-liter engine will continue to be available wîth the current five-speed manual as standard equipment. MZR 2.0-liter-equipped models also will be available wîth the current five-speed automatic as an option.

Approximately 4.4 pounds lighter than the current MZR 2.0-liter engine, the SKYACTIV 2.0-liter adopts multi-hole injectors to enhance fuel spray characteristics, along wîth specially developed piston cavity shapes that ensure a shorter combustion time and suppresses the impact on power and torque from engine knocking. Pumping loss is also decreased by employing dual sequential valve timing (S-VT).

The 2012 Mazda 3 achieves a high compression ratio of 12.0:1 and delivers 155 horsepower at 6,000 rpm and 148 lb-ft of torque at 4,100 rpm. (The PZEV version of this engine sold in California and other states produces 154 hp at 6,000 rpm and 148 lb-ft of torque at 4,100 rpm).

Compared to the current Mazda 3 MZR 2.0-liter engine, the maximum power of the SKYACTIV-equipped 2012 Mazda 3 is increased by approximately five percent (from 148 horsepower at 6,500 rpm) and torque is increased by approximately 10 percent (from 135 lb-ft at 4,500 rpm). With improved torque, coupled wîth a drive control system that utilizes coordinated controls of the engine and transmission, Mazda 3s wîth SKYACTIV technology excel in dynamic response, further maintaining the Zoom-Zoom idea of oneness between the car and driver.

Fuel economy also gets a boost from the combination of a SKYACTIV engine and transmissions. When equipped wîth the SKYACTIV-G gasoline engine and optional SKYACTIV-Drive six-speed automatic transmission, the 2012 Mazda 3 sedan will achieve an EPA rating of 40 mpg on the highway, an approximately 21-percent improvement over the current MZR 2.0-liter engine equipped wîth the optional five-speed automatic transmission. (posted on With a fuel tank capacity of 14.5 gallons, the 2012 Mazda 3 sedan wîth SKYACTIV has the potential of a 540-mile range, wîth still a gallon of fuel remaining. City mpg for the sedan version also improves by 17 percent to 28 mpg. When equipped wîth the SKYACTIV-MT six-speed manual transmission, the sedan is rated wîth an estimated fuel economy of 27 city/39 highway.

The Mazda 3 sedan wîth the MZR 2.0-liter has an EPA fuel economy rating of 25 city/33 highway wîth the standard five-speed manual transmission and 24 city/33 highway wîth the optional five-speed automatic transmission.
Also, previously only available wîth the MZR 2.5-liter engine, the Mazda 3 five-door hatchback model will now be offered in the Ú.S. wîth the SKYACTIV-G 2.0-liter gasoline engine. This Mazda 3 hatchback is estimated to deliver 27 city/38 highway (SKYACTIV-MT) and 28 city/38 highway (SKYACTIV-Drive AT). The slightly lower highway estimates can be attributed to different aerodynamics and the higher weight ratio between the sedan and hatchback. However, the hatchback's driving range remains impressive wîth more than 500 miles of driving on the same sized tank as the sedan. (concept carz) The MZR 2.0-liter engine will not be available in the hatchback model.

The higher fuel economy of the 2012 equipped wîth SKYACTIV is a direct result of combining all the best features of the technology in today's transmissions. For SKYACTIV-Drive, the key advantages of a conventional automatic transmission, Continuously Variable Transmission (CVT) and Dual Clutch Transmission (DCT) were integrated. In addition, a torque converter wîth a lock-up clutch was developed to ensure minimal decrease in fuel economy and an increase in direct drive feel.

For SKYACTIV-MT, the goal was to achieve a shift feel that is sporty, brisk and responds to the driver. To accomplish this, not only was the shift-lever stroke shortened by about 10 percent compared to the current six-speed manual (available only in models equipped wîth the MZR 2.5-liter engine or MZR 2.3-liter Direct-Injection Spark Ignition turbo engine) but other technologies were applied as well: a down type system, lock ball type synchronizer, shift load canceller, slide ball bearing and locating 2nd and 3rd gears on a common shaft. By reconfiguring the current six-speed manual transmission, its weight was reduced by approximately 4.4 pounds due to the need for fewer components, while creating a quicker and crisper shift feel. Call it a little 'MX-5 Miata-ness' in the Mazda 3.

Also available on the 2012 Mazda 3 is the highly-acclaimed Mazda MZR 2.5-liter engine. Alongside the SKYACTIV-G 2.0-liter, the MZR 2.5 is a technology powerhouse as well. It offers an aluminum block wîth cylinder-bore liners made of a steel-molybdenum alloy offering strength and stiffness generally not seen in large-displacement four-cylinder engines. A forged-steel crankshaft provides strength at high revs, but rigidity to ensure low NVH characteristics. Additionally, twin balance shafts located in the oil sump cancel second-order noise and vibration. The deep-skirt block is engineered for extra stiffness and main-bearing caps are integral wîth a ladder-type lower-block reinforcement. To minimize the noise and vibration typically found on larger displacement four-cylinder engines, the damper at the forward end of the crankshaft is equipped wîth two tuned masses. At the output end, a flexible flywheel also curbs NVH.

Fuel is delivered to the intake ports by an electronically controlled sequential injection system. Ignition coils are modular units positioned directly above the spark plugs. Shim-less bucket tappets require no maintenance. Lightweight pistons are coated wîth a special anti-friction compound and fitted wîth low-tension rings for improved gas mileage. Sintered powder-metal connecting rods and lighter full-floating wrist pins minimize the reciprocating weight.

Providing 167 hp at 6,000 rpm and 168 lb-ft of torque at 4,000 rpm, the MZR 2.5-liter engine is available wîth a six-speed manual transmission or a five-speed electronically-controlled automatic wîth manual shift control. (The PZEV version of this engine sold in California and other states produces 165 hp at 6,000 rpm and 167 lb-ft of torque at 4,000 rpm). The MZR 2.5-liter engine achieves EPA figures of 20 city and 28 highway wîth a manual transmission and 22 city and 29 highway wîth the automatic.

Distinctively Dynamic

The Mazda 3 has earned a solid reputation for its sporty and exciting handling that delivers an equally pleasurable driving feel which emphasizes consistency between the driver's expectations and the car's response. Inheriting this pedigree, the refreshed 2012 Mazda 3 not only improves upon this sense of oneness between driver and vehicle, but also offers a comfortable driving experience that all passengers can feel and enjoy in various driving scenarios.

Referred to as Toitsukan, this linear and consistent feel is more specifically about establishing smooth transitions between acceleration, lateral and deceleration G forces in response to the basic aspects of driving, turning and stopping. This idea is not simply about delivering sharp response to accelerator and §teering operations for a sporty ride, but instead delivering a consistent linear feeling of the car's every response to control operations of the driver. Toitsukan extends to making driving pleasurable and instilling drivers wîth the sensation of excitement and control while at the same time offering passengers a comfortable ride created by smooth and stable car movement.

Concentrated efforts were made to ensure this Toitsukan is achieved throughout the car's features, which also resulted in a stronger body, include the adoption of the Electro-Hydraulic Power Assist Steering (EHPAS) system and optimized tuning of the front and rear dampers. Mazda's EHPAS system employs a new setting for pump flow characteristics that enables easier handling at slow speeds while also achieving more positive feedback and a better feeling for the road at mid-range through to high speeds. The overall result when compared to the current model is lighter, more nimble §teering feel.

Put simply: turn the wheel a little, get a little change of direction; turn the wheel a lot, get a lot of change of direction. It seems so easy, but so few manufacturers seem to be able to achieve this level of intuition.

The body of the 2012 Mazda 3 also has been further reinforced for greater rigidity, improving upon the current model's already stellar agility and handling stability. This was partly achieved by increasing the number of spot welds used to join the suspension crossmembers (to which the front and rear suspensions are mounted) to the reinforced body areas. Úse of stronger materials for reinforcements made it possible to more effectively disperse input from the suspension crossmember mounts to the body, thereby greatly improving overall body rigidity. In addition, the two reinforcement bars located under the center of the floor panel of the current Mazda 3 were replaced by a single new brace that is both stronger and more rigid. Employing this sheet of reinforcing material suppresses fore-aft body deformation. This update applies only to models equipped wîth the SKYACTIV-G 2.0-liter or MZR 2.5-liter engines.

Additionally, models powered by SKYACTIV-G 2.0-liter gasoline engines are equipped wîth a drive control system that controls torque generation to maintain a harmonious balance between engine output and the gears of the transmission. (posted on Programmed in such a way to determine how much acceleration is called for in relation to the amount of acceleration pedal action, the system ensures the right amount of torque generated matches the acceleration demands. This instills in the driver a sense of confidence that the vehicle will respond faithfully and predictably. A driver's desired speed can be reached without the need of a heavy foot on the accelerator, thus contributing to less waste of fuel. (concept carz)

Engaging, Efficient Exterior

This mid-generation evolution of the Mazda 3 also extends to its exterior desi The current model's rich expression and bold stance has been updated to deliver a well-toned look that conveys even higher quality and curb appeal. Increased aerodynamics and stylized features give the 3 a more sophisticated look, blending seamlessly wîth functionality.

The 3's exterior appearance ultimately features a more taut impression wîth a new front fascia and updated five-point grille opening for both sedan and hatchback styles. New design characteristics include more delicately sculpted forms around the openings on the outside edge of the front bumper and a rounded fog lamp shape (changed from the horizontally-wide version of the current model).

Mazda 3 sedan and hatchback models equipped wîth SKYACTIV-G gasoline engines will be further distinguished wîth exclusive elements, such as an all-new engine cover featuring a deep blue metallic paint finish wîth black sections along either side; headlamp units outfitted wîth a transparent blue ring around the center lens to emphasize the vehicle's distinctive character; and a badge featuring a 'SKYACTIV' logo against a clear-blue background.

Aerodynamics plays heavily to a vehicle's carbon footprint. Improved aerodynamic performance yields greater fuel economy and further reduces CO2 emissions while also contributing to handling stability. With this in mind, the front bumper design was optimized, as were underbody parts, to more effectively streamline the flow of air traveling beneath the floor. The shape of the lower sections of the front bumper's sides were redesigned to protrude forward and the fins beneath were made larger. This adjustment effectively distributes the flow of air hitting the engine compartment and the front tire deflector, suppressing turbulence in cooling the engine as well as along the sides of the body.

Other aerodynamic aids that further streamline airflow throughout and around the vehicle include enlarging and flattening the engine cover (on models equipped wîth the SKYACTIV-G engine); increasing the floor under-covers by approximately 10 percent and eliminating vertical grooves for a smoother design; increasing the rigidity of the front tire deflectors to prevent deformation and establish a good balance between brake cooling, aerodynamic performance and handling stability; and an added clamshell silencer shaped to sit on angle wîth the road surface.

The devil truly is in the details, and Mazda's engineers didn't miss a single one. The end result is a 0.27 Cd for the sedan (SKYACTIV-equipped model only), an approximately seven-percent improvement over the 0.29 Cd of current models. The hatchback version has a 0.29 Cd (SKYACTIV-equipped model only), also an approximately seven-percent increase over the 0.31 Cd of current models.

The refreshed exterior look is completed wîth all-new 16- and 17-inch aluminum wheel designs. The 16-inch wheel (on all SKYACTIV models) (Mazda 2) now features 10 twisted-surface spokes, increased from the current model's seven-spoke design, and the 17-inch wheel (on 2.5-liter s models) is characterized by enlarged openings between each spoke, creating a look that adds to a lighter yet more dynamic feel. Designs for the 16-inch steel wheels and 18-inch aluminum wheels remain unchanged.

High Quality, Intuitive Interior

The interior design was no less re-imagined than the vehicle's exterior, and was developed wîth the end goals of a more inviting cabin and higher quality feel. Beginning wîth the instrument panel - the largest landscape within the cabin - black is now used throughout the center stack and shift gate to provide an even bolder look. Also, silver-colored, satin-polished details were added to areas frequently operated by consumers, such as the outer rings of the three climate-control dial switches and the audio control panel, as well as the ventilation louvers on the center panel. In addition to creating a feeling of higher refinement, the silver-on-black color scheme further accentuates the location of these common controls and switches, which increases legibility and lessens the amount of time drivers take their eyes off the road, consequently reducing operating errors.

The Multi Information Display (MID) and liquid crystal display (LCD) also received color adjustments, changing from the red text and graphics of the current model to an easier-to-read white. On the 2012 MAZDASPEED3, the silver touches also replace the current red-accented graphics and the silver decoration atop the shift knob has been removed. The entire shift knob on the MAZDASPEED3 is now leather-wrapped. The parking brake knob also is wrapped in genuine leather, establishing a unified coordination that lends the cockpit an even sportier air and gives the MAZDASPEED3 interior additional sophistication.

The sporty twin-meter design of the instrument cluster itself remains unchanged but is highlighted wîth new, continuous-lit white graphic meters, which provide better readability, even in bright daylight hours. Backlight colors also differ depending on the model: dynamic gray for standard and high trim levels and a red gradation for the MAZDASPEED3. SKYACTIV-equipped vehicles will feature a blue gradation backlight as well as white-graphic meter panels. Also offered will be a stylish shift knob adorned by satin-polish plating on the lower section and a silver ring-surrounded SKYACTIV-logoed plate on the upper part.
2012 Mazda 3

Mazda 3
Mazda 3
Proving that even on a mid-cycle refresh, engineers truly sweat the details, the amount of the shift knob head's forward projection on SKYACTIV-Drive equipped models has been increased by nearly 0.16 inches over the current model, resulting in a better grip feel and smoother shifts in both front-aft and left-right directions.

Improved visual designs also have found their way into the comfortable, snug seats and create a stronger impression of dimensionality wîth new three-dimensional fabric patterns. On the black seats of non-leather models, gray cross-threads have been added to enhance contrast and create a feeling of casual comfort. Dune-colored seats receive both bright and dark-colored cross-threads to create a calm, mature interior atmosphere. Higher trim levels (Touring and Grand Touring) receive a different three-dimensional seat fabric pattern to create a richer expression of quality on the black fabric.

Additional Safety Features

Vital Stats
Engine : 2.4-cylinder
Power: 155 hp
Torque: 148 ft-lbs
5-speed Manual
All Mazda 3 and MAZDASPEED3 models will continue to be equipped wîth a high level of standard safety features. An optional feature available for 2012 models is a new Blind Spot Monitoring (BSM) system. The BSM system aids drivers in avoiding accidents that often occur in tight-spaced situations, such as brushing up against another vehicle during lane changes and traffic merges. 24GHz radar sensors located at the rear of the vehicle aim to detect approaching vehicles within a range of 13 feet to the left or right, and within 26 feet from the rear. When a vehicle is detected entering the blind spot area, indicator lamps housed within the door mirrors will light. If a turn signal is activated while the indicators are lit, they flash and a buzzer serves as an additional warning. Also available as an option is an Adaptive Front-Lighting System (AFS) wîth auto-leveling bi-xenon headlamps. AFS provides a wider range of vision during cornering, increasing the driver's gaze point and visible distance, by taking into account both §teering angle and vehicle speed to orient the headlamps to an angle.

All Mazda 3s, regardless of trim level or engine choice, will continue to feature Mazda's own highly rigid safety body structure, which incorporates crushable outer zones that absorb impact energy, and Mazda's Triple H construction, which applies H-shaped reinforcements to the floor, side frames and roof to suppress cabin deformation and minimize the likelihood of bodily injury during an impact. For 2012 models, the B-pillar reinforcement has been extended by more than seven inches and more high tensile steel was added to further increase body rigidity.

Standard advanced safety features include six airbags (advanced dual front, front-seat mounted and full-length side curtain) wîth improved double chamber side airbags, anti-lock brakes (ABS) wîth Electronic Brakeforce Distribution (EBD) wîth Brake Assist, Dynamic Stability Control (DSC) wîth a Traction Control System (TCS), front and rear stabilizer bars, a Tire Pressure Monitoring System (TPMS), a 'crushable' brake and accelerator pedal assembly and collapsible §teering column, three-point safety belts for all seating positions, front seatbelt pretensioners wîth force limiters as well as Lower Anchors and Tethers for Children (LATCH). On Mazda 3, safety is simply not an option.

Source - Mazda

2012 Mazda 3 to Get Face Lift, 163-hp SKYACTIV Engine - Car News
The popular 3 could get 40 highway mpg with Mazda’s new SKYACTIV engine and automatic transmission.
Mazda has announced that the first recipient of its new SKYACTIV four-cylinder engine will be the face-lifted 2012 Mazda 3, set to debut at the New York auto show in April. The exterior styling has been tweaked, but the real story is, of course, the engine.

Although the company hasn’t yet released specs on the SKYACTIV engine as it will appear in the 3, we know quite a bit about it from our drive of several prototypes equipped with the mill last August. You can read all the details here, but here’s the recap: The iteration we’re likely to see in the Mazda 3 is a 2.0-liter four-cylinder, which was good for 163 hp and 155 lb-ft during development. When it’s burning regular 87-octane gasoline, though, torque decreases by about five percent. For reference, the current 2.0-liter in the 3 makes 148 hp and 135 lb-ft, while the optional 2.5-liter four produces 167 hp and 168 lb-ft.

The engine will pair with Mazda’s new SKYACTIV six-speed automatic transmission, which features an aggressive lock-up clutch for the torque converter. This, combined with the efficient engine, has Mazda hoping for an EPA rating of 30 mpg city/40 highway for the 2012 3—that’s up from bests of 25/33 and 22/29, respectively, for the current 2.0 and 2.5. Stick lovers can rest easy, as the engine will also be available with the company’s slick six-speed manual—although the company isn’t yet revealing the fuel economy for that combo.

The SKYACTIV engine and transmission will eventually be installed in the next-gen Mazda 6, it makes sense for the company to install it first in a small car, where it can reap the PR benefits of the magical 40-mpg figure. We’ll have more updated specs on the 2012 Mazda 3 as we approach its official unveil in April.

Friday, August 26, 2011

Schumacher's 20th 'birthday

Statistically the greatest driver in F1 history, Michael Schumacher celebrates the 20th anniversary of his debut today and goes back to the circuit where it all began hoping to rediscover the old magic

Spa remains the great man's 'living room'
Twenty years ago a young man drove his first Grand Prix and it was the start of a career that rewrote the Formula One history books. That young man was Michael Schumacher and he's now 42. He has won 91 GPs -- 40 more than the next man on the list, Alain Prost.

The F1 season resumes this weekend at the circuit where Schumacher made his debut -- Spa-Francorchamps in Belgium, generally regarded by racing drivers as the best road course in the world.

Many people forget that Schumi's first GP was with Eddie Jordan's team, then in its first season in F1 (and now Indian-owned). A vacancy arose after French driver Bertrand Gachot was jailed for spraying gas on a London taxi driver. Mercedes-Benz paid Jordan 150,000 English pounds to put Schumacher in the seat.

The legendary F1 journalist Denis "Jenks" Jenkinson watched the new kid in his first practice session through the Eau Rouge, the most revered bitumen in motorsport. James Allen, a much younger colleague of the late Jenkinson, recalled this week that "Jenks" commented that day: "We should keep an eye on this boy. He looked like the real thing."

On that very first weekend Schumacher upstaged Jordan's other driver, veteran Italian Andrea De Cesaris. The rookie was in the top eight in every session and qualified seventh. It might have been sixth had he not been blocked by Jean Alesi on his last lap.

In the race Schumi's Jordan quickly expired. The clutch melted off the start line. It may even have been his fault. But in the paddock the wise heads knew that someone special had arrived in F1.

Even during the few laps Schumacher had done in the Jordan car at Silverstone early that week the talent had shone brightly. Trevor Foster, the team manager, had called him in to tell him to slow down. He also ordered that Eddie Jordan be rung and told that a star had been unearthed.

"Instantly, within three laps, he looked like he'd been in the car all season. He looked totally at home," Foster said. Then at Spa -- the F1 circuit closest to Schumacher's home at Kerpen but at which he had never raced, despite his manager Willi Weber telling Jordan the opposite -- the team wondered whether he was driving beyond the limit. Even on his debut at 22, Schumacher had the self-confidence to tell the team: "I'm on the limit, but not over it."

Somehow Jordan didn't tie up the newcomer tightly enough and for the next race, the Italian GP at Monza, he was in a Benetton car.

It is one of the best F1 tales that the evening before practice began Schumacher was standing in a small group in the foyer of a hotel as his future was being thrashed out. He was confused but, as the discussions went on, F1 tsar Bernie Ecclestone turned to him and said: "Michael, go to bed. When you wake up in the morning you will be a Benetton driver."

Ecclestone and Benetton team boss Flavio Briatore engineered him out of Jordan and into the team with which he would win his first two world championships, in 1994 -- after Ayrton Senna's death and by biffing Damon Hill out of the title decider in Adelaide -- and '95.

Then for 1996 he was lured to Ferrari, where Frenchman Jean Todt had begun a resurrection and also recruited the technical whizzes around Schumi at Benetton, Ross Brawn and Rory Byrne.

The GP wins started to accumulate but it was 2000 before the planets aligned for the German maestro to win another championship there. It was to be the first of five straight. Even if his teammates sometimes were ordered to finish behind him, they knew he was The Man.

In his early days in F1 Schumacher raced against Senna, Prost and Nigel Mansell. Later his main rivals were Canadian Jacques Villeneuve, briefly when he was at Williams, and the Finn Mika Hakkinen in a McLaren. Later still it was Spaniard Fernando Alonso, who -- in a Renault (nee Benetton) -- dethroned him in 2005 and repeated the dose in '06.

Schumi was still a mighty force when he bowed out at the end of that year. His drive in the season finale at Interlagos in Sao Paulo, Brazil, was a sight to behold, although not victorious. He went away for three years but had an ambassadorial role with Ferrari. His feet got very itchy, but Ferrari had moved on -- even from the driver with the greatest statistical record in F1's history.

Mercedes, long aligned solely with McLaren, suddenly bought the BrawnGP team that had been Honda -- before the Japanese manufacturer's withdrawal from F1 at the end of 2008 -- and miraculously won the '09 constructors' championship and the drivers' title with Jenson Button.

Despite his Ferrari success, Schumacher had always been a blue-eyed boy with Mercedes, which had been the patron of his junior career -- along with fellow young Germans Heinz-Harald Frentzen and Karl Wendlinger. They all drove Mercedes-engined cars for Swiss team owner Peter Sauber.

As Mercedes sealed the deal to campaign its own F1 team in 2010 its motorsport chief Norbert Haug complemented the dream by orchestrating a Schumacher comeback, signing him to a three-year deal.

Eighteen months into his second GP career it hasn't produced the fairytale Mercedes hoped. Not only has Schumacher not won this time around, he is consistently outperformed by young teammate Nico Rosberg. As he returns to Spa, where he announced himself 20 years ago and scored his first GP win a year later, Schumacher is equal 10th in the world championship with a second-year Russian driver on thin ice with his Renault team, Vitaly Petrov.

As Red Bull, McLaren and Ferrari share victories between them, Haug has now admitted that it is going to take longer for Mercedes to succeed as an F1 constructor than he and it envisaged. Despite constant speculation that he will give it away, Schumacher has vowed to soldier on until his contract expires at the end of next season.

It is doubtful that the Mercedes-Schumacher combination will have proved victorious by then. It is a pity to see the driver who ruled the sport so imperiously for so long just a shadow of what he was. Yet a sprinkle of rain, perhaps at Spa on Sunday night, Australian time, might yet produce a miracle.

"The race in Spa will certainly have a special touch to it this time -- it's hard to believe that this (his first GP) was such a long time ago," Schumacher said this week.

"A lot has changed in those 20 years, but one thing has not: the track is still sensational. I just love the great nature of the location and the resulting layout with all the ups and downs.

"To me, Spa remains my 'living room', because it has been the stage for so many things which have been remarkable for my sporting career.

"This is why this time I would like to specifically send a big thank you to all my fans for their loyalty and support, which I was happy to receive during those 20 years and also since my comeback.

"Talking about the sporting side prior to Spa, we are all returning from the summer break with fresh motivation and energy, and will try to set an exclamation mark at the Belgian GP."

2012 BMW 650i Coupe: First Drive

The Pebble Beach Concours d'Elegance is still a fresh, frenetic memory, but I've spent the last two days driving some of BMW's newest hardware up and down California's central coast. Between clipping canyon apexes and whirring along in high-tech quietude, it became clear: the new 6er coupe is about more than just better looks.

Power, of course, is ample. The 400-horsepower, 450-pound-feet of torque twin-turbo 4.4-liter V-8 does its job even more readily and forcefully than in the new Convertible, thanks to its lighter weight--several hundred pounds were saved in the hard top even though the Convertible was designed from the ground-up as its own body-in-white. The adjustable ride and transmission/throttle controls offer four settings ranging from relaxed freeway cruise to sharp-edged corner hustler, but even the sportiest isn't beyond the pale for most in ride quality or harshness.

That balance between sporting capability and ride quality is something BMW, and the new 650i Coupe in particular, does very well in comparison to much of the competition. Four-wheel steering that helps rotate the car at lower speeds and makes it more stable at higher speeds also adds to the 650i's marriage of capability and ease. At the outer limits of sanity on a canyon run, however, even this advanced blend of comfort and pace can't hide the fact that the 2012 650i Coupe isn't the lightest of vehicles (it weighs 4,233 pounds), and the steering lacks some of the feel you'll find in the more sport-focused BMWs. Even so, it's engaging and fun when you want to push it quickly through a canyon, but clearly more in its element in the fast, long, sweeping curves of a more open road.
The looks, however, can't be discounted. We weren't really big fans of the last 6er's boat-like tail, and some of the angles from the front were less than pleasing, too. Not so with the 2012 model: walking around it, there's no angle, high or low, that shows an awkward line or an out-of-proportion protuberance. All of the details work, and they all work together to produce a sleek, low-slung, and satisfyingly sporty grand tourer.

2012 BMW 650i Coupe
Inside, the new 6-Series is as high-tech and refined as ever. The interior is spacious, comfortable, and clearly laid out for front-seat passengers. The rear seats are serviceable, but probably not a place an adult would want to spend a lot of time. Materials are very good throughout, with soft, durable-seeming leather, fine stitching, and not so many knobs and buttons as to require digging the manual out of the glovebox every other day to control the cabin. The interior look is especially successful when the trim areas are fitted with the classy, underst brushed metal option rather than the more common polished wood. A new Bang & Olufsen audio system provides some high-tech, audiophile-grade entertainment, while adding to the look of the cabin with drilled metal speaker covers.

Beyond the look and feel, BMW has also used the new 650i Coupe to introduce its next step in the BMW Apps lineup, with the MOG subscription music service. The MOG service, which also works through Apple's iPhone and iPad, offers an all-you-can-listen buffet with advanced playlist, channel, and other functionality that's all integrated seamlessly into the iDrive menu system when a subscribed iPhone is plugged into the center console. Whether you sign up for the MOG service or not, it's a great demonstration of what the BMW Apps platform is capable of, and makes us look forward to future Apps add-ons, the next of which should be coming later this year.

With luck, we'll get a chance to take a deeper look at the 2012 650i Coupe soon, to see if the initial gloss wears off or shines even brighter. An all-wheel drive version of the 650i, as well as a turbocharged inline six-cylinder 640i are also coming soon.

At the end of a long day driving through some of the best stretches of the Monterey area and the central coast, we weren't left wanting for much in the overall experience of the 650i; it's a well-rounded, fun, and feature-filled car that does it all so well you're free to do what you should in such a beautiful land: enjoy the drive, your companions, and the freedom of possibility in the open road.

Infiniti Teases New Vettel Special Edition For Frankfurt, Is It The FX?

Infiniti Teases New Vettel Special Edition For Frankfurt, Is It The FX?
Late yesterday we brought you a new video released by Infiniti depicting its brand ambassador, Formula 1 ace Sebastian Vettel, talking with design director Shiro Nakamura and looking over some concept sketches for what’s believed to be a new special edition model destined to debut at the 2011 Frankfurt Auto Show.

While we initially thought the model would be a Vettel-tuned IPL G Coupe, new details suggest that it could be based on the recently revealed 2012 Infiniti FX.

As Vettel and Nakamura stand around a table littered with parts from Red Bull's F1 car in the video, we get a few glimpses at some design images laying on the table.

We also hear them discuss a gray matte color that could be used on the new car, before Nakamura says to Vettel “you drive it in white.” While this may not seem unusual, Sebastian Vettel just so happens to drive a white Infiniti FX50 as his personal company car.

Ever since Infiniti's tie-up with Red Bull Racing's Formula 1 program, talk, both official and unofficial, about a special-edition car has been circulating. And, Infiniti has announced that it is planning something special for the 2011 Frankfurt Auto Show.

Watch it for yourself and see what you can divine, then report back in the comments below.

For our complete coverage of the 2011 Frankfurt Auto Show, click here.

2012 Mazda takes the RX-8 out of rotation

mazda rx8

The 2011 Mazda RX-8 will be the last model year for this iconic sports car, according to Mazda spokesman Jeremy Barnes. He said production of the model has already ceased, meaning whatever is left at dealerships is likely what’s left of new Mazda RX8 inventory.

There’s no word on whether will bring an RX successor; the RX-8 replaced the RX-7 here in 2002. Along with the Miata, the RX played a key role in forming Mazda’s “Zoom-Zoom” identity. The RX-8 featured a standard high-revving rotary engine — the only car in the U.S. that had such a configuration. If the RX-8 is not replac, that could very well mean the end of Wankel rotary engines in this country. The automaker has been building rotary-powered cars since the 1960s.

2012 Ford Focus The RX-8 was certainly a rare breed here. The car had a low-slung appearance, but it was rather accommodating with its hidden rear-hinged doors. Unfortunately, the rotary engine had pretty odd characteristics that might put off some car buyers. And its fuel economy was lousy.

Mazda has only sold 544 RX-8s so far in 2011, down 20.8% from 2010.

2012 Lexus Is250

The Lexus F marque represents the high-performance division of cars produced by Lexus. The F marque refers to Flagship and Fuji Speedway, the chief test site of Lexus performance vehicle development in Oyama, Suntō District, Shizuoka Prefecture, Japan. The first vehicle in the Lexus F marque lineup, the Lexus IS F, was announced in 2006, followed by an F marque coupe concept, the Lexus LF-A, in 2007, and the production LFA supercar in 2009. All Lexus F performance vehicles are denoted by namesake badging on the front fenders. A related performance trim line, Lexus F-Sport, was launched for 2007, with an F-Sport accessory line and factory models in 2011. Lexus F models have been developed by the Lexus Vehicle Performance Development Division, which has also been involved with the brand’s racing activities. The “F” designation was originally used at Mazda’ launch in 1989, as an internal code for the development of its first flagship vehicle.
In late 2006, Lexus filed trademark applications for an “F” emblem, leading to speculation that the luxury marque was about to launch a performance brand. At the time it was suggested that “F” stood for “Fast” or “Flagship.” Later reports surmised that “F” referred to the Fuji Speedway in Japan, whose first corner, 27R, was said to have inspired the shape of the “F” emblem. Interviews with company executives in prior years had included mentions of Lexus possibly starting a performance brand to compete with the likes of Mercedes’ AMG, Audi’s S/RS, Cadillac’s V-series, and BMW’s M division, among others. An earlier in-house tuning effort, the TRD-based L-Tuned, had offered performance packages on the IS 300 and GS 400 sedans in the early 2000s. Lexus’ racing activities and sports model devel had been handled by the Lexus Vehicle Performance Development Division, a branch of the Lexus Development Center, located in Aichi, Japan.
In December 2006, Lexus announced that the first vehicle in the F marque lineup, the Lexus IS F sedan, previously known in the press as the IS 500, would premiere at the North American International Auto Show in January 2007. The vehicle subsequently premiered at Detroit along with a redesigned version of the concept LF-A sports car. At its press debut, Lexus revealed that a dedicated “skunk works” team designed the IS F in a manner distinct from typical Lexus engineering efforts. The chief designer of the IS F, Yukihiko Yaguchi, previously worked on the Toyota Supra. Media reports suggested that the IS F sedan would be followed by a GS F sedan and Lexus IS F coupe.
Lexus Is250
Lexus Is250