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

2012 Audi A7 3.0T takes on the Mercedes-Benz CLS550

Which Is Better Depends On Where You're Sitting
"This car has an identity crisis. The aggressive exterior, brash exhaust note and firm ride say 'sport,' but the interior screams 'grandma!'"
Strong words, especially when they originate from a stranger named Stephen sitting in the back seat of the $80,995 Mercedes-Benz some 80 miles from where we picked him up. The 31-year-old real estate broker and five other industry outsiders were invited to spend the day with Autoblog to help us compare the 2012 Audi A7 3.0T to the 2012 Mercedes-Benz CLS550.

These two vehicles have met head-to-head before, but not on these pages. To make things a bit more interesting, the decision was made to review these "four-door coupes" not only from the driver's perspective, but from all four seating positions. The unique comparison would require each of the vehicles to carry 700-plus pounds of passengers comfortably from the flatlands of the hot LA Basin up to the cool mile-high elevations of Big Bear Lake and back. The winner would be determined by a simple vote.

As this task called for six warm bodies willing to be chauffeured 160 miles over a long afternoon, Autoblog's Facebook page was enlisted to recruit. Within 24 hours, we had our six smiling volunteers fingered.

Our randomly chosen readers ranged in age from 22 to 35, and in occupation from a college student to a working professional environmental scientist. There were five men and one woman, each with a strong automotive passion and a willingness to hang with us for nearly six hours in exchange for some ice-cold bottled water and a free hot lunch. Our players:

· Alex, a 22-year-old student
· Erick, a 26-year-old graphic designer
· Ian, a 27-year-old information technology expert
· Lisa, a 35-year-old product specialist for an automotive manufacturer
· Manjul, a 32-year-old environmental scientist
· Stephen, a 31-year-old real estate broker

Fellow Autoblog scribe Jeff Glucker and I would be tasked with driving. The plan was to break into two groups of four that would each stick together for the duration of the review. We'd pull over every 30 minutes or so and everyone would swap vehicles - think of it as a modified Chinese fire drill, but with two cars.

To vary the driving environment as much as possible, everyone met at an In-N-Out Burger in Glendora (elevation 774 feet) at the foothills of the Angeles National Forest. Our route would take us across the LA Basin on freeways to the foothills of the San Bernardino National Forest. At that point, we would climb up the mountain to Big Bear Lake (elevation 6,750 feet), take in the scenery and eat lunch. Our return trip would trace our steps in reverse. Mother Nature had her own agenda, but more on that in a moment.
The Mercedes-Benz CLS550 is the veteran in this comparison. Credited with starting this whole "four-door coupe" segment back in 2004 when it was a knocked-off the W211 E-Class platform, the second-generation four-door (it has a conventional trunk) shares underpinnings and engine choices with the latest W212 E-Class. Sleekly styled with an aggressive facade, the four-passenger CLS550 is fitted with bright LED at all four corners. It looks as modern as a Boeing 787 Dreamliner when it flies by. Under its hood is a new direct-injected twin-turbocharged 4.7-liter V8 rated at 402 horsepower and 443 pound-feet of torque. Power is sent to the rear wheels through a wet seven-speed automatic with steering wheel-mounted paddle shifters for manual control. The suspension is independent at all four corners, with cockpit-adjustable air springs. Completing its performance package are four-piston brakes in the nose and single-piston units out back, all clamping down on cross-drilled rotors to slow down a set of staggered 19-inch wheels and Pirelli P Zero tires (255/35-19 up front and 285/30-19 in the rear).

The Audi A7 3.0T is the fresh new face in this pair up. Internally designated Type 4G, the first-generation five-door (it has a large rear hatchback) was introduced less than a year ago to worldwide acclaim. Sharing underpinnings with the MLB-based (Modularer Längsbaukasten) A6, the four-passenger A7 is even more beautiful in person than it looks in any picture. Under the aluminum hood is a direct-injected supercharged 3.0-liter V6 rated at 310 horsepower and 325 pound-feet of torque (ignore the odd "3.0T" nomenclature because this engine is not turbocharged). Power is sent to the automaker's Quattro all-wheel-drive system through a wet eight-speed automatic with steering wheel-mounted paddle shifters. An independent multi-link suspension, with fixed sport dampers, controls body movement and unnecessary roll. The brakes are four single-piston calipers actuating on ventilated rotors inside optional 20-inch wheels. The square tire setup puts the same size Yokohama Advan Sport (265/35-20) at each corner.
The price advantage goes to the Audi. Its base MSRP of $59,250 was bumped up with a Premium Plus and Sport package adding the navigation and 20-inch wheels, among other things. The A7's bottom line was $66,220 including destination. The Mercedes started with a base MSRP of $71,300. It was fitted with options including the P01 package, 19-inch alloys, active driver seat, rear side airbags, split-folding rear seats, parking assist, lane keeping assist, blind spot assist and a wood/leather steering wheel. The must-have equipment bumped the sticker price to $80,995 including

We decided early in the game that the price difference, while large, wasn't significant enough to detract a buyer from either model – if you've got the means to spend $66,000 on a car, bumping up to $80,000 probably isn't too much of a stretch. (On a more grounded note, consider the percentage equates to the same dollar gap between a mid-grade Kia Soul Plus and a well-equipped Soul Exclaim.)

These German automakers have each taken slightly different approaches to the rear accommodations in their four-passenger coupes.

The Audi's two front seats are identical to each other. Easy to slide onto, they are slightly bolstered with shallow bottom cushions that are surprisingly soft. The Mercedes-Benz, on the other hand, has an upgraded driver's seat with active bolstering and massage features (the front passengers make due with a standard 14-way power seat). While nobody complained about comfort in the front seats of the A7, switching quickly to the front seats of the CLS550 was a wake-up call. "I thought the Audi was comfortable. The seat isn't overly bolstered, the leather is soft and I can adjust it to my exact liking. Moving into the CLS550, however, is like trading a water bed for a Tempur-Pedic. Sure, the active bo get tiring after time, but turn them off and hit the massage switch and all is forgotten. After I got out of the CLS, I felt guilty for not tipping," said Autoblog Editor Jeff Glucker. "CLS seats were amazing," added Ian.

Our volunteers had a lot to say about the rear seats, mainly because they spent a lot of time back there. They particularly pointed out how the sharply sloped roofs and jutting seat bolsters made ingress/egress difficult. The CLS550, the most dramatically styled of the two, was singled-out first. "I had trouble getting in and out of the Mercedes... I hit my head twice. I had no such problems with the Audi," noted Manjul. Alex took the words out of most everyone's mouth when he stated, "It took something of a conscious effort not to bump my head every time I got in or out of the car." His comments seemed not only directed at both of the test vehicles but all four-door coupes on the market today.
The center rear seat in the Audi has been replaced by a hard and rather useless storage compartment - but someone theoretically could sit on it (without a seatbelt) in an ill-advised pinch. On the other hand, the rear seat of the Mercedes is fitted with a more extravagant full center console. Not everyone was impressed. "I didn't like that the center console in the Mercedes took away any possibility of a fifth passenger, even if it would only be a child. It went all the way to the floor dividing the entire back seat in half," noted Lisa.

Center consoles aside, our rear-seat passengers generally preferred the Audi over the Mercedes. Like the front seats, the Audi rear seats were less bolstered and the cushions softer. Alex, at five-foot eight-inches tall, was the lone exception. "The headroom was adequate for me because I'm not that tall, but if somebody even two inches taller were sitting back there they'd almost certainly be hating life." And, despite the fact none of our six volunteers were over five-foot eleven-inches tall, they did complain. "The A7's back seat felt small and very uncomfortable," said Ian, one of the tallest in the group at five-foot eleven-inches. Alex added, "Anyone taller than five-foot nine-inches shouldn't even try." Majul, at five-foot seven-inches tall, also found problems with the rear head restraints in the CLS. "I tried adjusting myself in the seat but the headrest is nowhere near my head. I was the right height but not in the position that supported the back of the head," he said frustratingly.

With everyone safely buckled into their seats, Jeff and I fired both engines and pointed the cars east towards Big Bear - we noted the mountains were masked by towering monsoon-fed cumulus clouds.

Motor Trend recently tested these identical vehicles and clocked the Mercedes-Benz CLS550 to 60 mph in a blistering 4.3 seconds. The Audi A7 3.0T also performed unexpectedly strongly, busting through the same acceleration benchmark in just 4.7 seconds (while noting most other A7's do it in 5.3 seconds). However, that was with one test driver on board. Our test cars were not only topped-off with fuel but we were flying with a full cabin, as they say in the airlines.

Seated in the CLS, I set the transmission to Sport mode for a first-gear start and floored the accelerator. The twin-turbo V8 under the hood of the Mercedes seemed only slightly annoyed with the added mass as it pulled strongly off the line and forced all four of our heads against the leather restraints. The Audi was a bit more taxed and burdened with the heavy passenger load, but its smooth-shifting eight-speed automatic kept it in the race several car lengths back as Jeff floored it up the onramp in pursuit.

Both vehicles were very competent highway cruisers, but far from flawless. The CLS has both Sport and Comfort suspension settings. I preferred Comfort for nearly all conditions, finding Sport simply too harsh. My passengers, watching the radar detector bounce violently on its mount while in Sport, agreed. The A7 has Dynamic and Comfort modes for its suspension, but the differences are very subtle – since nobody had brought along a seismograph we were left stumped by the difference.

Road noise is an issue in both vehicles. Huge tires be damned, as the summer compound slaps down on the grooved pavement reverberating through the passenger compartments of both vehicles. "I was really surprised by how much road noise was transmitted into the cabin of a car costing this much. I drive a 2003 Subaru with a loud exhaust, so my standard for peace and quiet is pitifully low. Our car was equipped with 20-inch wheels and summer rubber, so I'm sure that explains some of it... but still," Stephen sighed, while riding in the Mercedes.

Yet there are plenty of distractions to keep tire noise at the back of your mind. All occupants, including your Autoblog editors, agreed that the Audi took all the honors when the subject was on-board navigation and infotainment. It was impossible for the CLS550's seven-inch fixed display to compete with the A7's slightly smaller, but Internet-enabled, pop-up display in terms of graphics and content delivery. With its own T-Mobile data plan, Audi has not only integrated real-time Google Maps and search features into its system, but it has the capability to deliver WiFi to eight devices within the vehicle simultaneously. Everyone found the Audi's MMI interface more self-explanatory and appealing when compare to the COMAND system on the Mercedes. "Audi is much more stylish, and the infotainment interface is more user-friendly," said Lisa rather succinctly.

"I was blown away by the A7's navigation unit. The trick pop-out screen was cool, if a little gimmicky. Its integration with Google Maps was very well done, especially the topography. It also displays the posted speed limit, if you are into that sort of thing," commented Alex. "The first thing I did when getting in the back seat was hook up my iPhone to the A7's WiFi signal. In my opinion, the navigation system in Mercedes has always lagged behind. As someone who is into the latest-and-greatest in the tech world, this is a deal-breaker," mustered Lisa. "The A7 is akin to driving around with a portable Genius Bar plucked from an Apple store," said Editor Glucker, who didn't hold his punches. "Staring at the radio of the Benz reminds me of a dusty HAM radio. The map displayed by the Benz would have been great if navigation came standard on a 1989 560 SE. Meanwhile, we're not looking at a map in the Audi... we are looking at the actual earth, courtesy of Google."

After 30 minutes of near-straight freeway driving at speeds of about 75 mph, it was time to head into the mountains. The weather went from sunny and hot, to wet and cool.

Steady rain, and a long chain of weekend traffic heading up the hill, kept our speeds low as we followed the mountain's contour climbing towards the lake. Realizing hydrated passengers are happy passengers, I had brought along a cooler full of ice and 16.9-ounce water bottles. While the insulated chest was strapped tightly into the trunk of the Mercedes with tie-downs, the passengers were forced to find places to store their bottles. The cup holders worked well up front, but passengers in the rear did a lot of grumbling. The average-sized cup holders held firmly in the Audi, but gave most everyone headaches in the Mercedes. "As for the cup holders on the CLS550, the test bottles did not fit. Even on the highway at speed, a slight change in direction basically made them fall out. I ended up putting the test bottles in at an angle to hold them. Audi's bottles held up going up the canyon roads and never did move. It's a better designed cup holder. The Audi had a spring loaded clip that would close to the minimum position and would spring out to fit larger cups, kinda like fingers holding a cup," noted Manjul.

Jeff and I noticed that the Audi's standard Quattro all-wheel drive made a difference in the rain. Not as much on the high speed sweepers as it did around town - most obvious when launching from a standstill. The muscular Mercedes would just start to spin a rear wheel off the line before its traction control would immediately kill the fun, making for some "oh-crap" moments when pulling into traffic. The Audi, on the other hand, was able to manage its grip and put the power down even on wet pine needles. (The just-launched CLS550 4Matic, with permanent all-wheel drive, would have been an equalizer under these conditions, though more expensive still.)

After lunch, the clouds cracked open and rays of sun dried the road. It was the opportunity for Jeff and me to push the cars a bit harder. The CLS550 was the muscle car, delivering effortless thrust accompanied by an exhaust note that put smiles on everyone's face. The A7, on the other hand, was challenged to keep up and its exhaust note muted. "The A7 sounds pretty good when you rev it, but nothing like the Benz. The relative lack of exhaust tone in the Audi isn't a strike against the car itself - it wouldn't dissuade me from buying one - but it doesn't stack up to the music that was coming from the CLS engine," said Alex. "The CLS exhaust from the back seat is perfect," Ian agreed.

At altitude, and with all seats occupied by adults, the A7 was working hard. Stuck behind a slow car, but with a clear passing zone, the supercharged 3.0-liter didn't give me enough confidence to try the pass - the CLS550 would have taken it with ease. The engine in the Mercedes was strong, but I did find frustration with its seven-speed automatic transmission as it seemed more likely to unnecessarily hunt for gears. This was most apparent when compared back-to-back against the smooth eight-speed automatic in the Audi.

Editor Glucker was just as impressed with the performance of the Benz. "It's hard to argue with the 4.7-liter mill mounted under the hood of the CLS550. In fact, you don't want to try and talk over it, because it's more enjoyable just to listen to it. Mean and low, the Mercedes rumbles like a tough guy in a tux. It pulls hard through the majority of the rev range. Audi's powerplant is a totally different animal, yet it is one that fights above its weight class. There is no supercharger whine, or grumbling exhaust note to speak of, but there is a wonderful application of power. Down 92 horses to the mighty Mercedes, the Audi somehow manages to feel nearly as quick. The quattro all-wheel-drive system certainly plays a major role, but I'm still a bit flabbergasted that a car this heavy manages to get along so well with just 310 horsepower."

The passengers relegated to the back seats, and getting tossed around like rag dolls in the process, preferred to ride out the twisty sections in the Audi. "On top of the mountain, the [CLS's] air suspension in the rear was constantly correcting for the car into the turns. I could hear it and while it wasn't bad the fact is that it felt like the sinking Titanic. Go into a fast left-handed turn, the car would sink on the right and then bounce up a bit to stabilize the rear. That's what made me seasick. The Audi did not have that feeling," said a woozy Manjul. He wasn't alone in his queasiness, as Erick agreed with him, "I noticed that sitting in the back of the Mercedes made me feel a little nauseous compared to sitting in the front... sitting in the back was very bouncy for me."

Reaching the base of the hill meant another 30-minute trek on flat 70 mph freeways. Not only did it give Manjul's stomach a chance to settle, but it allowed everyone time to think and compose their thoughts about each vehicle before we arrived back at our familiar In-N-Out parking lot.

A quick check of the trip computers revealed 152 fresh miles on the odometer. The Mercedes-Benz CLS550 returned 20.5 mpg calculated by its trip computer (against an EPA fuel economy rating of 17/25). The Audi A7 3.0T delivered 21.6 mpg over the identical route (against an EPA rating of 18/28). Everyone considered both figures very impressive when the payload, driving route and power output of each engine was factored in. The fuel economy numbers were also further proof that the Mercedes wasn't working nearly as hard as the Audi.

Our chauffeured volunteers, who spent five long hours without ever touching an accelerator pedal, were split four-to-two on their favorite. Lisa, Manjul, Stephen and Erick preferring the A7, while Ian and Alex - two of our younger guests - chose the CLS550.

Stephen, who was in the Audi camp, couldn't look past the CLS550's styling, both inside and out. "The interior of a car sets the tone in which it's driven. In this case, we've got a whole lot of contradiction. The exterior styling advertises this as a car for the moneyed life of the party and the exhaust note will put your stoplight neighbors on notice. Sadly, the cabin makes it nearly impossible to fulfill either of those prophecies. I cannot imagine sitting in the driver's seat and pushing that car hard. Such a lack of cohesion and display of disorder isn't just surprising in a German car, it's practically shocking."

Ian, who was on team Mercedes, had a contradictory view. "I enjoyed the Benz in almost every way over the Audi. I thought the seats were more comfortable and had more options, the ride when needed felt sportier, and when not needed felt more plush and subdued. The engine, while recognizing the Audi was down on horsepower, just felt stronger and more linear in the Benz. The Audi's only redeeming factor in my mind was its GPS."

The two Autoblog drivers, tasked with preserving life and limb of the valuable cargo, were also split. Jeff liked the A7, while I was mesmerized by the CLS550.

"On paper, the Mercedes-Benz CLS550 is a clear winner," said Jeff. "More power, rear-wheel-drive dynamics and the world-class luxury that comes with a big Benz. But this fight is Rocky verses Apollo Creed. Despite the power difference, the Audi managed to keep up on our canyon jaunts. The A7 is an absolute stunner in the exterior styling department and the interior gadgetry should make a Benz owner throw up for spending so much more. I also feel Mercedes should give up the copycat LED daytime running lights because Audi has clearly perfected them. If I were in the market for a four-passenger luxury sports sedan in this price range (let's quit calling them coupes), I would certainly consider both of these cars. Then I would take my first sip of coffee, buy the Audi, a new set of golf clubs, some aftermarket wheels, and put the rest of my cash into a high-yield mutual fund."

The Audi is undeniably sexy and its technology cutting-edge, but your author finds it impossible to overlook the twin-turbocharged 4.7-liter under the hood of the Mercedes. Mountains of torque rocket the four-door off the line with a squeal and it doesn't seem to ever run out of steam. While I am a tech-geek, the callous rumble of a refined V8 combined with hip-hugging seats and a thick steering wheel made me forget all about the Audi's Google-infused navigation system and eye-candy display. Sure, the Audi was quick in the corners, but the Mercedes is so much more fun to drive. If offered the choice, I'd grab the key fob to the CLS550 faster than you can say "managed collective investment," point the three-pointed star towards Vegas and go hang with the high rollers.

In the end, five votes went to the Audi A7 3.0T while the remaining three votes fell on the Mercedes CLS550 – the A7 owned the win.

The Audi's victory is surprising, but not completely unexpected. Many of us in the driver's seat automatically assume horsepower and a well-sorted chassis will dominate a comparison. This time, with all seating positions contributing a ballot, it was innovative technology and ride comfort that hoisted the leader to the podium.

Battle of the Four-Dour Coupes

The Audi A7 is simply gorgeous, both inside and out. Toss in a very competent supercharged V6 and the all-weather capability of Quattro all-wheel drive and the stunning four-door just may be one of the world's finest all-around vehicles. While down on horsepower, the A7 captured the win thanks to its passenger-friendly cabin and innovative technology - qualities that matter to all occupants, not just t driver.

The Mercedes-Benz CLS550 established the four-door coupe segment, so it finds itself in a defensive position against the newcomers who take carefully aimed shots at the veteran. The CLS550 is a driver's car, from the throaty V8 and rear-wheel drive powertrain to the cross-drilled multi-piston brakes. Those excellent attributes, however, don't change the outlook to those left staring out the window from the rear seats.

Mercedes-Benz CLS550
Mercedes-Benz CLS550

Thursday, July 7, 2011

2012 Mazda3 MZR 2.0 L

2012 Mazda3 MZR 2.0 L Engine Will Continue to Available With The Current 5 Speed Manual as Standard Equipment
2012 Mazda3 Review and Informations



Wednesday, July 6, 2011

2012 Mazda3 details

The 2011 Mazda 3 is available as a four-door sedan and a four-door hatchback. The hatchback has a roomier cargo area, and is great for buyers who haul more stuff. The sedan and hatchback are available in i and s trims. The s trims are more powerful, and feature the 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine that produces 167 horsepower and 168 pound-feet of torque. Pricing hasn’t been released for 2011, but the 2010 s trim was more expensive. The four-door Sedan Sport started at almost $19,200, and four-door hatchback Grand Touring topped the trim at almost $22,000.


Thursday, June 2, 2011

2011 BMW M6 RR G-Power

2011 bmw m6
2011 bmw m6

This is the BMW M6 Hurricane RR which is a G-power project to date. This car is capable of penetrating speed of 370 km / hour. G-Power Project before, the 2011 bmw m6 Hurricane RS only able to penetrate the speed of 367.4 km / hr.

2011 BMW M6 Preview

2011 bmw m6
2011 bmw m6

The 2011 BMW M6 marked a major departure for the BMW M series, which saw a change in its engine from a V-10 to a V-8. Up until 2011, the V-10 engine was always the point of much debate among 2011 bmw m6 series owners, as some drivers enjoyed the distinct race car sound it provided. Critics argued that performance wise it wasn't any better than a V-8 engine, while getting shockingly inefficient gas mileage. The M series was also plagued by transmission problems, as it used a very jerky seven speed automatic transmission, and did not offer any manual transmission options.

Silver 2011 BMW M6

2011 bmw m6
2011 bmw m6

The new 2011 bmw m6 concept made its debut at the 2005 Geneva Motor Show. It is based on the BMW E63/E64 6-Series, introduced in 2004. It shares the same 5.0 L V10 S85 engine and SMG III gearbox with the E60 M5, and produces 514 hp (383 kW) / 520 N·m (380 lb·ft). BMW claims it accelerates from 0 to 100 km/h (62 mph) in 4.4 seconds (0-60 mph: 4.1 s [Road & Track [2/06]) and has an electronically limited top speed of 155 miles per hour (249 km/h).

2011 BMW X3 M Sport Package

2011 bmw x3
2011 bmw x3

The 2011 BMW X3 is available in the United States in two different models including the X3 xDrive28i and the X3 xDrive35i. The X3 xDrive28i is powered by a 3.0L inline 6-clyinder unit making 240-hp and 230 lb-ft of torque, allowing 0-60 mph to come in 6.7 seconds. The 2011 bmw x3 xDrive35i is powered by a 3.0L inline 6-clyinder N55 with direct fuel injection, twin-scroll turbo technology and Valvetronic. It makes 300-hp and 300 lb-ft of torque, allowing the 0-60 mph run to come in 5.5 seconds when fitted with the optional Sport Package.

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

2011 mazda rx 8

2011 mazda rx8
2011 mazda rx8

Under the hood of the rear-wheel-drive 2011 mazda rx8, is the 1.3L rotary engine. Paired with the 6-speed automatic transmission with paddle shifters, the engine produces 212 horsepower and redlines at 7,500 rpm. The 6-speed manual transmission increases that output to 232 horsepower, and the redline sits at an impressive 9,000 rpm. Both setups generate a limited 152 pound-feet of torque. Most tests put the RX-8 with the manual transmission at the 7-second range for 0-60 mph times. That's quick, but not quick enough for a sport car of this caliber at this price point.

2011 Red Mazda RX-8

2011 mazda rx8
2011 mazda rx8

2011 Mazda RX-8-Front Rear

Mazda RX-8 Sport

mazda rx8
mazda rx8

The Mazda RX-8 is a sports car manufactured by the Mazda Motor Corporation. It first appeared in 2001 at the North American International Auto Show.

2011 Mazda RX-8

mazda rx8
mazda rx8

he RX-8′s rotary powerplant is unlike any other. No pistons – and a super tiny 1.3 liters. A pair of rotors spin on a common crankshaft, and this reduction in rotating mass allows for a motorcycle-like operating range from 0-9,000 RPM. Peak power for manual-equipped versions is 232 hp; models equipped with the optional six-speed automatic are detuned a little to 212 hp, with redline cut back to 7,500 RPM.

Mazda RX8 Grey

mazda rx8
mazda rx8

Definitely sporty and sleekly-styled, the 2008 mazda rx8 comes available in three trim levels ? the Sport, Touring and Grand Touring ? with either a manual or automatic transmission. The RX-8 comes equipped with a 212 horsepower 1.3-liter rotary gas engine with 159 lb.-ft of torque and RWD. The RX-8 achieves 16 City/23 Highway MPG, according to EPA estimates, and comes nicely equipped with front/side-body/side-head airbags, ABS brakes, traction control, air conditioning, cruise control, keyless entry, power controls and an AM/FM/CD/MP3 audio system.

Mazda6 2009

mazda 6
mazda 6

Under the hood of the six-cylinder model is the same 3.7-liter V6 that motivates the Mazda CX-9 CUV. Doing duty in the mazda 6, the MZI engine is rated at 272 hp and 269 lb-ft of torque and Mazda is quick to point out that those numbers push the 6 to the head of the class among its Japanese competition (Honda Accord - 268 hp, Nissan Altima - 270 hp, and Toyota Camry - 268 hp). The engine is mated to a smooth six-speed Sport Shift automatic transmission driving the front wheels. The four-cylinder model gets the familiar MZR inline-four, bored out to 2.5-liters. In this application, it's rated at 170 hp and 167 lb-ft of torque and mated to either a six-speed manual, or a five-speed Sport automatic transmission sending power to the front wheels as well.

2008 Mazda 6 Detail

mazda 6
mazda 6

Mazda has unveiled the North American domestic market version of its new second generation Mazda 6. More details are to come later, but from the initial press release we know that the North American version has slightly different styling on the front and rear end, and the option for a large 3.7 liter V6 engine mated to a mazda 6-speed auto as the flagship model.

2012 Mazda 6

mazda 6
Mazda 6
2012 Mazda Mazda6 Preview – according to the information we received, this car will be released at the beginning of 2011, the 2012 Mazda Mazda6 is a car affordable to consumers for decades. And the following is information about specifications, performances, and features 2012 Mazda Mazda6. For in America, the 2012 Mazda Mazda6 will release at the end of 2011 but of course there will be increasing the price of the model 2011 because of many changes to the engine in this new model.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Lamborghini Sesto Elemento Concept

Fresh from its unveiling at the 2010 Paris Motor Show, this Lamborghini Sesto Elemento concept is the probably future replacement for the hugely successful, and entertaining, Murcielago.

This concepts name is derived from carbon’s placement within the periodic table, translating as “sixth element”. Clearly then, the name implies what to expect from this car, a lightweight fire-breathing monster that upon unveiling left everybody who saw it with just a little extra saliva swimming around their mouths.

Power comes from the V10 currently used in the Gallardo, and gives you a not inconsiderable 562bhp under your foot with which to play with when the traffic lights go green. The car uses carbonfibre throughout and subsequently weighs in at only 999kg, to put that in persepective, the current Ferrari 458 comes in at 1380kg and the Gallardo tops the scales at a relatively elephant like 1569kg.

This lack of weight will mean the car is expected to do the 0-60 in sub 2.5 seconds, which will place well ahead of its rivals, and topping out at somewhere over 200mph.

Whether the Lamborghini Sesto Elemento will ever make production is uncertain, carbon fibre construction is still incredibly expensive to produce, and with this car making use of the material for everything from its main body, crash zones and wheels to its suspension and steering, there is no doubt any final product, if using this much carbon fibre, will have a huge price tag hanging off of it when its sat in the showroom.

For buyers where money doesn’t matter that’s not an issue, but these cars usually sell to averagely wealthy individuals rather than mega multi millionaires, and a massive price tag would see sales of the car held back, so its probable, that if it is ever produced, it will be a limited run, making it exclusive, more desirable, and therefore certain to sell the limited numbers built.

We certainly hope they make it, this Lamborghini Sesto Elemento is one of the best looking and most exciting cars to come out of the Paris Motor Show, and producing something so special for its buyers would ensure Lamborghini hangs on to its legendary status for many years to come.

Electric car cheaper than ????$

A company from California it is very proud because of the new concept: an ecological car, in electric or hybrid version , cheaper than 30.000$. The cars were built in Aptera and the series models will be sold this year, first in the full-electric version and after that in hybrid version.


The full-electric car has an autonomy of 120 miles and can be charged at any plug in a few hours. The hybrid version consumes just 0,784 liters of combustible at 100 km walked, being equipped with a generator that runs on benzine and an electric engine.

Both versions are equipped with safety add-ons: zones of frontal deformation, steel for sideways and airbags for the driver and passengers.

The car runs only on three wheels and it has enough space for 2 adults and one child. The chair in the back, for the child, can be extracted if you want more space for sportive equipment or some bags from shopping.

Pontiac – A Small Tribute To An Icon

Pontiac, one of the most successful muscle car brands ever, has finally bitten the dust. General Motors, after watching Pontiac’s market share and profitability drain away over the last few decades decided last year that the brand was to finish, and one year later, its finally happened.

Pontiac came into being way back in 1926, and through the following years gradually built its iconic cars in to the epitome of everything a muscle car should be. Pontiac was responsible for several of the most memorable, and successful, muscle cars ever made, including the GTP, the Bonneville and of course the Firebird TransAm, made famous throughout the World by Burt Reynolds 1970′s movie Smoky and the Bandit.

Pontiac’s sales hit their peak way back in the 1960′s reaching almost 1 million sales in 1968, however those days were never to be seen again and over the following decades sales showed a continued decline and finally Pontiac was put out of its misery by GM after its much publicised financial meltdown and subsequent bailout.

Here though, we want to celebrate some of Pontiac’s finer moments, so here are a few of Pontiac’s best ever cars.
Pontiac Star Chief Convertible

Pontiac Star Chief Convertible

A great looking 1950′s classic, the Pontiac Star Chief was one of Pontiac’s finer moments during its ascendancy, ever reliable and blessed with fantastic looks, the Star Chief was much sort after, and with a usefully powerful V8, the car never lack pace.
Pontiac Bonneville 1967

Pontiac Bonneville 1967

The Pontiac Bonneville was one of the longest running models ever, starting from 1957 all the way through to 2005. In hindsight Pontiac should probably have left the name for the great models of the 50′s and 60′s and then stopped using it, the cars baring the Bonneville name gradually got less desirable, and less attractive as the decades rolled on, generally the models of the 80′s onwards are best (and easily) forgotten, but the early examples will stay in the history of motoring as fine examples of cars of their time.
Pontiac GTO - The Judge

Pontiac GTO - The Judge

The GTO was one of the most striking cars to appear from the Pontiac stable. Blessed with powerful engines and styling to ensure you get noticed, the car was a major success. The model above is “The Judge”, a special version of the GTO released during the cars second generation era, and boasting greatly increased power, uprated handling components, and some not so subtle styling tweaks in the form of hood air scoops and tail spoilers. A classic, and much sort after, the GTO in all its forms remains one of the best looking cars to ever be produced.
Pontiac Firebird Trans-Am

Pontiac Firebird Trans-Am

Finally the Pontiac Firebird Trans-Am, this car more or less needs no introduction to anybody born in the early 70′s or before, its presence in the Smokey and the Bandit movie did a fair job of stealing the lime light from Burt Reynolds, and some would say the car overshadowed his performance and was the real star of the movie. Classic lines, awesome engines and the famous T-Top make this car one to remember and one that will always be towards the top of any muscle car list.

So there you have it, a few examples of what made Pontiac such a great car maker and a success for many decades before biting the dust, and while there will be no more cars produced with the iconic Pontiac name, its history and automotive successes will never be forgotten, RIP Pontiac.

Jaguar C-X75 Electric car

Well, Jaguar have been busy. Above is the Jaguar C-X75 Electric Concept Car, we you’ll agree, it looks absolutely great doesnt it? Jaguar claims this car has the potential to go 560 miles on a single charged, and reach a top speed of around 200mph, not bad for a plug-in.

The car is only a jaguar concept, and there are no plans, at least that we know of, to put it into production, it was produced simply to celebrate Jaguars 75th anniversary of the companies existence.

Currently the car is on display at the Los Angeles Auto Show and is proving a hit, not least for its impressive figures for range and speed, but also because it looks totally delicious, we find it hard to believe there would be anyone who wouldn’t like how this car looks.

The car has four wheel drive, and can run on electric only for around 65 miles on a domestic charge lasting around 6 hours, but by using a pair of tiny gas turbines to provide additional energy whilst driving, the range extends to a much more useful 560 miles.

Great looks, green credentials, and a real world level of range, this car is a clear indication of the future, in this guise it will probably never be built, however the turbine technology used is remarkable, and there can be no doubt this is going to work its way into road going vehicles in the not too distant future.

Corvette ZR1 vs Audi R8 - Top Gear Video

Lamborghini Murcielago Reviews

The 2010 Lamborghini Murcielago ranks 1 out of 8 Exotic Sports Cars. This ranking is based on our analysis of 11 published reviews and test drives of the Lamborghini Murcielago, and our analysis of reliability and safety data.

The 2010 Lamborghini Murcielago LP640 is every sports car enthusiast’s dream. Other super cars may offer more comfortable accommodations, but few -- if any -- can rival its performance abilities. "As the flagship of one of the most outrageous car manufacturers in history, the Murcielago is as over-the-top a ride as you'll find today," writes Edmunds.

The Lamborghini Murcielago is named for a legendary nineteenth-century Spanish bull that withstood an unprecedented 24 thrusts of a matador's sword. True to its namesake, the 2010 Lamborghini Murcielago LP640 combines a muscular and aggressive design with knock-'em-dead performance capabilities.
Lamborghini Murcielago
Lamborghini Murcielago

2011 Dodge Challenger

The 2011 Dodge Challenger ranks 4 out of 4 Muscle Cars. This ranking is based on our analysis of 24 published reviews and test drives of the Dodge Challenger, and our analysis of reliability and safety data.

With aggressive retro styling and a new, more powerful base engine the Dodge Challenger is more prepared to battle rival muscle cars. Edmunds says the 2011 Challenger “sees a host of changes that remedy many of the previous faults while firmly keeping its lovable muscle car experience intact.”
Dodge Challenger
Dodge Challenger

Dodge Charger Reviews

The 2011 Dodge Charger ranks 3 out of 4 Muscle Cars. This ranking is based on our analysis of 9 published reviews and test drives of the Dodge Charger, and our analysis of reliability and safety data.

Power and interior accommodations have improved on the 2011 Dodge Charger, making it an exciting alternative to affordable large cars. Kelley Blue Book agrees, “Combining muscle car performance with family sedan functionality, the 2011 Dodge Charger is the perfect choice for the driving enthusiast who also requires four doors.”
Dodge Charger
Dodge Charger

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Vilner updates Smart Fortwo

The 2011 Smart Fortwo, despite all its trying, is a car that needs all the help it can get. True, a big part of the car's problem is that it just doesn't make very much sense for the American market. That said, it's underpowered, uninspiring to drive, terrifying on the highway, and not particularly efficient, given its size. It also features one of the worst transmissions in motoring.

Enter Vilner, a Bulgarian custom shop that has tried with some success to make the car just a little more appealing. Built for a Bulgarian businessman, the Vilner Smart Fortwo employs a design scheme the company has dubbed "square style."

Inside and outside the car gets a square motif, which translates nicely into a completely redone interior featuring quilted upholstery. Outside, the car gets loud, oversize orange wheels and serious amounts of chrome. While Vilner takes the styling of the Smart to a new, supercar-aping level, the go bits have been left alone. Despite the lack of power adders, Vilner's efforts have gone a long way to making the Fortwo a bit more appealing. Read the full press release and check out two videos after the jump.

Report: Toyota and Subaru to unveil production sport coupes in Tokyo?

The wait is over... almost. According to a report from Inside Line that jives with what we've been hearing ourselves, Toyota (or Scion, or both) and Subaru are set to use the Tokyo Motor Show to jointly unveil the hotly anticipated rear-wheel-drive sport coupes that they have been working on together since what seems like the beginning of time.

Yes, that means we need to sit back and keep waiting until December, but at least it's some sort of real real date to mark on the calendar, right? Until then, you'll just have to be content with what is sure to be an endless series of spy shots and leaked information on the affordable sportscar duo.

Inside Line also offers something of a timetable for production, saying that the Scion FR-S will hit American shores sometime in 2012 (rather nebulous, no?) while the unnamed Subaru version will begin production in the spring of the same year.

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Volkswagen Touran MPV

The Volkswagen Touran (Typ 1T) is a compact MPV based on a vertically-stretched fifth generation Volkswagen Golf Mk5, and sold in Europe and other select markets. It was launched in 2003 to fill a gap in Volkswagen's model lineup, below the Sharan large MPV.2012 Ford Focus
The vehicle was originally delivered in five- or seven-seat versions, but the five seat version is no longer available in some markets. It can be considered an extended version of the Golf Plus, since their front ends are similar in size, while the Touran's rear overhang is 200 mm (7.87 in) longer (and therefore a seven-seater, while the Golf Plus is a five-seater). In some regions, such as Japan, the car is called Golf Touran.
The name 'Touran' derives from the combination of 'Tour' and 'Sharan', the bigger MPV by VW. Despite the similarity of their names, the Touran is not related to the North American-market Volkswagen Routan.
Volkswagen Touran
Volkswagen Touran

TinTek offers the full chrome treatment in a vinyl wrap video

Generally speaking, we're more into the vinyl wraps than the chrome treatment. That's because most vinyl wraps give a car a nice matte finish that contrasts nicely with the glossiness of your standard factory offering, while your average full-body chrome treatment is – more often than not – little more than an eyesore. This latest innovation from the Czech Republic, however, combines the two.

As you can see from the video after the jump, TinTek has developed a chrome-finish vinyl wrap for the full "Dubai'd out" approach, applied for demonstration to an Audi TT and a Chevrolet Camaro. While a vinyl wrap has its own costs and intricate application process, it's surely far more cost-effective than chrome-dipping individual body panels. And while it may not be our proverbial cup of tea, who are we to stand in the way of progress, however questionable the result.

BMW X9 2011 video