Saturday, July 29, 2006

Mazda prices Mazdaspeed 3

Mazdaspeed 3Take the respected Mazda3 and drop in the turbo 2.3l, direct injection 4-cylinder that has found its home in the Mazdaspeed 6 and in the new Mazda CX-7, give it standard airbags all around, standard ABS/traction control/stability control, standard tire-pressure monitoring. Give it a fancy torque management system and standard limited slip diff to keep the 250+hp and 280 lb*ft of torque from overwhelming the front tires (front drive only for the MS3)...toss on some unique front fenders, front and rear fascia, and a neat spoiler at the top of the hatch...give it the Mazdaspeed 6's 6-speed manual, standard automatic climate control, sport seats, and more...and you might expect a pretty steep starting price.

You'd be wrong.

Mazda announced this week the starting MSRP for both the base (Sport in Mazda-speak) Mazdaspeed 3 as well as the Grand Touring trim level (which ads such items as automatic headlights and wipers, Xenon HID headlights and LED taillights, leather seat bolsters, Bose 6-disc CD player, a driver information center, and an anti-theft system).

Starting price for the Sport, including destination is $22800

Grand Touring bumps the price to $24515

Expect these to start showing up on dealer lots in mid-September...also expect to have a hard time getting them for MSRP.

Check out this preview drive over at Edmunds' Inside Line for even more good news:

Inside Line - Mazdaspeed 3: The World's Quickest Hot Hatch is Here

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Mazda makes the power hard-top MX-5 official

MX-5 Miata HardtopMazda, as expected, debuted the production version of the MX-5 (Miata to all us in the USA) with a power hard-top at the British International Motor Show.

Expect, when the car goes on sale, for it to bring a $2000 cost (US) as well as a mere 75 lb weight increase.

Small price to pay for a fun little coupe that just happens to turn into a convertible at the push of a button (after you release the manual header latch).

And now...some pictures:

MX-5 Miata Hardtop
MX-5 Miata Hardtop
MX-5 Miata Hardtop
MX-5 Miata Hardtop
MX-5 Miata Hardtop
MX-5 Miata Hardtop

Volvo C30 breaks cover

2007 Volvo C30 coupeLLN has managed to scoop us all with a series of pictures of the production trim of the new Volvo C30.

The C30 is based on the same C1 chassis that is shared between Volvo (S40/V50), Mazda (Mazda3), Ford (non-North American Focus), and Land Rover (LR2). This 2-door coupe/hatch should be priced lower than the S40 but ultimately be available with all the same engines (though if it will have available all-wheel drive is not known).

Expect an official announcement soon and a pricing announcement closer to its availability in each market.

US sales likely won't be until spring.

Read all about it at: - 2007 Volvo C30 (production model)

Buick Enclave Spied!

2008 Buick Enclave interiorCheers and Gears has spy photos of the 2008 Buick Enclave. This vehicle, if you haven't been paying attention, was previewed this past winter as the first of the new family of full-sized (this guys are as spacious as a Tahoe/Yukon/Escalade) cross-overs with GM's 3.6l high-feature V-6 putting out over 260hp.

Expectations are that a small V-8 will be made available a year after launch.

Of note here is that the interior spy shot shows that the production Enclave will follow the 'show car' very closely. Exterior design is practically spot-on identical to the 'show car'.

Check out all the details as well as more spy shots (and more of the interior shot above) over at:

Cheers and Gears - Cheers and Gears Exclusive: 2008 Buick Enclave (GMT-967)

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Inside Line drives the new Mazdaspeed 3

Mazdaspeed 3 - Japanese trimEdmunds' Inside Line just couldn't wait to get their mits on the new Mazdaspeed 3 for a road test/driving impression.

So, they sent their man to Japan to get in some seat time and he came away suitably impressed.

Aimed at the new VW GTI, the MS3 packs a full 64 hp more (264) and 74 lb*ft of torque more (for 280 total). All this in a 154 lb lighter package.

Their driver found that the 1st - 3rd gear torque management system was effective at taming that 280 lb*ft that could have easily made this 3 a nightmare to drive hard.

Japanese prices are expected to come in at around $21000 US - so this could turn into one of the hottest performance bargains in recent memory. I know I'll be keeping my eye on this one as a possible next car.

Read the Inside Line article at:

Inside Line - The Quickest Hot Hatch Ever

Thursday, July 13, 2006

Ford to expand powertrain warranties on Ford, Mercury, and Lincoln

Ford, in what certainly seems like a smart move to overcome perceived quality problems with all domestic manufacturers, is increasing warranty coverage on the Ford, Mercury, and Lincoln brands.

Ford and Mercury will get a 5 year, 60000 mile powertrain warranty in addition to its 3 year, 36000 mile bumper-to-bumper. Previously, the powertrain warranty was also 3 year, 36000 miles.

Lincoln, which has had a 4 year, 50000 mile bumper to bumper and powertrain warranty, will now get its powertrain warranty expanded to 6 years and 70000 miles.

All brands will also expand their road-side assistance program to last until the end of the powertrain warranty.

The warranties will be effective on all 2007 model year vehicles - including those already sold to customers (a nice surprise, I'm sure).

This is a smart move on Ford's part. Hyundai and Kia (as well as Suzuki) have all made great strides in customer acceptance through expanded warranty coverage. Consumers have shown remarkable resistance to trusting brands based on JD Power and other quality survey numbers. The domestics have made great strides in quality, matching and occasionally surpassing quality leaders like Honda and Toyota - but customers have been reluctant to consider domestic brands anyway.

If this move shows to be successful and getting through to these customers, expect GM and Chrysler to follow suit.

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

New Silverado to debut in August

New Silverado with country group Big and RichAccording to GM - the new Silverado will be unveiled officially on August 2, 2006.

From the very slim slice of the truck's front end in this picture - you can see that the undisguised spy photo from a few weeks back was certainly the real deal.

Standing alongside the truck in this pic is country music group 'Big and Rich' who got this preview at an event before the Major League Baseball All-Star game in Pittsburgh.

See more of the new Silverado in this post from back in June.

Nanjing to bring back MG - and build them in a new plant in Oklahoma

Nanjing Automotive Group is expected to make an announcement today in Oklahoma related to their resurrection of the MG brand.

Expect them to announce a new plant in Oklahoma to build, at the very least, a new MG coupe.

Stay tuned for details.

Thursday, July 06, 2006

Beetle Turbo...Jet!

Beetle jet engine
When a 180hp 1.8l turbo New Beetle Turbo S just isn't enough - you could follow the example of this guy profiled over at Wired.

He took a 1350hp jet engine and mounted it to his New Beetle for some serious speed.

Take a look over at:

Wired - Pilots Wanted

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

Next Scion xA?

2008 Scion xAThe Hollywood Extra has a few artist renderings of what the next Scion xA (Toyota Ist elsewhere in the world) will look like.

They also mention a rumor that the next xB will be getting a much larger engine and the xA will get a 1.8l 4-cylinder with more power than the barely over 100hp that it has now.

Not that the Scion hipsters are staying away due to lack of power anyway.

Check it out at:

The Hollywood Extra - Next Scion xA

VW kills the GX3

VW GX3 ConceptThe German Car Blog is reporting that VW has officially killed the GX3 3-wheeled car/motorcycle that was expected to go into production within the next year.

Based on a concept shown at the last Los Angeles Auto Show with two front wheels and a single rear wheel, making it technically a motorcycle - the GX3 would have had sports car acceleration (5.7 seconds 0-60), incredible cornering (close to 1.25 lateral g's), mid-40's fuel economy, and no roof.

It appears that concerns about liability have made VW abandon the project.

Read about it at:

The German Car Blog - VW GX3: Dead!

Saturday, July 01, 2006

It's official - Challenger is a go!

Chrysler Group President and CEO Tom LaSorda announced today at the Pepsi 400 that the Dodge Challenger has been approved for production, as was predicted yesterday.

The Challenger will come to market as a 2008 model year vehicle on sale in 2008 (which translates into 'early 2008'). This means we could be seeing Challengers in a little over 18 months from now.

Yahoo Finance - Chrysler Group President and CEO Tom LaSorda Says Dodge Challenger is a 'Go'