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First look: Honda Civic Si Sedan and Coupe

Critical ninth-generation compact replaces spaceship design with swoopy, windswept look.

by on Jan.10, 2011

The 2012 Honda Civic Si Coupe is very likely to look very much like the concept unveiled Monday at the Detroit auto show.

Don’t think for a moment that Honda is ready to give up any ground in a compact market that it has dominated with the Civic, one of its two bread-and-butter products.

On Monday at the Detroit auto show, John Mendel, Honda’s executive vice president for sales, unveiled the exterior of the Civic Si  sedan and coupe concepts. While he did show an interior sketch – showing a slightly more conservative dashboard than the current generation – he said the automaker will officially unveil the interior later.

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The automaker is calling the cars concepts, but they are essentially the cars that will go on sale later this year.

Honda had originally planned to launch the ninth-generation Civic for the 2011 model year, but pushed it back for undisclosed reasons, meaning the car hasn’t been updated since it was launched for the 2006 model year.

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First Look: 2012 Mercedes-Benz C-Class

Beauty is more than skin deep.

by on Dec.23, 2010

Body changes are modest with the 2012 Mercedes-Benz C-Class, but there are some big changes under the hood.

Beauty should be more than skin deep.  So, while most makers will be pointing to the all-new sheet metal they’ve got on display at the upcoming Detroit Auto Show, expect Mercedes-Benz to be pointing out what’s underneath when it comes time to preview the new 2012 C-Class.  And, curiously, the German maker will have the car on display only during a brief backgrounder for journalists, but not on the show floor at Cobo Center.

In fact, the cosmetic changes to the popular luxury sedan will be relatively modest, especially on the exterior, with a new aluminum hood and updated headlights and running lamps.

Sitting behind the wheel you’ll notice a bit more significant update, with a new leather-wrapped wheel lifted from the CLS and a completely redesigned dashboard, now aimed to spotlight the new high-resolution, multi-color instrument cluster.

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But you may need to read the manual – or actually listen to the salesman’s spiel to discover all the additional features, notably including safety updates like Blind Spot Assist, Lane Keeping Assist, Adaptive Highbeam Assist, Attention Assist – which will flag you when you appear drowsy – and Parktronic.

The 2012 Mercedes-Benz C-Class gets a significant interior update, including an all-new IP.

Another place Mercedes offers some assistance is at the gas pump.  The maker claims to have improved fuel economy by up to 15% with the introduction of two new direct-injection engines and an updated 7-speed automatic gearbox.

The top-of-the-line powerplant for the C-Class will now be the C350’s 302-horepower V6.  That’s up 34 hp, while torque jumps from 258 to 273 lb-ft.  Using the BlueDirect process, the maker says, it has been able to bump up performance and mileage simultaneously, the C350’s 3.5-liter powertrain driving 0-60 times in the low 6 second range while fuel economy improves 5%.

The big mileage gains come from the new turbocharged 1.8-liter inline-four that will power the C250. Combined mileage is 24 mpg – 15% better than the old C300 — with 0-60 times rated by the maker at 7.1 seconds.