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Posts Tagged ‘2012 geneva motor show’

A New Face for the Lexus RX

A sportier look for a soccer-mom standby.

by on Mar.08, 2012

The new F-Sport version of the Lexus RX450h hybrid made its debut in Geneva this week.

Toyota CEO Akio Toyoda has given a mandate to the Japanese maker’s Lexus brand.  While it may have a reputation for bullet-proof reliability he also wants it to deliver more passionate design, as last year’s launch of the 2013 Lexus GS illustrated.

The real test comes with the Geneva Motor Show launch of the luxury brand’s soccer mom mainstay, the RX crossover – which rolled onto the floor at Geneva’s PALExpo Convention Center revealing a decidedly new look, its face clearly lifted from the GS blueprints – notably starting with the sport sedan’s distinctive double spindle grille and LED running lamps.

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To emphasize its passion play, Lexus officials revealed the new RX F-Sport model, which adds a sporty front fascia, smoked head and taillamps and darker wheels.


Spyker Strikes Back

Freed of Saab, Muller reviving exotic sports car brand.

by on Mar.08, 2012

Victor Muller inside one of his Spyker exotics.

“I’m a reborn man,” proclaims Victor Muller, as he wanders the PALExpo Convention Center during the first press day at the 2012 Geneva Motor Show.

A year ago, the Dutch entrepreneur was at the annual event pulling the covers off the Saab Phoenix concept car – and hoping to line up financial support to keep that struggling Swedish carmaker in business.  Now Saab is dead, Muller severing all ties and turning it over to the bankruptcy courts.

But while some folks might have taken that as a cue to vanish from the automotive headlights, not Muller, who could be found drifting through the sprawling conference center saying hello to old friends and giving the inside scoop on life post-Saab.

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The most significant news? The ever-upbeat Muller has decided to scrub plans to sell off his other automotive company, the Dutch-based Spyker Cars.

“I’m excited to get back into this business,” he says, explaining that he has largely worked through the “huge liabilities” he incurred during what he calls “the Saab era.”


Volvo Offering World’s First Pedestrian Airbag

Safety systems also can brake for foot traffic.

by on Mar.08, 2012

Volvo introduces the world's first pedestrian airbag system on the new V40.

By even the most conservative estimates airbags have saved thousands of lives since the auto industry began phasing them into widespread use two decades ago.  And now, Volvo is betting it can also save pedestrian lives with the world’s first external airbag.

The new system is one of the many high-tech safety features being introduced on the Swedish maker’s new V40 wagon, which is itself making its world debut at this week’s Geneva Motor Show.

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The 5-door features – as one might expect of Volvo – a wide range of advanced safety technology, and along with the new airbag system the V40 has Volvo’s Pedestrian Detection technology designed to prevent a collision in the first place.

The V40 itself is based on an all-new architecture that is intended to serve as the platform for a wide variety of upcoming Volvo products, including replacements for the current C30 coupe, S40 sedan and even the bigger V50 wagon.


Fiat 500 America: Not for America

Red, white and European.

by on Mar.08, 2012

America, America...? Fiat's starts-and-stripes edition will be limited to the European market.

Want to show your colors?  Fiat is waving the flag, but there’s just one catch: the red, white and blue Fiat 500 America edition won’t be sold in the U.S.

The Italian maker apparently wants to make the rest of the world, especially buyers in its home base of Europe, well aware that it’s returned to the States for the first time in two decades with the popular model folks on the Continent know as the Cinquecento.

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To introduce the 500 America, the maker opened its Geneva Motor Show news conference with the widely watched, albeit controversial, Clint Eastwood ad that first aired during this year’s Super Bowl. Considering Europe’s worsening financial situation, the message of the 2-minute spot, dubbed “Halftime in America,” was clearly not lost on the crowd.


Computer Chip Giant Intel Betting on the Connected Car

Intel inside?

by on Mar.08, 2012

Mercedes, for one, is betting connected car technology will be as important to many potential A-Class buyers as the engine under the hood.

Interest in the connected car is steadily growing as consumers demand to have internet and mobile phone services at their fingertips, even when they’re behind the wheel.

Intel Corp., which now considers automobiles a major source of demand for smart devices, plans to spend $100 million between now and 2014 on an initiative designed to spur innovation and product development to significantly enhance the functionality of connected cars in the years ahead.

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“In today’s mobile world, personal computing touches every part of consumers’ daily lives while at home, at the office and on the road,” said Intel President and CEO Paul Otellini. “By broadening our research efforts, academic and capital investments and opening the Automotive Innovation and Product Development Center, Intel is deepening its understanding of how people interact with their cars and how Intel innovations can enhance the automotive experience.”


BMW Muscles Up with New M6

Maker offering both coupe and convertible models.

by on Mar.07, 2012

BMW tech chief Klaus Draeger reveals the new M6 (l) and Grand Coupe

There was a time when BMW’s vaunted M products were in short supply, European performance fans sometimes having to wait a year or more for one of the exclusive models as they came and went from production.

Not anymore.  While individual products might have brief gaps between  model changeovers the overall M line-up is growing fast – even faster if you include the new M Performance line-up, such as the maker’s new M550d triple-turbo diesel-powered rocket ship that is on display at the Geneva Motor Show.

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The formal introduction of that brand-within-a-brand was one of several big announcements at Geneva’s PALExpo Convention Center this week, but the big news was clearly the unveiling of the next-generation BMW M6.

Based on the 6-Series Cabriolet that came to market early last year, and the Coupe that followed soon after, it is the most-powerful two-door BMW has ever offered, with its twin-turbo 4.4-liter V-8 making 560 horsepower – a full 20 hp more than the same engine currently churns out under the hood of the BMW M5.


Porsche Unveils a “More Mature” Boxster

Lighter, more powerful, more fuel-efficient.

by on Mar.07, 2012

Porsche CEO Matthias Muller helps introduce the redesigned 2013 Boxster.

Porsche’s new product assault continues unabated, the German icon rolling into Geneva with an all-new version of the Boxster that it boasts is lighter, more powerful and more fuel-efficient, never mind a lot more appealing to the eye.

The design is more sculpted and “more mature,” suggested Michael Mauer, Porsche’s design chief, in a conversation with  The overall look adopts more of a familial look shared with the new and well-reviewed 911, notably starting with the distinctive, sloping headlamps.

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Porsche migrated to an all-new aluminum body for the 2013 Boxster on display at the Geneva Motor Show, a move meant to reduce weight – by an average 55 pounds – improve handling and performance, and boost fuel economy.

In terms of mileage, Porsche CEO Matthias Muller promised a 15% improvement – though U.S. ratings have yet to be released.


Can Luxury Concept Help Infiniti Emerg-E from the Shadows?

Striking supercar-like design a standout in Geneva.

by on Mar.07, 2012

Infiniti's Emerg-E concept car is getting plenty of attention in Geneva.

It’s barely five years since Infiniti belatedly made its entrance in the crowded European luxury market, and gaining traction hasn’t been easy, company officials acknowledge – which is why they’ve made a point of bringing some eye-catching concepts to the annual Geneva Motor Show.

What global design chief Shiro Nakamura dubbed the “third part of the Infiniti trilogy” is now on display and takes the Nissan luxury brand to a new extreme.  Following on the original Essence and the more recent Etherea, the Infiniti Emerg-E concept provides a glimpse at what the maker might do if it were to push into supercar territory.

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But not just a conventional challenger to an establishment dominated by the likes of Ferrari and Lamborghini, but one using a high-performance, battery-based drivetrain.

The heart of the striking 2-door is a plug-in driveline that can make 400 horsepower – enough to launch from 0 to 60 in 4 seconds.  But with a little less aggressive use of the throttle, Emerg-E will deliver up to 30 miles on lithium-ion battery power alone.  Once the gasoline engine kicks in, it will get a total of 300 miles before having to recharge or refuel.


Audi Unveils New A3 Wagon – But US Version Still Under Wraps

Sedan, not wagon, for America, but US will share etron plug-in.

by on Mar.07, 2012

The new Audi A3 wagon got its debut in Geneva, but it'll be a while before we see the U.S. sedan.

It required an act of aggression to get anywhere near the new Audi A3 during the opening day of the Geneva Motor Show, considering the size of the crowds at the luxury maker’s stands.  But an intrepid effort uncovered a new model significantly updated from the compact luxury car currently in Audi showrooms.

The basic look of the new wagon on display at the PALExpo Convention Center is familiar, with the new Audi A3 sized, overall, about the same as before – though it features a longer wheelbase and more interior space.  But the new car has a more refined and elegant feel, no longer looking like the cheap, throwaway member of the family.

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But Americans shouldn’t get too comfortable with the wagon on display.  It likely won’t come to the States, a senior Audi official telling that the Volkswagen Group brand has developed an entirely different model for the U.S. that won’t reach showrooms until late in 2013.

“We decided not to take it,” considering wagons simply don’t connect with U.S. buyers, noted Johan de Nysschen, CEO of Audi of America.  Instead, the model coming to the States is a new sedan that “doesn’t share a single body panel with this car.”


F12 Berlinetta – Fastest, Most Powerful Ferrari Ever

Is this the world’s sexiest supercar?

by on Mar.06, 2012

The new Ferrari F12 makes its Geneva debut.

For some makers, function drives form.  Ferrari has traditional argued that when it comes to an Italian supercar, both matter.  Take the slick new Ferrari F12 Berlinetta, which Ferrari revealed at the Geneva Motor Show today – and which is earning buzz as not only the fastest Ferrari ever, but also the sexiest.

The replacement for the outgoing Ferrari 599 – originally expected to get a 620 nameplate — is the fastest, as well as the most powerful automobile ever to wear the prancing pony badge.  Its 6.3-liter V12 will be able to launch the Ferrari F12 from 0 to 60 in about 3 seconds – with a top speed of more than 310 kmh – or nearly 200 mph.

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The new model will land in an increasingly crowded supercar market that will feature the likes of the function-over-form McLaren MP4-12C and the extreme-styled Lamborghini Aventador, so the opportunity to deliver anything but extreme performance would have been minimal.

The F12 is slightly smaller than the outgoing 599, with a lower center of gravity.

Of course, Ferrari also put a premium on luscious Italian styling, an advantage it figures it can leverage over the incredibly competent competition.  The good news is that much of its most distinctive styling elements also have a practical purpose.  That includes the new Ferrari F12’s Aero Bridge, a new concept that generates additional downforce by funneling air flowing over the hood to its flank.

Then there’s the Active Brake Cooling system, which uses active vanes to guide air, when needed, through ducts to improve brake performance.

While there may be subtle visual similarities to the outgoing 599, the Ferrari F12 is a completely new car, the maker insists, with an all-new chassis that features a slightly shorter wheelbase.  The engine, seats and other key components have been lowered to improve the center of gravity.

The new Ferrari F12 will make extensive use of active aero technologies.

Ferrari also concentrated on lowering the new supercar’s overall weight, which comes in at 3355 pounds, about 155 less than its predecessor.  That helps enhance acceleration, handling – and fuel economy, which is reportedly 30% than the old Ferrari 599.

Under the hood: a naturally-aspirated, 6.26-liter V-12 making 740 horsepower and 509 lb-ft of torque.  The maker says that will propel it to 100 kmh (62.5 mph) in 3.1 seconds, with 200 kmh (125 mph) in 8.5 seconds, with the top speed 340 kmh.  The F12 reportedly cut something on the order of 2 seconds off the laptime record for a production car at the Fiorano race circuit, at 1:23.

By comparison, the old 599 made 611 horsepower.