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Kia Bucks Conventional Wisdom with Forte 5-Door

Korean carmaker sees a growing market for hot hatches.

by on Feb.08, 2013

With the Forte 5-door, Kia is betting the hatchback market is heating up.

If it were to have listened to conventional wisdom, Kia would have stuck with building bland econoboxes, rather than moving steadily up-market with styling products like the Optima and Sorento. So, perhaps, it’s no surprise the Korean carmaker is again ignoring conventional wisdom with its plans to launch the new 5-door Kia Forte in a market that has traditionally disdained hatchbacks.

The all-new Forte 5-door is making its debut at the Chicago Auto Show and showing off another eye-catching, European-inspired design that is complimented by an all-new 1.6-liter gasoline direct-injected (GDI) turbocharged four-cylinder engine.

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The powertrain in the top-of-the-line Forte SX is designed to pump a little passion into the Forte hatchback, pumping out a full 201 horsepower and 195 lb.-ft. of torque, making the 5-door the most powerful Forte from KMA to date.

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Jaguar: Revolution Under the Hood

Smaller engines – and possibly a new small car -- could redefine British brand.

by on Feb.08, 2013

Jaguar-Land Rover North America's Andy Goss.

Long known for its powerful but gas-guzzling V-8s and V-12s, Jaguar is moving quickly on the development of more fuel-efficient small displacement engines as prepares to challenge its bigger luxury rivals, the maker’s chief U.S. executive said  during an appearance at the Chicago Auto Show.

Andrew Goss, president of Jaguar-Land Rover of North America, also said the company was working on the development of diesel engines and hybrid powertrains, which will help bolster the company’s fuel-economy record.

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The development of the more fuel-efficient technologies is part of the British maker’s long-range plan to compete on all fronts with highly successful German brands such as BMW, Mercedes-Benz and Audi around the world and Lexus in the United States. “We are determined to make Jaguar a much more significant player in the luxury market,” he said during the Chicago Auto Show’s keynote session.

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Kia Moves Up-Market with Cross GT Concept

“Blurring the lines.”

by on Feb.07, 2013

The Kia Cross GT Concept hints at future plans for the Korean automaker.

Kia is the latest maker hoping to “blur the lines” between a luxury sedan and a three-row crossover with the new Cross GT Concept it has unveiled at the Chicago Auto Show.

It brings to mind the size gap between the 2- and 3-row versions of the Santa Fe launched this year by sibling maker Hyundai – but with more upscale accoutrements.

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“The debut of the GT in 2011 heralded a new frontier for Kia, both from a design and a business perspective,” noted Peter Schreyer, Kia Motors Corporation president and global chief of design.  “It beautifully illustrated to the world that the brand was ready to explore the possibility of perhaps one day offering a full-size rear-drive luxury saloon.  The Cross GT, with its raised stance and large cargo area, allows us to envision the GT in the form of a full-size luxury crossover.”

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Nissan Planning New Titan for Likely 2015 Debut

More body styles, powertrain options aimed to enhance appeal.

by on Feb.07, 2013

The current Nissan Titan is a marginal player in the big pickup market.

One thing the Japanese have demonstrated, over and over again, is that they live by the old adage, “If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again.” And nowhere is that more apparent than in the full-size truck market.

Despite repeated attempts, Nissan and Toyota have failed to dislodge Detroit’s firm grip on the huge and highly profitable segment. But even as the bigger of the two makers gets ready to reveal an all-new version of the Tundra pickup during the 2013 Chicago Auto Show, Nissan officials are confirming that they’re working up a replacement for their own full-size offering, the Titan.

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Japanese officials, hoping to grab a bit of Toyota’s spotlight, announced they are “prepared for (the) long haul” and are “moving fast” to launch an “all-new” version of Titan.  While they didn’t have much else to say about their plans, TheDetroitBureau.com has learned some significant additional details from Nissan planners attending the Chicago Auto Show.

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Volkswagen Goes Forward into the Past with Beetle GSR

Building buzz for the new Bug.

by on Feb.07, 2013

The new VW Beetle GSR and the original.

Volkswagen is looking to recreate some of the magic from the 1970s by bringing back its “Yellow Black Racer.”

Also known as the GSR – short for the German name, Gelb Schwarzer Renner — it was the sportiest version of the classic Volkswagen Beetle 40 years back. Instantly recognizable by its distinctive color scheme, just 3500 units were built and they are now considered collectors’ items.

VW is hoping the 2014 Beetle GSR debuting at the Chicago Auto Show this week can build the same buzz for the third-generation Bug.

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The bodyshell of the original 1973 Beetle was painted yellow, while the hood, trunklid, and bumpers were finished in matte black. The look was rounded out by black trim strips underneath the side windows and black rocker panels. Yellow and black link old and new: the body and the R-Line bumpers on the new GSR are predominantly yellow, the hood is mainly black, and the trunklid, roof, and the exterior mirror caps are all black

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Ford Focus-ing on Racing at Chicago Auto Show

New Focus TrackSTer and Fiesta ST race cars to debut.

by on Feb.06, 2013

Ford is expanding its emphasis on racing its new ST models, including the Fiesta ST GRC shown here.

Ford will be Focus-ing on its racing program during the upcoming Chicago Auto Show. Quite literally, as it pulls the wraps off its Focus TrackSTer project car.

It’s one of three special track-ready versions of the popular compact “hot hatch” the maker is developing in partnership with gymkhana star Ken Block and the tuner firm fifteen52. The TrackSTer harkens back to some of Ford’s classic racing efforts while also showing off the capabilities of the Focus ST performance model.

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The Ford news conference will also reveal the maker’s new Fiesta ST GRC race car which the maker hopes will give it a leg up in the Global RallyCross Championship series. It’s all part of an effort to position Ford’s small cars as serious performance competitors to better-known European and Japanese models.

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Mopar ’13 Dart to Debut in Chicago

Dart reveals its mean streak.

by on Jan.31, 2013

Only 500 copies of the Mopar '13 Dart will be built.

Long known as Chrysler’s parts division, Mopar is now giving the maker’s more established car brands a little competition, the all-new Mopar ’13 Dart set to make its debut at next month’s Chicago Auto Show.

It follows the limited-edition models that Mopar released over the last three years, starting with the Mopar ’10 Challenger, the Mopar ’11 Charger and the Mopar ’12 300.

The Mopar edition Dart will, like the earlier offerings, be produced in limited numbers, just 500 copies. Each will be finished with a gloss black paint job, with matching black 18-inch wheels. There’ll be some subtle aerodynamic tweaks, including front and rear spoilers and an air diffuser in back.

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A bold blue racing stripe will complement the blue interior stitching. The driver’s seat will be done up in blue, as well, with leather for the passengers. The cabin will be completed with gloss black and black chrome trim and a sport aluminum pedal kit. The car will also feature Mopar’s new wireless smartphone charging system.

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Kia Provides Peek at Cross GT Concept

Maker also bringing “Superman” Optima to Chicago show.

by on Jan.30, 2013

Kia offers a hint of the Cross GT concept.

Auto show season is well underway and makers are rolling out a string of new models and concepts as they look to both update existing product lines and find ways to attack the proverbial white spaces they’ve so far ignored.

Considering ongoing market trends, it’s probably no surprise we’re seeing so many products that slip into the nebulous crossover category. The recent North American International Auto Show in Detroit was full of them and we’ll be seeing still more before the show season wraps up.

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That includes a new “premium” crossover-utility vehicle from Korea, the Kia Cross GT scheduled to make its debut at the Chicago Auto Show in little more than a week.

The maker has released a first teaser image of what it confirms will be larger than the current 2014 Sorrento. It brings to mind the size gap between the 2- and 3-row versions of the Santa Fe launched this year by sibling maker Hyundai.

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Toyota to Debut All-New Tundra Pickup in Chicago

Maker hopes to finally gain some traction in domestic-dominated full-size truck segment.

by on Jan.24, 2013

Don't be surprised to see Toyota take a more conservative approach to styling than with this, the current version of its Tundra pickup.

One thing about Toyota, it doesn’t give up easily.  The maker has proven that time and again in a variety of market segments, including the minivan niche, as it comes back after a lackluster performance with a better product that gains more market share.

The one but that Toyota just hasn’t been able to crack – so far – is the huge and fast-reviving full-size pickup segment. Like Japanese rival Nissan’s Titan, the Toyota Tundra has simply failed to dent a segment still dominated by Detroit. But the industry giant is determined to gain some traction and will roll out its latest weapon when it reveals the new 2014 Toyota Tundra at the Chicago Auto Show next month.

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Beyond confirming the introduction, the maker is revealing nothing, no hints about styling, payload or performance and definitely no teaser images.  In fact, there’ve been few of the normal spy shots making the rounds, underscoring Toyota’s apparent determination to take the industry by surprise when the next-gen truck is unveiled.

That said, a number of sources have been offering up hints as to what might be in store when we finally get a good look at the 2014 Toyota Tundra next month.

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First Look: Ford Shelby GT500 Convertible

“Every bit the performer.”

by on Feb.08, 2012

Ford's new Shelby GT500 Convertible storms into the Windy City.

Exactly 20 years after the original SVT Mustang Cobra made its debut at the Chicago Auto Show, Ford is back in the Windy City with an all-new top performer, the 2013 Shelby GT500 Convertible.

If the 1993 Mustang Cobra was impressive, with its 235-horsepower V-8, the latest SVT offering will be positively overwhelming, the Shelby GT500 powered by a 650-hp, supercharged 5.8-liter eight-banger.  And reflecting the more sophisticated turn today’s muscle cars have taken, the new ragtop features electronically adjustable shocks and oversized Brembo brakes.

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“The Shelby GT500 convertible is every bit the performer that the coupe is,” said Kerry Baldori, chief engineer for the SVT Global Performance Vehicles group. “All of the significant changes we made in the program were instrumental in delivering a convertible that could really shine on the track but can still be driven on a daily basis.”

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