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Cadillac Planning CUV Blitz

Latest addition will target downsized imports like BMW X1.

by on Nov.19, 2015

The Cadillac XT5 at its LA debut, along with Caddy Pres. Johan de Nysschen and GM global product development director Mark Reuss.

With the official L.A. Auto Show debut of the Cadillac XT5, the Detroit luxury brand plans an unprecedented assault on the booming utility vehicle market, with three other crossover-based models under development.

That’s one more CUV than Caddy officials had previously confirmed, has learned, the latest planned addition meant to target the likes of the Audi Q3 and BMW X1. It will enter one of the world’s fastest-growing vehicle segments, senior company officials said.

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“We keep expanding the plan,” said Johan de Nysschen, president of the Cadillac brand. The decision was made because such compact utility vehicles are experiencing “strong growth in China, and as more Millennials enter the luxury segment that will expand growth in the U.S., as well.


First Look: 2016 BMW X1

Big things in a small package.

by on Jun.02, 2015

BMW claims the 2016 remake of the X1 will offer the roomiest interior in its segment.

Small outside, big inside. That’s been a major selling point for a new generation of compact Sport-Utility Vehicles, such as the BMW X1. And the German maker is promising to deliver even greater room, versatility — and performance — as it prepares to roll out the second-generation X1.

In keeping with broader trends in the luxury market, the new Sport Activity Vehicle, as BMW prefers to call it, will also yield more power even while cutting emissions and fuel consumption thanks to the latest EfficientDynamics technologies.

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The debut of the 2016 BMW X1 comes just six years after the launch of the original model and underscores the increasingly competitive nature of a segment that barely existed when the first one hit the street. Sales of the original have already been approaching the 700,000 mark.


Mercedes Hopes GLA Will Tap into Booming Compact Crossover Market

German maker with find plenty of competition in segment.

by on Sep.29, 2014

Mercedes expects the new GLA to duplicate the success of its CLA sedan, which is a hot seller.

Barely a year after launching its new CLA coupe-like sedan, Mercedes-Benz has sold more than 30,000 to U.S. buyers and, the maker claims, probably would be doing twice that volume if it could get more from its new factory in Hungary.

No wonder the maker’s senior executives are positively jumping for joy as the even newer Mercedes-Benz GLA heads for U.S. showrooms. “The segment is potentially three times as large,” suggested communications chief Rob Moran, during a media drive of the new crossover-utility vehicle in Vermont.

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Crossovers are already beginning to outsell conventional sedans in the U.S. market, and most analysts anticipate the same thing is about to happen in the compact luxury segment. That’s spurring a flood of new offerings, the GLA just one of the latest to join such alternatives as the BMW X1. (more…)

First Drive: 2015 Mercedes-Benz GLA

Compact crossover among best in crowded segment.

by on Sep.29, 2014

The new GLA is the fifth - and smallest - crossover/ute in the Mercedes family.

What a difference one little letter can make. In many ways, the new Mercedes-Benz CLA and GLA models are a lot alike, starting out with the German maker’s basic small car platform. But there are also a surprising number of ways the two models diverge.

The CLA is the compact, coupe-like sedan that Mercedes launched last year, quickly becoming one of the maker’s most successful products ever, demand so far well exceeding supply. The new Mercedes-Benz GLA adopts a more hatchback-style crossover body style that targets an even larger segment of the luxury market.

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But the differences are even more substantial, as we learned during several days of driving the new GLA through northern Vermont just as the leaves began to turn their autumn colors. The year-long delay in bringing the crossover to market appears to have given Mercedes engineers the time they needed to address earlier complaints about the coupe-like CLA’s ride and handling. (more…)

Lexus Reveals New NX Compact Crossover

Maker tones down styling from radical LF-NX concept.

by on Apr.11, 2014

Lexus transforms concept to production as it prepares to roll out its new NX compact crossover.

More than a week before its official debut at the Beijing Motor Show, Lexus is offering up a look at the new NX, its entry into the fast-growing and increasingly more competitive compact luxury crossover segment.

The production model, shown here, significantly tones down the radical styling of the earlier Lexus LF-NX concept vehicle first seen at the Frankfurt Motor Show last autumn. The 2015 Lexus NX will be, nonetheless, boast one of the more aggressive designs in the Japanese maker’s line-up, reflecting the demand by parent Toyota Motor Co. CEO Akio Toyoda’s demand for more “passion” in the brand.

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While a number of details will have to wait for the Beijing Motor Show preview on April 20th, Lexus confirmed that the 2015 NX will be offered with three different powertrain options: (more…)

Compact Crossovers Commanding Big Car Prices

Pushing $110,000 with the new Porsche Macan.

by on Nov.25, 2013

Porsche reveals the new Macan at the LA Auto Show.

American motorists have long lived by the mantra, “bigger is better.” And that’s been fine for automakers, as well, as they’ve traditionally tied prices – and profit margins – to the size of the vehicles they’ve sold.

But with the steady run-up in fuel prices, Americans are downsizing at a pace not seen since the twin oil shocks of the 1970s.  Indeed, compact crossovers have become the fastest-growing segment in the U.S. market – echoing trends in other key markets around the world.  And while you can still get a reasonably good bargain on some of these smaller, mainstream CUVs, the industry has been fracturing the traditional equation that measures price by the pound and inch.

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That’s especially true in the luxury end of the spectrum where manufacturers are charging into the compact crossover segment.  Just last week, Lincoln and Porsche entered the fray at the L.A. Auto Show.

Porsche has had a history of challenging conventional wisdom.  It proved naysayers wrong when it launched its first crossover-utility vehicle for the 2004 model-year, then did it again with the four-door Panamera – today, the brand’s best-selling models.  Now, it’s hoping to score again with what’s been called the “baby Cayenne,” the compact Macan.


Mini Reveals New Hardtop Ahead of LA Debut

A little larger, a little lighter.

by on Nov.18, 2013

Coming at you...the newly redesigned Mini Hardtop.

Like baseball, it might help  to have a scorecard to keep up with Mini, the British carmaker rapidly expanding its line-up in recent years and hinting it could soon offer a whopping 10 to 12 different models in the not-too-distant future.

But in one sense, Mini is about to go back to basics, and the Los Angeles Auto Show will this week see the roll-out of an all-new update of the brand’s flagship product line, the Mini Hardtop. Based on a new platform developed in cooperation with German parent BMW, the next-generation Hardtop won’t deliver many visual surprises but will bring to market some new engines and advanced connectivity and other high-tech systems, Mini promises.

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While the new platform is a significant update, the approach to exterior design has been much more evolutionary which, Mini suggests, “signals the more mature character of the new model, reflected in a significant optimization of such aspects as space, safety, fittings, materials and finish quality as well as sportiness and ride comfort.”


BMW Launching New Brand in China

But Zhi Nuo brand might eventually go global.

by on Apr.08, 2013

According to some reports, BMW may use the X1 as its first product for the new Zhi Nuo brand.

BMW is the latest global automaker to announce plans to create a special sub-brand for the Chinese market – but the German luxury giant is also eyeing its start-up as a possible source of exports.

We should hear more about the new Zhi Nuo brand at the Shanghai Auto Show later this month. BMW and its Chinese partner Brilliance Automotive are expected to introduced their first new model there, a version of the old 3-Series.

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Since the Chinese automotive market began opening up a dozen years ago, it has been flooded by a Who’s-Who of foreign manufacturers. In turn, domestic makers have struggled to hang on, most of the successful ones by entering into joint ventures required by law of global manufacturers.  But under pressure from the government, these JV operations have begun creating special local brands of their own.


BMW, Mercedes-Benz Readying Product Blitzes

Makers count on partners to help spread the costs.

by on Jul.18, 2012

Mercedes' product blitz will see the small CLA coupe-like-sedan come to the U.S.

Locked in a global battle for the growing luxury market, both BMW and Mercedes-Benz plan to launch a new product blitz never before seen in the high-line realm – even as they both fight it out for dominance in what remains the world’s largest luxury market.

The product assault is expected to cover a wide range of the luxury market, including the premium luxury segment, but a significant focus will be placed on lower-end offerings such as the BMW X1 crossover and a comparable offering from Mercedes.

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Both makers will also turn to their allies for assistance in turning out their new products, rather than going it alone as they traditionally might have.

Mercedes officials have confirmed that they will roll out at least 10 new products in just the coming year.  Now, BMW appears to be preparing to boost its current model line-up from six to 10, according to a report in Automotive News.


BMW Bringing X1 to U.S. Market

It will show facelifted model at New York auto show.

by on Apr.02, 2012

BMW will show a facelifted X1 sport ute at the New York auto show, with plans to sell it in the U.S. as a 2013 model.

While BMW’s X1 has been available around the world for several years, the smallest BMW sport ute has not been sold in the U.S.

That will change for 2013 and BMW will show a facelifted version of the X1 at the New York auto show, according to the automaker.

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At 175.4 inches long, the X1 is 4.5 inches shorter than the X3.

Power will come from BMW’s new turbocharged and direct-injected 2.0-liter four cylinder. Output should be about 240 horsepower, similar to the engine’s output in other applications. The engine is currently found in the 2012 BMW Z4 sDrive28i and 2012 BMW 328i.