• Beijing Preview: Mercedes Concept Coupe SUV

    April 19, 2014
    Mercedes has published additional images of the Concept Coupé SUV mere hours ahead of its scheduled debut at the Beijing Motor Show.

    Billed as a close-to-production concept, the Concept Coupé SUV wears a muscular design that falls in line with Mercedes’ current design language. Up front, the show car boasts a single-slat radiator grille, elongated headlamps with LED inserts and an aggressive bumper dominated by a large air dam.

    The roof line peaks above the driver and gently slopes towards the rear of the car, while the back end features a pair of S-Class Coupe-inspired tail lamps linked by a light bar that stretches the entire width of the car. The trunk is accessed via a large hatch, a nod to the crossover’s utility roots.

    Mercedes has not published pictures of the Concept Coupé’s interior but it promises it will offer space for up to four passengers in a luxurious and sporty atmosphere built with premium materials.

    Similarly, details about what lies in the crossover’s engine bay will be announced when the crossover formally debuts later today in Beijing.

    Expect the Mercedes-Benz Concept Coupe SUV to join the Mercedes lineup as a regular production model over the coming year. Based on the third-generation ML-class platform, it will be powered by a host of six- and eight-cylinder engines and built in Mercedes’ Tuscaloosa, Alabama, plant.

  • Subaru to attempt new Isle of Man record with 2015 WRX STI

    April 19, 2014

    Subaru has announced it will return to the Isle of Man in a 2015 Subaru WRX STI in an attempt to beat the standing lap record, set three years ago in a 2011 WRX STI driven by Mark Higgins.

    The legendary Irish Sea site of the Tourist Trophy races is considered one of the most grueling road courses in the world, lined with narrow streets lined with stone walls that are used as public roads when motorsports activities are not being conducted. The circuit is also among the world’s largest road courses, measuring 37.8 miles. Higgins’ record-setting lap clocked an average speed of 115.36 mph.

    Higgins will once again pilot the STI, a 2015 model that’s bone stock with the exception of added safety equipment and modified springs and shocks to handle the undulating elevation changes that will inevitably cause the Subaru to catch massive air.

    As part of the festivities, Subaru is continuing its sponsorship as the official car of the the Isle of Man TT. “The Isle of Man is paradise for anyone who appreciates motorsport and there is nothing like the TT road course anywhere else,” said Subaru spokesman Dominick Infante.

    Higgins will loop the isle in three timed runs on May 31, June 2 and June 4 during the week-long Isle of Man TT event. Watch a video of the record attempt and a Higgins’ lap below.

  • Toyota releases updated Passo compact in Japan

    April 19, 2014

    Toyota has released a minor model change of its popular Passo hatchback. The five door compact is sold in Japan and Europe under various brands and slots in, size-wise, between a Yaris and the now-defunct Matrix.

    Though styling remains largely the same, except with just an updated front fascia and grille, the real story is in the reworked engines, which claim a 30 percent increase over the previous versions, exceeding the Japanese government’s strict 2015 efficiency standards. This is no small feat, considering that the two outgoing small displacement engines were already quite thrifty to begin with.

    The new base 1.0-liter 3-cylinder mill, available on front- and all-wheel drive configurations, may output only 68hp and 68 lb-ft of torque, but is capable of a whopping 61 mpg on the Japanese driving cycle. Efficiency improvements come courtesy of a raised compression ratio, optimized valve timing and reduced internal friction. A 1.3-liter available only on front-drive models generates 94hp and 89 lb-ft while returning 45 mpg.

    The Passo is also sold as the Daihatsu Boon in Japan, the Daihatsu Sirion and (briefly) the Subaru Justy in Europe, and the Perodua Myvi in southern Asia.

  • Beijing Preview: Volkswagen Golf R 400 concept

    April 19, 2014
    Volkswagen has fully unveiled the Golf R 400 concept that will greet the public for the first time tomorrow at the Beijing Motor Show.

    The Golf R 400 is powered by an updated version of the Golf R’s Audi-sourced 2.0-liter four-cylinder TSI engine that churns out 400 horsepower thanks to a host of performance-enhancing modifications. The hatchback is capable of reaching 62 mph from a stop in 3.9 seconds – a full second faster than the stock Golf R – before reaching a top speed of 174 mph.

    Visually, the Golf R 400 looks more aggressive than the stock Golf R thanks to fender flares all around, wide air dams integrated into a deeper front bumper and large alloy wheels mounted on low-profile tires. A Silver Flake Metallic paint job and Lemon Yellow highlights wrap up the eye-catching look.

    Carbon fiber trim clearly visible on the bumper and the door mirrors hints the Golf R 400 is noticeably lighter than the regular Golf R, but Volkswagen is keeping precise specifications under wraps until the car formally debuts in the Chinese capital.
    Inside, the Golf R 400 packs a sporty, driver-focused cockpit with Lemon Yellow accents all around and more carbon fiber trim on the steering wheel as well as the door panels.

    The Wolfsburg-based automaker stresses that the hot hatch is merely a concept and it will not be added to its lineup as a regular-production model.

  • Beijing Preview: 2014 Peugeot 408

    April 19, 2014
    Peugeot has published a set of preliminary details about the 2014 408 sedan that will greet the public for the first time at tomorrow’s Beijing Motor Show.

    Aimed at the Volkswagen Jetta, the 408 is the four-door version of the Golf-fighting five-door 308 hatchback that the French automaker unveiled at last year’s Frankfurt Motor Show. The two cars share roughly the same front end with a floating three-slat radiator grille, a wide air dam and angular headlights inspired by the 2008 crossover.

    Out back, the 408′s tail lamps are similar to the ones that equip the 308 but they lose the hatchback’s claw-shaped LEDs in favor of more classic horizontal turn signal and reverse lights. Select trim levels come with dual exhaust pipes integrated into the rear bumper.

    Peugeot is keeping full technical details under wraps until the 408′s official debut but it has confirmed the sedan will receive the ubiquitous 1.6-liter THP engine in a variety of power configurations. Chinese-spec 408s will not be offered with a diesel, but Russian-spec models will likely gain at least one HDi four-cylinder mill.

    The 408 will go on sale in China and in other global markets such as Russia shortly after it debuts in Beijing. Look for the slightly more upscale European-spec 408 to bow next October at the Paris Motor Show and land in showrooms before 2014 comes to an end.