• Chevrolet Trax to start at $20,995 in US market

    October 2, 2014
    General Motors has announced pricing and launch details for the US-market Chevrolet Trax.

    The compact model has spent the last year in Europe, Canada, Mexico and select Asian markets, but not in GM’s home market.

    When it does arrive in the US, the Trax base model will fetch $20,995 (including freight). Packages will include LS, LT and LTZ, along with an all-wheel-drive configuration that adds $1,500 to any trim level.

    GM’s 1.4-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine will serve as the standard powerplant, producing 138 horsepower and 148 lb-ft of torque. EPA fuel efficiency estimates are said to be 26 mpg in the city and 34 mpg on the highway.

    Trax is positioned to be a strong competitor in the emerging small-SUV market, which is expected to grow more than 80 percent in the next few years,” says Chevrolet car marketing director Steve Majoros.

    US buyers will get the first chance to pick up the Trax in January.

  • Paris LIVE: Infiniti Q80 Inspiration Concept

    October 2, 2014
    Kicking off the Paris Motor Show, Infiniti has introduced the Q80 Inspiration concept at a private event held in the French capital. The Nissan-owned company’s latest show car is scheduled to greet the public for the first time tomorrow at the Paris Motor Show.

    The Q80 Inspiration stretches nearly 200 inches long and 79 inches wide, dimensions that make it larger than the Q70 – Infiniti’s current flagship model – and slightly bigger all around than an Audi A7. It takes the form of a low-slung four-door sedan equipped with suicide rear doors, sculpted flanks and a large panoramic roof. The concept wears a muscular look that ushers in the design language that will influence all of the company’s upcoming cars over the coming years.

    With room for up to four passengers, the Q80 Inspiration boasts a luxurious, futuristic cockpit equipped with a heads-up display, an Alcantara-upholstered three-spoke steering wheel and a fully configurable digital instrument cluster. A screen discreetly integrated in the center console runs the latest generation of Infiniti’s infotainment system, and high-resolution screens mounted in the front seatbacks ensure the passengers sitting in the back can stay connected on the go.

    Power for the Q80 Inspiration comes from a gasoline-electric hybrid drivetrain made up of a twin-turbocharged 3.0-liter V6 engine and an electric motor. Together, the two power sources generate 550 horsepower while allowing the sedan to return up to 42 mpg in a mixed cycle. The driver can choose whether power is sent to the rear wheels or to all four wheels.

    The Q80 inaugurates Infiniti’s autonomous driving technology. The company stresses the software is primarily designed to take over in situations like traffic jams or long freeway trips when driving can become a burden.

    Infiniti has made it clear the Q80 Inspiration concept hints at what its upcoming range-topping sedan will look like. We wouldn’t be surprised to see a toned-down version of the concept reach showrooms in the next couple of years, and the autonomous technology is expected to trickle down to the company’s smaller models before the end of the decade.

    Live images by Ronan Glon.

  • Paris preview: VW’s XL Sport production car with V-Twin power

    October 2, 2014
    Volkswagen has previewed a limited-run lightweight sports car, the XL Sport, based on the fuel-sipping XL1 concept.

    Borrowing Ducati’s V-Twin two-cylinder engine from the 1199 Superleggera, which produces 197 horsepower and revs to 11,000 rpm, the XL Sport promises to reach 62 mph from a standstill in 5.7 seconds before topping out at an impressive 168 mph.

    Power is put to the rear axle via a step-down gear and a seven-speed DSG dual-clutch automatic transmission. Magnesium-alloy wheels are clad with 205/40 R18 rubber up front and 265/35 R18 tires on the back, while ceramic brakes help shave off speed in a hurry.

    VW claims the XL has better aerodynamics than any other sports car, with a drag coefficient of 0.258 and a 1.7-sq-m frontal area. A light curb weight of just 1,962 lbs also contributes to the performance figures, thanks to a carbon-fiber monocoque chassis.

    The suspension setup is inspired by dedicated race cars, with pullrod actuation for the front dampers and pushrods connected to the rear control arms.

    VW promises to build 250 examples of the XL Sport, though a release date and price tag have not been announced. The model will be formally unveiled this week in Paris.

  • Mercedes-Benz must correct fuel economy rating on C300 models

    October 2, 2014
    The EPA announced Wednesday that is requiring Mercedes-Benz to correct fuel economy figures for two of its C-Class Sedan offerings, the C300 4MATIC FFV and PZEV models.

    According to the EPA, an audit of submitted fuel economy figures turned up a discrepancy between the figures submitted by Mercedes-Benz at the time of EPA certification and those reached by the EPA in independent testing. Mercedes-Benz’s calculations failed to adequately account for “road-load,” which is the product of aerodynamic drag and rolling resistance.

    The C300 4MATIV FFV was previously rated at 20 miles per gallon in the city. After the adjustment, that will reflect the EPA’s calculation of 19 mpg.

    The PZEV model’s updates impact all three categories. City mileage will be re-rated from 20 mpg to 19; highway mileage will go from 29 mpg to 28; combined mileage will be revised down from 23 mpg to 22.

    In a statement announcing the changes, Christopher Grundler, director of the EPA’s Office of Transportation and Air Quality, said,Even though the adjustments are small, it is important that our oversight system is producing the correct results because even one MPG matters to consumers.”

    Other vehicles in the Mercedes-Benz lineup were also tested but found to be compliant.

  • Paris preview: Audi TT Sportback concept

    October 2, 2014
    Following several leaks, Audi has lifted the veil off of the TT Sportback concept that is scheduled to make its public debut at tomorrow’s Paris Motor Show.

    While the coupe/fastback configuration is less radical than some other TT concepts that have been shown thus far in 2014, the concept is still a fairly significant departure from the small Audi’s traditional, two-door proportions. The TT Sportback stretches about 176 inches from bumper to bumper, meaning it is roughly the same length as a 2015 A3 Sedan and about 11 inches longer than two-door third-generation TT.

    The TT Sportback is underpinned by Volkswagen’s modular MQB platform. The body and greenhouse share a lot with Audi’s A5 and A7 Sportback models, but the hood and fender lines are unmistakably TT. Where this would potentially fit into a U.S. model portfolio is anybody’s guess, as only the A7 is sold stateside (the A5 is sold here only in a two-door configuration).

    The TT Sportback concept offers room for up to four passengers on individual seats upholstered with diamond-quilted leather. The dashboard is inspired by the wing of an airplane, and the concept features the same fully-configurable digital instrument cluster as the regular-production third-gen TT.

    Power for the four-door TT comes from a EA888 2.0-liter TFSI engine that generates an impressive 400 horsepower at 6,400 rpms and 331 lb-ft. of torque from 2,400 to 6,000 rpms. An evolution of the mill found under the hood of the 2015 GTI, the turbo four allows Audi’s latest show car to reach 62 mph from a stop in 3.9 seconds yet it returns over 33 mpg with a light right foot.

    Power is sent to all four wheels via a seven-speed dual-clutch transmission and Audi’s quattro all-wheel drive system.

    While Audi has not revealed precisely what the future holds for the TT Sportback concept, it has hinted the concept could preview what a third member of the TT family could look like.