• Honda introduces new Grace hybrid sedan

    November 3, 2014

    Honda is previewing a new Fit-based hybrid sedan in Japan. Called the Honda Grace, it rides on the same platform that underpins the latest Fit and the upcoming HR-V crossover.

    Honda has yet to release any specifications, but has created a page for it on its Japanese website. The exterior is identical to the Honda City, a standard petrol-powered sedan currently sold in select Asian countries (but not Japan). A blue highlight on the grille separates it from the City, but otherwise it looks every bit the City’s twin.

    Optional twin-projector LED headlights and LED taillights indicate that it will have be more upscale than the City, with all the creature comforts Japanese customers would expect from a similarly priced Fit. However, it would seem that the Grace is a hybrid-only model.

    Though Honda promises more info as the Grace’s December 1 release date draws nearer, it has revealed that it will employ Honda’s i-DCD (intelligent Dual Clutch Drive) hybrid unit. We can probably safely assume that it will be identical to the Fit and Vezel (aka HR-V) Hybrid’s powertrain, which combines a 30hp electric motor sandwiched between a 108hp Atkinson-cycle gasoline engine and a 7-speed dual clutch transmission.

    In the Fit, the system can return up to 65 to 86 mpg, depending on options, while the larger Vezel gets 51 to 64 mpg. Expect the Grace to slot somewhere in between.

  • Renault introduces Duster Oroch concept in Sao Paulo

    November 3, 2014
    Renault has traveled to the São Paulo Motor Show that is currently taking place in Brazil to introduce a new concept car called Duster Oroch.
    The Oroch concept hints at what a four-door pickup based on the rugged Duster SUV could look like. It is nearly identical to the Duster from the tip of the front bumper to the C-pillar, though it is fitted with frameless doors and a panoramic sunroof. Beyond that, it gains a compact cargo bed accessible via steps integrated into the rear bumper, concept-specific tail lamps and a funky sun shade that covers the rear window.

    The interior has been upgraded with new air vents, heavy-duty seat covers and fluorescent orange trim all around. Knobs on the center console let the passengers control two high-definition cameras mounted on the back of the car.

    Renault has not published technical details about its latest concept. The image displayed on the TFT screen in the instrument cluster hints the Oroch is fitted with an adjustable suspension setup.

    The Duster Oroch could join Renault’s Brazilian lineup over the coming years. Tellingly, the company notes that pick-ups account for 75 percent of the light commercial vehicle market in Brazil and it promises to introduce two trucks by the end of the decade.

    Déjà vu?
    Renault’s Dacia division already sells a pickup variant of the Duster in its home country of Romania but it is a limited-production model primarily designed for one of the country’s largest oil companies.

  • Citroen Aircross Lunar concept debuts in Sao Paulo

    November 3, 2014
    Citroën has introduced a new concept car called Aircross Lunar at this year’s edition of the São Paulo Motor Show.
    The Aircross Lunar is based on the regular-production Aircross, a model developed and built exclusively for the Brazilian market. Designed for the outdoors, it stands out thanks to a more aggressive-looking front end with a beefier bumper, Airbump panels similar to the ones found on the C4 Cactus at the bottom of all four doors and a gas can in lieu of the trunk-mounted spare tire.

    A thin ladder mounted on the passenger side of the car facilitates access to items stored on the roof rack.

    Citroën has not published pictures of the concept’s interior.

    Similarly, technical details are being kept under wraps. The regular Aircross is powered by a 1.6-liter four-cylinder engine that sends 122 horsepower to the front wheels via a standard manual transmission or an optional automatic unit. The four-banger is designed to run on either gasoline or ethanol.

    High-profile BFGoodrich Mud Terrain tires slightly increase ground clearance but the concept remains front-wheel drive.

    While Citroën has not revealed what the future holds for the Aircross Lunar concept, it is safe to bet that the off-roader is merely a design study that will not be given the green light for production.

  • First official trailer for Fast and Furious 7 released

    November 3, 2014

    The internet has been inundated with the the first official trailer for Fast and Furious 7, the latest installment of the seemingly interminable Universal Pictures franchise.

    Little is revealed about the plot, but what it does show likely comprises most of what audiences will see on the big screen — plenty of vehicular chaos, both in the action packed stunts and the collection of aftermarket parts fitted to the cars.

    The trailer begins with a vignette in which Diesel, Walker & Partners are dropped out of a cargo plane, faces contorted in slow-mo as if executing the most extreme snowboarding tricks known to man, while sitting in the drivers seats of a Dodge Challenger, Subaru WRX STI, and a 1970 Dodge Charger modified for the Baja 1000.

    Then, they fire grappling hooks from said cars, attack a country singer’s tour bus, and jet-set around the globe finding fist fights and scantily clad dancing girls. There are also appearances by the 2015 Dodge Charger, a Bugatti Veyron, a Nissan GT-R, a Lykan Hypersport and no less than three bald men beating each other senseless.

    Notably, this will be the first installment released since Paul Walker’s death. The actor was killed in a car accident in November 2013 unrelated to the filming. Though plot holes were have never been a concern for the series, it also purports to retcon the story lines from Tokyo Drift and the rest of the series. Furious 7, as some are calling it, arrives in theaters on April 3, 2015.