• McLaren previews one-off 650S Project Kilo

    February 5, 2015
    McLaren’s Special Operations division has introduced a one-off 650S called Project Kilo.
    Commissioned by a wealthy collector, the Project Kilo promises to weight considerably less than a stock 650S thanks to a long list of carbon fiber components including the roof panel, the air diffuser, the air vent bezels, the sill panels and the trim around the instrument cluster. The car is not fully done yet so McLaren has not revealed how much it weighs.

    Not content with merely shaving a substantial amount of weight, the future owner asked McLaren to fit the 650S with aluminum oil and water filler caps, titaninum wheel nuts, body-colored interior switches and an exhaust heat shield plated with 24-carat gold, a homage to the iconic McLaren F1. A personal dedication plate on the driver’s door and a set of custom-designed keys round out the upgrades.

    McLaren has not made any mechanical changes, meaning the Project Kilo is powered by a stock 650S-sourced twin-turbocharged 3.8-liter V8 engine that makes 650 horsepower and 500 lb-ft. of torque. Bolted to a seven-speed dual-clutch transmission, the 650S can reach 62 mph from a stop in three seconds flat and go on to a top speed of 207 mph.

    The one-off McLaren 650S Project Kilo could be on display next to the P1 GTR and the 675LT at next month’s the Geneva Motor Show. The company did not disclose how much the custom-built coupe costs or who it was built for.

  • Geneva preview: 2015 Volkswagen Caddy

    February 5, 2015
    Volkswagen has introduced the all-new 2015 Caddy ahead of its debut at next month’s Geneva Motor Show.
    Aimed at the heart of the compact van segment, the fourth-gen Caddy gets evolutionary design updates that are visibly inspired by the seventh-gen Golf and the smaller Polo. Volkswagen’s smallest van is again offered as a cargo-hauling panel van and as a more family-oriented model called Kombi that is capable of comfortably carrying five adults and a trunk-full of gear.

    The changes are more comprehensive inside, where the Caddy is fitted with a noticeably more modern-looking dashboard that is built with improved materials. Kombi models gain a strip of body-colored trim on the dashboard, and nearly all versions can be ordered with Volkswagen’s touch screen-based Discover Media infotainment system. Additionally, the van is available long list of electronic driving aids including a Park Assist function that allows it to park itself in parallel spots, a 360-degree camera and Adaptive Cruise Control.

    Caddy buyers have no less than eight engines to choose from including four TDI turbodiesel four-cylinder units whose outputs range from 73 to 147 horsepower. A trio of three- and four-cylinder gasoline-burning engines that generate between 83 and 123 ponies are available, and a 1.4-liter natural gas-burning turbo four rounds out the lineup.

    A manual transmission comes standard on most models and a dual-clutch automatic is available at an extra cost. Volkswagen’s 4Motion all-wheel drive system can be paired exclusively with the 120-horsepower TDI mill.

    The 2015 Volkswagen Caddy will go on sale across Europe in the coming months and, interestingly, it could land on U.S. shores in the not-too-distant future. Volkswagen of America CEO Michael Horn recently suggested that a new commercial vehicle could soon join the company’s North American lineup but he did not specify if it’s the new Caddy, the next-gen Transporter or the full-size Crafter.

    Generation Four Edition
    In Germany, Volkswagen will celebrate the launch of the 2015 Caddy with a special edition model called “Generation Four.” The Generation Four panel van gains body-colored bumpers and mirrors, smoked tail lamps, 16-inch alloy wheels and body-colored trim sprinkled throughout the cockpit.

    The Generation Four Kombi benefits from a silver roof rack, tinted windows, 17-inch alloys with a burnished black finish, A/C and partial leather upholstery with contrast stitching.

  • Tesla Model S adds ‘executive’ back seat option

    February 5, 2015
    Tesla Motors has detailed a modest update to its Model S optional upgrades.
    Likely aimed at buyers in China, new ‘executive’ lounge-style rear seats are designed for improved comfort. They match the form of the front seats, with a deeper cushion that provides an extra 10-15mm of headroom.

    The executive option, which commands $2,000 on top of the $3,500 premium interior package, provides two-zone heating and removes the rear center seat in favor of an upgraded armrest console with a leather armrest lid, storage compartment and a flocked tray for a mobile phone.

    Aside from the plush back seat, the latest revisions also include a heated steering wheel as part of the subzero weather package.

    Several P85D models have already been spotted in customer hands and at the drag strip, however Tesla has announced that all dual-motor variants have now entered volume production.

  • Chrysler promises new Ram truck unveiling in Chicago

    February 5, 2015
    Chrysler has scheduled a Ram Trucks press conference for the Chicago Auto Show.
    Additional details remain unclear, however a refreshed Ram 1500 pickup is due to be introduced this year. The company’s five-year plan lists an update to the Ram light-duty trucks this year, ahead of a complete redesign in 2017.

    Another possibility, perhaps more distant, is a new entry-level pickup model for the US market. Rumors surrounding a return to the compact pickup segment have circulated for years, culminating in spy shots of a camouflaged prototype (pictured) based on the Fiat Strada.

    A production pickup based on the Strada, the Ram 700, was revealed late last year for Mexico, however the company has not hinted that it is working on a US-bound variant.

    Full details of the new Ram product will be confirmed at the event on Thursday, February 12.

  • How they did: January performance vs. industry

    February 5, 2015

    The automotive industry SAAR for January reached 16.7 million–the highest for the month since 2006. The automotive industry overall grew 14%, moving 1.15 million cars in the United States.

    The following rundown compares each manufacturer’s performance to the industry growth rate for January, 2015 vs. January, 2014. For individual brand volumes, see Leftlane’s January sales report.

    Notes: Alfa Romeo was excluded as the brand was not represented in sales data in 2014. Mercedes-Benz data excludes Sprinter line. Tesla and Lamborghini figures are based on Automotive News estimates. These are raw performance figures and are not adjusted for relative volume, market segment or price point.

    - Mitsubishi up 33.4%, +138.5%
    - Lexus up 31.2%, +123%
    - GMC up 28.6% +104%
    - Porsche up 27%, +93%
    - MINI up 26.9%, +92%
    - Subaru up 23.7%, +69%
    - Jeep up 22.9%, +64%
    - Ram up 20.6% +47%
    - Chevrolet up 20%, +43%
    - Nissan up 15.9%, +14%
    - Ford up 15.8%, +13%
    - Audi up 14.3%, +2%
    - Toyota up 14.2%, +1%
    - INDUSTRY GROWTH RATE up 14%, 0% -
    - Land Rover up 13%, -7%
    - Honda up 11.6%, -17%
    - Chrysler up 10.8%, -23%
    - Lincoln up 10.8%, -23%
    - Acura up 10.7%, -24%
    - Mercedes-Benz up 8.9%, -36%
    - Mazda up 7.7%, -45%
    - Infiniti up 7.3%, -48%
    - BMW up 4%, -71%
    - Kia up 3.5%, -75%
    - Lamborghini up 3.3%, -76%
    - Cadillac up 2.6%, -81%
    - Tesla up 2.3%, -84%
    - Dodge up 1.3%, -91%
    - Hyundai up 1.1%, -92%
    - Fiat up 1%, -93%
    - Volkswagen flat, -100%
    - Volvo flat, -100%
    - Buick down 5.5%, -139%
    - smart down 5.6%, -140%
    - Jaguar down 6%, -143%
    - Scion down 8%, -157%
    - Maserati down 20.4%, -245%
    - Bentley down 50%, -457%

    Photo by Ronan Glon.