• Toyota launches new home-market hybrid minivan

    July 13, 2015

    Toyota has released a new hybrid minivan for its home market. The latest Japan-market Sienta (not to be confused with the US-market Sienna) is available in both hybrid-electric and petrol versions.

    An all-new three-row design, said to have been inspired by a trekking sneaker, the Sienta is geared towards outdoorsy families that enjoy camping and road trips to whatever the Japanese equivalent of the Grand Canyon is. The interior features “stadium seating” in which each successive row sits slightly higher, so kids can look out the windows when not glued to their electronic devices.

    Rather than the staid silvers and champagnes of typical minivans, the Sienta is offered in a palette of “fun” colors such as yellow, electric blue, and bright green. Some versions get blue or bronze highlights around the grille and blue side mirrors. A splash of orange indicates the presence of a glove box, otherwise well-hidden in a nicely sculpted dash.

    The Sienta boasts an ultra-low floor, over 2 inches lower than the previous model, for ease of entry and loading. The overall size is smaller than that of a typical US minivan; think something closer to the Mazda5 or a typical European MPV.

    Power comes from two choices: A new version of Toyota’s 1.5L hybrid system, good for 73/60 hp gasoline engine/electric motor output (significantly higher than the 60/26 of the Prius c that uses an older version of the same powertrain) and 64 mpg in the Japanese testing cycle. The pure petrol 1.5L version makes 79 hp, gets 48 mpg, and is available with front- or all-wheel-drive.

    Toyota’s new Safety Sense C suite of electronic helpers, including a pre-collision alert and braking system, lane departures, and automatic high-beams, is optional on all trim levels. The Sienta went on sale across Japan on Friday.

  • LIVE: Mitsubishi unveils Lancer Evolution Final Edition

    July 13, 2015

    Yesterday at Mitsubishi Motors unveiled a close-to-production prototype of the Lancer Evolution Final Edition, the last of the automaker’s rally-inspired sports sedans.

    The company took the opportunity of the annual Mitsubishi Owners’ Day event held at corporate headquarters in Cypress, California to show off the Final Edition. With thousands of Mitsubishi fans in attendance, arriving in Lancer Evolutions, Eclipses, 3000GTs Galant VR-4s, and even lifted Monteros, the bittersweet news was announced.

    According to a Mitsubishi spokesperson at the event, there will be a “slight bump” in horsepower, but the actual figure was not disclosed. The 2.0L turbo mill will see the addition of sodium-filled exhaust valves, which Mitsubishi says will improve output at medium and high engine speeds. The suspension has been upgraded with Bilstein shocks, Eibach springs and Brembo two-piece ventilated front brakes discs, all rolling on high-performance Yokohama Advan tires.

    Visually, the Final Editon will feature a dark chrome front grille with a gloss black bumper bar and hood vent surrounds, color coordinated with 18-inch BBS wheels. The roof panel will be offered in two colors, white or black, which can be matched with one of five body colors — red, white, gray, black and blue. Cabin-wise, the Recaro bucket seats, steering wheel, shift knob, parking brake handle and console lid will all be black leather with red-stitching.

    Mitsubishi began taking orders for the Final Edition in Japan back in April. There, only 1,000 examples will be sold. The example shown in California was still pre-production, number “0000.” It was so new that the “Final Edition” emblem hadn’t arrived in time to be affixed to the rear yet. North America will receive 1,600 Final Edition Lancer Evolutions.

  • Italian company introduces Fiat 500-based JollyCar

    July 13, 2015

    An Italian company named JollyCar has introduced a modern interpretation of the Ghia-built Fiat 500 Jolly that was sold from 1957 to 1974.
    Like its 20th century counterpart, the new Jolly stands out from the pre-facelift Fiat 500 on which it’s based thanks to much higher door sills accented by wood trim and a chopped-off roof panel. A thin, tent-like canvas top can be installed when it rains, but the best option is undoubtedly to leave the Jolly in the garage.

    JollyCar has not revealed what structural reinforcements it has made to the 500. However, the interior boasts a set of custom-designed wicker seats that can be fitted with canvas covers at an extra cost.

    Mechanically, the JollyCar is standard 500 fare, meaning buyers can order it with either a naturally-aspirated 1.4-liter four-cylinder engine rated at 100 horsepower or a turbocharged version of the four-banger that makes 135 ponies. Euro-spec cars are also available with a 0.9-liter two-cylinder and a 1.3-liter turbodiesel, but so far there’s no word on an Abarth-powered hot-rodded model.

    Offered as a limited-edition model, the JollyCar will be sold in a number of global markets including the United States, Europe and a handful of countries in Asia. Surprisingly, in the U.S. it stickers for $89,000 before taxes, delivery and options are factored in, a sum that makes it roughly $72,000 more expensive than a base-model 500. To put that figure into perspective, a new Chevrolet Corvette Z06 coupe costs $79,995 and a base Porsche 911 starts at $84,300.

  • DS flagship coming in 2018?

    July 13, 2015
    PSA Peugeot-Citroën’s recently-emancipated DS brand will introduce a range-topping sedan in 2018, a new report finds.
    Called DS 8 internally, the car will take the form of a premium sedan that will be roughly the same size as a BMW 5 Series. Visually, it will borrow a few styling cues from the original Citroën DS that was introduced in 1955 but its design will be noticeably inspired by recent DS concept cars like the Numero 9 that bowed in Beijing three years ago and the Divine (pictured) that was shown in Paris last fall.

    Although official technical details are few and far between, French magazine Auto-Moto reports the 8 will ride on PSA’s modular EMP2 platform. Low-spec models will ship with a turbocharged four-cylinder engine, and more upscale models will be available with a gasoline-electric plug-in hybrid drivetrain. The 8 will eschew Citroën’s hydraulic suspension system and instead opt for a new electronic system that will be less costly to develop.

    The DS 8 will make its public debut at a major auto show in China in 2017 and it will go on sale across the nation the following year. European sales are expected to kick off by 2020, and the 8 will likely join the brand’s lineup in North America if DS manages to keep its promise of setting up shop on our side of the Atlantic.

    Sources close to PSA have told Leftlane that the DS 8 – a name that might not make the jump to production – will also replace the C6 that Citroën axed in 2012. In other words, Citroën will not build another flagship sedan in the near future.