Thursday, January 21, 2010

Review: 2010 Lincoln MKT EcoBoost AWD has a good personality and great moves


Approaching the 2010 Lincoln MKT for the first time is like meeting a blind date. You've been told by friends she has a good personality, which immediately has you wondering what she looks like. From a distance you see your fears confirmed: She's a big girl with a toothy grin and a weird hump. If super models are your thing, you'll be disappointed by this three-row crossover sitting alone in the corner with a red carnation in her hair. But if you meet her with an open mind, you'll find that a good personality goes a long way.

It's our job to go on blind dates with vehicles before you do, and despite the MKT's controversial design, we're glad we sat down and got to know her. Now, if you can't get over seeing a beached whale in your driveway every morning, stop reading; no twin-turbo direct-inject V6 engine, advanced infotainment features or luxurious appointments will change your mind. We'll agree to disagree and you'll probably pass judgment on the MKT from afar, not even giving it the courtesy of a test drive before shacking up with that German model. Will you regret not getting to know the MKT like we did? Read on to find out.

9ff GTurbo mods Porsche GT3 up to 1,000 horsepower

There's a fine line between a sportscar and a supercar. Porsche is one of the few automakers that straddles the line, but an elite cadre of tuners seem to take pleasure in laying down strips of burnt rubber to blur it beyond recognition. Names like Gemballa and Ruf come to mind, but 9ff has emerged as the new power player, in one sense or another. And the German tuning house has just let its latest out into the world.

Called the GTurbo, what we're looking at essentially is a tuning program for the 911 GT3 and its even more extreme brother, the GT3 RS. Bolting on a pair of turbochargers, 9ff can take a GT3 up to 750, 850 or even 1,000 horsepower. That's Veyron-league power, only without the all-wheel drive, the ground-grabbing track and the aero designed to go with it. Fortunately, 9ff has part of the answer in the form of a corresponding kit, including new bumpers front and rear, side skirts, and new quarter panels, with extra vents all around to keep the intercooler breathing and the air flowing. In full-fat 1,000hp spec, 9ff says its GTurbo will hit 100 kilometers per hour (62 miles per hour) in a scant 2.9 seconds and, theoretically at least, hit 392 kilometers per hour (243 miles per hour) flat out – which may seem like a heck of a claim until you realize that one of their own modded 1,000hp 911 Turbo hit just that at the Papenburg test track.

Pinked Out Special Edition Fiat 500 Launched, Barbie Fans Celebrate

Quickly bypassing Fiat UK's claim that the car seen here is "the limited edition Fiat 500 that customers have been asking for ever since the popular city car was launched in 2008", the 500 Pink is the first of several special edition versions of the mini that the company plans to introduced during this year.

The 500 Pink is based on the 1.2 Lounge specification, and aside from the obvious paint job, it also features a black interior contrasted by the pink finish on the dashboard, special carpet mats, pink key cover, a plastic figurine of Ken on the passenger's seat, and a leather gear knob.

Fiat's Start&Stop system that stops the engine automatically whenever traffic conditions bring the car to a complete halt, and restarts it immediately when the driver wants to move off again as well as a sunroof are fitted as standard.

The Italian automaker said that only 500 examples of the pinked out mini will be available in the UK and customers will only be able to order one online.

The 500 Pink costs £11,700 OTR, or £1,000 more than the 1.2 Lounge but with £1,500 worth of additional equipment - always according to Fiat.

Mitsubishi ASX Compact Crossover: Euro Spec Version of RVR Revealed

What Japanese buyers will come to know as the RVR when the compact crossover goes on sale in its home market in February will be sold in Europe as the ASX. The digitally enhanced photos show only a few minor differences between the two models, the most important being the black finish on the ASX's front and rear bumper inserts, grille and rocker panels as well as the addition of turning signals on the exterior mirrors.

The Outlander's smaller brother will be offered in Europe with various powertrains including an all-new Euro 5-compliant 1.8L turbocharged direct-injection diesel engine with Stop & Go technology that's linked to a six-speed manual transmission.

The ASX will have its European premiere at the at the Geneva Salon in the beginning of March with sales set to follow from late Spring 2010.

2011 Mustang GT to Pace Daytona 500, Ford to Build Limited Run Edition for the Public

In a first for the Mustang and the first time for Ford since 1970 when a Torino GT Convertible did the honors at the Daytona 500, a Blue Oval model will be pacing the field for the NASCAR season-opening race on February 14 at the Daytona International Speedway.

The car of choice is none other than the refreshed 2011 Mustang GT that's powered by Ford's new 412 horsepower 5.0-liter V8 engine linked to a 6-speed transmission. Interestingly, Ford said that the actual pace car will be auctioned off for charity before the race at this week's Barrett-Jackson.

But fear not because Ford also announced that it is planning to build another 50 examples of the 2011 Mustang GT Daytona 500 Pace Car to sell to the public.

Each example of the limited run series will feature a special Daytona 500 paint scheme, Ford Racing suspension, strut tower brace and mufflers, unique painted wheels, and special interior treatment, including specially branded lit sill plates.

MINI Countryman Crossover: Official Details and 57 High-Res Photos

After yesterday's leak there was no point in keeping the new Countryman under wraps so MINI went ahead and released initial details and a full gallery of its first-ever crossover model. Bear in mind that the BMW Group owned automaker noted that the car may not be named Countryman in certain markets without giving out any further details.

The Countryman is not only the British firm's first-ever crossover, it's also the first modern MINI to have four doors, an available all-wheel-drive system, four full-size seats and to measure around four meters in length.

The styling inside and out is unmistakably MINI, with the Countryman trying to stand out from the rest of the range with its chunkier nose job, raised ride height and some unique styling cues such as the headlamps and the alloy wheel designs.

The company said that driver gets a slightly elevated seating position while a new feature inside is the MINI Center Rail that extends from front to rear allowing anything from a cupholder and sunglasses to audio devices and an armrest to be attached and slid wherever they are required.

The Countryman comes as standard with four seats, but a three-seat bench is available as a no-cost option.

According to MINI, the rear seats can move fore-and-aft either individually or in a 60 : 40 (three-seat bench) split, the backrests may be tilted for angle either individually or in a 40 : 20 : 40 (three-seat bench) arrangement, increasing capacity in the luggage compartment from 350 to 1,170 liters (12.2–41.0 cu ft).

When the Countryman goes on sale in Europe this fall (North America in early 2011), it will enter the market with a choice of three petrol and two diesel engines, extending from the 90HP turbo diesel in the One D to a 184HP 1.6-liter four-cylinder petrol with a twin-scroll turbocharger and direct fuel injection in the rang-topping Cooper S.

All versions will come equipped with Brake Energy Regeneration, Auto Start Stop system and a gearshift point indicator.

MINI said that as an alternative to the six-speed manual gearbox featured as standard, the petrol engine models will also be available with six-speed automatic tranmission.

As an option, the Cooper S and Cooper D models will be available with MINI's ALL4 permanent all-wheel drive system that uses an electrohydraulic differential positioned directly on the final drive varying the distribution from front to rear.

Under normal driving conditions, the system sends up to 50 per cent of the engine's power to each axle, but in more extreme situations, up to 100 per cent can be sent to the rear wheels.

As with the rest of the MINI models, the Countryman will be offered with a wide range of customisation and equipment options on both the exterior and interior including an extra-large Panorama roof.

The official presentation of the Countryman will take place at the Geneva Salon in March, 2010.

2011 BMW 335is: First Official Photos of 322HP Coupe and Convertible that Bridge the Gap Between the 335i and M3

While BMW has yet to make an official announcement on the all-new 335is Coupe and Convertible, the Bavarian firm uploaded the first official photos of both models on its public website. The 335is, which is believed to be offered initially only in North America, closes the gap between the 300HP 335i (306HP in Euro spec) and the 414HP M3 (420HP for the Euro model).

As we've already informed you from our previous post, a leaked spec sheet from BMW's Canadian division reveals that the 335is makes use of a tweaked version of the outgoing 335i's N54 3.0-liter twin-turbocharged inline six - and not the single-turbo N55 engine of the facelift 2011 335i.

Lexus LFA: Early Customer Interest Exceeds Production Numbers (You don't Say...)

To no one's surprise, in the three months that have passed since the official introduction of the LFA at the Tokyo Motor Show in October 2009, the number of formal expressions of interest in purchasing the $375,000 V10 supercar is already far greater than the limited production run of only 500 examples, Toyota's subsidiary announced today.

2010 Toyota Auris Facelift gets Subtle Makeover and New Hybrid Version with Prius Drivetrain

When Toyota introduced the successor to the hatchback versions of the Corolla (the sedan variant kept the name) in Europe in 2006, the company's bosses decided to baptize the new car "Auris", not only due to its supposedly fresh and contemporary styling, but also because the name "Corolla" had become more synonymous with dull than with quality in the Old Continent.

Fast forward to 2010, and the Auris has yet to shake off its predecessor's bland-mobile reputation...

And while the subtle cosmetic makeover for the 2010 model year won't make the standard Auris any more interesting than before, the addition of a full hybrid version to the range is something that could very well capture the interest of European buyers.

One more 2010 Camaro-Based Pontiac Trans Am Conversion

Not surprisingly, Pontiac's demise has spurred an interest in the creation of Trans Am replicas based on the new Chevrolet Camaro. We remind you that we've already seen a conceptual proposal for a modern-day Pontiac Trans Am from ASC Creative Services and real-life examples from Lingenfelter and Trans Am Depot.

The latest company to join the list of tuners interested in creating a Trans Am replica is a company called Gearhead Performance Group.

Kia Ray Hybrid Sport Sedan Concept Teaser Leaked, Will Debut in Chicago

A teaser shot of what is said to be the Kia Ray concept car has made its way onto the interwebs. According to the folks over at Insideline that broke the story, the sporty-shaped sedan was penned at Kia's American design studio and it's supposed to hint at a possible design direction for a plug-in hybrid vehicle.

2011 Buick Regal Pricing Announced, Starts from $26,995, Less Costly Version to Follow in 2011

General Motors has just released pricing for the new 2011 Buick Regal sedan, or if you prefer, the North American market version of the Opel Insignia. Initially, the Regal will be offered in a premium CXL trim with two engine options, a 182HP 2.4-liter Ecotec four-cylinder with direct-injection and a 2.0-liter Ecotec turbocharged and direct injected four-pot rated at an estimated 220HP.

Prices have been set at $26,995 (that's about €19,100 for our Euro friends) for the CXL 2.4L and $29,495 (€20,870) for the CXL 2.0L Turbo and include a $750 destination charge in both cases.

GM to Shut Down Antwerp Plant in Belgium, Announces More Cuts for Opel / Vauxhall

General Motors has turned its focus on its European division as a little after the announcement on its decision to wind down its Saab unit, the U.S. carmaker revealed that it intends to close Opel's manufacturing plant in Antwerp, Belgium, which employs around 2,600 workers. GM said that if confirmed, production would conclude at the plant in the next few months.