Monday, January 5, 2009

Spied : Nissan Patrol 2010

Tokyo, Japan – Nissan's new 2010 model Patrol has been leaked ahead of schedule after photos of the 4WD were snapped at a recent industry-only presentation of the vehicle. Clearly the security at the event was lax, and the result is four half-decent photos of the new car. The event hall appears empty, so we're guessing these images were smuggled out by a janitor of some sort. The images show exactly how the new generation Patrol is styled, and from the front it has a strong resemblance to its main rival, the Toyota LandCruiser. Nissan's largest SUV, and also one of its most capable, has angular new headlights, the styling of which is similar to the Toyota LandCruiser and Lexus LX 570 models. Projector beams are in attendance and the chrome grille adheres to Nissan's current design philosophy. Unlike the Toyota LandCruiser however, the rear side windows have are angled to create a slightly sporty look, which is helped along by technical LED brake lights. It's not a quantum leap in the design for large 4WDs, but it does represent a significantly more modern aesthetic and will reinvigorate interest in the vehicle when it launches during 2009. The Editor reviewed the updated LandCruiser earlier in the year and it scored a very positive 4 out of 5, but the last time the Nissan Patrol was road tested on the Motoring Channel (back in 2003) it scored 3 out of 5. Nissan's new Patrol is expected to ship with a range of new 4WD functions, such as downhill descent control and other slow-speed, high torque modes, that will allow it to more closely compete with Toyota's large 4WD. The photos of this leaked Nissan Patrol appear to be of a highly specified variant as the interior is bedecked in leather and it also boasts a colour LCD screen. There's woodgrain trim and the steering wheel is festooned with buttons and controls, some of which could be linked to the AWD systems. Located just behind the gearstick however is a rotary dial that will probably be labelled the "All-Mode 4WD" system like on the X-Trail. Powerplants for the new model will include petrol and diesel engines, likely to include an update to the current 4.8-litre inline 6-cylinder petrol motor offered in Australia. This big 6-cylinder mill current outputs 180kW and 400Nm, but could also be replaced by a new V8 engine.(V8 rumors suggest it will be above 400 hp with 7 speeds gearbox) Though nothing has been confirmed, sources say that Nissan will offer two diesel engines, expected to be a revision of the current 3.0-litre turbo diesel and something bigger and badder to rival Toyota's twin turbo V8 diesel. A few wags even suggested that the GT-R's twin turbo V6 engine could make the grade in down-tuned form, but the odds of this happening are about as likely as Nissan entering the Formula 1 championship. It's been a long time coming, but Nissan's off-road experts have finally finished work on the new Patrol. Along with the X-Trail, Pathfinder, Navara and to a lesser extent the Dualis, Nissan has a strong 4WD line-up. The next question is: will the new 2010 Nissan Patrol live up to expectations? Stay tuned for the answer.


Comparison: 2008 Chevrolet Tahoe vs. 2008 Ford Expedition vs. 2008 Nissan Armada vs. 2008 Toyota Sequoia

With the price of crude oil hovering around $100 per barrel, auto analysts are once again questioning the continued existence of the large sport/utility. And why not? These big rigs, some of which can haul nine passengers and tow 10,000 pounds, tout large-displacement V-8s and three-ton curb weights. While that can equate to a full load of family, friends, and gear, as well as a fishing boat in the rearview, it also means fuel economy in the low-teens and fill-ups that exceed $80. No wonder minivans are alive and crossovers are kicking. But while some of these so-called experts are ready to bury the full-size sport/ute six feet under, we're not ready to grab shovels-at least not until the Smiths and Joneses of America stop saturating parking lots with theses huge/utes. Sales of the Ford Expedition, for xample, actually increased least year, swelling from 87,203 in 2006 to 90,287 in 2007. Several other large SUVs, including the Cadillac Escalade ESV, Chevrolet Suburban, Mercedes GL, and Infiniti QX56, also exprienced year-to-year sales hikes. If bigger is better, which big is best? To find out, we sent invitations to the major players, Chevy, Ford, Nissan, and Toyota. Caveats? Fourwheel drive and price tags around $50,000. Chevy, hampered by a thin selection, answered with a $40,460 Tahoe LT fitted with a $2160 LT2 equipment group (leather, tri-zone automatic air-conditioning, remote start, power-adjustable pedals, rear park assist), $1830 Z71 suspension package (monotube dampers, off-road tires, locking rear differential), and $860 third-row seat. At $45,310, the Tahoe was the cheapest of the group, although a more fitting, well-equipped LTZ would've easily crested 50 large. Ford sent us the new $44,265 Expedition King Ranch edition, replete with a leather-adorned cabin, wood trim, and power-folding third row. A slew of options, including $995 power runningboards and $1995 nav system, bumped the bottom line to $52,840. From Canton, Mississippi, rolled up a $45,375 Nissan Armada LE, a topline example that comes standard with 20-inch wheels, leather, and power liftgate. With nearly $7000 worth of add-ons, notably a $2400 Technology Package (nav, 9.5GB hard drive, XM NavTraffic), the Nissan demanded $52,350. Last but certainly not least, Toyota shipped us a mid-level $49,135 Sequoia Limited, which boasts standard leather, power-folding third row, and 14-speaker JBL audio system. Our tester tacked on another $5000 worth of extras, including a $1650 nav system, raising the tally to $54,140. With the fleet complete, we headed for snowy Mammoth Lakes, an outdoor Mecca for skiing, hiking, fishing, and, best of all, off-roading. Along the way, we would chase cars up and down congested city freeways, empty desert highways, twisty back roads, and, in order to reach our 8000-foot destination, severe elevation climbs.
2008 Chevrolet Tahoe LT
The Tahoe entered this grouping as the second youngest to the all-new Sequoia; yet, despite its newness, it quickly impressed us as the most aged. Take the transmission. Paired with a 5.3-liter V-8 whose 320 horsepower trailed only that of the Toyota, the Tahoe's four-speed proved its Achilles heel at the dragstrip, delivering the weakest 0-to-60 time (8.3 seconds) and the slowest quarter-mile trap speed (85.6 mph). The Chevy's four-speed struggled on mountain roads, as well, its tall ratios making it difficult to find the ideal gear. Notes editor at large St. Antoine, "Where you particularly miss the extra cog is rolling briskly downhill, where second is too low and third is too high." Manual mode? Not offered. Note to Chevy: Install the Cadillac Escalade's Hydra-Matic 6L80 six-speed or, at the very least, its nifty gear-lever-mounted manual-shift buttons. The sole possessor of a four-speed, the Tahoe was also the only one to sport an old-school live axle, a feature that behooves off-road maneuvers but tends to degenerate on-road motions. Add in steering that was judged too light and not particularly communicative-a "Twirl-O-Matic" feel, according to St. Antoine-and the Chevy's chassis was downgraded further. Per Truck Trend editor Mark Williams, "It's the most fun to take to the back country and romp around in, but next to these other family-friendly haulers, it just doesn't keep up." Further, by eliminating the possibility of a flat floor, the live axle compromises interior efficiency, forcing Chevy to utilize removable third-row seats rather than fold-flat units like the others. Not only is it burdensome to take out those heavy seats, but it's also a burden to sit in them, as they offer the least legroom. And if you need to tote gear with a full passenger load, the Tahoe trails again, offering only 16.9 cubic feet behind the third row. Of course, it's not like the Chevy is without merits. Despite the Z71 package, the Tahoe provided an impressively compliant highway ride as well as a surprisingly hushed cockpit, even at near-tripledigit speeds. Moreover, the interior, while comparatively Spartan and monotone, did offer the most comfortable front bucket seats and the most front headroom. Plus, with Active Fuel Management that switches between V-8 and V-4 power, the Tahoe, at 13.4 mpg, tied with the Toyota for best-in-test fuel economy. If you're looking for a solid off-road toy that's still laudable on-road, or a cavernous five-seat sport/ute that can swallow seven in a pinch, the Tahoe won't disappoint. But if you're looking for more from a three-row full-size SUV, like a higher tow rating than 6200 pounds, there are better options
2008 Ford Expedition King Ranch
Boasting the least horsepower (300) yet the most pounds (6104), the Expedition seemed a lock for slug of the group. But thanks to a six-speed automatic, 365 pound-feet of torque, and four-wheel vented disc brakes, the Ford managed to outhustle the Tahoe to 60 and outbrake it back to zero. Nevertheless, even with 20-inch wheels wearing 55-series Pirellis, the Expedition was unable to cheat the laws of physics, at least in a curved line, posting the slowest figure-eight time (31.0 seconds) and the lowest lateral acceleration (0.68 g). Out on the twisty roads through Kennedy Meadows, the Expedition's moves supported these numbers, its soft suspension responding with plenty of roll and dive. And squat? Not enough oomph for that. "Feels sluggish right out of the gate," opines Williams. "You can tell there's a lot of weight here, and the engine doesn't seem interested in compensating." Sure, there are six speeds, but without a true manual mode, the tranny hunts with the same fervor as Dick Cheney. Still, the Ford handles well for such a big girl. Says St. Antoine, "Although it rolls into corners, it doesn't plow like a tractor -- it hangs on impressively and even shrugs off mid-corner undulations that can set the other rigs heaving up and down." The steering, while heavy in feel and slow on turn-in, did deliver linear response, and the brakes felt strong and a match for the cumbersome curb weight. Off road, the Expedition handled the snow with aplomb. "This is where the massive weight helps push the tires to the ground for grip," claims Williams. Senior editor Loh adds, "It's reassuring over snowy roads-no slipping, no sliding." Inside our King Ranch tester, every editor was impressed by the luxurious "Chaparral" leather, the ultraquiet ambiance, the rearview mirror with integrated backup video screen, and the capacious cabin, the last trumping the others' third-row headroom and legroom. For transporting Eddie and the entire Bauer clan, the Expedition is tough to beat. Plus, the third row comes with a powerfolding feature, alleviating any back-breaking exercises, and the second row boasts a useful "Cargo Mode," which lays the middle row flat with the pull of a lever. From the driver's seat, though, the view is somewhat disappointing. The instrument panel, with its mix of round and rectangular gauges and chrome, plastic, and wood trim, appears retro for the sake of being retro and at the expense of good function. With its roomy interior, clever packaging, and commendable offroad performance, not to mention being the only one with cooled front seats and power runningboards, the Ford presents a strong case. Just not as strong as the next two.
2008 Nissan Armada LE
"An Armada of one? Is that even possible?" queries assistant art director Mike Royer prior to our departure from L.A. Well, after clipping 0 to 60 in a mere 6.8 seconds and the quarter mile in 15.3 at 88.9 mph, the Armada conceivably has more horses on-board than the claimed 317. Not only is the Nissan, with its 5.6-liter V-8 and five-speed automatic, quick, it's also agile. The lightest by two pounds but the longest by 1.2 inches, the Armada consumed the figure eight in a best-in-test 28.8 seconds and the skidpad at a sedanlike 0.76 g. Says Loh, "The Armada offers the best balance of the pack, with great grip and no drama when cornering. It feels like a sports car in comparison -- like a 560Z!" Through our test loop, it exhibited the most confidence-inspiring handling, moves heightened by the organic steering and ergonomically sound interior. "This is the nicest cabin of the bunch," claims St. Antoine, adding, "I love the big, clear gauges and controls, the nice matte finish with appealing chrome accents, and, by far, the best/easiest nav system here." When it came time to drop anchor, the Armada, again, rose to the top. It needed only 128 feet to erase 60 mph, superior to the other SUVs here as well as its sedan sibling, the Altima 3.5 SE, which required 131 feet in a February 2008 test. Unfortunately, you'll have to drop anchor often for fuel, as it recorded 11.9 mpg during our soiree in the snow. At least its parched Endurance V-8, like the Tahoe's flex-fuel Vortec, will drink regular unleaded or E85. Perhaps the Armada's unquenchable thirst was due to its wild time in Mammoth's winter wonderland. With a full-time automatic setting, not to mention its sporty chassis, the Nissan proved the most entertaining in the fluff. In any case, the Armada's handsome body makes it easier to accept its fat fuel fix. "The exterior is the most tidy-she hides her weight well," notes Loh. St. Antoine concurs: "I like this exterior the best-it's chunky, modern, and sporty, and the big wheels and tires look great." As we mentioned before, the Nissan's smart styling flows into the interior, too, a space that surprised everyone with its functionality and room. The fold-flat second row not only tumbles forward with the pull of a lever for easy ingress and egress, but also outclasses the others' in headroom and legroom, while the third row, which is split 60/40 and can be folded flat, delivers decent mid-pack measurements. Need to tow a boat? This Armada is capable of adding a 9000-pound vessel to the end of the line, well more than that of the Tahoe. Given its athletic handling, strong acceleration, and striking styling, the Nissan places ahead of the Ford. But there's one it couldn't outpace.
2008 Toyota Sequoia Limited
Like its namesake, Toyota's Sequoia is big. Surprisingly, though, at 205.1 inches long, it's stubbier than the Ford and the Nissan, and, at 74.6 inches tall, it's the shortest of the bunch. Due to intelligent packaging and Toyota's usual dose of overengineering, the Sequoia's tidy exterior dimensions don't translate to tight interior quarters. In our second- and third-row useability tests, all four judges scored the Toyota, which provided the most shoulder room, as the roomiest and most comfortable, even though it trailed some of the others' dimensions for headroom and legroom. Moreover, the fold-flat second row not only features a relaxing recline function, but also a slide mechanism for effortless entry and exit. And the power-folding third row? Passengers can recline back there, too. Not that the Sequoia's seats really need a recline function. With 381 horses and 401 pound-feet emanating from a 5.7-liter i-Force V-8, the Toyota can push passengers into their seatbacks with what seems like enough energy to recline to the floor. Mash the throttle, and the Sequoia eclipses 60 in only 6.2 seconds and the quarter mile in just 14.7 at 93.7 mph. Remember the comparison-winning Camry SE V-6 from February? It wasn't any quicker to 60 and only 0.1 second speedier in the quarter. If we hadn't filled the Sequoia with 87-octane ourselves, we'd have thought it runs on Miracle-Gro. Amazingly, however, even with the largest, most powerful engine and the second heaviest curb weight (6003 pounds), the Toyota matched the Chevy for best fuel economy, a testament to the well-sorted six-speed automatic. That six-speed, by the way, was the only auto of the group to have a dedicated manual mode. "It lets you summon up- or downshifts with a proper fore-aft sport gate," notes St. Antoine. Even when running the gears to redline, the 5.7 remains smooth and seductive, unable to disturb the cabin, which, along with the Ford's, was deemed most serene. More important, the manual mode, which lets your right hand to keep a tight rein on all 381 horses, allows you to fully appreciate the sporty capabilities of the Sequoia's control-arm independent suspension. "The chassis is poised," adds St. Antoine, "with little roll unless you carry way too much speed into a bend." And should you carry too much speed, the Toyota's four-wheel vented disc brakes are the largest of the foursome and the only ones utilizing fixed four-piston front calipers. Drawbacks? The Toyota has a few, namely, light and numb steering, an overwrought dash with questionable ergonomics, and the absence of an Auto four-wheel-drive mode, although with its center locking differential, the Sequoia never slipped-up through the snow and ice. And considering the Toyota tops the others in towing capacity (10,000 pounds), interior functionality and comfort, and acceleration, it's easy to see how it leads this snow patrol.
1st place: 2008 Toyota Sequoia Limited Sport-sedan acceleration, luxury-car comfort, and tugboat towing make this new Toy the best of the bigs. 2nd place: 2008 Nissan Armada LE Poor fuel economy, a snugger third row, and slower acceleration prevent the Armada from docking on top. 3rd place: 2008 Ford Expedition King Ranch Quiet, roomy cabin and off-road adeptness overshadowed by cumbersome curb weight, soft suspenders, and a tacky dash. 4th place: 2008 Chevrolet Tahoe LT Clean looks and commanding Z71 package can't overcome unsatisfactory four-speed and substandard interior packaging.
Drivetrain layout Front engine, 4WD Front engine, 4WD
Engine type 90 Vv-8, iron block/alum heads 90 Vv-8, iron block/alum heads
Valvetrain OHV, 2 valves/cyl SOHC, 3 valves/cyl
Displacement 325.0 cu in/5328 cc 330.4 cu in/5414 cc
Compression ratio 9.9:1 9.8:1
Power (SAE net) 320 hp @ 5200 rpm* 300 hp @ 500 rpm
Torque (SAE net) 340 lb-ft @ 4000 rpm* 365 lb-ft @ 3750
Weight to power 17.9 lb/hp 20.3 lb/hp
Transmission 4-speed automatic 6-speed automatic
Axle/final-drive ratios 3.73:1/2.61:1/2.72:1 3.73:1/2.57:1/2.64:1
Suspension, front; rear Control arms, coil springs, anti-roll bar; live axle, coil springs, anti-roll bar Control arms, coil springs, anti-roll bar; multilink, coil springs, load-leveling shocks, anti-roll bar
Steering ratio 17.8:1 20.0:1
Turns lock-to-lock 3 3.2
Brakes, f;r 13.0-in vented disc: 13.5-in disc, ABS 13.5-in vented disc: 13.2-in vented disc, ABS
Wheels 8.0 x 18 in, cast aluminum 8.5 x 20 in, cast aluminum
Tires, f;r 265/65R18 112S M+S, Bridgestone Dueler A/T 275/55R20 111H M+S, Pirelli Scorpion STR
Wheelbase 116.0 in 119.0 in
Track, f/r 68.2/67.0 in 67.0/67.2 in
Length x width x height 202.0 x 79.0 x 77.0 in 206.5 x 78.8 x 77.2 in
Ground clearance 9.0 in 8.7 in
Apprch/ deapart angle 17.0/21.9 deg 22.6/21.5 deg
Turning circle 39.0 ft 40.8 ft
Curb weight 5715 lb 6104 lb
Weight dist., f/r 52/48 % 50/50 %
Seating capacity 7 8
Headroom, f/r 41.1/38.5/38.2 in 39.6/39.8/38.3 in
Legroom, f/r 41.3/39.0/25.4 in 41.1/39.1/37.7 in
Shoulder room, f/r 65.3/65.3/57.9 in 63.2/63.7/51.9 in
Cargo volume 108.0/60.3/16.9 cu ft 108.3/55.0/18.6 cu ft
Acceleration to mph
0-30 2.8 sec 2.6 sec
0-40 4.1 4.1
0-50 5.9 5.8
0-60 8.3 8.1
0-70 10.6 10.7
0-80 13.4 13.8
0-90 18.2 -
Passing, 45-65 mph 4.5 sec 4.5 sec
Quarter mile 16.1 sec @ 85.6 mph 16.1 sec @ 85.9 mph
Braking, 60-0 mph 140 ft 139 ft
Lateral acceleration 0.71 g (avg) 0.68 g (avg)
MT figure eight 30.0 sec @ 0.52 g (avg) 31.0 sec @ 0.49 g (avg)
Top-gear revs @ 60 mph 1700 rpm 1600 rpm
Base price $40,460 $44,265
Price as tested $45,310 $52,840
Stability/traction control Yes/yes Yes/yes
Airbags Dual front, front side, f/m/r curtain Dual front, front side, f/mr curtain
Basic warranty 3 yrs/36,000 miles 3 yrs/36,000 miles
Powertrain warranty 5 yrs/100,000 miles 5 yrs/60,000 miles
Roadside assistance 5 yrs/100,000 miles 5 yrs/60,000 miles
Fuel capacity 26.0 gal 28.0 gal
EPA city/hwy econ 14/19 (gas) 11/14 (E85) lb/mile N/A
CO2 emissions 1.22 (gas) 1.12 (E85) lb/mile N/A
MT fuel economy 13.4 mpg (gas) 12.2 mpg
Recommended fuel Regular of E85 Regular

Front engine, 4WD
90 V-8, alum block/heads
DOHC, 4 valves/cyl
345.6 cu in/5663 cc
381 hp @ 5600 rpm
401 lb-ft @ 3600 rpm
15.8 lb/hp
6-speed automatic
Control arms, coil springs, anti-roll bar; control arms, coil springs, anti-roll bar
13.9-in vented disc: 13.6-in vented disc, ABS
7.5 x 18 in, cast aluminum
275/65R18 114T M+S, Michelin LTX A/S
122.0 in
67.9/69.1 in
205.1 x 79.9 x 74.6 in
10.0 in
27.0/21.0 deg
39.0 ft
6003 lb
51/49 %
38.3/38.9/36.0 in
42.5/36.4/35.3 in
66.4/65.6/60.6 in
120.1/66.6/18.9 cu ft
2.0 sec
3.2 sec
14.7 sec @ 93.7 mph
139 ft
0.72 g (avg)
29.8 sec @ 0.55 g (avg)
1800 rpm
Dual front, front side, f/mr curtain
3 yrs/36,000 miles
5 yrs/60,000 miles
26.4 gal
13/18 mpg
13.1 lb/mile
13.4 mpg
Front engine, 4WD
90 V-8, alum block/heads
DOHC, 4 valves/cyl
338.8 cu in/5552 cc
317 hp @ 5200 rpm
385 lb-ft @ 3400 rpm
18.0 lb/hp
5-speed automatic
Control arms, coil springs, anti-roll bar; control arms, coil springs, load-leveling shocks, anti-roll bar
12.6-in vented disc: 12.6-in disc, ABS
8.0 x 20 in, cast aluminum
265/60R20 114H M+S, Michelin Latitude
123.2 in
67.5/67.5 in
207.7 x 79.3 x 77.2 in
10.4 in
26.2/22.7 deg
40.8 ft
5713 lb
51/49 %
41.0/40.0/35.9 in
41.8/41.9/32.2 in
65.0/64.7/58.8 in
97.1/56.7/20.0 cu ft
2.2 sec
3.7 sec
15.3 sec @ 88.9 mph
128 ft
0.76 g (avg)
28.8 sec @ 0.57 g (avg)
1700 rpm
Dual front, front side, f/mr curtain
3 yrs/36,000 miles
5 yrs/60,000 miles
28.0 gal
12/17 (gas) 9/13 (E85) mgp
1.40 (gas) 1.30 (E85) lb/mile
11.9 mpg (gas)
Regular or E85

GTR R35 vs Z06

this race shouted in Dubai

I think the GTR is not stock but still one point for the beast good job nissan


2010 Fisker Karma

Fisker Automotive offers its four-door 2010 Fisker Karma electric hybrid as a premium-oriented, environmentally friendly sports sedan. On styling alone, the $87,900 Karma seems a steal. It looks like an Italian GT design study; the headlights are pure Ferrari 599 GTB Fiorano, while the rest could double for a Maserati GranTurismo or an Alfa Romeo 8C Competizione, depending on the angle. The proportions fall in line too; the Karma is 1.4-in. longer and 1.0-in. taller than the GranTurismo, and is wider than the 599 by 0.9-in. Unlike a car like the 599, however, with its ferocious V-12 and flat-plane crank, the Karma will be feature a turbocharged 2.0L engine sourced from General Motors. The Ecotec four-banger produces 260 hp and 260 lb-ft of torque -- an insulting figure to modern Maranello standards. Fisker says the car will accelerate from 0-60 in less than 6 seconds and have a top speed higher than 125 mph


2010 Chevrolet Equinox

The 2010 Chevrolet Equinox gets a spanking new 2.4L four as the base engine, bristling with variable valve timing on both cams and direct fuel injection. Letting liquid fuel evaporate inside the hot cylinder cools the charge considerably, permitting an impressive 11.7:1 compression ratio with no knock on regular fuel. That high compression combines with more complete fuel burn to lower hydrocarbon emissions, improve power, and reduce fuel consumption. The result? It makes 182 hp and 174 lb-ft. That's just three horses and 36 lb-ft shy of the former pushrod V-6's output, and performance with the improved gearing of the standard six-speed 6T45 Hydramatic is supposed to equal the 3.4L V-6's (9.1 sec to 60 mph by our equipment) while EPA fuel economy hits 21/30 mpg FWD, 20/27 AWD, up from 17/24 (FWD and AWD). Furthermore, you may be able to beat that number. An ECO button on the dash remaps the transmission shift strategy and calls for more aggressive fuel shutoff when coasting. There's a slight NVH and driveability penalty, but it reportedly pays off, and the EPA does its testing with and without this button pushed, averaging the results. Ordering a base vehicle without the luggage rack will further improve your mileage (it comes on more than 30% of Equinoxes so EPA tests with the rack). Electric power steering, 17-in. low rolling-resistance Michelin tires, improved aerodynamics (from 0.42 to 0.36 drag coefficient), and a host of other tiny details contribute to the fuel economy bump, but none is expected to dramatically increase the cost of the base car


2010 Audi R8 5.2 FSI quattro 525 hp

When it was released in 2007, the Audi R8 became an instant sensation. But seemingly before the car even turned a wheel the inevitable follow-up question was asked: when is the more-powerful variant coming? After all, Porsche is never content with just a base 911 and with comparisons aplenty between the Stuttgart legend and upstart rookie from Ingolstadt, it was obvious Audi would eventually up its R8 game. But what engine route would it take? Early reports of a more powerful R8, dubbed the RS8 by some, spoke of it receiving a version of the beastly 575 hp twin-turbo V-10 from the RS6. Those literally went up in flames when a test mule overheated and burned to the ground late last year. The R8 V12 TDI that made its way around the auto show circuit earlier this year with its monstrous 500 hp, 738 lb-ft 5.5L diesel V-12 will for numerous reasons remain a concept - for now. Instead, Audi dug through ready supply of high-power engines to choose from and decided upon the naturally-aspirated 5.2L V-10 found in the S6 and S8, modified it for mid-engine duty, increased output to 525 hp at 8000 RPM and 391 lb-ft of torque at 6500 RPM, with redline coming at 8700 RPM. And at 569 lbs, the aluminum V-10 weighs just 68 lbs more than the V-8. Like the V-8-powered R8, the Audi R8 5.2 FSI quattro will come with either a traditional six-speed manual or R tronic six-speed sequential manual. Regardless of gearbox choice, Audi says the V-10 propels the R8 5.2 from 0-62 mph in 3.9 seconds -- about a half-second drop from the 4.4 second 0-60 claim for the R8 4.2 and squarely in the supercar pantheon. Audi also claims the R8 5.2 achieves an average fuel economy of 17.2 mpg, an impressive figure for a 525 hp supercar. Other than the engine, the two R8s are nearly identical mechanically. Both have the same size same size wheels and tires (235/35ZR19 front, 295/30ZR19 rear) and brakes (15.0-in. front discs and 14.0-in. rears), though carbon-ceramic discs, with a combined weight that is 19.8 lbs lower than conventional discs, will be offered on the R8 5.2. There are some visual differences, however, the most notable being all-LED headlamps, with LEDs serving duty as low beams, high beams, turn signals, and daytime running lights. Each headlamp will be equipped with 54 individual LEDs with a color temperature of 6000 degrees Kelvin, which is closer to the temperature of daylight than the light of halogen or xenon headlamps. Other cosmetic changes include a chrome grille, more pronounced side blades, wider side sills, twin single-pipe exhausts, and a matte aluminum finish for the grilles on the side of the rear window. The Audi R8 5.2 FSI quattro will make its world bow at next month's 2009 Detroit auto show and when the R8 5.2 is rolled out in Germany in the second quarter of 2009, it will come with a sticker price of 142,400 Euros, or $181,645 at current exchange rates. Though there is no official word yet on the timing of a U.S. release, it's likely the R8 5.2 will come stateside sometime late next year with a hefty premium over the base R8, which presently lists for just under $116,000.


New Acura Crossover

These days, buyers seem to care just as much about sport as they do utility when shopping for a new crossover, or at least that's what automakers like Acura are thinking lately. With BMW's new X6 -- a crossover decidedly in the sport column -- selling out its first year of production, it looks as though Acura is going to follow BMW's lead with a new crossover that likely will slot between the RDX and MDX in its lineup. Our spy shooters caught up with a prototype of Acura's latest project in Germany, most likely on its way for some chassis and suspension tuning at the Nurburgring. The new Acura crossover, which also takes aim at Infiniti's new FX35 and FX50, reportedly will be designed more for cruising L.A.'s Sunset Boulevard than tackling rugged terrain or hauling a week's worth of camping gear. The bulky, squared-off camouflage this test mule wears is probably covering much more stylish lines than might otherwise be suggested. Plan on a steeply raked rear roofline, some angular styling cues (seen here in the taillights and exhaust tips), and Acura's trademark "shield" grille up front. Judging by the reaction to the new TL's mug, that may not be the best idea. The spy shooters also nabbed an interior view of the vehicle, which looks to be in line with the latest Acura efforts. Powertrain options would probably include a version of the 3.7L V-6 powering the TL and MDX, with Honda's SH-AWD also probably part of the package. If one needs more proof that Acura is targeting the chic, sport-crossover market, we're told a BMW X6 is along for the ride on this development run, presumably providing the benchmark for Acura's R&D team. Should Acura's new crossover be at the 'Ring testing stage, we suspect the production version can't be far away. Should that be the case, Acura likely has enough invested in its new model that it will choose to release it even considering a struggling economy and unfavorable market conditions.


2010 Ford Taurus

You're looking are the latest spy photos of the new 2010 Ford Taurus. Ford is betting big on its updated fullsize Taurus sedan, which will make its world debut at the 2009 Detroit auto show. The 2010 Taurus will feature updated powertrain options, and Ford will once again refresh the vehicle's styling, the previous iteration of which -- first seen on the Five Hundred and then slightly updated when Ford changed the name back to Taurus -- failed to jumpstart sales of the sedan. From the looks of the spy shots, it is possible new Taurus, which features Ford of Europe styling cues, might attract more buyers in the shrinking fullsize sedan segment. Judging by the spy shots, the Taurus melds elements of the European Ford Mondeo exterior styling touches with a refined Flex-like interior. Outside, the Taurus eschews the Fusion's three-bar grille and sports lower fascia clearly inspired by the Mondeo -- the same can be said about the wheels, which are probably reserved for a more expensive model. Inside, this particular Taurus appears to have dual-zone climate control, plenty of wood trim, and a Sony audio system. And although we can't see any, we're betting customizable mood lighting is part of the package, as well. One thing is clear: the blurry 2010 Taurus photo we showed you in April (bottom image) was, in fact, a close-to-production prototype.We don't know much about the Taurus' engines, but with the car riding on the D3 platform that also underpins the recently-released Lincoln MKS, a 3.7L V-6 like the one in the 270-hp MKS should make it to the Taurus, with the 3.5L from the Fusion also likely as an option. The MKS is slated to get a more powerful EcoBoost engine upgrade next spring; it's possible Ford could use that engine as part of a high-performance 2011 Ford Taurus SHO-like vehicle, but whether it's high-output or not, an EcoBoost engine will be coming for the Taurus as well. Ford will more than likely continue to offer front- and all-wheel drive and a six-speed automatic transmission as standard in all Taurus models. With Mercury Sable production stopping sometime in 2009, Ford's Taurus will have slightly more room to move upmarket. Alan Mulally's decision to rename the Five Hundred the Taurus failed to boost sales, but maybe one more push is all the Taurus needs to better compete with the Toyota Avalon, Buick Lucerne, and other fullsize sedans. Stay tuned for our complete report on the 2010 Ford Taurus during the 2009 Detroit auto show, Jan. 11-13.

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Volvo S60 concept

The Volvo S60 concept headed for the Detroit auto show in January carries a heavy dose of fantasy features while offering a strong hint of the 2010 production car. Volvo says much of the basic appearance of the concept sedan will show up in the production version, and the car's lines are a bit more dramatic than the current S60. But in true concept fashion, the show car is fitted with a few elements that seem unlikely to make it to production, such as the headlights that create a silhouette of two miniature Viking longboats sailing in tandem. Volvo also has said it plans to outfit the interior with a center console made of crystal. A new safety feature on the concept will make it to production. Called Collision Warning with Full Auto Brake, the system tries to prevent crashes by alerting the driver with an audible warning and a flashing red light, meant to look like a taillight. If that fails, the car automatically applies full braking power. A turbocharged, direct-injection 1.6-liter 180-hp four-cylinder engine powers the concept. Inside, where past Volvo concepts have pioneered ideas like the floating center console that eventually appeared in production cars, the seats are attached to the center console and don't touch the floor. The concept rides on seven-spoke, 20-inch wheels, and the brakes have been dressed up with bronze calipers. We're due for a new S60. The redesign of the current car, launched in 2000, has been delayed as Volvo has changed spending priorities.

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