Tag Archives: LS

2015 Lexus GS F Spy Photos: The GS Gets F’d Up

By Alexander Stoklosa

2015 Lexus GS F (spy photo)

What It Is: A completely undisguised Lexus GS sedan prototype decked out in high-performance, F-style gear. Lexus’s high-performance F sub-brand is similar in concept to BMW’s M or Mercedes-Benz’s AMG, but has thus far only churned out the IS F sedan and the LFA supercar as full-fledged models, as well as a passel of F Sport–branded trim levels for the IS, GS, and LS. Currently, the GS sedan lineup consists on the GS350, GS350 F Sport, and GS450h hybrid. READ MORE ››

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Source: FULL ARTICLE at Car & Driver

Report: Optimistic Lexus bumps US sales target higher

By Jonathon Ramsey

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Last year Lexus sold 244,166 cars in the US, slotting into third place in the luxury segment behind BMW and Mercedes-Benz. Earlier this year Lexus said its target was 260,000 units in the US (which would still put it behind BMW’s and Mercedes’ numbers from last year), but Automotive News reports that it has raised its upper outlook to 270,000 cars.

The half-year pace hasn’t been enough to make either number, but Lexus is gunning for a 15-percent gain in IS sales behind the arrival of the 2014 model, and this is also the first full year of sales of the new ES and LS. Lexus will most likely end the year in third place in the luxury segment behind BMW and Mercedes again, even if it does sell 270,000 units, but has said its prime directive is “good, steady growth.”

Optimistic Lexus bumps US sales target higher originally appeared on Autoblog on Mon, 29 Jul 2013 09:30:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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Source: FULL ARTICLE at Autoblog

Report: Lexus LF-LC approved for production

By Jonathon Ramsey

Lexus LF-LC concept - front three-quarter view, maroon

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On the sidelines of a press drive for the 2014 Lexus IS, the company’s vice president of marketing in the US told Ward’s Auto that the honchos in Japan have approved the Lexus LF-LC concept for production. He wouldn’t offer any other details on how the luxury coupe might be transformed into a vehicle for the buying masses, and that has led to a bag full of speculation.

The show car was hybrid-powered and rear-wheel drive, a beautifully executed stab by Toyota designers in Newport Beach at redefining Lexus, but even with the concept, the point was to keep it “within reach for premium buyers.” The report says the odds are on limited production and higher pricing than Lexus’ “mainstream products,” and other sites have speculated on what kind of powertrain it might end up in showrooms with.

GT Channel posits that the LF-LC will be the inspiration for a coupe in the Lexus LS price bracket with a choice of either the 4.2-liter V8 or the hybrid powertrain from the LS 600h, further speculating it will be called LC 550 and cost more than $100,000. It then says that there would be another coupe created beneath that one to replace the SC 430. Lexus Enthusiast, however, calls those “warmed-over rumors” and says that the marque probably won’t deviate from its engine-capacity-naming scheme – labeling a car with a 4.2-liter V8 an LC 550. Nor does it think Lexus will use the letters LC after the company has trademarked “RC” in the US and Australia.

Time will sort the rumors from the truth, but we can probably start to admit that we’re look forward to it.

Lexus LF-LC approved for production originally appeared on Autoblog on Thu, 28 Mar 2013 14:01:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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Source: FULL ARTICLE at Autoblog

Olympus at Frankfurt Musikmesse 2013 with Helene Hart plus the LS-12 and LS-14 audio recorders

By Business Wirevia The Motley Fool

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Olympus at Frankfurt Musikmesse 2013 with Helene Hart plus the LS-12 and LS-14 audio recorders

HAMBURG, Germany–(BUSINESS WIRE)– With its inaugural appearance at the Frankfurt Musikmesse, Olympus emphasises its position in the music recording business. Visitors to the Olympus booth, designed in the look of a backstreet garage, can discover the award-winning Linear PCM audio recorders. Demonstrating their ease of use will be up-and-coming band Helene Hart, who will also perform live and premiere a video giving a behind the scenes look showing how the Olympus LS-12 and LS-14 make an invaluable contribution to the creative songwriting process. A special highlight for members of the press takes place on the first Musikmesse day. Helene Hart will make an exclusive live performance at a special press get-together on 10 April, 5:00 to 7:00 pm in the Olympus Garage. Members of the media wishing to attend are requested to register their participation in advance. The trade fair takes place in Frankfurt, Germany, from 10-13 April. The ‘Olympus Garage‘ is located in Hall 5.1, Stand A80.

Olympus Linear PCM recorder LS-12 with Helene Hart (Photo: Business Wire)

With its raw ‘roll up the sleeves and get to work’ look, the ‘Olympus Garage‘ sets the scene for a genuine hands-on musical experience at the Frankfurt Musikmesse. The booth showcases the Olympus Linear PCM audio recorders, which are renowned for high-performance recording with superior sound and incredible ease of use.

German newcomer band Helene Hart, which is receiving increasing national attention, uses the Olympus LS-12 and LS-14 recorders enthusiastically. The band will debut a recently made video showing how the Olympus audio recorders supported the song making process for their song ‘Won’t Stop’ – enabling the exchange of ideas between band members quickly and on the go – from the initial idea to the finished track. The video was produced with kind support from cooperation partner and multimedia specialist MAGIX who will also be onsite at the Olympus booth.

With the Olympus audio recorders, musicians can record the inspiration that leads to a song in a flash using the Quick Mode, enabling easy instant recording. This initial idea can be shared via email or other electronic means with others who then may add their own ideas and comments to let the idea grow – by making overdubs to the original recording. As the process continues and the song matures, tracks can start to be laid down – with the Olympus recorders ensuring songs are both in tune and …read more
Source: FULL ARTICLE at DailyFinance

2013 Chevrolet Traverse LTZ FWD Review & Test Drive

By Malcolm Hogan

2013-chevrolet-traverse

The decision for GM to utilize their Lambda SUV platform for the Chevrolet brand has paid off well as the new 2013 Chevrolet Traverse ventures into its 4th year to receive new front and rear end styling and interior refreshing to further refine their 8-passenger crossover utility vehicle.

The all-new 2013 Chevrolet Traverse gets a restyled front fascia that somewhat mimics the brand’s new language rolling out to many of the new 2014 Chevrolet models. Moreover, the inside of the new 2013 Traverse gets new interior materials and re-worked infotainment system. Sharing its Lambda platform with the well-perceived GMC Acadia and Buick Enclave, the Traverse sets forth a great combination of a cavernous cabin with 116 cubic feet behind the first row of seats, a willing 288 horsepower V6 engine in the LTZ trim getting up to 24 mpg on the highway, and versatile seating arrangements for up to 8 adults.

2013-chevrolet-traverse-side

The formula that remains in the Chevrolet Traverse ever since its introduction as a 2009 model, is a crossover utility vehicle that does not compromise interior room, fuel efficiency or desired pulling power. All of these entities find themselves working in harmony to offer the consumer an excellent alternative to large truck-based SUVs without the wallet-sapping costs that come with it.

2013-chevrolet-traverse-rear-2

The new 2013 Chevrolet Traverse, with a total of three trim levels (LS, LT and LTZ) gives you the versatility of configuring the large SUV to your specific needs. Front row passengers enjoy plenty of head and legroom while the second row get the option of captain chairs that slide forward and backwards with a reclining feature. Opting for the comfortable second row captains chairs brings the seating capacity down to 7 passengers. The easily accessible third row seats tend to be a bit low to the floor but still provide enough space for 3 adults.

2013-chevrolet-traverse-rear-cargo-seats-down

Cargo space is plentiful and easy to access. Although the 2nd row seats do not fold into the floor, they can easily be folded out of the way or completely removed to open up the full 116 cubic feet of cargo space behind the front row seats. The 3rd row seats easily fold flat through rear latches. The power liftgate and relatively low loading surface is also an inviting aspect of the Traverse’s hauling abilities. Towing is rated at a maximum of 5,200 pounds while the payload rating is just over 6,400 pounds.

Adding an extra dash to the luxury equation when opting for the top-ranging LTZ trim, the new Chevrolet Traverse offers up eight-way power perforated leather heated and ventilated front seats, heated leather steering wheel, power-folding mirrors, power rear liftgate, tri-zone automatic climate control, and the MyLink infotainment interface featuring Bluetooth streaming audio, smartphone app integration and voice activation.

2013-chevrolet-traverse-front-seats

The new MyLink infotainment system in …read more
Source: FULL ARTICLE at Automotive Addicts

2013 Lexus LS 600h L AWD Review & Test Drive

By Harvey Schwartz

2013 Lexus LS600h LWB Beauty Right Wide Done Small

‘A BOLDER ULTIMATE LUXURY HYBRID SEDAN’

There are many luxury sedans on today’s market but none combines bold, sleek, sexy, yet elegant styling, with power, performance, luxury, comfort, safety and hybrid technology like the new 2013 Lexus 600h all-wheel drive, long wheelbase, hybrid sedan.  This year the LS gets refreshed with the bold new face of Lexus.  The aggressive spindle grille gives the new LS a more aggressive look while engineering a significant improvement in driving dynamics, responsiveness and handling.  Also up front is a wide bottom lower grille to channel more air into the engine plus another intake for directing air to cool down the front disc brakes. Signifying that it is a hybrid there are blue accents in the front headlamps, front and rear ‘L’ badges, Hybrid side badging on the chrome strip below the doors, taillamps, ‘600h’ rear badge and engine cover.  The front lamps are LED daylight running lights, LED turn signals, foglamps, LED low and high beam headlights and Smart beam along with the power-remote/heated side mirrors with integrated turn signal repeater lights.  Numerous stabilizing fins, a front spoiler, a rear diffuser and a low 58.3 inch ride height help the new Lexus 600h LWB cut through the air with a very low 0.26 co-efficient of drag.  This also increases high speed stability, cuts down on road noise coming into the cabin and enhancing the already high, for a full-size long wheelbase luxury sedan, EPA fuel mileage specs of 19mpg/city and 23mpg/highway.

2013 Lexus LS600h LWB Beauty Side Done Small

I have tested many of the world’s best super-luxury sedans but this new Lexus LS 600h LWB hybrid is the best combination of cutting-edge styling, high performance, high-technology, luxurious comfort, convenience, infotainment and safety.  It has it all with a base price of $119,910.00.  My test LS 600h was custom painted in Lapis Lazuli for an even more outstanding street presence.

The new LS 600h L has new laser screw welding, body adhesives and other structural reinforcements that increases rigidity enhancing stability, steering feel and handling.  This car is fun-to-drive in any of the new five drive modes-EV, ECO, Normal, Comfort, Sport and Sport+.  The 600h L came with the Air Suspension and the Variable Gear Ratio rack & pinion steering that automatically adjusts the damping force for optimal comfort and performance.  Any way you want the car to respond to your inputs, it does it with aplomb.  Both the front and rear suspensions feature multi-links with the double-jointed air-suspension.  The standard AWD system features a central, permanently engaged, Torsen Limited Slip center Differential to further enhance grip, traction and cornering stability.

2013 Lexus LS600h LWB Engine Done Small

Power is generated from a 5.0 liter DOHC, all-aluminum V8 with Dual VVT with intelligence and an electronically controlled intake.  The hybrid side features Motor Generator 1-Function-a primary generator, engine starter, Type-Permanent Magnet Motor-Cooling System-water cooled; Motor Generator …read more
Source: FULL ARTICLE at Automotive Addicts

2013 Lexus “Walk the Walk” Commercial: Exactly What Walk Would That Be? [The Ad Section]

By Don Klein

2013 Lexus “Walk-the-Walk” Commercial

Award-winning ad man-cum-auto journalist Don Klein knows a good (or bad) car commercial when he sees one; the Ad Section is his space to tell you what he thinks of the latest spots. The ad’s rating is depicted via the shift pattern at the bottom, but everyone has an opinion when it comes to advertising, so hit Backfires below and tell us what you think, too.

After seeing this commercial for the first time, I hit the rewind button, put some drops in my eyes to make sure my vision was clear, and watched it again. And then, just to be positive, I watched it one more time. I know it sounds crazy, but it looks like it’s depicting a guy who takes his all-wheel-drive LS out on a miserable snowy night and picks up a high-class hooker. Of course, Lexus wouldn’t really make a commercial that glamorizes prostitution, and I’m a little ashamed to admit it even crossed my mind because I want you all to respect me. She’s probably just the babysitter and he’s picking her up to watch the kids while he and his wife go to a movie or maybe to an evening church service.

But to be honest, based on the way she’s dressed, she’d have to do a lot of babysitting to pay for all those expensive clothes. True, she skimped on the skirt, but those silver stilettos . . . they must’ve cost a fortune. And to tell you the truth, they really aren’t practical for the snow. I mean, what kind of woman would wear shoes like that in inclement weather unless she was a—well, no, there I go again with my hooker theory. And like I said, I know that can’t be true.

But in fairness, what does she expect people to think when she walks down the street that way? Did you see how the woman in the restaurant glared at her when she went by? Definitely gave her a “you’re a hooker” look. And if she really is a babysitter—or the guy’s date for that matter, assuming he’s not married—why wouldn’t he pick her up in front of her apartment? If she’s not a streetwalker, why make her walk the street? Anyway, that’s what I thought the first few times I saw the commercial, so I Googled the lyrics to the song (“Snowflake” by Makachai), thinking they might shed some light. And did they ever.

“How many times have you gone below/Hanging around those seats and back rows. When nobody’s eyes can see what you know/Who’s under the coat, you’re wondering? So many times I’ve seen my shadow/hovering over that sweetness I know. When all of a sudden I’ve needs from below/Who’s there for me now? I’m hungering/Calling out for love.” See? Nothing loaded about that.

The guy in this commercial has “needs from below,” which obviously refers to his stomach. He’s “hungering” and she’s his dinner date, and he’s really happy to see her (explains his big smile) because now they …read more
Source: FULL ARTICLE at Car & Driver

Review: 2013 Lexus ES350

By Michael Harley

Filed under: , , ,

Finally Saying Goodbye To Its Camry Roots

2013 Lexus ES 350

In its equivalent world of breakfast foods, the Lexus ES350 is unquestionably the pancake. While its siblings may offer more interesting textures, flavors and consistencies – a generally more exciting culinary experience – the four-door ES is designed with ‘indistinct’ as its middle name. Its objective is to please just about every entry-level luxury buyer once it ends up on their plate.

Even after a complete redesign for the 2013 model year, the sixth-generation Lexus ES350 emerges every bit as family-friendly and non-polarizing as its predecessors. It is the everyman’s luxury sedan, offering attractive pricing and a satisfying fill of amenities and features with the sweetness of a long warranty and polished customer service to back things up.

As a result of its overall wholesomeness and demeanor, the ES350 sells like hotcakes, too. Last year, 56,158 customers took delivery, thus allowing the five-passenger sedan to continue its reign as the highest sales volume Lexus passenger car (it outsells the bigger LS nearly seven-to-one).

To learn more about the all-new ES, and take our own taste of its goodness, we recently spent a week with the midsize luxury sedan in Southern California.

Continue reading 2013 Lexus ES350

2013 Lexus ES350 originally appeared on Autoblog on Thu, 24 Jan 2013 11:57:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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Source: FULL ARTICLE at Autoblog

We Go for a Ride in Audi’s “Piloted Driving” Autonomous A6 Avant Prototype [2013 CES]

By Alexander Stoklosa

Audi A6 Piloted Driving vehicle

One of the more exciting things we did at this year’s Consumer Electronics Show was ride in the back seat of an Audi A6 Avant—and the experience wasn’t just cool because it was an A6 wagon, which we don’t get here in the U.S. The experience also was cool because the particular car we rode in was semi-autonomous, and it chauffeured us on public roads in Las Vegas. (Among the other exciting stuff: witnessing an A7 drive to and park in a space all by itself, with no driver.)

Audi A6 Piloted Driving vehicle

The idea was to provide insight into how the automaker’s “traffic-jam assist” function will work when it goes on sale within the next decade. Audi announced the low-speed autonomous functionality at its press conference at CES, and even though it seems super high-tech, in reality the system is a fairly tame extension of the company’s adaptive cruise control and lane-keeping assist features.

Let us first address the legality of cruising Interstate 15 in a self-driving Audi by noting that the German automaker was the first OEM to gain a license to test autonomous vehicles on the streets of Nevada. The A6 wore a special autonomous-vehicle license plate, which, according to Audi, arrived by happenstance bearing the digits “007.” Despite the fancy-sounding autonomous license, Audi is quick to point out that this special A6 is a “Piloted Driving” car. This bit of hyperbole is designed to draw attention to the fact that the traffic-jam assist feature previewed on this particular car doesn’t exactly amount to fully autonomous functionality, and Audi believes the buck stops at the driver (pilot), and not a computer chip. The system only works in sub-40-mph situations on highways—if the system senses that traffic is moving along quicker than about 40 mph or isn’t very dense, it automatically cuts out.

Audi A6 Piloted Driving vehicle LIDAR sensor

Traffic-jam assist combines the sensory information from Audi’s existing radar-based adaptive cruise control system and the car’s lane-keeping assist camera (which monitors lane markers) with a compact, bumper-mounted LIDAR (Light Detection and Ranging) laser. Audi is particularly proud of this LIDAR unit, not the least because it packs all of the sensory ability of the giant, roof-mounted LIDAR towers seen on Lexus’s autonomous LS, Google’s fleet of self-driving Priuses, and the Pikes Peak autonomous Audi TT into a brick-sized piece of hardware. Software allows the system to steer the car; if any significant torque is applied to the steering wheel, control is relinquished back to the driver.

Audi A6 Piloted Driving vehicle

In prototype form, traffic-jam assist functions as follows: If the car determines you are driving in a traffic-jam-capable scenario (sub-40-mph, dense highway traffic), a prompt appears in the A6′s digital gauge cluster alerting the driver that traffic-jam assist can be activated if he or she so chooses. The system can then be activated with the push of a button on the steering wheel, at which point the vehicle takes over. If traffic disperses, the system alerts the driver to take retake control. To sample the system, Audi took us out in a three-car road train consisting of a lead RS5 coupe, the semi-autonomous A6 Avant (which we rode in), and a Lincoln MKS (we assume this was rented). The RS5 and MKS were brought along to serve as a rolling traffic jam so that the system could be demonstrated on the non-congested I-15 running through Vegas.

Audi A6 Piloted Driving vehicle

Two things occurred on the ride-along: First, we didn’t hit anything, and second, the system appeared to work seamlessly. Riding in the car while the traffic-jam assist function was active wasn’t as weird as one might expect; it felt pretty much like any other Audi with lane-keeping assist and adaptive cruise activated. There are, of course, some fail-safes built in. Chief among them is a rear-seat-mounted joystick that can be used to pilot the A6 test mule in case all other systems fail; such a redundant system is in fact mandated by the state of Nevada for all registered autonomous test cars. The German Audi engineers who demonstrated traffic-jam assist to us were quick to point out that even though they’ve fooled around with piloting the A6 with the joystick, it isn’t as fun as it sounds and is in fact quite challenging.

Audi A6 Piloted Driving vehicle Even though this particular A6 Avant featured a rear-seat laptop (which displays a ton of intriguing info, like what the various lasers, radar emitters, and cameras are “seeing”) and a trunk full of computers, the production system will be far less bulky. The bumper-mounted LIDAR unit will stay, but the cargo area’s worth of computers will be condensed to a roughly iPad Mini–sized circuit board for production.

More interesting than the hardware, perhaps, is the opportunities various Audi representatives, including the brand’s head of research and development, Wolfgang Dürheimer, seem to think traffic-jam assist affords drivers. Hint: few if any of their ideas seemed to include actually driving or paying attention to the road. Dürheimer summed up traffic-jam assist and the self-parking feature Audi is working on as taking care of boring driving, leaving enthusiasts to enjoy their Audis’ driving dynamics when freed from the chains of traffic and parking garages. This point sort of makes sense, but somewhat disconcertingly, the company seems hard at work at several in-car distractions to fill the empty time afforded by the self-driving functionality.

During our ride down I-15, Audi’s team demonstrated that, when traffic-jam assist was activated, the driver could do things like watch a movie on the car’s central display, or even video conference. This was deemed acceptable because as soon as the system deemed driver control necessary, the video screen cut out and the video conference automatically switched to a regular voice-only call. Removing the distraction when the driver re-takes control is all well and good, but doesn’t really illuminate the key problem with introducing such distractions in the first place. If, as Audi says, the driver is the pilot and the final decision-maker, why actively draw their attention from the road at all?

Audi A6 Piloted Driving vehicle



Furthermore, although defaulting control back to the driver when traffic lifts or when the system cannot understand the car’s surroundings accurately enough to maintain control seems logical, how effective is such a move if the driver hasn’t been paying attention to the situation as it develops? Imagine you’re watching a movie when all of a sudden, the screen goes black, a beeping alert sounds, and suddenly you have control of a 4000-pound object traveling at nearly 40 mph entering an “atypical” traffic scenario—how long do you give yourself before you’ve come to grips with your surroundings? A few seconds? Ten?

Audi’s engineers counter this idea by explaining that if the driver doesn’t respond to the “take back control” warning from the car, after five seconds the car taps the brakes to catch his or her attention. If that doesn’t do the trick, the car begins to gradually brake to a stop within the next ten seconds and activates the blinkers. That’s great, but now your car is stationary in an active lane on the highway—far from ideal, but at least the car won’t continue to sail down the highway on its own.

Audi says the key barrier to traffic-jam assist’s introduction to consumers is legislation. Many governments (specifically in Europe) simply don’t have laws on the books for how to regulate self-driving cars, even if they aren’t fully autonomous. While the technology enabling such systems might, as many automakers say, already exist, after actually riding in a self-driving car and and talking to the engineers about the myriad non-typical scenarios that might present themselves on any road in any country, we’re starting to see why even semi-autonomous tech like traffic-jam assist could be as much as a decade away from reaching consumers. The stuff is slick, but at the same time a pretty heady discussion regarding its effect on driver distraction and safety will need to take place before it hits the road. And there’s no doubt the debate will continue on even beyond that.

2013 Consumer Electronics Show full coverage

Source: FULL ARTICLE at Car & Driver

Audi at CES: Driverless Auto Parking, Matrix LED Headlamps, Next-Gen Infotainment, 3D Audio [2013 CES]

By Alexander Stoklosa

Audi virtual cockpit concept

Audi’s display stand at the 2013 Consumer Electronics Show hosted a veritable cornucopia of new technologies ranging from new LED lighting to autonomous-driving capability, but all fell under a central theme: “electronics trends over the next decade.” Audi thinks all of the stuff it brought to CES will be available to customers within that time frame. Some of the tech is arriving this year, but the company’s driver-less features probably won’t arrive until much later. We’ve broken down Audi’s CES announcements by category:  

Audi Matrix LED headlight demo

LED Lighting Advancements

Audi is the manufacturer that brought LED accent lighting into vogue, and it plans to take things to the next level with what it’s calling the Matrix LED high-beam headlight. Even though it might look like a regular full-LED headlight unit, the Matrix has several tricks up its sleeve. It’s linked with a camera, which allows it to detect other cars and pedestrians. This allows the lights to automatically default to a brighter high-beam function; if other traffic or pedestrians are detected, the system can selectively shut off individual LEDs in the headlights to leave a break in the lights’ forward beam. This creates what can only be described as dynamic, choreographed shadows that “follows” the object or objects in front of the car until they are no longer in the path of the beam so as not to blind them. This same individualized LED manipulation affords Audi adaptive front lighting capability sans any mechanical swiveling hardware; the appropriate LEDs in the headlight clusters illuminate in sequence to create an aimed beam of light around corners. It’s all extremely trick, and even more compellingly, will make its production debut this year on the A8.

Audi Piloted Driving simulator

Piloted Driving

Second to car-app integration, this year’s auto-related CES news also focuses on self-driving cars. Lexus showed off an autonomous LS sedan, and Audi brought along news of its plans to introduce a traffic-jam assistance feature with low-speed (less than 37 mph) autonomous capability and a fully automated self-parking system that enables the car to go seek out a parking space sans driver or occupants. Audi also announced that it is the first automaker to get a license from the state of Nevada allowing it to test autonomous vehicles on public roads.

The traffic-jam assist feature was demonstrated with a simulator (seen above) and essentially mashes together Audi’s currently available adaptive cruise control and lane-keeping assist, thereby steering to hold lanes as well as accelerating and braking the car to and from a stop. The system only will work if it thinks you’re in a traffic-heavy situation; if traffic disperses, it relinquishes control back to the driver.

Audi Piloted Driving self-parking function

As mentioned, the autonomous parking function will allow drivers to exit their vehicle before instructing the car to find and park itself in a roadside or garage space. Unlike Audi’s currently available self-parking feature, which manipulates the steering while drivers handle acceleration, braking, and shifting, the Piloted Driving parking (Piloted Parking?) feature turns the car into its own valet. For underground parking garages, Audi predicts the parking facilities themselves will need to contribute some info to the car to assist in finding a space; this is accomplished via WLAN-equipped garages . . . of the future. Or maybe the present—Audi currently is working to thus equip a parking garage in Ingolstadt. Either way, the intention is that the car will then drive itself out of the parking spot and back to its owner when called upon.

So how close to reality are Audi’s Piloted Driving functions? Not far off—Audi showed off the compact laser scanner it plans to put in production (it takes the place of the large robotic-looking tower seen on autonomous cars from Google and Lexus) and stated it’s nearly ready for manufacture. The company tentatively said to expect traffic-jam assist to arrive with its next-generation vehicles. The self-parking system could be implemented within only a few years, although we think reluctance on the part of parking-lot owners to spend cash to upfit their facilities as necessary may hold this one up some.



Cabin Technologies

Audi also debuted a host of fresh cabin technologies, ranging from the addition of 4G LTE connectivity for Audi Connect (coming this year, though to which markets isn’t yet clear) to display concepts like (glasses-free) 3D rear-seat entertainment screens and an OLED, camera-based rearview mirror that could soon show up in production cars. The automaker is already working on the second generation of the VW Group’s modular infotainment platform that debuted in the all-new A3 hatchback, and this new system (dubbed MIB 2) will incorporate an the even hotter NVIDIA-sourced Tegra 3 processor. (The A3′s system uses the Tegra 2.)

Finally, Audi demonstrated a prototype 3D audio system co-developed with Bang & Olufsen in a diesel Q7 crossover. Unlike 5.1 surround-sound or stereo, the 23-speaker, 1400-watt system (with four 3D loudspeakers) actually recreates three-dimensional sound. We briefly sampled the setup and can confirm that it is both hugely loud and hugely good at reproducing realistic sound qualities. The bumpin’ sound system will debut on a yet-unspecified Audi model next year.

2013 Consumer Electronics Show full coverage

Source: FULL ARTICLE at Car & Driver

CES: Toyota and Lexus show off advanced safety research vehicle [w/video]

By Jonathon Ramsey

Filed under: , , , , , , , ,

<img alt="Lexus' advanced safety research vehicle – self-driving LS” src=”http://www.blogcdn.com/www.autoblog.com/media/2013/01/toyotaautonomousces.jpg” style=”margin-top: 4px;margin-bottom: 4px;width: 628px;height: 353px” />

While Google and Audi explore the possibilities of autonomous vehicles, Toyota and its Lexus division are studying the intermediate step of vehicles equipped with a deep suite of technology that help drivers make the best decisions. Introduced at this week’s Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, the Lexus advanced safety research vehicle is an LS sedan fitted with three high-def color cameras to detect objects up to almost 500 feet away, 360-degree Light Detection and Ranging (LIDAR) lasers that can detect objects up to 220 feet away, three radar units to keep track of other vehicles at intersections, a precision odometer on the rear wheel, GPS that estimates orientation and an accelerometer.

Currently testing at a purpose-built 8.6 acre urban testing ground at the Higashi-Fuji Technical Center in Susono, Japan the Toyota research vehicle is being used to study how to make better drivers, as well as figuring out how to reduce crashes as the industry’s journey through passive and active safety systems progresses. In the event of a crash, new rescue systems are also being tested.

Further investment is being put into the Intelligent Transportation System (ITS) that would use shortwave signals to harness information from the car and from other vehicles on the road, as well as roadside infrastructure and even pedestrians. Toyota reasons it could then build a picture of interactions and, for instance, alert the driver to a potential collision at a blind intersection.

Toyota’s says its research “could lead to a fully autonomous car in the future,” but for now, the point is that “a driverless car is just a part of the story. Our vision is a car equipped with an intelligent, always-attentive co-pilot whose skills contribute to safer driving.” Improving driver education in this country would probably be a lot cheaper, but hey, we’re for anything that helps make the roads safer places to be. There’s plenty more tech-speak in the video and press release below.

Continue reading Toyota and Lexus show off advanced safety research vehicle [w/video]

Toyota and Lexus show off advanced safety research vehicle [w/video] originally appeared on Autoblog on Tue, 08 Jan 2013 18:00:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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Source: FULL ARTICLE at Autoblog

2013 Lexus ES350 Review & Test Drive

By Harvey Schwartz

‘MORE REFINED AND LUXURIOUS’

Lexus brings their entry-level ES 350 sedan up to higher levels of refinement and luxury, just like the larger GS 350 and LS 460 sedans.  The styling is more refined and sleeker, the longer wheelbase gives the interior more room and it is quieter and more luxurious.   The retuned steering and suspension system delivers a crisper and more confident driving experience.  I tested last year’s ES 350 and you can see and feel the difference.

The introduction of the all-new 2013 ES 350 marks the sixth generation of Lexus’ popular luxury sedan since its initial introduction in 1989.    Featuring the signature Lexus spindle grille, the new progressive design is highlighted by a lower profile, clean styling lines from front to rear.  All four corners are pulled tightly inward to the wheel arches, creating distinctive proportions.  The wheelbase has been lengthened by 1.8 inches, while the overall length of the vehicle has grown by one inch, resulting in shorter overhangs and a more spacious interior.  The new ES bears the new face of Lexus with its distinctive, spindle grille.  The sleek ‘L’ finesse design motif is reflected in the LED daytime running lights, combination rear LED lamps and the six window design.  Foglamps are integrated into the sculpted lower front bumper fascia.  The silhouette shows a low front end, steeply raked A-pillars, aerodynamic power/heated sideview mirrors, six windows surrounded by a full-perimeter chrome strip giving it a longer more luxurious look.  Out back is a rear that is shorter with a slight upturn at the end to add downforce, rear wraparound LED lamp clusters are thinner featuring a thick chrome strip that attaches to both, and a seamless rear bumper featuring a diffuser down below with dual, polished stainless steel exhaust finishers.  The all-new ES 350 rides on standard 17X7 in. cast aluminum wheels wrapped with all-season tires nicely filling the wheel-wells.  My test ES 350 came with 18X7.5 in. cast aluminum liquid graphite wheels wrapped with Michelin 225/45R18 in. MXM4 Primacy low-profile high-performance tires for excellent traction and a smooth, quiet ride.  The new look is easily recognizable as I was once stopped in a parking lot by a gentleman and his family driving an older ES who asked me if this was the all-new model and that he was shortly going to trade his later model for the all-new model.

The ES 350 is powered by a 3.5 liter V6 engine all aluminum, DOHC with Dual VVT-i that delivers 268 hp at 6,200 rpm and 248 lb.ft. of torque at 4,700 rpm.  The six-speed sequential-shift automatic Electronically Controlled Transmission with intelligence provides enhanced driving performance, fuel efficiency and very smooth, seamless shifts.  Low friction materials further improve efficiency and help with the ES 350’s EPA fuel economy estimates of 21 mpg/city and 31 mpg/highway.  Giving you a choice of driving dynamics, the ES 350 features a Drive Mode selector located on the center console.  By turning a large dial to Normal mode provides a blend of performance and efficiency that is suited to everyday driving, while Eco mode favors fuel economy.  Sport mode increases powertrain and steering responsiveness for a more sporty drive.  This new system makes driving the new ES even more fun and exciting.   In Sport Mode the all-new ES 350 blasts out to 60 mph from a standstill in just 7.1 sec.

That is also made possible by the new front and rear suspension geometry featuring front and rear MacPherson struts plus the front setup employs opposite-wound coil springs to help enhance straight-line stability.  Revised rear suspension and improved shock absorber damping characteristics enhance ride comfort and control.  The new electric rack & pinion steering gear ratio has been reduced from 16.1:1 to 14.8:1 to help deliver a more responsive and direct steering feel.  Increased body rigidity is achieved through lightweight, high tensile strength steel, added bracing and more spot welds.  Front and rear stabilizer bars help keep body lean in the curves to a minimum.  Airflow is smoothed beneath the vehicle improving stability and fuel economy and reducing drag.  The drag coefficient is now 0.27.

Quickly and safely slowing the new ES 350 down from speed are larger power-assisted four-wheel disc brakes.  Up front are 11.6 in. vented discs clamped with dual-piston calipers while 11 in. solid discs are clamped with single-piston calipers in the rear.  Your maintain control during hard cornering and when driving on wet or slick pavement with standard ABS, EBD, BA, Traction Control and Electronic Stability Control systems all working together for your safety and security.

On the inside, the ES features enhanced sightlines and visibility, logically placed controls, a new cabin materials that express a high level of craftsmanship.  These include, in the optional Premium Package that I tested-Lexus Memory System for the driver’s seat, outside mirrors and steering wheel, power tilt/telescope leather-wrapped and wood steering wheel, leather and dark brown bird’s-eye maple wood interior trim along with piano black trim on the center console, aluminum and chrome trim pieces, plus remote keyless entry-linked memory.  Greater rear seat legroom and knee room are the hallmark of the redesigned, more spacious passenger cabin.  Rear headroom is increased by 0.8 in, knee room is increased by 2.8 in, and legroom is lengthened by 4.1 in.  Additional foot room below the front seats enhances rear passenger comfort.

A newly sculptured 10-way power adjustable seat is standard and an available 12-way power seat allows the seat cushion to extend by 1.4 in. for better leg support.  In addition, the steering wheel angle has been reduced from 24 degrees to 22 degrees for a more natural control position.

The cockpit features separate display and operation zones to help keep your eyes on the road.  The instrument panel, with its long, layered look, places the main information display directly in your line of sight, supplemented by a center-mounted 3.5 in. color TFT multi-information display screen or an optional navigation and multimedia system.  Below the center display is a self-illuminating LED analog clock.  The center console features dual cupholders, a deep storage bin with padded armrest.  The second-generation Remote Touch Interface (RTI) allows you to operate the dual-zone climate, audio, phone controls, optional navigation system and more.  The screen menus are selected with a controller located on the center console.  RTI also reduces eye and hand movement, helping to decrease effort and distraction.  The ES features enhanced NuLuxe seating surfaces, developed to help reduce environmental impact.  Genuine leather is available as is semi-aniline leather that was included in my test ES, for a more refined look and feel.  Interiors are available in black, light gray and parchment.  Trim color and materials include piano black trim, like in my test ES, and espresso Bird’s-eye maple.  The optional HDD navigation system includes voice command, an integrated backup camera, an eight inch screen, and the next generation Lexus Enform system with App SuiteLexus Enform system provides seamless connectivity with Bing search, iHeartRadio, MovieTickets.com OpenTable, Pandora, Yelp and Facebook Places through compatible smart phones.  Apps are updated through over-the-air downloads, so new apps and content can be added as they become available.  The standard Lexus Premium Sound System features eight speakers with automatic sound levelizer, in-dash CD player, USB/iPod connectivity and an integrated Sirius XM satellite radio receiver.  The optional Display Audio package adds seven-inch screen, HD radio with iTunes tagging, Bluetooth, phone transfer, a vehicle information display and rear backup camera.  An optional Mark Levinson audio system features an eight-inch screen, 835-watts, 15-speakers, DVD audio/video and a Sirius XM satellite radio receiver.  Standard safety features include dual front airbags, dual front knee airbags, front/rear side curtain airbags, 3-point safety belts with front/rear outboard pretensioners/load limiters, smart stop technology, energy managing crumple zones, height-adjustable front shoulder belt anchors, side door beams, theft deterrent system, tire pressure monitor, engine immobilizer, Safety Connect Automatic Collision Notification, and LED daytime running lamps.

Standard equipment inside not mentioned above includes push button start/stop, self-dimming rearview mirror, electrochromic/heated outside mirrors, one-touch open/close sunroof, all express one-touch windows, power door locks, grab handles above each door, rear pass thru, rear pull-down armrest/dual cup holders, rain-sensing automatic windshield wipers/washers, dual map lamps, dual lighted vanity mirrors, map pockets behind the front seatbacks, cruise-control, front/rear floor mats and thick cut-pile carpets, contrast stitching on instrument panel, leather/wood wrapped shifter, tool kit, tool kit, air vents at the rear of the center console,  heated front seats, Blind Spot Monitor with Cross Traffic Alert, remote fuel filler door and remote trunk release. The all-new interior is very refreshing, comfortable, ergonomic and high-tech.  It was a pleasure driving the car for my seven day test drive.  It is a true Lexus luxury sport sedan, no longer a dressed-up Toyota Avalon.

2013 Lexus ES350 Beauty Left Up Done Small
2013 Lexus ES350 Beauty Side Done Small
2013 Lexus ES350 Beauty Headon Done Small
2013 Lexus ES350 Beauty Rear Done Small
2013 Lexus ES350 Beauty Right Done Small
2013 Lexus ES350 Dashboard Done Small
2013 Lexus ES350 Cluster Done Small
2013 Lexus ES350 Front Seats Done Small
2013 Lexus ES350 Rear Seats Done Small
2013 Lexus ES350 Door Trim Done Small
2013 Lexus ES350 Badge Done Small
2013 Lexus ES350 Engine Done Small

COPYRIGHT: 2012: HARVEY SCHWARTZ

SPECIFICATIONS

  • Price: Base ES350 $36,100.00 / As-Tested $42,789.00
  • Engine: 3.5-liter DOHC V6 268 horsepower @ 6,200 rpm / 248 lb.ft. of torque @ 4,700 rpm
  • Wheelbase: 111 in.
  • Overall length: 192.7 in.
  • Overall width: 71.7 in.
  • Overall height: 57.1 in.
  • Track: f/r-62.6/62 in.
  • Headroom: f/r-37.7/37.5 in. with glass sunroof
  • Legroom: f/r-41.9/40 in.
  • EPA passenger volume: 100.1 cu.ft.
  • EPA cargo volume: 15.2 cu.ft.
  • Curb weight: 3,549 lbs.
  • Fuel tank: 17.2 gallons
  • Turning radius: 18.7 ft.
  • 0-60 mph: 7.1 seconds
  • EPA fuel economy: 21 mpg/city/31 mpg/highway

Source: FULL ARTICLE at Automotive Addicts

Why is Lincoln Now The Lincoln Motor Company? We Ask Matt VanDyke, Its New Global Director

By Justin Berkowitz

As if being on the penny hadn’t made Abraham Lincoln ubiquitous enough, our 16th president has moved into the non-copper world of motion pictures. Honest Abe is the focus of two biographic films this year—one that may have stretched the true extent to which he hunted vampires—and, starting earlier this month, he’s making a cameo in an ad for his namesake automaker. “Introducing The Lincoln Motor Company,” the TV spot ends. It’s not quite as old-fashioned as a Civil War–era president, but Lincoln’s new name is meant to be a serious nod to the brand’s heritage. What gives? (You can read a great analysis of the commercial from Car and Driver‘s own ad man, Don Klein, here.) For more, we talked to Matt VanDyke, the man who has just been appointed to head up Lincoln globally, for the full story on what the change to “Lincoln Motor Company” means to the brand.

Why Lincoln Made the Change

Officially, Ford’s aim is to “return Lincoln to its original branding” and to “restore Lincoln to its luxury status.” We can put that in plainer English: Lincoln doesn’t sell enough cars, and hasn’t since the 1990s. When Ford started selling off its Premier Auto Group brands—Volvo, Jaguar, Land Rover, and Aston Martin—a few years ago, the primary aim was to raise cash before the financial storm that took down GM and Chrysler. The plan then and now was for Lincoln to be the division of Ford that sells luxury cars, bringing in profits and image for the Blue Oval.

Matt VanDyke tells us that Lincoln isn’t aiming to sell 250,000 cars—about what the big German players each did this year in the U.S.—overnight. The Lincoln Motor Company branding helps to reposition it, though. “We’re aiming to change from ‘smart luxury,’ ” VanDyke says, referring to the way Ford tried to portray Lincoln for the last decade or so as a brand selling cars based on price. “Lincoln will still be a good value, but we want to be considered in the same mindset as a Lexus or Mercedes-Benz,” cars that people want because of image or features first. “But for customers who want something different.”

2013 Lincoln MKZ

Can Lincoln Be a Premium Brand Without a Real Halo Product? 

Indeed, Lincoln does and will offer alternatives to Lexus and Benz in the biggest segments in the luxury market. The MKZ, MKX, and upcoming compact MKC crossover aim directly at the Lexus ES and RX, two sales behemoths. The difference between Lincoln and Lexus and Benz, though, is that the latter two brands have the LS and S-class, respectively. Those flagship sedans exist not just for sales—those are modest—but to justify the entire rest of the brands’ lineups. Sixty-thousand Americans bought a C-class in 2012 because it’s a Mercedes, and because Mercedes is the S-class.

But it would cost several billion dollars for Lincoln to develop a fully competitive, all-new flagship vehicle, and that’s not pocket change for any company. “Those conversations are fun to have,” VanDyke says, but for now, Lincoln is oriented toward on the existing core models. “We have to focus on re-launching the brand Lincoln for now. We’ll have four new products in the next four years. We have to re-establish MKS and MKX.” He also mentions a new product debuting at the Detroit show, which we know to be the Escape-derived crossover likely to be called the MKC. (Lincoln execs, like managers at any car company, would take issue with the word “derived,” but that’s the easiest way to describe “shares certain significant architectural components” for now. Except we just used all those extra words anyway. We digress.)

What Matt VanDyke didn’t talk about—but our insiders have—is that there’s an internal debate within Ford about using some of the Mustang’s architecture for a real-life, rear-wheel-drive Lincoln sedan. We’re hearing that it would be technologically difficult to build something larger than a Cadillac CTS or BMW 5-series, so you can wake up from dreams of a Lincoln in S-class territory. The political and financial challenges might be even bigger than the mechanical ones. All told, we’re not expecting this to happen.

Luxury car brands need great products and great image to be successful, and these days an automaker just isn’t considered premium if it’s not selling a true high-end, justifiably north-of-$70,000 luxury car. For evidence, just ask Acura, which is undergoing a reboot to now focus on younger, less-affluent buyers, or Infiniti, which thinks so little of its current image it just renamed every model in its lineup after a popular model it hasn’t made in over a decade.

Lincoln is using this set of images for marketing. It’s not fair to put anything next to that ’61 Conti.

More Heritage, But Philosophical Rather than Retro

The situation, then, leaves us with mixed feelings about the repositioning of Lincoln and the new ad campaign. It’s really great to see older Lincolns on screen, from the Mark-series coupes to 1950s and ’60s Continentals. But they diminish the look of the MKZ sedan that appears elsewhere in the ad, not because it’s generic looking—that rear end is probably one of the most distinctive styling features on the road today—but because it’s almost impossible to compete with designs from the Golden Age of American cars.

Instead of trying to duplicate those by going retro in designs, we can expect the company to pull more from the philosophy of that era, VanDyke forecasts. “We want to capture the spirit of the older cars,” he explained, but “to show that Lincoln has always been innovative” and different. He talks about Burberry as a company that has done a great job of bringing its heritage into the modern era, and would similarly see Lincoln mix contemporary image with old-school class. We’ll see that not just through styling, but by Lincoln finally making a big play in social media and through some celebrity connections. (John Slattery, the actor who plays a charismatic white-haired, Scotch-swilling, womanizing ad exec on Mad Men isn’t coming back for more Lincoln work, unfortunately.)

2013 Lincoln MKZ AWD V6 – Instrumented Test
2013 Ford Fusion Hybrid – Instrumented Test
2013 Lexus ES350 – First Drive Review

Lincoln is still in the midst of a huge project to upgrade its dealer network, from improving physical showrooms to pushing dealerships to improve their level of service. VanDyke says this effort has come a long way and still has more to go, and he’s right to make it a priority—a reputation for hassle-free, accommodating service departments helped build Lexus’s reputation and fortunes in the 1990s. Dealers won’t be changing their signs to reflect “Lincoln Motor Company,” by the way. Although it would be hideously expensive, we’d rather see Ford foot the bill for the dealers to do this, as it’s a beachhead of brand image in the real world.

That small issue is indicative of the challenge Matt VanDyke faces in helming Lincoln, though. The brand’s new director unequivocally knows what Lincoln has been and where it should go in the future. Whether anyone can justify undertakings—from dealer signs to new product platforms—that would mean eye-watering costs, however, is the real challenge.

Source: Car & Driver

Lexus IS

As compact six-cylinder sport sedans, the Lexus IS sedans offer sportier, more flamboyant styling to go with their performance emphasis. In the Lexus sedan model line, the IS models have kept more in line with the GS in emphasizing sportiness—taking on the BMW 3-Series, Audi A4, and Infiniti G35—while the ES and LS have put more of a…
Source: The Car Connection

Infiniti Unexpectedly Changing All Model Names to Q, QX for 2014, Confirms New Range-Topping Sedan

By Justin Berkowitz

In a several-decade race to the bottom that has seen automakers throw out perfectly comprehensible model names and replace them with dyslexia-inducing jumbles of letters and numbers, Infiniti may have just touched the floor. The company announced tonight that henceforth, each of its cars will be called Q followed by a two-digit number, while the SUVs will be QX backed by a two-digit number. Those numbers correspond just to the vehicle’s position in the Infiniti hierarchy, not to engine displacement (what Infiniti used to do), nor to hypothetical engine displacement (what BMW does now), nor to number of cylinders (what Audi once did).

What this means is that the next-generation G37 sedan—which launches at the Detroit auto show in a few weeks—and G37 coupe will be rechristened as the Q50 and Q60, respectively. The 2013 M37 and M56 sedans will be replaced with the 2014 Q70, a vehicle that’s different only in terms of the badge glued on the back. Infiniti’s SUVs, too, follow suit. The EX37, JX35, FX37/56, and QX56 are being redubbed QX50, QX60, QX70, and QX80.

Heaven only knows what they’ll call the upcoming halo sports car—the QR? the QE2?—nor the upcoming range-topping sedan, which the company announced today, that will sit above the Q70-née-M56.

Dissected: Lotus-Based Infiniti Emerg-E Sports-Car Concept - Feature

This is Fatuous at Best, Disastrous At Worst

The renaming is Johan de Nysschen’s first big, visible move since taking the CEO spot at Infiniti in July. Lured from Audi, de Nysschen’s charge is to reposition Infiniti from Acura-level purveyor of leathery Nissans to a global luxury brand that can rake in money from beyond the borders of NAFTA. One needn’t squint to see the parallels between Audi’s model names and what de Nysschen just announced for Infiniti. Was it impossible to resist the temptation to say Infiniti has a car that’s ten times as good as Audi’s Q7?

Even in the many countries where Nissan is launching the Infiniti brand from a completely blank slate, this is a questionable plan for all but the most obsessive-compulsive among us. But with cars, branding, marketing, and mental association already established in the U.S., Canada, and Europe, Infiniti is giving itself—fine, we’ll say it—an infinite uphill battle.

A product lineup with extremely similar names, differentiated only by common, round, evenly spaced numbers is virtually impossible to remember. This problem isn’t unique to Infiniti’s new scheme—how many times have you heard someone say “the Lexus SUV” rather than RX350—but these are especially poorly chosen model names. The industry’s proclivity for groupthink has also given us a situation in which Infiniti will sell a QX60 crossover against Volvo’s XC60, the BMW X6, and the upcoming Audi Q6.

The generally car-aware public, potential customers, current owners (who are de facto brand ambassadors), and sales staff will have a difficult time retaining any lasting impression about Infiniti’s products. Any name recognition and equity that Infiniti has built for the G and FX in particular during the past few years is now vapor. Speaking tonight, de Nysschen said “We will have to explain to customers why they will no longer be able to buy a G or an FX,” even though essentially the same products still exist.

When Lincoln Marked Itself to Death

This way of thinking is pervasive in the industry. Ford’s Lincoln brand—which, unlike Infiniti, hasn’t had a truly exciting product since the LS—has never recovered from Elena Ford’s push to emulate the successful Mark-number line by calling every Lincoln an MK-something. That switchover, too, included an on-the-fly name change for a car, meaning dealers were selling Zephyrs one model year and face-lifted MKZs the next.

In another heritage play, Volkswagen tried rebranding the fifth-gen Golf as the Rabbit in the U.S. The word “Rabbit” never appeared on the cars, with chrome rabbit symbols on the tailgate the only indication that VW, too, thought confusing customers was a route to sales. It wasn’t, and VW returned to calling its hatchback the Golf when the sixth-gen car arrived a few years later. Make no mistake, if this toxically ineffective thinking had spread to Silicon Valley, Apple would be selling IIE-10 and IIE-20 phones and tablets—and probably not in big numbers.

As part of today’s announcement, Infiniti highlighted the nobility of “Q” models in its lineage, right back to the Q45. Whether the Q45 was an exceptional sports sedan in its day or has been elevated to legend in posthumous mythmaking, it doesn’t matter now: The Q45′s reputation is sterling. In that car was proof that Infiniti could compete with BMW’s finest sports sedans. Now, in an era when BMW sells a Z4 sDrive35is, isn’t it appropriate that Infiniti respond with its own abstruse naming scheme?

Source: Car & Driver

2013 Chevrolet Malibu LTZ 2.0L Turbo First Drive


All-new for 2013, Chevrolet brings their redesigned entry-level midsized Malibu sedan to the game eager to run with the competition. In most respects the all-new Chevrolet Malibu is a modest attempt to keep the segment on a level playing field with some added refinement, sports-appeal and luxury without inflating the price. In many ways Chevrolet has accomplished this task but has to face its tough and relentless competition head-on in a perpetual battle.

Completely redesigned inside and out, the new 2013 Chevrolet Malibu gets a new-found recognition from the re-sculpted front fascia to the Camaro-inspired tail lights. You cannot deny broadcasting Chevrolet’s aim to use the sporty appeal of the Camaro and trickle the design into the new Malibu. If the tail lights do not give it away then the new gauge cluster, similar to the Camaro’s also, will do the trick.

Most times it is a good thing to incorporate an automotive brand’s new, fresh look into many, if not all, of its vehicles. The Malibu shares many of those qualities with an added bonus of getting the sporty Camaro’s unique characteristics throughout. Still, the new 2013 Chevrolet Malibu is an affordable sedan improved in just about every aspect over its predecessor.

I had the chance to drive the new 2013 Malibu LTZ trim equipped with the 2.0-liter 4-cylinder turbocharged engine, producing a healthy 259 horsepower at 5500 rpm and 260 lb-ft of torque at a low 1700 rpm. The new turbo engine, same as found in the turbo version of the new Cadillac ATS and Buick Regal GS, only slightly less power in the Malibu, works exceptionally well for Chevy’s new cash-cow sedan. Although the EPA fuel numbers are a bit short from direct competition, the 2.0-liter turbo 4-banger is the better choice of powertrains for the Malibu compared to the 197 horsepower 2.5-liter engine as well as the Eco variant of the Malibu with the same 2.5-liter in addition to a 15-hp electric assist motor. You will surely get better EPA fuel consumption figures from the 2.5-liter mill and Eco version of the 2.5, but with slightly less power and low-end grunt.

All 2013 Malibu trim levels (LS, LT, Eco and LTZ – varying multiple number stages) get a 6-speed automatic transmission directing power to the front wheels. A manual shifting mode is somewhat of a novelty as it only offers rocker-buttons (up and down) atop of the shift knob. It is rather cumbersome to use the controls, which my thought would to completely eliminate them or at least offer shift paddles for the sportier LTZ trim or turbo engine-equipped Malibu. Aside from the quirky manual-shift control, GM’s 6T70 6-speed automatic transmission is up to the task for detecting driving styles and performing smooth shifts. During my time in the peppy 2.0-liter Turbo Malibu, the transmission quickly adapted to my heavy foot and held gears longer, similar somewhat of a sport mode. After driving in a more civilized fashion for about a half a mile, the transmission was back on its normal shifting duty.
EPA figures for my Malibu Ecotech Direct-Injection Turbo 2.0-liter engine come in at a 21 mpg city and 30 mpg highway. Those are not so thrilling figures for a 4-cylinder engine even with 259 horsepower. Possibly to make up for fuel efficiency, the new 2013 Malibu has decent performance taking only 6.3 seconds to make it to 60 mph from a dead stop and landing a respectable 0.86g skid pad lateral accel. Much of the new Malibu LTZ with the turbo engine’s handling abilities is due to a sport-tuned suspension and optional 19-inch aluminum wheels shod in 245/45R all-season tires at all four corners. The sport-tuned suspension follows traits of the Camaro, the rear end is a bit disturbed by some additional unwanted bounce. Basically, the rear shocks, in my opinion, are not dialed in like a front-wheel-drive sedan should be. Over-all ride quality of the new Malibu LTZ turbo is excellent giving the driver a sense of added stability at highway speeds.

Distinguishing the new 2013 Malibu from different trim levels is left to the wheels style, LED tail lights (standard on LTZ trims), and the exhaust pipes (dual exhaust on the Malibu Turbo). 18-inch wheels are standard on LTZ trims as well as leather appointed seats, front heated seats, auto-dimming inside rearview mirror, chrome door handles and front grill with chrome and silver accents.

Chevrolet’s new MyLink system, standard on all trims except the LS, is a new infotainment system integrated into a color 7-inch touch-screen. The new MyLink system proved to be very responsive and mostly user-friendly. The MyLink system can be optioned out with a full-on navigation system. Though, most consumers will be happy to get turn-by-turn directions downloaded from GM’s OnStar system, which will give you a perception of having a navigation system in a MyLink configured Malibu only when specific directions are requested via OnStar. The MyLink also combines sync with your smartphone to access Pandora app or your own music library as well as Bluetooth integration, streaming audio and data services. Connecting my iPhone 4S proved to be a seamless integration with the MyLink system, something Chevrolet gets right. Remote keyless access and remote start found on my Malibu LTZ also prove to be quite the convent amenity, especially during those cold mornings when you need to pre-heat the cabin and defrost the windows.

Inside of the new 2013 Malibu all trim levels get a much-improved interior with many color accented materials, mostly plastics and padded vinyl, simulating a well-appointed cabin. The seating positions and comfort was also a step above its predecessor with just the right amount of bolstering in the front seats for a mid-sized sedan. The subtle color scheme of the interior was also perceived as a premium classification for the interior in addition to the soft leather seats with accented trim.

The cabin remains fairly quiet isolating the buzz and most of the turbo whistle from the direct-injection turbo 4-cylinder engine. Rear seating room is much wider than I remember in previous generations of the Malibu. However, rear leg room can quickly be cut short dependent on the front seating positions, which allow the front occupants to adjust aft almost until the front seat-back touches the rear seat bottom.

The automotive enthusiast appeal of the all-new 2013 Chevrolet Malibu is alive and thrives much in its sporty driving characteristics and few Camaro-styling cues. Given the tough and relentless competition, much of which have received complete redesign this year, the 2013 Chevy Malibu has its work cut out. The new 2013 Malibu does, however, shine in the aspect of a powerful turbocharged engine and a premium-feel that you can get in a well-appointed package all for a competitive price.
My new 2013 Chevrolet Malibu LTZ 2.0 Turbo was well-equipped with an Electronics and Entertainment Package (19-inch wheels, Pioneer premium audio system, rear vision camera, 120-volt power outlet and universal home remote), LTZ Premium Package (HID headlights, keyless push button start, EZ key passive entry system and memory driver’s seat & outside mirrors settings) , Advanced Safety Package (forward collision alert and lane departure warning) and Cocoa Fashion Trim brings home a $33,820 as-tested price tag including a $760 destination charge. At the entry level, a new 2013 Malibu LS can be had at a starting price of just $22,390.

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2013-chevrolet-malibu-ltz-turbo-door-trim
2013-chevrolet-malibu-ltz-turbo-trunk
2013-chevrolet-malibu-ltz-turbo-engine

Copyright: 2012 AutomotiveAddicts.com
SPECIFICATIONS

Price: Base Malibu LS MSRP $22,390 / Base Malibu LTZ $27,830 / As-Tested Malibu LTZ $33,820
Engine: 2.0-liter Turbocharged inline 4-cylinder 259 horsepower @ 5500 rpm / 260 ft-lbs. torque @ 1700 rpm
Turning circle: 37.4 ft.
Track: f/r-62.2/62 ft.
Legroom: f/r-42.1/36.8 inches
Headroom: f/r-39.0/37.5 inches
Fuel tank: 18.5 gallons
EPA Fuel Estimates: 21 mpg city / 30 mpg highway
Curb weight: 3,500 lbs. est.
0-60 mph: 6.3 seconds

Source: Automotive Addicts

The Continental: The Essen Motor Show and a Night in New York

The Continental
Each week, our German correspondent slices and dices the latest rumblings, news, and quick-hit driving impressions from the other side of the pond. His byline may say Jens Meiners, but we simply call him . . . the Continental.
TMG Toyota Motorsport GmbH Yaris R1-A
Now more than a month after all the glitz and, ahem, more glitz of the SEMA show, the tuner scene in Germany is focusing on its own display of power and glory. It’s called the Essen motor show, and it’s become a fixture on the automotive calendar. Over this past week, numerous carmakers and tuners have shown their loudest and most-powerful ideas.
I’ve already penned a piece on one Essen special, the Lexus TMG 650—a twin-turbocharged LS that would rival a Mercedes-Benz S63 AMG. Beyond that, Toyota has brought the Yaris R1A, which is offered to private teams for rally racing. And there is the racing version of the GT 86, sold in the U.S. market as the Scion FR-S. The GT 86 CS-V3 is designed to race in the VLN class; it features a strengthened floor assembly, a racing-exhaust system, a modified suspension and stronger brakes, and the naturally aspirated engine remains untouched.
Subaru WRX sti s206 Nürburgring challenge edition
Subaru is displaying the WRX STI S206 Nürburgring Challenge, a version of the WRX STI whose turbo 2.0-liter flat-four is tuned to produce 316 hp and 318 lb-ft of torque. It features a carbon-fiber roof and rear wing, an aluminum hood, and 19-inch BBS wheels. Beyond this limited-production car, of which just 100 units will be made, there is the pleasantly clean WRX STI “Back to the Roots.” This STI gets matte blue foil, gold-colored 18-inch BBS wheels, and a KKS Performance exhaust system. Finally, there’s the WRX STI “Rockabilly JDM,” a hatchback clad in light matte-gray foil and graced with somewhat obnoxious “stickerbombing” trim.
Ford is showing tuned variations of the Focus ST, including a station wagon; there also is the Transit Custom, an attempt at dressing up a commercial vehicle as a stylish passenger car. Renault has on display the Renault 1.6 NEC Junior and the Twingo R1 for cup racing. And Škoda is showing two concepts of the Citigo, the Volkswagen Up‘s sister model.
Mini is taking things to the maximum with a Countryman fitted with “Mini Ray” accessories, a John Cooper Works GP, and a John Cooper Works modified for on-track performance. Meanwhile, BMW has been showing a number of vehicles fitted with every imaginable M Sport option.
Škoda Yeti
Europe’s Fun Compacts
Here’s another one of those luxury compacts that the U.S. is missing out on: VW’s Czech subsidiary Škoda has added a Laurin & Klement version of its compact crossover, the Yeti. Vaclav Laurin and Vaclav Klement were Škoda’s founding fathers—today, the moniker denotes the Czech manufacturer’s most-luxurious offerings. Power for the Laurin & Klement Yeti ranges from 115 hp to 170 hp. The level of craftsmanship in the Yeti surpasses that of most larger cars. I drove a Yeti through Namibia for a week this summer and was more than pleased with its on- and off-road capabilities.
Kia is releasing more details on the European-market Pro_cee’d GT, and has announced a five-door cee’d GT as well. The 1.6-liter “Gamma” engine makes 201 hp and 195 lb-ft of torque, and the 0-to-62-mph sprint takes a claimed 7.9 seconds. Don’t you wish you would get this instead of the new Forte?

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Cadillac Don Butler
Celebrating Cadillac
Last Tuesday was a remarkable night in New York with four automotive events all over the city. I spent the evening with Cadillac, celebrating the brand’s 110-year history. The incredible 1959 Cyclone concept lent the event a dramatic aura. At the event, I had the opportunity to meet Cadillac’s vice president of marketing, Don Butler. I asked him what’s the most significant car in Cadillac’s history. His reply was the first one built, of course, and then perhaps the famous 1959 model. Which car symbolizes Cadillac’s future? It hasn’t been built yet, he says, implying that we soon will see very significant new models surpassing the scope of the brand’s current lineup. A flagship sedan? I got a smile as an answer. And will Cadillac need to keep a V-8 engine? Yes, at least in the foreseeable future. Sources from within GM tell me that the long-term future of V-8 engines in passenger cars is by no means secure. It’s good news, then, that they will stay with us for a while.
Cadillac Allante convertible
I was pleased that a video compiled for the event showed the Allanté, a 1980s convertible that has been the target of misguided criticism and ridicule, and figured in many a lame “worst cars” list. Somewhat conservatively styled by Pininfarina, the Allanté was a conceptually and technologically interesting attempt at making a world-class contender. Something that Lincoln, for example, still isn’t close to.

Source: Car & Driver