Hatchbacks auto news

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Limited-edition Volvo S60 Polestar priced at $59,300*, V60 at $60,900*

08/02/2014   [Original: Autoblog]
Category: Car Buying, Sedans/Saloons, Sports/GTs, Hatchbacks, Volvo, Luxury

2015 Volvo V60 and S60 Polestar

2015 Volvo V60 Polestar BrochureYou saw their US reveal at this year's Chicago Auto Show and read our driving impressions from Sweden. Now, if you act fast, you can actually own one of the very limited 2015.5 Volvo S60 and V60 Polestar models coming to the United States. The order page for these slick Swedes is now online, but the slots are filling up about as quickly as these cars accelerate.

Volvo plans to build a combined 750 of these Polestar models for the world, but the US is being allocated just 120 of them. Prices start at $59,300 for the S60 or $60,900 for the V60 (*plus a $925 destination charge). The only option is color - either Black Sapphire or Rebel Blue. If rarity is playing a part in your decision, you might want to pick the S60. According to the reservation site, only 20 of the sedans in each color are making it over here; the rest are V60s.

As the top versions of their respective models, both Polestars are packed with features. They share a turbocharged, 3.0-liter inline six-cylinder engine rated at 345 horsepower and 369 pound-feet of torque with a six-speed automatic transmission and a rear-biased all-wheel-drive system. Acceleration to 60 miles per hour is claimed to take 4.7 seconds for the S60 or a tenth more for the V60 with a top speed of 155 mph. They are about more than just a hotter engine, though, with Öhlins shocks, six-piston brake calipers and 20-inch Polestar wheels with Michelin Pilot Super Sport tires. Check out the gallery for the full, official specs, and get to the order page soon, if you decide you need one of these limited Swedish sportsters.

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Road Race Motorsports rolls out Fiat 500 M1 Turbo Tallini Competizione

08/01/2014   [Original: Autoblog]
Category: Aftermarket, Sports/GTs, Hatchbacks, FIAT

Fiat 500 M1 Turbo Tallini Competizione

We've seen some pretty radical modifications based on the Fiat 500 - from the Abarth 695 Biposto to that ridiculous idea to put a Ferrari engine in the back of a Cinquecento - but we never seem to get tired of it. On that note, we bring you the Fiat 500 M1 Turbo Tallini Competizione.

Built by Road Race Motorsports, the M1 takes a tarmac-rally approach and features an extensive list of modifications. For starters, the engine has been retuned to produce 250 horsepower and 250 pound-feet of torque, helping to knock a second off the 0-60 time (7.2 seconds from the factory). Upgraded brakes net a 20-percent improvement in stopping distance, and Road Race has put a special emphasis on high-speed stability and cornering performance.

Other modifications include a limited-slip differential, carbon-kevlar clutch and a reworked suspension with Bilstein shocks, stiffer bushings and upgraded sway bar, with 16-inch wheels wearing Toyo Proxes rubber. In addition to a full carbon-fiber widebody kit that helps cut 120 pounds off the curb weight, Road Race has given the M1 a new front air dam, side skirts, hood vents, brake ducts and rear spoiler. The interior has similarly been upgraded with racing buckets, five-point harnesses and a roll cage.

Road Race will only build 50 individually numbered examples of what it calls "the only Special Edition Fiat built in the Western Hemisphere... since Fiat's reintroduction to North America." With an extensive list of options, prices range from $15k to $100k.

Continue reading Road Race Motorsports rolls out Fiat 500 M1 Turbo Tallini Competizione

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Edmunds' long-term Tesla Model S has been wonderful, woeful

08/01/2014   [Original: Autoblog]
Category: Maintenance, Hatchbacks, Tesla, Electric

Tesla Model S

We generally don't report on other outlets' long-term model tests, but Edmunds just completed a 17-month ownership experience with a 2013 Tesla Model S. It's just too interesting not to share.

The site bought a 2013 Model S Performance model for the added range of its 85-kilowatt-hour battery and tossed on a good variety of options for a total price of $105,005, including a wall charger. In terms of driving the electric hatchback, the folks there seemed to love it. There were a few minor gripes, but for the most part it offered sufficient driving range, plenty of space and generally good quality.

However, the ownership experience was hardly flawless. The journalists there were never quite able to hit the Model S' promised range of 265 miles, with a best real-world result of 230.4 miles during their ownership. Also, while they had it, the Model S had a rash of unscheduled trips for service - seven times - and their Tesla left them stranded by the side of the road once.

These weren't just some minor quibbles, either. The drive unit was replaced three times and the main battery once. That massive center info screen had to be manually reset nine times and was completely replaced once, as well. Edmunds writers forgave some of the faults, though. Their Tesla was an early production model, and some of the fixes were a result of technical service bulletins. They never had to pay for any of it, other than buying a new set of tires.

While this is all anecdotal evidence based on just a single Model S, it doesn't make the Model S sound like an easy car to live with all the time. You can get the full skinny on the love/loathe affair directly from Edmunds by clicking here.

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Infiniti to get Leaf-based electric sedan after all

08/01/2014   [Original: Autoblog]
Category: Sedans/Saloons, Crossovers/CUVs, Hatchbacks, Infiniti, Electric, Luxury

Infiniti LE

Infiniti suffered a huge blow a few weeks ago when CEO Johan de Nysschen jumped ship after two years on the job to take the helm at Cadillac. As boss, he spearheaded change within the Japanese luxury brand and was among the biggest champions of the Q50 Eau Rouge. However, the company is far from sunk. Plans put in place prior to de Nysschen leaving are still on the table, according to Nissan product planner Andy Palmer to Automotive News, and that could mean a rosy future for the once AWOL LE sedan (pictured above) and other models.

Back in 2012, Infiniti promised that it would have the LE on the market as a premium electric sedan by 2014. It was supposed to share the battery pack with the Nissan Leaf but with a more powerful, 134-horsepower motor. But have you seen one on the road recently? The luxury EV was eventually shelved, but de Nysschen pledged the idea wasn't dead. Maybe now is a better time for it. According to Automotive News, the LE is rescheduled to launch in 2017 or 2018. The latest version would use the Leaf platform but with a more potent, next-gen battery to give it a range over 90 miles.

Of course, the LE isn't the only thing on the way from Infiniti; it also appears to be planning a two-pronged approach for small cars. Palmer recently tweeted that the company would build the forthcoming Q30 hatchback and QX30 crossover in the UK in 2015. Additionally, the automaker is firing up a new joint venture factory in Mexico with Mercedes-Benz; building compact models there starting in 2017. According Automotive News, the Mexican-built models will be more US-focused while the UK-built ones will appeal more to Europeans.

Finally, it looks like de Nysschen's plan for a flagship Infiniti sedan may still see the road too around 2018. It will be called either the Q80 or Q90 and use four-door coupe styling with a turbocharged V6 boasting about 600 horsepower, according to AN. For a guy who is no longer with the company, he appears to still be casting a long shadow over its future products.

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Nissan to pursue FWD Nurburgring lap record with Pulsar Nismo

07/31/2014   [Original: Autoblog]
Category: Sports/GTs, Euro, Hatchbacks, Nissan

2015 Nissan Pulsar

Europeans get very serious about their hot hatches. So do the Japanese. In fact there's been a whole back-and-forth lately over who makes the fastest one, and now Nissan looks set to throw its racing hat into the 'Ring.

That would be the Nürburgring, of course, where automakers trade bragging rights like baseball cards - only they don't give them up willingly. Renault set the front-drive lap record in 2008 with the previous Mégane R26.R then set the bar even higher with the Mégane RS 265 Trophy. That was before Seat stole the honors with its Leon Cupra 280, only for Renault to take them back again with the Mégane RS 275 Trophy-R. Seat is rumored to be considering a renewed assault, but it won't be the only one nipping at Renaultsport's heels in the coming years.

Honda, for its part, has made no secret of its ambition to set the record with the upcoming Civic Type R, and now word has it that Nissan is planning an assault of its own. Its weapon of choice would be an upcoming Nismo version of the new Pulsar hatchback which is just hitting the European market now as a rival to the Ford Focus, Volkswagen Golf, et al. There's no word on what its specs would be, but if it's going to challenge these players, it's going to need between 270 and 300 horsepower, a stiff suspension, big brakes and probably some sort of trick differential.

Now if you're thinking that Nissan would only be stealing the record away from its own sister company, consider first of all that, despite their alliance and common CEO, Renault and Nissan operate as two separate companies. If anything, one could end up lending its expertise to the other, much like Audi did with Bentley at Le Mans where the latter interrupted the former's winning streak in 2003. Not that Nissan needs any tips on how to tackle the Nordschleife: with the GT-R it has, after all, been trouncing everything this side of the record-holding Porsche 918 Spyder.

7:54 is the time to beat. Game on.

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Fiat recalls nearly 30,000 Fiat 500L models

07/31/2014   [Original: Autoblog]
Category: Economy, Recalls/TSBs, Safety, Hatchbacks, Chrysler, FIAT

2014 Fiat 500L

Fiat has announced a recall of 29,500 Fiat 500L hatchbacks in the US and Canadian markets due to concerns that the roomiest member of the Fiat range features knee airbags that won't deploy unless the occupant's seatbelt is fastened.

There have been no injuries reported due to this issue, which affects vehicles from model years 2014 and 2015. Of the nearly 30,000 vehicles covered in this recall, 25,500 come from the US market, while the remaining 4,000 are from Canada. It's not clear what the underlying cause of this issue is.

Fiat knows of no injuries relating to this problem. As per usual, owners will be notified and asked to report in for a free repair.

Scroll down for a brief statement from Fiat Chrysler Automobiles.

Continue reading Fiat recalls nearly 30,000 Fiat 500L models

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Mini Cooper Countryman only small car to earn good grade in latest IIHS crash tests [w/video]

07/30/2014   [Original: Autoblog]
Category: Economy, Safety, Videos, Hatchbacks, Mazda, MINI

Competitors in the small-car segment didn't do nearly as well. Four vehicles earned "poor" grades.

Only one small car out of 12 tested earned a good grade in the latest round of crash-test results compiled by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety. The Mini Cooper Countryman received a "good" ranking on the organization's small-front overlap test.

Its competitors in the small-car segment didn't do nearly as well. Four vehicles earned "poor" grades, including the all-electric Nissan Leaf and Juke, the Mazda5 and the Fiat 500L, and two more earned marginal scores.

Introduced two years ago, the small front overlap test has been a difficult one for automakers to master, particularly so for small cars, which have less weight to absorb the forces of a car accident. So far, IIHS has tested 32 vehicles in the small-car segment and 13 have earned marginal or poor scores. On the flip side, 19 earned good or acceptable scores.

"Consumers trading the inherent safety of a larger vehicle for the convenience or fuel economy of a small car should focus their search on these vehicles with state-of-the-art safety designs," said Joe Nolan, senior vice president for vehicle research at IIHS.

Continue reading Mini Cooper Countryman only small car to earn good grade in latest IIHS crash tests [w/video]

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Scion xB to be replaced by Auris hatchbach, iQ dead after 2014

07/29/2014   [Original: Autoblog]
Category: Economy, Hatchbacks, Scion, Toyota

Toyota Auris

Scion seemed like such a good idea when it was first launched. Toyota's aim was to provide young people with stylish, affordable cars that would serve as a gateway to the automaker's family of products. It was also supposed to be something of an incubator for new ideas that were too radical for its more conservative Toyota and Lexus brands. Over a decade since its launch, the brand has languished, and today's showroom is populated by slow-selling and aging vehicles that have often been slow to receive upgrades. However, there may be a bright spot on the imminent horizon, as there are reportedly a slate of new models on the way over the next three years.

According to a model timeline published by Automotive News, the Scion lineup is about to get a major overhaul. First, the boxy xB may finally be going to the big refrigerator box in the sky, to be replaced by a version of the more conventionally styled Auris hatchback (pictured above) from overseas markets in early 2015. Later next year, the xD will also allegedly bow out in favor of a new hatchback based on the Mazda2 (thanks to a recently signed platform-sharing deal). For 2016, the sporty tC hatchback is also said to get a redesign, and interestingly enough, a Corolla-based compact crossover could join the ranks, too.

While those changes should boost sales volume, there's also news that's sure to make enthusiasts happy. Automotive News cites company executives who confirm a second-generation FR-S is on the way in early 2017. A Subaru exec also recently gave a similar confirmation that it was working on another BRZ.

Finally, as first rumored last year, the little iQ will likely sing its swan song at the end of 2014. The news hardly comes as a surprise. Through June, Scion has sold just just 1,227 of its Smart-sized commuter nationwide, down 47 percent from last year.

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Fiat hangs ten with surf-inspired 500L Vans concept

07/26/2014   [Original: Autoblog]
Category: Concept Cars, Hatchbacks, FIAT

Fiat 500L-Vans Concept

Fiat 500L-Vans ConceptFiat is all set to ride some waves with its new 500L Vans Concept debuting at the Vans US Open of Surfing in Huntington Beach, CA, on July 26. Inspired by the famous shoe company known to skaters and surfers the world over, the hatchback is packed with seaside style and is ready to show it off at the beach.

The first thing that jumps out about the concept is its grille. It's unlike any other 500L and sports four rings of LED driving lights that are open in the centers. "We added the circular LED DRLs to add a sense of purpose and adventure to this concept," said a Fiat spokesperson to Autoblog via email. Below them are two more foglights, and combined together they should be able keep a party going long into the night after a day of surfing.

Beyond a ton of lighting, the Vans Concept has some extra panache thanks to its three-tone color scheme. It starts with dark blue outlining the car along the bottom, white for the main portion of the body and a lighter shade of blue for the hood, mirror caps and tops of the doors. The roof gets the shoe company's' traditional checkerboard pattern, and there's a rack up there to hold two surfboards and extra gear.

The interior is an even bigger tribute to Vans with the company's stickers from over the years used to decorate the dashboard. Like its shoes, the seats are made from canvas, and the famous waffle sole tread pattern covers the pedals and storage bins.

This concept is more about style than speed, though. According to Fiat spokesperson Angela Bianchi, the drivetrain is left entirely stock with a 160-horsepower, 1.4-liter turbocharged four-cylinder and a six-speed manual gearbox. The 500L will be on display throughout the event from July 26 to August 3, and will be joined by the rest of the brand's vehicles. Scroll down to learn more about Fiat's trip to the beach.

Continue reading Fiat hangs ten with surf-inspired 500L Vans concept

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Nissan commits to adding 'iconic' design after Cube killed off

07/25/2014   [Original: Autoblog]
Category: Hatchbacks, Nissan, Design/Style

Nissan Cube

The Nissan Cube is on its way out here in the US and Canada. In a way, that's too bad, simply because the Cube's styling was nothing if not distinctive - much like the company's own Juke. However, the flame for uniquely styled models is indeed still burning over at Nissan.

We might never see an exact replacement for the Cube in the brand's lineup, but product planning boss Andy Palmer says that its retirement leaves a spot open in the Nissan lineup for something else. "To be clear, we will morph this space in our portfolio into something iconic," said Palmer to Automotive News. Unfortunately, he wouldn't hint at what that could mean.

However, his lack of suggestions makes it fun to speculate about what oddity could replace the Cube, especially since two of Nissan's more recent quirky concepts might have problems hitting the road. The Bladeglider is mired in Nissan and Deltawing Technologies' ongoing patent lawsuit. Alternatively, the retro-inspired IDx might be too expensive to build profitably. Still, this is the company that created both the (nearly dead) Murano CrossCabriolet and the very successful Juke; it can probably come up with something else delightfully weird.

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