Monthly Archives: December 2013

Lancia Unveils Updated 2014 Delta Hatchback

Following six years of no updates or revisions for the Delta hatchback, Fiat’s troubled Lancia luxury division has officially revealed the 2014 Lancia Delta which features several new exterior and interior updates that aim to keep the Delta fresh and competitive while also reversing the recent skid in sales that Lancia has experienced the past few years.

The exterior styling of the Delta retains much of the 2013 model’s basic layout and styling theme, but a minor facelift adds new headlamps that are more aggressive and feature LED daytime running lamps while a new front bumper brings some much needed aggression 2014 Lancia Delta 2to the Deltas front fascia. The rear fascia continues the minor plastic surgery and features redesigned tail lamps, dual chrome plated exhaust tips, and a reworked rear bumper. Side skirts are standard on all models, and buyers can choose from 12 different exterior colors (five of them two tone colors) and five different designs for the alloy wheels which are available in either 16 or 18-inch sizes.

The interior of the 2014 Delta is largely unchanged (which is fine with us), but new trim for the dashboard and center console adds to the upscale ambiance while two new interior colors aim to appeal to various customer tastes. Many trim levels feature Bluetooth as 2014 Lancia Delta 3standard equipment while buyers can equip their Delta with the optional infotainment system which features a 7 inch touchscreen for accessing the systems various functions

Performance for the 2014 Delta comes from a trio of four cylinder engines which offer buyers a balanced mix of spirited fun and efficiency. Fiat’s familiar 1.6 liter MultiJet engine makes up the first two choices with buyers choosing from either a 105 horsepower unit, or a slightly reworked version which is capable of 120 horsepower and allow the Delta to make the sprint to 62mph in 9.8 seconds when paired with the six speed manual transmission before reaching a modest  top speed of 121 mph. Buyers looking for more fuel efficiency can opt for the thrifty 1.4 liter Turbojet engine which burns Liquid Petroleum Gas (LPG) to reduce emissions, but this has no effect in overall performance with the tweaked engine still capable of matching its petrol powered siblings 120 horsepower which is a commendable achievement for an LPG powered engine.

Look for the 2014 Lancia Delta to officially go on sale in January with pricing starting at €22,950 ($31,600) which is not that much of an increase when compared to the 2013 model and should help it stand out from rivals such as the Audi A3, Hyundai i30, and the Volkswagen Golf. While the Delta itself will not be enough to reverse Lancia’s fortunes, models such as the Thema and the Ypsilon could play a crucial role in righting the sales ship for the brand and perhaps pave the way for a revitalized Delta in the near future.

Truck Sales Expected To Rise Due To Expiring Tax Deduction

With the recent wave of news regarding the negative implications of various tax deductions expiring, its refreshing to hear of an expiring provision that has the potential to have the opposite effect and benefit the automotive industry as a whole.

The provision in question (Section 179) allowed business owners to file up to $500,000 worth of assets (including trucks and other heavy duty vehicles) as a tax deduction. This amount is an increase over the $25,000 limit that was allowed previously, and was expanded to the current amount several years ago in an attempt to help jump start the economy. When the provision expires next week, it has the potential to greatly increase the sale of certain commercial vehicles before the year draws to a close which could help greatly increase sales of certain vehicles for many automakers. For example a business that spent $60,000 on a heavy duty truck for business purposes, can list the vehicle as a $46,000 depreciation in tax filings which would allow them to save a significant amount of money when all is said and done.

According to the folks at Dallas Morning News, multiple businesses in that region have already begun increasing the amount of commercial vehicles that they are purchasing to try and take advantage of this fading provision. The publication elaborates further by stating that commercial divisions of select car dealerships are also getting into the fray, and have seen noticeable increases in sales to other businesses which is a strong sign of the slowly recovering economy gaining strength.

Mike Ring Chrysler’s commercial sales chief for the Ram division claims that this provision was a key factor in pushing the firm to fast tracking deliveries of the ProMaster van to dealerships before the year drew to a close. ” Several months ago, we did everything we could to pull ahead production of the ProMaster” Ring stated, ” We knew we couldn’t launch it in January because the season would’ve already been over.”

When the world’s automakers release their overall sales figures for 2013 during the inaugural week of 2014, expect to see a sizable jump in the sale of commercial grade vehicles including big pickup trucks such as Ford’s Super Duty lineup, GM’s HD versions of the Sierra and Silverado, as well as full sized vans such as the Ford Transit, Ram ProMaster, and the long in the tooth but still capable Chevrolet Express and its GMC Savana sibling.

Christmas Comes Early, Lamborghini Unveils 2015 Huracan LP 610-4

With the holidays fast approaching, Lamborghini has decided to give its legions of fans an early Christmas present by unveiling the full details on its newest entry the 2015 9105_2_4983_5_exterior_5(2)Lamborghini Huracan LP 610-4  which aims to replace the long in the tooth Gallardo as the brands entry level model. For those wondering where the name Huracan is derived from, it continues the marques tradition of naming there vehicles after famous fighting bulls in this case Huracan is derived from a famous Spanish Conte de la Patilla breed fighting bull which had a reputation for his unqiue character and relentlessness. These two traits helped him win an iconic fight in Alicante in 1879 which cemented the animal’s place in bullfighting history.

The exterior styling of the Huracan embodies an angular design theme with many of its styling cues either inspired or borrowed from its big brother the Aventador. Th9105_2_4975_7_exterior_7(2)e Huracan also features copious amounts of aluminum and carbon fiber which helps shed unneeded weight, while LED lighting front and rear gives the Huracan a dash of elegance which is unmatched by many of its rivals. However this does not mean that the Huracan’s clothes lack any purposeful function, specially designed louvers on the rear decklid as well as a functional rear air diffuser help channel air more effectively while quad oval shaped exhaust tips finish off the look and make the Huracan look unified from all angles.

Following in the footsteps of its predecessor the Gallardo, The Huracan features a fighter jet inspired cabin which features strategically placed geometric shapes for plenty of visual appeal. However unlike the Gallardo, the Huracan is much more refined and features a 9105_2_4971_8_lb724_interior_(1)configurable 12.3 inch TFT screen. This screen replaces the old instrument cluster, and provides occupants data regarding infotainment, navigation, and connectivity functions while still providing the necessary information expected out of a conventional instrument cluster. which is a potent combination and one that we here at Autoinfoquest look forward to seeing up close in the near future. The interior also boasts supple leather and Alcantara trim which is available in several different colors to please different customer tastes.

Performance for the Huracan comes from a 5.2 liter V10 engine which is good for a potent 610 horsepower and an equally stout 413 lb-ft of torque. These figures are enough to propel the 3,130 Huracan to 62 mph in a blistering 3.2 seconds before reaching a final top speed of 201 mph. All of this muscle is transmitted to all four wheels through a new seven speed dual clutch transmission which is operated by steering wheel mounted paddles while a new Driving Dynamics System (Lamborghini’s response to Ferrari’s Mannettino system) uses a steering wheel mounted switch which allows the driver to choose three different modes Strada (aka street), Sport, and Corsa (race) to tailor the car to various driving conditions.

Handling has also been improved with the Huracan featuring magnetic ride control and variable ratio steering which are both optional extras and should give the car an advantage when undertaking high speed cornering and other spirited driving maneuvers. Unlike the fore-mentioned items,  carbon ceramic brakes will be equipped to all Huracan’s as standard equipment which should give buyers extra bite when it comes time to slow the car to a complete stop.

Look for the Huracan to make its official debut at the 2014 Geneva Motor Show with pricing information expected to be unveiled closer to its official launch. However before it makes its anticipated debut in Geneva, Lamborghini will take the Huracan on a 60 city wide tour to give perspective buyers the opportunity to sample this car to find out if it is indeed fit for their tastes.  Stay tuned to Autoinfoquest for the latest developments on the 2015 Huracan as they become available.

 

Mercedes Unveils Redesigned 2015 C-Class

Following an earlier image leak, Mercedes has officially unveiled the redesigned 2015 C-Class sedan ahead of its official debut at the 2015 North American International Auto Show in January. The newest iteration of the popular C-Class aims to do battle with rivals such as the Audi A4, BMW-3 Series and the Cadillac ATS by wielding new styling inside and out, as well as a whole new suite of technology and luxury features.

Once known as the “baby Benz” in the company’s model lineup, the addition of the CLA class has forced the car to adopt a wheelbase that is 3.7 inches longer and 1.5 inches wider than its predecessor. The company claims that this increase was also necessary to accommodate the average height of vehicle occupants which is slowly increasing each year. Despite the size increase though, engineers have managed to shave 154 pounds off the car which contributes to a 20 percent increase in fuel economy while also allowing the C-Class to remain lighter than the BMW 328i and the Audi A4 2.0T which should please model loyalists.

These same loyalists will also be pleased with the car’s new exterior styling which shares many cues with the larger S-Class flagship sedan. The front fascia features a longer hood, shorter overhangs, and crisper lines which are a welcome improvement over its Mercedes-Benz C250, AMG Line, Avantgarde, Diamantsilber metallicconservative predecessor, and helps it stand out against rivals. It also continues the theme of the previous gen C-Class by being available with two different front end treatments, with the Luxury model featuring a three slat grille, hood mounted three pointed star, and healthy influence from the larger S-Class sedan. Meanwhile, Sport models share their inspiration with the smaller CLA, and boast an oversized emblem which is mounted in the center of the two slat grille for a bolder yet elegant appearance. Both variants also stand out by offering distinct bumper treatments which should make them easy to distinguish from one another.

The interior of the 2015 C-Class has also been upgraded, and Mercedes stylists have made a solid effort at pushing the cabin higher upmarket to make it stand out from the entry level CLA. The dashboard for example features a new design which is more pleasing to the eye than before with higher grade materials adding to the upscale ambiance while the Mercedes-Benz C 300 BlueTEC HYBRID, Exclusive Line, Cavansitblaucenter console uses less buttons which helps resolve the cluttered button placement that marred the previous models ergonomics. The increased wheelbase helps give occupants more space to stretch out, while the 16.9 cubic ft trunk is a noticeable improvement over the measly 12.4 cubic ft offered by the old C-Class.

In addition to the renewed focus on material quality, Mercedes engineers also borrowed several features from the S-Class parts bin which include features such as Attention Assist, Adaptive Brake Assist, a 7-inch dash mounted infotainment screen(a larger 8.4 inch unit is available as an option), and the gimmicky but cool AIR BALANCE package that boasts air ionization, improved filtration and your choice of several fragrances which are sprayed discreetly through the air vents to neutralize unpleasant odors. Our favorite feature though is a special climate sensitive GPS unit which can sense when the C-Class is in a tunnel, and recirculate air accordingly to prevent fumes from entering the cabin.

When the 2015 C-Class launches here in the United States, buyers will have a choice of two engines which offer a good balance of efficiency and performance. Base C300 models will be powered by a 2.0 liter turbocharged four cylinder which uses direct injection to help produce a healthy 235 horsepower (only 5 short of the 2.0 liter in the BMW 328i) while Mercedes-Benz C-Klasse Limousine (W205) 2013uplevel C400 models boast a 3.0 liter turbocharged V6 which is good for 329 horsepower, and a stout 354 lb-ft of torque. The four cylinders figures are very close to the 3-Series in terms of overall horsepower, while torque and power for the V6 is higher than what is offered in the 335i an impressive feat. Both engines send their power to the road through a seven speed automatic transmission which will initially be the sole transmission choice available before a new nine speed automatic replaces it in the near future. All C-Class models will also arrive exclusively with the company’s 4MATIC all wheel drive system, but look for rear wheel drive variants to slowly trickle into dealerships after launch.

Handling has also been refined and in addition to standard electric assist steering, the 2015 C-Class is also the first car in its segment to feature a front and rear mounted air suspension system which is available as an option and enhances overall occupant comfort even further. For buyers that prefer a more conventional arraignment over the AIRMATIC system, Mercedes will offer two distinct suspension tunes with Luxury models wielding a balanced mixture of comfort and performance, wheras Sport models are tailored towards performance driving and are lowered slightly for better handling. The suspension itself retains the old models five link setup in the rear, but a new four link unit up front reduces weight and improves handling at the same time.

Look for the 2015 Mercedes Benz C-Class to begin arriving at a Mercedes showroom near you shortly after its debut in Detroit with coupe and convertible variants arriving in the near future. A hatchback model aimed at the BMW 3-Series GT will also be in the cards as well, while European buyers will be able to snag the station wagon variant. Stay tuned to Autoinfoquest for the latest developments on the 2015 Mercedes C-Class as they become available.

BMW Officially Unveils New M3/M4 Models

Following an ill timed image leak that occurred late yesterday, BMW has officially unveiled the 2015 M3 Sedan and the 2015 M4 Coupe  which not only replace the current generation M3 sedan and coupe respectively, but also signals the return of an inline six to the M3 range which has been absent since the 2001-2006 E46 M3.

The exterior styling of the M3 sedan retains much of the basic styling layout that underpins the standard issue 3-Series, but a heavily sculpted front bumper, subtle hood bulge, and flared fenders do an excellent job of boldly broadcasting the car’s performance intentions. In BMW M3addition, air curtains mounted in the front fascia s work together with the company’s “Air Breather” system (aka fender vents) to effectively channel and optimize airflow around the wheel arches to enhance the car’s aerodynamics during hard driving while also increasing fuel economy at the same time. The rear fascia also embodies the performance theme, and features the signature quad exhaust pipes expected from an M3 while a rear diffuser and a new Gurney style spoiler masterfully blend style and function and allow the car to look much more stylish than rivals such as the upcoming Cadillac ATS-V, and the Mercedes Benz C63 AMG. Lastly the new clothes help the M3 shed 176 pounds of excess weight thanks to materials such as carbon fiber as well as the smaller engine and manual transmission.

The interior of the 2015 M3 also shares much of its layout with the 3-Series, but BMW designers have added several model exclusive touches to the M3 which include splashes of carbon fiber trim, supportive sport seats, a meaty three spoke sport steering wheel with multifunction controls, and a unique M grade instrument cluster. A 6.5 inch tablet style P90140432_highResdisplay mounted on the dashboard provides the driver with a wide array of vehicle and entertainment information which is very useful when pushing the M3 to its limits out on the track. As expected, the 2015 M3/M4 will also feature an extensive suite of optional equipment which includes heads-up display, LED headlamps as well as fade resistant carbon ceramic disc brakes.

Performance for the 2015 BMW M3 comes from a smaller 3.0 liter twin turbocharged inline six which replaces the old model’s thirsty V8 and is good for a solid 425 horsepower (a gain of 11 horsepower) and a healthy 406 lb-ft of torque. This extra 101 lb-ft of torque allows the M3 to make the sprint to 60 mph in a swift 4.1 seconds with the standard six speed manual gearbox (models with the seven speed dual clutch automatic nab a slightly faster 3.9 seconds). As a neat bonus the dual clutch features a new “Stability Clutch Control” mode which neutralizes under-steer by opening one of the clutches during hard cornering.

Handling has also been sharpened thanks to a stiffened track spec suspension and electric power assist steering with three available modes. While some purists may be disappointed by the shift from hydraulic to electric powered assist steering, the new steering system is more accurate than older hydraulic P90140434_highResunits, and is also cheaper to maintain and own in the long run. The optional Adaptive M suspension adds even more handling prowess, and its electronically controlled dampers offer three separate modes which gives occupants the ability to choose between comfort or agility. To make sure these same drivers also do not get in over their heads, all M3’s will come equipped with a standard Active M Differential which monitors throttle inputs, the car’s yaw rate, and the rotational speed of the tires to alter traction if needed.

Meanwhile the 2015 M4 serves as the two door replacement for the M3 Coupe and as such shares much of its styling, technology, and performance hardware with its sedan sibling. Look for the M4 to do battle with established challengers such as the Audi RS5, as well as upcoming models such as the Lexus RC-F and the Cadillac ATS-V coupe.

Look for both models to make their respective debuts at the 2014 North American International Auto Show in January with sales beginning sometime this summer. Expect key details such as pricing to be unveiled closer to their official launch date and stay tuned to Autoinfoquest for the latest developments on the 2015 BMW M3/M4 as they become available.

 

 

GM Reshuffles Management, Names Mary Barra New GM CEO

It has been a historic couple of days for General Motors. Following yesterday’s announcement that the US Treasury department sold its remaining percent of ownership in the resurgent car firm,  The company unveiled a second blockbuster announcement earlier today, revealing that it had elected product development chief Mary Barra as its next CEO (the first time in GM and automotive history a woman has earned this position) to fill the shoes of current CEO Dan Akerson who will step down next month.

When one compares Barra and Akerson against each other, their styles contrast in several key areas. For example Barra spent her entire career at GM beginning in 1980 when she initially entered as a plant manager in Pontiac following several years at Kettering University, whereas Akerson did not bring any prior automotive experience with him when he assumed the role as CEO back in 2010. Also Barra (who is 51 years old) is much younger than the 65 year old Akerson, which should help not only bring a fresh dose of youth to GM’s upper management, but also allow Barra to reach out more effectively to younger employees, and provide them the encouragement they need to contribute to the company’s future progress.

Following her time in Pontiac, Barra gradually rose through both the manufacturing and engineering ranks which culminated with her appointment as plant manager for the Hamtramck Assembly Plant in Detroit.  She was eventually promoted to head the company’s product development division in early 2011, and was an important figure in the development of key vehicles such as the redesigned Chevrolet Impala and the equally acclaimed Cadillac CTS. The company claimed that Akerson was forced to modify his initial plans for retirement after learning that his wife was diagnosed with cancer. ”

“I will leave with great satisfaction in what we have accomplished, great optimism over what is ahead and great pride that we are restoring General Motors as America’s standard bearer in the global auto industry,”  Akerson said in a message to employees.

In addition to Barra’s appointment, GM also appointed Dan Amnann (GM’s CFO and Executive vice president) to company president, while North American market chief Mark Reuss will take over the reigns at Barra’s old position and serve as the new executive vice president for Global Product Development, Purchasing and Supply Chain. Overall a very significant shakeup, and we here at Autoinfoquest look forward to seeing what Barra and her team will do to move GM forward when she assumes full control in January.

US Goverment Sells Remaining Shares Of General Motors

In an announcement released earlier this afternoon, the U.S Treasury department revealed that it has completed the sale of its remaining shares in General Motors which ends a dark chapter in the company’s storied history, and serves as a key opportunity for the company to move forward.

The sale ends four years of government control which had its roots back in 2009 when the government bailed out GM and rival Chrysler corporation during the chaos of the Great Recession as part of Chapter 11 bankruptcy reorganization for the two firms. In the case of GM, the government granted GM a 49.5 billion dollar bailout package to help keep the company afloat before acquiring 500 million shares of GM stock in 2010 that gave it primary ownership and control of the company. Treasury secretary Jack Lew revealed that the Treasury department managed to recover 39.5 billion dollars from today’s sale which is an impressive number, though it also means that the entire investment will end up costing taxpayers about 10 billion dollars when all is said and done.

In a separate statement, GM CEO Dan Akerson was thankful of the second chance provided to the company stating ” “The U.S. Treasury’s ownership exit closes just one chapter in GM’s ongoing turnaround story.  We will always be grateful for the second chance extended to us and we are doing our best to make the most of it. Today is not dramatically different from the hundreds of preceding days during which we have worked to make GM a company our country can be proud of again”.

He elaborated further claiming  “Continued investments, innovation, and job creation are just some of the “returns” of a healthy GM and domestic auto industry.  Our work continues uninterrupted, and we will keep our sights squarely on our customers and transforming the way we do business.” This announcement was preceded by an equally strong showing in Wall Street earlier in the day where GM shares rose 73 cents to close at $40.90 a share which is a record high and represents a 1.8% gain in value. While the company still has work to do when it comes to its long term viability, today’s announcement is a huge step forward and a perfect stepping stone for the company’s future endeavors.

 

 

 

Chevrolet Teases 2015 Corvette Z06 Ahead Of NAIAS

When Chevrolet first unveiled the 2014 Corvette Stingray coupe at last years North American International Auto Show, it was a welcome improvement over the old C6 model in many areas especially in interior quality and design. However like its predecessors, The C7 also serves as a template that can be improved upon, and Chevrolet has begun teasing the next chapter of this Vette’s story the 2015 Chevrolet Corvette Z06 which promises to bring a new level of performance and track readiness to the Corvette lineup.

While GM did not release detailed exterior photographs of the car with today’s announcement, the lone teaser image provided does reveal that the car will be equipped with carbon fiber side skirts as well as equally slick fender flare extensions. Expect more splashes of carbon fiber to be scattered throughout the exterior as well as the interior for a united and cohesive look which should do an excellent job broadcasting the Z06’s performance oriented mission.

Performance details for the 2015 Z06 remain elusive, but we at Autoinfoquest suspect that the most likely candidate for this duty could be a reworked version of the base Stingray’s 6.2 liter LT1 V8 which would make sense from a cost and practicality standpoint while also giving GM engineers an excellent opportunity to see what this promising power-plant is truly capable of when modified with stronger components. Look for overall horsepower to be on par with rivals such as the SRT Viper, Porsche 911 Turbo, as well as the Audi R8. Transmission choices also remain heavily veiled, but expect a manual transmission to please purists looking for maximum driver involvement.

Look for the 2015 Chevrolet Corvette Z06 to make its official debut at the 2014 North American International Auto Show in January with more details expected to be revealed later this month. Stay tuned to Autoinfoquest for the latest developments on the 2015 Corvette Z06 as they become available.

 

 

 

Volkswagen Unveils Limited Production Touareg X Model

With a recent wave of special edition models over the past few years, Volkswagen is certainly no stranger to creating exclusive trims for its products. The one exception was the current generation Touareg which stayed in the marketplace with virtually no special or exclusive trims. Earlier this week however, Volkswagen changed all that by unveiling the Touareg X a special limited edition variant of the Touareg which aims to bring more buyers to the Touareg model family.

Based on the mid range TDI V6 Lux trim variant of the Touareg, X models change little from the standard Touareg as far as exterior styling is concerned (which is fine with us), but do receive special 19-inch “Moab” wheels as well as LED taillights which flow cohesively with the front fascias LED daytime running lamps along with a model exclusive hue “Moonlight Blue Pearl”.

Alterations to the cabin are equally sparse with the only changes being a black on black color scheme (piano black trim, black leather, and headliner) as well as scattered aluminum trim elements on the pedals and door sills. Other than these slight changes, the Touareg X shares much of its standard equipment with the Touareg Lux model which means power seats, navigation dual-zone climate control, LED running lights and other goodies are standard (a solid value in this popular segment).

Pricing begins as $56,170 which is a slight bump in admission versus the base Touareg Lux, but is on par with the price increases seen in other special edition models. Production will also be limited to a scant 1,000 copies so customers will have to place their orders early if they want one for their garage.