Monthly Archives: April 2015

Cadillac Begins Taking Orders For 2016 CTS-V, Boasts $83,995 MSRP

In an announcement released earlier today, Cadillac has revealed the official pricing ladder for its 640 horsepower CTS-V luxury performance sedan. Enthusiasts wondering whether the model would lose its predecessor’s reputation for bargain friendly performance will be pleased to hear that not only will the CTS-V continue to be a formidable threat to rivals from BMW and Mercedes Benz, but will also continue to undercut them on overall price as well.

The $83,995 base price (not including the $995 destination charge) makes the CTS-V and its 640 screaming horsepower nearly $10,000 less than the 560 horsepower BMW M5, and is a whopping $18,000 less than the 577 horsepower Mercedes Benz E63 AMG S 4-Matic. However, the coup de grace is reserved for the 560 horsepower Audi RS7 where the CTS-V walks all over it by $25,000 which is very impressive for an American luxury performance sedan entry.

In an accompanying statement, Cadillac CEO Johan de Nysschen highlighted how important the V-Series range is to Cadillac’s broader sales success stating “V-Series represents the pinnacle of Cadillac, a brand that now makes driver’s cars at the highest level .” The new CTS-V is essentially two cars in one: a luxury sedan with sophisticated road manners and a track capable sports car with awe-inspiring performance. This type of car is exclusive, the domain of the few who can access this level of incredible capability. V-Series matches or overtakes the finest cars in this elite class while being more accessible.”

With the ordering process now open for prospective buyers, Cadillac claims that the first production units will begin arriving at a Cadillac showroom near you sometime this fall. Look for some dealerships to receive CTS-V’s sooner than others, so we recommend that buyers do an extensive online search to see which dealers have cars in stock to avoid missing out on finding a car near them.

Ferdinand Piech Resigns From Volkswagen, Key Mistake Ends Historic Era At Wolfsburg

It is once said that great empires are forged out of brilliant leadership and an empire’s ability to stay relevant during its time in history. In the case of Volkswagen, much of its recent successes can be attributed to the iron fist style rule of Ferdinand Piech who helped transform the company into a formidable powerhouse that aimed to become the world’s biggest automaker. However a key strategical blunder by Piech late last week not only forced him out of his own company, but also caused him to leave before his grand vision was complete ending a historic era of growth and change at the Wolfsburg based automaker.

A grandson of Ferdinand Porsche — the man who founded the company and developed the original Beetle compact car during the dark era of the Nazi regime, Piech devoted every aspect of his life and 51 year career in the auto industry to the goal of making Volkswagen the number one car manufacturer in the world. Piech developed a reputation for not only his strict rule over the company, but also a high level of perfectionism that was evident in some of Volkswagen’s recent models including the technologically advanced but slow selling Volkswagen Phaeton sedan which was rumored to be developed based on several requirements that were passed down by Piech himself to company engineers .

On Saturday, Volkswagen revealed that the 78 year old chairman had resigned which helped end a two week long crisis in the company’s management that began with comments issued by Piech in regards to current Chief Executive Martin Winterkorn. In those fore-mentioned remarks, the VW chairman revealed that he had “distanced” himself from Winterkorn, and many in the industry saw this move as an attempt by Piech to squash any chance that Winterkorn had at succeeding him as chairman when his contract expired in 2017. However unlike other times where Piech deployed this tactic and succeeded with support from his allies, the tables were surprisingly turned when those very allies abandoned him, leaving the embattled patriarch isolated internally which might have played a role in his decision to resign Saturday.

Piech’s stint in the company will certainly be remembered for the rapid level of growth that Volkswagen experienced in recent years. In fact during his nine year reign as CEO and 13 years as chairman of the supervisory board, the strong willed Austrian spearheaded an ambitious expansion campaign that eventually allowed the company to transform into a 12 brand automotive giant that has over 118 plants in 31 countries, and boasts a formidable workforce of over 600,000 employees. Piech’s rise to the top of Volkswagen’s hierarchy began in 1988 when he took the helm at Audi, and helped the Ingolstadt-based manufacturer ditch its reputation for producing bland and uninspired vehicles such as the 100 sedan and the Fox coupe and instead embrace edgy design and state of the art technology. Speaking of technology, Piech also helped create the iconic Quattro all-wheel drive system which allowed Audi to effectively go toe-to-toe with BMW and Mercedes Benz in the luxury sales race.

Later when he was CEO at Volkswagen, Piech led a strong push towards broader sales dominance with an ambitious shopping spree that saw the company snatch up ultra luxury marques such as Bentley and Bugatti as well as Italian sports car manufacturer Lamborghini.  In addition, Volkswagen also aimed for the mass market adding Skoda and Seat  to its brand lineup while unveiling the New Beetle which was a modern interpretation of his grandfather’s original creation.

However Piech was also responsible for making several questionable decisions during his tenure that would backfire on him in later years. One of these was approving production of the aforementioned Phaeton flagship sedan, a 1 billion Euro investment that aimed at making Volkswagen more upscale to consumers. Piech as well as Volkswagen’s executives predicted that the Phaeton would achieve a solid sales base among wealthy customers, however the Phaeton’s state of the art plant in Dresden Germany operated below full capacity from the very beginning, and Volkswagen was eventually forced to withdraw the model from the U.S. in 2006 after it failed to meet sales projections there.

In addition, Piech’s iron grip on control also allowed him to routinely hand pick and fire executives with Piech pushing out Winterkorn’s predecessor Bernd Pischetsreider half a year after his contract was extended by the company. This was due to Pischetsreider ordering the Phaeton to be pulled from the U.S. as well as a disagreement with Piech over other company matters. Piech would resort to this tried and true method of corporate execution several years later when he fired Porsche CEO Wendelin Wiedeking in the aftermath of Porsche’s ill timed, and ultimately doomed effort to take over Volkswagen by using share options to buy up Volkswagen stock.

While Piech will still undoubtedly be known as one of the best tactical minds in the automotive industry, his attempt to blunt Winterkorn’s momentum may have sped up an event that he tried so hard to avert. According to multiple analysts, Winterkorn (who worked with Piech back in the 1980’s) is a leading candidate for the chairman position and is seen as a favorite among many in Volkswagen’s inner circle.  With Piech’s departure from the company, Winterkorn could potentially nab the position earlier, and be given an opportunity to mold the company’s future in his own image.

Aston Martin Considering U.S. Plant For Upcoming CUV Model

With the goal of increasing sales around the world especially in the U.S. market, Aston Martin appears to be eyeing the U.S. as a possible site for a new plant that would assemble the British luxury car maker’s upcoming CUV model according to a new report that was recently released.

According to the report from the folks at the Financial Times, Aston Martin is strongly looking into the possibility of building a factory in the U.S. to assemble the company’s first ever crossover vehicle.  While this report appears to suggest that the U.S. has emerged as the lead candidate for the new plant, the company is also considering several sites in the UK including a shuttered plant in Coventry that once assembled Jaguar models. No particular states in this country were mentioned in the report, but the British luxury car maker is allegedly being courted by several southern sates. The South is a popular destination for many foreign makers thanks to its rules regarding unions which are less strict than the rest of the country especially the northern portion where the UAW maintains a strong presence.

While the South already boasts an impressive portfolio of automakers that have made their home in the region over the past several years, the region is concerned about the growing threat of Mexico, and the possibility of losing business to that country in the next few years. These fears are not entirely unfounded either, in recent months automakers including Audi and Toyota have chosen locations in Mexico over the U.S. for significant investments in factories. This is mainly possible thanks to Mexico’s growing economy, as well as the lower wages that companies would have to pay to Mexican workers versus U.S. employees.

In an attempt to win Aston Martin over, the report appears to suggest that several states have offered significant land and tax breaks to the company but Aston Martin for its part has so far refused to publicly comment on the validity of the offers and whether it is even being courted by the states in question.

Aston Martin’s CUV offering is expected to be heavily inspired by the recently unveiled DBX concept. While the new model will not be a conventional CUV when it comes to overall design and construction, the new car is expected to incorporate a higher ride height as well as all-wheel drive. It is currently unknown if Aston will make the CUV a two door offering similar to the Range Rover Evoque coupe or if it will favor a more conventional four-door layout.

The company aims to deliver about 8,000 units of the new CUV per year which would allow the firm to make strides in its plan to boost sales to 15,000 vehicles annually. Bolstering this initiative will be a revival of the Lagonda brand as well as the fruits of its recently unveiled “Second Century” plan.

Buick Previews Next Generation Verano Ahead Of Shanghai Motor Show

With Buick a strong powerhouse in terms of sales for GM’s China operations, it is no secret that the company aims to maintain its strong grip on the Chinese market by unveiling an updated version of its Verano sedan (known in China as the “Wei Lang.”)

Regardless of what you like to call this latest iteration of Buick’s entry level sedan, the exterior styling promises to channel influence from the Riviera and Avenir concept cars though the lone teaser image that Buick released does make finding the resemblance somewhat difficult. It does reveal however that the upcoming Verano will receive slightly tweaked tail lights as well as new body creases that mirror those seen on the bigger Regal sedan. While this is certainly a change from the current Verano (this author owns a 2013 Verano Turbo) it appears that GM engineers still did not equip the trunk with a lid mounted release button which will force owners to continue either using the keyfob or the trunk release button in the cabin to get it open an odd omission especially in a car that can surpass $30,000 fully equipped.

Buick did not release any interior images with today’s release, but look for a significant improvement in overall ergonomics especially with the center stack where less buttons as well as a reworked touchscreen based infotainment system aim to make the cabin look more upscale while also reducing driver frustration at the same time. In addition revised interior materials, as well as a fresh design theme should allow the car to stand out better against rivals such as the Audi A3, Mercedes CLA, as well as the BMW 2-Series.

Buick was also mum on what performance hardware will motivate the car only promising that the new model meets benchmarks for “performance, safety, and comfort.” However, as is the case with the current Verano/Excelle, look for the final engine offering to change depending on what market it is being sold in with U.S. versions most likely being equipped with engines borrowed from the next generation Cruze. It is unclear if the Verano Turbo would still be offered with this update, but we hope it will feature bolder styling as well as a more performance oriented interior to make it stand out from mainstream Verano variants.

Buick will be unveiling the full details of the Wei Lang at a special media event on April 19th with more information expected to slowly trickle out over the next few days. Stay tuned to Autoinfoquest for the latest developments on the upcoming Verano/Wei Lang as the become available.

Opel Unveils 150 Horsepower Adam Rocks S

With the recent updates that FCA has made to the Adam’s chief rival the Fiat 500 hatchback, General Motors has unveiled the all new Adam Rocks S which arrives with several updates of its own, and brings more horsepower and style to the Adam driving experience.

A key update is more power with the Rocks S boasting an all new 1.4 liter turbocharged four cylinder engine which is good for a healthy 150 horsepower and an equally stout 162 lb-ft of torque. These figures are not only more powerful than the 500 Turbo, but they are Opel-ADAM-ROCKS-S-295230also within earshot of the 160 horsepower Fiat 500 Abarth which should make drag races between the two a compelling proposition. The spirited little engine is hooked up to an all new six speed manual transmission which is enough to propel the Rocks S to 62 mph in an acceptable 8.5 seconds before topping out at 130 mph. This is a second and a half faster than the standard Rocks model and should make the S a compelling offer for enthusiasts looking for fun on a budget.

Opel engineers also sharpened the S’s handling behavior and have equipped the tiny hatchback with a sport tuned suspension that reduces body roll and eOpel-ADAM-ROCKS-S-295215nhances turn in behavior. Stopping power for the tiny Opel has also been upgraded with beefier brakes which are nestled at all four corners and should allow drivers to safely stop from a wide range of vehicle speeds. As a neat bonus the S stands out from its base Rocks sibling by offering drivers a specially tweaked ESP program which can be turned completely off for computer free driving fun.

The exterior styling of the Rocks S on the other hand features several minor revisions and include a deep rear bumper with an oval exhaust outlet as well as a big roof mounted spoiler borrowed from the standard S model.  Buyers can also choose to adorn their purchase with 11 different exterior colors while the power retractable soft top can be adorned with five different contrast colors. Otherwise look for the S to retain much of the basic styling theme that has come to define the base Rocks model.

Look for the 2015 Opel Adam Rocks S to make its official debut next week at the International Amsterdam Motor Show before eventually making its way across Europe to Opel-ADAM-ROCKS-S-295219Opel showrooms in the near future. Opel did not reveal how much of a markup the S would be versus a standard Rocks model but expect that figure to be more of a subtle increase versus a major price hike. It is also unknown whether the Adam will ever see duty in U.S. Buick showrooms but look for that to eventually happen when the updated Adam is formally unveiled in the near future.

Rolls Royce Unveils One-off “Project Cullinan” All Terrain Prototype

In a bold step that serves as a visual example of how much progress its upcoming ultra luxury SUV has made in its ongoing gestation period, Rolls Royce engineers have lifted the veil off of a one of a kind prototype platform known as “Project Cullinan”. The prototype’s main purpose is to serve as a test bed for the technology and platform that will eventually underpin Roll’s currently unnamed SUV.

Based on a shortened version of the company’s current generation Phantom II sedan, the unique dimensions serve as a compelling preview of the SUV’s overall size and width P90178774_lowResthough Rolls was quick to point out that the styling of the finished product would be radically different versus the cobbled together appearance of “Project Cullinan.” Regardless of its eventual styling theme, curious buyers should make sure to not call it an SUV in front of Rolls Royce executives, the company has gone to great lengths to avoid using the term”SUV” to describe its offering, instead referring to their creation as a “high sided all-terrain motor car.”

While we are still scratching our heads on that particular description, the technology involving its all-wheel drive system does fascinate us, and should be on the minds of potential buyers as well. At the moment the prototype is focused on honing the fore-mentioned all-wheel drive system as well as a new type of suspension technology which will be expected to work together to maintain the “magic-carpet” esque ride quality that has come to define much of its current lineup both on and off the beaten path. To achieve this, engineers will have to first evaluate the SUV’s stability and suspension performance through on and off road trials including navigating cobblestone roads, as well as formidable “Belgian block” surfaces before moving on to formal off road trials.

“Project Cullinan engineering mules will spend equal amounts of time testing on-road and off-road to ensure that the customer will experience the same unrivaled ride quality on loose surfaces and challenging terrain as they do on the road today” the company revealed in an accompanying release.

This intense level of testing also appears to add further ammunition to rumors that the bespoke British luxury brand will not utilize any existing BMW platform for its SUV, and instead develop its own platform that will feature a lightweight aluminium space frame as P90178776_lowReswell as an equally lightweight aluminium body. The engines powering this ultra luxurious behemoth are a complete mystery, but rumors have suggested that Rolls will either use its tried and true V12 engine, or a smaller twin turbocharged V8 that’s tailored for a balanced mixture of performance and fuel economy.

Look for the unnamed SUV to eventually make its debut at an auto show sometime in the near future, with the first examples arriving in Rolls Royce showrooms as early as the 2018 model year.

 

Cadillac Showcases 2016 CT6 Sedan, Has 7-Series, S-Class In Its Crosshairs

While it has not exactly been a close kept secret that the 2016 Cadillac CT6 Sedan would make its official debut at the 2015 New York Auto Show, the slow and gradual teasing of this significant model only served to further build up the hype and anticipation surrounding the new levels of technology and prestige that the CT6 promises to bring to Cadillac showrooms.

The exterior styling of the CT6 shares much of its inspiration with the CTS, but unlike that car, the CT6’s bigger proportions as well as its distinct sense of identity (Borrowed from the Elmiraj Concept) allow it to stand out not only from that particular model, but also 2016-Cadillac-CT6-014rivals such as the BMW 7-Series and Mercedes S-Class which both adopted a more conservative approach to their aesthetic presentations. While it will not beat the Jaguar XJ in terms of stylistic beauty, the CT6 is distinctively American and should please buyers looking for something different in their luxury purchase.

The interior of the CT6 aims to coddle occupants in world class luxury as well as an elegant atmosphere that Cadillac claims is as quiet as a bank vault. While we’ll have to wait until the CT6 arrives in dealerships to see if this comparison is indeed valid, buyers will certainly appreciate the leather trimmed seats that feature five distinct massage functions as well as the expected heated/cooled capability that has become a standard item in many 2016-Cadillac-CT6-016luxury flagships. Other luxury touches include reclining rear seats, a 34 speaker Bose sound system, as well as Quadzone climate control which is the first time a Cadillac model has been equipped with such a feature. Buyers that aim to turn their CT6 into a budget luxury adorned limousine will greatly appreciate the optional Articulating Rear Seat package which allows the heated and cooled rear seat to travel 3.3 inches and also incorporates armrest mounted media controls. As a neat bonus, the package can also be combined with the optional rear seat entertainment system to make the backseat an enviable piece of real estate during long journeys.

As expected from a flagship model, the CT6 also comes equipped with extensive amounts of electronic features and driving assist systems that aim to add convenience and elegance to the CT6 driving experience. A piece of technology that stands out to us is the innovative fully digital rear-view mirror which is the first time such a unit has been equipped to a 2016-Cadillac-CT6-020production car. Created to help improve rearward visibility, Cadillac’s mirror technology uses a special high definition camera that is integrated into the rear bumper which transmits the images it captures to a 1280 by 40 TFT-LCD display mounted in the mirror housing. Cadillac claims that special hydrophobic coating helps keep the camera clean at all times but it will face a formidable test in Michigan’s wild winter weather where salt and snowy grime may prove to be too much for it to handle. Drivers can also revert the mirror to a traditional electrochromatic mirror by flipping a small switch on the bottom of the mirror.

In addition to serving as a four wheeled resort, the CT6 was also designed to deliver an impressive amount of performance. This is thanks in part to its all new Omega architecture which will eventually make its way into Buick’s upcoming flagship sedan as well as a full-sized crossover. The lightweight materials in the platform as well as the use of aluminum body panels (a trick borrowed from the Jaguar XJ) allows the CT6 to weigh in at a featherweight 3,700 lbs. This is an impressive figure especially when compared to rivals such as the Audi A8 which weighs in at 4,300 lbs with the Mercedes S-Class and BMW 7-Series not far behind.

The other half of this potent performance combination is found under the hood where buyers can choose from a trio of engines that aim to give buyers a unique driving experience. Base models will arrive with the company’s familiar 2.0 liter turbocharged four cylinder which is good for 265 horsepower and promises to make the CT6 equally frugal atThe all-new 3.0L Twin Turbo for the 2016 Cadillac CT6 is the onl the pump. Buyers looking for a bit more muscle can equip their CT6 purchase with another familiar engine the naturally aspirated 3.6 liter V6 which is good for a solid 335 horsepower or opt for the range topping CT6 and its all new 3.0 liter twin turbocharged V6 which is good for a balanced 400 horsepower and 400 lb-ft of torque.

All three engines channel their power through an eight speed Hydra-Matic automatic transmission that promises silky smooth shifts and balanced fuel economy and performance capabilities. Four cylinder equipped CT6’s will be only available in rear wheel drive, while uplevel six cylinder variants flip the script and will only feature all-wheel drive. Look for the V6 model to be popular in northern states where snow and ice make AWD systems a must have item for challenging winter conditions. Regardless of which engine is selected, all models will feature a four-wheel steering system that helps reduce the car’s turning radius to 37 feet, while also sharpening the car’s high speed handling behavior on the freeway.

After it completes its tour on the Auto Show circuit, the CT6 will be produced in GM’s Hamtramck Michigan assembly plant with the first units arriving in showrooms before the end of the year. Chinese spec versions will not be built in the U.S. but instead be produced in a new local factory facility which is expected to go online in 2016.

Land Rover Unveils 2016 Range Rover SVAutobiography

Following a slew of teaser images, as wells rampant rumors of an ultra luxurious Range Rover variant that was in the gestation phase, Land Rover has formally lifted the veil off of the 2016 Range Rover SVAutobiography which will be the most powerful, luxurious, and expensive mass production SUV that the British SUV maker has ever built.

The exterior styling of the SVAutobiography is based on the long wheelbase variant of the Range Rover, and as a result shares much of the basic styling cues that have already made their debut in other Range Rover variants. However Land Rover designers have given the big ute several minor visual enhancements that help it stand out from the rest of the Rangerrsva_16svab_ext_loc05_lwb_LowRes Rover family. These include model exclusive emblems, a new front grille finished in Graphite Atlas and polished chrome accents, as well as a set of quad exhaust pipes. The SVAutobiography will also feature an optional two tone paint job which mates the Santorini Black hued roof with one of nine available exterior colors. While we are not big fans of two tone paint jobs and prefer monotone color schemes, the overall effect is still distinct and can look good when certain colors are paired with the roof (though that cannot be said of the color scheme featured in Land Rover’s photographs.)

However it is the interior of this opulent SUV where the bulk of the changes are found and they certainly allow the SVAutobiography to live up to its status as a flagship vehicle. The knobs, pedals, and dials for example are made out of solid aluminium wrrsva_16svab_int_loc01_lwb_LowReshile acres of leather upholstery cover the dashboard, seats, and door panels. The rear occupants are not left out of the pampering and benefit from a built in drink cooler, twisted pile mohair carpet, power retractable tablet pieces, and solid aluminium coat hooks that are firmly bolted into place on the door pillars. The model’s trump card though is its optional sliding luggage floor which aims to make loading and unloading cargo out of the cavernous rear hatch much easier than before. Made out of aluminium (see a pattern here) and real wood accents, the floor slides out by several inches which allows occupants to have an easier time loading and unloading cargo while also serving as an impromptu base for the rear seats when they are swung out bench style.

Performance for the SVAutobiography comes from a highly modified 5.0 liter supercharged V8 which is good for a solid 550 horsepower and 502 lb-ft of torque. Borrowed from its performance bred sibling the Range Rover Sport SVR, this supercharged beast sends its formidable muscle to all four wheels through an all-wheel drive system  and a slick eight speed automatic transmission. Meaty Brembo brakes are also nestled in each wheel and help bring all two tons of luxury SUV to a safe stop from a wide range of speeds though the company did not released any further technical information opting to wait until its official launch date to do so.

Look for the 2016 Land Rover Range Rover SVAutobiography to go on sale sometime this fall, it will arrive with a base MSRP of $199,495 which excludes the $995 destination charge. However look for fully loaded examples to easily push their way past the $200k mark thanks to optional extras as well as other charges including possible dealer markups.