Toyota iQ Wins Japanese Car of the Year

It's definitely very interesting times when Toyota's small iQ manages to beat out the Nissan GT-R supercar for the title of Japanese Car of the Year.

65 jurors gave the Toyota iQ 526 votes and 39 of the 65 jurors actually gave the iQ a perfect 10 score. The Citroen C5 came in second with 223 votes and the Nissan GT-R came in 3rd with 201 votes.

2009 Nissan Cube Officially Unveiled

Nissan has officially unveiled the 2009 Nissan Cube today at the LA Auto Show.

The 2010 Cube is powered by a 122 horsepower 1.8L engine mated to either a CVT transmission or a six-speed manual. The Cube equipped with the CVT is projected to get over 30 mpg on the highway.

The Cube fits five passengers with a “lounge sofa” style sliding rear bench seat.

The Cube will be initially offered in three trims, Cube 1.8, Cube 1.8 S and Cube 1.8 SL

Alfa Romeo Mi.To RIAR limited edition

The Registro Italiano Alfa Romeo (RIAR) is a 1,000-member-strong organization of Alfa Romeo fans and collectors. Celebrating its 46th anniversary this year, the RIAR has released a special-edition Alfa Romeo Mi.To hatchback. Styled in a monotone gunmetal grey that lends an air of stealth to the typically cheery and bright-faced little hatch, the RIAR Limited Edition definitely leaves a unique mark on the Mi.To. Key elements of the custom edition include a 15hp (11kW) upgrade to 170hp (127kW), wheels identical to those found on the Alfa Romeo Competizione 8C and a choice of either black or burgundy leather throughout the interior.
Alfa Romeo Mi.To RIAR Limited Edition

Peugeot may join Fiat-Chrysler alliance

Fiat Group, Chrysler and its parent company Cerberus Capital Management last week released a joint statement announcing they had signed a non-binding term sheet to establish a global strategic alliance. The alliance, to be a key element of Chrysler’s viability plan, would provide the American carmaker with access to competitive, fuel-efficient vehicle platforms, new powertrains, and components to be produced at Chrysler manufacturing sites. Now it appears PSA Peugoet Citroen may be joining the two as well, via a merger with Fiat. The new deal between Fiat and Peugeot is far from certain, however.

2009 Mini Cooper S Convertible - First Drive Review

Top-down in a Mini convertible in negative-degree temperatures? It was probably the dumbest decision we’ve made since we decided to buy a 30-year-old school bus from a drunk guy with no bathroom. OK, so we had the Mini’s windows up, the nuclear-grade seat warmers set to meltdown, the wind-blocker in place, and the blast furnace of a heater warming our toes. And, uh, the degrees were Celsius. Still, it was really freaking cold. Good thing we’re the burly and awesome (and stupid) type of guys who will brave anything—even frozen hair, by God—to drive a new car.

This second-generation Mini cabrio is, of course, based on the second-generation Mini hatchback, and it uses the same powertrains: a 118-hp, 1.6-liter naturally aspirated four in the base Cooper and a 172-horse turbo’d version in the Cooper S. (A 200-plus-horse John Cooper Works edition of the convertible is rumored to be in the pipeline, too.) Beyond its slightly larger overall size, the new model’s most noticeable alterations from the previous car include hidden hinges for the drop-down tailgate and electromechanically operated, pop-up roll hoops behind the rear seats. The new rollover bars replace the dorky fixed ones and improve visibility somewhat, but the folded top stack still dominates the rear view. The top is available in black, brown, or denim and wiggles its way up or down in just 15 seconds and at vehicle speeds up to 20 mph.

Citroen DS3 Inside concept leaks out before Geneva debut

Citroen DS3 concept

Citroen announced plans earlier this week to revive the DS nameplate for a line of mid-range premium models based on the new C3, C4 and C5. Germany's AutoBild decided the world couldn't wait for the Geneva Motor Show debut of the Citroen DS3, and published a few images of the concept a few weeks early.
What you see here is more than just a styling exercise. According to early reports, the concept, which is officially called the DS3 Inside, is very close to the production version due to arrive in Europe as a 2010 model. With underpinnings pulled from the new C3, Citroen is likely to offer a range of gasoline and diesel powerplants ranging from 1.2- to 2.0-liters.
Expect more information to follow in the coming weeks, but in the meantime, check out the gallery of the Citroen DS3 below.

More official images of the Citroen DS3 Inside Concept added to gallery.

Updated Renault Clio

Click above for a high-res gallery of the updated Renault Clio

With Europe's other major international car show alternating to Frankfurt in 2009, the upcoming Geneva Motor Show is as close to home turf as the French automakers will get this year. Along with the new concept its Romanian budget brand Dacia is tipped to unveil at the show, Renault will be descending on the lakeside Swiss city with an updated version of its bread-and-butter Clio. The modest facelift draws on cues from the larger and newer Megane and Laguna models, with a small air inlet on the nose and a larger one integrated into the front bumper. The rear bumper as also bee mildly revised, while the updated cabin features a new sat-nav unit which Renault has developed together with TomTom to offer the cost-effective and web-upgradeable benefits of a standalone aftermarket GPS with the integration of a factory nav unit.
The updated Clio will debut with a new GT trim level that slots in below the hot Renaultsport version, with some of the aggressive cues but without the go-fast bits that make Renault's hot hatches the king of the hill. Renault has released a slew of photos of the new Clio ahead of its debut, which you can check out in the gallery below, along with the details in the press release after the jump.

Gallery: Geneva 2009: updated Renault Clio

Mitsubishi working on TWR Walkinshaw Colt Ralliart

gallery of the Mitsubishi Colt Ralliart

Just because Mitsubishi is pulling out of Dakar and throttling back on its motorsports campaigns doesn't mean the automaker is going to limit the development and sales of its performance models. The Ralliart Sportback is on its way to the States, the Evolution X FQ400 is due to arrive at UK dealerships later this year and in addition to the Colt Ralliart Version R, Mitsubishi is planning another version of the hot hatch for our friends abroad.
The Colt Ralliart TWR Walkinshaw edition, which gets its name from touring car legend Tom Walkinshaw, will come equipped with a new suspension, lowered ride height and more aggressive body kit. The 147 hp, 1.5-liter engine will carry over, along with the close-ratio six-speed manual gearbox and pricing is expected to be set £2,000 over the stock £12,049 Colt Ralliart. Sales should begin sometime this April.

$2M DiMora Natalia SLS 2 to get wait for it world's first MP3-enabled horn

Spend two million bucks on a car, and you'll get to have whatever the hell you want as a horn tone. Alfred DiMora is back, adding more splashy aftermarket items to the list of standard equipment on his Natalia vaporware sport luxury sedan. DiMora Motorcar has decided that the Horntones system will be factory-fitted to every V16 Natalia SLS 2 produced. So far, that's none. This isn't the first time the Natalia has specified an item cherrypicked from SEMA awards, and we suspect it won't be the last.
The Horntones system has 256MB of flash memory that can be loaded up with MP3 files. Once your files are in the Horntones system, there's a 150-watt speaker to delight everyone within a quarter mile by blaring your audio with a 110dB sound pressure level. DiMora contends that the Horntones rig is the most significant development in car horns in the last 100 years. We disagree - after all, the Dukes of Hazzard General Lee had that bitchin' setup that played Dixie.

2009 Mini Cooper John Cooper Works Convertible

Right on the heels of our recent first drive of the latest-gen Mini Cooper S convertible, Mini is raising the curtain on the John Cooper Works edition at the 2009 Geneva auto show. This marks the first time that the John Cooper Works package will be offered as a factory option on the convertible.

The JCW convertible shares the coupe and Clubman Works editions’ upgraded exhaust and turbocharged 1.6-liter four, good for 208 hp and 192 lb-ft of torque. An overboost mode allows for 207 lb-ft, which is, frankly, probably going to be too much for the Mini’s front tires to handle. The 177 lb-ft of torque available in the standard Cooper S convertible had us torque steering all over the place, and the Cooper Works edition isn’t likely to be any better, but we’ll wait until we drive it to comment further.

Keep Reading: 2009 Mini Cooper John Cooper Works Convertible - Auto Shows

Alfa Romeo MiTo GTA concept

By: Noah Joseph

There are pie-in-the-sky concept cars and then there are coming-to-a-showroom-near-you concept cars. The Alfa MiTo GTA is the latter, and from what we've seen that's a good thing, especially as Fiat's new partnership with Chrysler may herald Alfa Romeo's return to North America at long last. Although Alfa is billing the MiTo GTA unveiled here at the Geneva Motor Show as a concept, company spokesmen say it should hit production later this year. And when it does, the 230-hp turbo four – displayed separately on Alfa's show stand – should stay, but we'd expect the racing buckets with rear-anchored harnesses to give way to four seats. The jury's still out on the carbon-fiber body panels and tarmac-chomping front air dam and rear diffuser, but so far we like what we see.

Hyundai Nuvis Concept

NEW YORK, April 9, 2009 – The world will have the opportunity to peer into Hyundai's future when the Nuvis concept makes its world debut at the 2009 New York International Auto Show.
The Nuvis is the eleventh signature concept car to be designed at the company's California Design Center in Irvine, Calif. In addition to showcasing the brand's cutting-edge capabilities, Nuvis also hints at a possible design direction for a future-generation crossover, blending attributes of a tall urban car and a premium utility vehicle.
Consistent with Hyundai's pledge to lead all brands in U.S. fuel economy by 2015, Nuvis is powered by Hyundai's Hybrid Blue Drive architecture, which uses breakthrough lithium polymer battery technology.
In developing the initial sketches, Hyundai designers considered the interplay of natural, fluid elements with more rigid surfaces and structures to create the illusion of constant motion. Specifically, designers studied the way water splits across and flows around the hull and sides of a boat, creating a wake, or the way wind shapes a snowdrift or flurries through trees. The living power of these elements is reflected in the Nuvis' design.
"Our goal was to create a living machine, constantly moving, that the driver and passengers could be part of," said John Krsteski, Hyundai Design manager. "There are no lines on or in this car that are standing still."
In addition to invoking the impression of irrepressible motion, the Hyundai design team took more practical matters into account as well. Nuvis is designed to accommodate the diverse interests of a modern, active couple. The Nuvis is meant to be comfortable starting its day at a desert retreat, arriving at the ski slopes in the afternoon and then cruising to a formal dinner that evening.
The design team sought to create a vehicle that would complement its environment, without making a negative impact. The versatility of the vehicle's design, combined with Hyundai's Hybrid Blue Drive technology, accomplishes exactly this.
The Nuvis has an assertive face demonstrated by the strong, hourglass shape that frames the blue acrylic shield grille and aggressive headlamps, whose two glowing white rings are offset by a pair of red rings on the taillights.
Perched on top of 22-inch wheels, Nuvis' proportions are tall, strong and protective. The two body-side lines set up a flowing water effect, giving the appearance of motion.
In addition to the dynamic angles and firm stance, the Nuvis boasts a host of unique exterior elements.
"One of the coolest attributes of Nuvis is that the protective roof appears to float on top of the body through the use of hidden pillars and high-contrast glass," said Andre Hudson, Hyundai senior designer. "This effect starts at the headlamps and is carried all the way through to the taillights producing a tall, strong body-side and rear."
Large gull-wing doors, either opened or closed, create unique front, rear and profile views. Blue ambient lighting cast across the body adds to the overall upscale feel of the vehicle.
An additional design element featured on the Nuvis is a brushed aluminum accent that spans the entire length of the vehicle. Normally, this type of trim is only found around the windows. On the Nuvis, this trim extends out from the headlamps, juts up along the hood and through the beltline, across the top and into the rear spoiler.
In keeping with the exterior design scheme, the Nuvis' spacious and luxurious interior is dominated by a cool, blue acrylic center stack that ebbs and surges in the manner of a river. The cascading floor, with its ambient blue lighting, further enhances an environment in which seamless technology flows, enveloping both the driver and passengers.
A current of information coming from the instrument panel streams throughout the cockpit, as passengers are able to access each other via Methode Electronics TouchSense® technology that links all four business-class seats. The car's infotainment system is fed by channels from the outside – the occupants, for instance, can learn of a restaurant's specials that evening as they drive past it.
The sculptured, comfortable seats are custom woven with a graduated fabric that is finished in a silver-to-black sunburst. The ecologically-friendly seating fabric is provided by True Textiles, the industry's leading provider of environmentally responsible textile solutions. The Nuvis fabric is made from 100 percent post-consumer recycled polyester – reclaimed soda bottles – and increasingly sustainable manufacturing processes. Hyundai collaborated with the True creative team to produce this unique fabric with an 80-inch repeat, providing a fabric that is as attractive to the environment as it is to the viewer. The matching seatbelts are provided by Harveys Original Seatbeltbags, a well- known manufacturer of handbags made out of seatbelts. Harveys also developed two matching handbags for the Nuvis concept.
Your browser may not support display of this image. Hyundai's all-new, homegrown Hybrid Blue Drive architecture helps define the Nuvis concept. Hyundai's proprietary parallel hybrid drive system mates the already fuel-efficient 2.4-liter Theta II engine to a 6-speed automatic transmission and a 30kW (205 N-m) electric motor for maximum fuel economy.
Hybrid Blue Drive has an all-electric mode and a parallel drive mode, meaning that the wheels are turned by power coming directly from the gasoline engine, or the electric motor, or both together, as conditions demand. This parallel hybrid drive architecture will serve as the foundation for future Hyundai hybrid drive vehicles, starting with the next-generation Sonata in the United States.
To maximize fuel economy, all of the Theta II's major driveline and cooling system components have been optimized to reduce friction, while the crankcase has been filled with low friction oil.
Engine management software automatically shuts off the engine when the vehicle comes to a halt, cutting emissions to zero. The engine automatically restarts when pressure is reapplied to the accelerator pedal due to the Integrated Starter Generator (ISG).
To further reduce fuel consumption, the Theta II's engine management software, which governs injection pressure, engine cycle timing and exhaust retreatment rates, has been revised. This control strategy assures that maximum efficiency is achieved during gentle acceleration, while greater power is immediately available during full acceleration. During deceleration, regenerative braking also comes into play to help conserve energy.
To ensure that the engine runs at lower RPMs, the top three gear ratios in the transmission have been extended. Fuel economy is further optimized through the latest electric motor-assisted steering system which reduces power drain and low resistance tires.
The nine major components of Hyundai's Hybrid Blue Drive include:
1. An efficient 30kW electric motor, delivering 205 N-m of torque
2. A regenerative braking system
3. An integrated starter generator that enables the engine to turn off at stops and restart automatically under acceleration
4. A breakthrough lithium polymer battery package, with 5.3 Ah of capacity at 270 volts
5. Optimized Theta II 2.4-liter engine
6. 6-speed automatic transmission with an improved-efficiency electric oil pump
7. Weight-efficient architecture coupled with a low drag coefficient
8. Electric air conditioning compressor
9. Hybrid power control unit
Hyundai's hybrid system stores its electrical charge in a 270V lithium polymer rechargeable battery (5.3Ah/270V) that surpasses both existing nickel-metal hydride and pending lithium-ion applications. Lithium polymer batteries are more durable and space-efficient than other, bulkier hybrid batteries.

Renault Clio Sport : 2009

renault clio sport 1 09

Since 2000, the successive variants of Clio Renault Sport have led to it becoming the most popular hatchback of its class, with worldwide sales totalling more than 70,000 cars. The Renault Sport version of the brand�s best-selling model has been unanimously praised by exacting owners as one of the market�s best hot hatches, and also one of the most fun to drive

Zenn Motor Company SHARES SOAR!

zenn logo

Toronto-based Zenn Motor Company Inc. shares (ZNN) SOARED today based on new battery technology results released by one of their partner EEStor Inc in Texas. This ground breaking battery technology is key in enabling electric cars to meet minimum highway speed standards. The stock rose to a high of $5.79 CAD (up 68%) and currently up 48%.

zenn motor company electric car

ZENN, stands for Zero Emission, No Noise fully-featured electric vehicle.

The ZENN can be recharged anywhere by simply plugging into a standard electrical outlet and can be ready to go in as little as 4 hours. At only pennies per mile to operate and with minimal maintenance requirements, the ZENN is the ideal choice for consumers and businesses alike.

zenn operating cost

ZENN Motor Company Inc. is a developer, manufacturer and supplier of electric vehicles. The Company focuses on providing zero emission transportation solutions. The Company’s initial EV offering was a low speed electric vehicle called the ZENN.

zenn electric car

Zenn currently builds a 2 seat fully electric vehicle at a plant in Quebec, Canada. It has a range of 50-80km (31-50miles) and a top speed of 40km/h (25mph). It is currently not allowed on public roads in many jurisdictions due to its low speed yet can be used in low speed streets and controlled areas such as campuses and gated communities.

With this new battery technology Zenn plans to build a new highway capable vehicle called the CityZENN which is expected to have a top speed of 125km/h (78mph) and have a range of 400km (250miles) on a single charge. Initial production is late 2009 with commercial availability in 2010.

Zenn Motors also has worldwide exclusive rights to use the battery in vehicles under 1400kg (3086 lbs).

zenn electric car
zenn electric car

Texas based EEStor who manufactures the battery is a privately held low key company which was responsible for releasing the positive data with respect to it’s energy and power density results of their patented modified barium-titannate powders battery.

zenn electric car


Hyundai ix-ionic Concept

Korea’s leading carmaker has shown great concept vehicles over the years, but the Hyundai ix-ionic concept (pronounced ““ik-sonic” and yes, written in lower case letters only) appears to be anything but far-fetched. In fact, it looks everything like the production-ready evolution of the i-mode concept (small letters again) that was unveiled in Geneva only last year.
Hyundai ix-ionic Concept-1Hyundai ix-ionic Concept-2The hexagonal front grille is quite similar but the profile and rear are definitely more realistic. Designed by Hyundai’s studio in Rüsselsheim, Germany, this stylish compact crossover is 4,400 mm long, 1,850 mm wide and stands 1,650 mm off the ground. All measures within a few whiskers of a BMW X3, a likely target and benchmark. The ix-ionic concept also splits the difference between Hyundai’s current Tucson and Sante Fe models in length and width. It is fashionably lower than the former by 8 cm, which is fine for a vehicle described by its makers as an “Urban Nomad”.
The ix-ionic seats five: save for the snazzy blue rear-lighting in the gauges, navi screen and radio display, as well as some bright magnesium accents, the interior is production grade too. Worthy of notice are speakers mounted much higher than usual in the doors for better sound quality. There’s also a ‘blind spot’ warning light in the rear-view mirror. And under the hood is a 1.6-litre, 168-horsepower, direct-injected four-cylinder gasoline engine with ‘stop-start’ mode, coupled to a dual automated clutch, six-speed gearbox and four-wheel-drive. Look for additional muscle if this one makes the trip over.
© Source: autoshow