Sunday, January 24, 2010

New BMW 335is Coupe and Convertible with 320HP Twin-Turbo Six Officially Revealed

BMW's North American division has released official details on the new 335is Coupe and Convertible models ahead of their world debut at the New York International Auto Show in April.

Based on the facelifted versions of the 3-Series Coupe and Convertible, the 335is feature a detuned version of the 340HP N54 3.0-liter twin-turbocharged straight six found in the also new Z4 sDrive35is.

In the 335is this unit produces 320 horsepower and 332 lb-ft of torque with up to 370 lb-ft of torque available through the use of temporary overboost. As a reminder, BMW replaced the 300HP twin-turbo six N54 with the new 300HP single-turbo six N55 in the 2011 335i.

Aside from the more potent 320HP engine, the 335is are also the first 3-Series models in the U.S. to be offered with BMW's 7-speed Double Clutch Transmission (DCT) with Launch Control as an option, in place of the standard 6-speed manual transmission.

BMW said that top speed of the 335is will be electronically limited to 150 mph or 241km/h.

The 335is Coupe performs 0-60 mph (96km/h) runs in 5.0 seconds with the optional 7-speed DCT and 5.1 seconds with the manual 6-speed. The 335is Convertible, meanwhile, requires 5.2 seconds for the 0-60mph run whether equipped with the 6-speed manual or optional 7-speed DCT.

Other notable upgrades under the hood include the additional radiator behind the left-side front air intake, along with a more powerful electric cooling fan, stiffer engine mounts and a new sport exhaust system.

Above and beyond the cosmetic tweaks of the facelift models, the 335is get M Style bumpers, the rear with an integrated diffuser, new kidney grille surrounds in high gloss black, Shadowline black window trim, wing mirror caps in high gloss black, and standard 18-inch light alloy wheels in ferric grey color (19-inch are optional).

Inside, the M Sport upgrades concern the M Sport steering wheel, sport seats, anthracite headliner, M door sills, M driver's footrest, M gearshift knob, and stainless steel sport pedals. The instrument cluster dials in dark grey with a "335is" badge on the tachometer face and the "335is" badge on the passenger side dashboard complete the changes.

The 335is will initially be available only in the U.S. and Canada with prices in the States starting from $50,525 including destination for the 335is Coupe, and $59,075 including destination for the Convertible.

From Concept to Reality: First Generation Audi TT

Welcome to a new series which will be following your favorite cars that made it from concept to reality. Strap in, it's about to get fun-u-cational. As always, any recommendations, suggestions, thoughts and ideas are much welcome.

Audi's TT: The little squashed Beetle that could (and did). This is the car that brought Audi some serious attention in the mid- to late-90's while also influencing design for the brand that always wanted to play in the BMW/Benz league. Mission accomplished.

Debut (Concept): 1995 Frankfurt International Auto Show (TT Coupe) ; 1995 Tokyo Motor Show (TTS Roadster)

Debut (Production): 1998 Paris Motor Show (1999 Model Year Audi TT Coupe) ; 1999 Geneva Motor Show (2000 MY Audi TT Roadster)

Lost in translation: Other than the Coupe's more cleanly styled rooftop design that did not include rear-quarter windows and the TTS's funky front fender vents, not a whole lot.

But we got to keep: Just about everything else including the baseball stitching on the roadster's seats. Sweet.

Fun fact: The TT name has a bit of a bickering going on behind it. While those clinging to the past stand by the fact that it hearkens back to the Isle of Man Tourist Trophy (TT) motorcycle race and NSU's Prinz-based 1000TT, 1200TT, and TTS of the 1960's, others claim Audi originally meant for it to stand for Technology & Tradition.

Did you Know? Due to some highly publicized high speeds crashes, Audi was forced to revise the TT's suspension and ESP settings, and to add a rear spoiler to force the car to stick to the road.

Where is it now? Enjoying a second generation with a more mature design that incorporates a retractable rear spoiler, and more trim levels that you can throw a shoe at, including a 5-cylinder, turbocharged 340-horse RS bomb-on-wheels.

By Phil Alex
Phil Alex was born in Rhode Island in 1985. He graduated with degrees in Finance and German from Wofford College in 2007 and has had an obsession with cars and travel. Currently he resides near Japan's international airport in Narita. He makes no apologies for his articles and welcomes all feedback, as long as it is adamantly worded. If for any reason you are inclined to vent some more, check out more of his posts on the Examiner here.

VW and Suzuki Reportedly Planning to Develop $4300-$5300 Low Cost Small Car for India and Europe

The newly forged Volkswagen Group - Suzuki alliance plans to develop a new low cost small car for India as well as Europe and other markets, the Economic Times reported on Friday. The business daily said that the new vehicle, which will act as a replacement for Suzuki's Alto, would cost between 200,000 and 250,000 rupees in India, which comes to about $4,300 - $5,300 or €2,900 - €3,600 at today's exchange rates.

This means that the projected price for the VW/Suzuki model, is double the price of Tata Motor's Nano, which is the world's cheapest automobile.

"We will need a car in the Rs 2.5-lakh apiece range. First we had the M800, then the Alto. At some point we will need a replacement for the Alto. That price range is the entry level for Indian customers today, so we can't leave that segment open," Maruti Suzuki chairman RC Bhargava told the newspaper.

The Economic Times reported that in Europe, the car would fit right under Volkswagen's forthcoming Up! model.

"Volkswagen will be greatly interested in a car below the price segment of the Up, which we have already displayed in India, and that is something we will need to check in our future together with Suzuki," VW spokesman, Fabian Mannecke, told ET.

The newspaper added that in Europe, the VW/Suzuki small car would be priced well under the still under development Up! (which it claims will carry a price tag of around $8,800 or €6,000 in Old Continent), at around $4,000 to $5,000 or €2,700 to €3,400.

We're assuming that ET made some sort of typo in the price range as there's no way that the VW / Suzuki small car will be priced lower in Europe that in India.

And while Tata Motors proves that everything's possible in India, somehow we find it hard to believe that the two automakers will be able to develop a car that meets the strict emissions and crash standards in Europe and at the same time carry a price tag of around €3,000...

Suzuki Releases Pricing for New Kizashi Sedan, Starts at $19,734

Suzuki has announced detailed pricing on its all-new Kizashi mid-size sedan that will begin arriving in dealer showrooms in the States in December 2009. Prices will range from $19,734 for the based Kizashi S with a manual gearbox to $27,484 for the top-of-the-line SLS with an automatic transmission (CVT) and AWD. All Kizashi sedans are powered by a 2.4-liter four-cylinder engine that makes 185 HP with the six-speed manual gearbox and 178HP when mated to the CVT.

The Kizashi S comes equipped with 8 airbags (front/rear side and curtain), pushbutton keyless start, dual-zone climate control, 9-speaker audio with steering controls, stability control and ABS and, power windows, doors and mirrors as standard.

The better equipped SE model that costs $2,500 more than the automatic version of the S model adds a CVT, 215/55R17 tires on alloy wheels, power driver's seat with 10-way adjustment, 3-position memory driver's seat, and leather wrapped parking brake handle and steering wheel with cruise control.

Next up is the GTS model which is available in six-speed manual or a performance tuned CVT with steering wheel paddle shifters. Priced at $23,234, the SE gets various equipment upgrades over the SE including a 425 watt Rockford Fosgate premium audio system with 10 speakers, Bluetooth streaming audio capability (with compatible MP3 and iPod connectivity) and hands-free calling with voice command, 235/45R18 tires, fog lights and power moon roof.

Finally, the SLS adds leather seats, power passenger seat, heated front seats, auto dimming rear view mirror with Homelink Universal garage door opener, heated outside mirrors, automatic rain sensing wipers, automatic headlamps and rear parking sensors.

All prices mentioned above include a $735 destination and handling fee.

SEMA Show: Suzuki Equator Modded by ICON Vehicle Dynamics

The four tricked out Suzuki Kizashi sedans that are heading to Las Vegas for the SEMA Show will be joined by a Equator pickup truck concept crafted by ICON Vehicle Dynamics. The company said that it has tapped into a variety of Southern California-based suppliers to assemble a more aggressive interpretation of Suzuki's Nissan's off-road recipe with a tweaked version of the Equator's 4.0 liter V6 that gains Doug Thorley long-tube headers and cat-back exhaust.

Other highlights include new performance coilovers in front and 2.5-inch piggyback shocks supporting linked to Total Chaos upper control arms, Goodyear Wrangler MT/R tires mounted to Trail Ready bead-lock wheels and Bushwacker fender flares.

Suzuki Kizashi Tuned to the Max: First Photos and Details of SEMA Show Proposals

The all-new Suzuki Kizashi won't be arriving at the firm's US dealerships before early December, but the Japanese automaker has already prepared four specially tricked-out versions of its mid-size sedan that will be displayed at the SEMA Show in Sin City next week. The list of tuners includes names such as Road Race Motorsport, Delta Tech, Westside Auto and even Import Tuner magazine (though the later has yet to release any photos). As far as appearance goes, we'll give our vote to Road Race Motorsport's kitted out Platinum Edition Kizashi. You can check out all the modded Kizashi sedans after the break.

Road Race Motorsport's Platinum Edition Kizashi

As one of the first custom builders to recognize the potential of Suzuki's vehicles, the presence of Road Race at SEMA comes as no surprise. Given the Kizashi platform's promise – and the fluid, almost organic sheet metal clothing it – Road Race supplies its own very unique take on Kizashi.

SEMA visitors can enjoy Road Race's Sport Body kit exterior which employs Carbontrix custom bumpers, rear spats and diffuser. Road Race has crafted a custom grill, vented hood and made the Kizashi its own 'Platinum Edition' graphics and a blackened roof. These visual modifications are supported by a platform perfectly suited to Las Vegas Motor Speedway or a high-speed drive on I-15 (what happens in Vegas doesn't have to stay in Vegas…).

Progress Technology provided the sport springs and front and rear sway bars. Road Race installed its own chassis stiffeners, and Rotora brings the custom Kizashi to a stop with 330mm slotted rotors up front, supplemented by Road Race's own 260mm slotted rotors in the rear.

Under the vented hood, the sweetness continues with a proprietary custom intake system, Zeitronix ZT-2 data logging system and Road Race engine management. The modifications are concealed – until ignition – by a painted-to-match engine cover, and announced by Road Race's own 'Integrated Sport' dual exhaust system. The Road Race Kizashi can be seen at the Zeitronix Booth #21212.

Suzuki Showcases Swift Plug in-Hybrid and SX4 Fuel Cell Vehicle

At the Tokyo Motor Show, Suzuki exhibited its latest 'green' concept studies for the future including a Swift with Plug-in Hybrid and an SX4 Fuel Cell Vehicle (FCV). The hybrid version of the Swift is a supermini aimed at city dwellers that travel around 20 km (about 13 miles) a day and has been designed to be driven primarily on electric power.

It is equipped with 600cc engine that is used to charge a lithium-ion battery that powers an electric motor if capacity level drops. The batter can also be charged through any domestic plug socket.

Suzuki did not release any performance or fuel economy figures nor did it say if it intends to produce the Swift Plug-in Hybrid in the future.

The other 'green' study on display at Suzuki's Tokyo Motor Show booth is the is the SX4 FCV (Fuel Cell Vehicle) which combines a General Motors-sourced high performance fuel cell with a Suzuki developed high pressure hydrogen tank and a compact capacitor that is used to recover energy during braking and using it to reduce fuel cell loading under acceleration.

The SX4 FCV is currently under test on public roads in Japan as Suzuki plans to to commercialize the car in the near future.

2010 Suzuki Kizashi: Full Technical Specs, Prices Start Under $20,000 top out at $24,000

As we're getting closer to the launch date of Suzuki's new flagship sedan, the company decided to release technical specs and preliminary pricing on the Kizashi that will start under $20,000 when it goes on sale across the U.S. this December. Instead of positioning the Kizashi against mainstream offerings like the Toyota Camry and Honda Accord, Suzuki said that it aims to capture the attention of those buyers that would like to own but cannot afford more driver-orientated and sportier looking mid-size sedans such as the Acura TSX, VW Passat CC and BMW 3-Series.

Built at Suzuki's brand-new manufacturing facility in Sagara, Japan, the 2010 Kizashi will offer buyers only one engine option at launch, a 2.4-liter four-cylinder engine that delivers 185 HP at 6,500 rpm and 170 lb-ft of torque at 4,000 rpm with the six-speed manual transmission. When mated to the CVT, the 2.4 liter unit produces 178 HP at 6,000 rpm.

When coupled to a manual transmission, the front-wheel drive Kizashi sprints from standstill to 60 mph (96 km/h) in 7.5 seconds.

The sedan also offers buyers the option of all-wheel drive, which can be deactivated with a switch. Depending on the transmission and drive configuration, the Kizashi 2.4L can return a fuel economy of up to 23mpg in city driving and 31mpg on the highway.

A more powerful V6 petrol engine as well as a hybrid version are expected to join the Kizashi's lineup within the next two years.

The current range will consist of four trim levels (S, SE, GTS and SLS) with prices starting from below $20,000 for the entry-level S model and topping at around $24,000 for the SLS complete with all-wheel drive.

The Kizashi's base level 'S' comes with standard push button start, sport front seats, steering wheel audio controls, automatic dual-zone climate control with passenger rear vents, stability control, 8 airbags and integrated-chromed dual exhaust tips.

The SE adds a standard CVT transmission, 215/55-17 tires mounted on alloy wheels, a 10-way power driver seat with 3-position memory, cruise control and a leather-wrapped steering wheel, shift lever and parking brake lever.

Those that opt for the better equipped GTS have the choice of 6-speed manual or CVT transmissions with paddle shifters, while standard equipment includes 235/45-18 tires on alloy wheels, one-touch moonroof, fog lights, a 425 watt Rockford Fosgate audio system and integrated Bluetooth hands-free calling and audio streaming.

Finally, the top-spec SLS adds leather appointments to the interior, three-stage heated front seats, a four-way power passenger seat, "Home Link" universal garage door opener, windshield wiper rain sensor and rear parking sensors.