Tuesday, 19 April 2016

Volvo V60 and S60 R-Design models look a good bit naughtier

2011 Volvo V60 and S60 R-Design

We recently drove the 2011 Volvo S60 in the wilds of Oregon and came away rather impressed with both its performance and in-person aesthetics. That said, we generally don't begrudge a bit more visual aggression, and to that end, Volvo has obliged with a pair of new R-Design models here at the Paris Motor Show that includes the S60 sedan and its not-for-North-America V60, a wagon so attractive that we couldn't help but lead off our live coverage with it.

In either case, the well-integrated R-Design package consists of a distinct front fascia, rear bumper cutout with diffuser and bespoke 18-inch alloys in a fetching smoked finish. While there isn't any more power under the hood, the 300-horsepower 3.0-liter inline turbo six should fit the bill rather nicely, especially with its generous 325 pound-feet of torque. No word on any shift-map changes for the six-speed automatic gearbox, but what we'd really like to see for this sportier S60 is a set of paddle shifters.

That aside, R-Design models ought to handle a bit better than their more common brethren, as they hug the ground a bit more closely thanks to shorter, stiffer coils and monotube shocks. The rest of the suspension gets beefed up, too, with firmer bushings and a front strut-tower brace.

Audi A1 1.4 TFSI

2011 Audi A1 1.4 TFSI

Despite the success of the Mini Cooper and America's newfound love of hatchbacks, Audi continues to deny us the all-new A1. There are a variety of reasons for excluding the pint-sized hatch from the U.S. market (marketing, brand image, average transaction price, etc.), but the introduction of the twin-charged A1 here at the Paris Motor Show has us questioning all of them.

Packing a 1.4-liter TFSI (read: both turbo and supercharged) inline four-cylinder engine, the A1 puts out 185 horsepower and 185 pound-feet of torque, sends it to the front wheels through a seven-speed S tronic gearbox and can sprint to 60 in 6.9 seconds on its way to a top speed of 141 mph. Think of it as the luxury alternative to the Ford Fiesta, with a price tag to match: €24,250 or just over $30k at current exchange rates.

Range Rover Evoque shows up ready for production

2012 Land Rover Range Rover Evoque

Land Rover's critical new Range Rover Evoque debuted today at the Paris Motor Show, ushering in a brave new world for the British off-roader brand. The debut continues the company's march toward the softroader segment, a movement first started with the LR2/Freelander and now resulting in the handsome new three-door seen here.

Slated to be joined shortly by a five-door version, the compact Evoque fits right into the Land Rover mold design-wise, albeit with a surprising amount of surface jewelry for such a sleek two-box shape. From the protruding fog lamps to the horizontal matte chrome-trimmed hood intakes to the unique divots atop the wheel lip moldings and the somewhat fiddly taillamp lenses, there's quite a bit to draw one's eye. The overall impression one gets of the vehicle on the show floor is one of imposing width, a feeling that's magnified when you realize that an individual of average height can see over the vehicle when standing next to it.

The drivetrain is no less revolutionary for the brand, with a 2.0-liter turbo four pushing out 240 horsepower through a new permanent all-wheel-drive system. Key options for the Evoque include Adaptive Dynamics and Magneride adaptive damping and a massive panoramic roof which makes the interior feel like a greenhouse even on the Paris show floor. While the littlest Rover lacks the full-on four-wheel-drive weaponry of its bigger siblings, it does feature the latest distillation of the company's Terrain Response Control, and with good arrival and departure angles, it should still be better than most crossovers when it comes to tackling off-pavement activities.

Sunday, 17 April 2016

Mercedes-Benz CLS comes on strong

2012 Mercedes-Benz CLS

The 2012 Mercedes CLS is the second act of the car that invented both the market segment and the grammatical quandary known as the "four-door coupe." Made dramatically more bold for this go-round, it features an upright grille that flows back into a rump that disappears in photos but holds its own in person. The new sedan is also lighter, with aluminum doors that are 52 pounds less heavy and an aluminum hood, front fenders, trunk lid and parcel shelf.

Along with the design, the engines are the story. There will be four available, starting with two 3.5-liter V6 engines in Europe. One is a 265-horsepower diesel engine and the other a 306-hp gas V6 with standard stop/start. Next comes the 2.5-liter four-cylinder diesel with 204 hp, and last to arrive is the V8 CLS 550 putting out 402 hp and 443 lb-ft of torque.

LED High Performance Active Headlights, Direct-Steer electromechanical steering, a tweaked suspension lifted from the E-Class, and a host of interior trim options that range from carbon fiber to high gloss brown burl walnut are among the many changes on the car.

Facelifted 2012 Nissan GT-R

2012 Nissan GT-R

Well look what we found tucked away in a glass-enclosed corner of the Nissan stand. What you're looking at is the 2012 Nissan GT-R, complete with a fascia comprised of a restyled bumper, air-intakes and LED daytime running lamps. A new diffuser pulled from the SpecM is mounted out back, along with new lightweight wheels that may or may not be included in the final package. Our insider wouldn't give us any details on power increases, but they did say we should keep an eye out for an official announcement in the coming months.

Hyundai teams up with Brabus for sportier i20

Hyundai i20 Sport Edition

After a 2008 introduction, the Hyundai i20 is back at the Paris Motor Show but this time it's got a bit of an attitude. Hyundai has teamed up with Brabus to create the i20 Sport Edition. So far the only details released involve the appearance changes. The front skirt and wheel arches take on an angrier appearance while Yokohama rubber gets wrapped around a set of 17-inch Brabus alloy wheels. The black mesh looks good next to the black bezel around the headlights, as well as the added LED daytime running strips.

While the outside sports that subtly-cool hot-hatch look, the inside looks it was "designed" by the Great Pumpkin after a night spent throwing one too many back. Though the orange-black paint scheme is a little much, the sporty Recaro seats, leather-lined surfaces and seven-inch touchscreen are welcome additions.

We're still waiting to hear what is powering the Hyundai i20 Sport Edition, but with Brabus involved we can only hope for the best. The car will enter production during the first half of 2011, and it will be released as a limited-edition model, available in both three and five-door versions

Maserati GranTurismo MC Stradale is not an Italian DJ, but is an upgraded super coupe

Maserati GranTurismo MC Stradale

Maserati can produce some gorgeous automobiles. The Maserati GranTurismo is no exception, in fact we'd place it in the give-up-your-first-born-to-own-one category of beautiful. In addition to its looks, the GranTurismo is a powerful and luxurious grand touring machine that causes both eyes and ears to strain for more as it goes by. The 430-horsepower GranTurismo S was the king of the trident-wearing coupes, until today. Taking the stage at the 2010 Paris Motor Show is the all-new Maserati GranTurismo MC Stradale.

The GranTurismo MC Stradale ratchets up the excitement by pushing power output to 450 horsepower. The chassis has been tweaked and the body slightly updated for increased aerodynamics. The MC Stradale manages to increase the levels of downforce without causing a noticeable increase in drag. The result is an elegant two-door that's begging for track time.