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2005 Automobile News

Volkswagen Has Big Plans for 2008
Old Favorites Corrado and Scirocco Get Upgraded

 No one can say the guys at Volkswagen aren’t ambitious. The VW empire includes some of the flashiest names in the auto universe (Bentley, Bugatti, Lamborghini) and is also the patriarch of accessible cars for regular Joes and Janes on the road. Now, developments are underway at VW to give some oldies but goodies big makeovers for 2008, blurring the line between traditional VW comfort, snazzy looks and performance.

Coming in slightly larger than the Audi TT, the anticipated Corrado 2+2 will have the front-drive Golf V platform and overall sleeker looks than conventional VW models, including narrower headlamps and titanium grill. Nothing is final, but the engines are expected to include the Twincharger 170-bhp 1.4-liter four, a 200-bhp 2.0-liter turbo-4 or an AWD engine with a 250-bhp 2.3-liter V-6. These features would put the Corrado in competition with BMW’s Z4 coupe and the Porsche Cayman S.

Meanwhile, the 2008 Scirocco, 3.2-liter, 247-hp V-6 all-wheel drive coupe is being projected as more of a performance vehicle. Built on an adapted Jetta chassis, the Scirocco, which might be marketed under a different name, will have a more muscular look and a beefier engine than the Corrado. Two four-cylinders, the 1.4-liter Twincharger unit and the turbo-charged 2.0-liter FSI mill will provide the power, with an all-wheel drive, 3.2-liter V6 engine rounding off the top of the line. The transmission is anticipated to be a six-speed manual or the optional six-speed DSG unit.

As information trickles in about VW’s expectations for their 2008 models, we will fill you in. Until then, don’t be too disappointed if at some point, VW changes its plans regarding these cars.

Intelligence, Beauty and Control
2006 Lexus IS 350 and IS 250

O n Saturday, November 5, Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles was all about cars, not baseball. The venue hosted the Taste of Lexus tour, which traveled to twelve cities in the United States. Pairing luxury cars with fine dining, the Taste of Lexus event invited guests to drive Lexus vehicles (from luxury SUV hybrids to the new IS models) on an auto track that simulated different driving conditions, including off-road terrain and other obstacles. To fully appreciate the Lexus automobiles, other manufacturers’ vehicles in the same class were available for comparison. In between test drives, guests enjoyed a variety of fine cuisine and driving demonstrations.

The Taste of Lexus introduced the all new 2006 IS 250 and IS 350 models. Touted as “the fastest car in its class,” the IS comes powered with 204 hp on the 250 model and 306 hp on the 350, which reaches 0-60 mph in 5.2 seconds. Both models have V6 engines and Formula One-style paddle shifters on the steering wheel; as well, drivers of the 250 can option for all-wheel drive.

Great handling, a powerful engine and top-of-the-line options insure that the new IS maintains the Lexus luxury standards. However, the company is renovating its look, changing the styling of its cars and increasing performance. Keeping in line with this, the IS has a sportier look than most other Lexus models, with more fluid lines along with more powerful engines, yet preserving the “intelligence, beauty and control” associated with Lexus.

The World's Fastest Road Car and the Price of Speed
It's the Bugatti Veyron 16.4

The fastest and most expensive production car ever made, the $1.2 million Bugatti Veyron 16.4 had its world premiere at the Tokyo Motor Show in October, 2005. Hand-produced in Molsheim, France, this super sports car was also shown from October 11-18 in Madonie, Sicily, famous for the renowned Targa Florio race where, in the 1920s, the company’s founder Ettore Bugatti achieved the most racing victories.

The new Veyron 16.4 is named after Pierre Veyron, a Grand Prix motor racing driver most remembered for winning the 24 Hours of Le Mans race with Jean-Pierre Wimille in a Bugatti 57C in 1939. The Bugatti name has long been associated with top-of-the-line vehicles, particularly racing cars. In 1998, Volkswagen purchased Bugatti’s trademark rights, assuring that this legendary name lives on.

To say that the Veyron is impressive would almost be an insult, considering just how unbelievable this car really is. The luxurious, classic interior is reminiscent of the brand’s racing past while the outside is striking with dual color enameling, chrome-plated radiator shutter and protruding back fenders which enhance the car’s sleek, athletic look. With some cars, looks can be deceiving, but here any performance expectations you might have by just looking at the car are sure to be exceeded.

Reaching 60 miles per hour in just 2.5 seconds, the Veyron has a seven-speed DSG twin-clutch transmission, a direct-injection 8.0-liter W-16 engine with 64 valves and 4 turbos and a top speed of 250 mph. This means that if you want to grab dinner in Los Angeles and a show in Las Vegas, the Veyron will get you there in one hour! The car's speed capabilities are enhanced by aluminum and magnesium components, which help keep it light. Its power output tops at 987 horses (1,001 metric horses) at 6000 rpm with 922 lb.-ft. of torque at 2,200 rpm. Toggle switches on the steering wheel sequentially switch transmission, and power is evenly distributed with continuous four-wheel drive.

Speed demons will gladly trade their souls for the chance to drive this car, which not only reaches unprecedented speeds but also does so with refined technological class. Once the car reaches almost 140 mph, the normal 4.9-in. ride height is lowered to 3.1 in the front and 3.7 in the rear, while the rear spoiler rises and the wing extends nearly a foot. Then, at 230 mph, the driver is required to turn a key in a lock located near the driver’s seat, lowering the car even more to a miniscule 2.6 inches in front and 2.8 in the rear. The front underbody flaps close and the rear spoiler and wing retract, as the car zooms to its top speed.

While many might fall in love at first sight with the Veyron 16.4, few will find themselves with one in the garage considering its ultra-hefty price tag, and since the company plans to produce no more than fifty cars a year, with a maximum of 300 units overall. Even so, for the lucky few who can afford it, the Veyron promises to be worth every penny.

When Robots Ruled the Course
The DARPA Grand Challenge

People everywhere are having their fears confirmed—robots are indeed taking over the planet. From automated phone answering services to robotic pets, modern life puts us into daily contact with artificial intelligence. But until now, humans had at least one domain where man was still king—the road. Although a necessity for getting around, automobiles are relatively modern perks which, if need be, humanity could survive without. But take away the driver, and cars would be nothing but immobile bibelots of metal and rubber. That is, until now.

On October 8, Stanley, a robotic vehicle designed by a Stanford University School of Engineering team, earned its creators $2 million dollars when it finished first in the Grand Challenge, a 132-mile course in the Nevada desert. The race was organized by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), and was meant to expand technology that will eventually make certain military land vehicles completely autonomous.

Stanley, a modified diesel-powered Volkswagen Touareg R5 (pictured at right), beat out 22 other competing vehicles built by teams consisting of university researchers and computer, automotive and aerospace firms. In just under seven hours, Stanley successfully completed the winding course through tunnels and on unpaved roads, mountain passes and flat lake beds, as well as a perilous path next to a 100-foot drop. A drive-by-wire system actuated the vehicle, with all processing of signals taking place on Pentium M computers.

Many of the other competing robotic vehicles weren’t so lucky as to make it to the end of the race. Just two hours into the competition, Cornell University’s entry, Spider, hit a bridge and was out of the running. Then, California Institute of Technology’s entry, Alice, ran into a concrete barrier and unsuccessfully attempted to drive over it. In fact, only five vehicles crossed the finish line, with Stanley doing so in the shortest amount of time.

Porsche Keeps Us Waiting
Porsche Panamera

Porsche’s fourth model series following the 911, the Boxster and the Cayenne will be called the "Panamera." Conceived as a successor to the Porsche 928 and named after the legendary Carrera Panamericana long-distance race, the car is scheduled to enter the market in 2009.

A concept sketch of the Porsche Panamera

The Panamera might best be described as a premium-class 4-door sports coupe, with a choice of front-mounted engines driving the rear wheels. Its low, sleek design will pose direct competition to the likes of the Mercedes-Benz CLS and Maserati Quattroporte. The Panamera’s power will be provided by 4.5-liter V8 engines similar to those offered on the Porsche Cayenne.

Sales are expected to be at least 20,000 units annually for this model, which will be built in Leipzig. The Panamera will be built on a new independent platform, with no collaboration with another carmaker.

The Ultimate Vantage Point
2006 Aston Martin V8 Vantage

Aston Martin has always been the car of our dreams. Maybe it's the James Bond influence, or maybe it's the make's originality, beauty and performance. Whatever the reason, the infatuation only grows stronger with the release of the 2006 V8 Vantage, "attainable" at a mere $110,000. Only 5,000 will be hand-built annually keeping exclusivity as a high mark. Of course, the car will excel at performance levels that you will seldom reach, while remaining practical day-in, day-out as well.

For those of you who want get a closer look, Aston Martin has embarked on an AdVantage tour of key cities from September to November 2005 to showcase the new automobile, along with its siblings the V12 Vanquish S, DB9 Coupe and the DB9 Volante. A conducive environment with premium Champagne will facilitate ordering.

A Lighter and Faster Cat
The All-New Jaguar XK

The people at Jaguar are calling the latest XK model the most technically advanced car they have ever made. The sleek all-aluminum architecture makes this 2+2 sports car strong, rigid, dynamic and remarkably light, while its dramatic beauty reflects Jaguar's sports car lineage. With its powerful 300 horsepower 4.2L V8 engine and its ultra-light body, the car reaches 60mph in 5.9 seconds.

The 2007 XK blends performance, agility, elegance and comfort. The cabin space has been increased, as has the wheelbase, and the semi-active exhaust system makes for a quiet ride during highway cruising. Additional features include keyless entry and a seven-inch center touch screen to control many vehicle functions. The Jaguar XK debuted at the Frankfurt International Auto Show on September 13, 2005 and will be available in the United States in spring 2006 starting at $85,000. The convertible version of the XK is also available.

A New Cat in the Litter
Jaguar SV8 Portfolio

It seems these days Mother Cat never tires. With the introduction of the Super V8 Portfolio, Jaguar adds a fifth derivative to its XJ line up. Like its sibling the SV8, you get a supercharged engine, this one boosted to slightly over 400 horsepower. It comes in trippy colors such as an iridescent black cherry, has a warm American black walnut interior with extra supple leather seats, has wheels with a retro Jaguar logo and is built in a Long Wheel Base platform that is five inches longer than a standard XJ.

Jaguar put in a super powerful entertainment/audio system, which amongst other things allows the rear passengers individual DVD viewing … but only two of them. Indeed this is a four-seater, as the middle seat has been taken up by all that technology, Bluetooth integration being one of the many features. One distinctive exterior element is the vent or gill on the side of the engine compartment. The automobile was issued originally as a concept car and now retails for $116,000, making it the most expensive cat on the road. Unfortunately for you, the first year production is sold out.

Cleaned Out:
The Homogeneous Charge Compression Ignition

With the rise in gas prices, who wouldn’t be interested in a more efficient gas engine? General Motors Corporation, The Robert Bosch Corporation and Stanford University have announced a three-year, $2.5 million program to create a cost-effective engine that makes gas engines more efficient and diesel engines much cleaner and that can also be used in place of the current hybrid engine, such as the one pictured.

The team plans on introducing the Homogeneous Charge Compression Ignition or HCCI in the next few years. Dr. Gary Smyth, director of Powertrain Systems Research Lab, GM Research & Development and Strategic Planning says that “gasoline engines could achieve 80 percent of diesel engine efficiency for about 50 percent of the cost.” The product is believed to improve gasoline engine fuel efficiency by twenty percent, while achieving “near-zero oxide of nitrogen emissions and particulates,” which are contributors to ozone depletion and smog.

With a product that’s better for the environment and better for your wallet, who could ask for anything more?

Cat in Need of Good Home:
Jaguar's Select Edition Certified Pre-Owned
Inventory Search

Navigating the murky waters of purchasing a car can be difficult, especially when you’re on the market for a used vehicle. But Jaguar has created a program to assist potential buyers to find a quality pre-owned Jaguar at their desired price.

Jaguar has added a Select Edition Certified Pre-Owned Inventory Search, a nationwide online vehicle locator, to its website. This allows current and potential customers to examine Certified Pre-owned Jaguars by model, price range, trim and accessories and mileage. In addition, users can search for a dealer of used Jaguars within a radius of up to 200 miles of a given zip code. The cars available for purchase are subject to a stringent 140-point quality and reliability checklist that enables the industry-leading 6-year/100,000 mile limited warranty on all vehicles, making for a very happy new owner of a not-so-new cat.

For more information, visit

F 430 Spider
After the success of the F430 Coupe, Ferrari decided to try its hand at this Spider version. The car has Ferrari's new 490 horsepower with a top speed of over 193 mph and jets from 0-62 mph in just 4.1 seconds. The engine even has its own glass encasing.
On top of all that, it's about as sleek as cars come.

The base price is expected to be around $210,000. For that price, you'll find yourself in a true racing car with Formula 1 as its makers' inspiration. It's easy to sit behind the wheel and pretend you're neck-and-neck with world-champion F1 driver Michael Schumacher, but you might want to avoid such fantasies on the highway, where tickets are far more likely to be handed out than on the race track.

This stunner arrives in the U.S this summer but don't expect to see it at every street corner. Few are available, but the wait list is open, and the wait is worth it. James Del Pozzo, Ferrari Sales Manager in Beverly Hills, states, "The car performs beyond expectations." So go ahead and take a second mortgage on your home and place your order.

Stylish Rides:
Wynn a Ferrari

March 22, 2005: Las VegasThe much-anticipated April 28 opening of hotelier Steve Wynn’s Las Vegas Strip mega-resort Wynn Las Vegas gives sports car aficionados a reason to cheer. Along with its man-made mountain, five-story waterfall, eighteen restaurants (helmed by such luminaries as Daniel Boulud, Eric Klein, Alessandro Stratta and Takashi Yagihashi), and art gallery with works by Picasso and Van Gogh, the $2.7 billion hotel will house the Penske Wynn Ferrari Maserati showroom/dealership on its ground level. This will be the only hotel dealership of its kind in America. In addition, Wynn Las Vegas will have an underground showroom selling Rolls Royce, Bentley, Ferrari and Lamborghini automobiles. An exotic car dealership is in keeping with the soon-to-be-launched hotel’s already renowned reputation for extravagance, exclusivity and eccentricity: Vanity Fair supposedly has sole rights to first photos of the rooms, and the 39th floor will be immediately followed by the 50th to accommodate Chinese gamblers, since numbers in the forties are unlucky in China.

Poised to Pounce:
The X-Type 3.0 Sportwagon

January 24, 2005: Palm Springs—The brand with the cat is leaping forward with a series of accomplishments in quality and customer satisfaction*. Among them: A brand-new and totally cool model, the X-Type 3.0 Sportwagon [station wagon], or "estate," as they would call it back home in Halewood where it is manufactured. Now young families can go in Jaguar style and haul cargo without driving a truck or SUV.

For the 2005 lineup, all X-Type models station wagons and sedans are standard all-wheel-drive, adding to the precise and cushy ride and not forgetting the safety factor in road handling. A 227 bhp V6 engine is standard, and prices start around $31,000, making it a serious competitor in its category. The automobile makes it debut in the U.S. and dealers are awaiting your visit.

* Awards:
JD Power: #1 in Sales Satisfaction
JD Power: #3 in Initial Quality Satisfaction
IntelliChoice: Best Certified Pre-Owned Luxury Program 4 years in a row.

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