Tuesday, September 23, 2008

2008 Saab 9-3 2.0T Convertible

Saab 9-3 2.0T Convertible

We recently spent some time behind the wheel of the Saab 9-3 2.0T and Turbo X forms and we admittedly liked it well enough that we decided to give the 9-3 convertible a try – although the cool end-of-summer air might have also had something to do with it. After spending some quality time with 9-3 convertible – much of which with the top down – we discovered the 9-3 convertible retains many of sedan’s quality traits, even without a fixed roof.

We set off to test the standard Saab 9-3 convertible but actually ended up with the Limited Edition 2008 Saab 9-3 Lynx Yellow Convertible – not a bad turn of events. As the name implies, the limited edition package includes a bright Lynx Yellow paint job, but also adds unique 17 inch wheels and a rear decklid spoiler. Although the package is far from being on the same level as Lamborghini’s Superleggera, the Yellow Edition promises to be almost as rare with only 140 examples earmarked for the North American market.

Saab has a tradition of offering yellow drop tops in limited quantities in the U.S. The first time those crazy Swedes swathed a topless Saab in bright yellow was in 1991 and the automaker has offered two other limited edition “bumble bees,” as the bright convertibles are known to enthusiasts.

With a starting price in the low-$40,000 range, the 9-3 Lynx Yellow convertible competes with the same group of vehicles familiar to its four-door counterpart – namely the roofless versions of the Audi A4 and the BMW 3-series, but also the Volvo C70. However, once the option boxes begin to get ticked, the 9-3 convertible starts to have more in common with the A4 cabriolet and C70 than it does with the drop top Bimmer – which retails for about 6 grand more than the 9-3 when comparably equipped.

Although on the lower end of things, it’s possible to lump Toyota’s Solara convertible in with the list of 9-3 competitors.

Other than setting a new standard for how bright an automotive paint job can be, not really. Although the 9-3 convertible was updated for the 2008, most of that effort was put into tweaking the car’s exterior styling. The interior got a modest facelift in 2007.
That said, the 9-3 convertible isn’t exactly low-tech. Our tester featured most of the bells and whistles you’d expect to find on a premium convertible, including satellite radio, rear parking sensors and Xenon headlamps. However, the standard 9-3’s optional in-dash navigation system is not available with the Lynx Yellow package.

Like the 9-3 sedan, the 9-3 convertible inherits most of its looks from the Aero-X concept that made its debut at the 2006 Geneva Motor Show. However, if you decide to bring home the yellow edition of the 9-3 convertible, the car’s styling probably won’t be the first thing people will notice. The package’s Lynx Yellow paint job is bright enough to light up a moonless night and is just a bit too flashy for our tastes.

But the Lynx Yellow package isn’t just limited to its bright paint, and also includes sporty 17-inch five-spoke alloy wheels and a rear decklid spoiler. Although subtle, the rear spoiler gives the car a better overall look as it seems to tone down the convertible’s ‘eyes to the skies’ upward-facing rear taillights, which we weren’t particularly fond of.

While the design of the rear lights might be up for debate, we absolutely fell in love with the 9-3’ sleek looking headlamps – an emotion not usually reserved for a lighting fixture. When the car’s parking lights are switched on, a light tube illuminates at the top of the headlight fixture, giving the car a futuristic look during twilight hours. While not a make or break selling point, it’s a nice touch of detail that gives the 9-3 a unique look.

In profile, the 9-3 convertible starts to get a bit bulbous aft of the doors – a seemingly classic trait for Saab convertibles - but an upward-sweeping beltline, fender flares and built-in headrest humps help to keep everything looking sporty.

Keeping in line with the 9-3 sedan, the 2008 9-3 convertible soldiers on with the same interior changes made in 2007. The first thing we noticed when slipping behind the wheel of the 9-3 convertible was the height of its dash. It seems artificially high and had us thinking we were a couple of inches shorter than we really were. That being said, the dash is well laid out and has classic Saab touches, such as unique air vents a silver surround accent piece, albeit mixed in with clear fingerprints of Saab’s GM ownership – like the corporate parts bin radio.

Gauges are equally laid out – including the always welcome turbo boost gauge – and the 9-3 convertible retains Saab’s signature center console ignition.

The quality of materials used in the 9-3 convertible don’t seem to be quite up to snuff with its German rivals, but the 9-3’s cabin is a nice place to spend some time, nonetheless. Seats are comfortable with an adequate amount of bolstering for a car with this level of sportiness, and we really like that Saab designers tied the car’s exterior color into the design of the top of the doors, even if we aren’t crazy about the color.

One thing that really surprised us about the 9-3 convertible was its level of quietness with the top up. Whether it was around town in noisy rush hour traffic or humming along the interstate at 70 mph, the 9-3 Convertible returned noise levels you would expect to find in a luxury sedan. Even with the top down, the 9-3 allowed for conversations at freeway speeds.

As with most convertibles, the 9-3’s canvas top does obscure rear vision when the roof is up, but Saab’s rear parking assist system makes backing out of parking spaces virtually worry-free.

With Saab’s 210-horsepower 2.0-liter turbo four-cylinder underhood, the 9-3 convertible has more than enough power to zip around town. The 9-3 convertible’s hefty curb weight (about 3,800 pounds) and hint of turbo lag will never make it king of the drag strip, but there’s enough on tap under your right foot to confidently merge into highway traffic or have a little fun on the back roads – the latter made all that much better by putting the top down to hear the turbo at full song.

And the 9-3 convertible’s suspension will gladly let you have some fun on the twisties. Not only does the 9-3 absorb bumps and road imperfection far better than we thought it would, it continues to overachieve even in sporty driving. You won’t confuse the 9-3 convertible with a true sports car, but it holds its own up until about 7/10. There is a touch of body flex from the removal of the roof, but it’s hardly noticeable, even over rough patches of tarmac. Although not quite up to BMW standards, we were thoroughly impressed with the 9-3 convertible’s suspension setup.

While our 9-3 convertible tester shared the same engine as our 9-3 sedan test car, the burden of the convertible’s extra weight was noticeable at the pump. We averaged just over 25 mpg during our week with the 9-3 convertible – albeit with a healthy stint of highways driving – but still fell short of our 9-3 sedan’s average. However, our 25 mpg bested the EPA’s ratings of 18/24 mpg city/highway.

Why you would buy it:
You’ve got a sweet spot for limited edition European convertibles but don’t really want to break the bank to get one.

Why you wouldn’t:
You hate bananas, lemons, sunflowers and generally all things yellow.

2008 Saab 9-3 2.0T convertible, $39,590 As tested, $46,425.
Premium package, $1,695; Lynx Yellow convertible package, $2,495; Cold weather package, $550; Automatic transmission, $1,350; Destination, $745.

Source: leftlanenews

Saab 9-X Air Concept

Saab 9-X BioHybrid concept

The 9-X Air was developed by General Motors Europe under the supervision of Anthony Lo, Director of Advanced Design, and in co-operation with the Saab Brand Center in Sweden.

Designed in parallel with the Saab 9-X BioHybrid concept, the 9-X Air shares its frontal styling and its efficient powertrain, with the small, 1.4-liter BioPower turbocharged engine featuring the use of biofuels and hybrid technology.

Running on E85 fuel (85% bioethanol/ 15% gasoline), the engine delivers 200 hp (147 kW), giving zero to 100 kph acceleration in 8.1 seconds and CO2 tailpipe emissions of just 107 g/km over the combined cycle.

The unit is mated to a six-speed manual gearbox with an automatic clutch and steering wheel controls.

The bodywork of the 9-X Air incorporates prominent rear pillars which curve upwards to mount the flat folding Canopy Top. They also anchor a wraparound glasshouse, including a separate, recessed rear screen.

Top down or up, the 9-X Air cuts a distinctive silhouette. With the canopy stowed away and the rear screen up, occupants can enjoy open-top motoring free from buffeting. Top up, Saab 9-X Air assumes the appearance of a true coupé, with a cohesive design that eschews the looks of a conventional, four-seater convertible.

The clean, sculpted body contours of the 9-X Air give fresh expression to Saab’s Scandinavian-inspired design ethos and its aircraft heritage. The purposeful stance, with minimal overhangs front and rear, is complemented by a single, wraparound window graphic, smooth uncluttered body surfaces and ‘ice block’ lighting themes.

The exterior look is defined by the prominent C-pillars, or buttresses, that provide the rear mounting for the unique Canopy Top - a powered, flat-folding roof developed from a Targa top principle.

This innovation in convertible design, which distinguishes between a folding roof and a complete folding soft-top or hood assembly, is subject to a Saab patent application.

The Canopy Top is in fabric, rather than metal, to save weight and provide more efficient packaging. It is fully automatic in operation and folds neatly in three small sections under a rear tonneau cover in the trunk deck.

The rear screen between the buttresses retracts automatically into the underside of the raised tonneau cover to allow stowage of the Canopy Top. The screen then moves back into position to provide a complete glass surround for the cabin in open-top mode.

This ‘surround glass’ feature, together with an active wind deflector on top of the windshield header rail, provides enhanced occupant comfort. It minimizes buffeting, reduces back drafts and eliminates the need for a wind deflector net. Separating the rear screen from the folding top also enables a glass area larger than feasible with a soft top and integral screen.

In a further break with design convention, the 9-X Air dispenses with a trunk lid. Instead, a large storage compartment, big enough to accommodate two golf bags, slides out from underneath the rear light bar. To save weight, it is spring-loaded, without any power assistance, and slides effortlessly on rollers. Revealed underneath the sliding drawer is a separate compartment for stowing smaller items.

Inside, the 9-X Air features innovative developments in its driver-focused cockpit design and the provision of seamless connectivity for personal nomadic devices, both first seen in the 9-X BioHybrid.

The driver information zone encompasses the top of the door moulding. It is a fresh execution of Saab’s traditional, driver-focused cockpit layout and dispenses with a central, floor-mounted console.

The zone is a flat, arc-shaped surface, within which a row of five display screens is embedded and illuminated in green 3-D graphics, including an ‘infotainment’ screen and control panel in the driver’s door.

In co-operation with Sony Ericsson, the 9-X Air and its hatchback sibling also showcase the potential for seamless, wireless connectivity (Bluetooth) with one or multiple nomadic devices (mobile phones, PDAs etc).

The in-car interface enables streaming of data, entertainment and satellite navigation functions, which are transferred automatically to the car while the device remains in the user’s pocket.

The smarter the device, the more functions in the car.

The same unit could also be programmed to remotely lock /unlock the car, raise or lower the Canopy Top, and even remotely change in-car pre-sets. The 9-X Air makes a separate car key fob or remote controller redundant .

Saab BioPower Engine:

* Transversely-mounted, front-wheel drive
* 1398 cc. Four cylinders. Bore/stroke: 73.4/ 82.6 mm. Aluminium cylinder head, cast iron block
* DOHC, chain-driven. Four valves per cylinder
* Forged steel crankshaft, steel connecting rods. Aluminium pistons, oil spray cooled
* Direct injection with centrally-mounted injectors. VVT, inlet and exhaust
* Sodium-filled exhaust valves
* Compression ratio: 10.2:1
* Intercooled turbocharger. Max. Boost Pressure: 1.6 bar
* Dual-mass flywheel. Saab engine management
* Max power (E85): 200 hp (147 kW) @ 5000 rpm
* Max torque (E85): 280 Nm (207 lb.ft) @ 1750-5000 rpm
* Max power (petrol): 170 hp (125 kW) @ 5200 rpm
* Max torque (petrol): 230 Nm (170 lb.ft) @ 1500-5200 rpm

Hybrid System:

* Electric motor/generator with lithium ion battery pack
* Electric power boost, regenerative braking, fuel cut-off, automatic engine re-start


* 6-spd manual gearbox, automated clutch, sequential gear selection, steering wheel controls

Suspension, Wheels, Tyres:

* Front Suspension: Damper/coil struts, aluminium lower A-arm. Anti-roll bar
* Rear Suspension: Torsion beam, two trailing links, coil springs and dampers. Anti-roll bar
* Steering: Rack and pinion, electrical power assistance
* 21inch, 245/35R21
* Brakes: Hydraulic, dual circuit, vacuum booster. Discs: 345 mm / 345 mm (all ventilated)

Performance Data (projected figures)

* 0 - 100 km/h (0-62 mph): 8.1 secs (E85)
* 80 -120 km/h (50-75 mph), 5th gear: 8.9 secs (E85)
* Top Speed: 231 km/h / 144 mph (E85)
* Fuel consumption (combined cycle): 6.5 l/100 km (E85) / 5.0 l/100 km (petrol)
* CO2 emissions: 107 g/km (E85) /119 g/km (petrol)

Measurements and Weight:

* Length: 4427 mm
* Height: 1390 mm
* Width: 1826 mm
* Wheelbase: 2705 mm
* Weight: 1800 kg

Source: carbodydesign

Monday, September 22, 2008

Renault Laguna Coupe European Prices

Renault Laguna Coupe

The 2009 Renault Laguna Coupe will go on sale in France on October 24, 2008 at a price tag between €31,900 to €47,300, depending on specifications. Official debut will be made at the Paris Auto Show.

Renault Laguna Coupe comes with a choice of four equipment levels and a powertrain range that features eight engines, including two V6 powerplants.

The entry level Coupe version (Coupé 2.0 T 170 – 1,998cc €31,900.00) can be recognized by its 17-inch Talisman aluminium alloy wheels and standard bi-Xenon headlamps. The cabin comes with dark charcoal cloth upholstery and aluminium-effect inlay.

The Dynamique equipment level (Dynamique 2.0 dCi 150 – 1,995cc €35,000.00) features 17-inch Tenerife aluminium alloy wheels. The cabin comes with an aluminium ambience, including real aluminium dashboard and door panel trimming, plus aluminium-painted centre console.

Fans of a sportier yet reassuring ride will appreciate the GT equipment level (GT 2.0 T 205 – 1,998cc €37,850.00). This version has a sportier feel and features the media-acclaimed 4Control chassis with four-wheel steering already seen on the saloon and estate versions of Renault Laguna. The exterior comes with 18-inch Celsium alloy wheels, while the interior delivers GT appointments.

The Initiale equipment level (Initiale 3.0 V6 dCi 235 automatic with particulate filter – 2,993cc (1) €47,300.00) stands out through its upper-range specification which delivers outstanding travelling comfort. Exterior features include directional bi-Xenon headlamps and a front parking proximity sensor. Premium features inside including the Bose® Sound System audio, Carminat DVD Bluetooth® navigation, leather upholstery and heating seats.

Source: topspeed

Welcome new 2010 Nissan Pixo

2010 Nissan Pixo

Gracing the Nissan stand at the Paris Motor Show alongside the futurisitic NuVu and the revised Note mini-minivan is a new city car, the five-door Pixo, built in collaboration with Suzuki.

Competing in the hot A-class category (hot in all markets but North America), the four-passenger Pixo measures a tiny 11.7 feet long (just a few inches shorter than a Mini Cooper), 57.9 inches tall, and 63 inches wide.

Nissan has offered few details about the powertrains, other than to say it has a 1.0-liter three-cylinder engine “full four-speed automatic transmission”—as opposed to a partial four-speed automatic? The Pixo “continues the theme of compact urban motoring with outstanding green credentials,” as a companion to the electric Nuvu.

Nissan Pixo is scheduled for sale in Europe in the spring of 2009 and in the U.S., well, never.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

2010 Hyundai Genesis Coupe

2010 Hyundai Genesis Coupe

Hyundai has announced its second of three SEMA Genesis coupes (not to be confused with the Sega Genesis game console). This one is a cooperation between the Korean manufacturer and Japanese performance accessory maker HKS.

Those in the tuning know will recognize HKS as turbo specialists, so it's no surprise that this show car will use Hyundai's turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder. The engine receives an HKS GT Turbo upgrade along with new engine internals, an HKS Super Mega Flow intake, and a new exhaust system. Hyundai designed the coupe to be "tuner-friendly" and judging by the long list of accessories being developed by HKS the company has already made a new friend.

We like the subtle look of the HKS Genesis, which is in stark contrast to the busy design recently unveiled by Rhys Millen's team. This red coupe foregoes the usual tuner doo-dads and wings, settling instead for a body kit by Ken Style with grey accents running along the rocker panels. Large, graphite wheels look at home tucked in the coupe's wheel wells and work with a fully adjustable HKS suspension to give the car a ground-hugging stance.

We're eager to see who's responsible for the last Genesis coupe project, as well as the three Genesis sedans that will debut at SEMA. Hopefully HKS will give us an idea of performance numbers at the show as well. We'll have full coverage of the cars from Hyundai and everyone else live from Las Vegas this November.

Source: autopark

New Hyundai Tucson 2x

Hyundai Tucson 2x

If you don’t fancy a 4×4, then how about a 2xTucson? Hyundai has revised the Tucson line up for 2009, including an all-new two-wheel drive model priced at a level that would normally only buy you a compact family hatchback. Starting at just £14,695, including Hyundai’s standard five-year unlimited mileage warranty, the new line-up puts SUV style within the reach of customers who would normally be shopping for something far less practical and stylish. Yet despite the affordable price tag, there’s no skimping on equipment.

The entry-level 2.0 Comfort model comes with an impressive level of standard kit, including air conditioning, auxiliary and USB audio connections, privacy glass, body-coloured bumpers and trim, electric windows all-round, front fog lights, roof rails, dual front and side airbags and smart 16-inch alloy wheels.

Powered by a 139bhp 2.0-litre petrol engine, it offers an affordable combined fuel economy figure of 35.3mpg. Coupled to a five-speed manual gearbox, it accelerates from 0-60mph in 10.4 seconds, with a top speed of 112mph.

For those who favour diesel power, the two-wheel drive layout is also available with a 148bhp CRDi engine, with a choice of six-speed manual or five-speed automatic transmissions. Combined fuel economy is 40.4mpg, with CO2 emissions of 184g/km.

The manual model is also offered in ‘Style’ trim at £16,695, and adds even more standard equipment, including climate control, a trip computer, leather steering wheel and gearknob, cruise control, heated seats and door mirrors, reverse parking sensors, a self-dimming rear view mirror and metal grain dashboard trim.

The automatic model is available in range-topping ‘Premium’ trim at £18,695, and adds full leather trim, ESP and traction control, automatic headlights, a sunroof and electric folding door mirrors, along with a unique alloy wheel design.

The new 2009 model year Tucsons can be distinguished by some distinctive visual changes, such as a new-look radiator grille, a new rear number plate surround and modified instrument cluster on all models.

Four-wheel drive Tucsons also remain available, priced at £17,695 for the Style model and £18,695 for the Premium, both with six-speed manual gearboxes.

Source: 4wheelsblog

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