December 21st, 2011 at 12:00pm
Audi will introduce an all-wheel-drive, limited-edition version of the A1 which goes on sale next year, but not in the U.S. Pricing and a few technical details on the Tesla Model S have finally been released. Mercedes just started exporting the E-Class out of China and Honda is exporting Fits built in China to Canada. All that and more, plus John answers your questions and comments in the “You Said It!” segment.
This is Autoline Daily for December 21. And here’s the latest news in the wonderful world of the automobile.
AUDI A1 QUATTRO
It’s a simple recipe. Cram a really powerful engine into a really small car. Audi is ratcheting up the fun factor by introducing an all-wheel-drive, limited-edition version of the A1. Under the hood is a 252 horsepower 2.0-liter turbo. It should sprint from a standstill to 100 kilometers an hour in 5.7 seconds. Audi is only building 333 A1 quattros. They go on sale in the second-half of next year, but not in the U.S. of A.
EGGER TAKES OVER AUDI DESIGN
And Audi is getting a new chief designer. Wolfgang Egger, the current Head of Audi Group Design, is taking over Stefan Sielaff’s position as the head of Audi Brand Design. Sielaff will lead the interior-design department for the Volkswagen Group.
TESLA MODEL S SPECS
Pricing and a few technical details on the Tesla Model S have finally been released. Four “trim” levels so-to-speak will be offered. The base version with a 160-mile range goes for $57,400. Step up to one with a 230-mile capacity and it’ll set you back $67,400. A Model S that can go 300 miles on a single charge costs 10 grand more than that. The performance version – with the same 300-mile range – is $87,400. It’s important to note, these prices INCLUDE the $7,500 federal tax credit.
LEXUS Lf-Lc LEAKED
A few days ago Lexus teased its Detroit-bound concept car, the Lf-Lc. We got a lovely shot of this its headlamp. Now “Road & Track” magazine leaked the whole magilla on the internet. This is a sexy-looking two-door, and it clearly wears Lexus’ new design theme. I, for one, cannot wait to see it in person.
LONGER USED-CAR LOANS (subscription required)
We saw it happen in the new-car side of the business, now it’s happening on the used side. Car loans are getting longer and longer, all with the goal of lowering the cost of monthly payments for car buyers. And that’s because of sky-high prices for used cars. Ward’s reports that five-year used car loans are on the way.
SAAB SUSPENDS WARRANTIES
Now that Saab filed for bankruptcy, it’s suspending warranty coverage on its vehicles in North America. The cars will be sold “as is.” Saab is also suspending all existing warranty claims.
GM WILL HONOR SAAB WARRANTIES
But . . . GM is stepping up to the plate . . . sort of. The General will honor warranties on Saabs sold by GM in the U.S. and Canada . . . as long as the vehicle was bought before February 2010.
MORE EXPORTS FROM CHINA
A few weeks back we reported that BMW started exporting long-wheel-base versions of the 5 Series out of China. Now Mercedes just started exporting the E-Class out of China. And now, the New York Times reports that Honda just started exporting Fits built in China to Canada. The strength of the yen is forcing Honda to build more vehicles outside of Japan but the company doesn’t plan to sell Chinese-made Fits in the U.S. The exports to Canada could just be temporary. Honda plans to open a new plant in Mexico to build Fits for the U.S. and will likely sell those in Canada as well.
Coming up next, it’s time for You Said It!
YOU SAID IT!
And now it’s time for some of your feedback.
john787 seems to think it’s GM’s fault that Saab will be liquidated. “I think we all really know why Saab could not raise the cash it needed to stay in business. GM did not want to transfer its intellectual property. You could say Saab found the cash, but GM was not willing to follow through.”
John, why would General Motors turn its intellectual property over to two Chinese competitors? I bet GM’s joint venture partners in China, SAIC and Wuling were the ones warning them not to do it.
Chuck Grenci saw I got a chance to drive the new Malibu and says, “So how’s the new Malibu, John? I know, gag order (but I will be interested in your thoughts though when you are allowed to share).
Chuck, none of the Malibu information or driving impressions are embargoed. I really liked the car. I’m especially impressed that at 70 miles an hour the engine is only turning 1500 RPM. That makes it especially quiet and comfortable to drive.
Scott M. saw our story on brand impressions in China and had a correction. “Point of clarification. In China the ubiquitous black Audi sedans (usually the A6) seen especially in Beijing and Shanghai, are not driven by government officials. They are riding in the back seat. These officials have personal drivers for their cars.”
Scott, you’re right. Of course we should not have implied those guys were actually driving their own cars.
Cwolf says, “Lincoln creates new ad agency? What a yawner! They have nothing to promote except new colors. For now I suggest Lincoln dealers keep putting used cars in the showroom because the floor would be bare without them.”
Cwolf, wait until you see the new MKZ. That is the first of the truly new Lincolns. You’ll see it sometime early next year, and then let me know what you think of where Lincoln might be headed.
012345 has a question about how we go about judging for the North American Car Of The Year. “Do the new technology systems, like MyFord Touch and others have much influence in the car-of-the-year nominations? How do you judge something that has nothing to do with gas mileage or ride comfort or the general build quality of a car?”
012345, you bet that figures into the judging, or at least my judging. I believe you have to look at the car, or truck, as a total package. And if customers have a problem with a car, to the point that the manufacturer has to rush out a fix, you bet that figures into my judging of who has come out with the best new car this year.
Triumphtr779 asks “Is it just me or is that Chevy Sonic just an overhyped Aveo, which itself is a gussied up Daewoo. I used to drive a 2011 Aveo at my previous job. It was just god awful. For the Sonic to receive so much hype, GM would have had to remake the Aveo from the ground up.”
Well, Truimphtr, that’s exactly what they did. It’s new from the ground up, and I would now rate it as the best subcompact car I’ve ever driven, at least when equipped with the 1.4-liter turbo engine and six-speed manual.
TylerBrandonHardwick has a question about our own Craig Cole. He asks, “John, why does Craig look like someone from the Sims?”
TylerBrandonHardwick, Craig is a Sim! Can’t you tell that his image is computer generated? Around here, Craig’s nickname is CG.
Thanks for all your questions and comments, we love going through them.
And that wraps up today’s report, thanks for watching, we’ll see you tomorrow.