The year 2012 is now upon us, which may mean a few things. One is that we've only got 350-odd days before the Mayan's prediction of the apocalypse comes true and we all die. (I'm not betting on it!) The other thing it does mean is the Detroit Auto Show is just around the corner- just a few days, in fact. So I've awoken from my Christmas/New Years slumber to share the news.
This little trucklet is the new Ford EcoSport, debuting at the New Delhi Auto Expo. Based on the Fiesta, this miniature soft-roader is the second generation of the EcoSport, which was previously only sold in Brazil. This new one should be more widely available, with production in Brazil and India, as part of Ford's long-running globalization effort. Other details? it's rumored to pack the 1.0L EcoBoost turbo three-cylinder from the 2010 Ford Start concept. Although small, it's in line with the growing trend in India that places more emphasis on style than just pure utilitarianism.
Well, we now know basically what the Buick Encore CUV is going to look like. This sub-Enclave small SUV will get it's full debut at Detroit, and Buick has been slowing lifting the veil one "square" at a time before the January 10th unveiling. Although it looks a bit like the defunct Saturn Vue and the fleet-only Chevrolet Captiva, the Encore will continue Buick's market strategy of "Import All The Opels!", apparently based on the new Opel Corsa chassis. More details at the reveal, but that front end is very Opel.
We're not ones to break an embargo, but thankfully Road & Track has no issues doing that. Thanks to them, we now know what the Lexus LF-LC, which will debut at Detroit, will look like. This swank Lexus 2-door was designed by Toyota's Calty Design Research facility in California, and is powered by an "Advanced Lexus Hybrid Drive." So - is that basically the GS450h drivetrain? Or something new? We'll know more in a few days. Bizarre, but great looking car!
Volvo is bringing this to Detroit: the XC60 Plug-In Hybrid. While normally hybrids are the antithesis of fun-to-drive (with a few exceptions), the XC60 Plug-In should actually be more fun than the regular model. There's a lot of new, clever stuff under the familiar skin. Like the V60 Plug-In, it's a "through the road" AWD system - meaning all four wheels are powered, but by different sources. While the V60 uses a diesel, the XC60 will use a new gas-turbo four cylinder. This engine makes an impressive 280bhp and torque, shuffled through an 8-speed automatic to the front wheels. The rear wheels are powered by a 70-horsepower electric motor, which obviously can be charged by household current. This complex setup allows some interestingly disparate attributes: up to 35 miles on zero-emissions all electric power, average of 50mpg in Hybrid mode with a 600 mile range, or a 5.8 second 0-60 run in Power mode - putting the full 350 horsepower to the road. Impressive stuff! This setup makes more power than the XC60 T6 R-Design's boosted I6, or even the XC90's burly 4.4L V8. Nice to see hybrid tech put to use in a way car guys can appreciate.
Under the "I'm depressed" category, Zombie Saab will be among us briefly. Resolute Saab flag-wavers Saabs United reported today that employees will briefly return to the Tröllhattan plant to finish up the last 100-odd cars that remain incomplete on the line. Like the rest of post Feb-2010 Saabs, these won't have a factory warranty or any cash on the hood, so it's unclear what they'll do with them. Considering the luck dealers had moving post-GM Saabs before they went bankrupt, perhaps they'll wind up in museums. One can always hope. It's been rumored that Indian manufacturer Mahindra & Mahindra are interested in purchasing the remaining assets of Saab, but as to what parts or why, Mahindra hasn't said. Here's a picture of the PhoeniX to remind you of the good old days.
Morgan is a brand that trades on tradition over technology - and that's just the way their clientele likes it. So while Honda gives us a brand-spanking-new Civic every 4 to 6 years, Morgan tends to hold onto their models a little... longer. Think the Aero 8 is long in the tooth, having been basically unchanged (save a new engine) since it's debut in 2001? Well, meet the Morgan 4/4 75th Anniversary Edition. No, not the 75th anniversary of the Morgan brand- the 4/4 has actually been in production for 75 years. It's powered by the 2.0L Ford Duratec 4 from the Plus 4 with 145 horsepower, good for a 7.2s 0-60 and 118mph flat out. It gets a "75th Anniversary" stripe, black leather seats, a Tawny Ash dashboard, and black 15" wire-spoke wheels. Pricing starts from £38,750 - which is quite a lot for a 75 year old car, but you know that Morgan will probably have a 2-year wait list on this one too. Via PistonHeads, obviously.