Automotive News - December 2012

Less frequent oil changes?

Since the day we first used a set of car keys, we've been told to remember to change the vehicle's oil every 5,000 kilometres; or something very bad might happen. We faithfully head over to the oil change place or the dealer every 3 months and wait while the technicians do their magic before hitting us with a $60 bill. Now we're finding out that a lot of newer cars only require an oil change every 10,000, 12,000, or even 20,000 kilometres.

Ferrari Enzo's replacement

Ferrari announced some time ago that the replacement for its famous Enzo supercar would arrive in 2013. We now know more about the vehicle and its public debut: all eyes on the upcoming Detroit Auto Show. Although expectations were that it would be unwrapped at the 2013 Geneva Motor Show, some American commentators are predicting that the Enzo's replacement, called the F70 for the time being, will debut next January at the Detroit Auto Show. It could also be unveiled to select clients before the end of this year. And for those who were able to see it, the new chassis for this future Ferrari was showcased at the Paris Motor Show. It was designed by Rory Byrne, who is in charge of Formula 1 design for the Italian car maker. It will be carbon fibre, more rigid and 20% lighter than the Enzo's present chassis.

The 2013 Nissan Pathfinder’s turn

Nissan is in the middle of revamping its range. Starting with its Versa sedan, then Altima and Sentra, it. s now Pathfinder. s turn to go back to the drawing board. On the market since 1986, this is the first time that the Pathfinder has been seriously reworked. Nissan has taken it away from its roots as a pure and simple 4x4 and has morphed it into a crossover, abandoning the box on a frame and opting for a unibody chassis instead. Nissan. s marketeers have probably noticed that very few Pathfinder users actually go off-road. Ford boffins, by the way, also came to the same conclusions with their Explorer.

Why do I need cold weather tires when I have all seasons?

During the first snowfall of the year, we watched as drivers panicked and while traffic crawled; turning major highways into parking lots. Just what is it about driving in one inch of snow that terrifies some drivers? Wouldn't they feel more confident if their cars were outfitted with quality snow tires? The truth is, outside of jurisdictions where snow tires are mandatory, only a small percentage of drivers actually have them on their vehicles. The majority of people don't even think about them, believing that their all-seasons will keep them safe on the roads. All season tires are definitely helpful, but they simply don't compare to a good quality set of cold weather tires.

Mercedes-Benz CLS Shooting Brake by Brabus

Although the Mercedes-Benz CLS Shooting Brake has only just hit the market, Brabus is already attacking most of its models to make them more powerful and aggressive. The AMG model hasn't escaped attention, and its Brabus version now delivers 619 horsepower. As the official tuner of Smart, Brabus continues to modify vehicles for Mercedes-Benz and just loves the CLS because the car has already spawned so many powerful variants. The modified CLS has a new wraparound aerodynamic kit, new front apron, LED lights, new side skirts and an exclusive front spoiler on the AMG model.

Volkswagen Jetta Hybrid beats a new speed record

With the new Volkswagen Jetta Hybrid 2013 set for release in North American late this year, the German car maker has announced a new speed record by this sedan. And the record is part of its marketing campaign! In August, the Volkswagen Jetta Hybrid beat the speed record for hybrid cars, reaching a top speed of 185.394 mph (298.363 km/h). For the second time this year, the same vehicle and same driver have just beaten this record by posting 187.147 mph (301.184 km/h). Motor Trend Associate Road Test Editor Carlos Lago was at the wheel and achieved this speed on the second leg of his second run.

The Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG GT3 45th Anniversary

On the occasion of AMG's 45th anniversary, Mercedes has produced a very limited edition of the SLS AMG aimed primarily at car collectors with a penchant for motor racing. In fact, it's a model based on the SLS that took part in the DTM championship. Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG GT3 45th Anniversary is its name. Based on the GT3 racing model, it commemorates 45 years of the Mercedes-Benz racing division, AMG. Very exclusive, only five of the models will be built, and none of them road-licensed as they are reserved for racetracks and test circuits, like the Ferrari 599XX to name but one. These five units will be produced at AMG's headquarters in Affalterbach and will be built by hand.

A new version for the 2013 Dodge Dart

No sooner has the 2013 Dodge Dart arrived at dealerships than Chrysler is adding another version to its range: the Dodge Dart Aero. Announced last week, the Aero features Chrysler's 1.4-litre, 4-cylinder MultiAir turbo engine. Developed by Fiat, this engine offers 184 lb-ft of torque and features fuel economy of just 4.8 L/100 km. Note also that the Dodge Dart received the "Top Safety Pick" for 2012 from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS). The Canadian manufacturers' suggested retail price of this Aero version is $19,795. Other features included as standard in this version are lightweight aluminum chassis components, active grille shutters, underbody aero kit, a lowered profile and low-rolling resistance tires.

Fiat rumoured to take over Opel

With the recent alliance between the US group General Motors and French group PSA Peugeot Citroën, rumours are now rife that Fiat has launched a bid to take over European car maker Opel. GM has responded saying that its subsidiary is not for sale. Automotive News first reported these rumours and stated that General Motors had absolutely no intention of selling its European subsidiary. This was after an Italian magazine claimed that Fiat would buy Opel if the GM-PSA alliance were to break down. According to those rumours, President and CEO Sergio Marchionne had sent a buyout proposal to the American group. The Italian car maker has refused to comment, unlike GM: In a press release, GM Vice President Stephen Grisky said it had no intention of selling its Opel subsidiary and that GM was standing firmly behind the brand.

2013 Volkswagen Beetle Convertible finally unveiled

Although the Golf 7 is the star of Volkswagen's stand in Paris, it's the 2013 Beetle Convertible that everyone is waiting to see unwrapped at the LA Auto Show later this year. And for that occasion, the German car maker has sent us some photos and official specs. Although the Paris Motor Show is happening as we speak, a close cousin in also in the news: the LA Auto Show scheduled for 18-27 November. Volkswagen will be unveiling its 3rd-generation Beetle there, but this time as an open-top version. This has been rumoured for months, and the latest news only confirms what we had thought. The convertible includes the same improvements as its coupe sibling—notably sportier, more dynamic looks—while staying true to its original Beetle styling.

Land Rover Defender is ready for a comeback

A new-generation Land Rover Defender will be making its debut in the next few years, and word is that it will be available again in North America. In the meantime, its 2013 European variant has undergone some changes. This is good news for Land Rover fans, mainly those who like the Defender's solidity and ruggedness. President and CEO of Jaguar Land Rover North America, Andy Goss, made the announcement on, stating that the new Defender will form part of its global range and be specially engineered to meet North American crash safety and gas emission standards. The car maker's directors also gave out some details at the Paris Motor Show.

Calgarians love the car2go scheme

If you live in the Montreal Metropolitan Area, you are bound to know about the Communauto car sharing scheme. But did you know that Daimler (Mercedes-Benz's parent company) also operates a similar service in 16 cities around the world? In Canada, the service is offered in Toronto, Calgary and Vancouver, but Calgary is now the city where car2go is growing the fastest. In its first two months of operation, car2go Calgary already has 15,000 members, accounting for more than 40,000 trips. To accommodate this ever-growing demand for its car sharing service, car2go will be adding another 150 vehicles to its Calgary fleet. This means that members will now have access to 300 fuel-efficient car2go “smart fortwo” 2-seaters, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

The 2013 Chevrolet Trax

Chevrolet is out to conquer a new vehicle segment—compact SUVs—with the launch of the Chevy Trax. As part of the American car maker's global range, it can be seen at the Paris Motor Show. Just 4.25 metres long, 1.77 metres wide and with a 2.55-metre wheelbase, the Trax offers 358 litres of cargo space. The car maker is betting on the vehicle's practicality to make a splash. Its rear seats fold down, as does the front passenger seat, to provide a total 1,370 litres of cargo room. With Trax touting its great practicality and flexibility, it also offers additional under-floor storage.

Honda Recalls Honda Pilots, Honda Odysseys And Acura MDXs Worldwide

In the interest of their customer's safety and a show of corporate responsibility, Honda has issued a voluntary recall of their 2003-2006 Honda Pilot, Honda Odyssey or Acura MDX models worldwide. The issue is related to a potential malfunctioning of the ignition's interlock system once it has become worn or damaged through specific types of usage. Vehicles affected are the 2003-2004 Honda Odyssey, 2003-2004 Honda Pilot and the 2003-2006 Acura MDX crossover. Each of these have automatic transmissions. Honda Canada is recalling approximately 23,000 Honda Odyssey, 12,400 Honda Pilot and 16,600 Acura MDX models.

The 2013 Chevrolet Spark from General Motors

For some time now, General Motors has been striving to attract buyers to its 2013 Chevrolet Spark, a microcar that it imports directly from its Korean subsidiary. The Spark is going head-to-head with the Fiat 500, the Scion iQ and Smart in a category that is relatively new to America. GM wants to dispel any misconceptions about small cars. GM emphasizes that the Spark is equipped with the same safety technology that has been developed for the entire Chevrolet range. Its 2013 Spark comes with 10 standard airbags. High-strength steel is used for 62% of its upper and 42% of its lower bodywork. It also offers generous room for cargo and passengers. According to GM, the 11.4 cubic feet of usable space behind the back seat is 20% more than the Fiat 500 offers and 22% more than the Scion iQ. With the back seat down, there is enough room for a laptop carrying case, a DKX 25-inch wheeled suitcase or a 30-inch rigid upright Samsonite case and a Calloway golf bag.

Peugeot Onyx: a futuristic, elegant concept

Already the talk of the town before the Paris Motor Show, you can now see it at this major event. The Peugeot Onyx is a very impressive vehicle that may well end up being the star of the Paris Motor Show. Things are not going well right now for PSA, with the closing of its Aulnay plant. The closure reflects the crisis facing French car makers, but that hasn't prevented PSA from unveiling a highly elegant and advanced prototype in Paris. It is a study in style, created by Gilles Vidal's design team and built mainly at Alençon, in France's Orne region. Every part has been manufactured piece by piece in that town, and the result can match any supercar that Lamborghini or Ferrari has to offer. Using black carbon fibre for the main bodywork, the wings and doors are polished copper panels.

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