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February 28, 2005

Kia Launches Diesel Sportage

Kia has announced prices for the diesel versions of its new Sportage off-roader.

Prices range from £15,695 for the XE manual to £18,195 for the XS Auto. Paul Williams, MD of Kia UK said, "Although we do not see the existing 4x4 competitors as our primary targets, the motorists who will choose to buy Sportage have told us it is the cost of these vehicles that keeps them out of SUV ownership."

Kia was the fastest growing car company in Britain last year and the competitively-priced Sportage diesel will help to maintain momentum this year.

06:14 AM in Kia | Permalink

February 25, 2005

Noble M12 GTO-3R

Last fall we were breaking in a new road warrior and testing the Noble M12 at the same time. The car was very quick, and as we were at the staging area checking out the acceleration results, the 20-something new guy got a look. “Damn—that thing’s stupid fast!” he blurted.

What was funny was how well that summed up the Noble. On one hand, it is a little, well, silly, since it’s a South African–built $76,400 car of questionable lineage that doesn’t pass U.S. emissions or crash regulations and gets registered for road use as a home-built kit. But on the other, it is one of the most satisfying cars we’ve ever driven, and it is ferociously fast, snapping to 60 in a minuscule 3.3 seconds, the same as a Ford GT.

“Actually, it’s a component car,” clarified Dean Rosen, the president of 1G Racing and importer of the Noble kit. “The car comes in two crates—one with the completely assembled car, and the other with the powertrain. You can join the two in about 40 hours.” Maybe we were being a little harsh, since a lot of kit cars we’ve driven feel pretty good. But still, here in the U.S., the Noble is an obscure machine.


06:10 AM in Noble M12 | Permalink

February 24, 2005

It’s-All-About-Me Roadsters

The jury deliberates over four new convertibles on our most-selfish list.

We haven’t officially put Ayn Rand on our must-read list, but we have been lately mulling a few of her principles, particularly the one about the virtue of selfishness. Should you suddenly be handed a fistful of dollars, for example, would you buy a new bus for the church or head straight to the nearest Porsche dealer?

No hands, please, it’s a secret ballot. Those of you in the latter category—and you know who you are—may want to divert some of your overtaxed attention to the following pages. Upon them we have lashed down and dissected four of the newest, fleetest, it’s-all-about-me convertibles in the $45,000 to $60,000 range, a group we regularly check in on for reasons that are, of course, selfish.

Featured in This Comparo
Chevrolet Corvette
Chrysler Crossfire SRT-6
Mercedes-Benz SLK350
Porsche Boxster S


06:07 AM in Chevrolet, Convertibles, Mercedes-Benz, Porsche | Permalink

February 23, 2005

Driving Porsche's Supercar

Along with Ferrari's Enzo, the long-awaited Porsche Carrera GT is an amazing start to a new era of supercars. The Enzo may have beaten the Carrera GT to market--the Porsche only went on sale this past January--but Porsche clearly wanted to take enough time to develop the $440,000 GT and show the other car makers how it's done. Called Project S1 internally, the new Carrera GT was to be Porsche's next factory effort for Le Mans in 2000. Then race plans were dropped, but S1 went forward as a street car. The Carrera GT production version was unveiled at last in March 2003 in Geneva.

Cut to the Gross Dölln, an ex-Russian Army base in the German hinterlands along the Polish border. Runway No. 1--the one I am to use for high-speed runs--is two miles long. Russian Tu-95 bombers and MiG fighters used these runways up to and for a while after the fall of the Berlin Wall in November 1989. Today, here on the tarmac are parked three shimmering, $440,000 Porsche Carrera GTs--one red, one black and one silver.


06:03 AM in Porsche | Permalink

February 21, 2005

The High-Efficiency Jetcar

The Jetcar isn’t jet-powered, but it is a freaky-looking, high efficiency concept with a mandate to achieve 100km per liter of fuel (around 285mpg). The latest prototype, Jetcar 2.5, sports a light steel frame, a body fashioned from epoxy glass resin and a three-cylinder common-rail diesel engine, chosen after electric-battery and hydrogen powered versions had proven uneconomical. It also employs an aerodynamically efficient design only an engineer could love. More pics ahead.

Jetcar 2.5

06:20 AM in Flying cars, News | Permalink

February 18, 2005

Spy Photos: 2007 Cadillac CTS-V

It’s not technically a spy photo, but this shot of what may be the 2007 Cadillac CTS-V gave us a cheap thrill nonetheless. We like the direction Cadillac is taking its entry-level luxury coupe, and future 330i beater. We’re not guaranteeing anything, but, as someone once predicted, Cadillac may have legs as a global sport-luxury brand. As if we needed another thing to bet on.

06:15 AM in Cadillac, Spy Shots | Permalink

February 17, 2005

How Much Should You Spend?

It's easy to overspend your budget on a new car or truck. Here's how to avoid getting in over your head.

It's always a good idea to start the car-buying process with a preliminary budget planning session to help you determine how much car or truck your money can buy—and how much money you feel comfortable about spending—on what is typically the largest consumer purchase after a house.

Experts told MSN Autos it's all too easy to buy or lease a car you really can't afford—even if you're normally a levelheaded consumer. By overextending yourself for the sake of a new car you face more than just giving up vacations and nights out. You could be putting your financial security at risk.

Control Your Emotions
"Don't overbuy," advises Bob Litwin, Director of Creditor Community Relations for the Houston branch of the Consumer Credit Counseling Service (CCCS), part of the nonprofit National Foundation for Consumer Credit, headquartered in Silver Spring, Maryland. "All too often, emotions overrule logic and people get into trouble. If you can't afford it, don't buy the car."

One way many consumers get into trouble is by not understanding the difference between qualifying for a loan and being able to afford one.


06:11 AM in News | Permalink

February 16, 2005

Insurance Tips

Buying insurance can be confusing. Here are some ways to reduce your premiums while still getting the coverage you need.
* Shop around, and do it regularly. Insurance is a competitive industry, and insurers change their rates over time. Make sure you have the best deal you can get each and every year.
* Put multiple vehicles on the same policy. Many insurers offer family discounts for insuring multiple vehicles on the same policy.
* Check out defensive driving courses. Some insurers provide discounts if drivers brush up their skills.
* Buy vehicles with safety devices. Some insurers provide discounts for airbags and anti-lock brakes because statistics show they help mitigate the occurrence of crashes and/or the severity of injuries.
* Check on security savings. Alarms or anti-theft devices may qualify for insurance discounts.
* Stay on the good side of the law. Insurers look to see if you have a blemish-free driving record and reward you with lower premiums if you do.
* Assess your deductible. Raising it to $500 can result in a lower insurance premium. Just be sure you can afford that $500 deductible if you're in a crash.
* Take public transportation when possible. Taking the bus or train, or even carpooling, lowers the annual mileage on your vehicle and can result in a lower insurance premium.

Common Mistakes
The excitement of buying a new car can often lead to mistakes when insuring it. It pays to be just as prudent when buying insurance as you are when buying the car. Don't make these common insurance shopping mistakes:

* Not shopping for the best price. Don't simply choose the first carrier you contact. This may be convenient and save you time, but it may also cost you money.
* Buying a car before checking to see what it costs to insure. Many people discover the car of their dreams is simply too expensive to insure. They consequently end up selling it shortly after purchase.
* Not reading your policy until you've already purchased it. It pays to understand your policy and what it covers. Know your limits before you actually need them.
* Choosing limits that are too low. Don't leave yourself exposed to a lawsuit that could potentially cost you everything you have—car, house, possessions, savings, etc.
* Ending up with a policy that doesn't cover all the drivers in the household. It can be a costly mistake to leave a family member off your policy. If someone has an accident and isn't covered, you're still responsible.
* Not getting a multi-policy discount. Having your homeowner's policy with the same carrier saves money. If possible, use a single carrier.

06:09 AM in News | Permalink

February 15, 2005

2006 Dodge Charger

While the original Charger was a two-door coupe, the 2006 Charger is designed to look like a coupe in silhouette, but is actually a 4-door.

The current version of the legendary HEMI will be offered in the Charger, producing 340-horsepower with a 5-speed automatic transmission. The standard engine is the 250-horsepower 3.5-liter V6 and, like the original Charger, the 2006 is rear-wheel drive.

With standard ABS, Electronic Stability Control and three different available suspension packages, the 2006 Charger will deliver braking and handling to match the acceleration.

The Charger shares a platform with the popular Chrysler 300 and Dodge Magnum sport wagon. Styling is quite different from these other models - the Charger sports a more agressive-looking grille and large fender flares.

Production of the 2006 Dodge Charger begins this spring at the Brampton Assembly Plant in Brampton, Ontario, Canada, alongside the 300 and Magnum. The new Charger is expected to begin arriving in showrooms in May of this year.

06:07 AM in Dodge | Permalink

February 14, 2005

2006 BMW 3-Series

BMW will move the 3-Series into its fifth generation next spring with its world debut in Geneva, followed by its North American debut at the New York Auto Show.

Two inline 6-cylinder engines will be available, the larger 3.0-liter version producing 255 horsepower—an increase of 30 horses over the current generation. This engine is also the first 6-cylinder to use BMW VALVETRONIC. With infinitely variable valve lift in place of the traditional throttle butterfly, this system improves both throttle response and fuel efficiency. Like previous BMW VALVETRONIC engines, the gains in both horsepower and fuel economy are impressive. In the case of the 330i, horsepower increases by 13 percent, while fuel consumption decreases by 12 percent.

Both models will be offered with a choice of a standard 6-speed manual transmission or optional 6-speed automatic transmission. Also availble is BMW’s unique Active Steering system. This provides a more direct steering ratio at low speeds for greater maneuverability with a progressively less direct ratio as vehicle speed increases.

The new 3-Series is larger than its predecessor, and it has been designed for greater stiffness, leading to improved comfort and safety. A new joint and crossbar concept for the car's load-bearing structure increases body stiffness by 25 percent without increasing the car's weight.

BMW's controversial I-Drive will be an available option on the new 3-Series.

06:04 AM in BMW | Permalink