The 2009 Geneva Motor Show marks the 79th year the Swiss super rich getaway and United Nations capital has hosted an automotive exhibition, and while a pall will no doubt be hanging over the halls of the Geneva Palexpo center due to the dire state of the industry, thankfully the usual assortment of world debuts and exotic creations will be on hand to distract our attention.

Geneva's a show where the Italians usually shine, and this year the spotlight will burn a little brighter on Fiat, who has been attempting to forge an alliance with ailing Chrysler in an effort to establish a beachhead on U.S. soil. An assortment of crossovers and hybrid models are rumored to be on the table for America and several will be at Geneva, flanked by the usual assortment of beautiful women. Ah, Italia...

As automakers rush to green their lineups, Geneva will also see more than its share of vehicles with various technologies on board designed to emit lower emissions, save gas and otherwise push the envelope of the future of propulsion. Some tech is close, some not so much, but auto shows are as much about the future of transportation as the present -- and the future has a green sheen to it.

Stay tuned for our complete coverage from the floor of the 2009 Geneva Show, March 3-4.

Featured Vehicles:

Ford Ranger Front Three QuarterFord Ranger
The redesigned, wind-tunnel tested Ford Ranger pickup receives a complete revamping both inside and out, and safe to say, it looks pretty well done.
Tourneo Ford Connect BEV Concept Front Three Quarters ViewFord Tourneo Connect BEV
The people carrier demonstrates that Smith's electric vehicle technology in vans and trucks can easily translate into passenger vehicles.
Hyundai Ix Onic Concept Front Three Quarters ViewHyundai ix-onic Concept
The Hyundai ix-onic concept is being billed by Hyundai as having a 'dramatic new look for compact SUVs'.
Kia No 3 Concept Front Three Quarters ViewKia No. 3 Concept
The No. 3 concept is an MPV vehicle that Kia promises is "fun to drive."
2010 Lexus Rx 450H Passenger Side ViewLexus RX 450h Hybrid - European Debut
The advanced Lexus RX 450h will make its European debut at the upcoming Geneva Motor Show, and UK sales are expected to start in the summer.
Nissan Nv200 Passenger Van Front ViewNissan NV200 Workvan
Little brother to the recently debuted NV2500 commercial van, the NV200 boasts some impressive capabilities of its own.
Nissan Qazana Concept SideNissan Qazana Concept
The Qazana will be a crossover that slots beneath the European-market Nissan Quashqai, a close cousin of the U.S.-market Rogue..
Nissan Xtrail Front Passenger Three Quarters ViewNissan X-TRAIL Platinum
Nissan will feature the X-TRAIL, similar to the Nissan Xterra in the U.S., with a new package called the Platinum.
Peugeot 3008 Front Three Quarters ViewPeugeot 3008
The Peugeot 3008 is essentially a production version of the Peugeot Prologue HYmotion4 Concept -- touted as the French automaker's first hybrid and first crossove
Porsche Cayenne Diesel Front Three Quarters ViewPorsche Cayenne Diesel
The Porsche Cayenne Diesel uses a 3.0-liter V-6 -- sourced from the upcoming Audi Q7 TDI -- that produces 240 hp and over 405 lb-ft of torque.
Techart Porsche Cayenne Diesel Front ViewTechArt Porsche Cayenne Diesel
TechArt has already dressed up a Porsche Cayenne Diesel
Skoda Yeti Side ViewSkoda Yeti
Forget the get-rich-quick schemes, this Yeti isn't furry. Rather, it's the latest compact SUV from Skoda and made its world debut in Geneva.
Toyota Verso Front Three Quarters ViewToyota Verso
One of Toyota's Geneva debuts is the redesigned Verso, Europe's bigger version of the Matrix.

The redesigned, wind-tunnel tested Ford Ranger pickup receives a complete revamping both inside and out, and safe to say, it looks pretty well done. Built in Thailand and shipped to Europe for sale, the Ranger can be had in three body styles with two diesel engines -- 2.5L Turbo (141-hp/ 243 lb-ft) or 3.0L (154-hp/280 lb-ft) -- mated to five-speed automatic or manual transmissions. It can also come in 4x2 or 4x4 configurations for those looking for off-road capability and touts a claimed towing capacity of 3000 kg (6614 lbs). Europeans will get all the new Ranger fun beginning this April.




Read the full Press Release below:

NEW FORD RANGER: READY TO PLAY AS HARD AS IT WORKS

* Fresh new look for Ford's popular Ranger pick-up
* Ranger's 'Tough Truck' capability and seating for up to five offers customers an all-round pick-up well equipped for leisure and the work environment
* Renowned Ranger driving dynamics and high build quality combine with best-in-class towing capacity
* New Ranger is available in three body configurations with choice of two fuel-efficient 2.5- and 3.0-litre TDCi turbo diesel engines with five-speed manual or five-speed automatic transmissions
* New Ranger now also available with automatic transmission paired with the 2.5-litre TDCi engine
* Distinctive and comprehensive series choice, available as 4x2 or 4x4
* New Ranger makes its European debut at the Geneva Motor Show

The new Ford Ranger makes its European debut at the 2009 Geneva Motor Show, combining sleek and modern exterior design with genuine toughness and durability. Ford Ranger plays as hard as it works, both on and off-road.

"The Ford Ranger nameplate is already established in more than 100 markets around the world," said Henrik Nenzen, Ford of Europe's Director of Commercial Vehicle Marketing and Sales. "The new model delivers even more style, comfort and features, making it an ideal choice for a family activity weekend, or a working week."

Contemporary and sporty new exterior and interior design details make new Ranger a credible lifestyle choice, while its versatility and 'tough truck' underpinnings make it a robust and reliable work partner.

Built in Thailand, the new model will arrive in European Ford showrooms from April and is available in a comprehensive choice of model series, from the entry-level XL to the range-topping Wildtrak.

Bold New Ranger Face and Profile
In design terms, the new front styling gives Ranger a sleeker, more modern look, but also shows it means business.

A large horizontal three-bar grille dominates, and is proudly embossed with RANGER lettering. Two black vertical nostrils either side of the grille plus the extended opening below the bumperline and large headlamps that wrap around each front corner create an instantly recognisable design statement. The lower bumper fascia also includes integrated foglamps.

New Ranger's tough contemporary style is supported by solid, modern engineering. The sweeping, tapered front is more aerodynamic and sweeps rearward at its edges to incorporate Ranger's bold front wheel arches. This key design detail communicates Ranger's solid, confident stance and grippy handling character, whether in 4x2 or 4x4 configuration.

Design features influenced by extensive wind tunnel testing also include the door mirrors. Increased in size for better visibility, the mirror's shape - incorporating the LED turn indicator on Wildtrak - was specifically designed to reduce air turbulence and wind noise.

Ranger is available in three body styles - Single Cab, RAP (Rear Access Panel) Cab and Double Cab. The RAP Cab is a four-door system to provide freer access to the cabin by featuring two forward-hinged doors and two rear-hinged access panels. An innovation first introduced to Ranger in 2002, the RAP Cab provides unobstructed access to the spacious interior for ease of entry and cargo loading and an uncompromised side-impact safety structure that replaces the centre pillar of a traditional double cab. In addition a Chassis Cab version is available on both the single Cab and RAP Cab.

Contemporary Details
A new black vent at the trailing edge of the front wings is one of the key styling signatures. The vent features detailed recessed meshwork which surrounds a chrome Ranger badge on Wildtrak models or the side-indicator repeater.

Ranger's large door mirrors incorporate feature details to reflect the series choice. The mirror is moulded in black on the XL, finished with a body colour cap for Ranger XLT models and a chrome-finished cap for Ranger Limited and Wildtrak. The door mirrors on Wildtrak feature a high-intensity LED integral turn indicator. Mirrors pivot for tight clearance areas and all series now benefit from electrically heated mirrors for improved visibility.

Rear bumper finishes give further opportunity to reflect model series, so treatments progress from black on the XL to chrome on the higher series with Park Distance Control additionally featuring on the Limited and Wildtrak models.

Ranger is offered with ten high quality exterior paint choices, five of which are new: Highland Green, Wining Blue, Lagoon Blue, Copper Red and Desert Bronze.

New Ranger also debuts a clear tail lamp design - another contemporary cue - that visually unites the smooth tailgate to the sculpted box side. The clear tail lamps further emphasise the reality of car-like styling and features available in Ford's pick-up range.

Style, Space, Craftsmanship and Comfort
Despite its tough load lugging and off-road capabilities, the new Ranger's interior offers car-like comfort and low noise levels, thanks to ergonomically crafted seats, climate control and MP3-compatible audio and a bodyshell engineered to isolate road noise from the cabin.

"Minimising NVH (Noise, Vibration and Harshness) in all of our products is a key target for us," says Nenzen. "Ranger is no exception to this and the new model is more comfortable than ever." All Ranger models offer AM/FM radio and an MP3-compatible CD player as standard. The audio unit features a digital display that incorporates a clock function.

The lower centre console features two integral 12-volt power outlets and - on all models except the entry level XL - an additional AUX input connection for popular audio players, such as an iPod.

Ranger also offers an array of clever stowage solutions, including a centre stack sunglass binnacle, a front door stowage bin capable of accommodating a half-litre bottle and a pull-out sliding tray above the glove compartment.

Extending the width of the passenger side of the dashboard, the slideout tray supports a weight of 10 kilograms and is ideal for use as a work surface for writing or map reading.

Ranger's large centre console features a two-level design. Its top bin is ideal for accommodating smaller items such as a mobile phone, while its lower bin can house larger objects, including up to 10 CD cases.

Power window and mirror controls are a standard feature in all four Ranger series. The driver's window has a one-touch down feature and the switch is backlit for better night visibility.

Single cab models feature seating for two, the RAP Cab seats four and the Double Cab seats five. The rear seats in the RAP Cab can be folded up to provide secure storage in the cab rather than using the rear load space.

"The high performance air conditioning system, comprehensive audio features and red illumination of the instrument panel coupled with its bold and updated exterior styling make Ranger a very inviting place to be," said Henrik Nenzen, "It is also the perfect crossover for business-owners and an increasing number of urban drivers seeking a stylish vehicle that reflects and supports their lifestyle choices."

Ranger Power and Capability
The new Ford Ranger continues to offer a comprehensive choice of engines, transmissions and drivetrain configurations to meet all customer needs.

Two versions of Ford's Duratorq TDCi turbo diesel engine lead the powertrain line-up. These responsive common-rail diesel engines are available in either 2.5-litre or 3.0-litre versions.

The diesel engines are available in 4x2 and 4x4 configurations and can be paired with either a five-speed automatic or a five-speed manual transmission.

The 143PS (105kW) 2.5-litre engine is rated at 330Nm and has CO2 emission figures of 227 g/km and 244 g/km respectively in 4x2 and 4x4 configurations and regular cab bodystyle. Using the EC combined fuel consumption cycle the 4x2 regular cab bodystyle travels 100 km using 8.3 litres of fuel and the 4x4 uses 8.9 litres.*

The 156PS (115kW) 3.0-litre version generates 380Nm at the flat peak of its torque curve.

"Importantly for all of our customers both TDCi engines produce their maximum torque from just 1,800 rpm," explains Nenzen. "This makes Ranger ideal for great on-road performance or for hauling and towing with its class leading 3,000kg braked trailer loads."

The Ranger 4x4 is designed for superior ground clearance and river fording capability. Its approach and departure angles are designed to provide off-road clearance.

Ranger Tough
Ranger isn't just about tough style. It's about proven 'truck toughness'.

Ranger's toughness starts with a purpose-built truck backbone. Its unique overlapped, cross-braced ladder frame delivers clear strength superiority and the frame is engineered for greater rigidity than H-beam or open-beam configurations.

The frame structure is the foundation of Ranger's load-carrying capacity, towing capability, durability, handling performance and driving quality.

The Load Ranger
The heart of Ranger's truck capability is its extra-deep-sidewall pickup box. This design maximises load capacity and cargo flexibility.

The Ranger pick-up box features:
* Well-placed cargo tiedowns. Easy to access, these tiedown hooks have been designed with Ford's extensive truck engineering experience
* Slotted inner fenders that allow the easy insertion of available shelving systems for cargo management and loading

Ranger is available in three pick-up box dimensions depending on cab configuration:
* Single Cab - 2280mm x 1456mm
* RAP Cab - 1753mm x 1456mm
* Double Cab - 1530mm x 1456mm

Ranger also offers class-leading towing capability. Ranger equipped with either the 2.5-litre or 3.0-litre TDCi Duratotq engine is rated at up to 3,000kg.

*Note: Fuel economy figures quoted are based on the European Fuel Economy Directive EU 80/1268/EEC and will differ from fuel economy drive cycle results in other regions of the world

Skoda Yeti

Forget the get-rich-quick schemes, this Yeti isn't furry. Rather, it's the latest compact SUV from Skoda and made its world debut today in Geneva.

At 165 inches, the Yeti is full 11 inches shorter than a Chevrolet HHR, but features a similar boxy shape and upright seating position for better visibility. Seventeen-inch wheels give the exterior some flair while 62 cubic-feet of luggage space allow for nearly as much hauling ability as a Chevrolet HHR Panel Van, so long as you take the back seats out. It even comes with a cargo cover and convenient tie-downs for securing your load.

The Yeti has the HHR trumped in capability, though. Base models are front-wheel drive like the Chevy, but all other models come as 4x4s. Skoda didn't say if they were actual four-wheel-drive vehicles with transfer cases or all-wheel-drive vehicles, but it's more than likely that the vehicles are in fact all-wheel drive.

Base model Yetis will come with a 1.2L gasoline engine that makes 103 hp. Higher models will use a 1.8L gas engine making 158 hp and mated to the 4x4 powertrain. A 108-hp 2.0L diesel can be mated to either the front-drive or 4x4 powertrain, or a more powerful 2.0L 139-hp diesel can be had with the 4x4 system. The engine line-up tops out with a 167-hp 2.0L diesel with the 4x4 drivetrain.

Like all Skodas, you won't see the Yeti on U.S. streets. If you want to catch a picture of this beast, you'll have to take a trip to Europe.

Source: Skoda


Ford Tourneo Connect BEV


Read the full Press release from Ford Motor co. and Smith Electric Vehicles Below:

Smith Electric Vehicles Reveals New Battery-Electric Ford Tourneo Connect


Geneva Motor Show debut for conceptual zero emission people mover:

• Ford Tourneo Connect battery electric vehicle (BEV)
• Ford & Smith could develop production model, if interest is high
• Target range 100 miles (160km), top speed 70mph (113km/h)
• Showcases that Smith's commercial vehicle technology can translate to passenger vehicles
• Strengthens Smith relationship with Ford
• Underlines Smith's position as market leader for BEVs
• Smith already markets BEV versions of the Ford Transit and Transit Connect commercial vehicles in Europe
• Smith also collaborating with Ford in North America on Transit Connect BEV for 2010 launch

FORD and Smith Electric Vehicles today unveil a conceptual passenger battery electric vehicle (BEV) at the Geneva Auto Show.

The zero emission Ford Tourneo Connect BEV Concept has a projected range of 100 miles (160km) on a full battery charge and a top speed of 70mph (113km/h). The people carrier demonstrates that Smith's electric vehicle technology in vans and trucks can easily translate into passenger vehicles.

Smith Electric Vehicles, a business unit of The Tanfield Group Plc, has produced commercial electric vehicles for over 80 years and is Ford's official collaborator on commercial BEVs in Europe and North America.

Darren Kell, CEO of The Tanfield Group Plc, said: "The pure electric new Tourneo Connect exists as a proof of concept, but it demonstrates how seamlessly our world-leading technology can integrate into passenger vehicles.

"If the Tourneo Connect BEV generates high levels of interest, we can work with Ford on production potential and develop the vehicle relatively quickly."

The vehicle displayed at Geneva is driven by an ultra-efficient 50 kilowatt permanent magnet motor, powered by 21 kilowatt-hours of lithium-ion batteries. The Ford Tourneo Connect BEV Concept adapts technology that Smith has developed for the Transit Connect BEV light van, which is already available to order in Europe as the Smith Ampere. Smith has worked with Ford of Europe since 2007 and already produces a Ford Transit BEV, marketed as the Smith Edison.

A Transit Connect BEV van will be launched in 2010 in North America - the first vehicle to deliver on Ford Motor Company's aggressive electrification strategy announced at this year's Detroit Auto Show.

"The Tourneo Connect BEV concept shows how Ford's collaboration with Tanfield is extending the company's global electric vehicle plan to Europe," said John Fleming, Chairman and CEO, Ford of Europe, "The technology is already available for commercial vehicle applications, and at the 2009 Chicago Show we confirmed that we will launch, with Tanfield as our partner, the Transit Connect van as a full BEV in North America in 2010.

"Although conceptual for now, if there is sufficient interest, this silent, zero emission technology could be applied to the Tourneo Connect quite quickly. We think it would be an ideal solution for taxi use, as a hotel shuttle vehicle or similar inner city application," Fleming added.

"Offering the Ford Connect vehicle family with battery electric power represents the next logical step in our pursuit of even greater fuel economy and sustainability," said Derrick Kuzak, Ford's group vice president of Global Product Development.

"We know a growing number of our fleet clients have expressed interest in electrification as a sustainable mobility solution. By leveraging our global team and asset portfolio, we're able to bring this environmentally friendly, strong `silent type' quickly to market as a van, and we believe there are enormous possibilities for a Tourneo Connect passenger model as well."

Ampere Light Van / Ford Transit Connect
Chassis: Ford Transit Connect
GVW: 2,300kg - 3,000kg
MPH: 70
Payload: 800kg
Availability: All regions




FORD REVEALS NEW TOURNEO CONNECT WITH BATTERY ELECTRIC POWERTRAIN AT THE 2009 GENEVA SHOW

• Geneva debut for new-look Ford Tourneo Connect people mover
• Show vehicle features conceptual full Battery Electric Vehicle powertrain (BEV)
• Tourneo Connect BEV Concept shows how commercial BEV technology could be applied to a passenger model
• BEV technology developed in collaboration with Smith Electric Vehicles, part of the UK-based Tanfield Group
• Smith already converts and markets BEV versions of Ford Transit and Transit Connect commercial vehicles in Europe
• Smith Electric Vehicles confirmed also as partner for Ford in North America to convert the new Transit Connect BEV, available in 2010
• Ford's aggressive global electric vehicle plan is extending to Europe - if interest in Tourneo Connect BEV is high, it could become production reality

A new look Ford Tourneo Connect is being revealed at the 2009 Geneva Motor Show introducing new interior and exterior design details that will be introduced across the Connect range later this year.

But the Geneva Show vehicle has a unique added extra - a conceptual but fully operational Battery Electric Vehicle (BEV) powertrain that shows how Ford is extending its aggressive global electric vehicle plan to Europe. The full BEV powertrain showcased in the Tourneo Connect has been developed in collaboration with Smith Electric Vehicles, the European market's leading battery electric specialist converter of commercial vehicles, which is part of the UK-based Tanfield Group of companies.

Since 1920, Smith has converted tens of thousands of vehicles to battery electric power. In the UK and select European markets, Smith already offers battery electric versions of the Ford Transit medium commercial vehicle to fleet customers, and later this year will introduce a battery electric version of the Ford Transit Connect small commercial. It is this technology that has been adapted for the Tourneo Connect BEV concept.

"The Tourneo Connect BEV concept shows how Ford's collaboration with Tanfield is extending the company's global electric vehicle plan to Europe," said John Fleming, Chairman and CEO, Ford of Europe, "The technology is already available for commercial vehicle applications, and at the 2009 Chicago Show we confirmed that we will launch, with Tanfield as our partner, the Transit Connect van as a full BEV in North America in 2010.

"Although conceptual for now, if there is sufficient interest, this silent, zero emission technology could be applied to the Tourneo Connect quite quickly. We think it would be an ideal solution for taxi use, as a hotel shuttle vehicle or similar inner city application," Fleming added.

"Offering the Ford Connect vehicle family with battery electric power represents the next logical step in our pursuit of even greater fuel economy and sustainability," said Derrick Kuzak, Ford's group vice president of Global Product Development. "We know a growing number of our fleet clients have expressed interest in electrification as a sustainable mobility solution. By leveraging our global team and asset portfolio, we're able to bring this environmentally friendly, strong `silent type' quickly to market as a van, and we believe there are enormous possibilities for a Tourneo Connect passenger model as well."

Developed with an established partner for electrification
The Tourneo Connect BEV Concept has been developed in collaboration with a proven partner for electrification - the UK-based specialist company Smith Electric Vehicles, part of the Tanfield Group.

Since 2007 Ford has collaborated with Tanfield on the development of battery-electric vehicles on Ford chassis, including the Transit medium commercial and Transit Connect. In the UK and select European markets, Tanfield already offers battery electric versions of the Ford Transit medium commercial vehicle to fleet customers, and expects to deliver its first Transit Connect BEVs later this year.

For the Tourneo Connect BEV Concept, latest level battery electric technology was chosen. A 21 kWh Lithium-Ion Phosphate battery pack accumulates the energy to drive a 50 kW permanent magnet motor, while the drive torque is transmitted to the driveshafts by a single-speed transmission. Using this set-up, Smith Electric Vehicles is targeting a range of up to 160 km (100 miles), and a top speed of 113 km/h (70 mph).

Recharging the vehicle is also an easy exercise: the onboard battery charger can be plugged directly into a standard mains socket, and a full battery charge is accomplished in 6 to 8 hours.

"We strongly believe that the Tourneo Connect BEV Concept is pointing in the right direction," said Fleming. "It demonstrates a more than reasonable blend of environmentally responsible performance, day-to-day practicality, and low cost of ownership. We will monitor feedback from the public and the media to this concept very closely, and if there is sufficient interest we will work with Tanfield on a plan to put the vehicle into production."

Global Commitment to Sustainable Mobility
The use of the now global Transit/Tourneo Connect vehicle platform showcases Ford's ability to deliver products with worldwide marketing opportunities.

Powering Ford Motor Company's electrification drive is its "One Ford" global product vision. The company's aggressive new electric vehicle plan announced last January at the North American International Auto Show will see a number of pure battery-powered vehicles, hybrids and plug-in hybrids to market in the US initially and potentially around the world over the next four years.

In the near term in Europe, the company's approach to affordable, sustainable mobility is centered on its range of Ford ECOnetic ultra-low CO2 diesel models, an extensive range of Ford Flexifuel vehicles (FFVs) and, from 2010, a new range of Ford EcoBoost petrol direct injection turbo powertrains offering up to 20 per cent improved fuel economy, depending on vehicle type, and CO2 reductions of up to 15 per cent.

Complementing these cost efficient powertrains are a number of new driver-focused technologies that further improve fuel economy and emissions, notably the advanced Ford PowerShift transmission system - already available in the Ford Focus and

Ford C-MAX - and a new Ford Auto-Start-Stop system appearing first on the iosis MAX Concept car in Geneva and entering volume production in the Ford range in the near future.

But Ford of Europe's commitment doesn't end there. "We're working on extending the global Ford electric vehicles plan into our European portfolio, and while the Tourneo Connect BEV is a practical start that could go into production quickly, we will have more to say on our plans for the mid-term later on this year," Fleming said.

Fresh looks for the next generation
The Tourneo Connect BEV Concept also introduces a new look for the Tourneo and Transit Connect range that will be launched later in 2009.

The revised front bumper and grilles feature Ford of Europe's characteristic trapezoidal shape, and new headlamps and tail-lamps enhance the fresh appearance. The interior has been reworked, with a new car-like dashboard and new improved seats. The high-series Tourneo Connect kombi model making its debut in Geneva also introduces an attractive new exterior colour 'Noisette'.

"After we introduced 'kinetic design' language to our commercial vehicle range with the new Fiesta Van, we wanted to bring the Transit/Tourneo Connect range closer to our latest family look as well," said Chris Bird, Design Director Ford of Europe. "At the same time, however, we wanted to keep the characteristic ruggedness of the exterior, but deliver a new interior design to match our latest passenger car entries. We believe the final result makes the Tourneo Connect even more attractive as a passenger use vehicle while retaining its tough, durable image."

Source: Ford Motor Company

Hyundai ix-onic Concept

Initially called HED-6, the Hyundai ix-onic concept is being billed by Hyundai as having a 'dramatic new look for compact SUVs' and says it serves an indication of the new direction for Hyundai utes. Judging by the sketch, we're not so sure it's all that dramatic, but we'll see for ourselves shortly. Powering the ix-onic is 1.6L direct-injected and turbocharged gasoline engine producing 168 hp. Mated to a six-speed dual-clutch gearbox that is expected to emit just 0.53 lb. of CO2 per mile.

Fuel economy hasn't been announced, but it should be impressive thanks to the use of Hyundai's new Idle, Stop & Go technology that shuts down the engine when the vehicle isn't moving. At 173.2 in tall, 72.8 in wide and 65 in tall, the ix-onic is two to three inches bigger in every direction than the current Hyundai Tucson, which it's rumored to replace sometime in the future.


Kia No. 3 Concept

The No. 3 concept is an MPV vehicle that Kia promises is "fun to drive." We'll have to take a spin before we can take their word.

The styling is interesting; the windshield extends to the back of the car, split only by a diagonal support bar. The nose displays the new "face of Kia," which includes the grille, headlights and badge. We can expect future Kias to have a similar front fascia.




Read the FULL press release below:

New Kia No 3 concept car stars at Geneva Show

The all-new, Kia No 3 concept car, which makes its world premiere at the 79th Salon International de l'Auto in Geneva today (Tuesday), redefines the small MPV genre by creating a spacious, functional car that is also beautiful and fun-to-drive. The concept features a unique extended windscreen and panorama glass roof with a diagonal supporting bar, an automatic sun visor and the evolving 'face of Kia' which displays the front grille, head lamps and brand logo in a new constellation.

The 4045 mm long concept, which is finished in matt Titanium Grey with contrasting gloss-white accents, stands out from the crowd with its powerful proportions, dynamic lines, a modern, sophisticated interior and generous cabin space for flexible use. It delivers urban utility with a sporty touch.

The car brings all the features and strengths of a highly versatile multi-purpose vehicle (MPV) into the urban compact class, combining up-to-date mobility with individual style. Kia No 3 excels in particular through its unique design language characterised by refreshing clarity and modern, youthful sportiness.

Presenting a concept car of this calibre, Kia Motors Corporation is taking another step in its transition to being a globally oriented, design-focused carmaker. Kia No 3 was created with the European market in mind, by Chief Designer Gregory Guillaume at the Kia Design Centre in Frankfurt (Germany) under the guidance of Kia's Chief Design Officer Peter Schreyer. The concept demonstrates Kia's newly created design language in the treatment of surfaces and the flow of lines as well as the evolving 'face of Kia' which is destined to appear on all future Kia models.

Compact sportiness combined with versatility and spaciousness creates a unique interaction and a truly innovative style in Kia No 3. The new concept car establishes the image of the brand and Kia's new design philosophy that will extend beyond the segment of compact cars. The fresh 'face' of the brand is clearly characterised by the proportions of three crucial elements and the relationship between them - the new radiator grille, the extra-large headlights, and the brand logo placed precisely on the centre-line, create a new 'constellation' that will also be highlighted on Kia's future models.

Extremely short overhangs accentuate the compact exterior dimensions of the car, powerfully contoured bumpers and large wheel arches as well as extra-large diameter wheels, bring out the sporty character of Kia No 3. The concept clearly boasts a dynamic wedge shape characterised in particular by the window graphics and the lines rising up to the rear. The rear light clusters are wrapped distinctly around the side panels.

Nineteen-inch light-alloy wheels running on all-weather high-speed tyres, provide a clear hint at the car's sporting performance. The wheel rims, painted black on the outside and finished in glossy chrome on the inside, exude a strong feeling of power.

Kia No 3's long wheelbase (2615 mm) and short overhangs front and rear, together with generous height (1600 mm) and width (1760 mm), provide all the features and qualities typical of an MPV. Extra comfort and space, plus the economic use of the available space are ensured by the ergonomically ideal, slightly elevated seating position. The split rear seats are adjustable independently, with sliding and folding functions.

An extra-large panorama glass roof extends directly out of the windscreen and stretches all the way to the rear spoiler. The result is not only excellent all-round visibility, but also a truly generous feeling of interior space. A diagonally arranged roofbar barely breaks the elegant, seemingly uninterrupted flow of the tinted glass surface.

The highlights of the car's exterior design - modern style, individual character, sporty performance, and unparalleled diversity - also characterise the interior, taking up and repeating the contrast of high-gloss white and black surfaces. Kia No 3 clearly demonstrates the highlights of Kia's future in interior design, with the focus on sophisticated materials, top-quality finish, stylish features, and the most advanced IT technology - all combined with a contemporary lifestyle feeling.

Kia No 3 is the forerunner of future production model which will combine compact B-segment exterior dimensions with the interior spaciousness and versatility that is more typical of a C-segment car. The concept's name 'Kia No 3' is related to the production car's position (third in terms of size after Picanto and Rio) in the future Kia model line-up.

Source: Kia Motors


Lexus RX 450h Hybrid

The advanced Lexus RX 450h will make its European debut at the upcoming Geneva Motor Show, and UK sales are expected to start in the summer. The Lexus RX 450h has made headlines for its impressive fuel economy and reduced environmental impact as it possesses the performance figures that outpace the majority of other SUV/crossovers within its segment.

Thanks to its latest-generation Lexus Hybrid Drive, the RX 450h emits just 0.53 lbs of CO2 emissions per mile driven, which remains significantly lower than many other vehicles. Combined fuel economy stands at 44.8 mpg, which is a 28% increase over the older RX 400h.

Powering the RX 450h is a series/parallel hybrid system which links a 3.5-liter V-6 engine with two powerful electric motors. The RX 450h uses an "intelligent" four-wheel drive system, and total power output is rated at 295 hp. The 0 to 62 mph time measures at 7.8 seconds, and the top speed registers at 124 mph.

Read the full press release below:

INTRODUCING THE LEXUS RX 450h


European unveiling of new hybrid crossover at Geneva Motor Show

KEY POINTS
* Lowest CO2 emissions of any premium crossover -- 148g/km
* Improved Lexus Hybrid Drive with 10 per cent increase in power, 28 per cent improvement in fuel economy to 44.8mpg (combined cycle)
* All-new double wishbone rear suspension
* Advanced Crossover Cockpit interior with Remote Touch control and Head-up Display
* Class-leading active and passive safety
* On sale summer 2009, prices and specifications to be announced

The new Lexus RX 450h follows on from the 2005 launch of the ground- breaking RX 400h to introduce second-generation Lexus Hybrid Drive technology.

In the RX 450h, Lexus marked the first successful dovetailing of high performance with the hybrid benefits of fuel economy and low emissions, revolutionising powertrain technology in the premium segment. The system has undergone significant development in the RX 450h.

Unlike mild hybrids, which use supplementary electric motor power simply to boost the performance of the petrol engine, the RX 450h is a full hybrid, capable of operation in both petrol and electric modes alone, or in a combination of both. It delivers the energy-saving benefits of a series hybrid and the acceleration performance of a parallel hybrid system.

LEXUS HYBRID DRIVE
The RX 450h has the same intelligent four-wheel drive capability as the RX 400h, with a series/parallel hybrid system employing a highly efficient petrol engine and two powerful electric motors working in tandem to provide an `intelligent' four-wheel drive capability.

However, comprehensive enhancements to all the system's components have dramatically improved efficiency, achieving a 10 per cent increase in engine power and a 28 per cent reduction in fuel consumption.

The improvements to achieve improved performance, driveability, fuel economy, noise and emissions include:* Adoption of the Atkinson combustion cycle
* Cooled Exhaust Gas Recirculation (EGR)
* Exhaust Heat Recovery (EHR)
* New Power Control Unit
* Increased front and rear motor torque
* Reduced friction losses in hybrid transaxle
* Eco and EV driving modes
* AI-SHIFT control (Artificial Intelligence - SHIFT)

Total power output is 295bhp (299 DIN hp), enabling a top speed of 124mph and 0 to 62mph acceleration in 7.8 seconds. Conversely, the RX 450h has the lowest fuel consumption of any premium crossover model with a combined cycle figure of 44.8mpg. CO2 emissions are also remarkably low at just 148g/km.

Hybrid Drive System Configuration
The hybrid drive system combines distinct front and rear driving units, with a power control unit managing their seamless, high-speed interaction.

The front drive unit is a series/parallel hybrid system featuring a 3.5- litre V6 petrol engine, a powerful electric motor, a generator, a high performance battery, a power control unit and a power split device with a planetary gear set to combine and re-allocate power from the engine, electric motors and generator as driving conditions require.

The rear unit provides four-wheel drive by means of a second electric motor and is mechanically independent of the front unit. The motor is activated and continuously adjusted by the Vehicle Dynamics Integrated Management(VDIM) system, working in conjunction with the power control unit.

V6 Petrol Engine
The 3.5-litre DOHC petrol engine is based on that used in the RX 350, but has been adapted specifically for use in the hybrid powertrain. It produces a maximum 246bhp (249 DIN hp) at 6,000rpm and 317Nm of torque at 4,800rpm, and features three Lexus hybrid `firsts' to optimise the fuel efficiency of the Lexus Hybrid Drive: Atkinson cycle combustion, cooled exhaust gas recirculation (EGR) and exhaust heat recovery (EHR).

In an Atkinson cycle engine the valves close late, delaying compression.
This creates a high expansion ratio for less compression, reducing intake and exhaust energy losses and converting combustion energy into engine power more effectively. As a result the exhaust temperature is lower than in conventional engines.

EGR reintroduces cooled exhaust gas into the combustion chamber, further reducing the engine's operating temperatures. Together these technologies minimise the need for any fuel enrichment to provide a cooling effect and protect the catalytic converter from overheating damage, thereby improving fuel economy and reducing emissions.

The EHR system uses exhaust gas heat to warm the engine coolant at start- up. This reduces the time the engine needs to warm up, allowing it to be shut off earlier for longer electric motor-only operation, particularly in winter. As a result, the RX 450h achieves an increase of more than 30 per cent in cold weather fuel efficiency compared to the RX 400h.

Power Control Unit
The new power control unit (PCU) is smaller and weighs less than before and is equipped with a new inverter. The inverter's construction allows for cooling on both sides and this better cooling efficiency has helped increase the power density by 40 per cent. PCU power losses have also been reduced by more than 10 per cent to contribute to better fuel economy.

Electric Motors
Although power from the front and rear electric motors remains the same as it was on the RX 400h, at 165bhp ( 167 DIN hp) and 67bhp (68 DIN hp) respectively, the improved cooling of the PCU has increased their continuous maximum torque band width. This gives better performance, in particular from a standing start. The front and rear motors now deliver maximum torque of 335Nm and 139Nm from zero rpm respectively, while the range of the front motor's maximum toque is extended by 9mph and that of the rear by 22mph.

Hybrid Transaxle
Several improvements have been made to the compact transaxle. An oil slinger has been adopted to reduce drive losses in the oil pump; an oil cooler has been fitted; low friction bearings have been installed at key points; and numerous components have been tuned and re-profiled. These modifications combine to increase torque capacity and overall transaxle efficiency.

An improved flywheel damper, with a two-stage, torque absorbing damper, absorbs torque fluctuations and also the shock of engine stop and start.

This significantly reduces vibration and noise, notably in urban driving when the engine stops and starts most often.

Artificial Intelligence AI-SHIFT control has been adopted for the first time on a hybrid vehicle. The system determines whether the vehicle is travelling up or downhill by comparing vehicle speed with accelerator pedal angle. The transmission then selects the appropriate shift range - from third to sixth - to maintain engine rpm at an optimum speed for either uphill acceleration or downhill engine braking.

Sequential shift-matic control is also available, by selecting `S' in the transmission shift gate. In this mode the driver can select any of six speeds to gain more responsive performance, or to add engine braking assistance.

Three New Driving Modes
The fuel efficiency and performance of the RX 450h's hybrid drive system are both further improved by the adoption of three new driving modes: ECO, EV and SNOW.

Linked to an indicator in the speedometer, the new ECO mode provides a modified, non-linear throttle action and air conditioning control to support fuel-efficient driving. The relationship between accelerator pedal movement and system output is automatically controlled to reduce throttle response to aggressive driver inputs, improving fuel economy and promoting smoother driving. The air conditioning load on the engine is also reduced sharply under acceleration, further adding to fuel efficiency.

Activated by means of the Multi-information switch on the steering wheel, EV mode allows the RX 450h to be driven under electric motor power alone.

This driving mode is not available to drivers of mild hybrid vehicles; it requires a full hybrid technology such as Lexus Hybrid Drive. In EV mode the vehicle can be driven around town with minimal noise and zero emissions, with driving range determined by the level of battery charge. As the petrol engine is switched off, the EV drive mode contributes to a significant reduction in overall fuel consumption.

SNOW mode, also selected with the Multi-information switch, helps modulate use of the accelerator pedal and improve vehicle stability when pulling away on snow or other slippery road surfaces. Pedal inputs are automatically adjusted to reduce driving torque and minimise wheelspin; should there be any wheelspin, the rear electric motor engages to improve traction.

DRIVING DYNAMICS
In line with the RX 450hs chief engineer's vision of `Confident Drive' the RX 450h sets new standards in crossover handling and driving enjoyment. It offers the comfort and composure of a premium saloon, combining responsive handling and agility on winding roads with stable, tenacious four-wheel drive off-road performance.

High-rigidity Bodyshell
An all-new bodyshell with high torsional rigidity gives the RX 450h a 20mm increase in wheelbase and 60mm increase in track compared to the RX 400h. Larger, 19-inch wheels improve stability, reduce body roll and contribute to superior NVH performance. The engine is positioned lower, dropping the vehicle's centre of gravity and improving weight distribution.

All-new Rear and Revised Front Suspension The RX 450h has all-new rear suspension and a significantly revised front suspension, which improves its dynamic abilities without sacrificing Lexus's legendary ride comfort. The design of the rear set-up maximises loadspace volume and practicality.

The front MacPherson struts gain new shock absorbers and revised geometry, springs and stabilisers. The diameter of the front anti-roll bar has been increased, improving cornering stability.

The RX 400h's strut-type rear suspension has been replaced with a new trailing arm, double wishbone configuration that features high-tensile pressed steel components that are lightweight but highly rigid. The system's wider arm span and rigid trailing arm and carrier joints contribute to a high level of agility and stability, while careful attention to packaging, including locating the springs under the vehicle floor and low, angled shock absorber mountings, minimises suspension intrusion into the luggage floor. As a result the loadspace floor width has increased by 150mm.

Electronically Controlled Air Suspension Higher grade versions of the RX 450h can be equipped with a newly engineered, electronically controlled air suspension system. This has a revised constriction, combining optimised pneumatic cylinders with high- capacity shock absorbers to deliver flat and supple ride comfort with superior road-holding.

The system automatically maintains a level vehicle posture, regardless of how many people or what size load is on board. Four suspension heights are available, selected using a control switch by the driver's seat: Normal, High (+30mm), Low (-20mm front, -5mm rear) and a Loading mode (-30mm), available only when the vehicle is stationary. For convenience, a second Loading mode switch is located on the side wall of the luggage compartment, and the function can still be used when the hybrid system is switched off.

Normal mode is suitable for everyday driving. When travelling at motorway speeds, the system will automatically lower to a height equivalent to Low mode to improve aerodynamic stability and fuel efficiency.

Active Stabiliser System
A fuel-efficient, electric Active Stabiliser System is also available for the RX 450h, which significantly inhibits body roll angles. Compared to conventional anti-roll bars, it gives almost 40 per cent less roll in 0.5g corners.

The system uses variable twist-torque front and rear anti-roll bars to enhance body control and steering precision in high-performance driving, without compromising straight-line ride comfort. In straight-line driving the system is inactive, in line with the energy-saving objectives of Lexus Hybrid Drive.

Motors located at the centre of each anti-roll bar are activated when the vehicle is cornering and apply twist-torque to both left and right sections of the bar. By applying the right degree of twist force independently to the front and rear anti-roll bars, the highly responsive system controls vehicle roll motion, reducing body roll angles to promote vehicle stability, superior cornering performance, passenger comfort and greater agility through improved steering response..

Electric Four-wheel Drive
A unique feature of Lexus Hybrid Drive, the RX 450h's rear wheels are driven by a second motor to provide electric four-wheel drive under certain driving conditions, improving traction and vehicle stability. Operation is controlled by the Vehicle Dynamics Integrated Management (VDIM) system, with automatic engagement via constantly adjusted front and rear electric motor torque under hard acceleration - both from standstill - and at any speed, when driving through corners and whenever the front wheels lose traction.

Electric Power Steering
The column-assist type Electric Power Steering has been revised to give better feel and feedback. Improvements in rear-end stability allow for a quicker steering ratio than was used for the RX 400h, and the steering gear ratio has been reduced to 14.8, further improving agility. EPS is fuel efficient, kinder to the environment and particularly progressive and responsive in operation. Steering weight is seamlessly adjusted as vehicle speed increases, giving ease of use at parking speeds and good feel and control and high cruising speeds. In spite of the longer wheelbase and wider track, the turning radius is the same as for the RX 400h at 5.7m.

Electronic Brake Control (EBC) System
By making `Braking with Confidence' an essential element of the overall `Confident Drive' concept, Lexus engineers optimised the RX 450h's braking effectiveness, controllability and rigidity.

The second-generation Electronic Brake Control system has an independent power supply and works with VDIM to give improved brake pedal feel and linearity, optimum four-wheel independent brakeforce distribution, braking assistance and maximised energy regeneration.

Lexus Hybrid Drive provides all four wheels with regenerative braking during deceleration and braking, recovering kinetic energy that would normally be lost as heat, as electrical energy for storage in the system's high-performance battery.

EXTERIOR DESIGN
The third-generation RX represents the latest interpretation of Lexus's L- finesse design philosophy. Through the core elements of Intriguing Elegance, Incisive Simplicity and Seamless Anticipation, L-finesse combines the key factors of `leading edge' and `finesse' to encapsulate the hallmark values of the Lexus brand.

The new RX is strongly influenced by the powerful and streamlined monoform architecture of Lexus's LF-Xh concept crossover, bringing together the seemingly contradictory ideas of a `robust, muscular stance' and `elegance and intelligence'.

The new RX combines the road presence of a pioneering crossover with the most compact packaging possible. It is 35mm longer, 40mm wider, 10mm higher and has a wheelbase that is 25mm longer than its predecessor, but these increases have been kept to a minimum in order to preserve the car's agility and town-friendly manoeuvrability. RX maintains its class-leading 5.7m turning radius.

The latest interpretation of the classic Lexus front grille flows from the bonnet and fuses with the front bumper, combining with the L-finesse positioning of the headlights and grille to emphasise the `Resolute Look' that is common to every Lexus. Interlocking trapezoidal forms flowing from the bumper to the front wheelarches emphasise the wide track and the vehicle's powerful stance. Optional, highly sculptural LED headlamps add more power to the design.

The RX 450h's streamlined silhouette preserves the classic image of a crossover, while the clear axis of the shoulder and distinct crease along the C-pillar form a new architectural framework. The pronounced wheelarches flow seamlessly into both bumper and doors, and the vehicle's taut rear corners are emphasised by the smooth integration of the bumper.

Distinctive side window mouldings adopt the L-finesse arrowhead shape, following a subtly concave line across the A and C-pillars before extending at either end. The plated door base mouldings increase in thickness towards the rear of the vehicle, giving a sense of strength and lowered centre of gravity.

Aerodynamic Multi-function Design
The reduction of panel gaps and the management of airflow under the vehicle combine with several multi-function aerodynamic elements to give the RX 450h a class leading drag coefficient (Cd) of 0.32. These elements include highly sculpted door handles; a rear spoiler which seamlessly integrates the rear wiper, high-mounted brake light and radio antenna; and door mirrors that incorporate turn indicators, puddle lights and, where specified, a parking camera, while still reducing wind noise by 20 per cent compared to the previous RX.

Distinctive Design Features
A number of specific exterior design details give unique identification to the RX 450h. At the front, the grille has a blue-tinted Lexus emblem and the bumper is reworked to include an extra intake. The LED headlamp clusters are also blue-tinted. To the side there are blue scuff plates and a hybrid logo and at the rear the lamp clusters are again shaded blue and there is further hybrid badging.

INTERIOR DESIGN
Visual harmony between interior and exterior design is a key principle of L-finesse. The third-generation RX has a radical, all-new interior which perfectly complements the aerodynamic purity of the exterior. The ergonomically advanced cabin exudes spaciousness and comfort and is available in an exclusive black and grey colour scheme.

Crossover Cockpit
The `Crossover Cockpit' structural theme addresses the need for drivers to take in a wealth of visual information without interrupting their attention on the road ahead. It showcases advanced features and superb functionality which focus on intuitive, user-friendly operability by both driver and front seat passenger.

The overall height of the dashboard has been significantly reduced thanks to the introduction of the world's slimmest centre console air vents. The space is divided into two distinct zones: an upper Display Zone, which combines an optional head-up display with an eight-inch colour LCD multi- display screen ideally positioned for at-a-glance viewing, and a lower Operation Zone, which gives access to controls such as the multi- information switch on the steering wheel and Remote Touch (see below).

Remote Touch
Remote Touch makes its world debut in the new RX and forms an integral part of the new Lexus Navigation System. It is an innovative, multi-function device that offers simple, intuitive control of the audio, navigation, climate, phone and vehicle set-up systems. The Remote Touch control knob is located on the central transmission tunnel and has a good ergonomic quality, giving the user tactile feedback when operated. It works on the same principle as a computer mouse, letting the user move a cursor quickly over a series of on-screen icons.

To make it easier to select an icon, the system automatically `pulls' the cursor to an icon if it passes close to it. This makes the system fast and easy to use, minimising driver distraction time.

Head-up Display
The head-up display projects key driving data into the driver's line of sight at the base of the windscreen, including speed, navigation commands, audio and (where fitted) Adaptive Cruise Control and Pre-Crash System status. The newly developed white readouts use high-intensity LEDs to maintain clarity and visibility in all driving conditions.

Multi-information Switch and OLED Display The Multi-information Switch dramatically reduces the driver's need to focus on switchgear mounted on the dashboard. It is linked to the world's first white OLED (Organic Light Emitting Diode) multi-information display, set in the instrument binnacle. Using a toggle switch, the driver can activate and customise numerous vehicle functions and information systems without lifting a hand from the wheel.

Smart Entry and Start System
Seamless Anticipation -- discreet hospitality that anticipates the user's needs - is another principle central to L-finesse and one which can be witnessed in the smart keyless access to the new RX 450h and its sequenced illumination. As well as phased exterior and interior lighting, the needles, markings and multi-information display also light up in sequence when the RX is switched on. And when the driver leaves the vehicle, this illumination sequence is reversed. The instrument binnacle has hybrid blue lighting and in place of a tachometer there is a hybrid system indicator.

Easy Exit and Entry
Discreet hospitality can also be seen in the electrically operated driver's seat, which has an automatic return and away system, in conjunction with a position memory function. When the engine is switched off, both the steering wheel and driver's seat automatically retract to make it easy to get in and out of the vehicle. When the engine is switched on again, they return to their memorised positions.

Dual-speed Windows
The dual-speed windows automatically slow at the beginning and end of their opening and closing sequence, reducing noise and vibration and reinforcing the all-round sense of luxury.

Seating
The interior of the new RX 450h is perceptibly more spacious than its predecessor, with an increase of 52mm between armrests, 10mm in the front to rear seat couple distance, and 10mm in the length of the cargo bay.

The full-leather seats are more comfortable thanks to increased backrest height and width and cushion thickness and width. A new, optional electric cushion length adjustment is also introduced for the front seats, while new heaters provide heat at different temperatures across different parts of the seat.

The rear seats maintain the proven 40:20:40 split-folding design, which offers more flexibility and practicality than the usual 60:40 format. The seats can be slid forwards and backwards to increase legroom or luggage capacity, and can also be reclined.

Storage and Luggage Compartment
The interior is designed to provide the most flexible and practical storage space. There are numerous compartments, including cup, coin and card holders; various trays; a locking glove box; capacious front and rear door pockets; an overhead console; and a multi-compartment centre console, which has 12Vpower outlets, a USB port and an Aux-in jack point, and is large enough to store the owner's manual and provide an additional 21 litres of space.

Thanks to the adoption of the new double wishbone rear suspension, there is significantly less intrusion in the luggage compartment. The floor width has been increased by 150mm and overall volume has grown to 496 litres. New levers are mounted on the side wall of the load space to allow one-touch remote folding of the rear seats. Models with air suspension also have a side wall-mounted height adjustment switch, which lets the vehicle be lowered by 30mm to facilitate easier loading.

Air Conditioning
The RX 450h has automatic air conditioning with independent left and right temperature control. The system uses a new compressor, a highly efficient heat exchanger and an anti-vibration condenser mechanism that improves both cooling and heating functions and reduces operating noise. Within the same space of time, the system can cool the cabin to 1.5C lower and warm it to 3C higher than the previous RX air conditioner.

Fan and vent noise levels have been substantially reduced and a clean air filter prevents pollen and dust from entering the cabin. An exhaust gas- detecting recirculation function automatically switches between fresh and recirculated air modes to maintain good cabin air quality.

Audio Systems
Lexus's guiding principle for the audio systems for the RX 450h is "clearer quality through an emphasis on direct sound".

Three systems are available. The entry-level system comprises a six-disc in-dash CD changer, steering wheel-mounted controls and nine speakers. DAB- ready, it provides USB and audio jack plug connections for fully controlled use of portable music players such as iPods, and Bluetooth mobile phone connectivity with an audio/video streaming function.

A 12-speaker system is also available, with all the above features and the Lexus Navigation System. The new top-of-the-range 15-speaker Mark Levinson premium surround sound system allows RX owners to enjoy perfect home theatre 7.1-channel surround sound from selected CDs and DVDs. It also makes use of the navigation system's hard disk drive (HDD) to provide a sound library facility, using compact Disc Data Base technology to transfer and store music files up to a 10GB capacity.

Lexus Navigation System
The new Lexus Navigation System has a 40GB HDD capacity, making it one of the fastest and most accurate systems on the market. It covers all of Europe, including Russia, and incorporates the traffic infrastructure of each country. Operated by means of the RX's Remote Touch system, it has upgraded voice recognition, with four additional languages, and a new menu that can be operated in 14 languages, including Cyrillic characters.

Parking Assist and Side Monitors
The RX 450h gains a new Side Monitor in addition to its Rear View and Parking Assist monitors.

The system uses Charged Coupled Device (CDD) cameras built into the passenger door mirror and the rear of the vehicle, which work in conjunction with the front and rear parking sensors to give a view of areas around the vehicle that are difficult to see from the driver's seat. Real- time images are shown on either the central display (on models equipped with the Lexus Navigation System), or the interior rear-view mirror. For added security, the door mirror camera will continue to work even if the mirrors are folded back when negotiating a narrow space.

SAFETY
The RX 450h sets world-beating standards for active and passive safety in the crossover market, with its exceptional body strength and advanced safety innovations and driver support systems.

Passive Safety
The RX 450h's body mass comprises 42 per cent high tensile sheet steel, which is both lightweight and highly rigid. It has been engineered to achieve class-leading safety in full-frontal, offset, side and rear collisions. On the evidence of 233 crash tests, it will meet the front and side collision safety requirements of every country: NCAP USA five stars; Euro NCAP five stars and J-NCAP (Japan) five stars.

The new Crossover Cockpit design is ergonomically excellent and offers maximum instrument clarity, allowing drivers to relax and concentrate on the road. The new head-up display combines with a multi-information screen to keep all essential data within the driver's field of view, and a multi- information switch that lets the driver monitor vehicle information while keeping both hands on the wheel.

The RX 450h is equipped with 10 airbags, including knee airbags for driver and front seat passenger and full-length curtain shield airbags. The front passenger benefits from a dual-stage twin-chamber airbag that safely cradles the face like a baseball catcher's glove. This design has won a `breakthrough technology award' in the USA.

Further protection is provided by active front seat headrests, which pop up and forwards in the event of a rear collision, closing the distance between the occupant and the headrest to minimise the risk of whiplash.

Active Safety
The new RX 450h Pre-Crash Safety (PCS) system sets a new benchmark for anticipatory, preventive safety. It uses a millimetre-wave radar sensor to detect objects ahead, determines the collision risk and helps the driver reduce the chances of an accident happening.

If PCS judges a collision to be highly possible, it will alert the driver and when he or she begins to brake, it will activate Pre-Crash Brake Assist. The Pre-Crash seatbelt is also activated under emergency braking, or if there is a risk of a loss of vehicle stability.

Adaptive Cruise Control (ACC) works in tandem with PCS at speeds between 31 and 106mph (50 to 170km/h). ACC automatically maintains a selected distance from the vehicle in front, returning to the original cruising speed once the road ahead is clear.

The new RX 450h also features a new Hill-start Assist Control (HAC). This briefly maintains brake pressure as the driver moves his or her foot from the brake to the accelerator, to prevent the vehicle from rolling backwards on an incline. Because the system requires less accelerator input, it reduces wheelspin and gives smoother pulling-away performance.

Lexus's Vehicle Dynamics Integrated Management (VDIM) processes vehicle status data from sensors located through the car, integrating the function of the ABS, traction control (TRC), Vehicle Stability Control (VSC) and Electronically Controlled Brakes (ECB) with the Electric Power Steering, and also co-ordinating control of the Lexus Hybrid Drive and electric four- wheel drive systems.

Through its integrated control of all the elements relating to vehicle movement, including motor torque, brakes and steering, VDIM not only optimises activation of braking, stability and traction control systems, it further improves the vehicle's overall dynamic performance.

For example, when braking on a surface with unequal grip, VDIM automatically counteracts the different left and right-side braking forces to maintain straight-line braking. In the event of under or oversteer, VDIM seamlessly combines engine output and braking control to stabilise the vehicle.

Moreover, via the EPS actuator, VDIM will augment VSC operation by providing steering assistance to reduce torque steer under braking on surfaces with varying grip. It will also introduce steering torque assistance in under and oversteer conditions to help the driver make the appropriate steering input to maintain vehicle stability.

Source: Lexus


Nissan NV200 Workvan

Little brother to the recently debuted NV2500 commercial van, the NV200 boasts some impressive capabilities of its own. For starters, as a pure cargo-carrier, it will swallow 144.8 cu-ft of cargo with a payload up to 1700 lbs thanks to its FWD architecture and low-profile leaf-spring rear-suspension. That's nearly 10 more cubic-feet and 100 lb-greater payload capacity than the Transit Connect. The NV200's load floor is also eight inches longer than the Transit Connects at 80.5 inches, and Nissan has Ford beat in seating as well, offering seven seats to the Transit Connect's five.

Where Ford has an edge, though, is under the hood. The U.S.-spec Transit Connect's 2.0L gasoline engine makes more power, at 136 hp, than either of the NV200's engines and only the Nissan's diesel can beat the Ford's 128 lb-ft of torque. The NV200 will sport either an all-aluminum 1.6L gasoline engine that produces 106 hp and 113 lb-ft of torque or a Renault-sourced 1.5L diesel producing 85 hp and 148 lb-ft of torque. Both of the NV200's engines will be mated to a five-speed manual transmission, while the Transit Connect gets a four-speed automatic with overdrive.

The NV200 will come in three flavors, as a cargo van, a "Combi" version that hauls seven people and cargo or a more plush seven-passenger people-mover. Unlike other vans, the NV200's seats will not be removable, should you order them. Instead, the middle-row seats will split 60/40 and will tumble forward and stow to create a flat cargo floor. The rear seats, meanwhile, will fold against the sides of the van to make more cargo space. All models will come with dual side sliding doors, though the side windows will be optional on the cargo van. While the cargo van will receive two French doors on the rear, the passenger-friendly model will feature a full-sized tailgate. Buyers of the Combi model will be able to choose between the two rear-door options.


Read the full press release below:

NV200: NISSAN'S NEW SMALL VERSATILE PEOPLE CARRIER AND VAN

ROLLE, Switzerland - Nissan is preparing a move into the global small van market with the introduction of its all new spacious yet compact NV200 small van.

At a glance:
- Three different configurations of NV200
- Sliding side doors for ease of entry
- 4.1m3 of loading space in van version
- Economical petrol and diesel engines
- Low cost of ownership
- Family version is seven seat people carrier
- Global model for multiple regions

Designed from the outset as both a commercial and a passenger vehicle, the Nissan NV200 brings new levels of space, comfort and practicality to the small van market, both in Europe and other global markets.

NV200 will be available in three different versions: a van with the largest load space in its class and two seven seat variants - the functional Combi version for loads and passengers, and the more plush passenger car version, which will be shown at Geneva Motor Show next month.

"The Nissan LCV business is in a phase of expansion even in these challenging financial circumstances," said Andy Palmer, Senior Vice President, Global Product Planning, Nissan Motor Co., Ltd. "We aim to expand our business with smart new products and services that meet the needs of our customers, both in Europe and around the world."

He added: "The NV200 is our proposal for a global small van. It offers outstanding utility and smart convenience with low cost of ownership, packaged in a highly functional design. With this vehicle, Nissan aims to meet the needs of customers looking for a functional, adaptable light van. We will launch the NV200 in Japan before summer, in Europe in autumn 2009 and then in China and other markets." Maximised cargo area
NV200 uses innovative packaging ideas to create the largest and most practical cargo area in its class. Although a little under 4.4m in overall length, the van version of the NV200 has a load bay that's more than 2m long (2040mm).

With front-wheel drive and the adoption of a highly compact rear suspension system, the NV200 can house two standard Euro pallets in the cargo area at a time. At 1.84m high NV200 is no taller than its rivals, while at 520mm from ground level, the floor itself is the lowest in the class to ease loading, helping to boost the cargo volume to 4.1m3. Maximum payload is 771kg.

Spacious interior
A large cargo area is a vital attribute for a van, of course, but the generous interior dimensions of NV200 also translate into ample passenger space in the Combi version.

Unlike some other manufacturers that fit removable seats - which are invariably heavy to lift and need to be stored elsewhere when not in use - the seats in the Combi stay with the vehicle at all times. The middle row backrest has a 60/40 split to increase versatility and the entire assembly tumbles forward to fold flat against the front seats, while the rear pair fold individually to either side of the load area.

Throughout the creation of NV200, attention has been paid to ensuring the highest levels of quality with shut lines and panel gaps in line with the expectations of passenger car buyers.

While the van optionally is available with a side window it, differs from the passenger versions at the rear where it has twin side hinged "French" doors. Both seven-seaters have a fully glazed top hinged tailgate - though the Combi will be available with French doors - while the windows on both side doors have a sliding section for extra ventilation.

Road car platform
Built on a modified version of Nissan's B Platform, NV200 has fully independent strut type front suspension mounted on a separate subframe and a compact and lightweight yet robust wide leaf spring rear axle.

Performance comes from a choice of two engines, one petrol and one diesel.

The petrol version will be powered by Nissan's renowned all aluminium 1.6-litre HR16 engine, as found in Micra, Note and Qashqai. Displacing 1,598cc, the 16-valve unit develops 79kW (108PS) and 153Nm of torque and is mated to a five-speed manual transmission.

The diesel, also found on Note and Micra, is Alliance partner Renault's acclaimed 8-valve 1.5 dCi (K9K) 1,461cc engine. Developing 200 Nm of torque and 63kW (86PS), it offers an ideal blend of performance, refinement and fuel economy. Power is transmitted through a five-speed gearbox.

To create more space in the cockpit, the gearlever extends not from the floor but from the two-tone wrap around centre console. Above the gearlever, the centre section houses the heating and ventilation controls and the double DIN radio slot. Heating and ventilation extends to all three rows of seats.

Well equipped
The NV200 is availble with an optional rear view parking camera, a first for a van in this segment, while the cabin is full of storage spaces, pockets and cup/bottle holders. There is also a secret storage space large enough to hide camera, mobile phones or vital documents within the upper portion of the glovebox.

Joining the parking camera, other car-like items of standard or optional equipment include features such as Nissan's Intelligent Key, power windows and ESP. Safety equipment includes anti-lock brakes with brake assist (BA) and electronic brakeforce distribution (EBD) as standard. Driver and passenger airbags are also standard with side bags available as an option.

Pedestrian safety has also been considered with extra crash absorbing material in the bonnet and the adoption of an energy-absorbing bonnet.

Low cost of ownership
Cost of ownership is projected to be among the lowest in the class thanks in part to the low running costs and high efficiency of the engines and drivetrains, but also thanks to the safety structure which helps to minimise crash damage to vulnerable under bonnet parts such as the radiator.

"With its intelligent layout and packaging helping to give it the largest cargo area in its class, NV200 delivers the right combination of functionality and efficiency. That same practicality can be found in both the Combi and passenger version, but with the added benefit of car-like comfort and features", said Dominique Correze, Vice President, Nissan's European LCV Business Unit.

Source: Nissan Europe


Nissan Qazana Concept

The Qazana will be a crossover that slots beneath the European-market Nissan Quashqai, a close cousin of the U.S.-market Rogue. It will have the design of a five-door hatch albeit with rear-hinged read doors. The product version is expected to arrive sometime in 2010, possibly replacing the Nissan Micra on the assembly line at the Japanese automaker's plant in Sunderland, England.





Read the full Press release below:

QAZANA: THE CROSSOVER REVOLUTION CONTINUES

By introducing an alternative to the traditional family hatchback theme, the Nissan Qashqai revolutionised one of the most conservative sectors of the market. That success has now inspired Nissan to see how it can reshape the small five-door of the future.

"Qazana is a concept car and was created specifically for the Geneva Motor Show... but it should not be dismissed as a just a design study. It gives a clear direction of how a future small car from Nissan could look."
Alfonso Albaisa, Vice President, Nissan Design Europe

At a glance
• Crossover concept reinvents small five-door
• Inspired by motorbikes and beach buggies
• Compact design - sporty, yet rugged
• Designed in Europe

Cars have been dull for too long. Mainstream machines might perform perfectly from A to B... but sometimes drivers want to take the non-conformist route...

Fortunately Nissan has the answer. Inspired by a simple desire to have fun behind the wheel, Qazana shows that mind-numbing motoring could be a thing of the past.

Officially it's a showcar, a study into how a small car of the future could look. But with the announcement that a small crossover - a baby brother to Qashqai - will be built at the company's Sunderland factory in the UK, Qazana's significance should not be underestimated.

"The Qazana concept is an intelligent, all-wheel drive crossover which is masculine, agile, lean, and designed for the tough city streets. Our team at Nissan Design Europe in London realized this image with the motif of a modern day beach buggy and four-seat motor-bike," Atsushi Maeda, Studio Chief Designer, Nissan Design Europe.

According to Matt Weaver, project lead designer at NDE, Qazana was designed to be sophisticated but fun. "It's a hugely optimistic car, which is no bad thing in these difficult times. Had it been created in the 1960s, it would have counted camper vans, bikes and buggies as its rivals. Infused with that same spirit, there's nothing quite like it available today."

Challenges tradition
In the same way that Nissan re-wrote the rule-book when it introduced Qashqai two years ago, so Qazana is ready to do it again. By approaching the small car market from a totally different direction, Qazana invigorates, stimulates and rejuvenates the traditional town runabout.

Compact dimensions
Compact overall dimensions (4060mm in length,1570mm tall, 1780 wide and a wheelbase of 2530mm) mean Qazana would be ideally suited to the urban environment. Yet its advanced specification and energetic styling suggest an ability that goes far beyond the city walls.

By mixing SUV and sports car styling cues, NDE's design team has created a highly individual Crossover quite unlike anything else on the road. The tall stance, truncated rear styling and short front and rear overhangs underscore its feeling of robustness and strength, but the low roof line, assertive side window graphic and broad shoulders hint at a sporting ability absent in traditional all-wheel drives.

At the same time, rounded elements - notably the wheel arches and bonnet - evoke a friendly ambiance and provide a link with existing Nissan Crossovers. Indeed, Qazana has the signature Crossover design detail in the rising window line at the rear, also found on Murano and Qashqai.

Says Weaver: "Qazana follows in Qashqai's wheel tracks by challenging convention. Externally Qazana adds a number of existing Nissan design cues - including a variation on `boomerang' rear light theme from 370Z - to a highly distinctive shape that's unlike anything else in the company's current design portfolio."

Crossover styling
The profile is dominated by the prominent wheel arches and by the body's high waistline, which combine to give an impression of strength and which contrast vividly with the slim side windows. Echoing a style first seen on Mixim, Nissan's high performance electric coup concept shown at the 2007 Frankfurt Show, the glasshouse resembles a crash helmet visor.

Although it appears at first glance to be a two-door coup, Qazana has a further pair of rear-hinged half doors to ease access to the rear compartment. All the doors are electrically operated and for safety reasons the rear pair can only be activated once the fronts have been opened. With no conventional B-pillar, access to the interior couldn't be easier.

One notable feature of the roof-line is the virtually straight cant rail above the doors which adds further to the strength of the profile. The roof itself has a pair of thin glass inserts running the full length of the roof which allow slithers of natural light into the cabin.

This contrast between sporty performance and all-terrain potential is underlined by the venturi-style skid plate at the rear of the vehicle, Qazana's extended ground clearance and the soft rubber spats which edge the wheel arches and help to disguise the vehicle's long suspension travel. The graphite coloured spats contrast vividly with the bold exterior colour, a unique shade called White Titanium, and the strikingly styled 20 inch black chrome alloy wheels.

Distinctive frontal aspect
The car's face is dominated by four headlamps. Two lower circular lamps set within the bumper contrast with a pair of daylight running strips mounted high on the wings on either side of the bonnet: the look is of a rally car preparing for a night stage.

While the full width grille, dominated by Nissan's centrally mounted badge, is an interpretation of current Nissan styling, its construction is not. A one-piece acrylic moulding, no cooling air can pass through the grille. Instead, the lower portion of the bumper, finished in a contrasting graphite colour, is dominated by a number of large holes for air to reach the radiator. See through acrylic mouldings are also used for the door mirrors

The interior has been designed as an extension of the exterior thanks to a clever interplay between hard and soft materials. Rather than being completely enveloped in leather for example, elements of the lightweight carbon fibre seat structure are on permanent view, appearing to have `broken through' the covering. The centre portion of the backrests features a mesh material, allowing fresh air to circulate around the occupants.

Like the seats, the metal sections of the centre console seem to have forced their way through the leather covering while the internal door-frame is part exposed so that the door pull appears to be hewn from solid metal.

Motorcycle inspired interior
Adding further to the mechanical feel of the interior, the shape of the centre console and armrest has been inspired by the fuel tank and seat of a sports motocycle. Paul Ray, senior interior designer at NDE, is a keen rider. "I enjoy the sensation of being at one with my bike and wanted to capture that feeling in Qazana," he says.

"The way the structure appears through the fabric of the interior also reflects motorcycle design and construction."

Accentuating the practical side of the car, Qazana has 'floating' seats centrally mounted over a one-piece rubberised floor covering, creating an openness in the cockpit. Grooves cut in the flooring are replicated on the seats themselves.

The dashboard is dominated by a centrally mounted screen. As well as doubling as a navigation display, it will deliver vital information relating to Nissan's next generation fully electronic ALL MODE four-wheel drive with torque vectoring system and other advanced technical processes found on board, including integrated communications systems. Using an intuitive touch-screen interface, the driver will be able to adjust the air-conditioning and other key vehicle settings.

Alfonso Albaisa, Vice President, Nissan Design Europe, says: "When it comes to design, Nissan has developed a reputation for constantly delivering something different. The global success of Qashqai has proven that the car buying public is fed up with the conventional... but we are not prepared to sit on our laurels. Qazana might seem a radical solution but important elements of the concept do point to a future Nissan production vehicle.

"Watch this space!"

Source: Nissan Europe

Nissan X-TRAIL Platinum

Nissan will feature the X-TRAIL, similar to the Nissan Xterra in the U.S., with a new package called the Platinum. Although having never made it to the U.S., the X-TRAIL SUV maintains a presence in other parts of the world. The X-TRAIL Platinum features new 18-in. alloy wheels, adding presence and styling. New Scratch Shield Paint adds a layer of protection from the elements. An eight-speaker Bose audio system with an added auxiliary input plug is also available for the X-TRAIL Platinum, allowing the use of MP3 players.


Read the full Press release below:

X-TRAIL Platinum

The new X-TRAIL Platinum, sales of which have just started across Europe , reinforce the X-TRAIL's natural strengths of comfort, practicality and dynamic performance. The updates to the X-TRAIL enhance the vehicle's premium qualities.

Externally, X-TRAIL is now available with Scratch Shield Paint, giving the exterior a degree of protection from light stone chips and damage typically sustained in a car wash. The X-TRAIL is the second vehicle in Nissan's European range to be thus equipped, after the Murano.

Scratch Shield Paint is a Nissan innovation and consists of a soft resin which regenerates its outer layer, returning the paint to its original condition over the period of several days.

More visibly, the top X-TRAIL Platinum will be fitted with new 18" alloy wheels, adding presence and style to the vehicle's appearance.

The X-TRAIL Platinum provides added appeal thanks to the availability of a bespoke Bose premium audio system. The Bose system delivers an audio experience of depth, clarity and subtlety thanks to a high performance eight-channel digital amplifier combined with nine precision speakers, including a woofer engineered to fit in the X-TRAIL's spare wheel well, specifically tuned to the acoustic properties of the X-TRAIL's interior. The Bose audio is also optional on the LE grade.An auxillary input plug has been added to all X-TRAILs in the central armrest storage compartment, allowing occupants to connect their MP3 player, while also leaving it hidden when they leave the vehicle.

Next generation ALL MODE
The next generation of Nissan's highly-regarded four-wheel drive transmission, ALL MODE 4x4-i, is a available on X-TRAIL. It has a rotary knob on the centre console offering a choice between two-wheel drive or Auto mode. Auto is regarded as the `default' mode: when driving at speeds of up to 80 km/h, the system constantly monitors throttle opening, engine speed and torque to anticipate wheel spin and to distribute torque between front and rear axles as needed. Above that speed, the system reacts to wheelspin, again shifting drive rearwards to restore traction as required.

Two Petrol and two diesel engines
X-TRAIL offers two levels of turbo-diesel power. The engines are versions of the highly regarded 2.0-litre M1D unit developed by Alliance partner Renault. Power outputs are 110kW (150hp), which increases to 127kW (173hp) when the engine is intercooled. Torque outputs are 320Nm and 360Nm respectively. Both engines are fitted with diesel particulate filters to minimise emissions.

Source: Nissan Europe


Peugeot 3008

The Peugeot 3008 is essentially a production version of the Peugeot Prologue HYmotion4 Concept -- touted as the French automaker's first hybrid and first crossover -- shown last fall at the 2008 Paris Motor Show. Based on the 308 (hence the extra 0 in the name), the 3008 will go on sale starting this summer in gasoline form, with diesel models arriving in the fall. The hybrid variant will be arriving at a later date, sometime before 2011.

Opting for petrol provides a choice of three 1.6L four-cylinder engines rated at 118-hp and 118-lb-ft, 148-hp and 177-lb-ft, or 154-hp and 177-lb-ft. The 118-hp engine is mated to a five-speed manual gearbox while the other two use a six-speed. Fuel mileage is expected to range from 31 mpg combined to 33 mpg combined.

Three four-cylinder diesel options will be offered as well: a 1.6L mill rated at 107 hp and 177-lb-ft and two 2.0L mills rated at 148-hp and 251 lb-ft or 161 hp and 251-lb-ft. The 1.6L engine can be mated to either a six-speed manual gearbox or an electronically-controlled six-speed manual transmission. The less-powerful 2.0L engine will come with a six-speed manual gearbox only while the more-powerful unit will come with a six-speed automatic. Fuel mileage for diesel engines should start around 41 mpg combined and top out around 48 mpg combined for the 107 hp engine.

As for the hybrid, not much is known save for that it will feature a diesel engine up front and an electric motor in the rear. Should the concept's specs carry over, the 3008 would use the 161-hp 2.0L diesel engine and with a 36-hp electric motor, the entire hybrid system producing about 197 hp with 221 lb-ft of torque at the front wheels and 148 lb-ft at the rear wheels and return 57 mpg combined while reducing CO2 emissions by as much as 35%.



Porsche Cayenne Diesel

The Porsche Cayenne Diesel uses a 3.0-liter V-6 -- sourced from the upcoming Audi Q7 TDI -- that produces 240 hp and over 405 lb-ft of torque. Even more impressive than the torque figure is the average fuel economy: Porsche cites consumption at 9.3 liters per 100 kilometers, which should translate to 25 mpg, and a 0-62 time of 8.3 seconds. Pricing for the European model begins at 47,250 euro (equal to $60,000 at today's exchange rates), with plans still underway for its introduction to other markets outside of the EU, which, of course, could mean the U.S.





TechArt Porsche Cayenne Diesel

Of course, this upgraded Cayenne Diesel didn't take a lot of work. The only thing different about the Cayenne Diesel is the engine, so the Aerokit I it's been fitted with can also be added to a gas-powered Cayenne and was probably developed on one. The kit includes new front and rear fascias, a roof spoiler, new sills, new exhaust tips, a choice of Formula or Formula II wheels, a three-spoke steering wheel with airbag, aluminum pedals and sill plates and a "sport" air suspension module. No pricing has been announced.

Joining the "individual look" Cayenne Diesel will be the TechArt Magnum, a hopped-up gas-powered Cayenne. Starting with a Cayenne S, TechArt has built a 670-hp monster with 664 lb-ft of torque, letting it hit 62 mph in 4.2 seconds, 124 mph in 14.5 seconds and a top speed of 191 mph. That would make it faster than the Mercedes-Benz ML63 AMG, the fastest SUV we've ever tested. TechArt doesn't say how they achieved this, but we'd bet it has something to do with cranking up the boost. They did add a big brake kit for good measure, though. The Magnum also receives the Aerokit I body kit. No pricing has been announced for this vehicle either.



Toyota Verso

One of Toyota's Geneva debuts is the redesigned Verso, Europe's bigger version of the Matrix. It seats seven thanks to a third row of seats in the back and Toyota has improved its Easy Flat-7 system to allow both the second- and third-row seats to fold flat more easily, creating more room for cargo. Toyota has also stretched the wheelbase and widened the front and rear tracks to make more space for second- and third-row passengers and redesigned the suspension geometry to compensate for the new dimensions.

The Verso will be one of the first platforms to receive Toyota's new Optimal Drive technology, which incorporates several technologies to reduce engine weight and mechanical losses and to maximize efficiency and minimize emissions. In the Verso, Toyota says the technology has improved fuel economy by up to 20% and emissions up to 12% over the outgoing model.

The Verso will receive 1.6L and 1.8L Valvetronic gas engines mated to a six-speed manual transmission. Toyota's Multidrive S Continuously Variable Transmission will be available on the 1.8L engine. An updated 2.0L diesel and a carried-over 2.2L diesel will also be offered, and a new six-speed automatic transmission will be come optional for those engines in July.



BMW X5 M

Our spy photographers recently caught the BMW X5 M undergoing a bit of snow testing as the automaker readies the sports SUV for launch. The light camouflage indicates that this X5 keeps true to its "M" badge, sporting quad exhaust pipes, massive air inlets on the front bumper and vents in the front fenders.

Many reports claim a tuned version of BMW's 4.4L twin-turbo V-8 found in the X6 will power the X5 M. Regardless of cylinder count, expect an output somewhere north of 500 hp transmitted through an automatic transmission to an all-wheel-drive system. Also anticipate beefier brakes, stiffer suspension and a robust tire package.

There aren't too many concrete details on the mechanical pieces at the moment, but many reports point to a tuned version of BMW's 4.4L twin-turbo V-8 found in the X6. But regardless of cylinder count, expect an output somewhere north of 500 hp transmitted through an automatic transmission to an all-wheel-drive system. Also anticipate beefier brakes, stiffer suspension and a robust tire package.

Not too long ago, BMW released videos of the X5 and X6 M-variants undergoing testing as a promotional tool for the "M" brand. Check the X5 video here, and the X6 video here

BMW plans to launch the X5 M soon; perhaps in the next few weeks. The X6 M should arrive shortly thereafter.