Bentley Approves Plan to Build SUV in UK


Remember the Bentley EXP 9 F concept (above) that debuted at the 2012 Geneva International Motor Show? It was a big, goofy-looking caricature of an SUV, bearing more than a passing resemblance to the Canyonero from "The Simpsons." Apparently enough people (oil sheiks and NBA wives, most likely) told Bentley that they wanted one, so the company has decided to green light production of the super-luxe family truckster at the company's manufacturing plant in Crewe, United Kingdom.

Bentley EXP 9 F Concept Photo Gallery

U.K. Prime Minister David Cameron was on hand with Volkswagen Chairman Martin Winterkorn (VW owns Bentley) to make the announcement, which is expected to bring 1,000 jobs to the region and result in an investment of nearly $1.2 billion at the plant. Sales of the as-yet-unnamed Bentley SUV are expected to start in 2016, according to the company.

No word on whether the new-production SUV will look like the concept, but rumors swirling around the concept's travels through the auto show circuit suggested Bentley will be toning down the cartoonish styling before it goes into production. Price likely will be similarly stratospheric, in keeping with Bentley's ultra-premium status and to maintain exclusivity.

Bentley EXP 9 F Concept at the 2012 Geneva International Motor Show
Bentley EXP 9 F Concept: Photo Gallery
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By Aaron Bragman | July 23, 2013 | Comments (0)

Lamborghini Veneno: First Look


  • Competes with: Ferrari LaFerrari (giggle), Bugatti Veyron, a Malibu beach house
  • Looks like: A 21st century take on the Lamborghini Countach, with some jet fighter thrown in
  • Drivetrain: 6.5-liter V-12 making 750 hp; seven-speed single-clutch manual transmission; all-wheel drive
  • Hits dealerships: Never - only three are being made and all are already sold
  • MSRP: $3.9 million

Lamborghini is throwing a 50th birthday party and to celebrate it has created this, the extremely limited-edition Lamborghini Veneno. Based loosely on the Aventador platform, the Veneno is tuned up to 750 horsepower and features unique and extensively carbon-fiber-based bodywork.

More 2013 Geneva Motor Show Coverage

Most notable is a vertical ridge running from the roof to the rear wing, which meshes into the familiar Lamborghini Y-shaped taillamps. The side view reveals some classic Lamborghini styling cues, such as the asymmetrical wheel openings that harken back to the Marcello Gandini-designed original Countach from 1974 and the traditional Lamborghini-style scissor doors. Plenty of modern touches are included as well, like the LED running lights and carbon-fiber turbine rings on the wheels that scoop in additional air for brake cooling.

By Aaron Bragman | March 5, 2013 | Comments (0)

Rolls-Royce Wraith: First Look

  • Competes with: Bentley Continental GT, Mercedes-Benz CL600
  • Looks like: An understated coupe design for an ostentatious vehicle
  • Drivetrain: 624-hp, twin-turbo 6.6-liter V-12, "Satellite-Aided" eight-speed ZF transmission
  • Hits dealerships: Late 2013, in Europe
  • MSRP: 245,000 euros ($319,633 equivalent, US pricing not announced)

The Geneva Motor Show has been receiving a lot of press with the idea that the European auto industry is in a slump, that nobody is buying new cars, and that frugality and smallness are prevailing themes. Yet we've seen a new hyper-Ferrari, a new hyper-Lamborghini and this new Rolls-Royce coupe introduced at the show.

More 2013 Geneva Motor Show Coverage

This is the new Rolls-Royce Wraith, essentially a two-door version of the Ghost sedan, an ultra-luxury fastback coupe that will join the lineup in Europe late this year.

By Aaron Bragman | March 5, 2013 | Comments (5)

2013 Geneva International Motor Show: 2014 Volkswagen GTI Preview

Volkswagen has unveiled the latest incarnation of its iconic GTI hot hatch ahead of the March 2013 Geneva International Motor Show. In keeping with VW's tradition of updating the Golf on which the GTI is based, the new car is an evolution of the old one, with subtle changes and improvements to powertrains, fuel economy and driving dynamics. The models unveiled in Geneva are the European-spec vehicles; the U.S.-spec cars have not yet been announced, but this is a good peek into what we could expect here.

By Aaron Bragman | February 28, 2013 | Comments (0)

2014 Bentley Flying Spur: First Look

  • Competes with: Rolls Royce Ghost, Mercedes-Benz S65 AMG
  • Looks like: An updated "entry-level" Bentley, with cues from the Mulsanne
  • Drivetrain: 616-hp, twin-turbocharged 6.0-liter W-12, eight-speed automatic transmission, standard all-wheel drive
  • Hits dealerships: This spring

Bentley has updated the sedan version of its Continental coupe, dropping the Continental name and simply calling it the 2014 Flying Spur. The move makes the Flying Spur its own line that's separate from the Continental coupe, and it makes sense given the significant styling departures from the recently refreshed 2013 Continental. Power comes from a standard twin-turbocharged 6.0-liter W-12 engine now making a whopping 616 horsepower and 590 pounds-feet of torque. That's more powerful than the outgoing Flying Spur Speed model, and the automaker says it's the most powerful motor ever fitted to a Bentley sedan. That power is funneled through a ZF eight-speed automatic transmission with a 40/60 rear-biased torque split for the full-time all-wheel-drive system. It rockets the big sedan to 60 mph in just 4.3 seconds -- a 0.3 second improvement over the outgoing sedan -- and brings the Flying Spur to a top speed of 200 mph.

The sedan receives a significant refresh inside and out but still keeps traditional Bentley styling cues. The four-element headlamps and the double cockpit interior should look familiar; they join new features like the Bentley Flying B in the fender ornaments and oval-element taillamps that match the shape of the exhaust tips. The more formal profile and details such as larger outboard headlamps versus the coupe's larger inboard ones are meant to set the sedan apart from the coupe. A dizzying array of colors are available for both paint and trim, with 14 colors available for the leather interior alone and 17 exterior paint colors.

By Aaron Bragman | February 20, 2013 | Comments (1)

Would You Buy It? 2013 Ford B-Max

Ford b-max-1
Does the U.S. market need another mini-minivan? Well, the Mazda5 is doing OK here, so why not add Ford's B-Max to the mix?

The B-Max was unveiled at the 2012 Geneva International Motor Show earlier this month and will go on sale in Europe later this year. It's a difficult-to-classify vehicle thanks to its compact wagon body style, tall ride height and sliding doors. Ford calls the B-Max a "city-friendly crossover," and in looks and purpose, it's a cross between the Mazda5 and Honda Fit. The wagon seats five passengers and rides on a stretched version of the Ford Fiesta platform, making the 164-inch B-Max quite a bit smaller than the 180.5-inch Mazda5 and a bit longer than the Fit.

In terms of styling, the B-Max gets points over the awkward, angular Mazda5, but they share the sliding door setup. We know the B-Max's minivan doors may seem uncool. We get it; however, they provide a much wider opening than a traditional door, which is great when trying to load people, stuff or a child-safety seat into the second row. Maybe sliding doors are even better for entering tight spaces like the B-Max versus the cavernous confines of full-size minivans. Ford says the front passenger seat and backseat can be folded to create a flat load floor capable of swallowing loads measuring up to 92.5 inches long.

By Jennifer Geiger | March 29, 2012 | Comments (37)

Nissan Invitation Concept at the 2012 Geneva International Motor Show

Nissan Invitation Concept

  • Looks like: The child of a Honda Fit and Nissan Leaf  
  • Defining characteristics: Prominent trapezoidal grille with headlight cutouts  
  • Ridiculous features: Around View Monitor seems sort of unnecessary  
  • Chances of being mass-produced: Launching in Europe in 2013

Are you over Nissan's subcompact Cube? The Nissan Invitation Concept may be what's next in this class from the automaker, but don't get your hopes up just yet.

What you're seeing here is an ordinary-looking subcompact hatchback, though it's just a concept for the moment. The vehicle is coming to the European market next year, where it will complement Nissan's Micra subcompact and Juke compact. Besides the Cube, the Japanese carmaker technically doesn't have a small hatchback offering in the U.S. since the Nissan Versa is considered a compact. That means there's a possibility that the model may be coming here, too, but Nissan made no mention of a U.S. release.

By Colin Bird | March 8, 2012 | Comments (0)

Nissan Hi-Cross Concept at the 2012 Geneva International Motor Show

Nissan Hi-Cross Concept

  • Looks like: Nissan is going mean and lean for its next compact crossover
  • Defining characteristics: Third-row seating, compact design, new hybrid technology
  • Ridiculous features: 3-D displays, but they’re low-hanging fruit for the chopping block
  • Chances of being mass-produced: We’re probably looking at the next Nissan Rogue

The current Nissan Rouge is getting long in the tooth. Although it received a mild refresh for the 2011 model year, the model sold today is nearly the same as the one on sale in 2007. Nissan's recently unveiled Hi-Cross Concept gives us a taste of what to expect from the Japanese carmaker's next-generation compact crossover.

The Hi-Cross Concept is a seven-passenger compact crossover, featuring Nissan's first in-house-engineered front-wheel-drive hybrid system. The concept features two four-cylinder engines: a 2.5-liter four-cylinder (powering the current Rouge) and a turbocharged 2.0-liter engine coupled to a hybrid system. The hybrid system features lithium-ion batteries developed from Nissan's Leaf technology, according to the automaker. It also uses a new generation of the continuously variable automatic transmission that Nissan says will improve fuel economy by about 10% over its current CVT.

By Colin Bird | March 6, 2012 | Comments (3)

2013 Mitsubishi Outlander at the 2012 Geneva International Motor Show

2013 mitsubishi outlander

  • Competes with: Ford Edge, Kia Sorento
  • Looks like: Outlander gets a more fluid and sculpted look
  • Drivetrain: No word on U.S. powertrains, but Europe will get diesel and gas versions: a 2.0-liter four-cylinder gasoline engine and a 2.2-liter four-cylinder turbo-diesel
  • Hits dealerships: On sale in Russia this summer; other markets will follow

Mitsubishi's Outlander is going green. The Outlander is redesigned for 2013 with more sculpted styling, new safety features and plans for a plug-in model.

The third generation of the midsize crossover loses less than an inch in length and gets a whole new look, including a restyled grille with Mitsubishi's three-diamond logo prominently displayed, a raised belt line, a more contoured body and wraparound headlamps. We first saw the new design in concept guise from the Mitsubishi Concept PX-MiEV II at the 2011 Tokyo Motor Show.

By Jennifer Geiger | March 6, 2012 | Comments (6)

Infiniti Emerg-E Concept at the 2012 International Geneva Motor Show

Emerg-E Concept

  • Looks like: Infiniti intends to go ahead with building its first halo vehicle  
  • Defining characteristics: mid-engine, two-seater coupe, plug-in hybrid electric 
  • Ridiculous features: 0-130 mph in 30 seconds 
  • Chances of being mass-produced: 50/50

Unlike Lexus and Acura, which had halo vehicles like the SC and NSX to get the attention of leery American luxury car shoppers back in the late 1980s, Infiniti has never really had a honest halo vehicle.

That may be about to change, in the guise of the Infiniti Emerg-E Concept. The concept is a mid-engine, rear-wheel drive, 2-door coupe, with dual electric motors that product 400-horsepower, capable of propelling the model from 0-60 mph in about four seconds, says the automaker. Has that raised your interest?

By Colin Bird | March 6, 2012 | Comments (2)

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