Money, Money, Money: Lambo’s New SUV Concept

Lamborghini Urus concept

Revealed in Beijing, the Lamborghini SUV Urus (a type of bull) concept has been accompanied by more than the usual amount of bullwaste by the media and the company.

In preshow literature, the Bull is described as “the Lamborghini for everyday use, for the family, for leisure pursuits with friends.” Can’t you see them jouncing over the rocks in those ridiculous low-profile tires? Lambos parked in Sam’s Club lots—the mind boggles.

CEO Stephan Winkelmann called it “the Lamborghini of the SUVs,” possibly the most redundant and silly statement a carmaker has lately made.

A full description with every last detail is in the press release here. Buyers will be looking at 600 hp, permanent 4WD, lots of carbon fiber, adjustable spoilers and what appears to be a most uncomfortable interior (pix after the break).

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The Solution to Distracted Driving: The Dash Robot

BYD's in-dash robot

Considering how many products the “Made in China” tag has been applied to in the United States, it’s amazing that cars have not been added to the list.

That won’t last, as rumors of a Chinese car company entering the U.S. market have circled for years. When it will actually happen remains unknown, but when it does, we could be in for a repeat of the Hyundai/Kia story that has unfolded over the last 25 years.

Would the first Chinese cars to arrive be as low-quality as the very first Hyundais were in 1986, or is it possible that the cars will impress with a quality no one expects?

Well, if the first Chinese car to come here has a talking robot that pops out of the dash, things could get interesting. Weird, but interesting.

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New Benz CSC Coupe Is No Hyundai

It pains me to take issue with my amigo tgriffith. He recently affirmed that the new Mercedes-Benz CSC Coupe, to debut at Beijing next week, ”feels to me like a cross between the fluidic Genesis Coupe and Sonata sedan, with a little bit of Volvo in the front end.”

I don’t know what he was drinking when he wrote that, but now that we have a full set of photos of the Concept Style Coupe, you can see for yourselves that the poor fellow was in the grip of an unfortunate fantasy. We all have our hazy days.

I’ll show you pix of the Sonata after the break, which does bear some small resemblance to the CSC—but so do many other cars, including the Volkswagen CC and Benz’s own CLS cars. The Genesis Coupe (above) looks nothing like the CSC and is one of the most wretched examples of Hyundai design.

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5 Great Signs That Automotive Passion Is Back

Starting somewhere in early 2009, the auto industry lost its mojo.

I probably don’t need to go into how bleak things were, but words and phrases like “bankruptcy,” “recalls,” “rising gas prices,” and “sinking sales” dominated headlines for many of the last 36 months. There were bright spots, of course, but now that we’re well into 2012 it seems that things have finally turned the corner.

Keep reading for a few of the best most recent signs that car passion has returned.

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2013 Viper Typifies What’s Wrong with American Carmakers

There’s a piece in CNNMoney about how Chrysler was going to kill the Viper, but Ralph Gilles, Chrysler’s SRT boss, impressed Sergio Marchionne with a business case for it.

Exactly how the 2013 Viper is supposed to make money hasn’t been revealed. But in the summer of 2010, the car was approved for production. For a rough beast that some had called the “Dodge Corvette,” the new Viper seems a solid improvement.

But with all its new-found power (640 hp V10, 600 lb-ft of torque, no turbo, manual only) and refinements, the Viper still looks like it’s going to break in the middle. From the firewall forward, it’s a different car, and the whole thing still has the look of a kit car. There are a bunch of pix here from the New York Auto Show.

In a way, by adding stability and traction control plus more creature comforts, Chrysler made it less different from the competition, which, for many Viper fans, means less cool.

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Cars Coming Soon: Mercedes-Benz CSC Takes Design Lesson from Hyundai

Understated luxury, ultimate elegance and pavement-peeling performance.

Those are terms I think of when I think of Mercedes-Benz. Even the outrageous SLS AMG has a certain laid-back coolness without seeming like it’s trying too hard to be awesome.

I’m not sure I can say the same thing about the vehicle you see above. That’s the M-B Concept Style Coupe, or CSC. Despite its name, the car is actually a compact sedan which will take on the likes of the Audi A3. And yes, there’s a good chance the production version will come to the States.

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VW/Audi Buys Ducati. Why?

2012 Ducati Corse Evo 848SE

Italian motorcycle maker Ducati makes some of the world’s finest motorcycles and superbikes. It’s been doing so since 1926, winning the 2011 World Superbike Championship and 17 other world titles. Their machines are gorgeous.

Audi reportedly will take over the firm today for $1.1 billion—chump change for Volkswagen but another jewel in its trophy quest to own the best, now including Lamborghini, Bentley and Bugatti. (And nine other brands, including two heavy-duty truck makers—Scania AG and MAN SE.)

Ducati’s revenue is “more than Lamborghini’s and Bugatti’s combined, but to the automotive operations, it’s a mere accessory.” So remarked a Frankfurt-based analyst with IHS Automotive. It’s “strategically insignificant” for Volkswagen, he said.

Volkswagen Führer Ferdinand Piëch is the reason. He’s a motorcycle freak and has been drooling for Ducati since it first went up for auction in 2008. The nominal reason offered is that the buy will now give Audi a chance to go head to head with BMW on motorcycles.

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If Suzuki Died in America, Would Anyone Notice?

Suzuki Kizashi

When Hummer left this world, there was much applause.

During Pontiac’s slow death, there was much reminiscing and sadness.

During Saab’s (continuing) downfall, there was much protest.

If Suzuki goes down, will there be much… of anything at all?

No doubt about it, Suzuki makes a fine automobile. They are dependable, affordable, and lately, even stylish and sporty. Unfortunately, most of the vehicles it offers in the U.S. are outdated and blown away by the competition. The Kizashi is the lone star right now, a fine entry in the midsize sedan market. The SX4 and Grand Vitara, though, are in desperate need of a refresh.

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Green Update: There’s Gas… and Then There’s Gas

CNG-powered Ram pickup

We’ve heard a lot about the natural gas revolution lately—you know, the immense resources of gas just waiting to be fracked out of places like Pennsylvania and Western Canada, not to mention parts of China, Europe and Central Asia.

There are literally trillions of cubic feet of the stuff locked away in rocks under the surface in the U.S. alone. However, the extraction and environmental costs will be huge. It’s the same deal with shale oil, which requires much refining.

With gasoline prices heading north of $5 a gallon, Americans (at least some) will continue to trade in their SUV swizzlers and vans for smaller, more fuel-efficient cars. And they will be driving less. So oil imports will be reduced—a trend already happening—and so will greenhouse gas emissions, slightly.

But gasoline prices are determined on the world oil market, and they will continue to rise as functions of supply, demand, geopolitics and speculation. The biggest factor will surely be rising demand from China, India and other developing countries. One blog claims we presently use three billion gallons of gasoline a day on this earth.

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Chevrolet Avalanche Will Join the Extinction List

Some of the best used car values are on vehicles that have gone extinct.

Need a nice quality SUV for the family at a bargain price? Check out a Pontiac Torrent. How about a luxurious convertible? The Lexus SC430 should do nicely. A basic, well-put-together family sedan? Put a Mercury Sable on your list.

The point is, good cars sometimes hit the end of the road. A lot of them do, actually, and now it’s time to add the Chevrolet Avalanche to the list.

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