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Production version set for Toyota mini-car concept

Toyota is expected to release a production version of its iQ mini-car concept at the Geneva auto show next month.

Published February 23, 2008
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The second-generation Acura TSX sports sedan, which goes on sale later this year as a 2009 model, will make its debut at the 2008 New York International Auto Show, which opens to the public on Easter weekend.

The car is said to feature numerous advancements in performance, styling, technology and safety.

“The new 2009 TSX highlights the design direction of Acura’s sedans,” said Jim Miller, executive vice-president, Honda Canada. “It is an important next step in the advancement of our sedan lineup and in the continued enhancement of the Acura brand.”

Acura is renewing all three of its North American market sedans during this calendar year. The company revealed a face-lifted RL sedan earlier this month, and is expected to introduce an updated TL later in the year.

The Acura TSX is similar in most respects to the European Honda Accord, which is smaller and narrower than the one we get here, and which will make its debut in Geneva. It will be offered exclusively with a four-cylinder engine.

Toyota to build iQ mini-car

Toyota is expected to release a production version of its iQ mini-car concept at the Geneva auto show next month. The concept was first shown at the Frankfurt Motor Show last September.

The production car is expected to be the first of a series. “Toyota is thinking big by creating a new generation of small cars designed to address the demands of modern motoring and the preferences of today’s drivers,” the company said.

“The iQ is rich in Japanese design elements and signals a radical shift away from the belief that small cars, although kinder to the environment, are inherently basic and less safe,” it added.

With an overall length less than three metres, the iQ is designed to accommodate three passengers in reasonable comfort. No details have been released on its powertrain, but an engine displacement in the range of 1-litre is anticipated.

Production will begin late this year in Japan. There is no indication that the iQ will be sold in North America.

But if Toyota is willing to take a bit of a risk, it could be a feasible, lower-priced alternative to the Smart, and it would fit in ideally with the small-car premise espoused by the GTA in Motion exhibit at this year’s Toronto auto show.

Verve out, Fiesta in

After Ford has primed the market by showing concept variations of a new B-Class (sub-compact) car called the Verve at auto shows around the world, word has come down from Dearborn that the production version won’t be called the Verve after all.

Instead, it will recycle the Fiesta name that has endured for decades in Europe, and was last used in North America in 1980 — continuing the brand’s predilection for names that begin with “F.”

Both three-door hatch and four-door sedan versions have been shown in concept form, but what models will be sold where has not yet been announced.

More details are likely to be released when the production Fiesta is revealed in Geneva next month. What is sure is that some version of the car is destined for sale in North America, as a 2010 model.

New gearbox for M3

BMW has released an all-new, seven-speed, double-clutch gearbox for all three M3 models: coupe, sedan and cabriolet.

According to the company, the new gearbox not only improves acceleration, it reduces fuel consumption by a significant margin.

Incorporated in the sequential shifter’s electronic controls are 11 shift programs — five in automatic mode and six in manual mode — as well as a launch control algorithm for maximum acceleration from standstill.

NEW MERCEDES COUPE NOT FOR US

Mercedes-Benz recently revealed a new CLC-Class coupe in Berlin. The successor to the past-generation C-Class Coupe is billed an entry-level model for the expanding Mercedes-Benz coupe family.

It is expected to continue the vital role of the C-Class coupe, the majority of whose buyers were new to the Mercedes-Benz brand. Fully 40 per cent of those buyers later went on to buy an up-level Mercedes model, the company says.

The European CLC range, which goes on sale there in June, will offer buyers a choice of four four-cylinder and two six-cylinder engines, with power outputs ranging from 122 hp to 272 hp. Among those, the CLC 200 CDI is said capable of covering more than 1,000 kilometres on a single tank (62 litres) of diesel fuel.

Alas, as with the Audi RS 6 Avant we reported on in last week’s Wheels, there are no plans to offer the CLC-Class in Canada.

Rumblings

Audi Canada has announced pricing for its 2008 A5 coupe, starting at $51,850 for the all-wheel drive, six-speed manual version. A six-speed Tiptronic automatic gearbox adds $1,500 to the tab.

Nissan Canada has set a starting price of $40,400 for the brand-new Infiniti EX-35 mid-sized crossover vehicle, which is now on sale at Infiniti dealers nation-wide.

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