Hyundai Elantra, Range Rover Evoque given North American titles

Dodge Avenger on the way out; small Volvo engines on way in.

Audi A7 Sportback chosen as the Canadian Automotive Jury’s Best of the Best Winner

During a presentation at this week’s Montreal auto show, a jury of 10 Canadian automotive journalists, including Wheels’ John LeBlanc, selected the new Audi A7 Sportback as the Canadian Automotive Jury’s third annual Best of the Best Winner.

This year’s dozen Best of the Best Finalists included the BMW 1 Series, Chevrolet Cruze and Volt, Honda Civic, Hyundai Elantra, Infiniti M, Range Rover Evoque, Kia Optima, Mercedes-Benz C-Class, Mini Cooper Countryman, and the 2011 Best of the Best winning Ford Fiesta. The Audi A7 was recognized as “the one and only, best of the best” of the current crop of 2012 model year vehicles sold in Canada.

In a tightly contested voting session, the Kia Optima was this year’s first runner-up.

World’s largest technology show becoming more about cars

With around 20,000 new products from an estimated 3,000 exhibitors, the annual Consumer Electronics Show, held in Las Vegas, is the tech industry’s largest event.

Among the smartphones, cameras and flatscreen TVs, many of the exhibitors are related to the auto industry.

And as the demand for in-car infotainment grows, many automakers are foregoing their own proprietary systems, which is one of the reasons why Ottawa-based QNX Software Systems, owned by Waterloo’s Research In Motion, has a full roster of automotive clients eager to use its platform to create their own digital dashboards, telematics and integrate popular consumer products like iPhones and iPads.

Just like a “normal” auto show, QNX creates its own show car for CES each year.

For 2012, it’s a Porsche 911 Cabriolet, with front-seat control of rear-seat tablets and the ability for any device to play media stored on any other device, and new ultra-high-definition voice technology, which provides for clearer, easier-to-understand hands-free calls.

Are the Dodge Avenger’s days numbered?

Just as it was debuting its all-new Dart compact sedan, a Chrysler Group executive said it may drop the similarly-sized Dodge Avenger sedan within three years while it develops a redesign of the better-selling Chrysler 200 sedan on the same Fiat-based platform as the new Dodge.

“Chrysler will likely consolidate around one midsize car in the future,” Reid Bigland, head of the Dodge brand and former Chrysler Canada president, told Reuters at this week’s Detroit auto show.

The Dodge Avenger and the Chrysler 200, formerly sold as the Sebring, are built on an existing Chrysler platform that was introduced in 2006, but were thoroughly updated in 2010.

Infiniti to debut an electric sports car this March

Nissan’s premium Infiniti brand didn’t hold a media presentation or debut any new cars at this week’s Detroit show. But it did tease with another image of a forthcoming plug-in electric sports car, planned to be unveiled at this year’s Geneva auto show in March.

Tentatively called the “Advanced Sports Car Concept,” the sporty EV will be mid-engined with a battery pack to extend its range.

Infiniti is boasting its EV will deliver “zero emission operation in urban situations,” so we assume that means more than just a few kilometres of electric range between charges.

The Nissan brand has also been teasing a pure-electric sedan, speculated to be based on Nissan Leaf mechanicals. It’s planned to debut in 2014.

All new, smaller engines coming for Volvo

Volvo plans on launching the first of a new family of small engines, dubbed Volvo Environmental Architecture (VEA), in the majority of its models starting in 2013.

The VEA family of three- and four-cylinder engines will deploy turbocharging and variants with hybrid technology using both gasoline and diesel engines, with a horsepower range between 120 and 300, and will replace Volvo’s current 10-engine lineup.

Although the automaker hasn’t confirmed which North American vehicle will receive the first of the new family of small engines, Volvo showed off an XC60 crossover at this year’s Detroit auto show, powered by a four-cylinder gas-electric VEA plug-in hybrid powerplant.

Rolls-Royce has banner year despite global economic woes

What with a still shaky U.S. economy, the natural disasters that disrupted Japan’s industrial heartland, and the European Union on the brink of financial collapse because of some its freer-spending southern members, 2011 didn’t exactly go down as a year of economic prosperity for many around the world.

So it comes as a bit of a surprise that 2011 was the best sales year ever for BMW’s ultra-luxury brand Rolls-Royce.

In 2011, the brand sold 3,538 Ghost and Phantoms globally, a 31 per cent jump over 2010.

Not surprisingly, the biggest gains came in Asia, where Rolls says gains were made of 47 per cent. In North America, sales increased by 17 per cent.

  • Hyundai Elantra, Range Rover Evoque given North American titles H.W. Park(2nd-R), Hyundai managing director and chief executive and Hyundai Motor America CEO John Krafcik are seen after the Hyundai Elantra was awarded the 2012 North American Car of the Year award at the 2012 North American International Auto Show in Detroit, Michigan, January 9, 2012. AFP PHOTO/Geoff Robins (Photo credit should read GEOFF ROBINS/AFP/Getty Images)

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