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Lancer bows in Motown

Mitsubishi began leaking cues to the look of its all-new 2008 Lancer back in 2005, with the Concept X.

Mitsubishi began leaking cues to the look of its all-new 2008 Lancer back in 2005, with the Concept X.

The real thing will be unveiled Jan. 8, a media day preceding the 2007 North American International Auto Show in Detroit.

While toned down substantially from the concept, the production version of the compact sports sedan carries a variation on the vision car’s shark-nosed front end.

Also present are hints of a jet fighter’s air intakes, a wedge-like profile and crisp, taut lines.

The aggressive styling conveys an unmistakable brand identity, the company says.

Mitsu also promises thrilling driving dynamics, “class-up” value, advanced safety and available cutting-edge technology.

The rethought Lancer is based on a new global platform that also underpins the next-gen Outlander SUV.

The new Lancer has a longer wheelbase and wider track, but is slightly shorter overall than the previous model.

Under the hood will be an all-new, 152 hp, 2.0-litre four-cylinder, with twin camshafts.

The high-performance, Lancer-based Evo X four-door is in the wings and will come to Canada.

Lancer will be the first Mitsubishi in North America to offer an optional continuously variable transmission.

In the high-end GTS model, the CVT will feature a six-step Sportronic mode with magnesium steering wheel paddle shifters.

A five-speed manual transmission will be standard.

The new Lancer hits showrooms in March.

The Detroit car show will be open to the public from Jan. 13 through Jan. 21.



CONTINENTAL FINALISTS PICKED

A jury of auto writers has selected the Honda Fit, Saturn Aura and Toyota Camry as finalists for the 2007 North American Car of the Year.

The Chevrolet Silverado, Ford Edge and Mazda CX-7 are finalists for the 2007 North American Truck of the Year.

The winners will be announced on Jan. 7 at the Detroit auto show.

The awards are bestowed by 49 auto journalists from the U.S. and Canada.

Factors weighed include innovation, design, safety, handling, driver satisfaction and value for the dollar.

To be eligible, vehicles must be all new or substantially changed from the previous model.



STYLING CAN TURN OFF BUYERS

In surveys of what consumers rank most important in choosing a vehicle, things like reliability and fuel economy are typically front and centre, and environmental factors are gaining in importance.

Styling is usually well down the list, suggesting it doesn’t play a major role in buying decisions.

Common sense and sales history suggest otherwise, however, and a recent survey by J.D. Power and Associates lends credence to that view.

J.D. Power’s latest “Avoider” survey asked what factors caused consumers to avoid specific vehicles.

Styling topped the list, with 45 per cent of respondents citing it as their primary reason not to buy.

Styling typically determines the buyer’s first impression of a model.

If a buyer dislikes the look, he or she generally will not pursue that model any further, the study concludes.

Reliability (23 per cent), price (20 per cent), resale value (16 per cent) and poor quality (15 per cent) rounded out the leading reasons not to buy.



SILVER STILL RULES

If you have the impression that every other car or truck on the road is silver-coloured, you’re almost right.

The actual number is just short of one in four new vehicles sold in North America, according to PPG Industries, a major paint supplier.

And silver, or some variation thereof, has been the most popular colour for six years running.

White is the next most popular colour (16 per cent), followed by black and red (13 per cent each).

The unavoidable conclusion: North Americans are not very adventurous in their colour choices.

Blues also have a following (12 per cent), but no other colour adorns more than one in 10 new vehicles.

PPG is currently showcasing new hues from which auto makers will choose for their 2009-2010 models.

Natural colors such as greens, blues, golds and browns are likely to gain prominence by then, PPG predicts. And there will be more variations on greys and blacks in the guise of graphites.



BOSS BINDERS BOUNCE BACK

A few years ago, it seemed a sure bet conventional hydraulic brakes would soon be replaced by electromechanical units — which are simpler, lighter, more compact and faster- acting.

But that prospect all but disappeared when the equally expected move from 12- to 42-volt electrical systems for autos failed to materialize.

Now, it seems, electromechanical brakes are back in the product plans of at least one manufacturer.

Siemens, a major global auto supplier, reportedly has contracted with an unidentified auto maker to supply its Electronic Wedge Brake for a hybrid vehicle in about five years.

The electromechanical wedge system uses 12-volt electric motors to turn a screw that pushes brake pads against the rotor in each wheel, then releases the pads.

Fully brake-by-wire, the setup has no mechanical connection to the brake pedal and no hydraulics.

Master cylinder, brake lines, brake fluid and wheel cylinders, all in use for more than 80 years, are eliminated.


wheels@thestar.ca

mgmalloy@aol.com

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