The louder, lighter and faster Audi R8 GT coupe has landed in Canada for 2012, and a convertible sibling will soon follow it as well, Audi Canada confirms.
Dubbed the R8 Superleggera for its formula similar to Lamborghini's slightly lighter and more powerful Gallardo, the 2012 R8 GT coupe will start at $228,000 - a 30 grand premium over the base R8 GT's price in the United States.
Neither timing nor a specific price has been announced for the convertible version of this mid-engine exotic car, which will feature a more powerful V-10 than the one that's in the R8 5.2 V10, at 560 hp versus 525. That's still down 10 ponies on the lightened but pricier Gallardo Superleggera, but the Audi also goes through its own serious carbon-fibre diet.
The R8 GT coupe is 80 kg lighter than its R8 V-10 counterpart, with weight shaved thanks to a variety of carbon-fibre components, including the fixed rear spoiler, mirror housings and lower bodywork all around the car, as well as carbon-ceramic brakes.
Audi says the car will do the benchmark 0-100 km/h dash in 3.6 seconds, on its way to its 320 km/h top speed.
BMW reveals details on 1-Series hatchback
BMW likely wasn't planning to release such extensive info on the next-generation 1-Series until closer to its scheduled public debut at the Frankfurt motor show in September, but once images appeared on the Internet last week, it took only a few days for BMW to relent and release official details on the hatchback version of BMW's smallest (current) model.
The next 1 will continue to be a subcompact, rear-wheel-drive machine, based on the 3-Series platform, but moves to a larger body, wheelbase and more opulent interior. It will offer an eight-speed automatic transmission, as well as two turbocharged, direct-injected, four-cylinder gasoline engines. The 116i will make 130 hp, while the 118i will offer 170 hp, and at least one of these engines looks destined to make it here. The all-new four-cylinder turbos will offer a start/stop system on all models, including manual and automatic versions, as is offered in Europe now.
BMW also released details of three turbo-diesel engines it plans to offer in the next 1, though there's no confirmation yet on which engines will arrive here, if any.
BMW Canada spokesman Rob Dexter says there are no plans to bring the hatchback to Canada for the foreseeable future, and that the plan is to continue only with the coupe and convertible models.
That's unfortunate, because the five-door model, a body style currently not offered in North America, is by far the 1's most attractive variant, with the possible exception of the high-performance 1 M Coupe. And the upcoming second-generation 1 means that the fire-breathing 335-hp 1-M Coupe that was recently launched will likely be a one-year-and-done orphan (or collector). This beast was recently put on a dyno by the enthusiast folks at InsideLine.com, and found to be putting out 331 hp and 362 lb-ft of torque at the wheels, indicating that BMW is still underrating its performance engines.
Mazda6 Michigan run to end
Unconfirmed reports out of Japan began more than a month ago, but Mazda confirmed it this week: it will stop producing the mid-size Mazda6 sedan in Michigan, opting to build its next mid-size family hauler for North America in Japan.
The Flat Rock, Mich.-built Mazda6 will remain on the market until the end of its life cycle, says Mazda, but its replacement will come from the firm's Hofu plant, which also builds the Japanese version of the 6, known as the Atenza.
Mazda is therefore swimming against many widely accepted automotive corporate practices. It's going against the conglomerate grain: with its now-minimal corporate ties to global giant Ford, the company is getting smaller, not larger. With the yen as high as it is, Mazda is concentrating production further in a relatively high-cost area, and further away from one of its most important markets.
And while many companies are pursuing hybrids and plug-in vehicles of various types as potential ways to overcome increasingly stringent fuel economy standards, Mazda has declared that it will continue to focus on refining internal combustion engines.
Mazda did say that it is still discussing further joint efforts with Ford at the Flat Rock plant, which now builds the Mazda6 and the Ford Mustang. But the Japanese reports also suggested that Mazda is considering building future products in lower-cost Mexico instead of the United States.
Ford to introduce three-cylinder in North America
The downsizing of the North American automobile engine took another significant leap this week, with the announcement that Ford would launch its first three-cylinder engine on this continent, a 1.0-litre turbocharged unit that promises to offer the power of a 1.6-litre four, but with better fuel economy.
Ford says the engine is headed to its small cars, particularly for customers who want high fuel economy but without paying the hybrid technology. It hasn't spelled out which vehicles would receive this global mill, or its specific power outputs, but the fact that its global subcompact Fiesta features a standard 1.6-litre engine here in North America would suggest that it will be among the recipients of Ford's smallest engine.
Also on the fuel-saving front, Ford announced that it is working on an advanced eight-speed automatic transmission, as well as designing its own hybrid transmission, which it currently sources from suppliers in Japan. Ford says the hybrid transmission will begin production at its Van Dyke plant outside Detroit by the end of this year, ramping up by spring 2012, in order to go into a number of Ford and Lincoln hybrid models.