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The Evoque Convertible Concept

Closely following the Range Rover Evoque's capturing the North American Truck of The Year award in January, a two-door convertible version of the hot seller will appear at the Geneva auto show this month.

Land Rover says the concept is to gauge reaction and assess the potential to build a four-seat drop-top version of the Evoque Coupe. A final decision on production has not yet been made, and no production plans are confirmed.

"The Evoque Convertible Concept vehicle will explore the potential for the world's first premium convertible SUV," the company said.

The company obviously doesn't consider the U.S..-only Nissan Murano convertible or its own previous drop-top efforts worthy of mention.

Canada will move to publish more real-world accurate fuel economy labels in 2014, the federal Minister of Natural Resources Joe Oliver announced recently, using the more stringent testing methods already adopted in the United States.

More realistic figures started appearing south of the border on 2008 model year vehicles, after the U.S. government moved from gentle city and highway speed measurements, to incorporating more aggressive throttle movements, sub-zero temperature tests and air conditioner use, as well as higher speeds that actually surpassed the speed limit.

Canada currently uses the old two-cycle, slow and steady, test methods, where neither cold nor air conditioner use is factored in, and the top highway speed tested is 97 km/h. In fact, the average speed of the highway test is a mere 77 km/h, and meant to simulate rural roads as well as various types of highways.

In effect, the Canadian government has finally admitted that its current published fuel economy figures are unrealistic. On top of the outdated two-cycle tests, the government's annual fuel price estimates were also conservative, the 2011 numbers calculated using a price of $1.05 for regular, and a $1.15 for premium fuel and diesel.

"Our government has listened and our new labels will more accurately reflect the actual fuel efficiency of vehicles," said Oliver.

Canadian consumers looking for realistic fuel consumption figures before 2014 can find these more realistic figures at the EPA's site, which offers a handy conversion tool to change mile per gallon figures to L/100 km. Natural Resources Canada officials were hoping to release a revamped version of their own fuel consumption site at by early this year, but so far it hasn't appeared, nor even 2012 model year fuel economy figures, as of late February.

The figures are available in the printed 2012 Fuel Consumption Guide booklet NR Canada puts out every year.

With the average vehicle on Canadian roads about 8-1/2 years old, Canadian Black Book says that more Toyotas hold their value best after eight years than any other brand.

When looking at 2004 models, seven of the 17 vehicle category winners went to Toyota, with Japanese firms again dominating with 11 resale value leaders in each market segment. The closest any other company comes is two residual value leaders, from Nissan, BMW and GM, while Acura, Mazda, Mercedes-Benz and Ford each take one.

These results mirror those of CBB's recently announced 2012 Best Retained Value awards, in which Japanese companies and Toyota in particular dominated, with 11 and five CBB awards, respectively, out of 17 vehicle segments in total. These awards are particularly interesting for folks looking to lease a vehicle over three or four years, since better retained values should translate into lower monthly payments.

But vehicle longevity statistics suggest that new-vehicle owners are keeping their vehicles longer, making the eight-year figures more relevant to buyers who are likely to keep their new car and truck longer.

For eight-year-old vehicles, the top three value retainers in each segment are:

  • Subcompact: Toyota Echo, Chevrolet Aveo (tied with) Volkswagen Beetle
  • Compact Car: Toyota Matrix (tied with) Toyota Corolla, Volkswagen Golf
  • Mid-Size Car: Toyota Camry, Subaru Outback, Subaru Legacy
  • Full-Size Car: Nissan Maxima, Toyota Avalon, Mercury Grand Marquis
  • Entry Luxury Car: Acura TL, Audi A4, Lexus ES330
  • Luxury Car: BMW 5-Series, Acura RL, Mercedes-Benz E-Class
  • Premium Luxury Car: BMW 6-Series, Lexus LS430, BMW 7 Series
  • Sports Car: Mazda Miata, Ford Thunderbird, Volkswagen GTI
  • Premium Sports Car: Chevrolet Corvette, Porsche Boxster (tied with) Porsche 911
  • Small Pickup: Nissan Frontier, Toyota Tacoma, GMC Canyon
  • Full-Size Pickup: Toyota Tundra, Ford F-Series, Dodge Ram
  • Minivan: Toyota Sienna, GMC Safari, Honda Odyssey
  • Full-Size Van: GMC Savana, Chevrolet Express, Dodge Sprinter

In anticipation of the arrival of a pure electric version of the new generation ForTwo Electric Drive this fall, Smart recently announced that it has opened a pre-order bank for the two-seat electric runabouts.

This third-generation Smart EV will house a 55-kW (74-hp) engine with 96 lb-ft of torque, and go on to a top speed over 120 km/h, a major improvement over the current (prototype) car's 100 km/h maximum. Total range is 140 km on a single charge.