All Dressed-Up: Saab 9-7X Aero Concept Debuts at SEMAThe sophisticated, jet-originated Saab brand gets in touch with its inner funk and is strutting its new and improved hip side, as the 9-7X Aero Concept debuts at the Specialty Equipment Manufacturer Association trade show here this week.

In a collaboration with the DUB customization company in Los Angeles, Saab's first ever SUV is decked-out with a high-level of specialized elements. Those include:

- 24-inch custom fabricated "Aero X" wheels and 225/30 Pirelli tires
- Suede and leather interior trim
- Custom front fender side vents
- Custom three-inch lowered suspension
- Borla Performance Exhaust System
- Window and tail light tint
- DVD/TV in-dash double-din head unit
- Four, seven-inch TV monitors for seats
- 15-inch flip down LCD center
- Two amplifiers and two 12-inch sub woofers with custom box

"DUB was really inspired by the Saab Aero X concept car and the 'Born from Jets' theme," says Myles Kovacs, president and co-founder of DUB Magazine and Industries. "We wanted to integrate it into a custom vehicle. The 9-7X is a great vehicle to customize. We are very pleased with the outcome. It looks hot."

The big question at the show very well may be: when will this black beauty go into production? "Shows such as SEMA provide Saab a terrific opportunity to try new things and quickly get the evolution out in front of the public," Julie Kenar, Saab Automobile USA 9-7X marketing manager explains. "This will act as a good gauge for whether this concept is one which resonates with customers."

Earlier this year, Saab announced the 9-7X Altitude Edition, of which only 500 will be produced. Beyond the extremely rich standard equipment of the 9-7X, the Altitude Edition includes 18" alloy polished wheels, side assist steps, a rear DVD player, and an exclusive carbon fiber gray metallic paint. The package will be offered at a savings of nearly $1,000 than if the items were ordered individually. The package is available on the six-cylinder 9-7X 4.2i and the 9-7X 5.3I V8 - which will bring the total vehicle price (MSRP, destination charge and Altitude package) to $42,130 and $44,130, respectively.

For 2007, OnStar-equipped 9-7X models will feature a new service called OnStar Turn-by-Turn Navigation, the first factory-installed, fully-integrated GPS navigation system from OnStar. Turn-by-Turn allows consumers to talk to a live advisor, who in turn sends complete step-by-step directions to customers'' vehicles through their OnStar system. Also in 2007, a Tire Pressure Monitoring System becomes standard equipment on the 9-7X, and one new color, Crystal Blue metallic, has been added.

The Saab 9-7X, which debuted in the summer of 2005, brings unique Saab characteristics to the SUV segment, including sophisticated styling inside and out, premium quality and design features, and sporty and fun-to-drive performance. With its high-level of standard equipment, the 9-7X offers a terrific value.

Fiat Linea's world premiere at the Istanbul AutoShowBorn in Bursa for export to Europe, the Fiat Linea is making its first appearance at the Istanbul AutoShow. At one of the AutoShow’s most impressive stands, Fiat will be introducing visitors to its new models and in particular, to Fiat Linea, presenting auto enthusiasts with a young and dynamic brand image.

Fiat will be emphasizing its brand values at the Istanbul AutoShow, to be held November 2-12 at Istanbul’s CNR Expo Center. Amid a dramatic décor staged in Hall 5, a space of 1,566 m2, visitors will discover the perfection of Italian design, along with the sophisticated technology and high environmental sensitivity of Fiat products.

The simple and geometric lines of the Fiat display, the walls and floors of the stand dominated by white, will be a crowning glory to the design and look of the vehicles on show, combining a visually impressive, youthful, dynamic, sporty presentation with a zesty and outgoing Italian style.

Ford and Shelby reach new heightsTo earn a decent living while amateur racing in the 1940s, Carroll Shelby raised chickens. His first batch of broilers earned him $5,000, but the farm bug didn’t last. Shelby went bankrupt when his second group of chickens died.

“My chickens all had limberneck disease, and I was going broke,” says Shelby. “One day, I’d been vaccinating chickens and was running late. So I drove out to the racetrack in my overalls. It was about 110 degrees, and I decided to leave the overalls
on because I thought they would be cooler to drive in. I won the race, and everyone giggled and laughed, but they ran my picture in the paper in those overalls. I decided, shoot, this is a pretty good deal, and I just kept on doing it.”

Shelby continued to race — and win — and build an international reputation. In 1962, the planets aligned when AC Cars in England lost its supply of engines and, at the same time, Ford Motor Company had a new lightweight, small-block V-8 engine. Shelby’s idea was to marry the two; the result was the original 260/289 Cobra. In a small shop in southern California, Shelby eventually tweaked the formula to create the legendary 427 Cobra, and Ford and Shelby were, as they say, off and running.

“My energy and passion for performance products has always been strongest when it involved a vehicle from the Ford Motor Company,” says Shelby. “I couldn't be prouder than I am today to have the opportunity to re-create history with the only automotive company that holds the key to my heart.”

The epicenter of Shelby’s high-performance passion today is at the 2006 SEMA performance party in Las Vegas, where Shelby-badged Mustangs occupy center stage. The focal point is made up of three cars — one painted red, one white and one, you guessed it, blue. The red car is a GT500 dragster, an all-out drag racer ready to win any mod-motor class. The white Mustang is a GT500 Road and Track, a car that can be driven to work Monday through Friday and raced at the track on the weekend. The blue Shelby is an all-out competition GT500 race car. There are also a black 40th Anniversary Shelby GT500 convertible and a white Shelby GT coupe on display.

The street-legal drag car’s 5.4-liter V-8 features a Ford Racing supercharger that’s enhanced by a cold-air box from Paul’s High Performance (PHP) and by billet aluminum pulleys from Metco Motorsports. The engine also has modified reservoirs and oil pan, and the chassis has a tubular K-member from Anthony Jones Engineering. The transmission is a GT500 factory TR-6060 six-speed from TTC/Tremec with PHP shifter modifications. The stock front seats are swapped out for Recaro race buckets.

The Road and Track car is street-legal, modified with a Ford Racing Performance Parts power pack that boosts horsepower to approximately 600. There are also a Ford Racing handling pack (lower stance, larger antiroll bars, new strut tower brace and new dampers), performance friction brakes and three-piece Fikse race wheels.

The blue, track-only competition GT500 has a 5.0-liter Cammer engine that puts out more than 500 horsepower and is mated with a six-speed sequential shift race transmission. The brakes have six-piston front calipers with two-piece rotors; the rears have four-piston calipers with two-piece rotors. There are an 8.8-inch full floating rear axle, three-way adjustable dampers, a GT-spec rear wing, a carbon fiber nose splitter, a 22-gallon fuel cell and three-piece BBS racing wheels. Curb weight is a trim 3,100 pounds, about 800 pounds less than the conventional Shelby GT500.

“For Ford, this really is one of our Kodak moments,” says Bob Adams, a manager in Ford Motor Company’s Global Auto Show Strategy Department. “We’ve got the three flavors of Shelby all in one place. This is a dramatic showcase of some fantastic cars.”

Echoing the days of tinkering with Ford engines in southern California, there are some historical Shelby cars at SEMA displayed alongside their modern-day counterparts. There are a 1968 Shelby GT500 and a 2007 Shelby GT500, a 1966 Shelby GT350H and a 2006 Shelby GT-H, and a rare Shelby Daytona coupe shown alongside the polished-aluminum Shelby GR-1 concept car.

“If you look back at what the historic Shelby cars were used for, they were drag raced, they were driven on the track, they were driven Monday through Friday and raced on the weekends,” says Adams. “These historic Shelby vehicles show that we’ve been in the performance business for a long time — not only back when the muscle car wars started, but we’ve been producing Mustangs throughout. And unlike our competition, who can only promote their past, we’re delivering the metal today.”

Honda Announces 2007 Civic Si Sedan PricingAmerican Honda Motor Co., Inc., today announced pricing for the all-new 2007 Honda Civic Si Sedan at the Specialty Equipment Market Association (SEMA) show. The Civic Si Sedan officially goes on sale on November 1st with a manufacturer's suggested retail price of $21,290, plus $595 for destination and handling.

2007 Civic Si Sedan models include:

- 197-horsepower, 2.0-liter i-VTEC(TM) 4-cylinder engine
- 6-speed manual transmission with helical-type limited slip differential
- Exclusive exterior features include rear deck spoiler wing and Si emblems
- Standard 17-inch alloy wheels with P215/45 R17 87V tires
- Side curtain airbags, front side airbags and dual-stage, dual-threshold front airbags
- Advanced Compatibility Engineering(TM) (ACE(TM)) Body Structure
- Vehicle Stability Assist(TM) (VSA(R))
- Anti-lock brakes (with 4-channel ABS and Electronic Brake Distribution)
- EPA-estimated city/highway fuel economy of 23/32 miles per gallon*

High-performance summer tires are available as a factory option, bringing the suggested retail price to $21,490. The Civic Si Sedan is also available with a Honda Satellite-Linked Navigation System(TM) with Voice Activation and XM(R) Satellite Radio for the suggested retail price of $23,040 ($23,240 on vehicles with the high performance summer tire).

Honda Reveals Customized Concepts for Civic, Fit and CR-V at 2006 SEMA ShowMore than 15 Honda project and concept vehicles made worldwide debuts at the 2006 Specialty Equipment Market Association's (SEMA) show in Las Vegas, American Honda Motor Co., Inc., announced today.

Honda revealed a prototype Civic MUGEN Si Sedan equipped with a high performance suspension, aerodynamic body styling and a sport exhaust system. In addition to the MUGEN vehicle, Honda Factory Performance (HFP) showed its new lineup of
dealer-installed accessories for the new-for-2007 Honda Civic Si Sedan.

"The Honda Civic MUGEN Si Sedan elevates the already-impressive Civic Si Sedan into new performance territory," said John Mendel, senior vice president of American Honda. "Performance and racing are part of Honda''s heritage and the Civic MUGEN Si Sedan along with the rest our vehicles at SEMA demonstrate that passion."

In addition, Honda-customized concept vehicles included the Honda Fit Sport Extreme Concept and Sport Concept CR-V with custom versions of accessory body kits, interior accessories and wheels. A Honda Element-D drift racecar also debuted with a radical powertrain consisting of a 500-horsepower V6 and rear-wheel-drive. Project vehicles built by aftermarket accessory companies on display included numerous Fits, Civics, an S2000 and a customized off-road racing Ridgeline.

Honda's announcements at SEMA coincide with the on-sale date of the new-for-2007 Civic Si Sedan. The Civic Si Sedan embraces the style and performance of the Civic Si Coupe and marks the first time that "Si" performance has become available in a sedan body style. Similar to the existing Civic Si Coupe, the Civic Si Sedan serves as another performance halo for the Civic line-up with a 197-horsepower, 16-valve, DOHC 2.0 liter i-VTEC(R) 4-cylinder engine with an 8,000 rpm redline - all mated to a close-ratio, 6-speed manual transmission and a helical-type, limited slip differential.

Honda Civic MUGEN Si Sedan
The name MUGEN symbolizes Honda performance throughout Asia and around the globe. MUGEN, under license by M-TEC Co., Ltd., of Japan, has been closely associated with Honda for decades in the design and manufacture of racing and premium performance components. The Civic MUGEN Si Sedan draws inspiration from a "Formula Sport" concept, adding an aggressive dimension of performance to the Civic Si Sedan with a track-tuned suspension, aerodynamic body styling and a performance exhaust system. The track tuned suspension, tested at the Twin Ring Motegi racing circuit in Japan, lowers the vehicle by 0.6 inches (15mm) with highly aggressive spring and damper tuning for enhanced handling performance. The full-vehicle aero-package adds a front spoiler and sports grille, side spoilers, a rear diffuser and a rear wing. The lightweight MUGEN forged alloy wheels measure 18x7.5 inches and are shod with high grip 215/40R18 summer tires. The sports exhaust system reduces back pressure from the catalytic converter back resulting in an enhanced power curve. Additional accoutrements include front and rear MUGEN emblems along with a serial number placard on the instrument panel. A spherical 50 mm MUGEN aluminum shift knob replaces the standard aluminum and perforated leather shift knob. Planned for production in a limited quantity of 500 units a year, the Civic MUGEN Si will be available at U.S. Honda dealers starting in spring 2007 with a manufacturer's suggested retail price (MSRP) of less than $30,000 and includes a full factory warranty.

Honda Factory Performance (HFP) Civic Si Sedan
As a dealer installed accessory, Honda's in-house HFP products carry the same 3-year/36,000 mile bumper-to-bumper warranty as the rest of the vehicle and are designed to genuinely enhance the ownership experience. Similar to the Civic Si Coupe HFP package on sale since spring 2006, the Civic Si Sedan HFP package includes a wide range of performance- and style-enhancing products. High-performance springs reduce ride height by about one-inch and lower the vehicle's roll center. High-performance dampers enhance road handling characteristics and decrease body roll. Larger wheels and tires include 18x7 alloy wheels (plus 1-inch diameter) designed for high-performance 215/40ZR-18 tires (sold separately). A chrome sport muffler emphasizes performance and enhances engine sound. A full aerodynamic body kit (front, sides and rear) further elevates the style quotient of the entire vehicle. Interior and exterior HFP emblems complement the package. The HFP package for the Civic Si Sedan goes on sale in the spring of 2007 with an estimated MSRP of $3,800 plus installation (estimated at 5.6 hours). HFP components can also be purchased individually. American Honda launched its performance accessory program in 2002 with the introduction of a Honda Factory Performance package for the Civic EX Coupe.

Fit Sport Extreme Concept
Envisioned as an entry-level performance car, the Scorched Orange Metallic and matte black Fit Sport Extreme Concept features an aerodynamically styled front bumper fascia with carbon fiber components along with HID fog lights and LED daytime running lights. Large fender flares and low, aggressive side skirts accent its ultra-low profile. A rear carbon fiber diffuser with a center exhaust outlet along with an extended rear aero wing helps enhance style and high-speed downforce. The factory Japan Domestic Market (JDM) rear LED taillights and side mirrors with integrated turn signals further accent the high-tech feel of the vehicle. An advanced, track-tuned suspension package lowers the Fit Sport Extreme Concept ride height and enhances the vehicle's handling dynamics. Brembo(R) brake components on all four wheels provide amazing levels of stopping force.

Graphite black wheels (17 inch) incorporate Bridgestone Potenza RE-01R tires (215/45R-17). Interior modifications focus on the creation of a high-tech, performance-oriented driving environment with carbon fiber accents that match the exterior styling. The interior features custom Recaro sport seats with Civic Si-style synthetic suede. A dashboard-mounted prototype portable navigation system accessory is also shown.

Sport Concept CR-V
Following the theme of "urban sport," the Sport Concept CR-V is designed to increase the athletic feel of the already sophisticated CR-V. Highlights include aerodynamically styled front and rear bumpers along with a sports suspension package that lowers the Sport Concept CR-V for a customized presence. Custom 19-inch wheels are shod with Bridgestone Potenza tires (245/45R19). Interior modifications focus on the creation of a high-tech, performance-oriented driving environment with the addition of Civic Si synthetic suede fabric on the seating surfaces. Carbon fiber trim panels further accent the interior. Outside, the Sport Concept CR-V is painted in Agile Blue.

Honda Element-D
The Honda Element-D ("D" for drifting) racecar shows what can happen when enthusiastic Honda associates raid the company parts bin. Built for the racing sport of drifting, the Honda Element-D racecar replaces the stock 4-cylinder/Real Time(TM) 4WD drivetrain with a custom-designed and longitudinally-mounted 3.2-liter Honda V6 and rear-wheel-drive. Producing 500-horsepower, the lightweight twin-turbocharged powerhouse is guaranteed to light up the rear tires and accelerate sideways at full opposite lock. Associates from Honda R&D Americas, Inc., in Ohio plan to campaign the Element-D in the 2007 Formula Drift Series.

Nissan Announces Pricing on All-New 2007 AltimaNissan today announced pricing on the 2007 Nissan Altima, which goes on sale this week at Nissan retailers nationwide. Along with its distinctive styling, the new fourth generation Altima utilizes the all-new Nissan "D" platform with improved body rigidity and a redesigned suspension with the development objective of making Altima one of the best performing large front-wheel drive sedans available globally.

The starting Manufacturer’s Suggested Retail Price (MSRP) for the 2007 Altima is $17,950 for Altima 2.5 with a refined 2.5-liter 4-cylinder engine and 6-speed manual transmission. The Altima is again also offered with an advanced 3.5-liter V6 engine – starting at an MSRP of $24,000 for Altima 3.5 SE with 6-speed manual transmission.

“The Altima 2.5 provides an incredible value for the money, with its starting MSRP only $200 more than the model it replaces – despite the new exterior and interior design, enhanced handling and performance, user-friendly technology and numerous other refinements,” said Bill Bosley, vice president and general manager, Nissan Division. “The new Altima follows the tremendous consumer response and sales success of the previous generation. No longer just an alternative in the segment, it has now become a true leader.”

The new Altima is available in four other models: Altima 2.5 S with 6-speed manual transmission at $19,800; Altima 2.5 S with Nissan’s advanced Xtronic CV (Continuously Variable Transmission) transmission at $20,300; Altima 3.5 SE with CVT priced at $24,500; and the Altima 3.5 SL with CVT at $28,400. An additional model, the 2007 Nissan Altima Hybrid is scheduled to go on sale in select markets in early 2007, with pricing for that model to be announced at a later date.

Available packages and options for the 2007 Altima 2.5 S include Convenience and Convenience Plus Packages, SL Package, and Connection Package with a choice of XMã or Siriusâ satellite radio. Altima 3.5 packages and options include Sport Package, Leather Package, Premium Package with a choice of XMã or Siriusâ satellite radio, Technology Package, and Vehicle Dynamic Control (VDC). Anti-lock Braking System (ABS), while standard on V6 equipped models, is optional on Altima 2.5 S and rear decklid spoiler is available on all models.

Complete pricing and options are available on the attached sheet.

About the 2007 Altima
The new Altima offers a long list of advanced technology features – including available Intelligent Key with Push Button Ignition, Bluetooth Hands-Free Phone System, RearView Monitor and an advanced touch-screen navigation system.

The 2007 Altima''s exterior styling is a continuation of Altima’s distinctive, iconic, sporty design. It offers a "dynamic simplicity" with an aggressive stance, a new Nissan "T-shaped" grille, powerful front fenders, strong wedge character line, forward A-pillars and Nissan family roofline, Altima-style taillights and dual exhaust finishers on all models. High Intensity Discharge (HID) xenon headlights are available on V6-equipped models.

The new Altima’s wheelbase is 0.9-inch shorter (109.3 inches) than the previous model for enhanced maneuverability and overall length is 2.5 inches shorter (189.8 inches), however the interior retains nearly the same ample roominess. The new Altima is 0.3-inch wider (70.7 inches) and overall height remains the same (57.9 inches). Trunk space remains the same as the previous generation Altima.

The 2007 Altima’s interior has an enhanced feel with refined workmanship and expanded use of soft materials (such as padded armrests) and chrome accents.

Interior noise levels have been reduced through use of the new rigid platform and increased sound insulation. The new Altima’s instrument panel features a new Fine Vision gauge display for enhanced readability and the L-shaped flow of the instrument panel to the center console adds to the driver-oriented cockpit feel.

Interiors are available in three colors – charcoal, blonde and frost – as well as in both high quality soft-touch cloth fabric and leather-appointed seating. Among the passenger amenities are available 264-watt Bose-developed audio system with nine speakers and dual-zone automatic temperature control.

The new Altima is the first global application of Nissan''s advanced "D" platform, which offers much improved body rigidity and an all-new front suspension with new geometry and shock absorbers with rebound springs. The engine mounting position is 15 millimeters lower (with a six-point pendulum-type mounting system in place of the previous four-point system on V6 models) and the half-shafts have equal angles and are more parallel to the ground – virtually eliminating torque steer.

In addition to 17-inch wheels and tires, Altima 3.5 SE offers a sport-tuned suspension with larger diameter stabilizer bars and unique spring rates and strut damping.

Two engines are available, a "next generation" version of the 12-time Ward’s "10 Best Engines" award-winning VQ-series V6 and an enhanced inline 4-cylinder. The 3.5-liter 24-valve DOHC V6 is now rated at 270 horsepower and 258 lb-ft of torque and offers stronger acceleration and refined sound quality. The V6 features reduced friction, improved cylinder head cooling and new twin knock sensors.

Also available is a 2.5-liter DOHC 16-valve 4-cylinder producing 175 horsepower (170 hp CAL) and 180 lb-ft of torque (175 lb-ft CAL). The QR25 engine has been refined with a larger intake manifold, increased compression ratio (9.6:1 from 9.5:1) and reduced friction characteristics. It features a silent chain drive and a balancer system (with balancer changed to a center-mounted location for better NVH) that effectively negates vibrations without taking up much space – combining ideal packaging and smoothness.

The 2007 Altima is offered with a choice of two transmissions with both the V6 and 4-cylinder engines – a new 6-speed, narrow-gate manual transmission and the Nissan Xtronic CVT, which replaces the previous conventional automatic transmission.

The Xtronic CVT is designed to create a true synergy between engine and transmission with smooth, responsive, fluid-feeling performance and efficient operation. The CVT units utilized with both engines have been tailored specifically for use with the new Altima. The V6 CVT has been enhanced with an all-new “Sport” mode controller with a high-speed central processing unit and Adaptive Shift Controller with adaptive logic for faster shifting in both normal and manual modes.

The new Altima comes equipped with a number of standard safety features, including an Advanced Air Bag System (AABS), which includes dual-stage front supplemental air bags. Also standard are front Seat side-impact supplemental air bags for chest protection and roof-mounted curtain side-impact air bags for front and rear outboard occupant head protection.

Other standard equipment includes front Seat Active Head Restraints, the LATCH (Lower Anchors and Tethers for CHildren) child Seat anchors and tether system and Tire Pressure Monitor System (TPMS).

Lincoln MKX sheds light on safetyBy this time next year, drivers of the all-new Lincoln MKX crossover will find clearer visibility and an earlier look at pedestrians, oncoming vehicles or other obstacles.

Adaptive headlights that swivel left and right as the Lincoln MKX changes direction, will throw illumination into turns and increase the area of light on the road. Adaptive headlights have already appeared on certain models of Jaguar and Land Rover.

"The idea is to bring the light to the road," said Mahendra Dassanayake, staff technical specialist, "providing the driver with as much information about what's ahead as possible."

The crossover's lighting system features halogen projector-beam headlamps, mounted in a cage that pivots from left to right. Based on vehicle speed and steering wheel angle, an electric motor swivels the cage to the correct position.

The secret behind adaptive headlights is a system of motors, sensors and a computerized controller. Sensors relay information from the steering wheel and the wheels on the vehicle's speed and turning angle to the controller. The computer calculates where the headlights should be pointing and how fast they should turn. Based on the information, the controller can signal the motors located behind the headlights and have them point at the right spot.

"It swings the beam into the turning lane faster than the car can get there," Dassanayake said. "So it gives the driver the ability to see farther during a turn."

When cornering, the headlamps can illuminate a stretch of road up to 36 feet longer than conventional headlights.

Adaptive headlights are fast becoming a valuable safety option. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, approximately 42 percent of all crashes and 58 percent of fatal crashes in the United States occur at night or during other degraded visibility conditions. No wonder picked adaptive headlights for its list of the Top 10 High-Tech Safety Features.

Lincoln also provided a look at a possible advance in the lighting technology on the MKS concept sedan shown at the 2006 North American Auto Show in Detroit.

The concept's system uses two light sources working in tandem. A high-output halogen projection main beam is assisted by a secondary row of light emitting diodes (LEDs) that illuminate as needed. Driven by electronic sensors rather than mechanical motors used in current cornering systems, a row of instantaneous LEDs switch on sequentially as the vehicle rounds the bend.

"The way the optics in this system work together has not been seen before in the exterior lighting world," said Dassanayake. "Besides being a beautifully designed light, the system helps drivers to take corners and curves more safely -- and consume less energy while doing so."

The all-new Lincoln MKX recently began production and is scheduled to reach dealer showrooms this month.

Jaguar XK coupe wins UK tv people 'car of the year' award 2006Jaguar's XK Coupe has been named 'Car of the Year' and 'Luxury Car of the Year' at the UK TV People Awards 2006. Over 10,000 UK TV viewers voted from a choice of 16 vehicles and chose the new XK as their favourite car overall.

Throughout the week preceding the awards ceremony, viewers watched Formula 1’s Louise Goodman test drive the 16 vehicles on the UK TV channel where she highlighted the various attributes of each car. The vehicles were then divided into four
categories for viewers to make their selection. The categories were Sport, Family, Luxury and 4x4.

Jaguar’s UK Managing Director Geoff Cousins, said of the award: "We are delighted that the XK came out top of the bunch in what was an extremely strong and competitive short list. This recognition is especially pleasing as it was voted for by the public. I am also delighted for everyone responsible for the car''s production here in the UK; they should all feel very proud that Jaguar came out top."

Loris Vigiani, Production Manager for UK TV said: "The competition was tough but the performance, shape and sheer beauty of the Jaguar XK Coupe obviously won the hearts and minds of the viewing public, beating Volvo, Mercedes and Maserati to win the ‘Luxury’ category; as well as Lotus, BMW and Porsche amongst others to win overall."

Fifth Gear’s Vicki Butler-Henderson and Adrian Simpson hosted the live awards. Viewers were invited to make their choice by text message on their mobile phone or via the UKTV website.

Since the Jaguar XK went on sale in March this year, Jaguar has taken more than 9,000 orders and delivered 5,000 vehicles worldwide. The XK has won eight awards in total since its launch, including 'Car of the Year' at the Auto Express Awards 2006. Prices start at £59,995 for the XK Coupe and £65,995 for the Convertible.

Mazda starts production of the CX-9, its second crossover Suv for the north american marketMazda Motor Corporation today held a 'line-off' ceremony for the CX-9 crossover sport-utility vehicle (SUV) being built for the North American market at the Ujina Plant No.1 near its global headquarters in Hiroshima. Hisakazu Imaki, Mazda's representative director, chairman of the board, president and CEO, along with approximately 450 staff—comprised of several senior executives, union representatives and employees—attended this ceremony. The Mazda CX-9 will be arriving in North American showrooms in early 2007.

"The CX-9 will be the latest addition to Mazda's product lineup in the all-important North American market, joining the Mazda CX-7, which went on sale there in May", said Hisakazu Imaki. "CX-9 is a key model aimed at raising the visibility of Mazda in North America and will be an integral part of building the brand. Furthermore, to keep on providing the best Zoom-Zoom products that will exceed our customers' expectations around the globe, we must continue our efforts as 'One Mazda' to build even higher-quality vehicles."

The Mazda CX-9 is a seven-seat crossover SUV designed and engineered specifically for the North American market. The CX-9 showcases Mazda's unique design and strong, dynamic driving performance as well as an up-market interior with class-leading space and unmatched versatility. The CX-9 debuted at the New York International Auto Show in April 2006, earning high marks for its versatility and remarkable styling that makes a clean break from traditional medium-sized SUVs.

The making of the Chevrolet WTCC Ultra: Teamwork without bordersThe exciting Chevrolet WTCC Ultra racecar study was one of the stars at the 2006 Paris Motor Show, which ended on October 15. The body language and the technical innovations of the visionary concept vehicle are fascinating – as is the story of how it was developed. The WTCC Ultra is the product of an outstanding logistical achievement, swept along by a wave of enthusiasm that literally spanned the globe: The spectacular touring car vision was developed and built by GM teams on several continents.

August 30, 2006. "JL 6437 all clear on runway 29. Wind from south-west, 15 knots". "Roger, JL 6437 ready for take-off." The Japan Airlines (JAL) operated Boeing 747 accelerates powerfully along the Tokyo-Narita runway and lifts majestically into the air. On board the eleven-hour flight to Frankfurt is the Chevrolet WTCC Ultra, a concept vehicle costing several hundred thousand euros. Chevrolet's surprise for the Paris Motor Show is safely stowed away, securely strapped into a sturdy wooden crate and carefully protected from curious eyes.

The Chevrolet team need not worry about their precious cargo: Inside the crate, the car is secured against any turbulence and the crate itself is anchored to a fixed rail system to prevent it from colliding with other pieces of cargo.

One of the 300 passengers on board the jumbo knows the four-wheeled traveler inside out: Teruhiko Iwahara, an experienced engineer from YDS, is accompanying the Chevrolet WTCC Ultra to Frankfurt. YDS, a company is located in the Kanagawa region south of Tokyo, specializes in the construction of show cars and prototypes and already built the Chevrolet T2X and S3X concepts.

One person in Germany is already waiting excitedly for Iwahara and his precious companion to touch down: Photographer Axel Wierdemann has been assigned by Chevrolet Europe to take pictures of the vehicle for the photo CD in the press kit. "To be on the safe side, I bought a Japanese dictionary because Teruhiko Iwahara apparently doesn't speak another language," Wierdemann says with a smile. "How am I supposed to talk to him if something doesn't work properly with this hand-made prototype?" As it turns out, buying the dictionary was an unnecessary precaution: YDS specialist Iwahara speaks English quite well and the Chevrolet WTCC Ultra does not cause any problems at all.

"With a futuristically styled car like the WTCC Ultra, it is particularly important to find the right angle of vision for setting up the camera," Wierdemann explains. The Ultra's clearly defined contours, the color and the finish must come across. Chevrolet's bowtie logo, for example, is painted into the front hood, it is not raised. Although it has a metallic shine, it must not create any reflections on the photo."

Together with Andreas Plass, who is making a video of the blue racecar, he gets to work as soon as the car arrives at a photo studio in Wiesbaden, Germany. In Paris, they are waiting eagerly for the pictures. The hostesses will give away more than 4,000 CDs to journalists during the two days of the show and numerous Internet users will log into the Chevrolet Europe media website to download the text and photos.

Flashback to November 2005: The first step is taken in the globe-spanning WTCC Ultra project. "The WTCC Ultra is the first truly global concept vehicle GM has ever developed," says Peter Bramberger, Design Manager at GM Holden in Australia. The way it was created is indicative of Chevrolet's international alignment. Based on the first design drafts from the GM Advanced Design Studio in South Korea, Peter Bramberger's team of specialists immediately get down to work. By December, the futuristic WTCC is taking shape on the electronic drawing boards. "Aggressive, muscular and dramatic" is how the 25-year-old senior designer Ewan Kingsbury, a graduate from the Transport Design course at the University of Coventry, describes the visionary appearance of the concept.

While the interior and exterior designers in Melbourne, Australia, are developing on the final styling details, highly skilled sculptors are refining the final shape on the full sized exterior clay model in the styling studios. Photometric scanners digitize the model's final contours. This is a technical prerequisite for all subsequent steps in the process that are spread right across the globe: On the basis of this data, the Japanese experts from YDS build the ready-to-drive show car. At the same time, the design data is transmitted from GM Holden Design in Melbourne via an ultra-fast data line to the GM Technical Center in Bangalore, India, where digital Sculptors use powerful computers to generate the math for the exterior surface model and the basis for a further part of the multimedia presentation: the animated film for the Paris Motor Show.

In the one-minute film shown on Chevrolet's stand in Paris, the concept car can be seen in action on a virtual racetrack. Filmed at top speed from various virtual perspectives and underscored with the real sound of the diesel racing engine, it arouses thrilling emotions. A Swiss animation company is responsible for the actual film production, based on the storyboard from Ewan Kingsbury. They adapt it to the European eye and put several thousand hours of work into the making of the energy-packed film on the WTCC Ultra. The animation experts rely on the same powerful "Maya" software used by U.S. director Steven Spielberg's Dreamworks animation company.

September 2006. While the Chevrolet WTCC Ultra is making its way to Paris, well-disguised in the back of a closed truck, a team of workers is already setting up the stand on the exhibition site. There, the Swiss specialists of Messerli, a company based in Wetzikon near Zürich, Switzerland, are awaiting the arrival of the sensational show car. Stand designer Daniel Burlet: "We naturally needed a multimedia concept to highlight the Chevrolet WTCC Ultra. By this I mean that the car had to be presented in a perfect interplay of music, light and animation. Overall, a European package had to be put together to satisfy the expectations and emotions of the European markets."

When creating the stand, the designers made use of a highly flexible modular system that gave them enormous variability and significantly reduced the construction time. Expressed in raw figures, the workers used 140 tons of steel, glass, stone and wood on the stand area of around 1,000 square meters. Lighting designers and sound specialists supplied the visible and audible emotions accompanying the racecar.

September 28, 2006. At the GM press conference at the Paris Motor Show, an invisible mechanism unveils the Chevrolet WTCC Ultra in a bold sweep. "The WTCC Ultra defines the direction in which we are heading with the Chevrolet brand," GM Europe President Carl-Peter Forster tells world press gathered at the conference.

The WTCC Ultra passed its first test with flying colors. The global cooperation between the international design teams was certainly a logistical masterpiece.

Land Rover Discovery 3 2007 model year on sale now with all-new watch security systemThe Land Rover Discovery 3 2007 model year is on sale now, and is the first of the company’s model range to be offered with a state-of-the-art Land Rover Watch stolen vehicle tracking device.

The Discovery 3 2007 comes complete with the following enhancements:
• EU4 emissions compliance achieved across the Discovery 3 TDV6 range, thanks to a small improvement in fuel consumption and a reduction in CO2 emissions by up to 5g/km
• The addition of rear park distance control to the entry level 7 Seat TDV6 (GS)
• The option of Tyre Pressure Monitoring Land RoverSystem for the first time on the Discovery 3, priced at £385.00
• Introduction of electric power lumbar support to the driver’s Seat where ‘memory seats’ are specified
• Introduction of one-touch opening passenger window
• ‘Destination input on the move’ function now available on the navigation system
• Premium navigation system now with the option of hybrid television, capable of receiving both analogue and digital TV signals, priced at £500.00

In addition, the Discovery 3 2007 model year is now available with Land Rover Watch, which, from the 2007 model year, is available across the company’s model range as a cost option from £999.00. Land Rover Watch is an authorised pan-European stolen vehicle tracking system that achieves Thatcham Category 5 accreditation – the highest standard in the industry. Whilst car crime has fallen in recent years, statistics show an increase in car-jacking and home burglaries to obtain vehicle keys – which means vehicles are now most likely to be stolen using their original keys, and bypassing alarm and immobiliser devices. Latest figures suggest more than 50%* of stolen cars are not recovered, which highlights the usefulness of tracking systems such as Land Rover Watch. The system is also available with an Automatic Driver Recognition Card that must be present when the vehicle is driven.

Any unauthorised movements of a vehicle are sensed by Land Rover Watch and reported directly to the system’s monitoring service, which then contacts the owner to confirm whether a theft has taken place. If confirmed, tracking starts immediately using GPS and GSM technologies and the police are informed to activate retrieval. The system has its own power source, so will work even if the battery is disconnected.

Currently, only Category 5 accredited systems meet the stringent requirements of the Association of Chief Police Officers (ACPO)** Policy on Police Response to Security Systems. Land Rover Watch also complies with the advice of The Home Office Scientific Development Branch (HOSDB). As such a Category 5 system like Land Rover Watch helps the police to respond more immediately to a theft. Technical features of the system include remote immobilisation (under Police supervision) and very low quiescent current.

The all-inclusive price of a fitted Category 5 system of £999.00 includes one year’s subscription for pan-European cover and an international SIM card (including roaming across UK domestic networks).

Land Rover Watch is the only stolen vehicle tracking system approved by Land Rover for fitment to Land Rover vehicles. It is available immediately for the 2007

Discovery 3, Range Rover Sport and Range Rover, and will be introduced to the Defender in October and the Freelander 2 from launch.

Mazda MX-5 named scotland 'Best drop-top'The Association of Scottish Motoring Writers (ASMW) has named the Mazda MX-5 sports car ‘Best Drop-Top’ in its Scottish Car of the Year Awards 2006, commenting that ‘the latest generation Mazda MX-5 offers unbeatable topless fun for the money’.

Now in its ninth year, the Scottish Car of the Year is judged by members of the ASMW and more than 50 new models, launched during the past 12 months, were in contention for a 2006 accolade, awarded across
eight categories.

“Believe it or not, there are more drop-top roadsters in the UKthan anywhere else in Europeand Scottish motorists love them,” commented ASMW President, Stephen Park. “The quality and pleasure of open air driving north of the border puts Scots in motoring heaven. This year’s ‘Best Drop-Top’ category winner has become one of the most successful open sports cars of all time. The Mazda MX-5’s combination of style, quality and driving experience outperforms many motors costing twice as much. The third-generation MX-5 is indeed a worthy winner.”

Mazda UKmanaging director Rob Lindley added: “We are truly delighted that the Mazda MX-5 has been named Scottish Car of the Year’s ‘Best Drop-Top’. This 2006 award is further confirmation that the latest MX-5 has kept faith with the ethos of the original iconic Mazda sports car, while adding even more Zoom-Zoom excitement to the ownership and driving experience. It’s no surprise that Mazda is now the UK’s favourite sports car brand.”

Mazda has traditionally performed well in Scotlandand both its sales and market share have accelerated during 2006. September sales climbed to 1,269 units (up 17 per cent over the record month of 2005) taking year to date registrations to a total to 4,573 – up 12.3 per cent on last year. Market share in Scotlandwas also at an all‑time high in September at 3.3 per cent, with a year to date share of 2.86 per cent.

These figures are the result of strong demand for the Mazda3, Mazda6 and the third-generation soft-top Mazda MX-5, now the third most popular Mazda model in Scotland. The MX-5’s monthly sales rate has jumped 66 per cent over last year’s rate, up from 39 units to 65 units per month in 2006 – with a total of 583 sports cars registered over the first nine months. This year, more than 70 per cent of MX-5 sales to Scottish motorists have been accounted for by two models, the 1.8i Option Pack and the 2.0i Sport.

New Mitsubishi Motors mono-box minivan to be branded 'Delica D:5'Mitsubishi Motors today announced that its new mono-box minivan will be branded the "Delica D:5" (pronounced "dee five") for launch in the Japan market early in 2007.

Mitsubishi Motors' plans for FY2006 included three new model launches in its domestic market. The first was the double launch of the new eK Wagon and eK Sports in
September 2006, and the second was the new Pajero in October 2006. Both have been a big hit with customers, and further success is expected with the Delica D:5, the third of the planned model launches.

The D:5 name derives from this being the fifth generation Delica in a series that began when Mitsubishi Motors led the mono-box market by launching its first model in 1968. The Delica D:5 has been developed to "fuse the comfort of a minivan with the powerful performance of an SUV," in a new model with three specific product characteristics:

- Spacious interior that can Seat 8 in comfort, with a wide variety of utility features,

- Strong body structure with comprehensive safety fittings and great environmental performance,
- High all-round performance, on-road and off-road, thanks to a 2.4L MIVEC engine mated to an electronically controlled 4WD system.

Ford Fusion stands out in custamization crowdWhen it comes to vehicle personalization, not all cars are created equal.

"In order for customization to be successful, you have to start out with a vehicle that looks good and performs well," said Beau Boeckmann, vice president of Galpin Motors in California, the largest Ford dealership in the world. He is also the head of Galpin Auto Sports (G.A.S.), an all-inclusive design and customizing facility and the new home to MTV’s hit show Pimp My Ride.

"People aren't dumb. They're going to start with something good and make it better," he said. "They''re not going to take something bad and try to make it look good."

According to Boeckmann, the Ford Fusion fits the bill.

"It's actually a cool car," he said. "It's good-looking, and it drives well."

Dan Geist, marketing manager for Ford Fusion, says people are drawn to the car because it stands out from the crowd in the mid-size sedan market.

"The fact that the car is now available in all-wheel drive and still more affordable than competitors like the Toyota Camry and Honda Accord makes it even more attractive," he said. "The car is a great canvas to work from, unlike a lot of other mid-size sedans that are mundane or vanilla."

Christine Feuell, manager, Vehicle Personalization and Accessories, agrees.

"The sporty design of the Fusion lends itself really well to accessorization," she said. "People who are buying this car want it to reflect their personality. They want the roominess of a four-door sedan, but they don''t want it to look like a 'family car,' so they're changing it up and tricking it out to suit them."

Most people start by changing the wheels, upgrading the sound system and adding a spoiler, according to Feuell. Remote start systems and the recently introduced 3dCarbon body kit are among the most popular accessories available for Fusion through Ford''s production and dealer channels.

"Customers love adding extra features that make the car look different than the vehicle they get directly from the factory," she said, noting that sales of the 3dCarbon body kit have been robust. More than 500 kits have been sold since Vehicle Personalization began selling them in June.

But it's not just exterior features that customers are looking for. Charles Sutton, car product strategy manager for Fusion, says savvy car buyers don't want to compromise on interior amenities.

"With gas prices being the way they are and people focusing on cutting things back, we''re seeing a shift away from big SUVs into crossovers and mid-size cars like the Fusion," he said. "Though they may be downsizing, people still want to continue to have all of the features that they've become used to in their SUVs."

Interior accessories available for Fusion include Mobile Ease -- a hands-free system for Bluetooth-equipped wireless phones, a trunk cargo organizer and a head-rest integrated DVD system.

"What we''re trying to do is put a living room on wheels," said Sutton. "We're offering dual headrest DVD systems as a licensed accessory. One child can be watching a DVD while the other is playing a video game, or each child can be watching a different DVD."

Customers are also looking for improved performance.

"Fusion is our NASCAR vehicle, so we do get somewhat of a brand image extension because of it," said Feuell. "We're working with Ford Racing and the Special Vehicle Team on other packages and content that we can combine with some appearance features to give customers more of that performance flair on Fusion."

According to Sutton, the company has more exciting options in the works for Fusion. For example, the next generation remote start system will offer something extra.

"What we're working on right now is a device that will allow you to regulate the temperature inside the vehicle," he said. "It's going to be huge for cold-weather climates because it will allow people to control the heat remotely from the key fob."

The company is also working on custom leather Seat covers, 17-inch black and chrome styled wheels and color-adjustable interior lighting.

"While Mustang and F-series are the core products for our accessories portfolio, our plan is to expand our accessory offerings for Fusion so it will also be a core product for us." said Feuell. "Fusion is a great vehicle for accessorization. Our customers want more accessories to choose from, and we want to give it to them."