Subaru predicts 50% sales hike for the upcoming 2012 Impreza

SubaruAccording to Ward's Auto, Subaru brass expects the 2012 Impreza to sell around 60,000 units a year, or half again as many as the car's current 40,000-unit overall. Subaru executive vice president of North America Tom Doll says the car fills holes in the company's lineup that prevented it from being as competitive as it could have been.

Subaru claims the latest Impreza will return 36 miles per gallon on the highway, a figure that would put the car on the top of the all-wheel-drive pile for fuel market. The gas mileage figures will come courtesy of a new-for-2012 2.0-liter boxer four-cylinder reigning in 148 horsepower. The future Impreza will also be lighter than the outgoing model, making fuel-sipping a little easier.

With all the latest tweaks, Subaru is trusting Impreza sales can push the brand's overall total from 264,000 vehicles previous year to closer to 300,000. That's a heady goal to be sure, but the company is confident enough in the latest car's appeal to make a bold prediction. Only time will tell if such hopefulness is fine founded.

Forbes releases 2011 Worst Cars on the Road Record

2011 Worst Cars
Forbes has released its 2011 Worst Cars on the Road list, and the outcome is not pretty for American manufacturers. With the exception of the 2011 Mercedes-Benz S-Class, the 2011 Smart ForTwo and the 2011 Nissan Titan, the cars on the catalog are all American-made. Worse than that, they all come from two manufacturers: General Motors and Chrysler. Ford managed to avoid the list entirely.

To determine which cars get the dubious honor and which don't, Forbes compiles outcome from six studies by customer Reports including the Most Reliable Cars Report, Best and Worst protection Performance Survey, Best and Worst Fuel Economy, Highest Cost of Ownership, the Best and Worst Values Report and customer Reports' overall scores for latest cars.

Chrysler made the list with the 2011 Chrysler Town & Country, which racked up dismal scores for reliability and charge of ownership. Both the 2011 Jeep Wrangler and the Jeep Liberty made the cut, with the Liberty scoring poorly for reliability and fuel market. The Wrangler joined the Liberty in the reliability department, and also ranked for bad value, and made a spot on Consumer Reports' Worst Cars list. The 2011 Dodge Nitro and Dodge Dakota made the list for related reasons.

The image is almost as bleak at GM, where offerings from Chevrolet and Cadillac crowded the picture. The base model 2011 Cadillac Escalade earned spots on the Worst Value, Highest price of Ownership and Worst Safety Performance lists. The 2011 Chevrolet Tahoe Hybrid hung with the Cadillac for Worst Value and safety, and earned a spot on the Least Reliable roster as well. The Chevrolet Aveo and Chevrolet Colorado rounded out the worst General Motors offerings for 2011.

New Volvo Concept Universe previews next range-topping sedan from Sweden

VolvoVolvo is looking to gain a foothold in the fast-growing Chinese auto market, and the Swedish automaker is trusting to pique interest in the brand with a range-topping luxury sedan concept. The design aims to incorporate the simplicity of Scandinavian design while also trying to discern what the modern luxury car buyer truly wants.

The Concept Universe bows at the Shanghai Motor Show to show what Volvo can do near the top-end of the large luxury sedan market. And although this vehicle is definitely a design study, Volvo doesn't appear interested in hiding its intention of going upscale. Volvo CEO Stafan Jacoby calls the concept "a sneak preview of what people can expect from our next top-of-the-line sedan."

The great concept features a coupe-like roofline that combines with a recent interpretation of the boxy Volvos of the past. Another home age to older Volvo models includes convex style lines between the wheel wells. Up front, the Concept Universe appears to borrow some lines from the Ford Interceptor concept from the 2007 Detroit Auto Show with its bumper-less front end that is rounded off all around. The grille is completely new for Volvo, with a series of shrinking, rounded rectangles; each smaller than the next.

Volvo design boss Peter Horbury feels the vehicle looks hand-crafted and durable, adding, "We will compete with the best with our particular kind of Scandinavian Design. It is unmatched in performance and technology, but without superficiality or complication."

Chevrolet looking to brand name "Crossvolt" moniker

General Motors has submitted an application to trademark "Crossvolt" as a possible name for the larger, MPV style edition of the Chevrolet Volt that's in the works. Chevrolet's patent application for the Cross volt handle doesn't mean it's settled on a name for the family friendly plug-in just yet. To maintain us guessing, Chevrolet also has trademarks pending on the Chevrolet Amp and Chevrolet Strobe names as well.

Whatever the common decides to call its enlarged Volt, it will likely wind up looking related to the Volt MPV5 Concept Chevrolet revealed at previous year's Beijing Motor Show. Expect the eco friendly soccer practice taxi to be in the similar size range as the Chevrolet Orlando.

Chevrolet shows off body graphics for latest Sonic

ChevroletChevrolet now introduced a bunch of accessories for the 2012 sonic months earlier than the car hits the streets.

Chevrolet's early begin shows a confidence that the mostly young buyers of the car plan to begin tricking it out in no time. Chevy wants a piece of that action.

Among the stuff that Chevy is offering for the subcompact are accent packages with contrasting-color external parts and graphics that express the car's performance characteristics. The entire package goes under the unattractive name of Z-Spec, in house automaker talk for cars that are sold with the notion that purchasers will fix them up on their own.

"The latest Z-Spec accessories reinforce sonic's fun, youthful spirit," told Rick Scheidt, vice president for Chevrolet marketing. "Customization is particularly important with the clients we trust will gravitate toward the Sonic, and we want to help them make their vehicle look exactly the way they want as simply as possible." Chevy says

2012 Volvo XC70 and S80 give refresh, tech upgrades

Volvo XC70On the outside, the changes to the 2012 Volvo S80 and XC70 aren't immediately noticeable. The headlamps have been redesigned, the S80 gets LED turn signals in the side mirrors and every model gets a latest exterior color choice. Underneath the skin, however, these two Volvos have received a handful of new tricks.

Volvo's Sensus infotainment method, which made its debut with the 2011 S60, has found its way into the 2012 S80 and XC70, allowing the driver to simply operate audio, video, Bluetooth and navigational controls. It also gives information and setting adjustment for safety features such as City Safety, Collision Warning and Active Cruise Control.

The City Safety system is currently a standard feature on both of these 2012 models. The automaker has also added Pedestrian Detection, which keeps an eye out for foot traffic and provides an audible warning if it feels a collision is imminent. Should the driver fail to heed that warning, the S80 or XC70 can completely engage the brake automatically.

Check out the updated 2012 Volvo XC70 and S80 in the galleries below. Also, be sure to take a look at the complete press released posted after the jump.

Aston Martin Teases 600-Plus-Horsepower Vantage GT3 Race Car for 2012 Season

Vantage GT4With a big V-12 engine at its heart and an extensive record of Aston Martin racing experience in its blood, the future Vantage GT3 is the latest race-ready performance machine from Aston. It replaces Aston’s aging DBRS9 racer and will make its debut in the 2012 period.

Unlike the Vantage GT4, which is based upon the road-going V8 Vantage, the Vantage GT3 is based on Aston’s gutsy, 510-horsepower V12 Vantage. The company says the GT3’s 6.0-liter V-12 will produce in excess of 600 horsepower and 516 pound-feet of torque. It will be mated to an Xtrac racing sequential broadcast, and the car will have race-tuned versions of ABS and traction control. The teaser picture shows the car will wear a massive rear wing, front splitter, flared wheel arches, and a side-exit exhaust.

Aston Martin is targeting a weight of 2750 pounds for the aluminum Vantage GT3, which will start testing this summer. They will then build ten cars for consumers, ready for the 2012 race season. The car joins a host of Aston racers with the Vantage GT2, DBR9 GT1, and the all-out extreme AMR-One LMP1.

Audi previews next creation A3 hatchback

Audi has taken an interesting approach forecasting the next creation A3 with a sedan concept at the Geneva Motor Show even though the recent model is principally a hatchback. When it does hit showrooms sometime next year, however, the next generation A3 is expected to be offered first with a tailgate before a trunked version comes along the three door model leading the five-door, then the sedan and at last the soft-top convertible.

The information comes along with a trio of sketches released by Audi to the British motor press alongside those of the R8 GT Spyder. The renderings depict the three-door hatchback, the four-door sedan and the cabin of the next generation A3 manufacture model, which is tipped to be even more diverse in its engine offerings than it is in its body styles: expect gasoline, diesel, natural gas, hybrid and complete electric versions to be rolled out in succession.

The cabin, meanwhile, is tipped to feature the most recent technologies, including Audi's MMI controller and a pop-up infotainment screen. Look for the production 2013 A3 in one body form or another to debut in Geneva coming March, a year after the sedan concept we saw there previous month.

BMW Z4 GT3 undergoes opening round of customer tests

BMW Z4 GT3The 2011 BMW Z4 GT3 proved it can win races back in January when it took the overall win at the Dubai 24 Hours. Never one to relax on its laurels, BMW took the car from the winners circle in Dubai and place it right back on a test track. After a fine beating throughout March, BMW made aerodynamic and electronic tweaks to get the racer into absolute state of the art shape for consumer entries in 2011 GT3 competition.

The BMW Z4 GT3 resembles its manufacture cousin in name and basic shape only. Most of its body panels have been significantly altered to maintain the car slipping through the air and bolted to the road.

Under the hood, the production Z's six-cylinder heart has been ripped out and replaced with the similar 4.4-liter V8 that sees duty in the M3. The V8 feeds power to the ground through a six-speed paddle-shifted sequential manual. Stuffing all that engineering know-how into the Z4 GT3 isn't inexpensive, either; the car retails at just north of $450,000. Complete press release after the jump.

2012 Chevrolet Corvette gets Centennial Edition Package

Chevrolet CorvetteThis current year marks the 100th anniversary of the Chevrolet brand, and the company isn’t shy about celebrating it. Design chief Ed Welburn previously shared with us his top-ten favorite Chevrolet designs of all occasion, and currently Chevrolet is unveiling a special-edition package for the Corvette. The Centennial Edition treatment will be available this summer for all Corvette models with the ultra-performance ZR1.

The Centennial Edition treatment, known as ZLC in GM’s order books, starts by slathering every Corvette in exclusive satin-look Carbon Flash Metallic paint. The cars wear bespoke Centennial Satin Black wheels with red-painted rims, and red-painted brake calipers. The Corvette’s traditional crossed flags badge includes number “100,” and a logo of founder Louis Chevrolet is affixed to the wheel middle caps, steering wheel, and B-pillars.

The black-and-red theme maintains inside, with red stitching for the leather-wrapped dashboard, shifter, steering wheel, center console, and seats. Special centennial logos are embossed into the seat headrests, and Magnetic Selective Ride Control suspension is included as standard. Pricing for the Centennial Package will be released later this spring as its on-sale date approaches.

Chevrolet will also celebrate its century of existence by selling the 100th 2012 Corvette at the Barrett-Jackson auction, with proceeds benefitting the Austin Hatcher organization for Pediatric Cancer. The car, with its VIN ending in 100, will be a Corvette Z06 Centennial Edition equipped with the Z07 presentation package, CFZ carbon-fiber package, and the new carbon-fiber hood option. The winner of the auction also gets to attend the Corvette Engine Build Experience program, where they will assemble the car’s V-8.

Landmark Accomplished: Toyota sells one million Prius hybrids in U.S.

ToyotaCalifornia Toyota dealers may or may not be running out of Priuses, but the hybrid is most certainly still famous. How else to give details the news that one million of the iconic fuel-mizers have been sold in the U.S., as Toyota just announced.

Back in mid-2008, the company told it had sold one million Priuses around the globe, which was a big enough agreement. To achieve that landmark, it took around five years; the first Prius was introduced over a decade back, but it was the second generation Prius (above), introduced in 2003, that actually sparked sales. It took Toyota only two more years to sell another million Priuses, and Toyota has sold over three million overall hybrids as of October 2010. That sounds impressive, but Charlie Sheen got 3.4 million supporters on Twitter in, like, a minute, so let's keep things in perspective.

Volkswagen Jetta ranked last among small sedans by Consumer information

Volkswagen Jetta
The latest for 2011 Volkswagen Jetta received a new, far lower base cost tag of $15,995, but customer Reports evidently feels that the more affordable marker has come at too high of a price to the car itself. The buyer centric group ranked the Jetta dead previous among 11 small sedans tested for the April edition of its magazine.

David Champion, senior director of the group's Auto Test Center says, "In an effort to bring the car's starting cost down, VW cheapened the last Jetta's interior and suspension, making it less sophisticated and compromising handling."

CR isn't pulling any punches while describing why the sedan fares so badly, calling it "a shadow of the agile, well-finished car it once was." Ouch. Specially, the VW was dinged hard for sub-par handling and cornering grip, poor interior fit and finish and its coarse-sounding 2.5-liter, five cylinder. In addition, CR came away dissatisfied with long brake distances and a six-speed automatic that is reluctant to downshifting.

Nissan Altima outsells Camry, Accord in March, named top selling sedan in America in record

Nissan Altima
Nissan says it achieved a 9.7 percent U.S. market share in March, the maximum single month in company record. Complementing March's heady number is an overall market share of 9.3 percent for Nissan in the first quarter of 2011. It represents a 0.3 percent gain in market share, building on 2010's 0.4 percent gain.

March also saw the Nissan Altima get the title of best-selling sedan in America, another company first. The Altima contributed 32,289 units to Nissan's 121,141-car total, which is nearly a 27 percent bump over previous year's March figures. It isn't immediately clear what incentives Nissan had on the car during the month of March to aid sales, but currently, the Japanese automaker is offering zero-percent financing for up to 60 months or 1.9 percent APR financing for up to 72 months, or $1,250 cash back.

Had enough numbers? Too bad, Nissan isn't quite done. Monthly sales were up 28.4 percent for the division, an additional record, and Infiniti saw a 13.5 percent sales hike in March. With numbers this large, Nissan is looking at a banner year.

Ford to idle initial plant as an answer of Japan disaster

FordFord hasn't said much about its provide situation in the wake of the earthquake in Japan, but currently the automaker has no option but to spill the beans. The Detroit News reports that Ford will shut down its Louisville, Kentucky plant coming week due to a parts shortage. The facility produces the Ford Expedition, Ford Super Duty trucks, and the Lincoln Navigator. Ford sales analyst George Pipas did not identify the part that was in short deliver, though he did add that high gas costs have helped slow sales of these vehicles anyway.

Ford will too shut down its Flat Rock, Michigan plant, where the Mustang is produced, because the automaker previously has a 116-day supply of the pony car. In Europe, Ford will idle the Genk, Belgium plant that gives the Mondeo, S Max and Galaxy minivan to help prevent future shortages.

Ford announced that events in Japan could further affect upcoming production, but at this point it isn't interested in divulging the extent of its deliver issues. Ford is actively searching for additional parts sources wherever possible.

Spada Codatronca Monza comes onto the interwebs

Images of the Spada Codatronca Monza boutique sports car have leaked onto the internet ahead of its debut at this current year's Top Marques Monaco show. The Codatronca, you'll remember, is a Chevrolet Corvette Z06 engined low volume supercar cooked up by Ercole Spada. Spada cut his teeth working for Zagato, BMW, and IDEA Institute before opening his own company, Spadaconcept.

The Codatronca is the company's first try at a supercar and it uses an aluminum spaceframe and magnesium engine cradle coupled with the aforementioned Corvette engine. To make things just a tad more attractive, Spada adds twin superchargers to the already potent 427, bringing the horsepower overall to a heady 700.

As quoted by All CarIndex, the Monza will have a scant 2,500-pound curb heaviness, meaning that Spada's creation ought to hit 60 mph in three seconds flat and top out at nearly 210 mph.