http://www.edmunds.com/insideline/do/Drives/FullTests/articleId=136547 --- The 2009 Nissan 370Z is lit for the cameras tonight, and the bubble of white light around it holds back the darkness of this parking lot in Los Angeles. The Z-car believers have come to see the car in its first public showing, and Randy Rodriguez is one of them. Rodriguez has come a long way to be here. Raised in British Columbia, his family ran a small gas station and car repair business and came to specialize in Nissans. His first car was a Nissan 240Z that he rebuilt with his own hands, and he's owned 10 early Zs over the years, though he's still only 31. As with all Z-car people, Rodriguez doesn't quite fit in the box where you find most car enthusiasts; he's a little out of the mainstream, a little more open to doing things differently, and a little more serious about cars in way that only someone who has had to bring old, second-hand beaters back to life can be. Rodriguez is exactly the person for whom this new Z-car is meant. Probably there's some kind of magic at work in the fact that Randy Rodriguez's day job is at Nissan Design America, and he was the one who first sketched the lines of what has become the 2009 Nissan 370Z.
http://www.edmunds.com/insideline/do/Drives/Followup/articleId=136386 --- Click here for 2009 Audi Q7 3.0 TDI Track Video Inside Line video Full disclosure: The 2009 Audi Q7 3.0 TDI clean diesel we describe here doesn't yet exist — sort of. Don't get us wrong. Audi is committed to selling an Audi Q7 3.0 TDI with the very same fuel-efficient clean diesel powertrain, and it affirms that the vehicle will appear in showrooms during 2009. But it isn't yet clear whether the first examples of the Audi Q7 TDI will be officially homologated as 2009 or 2010 models. Ah, technicalities.
http://www.edmunds.com/insideline/autoshows/losangeles/2008/minie.html --- WOODCLIFF LAKE, New Jersey — BMW will build 500 copies of its first all-electric vehicle, the Mini E, as part of a pilot project aimed at private and corporate customers in California, New York and New Jersey. The Mini E will be formally unveiled next month at the 2008 Los Angeles Auto Show. The Mini E features a lithium-ion battery pack and a 201-horsepower electric motor driving the front wheels through a single-stage helical gearbox. BMW says the motor will produce peak torque of 162 pound-feet and will enable the car to accelerate from zero to 60 mph in less than 8.5 seconds. Top speed is electronically limited to 95 mph, and the car can travel up to 150 miles on a single charge. BMW converted the standard Mini into a two-seater to accommodate the battery pack, which can be recharged from any standard power outlet. BMW also will provide owners with a special ""wallbox"" charging unit that will enable the batteries to fully charge in 2.5 hours. The Mini E is being assembled through the end of this year at the brand's factory in Oxford, England, with the driveline and batteries installed in Munich. BMW plans to put cars into the hands of 500 customers on a one-year lease with an extension option. The monthly payments cover all maintenance and other technical service. At the end of the lease, all the cars will be returned to BMW's engineering fleet for testing and evaluation. All of the pilot cars are painted metallic dark silver, with a pure silver roof. In addition, the cars all sport a serial number on their front fenders, as well as a stylized yellow logo on the roof, the charger port lid and other locations. Inside, a central gauge and battery-level indicator replace the standard tachometer. Seats are trimmed in yellow to match the car's ""E"" logo.
http://blogs.edmunds.com/straightline/2008/11/2008-la-auto-show-2010-lexus-rx-350.html --- The big story about the 2010 Lexus RX 350 is that there's nothing big about it. Due to its wider track, it's slightly broader across the shoulders than the 2009 RX 350, but otherwise it has the same overall footprint. Its 107.9-inch wheelbase is only an inch longer than before, but there's still no third-row seat. RX owners, we're told, still don't want one. ""Keeping the right size was something we heard a lot of, because we certainly studied whether we wanted to add a third row,"" Ben Mitchell, an RX product planner, told us. ""The majority of RX owners prioritize space in back, room for luggage."" To that end, the 2010 RX 350 has a more compact double-wishbone rear suspension, and after inspecting the cargo bay, we can attest that it intrudes less than the previous strut arrangement. The previous RX's 3.5-liter V6 carries over but makes 275 horsepower this year (an increase of 5), and last year's five-speed automatic gives way to Toyota's six-speed unit with a manual-shift mode. The RX 350 gained some weight in the redesign (same basic platform architecture but more luxury gadgets), but we're told 0-60 times won't be affected much. Electric power steering assist is new this year, but based on our recent experience with the Toyota Venza, we don't think this is a bad thing for the RX. ""Owners asked for a little bit tighter response in the steering,"" said Mitchell, and we think we've delivered that without compromising comfort."" Probably the biggest change on the 2010 Lexus RX 350 is that it no longer has a touchscreen-style navigation system. Really. You now have to use a console controller called Remote Touch. We're told you can adjust the controller's sensitivity much like a computer mouse. To ease the transition, Lexus has a couple hands-on tutorials set up in the convention center that you can play with if you go to the show. The 2010 Lexus RX 350 goes on sale in February 2009.
http://www.edmunds.com/insideline/autoshows/losangeles/2008/2009nissan370z.html --- Yes, there is still a sports car in the Nissan lineup that does not have all-wheel drive, launch control or a turbocharged engine. It's now called the Nissan 370Z and unlike the big bruiser of a sports car that is the GT-R, this new Z is actually smaller than its predecessor. It's an attempt to get the iconic sports car back to its roots, and from the looks of it, Nissan has done a solid job. Fully redesigned from top to bottom, the 2009 Nissan 370Z still rides on Nissan's rear-wheel-drive, front-midship (FM) platform. It's been modified to give this Z-car a shorter 100.4-inch wheelbase (down 3.9 inches) and a shorter overall length of 167.1 inches (down 2.7 inches). The 370Z is also wider at 72.6 inches (up 1.3 inches) with wider tracks front (up a half-inch) and rear (up 1.3 inches). All that shrinkage helps this Z shed a few pounds. A base-model 370Z with a manual transmission weighs in at 3,232 pounds. That's 88 pounds less than a base-model 2008 Nissan 350Z with a manual transmission. Even the heaviest 370Z still weighs just 3,314 pounds.
http://www.edmunds.com/insideline/autoshows/losangeles/2008/index.html?tid=edmunds.il.home.photopanel..1.* --- With little competition from Europe this fall, the 2008 Los Angeles Auto Show is set to feature one of its best lineups in years. Sure, there will be the usual pandering to all things green, but there will be cool cars, too. Look for debuts like the 2010 Ford Mustang, reskinned just in time to take on the Challenger and Camaro, and the 2010 Nissan 370Z, the latest version of Nissan's second most-famous sports car. On the green side, there will be an electric Mini, hybrid Camry and a reskinned Ford Fusion Hybrid. We'll be covering the show starting November 19, and this year we're giving you the chance to participate as well. Just add #LAAS08 to any post on Twitter and your comment will display directly on our Straightline blog. So whether you're at the show or just following along with our press day coverage, feel free to chime in and give us your opinion.
http://www.edmunds.com/insideline/autoshows/losangeles/2008/2009infinitig37convertible.html --- What's special about it? It's all right to consider the 2009 Infiniti G37 Convertible the company's first real drop top. Sure, there was that M30 thing back in the early days, but it was just a regular old coupe that got shipped to ASC for a lobotomy. This G37 convertible is the real deal. It has unique bodywork, an upgraded interior and a three-piece retractable hardtop. Add to that Infiniti's new 3.7-liter V6 and this G37 drop top should have no trouble erasing the bad taste left behind by the M30. With the top in place, the G37 convertible looks almost identical to the coupe. It's somewhat of an illusion, however, as the convertible's body panels are unique from the A-pillars back. The result is a car that's actually 1.1 inches wider overall. The rear track is also 1.4 inches wider, as the rear suspension was modified slightly to make room for the folded hardtop. Overall, the G37 convertible is roughly 442 pounds heavier than the comparable coupe. Cargo capacity with the top up is actually better than the coupe at 10.3 cubic feet (versus the coupe's 7.2 cubic feet). With the top down, the space nearly disappears as the capacity drops to a little less than 2 cubic feet of space. There will be two models available — base and Sport 6MT. Both get the same 325-horsepower 3.7-liter V6 as the coupe. The base model gets a seven-speed automatic transmission as standard, while the Sport model comes with a close-ratio six-speed manual. No fuel-efficiency figures are available yet, but expect them to be slightly lower than the coupe's numbers of 18 mpg in the city and 24 mpg on the highway. Every G37 convertible gets an extra dose of aluminum trim on the dash, doors and center console. Both the dual-zone climate control system and the optional Bose audio system have the ability to compensate for top-down driving. On the less technical side, there's also a rear-seat windscreen to reduce cabin turbulence. Sales of the 2009 Infiniti G37 Convertible are expected to start in the spring of 2009. Pricing will be announced closer to launch, but expect to see the base model come in just under $40,000.
http://www.edmunds.com/insideline/autoshows/losangeles/2008/lashow2010mazda3.html --- What's special about it? Already one of the best cars in its class, the fully redesigned 2010 Mazda 3 is looking to put a little distance on its competitors. It gets all the usual upgrades you would expect in a new compact sedan — more power, more room, new features — yet it remains a straightforward yet sporty compact sedan. At 180.7 inches in overall length, the 2010 Mazda 3 is about 3 inches longer than its predecessor, yet it rides on the same 103.9-inch wheelbase as before. The width is unchanged, while the height is up a couple tenths of an inch. There are only modest changes under the hood. The base model Mazda 3 i uses the same 2.0-liter inline-4 engine as before. It generates 148 horsepower and 135 pound-feet of torque and comes standard with a five-speed manual transmission. The upgraded ""s"" model now gets a slightly larger 2.5-liter inline-4 rated at 167 hp and 168 lb-ft of torque. It comes standard with a six-speed manual. Both engines offer an optional five-speed automatic. Mazda says excellent fuel-efficiency has been a key element in this car's development, so this Mazda 3 returns slightly better mileage than its predecessor. The specific numbers are 21 mpg city/29 mpg highway with the 2.5-liter engine and six-speed manual transmission. Add 1 mpg in the city with the automatic. The smaller 2.0-liter returns 25 mpg in the city with the manual and 24 mpg with the automatic. On the highway it's rated at 33 mpg with either transmission. There are no major changes to the suspension — just a few minor tweaks here and there to further refine the overall feel. The front lower control arms, subframe and mount bushings have all been stiffened up to improve steering response and cornering grip. In back, recalibrated shocks and wider antiroll-bar mounts are said to reduce body roll. There's also a lighter, stiffer rear suspension crossmember that improves overall handling. The minor tweaks continue in the cabin, where Mazda's engineers added longer seat cushions and slightly taller seatbacks for improved thigh and back support. Order the power seats and you'll get a handy three-position memory setting, too, a first in the segment, Mazda says. Other options include dual-zone air-conditioning, a 10-speaker Bose audio system, Bluetooth connectivity, an iPod dock and keyless ignition. Leather, heated seats and rain-sensing wipers are also on the options list. And the most important option of all? Yes, there will be a hatchback version introduced early next year. Expect to see both the sedan and hatchback versions of the 2010 Mazda 3 on sale this spring.
http://www.edmunds.com/insideline/autoshows/losangeles/2008/2010fordmustangrevealed.html LOS ANGELES — After several months of teaser images and broad hints, the veil has finally been lifted on the heavily revised 2010 Mustang, debuting this week at the 2008 Los Angeles Auto Show. While the new exterior design looks fresh and different, it is clearly an evolutionary move intended to reassure Mustang loyalists. All the familiar mechanical bits remain under the new skin, although some have been reworked and refined. Ford also has upgraded the Mustang's cabin, retuned the chassis and boosted V8 output to 315 horsepower. In addition, it will offer such special editions as the Mustang Bullitt to reinforce the car's rich 45-year heritage. Ford continues to offer the Mustang in coupe and convertible variants, with a choice of V6 and V8 engines. A glass-roof option is available. Virtually all the exterior sheet metal has been redesigned, with new front and rear ends and a ""powerdome"" hood that recalls '60s-vintage Detroit muscle cars. Ford has increased the size of the available wheel/tire combinations by one inch; they now range from 17 to 19 inches. Springs, shocks and stabilizer bars have been retuned and the brakes improved. Stability control is now standard. Inside, Ford has redesigned the instrument panel, center stacks, console, seats and door panels. Ford's Sync communications system is an option.