Official: Abarth marks 50 years of 595 with special edition Fiat 500

Filed under: Frankfurt Motor Show, Performance, Europe, Hatchback, Fiat

Abarth 595 50th Anniversary

Abarth presented its original 595 at the Turin Motor Show in 1963. It was the car that put the Scorpion marque on the map and propelled the original Fiat 500 into hot hatch territory. And to mark that occasion, Fiat’s performance brand is launching the special edition you see here.

Revealed here ahead of its public debut at next week’s Frankfurt Motor Show, the new Abarth 595 50th Anniversary Edition packs a 1.4-liter turbo four with 180 horsepower (20 more than the standard 500 Abarth) channeled through the Abarth Competizione gearbox to the front wheels. The Scorpion brand has also retuned the suspension, fitted 305-millimeter Brembo discs, 17-inch wheels and installed a variable back-pressure exhaust.

Billed as the most powerful 595 to date, the special edition is identifiable by its matte white paint, red racing stripes and retro logos. Step inside and you’ll find red leather buckets with white trim. Only 299 examples will be made, but don’t go looking for this in US showrooms, as the Abarth range and the Fiat 500 upon which it’s based is different in the two markets. Read more in the official press release below.

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Abarth marks 50 years of 595 with special edition Fiat 500 originally appeared on Autoblog on Wed, 04 Sep 2013 17:59:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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Official: Abarth marks 50 years of 595 with special edition Fiat 500

Filed under: Frankfurt Motor Show, Performance, Europe, Hatchback, Fiat

Abarth 595 50th Anniversary

Abarth presented its original 595 at the Turin Motor Show in 1963. It was the car that put the Scorpion marque on the map and propelled the original Fiat 500 into hot hatch territory. And to mark that occasion, Fiat’s performance brand is launching the special edition you see here.

Revealed here ahead of its public debut at next week’s Frankfurt Motor Show, the new Abarth 595 50th Anniversary Edition packs a 1.4-liter turbo four with 180 horsepower (20 more than the standard 500 Abarth) channeled through the Abarth Competizione gearbox to the front wheels. The Scorpion brand has also retuned the suspension, fitted 305-millimeter Brembo discs, 17-inch wheels and installed a variable back-pressure exhaust.

Billed as the most powerful 595 to date, the special edition is identifiable by its matte white paint, red racing stripes and retro logos. Step inside and you’ll find red leather buckets with white trim. Only 299 examples will be made, but don’t go looking for this in US showrooms, as the Abarth range and the Fiat 500 upon which it’s based is different in the two markets. Read more in the official press release below.

Continue reading Abarth marks 50 years of 595 with special edition Fiat 500

Abarth marks 50 years of 595 with special edition Fiat 500 originally appeared on Autoblog on Wed, 04 Sep 2013 17:59:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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Official: Chrysler celebrates 30 years of minivans with special editions

Filed under: Minivan/Van, Chrysler, Dodge

2014 Dodge Grand Caravan 30th Anniversary Edition

It’s been known by many names: the Chrysler Town & Country, Dodge Caravan, Plymouth Voyager, Chrysler Voyager, Lancia Voyager, Volkswagen Routan, Ram Cargo Van… but the bottom line is that Chrysler’s minivans have defined the segment for 30 years now. In fact, Chrysler says it has sold 13 million of them since 1983, helped along by the Chrysler Town & Country and Dodge Grand Caravan that accounted for nearly half of all minivans sold in the United States just last year. So to celebrate this three-decade milestone, the Auburn Hills auto has announced a pair of new special editions.

2014 Chrysler Town & Country 30th Anniversary EditionThe 2014 Chrysler Town & Country 30th Anniversary Edition starts the Touring-L trim and includes such special touches as 17-inch wheels, unique badging, available Granite Crystal Pearl paint and an interior decked out in black Alcantara and Nappa leather, piano black trim and all the optional bells and whistles bundled in.

The 2014 Dodge Grand Caravan 30th Anniversary Edition, meanwhile, starts off with either the SE or SXT trims and also upgrades with 17-inch alloys as well as color-keyed mirrors and an interior with silver stitching, piano black trim, power everything, and of course, those special badges.

Both versions are powered by the same 3.6-liter Pentastar V6 with 283 horsepower and a six-speed automatic transmission. Scope out the press release below and our full image galleries for a closer look at what sets these celebratory specials apart.

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Chrysler celebrates 30 years of minivans with special editions originally appeared on Autoblog on Tue, 03 Sep 2013 13:00:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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Official: Chrysler celebrates 30 years of minivans with special editions

Filed under: Minivan/Van, Chrysler, Dodge

2014 Dodge Grand Caravan 30th Anniversary Edition

It’s been known by many names: the Chrysler Town & Country, Dodge Caravan, Plymouth Voyager, Chrysler Voyager, Lancia Voyager, Volkswagen Routan, Ram Cargo Van… but the bottom line is that Chrysler’s minivans have defined the segment for 30 years now. In fact, Chrysler says it has sold 13 million of them since 1983, helped along by the Chrysler Town & Country and Dodge Grand Caravan that accounted for nearly half of all minivans sold in the United States just last year. So to celebrate this three-decade milestone, the Auburn Hills auto has announced a pair of new special editions.

2014 Chrysler Town & Country 30th Anniversary EditionThe 2014 Chrysler Town & Country 30th Anniversary Edition starts the Touring-L trim and includes such special touches as 17-inch wheels, unique badging, available Granite Crystal Pearl paint and an interior decked out in black Alcantara and Nappa leather, piano black trim and all the optional bells and whistles bundled in.

The 2014 Dodge Grand Caravan 30th Anniversary Edition, meanwhile, starts off with either the SE or SXT trims and also upgrades with 17-inch alloys as well as color-keyed mirrors and an interior with silver stitching, piano black trim, power everything, and of course, those special badges.

Both versions are powered by the same 3.6-liter Pentastar V6 with 283 horsepower and a six-speed automatic transmission. Scope out the press release below and our full image galleries for a closer look at what sets these celebratory specials apart.

Continue reading Chrysler celebrates 30 years of minivans with special editions

Chrysler celebrates 30 years of minivans with special editions originally appeared on Autoblog on Tue, 03 Sep 2013 13:00:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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Study: Car customer satisfaction down for first time in two years

Filed under: Etc.

ACSI study finds that car customer satisfaction fell slightly from last year.

Car customer satisfaction fell for the first time in two years, according to the 2013 American Customer Satisfaction Index automobiles and light vehicles report. Over the course of 4,078 random phone and e-mail interviews between April 6 and May 22, the index, based on a scale of 0 to 100, revealed that customer satisfaction with automobiles fell from 84 in 2012 to 83. Domestic autos bring up the rear.

Domestic vehicles, which received an average score of 82, also lost traction in perceived quality, with European automakers ranking 84.7 and Asian brands close behind at 84.1. This is reflected in the scores of the 20 individual automakers counted in the study.

Mercedes-Benz is at the top of the index with a score of 88, up four percent from last year. Lexus relinquished its lead with a score of 87, down two percent from 2012. Third place is a three way tie between Subaru, Toyota and Honda, which all scored 86. Here are the rest of the scores in order: GMC (85), Cadillac (85), Volkswagen (84), Acura (83), Ford (83), Nissan (83), Chrysler (83), Buick (82), BMW (82), Hyundai (82), Kia (82), Mazda (82), All Others (81), Jeep (80), Dodge (79) and Chevrolet (79). It’s worth noting that both GMC and Chrysler gained five points from last year.

While it’s not a good sign that customer satisfaction went down, the authors of the report explained that it could be due to “greater customer expectations that the automakers are then challenged to meet.” But the ACSI says automakers should take the erosion in customer satisfaction as a warning signal: once pent-up demand has subsided, successful brands will keep the customers they have and poach new ones from elsewhere, and customer satisfaction plays a direct role in this relationship.

Car customer satisfaction down for first time in two years originally appeared on Autoblog on Tue, 27 Aug 2013 16:01:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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Study: Americans who consider drunk driving ‘a serious threat’ declines 21% in 3 years

Filed under: Safety

The

Alternate titles for this story could have been “American drivers growing stupider,” “Number of boneheads on the road increases,” “Natural selection having greater influence on American drivers.” We don’t mean to make light of the latest study from the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety, but it’s so darn disturbing that we aren’t really sure what else to do.

AAA compiled the results of three years of surveys, and found that Americans aren’t nearly as concerned about seriously bad behaviors while driving as they were a few years ago. It’s no wonder there was an estimated 5.3-percent increase in annual traffic fatalities last year. The infuriating thing is that we’ve gone seven years without an increase in fatalities.

In 2009, 90 percent of the AAA survey respondents thought drunk driving was a “serious threat.” 71 percent were opposed to drowsy driving. 87 percent considered working a smartphone while behind the wheel to be a bad thing, while 21 percent admitted to texting while driving. 77 percent took issue with people that ran red lights.

Fast-forward to 2012, and we’re going to see a rather radical shift in feelings. Only 69 percent of people find drinking and driving to be an issue, while 46 percent are opposed to drowsy driving. 81 percent think a smartphone and driving don’t mix, while 26 percent have texted while behind the wheel. Also baffling, 70 percent of people are against running red lights, with over a third admitting to flying through a red in the past month. For those that don’t feel like looking at the paragraph above for comparison, fewer people are concerned with bad behind-the-wheel behaviors.

Take a look below for the full press release on the AAA study, and please, please be safe behind the wheel.

Continue reading Americans who consider drunk driving ‘a serious threat’ declines 21% in 3 years

Americans who consider drunk driving ‘a serious threat’ declines 21% in 3 years originally appeared on Autoblog on Thu, 22 Aug 2013 13:20:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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Report: Average US car now a record-setting 11.4 years old [w/poll]

Filed under: Car Buying

Heavy traffic is shown on north-bound Interstate Highway 5, Monday, Oct. 24, 2011, in Seattle. Commuter traffic was congested but moving slowly in Seattle on the first weekday commute following the nine-day closure of the elevated Alaskan Way Viaduct, one of the city's main north-south highways. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren)

Cars are becoming less and less of a disposable item, according to a report from The Detroit Free Press. The average age of the 247 million cars and trucks in the US fleet is now up to 11.4 years, an increase of two full years since 2007 and 0.2 years since 2012. The newspaper spoke with Mark Seng, vice president of industry research firm Polk, who cited consumers’ desire to avoid monthly payments and the ever-improving quality of mainstream cars and trucks as reasons for the increased age.

The first item is fairly obvious – no one really likes to carry a monthly car payment. The second point, though, is perhaps less obvious. The fact of the matter is that modern vehicles are just so reliable that people aren’t feeling the need to scrap them as quickly. In fact, scrappage has fallen 50 percent since the start of the recession, a stat that is sure to pain junkyard scroungers everywhere.

But while the nation’s average vehicle age is likely to continue to increase, it is expected to do so right along with increasing sales of new vehicles. After a 30-year low of 10.4 million vehicles in 2009, the annual average is running right along at 15.5 million according to The Detroit Free Press. While it seems counterintuitive for these two stats to climb together, the combination of improved reliability, lower interest rates and readily available longer-term financing options has created a kind of perfect storm for both long-term ownership and new vehicle sales.

How old is your primary vehicle? Participate in our poll below, then let us know your thoughts in Comments.

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Average US car now a record-setting 11.4 years old [w/poll] originally appeared on Autoblog on Tue, 06 Aug 2013 13:01:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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Report: More car buyers favoring longer term loans, up to 10 years [w/poll]

Filed under: Car Buying, Earnings/Financials

Couple shopping for new cars

The length of car loans in the US keeps on growing as more and more consumers look for ways to save money every month to pay off obligations and necessities. Extremely low interest rates and more durable automobiles have become key factors in driving these new longer-term car loans, which can last anywhere from six to 10 years.

Auto loans used to last four or five years on average, but, in today’s cash-strapped era, automakers are more interested in selling cars than profiting from financing, which has resulted in the low interest rates and longer loan terms consumers are seeing today. While some might be concerned that this is the same sort of subprime lending that led to the housing crash in 2008, James Lentz, chief executive of Toyota North America, tells The Detroit News that there’s little risk added with these longer loans because defaults typically happen within six months. He also told the newspaper that the longer term options can be the difference between a customer buying a Corolla or a more expensive Camry.

And consider Bradley Gallant’s case. The Detroit News reported that he financed a new Honda Accord with a six-year loan at 1.89 percent to divert money to other investments. Compared to a four-year loan on the same car, he saves $130 on his monthly bill and only ends up paying $370 more in interest by the end of the loan. We commend Mr. Gallant on negotiating such loan terms, but it also drives home the point that interest rates must remain low for such loans to be good deals.

In December, we reported that the fastest-growing category in automotive borrowing was the seven-year loan and noted that automakers were reluctant to offer them because it kept customers off the market for too long. Well, apparently, the times they are a-changin’ – and they’re getting longer.

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More car buyers favoring longer term loans, up to 10 years [w/poll] originally appeared on Autoblog on Thu, 25 Jul 2013 19:00:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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Motorsports: Mazda Skyactiv-D racer first diesel to run at Indy in 60 years

Filed under: Motorsports, Sedan, Mazda, Diesel, Racing

While it may not be touting the old “Win on Sunday, sell on Monday” axiom we all know and love, Mazda recognizes that racing can only improve its cars. And so it’s no surprise that the Japanese automaker is testing and refining its Skyactiv-D diesel engine by sending it out on various race tracks around the country – notably being the first diesel ever to compete at Daytona and the first to notch a Grand Am win at Road Atlanta.

Next up? Indy. It has been over 60 years since a diesel-powered machine ran at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, and the Cummins-powered racer that competed in the 1952 Indy 500 with a 6.6-liter inline-six-cylinder oil-burner was a fast and brutal machine that set a new lap record in qualifying leading up to the race. Though that car was withdrawn with turbocharger failure 71 laps in, its diesel powerplant left an indelible impression on the racing community, and that’s something Mazda hopes to accomplish once again.

Mazda says that the diesel engine in its race car is pretty darn close to stock – 51 percent stock by parts count, and 63 percent stock by weight – which means the way it performs in competition is at least a somewhat meaningful way to the stock engine’s durability in the real world. Check out the image of the Mazda6 Skyactiv-D racer posing alongside the 1952 Cummins above (click to enlarge) and feel free to peruse the press release below for the rest of the details.

Continue reading Mazda Skyactiv-D racer first diesel to run at Indy in 60 years

Mazda Skyactiv-D racer first diesel to run at Indy in 60 years originally appeared on Autoblog on Thu, 25 Jul 2013 18:30:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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Report: Audi to blitz 1.5M sales goal two years ahead of schedule

Filed under: Audi, Earnings/Financials

2013 Audi Q5 front three-quarter

Audi doesn’t seem to be having any trouble of hitting its relatively audacious sales goal of two million units by 2020 – it’s already on pace to eclipse 1.5 million sales two years ahead of schedule. According to Reuters, the Volkswagen-owned brand rode a wave of sales in China and the US to pace the early goal, with 780,500 deliveries at the halfway point of 2013. Particularly hot models include the Q5 crossover seen above and A4 sedan. Unless things go poorly in the second half of the year, 1.5 million sales shouldn’t be an issue.

That leaves it trailing BMW by just 24,000 units for the global luxury sales crown. If sales trends keep up, Audi will succeed in hitting its goal of two million units and besting its cross-country rival in Munich. Audi CEO Rupert Stadler smells blood, telling German newspaper Handelsblatt, ”We have overtaken Mercedes-Benz and we are now closer to BMW than ever before.”

Audi to blitz 1.5M sales goal two years ahead of schedule originally appeared on Autoblog on Thu, 25 Jul 2013 15:29:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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