Daily Edition: Camaro concept, Mazda Kabura and CX-7, Audi Le Mans diesel racer

December 13, 2005

TCConfidential: Is GM Planning a Camaro Comeback?

2000 Chevrolet Camaro SS

2000 Chevrolet Camaro SS

Recycling is all the rage inDetroit this year. Consider Chrysler, which will follow this year's launch of the Dodge Charger with concepts dubbed Challenger and Imperial making their debut at January's North American International Auto Show. Even the Aspen is due for a return, as these shots on TheCarConnection.com illustrate. Over in Dearborn, Ford never abandoned the Mustang nameplate, but the brand was brought back to life with the current retro edition.

"So where's the Chevrolet Camaro?" we keep asking each time we snag a moment of General Motors Vice Chairman Bob Lutz's attention. The answer, apparently, is in Detroit in January. TCC can confirm that a Camaro concept is heading to the Detroit show, wearing a retro body with some parts-bin underpinnings that could lead to a real production version by 2009.

It's been more than three years since the Camaro was pulled from production, a victim of mediocre design and slumping sales. At one time, Chevy's pony car gave Mustang a serious run for its money, but over the years, the Camaro started to look like so many other GM's design-by-committee products.

If the shots we're seeing (but which we cannot yet legally provide TCC readers) are any indication, GM has learned its lesson. There'll be no more jellybean muscle cars, along the lines of the forgettable new GTO. The concept is a lot more aerodynamic than the angular bricks that dominated Woodward Avenue 40 years ago, but it clearly picks up the heritage of the mid-'60s Camaro.

Sources have suggested that the Camaro would ride on a version of the Solstice platform or on a new rear-drive Holden platform. The truth is a little hazy at this point, but given GM's past experience with putting concepts together out of its global parts bin - the HUMMER concept was one great example - a Camaro derived from existing rear-drive, non-Solstice bits seems most likely. The Kappa architecture is simply too small, and even stretched would have a hard time handling all the brute power GM will build into a revived Camaro. As for powertrain, expect a range of engines, including a Corvette-derived LS1. Considering Ford's getting ready to punch out an impressive 450 hp from the Shelby Cobra, we'd be shocked if GM doesn't intend to go it one better with Camaro.

Stay tuned for more information as the Detroit show nears - and get ready to savor a trio of all-American muscle not seen since the 1960s.

More in TCConfidential

Mazda Releases CX-7 Details

2007 Mazda CX-7

2007 Mazda CX-7

2007 Mazda CX-7

2007 Mazda CX-7

2007 Mazda CX-7

2007 Mazda CX-7

this morning has released the first details and photography of its new Mazda crossover, the CX-7. Due for its debut at the upcoming Los Angeles auto show in January, the CX-7 is said to be the first of three all-new Mazda vehicles that are being designed and engineered specifically for the North American market. Citing influences from the 1995 RX-01 and 2005 MX-Crossport concept vehicles, Mazda claims the crossover also shows a strong family resemblance to the RX-8 sports car. Inside, the CX-7 has a split-fold rear seat that turns the 29.9-cubic-foot cargo area into a 58.6-cubic-foot well.

The CX-7 is powered by a turbocharged and intercooled 2.3-liter four-cylinder direct-injection gasoline engine that produces 244 horsepower at 5000 rpm. The engine's derived from the new Mazdaspeed6, but is retuned for more low-end torque. With the help of its six-speed automatic transmission, the vehicle delivers an estimated 23 mpg in combined fuel economy. Standard features include anti-lock brakes, stability and traction control. All-wheel drive is available, with front-drive being the base orientation. The CX-7 goes on sale in the spring of 2006 as a 2007 model.

Mechanic's Tale: What Real Men Drive by Douglas Flint (11/21/2005)
You're not thinking Miata, are you?

Mazda Kabura Splits Miata, RX-8

2006 Mazda Kabura concept

2006 Mazda Kabura concept

The new Mazda coupe reported by TCC in November is coming to the auto-show circuit this year under the name Kabura. Mazda says the compact sports coupe, penned in California, is one of a trio of vehicles that predicts its new styling direction, along with the Sassou and Senku cars from the Frankfurt and Tokyo motor shows. The compact Kabura combines a rear-drive powertrain with a flexible interior. The name, Mazda says, is Japanese for the signal of the start of a battle.

Daily Edition: Nov. 4, 2005 by TCC Team (11/3/2005)
Mazda concept for Detroit, can SEMA survive slowdown?

NACTOY Finalists Announced

In an unexpected flip-flop, Detroit dominates the car side, while Japan delivers two of the three truck finalists in the 2006 North American Car and Truck of the Year. Today's announcement is a prelude to next month's NACOTY news conference, which kicks off the North American International Auto Show.

In a segment normally dominated by imports, Detroit fields two of the three passenger-car finalists, the Ford Fusion sedan and Pontiac Solstice roadster. Honda's latest update of the Civic rounds out the field. On the truck side, however, the Japanese are making an unexpectedly strong showing. Honda's crossover pickup, the Ridgeline, and Nissan's truck-based Xterra go up against Ford's remake of the Explorer.

NACOTY is unique among automotive awards in that it reflects a wide range of views, rather than that of any individual publication or broadcast outlet. The winners are collectively chosen by 50 journalists from across the U.S. and Canada.

The winners will be announced on January 8, 2006, during the opening news conference at the North American International Auto Show, in Detroit.

WJR Auto Report: NACTOY Flips for Cars, Trucks

These days, it seems like everyone is handing out awards. But few trophies are more treasured than the one that comes with being named the North American Car or Truck of the Year. Known to insiders as NACOTY, it has reason to be so widely respected. It represents the collective view of 50 of North America's top automotive journalists, and that helps cancel out the bias of any particular newspaper, magazine, or broadcast outlet. This week, NACOTY's six finalists were revealed. In the passenger-car category, the Ford Fusion, Honda Civic, and Pontiac Solstice made it to the final round; on the truck side it will be the Ford Explorer, Honda Ridgeline, and Nissan Xterra. That's an interesting twist, you might notice, with the Big Three dominating the car column, and the Japanese having two of the three names in the light-truck category. Who'll take home the top prize? Well, even though I am a member of the jury, I haven't got a clue. Like everyone else, I'll have to wait for the big announcement, which will be made on January 8, kicking off the 2006 North American International Auto Show.

L.A. Show Adds BMW M6, GMers to Debut List

The list of new vehicles coming to the Los Angeles auto show is growing with the confirmation of the new BMW M6 and a raft of GM vehicles for the show, which opens to the media on Jan. 4. GM will bring along the new edition of the Chevy Aveo, redesigned in four-door form, as well as the new Suburban and GMC Yukon XL SUVs; a Corvette Z06 pace car; the Solstice GXP complete with a turbo Ecotec four; a special-edition Saab 9-3 Aero Convertible with GM's new turbo V-6; a Saab ethanol-powered concept 9-5; and the PAD concept in two-dimensional form, part of the show's Design Challenge.

BMW, meanwhile, says its new M6 will emerge at the L.A. show with the most powerful engine ever stuffed into a 6-Series. The BMW V-10 underhood, shared with the M5 sedan, exhales 507 horsepower and 383 lb-ft of torque, and hooks up with a seven-speed sequential gearbox. BMW predicts a 0-60 time of 4.6 seconds for the M6 and a top speed limited to 155 mph. The M6 will arrive in U.S. showrooms in the spring of 2006.

Mitsu Co-Joins Harunari, Gilligan at MMNA

Mitsubishi Motors North America is getting a new co-president to join Rich Gilligan in the duties of steering the company's American turnaround. The new co-president and co-CEO is Hiroshi Harunari, who takes on his new task Jan. 1. Harunari has been Mitsu's Managing Director of Overseas Operations since April 2005. Gilligan took over the company's North American operations in January after serving as Mitsu's COO.

Audi to Attack Le Mans and Sebring with Diesel

Audi Le Mans diesel

Audi Le Mans diesel

Audi, which has dominated endurance racing and the Le Mans race in particular for some years now, is going back to the 24 Hours in 2006 with a diesel engine. The German company is the second major manufacturer to turn to diesel for a Le Mans car, but France's Peugeot will not race until 2007. However, the Audi's first race will be in the USA, at the Sebring 12-hours in March. The American event has always proved to be a useful shakedown for new racers preparing for Le Mans.

The heart of the new Audi R10 is a completely new V-12 TDI direct-injection engine with a cubic capacity of 5.5 liters - the maximum permitted at Le Mans. Audi ventures into previously unexplored diesel-engine terrain with power exceeding 650 hp and torque of more than 811 lb-ft.

The massive torque produced by the diesel power-unit - Audi had to strengthen its test-beds when it was developing the engine - will make the cars somewhat different to drive. The maximum torque comes in between 3000 and 5000 rpm, which is low for a race engine. The car's initial acceleration should be shattering, while the torque available will mean that the drivers will not have to use the gearbox so much - a major consideration in endurance events.

Both the manufacturers and the race organizers are keen to make racing engines more acceptable ecologically, and both the Audi and the Peugeot engines will be equipped with highly-efficient particulate filters to clean up their exhausts. One disadvantage of this from the race fans' point of view is that the cars will no longer spit flame from their tailpipes, a major spectator attraction at races like Sebring and Le Mans, where racing continues into the hours of darkness.

The R10 is important for Audi commercially, for half the company's production is diesel-powered. Europe is the major diesel market - last month 42 percent of the new cars sold in Britain were diesels - but the technology has not taken off in the U.S., mainly because the low-sulfur fuel the modern European diesels need is not available. However, when the fuel does come to the U.S. manufacturers like BMW, Mercedes-Benz, and Audi expect that like British drivers, who were not as quick to accept diesels as their continental neighbors, American motorists will also find them attractive. Unlike the noisy and vibrating engines that spoiled U.S. diesel cars twenty-odd years ago, modern direct-injection diesels combine fuel economy with smooth and silent power.

Diesels have never made a breakthrough into racing, although Fred Agabashian did put a car powered by a Cummins diesel on pole for the 1952 Indy 500 and in 1978 Mercedes set a number of world records, including twelve hours at speeds of around 196 mph with a diesel-powered prototype.

With two major manufacturers racing diesels by 2007, the thousands of fans that drive to Le Mans in diesel cars will no longer have to cover up the "D" badges. -Ian Norris

FROM THE SOURCE headlines from the latest press releases


For the second consecutive year, NBC Sports will present a two-hour special broadcast of the "International Auto Show" on Sunday, Jan. 22, 1-3 p.m. EST. The "International Auto Show" will feature the exciting production and concept vehicles of the 2006 North American International Auto Show (NAIAS) in Detroit. Hosted by NASCAR on NBC and TNT pre-race host and play-by-play commentator Bill Weber, with analyst Benny Parsons, and reporters Allen Bestwick, Dave Burns, and Marty Snider, NBC Sports' presentation of the International Auto Show will include features of the hottest cars on the market and special appearances by some of the biggest names in NASCAR and NBC Entertainment.

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Autobytel, Inc. ABTL 5.26 +0.05 (+0.96%)
Autoliv Inc. ALV 44.95 +0.43 (+0.97%)
AutoNation Inc. AN 21.92 +0.18 (+0.83%)
ArvinMeritor Inc. ARM 14.61 -0.27 (-1.81%)
American Axle & Mfr. Holdings Inc. AXL 18.80 -0.03 (-0.16%)
Ballard Power Systems Inc. BLDP 4.57 -0.13 (-2.77%)
BorgWarner Inc. BWA 61.09 +0.48 (+0.79%)
Cummins Inc. CMI 87.91 +0.21 (+0.24%)
Dana Corporation DCN 6.91 +0.01 (+0.14%)
DaimlerChrysler AG (ADR) DCX 51.30 +0.23 (+0.45%)
Dura Automotive Systems DRRA 2.24 -0.05 (-2.18%)
Eaton Corporation ETN 66.06 +0.37 (+0.56%)
Ford Motor Company F 8.13 -0.06 (-0.73%)
General Motors Corporation GM 22.29 -0.75 (-3.25%)
Gentex Corporation GNTX 18.64 +0.16 (+0.87%)
Goodyear Tire & Rubber GT 17.29 +0.14 (+0.82%)
Honda Motor Co. Ltd. (ADR) HMC 28.92 +0.25 (+0.87%)
Johnson Controls Inc. JCI 73.91 +1.81 (+2.51%)
Lear Corporation LEA 28.61 +0.23 (+0.81%)
Magna International Inc. MGA 68.01 +0.34 (+0.50%)
Motorola Inc. MOT 22.91 -0.22 (-0.95%)
Nissan Motor Co. Ltd. (ADR) NSANY 20.23 +0.29 (+1.45%)
Sonic Automotive Inc. SAH 21.97 +0.19 (+0.87%)
Siemens AG SI 84.06 +1.96 (+2.39%)
Sirius Satellite Radio SIRI 7.01 -0.45 (-6.03%)
Toyota Motor Corporation (ADR) TM 98.68 +1.57 (+1.62%)
TRW Automotive Holdings TRW 26.23 -0.13 (-0.49%)
Tower Automotive Inc. TWRAQ.PK 0.075 -0.01 (-11.76%)
United Auto Group Inc. UAG 38.57 +0.04 (+0.10%)
Visteon Corporation VC 6.87 -0.23 (-3.24%)
XM Satellite Radio Hold. XMSR 29.95 -0.01 (-0.03%)

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