Jaguar Getting Help from Ford
In one of several product introductions at the Detroitshow for the various Ford brands, Jaguar unveiled the convertible version of its new XK sports car. The parent company intends to invest another billion dollars into the long-troubled Jaguar. Ford COO Padilla defended that decision. “Sure, we lost our way with Jaguar,” he acknowledged, but “Jaguar represents something unique in the market.” A new line of products and more realistic sales goals, he argued, will eventually help the British brand regain its footing. There’ve been ongoing rumors that Ford has discussed selling off Jaguar to the French carmaker, Renault. But in a Detroitshow interview, Padilla said, “I haven’t heard anything from Renault.”
RDX Confirmed for Summer
Acura revealed the production prototype version of its RDX performance-oriented crossover SUV. Closely following the concept of the same name shown at last year’s Detroit show, and built on an all-new global light-truck platform, the RDX is said to combine sports-car handling with serious performance from a new 2.3-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine — Honda’s first turbocharged engine for North America and Acura’s first ever. Aided by the turbocharger and an i-VTEC system, the powerful engine turns out 240 hp and 260 lb-ft of torque, running through the automaker’s Super Handling All-Wheel Drive
(SH-AWD) system, which can redistribute torque quickly fore-aft and left-right. A five-speed sequential-shift transmission comes with steering-wheel-mounted paddle shifters.
The raked-back stance, dual exhaust tips, HID headlamps, and big 19-inch wheels give the compact crossover an aggressive and elegant appearance. The interior has seating for five, with fold-down rear seats and a cockpit theme for the front, along with a deep center console that allows laptop computer storage. The RDX also features a navigation system with voice recognition, real-time traffic alerts, and a hands-free phone link. There’s also a DVD audio system for entertainment. Front, side, and curtain airbags are standard, and the system is aided by rollover sensors.
Curiously, the RDX lands in a market segment — premium performance-oriented small crossovers — that seems set to take off in a big way but currently has little or no competition. For now, the RDX will take on the BMW X3.
The production version of the RDX will go on sale this summer and be assembled at Honda of America Manufacturing in Marysville, Ohio.
In a related note, the brand has announced that it will get its own U.S. design studio, to be built near the corporate headquarters in Torrance, California. Acura is celebrating its 20th year in the U.S. and plans to expand to China this year and Japan in 2008. —Bengt Halvorson
Kia Shows Urban Crossover with Soul
Kia America executive VP and COO Len Hunt introduced the show-going media to Kia’s latest concept car, a crossover utility vehicle called the Soul. The boldly styled Soul—the name is indeed a play on Kia’s home city, Seoul —has an upright cabin that’s similar in layout to that of the Scion xB, though it’s much less utilitarian and more stylized.
The small crossover—which picks up some styling cues from the earlier Mesa concept—is geared toward young urban dwellers who want a vehicle with the flexibility for weekend mountain-biking jaunts or road trips, along with easy parking for the city. The more aggressive appearance is helped by a wide track, large wheel flares, front brush guard, wrap-around windshield, and prominent roof rails on top. A panoramic roof slides back to open up much of the roof when desired.