Miata Gets Retractable Hardtop

June 21, 2006

Miata Gets Retractable Hardtop

The hardtop convertible trend has struck Mazda, and years of speculation will come to a head at the British International Motor Show next month as the Japanese automaker shows off the new hardtop convertible Miata. The third-generation car will get a specific name along with its multi-piece origami act: inNorth America, it will be known as the Mazda MX-5 Power Retractable Hard Top. Always available with a removable hardtop, the Miata's new retractable lid is a first for the rear-drive roadster. The British auto show begins on July 18.

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Spy Shots: 2008 BMW X5

2008 BMW X5

2008 BMW X5

Enlarge Photo
BMW will replace the X5 sport-ute in the 2008 model year with a new model that will offer seven-passenger seating.

At first sight the second-generation X5 looks much like its predecessor. However, a closer look shows that the new car is about 6.3 inches longer and 2.4 inches wider than the current vehicle. The extra room enables BMW to install a third-row seat in the X5.

The size boost will be met by more powerful engines, including diesels for Europe and a range of U.S.-bound engines, including a 3.0-liter six with about 250 hp and a 5.0-liter V-8 with about 367 hp.

The new off-roader will incorporate many new technical gadgets, like a radar cruise control and night vision. An evolution of BMW's xDrive system is in place, as is advanced wheel-by-wheel traction control.

The new X5 will be shown this fall, and should go on sale early next year in the U.S. -Hans G. Lehmann/Hidden Image

VW Scirocco Coming - from Portugal

Will it have a grown-in-Vigo cork floor? Doubtful, but the revived Volkswagen Scirocco coupe will come from Portugal, according to Reuters. The news agency says that the two-door coupe is set for a rebirth later in the decade, and is expected to share its mechanicals with the new Golf/Rabbit range. A German newspaper says production will begin in 2008 and that VW will build about 100,000 copies each year for worldwide sale. The same plant in Portugal that will build the Scirocco is already building the Eos hardtop convertible.

Volkswagen at a Crossroads by Marty Padgett (6/19/2006)
New small SUV and diesels coming, but comprehensive U.S. strategy still in the works.

GM Takes Another Credit Hit

Standard & Poor's and Moody's, two of Wall Street's most influential ratings services, have trimmed their grades on General Motors Corp.'s outstanding debt.

Both services cut GM's credit rating again after the automaker announced it had revised the terms on a $5.6-billion line of credit. Under the proposed terms announced Tuesday the unsecured line of credit has been transformed into a secured line of credit. All existing lenders will get a chance at a 20-percent reduction in their commitments, and will have the opportunity to extend to 2011 in return for collateral, pricing and other structural enhancements, GM said in statement.

The announcement was a setback for GM's recent campaign aimed at building investor confidence in its turnaround effort. GM vice chairman Robert Lutz had said in an interview in the Toronto Globe and Mail this week that the turnaround was picking up momentum. GM, however, also has been hurt by the need for an extensive restatement of financial results, which has raised questions about the integrity of the company's financial reporting.

GM spokeswoman Gina Proia said the new credit facility should be complete next month. GM, though, had no estimates on the additional cost of switching from an unsecured line to a line of credit secured by GM assets, she said. Proia said a majority of GM's lending banks have agreed to amend and extend. -Joe Szczesny

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