Saturn Sky, Aura, SUV Headed to Dealers

Saturn Sky, Aura, SUV Headed to Dealers

Saturn's busy schedule for new-product launches will accelerate in 2006 as the brand adds the Sky roadster, a new Aura sedan and an as-yet-unnamed SUV. GM will release more details on the new vehicles today — and TCC will have the story later today as well — but the first of the new products will be the Sky roadster, a Kappa-architecture two-seater that shares its underpinnings with the Pontiac Solstice. Joining the Ion, Vue, and Relay in the Saturn lineup, the Sky will sport a 140-hp, 2.4-liter four-cylinder and a new front-end treatment that begins a style renaissance for the brand. Next up will be the Aura four-door, the replacement for the unloved L-Series. The Aura will come with a 250-hp, 3.6-liter V-6 — and though it will be shown as a concept car at the Detroit show next week, it's roughly 80 percent production-intended, according to USA Today. Those who have seen both products have raved about the quality and design of the vehicle's interiors. The last new Saturn of the trio will be an SUV larger than the current Vue crossover, due in late 2006. Stay tuned today for more on the Saturn products.

Special Report: '05 Los Angeles Auto Show

The UltimateLos Angeles Machine?

2005 Dodge SUper Bee conceptThere's no question Los Angelenos love their automobiles, even when they're stuck in traffic on I-405. To tap into that mobile mindset, fourteen different automakers have set up advanced design facilities along the Southern California coast, and those facilities are responsible for an assortment of popular products and concept vehicles. But what would happen if the designers at those studios had the chance to produce a product specifically earmarked for the California lifestyle? That was the challenge that eleven of the studios chose to accept, offering their own visions of the "Ultimate Los Angeles Machine." The three judges assigned to the project found themselves deadlocked until they came up with a Solomon-style solution: picking the best design for the weekday, another for the weekend. Which is which isn't entirely clear, but the Dodge Super Bee was one of the winners. "It's what would happen if (wild California aftermarket designer) Big Daddy Roth met Formula One," explained Chrysler Group's advanced styling director, Freeman Thomas. Looking a bit like a motorcycle-cum-spacship, the Super Bee weighs barely 1500 pounds and features a 2.0-liter V-8, for rocketing through those windy California mountain passes.

2005 Volkswagen Mobile Lounge conceptVolkswagen's Mobile Lounge, meanwhile, is "a more tasteful and creative solution" than today's massive limousines, said designer Daniel Jenkins. The van-like vehicle's interior is designed to let you party hearty enough to forget you're stuck in traffic.

Benz Muscles Up with CLS55

2006 Mercedes-Benz CLS 55Underscoring its decision to offer a performance version of every product in its lineup, Mercedes used the Los Angeles Auto Show to unveil its latest — and twelfth — AMG model. The CLS55 is a 469-horsepower version of the brand-new CLS, a coupe-like sedan. It shares the same, supercharged and intercooled V-8 already found in the E55 AMG, and will rocket from 0-60 in just 4.5 seconds. The performance edition will hit market in late February, just a month after the U.S. debut of the CLS500. That's unusually fast for an AMG model and reflects the fact that the brand-within-a-brand's engineers were actively involved from the very start of the CLS program, according to Rob Allan, U.S. product manager for AMG. Besides the big V-8, the CLS55 AMG will be shod with 19-inch wheels, and given the oversized brakes found in the Mercedes SL55 AMG sports car. Mercedes expects to sell about 1500 of the top-line CLS sedans in the U.S. this year, and though a formal price has not been announced, sources suggest a premium of about 30 percent above the CLS500 is likely.

Jaguar Celebrates Victory

2005 Jaguar XK Victory EditionLast year was a difficult one in many ways for Jaguar, which has scaled back expectations and announced the closing of one of its British assembly plants. On the other hand, the automaker got consistent confirmation that its efforts to shore up quality are paying off — moving to the third spot in J.D. Power's Initial Quality Survey and ranking highest American European brands in Power's Customer Satisfaction Index. Jag also celebrated its fourth consecutive victory in the Trans-Am Road Race Series. And to honor that performance, it unveiled the XK Victory Edition. The limited-edition model will debut in June and feature such niceties as four unique colors, choice of 19-inch chrome or 20-inch BBS race wheels, big Brembo brakes, a built-in navigation system, and a Bluetooth system for handsfree cellphone operation. Look for a price tag around $75,000.

Saleen Serves Up A Bigger S7

2005 Saleen S7 Twin Turbo"Just a few years ago, 500 horsepower was considered extraordinary. Today it's commonplace," noted Fred Blount, vice president of sales for Saleen, Inc. While "commonplace" may be a bit extreme in itself, there are now at least 20 cars on the road that break the 500-hp barrier, according to a count by TheCarConnection, with more coming. So what is a respectable supercar, such as the Saleen S7, supposed to do? When it launched in 2002, it was the only street-legal car in the U.S. to exceed that barrier. Now the upgraded Saleen S7 Twin Turbo will remain tops in the domestic category by adding twin turbochargers giving it a big boost for 2005. The S7 Twin Turbo edition is rated at 750 hp and 700 lb-ft of torque. Other changes for the new year are meant to improve the car's downforce and handling, as well as the ergonomics of the interior.

Where Are The Japanese?

Once one of the nation's biggest and most important auto shows, the annual L.A. gathering has faded a bit in recent years. Public attendance remains enormous, but automakers have been shifting their resources — in the form of product previews — to the Detroit auto show that is staged later in January. Los Angeles Auto Show organizers were able to pull together a modest dozen or so unveilings this year, but there were some notable gaps in the offerings. Not a single Japanese manufacturer held a news conference during the two-day media event, with South Korea 's Hyundai the only Asian brand. Privately, officials from several Japanese makers said they were embarrassed by the lack of involvement which, ironically, helped put the spotlight on such domestic brands as Ford, Chevrolet, and Dodge. But the North American International Auto Show in Detroit is expected to draw at least ten times the news media turnout next week, they explained. The L.A. show isn't likely to gain much more traction until autumn of 2006, when it moves to a new November date, positioning itself closer to the beginning of the new model year.

FROM THE SOURCE headlines from the latest press releases


With safety, security, and quality at the forefront of its design, the entire line-up of 2005 Chrysler Group minivans has earned the highest ratings — five-stars for frontal impact crash tests — from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). Included in the five-star rating are the 2005 Chrysler Town and Country and the Dodge Caravan/Grand Caravan — both short-wheelbase and long-wheelbase versions.

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Autobytel, Inc. ABTL 6.92 unch (unch)
Autoliv Inc. ALV 47.34 -0.10 (-0.21%)
AutoNation Inc. AN 18.68 -0.32 (-1.68%)
ArvinMeritor Inc. ARM 20.99 unch (unch)
American Axle & Mfr. Holdings Inc. AXL 29.26 +0.24 (+0.83%)
Ballard Power Systems Inc. BLDP 6.09 +0.03 (+0.48%)
BorgWarner Inc. BWA 51.60 +0.40 (+0.78%)
Collins & Aikman Corporation CKC 3.76 -0.09 (-2.34%)
Cummins Inc. CMI 76.52 -0.35 (-0.46%)
Dana Corporation DCN 17.01 +0.18 (+1.07%)
DaimlerChrysler AG (ADR) DCX 47.46 -0.05 (-0.11%)
Delphi Corporation DPH 8.44 +0.04 (+0.48%)
Dura Automotive Systems DRRA 9.53 -0.49 (-4.89%)
Eaton Corporation ETN 68.40 +0.20 (+0.29%)
Ford Motor Company F 14.45 +0.02 (+0.14%)
General Motors Corporation GM 39.45 +0.33 (+0.84%)
Gentex Corporation GNTX 34.32 -0.44 (-1.27%)
Goodyear Tire & Rubber GT 14.63 +0.29 (+2.02%)
Honda Motor Co. Ltd. (ADR) HMC 25.71 +0.10 (+0.39%)
Johnson Controls Inc. JCI 61.23 -0.21 (-0.34%)
Lear Corporation LEA 59.34 +0.14 (+0.24%)
Magna International Inc. MGA 78.86 -0.19 (-0.24%)
Motorola Inc. MOT 16.71 +0.19 (+1.15%)
Nissan Motor Co. Ltd. (ADR) NSANY 21.32 -0.02 (-0.09%)
Sonic Automotive Inc. SAH 23.10 -0.15 (-0.65%)
Siemens AG SI 81.81 -0.05 (-0.06%)
Sirius Satellite Radio SIRI 7.49 -0.14 (-1.90%)
Toyota Motor Corporation (ADR) TM 80.32 +0.45 (+0.56%)
TRW Automotive Holdings TRW 19.85 +0.15 (+0.76%)
Tower Automotive Inc. TWR 2.43 -0.04 (-1.62%)
United Auto Group Inc. UAG 28.70 +0.40 (+1.41%)
Visteon Corporation VC 8.95 +0.04 (+0.45%)
XM Satellite Radio Hold. XMSR 34.54 -0.02 (-0.06%)

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