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TopsandSeats.com :: Automotive News

Automotive News

Friday, July 31, 2009

2009 Porsche 911 Targa: lean and fast

At the recent preview of the 2009 Porsche 911 Targa at Garda Lake, Italy, one of the designer's pointed out that this sports car did not have a spare inch of fat on its body. Of course my mind immediately went to some of the better bodies I have seen, most of them in glossy magazines or on the big screen.

Well, put lean body mass to that to a vehicle and you're going to get what the new Porsche is all about. For starters: a glass roof that slides quietly into the trunk for open air driving; an LED band of lights that flank the rear; polished aluminum trim bars that skim the roofline and side windows that sail to the rear in a crisp angle. Yes, the Porsche 911 Targa is all about slim. And slim translates to aerodynamics. The 0-to-60 mph time for the top-performing PDK Porsche 911 Targa is 4.3 seconds.

Even with all that lean muscle, there's also room for shopping. The tailgate opens (by key fob) to 8.1 cubic feet of space behind the front seat. Of course, I managed to fill the back with a load of Italian purchases (groceries, jeans and tops). The 911 Targa, true to form, also has a front boot, in a nod to Italian style.

Coined an open-air sports car when it debuted for 1967, the early 911 Targa had a removable roof panel. It's name came from the Sicilian Targa Florio racing event. The Targa even passed the "hair test for ladies of the 60's" because it was a convertible with a protective shield.

For more news : http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2009/jul/31/2009-porsche-911-targa-lean-and-fast/

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Wednesday, July 29, 2009

BMW 3 Series convertible allows you to feel the wind in your hair while relishing its smooth power

WHEN it comes to niche marketing, the people at BMW seem to have tuned it to a fine art; they keep on coming out with model after model, making sure that a customer's every whim and fancy is catered for.

A prime example would be the new BMW 325i Convertible. If you step back and look at the BMW 3 Series, you can see that in this segment, there is a 2.0 litre 3201, a 2.5 litre 325i, a 3.0 litre 330i, a 3.0 litre turbo-charged 335i, that comes in two-door coupe form, and also with four doors. Further up, there is the M3 for the petrolheads, and now there's the Convertible for those who like to go topless! This means there is a 3 Series for any pocket size. All we need now would be a 4WD version, which I hear is soon available.

The new BMW 325i Convertible seats four adults, not as comfortably as a regular four-door BMW 3 Series would, of course. If you like convertibles, and need a four-door car, this is it. It is 'softer' in performance because of differences in weight distribution, need of additional reinforcements in the floor pan to cater for rigidity at the lower end, and there are more parts to make up the roof mechanism, but it still drives like a BMW should - safe and sure at all times.

Source : http://www.thesundaily.com/article.cfm?id=36342

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Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Magnesium Award Winners Show Auto Potential

Magnesium is putting its stake in the ground as the battle to reduce weight in cars and other transportation products heats up. That's clear from the 2009 winners in the International Magnesium Association (IMA) Awards of Excellence competition. In one case a mag part even replaced a glass-reinforced plastic, and saved weight.

There were three categories, two in design and one in process. The design categories are broken into cast and wrought products.

First place for design of a cast product went to Ortal Diecasting of Beit She'an, Israel for an integrated cast teeth rack, a component in a steering wheel system. The integrated cast magnesium teeth rack replaces a traditional sinter steel piece.

"This successful development project, which demonstrates the potential of magnesium alloys of high mechanical properties and highly considerable weight saving, may lead to many innovative solutions in the automobile industry and may increase the awareness for weight-saving potential of magnesium," says Amon Wirthiem, managing director for Ortal Diecasting.

The cast design does not require insertion and riveting of the teeth rack, a major time savings. Since riveting was not necessary, the roof bracket can be cast with AZ91D which features superior casting properties and is less expensive.

Ortal Diecasting was founded in 1973 in Kibbutz Neve Ur in the Beit She'an Valley in northern Israel and initially focused on the manufacture of zinc die-cast parts. In 1995, the company added magnesium die-cast parts and Ortal now die casts about 2,000 tons of magnesium per year, primarily for the automobile and aircraft markets.

The first place for wrought product design was awarded to Posco of Seoul, South Korea for a train seat pedestal cover used in the KTX express train. It replaces a cover made of aluminum and FRP (fiber-reinforced plastic) materials. The magnesium components are five kilograms lighter and cost up to 10 percent less.

Source : http://www.designnews.com/article/316574-Magnesium_Award_Winners_Show_Auto_Potential.php

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Monday, July 27, 2009

Lexus convertible lures new breed

Prestige open-top motoring just got more affordable. Now for the waiting list...

The Lexus IS250C may be designed to make the most of clear blue skies, but it's set to cause a storm. The Japanese maker's most affordable droptop since the $174,000 SC430 flagship - and first challenger to the hugely popular BMW 3 Series convertible - went on sale in Australia this week, but the first two month's allocation of cars has sold out. Little wonder: the price of the Lexus range ends where the German rivals start.

The starting price for a BMW 3 Series convertible is $97,121 plus dealer charges and on-road costs; for the Mercedes-Benz CLK convertible it's $103,689. But the starting price of the Lexus is almost $20,000 less than the competition. As reported earlier this month, there are three models in the IS250C line-up, ranging from $79,900 to $99,900 plus dealer charges and on-road costs.

It seems the drop-top Lexus has already made an impact, with the company claiming four out of every five orders received so far being made by customers who've never bought a Lexus before. "We've seen a number of Porsche Boxsters traded-in, as well as the usual European brands," says the boss of Lexus Australia, John Roca.

"This car has really taken us by surprise. The demand has been pretty much instant and we're getting seriously worried about how we'll be able to meet demand. "To get customers who are new to the brand is really important to us, because it gives us a chance for more people to have the Lexus customer experience."

It's a good thing summer is still a few months away. Order a new Lexus IS250C convertible today and you may just be able to take delivery before the start of the open-top season.

Source : http://www.carsales.com.au/news/2009/prestige-and-luxury/lexus/lexus-convertible-lures-new-breed-15995

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Sunday, July 26, 2009

Hi-tech AV systems make the trip

WHILE car makers have continued their focus on comfortable driving by using the latest in intelligent systems such as car safety and personal security, entertainment is one aspect that is gaining traction through digital lifestyle gadgets and accessories.

Volvo, for example, is targeting its newly launched XC60 at those who demand design, brand integrity and hi-tech content in their lifestyle product.

Audio-wise, the LE model of the XC60 lets the driver and passengers enjoy a worldclass audio system that features 12 Dynaudio loudspeakers and an amplifier with Dolby Pro Logic II Surround delivering 130 watts x 5.

Sound can be optimised to suit three situations - the driver's seat, front seat and rear seat - and controlled from the steering wheel, centre console or rear-seat audio console.

The audio system can play MP3 and WMAformat CDs, which means that the CD changer can store a few hundred tracks.

"Beneath the front central armrest is an auxiliary input for connecting the owner's equipment such as a portable MP3 player. A USB port is also available to make it possible to plug in an iPod, MP3 player or USB," says Volvo Car Asia-Pacific's regional network and product manager Akhtar Sulaiman.

But everybody don't have to listen to the same music. In the rear-seat audio console, there are two sockets for personal headphones, so passengers can adjust the volume and choose between musical sources and playlists.

Source :http://technu.nst.com.my/Monday/CoverStory/20090726175307/Article

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Saturday, July 25, 2009

2010 Ford Mustang GT: Good thing made better

Ford caught its competitors flat-footed with the introduction of the retro-styled 2005 Mustang, which was an immediate hit and reinvigorated the sagging "pony car" market. The Mustang's success didn't escape the attention of General Motors and Chrysler executives, who figured they had some retro pony cars in their portfolio, too. So we got a new-old Chevrolet Camaro and Dodge Challenger.

Hearing the rumble of those approaching hoofbeats, Ford countered by engineering the first major makeover of the current Mustang since it was introduced. Although at first glance it may not look that different, the 2010 Mustang's body shares only the roof with the 2009 model.

While the exterior was streamlined, the interior received a substantial update, too. Nothing dramatic inside, but it's comfortable, nicely done, and even on the base models, looks and feels upscale.

Under the hood, the two engine choices remain the 4.0-liter V-6, and the 4.6-liter V-8 for the GT model. The V-6 has 210 horsepower, and the V-8 received a modest bump to 315 horsepower. Both are offered with manual or automatic transmissions.

Source : http://www.orlandosentinel.com/business/orl-subiztest-drive-072609072609jul26,0,4858859.column

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Friday, July 24, 2009

Toyota Said to Decide to Shut Down Car Factory in California

July 24 (Bloomberg) - Toyota Motor Corp. will shut a California auto-assembly plant that operated as a joint venture with General Motors Corp. for 25 years, the first time Japan's largest carmaker has closed a factory at home or abroad, according to two people familiar with its plan.

The company will negotiate the timing of the closing with Motors Liquidation Co., an entity responsible for the disposal of the assets GM shed in bankruptcy, said the people yesterday. They declined to be identified because the information wasn't public.

A collapse in U.S. auto sales to their lowest since 1976 has left Toyota, the world's largest automaker, struggling to keep North American plants running at capacity and avoid factory closings and job cuts. GM in June said it would end assembly of Pontiac Vibes at New United Motor Manufacturing Inc., known as Nummi, and quit the venture as part of its reorganization.

"Without GM's volume the plant is simply not cost effective," said Aaron Bragman, an analyst at IHS Global Insight Inc. in Troy, Michigan. "They have other facilities that could easily accommodate the production that's there."

Bragman said that should the plant close, it would mark a shift for Toyota because the automaker typically doesn't "respond to changes in the market on a short term."

For more information : http://www.bloomberg.com/apps/news?pid=newsarchive&sid=av8xtgwsA8_I

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Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Newport Convertible Engineering Topping Off Production of First 2010 Camaro Convertible

PLACENTIA, California - We're not sure where a convertible version of the 2010 Chevrolet Camaro ranks on General Motors' post-bankruptcy to-do list, but like affordable health care, another long promised government-administered product, odds are it's a long way off.

Not to worry all you Camaro fans eager for al fresco driving, because we got our first peek at Newport Convertible Engineering's latest project - a ragtop version of the 2010 Camaro. NCE has a 24-year history of engineering convertible concept cars for big automakers along with bespoke conversions of exotics and luxury cars. Its bread and butter comes from producing convertible versions of cars such as the Chrysler 300, Cadillac CTS, Hummer H2 and Toyota FJ Cruiser.

Every year, NCE targets a new model to showcase at the annual SEMA show and other auto shows. Following up on the popularity of last year's Dodge Challenger convertible, NCE decided that Chevrolet's new muscle car would be a prime candidate for going topless.

We'll have the world's first road test of the SEMA-bound Camaro convertible prototype very shortly, but we couldn't wait to give you a sneak preview of the car in its final stages of production. The orange SS model survived the top surgery basically intact, other than sacrificing a bit of backseat hiproom to allow space for the top mechanism. The windshield frame, rockers and the area from the rear of the door opening to the backside of the trunk are now reinforced.

Source : http://www.edmunds.com/insideline/do/News/articleId=153254

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Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Vauxhall Astra (2009) - first interior photos

Vauxhall has released the first interior pictures of the new sixth-generation Astra, showing that the inside of the five-door hatch has been heavily influenced by the bigger Insignia's.

The architecture broadly follows that of the Insignia, with (at least in top-spec models) a high-set sat-nav system, sitting above the audio and air-con controls and flanked by the central air vents. The air vents themselves are more angular than the items you'll find in the Insignia, and the dash itself also appears more upright. Other differences include much more sweeping door handles and a different location for the electronic handbrake.

If the overall ambience and quality of the materials in the Insignia are anything to go by, the new interior of the sixth-gen Astra should mark a big step forward over the current car.

Source : http://www.carmagazine.co.uk/News/Search-Results/First-Official-Pictures/Vauxhall-Astra-2009-first-interior-photos

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Monday, July 20, 2009

SmartTOP Roof Top Control for Audi A3 Convertible

Mods4cars, the southern California based specialist in high-end electronics for convertible top and remote controls, announced the release of their latest "SmartTOP" comfort roof top control for the new Audi A3 convertible. Customers are now able to raise and lower their convertible top at the touch of a button while driving at low speed or remoteley using their factory key fob.

The new T-Adapter saves 50% installation time. The adapter is included at no extra cost. It allows an simple plug-and-play installation of the SmartTOP module without the need to remove single contacts from the plug. Also, the original condition can easily be restored in seconds.

The SmartTOP-A3 offers plenty of customizable, useful features, in one easy to install product.

This unique comfort controller can be installed by anyone with the help of the detailed installation manual. Installation requires little electronic skills and only standard tools. No soldering! The module comes with all wires and parts needed. No need for extra key fobs. All remote features are activated with the original key remote.

Source : http://www.pr.com/press-release/147988

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Sunday, July 19, 2009

Volkswagen's Latest Special Edition- New Beetle Convertible "Blush"

Volkswagen of America, Inc. has long been known for offering special edition models with unique characteristics that create excitement in showrooms and individuality among owners. Volkswagen's latest special edition, the New Beetle convertible "Blush", builds on the already great features of the standard version with added elements and design cues that are exclusive to this limited edition.

The special edition 2009 New Beetle convertible "Blush" features an exclusive exterior and interior color not offered on the standard version. An elegant metallic White Gold paint on the exterior nicely compliments the rich red leather interior, and red convertible top that gives this limited edition its namesake. The "Blush" edition is the only current New Beetle convertible available with genuine leather seating surfaces. Other unique features include a red boot for when the convertible top is down, and unique17-inch alloy wheels.

Like the New Beetle and New Beetle convertible the "Blush" edition features a 2.5L engine that produces 150 horsepower, and 170 lbs.ft. of torque. The "Blush" edition comes with a six-speed automatic transmission, and like all 2009 Volkswagen's Electronic Stabilization Program comes standard.

Source : http://www.autoracingdaily.com/news/other-motorsports/volkswagens-latest-special-edition-new-beetle-convertible-blush/

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Thursday, July 16, 2009

Still darting around in a 1965 Dodge

On March 3, 1965, Frank Chappell went to a San Francisco car dealer with the intention of buying a new Rambler. He had done his homework and decided that was the car for him.

There were no Ramblers on the dealer's lot that suited him, so the salesman suggested they take a look at some Dodge cars on the second floor of the garage.

Mr. Chappell said, "I saw the Dodge Dart GT convertible with the top down and I was hooked."

The ivory-colored Dodge was one of a combined total of 45,118 Dart coupes and convertibles manufactured that model year. This particular Dart GT was equipped with the smallest V-8 engine offered, a 273-cubic-inch power plant that produces 180 horsepower.

When Mr. Chappell first saw the 2,795-pound car resting on its 111-inch wheelbase he thought it was either a small big car or a big small car. The base price was $2,628.

"It's a five-seater," he said. "It's really beautiful with the top down." Mr. Chappell loves to go cruising in the city with his Dodge filled with delighted friends.

The clean lines of the Dodge remain as stylish today as they were 40 years ago. The well-equipped Dodge Dart has power brakes, power steering and a power-operated convertible top. Mounted in the dashboard is a push-button AM/FM radio.

A heater under the dashboard is provided to knock off the San Francisco chill. Unusual for mid-1960s era convertibles is factory-installed air conditioning.

For more information : http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2009/jul/17/on-march-3-1965-frank-chappell-went-to-a-san-franc/

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Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Last new model an epitaph for Pontiac

The just-introduced - and just-canceled.- Pontiac Solstice coupe is already assured a place in automotive history, and not only because its fleeting production run lasted mere months.

This new targa-top Solstice is the last of the Pontiacs, the final breath of a brand that failed to adapt to a changing world. Once-proud Pontiac is being phased out by General Motors, its parent, and will be gone in 2010. The Solstice coupe, a fixed-roof variation of the 4-year-old roadster, is Pontiac's last new model.

It could become something of a collector's item.

"We expect that total production will be in the neighborhood of 1,100 units when we cease operations at the Wilmington plant by the end of July," Jim Hopson, a Pontiac spokesman, wrote in an e-mail message. All Solstice coupes will have sequential ID numbers, so owners will know exactly which car of the 1,100 they have.

The coupe I tested was the hot GXP version, which comes with a 260-horsepower 4-cylinder engine. Its window sticker of $31,045 created an expectation of polish and comfort that I felt, considering the price, it failed to deliver.

Here is a car that essentially matches my definition of a doomed romance. Its drop-dead gorgeous exterior made me yearn for a fling that would turn meaningful, but a week of companionship revealed a list of quirks that included nearly every imaginable character flaw. A love-hate relationship, I suppose, was inevitable.

The spartan cabin, finished in unrelenting black on my test car, was especially noteworthy: I believe it could be the first automotive interior styled entirely by an accounting department. The only minimum-security prison I have ever visited (honest, it was only to interview an inmate) had more luxurious appointments.

The seats are tolerable, but neither supportive nor particularly adjustable - there is no place else for them to go in the cramped cockpit. Plus-size drivers should shop elsewhere.

There is virtually no convenient storage - no handy place for a cell phone, no bin to hold coins, no storage in the enormous console, no cubbies or map pockets in the doors. But there is a slit along the door sill, long enough and wide enough for a package of Slim Jim jerky.

Read more: http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2009/07/12/BUFQ18ITIC.DTL#ixzz0LOWARdRK

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Monday, July 13, 2009

Sun setting on Pontiac Solstice Coupe before it rises

When General Motors rolled out the Pontiac Solstice during the 2004 North American International Auto Show with the incomparable Bob Lutz at its helm, the convertible was a revelation. GM had finally built a viable sports car, we thought, with swoopy lines and a low centre of gravity, big wheels and tires, a nice 2.4L I-4, stirred by a 5-speed stick and rear-wheel drive. Yeah, it had all the right stuff.

Rushed to market, the end product was slightly less than the sum of its parts. Quality control was iffy, top operation was difficult and trunk space, to be kind, was negligible. Good looks sold the Solstice convertible - and its infinitely more attractive Saturn Sky doppelganger - but not much else.

The GXP model helped remedy a distinct power lag with its 2.0L turbocharged mill, but creature comforts and build quality continued to lag, particularly behind Mazda's benchmark MX-5 Miata convertible.

Now the whole of Pontiac is on the auction block and likely headed for the same place where Oldsmobile lives, in peoples' memories. The Pontiac Solstice convertible - and the coupe introduced at the 2008 New York Auto Show - are symptoms of how GM has forgotten its core product and why it is going away.

For more information : http://www.vancouversun.com/cars/setting+Pontiac+Solstice+Coupe+before+rises/1786624/story.html

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Sunday, July 12, 2009

Topsy turvy

Why are the rear rollover protection bars of the new Lexus IS 250C convertible shorter than the height of most seated adults?

Through an interpreter, project general manager Keiichi Yoneda gave a few reasons. The car's A-pillars are strong, active pop-up rollover bars require more space and result in a smaller boot, and a car occupied with four people is unlikely to roll over.

As you can see, they are not very convincing answers.

The real reason came to me when I took delivery of the test-car. With the roof up, those scalp-protecting hoops almost touch the top end of the rear windscreen. There is just no more space for bigger rollover bars.

Lexus may have mastered quality but evidently not design.

The IS-C is Lexus' first full four- seater convertible. It is also the first car with a foldable hard top that is designed and built in-house (the others commission specialist roof-makers to do the job). Alas, this first attempt has resulted in the aforesaid bar-roof conflict, not to mention impaired rear visibility. The folded roof also takes up a lot of boot space, leaving enough stowage for a golf bag and little else.

There are other things about the IS-C that make you go "hmmm". Its slab- sided styling is a tad yesterday, with a conservative front end that works well for the IS sedan it is based on but is downright boring for a topless car. The overall profile is pleasant but in this day and age, that is not quite enough. And the funky new colours, including purple and shocking metallic blue, do not suit the conservative shape.

Like I said, design does not seem to be Lexus' strong suit.

The car is well built otherwise and the Lexus hallmark of quality is evident everywhere. The roof's folding mechanism is both smooth and clever. If it senses the car is parked too close to a wall or if someone is standing too near the boot, the roof will not retract.

Source : http://motoring.asiaone.com/Motoring/Test%2BDrive/Story/A1Story20090713-154305.html

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Thursday, July 9, 2009

Lexus prepares IS-F Convertible

The Japanese automaker Lexus currently offers a drop top variant for two of the models in their lineup. The first is the sport tourer SC430 and the other is the entry level IS, in both 250 and 350 power packages. No matter whether you choose the small displacement straight six or the 300 HP V6, the IS-C is a very fun car to drive. However, if speed is more your thing then Lexus has something in store for you.

Starting in 2011 the luxury automaker will add one more retractable hard top to the IS lineup. The high performance V8 powered IS-F will be available with an open air option. The IS-F Convertible will be powered by the same 5.0 Liter eight cylinder engine as the sedan version mated to the same eight speed automatic transmission. The ISF Convertible will compete directly with other models like the BMW M3 Convertible.

If you were waiting for some more good news about the wind in your hair Lexus experience then we have to apologize. The SC430 is on its way out and doesn't look like it will be replaced. Also, the proposed roadster version of the future LF-A super car doesn’t have a bright looking future either.

Source : http://www.topspeed.com/cars/convertible/ke144.html

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Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Retractable hard top seals deal for Mazda Miata

The Mazda MX-5, also known as the Mazda Miata, first appeared as a 1990 model during its wintry debut at the 1989 Chicago Auto Show. That seems like a long time ago. In the decades since, the Miata has become a favorite of enthusiasts, club racers and just about anybody who likes cute little convertibles.

The original Miata caused a stir because back in those days there was a dearth of affordable, two-seat, rear-wheel-drive convertibles. Memories of drop-tops sourced from Great Britain were fresher in the nation's collective memory, so many saw the new Mazda as an automotive reincarnation in the spirit of the Triumph Sprite or MG Midget.

Of course, for anyone who owned one of those English gems, the fond memories were highly selective. Compared to the entirely modern and trouble-free Miata, the old Brit cars were as sophisticated as an anvil - but not nearly so reliable.

And they leaked: from the engines, from the transmissions, from the differentials, from the windshields and from the back light. Neither you nor your garage floor was ever guaranteed being dry.

Since 1990, Mazda has carefully polished the Miata/MX-5 to be a gem of a little car. The most recent update came for the 2009 model year. The most noticeable changes were to the resculpted front end that rid the little car of a guppy-like face. The more aggressive fenders Mazda first sculpted into its RX-8 have found a new home. There's a deeper air intake up front, flanked by reshaped headlamps and foglamps. Lightweight 16- and 17-inch wheels are new for 2009 as well.

Inside, the open cockpit is surprisingly roomy for such a small car. The MX-5's new seats provide good long-distance comfort, while the center console provides useful storage space. Pop the trunk in the Miata to find enough room for a couple duffel bags - about 5.3 cubic feet - enough for a weekend getaway.

Speaking of tops, my 2009 Mazda MX-5 tester had the power-retractable hard top (first available in 2007). This stands out as a best-of-both-worlds feature. It quickly motors up and down in a no-fuss manner. When shut, it provides fixed-roof interior quietness and weather sealing.

Source : http://searchchicago.suntimes.com/autos/news/1648036,070209-mazda-miata.article

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Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Soft-top Fiat 500C unveiled at the 2009 Geneva Motor Show

The new Fiat 500C with its fabric roof was unveiled for the first time at the 2009 Geneva Motor Show - a car that pays homage to the original 1957 Fiat 500, that offers innovative solutions in terms of mechanical design, engine and comfort & safety.

The introduction of a soft top does not hinder the winning characteristics such as its four comfortable seats and boot capacity; it simply adds a new feature that heightens enjoyment. With its clever system of parallelogram hinges, it enables the driver easier access to the boot.

Another strong feature is that thorough aerodynamic research means that the turbulence experienced with the roof open has been reduced to a minimum, allowing the driver and passenger's full enjoyment of the fresh air.

The Fiat 500c can be enjoyed the whole year round; its features make it one of the most successful convertibles in the modern car segment. The elegant soft top is electrically controlled and has impressive technical features from the glass rear window to the third brake light built into the top itself. Available in three colours (ivory, red and black), the top is matched with various paint finishes which include three ad-hoc creations: a pearlescent Ragamuffin Red, a Tech House Grey so typical of sporty super cars, and Goth-Metal Blue (the latter available for the whole range).

The interior includes faux leather upholstery and an extensive list of market dependent standard and optional features such as: an automatic climate control to the innovative Interscope HiFi System, from the Blue&Me Map portable navigation unit to the smart wind-stop, and from the 'start&stop' system to the new collection of custumisable options.

For more information : http://www.independent.com.mt/news.asp?newsitemid=90715

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Monday, July 6, 2009

2010 Ford Mustang GT Convertible

The 2010 Mustang has been nipped and tucked to keep it contemporary. With the exception of the fastback roofline on the coupe, the sheet metal is all new - everything from the headlights and front fascia to the fenders and stronger "powerdome" hood. The tail end is also more angular. The changes are wide ranging but are still subtle in nature.

The upgrades to the cabin are more recognizable and certainly more appreciated. The new one-piece, soft-touch dash panel and better trim accents are now a match for the rest of the cabin. The heated leather front seats are comfortable and the new centre stack is eminently logical and now features larger buttons. The stack's centerpiece, GT style, is the loud and proud Shaker 500 audio system - it blasts 500 watts of superior sound through eight well-placed speakers. With the top down, which entails releasing the header latches and holding a button for a few seconds, the Shaker out-booms those really annoying little vroom-and-boom puddle-jumpers and the awful racket the usually young driver considers music. Nice.

The test car also arrived with Ford's Sync system and something called MyColor. The former eases the chore of communicating with the outside world (the hands-free cellphone feature is a snap to pair) and it allows the driver to control the audio system simply by talking to it. The latter lets the driver personalize the interior lighting. Everything from the classy gauge cluster and its backlighting to the ambient cabin lighting can be customized. It is a nifty way of letting the owner stamp his or her mark on the car without resorting to garish add-ons (no more fuzzy dice!).

For more information : http://www.calgaryherald.com/Cars/Road+Test+2010+Ford+Mustang+Convertible/1709371/story.html

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Sunday, July 5, 2009

Free-spirited Mini Cooper S convertible a joy ride

We've found that not only is the Mini cute and cuddly, but also that its owners will come back carried on their shields defending the coupe made by BMW. And now, having tested the 2009 convertible version, the soft top is even cuter and cuddlier than the hardtop, though still a tad snug. Just don't tell that to those who own them because there's nothing mini about their rancor. We tested the Cooper S convertible, the higher-performance version with a 1.6-liter, 172-horsepower turbocharged 4-cylinder; the regular version has a 1.6-liter, 118-h.p. 4, hold the turbo.

The Cooper S is a blast, especially with the top down. And when down it lays along the deck lid behind the rear seat - and the roll bars that deploy automatically when needed - and doesn't fill the surprisingly ample trunk. Taking in the sights with the top down is so much fun, BMW includes an "openometer" gauge in the dash at no extra charge to record the amount of minutes and hours spent with the wind in your hair - and whether it's time to add more sunscreen.

The top is novel in that the front portion is a traditional power sunroof. For full exposure, hold the button and the whole thing retracts quickly - 15 seconds, according to BMW, though our unscientific timepiece suggested a second or two faster. Open-air noise levels are more than tolerable, and there's no slapping or flapping when the top's up.

The openometer is part of the fun BMW promotes with the convertible, which its Web site insists should be left down unless "passengers have frostbite" or when "motoring through locust swarms of Biblical proportions."

For more information : http://www.chicagotribune.com/classified/automotive/chi-rides-mateja-mini-0705jul05,0,1909999.column

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Thursday, July 2, 2009

2010 Lexus IS 350C

Based on the current-generation of IS series sport sedans, the 2010 Lexus IS C (or Convertible) expands an already impressive line-up with not one but two models that deliver top-down driving pleasure for the performance-minded luxury enthusiast.

They get the same 2.5-and 3.5-litre V6 powerplants as their four-door counterparts, which are good for 204 hp and 185 lb.-ft. in the IS 250C, and 306 hp with 277 lb.-ft. of torque in the IS 350C. The 250 gets a six-speed manual transmission or six-speed automatic with paddle shifter, while the more powerful IS C comes only with the paddle-shifting auto.

Both new models have many of the features and amenities Lexus customers have come to expect in their cars - leather surfaces, seating for four, multi-info display, automatic climate control, Lexus premium audio, tire pressure monitoring, a vehicle dynamics integrated management system (VDIM) and more.

A host of electric motors and sensors transform the sleek two-door coupe into a sporty luxury roadster in just 20 seconds at the push of a button. Simply push it once and the top neatly and quietly tucks itself into the trunk while maintaining space for at least one set of golf clubs.

The three-panel lightweight aluminum hardtop required a more rigid body structure all around, which results in a very responsive ride. Besides new fore and aft floor bracing, other areas that received modifications or additions include the rocker panels, lower A and B pillars and side cross members.

Lexus also revisited the issue of NVH (noise, vibration and harshness) on the convertibles, succeeding in keeping IS sedan-like levels via the use of various sound-deadening materials throughout and improved engine/suspension mount bushings.

The interior is lovely and comfortable, but to ensure appropriate access to the rear seats, the doors on the IS convertible are a full foot longer than sedan models. Much like the folding roof, a switch on each front seat (next to the headrest) automatically moves the seat to allow easy backseat access.

The driving position fits my 5'10" frame very well with the seat neither too wide nor too narrow. The interior has a nice wraparound feel to it with the tops of the doors rising to just above shoulder height. All controls are easily reachable and visibility was never an issue for me. Weather permitting, the top completely disappears from sight making it possible to forget this car even has one.

Precise and linear steering leads to predictable handling and well-balanced cornering. Acceleration is strong and gear shifts are virtually imperceptible. The ride is sprung comfortably, which is what interested buyers will want.

Those who want more can have it too as Lexus now offers a spread of 'F-Sport" performance accessories to add a bit more oomph and some personal style. Items like 19-inch forged wheels, intake and exhaust, suspension systems and upgraded brakes can bolster either model with performance inspired by the track-ready 400+hp IS F.

Pricing for the IS 350C starts at $60,400. The IS 250C starts $8,300 below. Either model can be equipped with an optional navigation package. On the IS 250C, $2,400 more gets you a voice-activated HDD nav system and reverse camera. On the IS 350C it goes for $3,900, but you also get an amplified 12-speaker Mark Levinson premium audio system with six-disc DVD changer thrown in.

Source : http://www.brantfordexpositor.ca/ArticleDisplay.aspx?e=1637380

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Topsandseats is the exclusive place where you can shop your car's replacement soft tops, auto interior seat covers, and other related car accessories. With nearly 30 years of experience we have become the premier online source when searching for automotive tops and interior products. Our success and longevity is directly the result of satisfying the needs of our customers through a wide range of products with unbeatable quality, attentive service and highly competitive prices.

Copyright © 2007-2008 TopsandSeats.com Copyright © 2005-2010 TopsandSeats.com