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Five for Friday: Five Thoughts About the Auto Industry for March 2, 2012

Benjamin Hunting
by Benjamin Hunting
March 2, 2012
3 min. Reading Time

It’s Friday once again, which means it’s time for another round of my Five For Friday: Five Thoughts about the Auto Industry for March 2, 2012. A convertible Scion FR-S, the BMW M135i, Volvo's plans to keep the Volvo V40 in Europe, the Kia K9 breaks cover and Land Rover builds a drop-top Range Rover Evoque - let’s look at my take on the most noteworthy and interesting automotive stories from the past week.

01. Convertible Scion FR-S In The Cards

Compact performance car fans might soon be able to get their hands on a rear-wheel drive drop-top that doesn't wear a Mazda badge. Autobild has published a report stating that a convertible edition of the Toyota GT86 has been tapped for production for the Japanese market. The GT86 is sold in the United States as the Scion FR-S, which makes it likely that Toyota's captive youth brand might be on the verge of offering it's very first open air automobile.

Those concerned with what removing the roof could do to the FR-S' handling dynamics can take heart in the fact that the car was designed as a convertible from the word go, meaning that flex should not be an issue. No word so far on whether Subaru will follow suit with a convertible edition of the BRZ.


02. BMW 1 Series Lineup Gains M135i Model

The current generation BMW 1 Series is on the verge of being replaced, and the German brand has elected to mark the occasion with a special M Performance edition of the new 1 Series hatchback. The model, dubbed the BMW M135i, continues with BMW's push to offer M-branded cars that aren't pure sports machines but rather quicker, tighter and flashier-looking builds of standard models.

According to Autoweek, power is expected to be in the 320 horse / 332 lb-ft of torque range from a 3.0-liter twin-turbo six-cylinder engine, and all-wheel drive will be offered as an option. The M135i is expected to accomplish the sprint to 60-mph in under five seconds, feature bigger brakes and come with a track-ready suspension system. No word on whether American drivers will be able to benefit from the special model, which debuts at the Geneva show in just a few weeks time.


03. No Plans To Import Next-Gen Volvo V40 To U.S.

Volvo would appear to be giving up on competing with other Euro-brands in the American small car market. Although the Volvo C30 will remain on sale, the new Volvo V40 hatchback will not be hitting Stateside showrooms in the near future, paving the way for the automaker to pare down its U.S. offerings even further. The Volvo V40 is not only loaded with safety technology - like all Volvos - but it also comes with a spirited 254 horsepower, turbocharged five-cylinder engine as well as a turbodiesel motor. The company expects to sell 85 percent of all Volvos to European customers.


04. Kia K9 Premium Sedan Drops Cover

I've discussed Kia's potential flagship sedan before, but photos for the Kia K9 have now become available. The Kia K9 is an elegant and visually quite large four-door automobile that shares much of its underpinnings with the Hyundai Genesis sedan. This means that the vehicle will most likely offer a 4.6-liter V-8 engine under the hood rather than the more exotic turbo V-6 that had made the rounds in show car versions of the vehicle.

Kia plans to export the K9 to markets outside of its native Korea (where Motor Trend reports the vehicle as going on sale later this quarter), and although the United States hasn't been explicitly spelled out as a destination the sedan will not make it to Europe in any form. This strongly suggests American sales are in its future.


05. Land Rover Chops Roof Off Of Range Rover Evoque

When Nissan introduced the Murano CrossCabriolet as a 2011 model the convertible crossover was met with puzzled stares, open amusement and much head scratching. Apparently the designers at Land Rover were not swayed by the varied reaction given the CrossCabriolet as the British SUV builder will be bringing the Land Rover Range Rover Evoque convertible to the Geneva motor show this month.

The topless Evoque can still seat four passengers, comes with a stowable roof mechanism that doesn't add any unsightly bulges to the vehicle's original design and is said by the Automotive News to be not much heavier than the standard Range Rover Evoque. The main question would again seem to be 'why,' but perhaps Land Rover feels that the compact dimensions of the Evoque make it a more acceptable candidate for a convertible conversion than the mid-size and definitely non-sporty Murano was.



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