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“We’re still a six out of 10 in terms of product execution,” Ford of Europe Chairman and Chief Executive Officer David W. Thursfield told TheCarConnection during the roll-out of the automaker’s latest European products on Thursday. “We’ve got a long way to go, but a lot of things are coming. TCC has already shown the new Ford Streetka; Thursday morning’s unveiling revealed two additional vehicles, a three-door version of the Fiesta minicar, and the Sportka, a peppy version of the Ford’s little Ka microcar. It features a 1.6-liter, 95-horsepower engine. The automaker is coming close to completing a promise to roll out 45 new products over five years as part of its product-led European revival program

Ferrari Enzo :eek: too bad its 700k

Auto executives like to say they always like to produce one car short of demand. But what do you do when you receive a steady flow of complaints that you’ve more seriously shorted the potential market for your $700,000 sports car? In the case of the new Enzo, Ferrari’s fastest and most powerful road car ever, you crank up production from 349 to 399. But the Italian marque won’t have to worry about vehicles gathering dust at the dealer showroom. “We have already sold out all the cars,” announced Luca de Montezemolo, chairman of Ferrari-Maserati. “So on the day of the (public introduction), this car is no longer available.” Named for Ferrari’s legendary founder, the Enzo will churn out 650 horsepower, hit a top speed of 217 mph, and launch from a dead stop to 60 in 3.6 seconds.

New Bentley

Bentley finally pulled the covers off its long-awaited new sports coupe, branding the $150,000 vehicle the Continental GT. The name—and the new car’s styling—are meant to evoke memories of one of the most widely renowned Bentleys ever built, the 1952 Continental R. Expected to boast more than 500 horsepower when it reaches dealer showrooms next year, the Conti GT will have a lot riding on it. On January 1, Bentley officially splits off from its partner of 71 years; to be owned by BMW then, Rolls-Royce moves to a new plant near Southampton, while Bentley stays in the small British town of Crewe. Its new German parent, Volkswagen AG, has invested about $750 million in Bentley, according to the luxury marque’s CEO, Dr. Franz-Josef Paefgen, who previously served as chairman of VW’s Audi brand. About a third to one half less expensive than Bentley’s existing models, Paefgen nonetheless believes the buyers of the Continental will be “more demanding and discerning than we have seen before.” So the new sports coupe will require a higher level of technology, refinement and performance than older-style Bentleys.

Silver Jag

Jaguar staged a blinding debut of its new XJ on Thursday, rolling out a mirrored silver sedan designed to quite literally highlight the fact that the seventh-generation flagship is made of lightweight aluminum. In a slap at the much-maligned BMW 7-Series, Jaguar Managing Director Mike Beasley declared his company’s goal with the XJ is to “embrace relevant, state-of-the-art technology that helps, rather than baffles, the driver.” The lightest version of the new four-door is 440 pounds lighter than the last-generation XJ, meaning more performance from conventional engines. And that will allow Jaguar to bring back the old XJ6 nameplate, using a new, 3.5-liter V-6. Unlike the Audi A8, which is built around a complex spaceframe, the new Jaguar uses a relatively conventional monococque chassis and body, though instead of welding, most joints are riveted or glued together.

Porsche/VW Relations
The relationship between Porsche and Volkswagen appears to be souring just as the two companies prepare to launch the two new SUV/sports car crossover vehicles they jointly developed. Porsche led the project, and will sell its version under the Cayenne nameplate. VW will market its crossover as the Touareg. Both vehicles took their formal bows in Paris this week, generating plenty of interest and more than a bit of controversy. Their odd heritage is only part of the reason. Porsche insiders are clearly not pleased that VW is taking aim at their upscale niche, rather than taking Touareg down-market. “I’ve definitely got some competition,” complained Fred Schwab, president of Porsche Cars North America. “They should have seen it coming,” countered a VW exec, asking not to be mentioned by name. Referring to Porsche, he added that “Sometimes a company can get a bit myopic.”

GM's Hywire

General Motors took the unusual step of introducing one of its more unusual concept vehicles in Paris. Hy-Wire is short for both hydrogen and by-wire, the first part referring to the vehicle's hydrogen-powered fuel cell stack, the second half of the name refers to the drive-by-wire system that replaces conventional mechanical controls. There are no pedals in the unusually spacious cabin, just a videogame-style controller that puts steering, braking, shifting and throttle controls right at the driver's fingertips. And the controls can be moved to allow for both right- and left-hand-drive. All mechanical systems are located beneath the cabin floor in a chassis no more than 11 inches thick. And in GM's concept, the bodies could be quickly swapped out, allowing an owner to drive a coupe one day, an SUV the next. "This is a true reinvention of the automobile," declared the automaker's technology chief, Larry Burns. GM officials insist they are serious about putting Hy-Wire and other fuel cell vehicles into production, but likely not until late in the decade

BMW Z4 drooooooool

BMW introduced its new Z4 roadster, which boasts an angular new exterior style and another look at BMW’s ideas for future interior designs. The new design emphasizes the Z4’s long nose, giving it a profile reminiscent of the Aston Martin DB6. The car has extremely short front and rear overhangs. The new interior design, like the Z4’s exterior, emphasizes sharp lines and angles. The wide-opening doors make entry and exit considerably easier than in the Z3. The gauge package features a computer display for the trip computer in the speedometer. The tachometer houses smaller gauges for fuel and water temperature. The Z4, which BMW builds in Spartanburg, South Carolina, adds a one-touch power operated roof, which BMW says is the fastest-opening in its class. BMW also confirmed yesterday that it would expand the Z4’s production base in Greer, S.C., and spend $400 million to add more capacity and 400 more jobs
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