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The Mercedes-Benz CLS four-door driving spotlight

The shooting break (yes, it's 'break,' not 'brake', according to M-B's marketers) design isn't something new – we've seen it before in smaller vehicles like the original BMW Z3 M Coupe. Today, though, Mercedes-Benz takes the shooting break concept one step further with the addition of two rear doors and a healthy dose of next-generation style. It's the CLS Shooting Break Concept, folks. Think of this as the four-door coupe for the wagon segment.

The exterior design is awash with swoopy shapes that mimic both coupe and hatchback/wagon elements. Full LED headlamps and sharp 20-inch wheels round off the whole outside package, and if we're honest, we really like it.

Under the hood lies a direct-injected 3.5-liter V6 capable of producing 306 horsepower and 273 pound-feet of torque (the exact same output as a Cadillac CTS, for what it's worth). Mercedes-Benz hasn't released estimates, but the automaker says that the concept car "sets new standards among the competition in terms of fuel consumption."

Scroll through our gallery below to see live shots of the CLS Shooting Break Concept direct from the floor of the Beijing Motor Show.

Gallery: Beijing 2010: Mercedes-Benz Shooting Break concept

Gallery: Mercedes-Benz CLS Shooting Break Concept

BMW 550i Grand Touring 2010

The notion of a premium hatchback — a car like the BMW 550i Gran Turismo in my driveway this week — has never been an easy sell to Americans. Lift-backs are low-buck rides, the Ford Escorts and Dodge Omnis of the world, right? And there's not much doubt that that given a bit more financial reach, most of the people who buy such cars would opt up to a traditional two-door coupe, sedan, or SUV if they could (though surely not a wagon, a body style that remains about as stylish in the States as orthopedic shoes).

The 5-series GT is an odd creation; pictures of it are proof enough of that. It's a lot like the Honda Accord Crosstour — just like it, really, only a few rungs higher up the market. It's derived from the 5-series, but shares remarkably little with the sedan, looks-wise. And it's big. The first time I sat in the car, it seemed to me a whole like more 7-series GT than 5-series GT. But despite its size, it defiantly seats only four, with a dramatic center console between rear seats that (in my test vehicle) feature heating and cooling.

BMW bills the GT as sort of an SUV antidote, but I haven't quite figured out what about it is better or easier to live with than the company's own SUVs — okay, SAVs. The fuel economy is godawful: I got about 16 mpg on a long highway run. And cargo capacity seems only so-so: less than the cheaper 5-series wagon, and less than the more versatile X5 and X6. I am amused by that wacky hatch, though, which opens as a quasi-trunk lid or a full-on lift back. Crazy.

Dynamically, I have to agree with reviewers who complained about limited wheel travel and some unfortunate damping characteristics, factors seemed particularly pronounced on the cobblestone streets in my neighborhood. I also had a hard time finding the GT all that quick. Four hundred horsepower is terrific, really, but when the car tips the scales at 4938 pounds, every one of those ponies has its work cut out for it. Actually, 4938 pounds is the GT's standard curb weight; my car's $21,000 in options (bottom line: $85,000, up from a base price of $63,900) doubtless added a couple hundred more.

That said, weight may be the enemy on the racetrack, but it's a very fine friend on the Interstate. The GT is an absolute dream at (and well above) highway speeds: supremely quiet and never less than utterly composed. The iDrive system has come a long way, as well, and though there's still a few too many twists, clicks, and nudges for true user-friendliness, it's world's better than the version I remember from Automobile's 2003 Four Seasons BMW 745i, which we described as "frustrating, counterintuitive, goofy, clumsy, silly, PITA, convoluted, iGnorant, and — worst of all — distracting."

The aspects of the GT that really make me swoon are the way it's put together, the quality of the materials, and the dazzling implementation of advanced technology (to wit, that sensational 10.25-inch high-def display). Admittedly, a lot of what I enjoyed most about the car were parts included in that $21,000 in options. I wonder how I'd feel about a $64,000 550i Gran Turismo.

Yesterday, I drove my wife to our local Honda dealership for a closer look at the Accord Crosstour. Afterward, upon learning that the big BMW wasn't mine, a relieved look came over the salesman's face. "Yeah, that X6 sure is ugly," he said. I informed him that this car wasn't an X6, to which he replied, "You mean they made another one that looks like that?"

Alfa Romeo: what back in the US?

it seems Alfa Romeo finally will return to the U.S. in two years, bringing with it several cars that would compete with BMW and Volkswagen's Audi brand. Sergio Marchionne, chief executive of Fiat and Chrysler, said recently in a speech that he's increasingly confident that the struggling brand will be able to produce cars that are accepted globally, including in the U.S.
[2010 Alfa Romeo]
2010 Alfa Romeo
Alfa Romeo has been owned by Fiat since 1986. The brand was last sold here in 1995, ending its presence in the U.S. after years of declining quality and slow sales. An alliance with General Motors in the 1990s resulted in a planned return of the brand in 2003, but it never materialized and the partnership has since dissolved.

If the brand does return by 2012 as Marchionne said, Alfa Romeo's lineup of cars could be expanded, using platforms (the chassis, suspension and other key components on the underside of the body) now on Fiat and Chrysler cars. Chrysler and Italy's Fiat SpA formed an alliance after Chrysler emerged from bankruptcy in June 2009, giving Fiat a 20 percent controlling stake in Chrysler.

Among the new cars expected is a front-wheel-drive vehicle, called the Giulia that would replace the Alfa Romeo 159, which is currently sold only in Europe. The Giulia would be offered as a midsize sedan and a station wagon. The cars, built on Fiat-Chrysler platforms, would likely be manufactured in the U.S., beginning in mid-2012, according to reports by the industry magazine Automotive News. Introduced in 2005, the Alfa Romeo 159 is a compact sedan that comes with standard all-wheel drive and competes with the BMW 3 Series cars, which start at $33,150. Its 3.2-liter V-6 engine, which produces 260 horsepower, would most likely be used in the U.S. model.

A future, full-size sedan would likely be built on the Chrysler 300C platform. It would be considered the replacement for the Alfa Romeo 166, which was discontinued in 2007. Like the 300C, the Alfa Romeo full-size sedan would be a rear-wheel-drive car. It would likely be sold in the U.S. beginning in 2013.

The next year will be a telling one for the future of Alfa Romeo in the U.S., and as a brand in general. Fiat's plan to return the brand to the U.S. could be helped immensely by its Chrysler partnership, improving Alfa Romeo's technology, manufacturing and dealer infrastructure. But to become a competitor of BMW and Audi in the U.S. as well as Europe, it needs to be more successful as a brand.

Much of that success is riding on the launch of its newest model, the Giulietta, a five-door hatchback being introduced next month at the Geneva Motor Show. It will compete with the Volkswagen Golf, which starts at $17,620. The company is expecting to use the model to nearly double its annual sales, with plans to sell about 100,000 Giuliettas annually. If that happens, Fiat will be in a much better position to bring its Alfa Romeo brand back to U.S. soil.

Auto Finance Basics

There happens to be a lot of different things that people do not understand when it comes to getting yourself a new vehicle whether it is through leasing it or buying it, it still requires some information to know how it really does work. The thing that you should keep in mind the most is that a car dealership does not typically finance a car lease or a loan but in turn they will most definitely have some sort of impact on how much you will end up paying on your car financing.
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One good thing to keep in mind is that a car dealership will always sell you a vehicle for cash in hand. These people are third party businesses that have purchased a franchise from one or multiple different car makers in order to sell the vehicles. They do not work for these car makers and always work for themselves. It is important to realize that the dealers buy these cars themselves usually through the use of a very large loan through a bank or another type of financial institution and as a result they are also charged rates of interest on these auto finances. They then need to sell the cars off in order to pay off their initial loans as well as all of the other associated costs that come with running a car dealership.

Dealers will always get cash for a vehicle that they sell to someone, it could either come from the consumer himself, or some other financial institution that has loaned out the finances to a consumer in order to purchase the vehicle of their choice through an auto loan. People are usually under the misconception that they will be able to get a discount or a better deal if they pay for a vehicle in cash but this is not the case because they in fact will make more from raised interest rates and commissions if you go about financing the vehicle itself.

When a car dealership sells a vehicle to a consumer he will usually push onto them the typical bank or financial institution that they have working with them in order to get their financing settled. A lot of these dealerships will use some of the more well known and major financial institutions that have special deals with the car makers if you do not already have one and you would be paying an additional premium for that luxury. As a consumer however, you have the ability to bring on your own car financing company if you would like to. The point of stating this is to make it perfectly clear to you that a car dealership does not finance a loan to a consumer at all. They will not process the loans or even take payments on the loans themselves, all they will do is take the application papers that you fill out and will try to arrange some sort of financing with companies that they usually work with for a small fee.

Now a dealer could go about checking your credit history, but this is not for the purposes of getting you the consumer auto loan but is done in order to figure out quickly whether or not the consumer would even be capable of getting a vehicle or if they have any serious credit issues that are currently outstanding. The dealer is not the financial institution and is unable to approve you the consumer for a loan. The financial institution that the dealership forwards your filled out application to will do their own set of credit history checks as well as check out your past payment history and your overall debt to income ratio. This check is a lot more well done then what a dealer could possibly do so if you happen to have a dealer check out your credit and tell you that you are alright, they really may not have any idea at all so keep this in mind as well.

When the financial institution is done checking out your credit worthiness you will be classified in one of three types which are prime, near prime, and sub prime. Prime means that you have a great credit profile and have a higher score usually above six hundred and eighty; as a result of this you will be offered the best possible interest rates on your loan. Near prime usually will fall around the six hundred and twenty to the six hundred eighty mark and will usually mean that you could pay as much as four or so percent more than someone that has a prime score. If you happen to be below that and are considered to be sub prime then you are going to have some issues with finding a lending institution that will be willing to give you a auto loan and when you do end up finding a good one the rate of interest you will be paying is going to be very high.

You should also be aware that a car dealership has the ability to change the rate of interest that you would be paying on your auto finance. One of the types of hidden fees that some shady car dealerships will try to include to consumers when they purchase or lease a vehicle is to mark it up so that your interest rate is increased regardless of your good credit score. This sort of markup can go up as much as two percent on your overall rate of interest and this particular markup of your interest rate will never be mentioned on any document that you would ever be signing. The car dealership will say that this increase can be considered justifiable because it helps them cover the cost of getting the consumer the financing they need but it is just additional profit or is used to make up for something they may have given to you somewhere else in the car deal. The most a car dealership is legally allowed to mark up your interest rate is by two and a half percent.

Something that a lot of people will ask when they go about getting a new car or vehicle is whether or not they are able to negotiate for their own rate of interest. In a lot of these situations you will not be able to negotiate the base rate of interest that a lending institution gives to you but you will be able to try and haggle down the markup that a car dealership tries to give to you. You should know that though some car dealerships practice this shady act not all of them take part in it. You should also realize that the better credit profile that you have the better rate of interest you will receive over all from the financial institution. So knowing what your credit profile looks like and shopping around on the internet is of the best things you can do for yourself before even ever walking into a car dealership.

Even if a car dealership does check your credit it really does not matter and this is a mistake that most people think occurs. Just because they said it looks good on their end it does not mean it is a done deal for you. When a consumer buys or leases a new vehicle with auto finance they will usually sign papers that state that they agree to purchase the vehicle using funds that are provided to them through a financing company and if they are not approved by the company the deal itself is considered nulled and voided unless they are able to secure another way of financing. Once this is done the car dealership is in no way again involved in the monthly repayment of the loan itself and is no longer responsible for it.

If you happen to have poor credit and come across problems trying to get approved for a vehicle because of your past payment history or debt to income ratio there are still a couple of things that you can do in order to get yourself that car of your dreams. Often times a co signer will allow you to get a vehicle without much of a problem. Other times a financial institution will ask for a large down payment to offset the high amount of risk that you have shown to them through your credit history. This will usually allow you to keep the same monthly payments while having the overall cost of the vehicle to go up. Even if a dealer lets you drive away with the car if the bank or financial company comes back to them denying the loan application the vehicle still will legally belong to them and they will require you to return it regardless of anything that you could have signed originally.

So when it comes down to it you should always know what your personal credit profile and score is before even walking into a car dealership just to make sure that you will not be startled when something goes down later on. The next thing you should do is to shop around for a good auto loan that is flexible for all situations online before going into a car dealership so that you are prepared with money in hand in order to make sure that the car you are buying is yours and not the dealers. There are many different places to do this online and getting multiple quotes from different companies will allow you to find the best possible deal regardless of your credit history and situation.

use a trusted financial

ACF Car Finance is the UK's leading sub-prime car dealer, specialising in helping customers with poor credit ratings to buy the car they want with the finance they need to buy it. If you've been refused credit before, contact us today and see if we can help you. Alternatively, if you don't require car credit, you're still welcome to visit your nearest branch to view the wide range of cars offered for sale.
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With ACF Car Finance you'll be able to choose from a wide range of quality used cars, in a variety of makes and models.

If you choose ACF Car Finance you'll feel safe in the knowledge that all of our used cars are thoroughly checked. Every used car that we offer for sale comes with an independent MOT and is comprehensively examined as part of our 136 point vehicle quality inspection.
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To apply takes minutes, simply complete the short car finance application form online. Or if you prefer, you can call us free on 0800 280 2087† to apply over the phone. Once approved, you are invited to your nearest branch to choose a car and in most cases you can drive away the same day.

toyota new york and is a trusted national

we reported Wednesday on how New York Attorney General Andrew Cuomo negotiated certain arrangements for owners of recalled Toyota vehicles. Now it appears Toyota will extend those benefits nationwide.
In testimony before Congress, Yoshimi Inaba, Toyota's North American president and CEO of sales, said the arrangements made for owners in New York would be available to recalled vehicle owners everywhere in the country. Perhaps Toyota sensed a PR mess in the making by granting the accommodations just to one state.
Under the arrangement, Toyota will pick up and return the recalled vehicle, drive the customer to the dealership or his or her workplace and offer a rental or loaner car or taxi — all depending on the customer’s need. Toyota will then reimburse Toyota and Lexus dealers for the cost of providing these services.
Toyota gave no indication of what this program will cost, but it certainly does not sound cheap.
Toyota to Offer At-Home Pickup and Free Rental Cars During Recall Repairs (Associated Press)

luxury car the BMW 5 series sedan

Bayerische Motoren Werke (BMW) Indonesia launches All-New Series 5 to the Indonesian market today at the Fountain Area, Plaza Senayan, Jakarta. The car is the 6th generation of-five series whose sales reached 5.5 million units since its introduction 40 years ago. Appearances-Series 5 more exclusive because it experienced a total change in the body and interior design.

This time, BMW launched three variants simultaneously, namely 535i, 528i, and 523iExecutive. Third difference is in capacity and engine performance and interior complete plus other features. Last Friday, BMW 5-Series is also launching Gran Turismo (GT) to a limited circle in Jakarta.

The most luxurious version of the BMW 5-Series sedan is the 535i. He uses six-cylinder inline engine, TwinPower Turbo, 2979 cc. Meanwhile, the 532i uses a machine with a capacity of almost the same (larger 23 cc), ie without a turbo 2996 cc. The Executive 523i 2497 cc engine. (The complete data see table).

According to BMW, this car is the only car of the Series 5 and also in his class that uses automatic transmission with Steptronic speed 8. Comparison with the distance of the meeting, BMW hopes manufacture technology could improve the comfort for drivers and passengers. This transmission also makes gearshift went smoothly.

Interestingly enough, besides offering a white color for the exterior, the BMW also provides an interior color options on this 5 Series. Options that include dark (dark) and beige (biege) are bright. As for the dash of color remain black.

No less interesting, the interior appearance-5 Series adopts the latest lot of components and designs that previously used on the Series-7. In fact, the adoption of systems that include entertainment and stick model of the transmission.

According to Ramesh Divyanathan, BMW Indonesia President Director, Series-5 has a lot to adopt the latest components and features of-seven Series. 'Because of that, the interior, especially the leg room, wider than the previous 5-Series. For rear passengers, two LCD TVs are now available. That is proof that the Series 5 is more complete now, "he explained

Find Luxury car prices, safety ratings, rebates, specs, and Luxury car pricing in the Motor Trend new car buyer's guide. Select one of the 2010 2011 Luxury cars below to refine your search further.

Find Luxury car prices, safety
ratings, rebates, specs, and
Luxury car pricing in the
Motor Trend new car buyer's
guide. Select one of the 2010
2011 Luxury cars below to
refine your search further.