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New York stars the apple of our eyes


AUDI

The much-anticipated second generation of the Audi TT Coupe made its public debut at this week's New York International Auto show. Audi Australia spokeswoman Anna Burgdorf says the new TT will be in showrooms here before the end of the year.

The new TT features Audi's new magnetic ride-damper system, which uses metal particles suspended in the damper oil and electric current to provide variable damping. The car is also longer and wider than its predecessor while retaining the sleek lines pioneered in the original TT Coupe.

DAIMLER CHRYSLER

Chrysler will unveil the stretched version of its popular 300C sedan. The extended wheelbase adds 150mm to the length while the rear seat environment has been enhanced with illuminated writing tables, more power outlets, footrests and custom-paint colours. Chrysler expects the 300C long wheelbase to attract interest from the limousine industry, as well as retail customers. Its arrival date in Australia is still uncertain.

DaimlerChrysler has also showcased the new Jeep Wrangler Unlimited, claimed by Jeep to be the most spacious ever offered. Also on the stand is the compact Jeep Patriot.

The Dodge Caliber will bring the Dodge badge back to Australia and will provide a second passenger stream for Chrysler. It will arrive in Australia for sale mid year. Dodge plans to release a new vehicle in Australia approximately every six months for the next three years.

MERCEDES

The mildly face-lifted E-Class with engine revamps will make its way to Australia in September or October. Other vehicles on display include the R-Class, which had its Sydney launch this week and G-Class, due in Australia in November.

HONDA

The next generation of the Honda MDX large four-wheel-drive, sold as Acura in the US, is on show as a concept car. It is expected to be a pointer to the production model that will go on sale in the US later this year.

Honda is not giving away much about the second-generation MDX model, which it says is designed, developed and will be built in North America. The current MDX started as a left-hand-drive-only model, but after sufficient lobbying, Honda agreed to build right-hand-drive models for Japan and Australia. Honda Australia says it doesn't know if the second-generation MDX will be made in right-hand-drive but hopes it will be.

It is keen to keep the prestige MDX in its line-up because the big crossover wagon, which is about the same size as a Ford Territory, added 829 sales to its tally last year.

SUZUKI

The Suzuki SX-4 – a joint Suzuki-Fiat enterprise – is set to be released to markets outside Europe in the coming months. Suzuki Australia will not officially commit the car to Australia but privately is understood to be anxious to add it to the marque's limited garage.

The latest generation of the large XL-7 will not make it to Australia with a decision having been taken last year to phase the model out of local sales.

FERRARI

Launched at the Geneva Motor Show, Ferrari's 599 GTB has embarked on its world tour. Described as the company's most powerful V12 production car, the innovative and technologically advanced performance star is expected to make its first appearance in Australia at the Sydney motor show in October.

MAZDA

Mazda has unveiled the CX-9, a seven-seat crossover sport-utility vehicle. Its arrival in Australia is still uncertain, with Mazda assessing the possibility of making the vehicle available in right-hand drive and getting it to market at a competitive price. Also on the stand – and confirmed for Australia – are the mid-sized crossover CX-7 and MazdaSpeed3 (badged as the Mazda3 MPS for Australia).

LEXUS

The LS600h, which Lexus claims will be the world's first vehicle to feature a full hybrid V8 engine, has been unveiled in New York.

This new version of its flagship will be available in Australia only in long wheelbase, and is due to be launched in the first half of 2007. Lexus claims the car will be economical for such a large body, averaging 14 litres/100km.

PONTIAC

One highlight of the New York showcars not destined for Australia is the G6 GXP concept car. It features Pontiac's distinctive nose also seen on the US-version of the now-defunct Holden Monaro. This concept car has 19-inch wheels and boasts a 200kW, 3.9-litre V6 engine.

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