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Spicing up the image

The boosted Lancer, expected to carry the Ralliart name, will slot into the line-up below the red-hot EVO model. The range will be similar to Subaru's Impreza stable, which has a turbo AWD WRX as the main performance model with a faster, more expensive STI as the hero car.

It will be the first time Mitsubishi can offer an affordable WRX rival since the cult GSR Lancer more than 10 years ago. The Japanese carmaker has adopted a "bang for your bucks" approach, kicking-off with the Ralliart version of the Colt baby car.

Apart from giving the struggling model some positive publicity, the turbo model has added about 40 Colt sales a month.

Mitsubishi added to the build-up of the next-generation Lancer -- the brand's best-selling model in Australia -- by releasing a sketch of the car to be unveiled at the Detroit motor show in January. More aggressive, it bears similarities to the Concept X at Frankfurt last year.

The Lancer, which will be bigger than current models, is to arrive in Australia next September.

A standard model will be the first to go on sale with a new generation 2.0-litre, four-cylinder engine that is expected to produce about 120kW.

A 1.5-litre four-cylinder petrol engine and a diesel will be offered in Europe, but are unlikely here initially. The performance turbo AWD model, to compete with the WRX, joins the range in the first half of 2008 along with full-on EVO model.

Mitsubishi offers a wagon version of the Lancer, but it is unclear whether a similar load hauler is part of the next Lancer plan.


A classic for everyone

Classic cars owned by a mystery collector attracted $1.1 million last weekend at a Sydney auction. Some 95 cars went to a new home, while a further 58 are being referred to the vendor.

The top sellers were a 1959 Jaguar XK150, selling for $79,100, a Ford V6 Capri RS3100, which went for double what was expected at $72,320 and a 1963 Rolls Royce Silver Cloud III, for $50,850.

The cheapest model to sell on the day was a 1978 Opel Rekord, which attracted $678.

About 700 people attended the auction with a further 70 customers bidding by telephone.

The collector, a businessman who wishes to remain anonymous, amassed the 153 vehicles during a 30 year period, storing them in garages around NSW. It was the biggest private collection of classic cars offered at a public auction in Australia, outdoing both the Lindsay Fox and John Laws collections.

A 1981 De Lorean sold for a tasty $45,200, a 1953 Riley went for $25,000 and a 1981 Holden Brock Commodore fetched $32,700.

"There were so many different marques on offer within diverse price ranges," says Bonhams and Goodman chief executive officer Tim Goodman, who conducted the auction.

Base commitment

Hyundai will cement its commitment to Australia with a new $70 million headquarters in Sydney. At a groundbreaking ceremony this week Hyundai chief executive Steve Yeo says the new building will house Hyundai's Australian operations into the future.

"It is a very substantial investment for us but it was an opportunity that we simply could not miss," Yeo says.

Yeo says the multi-storey building in Macquarie Park, North Ryde, will provide enough space for Hyundai with an opportunity for future growth.

Hyundai cars have been in Australia since 1986 with the marque adopting manufacturer/importer status in 2003.