Auto Sleuth: GM bringing Chevrolet Trax to United States

Event staff members wipe a General Motors Corp. Event staff members wipe a General Motors Corp. (GM) Chevrolet Trax vehicle during the press day of the 2014 Busan International Motor Show in Busan, South Korea, on Thursday, May 29, 2014. Photo Credit: Bloomberg / SeongJoon Cho

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Chevy makes Trax for the United States

The Sleuth always wondered why General Motors decided to sell Chevrolet's new-for-2013 compact wagon in Mexico and Canada (plus many other countries around the globe), but not in the United States. After all, GM launched the Buick Encore, which is exactly the same size as the Trax and features an identical 138-horsepower 1.4-liter four-cylinder turbo engine, six-speed manual or automatic transmissions and optional all-wheel-drive. Well, The Spy Guy wonders no more since he hears that stateside tire-kickers will soon be able to park a Trax in their driveways. Actually, the sharp-looking carryall is a really handy way to get around and when necessary can swallow quite a bit of groceries, luggage and other oddments. A $17,500 base price would be a reasonable guesstimate, with AWD bringing the total within sight of $20,000.

New MKX more of the same or a real game-changer?

The Sleuth took a good look at the so-called concept version of the next-generation Lincoln MKX and he's totally impressed. He also believes that the car will certainly do its part in the revitalization movement now going on at Ford's premium division. Although your Intrepid Gumshoe can't say for certain what will be under the hood, a couple of the automaker's turbocharged EcoBoost engines will be in the cards - a four-cylinder and V6 - with the latter producing at least 355 horsepower. The next MKX also appears to be longer and a bit wider and has more ground clearance than before, which hints at improved capability over rough terrain. Look for the MKX to arrive in the first quarter of 2015 as a 2016 model.

Mercedes-Benz is planning a real stretch

Catering to luxury-car buyers is what Mercedes-Benz is mostly about, especially with its flagship S-Class sedan. The lineup includes the latest extended-length sedan that was all new for 2014, and the upcoming 2015 S-Class coupe and convertible iterations. But wait, there's more, as the saying goes. The Spymaster hears that a super extended-length model is in the pipeline, one that will revive the recently retired Maybach title. As well, there will be an even longer super limo model that will revive the Pullman name. The original Pullman was built in very limited quantities from 1964-'81. The replacement version is said to be more than 21 feet long and is similar in size to the U.S. presidential Cadillac that's affectionately called "the Beast". Pullman production will likely begin within the next 12 months.

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Special Golf pushes 200 horsepower per liter

Yet another show-car show-stopper from Volkswagen recently surfaced, and this one looks perfectly viable. The Golf R 400 hatchback concept makes the sporty GTI and the Golf R look pretty timid by way of its turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine that's rated at 395 horsepower and 332 pound-feet of torque. A six-speed automated manual transmission is part of the package, as is all-wheel-drive. VW claims that the R 400 can reel off zero-to-60-mph times of less than four seconds and attain a top speed of 174 mph. The 3,130-pound car keeps the weight in check with a number of carbon-fiber body panels, specifically the fenders and portions of the nose and air intake. With so many details already worked out, The Spy Guy is certain that this extra-quick Vee-Dub is production-bound. Not in huge quantities, mind you, but for sure with a huge price tag.

Ford Motor Company's Mark Fields

It is expected that Ford CEO Alan Mulally will retire from his position within the next few months and taking over the helm will be Mark Fields, currently Ford's chief operating officer (COO). Mulally, who previously was head of the Boeing aircraft company, has worked at Ford since 2006. He took over from William Clay Ford, Jr. and is credited with putting the Blue Oval automaker on the right path during the recession of 2009-'11. According to news reports, Mulally will leave the company with close to $300 million in his pocket.

Eau really?

When Nissan's premium Infiniti division put its Q50 sedan-based Eau Rouge concept on display earlier this year, it was assumed the car was simply a showpiece. Now, however, The Sleuth is hearing that Infiniti plans to build a production version. If true, it would provide a more practical platform for the twin-turbocharged 3.8-liter V8 that was originally developed for the two-door Nissan GT-R sports car. And with 560 horsepower and 443 pound-feet of torque in its engine bay, the all-wheel-drive Eau Rouge would make a formidable challenger to the BMW M5 and Mercedes-Benz E63 AMG and other high-end performance sedans. The Eau Rouge is also a logical extension of Infiniti's sponsorship of the Red Bull racing team that competes on the Formula One circuit.

Market indicators

Up, Ford Motor Company's Mark Fields

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It is expected that Ford CEO Alan Mulally will retire from his position within the next few months and taking over the helm will be Mark Fields, currently Ford's chief operating officer (COO). Mulally, who previously was head of the Boeing aircraft company, has worked at Ford since 2006. He took over from William Clay Ford, Jr. and is credited with putting the Blue Oval automaker on the right path during the recession of 2009-'11. According to news reports, Mulally will the leave the company with close to $300 million in his pocket.

Down, New-vehicle sales in Russia
The conflict between Ukraine and Russia is apparently putting a damper on the Russian economy in general, and the health of the auto sector in particular. Even before the trouble began, sales were down about five percent, according to one source, and are expected to drop a further seven percent for 2014. The decline in the value of Russian currency, a halt in investment by western automakers and obvious economic uncertainties in the region are cited as the main reasons for the decline.

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