BMW's Secret Concept is a Diesel-Electric Plug-in Hybrid Coupe, Fast as an M3, Frugal as a Prius

We know that many of you are dying to learn about BMW's Vision EfficientDynamics sports car concept that's due to make its first public outing in Frankfurt so let's just say that here's the inside scoop. In a nutshell, it's a futuristic-looking, diesel-electric plug-in hybrid sports car with 2+2 seating, and no, it has nothing to do with the four-door coupe car seen in this set of spy shots that circulated around the net.

Power comes from a high-performance hybrid drivetrain that combines a small displacement three-cylinder diesel engine with two electric motors.

We were told that the total output of the diesel engine and the electric motors will be somewhere around 350 horsepower and that thanks to the lightweight construction and various high-tech features, the Vision EfficientDynamics concept will be as fast as BMW's own M3 sports car but at the same time, as fuel efficient and 'green' as a Toyota Prius hybird.

Another significant detail is that the prototype model can run on either the diesel engine, the electric motors or a combination of the two and from what we learned, the vehicle's battery pack can be partially charged through regenerative braking or fully charged from any standard outlet.

There's more to come this weekend so stay tuned on Auto Cars 2011.

*UPDATE: Official Video Added Below

VW and Audi Models Recalled Over Two Separate DSG Problems

Volkswagen Group of America has issued two separate recall for numerous Audi and VW models equipped with its DSG dual-clutch transmission. The first recall involves 16,000 2009-2010MY cars manufactured between September 2008 and August 2009. The models affected are Audi's A3, TT Coupe and Roadster, plus VW's Eos and Jetta Sedan and SportWagen. In this case, a faulty temperature sensor could cause the DSG transmission to shift into neutral while the vehicle is being driven.

The company said that it will contact owners of the affected models so they can take the cars to local dealers for any necessary repairs free of charge.

The second recall affects approximately 43,000 Volkswagens and 10,300 Audis of the 2007-2009 model years including the VW R32, Jetta, Jetta SportWagen, GTI, Eos, as well as the Audi A3 and TT.

According to the German automaker, some customers reported transmission performance issues under certain driving conditions. Volkswagen claims that the problem was caused by a faulty component inside the Mechatronic unit. The company will repair or replace the components in the transmissions of the affected models free of charge.

Furthermore, VW said that it will extend its New Vehicle Limited Warranty to cover the DSG transmissions affected by the customer service program and the voluntary safety recall. According to the company, the extended warranty is for 10-years/100,000-miles and can be transferred to subsequent owners of the cars.

"Safety, customer satisfaction, quality and long-term reliability are top priorities at Volkswagen and Audi. We have been studying the symptoms customers have reported, and are working closely with the NHTSA," said Stefan Jacoby, president and CEO, VWGoA. "We listened to our customers' concerns, and are taking action to address them. We are focused on taking all the appropriate actions to ensure the complete satisfaction of our existing customers."

Hamann's Beastly 600HP Mercedes-Benz G55 AMG Supercharged

Never quite understood the logic behind the creation of stupendously powerful off-roaders with supercar-like performance, but maybe that's exactly what makes them so attractive to those that can afford them: they don't make any sense to the rest of us... Hamann's latest take on the Mercedes-Benz G55 AMG fits perfectly in this category of vehicles.

As if the factory model's supercharged V8 with 507HP wasn't powerful enough, the German tuner performed its magic upgrades to bump output to 600HP and 782Nm or 577 lb-ft of torque. The modifications result to a 0-100km/h (62mph) sprint time of 5.1 seconds and a maximum speed of 261 km/h or 163mph. That's compared to the standard G55 AMG's 5.5 second sprint time and 210km/h or 131mph electronically governed top speed.

The package include fender extensions that broaden the G-model by 40 mm at the front axle and 60 mm at the back axle allowing the use of ridiculously large 24-inch alloy wheels wrapped in 315/35 R24 tires.

What some may call 'lipstick on a pig', Hamann identifies as an aero kit that comprises of a front spoiler with integrated LED daytime running lights, a rear skirt that incorporates a diffuser and a roof spoiler while the six tailpipes (three on each side), complete the looks.

Optionally, Hamann offers a 14-part exterior set made of carbon fibre for the air inlets on the bonnet, radiator grill, headlight protective grid, mirror cases, door handles and air inlets in the side wings.

The G55 AMG's interior can been deupgraded with aluminum accessories, a 24-part set made of carbon fibre, specific floor mats, a new steering wheel as well as custom velour upholstery.

VIDEO: Ferrari 458 Italia Filmed on the Road!

We are more than aware of the fact that you can't get enough of Ferrari's latest supercar, so we couldn't pass the chance to share with you this video showing a pair of 458 Italia prototypes that were caught on the road in Maranello, Italy, by Youtube user "marchettino". Due to make its world debut in Frankfurt, the Pininfarina-styled Ferrari 458 Italia is powered by a new 4.5-liter V8 engine churning out 570HP, good enough to propel the Prancing Horse model from 0 to 100km/h (62mph) in under 3.4 sec. Hit the jump to watch the video.

Grazie for the notification Alessandro!

New Audi A3 with 1.2-liter TSI and A4 3.0 TDI Clean Diesel to Premiere in Frankfurt

Along with the supercharged S5 Sportback, Audi's Frankfurt motorshow stand will also host the world premiere of two more new models, the A3 with a new 1.2 TFSI and the Euro-6 compliant A4 3.0 TDI clean diesel quattro. Starting off with the A3, the 1.2-liter turbocharged four-cylinder gasoline engine with direct-injection produces an output of 105 HP and 175Nm (129lb.-ft.) of torque between 1,500 and 3,500 rpm.

Initially paired with front-wheel drive and a six-speed manual transmission, the small displacement engine propels the three-door A3 from 0 to 100 km/h (62mph) in 11.1 seconds and the five-door Sportback, in 11.3 seconds. Both versions reach a top speed of 190 km/h or 118 mph) and, on average, consume 5.5 lt of fuel per 100 km which is the U.S. equivalent of 42.77 mpg.

European sales of the A3 and A3 Sportback 1.2 TFSI will begin in the first quarter of 2010.

Moving on the A4, Audi is introducing to the range a 3.l0-liter V6 turbo diesel engine with a new common-rail injection system that generates up to 2,000 bars of pressure. It also comes with a new eNOX catalytic converter, integrated within the end of the exhaust system that reduces residual nitrogen oxides.

The new diesel that complies with the emission limits of the EU's Euro 6 standard, expected to become law in 2014, allows the A4 sedan to return a combined fuel economy of 6.7 lt /100km and the Avant, 6.8 lt/00km (35.1 and 34.6 mpg U.S).

Power is transferred to all wheels through a six-speed tiptronic with the A4 sedan needing only 6.2 seconds for the 0-100km/h (62mph) sprint and the A4 Avant, 6.3 seconds. In both models top speed is electronically governed to 250 km/h or 155mph.

*The cars shown in the article are not the A3 1.2 TSI and A4 3.0 TDI quattro as Audi has yet to release photos of the specific models

Giant Fiat 500C Five-Times the Normal Size Arrives in Central London

Fiat's extra-extra-extra large scale model of the new 500C made its way to central London and opened its doors or rather... its wheel arches to the public on Friday as the Italian automaker is gearing up its promotional efforts for the UK market launch of the ragtop mini. The scale model, which is five-times larger than the actual vehicle, is parked on Oxford street and will welcome Londoners up to 8.00pm every day until Wednesday (Sep. 2) next week.

The 500 Convertible is offered in the UK with a choice of 69HP 1.2-litre and 100HP 1.4-litre petrol engines and a 75HP 1.3-litre diesel in two trim levels, Pop and Lounge. Prices for the 500C start from £11,300.

Toyota iQ gets Tuned by Gazoo Racing, Production Limited to 100 Units

Gazoo Racing, which had prepared the two Lexus LF-A race cars for this year's 24 hours of Nurburgring, has joined forces with Toyota to develop a sporty edition of the iQ minicar. Available exclusively in Japan in a limited run of just 100 units, the Toyota iQ Gazoo Racing MN is based on the JDM front-wheel drive iQ 130G.

While the 1.3-liter engine remains stock, Gazoo replaced the JDM model's CVT with a 6-speed manual gearbox and upgraded the brakes and chassis with a stiffer sport suspension that lowers the mini's ride height by 30 mm while the car also gets a sport exhaust system.

The special edition iQ rides on blacked out 16-inch alloy wheels wrapped in beefier sport tires while there's also a new bodykit with front and rear aprons as well as side skirts and a roof spoiler plus optional racing decals. Interior mods include newly styled gauges, aluminum pedals and sport seats.

The iQ GR MN is available for order now in Japan with first deliveries expected in November.

While the sporty iQ won't be making it outside Japan, according to recent reports, Toyota's premium city car could go on sale in the States under the Scion brand in the fall 2010.