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Sleuth: The Week of September 28

October 02, 2008|By Wheelbase Communications

Hot off the press!

GM works on divorcing itself from “badge engineering”: Even before General Motors officially announced it was bringing the Chevrolet Aveo-based Pontiac G3 to North America, there were grumblings about GM going back to its old ways of badge engineering, where a model that the company already makes gets a style makeover and a badge from one of its other divisions. (GM operates Chevy and Pontiac). But the Sleuth hears that company designers have ensured that each vehicle gets its own unique brand identity, both inside and out. That means the G3 will share components under the skin but on the outside will get revised front styling, different color gauges, unique interior trim and a different range of sporty features. However, look for GM to do more platform and architecture sharing as belts tighten around the world.

Lexus IS convertible is another volley at BMW: Lexus has announced that it will show a convertible IS at the Paris, France, Motor Show, Oct. 2. There, Lexus will finally take the wraps of its IS 250 C. The IS is Lexus’s direct competitor to BMW’s 3-series. Details about the new IS are scarce but it is believed that the drop top will hit the North American market in calendar 2009. As is the case with the SC 430, which the Sleuth hears is on the way out, look for the IS 250 C to use a retractable hard top. Although the IS will be represented at the Paris show, there’s no word on when Lexus plans to unveil the IS 350 C, which uses a bigger engine than the 250. Earlier reports suggested that both models would be available here in 2009, so it’s possible that Lexus is saving the 350 for a later show, such as November’s Los Angeles, Calif., event.

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Ironed-out Z4 will offer a folding hard top: One of the Sleuth’s hot tips this week is for lovers of German convertibles.  Spies are reporting back to your trusty gumshoe that the 2010 BMW Z4 will appear with both a standard canvass roof and an optional folding hardtop. Also, it appears the hand brake is gone (probably in favor of an electronic setup), an automatic gearshift is added and the Z4 will get iDrive, a knob/selector/interface that controls most of the vehicle’s functions. Many of the polarizing features of the current Z4’s design have been toned down for what will likely be a much more elegant look. There is no 2009 Z4.

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