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Sleuth

The Week of October 26

October 30, 2008|By Wheelbase Communications

Hot off the press!

Aston-Benz project means more than shared engines: Rumors of a Mercedes-Benz alliance with Aston Martin first surfaced two months ago. However, the Sleuth hears talks are progressing quickly with farther-reaching partnerships now being discussed at the highest levels. The word is that the tie-up will be worth at least US $400 million. The first project could hit the road by 2010, sources said. That’s the same year Daimler, which owns Mercedes-Benz, will refresh its Maybach line, a project that has now been handed over to Aston Martin. If Aston does a good job, the partnership will spill into more joint projects. That means that the next Aston DB9 could use M-B’s 12-cylinder engine and a seven-speed transmission.

GM delays redesigns of key models: The full impact of slower sales and dried-up credit markets might not be seen in the product lineup on your dealer lot today, but it’s the next generation that might be of concern. The Sleuth hears General Motors has delayed the relaunch of two nameplates: the next-gen Buick LaCrosse; and the Cadillac CTS coupe. Both cars won’t hit the market until late 2009, a delay of about six months. Cost cuts seem to blame, but given how far along both cars are in the product pipeline, it could signal that parent GM is reshuffling the deck on its complete portfolio.

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Infiniti-badged version of the Nissan GT-R in the works: Inside the halls of Nissan, the debate has been raging over who should get a four-door version of the GT-R sport car: Nissan; or its upscale Infiniti brand. Call it a sport sedan a la BMW’s M version of its 5 Series. The Sleuth hears that Infiniti has won out with a vehicle hitting the streets by 2011, giving the brand a new flagship model. But where the GT-R uses a 480-horsepower twin-turbocharged 3.8-liter V6, the Infiniti model will have a 420-horsepower version of the same 5.0-liter V8 used in the FX50 tall wagon. The GT-R’s all-wheel-drive system will be used and shifting responsibilities will continue to be handled by the car’s paddle-shifted manual gearbox.

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