Aston Martin V12 Vantage GT3, Audi's hybrid A8, and a beefier Bentley

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1st Gear: Aston Martin V12 Vantage GT3 Is The New DBRS9
This is the Aston Martin V12 Vantage GT3 — set to take over from the Aston Martin DBRS9 as the Gaydon-based marque's customer-orientated racing machine. Featuring a modified version of the six-liter V12 powering all of Aston Martin's V12 road cars, the car's dry-sumped engine is expected to produce around 600 bhp and 500 lb-ft of torque and will be mated to a semi-automatic Xtrac six-speed sequential paddleshift gearbox via a carbon-fiber propshaft. The new car has a shorter wheelbase and its engine mounted lower down than its DBRS9 predecessor to enhance handling and performance.

2nd Gear: Audi's Got A Hybrid A8
Here is the Audi A8 hybrid ahead of its official unveiling at next month's Frankfurt Motor Show. As expected, it's got a gasoline engine — a 2.0 TFSI — mated to an electric motor (parallel hybrid system) developing peak output of 245 hp and 345.03 lb-ft of torque. Average fuel consumption will supposedly be approximately 36.75 US mpg and still able to hit 62.14 mph — and drive 1.86 miles — on electric power alone. Production of the A8 hybrid is slated to begin in 2012.


3rd Gear: Bentley's Beefier New Continental GTC
This is Bentley's new Conti GTC, due to be unveiled officially at next month's Frankfurt Motor Show. The Continental GTC Mk2 is entirely in line with the latest coupe — a sophisticated, subtle update to the 2005 original. It's got the same smoother front end styling, the more squinty headlamps and a more exaggerated 'power line' with incredibly sharp creases. Basically, just as bulbously beautiful as the last one. Also, even more beefy thanks to super-sized 20-inch and 21-inch wheels.


4th Gear: Saab Unions May Force Saab Bankruptcy
Bloomberg reports this morning that Saab's two biggest unions said they're likely to ask a court to put the cash-starved Swedish carmaker into bankruptcy in about two weeks unless salaries are paid by then. Saab, which is scheduled to pay factory workers tomorrow and administrative employees Aug. 26, said yesterday that it may be forced to postpone wage payments as "committed" funds from investors may not arrive in time. Saab paid salaries about a week late in June and July. Any delay in the August payments will prompt the unions immediately to start a process aimed at ensuring state coverage of wages in the event of the carmaker's failure, officials from the IF Metall and Unionen labor groups said. The unions, after gaining employees' backing, would first file payment requests with Saab. If salaries remain unpaid in seven days, the unions may then ask a district court to declare Saab bankrupt.


5th Gear: Americans Are Driving More Over Labor Day
Bloomberg reports this morning that drivers will account for a greater share of Americans traveling around the Labor Day holiday. Travel by automobile will rise to 27.3 million travelers from 27.2 million a year ago as vacationers stay closer to home. Automobile travel will account for 87% of all travel, up from 84% last year. The number of Americans traveling 50 miles or more from will fall 2.4% to 31.5 million from 32.3 million last year, according to a forecast by the American Automobile Association, the biggest U.S. motoring organization. That's the second decline in three years. This year the long weekend runs from Sept. 1st to Sept. 5th. "Some of the economic momentum seen earlier in the year has begun to slow and we expect that the result of that will be a decrease in holiday travelers," Heathrow, Florida-based AAA said in a statement. Also, it's because air travel prices have risen 13%. Yeah, that'll do it.


6th Gear: Hertz Will Rent You An Electric Car... In China!
When Hertz starts renting electric cars in China later this week, it will offer the vehicles with chauffeurs - a nod to China's resistance to recognizing other nations' driver's licenses or the International Driving Permit. Hertz executives said they planned to announce on Wednesday afternoon in Shanghai that the company would begin renting electric cars to individuals and companies in three Chinese cities, the latest sign of Western interest in working with the Chinese government on advanced technology vehicles. Even if they're just for rent.


⏎ Is the Fiat 500 New York's New ‘It' Car? [New York Observer]

⏎ The Hyundai Veloster pricing starts at $17,300. [Twitter]

⏎ The Dodge Caliber, the car that was "anything but cute," will end production on November 23rd. [Allpar via CarScoop]


⏎ Ford to face hearing on UAW's equal-sacrifice complaint. [Automotive News]

⏎ State: Fouts must prove birth date to renew driver's license. [Detroit News]

⏎ Toyota unveils first Camry redesign in 5 years. [MSNBC]

⏎ The 10 Brownest Cars from the Pebble Beach Concours d'Elegance Weekend. [Vanity Fair]


⏎ GM to streamline use of media buying companies. [Detroit News]

⏎ Chrysler to invest $72M in Toledo plant, save 640 jobs. [Detroit News]

⏎ A tale of two American luxury brands. [Autoextremist]

Today in Automotive History:

Maria Teresa de Filippis—the first woman ever to compete in Formula One racing—drives a Maserati in the Portuguese Grand Prix at Oporto on August 24, 1958. [History]


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