Vauxhall's city little car, Audi's new TT RS racer, and the Mustang is the manliest car... in the world

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This is the Morning Shift, our one-stop daily roundup of all the auto news that's actually important — all in one place at 9:00 AM. Or, you could spend all day waiting for other sites to parcel it out to you one story at a time. Isn't your time more important?


1st Gear: Vauxhall's New "Production Potential" City Car Concept
Vauxhall is the latest manufacturer to outline its future vision for affordable personal urban mobility with a weird-ass concept car for next week's Frankfurt Motor Show. The firm describes the as-yet-unnamed carver-esque-looking concept as having "production potential," claiming it could "revolutionize urban transport, especially for younger drivers and those on a very tight budget." Yeah, somehow we're not sure we quite buy that yet — unless we somehow now live in the world of "Minority Report." In which case, you're likely reading this site on a USA Today digital paper-like tablet. No? Then this probably won't be built anytime soon. Details are scarce ahead of its official reveal, but Vauxhall says it features two seats in a tandem layout and is about one-third of the weight of a contemporary small car. The concept is powered by an unspecified electric powertrain. This gives it a claimed range of 60 miles and a 75mph top speed.

2nd Gear: Live Photos Of The BMW Performance Studie 1-Series
The dolled-up "BMW Performance Studie 1-Series" recently spotted at a dealer presentation in Germany is finally showing off some non-camera phone shots ahead of its unveiling at the Frankfurt Motor Show next week. The BMW Performance Accessories concept has been conceived in conjunction with the Munich company's M division to highlight BMW's range of enhanced kit. It will appear alongside the production version of BMW's new 1-series.



3rd Gear: Audi Unveils The TT RS Race Car
Alongside the successful R8 LMS, Audi Sport customer racing is now offering another sport race car: the racing version of the Audi TT RS can be ordered — starting now. The front-wheel drive TT RS is fitted with the same 2.5-liter five-cylinder turbo engine from the non-racer TT RS with an output of about 380 HP. Audi Sport customer racing offers the ready-to-race TT RS to its European customers at the price of 180,000 euros (net). So around like $250,000 in U.S. greenbacks.


4th Gear: The Ford Mustang Is The Manliest Car On The Planet... For Britons
The results are in on an email poll of 1,835 Britons, asking them to rate the world's "manliest" and "least manly" cars. The Ford Mustang was found to be the "manliest car on the planet" with a net total of 21% of the vote. Runners up were the Aston Martin DB7 (15%), Range Rover (13%), Dodge Viper (11%) and Hummer H1 (10%). On the opposite end of the spectrum — the world's "least manly" cars – were the Volkswagen Beetle (31%), Mazda Miata / MX-5 (20%), Ford Ka (11%), Toyota Prius (9%) and Nissan Cube (8%). Well, we'll agree with a couple of those choices.


5th Gear: No Buick Regal Wagon For You!
Speculation has been hot for more than a year that Buick was planning to do a wagon version of the Regal. After all, the Opel Insignia, which shares essentially everything with the Regal, is sold in Europe in both sedan and wagon body styles. There were even spy shots. But now Edmunds' Inside Line tells us they've heard from an unnamed Buick spokesperson saying the Regal Wagon is not going to happen. Sad Wagon-lover is sad.


6th Gear: They Took 'R Jobs, Are Our Supercars Next?
When Mexico's first two-seat production sports car rolls out of the plant this month, at stake will be not just automotive bragging rights, but also national pride. There have been plenty of naysayers. After Top Gear was so derisive of the idea of a Mexican sports car earlier this year, it set off a diplomatic fracas. Mexico demanded an apology, and got it. Now The Detroit News is examining whether Mastretta has a fighting chance at survival with their MXT, a Mexican-designed high-performance sports car.


⏎ Swedish court rejects Saab creditor protection plea. [Automotive News]

⏎ Daimler Chairman Dieter Zetsche is one of, like, a dozen people who'll keynote CES 2012. [Autoblog]


⏎ Ford names Helman to board. [Detroit Free Press]

⏎ Autos rise as analyst shifts ratings. [AP via Forbes]

⏎ Short on Product, but Not Ambition, at Frankfurt Auto Show. [New York Times]

⏎ GM to hang onto cash. [Detroit Free Press]

⏎ 350-vehicle classic auto museum rolls into town. [Chicago Sun-Times]

⏎ China Record Auto Exports Seen on Entry-Level Demand [San Francisco Chronicle]

Today in Automotive History:

On September 8, 1986, British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher and Yutaka Kume, the president of the Nissan Motor Company, officially open Nissan's first European manufacturing plant in Sunderland, Britain. Sunderland is situated in the northeastern part of England, a region that was hit especially hard by the deindustrialization and economic strain of the 1970s and 80s. Many of its coal pits, shipyards, steel mills, and chemical factories had closed or were closing, and the Japanese company's arrival gave many of the town's residents hope for the future. Twenty-five thousand people applied for the first 450 jobs advertised at the plant. [History]


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