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Madman’s automotive news: Rumor edition

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Posted: Friday, January 6, 2012 3:00 am | Updated: 6:41 am, Mon Feb 13, 2012.

I was sitting on the couch this evening watching TMZ and wondering how much of their content is true and how much is speculation. For example, both Maria Shriver and Arnold Schwarzenegger were seen recently wearing their wedding rings. This is interesting because Shriver has filed for divorce and has told friends that it is over, but that was last month. While this development may likely be true, how much "real" news begins as nothing more than a rumor.

Automotive news is a lot like TMZ. There are photographers who closely watch car manufacturers testing grounds hoping to catch a glimpse of unreleased models. They are like car paparazzi. Instead of hanging out in Beverly Hills, they stalk the Nurburgring. Why do the old boring news, I think I will begin with a few sensational rumors.

I recently reported that small car sales are on the rise. While this is an absolute fact, it is also true that SUV sales have begun to rise again. While the compact SUV and the crossover are both popular, the luxury SUV's are selling like half - priced Christmas ornaments on December 26. The Porsche Cayenne was received with laughter from most Porsche fans - including yours truly. Despite my overt disrespect, the Cayenne went on to sell so well that dealerships simply can't keep them in stock. The Cayenne's success has prompted Porsche executives to begin development on a new SUV. Rumor has it that this new mini Cayenne will be every bit as quick and agile as its big brother, but it will cost thousands less. I would not be surprised if it outsells the Cayenne 2 to 1. I do hope they spend a little more time styling this new SUV. The Cayenne looks like a Porsche 911 and a school bus united and had an ugly kid ... yuck.

 

Of course other super car makers are looking to cash in on this SUV thing. Maserati unveiled a prototype SUV at the Frankfurt auto show. The Kubang is hideous to behold, but it should be a heck of good drive. The Kubang will be manufactured alongside the Jeep Cherokee, which is the SUV it shares most of its components with. The Kubang DNA will closely match the jeep and will be born in the USA, Detroit to be exact. Think of the Kubang as a Jeep with a designer dress and a fantastic power train. There is a chance the Kubang will not see the light of day. Rumor has it that because of Europe's debt problems, Fiat - Maserati's parent company - may pull the plug on the project. Yes, the Kubang may be Ku - canceled.

I really hate it when such automotive icons build cars to appease the masses. When Mini decided to build an SUV, it was an unexpected move; but not a blasphemous one. Maserati is automotive royalty currently sharing space with super car great Ferrari in Maranello. The question arises, should the auto aristocracy be shunned for building such abominations? No, these stupid creations generate much needed revenue in the same way that Ferrari hats and Porsche sunglasses do. The more cash Maserati has, the more it can spend on super cars. So I guess the Cayenne Jr. and Kubang are necessary evils. Boy, those are some ugly rumors...very ugly.

While the Kubang is ugly as sin, my next rumor is beautiful. It is no secret that filming has begun on the Avengers movie. The Avengers are a group of comic book superheroes who do battle with evil forces. Robert Downey Jr. plays Iron Man who is one of the avengers who has a predilection for super cars. Rumor has it that the purple beauty Downey Jr. is tooling around the set in is the next Acura NSX. While this is good news, I have come across some exciting details. Honda-big-shot Takanobu told a reliable source that "we are definitely doing a sporty vehicle." If you put the sightings together with Takanobu's claim, does it equal NSX? I have never been very good at math so I cant say for sure; but it looks good, if you believe the rumors.

Life would be boring if one waited for things to come around the corner naturally. Rumors are the exhaust noise you hear before the car comes into view. They can be misleading if one is reckless, but rumors based in fact can be a sneak peek into what's to come. That's all for now, but I will keep my ear to the street for you.

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