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Football game is the Super Bowl of car ads

A biweekly roundup of automotive news, good, bad and just plain weird: Automakers launch Super Bowl ad blitz Yes, "blitz." That's a clever football pun, donchaknow.

A biweekly roundup of automotive news, good, bad and just plain weird: Automakers launch Super Bowl ad blitz

Yes, "blitz." That's a clever football pun, donchaknow.

Anyway, this Sunday is Super Bowl 46, and as ever, the athletic contest between the New York Giants and the New England Patriots takes something of a backseat to the crass commercialism we all know and love: it's Super Bowl ad season.

Volkswagen, ever with the clever clips, has a big fat dog going on a diet and exercise routine to slim down and get more athletic: just like the new New Beetle. Then Darth Vader shows up and chokes a guy for some reason.

Honda has several entries, one with Matthew Broderick reprising a sort of Ferris Bueller's Day Off routine with him traipsing around the city in a CR-V instead of putting in time at the office. It's quite lame actually.

Their Acura ad is much better, with Porsche-o-phile Jerry Seinfeld doing everything in his power to convince someone to hand over the keys to the first Acura NSX. Hilarious, particularly the twist at the end. Also, I can't wait for the new NSX.

Hyundai has several spots, most notably one involving a cheetah and the Veloster Turbo - very excited to see that car in action. Audi has a bunch of vampires getting blasted by the headlights of an A7. There's even a fun ad for the decent-butpoorly-selling Suzuki Kizashi with an Inuit gentleman trading in his dogsled for the bright-red, AWD sedan.

However, the one can't miss ad campaign has got to be for the Chevy Sonic. Not only does Chevy have indie band OK Go doing one of their crazy Rube Goldberg-contraption music videos in a Sonic, but they also plan to show the Sonic kickflipping over a giant skateboard. They're also giving away 20 free Chevy trucks and cars via an interactive app.

Dodge at work on SRT version of Dart

Back when Chrysler used to be in deep financial doo-doo, it was hard to get worried about the possible disappearance of things like the Dodge Caravan. On the other hand, the thought of a wasteland of frugal econoboxes without anything with a Hemi in it was enough to have Mopar enthusiasts gnashing their teeth.

Luckily, Dodge is still around and healthier than ever. Luckilyier, their high-performance SRT wing is still in action, cranking out exciting and uncompromising tributes to the muscle-cars of yore. Right now, they're even working on a new Viper.

They're also working, so 'tis rumoured, on an SRT version of the new Dodge Dart. The designation would be SRT-4, indicating that four-cylinder turbo power is likely. If you'll recall, the original SRT-4 was a turbocharged Neon, and despite that car's lowly ancestral roots, it was a barn-burning terror and annoyingly fast if you'd just plunked down big money for a Nissan Z or a Subaru STi.

The current SRT-4 is nowhere near as good as the original, as it's based on the Dodge Caliber, which is a bit too much of a pig's ear to sew into a high-speed purse. However, the new AlfaRomeo-based Dart is going to be a very sporty platform even with less powerful engines, and it should be an absolute riot in the rumoured 300 horsepower SRT-4 form.

Details of M-Sport diesels revealed

Before everyone gets too excited: we won't get these models on this side of the pond - yet. The five new cars that BMW's M-Division just launched are European only. Shame.

What are they? The M550d xDrive (sedan and touring), the X5 M50d and the X6 M50d. That's quite a jumble of alphanumeric designation, so on to the details.

the X5 M50d and the X6 M50d. That's quite a jumble of alphanumeric designation, so on to the details.

The 5-series sedan and the two BMW SUVs will be built with all the usual M-Sport accoutrements: sporty suspension, larger rims and tires and more aggressively programmed driver aids.

They will also feature, for the first time, diesel power. And what a power it is!

With 376 h.p. and 545 foot-pounds of torque coming through an eight-speed automatic transmission, these tripleturbocharged M-monsters are capable of coming within tenthsof-a-second of their much thirstier M-badged stablemates. Try a combined highway/city fuel-consumption of 6.3 litres/100 kilometres and a 0-100 km/h time of 4.6 seconds.

Why won't Bimmer bring their stonking fast oil-burners over here? Just wait: diesel power is growing ever more popular in North America, so it's only a matter of time.

Rolls-Royce launches Year of the Dragon model, sells out

Gung Hay Fat Choy, and welcome to the year of the Dragon! I myself was born in the year of the Horse, which means that I am hard-working, enjoy the outdoors and have a fondness for sugar lumps. All true.

Rolls-Royce saw fit to celebrate the Chinese new year by rolling out a specialty model, a uniquely appointed version of their half-milliondollar Phantom, dragons embossed in the leather and inlaid in the special wood trim. Then they decided to charge $1.2 million for it.

Global financial crisis? Looks like that's something that only happens to other people: the big-ticket roller sold out in two months flat. Momo founder dies at age 71

Some sad news to round out the week, as Momo founder Gianpiero Moretti has passed away at his home in Milan.

Today the Momo brand can be found on shift-knobs, lightweight alloys, fire-proof racing suits, and all manner of other motorsports paraphernalia. However, it's as a specialty steering wheel supplier that the company is best known.

From humble roots, Momo's first success came in the 1960s, when a Ferrari race driver campaigned a Momo-equipped F1 car to a formula one racing title. The win was enough to kickstart the success of Moretti's company, and while he sold control of Momo off in the mid-1990s, the lasting effect of his products can be seen throughout the industry right up to today.

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