Skip to main content

We obsessively cover the auto industry…

31 New Articles in the last 24 hours Hide

Quick Spin
2015 Chevrolet Corvette Stingray

  • Quick Spin
    2015 Chevrolet Corvette Stingray
  • Featured
    We cruised Woodward in the 2015 Dodge Challenger SRT Hellcat [w/video]
  • Monterey
    We obsessively covered the 2014 Monterey Car Week
  • Official
    Chevy Corvette gets Valet Mode with Performance Data Recorder [w/video]
Tip Us

2015 Chevrolet Corvette Stingray

We Test The Advanced New 8-Speed Automatic To See How The Majority Live

Posted Aug 20th 2014 11:57AM



If the world were populated exclusively with Autoblog commenters, Chevrolet probably wouldn't even offer an automatic transmission in its 2015 Corvette Stingray. Somehow the desire to drive with three pedals and the willingness to leave your two cents on a digital car review are inexorably linked.

But, of course, the comment section of our fair website is not the real world, exactly. The reality is that some 65 percent of Corvette C7s sold so far have been equipped with two pedals. During the 2014 model year, that has meant that the almost universally lauded new Stingray has shipped mostly with a six-speed automatic that wasn't up to the technological standards of the rest of the car.

When he reviewed the C7 for the first time, our own Michael Harley had these, not-minced words to say about the existing 6AT:

"The traditional six-speed automatic seemed to extinguish the C7's performance edge. I found it softer, slower and more lethargic (even paddle-initiated shifts had annoying lag). Even though it was every bit as quick in terms of outright acceleration, the gearbox took much of the excitement out of the driving experience."

Clearly there was room to improve.

Thankfully, I can now report that the improvements have been made, and that the new, General Motors-designed Hydra-Matic 8L90 is up to the task of shifting one of the best sports cars in the world. Take heed, 65-percenters.

Driving Notes
  • With some fantastic, many-geared automatic transmissions on the market from specialized companies like ZF, GM engineers knew that their unit would need to be world class. To that end, they concentrated on improving performance without sacrificing durability; all while needing to satisfy the challenging packaging requirements of the Corvette. Aluminum and magnesium have been used to reduce rotational mass, while pressed steel parts can still be found in the torque-bearing bits of the trans. A chain-driven, binary-vane oil pump in the sump has even been optimized for low- and high-speed engine loads. All of that helps to make this 8AT incredibly fast acting and responsive, while also improving fuel efficiency.
  • And it's strong. The trans was designed around the upcoming Z06, meaning it had to be rated to handle more than 650 pound-feet of torque.
  • Down to it then. Executing shifts in manual mode feels dual-clutch quick, for sure. The Chevy guys were puffing out their chests talking about the speed of this 8AT versus Porsche's PDK, and the truth is that the reaction time from paddle-pull to upshift is right there. At least, as that's what my imperfect human brain can suss out – any advantage to the quickest dual clutches I've yanked would require a machine to judge.
  • For my money though, and for the love of the 65-percent, the real test comes when you leave the lever in D. I actually did all but one of my laps of GM's dizzying Milford Road Course in full auto mode, and found the programming and response time of the trans to be impeccable. Set to Race mode, the software seemed to have me in the right gear for every corner entrance and exit, holding each of the short ratios for maximum power delivery as I ran up the few straight bits.
  • I got a hot lap with one of the GM hotshoes, as well, which confirmed outright capability of the 8L90. I may not have believed my driver's rhetoric alone – he told me he was quicker in full auto than when shifting for himself – but on his lightning lap, I could hear the car clicking off gears in synchronization with the needs of the track.
  • As for driving on public streets – of which I did for perhaps 50 miles – the AT is just dandy, too. To be fair, it's over the course of spirited-back-road driving that the involvement of a manual transmission is most enjoyable to me. But the eight-speed had no issue going from leisurely cruising to the occasional moment of massive corner attack, and back again.
  • For daily driving, Chevy says 8AT owners will see a 3.5-percent improvement in fuel economy. Preliminary EPA estimates show ratings of 29 miles per gallon on the highway, 16 in the city and 20 combined (with the standard engine). What's more, I was told those numbers should continue the Corvette tradition of being easy to achieve in the real world (something owners are strangely likely to brag about).
  • Oh, and the new auto is quicker to 60 mph, too – 3.7 seconds to do the deed with the Z51 performance package. That's a tenth quicker than the manual, for the record.
  • It is also just a bit more expensive. Though full pricing for the MY15 cars hasn't been given yet, I was told the eight speed will add $1,800 to the sticker price, versus the $1,600 asked for the outgoing automatic.
  • There's no question that the great things we had to say about the 2014 Corvette stay true for 2015, too. The handling at a race pace is sublime with occasional moments of scariness if you, like me, don't go to work in head-to-toe Nomex. I was particularly impressed with the overall grip of the car, even after I did half a lap of MRC in some light rain. This is a balanced, poised machine until you get silly with it (and even then, it's still fun).
  • On a personal note, and repping for the really tall guys everywhere, I will say that there's less room in the cabin for my six feet and five inches than I'd like, at least when I'm wearing a helmet. On public roads, I felt a bit cramped laterally, but not so badly that I'd feel the need to, you know, not drive a Corvette. On the other hand, if you're really tall and looking for a car to track, you might want to measure out carefully.
To sum: the 2015 Corvette Stingray is a brilliant sports car made better for most of its actual buyers with this transmission. It may not be the purist's special, but it is a highly advanced unit that will offer real gains for many drivers, and is closer than ever to the goodness of the enthusiast-darling stick shift. You may not love my saying it, Average Autoblog Commenter, but you really should respect these AT chops.

Vital Stats

Engine:
6.2L V8
Power:
460 HP / 465 LB-FT
Transmission:
8-Speed Auto
Base Price:
$53,000 (est)

Image Credit: Copyright 2014 Seyth Miersma / AOL

Dodge Viper to out-Hell the Hellcat with supercharged V10?

Posted Aug 20th 2014 11:30AM

2013 SRT Viper

The Viper wouldn't be the Viper if it wasn't the most powerful model under the Chrysler umbrella. But with the arrival of the Hellcat engine in the Dodge Charger and Challenger, the Viper has fallen behind in the bragging rights department: where the new supercharged V8 produces 707 horsepower and 650 pound-feet of torque, the naturally aspirated V10 offers "only" 640 hp and 600 lb-ft – gargantuan output figures by almost any other standard, but crucially behind on the SRT power scale. Conner Avenue is going to have to do something about that.

Although the Hellcat's engine reportedly won't fit under the Viper's hood, SRT is now rumored to have another trick up its sleeve: supercharge the existing V10. According to the Pentastar performance enthusiasts at allpar.com, Chrysler has already taken delivery of the first such prototype engines so that it can begin the process of fitting it into an upgraded Viper.

The spooled ten-pot is tipped to produce around 800 hp and 650 lb-ft of torque. More than that and the Viper's drivetrain, chassis and bodywork would have to be substantially reworked. Though beefier transmissions are available, fitting them would reportedly set off a domino-game of changes required to handle the added torque. Which may be something Chrysler would be prepared to do for the next-generation model, but in the meantime, 800 hp could prove enough to put the Viper back atop the Mopar performance ladder where it belongs, and give it an edge against the new Corvette Z06 to rekindle sales.

News Source: allpar.com

Image Credit: Copyright 2014 AOL

Lamborghini may offer rear-drive Huracán

Posted Aug 20th 2014 11:01AM

Lamborghini Huracán LP610-4

Lamborghini may not offer a manual-transmission option on the new Huracán – so few customers were asking for it on the preceding Gallardo as it was – but don't think that it won't pursue ever more hardcore variants. And that will reportedly include a rear-drive version.

Speaking with journalists at the Pebble Beach unveiling of the new Huracán Super Trofeo, Lamborghini CEO Stefan Winkelmann is reported to have said, "We did it with the Gallardo so it might be an option. We are a four-wheel-drive super-sports car [manufacturer] but why should we not do a rear-drive option?"

The rear-drive Huracán would naturally shed a few pounds off the all-wheel-drive version's curb weight, but the question is just how much. There is said to have only been so much of the AWD system that Sant'Agata was able to strip out of the Gallardo to make the rear-drive Balboni edition after the fact, but if the Huracán was engineered from the get-go for both drivetrains, the rear-drive version could prove that much more thrilling to drive.

In Lamborghini's alphanumeric nomenclature, the LP indicates a longitudinal aft engine placement, the next three letters for the metric output and the -2 or -4 indicating the number of driven wheels. The Balboni and subsequent, more mainstream rear-drive coupe and convertible versions of the Gallardo wore the characters LP 550-2 because they dropped ten horses together with the front driven wheels. The rear-drive Huracán, by extension, would likely be labeled as the LP 600-2.

Of course that won't be the only Huracán derivative the Raging Bull marque might offer. "We need lots of derivatives," said Winkelmann. "Customers expect it and we always need something new to talk about." Look for the Spyder version to arrive first, with a successor to the Superleggera and Super Trofeo Stradale to follow sometime thereafter.

News Source: Autocar

Image Credit: Lamborghini, Gallery images copyright 2014 Seyth Miersma / AOL

GM drops to No. 4 in revenue, No. 3 in sales

Posted Aug 20th 2014 10:32AM

Massive Ignition Switch Recall Weighs Heavy On GM's Profits

It doesn't seem that long ago that General Motors was far and away the largest automaker in the world. In fact it was for the better part of a century. But that was before Toyota started to encroach and a series of damning events began to unfold to drive GM into bankruptcy. Now it's slid down to fourth place.

With the financial statements in for the first half of 2014, GM dropped to the fourth place with gross revenues of $39 billion. That puts the General behind Volkswagen (which reported $68 billion in revenue), Toyota (at $62 billion) and a surprise upsurge from Daimler, which nudged past at $42 billion. GM did, however, just beat out the Renault-Nissan Alliance by $100 million, and came in well ahead of Ford ($37B), Hyundai ($33B), Fiat-Chrysler ($31B), Honda ($29B) and BMW ($26B).

Those numbers, of course, relate to revenues – multiplying sales volume by how much each automaker charges for each vehicle sold. When it comes to the volume of cars produced, GM ranks in third place with 4.92 million units sold in the first six months of 2014, behind Toyota's 5.1 million and VW's 4.97.

News Source: The Detroit Bureau

Image Credit: Bill Pugliano / Getty

2015 Subaru Legacy, Outback crash their way to IIHS Top Safety Pick+ ratings [w/video]

Posted Aug 20th 2014 9:59AM

Subaru Legacy

Subaru OutbackThe Subaru Legacy and Outback are the latest vehicles to be awarded the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety's most prestigious safety title, Top Safety Pick+.

As we've explained many times before, this only applies vehicles that can score an "Acceptable" or "Good" rating on the five IIHS crash tests and earn at least a "Basic" rating for crash prevention systems.

In the Legacy's case, it totally aced IIHS's testing, earning "Good" scores on the small overlap, front moderate overlap, side impact, roof crush and rear impact tests, while also bringing home the top "Superior" rating for its optional EyeSight system.

According to IIHS, Subaru holds more Top Safety Pick titles than any other manufacturer, with seven vehicles earning the safety award. Of those, four of them are TSP+ vehicles.

Scroll down for video of the Legacy's small-overlap test, as well as press releases from both IIHS and Subaru.
Related Gallery2015 Subaru Legacy
2015 Subaru Legacy2015 Subaru Legacy2015 Subaru Legacy2015 Subaru Legacy2015 Subaru Legacy2015 Subaru Legacy2015 Subaru Legacy2015 Subaru Legacy

News Source: IIHS via YouTube

2015 Corvette rated at 29 mpg highway with 8-speed auto, quicker to 60 [UPDATE]

Posted Aug 20th 2014 9:30AM



UPDATE: After reaching out to Chevy PR for clarification, we now know that the 16/29/20 City/Highway/Combined mile-per-gallon ratings are for the standard Corvette with the new eight-speed transmission, while the 0-60 and quarter-mile times are for the Z51-equipped car using the new trans. The company does not yet have mpg estimates for the Z51/8AT combination.

The Chevrolet Corvette Stingray is already one of the best performers in its class and price range, and Chevy is making it even better for the 2015 model year with the introduction of a new, eight-speed automatic to replace the previous six-speed. The updated transmission isn't exactly news, but the Bowtie brand is finally telling customers why the two extra gears are so important. Autoblog will have driving impressions of the 2015 up later today, but for now, you can snack on this delicious morsel of info as an amuse-bouche ahead of our full impressions.

The eight-speed carries an EPA-estimated rating of 29 miles per gallon highway, a 1-mpg improvement over the previous automatic, and the 16-mpg city and 20-mpg combined figures remain the same as before. According to Chevy, part of the improvement comes from a new 2.41 rear axle ratio that has the engine turning 8 percent less at 70 miles per hour. Though, Z51 models keep their 2.73 ratio at the rear.

However, it's not all about eking out slightly better economy, as the eight-speed also makes the Stingray even quicker than before. The gearbox hustles the 2015 'Vette to 60 mph in 3.7 seconds, a tenth better than with six gears. The run through the quarter mile also drops a tenth to 11.9 seconds. The boost in performance comes thanks to a more aggressive first-gear ratio than before, the company claims.

Of course, not everyone wants an automatic, even an improved one, so for those who want to row their own gears, the seven-speed manual is still available too. Scroll down to read Chevy's full announcement and look forward to our Quick Spin coming soon.

News Source: Chevrolet

Image Credit: Copyright 2014 Seyth Miersma / AOL

Ford begins testing right-hand-drive Mustang

Posted Aug 20th 2014 9:02AM

2015 Ford Mustang right-hand drive

Ford has officially kicked off testing of the right-hand-drive variant of its sixth-generation, 2015 Mustang, according to a statement issued by the company, which came with the above photo.

According to Ford, this will mark the first time a right-hand-drive 'Stang has traveled down the company's assembly line alongside its LHD brethren. It is far from the first of the legendary pony cars to feature its wheel on the wrong side, though, as converters in RHD markets across the globe have been making swaps for years.

Ford is planning on using the white, droptop Mustang for RHD development ahead of the car's arrival in the UK, Australia and South Africa, among other markets. Scroll down for the official press blast.

News Source: Ford

Skoda reveals new Fabia ahead of Paris debut

Posted Aug 20th 2014 8:30AM

2015 Skoda Fabia

Since it doesn't market in these United States, Škoda may not be an automaker consistently on our radar screen. But it sells nearly a million vehicles each year in markets like Europe and China, and though it doesn't ell as many as the larger Octavia, the Fabia is one of the Czech automaker's biggest sellers. In fact Škoda sold over 12,000 Fabias just last month, despite the model having been on the market virtually unchanged for seven years already. But now the Volkswagen's most bohemian brand is rolling out the third-generation model.

Set to be unveiled at Paris Motor Show in October, production of the new Fabia is already set to begin before the end of the month at the company's upgraded plant in Mladá Boleslav. Based on VW Group's A05 platform, the new Fabia shares its underpinnings with the Volkswagen Polo, Seat Ibiza and Audi A1... only while full specifications have yet to be announced, if the previous two versions are anything to go by, the new Fabia will once again offer more space than its platform-mates.

Expect the new Fabia, revealed in these photos for the first time, to offer a wide range of engine choices (including four gasoline and three diesel engines) with stop/start and brake energy recuperation systems when it starts hitting showrooms in markets around the world... even if that doesn't include our own.
Related Gallery2015 Skoda Fabia
2015 Skoda Fabia2015 Skoda Fabia2015 Skoda Fabia2015 Skoda Fabia2015 Skoda Fabia2015 Skoda Fabia2015 Skoda Fabia2015 Skoda Fabia

News Source: Skoda

Max Verstapen to drive for Toro Rosso in 2015

Posted Aug 20th 2014 7:59AM

Max Verstappen

As the 2014 Formula One World Championship returns from its summer break, preparations are beginning for next season with the latest announcement coming from Scuderia Toro Rosso. After having signed on with the Red Bull Junior Team development program earlier this month, Max Verstappen has now been promoted to a race seat for next season with STR.

Born in 1997, Verstappen will be the youngest driver ever to compete in F1 when he makes his debut next season. The young rookie has enjoyed a meteoric rise up the motor racing ladder. Just last year he was still in karts, and is currently standing in second place in the FIA European Formula 3 Championship, having already won several races – including the coveted Masters of Formula 3 race at Zandvoort.

The latest legacy driver to join the grid, Max is the son of Jos "the Boss" Verstappen who competed in F1 off and on between 1994 and 2004, scoring just two podium finishes (in his first year with Benetton) but taking an LMP2 class win at Le Mans in 2008.

At Toro Rosso next season, Max will drive alongside Russian rookie Daniil Kvyat, who just made his debut this season and became the youngest driver ever to score a championship point at the 2014 Australian Grand Prix. He replaces Jean-Eric Vergne, a similarly accomplished F3 driver who has failed to take a single podium finish in three seasons with the "other" Scuderia.

News Source: Scuderia Toro Rosso

Autoblog Podcast #393 goes LIVE at 10PM Eastern!

Monterey Car Week, Jeffrey Rothfeder Interview, Woodward Dream Cruise, Dodge Charger Hellcat, Mid-Engine Corvette

Posted Aug 19th 2014 9:30PM

Autoblog Podcast Live


We're almost ready to record Episode #393 of the Autoblog Podcast! You can check out the topics below, add your own to the Q&A and join us live via UStream, as well. Keep reading for our embedded UStream player, and thanks for listening!

Discussion Topics for Autoblog Podcast Episode #393

Mercedes-Benz Sprinter and Ford Transit can haul on the track

Posted Aug 19th 2014 8:00PM

Mercedes Sprinter versus Ford Transit

Line up any two comparable vehicles, and eople are going to want to race them. Need proof? In its latest track battle, Auto Express wants to know which commercial vehicle can lap a circuit faster – a Ford Transit or Mercedes-Benz Sprinter. Let's face it, neither of these European vans were ever meant to be near the track unless they are delivering a racecar and a ton of parts for a fun weekend, but it's massively fun to watch them give it a go anyway.

The one thing that Auto Express really illustrates here is the modern marvel that is stability control. The driver hops curves, and these big vans lean in the corners like your friend walking home from a long night at the bar. However, because of the amazing stability systems, the vans mostly keep all of their wheels planted and never seem close to getting sloppy, despite their behemoth size.

Unfortunately, the two vans aren't exactly fairly paired. The Ford has a dual rear axle and a few other advantages over the Mercedes, but it's still hilarious to watch them go. Even better, the host breaks down everything happening behind the wheel like these commercial vehicles were two Porsches. Enjoy watching this very unorthodox battle between Ford and Mercedes.

News Source: Auto Express via YouTube

Image Credit: Copyright 2014 AOL

What you missed on 8.19.14

Posted Aug 19th 2014 7:30PM

Daily U-Turn

ALS Ice Bucket challengeAutoblog takes the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge

Yeah, it's a fad. Yeah, lots of people are doing it. But it's a fad that was created to benefit a worthwhile charity, and the more people do it, the more money gets donated. Of course, you could also click and watch just to see the editors of Autoblog dump ice cold water on their heads. Either way, the video awaits.


Audi R8 V8We review the 2014 Audi R8 V8

The Audi R8 has been with us for so long that sometimes we forget just how great it is. Which is to say it's rather great indeed. Our man Jonathon Ramsey takes the keys to the bright white example you see to the right, and proceeds to drive it all over Germany and into France. Want to know what he thought? Click the link above to read all about it.





2015 Dodge Challenger Hellcat on Woodward AveWhat's it like to show up to the Woodward Dream Cruise in the hottest new muscle car?

If there's one common denominator at the Woodward Dream Cruise, it's a love of horsepower. It doesn't matter if those ponies are smoking the tires of an foreign car or domestic – well, hailing from Detroit might make a difference – whether it has two doors or four. Dream Cruisers love horsepower, and the 707-horsepower Challenger Hellcat is happy to oblige.



Top Stories

2015 Mercedes C-Class configurator tucks in

Posted Aug 19th 2014 7:01PM

A screenshot of the configurator for the 2015 Mercedes-Benz C-Class.

We know it takes $39,325 just to get a C300 off the lot, now that Mercedes-Benz has posted the configurator for the 2015 C-Class we can research how much we'll need to get the one we want. Going for tempered extravagance first, we built a C400 with options like the multispoke wheels, LED-stuffed exterior lighting, the leather-bound Interior Package, the Multimedia and Driver Assistance Packages, and the Hands-Free Access Package as a cherry. We could have motored back home for $59,575.

Then we went the other way, kitting out a C300 with fewer options and more sport. That meant adding the Sport Package for fancy wheels and the sport interior, we stuck with black MB-Tex and aluminum inside, plus heated front seats, then skipped all the premium interior packages but did Keyless Go for $550, Airmatic Suspension, the rear view camera, and splurged on the illuminated star up front and a spoiler in back. The register rang up $47,200.

There are a few curious details, starting with the color palette: eight of the ten exterior hues are from the monochrome range; the only two real colors are Dakota Brown Metallic (pictured) and Lunar Blue Metallic. In Germany, they also get a bright blue and a Hyacinth Red. The C400 gets four choices of interior material and three of interior trim, the C300 gets 15 choices of material and seven of trim. Then there are à-la-carte gotchas like the Head-Up Display, which lists for $990 but choosing it automatically adds the $2,700 Premium Package. But hey, it's only configurator money, so have at it.

News Source: Mercedes-Benz USA via Toucans Web

Image Credit: Copyright 2014 Steven J. Ewing / AOL / Mercedes-Benz

Caparo T1 Evolution to carry $1.5M sticker price

Posted Aug 19th 2014 6:30PM

Caparo T1

If you're looking for racecar performance for the street (or at least for non-competitive track days), it doesn't get much more direct than the Caparo T1. With "only" 575 horsepower on tap, the lightweight F1-car-for-the-road will rocket to 60 miles per hour in 2.5 seconds and grip the tarmac like nothing else on road or track, all for $400k. But even at that price, Caparo has only sold a handful of T1s. The upcoming T1 Evolution, however, will cost more. Much more.

According to Dutch newspaper De Telegraaf's automotive publication Autovisie, the upcoming Caparo T1 Evolution will cost a whopping 1.1 million euros – equivalent to nearly $1.5 million at today's rates. That's almost enough to buy four standard T1s, or even more than the latest hybrid hypercars like the Ferrari LaFerrari, McLaren P1 or Porsche 918 Spyder. (Close to two times the latter, in fact.)

So what do you get for all that scratch? Details are still rather limited, but as we reported a couple of weeks ago, the T1 Evolution is slated to pack 700 horsepower along with new electronics like an on-board telemetry system as well as ABS, traction control and stability management. As a result, you can expect the T1 Evo to be even more extreme in its performance than the vehicle on which it is based, but you'll have to pay dearly for the privilege.
Related GalleryCaparo T1
Caparo T1Caparo T1Caparo T1Caparo T1Caparo T1Caparo T1Caparo T1Caparo T1

News Source: Autovisie

Loading

Loading
Advertisement
Autoblog iPhone App
Shop for a vehicle