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How traffic enforcement could play out on roads of the future

New Systems Offer Potential, But Automated Tickets Already Irk Drivers

Posted Sep 23rd 2014 4:01PM

The applications of connected-car technology may eventually lie beyond the authority of its creators.

On the roads of the future, it's possible that speeding tickets will be doled out by new automated law enforcement systems instead of by police officers in patrol cars.

Systems now being developed by the federal government to handle vehicle-to-vehicle and vehicle-to-infrastructure communications in an upcoming connected-car era may have the capability to more precisely track the locations and speeds of individual motorists.

Officials behind the creation of these communications systems say V2V and V2I communications are not intended for law-enforcement purposes, and a report issued by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration last month said there's not enough data in the transmissions to link such speeding calculations to individual motorists. But then the agency's top-ranking official said it was indeed possible. He said the roadblocks were in the consumer acceptance of such automated enforcement, not in the capabilities of the system.

"I know there is potential for law enforcement to optimize some of these things, but if we go too far, too fast in that direction, it could create some consumer backlash that could hurt its adoption," said David Friedman, NHTSA's deputy administrator, while speaking earlier this month at a conference of transportation officials in Grand Rapids, MI. "The technology is there, but our initial design is not focused on that."

Though skeptical of its adoption, his statement is the first that acknowledges the technical possibility of such an enforcement system. That's important because, even if enforcement possibilities are not the intent of V2V and V2I systems, the applications of connected-car technology may eventually lie beyond the authority of its creators: laws governing traffic enforcement are largely a function of local and state governments.

Image Credit: Associated Press

Next Toyota Prius coming in 60-mpg 'Eco Grade' version?

Posted Sep 23rd 2014 3:29PM

Next-gen Toyota Prius MPG chart

There's some mystery surrounding the fuel economy level of the next-generation Toyota Prius. The closest we've had to an official number is 55 miles per gallon, which was hinted at by Toyota Motor Corporation's managing officer, Satoshi Ogiso, last year. That number wasn't an official target, but the company even provided a graphic (above) showing how each next generation Prius beat the previous one by four or five mpg. Since the current, third-gen model gets 50, well, we have been left to guess that 55 is the next logical target.

But, according to a new report in Automotive News, the new, fourth-generation Prius that's due next year will come in two versions, with one having a bigger ego – sorry, eco – than the other. AN says that the model will arrive with a standard nickel-metal hydride battery pack in a version that gets "about 55 mpg" and then a new "eco grade" version with a li-ion battery that "will be rated at more than 60 mpg." AN says this information came from company executives who were speaking at an August meeting with Toyota dealers. Our sources within Toyota say that they haven't heard anything about two high-efficiency models, so we'll take this with the requisite grain of salt. The current version of the Prius Plug-In Hybrid does use lithium-ion batteries, but this is the non-plug model the dealers are talking about. We think.

The dual-battery strategy is certainly a rumor we've heard before. We had thought that the li-ion pack would be for an extended EV range (the current Prius has a barely noticeable EV-only range), but such a pack would be lighter and could boost efficiency, too.

In other words, we look forward to hearing more during the upcoming auto show season.
Related GalleryToyota Hybrid World Tour
Toyota Hybrid World TourToyota Hybrid World TourToyota Hybrid World TourToyota Hybrid World TourToyota Hybrid World TourToyota Hybrid World TourToyota Hybrid World TourToyota Hybrid World Tour

Leno shows some style with a '67 Lancia Fulvia 1.3 Zagato

Posted Sep 23rd 2014 3:00PM

1967 Lancia Fulvia 1.3 Zagato

Given the number of cars in Jay Leno's collection, plus the ones he just gets to drive, it seems like the number of classics that he hasn't been behind the wheel of could be listed on a Post-It note. However, Jay Leno's Garage viewers are in luck this week because they get to watch the host experience a vehicle for the very first time, and he comes away suitably impressed.

The model in question is a 1967 Lancia Fulvia Sport 1.3 Zagato that's owned by auto appraiser and journalist Donald Osborne. It's a good thing that he's around, too, because Jay is pretty clearly out of his element when discussing this beautiful coupe. The two of them end up having a fairly long conversation about not just this car but also the whole history of Lancia.

According to Osborne, the Zagato-bodied version was the top model of the Fulvia range, and the famous coachbuilder made about 7,000 of them between 1965 and 1972. The styling featured a gorgeous mix of razor sharp creases and shapely curves to really set the design apart from its contemporaries, and power came from a 1.3-liter V4 spinning the front wheels.

It's fascinating to watch Leno learning about the car for the first time over the course of the video and then start picking out little details about the Fulvia that he likes. Get educated right along with him in this interesting episode looking at one of the great Lancias.

News Source: Jay Leno's Garage via YouTube

Volkswagen offers Beetle Classic, priced from $20,195*

Posted Sep 23rd 2014 2:31PM

2015 Volkswagen Beetle Classic

The current Volkswagen Beetle already tries to be a fairly retro-looking ride by cribbing styling elements from the iconic original. However, for the new, limited-edition Classic model, VW is hopping into the time machine to grab even more vintage cues. The company is even cutting the price, perhaps in hopes of turning around flagging sales this year. You don't need to wait long for any of these upgrades either because the automaker says that the Classic goes on sale this week for $20,195, *excluding the $820 destination charge. That's $100 less than a bone-stock Beetle.

Starting as a standard Beetle with VW's 1.8-liter turbocharged four-cylinder with 170 horsepower and 177 pound-feet of torque, the Classic edition comes with a six-speed automatic and then adds some retro flair. It includes new vintage-look 17-inch wheels with simulated dog dish polished hubcaps over black spokes. It also comes with a rear spoiler, and the automaker is offering the model in Pure White, Black Uni, and Reflex Silver.

The interior mixes in a few more classic touches but includes modern amenities like a standard navigation system, satellite radio and multifunction steering wheel. However, the seats are finished in a two-tone design combining light brown leatherette on the sides and checked cloth centers, plus lumbar support for the driver's side. The shift knob and handbrake also get wrapped in leather.

If you like the idea of a somewhat more retro Beetle but want to drop the top, have no fear. VW will add a convertible version of the Classic edition in early 2015 for $25,995, before destination, with all of the same interior and exterior changes as the coupe. Scroll down to read the official announcement.

News Source: Volkswagen

2015 Mustang-based Saleen S302 to boast as much as 640 hp

Posted Sep 23rd 2014 1:57PM

2015 Saleen S302 Mustang

2015 Saleen S302 MustangThe Ford Mustang is obviously a famous performance vehicle in its own right, but it often works even better as a platform for the aftermarket to upgrade. With the all-new 2015 model just now hitting the scene, the famous tuners at Saleen are getting their improvements for the new pony car ready for the world. After recently teasing it, the specs for its fresh S302 model are officially here, along with a first look at it in profile.

Of course, the biggest question on everyone's mind is how much power the company can get from the Mustang's V8. With the 2015 V8 model rated at 435 horsepower and 400 pound-feet, Saleen expects to bump the Ford factory numbers slightly to 450 hp and 410 lb-ft in naturally aspirated form, or with the benefit of a supercharger, it will rocket the engine's output figures to 640 hp and 565 lb-ft. No matter which powerplant a buyer chooses, there are a wide variety of available final-drive ratios with a six-speed manual or automatic gearbox.

Available as either a coupe or convertible forms, Saleen will offer its S302 in three trim levels – White Label, Yellow Label and Black Label. The White Label is the only naturally aspirated one of the bunch, but it still benefits from upgrades like a new exhaust, limited-slip differential, improved suspension, heat extractor hood and rear wing.

The real action is in the supercharged Yellow and Black Labels. The Yellow version basically follows the same path as the White trim, except with extra power. However, the Black gets the full suite of mods, including a center induction hood, side skirts, a new rear fascia integrated with the exhaust, further suspension upgrades, illuminated sill places, leather and Alcantara seats, plus a whole range of optional colors.

The company is currently taking reservations for the S302 for $2,015 (we see what you did there, Saleen). Scroll down to read the company's brief press release about its latest, tuned Mustang, and click through the gallery to read the whole order guide, including this supercharged pony car's specs.
Related Gallery2015 Saleen S302 Mustang
2015 Saleen S302 Mustang2015 Saleen S302 Mustang2015 Saleen S302 Mustang2015 Saleen S302 Mustang2015 Saleen S302 Mustang2015 Saleen S302 Mustang

News Source: Saleen

Volkswagen unveils Tristar truck concept in Hannover

Posted Sep 23rd 2014 1:30PM

Volkswagen Tristar

Pickups may not be the first type of vehicle you associate with Volkswagen, but the German automaker does make a handful – even if they aren't available in the US. There's the Amarok we recently drove in the UK and the new Saveiro recently revealed in Brazil. And at the International Commercial Vehicle show in Hannover, Germany, VW is presenting the pickup concept you see here.

Based on its T-series vans, the Tristar concept is being shown on the 30th anniversary of the original Syncro – the most rough-and-tumble, jack-of-all-trades version of the T2 van. It bears what will likely be the design of its next-generation commercial vehicles, but with a short pickup bed behind its extended cab, all packed into a short wheelbase. That pickup bed, incidentally, is split into two parts, with a watertight compartment under the load floor.

Inside you'll find a 20-inch foldout tabletop tablet and even an onboard espresso machine packed into a clean, simple and flexible cabin space designed to suit professionals and surfers alike. It's all motivated by a 2.0-liter TDI inline four with 200 horsepower and 332 pound-feet of torque driven through a seven-speed dual-clutch gearbox to all four wheels. 0-62 is quoted at 10 seconds flat, with top speed pegged at 115 mph.

News Source: Volkswagen

Audi UrQuattro gets the Petrolicious narrative

Posted Sep 23rd 2014 12:44PM

Petrolicious: Audi Quattro

Audi started a revolution in the world of rallying when it paired an all-wheel-drive system with a turbocharged, five-cylinder engine and a rakish, three-door body. That car, the Quattro, didn't just upset the entire balance of the World Rally Championship, it (eventually) led to a transformative effect on the consumer car market.

But we're not just interested in this car simply because history has proven the UrQuattro to be important – we love its sharply creased looks, its offbeat soundtrack and its gravel-spitting abilities. Evidently, so does the crew from Petrolicious, as they've lavished their lenses upon the car. This particular model hails from 1983, and has covered a healthy 175,000 miles, says owner Manuel Leon Minassian. His first experience with the Ur (meaning "original") came in Beirut, where the car received plenty of praise from students at his school.

That first encounter led to a long passion for the Quattro, culminating in his purchase of this car four years ago. Take a look at Minassian and his Audi in the latest video from Petrolicious.

News Source: Petrolicious via YouTube

2015 Porsche Cayenne S

Turbo V6 Makes Best-Selling Porsche More Potent Than Ever

Posted Sep 23rd 2014 11:57AM

2015 Porsche Cayenne S

Oh, Porsche.

Just as the dust settles over the 911 GT3's no manual gearbox kerfuffle, the Germans have gone and yanked the yummy naturally aspirated 4.8-liter V8 from the Cayenne S and replaced it with a twin-turbo 3.6-liter V6. Is nothing sacred in Porscheland?

Perhaps not... but that's not necessarily a bad thing. After all, Porsche famously once said they'd never build a diesel, but when they did, it was actually rather stellar.

All 2015 Cayennes get subtly reworked front and rear ends, with a wider looking nose and bladed intakes feeding intercoolers, while reworked headlamps and taillights emphasize a family resemblance to the Macan. New suspension bushings and bearings combined with reworked shock internals provide sharper handling and a greater range of damping adjustability, while the standard equipment list gets a much needed boost, so to speak, with features like auto stop/start and bi-Xenon headlights. New options include rear seat air vents and smart cruise control, among others. But apart from the S E-Hybrid's new plug-in configuration and its lithium-ion battery, the most notable change in the lineup is the Cayenne S's jettisoning of the V8.

Vital Stats

Twin-Turbo 3.6L V6
420 HP / 406 LB-FT
8-Speed Auto
Base Price:
As-Tested Price:

Image Credit: Copyright 2014 Basem Wasef / AOL, Porsche

Chrysler and Google launch virtual 200 factory tour [w/video]

Posted Sep 23rd 2014 11:27AM

Chrysler 200 Factory Tour from Google

Google is no stranger to showing off some of the most interesting automotive destinations in the world, like the museums for Lamborghini and Ducati, or even a Tesla showroom. However, it's taking that technology even further with a new, in-depth look of the Sterling Heights Assembly Plant where the Chrysler 200 is made. Unlike these earlier online excursions, the new Chrysler factory tour is a fully guided experience that includes several 360-degree videos explaining many parts of the production process.

"Just as we pioneered a completely new Chrysler 200, we are pioneering a new way for consumers to research a vehicle. The Factory Tour is an opportunity for us to prove to consumers that the all-new 2015 Chrysler 200 is not one ever built before," said Olivier Francois, Chrysler's chief marketing officer, in the company's release.

Chrysler was already pretty proud of its nearly $1 billion in recent updates to the Sterling Heights factory having released a look at the 200's assembly process earlier this year. However, the new Google tour goes far deeper by including 12 videos, and between highlighted stops, viewers can swing the camera all over to get a full view of the action. The whole thing is an intriguing way to show the way a modern car gets built.

You can take the Chrysler 200 Factory Tour for yourself, here. Just keep clicking on the blue arrow along the way to follow the guided view. Or scroll down to watch a video showing a few of the sights and read the full announcement for the collaboration.

News Source: Chrysler via YouTube

2015 North American Car and Truck/Utility of the Year Award short list released [UPDATE]

Posted Sep 23rd 2014 10:57AM

North American Car and Truck/Utility of the Year award closeup

UPDATE: Ford has just informed the NACTOY jury that the 2015 Edge will not go on sale in time for consideration. Thus, it has been removed from the short list and the story below has been updated accordingly.

2015 model-year cars and trucks are starting to filter into dealers in earnest, and with that, the newly expanded jury from the North American Car and Truck/Utility of the Year awards is getting serious about assessing this year's talented new crop with an eye toward doling out the awards in January.

Back in the beginning of August, the NACTOY jury released this year's long list of around 60 new vehicles that it would consider for the awards. While that list basically included everything slated to go on sale in the 2015 model year, this tighter list of 10 cars and 12 truck/utility/crossover vehicles highlights the products that the self-funded, independent and non-profit jury of North American auto writers have determined to be worthy of closer inspection and consideration.

This year, no one automaker dominates the short list, but Ford, General Motors and Toyota have tied with three nominees apiece. The Blue Oval's contenders include Mustang, F-150 and the Lincoln MKC, while Toyota has its redesigned Camry, Highlander and Lexus NX crossover. Finally, GM's slate is made up of the Chevrolet Colorado and GMC Canyon twins and the Tahoe SUV. Audi, Hyundai and Mercedes-Benz have scored a pair of nominations each.

2015 North American Car of the Year Short List
  • Acura TLX
  • Audi A3
  • Chrysler 200
  • Ford Mustang
  • Honda Fit
  • Hyundai Genesis sedan
  • Hyundai Sonata
  • Mercedes-Benz C-Class
  • Toyota Camry
  • Volkswagen Golf/GTI
2015 North American Truck/Utility of the Year Short List
  • Audi Q3
  • Chevrolet Colorado
  • Chevrolet Tahoe
  • Ford F-150
  • GMC Canyon
  • Lexus NX
  • Lincoln MKC
  • Mercedes-Benz GLA-Class
  • Nissan Murano
  • Porsche Macan
  • Subaru Outback
  • Toyota Highlander
At this still-early stage in the yearly judging, most jurors have not driven every nominee due to late vehicle availability (e.g. Nissan Murano), but the panel has been encouraged to give vehicles the benefit of the doubt in voting when culling the nominees down from long list to short list in order to ensure they get their just consideration.

The jury will now focus on getting quality time behind the wheel of each vehicle, including the opportunity to drive the vehicles back-to-back in a group setting this fall before another round of ballots go out and a vote is cast to determine the three finalists in each category. The top six vehicles will then be revealed ahead of a final round of testing, analysis and voting. The winners will be revealed at a press conference that opens the Detroit Auto Show.

Which vehicles do you think should take home the coveted crystal? Which vehicles do you think will? Have your say in Comments.

Full Disclosure: Author is a NACTOY jury member.

Cadillac moving to NY as separate business unit

Posted Sep 23rd 2014 10:29AM

Cadillac XTS in New York

Cadillac is under new leadership, and the automaker is committed to turning itself (back) into a global luxury powerhouse. It's got a strong product offensive (of products currently in showrooms, and much more on the way), and now it will have a new location to call home.

Following earlier speculation, GM has confirmed that it is moving Cadillac's base of operations from Detroit to New York. Lest you think it might rent offices in the Chrysler Building (which is, after all, one of the tallest in the city), the new Cadillac global headquarters will be located in the Soho area with a "multipurpose brand and event space in conjunction with modern loft offices." The company is still evaluating which staff will move along with it to Manhattan, and which will remain in Michigan where technical operations will still be based.

The move from Detroit to New York is the first major change being instituted by new Cadillac chief Johan de Nysschen, who previously undertook a similar shift in moving Infiniti away from Nissan headquarters to its own facility in Hong Kong. Ford had attempted a similar move in relocating its luxury portfolio under the Premier Automotive Group (which then included Lincoln, Mercury, Land Rover, Jaguar, Aston Martin and Volvo) from Dearborn to Irvine, CA, but ended up moving Lincoln (the last one still under the Ford umbrella) back to Michigan. Other luxury automakers like Audi (Volkswagen) and Maserati (Fiat) are headquartered away from their parent companies as well, but have a longer history of independent operation.

As big a development as the geographic relocation is for Cadillac and GM, however, it's not the sum total of the changes announced today. Cadillac is also spinning off from GM as a "separate business unit." Although it will still very much remain part of the GM portfolio, it is being elevated (or at least separated) from its existing status as a GM brand – which will inevitably mean more autonomy but also more responsibility for its own operations.

News Source: Cadillac

Infiniti Q80 Inspiration concept is bringing its sexy back to Paris

Posted Sep 23rd 2014 10:00AM

Infiniti Q80 Inspiration

A little over a month ago, Infiniti hinted at a new concept car it was apparently lining up for the upcoming Paris Motor Show. Then a few weeks ago it showed us a little more. But now, we're getting our best look yet at the new showcar.

Called the Q80 Inspiration, the concept takes the form of a four-door fastback – something along the lines of the Porsche Panamera or Audi A7, but with Infiniti's signature swoopy lines. Created to serve as "a design and technological highlight to which Infiniti's four worldwide design studios will refer regularly in coming years," the Q80 Inspiration may be more design study than pre-production prototype. But the concept is to be taken, according to the statement below, "as clear intent to have an entry into the newly defined premium fastback segment."

Incrementally larger than the Panamera in every dimension but height, the Q80 features a teardrop greenhouse, with four doors opening "portal style" into a four-seat cabin done up in carbon fiber, aluminum and leather. Watch this space for more as Infiniti continues the gradual reveal of its new show car as its debut in Paris approaches apace.

News Source: Infiniti

Volkswagen updates Polo GTI in time for Paris

Posted Sep 23rd 2014 9:29AM

2015 VW Polo GTI

Volkswagen uses a number of performance badges on different models. Depending on the market, buyers can get a Jetta GLI, a Scirocco R, a diesel Golf GTD and of course the most iconic hot hatch of them all, the GTI. And those are just the front-drive models. But though it's the performance Golf that wears those letters exclusively in the US market, overseas it's not the only one: So does the smaller Polo GTI, and now Volkswagen is introducing a new version.

Expected to debut at the upcoming Paris Motor Show, the new Polo GTI offers several changes compared to the existing model. For one, its 1.8-liter twin-charged four has been upgraded from 177 horsepower to 189, dropping the 0-62 time down from 6.9 seconds to 6.7. Previously available only with the seven-speed dual-clutch transmission, VW has apparently heard the cries of the purists and is now offering the Polo GTI with a six-speed manual as well.

The hot Polo's appearance has also been updated with new bumpers front and rear, honeycomb grille with trademark red stripe and a dual exhaust poking out the back. Inside there's a new flat-bottomed steering wheel, plaid upholstery, red stitching and gloss black trim. We're still waiting on the official press release, but in the meantime you can scope out the images floating around in the gallery above.
Related Gallery2015 Volkswagen Polo GTI
2015 Volkswagen Polo GTI2015 Volkswagen Polo GTI2015 Volkswagen Polo GTI2015 Volkswagen Polo GTI2015 Volkswagen Polo GTI2015 Volkswagen Polo GTI2015 Volkswagen Polo GTI2015 Volkswagen Polo GTI

News Source: Volkswagen via World Car Fans

Silvermine 11SR track car takes shape

Posted Sep 23rd 2014 8:44AM

Silvermine 11SR

If it seems to you like every country in the Western Hemisphere is making its own track car these days, that's because they probably are. And now we have another on our hands in the form of the Silvermine 11SR.

Previewed earlier this year, the Silvermine 11SR hails from the Netherlands. It's the brainchild of engineer and maritime designer Frank van Rouendal, who designed the chassis and – rather than start with the exterior design and build its underpinnings to suit – commissioned Marco and Andries van Overbeeke to pen the bodywork. Standing in stark contrast to the contemporary lines adopted by most track cars, the van Overbeeke brothers went with a more old-school approach reminiscent of classic racers from the 1950s, '60s and '70s.

Underneath the retro bodywork sits a longitudinally mounted 3.0-liter boxer-six sourced from Subaru, churning out 325 horsepower through a six-speed sequential gearbox and a limited slip differential. 17-inch alloys are fitted to an adjustable suspension and damper with competition-spec brakes. While the 325-hp version will be limited to track use, a street version will be offered with 225 hp and a five-speed synchromesh gearbox and 16-inch wheels.

Each individually numbered chassis will take about six months to complete, with deliveries slated to commence early next year.
Related GallerySilvermine 11SR
Silvermine 11SRSilvermine 11SRSilvermine 11SRSilvermine 11SRSilvermine 11SRSilvermine 11SRSilvermine 11SRSilvermine 11SR

News Source: Silvermine


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