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First Drive
2016 Infiniti Q50 Eau Rouge Prototype [w/video]

  • First Drive
    2016 Infiniti Q50 Eau Rouge Prototype [w/video]
  • MSPORTS
    Race Recap: 2014 Hungarian Grand Prix a thrilling wet mess
  • Official
    Polaris Slingshot hits the road on all three wheels [w/videos]
  • Report
    FBI investigating recently fired Ford engineer for espionage [UPDATE]
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Global automakers to shutter Russian plants?

Posted Jul 28th 2014 5:59PM

Renault Avtoframos Plant in Russia

For an automaker to manufacture locally, two elements need to be in effect: for one, the market needs to be large enough to justify it, and for another, importing has to be too expensive to make it worthwhile. Many automakers have found both those elements in place in Russia, but may not for very much longer. According to Ward's, changing conditions in Russia could spell the end of local production in the world's largest country. On the one hand, the market is shrinking, while on the other, import duties are dropping.

The market for new cars in Russia fell by six percent in May when compared to the same period last year, leading analysts to predict a massive drop by 26-30 percent over the course of the year. If the decline continues apace, the market could drop from 3.6 million projected new-car sales in Russia to just 2.3 million by 2018. Meanwhile, Russia's obligations to the World Trade Organization mean that import duties on cars manufactured abroad will have to drop from 25 percent to 15 percent by 2019, making it less expensive to sell imported cars in Russia. At the same time, government incentives for manufacturing locally – whether by local or foreign automakers – may drop in the years ahead thanks to a weak ruble and the spiraling cost of Russia's invasion of the Crimean peninsula, according to the report.

Analysts expect that, as a result, vehicles produced locally by foreign automakers could drop from 52 percent of the current market to 26, while imports rise to 67 percent – the difference presumably being taken up by Russia's own domestic automakers, which have apparently dwindled to a small proportion of the market. Despite the forecast, however, foreign automakers like PSA, Renault and BMW may still find it advantageous – if only for the shipping costs – to manufacture locally for the Russian market. If present conditions continue, however, we can't help but wonder for how long.

News Source: WardsAuto

Image Credit: Renault

ETC

Washington rookie QB Kirk Cousins splashes out on... Grandma's old conversion van

Posted Jul 28th 2014 5:15PM

Kirk Cousins van

The Washington Redskins might not be the best team in the National Football League, but it may have the most diverse player parking lot. Usually, professional athletes are seen driving around in luxury sedans, SUVs and exotic sports cars, but some of Washington's players seem to have a more bizarre style.

Last year, Mazda restored Washington running back Alfred Morris' 1991 Mazda 626 with around 275-man-hours of labor to bring it to better-than-new condition with quilted leather seats and an upgraded audio system. But Morris is getting a run for his money in terms of parsimonious wheels, from the team's rookie quarterback Kirk Cousins. Cousins showed up to training camp in a 14-year-old, seven-passenger conversion van, obtained from his grandma. His wife even recently tweeted a photo of it.



The van originally belonged to Cousins' grandparents. But after his grandfather passed, Cousins' grandmother had no need for it and sold the van to her grandson. Cousins told The Washington Post, "it's perfect for driving the hour-and-a-half from Ashburn to the games." He and his wife also plan to use the van for road trips.

BMW planning six-cylinder i9 hybrid to celebrate centenary?

Posted Jul 28th 2014 4:29PM

2015 BMW i8

On the prospect of a new BMW M1 based on the company's new i8 hybrid, the jury has been in and out so much that we can't even tell which way it's likely to go. However, the latest reports coming in from Germany suggest that BMW may have something else up its sleeves. Rather than make a conventional gas-powered version of the i8, Germany's Auto Motor und Sport says BMW will make a more powerful one.

Tentatively dubbed i9, the hybrid sports car is rumored to pack a six-cylinder internal-combustion engine instead of the i8's turbo three. Coupled to more potent electric motors, it would figure to produce even more than the 357 horsepower and 420 pound-feet of torque already on tap in the i8, with further weight reductions to offset the bulkier engine.

Auto Motor und Sport says the mooted model will be produced to celebrate the Bavarian automaker's 100th anniversary and eclipse the i8's performance, with a projected 0-60 run in under four seconds en-route to taking the gloves off to crunch the Autobahn in electric bliss. The new i flagship would be another member of the company's growing electrified family, joining the existing i3 hatchback, upcoming i5 minivan and possible i8 Spyder down the line.
Related Gallery2015 BMW i8
2015 BMW i82015 BMW i82015 BMW i82015 BMW i82015 BMW i82015 BMW i82015 BMW i82015 BMW i8

2015 Ford F-150 pricing announced, aluminum-bodied truck up just $395

Posted Jul 28th 2014 3:42PM

2015 Ford F-150

The eagerly anticipated Ford F-150 has had its 2015 pricing announced, adding only a small amount to the pickup's total cost, despite its weight-saving aluminum body. The XL and XLT entry level models only see a $395 boost over the heavier, current-generation, 2014 truck.

The XL starts at $26,615 while the XLT rings up at $31,890. The increase for Lariat is up a similarly negligible $895, to $39,880. Going up the ladder, meanwhile, the leather-intensive King Ranch sees the biggest jump of the F-150 family, with prices increasing $3,515, to $49,460. Finally, picking up the top-end Platinum trim will cost an extra $3,055, with prices starting at $52,155.

The higher prices are being blamed not only on the aluminum bodies, which trim up to 700 pounds of body fat, but on increased levels of standard equipment. While we were expecting a price hike, the fact that the 2015 F-150's volume trims – Ford spokesman Mike Levine told Reuters that the XL and XLT alone cover 70 percent of F-150 sales – have had less than a $400 increase is hugely impressive.

According to Reuters, dealers are able to place orders for the new trucks today, with sales slated to begin late this year.
Related Gallery2015 Ford F-150
2015 Ford F-1502015 Ford F-1502015 Ford F-1502015 Ford F-1502015 Ford F-1502015 Ford F-1502015 Ford F-1502015 Ford F-150

News Source: Reuters

Mad Max Fury Road shows a new road warrior in its latest trailer

Posted Jul 28th 2014 2:57PM

Mad Max Fury Road Trailer

Mad Max is finally returning to the big screen nearly 30 years after its last installment. The new, long-awaited Mad Max: Fury Road will bow in 2015. This doesn't appear to be just some cash-in, nostalgia-based reboot, either. George Miller wrote and directed the latest entry, just as he did all three previous movies in the series. The teaser trailer, released at San Diego Comic-Con, has hit the Web, and its dark view of the post-apocalypse looks, if anything, even more grim than the earlier ones.

Mel Gibson is no longer the titular hero, with Max now being played by Tom Hardy. Thankfully, the supercharged Pursuit Special still appears to play a role, though. Charlize Theron co-stars as a woman fighting against the horrors of the post-apocalypse, just like Max.

From the trailer, the latest installment seems to be playing up the sci-fi elements more than the previous films with modern, computer-generated special effects. Don't worry, though, there are still a good number of real-world shots on display with cars going up in fiery explosions and actually crashing. With a release not scheduled until next year, there's still time to catch up on the series, and it's well worth it for some of the best vehicular stunts ever put on film. Scroll down for an early preview of Mad Max: Fury Road.

News Source: Warner Bros. Pictures via YouTube

Scion xB to be replaced by Auris hatchbach, iQ dead after 2014

Posted Jul 28th 2014 2:15PM

Toyota Auris

Scion seemed like such a good idea when it was first launched. Toyota's aim was to provide young people with stylish, affordable cars that would serve as a gateway to the automaker's family of products. It was also supposed to be something of an incubator for new ideas that were too radical for its more conservative Toyota and Lexus brands. Over a decade since its launch, the brand has languished, and today's showroom is populated by slow-selling and aging vehicles that have often been slow to receive upgrades. However, there may be a bright spot on the imminent horizon, as there are reportedly a slate of new models on the way over the next three years.

According to a model timeline published by Automotive News, the Scion lineup is about to get a major overhaul. First, the boxy xB may finally be going to the big refrigerator box in the sky, to be replaced by a version of the more conventionally styled Auris hatchback (pictured above) from overseas markets in early 2015. Later next year, the xD will also allegedly bow out in favor of a new hatchback based on the Mazda2 (thanks to a recently signed platform-sharing deal). For 2016, the sporty tC hatchback is also said to get a redesign, and interestingly enough, a Corolla-based compact crossover could join the ranks, too.

While those changes should boost sales volume, there's also news that's sure to make enthusiasts happy. Automotive News cites company executives who confirm a second-generation FR-S is on the way in early 2017. A Subaru exec also recently gave a similar confirmation that it was working on another BRZ.

Finally, as first rumored last year, the little iQ will likely sing its swan song at the end of 2014. The news hardly comes as a surprise. Through June, Scion has sold just just 1,227 of its Smart-sized commuter nationwide, down 47 percent from last year.
Related Gallery2013 Toyota Auris
2013 Toyota Auris2013 Toyota Auris2013 Toyota Auris2013 Toyota Auris2013 Toyota Auris2013 Toyota Auris2013 Toyota Auris2013 Toyota Auris

News Source: Automotive News - sub. req.

Image Credit: Toyota, Scion

Ford Australia reveals updated Territory, Falcon via Twitter

Posted Jul 28th 2014 1:31PM

2015 Ford Territory

Ford may have tied together much of its global lineup under the One Ford campaign, but one market where it still offers unique products is Australia. That will soon draw to a close as well, but before it does, the Blue Oval's Aussie operations are rolling out refreshed versions of its two unique products. For the moment, Ford isn't revealing much in the way of powertrain details, but it has shown off a couple of snaps of the revised products on its in-market Twitter feed.

First up is the new Territory. The SUV is neither based on a front-drive crossover platform nor on a truck frame, but shares its rear-drive underpinnings with the Falcon, taking it a step beyond the Falcon wagon alongside which it sits in Ford's Aussie range. Like the outgoing third-generation SZ Territory, the facelifted version is dominated by a narrow grille and larger front air dam, but further punctuates its big-chinned look with more rugged lower cladding and other metallic inserts that bring its look up to date.

And there's the Falcon, which Ford revealed in XR8 trim just last week and is now presenting in G6E 2015 Ford Falcon G6Espec. If the XR8 is the performance model, the G6E is the luxury version, swapping in more refined trim like a chrome-slat grille (instead of a black honeycomb), chrome foglamp surrounds, less-aggressive multi-spoke wheels (instead of five-spokes) and a flatter hood (instead of a power bulge). Otherwise, it looks essentially the same as the one we saw last week, its facelift bringing it more in line with the smaller, front-drive Mondeo (which we know here as the Fusion) and other members of the Ford family.

These updates, expected to launch later this year, will have to keep the Territory and Falcon fresh until they're both discontinued with the closing of Ford's manufacturing operations Down Under, a move that will put a period on an 88-year history. After that, a version of the Mondeo/Fusion will have to take the Falcon's role as Ford's large sedan while the Mustang assumes its role as performance flagship, and Territory buyers will have to look towards models like the Edge crossover and Everest SUV to meet their high-riding needs.

News Source: Ford Australia via Twitter, motoring.com.au (1), (2)

Translogic 155: 2014 Cadillac ELR

Posted Jul 28th 2014 12:45PM

Cadillac ELR

For the past decade, Cadillac has been searching for ways to breathe life into its lineup of luxury sedans and SUVs. While it has enjoyed recent success with the CTS and Escalade, brand perception still skews older and stuffier than Caddy's German and Japanese counterparts.

Can the electrified Cadillac ELR shock the system and return a pulse to this storied American brand, or will the Chevy Volt-based plug-in price itself out of the market?

Host Jonathon Buckley heads to Los Angeles to test the 2014 Cadillac ELR.

2016 Infiniti Q50 Eau Rouge Prototype [w/video]

Making The Case To Build A Brand-Defining Sports Car

Posted Jul 28th 2014 11:57AM

2016 Infiniti Q50 Eau Rouge Prototype

It only takes about half a lap of the Millbrook Proving Grounds for me to become convinced that Infiniti must build this car.

The sedan I am piloting around the English circuit is a working prototype of the Q50 Eau Rouge Concept that made its world debut at the 2014 Detroit Auto Show earlier this year. As a refresher, the exquisitely painted, burgundy metallic, four-door show car is based on the production Q50, enhanced with Infiniti Red Bull Racing-inspired carbon-fiber bodywork, aerodynamic upgrades and – as we would come to learn at the Geneva Motor Show a few months later – fitted with a beastly twin-turbocharged engine shared with the parent company's spectacular Nissan GT-R.

Despite lacking the concept's gorgeously expensive paint, the vinyl-wrapped red prototype seen here is much more appealing than the static concept, as it is mechanically complete – it can be driven – thus explaining why I have traveled one-third of the way around the world to test this enthusiast-tuned, one-of-a-kind machine at one of Europe's premier testing facilities.

The Q50 Eau Rouge, named after the signature high-speed corner at Belgium's famed Spa-Francorchamps race circuit, is an intriguing program for a number of reasons. First, the Japanese luxury brand has never offered a flagship sport sedan of this magnitude. Second, the push came from Johan de Nysschen – the man tasked with turning Infiniti around who recently announced his departure from the company at the end of the month. Lastly, the working prototype was built by a small team in England, thousands of miles from Infiniti's Hong Kong headquarters, which allowed the program to move unimpeded by coagulating corporate culture. While launching the Eau Rouge program isn't as extreme as renaming all of its models, it would be easy to argue that this is a very radical move for the often-conservative Japanese automaker.

Vital Stats

Engine:
Twin-Turbo 3.8L V6
Power:
560 HP / 442 LB-FT
Transmission:
7-Speed Auto
As-Tested Price:
Prototype

Image Credit: Infiniti UK

European jury names 31 candidates for 2014 Car of the Year

Posted Jul 28th 2014 11:30AM

European Car of the YearEvery year a panel of jurists representing a variety of automotive publications in different languages and from different countries get together and pick their Car of the Year. It's a long and exhaustive process, and it starts right here.

For the 2015 award, the panel has identified 31 candidates: the Audi TT; BMW 2 Series Active Tourer and 2 Series Coupe, i8 and X4; the Citroën C1 and C4 Cactus; Fiat 500X (which hasn't even been unveiled yet); Ford EcoSport and Mondeo; Hyundai i20; Infiniti Q50; Jeep Renegade; Kia Soul; Lexus NX and RC; Mercedes-Benz C-Class, GLA and S-Class Coupe; Nissan Pulsar, Qashqai and X-Trail; Opel Corsa; Peugeot 108; Porsche Macan; Renault Twingo; Skoda Fabia; Smart Fortwo and Forfour; Subaru WRX STI; Suzuki Celerio; Toyota Aygo and Volkswagen Passat.

These 31 contenders will be whittled down to a short-list of seven nominees to be announced on December 15, followed by the announcement of the winner on March 2 at the Geneva Motor Show.

Past winners include the Peugeot 308, Volkswagen Golf, Chevy Volt/Opel Ampera, Nissan Leaf and Volkswagen Polo (going back to 2010). This year ought to present an interesting challenge in that three of the entrants – the Toyota Aygo, Citroën C1 and Peugeot 108 – are all essentially the same car. Last year saw the jury award second place jointly to the Toyota GT86 and Subaru BRZ, which was (as far as we can tell) the first time it had split the award between manufacturers of essentially the same vehicle. The Renegade, 500X, GLA, Qashqai, X-Trail and Macan seem to be at a distinct disadvantage, though, because the jury has never named a sport-ute or crossover into the top three, let alone as the winner, in its 50-year history.

News Source: Car of the Year

China's Google is working on its own autonomous car

Posted Jul 28th 2014 11:01AM

Chinese motorists pass  by the Chinese W

If you had told us a decade ago that Google, of all companies, would be developing a driverless car, we likely would have asked you what you were smoking. But here we are, watching the Internet giant not only testing such systems on existing cars, but designing its own vehicles. It won't be the only one, it seems, as reports from China indicate that one of its own is following suit.

That company is Baidu, which for all intents and purposes is China's Google. Only, you know... it hasn't been banned in China. Baidu has a search engine, open-source online encyclopedia, searchable multimedia database... the works. It's the fifth most visited website on the internet behind Google, Facebook, YouTube and Yahoo!, and ahead of Wikipedia, Twitter, Amazon and even Autoblog, hard as it is to believe. It was the first Chinese company to be indexed on the NASDAQ 100, and now, just like Google, it's developing its own driverless car technology.

Baidu's system reportedly uses radar, lasers, cameras and GPS to recognize its surroundings and pilot the car without driver intervention. It can read traffic signs, recognize voice commands and whatever else it needs to do in order to drive itself around.

That's about all we know at the moment, with the company scheduled to begin testing before the year's end. Baidu previously announced it was developing a driverless bicycle as well, though we can scarcely imagine how that would work.

News Source: Ecns.cn

Image Credit: Simon Lim/AFP/Getty

Race Recap: 2014 Hungarian Grand Prix a thrilling wet mess

Posted Jul 28th 2014 10:14AM

Graphic for the Hungarian Grand Prix.

Three Free Practice sessions left us thinking Lewis Hamilton looked good to claim another victory for Mercedes AMG Petronas and close up the Driver's World Championship race, but the first qualifying session for the 2014 Hungarian Formula One Grand Prix threw out that script. A fuel leak in Q1 set Hamilton's car aflame and he never set a time. His chassis damaged beyond repair, the team built him a new one and he started from pit lane. That same session also claimed Ferrari's Kimi Räikkönen, when a bad call about whether to go out again dropped him down to 17th and out for the day.

Without a real challenge, that put Hamilton's teammate-slash-nemesis Nico Rosberg on pole in the other Mercedes, followed by a resurgent Sebastian Vettel in the first Infiniti Red Bull Racing, Valtteri Bottas in the first Williams and Daniel Ricciardo in the second Red Bull. Fernando Alonso waved the scarlet in fifth for Ferrari but figured he could be in third place by the end of the first lap. Felipe Massa put the second Williams in sixth, followed by Jenson Button in the first McLaren, Jean-Eric Vergne getting up to eighth for Toro Rosso, Nico Hülkenberg in ninth for Force India and Kevin Magnussen in the second McLaren.

When rain poured on the 4.381-kilometer Hungaroring before the race, every script up and down the field got rewritten, and they would continue come in for revision almost every one of the 70 laps.
Related Gallery2014 Hungarian Grand Prix
2014 Hungarian Grand Prix2014 Hungarian Grand Prix2014 Hungarian Grand Prix2014 Hungarian Grand Prix2014 Hungarian Grand Prix2014 Hungarian Grand Prix2014 Hungarian Grand Prix2014 Hungarian Grand Prix

Image Credit: F1, Darko Vojinovic / AP, Lars Baron / Getty , Mark Thompson / Getty, Drew Gibson / Getty

Polaris Slingshot hits the road on all three wheels [w/videos]

Posted Jul 28th 2014 9:31AM

Polaris Slingshot

If there's one thing that the likes of Morgan and Campagna have taught us, it's that a three-wheeled roadster can be one heck of a fun ride, bringing together the best elements of a motorbike and a sports car (albeit with none of the practicality). And now they've got a new challenger on their hands in the form of the Slingshot.

The Polaris Slingshot has been on our radar screen for a few months, but has now been revealed in full. It's similar in form to the Three-Wheeler or T-Rex, but looks more like a KTM X-Bow minus a rear wheel. Which may make sense considering that, like the X-Bow, the Slingshot is made by a motorcycle company: Polaris makes snowmobiles and ATVs (as well as Victory and Indian motorcycles). The company is sort of like Bombardier, but where BRP's Can-Am Spyder (with its saddle and handlebars) went with a motorbike approach with an extra wheel, the Polaris Slingshot (though technically deemed a motorcycle for certification purposes) is more like a roadster missing one.

The 2.4-liter GM Ecotec four sits up front, channeling 173 horsepower and 166 pound-feet of torque through a five-speed manual transmission and carbon-reinforced drive belt to the solitary rear wheels. In true motorbike-manufacturer style (where pace depends mostly on the rider), Polaris hasn't revealed performance specs. But in a package weighing just 1,700 pounds, it ought to go like spit. Measuring less than 150 inches tall by 77.6 inches wide and 51.9 inches tall, and riding on a 105-inch wheelbase with a 69-inch front track and sitting just 5 inches off the ground, it ought to feel even faster, especially considering that it's got no roof and barely any windshield to speak of. With 11.8-inch vented disc brakes at each of its three corners, it ought to stop on a dime as well.

Pricing starts at $19,999 for the base model and $23,999 for the better-equipped Slingshot SL. It comes with a two-year unlimited-mileage warranty extendable up to five years and will be sold by Polaris, Victory and Indian dealers across the country, although the specific laws of its registration (and whether you'll have to wear a helmet when driving it) depend on each state's individual regulations. Check it out on the Polaris website and in the playlist of eleven short video clips below.
Related GalleryPolaris Slingshot
Polaris SlingshotPolaris SlingshotPolaris SlingshotPolaris Slingshot

News Source: Polaris

ETC

Jaguar buys world's largest collection of British cars

Posted Jul 28th 2014 8:45AM

James Hull Collection

Whether you're looking at Bertone going bankrupt or Spyker facing (and subsequently resolving) a large tax bill, it's saddening to see an automaker having to sell off its factory collection. That's why we're glad to report that there are still some acquiring historic vehicles from their pasts. Like Jaguar, which has just bought the largest private collection of classic British cars in the world.

The collection of 543 cars was painstakingly assembled by one James Hull, a British dentist with some 50 dental clinics to his name across the UK and who was keen to find the right buyer to take possession of his life's work and preserve it for years to come.

Of those 543 cars, the majority are of British origin, including over 130 Jaguars. The collection includes seven XK120s, several C- and D-Types, a rare XKSS, eight E-Types, thirty Mark-series Jaguar sedans, nineteen XJS coupes and convertibles, some twenty XJ sedans as well as some pre-war SS models and Swallow sidecars and coachbuilt specials from the company's early days. Among the many noteworthy examples are a rare SS100, an alloy-bodied XK120 and an MK X owned by company founder Sir William Lyons himself, as well as Winston Churchill's Austin, Elton John's Bentley, and racing driver and motorcycle rider Mike Hailwood's E-Type.

The collection was acquired by Jaguar Land Rover through its new Special Operations division – the same unit responsible for the F-Type Project 7 and which now incorporates Jaguar Heritage. It will be housed at a new facility at Jaguar's historic home at Browns Lane in Coventry, the cars to be used at future events to promote the brand and highlight its history.

Although most of the cars were made by other manufacturers, Jaguar spokesman Dan Connell confirmed in correspondence with Autoblog that "the collection will stay together for the foreseeable future." As for the final price, neither party is saying, but while it was reportedly listed for sale at £100 million ($170m), we're told that wasn't the price which JLR paid for the collection. As Hull put it in the press release below, "My primary motivation was not to get the maximum price but rather to secure the future of the collection in this country with the right custodian." Evidently Jaguar was deemed to be "the right custodian."
Related GalleryJames Hull Collection
James Hull CollectionJames Hull CollectionJames Hull Collection

News Source: Jaguar

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