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Buick Envision spied fully disrobed in China

Posted Aug 27th 2014 6:28PM

Buick Envision

The Buick Envision crossover is supposed to have its big reveal on August 28 and be on display at the Chengdu Motor Show, but apparently the new midsize crossover just can't wait to meet its public. Car News China caught a completely undisguised example parking outside of the convention center where the show is held.

The Buick designers are going right down the middle with the styling with nothing too flashy to turn off potential buyers. Still, it's a handsome CUV that kind of looks like a stretched Encore from some angles with vents along the hood, a large greenhouse and a prominent crease running down the side.

This new midsizer is hitting the Chinese market first and reportedly rides on GM's Delta platform that's also found underneath the Buick Verano. According to Car News China, prices there are between 160,000 yuan and 220,000 yuan ($26,000 - $35,800 at current rates). However, it's also rumored to eventually make its way across the Pacific to give Buick buyers in the US an option between the Encore compact crossover and larger Enclave.

Buick has already let a lot of the details slip about its newest Chinese model, including its interior with premium features like a heated, leather steering wheel and Bose noise cancelation. Power comes from two tunes of a 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine with either 256 horsepower and 260 pound-feet or 200 hp and 207 lb-ft. Both get a six-speed automatic. We should know more about the brand's latest crossover when it fully debuts in Chengdu.

News Source: Car News China

Image Credit: Car News China

Ford GT designer Camilo Pardo wins Motor City Masters

Posted Aug 27th 2014 5:46PM

Camilo Pardo wins Motor City Masters

Motor City Masters pulled off its concept of Project Runway for cars rather well. In the end, the TruTV reality series came down to former Ford designer Camilo Pardo and multi-disciplined designer Bryan Thompson, but Pardo was always kind of the show's ringer as the person instrumental in the gorgeous shape of the Ford GT. In addition to the title of Motor City Master, he won the grand prize of $100,000 and a 2014 Camaro Z/28.

If you missed it, Motor City Masters challenged 10 designers and fabricators to come up with a concept around a different theme each week. The contestants were judged by former Mercedes-Benz designer Harald Belker and Jean Jennings, recent editor-in-chief of Automobile Magazine, plus a celebrity guest. Their final task spread over the last episodes was to first create a clay model of a next-generation Camaro SS, then mock up a full-size version of it.

You can still watch all of the episodes streaming on TruTV's website, and we suspect it'll be in rerun status on the cable network, too. Or if you just want a taste of what the show was like, check out our included show clip.

News Source: TruTV via YouTube

Ferrari 458 M spotted, is there a turbo under there?

Posted Aug 27th 2014 4:57PM

Ferrari 458 M Spy Shots

While it's still absolutely beautiful and a performance marvel (especially in Speciale trim), the Ferrari 458 Italia has to keep up with the rapidly evolving world in supercars if it wants to continue its success. Ferrari seems to know that it can't sit back and relax, because we're now seeing a disguised 458 testing for the second time.

Since we first saw it, rumor has emerged that it updated 458, reportedly called 458 M, may follow the lead of the recently revised California by using its turbocharged 3.9-liter V8 engine. The mill makes 553 horsepower and 557 pound-feet in that application, but those numbers clearly won't be enough for the Prancing Horse, because the standard 458 already makes more. Instead, Ferrari is expected to turn things up significantly to produce around 670hp, even more than the already gutsy Speciale.

Of course, to make the big change work, the 458 M must be able to ingest huge quantities of cool air to feed those turbos, and the camouflage on this test car is likely hiding the body changes to make that possible. Ferrari does a great job here of disguising things up front on this prototype, making it frustratingly hard to spot any changes.

However, there's much more to notice in profile and at the rear. The tape seams of the camo make it appear that there are some alterations along the rear shoulders, which would seem to be a perfect place for new air intakes. Around back, you can also clearly see a different exhaust design than the standard 458's three-outlet layout. This has two pipes nestled fairly deep into the diffuser, which doesn't quite match the design of the Speciale.

The 458 M is reportedly hitting the roads sometime in 2015, possibly with a Geneva Motor Show debut. Until then, feast your eyes on these spy shots.
Related GalleryFerrari 458 M Spy Shots
Ferrari 458 M Spy ShotsFerrari 458 M Spy ShotsFerrari 458 M Spy ShotsFerrari 458 M Spy ShotsFerrari 458 M Spy ShotsFerrari 458 M Spy ShotsFerrari 458 M Spy ShotsFerrari 458 M Spy Shots

Image Credit: CarPix

New entry-level Mercedes SL400 drops price of range by over $20k

Posted Aug 27th 2014 4:31PM

2015 Mercedes SL400

As one of the premier luxury droptops from Mercedes-Benz, the SL-Class has never been an inexpensive proposition. But the German brand is making it a little bit more accessible for the 2015 model year with its new SL400. The new entry-level model has quietly shown up on Mercedes' consumer site, and pricing starts at $84,000, plus the usual $925 destination charge. While that's still a lot of money, it's a massive discount, ringing up at a whopping $22,900 less than the $107,825 SL550.

Think of that savings as over $11,000 per cylinder, as the SL400 foregoes V8 power in favor of a 3.0-liter, twin-turbo V6 with 329 horsepower and 354 pound-feet of torque and seven-speed automatic rated at 20 miles per gallon city and 27 mpg highway. Those numbers are roughly 100 hp and 160 lb-ft less than the SL550. Still, the new model can get to 60 miles per hour in a quick 5.1 seconds, compared to 4.5 for the its big brother.

Thankfully, buyers don't have to give up the optional luxuries that makes the SL special to get the cheaper model. The Air Scarf comes as part of the $4,900 Premium Package, Distronic adaptive cruise control is available as part of the $2,950 Driver Assistance Package and Benz's clever dimming Magic Sky Control roof is a separate option for $2,500. If the idea of a Mercedes-branded folding hardtop convertible that gives up a little power for a lot less money sounds good to you, then you're thinking like we are.

News Source: Mercedes-Benz via Automobile

This forgotten Chrysler was its bid for Humvee contract

Posted Aug 27th 2014 4:01PM

Chrysler Humvee Proposal

Today, the Humvee might be as associated with the dead automotive brand from General Motors as it is with the hard-working truck that has long served as one of the backbone vehicles of America's military. But Autoline host John McElroy is showing off a practically unknown part of the model's story by digging out some old photos from his personal archive.

The High Mobility Multipurpose Wheeled Vehicle project, better known today as the Humvee, can be traced back to a US Department of Defense request for bids to build a new military truck. According to McElroy, he was invited to the Chrysler proving grounds in 1981 to check out the bid from the brand's defense division. The company's concept was that it might be able to build an inexpensive, capable vehicle by using off-the-shelf parts.

The angular body panels gave the truck a look almost like a modern, stealth vehicle. However, the flat look was actually just to make the tooling as cheap as possible to produce. Still, this Chrysler looked surprisingly futuristic for the early '80s. It's actually not too far away from the famous Lamborghini LM002, itself intended as a possible military-spec machine.

Obviously, Chrysler's proposal never made it to production, but it's interesting to think that if history had gone differently, this could have been America's military vehicle rather than the Hummer. Fast-forward to the 3:35-mark in the video to get the full scoop on this forgotten piece of automotive history.

News Source: Autoline Network via YouTube

Image Credit: Chrysler

Suzuki Kizashi recalled due to pesky spiders

Posted Aug 27th 2014 3:30PM

2010 Suzuki Kizashi

Spiders seem to love the fuel tanks of Japanese sedans. Mazda had to recall its Mazda6 twice for arachnid webs blocking their car's vent lines. Now, the Suzuki Kizashi is also being called in because spiders can block the car's evaporative canister vent hose, a condition which could cause excessive negative pressure in the tank, eventually leading to a crack and fuel leak. The campaign covers about 19,249 examples of the 2010-2013 model year Kizashi built from October 2009 through July 2012.

According to the automaker's defect notice released by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, the first report of a spiderweb blocking a vent line was in 2011. It began monitoring field data and found six more incidents from 2011 to 2013. In 2014, there was one more case, and with further investigation, Suzuki decided to initiate a recall. There are no reports of accidents or injuries of the webs causing accidents or injuries in the US.

In a similar move to Mazda, Suzuki is replacing the evaporative canister vent line with one that has a filter in place to keep the spiders out. Also, if the lines are obstructed by webs in a specific vehicle, the fuel tank will also get swapped. Scroll down to read the full recall announcement from NHTSA.

News Source: The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration [1], [2]

Image Credit: Copyright 2014 AOL

Miata driver pulls off hilariously diabolical move in fender-to-fender racing

Posted Aug 27th 2014 2:58PM

Mazda MX-5 Hand during race

Racing is all about finding the little advantages over competitors that allow you to get ahead. Sometimes those are legitimate means – like being able to take advantage of a better line through a corner – and other times drivers get a little more creative for a leg up over opponents. Sometimes things might even go a little too far. Case in point: just watch the opening of this Mazda MX-5 Cup race from Silverstone in the UK.

According to the YouTube description, we're riding with James Rogers in this video, and he appears to be pretty talented behind the wheel. Rogers has a great start from fifth that has him in third within just a few corners. He starts stalking the top two drivers, who are already having a fantastic race themselves, but then we see that the person in second is clearly willing to do whatever it takes to win. Just watch the video, and you'll see what we mean. Bravo (?) to that racer for some very quick, albeit fiendish, thinking.

News Source: HavenRacingUK via YouTube, Jalopnik

Porsche's former CEO Wiedeking to stand trial over VW-share manipulation

Posted Aug 27th 2014 2:30PM

DEU Porsche Wiedeking Haerter Entlastung

Former Porsche CEO Wendelin Wiedeking (left in the above photo) could potentially be facing some time in the slammer after all. The last we had heard, he and former Chief Financial Officer Holger Haerter (right) had avoided a trial in April due to a lack of evidence. However, an appeals court in Stuttgart has looked at the case again and overruled the earlier decision, finding that the executives should be tried for share manipulation during Porsche's failed attempt to take over Volkswagen in 2008, Bloomberg reports.

The judges in the appeal "list numerous indications that could suggest that there was a hidden decision to increase the stake as they could suggest the opposite evaluation by the lower court," said Stefan Schueler, a spokesperson for the court, in a statement cited by Bloomberg. Wiedeking and Haerter put out their own releases saying that there was no merit to the charges.

The prosecutors allege that Wiedeking and Haerter had a plan to buy up VW stock options in 2008 to take the automotive giant over but hid it from investors. The whole thing was a massive failure and eventually allowed VW the chance to acquire Porsche and forced the two execs to step down. In addition to the criminal investigation, hedge funds have attempted to sue the company multiple times in civil court for the same reason, but they have repeatedly failed.

News Source: Bloomberg

Image Credit: Thomas Kienzle / AP Photo

States have failed to spend nearly $540M in federal highway safety grants

Posted Aug 27th 2014 2:01PM

Traffic Fatalities

A new report from the Department of Transportation's Office of the Inspector General has revealed yet another fiasco in highway funding. No, it's not a misuse of federal funds. Instead, it's a complete and total lack of use for government monies.

In this case, the DOT's inspector general has discovered that over half a billion dollars in highway safety grants have gone unused by the 50 states. These funds were reportedly earmarked for highway safety programs, such as public service announcements and extra highway patrols during busier seasons, according to The Detroit News, rather than actual road and bridge construction.

Still, the lack of use in funds, which were awarded by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration between 2006 and 2013, is troubling. After all, as The News points out, highway deaths went up 3.3 percent in 2012, while 5.6 million crashes occurred on American roads.

News Source: The Detroit News

Image Credit: Toby Talbot / AP

Bizarre Levante mule proves SUV will ride on Maserati platform

Posted Aug 27th 2014 1:29PM

Maserati Levante

When Chrysler was developing the current Jeep Cherokee, matte black, lifted Alfa Romeo Giuliettas weren't an unusual site around the company's Auburn Hills, MI headquarters. That's because the Jeep rides on a modified version of the Alfa's platform.

Judging by these images, Maserati is following a similar path for the upcoming Levante. The presence of the modified and lifted Ghibli basically confirms that the company will look in-house for the new CUV's platform rather than outsource it to Jeep (otherwise, we'd be seeing modified Grand Cherokees running about).

The mule's Ghibli body has been fitted with a number of tweaks. Most notable are the higher roof and stretched wheel arches, which we're guessing are an attempt at increasing the sedan's center of gravity and width, respectively, in a bid to match the eventual production model.

Take a look at our gallery of images and let us know what you think in Comments.

Image Credit: KGP Photography

Watch a McLaren P1 get tormented by a BAC Mono at Silverstone

Posted Aug 27th 2014 12:45PM

McLaren P1 vs. BAC Mono

Could there be anything more infuriating than making a million-plus-dollar investment in a vehicle like the McLaren P1, only to take it to a track and find you're unable to outrun a car that costs, without options, about 96,000 pounds ($159,000 at today's rates)?

One P1 driver experienced that sort of frustration while running Silverstone, when he tangled with a very persistent BAC Mono driver. Now, the P1 absolutely decimates the single-seat, closed-wheel track toy on the straights, while losing a lot of ground in the bends. Even on a high-speed track like Silverstone, the McLaren doesn't boast enough of an advantage to keep the Mono at bay.

As the intelligent YouTube commenters (yes, we're surprised by this too) point out, though, there could be a number of reasons why the Mono is so able to hassle and pass the P1. First, it's quite clear that the BAC driver knows the circuit far better than the McLaren pilot, as evidenced by his lines, particularly through Stowe and the Club/Vale complex (this could be chalked up, as one commenter says, to the lead car driving with his mirrors). The BAC is probably running a more aggressive tire than the P1, which in turn appears to be handicapping itself by not running its most aggressive aero setup. Finally, remember that the McLaren is a fully street-legal vehicle, full of safety gear and crash-worthiness as required by law.

Still, the fact that this relatively affordable track toy is able to hound and pass one of the world's premier performance machines is a particularly impressive feat. Take a look at the video to see what we mean.

News Source: Oliver Webb via YouTube

2014 Kia Forte Koup SX

The Softer Side Of Sport

Posted Aug 27th 2014 11:58AM

2014 Kia Forte Koup SX

The Kia Forte and Hyundai Elantra have long followed similar paths, with each available in a four-door sedan, a five-door hatch and (most recently) a two-door coupe bodystyle. The recent death of the Hyundai Elantra Coupe in the US may be threatening to change the narrative on these two affordable compact lines, of course, but the Korean two-doors have a lot in common under their distinct skins. Their most recent iterations came to market under the power of the same 2.0-liter, 173-horsepower four-cylinder paired with six-speed automatic transmissions and riding atop MacPherson strut front suspensions and torsion-beam setups out back. Each arrived weighing between 2,800 and 3,000 pounds and could be had in base form for less than $20,000. Considering this, the empirical performance stats figured to be similar.

There's an important distinction to be made, however. Rather than offer a simple two-door version of a four-door car, like Hyundai did with its Elantra Coupe, Kia has gone to lengths to craft a vehicle with its own unique attitude and attributes. Kia has embraced a sportier stance with its two-door Forte Koup, offering up a standard six-speed manual and going further in an effort to craft a more unique, aggressive coupe design.

That drive to be different was further accentuated last year, when Kia raided Hyundai's parts bin and plucked out the 1.6-liter turbocharged four-cylinder from the Veloster Turbo. The resulting car is decidedly different than any other Forte we've tested, while also feeling like a better all-around product than the smaller hot hatch it stole its engine from. To see just how much better, we drove the Forte Koup SX for a week and set about seeing how this enhanced model stacks up as a performance offering.

Vital Stats

Engine:
Turbo 1.6L I4
Power:
201 HP / 195 LB-FT
Transmission:
6-Speed Manual
Base Price:
$20,600
As-Tested Price:
$25,285

News Source: Copyright 2014 Brandon Turkus / AOL

2015 Volvo XC90

Everything You Need To Know About The XC90 And The Future Of Volvo

Posted Aug 27th 2014 11:27AM

Volvo XC90

The new XC90 isn't just about the new XC90 – it's as much about the new generation of Volvos that will result.

Around the turn of the millennium, Volvo seemed like the perfect automaker to make a crossover. It had, after all, already established for itself a reputation for building all-wheel-drive wagons for transporting families in safety and comfort. But while its competitors marched one by one into the luxury utility market, Volvo held out. That was, anyway, until the debut of the original XC90 in 2002. And it's never looked back since.

Over the past baker's dozen years of production, Volvo has produced over 600,000 examples of the XC90 – not to mention another half-million or so of the smaller XC60 that followed. In other words, the decision to build the XC90 in the first place may very well have been among the smartest that Volvo has ever made. But after an unusually long lifecycle, Volvo has finally retired the first-gen XC90, and it's replacing it with the model you see here. And with it, it's ushering in a bold new era for the Swedish automaker.

After a series of three particularly handsome concept cars and even more teasers and advanced details, we're finally looking at the new 2015 Volvo XC90 here at its birthplace in Sweden. The big-production live reveal with media in attendance from around the world is testimony in and of itself to the importance of the new XC90's arrival to a marque that's always had a loyal following and is, after a period of stagnation, only growing. Because the new XC90, you see, isn't just about the new XC90: it's as much about the new generation of Volvos that will result.

Image Credit: Live photos copyright 2014 Noah Joseph / AOL

Man who drove Bugatti Veyron into lake pleads guilty, faces 20 years in prison [w/video]

Posted Aug 27th 2014 11:00AM

Bugatti Crash

Remember the guy who caught on video driving a Bugatti Veyron into the Gulf Bay in Texas? Well, he's now facing a few decades behind bars. You might wonder why some seriously bad driving in a million-dollar supercar could lead to such a long stint in the slammer. Well, Andy Lee House of Lufkin, TX, pled guilty to wire mail fraud in federal court in the Eastern District of Texas. As it turns out, crashing the car was all about getting an insurance payout.

According to The Lufkin Daily News reporting on the case, House wrecked the Veyron in November 2009 after purchasing it for $1 million and insuring it for $2.2 million. His plan was allegedly to ruin the Bugatti, pay back his loan and pocket the rest. After crashing it, House left the car running in the salt water to make sure the supercar's engine sucked in enough H2O to thoroughly destroy it. Of course, the incident was captured on video by passing motorists, and that messed up his scheme. House hasn't been sentenced yet, but he could face up to 20 years in federal prison.

According to our earlier story on the case, House at one point tried to use the creative alibi that the reason he left the Veyron running for so long was that he was being bitten by mosquitos and didn't want to go back to the car to shut it off. Before the crash, he also reportedly tried to pay someone to steal the car and torch it. This Bugatti didn't stand a chance. Scroll down to watch the video that started it all. Warning: it does contain some explicit language.

News Source: Lufkin Daily News, Jomgarza via YouTube

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