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2014 Audi SQ5

  • Review
    2014 Audi SQ5
  • Spy Shots
    2015 Acura NSX burns to the ground at the 'Ring [w/video]
  • Recalls
    GM announces 6 recalls covering nearly 720k cars
  • Quick Spin
    2014 Nissan Juke Nismo RS
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2015 Toyota Yaris to start at $14,845* and look like this

Posted Jul 24th 2014 1:30PM

2015 Toyota Yaris

Toyota released a new Yaris in Europe and its Vitz clone in Japan a few months ago, so we knew it would only be a matter of time before it would launch the new hatchback here in North America. And that time has come.

The new, more distinctive 2015 Yaris features far more aggressive exterior styling, a look set apart by that large lower air dam and X-motif front end. It rides on a retuned suspension hooked up to an altogether more rigid chassis, and Toyota promises it will ride more quietly and comfortably than the model it replaces. Inside the new model has additional soft-touch materials in a more comfortable cabin equipped with everything from a 6.1-inch touchscreen display to nine airbags.

The 2015 Yaris comes in both three- and five-door bodystyles, and three trim levels that seek to eliminate the need for options packages. In fact the only option to speak of is a dealer-installed nav system. Power comes from a modest 1.5-liter four with variable valve timing, dual overhead cams and sixteen valves, sending 106 horsepower and 103 pound-feet of torque through either a five-speed manual or four-speed automatic.

For all the updates, Toyota has only increased pricing by two or three percent (amounting to a few hundred bucks), with the 2015's MSRP ranging from $14,825 for a three-door, manual-transmission Yaris L to $17,620 for five-door, automatic Yaris SE (*before $825 destination charge). Scope out all the details and pricing in the press release below.
Related Gallery2015 Toyota Yaris
2015 Toyota Yaris2015 Toyota Yaris2015 Toyota Yaris2015 Toyota Yaris2015 Toyota Yaris2015 Toyota Yaris2015 Toyota Yaris2015 Toyota Yaris

News Source: Toyota

40+ cars that barely avoid the gas guzzler tax

Why It Pays To Be A Good Test Taker

Posted Jul 24th 2014 12:59PM



The Gas Guzzler schedule, with mpg ratings and charges that haven't changed since 1991, lays out which fuel-swillers owe what to Uncle Sam.

I started thinking about the "Gas Guzzler Tax" – considerably less well known as The Energy Tax Act of 1978 – when I was driving Dodge's new Challenger SRT Hellcat last week. Unsurprisingly for a car that can burn 1.5 gallons of gas per minute at max tilt, theoretically able to empty a full tank of premium in about 13 minutes, the Hellcat will be subject to the Gas Guzzler Tax schedule when it goes on sale.

Beyond knowing that it existed, and occasionally seeing a surcharge for it listed on the specification sheet for a press car I'd been loaned, I didn't really understand how the GGT worked or was calculated.

Thankfully, the Environmental Protection Agency makes learning about the GGT (and a lot of other stuff) pretty simple. EPA.gov has a clearly written explanation of the tax and the tax schedule. That schedule, operating with miles-per-gallon ratings and charges that haven't changed since 1991, clearly lays out which fuel-swillers owe what to Uncle Sam. Basically, if a car's combined fuel economy rating is 22.5 mpg or higher it's off the hook ­– trucks, minivans and SUVs are all exempt from the GGT – if the rating is lower, per vehicle taxes range from $1,000 to $7,700 for the very thirstiest.

Simple, right?

News Source: EPA, FuelEconomy.gov

Image Credit: Copyright 2014 AOL

MotorWeek proves '90s were awesome with Supra, Stealth, RX-7, Corvette, 968, 300ZX comparo

Posted Jul 24th 2014 12:31PM

Motorweek 1993 Sports Car Test

Oh, the heady days of 1993, back when the Clinton Presidency was just getting underway, and it seemed like every hot new rock band was coming out of Seattle. Sports cars in the US had finally shaken off the shackles that slowed them during the '70s and '80s, and you could buy any number of legitimately quick vehicles again. MotorWeek recently went digging into its archives to find this six-model test from 1993 showing off some of the best semi-affordable performance coupes that money could buy at the time, and it's priceless.

Featuring the 1994 model year Toyota Supra in twin-turbo guise and MY 1993 versions of the Porsche 968, Nissan 300ZX TT, Mazda RX-7, Dodge Stealth R/T Turbo and Chevrolet Corvette LT-1, MotorWeek definitely covered all of the bases. One thing that might surprise younger readers is these cars' performance. The video only provides 0-60 acceleration times, but several of these vehicles would still be considered pretty potent today – over 20 years since going on sale. The Supra is especially impressive, hitting 60 miles per hour in just 5 seconds. Even today, that's nothing to sneeze at.

Given their performance potential and still-attractive looks, it's amazing that some of these coupes are old enough to drink now. The progress of interior design and safety equipment in the intervening years is pretty shocking, though. In most of these models, having two airbags is touted as a big deal. Scroll down to watch a Throwback Thursday blast from the past about some of the '90s best sports cars.

News Source: MotorWeek via YouTube

2014 Audi SQ5

S4 Avant? What S4 Avant?

Posted Jul 24th 2014 11:57AM

2014 Audi SQ5

It may be obvious at this point, but here in the United States, European manufacturers routinely give us the short end of the stick. Now, I'm not talking about models or brands that don't come here, like the Mercedes-Benz A-Class or the entire Renault line. No, instead, I'm referring to cars that are sold right here in the Land of the Free in one bodystyle, while Europe enjoys the same vehicle with a wider variety of configurations.

A prime example of this is the Audi S4/S5 line. In America, we can have the supercharged twins in two-door coupe, four-door sedan, and cabriolet body styles. Meanwhile, our Euroland cousins get the same trio of bodystyles, as well as the A5/S5 Sportback, a characterful 'four-door coupe,' and a versatile hauler, the S4 Avant. At first glance, Audi of America lacks a vehicle that can compete with the latter's blend of performance, versatility and subdued looks. So, what's an American with around $60,000 and an obsession with quick, conservative haulers to do? Well, he can buy an SQ5. (Though it bears mentioning, our US-spec SQ5 is vastly different than what's available to our European friends.)

The SQ5 has a huge number of things going for it that make it a viable alternative to a proper hot wagon, and foremost among them are its looks – this is a sleeper. Audi has thankfully decided not to molest the clean looks of the standard Q5 when penning the sportier model.

The SQ5 gains a unique set of wheels: 20-inchers are standard, but our tester was fitted with a set of 21-inch rollers. Visually, neither make a huge departure from the standard Q5 though. Other standard features of Audi's S models are also found on the SQ5, including a set of quad exhausts, silver mirror caps and mildly different front grille and foglight surrounds. If anything, the Q5 TDI diesel I tested late last year looks sportier than today's tester.

Vital Stats

Engine:
SC 3.0L V6
Power:
354 HP / 347 LB-FT
Transmission:
8-Speed Auto
Base Price:
$52,700
As-Tested Price:
$60,750
Related Gallery2014 Audi SQ5: Review
2014 Audi SQ5: Review2014 Audi SQ5: Review2014 Audi SQ5: Review2014 Audi SQ5: Review2014 Audi SQ5: Review2014 Audi SQ5: Review2014 Audi SQ5: Review2014 Audi SQ5: Review

Image Credit: Copyright 2014 Brandon Turkus / AOL

GM quarterly earnings tank due to recall costs

Posted Jul 24th 2014 11:46AM

US-DETROIT-AUTO-SHOW

Given General Motors' steady stream of recalls this year (including a single day with around 8.4 million vehicles needing repair), it's not a huge surprise that the cost to deal with all of the problems will be high. However, few analysts expected the tab to be this steep. In the General's just-announced second-quarter financial filing, it revealed that net income for the quarter was just $200 million, compared to 1.2 billion in Q2 2013 – a drop of over 80 percent. To put this in proper perspective, though, that figure is still up from the $100-million income booked from the first quarter of 2014.

The cause of the sharp descent was not only the recalls themselves, but other costs related to them, as well. According to the report, GM paid out $1.2 billion in recall-related repairs during the quarter. The company had to set aside $400 million for ignition-switch compensation, an amount it admits is an estimate that may need to be raised by an additional $200 million in the future. To prepare for possible future campaigns, the automaker also took a charge of around $900 million to be ready to pay for them.

Earnings before interest and tax also fell to $1.4 billion, compared to $2.3 billion in the same quarter of 2013. However, net revenue was up slightly to $39.6 billion, compared to $39.1 billion in the previous comparable quarter, and revenue was also up through the first six months of the year.

CEO Mary Barra put a positive spin on the tepid results, saying, "Our underlying business performance in the first half of the year was strong as we grew our revenue on improved pricing and solid new vehicle launches," she said in the company's announcement. Scroll down to read the entire release, including a table comparing Q2 2014 to 2013.

News Source: General Motors

Image Credit: Stan Honda / AFP / Getty Images

2015 Acura NSX burns to the ground at the 'Ring [w/video]

Posted Jul 24th 2014 11:30AM

2015 Acura NSX fire

Assuming all goes to plan, automakers test their vehicles to the breaking point in the months and years leading up to that vehicle's actual release into the public. Which is good, because it's much better for a car to break in glorious fashion in the hands of the company that produces it than in the driveway of an owner who just spent their hard-earned cash to get it.

Such was the case with this production-guise Acura NSX prototype that we saw running around the Nürburgring just the other day. We can't be 100-percent certain, but the burned-out carcass is wearing the same number plate as the car that was spotted earlier, so it's likely the very same NSX. We have no idea what was the cause of the blaze that turned this Acura into the car-b-q you see pictured above, but our spy shooters on the ground in Germany say it was not involved in any collision, having caught on fire all on its own with engineers behind the wheel.

The good news is that nobody was hurt, though the car is quite clearly a complete loss. We're sure there's another ready to to test in the burned car's place... just as soon as the engineers at Honda figure out exactly what went wrong. Have a look at the smoldering aftermath up above, and feel free to scroll down below to see a video of the car in much better circumstances.

Image Credit: CarPix

ETC

Sarah Palin blames speeding ticket on Sammy Hagar

Posted Jul 24th 2014 11:01AM

Palin Republicans Conservatives

Rogue or no, Tea Party darling and former Alaskan governor and vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin is still subject to traffic laws. That means when Sammy Hagar's "I Can't Drive 55," comes on the radio, she's still expected to keep a moderate pace, and even her celebrity status isn't enough to get her out of a speeding ticket.

"I wasn't speeding. I was qualifying," Palin allegedly told the celebrity gossip hounds at TMZ. She was nabbed going 63 miles per hour in a 45-mph zone while driving her Toyota Tundra in her hometown of Wasilla, AK on July 16. Palin, according to the website, amusingly blamed her lead foot on the Hagar track.

Palin was cited for driving 10 to 19 mph over the speed limit, which carries a $144 fine in addition to a $10 "police training" surcharge, according to The Detroit Free Press.

News Source: TMZ.com via The Detroit Free Press

Image Credit: J. Scott Applewhite / AP

ATS reveals new Leggera roadster

Posted Jul 24th 2014 10:30AM

ATS Leggera

Never heard of ATS? Nope, we're not talking about the Cadillac sports sedan. We're talking about Automobili Turismo e Sport, an Italian automaker formed by a group of renegade Ferrari staffers in the mid-'60s. ATS was only on the map for a couple of years, producing models like the 2500 GT and competing in a handful of grands prix. But ATS (not unlike Mini and Bugatti) was revived a couple of years ago, hitting the scene with the ATS Sport with a number of other projects (not the least of them being similarly reviving De Tomaso). Here we have its followup.

Called the ATS Leggera, the two-seat roadster was previewed late last year but is now ready to cruise down the Italian coastline. Inspired by classic European roadsters of the 1950s and 60s, the ATS Leggera packs a 1.6-liter turbo four in a front-mid position for 50/50 weight distribution within a stainless steel tubular frame.

The base-spec ATS 300 Leggera drives 210 horsepower to the rear wheels through a five-speed manual transmission and Quaife rear differential, riding on 16-inch machined alloys packing six-piston calipers up front and gripping ventilated discs out back, fitted to a double wishbone suspension with adjustable Ohlins shocks and front and rear anti-roll bars. Weighing just 1,400 pounds, even the 300 model (so named for its power-to-weight ratio) is capable of reaching 62 miles per hour in 4.3 seconds en route to a top speed of 137 mph.

Those looking for a little more performance can opt for the ATS 365 Leggera with 240 hp. The first five customers, however, will have the opportunity to order the ATS 420 Super Leggera SS, packing a 2.2-liter Honda engine tuned by Spoon to produce 290 hp. With a chrome molybdenum frame, it weighs even less at 1,323 pounds for a power-to-weight ratio of 420 hp/tonne.

Both left- and right-hand-drive versions will be offered, with a cockpit trimmed in soft Italian leather, Nardi wood steering rim and Smiths instruments. But track-day enthusiasts (or those interested in entering in qualifying racing series) can opt for a six-speed sequential gearbox, semi-slick tires, carbon buckets, racing harnesses and an FIA roll cage to replace the chrome hoops among the long list of options. Scope out all the details in the press kit below and the images in the gallery above for a closer look.
Related GalleryATS Leggera
ATS LeggeraATS LeggeraATS LeggeraATS LeggeraATS LeggeraATS LeggeraATS LeggeraATS Leggera

News Source: ATS

Mexico City to host F1 race for first time in over 20 years

Posted Jul 24th 2014 10:01AM

0101646P Grand Prix of Monterrey X

Formula One racing in North America has come a long way in the last few years. Having been absent from the calendar from 1992 through 1998 and again from 2008 through 2011 (when American racing fans could only catch the Canadian Grand Prix up in Montreal), the United States Grand Prix is now a regular fixture on the calendar at the Circuit of the Americas in Austin, TX. There's even a second race in the works for the New York/New Jersey area, if that ever actually gets off the ground. And next year, there'll be one in Mexico, as well.

The idea of bringing back the Mexican Grand Prix first popped up on our radar screens back in 2011, but after it was initially slated for inclusion in this year's championship, it was ultimately postponed because local race organizers weren't ready. But at a press conference in Mexico City yesterday, organizers (including billionaire Carlos Slim and USGP organizer Tavo Hellmund) confirmed that plans are on track to hold a race there next year.

When the GP does finally take place, it will mark the first time the F1 circus will stop in Mexico since 1992, marking the end of a 23-year absence. Nigel Mansell won the last Mexican Grand Prix for Williams and still holds the lap record from the year before, but it's Jim Clark and Lotus who hold the record for the most wins there. The Autódromo Hermanos Rodríguez in Mexico City is expected to undergo considerable renovations to support the race, where we don't doubt that Sergio Pérez and Esteban Gutiérrez – the first Mexican F1 drivers in decades – will be warmly received by local fans.

An additional race in Baku, Azerbaijan, is also expected to be added to the calendar for next year.

News Source: Autosport, ESPN

Image Credit: Jonathan Ferrey Allsport/Getty

Nissan Note getting a little louder with Nismo versions this fall

Posted Jul 24th 2014 9:30AM

Nissan Note Nismo

Nissan's Nismo performance division has been getting more chances to shine recently with tuned models like the Juke Nismo RS and GT-R Nismo. But its latest creation moves closer to the bottom of the Japanese brand's lineup to make a hot hatch out of the (Versa) Note.

At least in Japan, the new model is due this fall, and Nismo is keeping a lot of the details about its latest creation a secret for now. What we do know is that it'll be available in two trims – the Note Nismo and the sportier Nismo S. "The development concept of this model was to build a car that makes you want to keep driving, no matter where your destination may be," said the division's chief product specialist, Hiroshi Tamura, in the company's announcement.

Aesthetically, the Note Nismo looks the way a tuned Nissan should, with the division's signature red trim outlining the car. It also wears a new, mesh grille, lower air dam, red side sills and rear spoiler. Inside, the S gets standard sport seats with full Recaro buckets as an option. Nissan didn't release technical specs for either version, but it promises that the S also gets a tuned engine with a five-speed manual.

But now, allow us to burst your bubble. Autoblog spoke to Nissan North America Product Communications Director Dan Bedore about the hot Note, and he told us, "There are no plans currently for a Nismo Versa Note in the US." That's too bad; if the specs turn out to be competitive, it could be an interesting rival for the Ford Fiesta ST. Scroll down to read the official announcement.
Related GalleryNissan Note Nismo
Nissan Note NismoNissan Note NismoNissan Note Nismo

News Source: Nissan, Twitter

ETC

Lamborghini Aventador art car features every color of the rainbow

Posted Jul 24th 2014 8:44AM

Lamborghini Aventador Roadster art car by Duaiv

With a catalog packed with shades of orange and yellow, the Lamborghini Aventador doesn't shy away from bright colors. But the stock palette still pales in comparison to this latest art car.

This technicolor Aventador Roadster was created by Franco-American artist and musician Duaiv, who previously applied his talents to Ferraris like the FF and 458 Spider. Lamborghini Miami, a division of Prestige Imports in North Beach, Florida, applied the evidently very successful artist's painting to a vinyl wrap and fitted to the Lambo along with a Novitec rear spoiler to create a one-of-a-kind supercar that is anything but a sleeper. You know, just in case an Aventador didn't already stand out enough.

News Source: Duaiv via DuPont Registry

Porsche announces four flavors of updated Cayenne [w/video]

Posted Jul 24th 2014 3:20AM

2015 Porsche Cayenne Turbo

The new Macan may be getting all the attention lately, but Porsche hasn't forgotten about its larger crossover – the one that put it on the map in 2002 and on the road to profitability, with over half a million sold so far. So to keep the Cayenne at the top of its game, Porsche has announced several key upgrades for the 2015 model.

For starters, Porsche has updated the Cayenne's appearance with new front- and rear-end styling. The front bumper, fenders and hood are entirely new, with air fins flanking the nose to direct air into the intercoolers (each model now being artificially aspirated), and new bi-xenon headlamps and daytime running LEDs on every model but the Turbo, which goes all-LED. Around back there's also new taillights, tailgate handle, lower rear fascia and exhaust pipes. Meanwhile the interior has been upgraded with a 918-derived sport steering wheel and reformed rear seats with available ventilation.

The bigger news is under the engine bay, where Porsche is offering four choices. The base model is gone as the range starts with the Cayenne Diesel, followed by the Cayenne S, the new Cayenne S E-Hybrid and the top-of-the-line Cayenne Turbo. The Diesel model carries over the same 3.0-liter turbo diesel with 240 horsepower. The Cayenne S however packs a 3.6-liter twin-turbo V6 that's similar to the one found in the Macan Turbo and packs the same 406 lb-ft of torque but more power at 420 hp, 20 more than either its little brother or the model it replaces to reach 62 mph in 5.2 seconds.

The new Cayenne S E-Hybrid makes Porsche the world's only car manufacturer to offer three plug-in hybrid models.


Porsche has also ported over the powertrain from the Panamera S E-Hybrid to make what Porsche refers to as "the first plug-in hybrid in the premium SUV segment" and, along with the 918 Spyder, make it (almost unbelievably) "the world's only car manufacturer to offer three plug-in hybrid models" (unless, of course, you count the Opel/Vauxhall Ampera as separate from the Chevy Volt and Cadillac ELR). The system mates a 3.0-liter supercharged V6 with 333 hp to an electric motor with 95 hp to give it a combined output of 416 hp (more than the diesel and almost as much as the S) to propel it to 62 in 5.4 seconds, hit an all-electric top speed of 78 mph and an all-out top speed of 151 mph – offering a substantial improvement over the previous Cayenne S Hybrid.

Those in search of all-out performance at whatever cost, however, will be most intrigued by the Cayenne Turbo that carries over the same 4.8-liter twin-turbo V8 but now with 520 hp and 553 lb-ft. That's just about half-way to the power output of the outgoing Turbo S and just as much torque, for a 0-62 time of 4.2 seconds (4.1 with the optional Sport Chrono package) – which ought to make enthusiasts (at least those not turned off entirely by the notion of a Porsche crossover) miss the GTS and Turbo S a little bit less until those new versions arrive as well.

Pricing starts at $61,700 for the Cayenne Diesel, $74,100 for the Cayenne S, $76,400 for the Cayenne S E-Hybrid and a whopping $113,600 for the top-of-the-line Cayenne Turbo – representing an increase of a few grand for each, before the $995 destination charge. Scope out the full details in the video and press release below.
Related Gallery2015 Porsche Cayenne
2015 Porsche Cayenne2015 Porsche Cayenne2015 Porsche Cayenne2015 Porsche Cayenne2015 Porsche Cayenne2015 Porsche Cayenne2015 Porsche Cayenne2015 Porsche Cayenne

News Source: Porsche via YouTube

Noted Porsche collector Magnus Walker learns what a TED Talk is firsthand

Posted Jul 23rd 2014 8:00PM

Magnus Walker Tedx Talk

Porsche collector Magnus Walker has the name and looks of a Viking, but once he starts talking about his life story and what drives him, he's an absolutely fascinating guy. Walker recently gave a Ted Talk at a Tedx conference at UCLA and claimed he didn't really understand the idea behind the speeches. You would never know it, though. Walker is as gifted a speaker as he is a talented restorer of some seriously cool Porsches.

Walker's talk is titled "Go with Your Gut Feeling," and it amounts to his autobiography. He recounts his birth in England, dropping out of school at 15 and moving to the US at 19. Once in Los Angeles, he started selling second-hand clothes and grew it into a fashion business.

Of course, what makes him interesting to us is his passion for Porsches. He fell in love with them when he saw a white 911 as a child at the Earl's Court Motor Show in England, but Walker waited until the '90s to buy his first one. From there he started racing and eventually restoring them. Since the documentary Urban Outlaw about him was released, Magnus has become famous for the love of the brand.

The crux of his talk is telling people to follow what they want to do and be willing to take a leap of faith, occasionally. He didn't know anything about fashion or restoring cars when he started doing them, but "passion goes a long way," he says. Scroll down to hear an eloquent speech about living life happily from someone who is practicing what he's preaching.

News Source: TEDx Talks via YouTube, UCLA Extensions Visual Arts

What you missed on 7.23.14

Posted Jul 23rd 2014 7:30PM

Daily U-Turn

distracted drivingCellphone bans don't reduce accidents?

It's true, though perhaps a bit hard to believe. According to a few recent studies, accident rates do not decline in areas where cellphone use is banned. Are drivers finding themselves distracted by other items, or is cellphone use behind the wheel less dangerous than you might think? We don't know, but experts are doing their level best to figure out what these statistics mean.




2014 Nissan Juke Nismo RSQuick Spin: 2014 Nissan Juke Nismo RS

We call it the Jukiest Juke. Clever, right? Of course, it's those clever engineers at Nissan that deserve praise for putting more turbocharged power into the brand's funky looking hatchback/crossover... thing. Sure, it's styling still causes divisions, but one thing can't be argued with: It's a heck of a lot of fun behind the wheel. Check out our Quick Spin for all the details.




Fatal accident signOdds of dying in a traffic accident by location

What are the chances? Well, if you're talking about the chances of being fatally struck by lightning, about a million to one (just don't tell that to Roy C. Sullivan). If you're talking about the chances of dying in a car accident, well, that depends on where you live. If you call Massachusetts or Washington DC home, you're in luck. West Virginia, South Carolina or North Dakota? Watch out.



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