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2015 Chevrolet Corvette Stingray [UPDATE]

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    2014 Land Rover Range Rover HSE
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    2015 Chevy Corvette Z06 priced at $78,995
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    This Or That: Fiat 500 Abarth vs. Ford Fiesta ST [w/poll]
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Here's the Youabian Puma in motion

Posted Aug 22nd 2014 2:57PM

Youabian Puma

Want to know the low point of my trip to Monterey for last week's Car Week festivities? It wasn't the four-hour layover in Phoenix or getting stuck in the horrible traffic surrounding the event. No, it happened at the Concorso Italiano, when after strolling through the fields of gorgeous Alfa Romeo Montreals, Maserati Meraks, shockingly rust-free Lancia classics and the largest and most varied collection of Ferrari and Lamborghini gorgeousness that I've ever laid eyes on, I stumbled across this – the Youabian Puma.

Why it was at the Concorso, I've no idea. But there it was, in all its big – and I mean big – blue fury, standing in stark contrast to the beautiful sheetmetal that populated the lawn at Monterey's Black Horse Golf Course.

This is, so far as we recall, the first time we've seen the Puma in motion and playing in traffic. In case you somehow missed its memorable debut at the Los Angeles Auto Show last November, we're now offering you the chance to see this curvy, $1.1M leviathan for yourselves. It's worth watching, if only to better appreciate the scale of the Puma out on public roads. It's quite... something.

Are you VW's New Midsize Coupe?

Posted Aug 22nd 2014 2:15PM

VW New Midsize Coupe

Back in April, Volkswagen showed its New Midsize Coupe concept at the Beijing Motor Show, previewing a new, sub-Passat model for the Chinese market. Now, Auto 163 has stumbled upon what appear to be the first shots of the production model, and while it doesn't stray too far from the original concept, as expected, some of the flashier styling cues have been toned down.

Of course, because we live in a world where the term "coupe" is apparently applicable to a range of bodystyles, Volkswagen's NMC is actually very much a sedan. At the concept's debut, VW said it "envisions a sport sedan positioned below the Passat" – the car is "appreciably wider" than the Passat, but shorter than a Jetta. It rides on the company's MQB modular architecture that currently underpins the Golf here in the United States.

No word yet on what its production name will be, but VW's New Midsize Coupe is expected to debut in production form at the Guangzhou Motor Show this December, in advance of its Chinese-market on-sale date in early 2015, priced from about 180,000 yuan (about $29,000 based on current exchange rates). Power is expected to come from either a 1.4- or 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine, mated to a seven-speed dual-clutch transmission. We'll know more when the car officially bows later this year.

News Source: Auto 163 via World Car Fans

America won't get a driver's seat in F1 this weekend after all

Posted Aug 22nd 2014 1:31PM

Alexander Rossi

Americans are the Rodney Dangerfields of the modern Formula One driving ranks; they don't get any respect. We recently reported on 22-year-old Alexander Rossi being tapped by Marussia as a replacement for Brit Max Chilton for this weekend's upcoming Belgian Grand Prix. He would have been the first American driving in an F1 race since Scott Speed in 2007, but less than 24 hours after getting the nod, Rossi has apparently been re-replaced by Chilton.

The whole situation began as Chilton was reportedly suffering "contractual issues" with the team. Rossi signed on with Marussia in July as a reserve driver for the rest of the season. With Chilton out, the American was the natural replacement. Apparently, the problem wasn't that serious, because Marussia put out a statement on Friday saying "following a change in circumstances," Chilton got his job back, according to Reuters.

The switch happened so quickly that Rossi drove the car in the morning practice session for the grand prix, but Chilton replaced him later in the day. The team isn't talking specifics about what precipitated the move. "I don't think it would be appropriate for me to comment on the details of the contractual issues because that is confidential between parties involved," said Marussia team president Graeme Lowdon to Reuters about today's announcement.

News Source: Reuters

Image Credit: Marussia

2015 BMW M4 gets initiated into the club

Posted Aug 22nd 2014 12:44PM

BMW M4 initiation

It's easy for enthusiasts and traditionalists to give BMW a hard time these days, what with its plans to add more front-wheel drive models and seeming move away from more emotionally connected cars. However, the push for perfection that underscored its old Ultimate Driving Machine motto is still in there, especially in its M models. In fact, the first M4 recently made it to US shores, and the company thought the only appropriate way to celebrate was to introduce its new coupe to some of its high-performance forefathers.

The M4's initiation into the M car brotherhood involved bringing together no fewer than 52 classic and newer models – including four racecars and many privately owned vehicles – to an empty parking lot and letting the coupe drift and slalom around them to say hello. According to BMW, there was a combined 11,566 horsepower on hand. It takes a pretty trusting owner to stand back and watch as a brand-new vehicle slides its tail out with the rear wheels smoking within feet of their pride and joy. Stay tuned until the end where the owners and their cars get a shout out in the credits. Scroll down to read BMW's press release about it.

News Source: BMW USA via YouTube

Image Credit: Related images copyright 2014 Michael Harley / AOL

2014 Land Rover Range Rover HSE

The Diet Makes All The Difference

Posted Aug 22nd 2014 11:57AM

Land Rover Range Rover

When this current generation of Range Rover first debuted for the 2013 model year, much was made of its aluminum-intensive superstructure, and the hundreds of pounds of curb weight – some 700 of the suckers – shed as a result. Not having had the opportunity to drive the newly lightened Range until early this past spring (as you can see from the photos), I'd taken the dynamically positive changes on faith before my test.

Having now sampled the super-lux SUV for myself and being a longstanding fan of the Range Rover brand and most Land Rover products, I'm happy to report that the rumors are true. My Nara Bronze Range Rover HSE not only looked the part of a utility vehicle for the well-heeled set, it performed up to the high standards of the models past, as well.

That summation is extra impressive, considering that the Range Rover I had was powered by the base, supercharged 3.0-liter V6 engine, too.

Driving Notes
  • I thought Brandon Turkus was crazy. We published his LR4 review around the time I was driving the Range Rover – both vehicles that make use of this supercharged 3.0-liter V6. Brandon complained that the LR4 – admittedly larger – felt pretty laggy with the V6 as compared with its old 5.0-liter V8. After feeling the sprightly performance of the blown six in the Rangie, I called Turkus, and I called foul. That is until I was gently reminded that the Range Rover's new aluminum architecture made it nearly 750 pounds lighter than the LR4.
  • As you might guess, that relatively light curb weight (4,918 pounds) goes a long way to making the 340-horsepower, 332-pound-feet V6 feel punchy. Land Rover estimates a 0-60 time of 7.1 seconds, but the pull feels even stronger than that in the mid-range speeds. Throttle response is sharper than you might expect for a big SUV, too, which helps the Range Rover seem quicker than it is against the clock.
  • The lowered curb weight and smaller engine have improved the fuel economy estimates for the Range Rover as well. The EPA cites 17 miles per gallon in the city, with ratings of 23 highway and 19 combined to round out the window sticker. I saw close to 18 mpg in a week of mixed driving that tilted toward an urban cycle.
  • Even with its adjustable air suspension, cornering hard is not the Range Rover's bread and butter – nor should it be. There's too much vertical motion in the suspension to make you want to push the Range around your favorite driving roads, and I suppose that's exactly why the Range Rover Sport exists.
  • At highway speeds, the cabin is filled with the low rush of buffered wind noise, and not a lot else until you crank up the excellent optional Meridian audio system ($1,850). As a long-range driver and commuter tool, the highway manners, smooth ride, glove-like seats and all-around great visibility place this vehicle at the top of its class.
  • The ride from the rear quarters isn't too shabby, either. One thing that the $5,000 HSE package includes is the massive sliding panoramic roof, which makes the whole of the interior feel airy and light. With the sky as the ceiling and plenty of legroom, I didn't hear a word but praise from the few friends I threw in the back seats.
  • It's truly subjective, but I've never been much of a white-leather-interiors kind of a guy, and even I found this ivory colored hide to be impressively posh. I'm not sure how sensible it would be for the stereotypical family full of muddy wellies and wet Brittany in the boot, but rich people seem to know magic for keeping clean. Anyway, for my money Range Rover is doing some of the best interiors this side of top-trim Mercedes-Benz and Bentley.
  • In a vacuum, this latest Range Rover is really spectacular. But even I must admit that, if your intended use case is softer than the hard-core off-roading this SUV was built to do, there are a couple of very strong competitors in the market today. Both the all-new Cadillac Escalade and the Mercedes-Benz GL450 are larger, more powerful and less expensive to start, with a slight downtick in terms of star power versus the Range Rover. If you love the Land Rover brand, the look and the potential ability, that might be enough; if your future SUV is set to be more of a mall cruiser, it might not.

Vital Stats

Engine:
SC 3.0L V6
Power:
340 HP / 332 LB-FT
Transmission:
8-Speed Auto
Base Price:
$89,225
As-Tested Price:
$92,575

Image Credit: Copyright 2014 Seyth MIersma / AOL

Hitchhiking robot reaches end of its journey [w/video]

Posted Aug 22nd 2014 11:29AM

Hitchbot

There was a time when people actually thought it was safe to pick up hitchhikers and would totally give them a lift without a second thought. These days, possibly due to horror movies like The Texas Chainsaw Massacre and The Hitcher, thumbing a ride is painted as a prime way to get yourself killed. However, a robot doesn't have to worry about such a violent fate. The Hitchbot in Canada recently completed its month-long journey hitching from Halifax, Nova Scotia, to Victoria, British Columbia traveling mostly along the Trans-Canada Highway. The bot arrived on schedule at its final destination on August 21.

Hitchbot is the product of Canadian researchers interested in human-robot interaction and testing artificial intelligence and speech recognition tech. That's right, the robot can actually talk to its driver while underway. The whole thing was traceable online thanks to the bot's GPS and 3G connection, and fans could even watch Hitchbot's travels on the project's website, Twitter and Facebook.

According to Visor Down, the Hitchbot made it over 3,700 miles across Canada since setting off in July, and its drivers have been quite courteous. Scroll down to watch a video explaining a little more about Hitchbot and its odyssey across The Great White North.

News Source: Visordown, Hitchbot via Vimeo

Image Credit: Twitter

Volvo credits China, Europe for first-half profitability

Posted Aug 22nd 2014 11:01AM

Volvo S60L

If everything goes to plan, Volvo might be showing the first signs of a turnaround after several years coping with old products and a staid image. The Swedish brand is imminently launching its next-gen XC90 SUV on a completely revised, modular platform and using a cutting-edge family of engines, and it has even more products to take advantage of the fresh components on the drawing board. "We are excited about the launch of the all-new XC90, which marks the beginning of the re-launch of the Volvo brand," said CEO Håkan Samuelsson in the company's announcement. In the meantime, the business is moving back to profitability and is even forecasting growth through the rest of 2014.

In Volvo's recently released financial and sales results for the first six months of the year, volume was up 9.5 percent to 299,013 cars. On top of that, operating income reached 1.21 billion Swedish krona ($175 million) after posting a loss in the same period in 2013. Net income was also improved to 535 million Swedish krona ($77.4 million), which was also a reversal from a negative last year.

With these great results, Volvo is now forecasting 10 percent sales growth worldwide by the end of the year, and the key to it is a booming market in some regions. China, home to parent company Geely, was up 34.4 percent first half of the year. It's now Volvo's biggest market in the world and helped by exclusive models like the S60L (pictured above) and S80L. "We are growing our presence in China and we expect to sell at least 80,000 cars there this year," said Samuelsson in the company's forecast.

Western Europe appears to finally be emerging from its doldrums, as well. Volvo sales there were up 8.7 percent and were improved in Sweden as well. The lone dark spot on the figures was the United States that fell to 29,311 cars in the first half of the year, compared to 32,578 in the first half of 2013. Scroll down to read the company's full announcements.
Related Gallery2014 Volvo S60L
2014 Volvo S60L2014 Volvo S60L2014 Volvo S60L2014 Volvo S60L2014 Volvo S60L2014 Volvo S60L2014 Volvo S60L2014 Volvo S60L

News Source: Volvo via Automotive News - sub. req.

Volkswagen considering a four-door, four-seat XL1

Posted Aug 22nd 2014 10:15AM

Volkswagen XL1, front three-quarter view.

According to a report in Autocar, Volkswagen might have more in mind for the XL1 than mining it for advances to grace the next-generation Golf. Aiming to fight the Honda FCEV due for public consumption next year, we're told VW executives have put a four-door, four-seater version of the XL1 - it could be called XL2 - on the drawing board. The impetus is said to come from the top, with VW Group chairman Ferdinand Piëch intent on staying in the deep end of "super-efficent vehicles."

Autocar suspects the necessary changes could raise the weight of the car from 1,749 pounds to 2,068 pounds, which would make it four pounds less than the 2,072-pound Up! we drove a few years ago. Crucially, however, the mag thinks the extra capacity wouldn't change the two-seater's 310-mile-per-gallon rating, with tech tweaks and the aerodynamic benefit of a longer car offsetting the weight. Speculation is that the back seats would be staggered like the fronts in order to maintain the XL1's overall profile.

We recently heard about another XL1 variant that's gone off the radar entirely, the Ducati-engined XLR that we thought we'd see at the Geneva Motor Show and that was said to be going into production, so this one could go the same way. The biggest hurdle to making such an idea a reality, though, could be the price: the current XL1 costs 110,000 euros ($146,116). If VW really is going to compete with the Honda FCEV and the Toyota FCV - $70,000 in Japan - that might be where it wants to start.

News Source: Autocar

Image Credit: Copyright 2014 AOL

Infiniti extends long-wheelbase Q50 L for the Chinese market

Posted Aug 22nd 2014 9:30AM

Infiniti Q50L

Want to sell your luxury sedan in China? You're going to need a long-wheelbase model. Not because the still-dominant Chinese government mandates it, or because the customers are taller, but because Chinese buyers tend to like being chauffeured around in the back of their luxury sedans instead of driving themselves, so the priority is on rear-seat space over driving dynamics.

We've seen the likes of Audi, BMW, Cadillac, Mercedes-Benz and Volvo all roll out long-wheelbase versions of their compact and midsize sedans specifically to cater to Chinese tastes. Even Infiniti – which now bases itself in Hong Kong – offers a long-wheelbase Q70 L not only in China but around the world, and has now bolstered its extended offerings with the reveal of the Q50 L, set to debut at the Chengdu Motor Show later this month.

Set to be produced locally for the local market, the Q50 L adds nearly two inches to the wheelbase of the Q50 to the benefit of rear-seat legroom. Power comes from Infiniti's 2.0-liter turbo four offering 208 horsepower and 236 pound-feet of torque, driving to the rear wheels through a seven-speed automatic transmission with drive-by-wire steering.

News Source: Infiniti

Bugatti surprises with Vitesse 1 of 1 edition

Posted Aug 22nd 2014 8:45AM

Bugatti Veyron Grand Sport Vitesse 1 of 1

Bugatti had plenty to showcase at Pebble Beach this year, unveiling not only the final Legend edition but also bringing the entire series together for one big happy family reunion at the same location where, one year ago, it presented the first such special edition. But those weren't the only special edition Veyrons on hand in Monterey this week.

When we first saw this yellow and black Veyron driving around Alsace last month and figured at the time that it must have been the final Legend edition in tribute to Elisabeth Junek. It turned out to be neither when the series closed out with the Ettore Bugatti edition with a decidedly different color scheme, which left us scratching our heads as to what the Bumblebee treatment was all about, but now we know.

In addition to the Ettore Bugatti edition, the most exotic French automaker also arrived at Pebble Beach this year with the Veyron Grand Sport Vitesse 1 of 1 edition. Commissioned by a customer in Singapore, this one-of-a-kind Vitesse roadster revives a favorite color scheme of the Bugatti family that adorned many of its vehicles from the company's heyday, including a Type 41 Royale, a Type 55 and a Type 44 like the one beside which it was presented, furnished for the occasion by the Mullin Automotive Museum in Oxnard, CA.

The black and yellow livery continues from the exterior into the open cabin with its laser-perforated leather and also features an anodized, hand-polished grille laser-cut with the owner's initials PL and a Bugatti logo placed on the underside of the rear wing . Scope it out in the high-resolution image gallery above and the press release below.

News Source: Bugatti

2015 Chevy Corvette Z06 priced at $78,995

Posted Aug 22nd 2014 8:00AM

Chevy Corvette Z06

Want to get your hands on the most powerful vehicle GM has ever made? It may be time to call your bank manager, financial adviser and whoever else helps you get your monetary ducks in a row, because Chevy has now revealed pricing information for the new 2015 Corvette Z06.

Pricing starts at $78,995 for the coupe and $83,995 for the convertible. Both those figures include destination, but don't include things like tax, title, license and optional equipment. And as we revealed when the order guide surfaced, there is some enticing optional equipment on offer.

An extra $2,995 will get you the Carbon Fiber Ground Effects package with enhanced aero. $7,995 will get you the Z07 Performance Package with Brembo carbon-ceramic brakes, upgraded tires and even more aggressive aero. There are three trim levels available and a host of other packages and options you can read all about in the press release below, from the Premium Package leather trim to the Performance Data Recorder.

No matter which way you set it up, though, you're getting a 6.2-liter supercharged V8 with 650 horsepower and just as much torque. And though the price of entry may seem high, it comes down to a downright steal compared to the six figures Chevy got for the previous ZR1 (whose place the new Z06 effectively takes) and which Dodge gets for a new Viper.

News Source: Chevrolet

Image Credit: Copyright 2014 AOL

Answering that age-old question, can you drift while being tazed?

Posted Aug 21st 2014 8:04PM

Drifting while tazed

Many people tolerate a lot of distractions while doing their jobs and still get things done. Chris Forsberg is a veteran drifter who is very accomplished at his profession, but the question is: just how good? Forsberg's stripped car doesn't have any incoming texts, but there is a guy next to him putting a Taser to his chest.

Forsberg is challenged to enter a corner for a drift, and his torturer, Tony Angelo, tazes a different part of Chris' body in hopes of making him lose concentration and control. Things start off somewhat mild, but Angelo tries a little bit harder during each run.

Of course, it would ruin everything to tell you whether Chris does lose control, so you just have to watch to find out. Don't worry about his safety too much, they're on a closed track with safety personnel nearby. Warning, there is a fair bit of explicit language, as you would expect from a video of two people being tazed repeatedly.

News Source: The Hoonigans via YouTube

What you missed on 8.21.2014

Posted Aug 21st 2014 7:30PM

Daily U-Turn

This or That: Fiat 500 Abarth vs. Ford Fiesta STThis or That: Fiat 500 Abarth vs. Ford Fiesta ST

Two of Autoblog's editors argue the finer points of hot hatches in a point/counterpoint rundown between the Fiat 500 Abarth and Ford Fiesta ST. Arguments are made, but no firm conclusions drawn. Feel free to offer your own opinion in our completely unscientific poll.



Quick Spin: Nissan NV200 taxiWe take the Nissan NV200 taxi for a Quick Spin

What in the world is Autoblog doing testing a taxi? Good question. You see, this isn't a Ford Crown Victoria, or even a Ford Escape Hybrid. The bright yellow machine in question is, in fact, the brand-new Nissan NV200 that you're about to see infiltrating the streets of the busiest city in America: New York. Just what you should expect after hailing the taxi of tomorrow is discussed herein.




Honda Fit small front overlap crash testHonda vows to improve 2015 Fit crash test score, will retrofit 12,000 cars for free

When the IIHS tested the brand-new 2015 Honda Fit, the car scored a disappointing "Marginal" in the difficult small front overlap crash test. Honda has vowed to reinforce the Fit with a stronger steel front bumper beam, which the IIHS says will boost its rating to "Acceptable," and the company will retrofit 2015 models already sold – approximately 12,000 cars – free of charge.



Top Stories

Kia Soul EV ad campaign charges up with sexified hamsters

Posted Aug 21st 2014 6:58PM

Kia Soul EV Hamsters

It's official: Kia's adorable Soul-hawking Hamsters have crossed that line. It was one thing when they first hit the scene, and we got a small chuckle out of their trimmer looks for the refreshed, 2014 Soul. This, though, is too much.

This is Kia's latest commercial for the 2015 Soul EV, and it starts off typically enough. The hamsters seem to be tinkering in a laboratory attempting to modify a standard, gas-powered Kia. But then, some Weird Science-like trickery occurs and, well, the results are rather disturbing.

You'll need to watch yourself if you want to experience the horror. Take a look, and then head into Comments and let us know what you think.

News Source: Kia Motors America via YouTube

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