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2015 Subaru WRX: Accident, wheels and tires

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2016 Toyota Tacoma teased again

Posted Dec 17th 2014 3:59PM

2016 Toyota Tacoma Front Teaser

Toyota is following up its muddy teaser of the back of the 2016 Tacoma with a dusty new one that shows the truck's face for the first time. Without seeing more of the pickup, it's impossible to make any educated judgments, but the company appears to be taking the Taco's styling in a new direction.

The 2016 Tacoma features a hexagonal grille outlined in chrome and a narrow intake underneath visually connecting the foglights. The headlights take on a squinting look, and this shot suggests LED running lights at the outer edge (perhaps just for top-level trims). You can also just make out a bit boxier of a flare for the front fender.

The truckmaker hasn't announced anything about the Tacoma's powertrain, but we spied a prototype testing several months ago with a six-speed manual transmission. That one reportedly rode on a modified version of the current model's frame, as well. Toyota apparently has high hopes, though, because it's ramping up production at the Taco's factory in Mexico by 41 percent.

The truck debuts at the 2015 Detroit Auto Show on January 12, and you can read Toyota's to-the-point press release about it below.

News Source: Toyota

2016 Lincoln MKX spied in production form

Posted Dec 17th 2014 3:29PM

Lincoln MKX spy shots

We're getting our first quality look at the next-generation Lincoln MKX in production guise thanks to these fresh spy shots, and they suggest styling that hews very closely to the concept from earlier this year.

Compared to the showcar, the headlights aren't quite as well integrated into the grille, but these LED units still attempt to nicely wrap the split-wing grille across the entire face of the vehicle. Beyond that, the two vehicles quite similar, though. The shape of the lower air dam is practically identical – just with some extra plastic for the production version. The hint of a character line running down the side also makes the resemblance easy to spot, despite this tester's polka-dot camouflage. At the rear, the taillights stretch across the hatch with integrated exhaust outlets below. Even the twin-spoke wheels are comparable to the concept.

Also, look carefully at these spy shots, and you can notice Lincoln apparently testing two different trims. One has LED headlights with front and rear parking sensors (pictured above), and the other shows projector lights with the sensors only at the rear.

The next-gen MKX will launch in 2015 and will be the first model in Lincoln's lineup to benefit from the deal with Harman to use its high-end Revel audio system. Check out the gallery to get a mildly camouflaged sneak preview of the company's future luxury crossover.
Related GalleryLincoln MKX Spy Shots
Lincoln MKX Spy ShotsLincoln MKX Spy ShotsLincoln MKX Spy ShotsLincoln MKX Spy ShotsLincoln MKX Spy ShotsLincoln MKX Spy ShotsLincoln MKX Spy ShotsLincoln MKX Spy Shots

Image Credit: Chris Doane Automotive

Porsche's high-tech 'mirror' turns every car into a Macan

Posted Dec 17th 2014 3:01PM

A Porsche campaign puts a large screen at a valet stand in Los Angeles. As people drive up, they see themselves pulling up in a Porsche Macan.

Porsche calls it the "Magic Mirror," but it's less a reflective device and more 12 high-def screens that track drivers pulling into the valet area at a mall in Los Angeles. As they pass the screens in their cars, they get to see what they'd look like pulling up in a Macan, Porsche's newest and smallest crossover.

It could be considered the experiential evolution of a prior campaign that let people imagine how a Porsche would look in their driveways, an idea that was taken even further by a dealer in Toronto a few years later. Check out the video to see how it was done and how it was received.

News Source: Porsche via YouTube

Image Credit: Copyright 2014 Seyth Miersma / AOL

Infiniti's Vision for Gran Turismo revealed in full [w/video]

Posted Dec 17th 2014 2:32PM

Infiniti Concept Vision Gran Turismo

Just about any car has to be designed with some sort of limitations, whether it's a production car that has to be usable on the road, a racecar that has to comply with regulations, or even a concept car that does, at the end of the day, actually need to be crafted out of real materials and wheeled onto a stage. But the Vision Gran Turismo series imposes no such limitations. Designed only for a virtual reality, the project allows for designers to craft a purely fantastical design whose limits fall barely short of their own imaginations. It presents companies with the opportunity to represent their brand as they want to, so it comes as little surprise that every automaker from here to Hong Kong has been lining up to take part. And the latest is Infiniti.

Previewed in a pair of teaser renderings barely over a week ago, the Infiniti Concept Vision Gran Turismo is a suitably striking addition to the virtual world of the Gran Turismo video game franchise. Designed at the company's Beijing studio, the brief calls for a 4.5-liter naturally aspirated V8 hybrid powertrain, with a front mid-ship layout driving a rear transaxle for ideal 45/55 front-rear weight distribution. Beyond that it's all flowing forms, extreme aero and signature Infiniti design cues like a widened version of the brand's trademark grille shape and the kink in the rear pillar.

It's got butterfly doors hinged ahead of those spindly mirrors, center-lock alloys crafted from carbon fiber, deeply sculpted aerodynamic elements, a large boomerang-shaped rear wing and aggressive long-hood/low greenhouse proportions. It's F1 meets GT, to hear Infiniti tell it, and whether you've got a PS3 and a copy of Gran Turismo 6 to play around with it or not, you can check it out in the images above and the video below.

News Source: Polyphony Digital

Alfa Romeo working on high-performance engines

Posted Dec 17th 2014 2:00PM

Alfa Romeo grille

During the big Fiat Chrysler Automobiles FCA US LLC announcement of its five-year plan earlier this year, the strategy for Alfa Romeo was easily summarized by brand boss Harald Wester: "Go back to the Alfa Romeo that people admired." Easier said than done. With the 4C as one step in that procedure, we might see the next when the company unveils its midsize sedan in June with a trio of new engines with up to 480 horsepower.

Anonymous sources at suppliers are already making some big claims about the new mills to Automotive News Europe. The top of the heap is reportedly a 2.9-liter, twin-turbocharged V6 making up to 480 hp, based on the 3.0-liter engine in the Maserati Quattroporte and Ghibli. Below it is a turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder that's claimed to produce between 180 hp and 330 hp for rear- or all-wheel drive applications. Finally, there's potentially a 2.2-liter turbo-diesel four with between 135 hp and 210 hp.

Little has been officially announced about the midsize sedan, but it was possibly spied testing recently hidden under the body of a Ghibli. It was rumored to be rear-wheel drive with a size between the BMW 3 Series and 5 Series, and a high-performance GTA version was also speculated. According to ANE, the vehicle won't be called the Giulia and won't hit the market in the US until 2016.

In addition to the midsize model's engines, FCA is also reportedly working on an updated version of its 3.0-liter diesel V6 sourced from VM Motori with new 275-hp and 340-hp versions. They are likely slated for Alfa's future large sedan and SUV.

Lamborghini Asterion could still see showrooms

Posted Dec 17th 2014 1:31PM

Lamborghini Asterion, front three-quarter view.

At the 2014 Paris Motor Show, Lamborghini CEO Stephan Winkelmann told Maxim after the introduction of the stunning Asterion hybrid, "I strongly believe that this is not a car that will be in production, and we will not do it." However, the Asterion concept came more than a year after Winklemann told that same magazine, at the 2013 Geneva Motor Show, that "Lamborghini was not interested in hybrids." He repeated the sentiment in Paris, saying, "We're still not interested."

Well, someone at Lamborghini (or the Volkswagen Group?) does appear to be interested. The company's head of R&D, Maurizio Reggiani, told Autocar the story of the Asterion's development "started a couple of years ago" and is still being carried out in order to understand a real world hybrid application that would satisfy Lamborghini brand values – meaning electric assistance for a naturally aspirated engine with a high cylinder count.

Reggiani never hints about the Asterion actually going on sale, but does tell Autocar, "The discussions inside Lamborghini now are about the potential cost of the car," and how it would be positioned. Having been told that it could sell for the price of the Aventador plus the hybrid drivetrain, Autocar figures an MSRP of 350,000 pounds ($551K US). The phrase "hybrid supercar" immediately brings three cracking coupes to mind, but the Asterion – were it to make production – wouldn't target that group; said Winklemann in that Maxim interview, "It's not meant to go on the racetrack. The acceleration is good, and the top speed, but in handling it would be out-beaten by the others. It's more a hyper-cruiser." We're fine with that, Mr. Winklemann – we think the Aston Martin Vanquish, Bentley Continental GT and Ferrari F12 Berlinetta could use the company. Bring it.

News Source: Autocar

Image Credit: Copyright 2014 Drew Phillips / AOL

Honda Civic losing ground to Toyota Corolla, sales crown threatened

Posted Dec 17th 2014 1:00PM

Honda Civic

2014 Toyota CorollaOh, what a difference a year has made. When the numbers were tallied for 2013, the Honda Civic was riding high by claiming its segment's sales crown in the US despite being challenged by the latest generation of the Toyota Corolla for part of the year. However, with just a month to go in the battle for C-segment supremacy in 2014, it looks like Toyota gets to hoist the trophy this time.

Looking at November sales numbers, Honda moved 300,644 Civics through the first 11 months of the year, down 2.1 percent in volume. Furthermore, for the month alone, the company sold 23,060 Civics, a 12.3 percent drop. Meanwhile, on Toyota's side, business has been booming comparatively. Through the first 11 months it sold 309,373 Corollas, a 10.6 percent jump, and for November alone it moved 25,609 examples, a 14.2 percent improvement. With fewer than 10,000 cars between them, it would take quite a December slump for the Corolla to lose this fight.

According to The Truth About Cars, the Civic actually started out the 2014 somewhat positively with 5 percent growth over the previous year, though still behind the Corolla's figures. However, the Honda has seen a slide since then with five consecutive months of sales drops. Meanwhile, the Toyota has generally kept showing growth.

Being the newer model of the two, the Corolla comes to this fight with an advantage. Honda hasn't let the Civic languish; it gave the model a CVT in 2014 to boost fuel economy. That's nothing like the Toyota's thorough recent rethink, though.

According to TTAC, Honda does have reason to crow about the Civic, just not necessarily in the US. The model is on track to be the bestselling vehicle in Canada for the 17th consecutive year and have its best sales since 2008 there.
Related Gallery2013 Honda Civic
2013 Honda Civic2013 Honda Civic2013 Honda Civic2013 Honda Civic2013 Honda Civic2013 Honda Civic2013 Honda Civic2013 Honda Civic

News Source: The Truth About Cars

Watch these Nissan 350Zs set a record for world's longest twin drift

Posted Dec 17th 2014 12:33PM

Two Nissan 350Zs set a Guinness World Record for the long twin-vehicle drift in Dubai.

In July, Harald Müller notched a Guinness World Record by drifting longer than any lone tire-burner ever had: 89.55 miles. This month, Nissan Middle East broke the Guinness World Record for the longest twin drift when two drivers slithered through a figure eight for 17.7 miles. The feat came about to commemorate the opening of the Nissan 370Z Drift Experience in Dubai, which will teach eager punters how to abuse slip angle, but the actual drifting was done with two 350Zs.

Nissan opened the center in partnership with ProDrift Academy, a European school for wannabe drifters, and when it comes time for actual instruction that will be done in the eponymous 370Z. You can check out a video snippet from the event and a press release from Nissan Middle East below.

News Source: Nissan via Top Gear

2015 Mercedes-Benz S63 AMG Coupe

One Man's Goldilocks Is Another Man's Overkill

Posted Dec 17th 2014 11:57AM

Conventional wisdom would dictate that adding more power and several key performance enhancements to an already very good car, like the 2015 Mercedes-Benz S550 Coupe, will end up equaling an even better car. In the case of the 2015 Mercedes-Benz S63 AMG Coupe, conventional wisdom sort of applies, but perhaps not as much as we'd have initially guessed.

We'll get into the nitty gritty details in just a moment, but here's the most immediate takeaway we had in our minds as we walked away from this super coupe: The S63 AMG is excellent, but so is the slightly more mundane S550 Coupe on which it is based, and which is priced some $41,000 less expensive than its more powerful sibling. Chew on those figures while we examine what differentiates the two S-Class Coupes.

Drive Notes
  • As expected, the single greatest highlight of the 2015 S63 Coupe is its engine. As a powerplant, it's a gem. As a hand-built engineering exercise, its 577 horsepower and 664 pound-feet of torque are just as impressive in real life as they sound when recited from stat sheets. Not that the old CL63 AMG was lacking in power, but the new S63 AMG Coupe boasts 41 more horses and 74 more lb-ft than the outgoing engine.
  • The run to 60 miles per hour takes a scant 3.9 seconds, according to M-B, aided in no small part by the car's 4Matic all-wheel-drive system and other assorted electronic brains deciding where, exactly, all those ponies should be sent. The rear-biased system is tuned to send two-thirds of the engine's power to the rear wheels in a bid to make the car feel more like what performance-minded drivers expect.
  • Top speed is electronically limited to 186 miles per hour, which is plenty fast enough, even in the days of 200-plus-mph sedans from M-B's former corporate cousin Dodge. We didn't get anywhere near the car's maximum velocity, but our brief trips into triple-digit territory were quiet, comfortable and completely free of drama.
  • The seven-speed automatic gearbox responds quickly to requests of your right foot, but the steering wheel-mounted paddles don't change gears as quickly as we'd like when in Manual mode. Controlled Efficiency (which we'd call Comfort) maximizes efficiency, keeping the transmission in higher gears and shifting earlier than when in Sport mode, and we didn't find much fault with the computer's shifting algorithms in either setting. There's no torque converter as would normally be found in an automatic transmission, and low-speed driving can cause some odd sensations, but we didn't find it objectionable.
  • Suspension tuning is revised from that of the S550 Coupe, with different geometry at the front and a stiffer rear subframe, and it's all propped up with air springs that provide a comfortably firm and well-damped ride, particularly when left in Comfort. Steering feel and feedback is good as well, as is the case with the S550, delivering a solid connection from the surface of the road to the driver's hands.
  • Mercedes claims to have removed 128 pounds from its big coupe in AMG guise. This is achieved through aluminum bodywork, a lithium-ion battery replacing lead-acid, lightweight alloy wheels and composite brake discs. At 4,678 pounds, the S63 AMG Coupe is no bantamweight, but any weight reduction is a welcome one.
  • Regardless of how well it drives – and it drives very well indeed – the latest S-Class Coupe, in any iteration, is a true automotive sculpture. From its classic long-hood, short-deck proportions to the flowing, carved-out lines that connect them, the S63 AMG Coupe is a beautiful car. We're not convinced that the extra exterior jewelry of the Edition 1, as seen in our image gallery above, makes the car prettier – Swarovski-bejeweled headlamps notwithstanding – but we have absolutely zero complaints about the Designo leather in a beautiful shade of red covering what we think are the most comfortable seats in the automotive kingdom.
  • We're not in love with the massive LCD dashboard display, which deftly displays any and all pertinent information in a fine manner but lacks the visual flair of proper gauges, but the rest of the interior is beautifully crafted, comfortable and quiet. In fact, M-B claims the 2015 S-Class Coupe is the quietest car it has ever screwed, welded and riveted together.
  • Quiet is great, but those looking for a bit more noise from the engine will find it in Sport or Manual transmission modes, in which baffles in the exhaust open up for your aural enjoyment.
It's not an easy task to come up with complaints about a car like the 2015 Mercedes-Benz S63 AMG Coupe. It's beautiful, it's fast and we think it's probably a better daily driver than any of its main competitors, which include such worthy adversaries as the Aston Martin Vanquish, Bentley Continental GT and Rolls-Royce Wraith.

We're sure the S63 AMG Coupe will be the perfect choice for many would-be Goldilocks buyers. Were push to come to shove, though, we'd be just as happy to park an S550 Coupe in our imaginary driveway, loaded up with a whole slew of options, just the way we want it, and still have paid less than the base S63 AMG Coupe, which starts at $160,900.

If money truly were no object – and for many buyers of the S-Class Coupe that will surely be the case – there is a top-shelf S65 AMG Coupe on the way, carrying along with it a 6.0-liter twin-turbo V12 engine with 621 hp and 738 lb-ft, that will cost $230,900. If you're looking for the ultimate S-Class Coupe, that'd be the one to get. All things considered, though, we're sure nobody who parks an S63 AMG Coupe in their driveway is going to be disappointed.

Vital Stats

Twin-Turbo 5.5L V8
577 HP / 664 LB-FT
7-Speed Auto
48 months / 50,000 miles
Base Price:

Image Credit: Copyright 2014 Jeremy Korzeniewski / AOL / Mercedes-Benz

Lexus bringing new F model to Detroit

Posted Dec 17th 2014 11:28AM

Lexus F teaser for Detroit 2015

Lexus has taken aim squarely at the likes of Mercedes-AMG and BMW M GmbH with its F line of performance models like the old IS F and the new RC F – and now it's preparing to showcase another one at the upcoming Detroit Auto Show.

There's little information to go on from the brief statement accompanying these two teaser images, but the Japanese automaker refers to its as "a track-ready" model. Could that mean a more extreme version of the RC F? Possibly, but the headlights are different – just like the units on the LF-C2 concept were different as well. It could just as easily be a concept for a new GS or LS sedan in F spec, even a reboot of the CT hybrid hatchback, or maybe a showcar of another nature altogether.

Whatever it is, it looks enticing, what with the carbon fiber bits, low-profile rubber, lightweight alloys and oversized brakes. As for what form it'll take, we'll find out sooner or later, so watch this space.

News Source: Lexus

KTM renders 320-hp X-Bow GT4

Posted Dec 17th 2014 10:59AM

Rendering of the Reiter Engineering GT4 race car based on the KTM X-bow, front view.

About a month ago KTM announced the development of a new racecar in conjunction with Reiter Engineering, which we know mostly from its Lamborghini FIA GT racers. Based on the X-Bow, the renderings so far show the exterior gets a fully enclosed cockpit, some serious wheel arches and a giant wing hanging off the back; the front aspect reminds us of the Gumpert Apollo. It doesn't have a name yet, but is being engineered to run in both the SRO GT4 European racing series and the GT-S class in the Pirelli World Challenge.

The Audi-sourced 2.0-liter TSFI engine will churn out roughly 320 horsepower and get it up to speed via a Holinger six-speed sequential gearbox, a racing ABS system slows everything down. Reiter doesn't quote final numbers yet, waiting to find out what the balance-of-power regulations in both series' will dictate.

The new racer will be sold and maintained by Reiter, and should be ready for next year's racing season. The press release below has a few more details.

News Source: KTM

Peter Max staring down $1M lawsuit over Corvette collection sale

Posted Dec 17th 2014 10:30AM

Peter Max - A Retrospective - 1960-2014

Pop artist Peter Max recently sold off his collection of 36 vintage Chevrolet Corvettes – one each from 1953 to 1989 ­– for an undisclosed amount. The new owners have already announced plans to restore some of them and auction the models off sometime soon. Up until then, the sports cars had been languishing in various garages around New York City for decades and were caked in dust and grime. However, Max's end of the transaction has just become more complicated, because two men are suing the artist claiming he employed them to complete the deal first.

The men allege that Max hired them to broker the sale of the 36 Corvettes in exchange for a 10-percent commission, according to the New York Post. They claim to have emails and text messages proving the existence of the deal, and are taking Max to court for $1 million over the squabble.

The collection of Corvettes was amassed in 1989 as part of a prize package from the television network VH1, and Max bought the cars from the winner intending on using them for an art project. He never got around to it, though, and parked the sports cars around New York, until he finally sold them over the summer.

News Source: New York Post

Image Credit: Barry Brecheisen / Invision / AP

Cadillac CT6 styling will be evolutionary, not like Elmiraj

Posted Dec 17th 2014 9:58AM

Cadillac CT6

Well, this is at least a little disappointing. It turns out Cadillac's long-awaited flagship, the CT6, won't be ushering in a wholesale change in the company's design. That's coming from GM Design guru Ed Welburn, meaning it should be taken as gospel (unless of course he's just trying to hoodwink us).

"It'll be different and it will certainly stand out in the portfolio," Welburn told Automotive News. "But you won't see a real shift in direction."

Instead, Art and Science will be shown in yet another new form, and will "continue to evolve," according to Welburn, although what that means is unclear. What we can say for certain, though, is that Art and Science on the CT6 will not evolve into the stunning Elmiraj Concept.

"I think Elmiraj was more of an influence on some other things we're working on for Cadillac," Welburn said, we're guessing with a smirk and an air of mystery.

Considering we have yet to see the CT6, it's hard to tell whether this will be good news or bad, although based on the critical reception to the Elmiraj, we're a little bit disappointed by Welburn's statements. Still, only time will tell whether the styling of the CT6 will really work out.

News Source: Automotive News - sub. req.

Image Credit: Chris Doane Automotive

GM program sees dealers taking on way more loaner cars

Posted Dec 17th 2014 9:30AM

New Car Sales

Given the volume of vehicles we're talking about, this is a significant development for GM's bottom line.

Bring your car into the dealership for service, and you may need a loaner car in exchange. And with so many recalls being carried out, that means a lot of loaners – especially at General Motors dealerships. That could be one of the reasons why GM is massively expanding its loaner fleet program.

While many Chevrolet and Buick-GMC dealerships have an on-site rental car location operated by a third party like Enterprise (which may or may not provide a GM vehicle), others manage their own loaner fleets. But while the range of dealerships operating such fleets was once small, reports Automotive News, the number has been growing rapidly: from the locations responsible for only 20 percent of those brands' sales two years ago to about 90 percent today.

The impetus for that growth comes down to a massive expansion of GM's Courtesy Transportation Program. The initiative encourages dealers to ramp up their loaner fleet to a maximum size determined by GM, with a mix determined by the dealer itself, so that a showroom in Texas can be bolstered with a fleet of pickup trucks and a dealer in California can employ more Volt and Camaro Convertible loaners. The dealership gets a $500 credit for each vehicle its puts in its fleet, and can use those vehicles as loaners for service customers, as multi-day test drivers or to rent out separately.

The vehicles remain in the dealer's fleet for 90 days or 7,500 miles, then they can be sold as used, but with new-car incentives. The dealer gets a fleet of loaners, customers get to use the loaners, try out a new car overnight or buy a barely used car with attractive incentives, and GM gets to clock more sales. But therein lies the kicker: the automaker counts the dispatch of the loaner new vehicle to the dealership as a new-car sale, which could end up distorting its sales figures. Counting loaner vehicles as sold vehicles is something of an industry-standard practice, but given the volume of vehicles we're talking about, this is a significant development for GM's bottom line.

One dealership - Paddock Chevrolet in Kenmore, NY, for example - had no loaner fleet two years ago, but now runs a fleet of 50 vehicles. Multiply that by the 4,000 or so dealers GM has across America and you're talking about the potential for hundreds of thousands of these sorts of sales. But then, not every dealership is going to take part in the program, let alone on that scale. Cadillac, for example, runs its own loaner program. And even some Chevy or Buick-GMC dealers aren't going to take part, preferring to let a company like Enterprise handle the complicated logistics instead. But no matter which way you slice it, GM's going to be moving – if not necessarily selling – a lot of extra metal under this program.

News Source: Automotive News - sub. req.

Image Credit: AP / David Zalubowski


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