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  • Paris
    Toyota C-HR Concept is a high-riding hybrid hatch [w/video]
  • Official
    Volkswagen XL Sport brings high-performance fuel-sipping to Paris
  • Official
    Lamborghini reveals Asterion LPI 910-4 hybrid hypercar concept [UPDATE]
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Honda HR-V Prototype looks awfully familiar

Posted Oct 2nd 2014 10:20AM

Honda HR-V Prototype at the 2014 Paris Motor Show, front three-quarter view.

Is there anything quite so exciting as seeing a brand-new vehicle for the very first time? Part of the allure of auto shows is the chance to see new ideas, just before they're fully baked and ready for public consumption. "Prototypes" you might say, of production models that are just around the corner. Or, in the case of the Honda HR-V, already down the block a ways.

Here in Paris, Honda has unveiled its HR-V Prototype, a nearly production-ready version of a "new SUV for Europe." Before we take umbrage with that SUV designation – as far as we can tell the Fit-based crossover isn't much of a mudder – we should address the fact that at this year's New York Auto Show in April, Honda handed over just a few images and specs of the actually production-read HR-V for the US. Presumably this is a "prototype" for Europe, where the NYC car is US-specific, but we're still scratching our heads a bit.

No matter! Here in France, Honda tells us that the utile little hatch will be available powered by both a 1.5-liter gasoline engine (the one American customers will see), and a 1.6-liter diesel unit, both wearing the company's Earth Dreams Technology label and presumably running cleaner and more frugally than ever. In Europe, a standard six-speed manual will come with both mills, while the 1.5-liter will offer the option of a continuously variable transmission.

Inside, expect the same bigger-inside-than-outside magic that we've discussed with the standard Fit (or "Jazz" here in Paris) thanks to Honda's seriously flexible Magic Seat.

The HR-V will shed its prototype designation and go on sale in Europe next summer.
Related GalleryHonda HR-V Prototype
Honda HR-V PrototypeHonda HR-V PrototypeHonda HR-V PrototypeHonda HR-V PrototypeHonda HR-V PrototypeHonda HR-V PrototypeHonda HR-V PrototypeHonda HR-V Prototype

Image Credit: Copyright 2014 Jonathon Ramsey / AOL

Audi R8 LMX illuminates the City of Light with lasers

Posted Oct 2nd 2014 10:00AM

2014 Audi R8 LMX

Hard as it may seem to believe, the Audi R8 has been around for the better part of a decade. But does that make us love it any less? Hardly, especially not when Audi keeps rolling out ever-more enticing versions like the one you see here.

Debuting at the Paris Motor Show, the new Audi R8 LMX is the most powerful version of the supercar we've seen yet, thanks to a 5.2-liter V10 engine tuned to deliver 570 metric horsepower. That's 562 by our count, making it ten horses more potent than the R8 GT, or 37 more than the standard ten-cylinder R8 5.2 FSI – enough to propel the LMX to 62 in 3.4 seconds.

That's not all that sets the LMX apart, however, as Audi has fit it with cutting-edge laser-beam headlights. It comes exclusively as a coupe in Ara Blue with carbon fiber trim, special wheels, red brake calipers and a black leather cockpit. Only 99 examples will be made, and with those laser headlights banned in the US, your best chance of seeing one is in the gallery of live images above.

Watch Dale Earnhardt Jr. review a Chevy Spark

Posted Oct 2nd 2014 9:39AM

Dale Earnhardt, Jr., Chevy Spark Review

As a NASCAR driver, Dale Earnhardt, Jr., gets to be a spokesman for many, many things. His team's sponsors range from eBay, to Hellman's Mayonnaise, to Wrangler clothing, to Mountain Dew. The number 88's biggest sponsor, though, is Chevrolet.

So, when we hear that Junior is going to "review" a Chevrolet Spark, you can forgive us for raising an eyebrow. This video comes from one of the #88 car's most visible sponsors – Kelley Blue Book – and sees the wildly popular driver sample the brand's smallest offering, delivering praise and smiles through gritted teeth.

It's kind of terrible. Take a look and see what we mean.

News Source: Kelley Blue Book via YouTube

2015 Porsche Cayenne S E-Hybrid electrifies France

Posted Oct 2nd 2014 9:21AM

2015 Porsche Cayenne S E-Hybrid

Which automaker offers the greatest variety of plug-in hybrids? Nope, it's not Toyota. Not GM either. It's not Ford, not Honda and not BMW. Believe it or not, it's Porsche. And this is its latest, presented at the Paris Motor Show.

The new Cayenne S E-Hybrid joins the Panamera S E-Hybrid and the 918 Spyder in Porsche's growing hybrid lineup that will, at this rate, probably bring in gasoline-electric versions of the 911, Boxster, Cayman and Macan too. It's based on the recently updated Cayenne, but stands out from the rest thanks to the combination of its supercharged 3.0-liter V6, eight-speed automatic transmission, 95-horsepower electric motor and lithium-ion battery pack.

That's more power than the previous Cayenne S Hybrid, and can also be topped off directly from the mains. Which may not have seemed very Porsche just a dozen years ago – especially in crossover form – but somehow seems highly characteristic by now.

News Source: Porsche

Image Credit: Live photos copyright 2014 Drew Phillips / AOL

Audi TT Sportback Concept rounds out an icon

Posted Oct 2nd 2014 9:01AM

Audi TT Sportback Concept

That German automakers seem singularly fixated on filling any white space between their models isn't new – the last decade-plus has seen their showrooms overflowing with niche models, some of which seemingly occupy sub-genres of sub-genres. To our eyes, there's often diminishing aesthetic and utilitarian returns to go along with the heightened price tags that accompany these models, but we're beginning to think Audi is tackling its personal diversity initiative best. Unlike the often heavy-handed designs from rivals (we're looking at you, BMW), Ingolstadt seems to be doing doing a more graceful job of carving out models between models. The latest proof of this is the TT Sportback Concept, just unveiled here at the Paris Motor Show.

After showing off its Allroad Shooting Brake Concept in Detroit and, more recently, in the Offroad Concept in Beijing amidst rumors of the TT sports car platform expanding into an entire family, we're not surprised to see this more utilitarian five-door hatchback showcar here in France. This, despite the fact that Audi already counts similarly proportioned A5 Sportback and A7 Sportback models in its lineup.

Of the TT line extension concepts, this Sportback certainly looks the most production ready, with a bare minimum of showcar tinsel masking realistic proportions and detailing. We think it's quite handsome from stem to stern, even if it's a bit familiar looking. The design incorporates Audi's trademark big-grille look with the TT's prominent arched roofline and heavily radiused fenders, along with a rear lighting graphic that subtly echoes the A3. Despite its leggy looks, the TT Sportback Concept is surprisingly compact, spanning less than a foot longer overall than the production 2016 TT despite its 4.7-inch longer wheelbase and extra set of doors. Those sleek looks come at least partially as the result of an overall height that sits 1.2 inches lower than the TT coupe.

The gutsy 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder underhood punches out 400 horsepower and 332 pound-feet of torque through a seven-speed S-tronic dual-clutch gearbox and Audi's trademark Quattro all-wheel-drive system. Audi claims that the powertrain combination will go from 0 to 62 miles per hour in 3.9 seconds, which sounds an awful lot like RS-level performance to us.

News Source: Audi

Image Credit: Live photos copyright 2014 Drew Phillips / AOL

Tesla spies something that begins with the letter D

Posted Oct 2nd 2014 8:40AM

Tesla D teaser

Lest there be any doubt to the contrary, Tesla is a company on the move. Following the sensational Tesla Roadster, the Model S is now humming down roads across the country and around the world. And there's more to come: the entry-level Model 3, the upcoming Model X crossover... and something else. Two somethings, to be precise, going by this latest, cryptic tweet from Tesla chief Elon Musk.

The image enclosed appears to show the front of a Model S peering out from under a partially open garage door emblazoned with the letter D. Just what that letter stands for, we don't know. Usually we'd guess it stood for "diesel," but given that Teslas are powered purely by electricity, that'd probably be viewed as a backwards step. Drive? Possibly, if Tesla has an all-wheel-drive sedan in the works (which is does).

Whatever it is, we'll have to wait until October 9 before Tesla reveals the full thing. At that point it will also reveal "something else," though it's given even less indication as to what that might be. The Model 3? Production-ready Model X? A new Roadster? We'll find out in a week's time.

News Source: Elon Musk via Twitter

Mitsubishi recalling i-MiEV models for brake problem

Posted Oct 2nd 2014 8:20AM

Mitsubishi I-Miev

Mitsubishi is issuing a recall for the 2010-2014 i-MiEV that affects 1,810 units of the little electric car, because it's possible for the brake vacuum pump to stop working. If this happens, the result would be longer stopping distances, according to the company. The affected models were built between September 15, 2009, and March 25, 2014.

While this is just a single recall, there are actually two things that can cause this brake problem on the i-MiEV, according to Mitsubishi's filing with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. First, bad programming in the EV-ECU could cause the system to "falsely judge that the relay contact point is stuck," according to the full NHTSA defect notice PDF. Second, the vacuum pump exhaust hole could be corroded and blocked due to being splashed with road salt. However, the company says that if either fault happens, the brake warning lamp would illuminate, and there would be an audible alarm.

Depending on which issue is affecting an owner's i-MiEV, Mitsubishi is going to reprogram the software, replace the pump or both. Scroll down to read the recall report from NHTSA.
Related GalleryMitsubishi i-MiEV
Mitsubishi i-MiEVMitsubishi i-MiEVMitsubishi i-MiEVMitsubishi i-MiEVMitsubishi i-MiEVMitsubishi i-MiEVMitsubishi i-MiEVMitsubishi i-MiEV

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

Image Credit: Mitsubishi

2015 Mini Hardtop 5-Door isn't for the country, man [w/video]

Posted Oct 2nd 2014 8:01AM

2015 Mini Hardtop 5 Door

We've seen it in super high-res glory, and we can even build one on the automaker's website, but the Paris Motor Show marks the official coming out party for the new Mini Hardtop 4 Door (which is what it's called in the US, despite this Euro car having "5 Door" badging). It's a stretched version of the third-generation Mini Hardtop, but with an extra set of doors for rear seat passengers. Think of it as a more useful Clubman, but with a lower ride height and less rugged-ness than the Countryman. Got it? Good.

Engine options carry over from the normal Mini Hardtop range, with a 1.5-liter turbo-three and a 2.0-liter turbo-four offering 134 and 189 horsepower, respectively. The rest of the car is everything else you know and love from the Mini range, just with a more spacious rear bench. And as you'd expect, there's a nearly endless pallet of customization options.

The Hardtop 4 Door arrives at US dealerships just before the end of the year, commanding a roughly $1,000 premium over its three-door kin. Scope out our new live shots in the gallery above, and take in the extensive press blast, below.

2015 BMW 2 Series Cabriolet flips its lid [w/video]

Posted Oct 2nd 2014 7:30AM

2015 BMW 2 Series Cabriolet

Early next year, BMW will offer droptop versions of its entry-level 2 Series. Available in both 228i and M235i guise, the 2 Series Cabriolet will no doubt take everything we already like (and don't like) about the Twoer and add that wind-in-your-hair experience. Of course, taking in all the extra sun comes at a price – $37,900 for the 228i and $47,700 for the M235i, not including $950 for destination. Those prices represent increases of $5,800 and $4,600, respectively.

Powertrain specs are identical to the coupes, with the 228i powered by a 2.0-liter turbocharged inline-four good for 240 horsepower and 255 pound-feet of torque. The more potent M235i gets BMW's turbocharged, 3.0-liter inline-six, with 320 hp and 330 lb-ft of push, and can hit 60 miles per hour in 4.8 seconds. That's with the eight-speed automatic transmission, which is available with either engine. And for those who prefer to row their own, BMW will thankfully offer a six-speed manual gearbox with both powerplants, as well.

Following the Paris Motor Show unveiling, the pair will be shown in the US at the Los Angeles Auto Show in November before hitting dealers a few months later. Have a look at the new droptop in our fresh batch of images live from the Porte de Versailles exhibition center, and read BMW's lengthy press blast, below, for all of the official information.

News Source: BMW

Image Credit: Live photos copyright 2014 Drew Phillips / AOL

Toyota C-HR Concept is a high-riding hybrid hatch [w/video]

Posted Oct 2nd 2014 7:00AM

Toyota C-HR Concept

Despite having the tendency to offer decidedly bland production cars, Toyota occasionally surprises us with interesting concept cars. Such is the case with the C-HR concept making its debut at the Paris Motor Show this week. It's a concept showing forward-thinking design that hints at "a type of crossover vehicle Toyota would like to bring to market," according to the automaker's release, and it rides on an all-new platform and uses a hybrid powertrain.

About that powertrain: Toyota isn't revealing anything, just saying that it will – brace yourselves – "deliver significantly improved fuel efficiency" (over what, exactly?) The car also uses a brand-new architecture, though it hasn't really revealed any major details about that aspect, either.

It's a high-riding, muscular thing, with a rakish hatchback shape. Should it reach production, Toyota says it would take the shape of a C-segment crossover. It'd be cool to see something like this hit the road someday, but for now, we won't hold our breath.

See the C-HR for yourself in the galleries above and below, and scroll down for the full press release.

Lamborghini Asterion LPI 910-4 is silent but deadly [w/video]

Posted Oct 2nd 2014 6:30AM

Lamborghini Asterion LPI 910-4

The weirdest thing happened last night. During the annual Volkswagen Group Night festivities, everyone waited in anticipation for the Lamborghini section of the press conference. It's usually a treat for the senses – cool to look at, backed up by a ferocious sound that bellows throughout the venue. But not this time. There was no music, there were no laser lights, and most remarkably, there was no sound. The Lamborghini Asterion LPI 910-4 drove onto stage under fully silent electric power. Audibly, at least, it was perhaps the most anti-climactic Lambo introduction we've ever witnessed.

And that's the big story with this new Lamborghini concept: it's a plug-in hybrid. Of course, it's still a product of the storied Italian supercar maker, so that electric powertrain is mated to a 5.2-liter V10, and total system output is rated at a staggering 910 horsepower. It'll run up to 31 miles on pure electric power at speeds of up to 78 miles per hour, and its 0-62 time is estimated to be three seconds flat. Top speed? 199 mph. In other words, it may be capable of silence, but it still carries a stick, and it's still very much a Lambo.

So will the company actually build something like this? Right now, it doesn't look likely. Back in August at the Pebble Beach Concours d'Elegance, Autoblog spoke with Lamborghini boss Stephan Winkelmann about the then-off-the-record Asterion concept, who told us that if the automaker should choose to expand its model range, the bigger priority right now would be the Urus crossover. This is merely just a way to show how Lamborghini might present a gasoline-electric vehicle. And after scoping it out in person here at the Paris Motor Show, we have to say, it's cool. The styling is a bit softer and understated compared to the audacious Aventador or angular Huracán. But it still has quite a presence and it's still very much a Raging Bull.

See the Asterion for yourself in the new gallery of live photos above, and read more about the PHEV concept in the press release below and check out an Asterion walkaround video with Winkelmann from our friends at Autoline while you're there.

News Source: Lamborghini, Autoline Network via YouTube

Image Credit: Live photos copyright 2014 Drew Phillips / AOL

72-month loans enticing consumers to buy loaded cars

Posted Oct 2nd 2014 6:00AM

auto sales

Longer loan terms and favorable interest rates are tempting consumers into pricier and more feature-laden vehicles, consequently driving average transaction prices up about three percent since 2009, according to a new report by Automotive News.

It's that first bit, about longer loan terms, that has helped bump transaction prices. The availability of no-interest, 72-month loans, AN reports, is allowing buyers targeting a maximum monthly payment of $500 to spend $6,000 more than on a more traditional five-year loan. Even for those with a more mainstream, $400-per-month target, a 72-month loan means customers can spend an extra $4,800.

Not only is this good news for automakers, who are enjoying rapid sales of pricier cars, trucks and SUVs, but dealers are enjoying the move to six-year loans. "I can't tell you the last time I saw something less than 72 [months]," Pete Munson, general manager of Great Lakes Chevrolet in Ohio, told Automotive News. "They just want the most car for the least amount of monthly payment. They don't look at the overall price of the car."

Kris Byrd, of Sheehy Nissan in Virginia, echoed Munson's statement. "More people will come in and pay for the leather and pay for the navigation," Byrd told AN. "People are coming in and wanting the Rogue SL with the Premium Package and all the bells and whistles."

More than just optional goodies, buyers are moving to bigger vehicles in general, thanks to the generous loan terms. AN reports that sales of compact CUVs is up 14 percent and that overall SUV sales are up 24 percent, both of which compare very favorably to the flat growth rates of compact and midsize sedans. This is far from the first time we've heard that sedans are struggling against CUV/SUV popularity.

What are your thoughts on this? Would you consider a 72-month loan? We'd really like to hear from you, so head into Comments and have your say.

News Source: Automotive News - sub. req.

Image Credit: Steven Senne / AP Photo

Honda Civic Type R Concept is the shape of hot things to come

Posted Oct 2nd 2014 5:31AM

Honda Civic Type R

Soon, kids. Soon. The next-generation Honda Civic Type R is finally coming, and we're getting another preview of the hot hatch here at the Paris Motor Show. Of course, this one probably won't be headed to the United States (boo!), but it doesn't mean we can't get excited. After all, we're big fans of little turbo hatches, and from what we know right now, this one sure sounds sweet.

Underneath that new blue paint and red decals is a 2.0-liter turbocharged inline-four, reportedly good for 276 horsepower. Honda tells us there's a "steer axis" system with adaptive dampers, and with the push of its +R button, the suspension, steering and torque mapping are all altered to make this Type R even more Type R-ier than before. In fact, Honda says this Civic will surpass every Type R that came before it – that means every Integra, Accord, Civic and even the NSX. Hot diggity.

We've got a fresh batch of images of the Type R Concept up top, and Honda's press release is available below. Hopefully it won't be long before the production car is finally revealed.

Image Credit: Live photos copyright 2014 Jonathon Ramsey / AOL

Aston Martin Vanquish Carbon Edition is back in black [w/video]

Posted Oct 2nd 2014 4:58AM

Aston Martin Vanquish Carbon Edition

Earlier this year, I spent the weekend with an Aston Martin Vanquish Volante in a particularly interesting shade of green – the same car you see photographed here, for our First Drive. When it was dropped off, I remember just staring at it, taking in all of its lines, the curves, its pronounced hips – all the details. To say the Vanquish is a gorgeous car is a vast understatement. And here at the Paris Motor Show, the already classy range-topping Aston coupe dons an even more gorgeous appearance in the form of the Carbon Edition.

Aston Martin has already given similar treatments to its Vantage, DB9 and DBS (the Vanquish's predecessor), and the svelte look can be had on either the coupe or convertible models, available in black or white. The car gets black window surrounds, darker headlight trim, gloss black alloy wheels and a stylish herringbone carbon fiber trim in the cabin to go with the quilted leather upholstery.

One thing that's left unchanged with the Carbon Edition is the massive, old-school powerplant underhood: Aston's 6.0-liter naturally aspirated V12 with 568 horsepower and 465 pound-feet of torque. Hitting 60 miles per hour takes just 3.6 seconds, on its way to a top speed of just over 200 mph.

Have a look at the Carbon Aston in our live gallery above, and click below for a short video showing the sleek new Vanquish.

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