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2014 Audi R8 V8

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    2014 Audi R8 V8
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    We cruised Woodward in the 2015 Dodge Challenger SRT Hellcat [w/video]
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    We obsessively covered the 2014 Monterey Car Week
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    Chevy Corvette gets Valet Mode with Performance Data Recorder [w/video]
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Autoblog Podcast #393 goes LIVE at 10PM Eastern!

Monterey Car Week, Jeffrey Rothfeder Interview, Woodward Dream Cruise, Dodge Charger Hellcat, Mid-Engine Corvette

Posted Aug 19th 2014 9:30PM

Autoblog Podcast Live

We're almost ready to record Episode #393 of the Autoblog Podcast! You can check out the topics below, add your own to the Q&A and join us live via UStream, as well. Keep reading for our embedded UStream player, and thanks for listening!

Discussion Topics for Autoblog Podcast Episode #393

Mercedes-Benz Sprinter and Ford Transit can haul on the track

Posted Aug 19th 2014 8:00PM

Mercedes Sprinter versus Ford Transit

Line up any two comparable vehicles, and eople are going to want to race them. Need proof? In its latest track battle, Auto Express wants to know which commercial vehicle can lap a circuit faster – a Ford Transit or Mercedes-Benz Sprinter. Let's face it, neither of these European vans were ever meant to be near the track unless they are delivering a racecar and a ton of parts for a fun weekend, but it's massively fun to watch them give it a go anyway.

The one thing that Auto Express really illustrates here is the modern marvel that is stability control. The driver hops curves, and these big vans lean in the corners like your friend walking home from a long night at the bar. However, because of the amazing stability systems, the vans mostly keep all of their wheels planted and never seem close to getting sloppy, despite their behemoth size.

Unfortunately, the two vans aren't exactly fairly paired. The Ford has a dual rear axle and a few other advantages over the Mercedes, but it's still hilarious to watch them go. Even better, the host breaks down everything happening behind the wheel like these commercial vehicles were two Porsches. Enjoy watching this very unorthodox battle between Ford and Mercedes.

News Source: Auto Express via YouTube

Image Credit: Copyright 2014 AOL

What you missed on 8.19.14

Posted Aug 19th 2014 7:30PM

Daily U-Turn

ALS Ice Bucket challengeAutoblog takes the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge

Yeah, it's a fad. Yeah, lots of people are doing it. But it's a fad that was created to benefit a worthwhile charity, and the more people do it, the more money gets donated. Of course, you could also click and watch just to see the editors of Autoblog dump ice cold water on their heads. Either way, the video awaits.

Audi R8 V8We review the 2014 Audi R8 V8

The Audi R8 has been with us for so long that sometimes we forget just how great it is. Which is to say it's rather great indeed. Our man Jonathon Ramsey takes the keys to the bright white example you see to the right, and proceeds to drive it all over Germany and into France. Want to know what he thought? Click the link above to read all about it.

2015 Dodge Challenger Hellcat on Woodward AveWhat's it like to show up to the Woodward Dream Cruise in the hottest new muscle car?

If there's one common denominator at the Woodward Dream Cruise, it's a love of horsepower. It doesn't matter if those ponies are smoking the tires of an foreign car or domestic – well, hailing from Detroit might make a difference – whether it has two doors or four. Dream Cruisers love horsepower, and the 707-horsepower Challenger Hellcat is happy to oblige.

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2015 Mercedes C-Class configurator tucks in

Posted Aug 19th 2014 7:01PM

A screenshot of the configurator for the 2015 Mercedes-Benz C-Class.

We know it takes $39,325 just to get a C300 off the lot, now that Mercedes-Benz has posted the configurator for the 2015 C-Class we can research how much we'll need to get the one we want. Going for tempered extravagance first, we built a C400 with options like the multispoke wheels, LED-stuffed exterior lighting, the leather-bound Interior Package, the Multimedia and Driver Assistance Packages, and the Hands-Free Access Package as a cherry. We could have motored back home for $59,575.

Then we went the other way, kitting out a C300 with fewer options and more sport. That meant adding the Sport Package for fancy wheels and the sport interior, we stuck with black MB-Tex and aluminum inside, plus heated front seats, then skipped all the premium interior packages but did Keyless Go for $550, Airmatic Suspension, the rear view camera, and splurged on the illuminated star up front and a spoiler in back. The register rang up $47,200.

There are a few curious details, starting with the color palette: eight of the ten exterior hues are from the monochrome range; the only two real colors are Dakota Brown Metallic (pictured) and Lunar Blue Metallic. In Germany, they also get a bright blue and a Hyacinth Red. The C400 gets four choices of interior material and three of interior trim, the C300 gets 15 choices of material and seven of trim. Then there are à-la-carte gotchas like the Head-Up Display, which lists for $990 but choosing it automatically adds the $2,700 Premium Package. But hey, it's only configurator money, so have at it.

News Source: Mercedes-Benz USA via Toucans Web

Image Credit: Copyright 2014 Steven J. Ewing / AOL / Mercedes-Benz

Caparo T1 Evolution to carry $1.5M sticker price

Posted Aug 19th 2014 6:30PM

Caparo T1

If you're looking for racecar performance for the street (or at least for non-competitive track days), it doesn't get much more direct than the Caparo T1. With "only" 575 horsepower on tap, the lightweight F1-car-for-the-road will rocket to 60 miles per hour in 2.5 seconds and grip the tarmac like nothing else on road or track, all for $400k. But even at that price, Caparo has only sold a handful of T1s. The upcoming T1 Evolution, however, will cost more. Much more.

According to Dutch newspaper De Telegraaf's automotive publication Autovisie, the upcoming Caparo T1 Evolution will cost a whopping 1.1 million euros – equivalent to nearly $1.5 million at today's rates. That's almost enough to buy four standard T1s, or even more than the latest hybrid hypercars like the Ferrari LaFerrari, McLaren P1 or Porsche 918 Spyder. (Close to two times the latter, in fact.)

So what do you get for all that scratch? Details are still rather limited, but as we reported a couple of weeks ago, the T1 Evolution is slated to pack 700 horsepower along with new electronics like an on-board telemetry system as well as ABS, traction control and stability management. As a result, you can expect the T1 Evo to be even more extreme in its performance than the vehicle on which it is based, but you'll have to pay dearly for the privilege.
Related GalleryCaparo T1
Caparo T1Caparo T1Caparo T1Caparo T1Caparo T1Caparo T1Caparo T1Caparo T1

News Source: Autovisie

Infiniti previews a new... something

Posted Aug 19th 2014 6:00PM

Infiniti concept teaser

Sometimes we get a teaser image and accompanying statement where we can at least surmise what the automaker is up to. This is not one of those times.

The automaker, in this case, is Infiniti, and the teaser image shows only a grille with a similar shape to what you'd find on most of the company's products, albeit with a curvier mesh. Which isn't much to go on, really, and the accompanying statement (which you can read below in its forty-word entirety) doesn't give us much more. All it says is that the vehicle in question – which we'll wager is a concept car instead of a production debut – has "style and substance" embodied in a "vision... on a scale not seen before" from Infiniti.

Given the French peppered into the release and the encroaching chronological proximity of the Paris Motor Show, we'd guess that's where Infiniti will reveal this latest but of inspiration, but just what form it will take is still a mystery.

News Source: Infiniti

Surprise Costs Have A Cost: Why we turned down the Hyundai Tucson Fuel Cell

Posted Aug 19th 2014 5:44PM

Hyundai Tucson Fuel Cell

They say you can always tell the pioneers. They're the ones with the arrows in their backs. Unfortunately, that was our experience pursuing – and eventually rejecting – the new hydrogen fuel cell-powered Hyundai Tucson.

I first heard about Hyundai's new hydrogen fuel cell vehicle (FCV) at the Los Angeles Auto Show in November 2013. As a tech buff, the thought of driving a new, clean technology vehicle sounded exciting. Best of all, Hyundai was wrapping the new vehicle in a smart, familiar package, as a loaded current-generation Tucson SUV. The FCV Tucson was billed as $499 a month with $2,999 down, with free fuel and free maintenance. Our family needed a new, small, fuel efficient SUV, so I signed up for information on the upcoming lease program.

Someone has to go first. Why not us?

In the spring of 2014, I learned more at a Clean Fuel Symposium, held on the Queen Mary in Long Beach. The panel was packed with experts on alternative fuel vehicles. One spokesperson outlined the chicken or egg problem with alternative fuels like hydrogen: fuels first or vehicles? Another said something that I should have heard more clearly. "If the argument [to move to alternative fuel vehicles] has to start with a change of behavior from consumers, that's a hard row to hoe." I would soon to learn what an FCV would really cost, both in hours and in dollars.

Nonetheless, I was ready to try jumping the hurdles and get an alternative fuel car. A low impact on the environment, plus free fuel and a solo car pool lane sticker? What could go wrong?

Image Credit: Copyright 2014 Drew Phillips / AOL, Hydrogen Pump: Michael Sohn / AP Photo

Paraplegic woman suing GM over 3rd degree seat-heater burns [w/video]

Posted Aug 19th 2014 5:00PM

Paraplegic allegedly burned by GM seat heaters

A quick Google search for "danger of heated seats" reveals any number of news stories about burn risks and the potential for damage to the, um, potency, of men. For most of us, though, we know when a heated seat gets too hot. 26-year-old Emma Verrill doesn't have that luxury.

Verrill has been a paraplegic since the age of 15, when spinal surgery to correct her scoliosis went wrong. She has touch sensation in her lower extremities, but she's unable to sense temperature, a major problem after a ride in a friend's 2008 Chevrolet Suburban from New York City to the Connecticut coast. Unbeknownst to her, the heated seats were on, and were generating temperatures so extreme she was unaware of the third-degree burns she was suffering. Verrill didn't discover the burns until the following day.

Following a skin graft to repair the damage, Verrill spent three months on her stomach, under the care of her parents at the family's home.

"I couldn't do anything for myself," Verrill told the Portland Press Herald. "I was literally in bed on my stomach. It's not like I was just homebound."

Since then, a suit was filed against General Motors on Verrill's behalf, alleging that the embattled automaker failed to adequately test seat heaters, thereby allowing them to reach "dangerously high temperatures that would burn human flesh," the New York Daily News reports.

According to the Press Herald, GM has denied the claims that the Suburban's seat heater caused Verrill's injury, while also claiming it was unaware of any defect in the heaters. US Magistrate Judge John Rich III has ordered both sides to be ready for trial by May 4, 2015.

Scroll down and take a look at the news report from the Press Herald.

Submit your questions for Autoblog Podcast #393 LIVE!

Monterey Car Week, Jeffrey Rothfeder Interview, Woodward Dream Cruise, Dodge Charger Hellcat, Mid-Engine Corvette

Posted Aug 19th 2014 4:45PM

Autoblog podcast graphic

We're set to record Autoblog Podcast #393 this evening. Check out the topics below or drop us your questions and comments via the Q&A module. And don't forget to subscribe to the Autoblog Podcast in iTunes if you haven't already done so. To take it all in live, tune in to our UStream (audio only) channel at 10:00 PM Eastern tonight.

Discussion Topics For Autoblog Podcast Episode #393
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Ford issues four recalls covering 163k vehicles

Posted Aug 19th 2014 4:27PM

2013 Ford Escape

Recalls! 2014 will be forever remembered as the year that automakers went recall crazy, with millions and millions of vehicles adding up to crush previous recall records well before the end of the year. Adding to that tally is Ford, which announced a call-back for 163,000 vehicles.

Leading that charge are the 2.0-liter, EcoBoost four-cylinder engines of the Ford Focus ST and Ford Escape. 160,000 of the 2013 and 2014 models have bad wiring harnesses that can disrupt the signals traveling to the powertrain control module. That, in turn, could lead to a check engine light, reduced power and stalling. Notably, Ford hasn't recalled any other vehicles that feature the 2.0 EcoBoost, such as the Fusion, Taurus or Explorer.

While the Focus ST and Escape constitute the vast majority of recalled vehicles, they aren't the only problem children in the Ford family. 1,300 Transit passenger vans from model year 2015 were recalled due to brake fluid leaks, while another 600 Transit cargo variants were recalled after Ford discovered the windowless sliding doors could come open in the event of a side-impact crash. Dealers will replace the sealing washers on the passenger variants and add a reinforcement plate on the cargo models, The Detroit News reports.

Finally, some 1,300 Lincoln MKC crossovers have been recalled due to bubbles that may have formed during the manufacturing process for the windshields, which is a violation of federal regulations.

None of these recalls have been attributed to any crashes or injuries and, as per usual, repairs will be conducted free of charge.
Related Gallery2013 Ford Escape
2013 Ford Escape2013 Ford Escape2013 Ford Escape2013 Ford Escape2013 Ford Escape2013 Ford Escape2013 Ford Escape2013 Ford Escape

News Source: The Detroit News

Does Dollar Rent A Car routinely swindle customers via insurance scam? [w/video]

Elderly And Foreign Visitors Especially Targeted, According To Lawsuit

Posted Aug 19th 2014 3:45PM

In retrospect, Eileen McMonigal believes she looked like the perfect target for a scam. She had recently fractured an ankle, so when her flight arrived in Tampa, Florida, she needed a wheelchair to get around the airport. A young escort helped collect her belongings, which included carryon luggage and a puppy in a travel carrier.

"The psychology of the system is to drive customers through the process without any analysis." - John Mattes.

By the time she made through the lengthy line at the Dollar Rent A Car counter, her escort was itching to complete his duties and she was tired from her trip. A six-day vacation lay ahead, and more than anything, just wanted to get her rental car and be on her way.

And that's the precise point in the transaction where McMonigal and hundreds of other Dollar Rent A Car customers say the company duped them into signing for insurance coverage they explicitly said they did not want.

"I certainly looked like someone you could take advantage of, sitting in a wheelchair, my lap is burdened with several things, an anxious guy behind me, and I have white hair," she said. "The guy at the counter was mumbling, and there was a sense of 'let's get moving.' I stuck the envelope in the car and drove off."

It'd be easy for skeptics to dismiss McMongial, a suburban PIttsburgh resident, as a befuddled elderly driver who didn't understand the written agreement. But hundreds of complaints filed in lawsuits and with consumer organizations detail remarkably similar complaints regarding experiences with Dollar Rent A Car.

We cruised Woodward in the 2015 Dodge Challenger SRT Hellcat [w/video]

Calling Attention With A 700-Horsepower Megaphone

Posted Aug 19th 2014 2:58PM

Dodge Challenger SRT Hellcat

We were definitely rock stars at the 20th edition of the Dream Cruise.

The yell came from somewhere in the crowd: "Hey Hellcat, push it!" We obliged with a jab of the throttle, and the 707 horses of the 2015 Dodge Challenger SRT Hellcat roared to life. It went on like this. All weekend. It's one thing to attend the Woodward Dream Cruise, it's quite another to star in it.

We were definitely rock stars at the 20th edition of the Dream Cruise, metro Detroit's annual summer car show that rolls up and down the area's iconic strip, Woodward Avenue. Chrysler tossed us the keys to its latest muscle coupe a few days before the cruise with the suggestion: "Have fun." Hmm, okay, think we can handle that. And with a vague game plan of burning as much fuel as possible, we hit the road.

Thursday night was a bit of a dry run – or so we thought. The idea was to get used to the Hellcat's heavy clutch in traffic, gun the engine a few times and head home. But the Dodge commanded immediate attention from the moment we pulled onto Woodward.

Image Credit: Copyright 2014 Greg Migliore / AOL

Infiniti expanding lineup by 60% over next five years

Dedicated Performance Products To Be Offered Across All Model Lines

Posted Aug 19th 2014 2:30PM

Infiniti Q30 Concept

Johan de Nysschen had only been at the helm of Infiniti for two years when he left for a position atop Cadillac. But in that time, he indeed left his mark on the brand. Most visibly, there was the drastic Q-ification of the company's vehicle naming strategy, but beyond that were big plans to beef up the Infiniti brand with the goal of making it a fully competitive luxury automaker.

Autoblog spoke with Michael Bartsch, vice president of Infiniti Americas, during Monterey Car Week, and he confirms Infiniti's brand direction is "still exactly as Johan presented it." Over the next five years, the company's portfolio will expand by 60 percent, and that will be aided with additional engine and transmission plants, most notably the recent collaboration with Daimler to build 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engines.

Infiniti's lineup will grow to include eight sedans/coupes and five crossovers/SUVs.

As for products, Bartsch let slip that Infiniti's lineup will grow to include eight sedans/coupes and five crossovers/SUVs – 13 model lines in total, up from the present eight. No specific models were disclosed, though Bartsch did note that Infiniti will still be getting a dedicated EV, and the company recently confirmed a new QX30 crossover based on the Q30 small car concept, pictured above.

Furthermore, Bartsch said that Infiniti is still committed to offering a performance division that can be put to use on "products across all model lines." Currently, the company offers IPL versions of its Q60 coupe and convertible, though when asked if that nomenclature will be used moving forward, Bartsch said that at the moment, the goal is for Infiniti to define its performance division, not brand it. No word was given as to what the next performance product will be, with Bartsch simply giving the example that if the company were to build something like a Q30, there will be a performance version, and so on.

For now, the company is still rolling out its all-new Q50 sedan, though Bartsch admits that "we need a strong four-cylinder" in this product. In March, Infiniti rolled out a 2.0T engine for its Q50 in Europe and China, and Bartsch confirmed that this configuration will eventually be offered in the US. Speaking of the Q50 Hybrid, we're told that this is still a small percentage of the Q50 demographic, with roughly 12 percent of all sales having the electrified powertrain.

Either way, Infiniti is "not trying to take the Germans out," Bartsch reiterated. Instead, the company is trying to offer its own take on luxury and performance, but only time will tell if these future product plans can transform the brand's fortunes in the way de Nysschen hoped.
Related GalleryInfiniti Q30 Concept
Infiniti Q30 ConceptInfiniti Q30 ConceptInfiniti Q30 ConceptInfiniti Q30 ConceptInfiniti Q30 ConceptInfiniti Q30 ConceptInfiniti Q30 ConceptInfiniti Q30 Concept

Thieves stealing copper from EV charging stations in Vancouver

Posted Aug 19th 2014 1:59PM

Copper Wire

In Europe, most EV charging stations don't have a wire permanently attached. Unlike North America, European EV drivers need to carry a cable around with them. This is a bit of a hassle, but it's far easier than pulling up to an EVSE and finding the cable simply cut out. That's what's happening to some Level 2 EVSEs in Canada. We have no idea how widespread this problem is – and we note that this isn't the first we've heard about vandals attacking EV charging stations – but vandalizing charging stations sure seems like a needless setback to the EV community.

Transport Evolved reports that a number of EVSEs in and around Vancouver, BC have had their cords removed recently, likely for the valuable copper inside. The vandals hit the charging stations with bolt cutters and sometimes manage to attack the same station multiple times, since the station owners spend the money to fix the damage. Transport Evolved says that the high price for some of the copper ($4 Canadian per pound) means that stealing one EVSE cable can offer a "tidy profit." Street lights in the area have been targeted as well.

Copper theft is not a problem limited to cool Canadian cites. The American automotive capitol can tell you stories, since Detroit has suffered all sorts of problems because of copper thieves, from potentially worse floods to darkness. Earlier this year, Michigan enacted a new law that puts a $25 limits on metal-for-cash transactions at scrap yards and requires scrap yard owners to mail checks to people selling them oft-stolen items like copper wire.

News Source: Transport Evolved

Image Credit: Theen / Flickr


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