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2015 Dodge Challenger SRT Hellcat [w/videos]

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    2015 Dodge Challenger SRT Hellcat [w/videos]
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    2015 Acura NSX burns to the ground at the 'Ring [w/video]
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    GM announces 6 recalls covering nearly 720k cars
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    2014 Nissan Juke Nismo RS
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GM quarterly earnings tank due to recall costs

Posted Jul 24th 2014 11:46AM

US-DETROIT-AUTO-SHOW

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

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

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

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

News Source: General Motors

Image Credit: Stan Honda / AFP / Getty Images

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

Posted Jul 24th 2014 11:30AM

2015 Acura NSX fire

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

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

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

Image Credit: CarPix

ETC

Sarah Palin blames speeding ticket on Sammy Hagar

Posted Jul 24th 2014 11:01AM

Palin Republicans Conservatives

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

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

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

News Source: TMZ.com via The Detroit Free Press

Image Credit: J. Scott Applewhite / AP

ATS reveals new Leggera roadster

Posted Jul 24th 2014 10:30AM

ATS Leggera

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

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

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

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

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

News Source: ATS

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

Posted Jul 24th 2014 10:01AM

0101646P Grand Prix of Monterrey X

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

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

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

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

News Source: Autosport, ESPN

Image Credit: Jonathan Ferrey Allsport/Getty

Nissan Note getting a little louder with Nismo versions this fall

Posted Jul 24th 2014 9:30AM

Nissan Note Nismo

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

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

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

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

News Source: Nissan, Twitter

ETC

Lamborghini Aventador art car features every color of the rainbow

Posted Jul 24th 2014 8:44AM

Lamborghini Aventador Roadster art car by Duaiv

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

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

News Source: Duaiv via DuPont Registry

Porsche announces four flavors of updated Cayenne

Posted Jul 24th 2014 3:20AM

2015 Porsche Cayenne Turbo

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

News Source: Porsche

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

Posted Jul 23rd 2014 8:00PM

Magnus Walker Tedx Talk

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

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

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

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

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

What you missed on 7.23.14

Posted Jul 23rd 2014 7:30PM

Daily U-Turn

distracted drivingCellphone bans don't reduce accidents?

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




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

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




Fatal accident signOdds of dying in a traffic accident by location

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



Top Stories

Ford's Galhotra succeeds Farley as head of Lincoln

Posted Jul 23rd 2014 7:01PM

Kumar Galhotra

Ford Motor Company is announcing a major personnel shakeup that could have a dramatic effect on the future of the Lincoln division. Kumar Galhotra (pictured above), currently vice president of engineering at Ford for all of its vehicles worldwide, is taking over as the president of the luxury brand on September 1, replacing Jim Farley. The automaker is also hiring a new head of advanced engineering.

Galhotra has a huge job ahead of him as the new boss of Lincoln worldwide, overseeing product development, marketing, sales and service. His task is to turn the luxury division into a world-class brand as quickly as possible, and he reports directly to Ford President and CEO Mark Fields.

"These changes underscore our commitment to build on the success of our One Ford plan by accelerating our pace of progress. They also make clear we are serious about Lincoln as a world-class luxury brand and that product excellence and innovation are what will deliver growth and define our entire company going forward," said Fields in the company's announcement.

Since starting at the Blue Oval in 1988, Galhotra has had a long history of positions in engineering and planning. Perhaps most importantly to his new job, he led product development in the Asia Pacific and Africa regions starting in 2009. The experience may have give him some vital insight for Lincoln's imminent expansion into China.

In one other personnel shift, Paul Mascarenas is retiring from his role as vice president of research and advanced engineering after spending 32 years with Ford. His replacement is Dr. Ken Washington, a VP of R&D for space technology at Lockheed Martin. The new role puts Washington in charge of the Blue Oval's technology strategy. Scroll down to read the full release about all of the changes.

News Source: Lincoln

Hyundai, Porsche top J.D. Power APEAL study

Posted Jul 23rd 2014 6:29PM

Hyundai Accent

Porsche 911Just as they did in the Initial Quality Study, Porsche and Hyundai have taken the premium and non-premium crown, respectively, for the 2014 J.D. Power APEAL study. This is the tenth consecutive year for that Porsche has been rated the best premium make in the APEAL study, which attempts to figure out how pleased owners are with their purchases. For 2014, it asked 86,000 owners of MY2014 cars to rate their vehicles in 77 different categories 90 days after their initial purchase. The resulting figures were plugged in deliver the APEAL score, which is rated on a 1,000-point scale.

The industry average sits at 794 points for 2014, although that's a one-percent decline over last year's rating. In this year's study, premium brands averaged 840 out of 1,000, while non-premium makes average 785. For their part, Porsche netted an impressive 882 points, while Hyundai earned an 804. Interestingly, only four non-premium brands (Hyundai, Ram, Volkswagen and Mini) finished above the industry average for 2014.

It's also interesting to see the clear delineation between premium and non-premium brands, with an eight-point gap between the non-premium champ, Hyundai, and the lowest-rated premium brand, Volvo.

Porsche and Hyundai weren't the only automakers to take home recognition. Dodge managed to tie Porsche for the most segment awards, with three. The Challenger, Charger and Dart all topped their market. There were a number of two-segment winners, as well, with Audi, Ford, Mercedes-Benz and Nissan capturing a pair of segments each.

Scroll down for the full press release from JD Power on this year's winners.
Related Gallery2014 Hyundai Accent
2014 Hyundai Accent2014 Hyundai Accent2014 Hyundai Accent2014 Hyundai Accent2014 Hyundai Accent2014 Hyundai Accent2014 Hyundai Accent2014 Hyundai Accent

News Source: JD Power

Image Credit: Hyundai, Porsche

Next-gen LaCrosse, Cascada convertible coming to Buick showrooms in 2016

Posted Jul 23rd 2014 6:03PM

Buick LaCrosse

Opel CascadaIt's difficult to overstate how significant the post-bankruptcy years have been for General Motors' Buick brand. Arguably the most improved American automaker, Buick has rounded out its range with an excellent compact in the Verano, a well-balanced midsizer in the Regal and a segment-busting mini-CUV, with the Encore.

Seeking to keep that momentum going, the next several years will see the brand address a trio of its most obvious issues. First and foremost will be a replacement for the aging LaCrosse, a vehicle whose only bit of attention since its 2009 debut was a very light refresh in 2013.

According to Automotive News, we should expect the next-generation LaCrosse to arrive late next year or early in 2016, as a 2016 model. AN expects big design changes, as Buick attempts to further the LaCrosse from its popular platform-mate, the Chevrolet Impala. The changes won't be so radical, though, as to do away with its front-drive architecture, as the latest version of the Epsilon platform will underpin the next LaCrosse. The 3.6-liter V6 is likely to carry on, although a smaller, budget-minded offering is also extremely likely (we'll eat our hat if it's not the 2.0-liter, turbocharged four-cylinder from the Regal, Verano and Cadillac CTS et al.).

The other issue plaguing Buick's lineup is a lack of a midsize crossover. This is particularly damning for the brand as most of its showrooms are shared with GMC, which boasts its own midsizer in the form of the Terrain. With the upcoming Envision (see here for teasers), that problem should be addressed. Like the LaCrosse, the Envision will likely be a 2016 model. It will debut and launch in China early next year, while we can expect it to arrive stateside later next year, or even early in 2016. For American consumers, both a 2.5-liter four-cylinder and the aforementioned 2.0T could see action in the Envision.

Finally, while Buick can boast a pair of vehicles available with manual transmissions, it's still far from what we'd call a brand for fun driving experiences. Of course, one way of solving that problem is with a two-door convertible. Yes, it's extremely likely that the Euro-market Opel Cascada convertible will be sold in the US early in 2016. Whether it keeps the Cascada name is unclear (all in favor of Skylark, say "aye"). Regardless, adding a reasonably priced, relaxed, two-door droptop to the Buick range to fill the space left by the not-so-dearly departed Chrysler 200 Convertible seems like a no brainer.

What are you thoughts on these plans? Should Buick be addressing other needs? Would you consider a Buick convertible? Should the brand push even further to distinguish the LaCrosse from the Impala? Have your say in Comments.
Related Gallery2014 Buick LaCrosse
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Convertible owners more educated, well to do

Posted Jul 23rd 2014 5:27PM

2013 Ford Mustang Convertible

A new study from Experian Automotive seeks to quantify the traits that identify the convertible-loving droptop driver. Of course, after reading through the findings, this just kind of confirms a lot of things that have been kind of obvious about convertible owners for kind of a long time.

They're educated, wealthy and older than the average new car customers, with 50 percent holding a bachelor's degree, 19 percent reporting a household income in excess of $175,000 (11.7 percent cleared $1 million), and 72 percent were over the age of 45. Considering the traditionally higher cost of a convertible, and the fact that many are probably second or third cars, these factoids aren't exactly shocking. Even the most popular locations for convertibles aren't all that surprising. Los Angeles is number one, followed by New York, San Francisco, Chicago and Atlanta.

What is surprising, though, are the most popular vehicles during the study. We agree with four of the five entries – the Ford Mustang, Mazda MX-5, BMW 3 Series and the Chevrolet Corvette captured positions one, three, four and five, respectively. The number two position, though, is inexplicable. It's held by the Chrysler Sebring (we're thinking Experian is referring to the 200). So, if this study proves nothing else, it's evidence that age, education and money can't totally prevent bad decisions.

Of course, we wouldn't put too much faith in these findings. Our big issue is the perilously short time period that this data was gleaned from. Experian only looked at new vehicle registrations during the first quarter of 2014. Aside from the limited time to collect findings and watch trends develop, analyzing convertible buying trends during the single coldest winter in recent memory hardly seems prudent.

With that in mind, head below and take a look at Experian's findings, including analysis between convertible drivers and the average new-car customer.

News Source: Experian Automotive via TheDetroitBureau.com

Image Credit: Copyright 2014 AOL

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