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2014 Chevrolet Corvette Stingray Convertible

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    2014 Chevrolet Corvette Stingray Convertible
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    2015 Volvo S60 T6 Drive-E
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    Audi TT Offroad concept packs 408 hybrid horsepower, yet returns 123 mpg
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First production Hongqi L-Series sells at Beijing Motor Show for $800,000

Posted Apr 23rd 2014 6:01PM

Hongqi L5, front three-quarter view

The Hongqi has arrived, and with it the greater hopes that powerful Chinese will ride in symbols of Chinese power. The Honqi L5 sedan produced by China's FAW Group, first unveiled last year (and called the L9 at the time), is - in some circles - intended to be among the homegrown replacements for the millions of foreign luxury cars the Chinese government purchases for important officials. Shown at this year's Beijing Motor Show in production guise and now available to civilians as well, a Chinese businessman bought the first one for "at least five million yuan" ($801K) according to Bloomberg.

About the length of a Rolls-Royce Phantom and weighing 7,000 pounds, there's an all-aluminum 6.0 liter V-2 up front with 402 horsepower and 405 pound-feet of torque, a hydro-pneumatic suspension and "intelligent" 4-wheel-drive technology below. The passenger quarters mix modern and retro with a thick, leather-wrapped steering wheel of sixties design, hand-carved, cloud-motif wood inlays surrounding a stack of digital displays and celadon-jade door handles.

A sub-brand of Chinese automaker FAW, "Hongqi" means "red flag" and the L5 mimes cues from the CA770 sedan FAW built in the fifties for the country's leaders. With its features, price and ostentation, private-sector Mandarin moguls might also make it the Chinese word for "Gatsby."
Related GalleryHongqi L5
Hongqi L5Hongqi L5Hongqi L5Hongqi L5Hongqi L5Hongqi L5

News Source: Bloomberg, Autoweek

Citroën CX-R concept makes late debut from China

Posted Apr 23rd 2014 5:30PM

Citroën C-XR Concept

We obsessively covered the 2014 Beijing Motor Show, but apparently Citroën decided it had one more vehicle to debut to join its DS 6WR and DS 5LS R at the Chinese show. This C-XR Concept is far less wildly styled than the two other models, however, as this concept is actually quite close to production spec.

The C-XR blends the styling of Citroën's hatchbacks with some SUV cues. Up front, it has a wide, chrome grille that links directly into the headlights, and lower down, there are vertically mounted LED running lights. The rear pillar has C-shaped chrome accents to link the chrome roof rails and belt line.

The concept isn't really meant to go off-road, but it gets a dash of ruggedness from its protective wheel arch cladding and raised ground clearance. The interior is still a secret, but the top does have a large panoramic sunroof to let light in. The concept's powertrain uses the company's THP 160 petrol engine with stop/start and an automatic gearbox. Scroll down to read the full release about the concept.
Related GalleryCitroën C-XR Concept
Citroën C-XR ConceptCitroën C-XR ConceptCitroën C-XR ConceptCitroën C-XR ConceptCitroën C-XR ConceptCitroën C-XR ConceptCitroën C-XR Concept

News Source: Citroën

Footkhana pits Ken Block against Neymar Jr.

Posted Apr 23rd 2014 5:00PM

Footkhana

Whether you're going for speed or for show, professional driving is as much about working the pedals as it about man-handling the wheel and shifter. And nobody does it quite like Ken Block. But is his fancy footwork up to par with that of an international soccer star like Neymar?

That's what sponsor Castrol set out to find out with this latest video. Called Footkhana, it pits the Brazilian footballer against the American rally driver for a little round of friendly Gymkhana-style competition. It's not the first time we're seeing a car used on the soccer pitch – Top Gear had that covered years ago – but for the legions of sports fans who like their motorsports as much as they do their footie, it's a must-see. Check it out below.

News Source: Castrol via YouTube

Helio Castroneves put on probation for sister's Indy-critical tweet

Posted Apr 23rd 2014 4:30PM

Grand Prix Of Baltimore - Day 1

Indianapolis 500 winner Helio Castroneves has learned an important lesson about not sharing his Twitter account, even with family. Following the Grand Prix of Long Beach, where Castroneves finished 11th, a tweet appeared under his account and was later deleted that said: "Indycar officials continuing not punishing some drivers and giving green flag during an accident." It also included an image of a thumbs down over the IndyCar Series logo. It has been preserved online.

Later that day, Castroneves posted two further tweets apologizing for the remark. He said that he didn't write it or agree with it, and that his sister, Kati, was using his Twitter. She wrote on her own account taking full responsibility.

So what's the big deal? Castroneves apologized, and his sister owned up to the mistake. However, the IndyCar Series organizers didn't see it so cleanly. They put the driver on probation until June 30 for violating the sport's social media policy. Castroneves can still race, but he is under higher scrutiny for the time being. He can also appeal the ruling. You can read IndyCar's very brief statement on the probation below.

Hennessy wastes no time in supercharging the 2015 Cadillac Escalade

Posted Apr 23rd 2014 4:00PM



The ink is still drying on the all-new 2015 Cadillac Escalade sales brochures, but that hasn't stopped Texas-based Hennessey Performance (HPE) from leaping out of the gate with its own high-performance variant. In stock form, the big fourth-generation Cadillac flagship arrives with a new small block naturally aspirated 6.2-liter Ecotec3 V8 delivering 420 horsepower and 460 pound-feet of torque. Fresh out of the showroom, the 5,900-pound SUV will sprint to 60 mph in 5.9 seconds.

While that is plenty fast for some owners, others don't want to be shamed by a 550 horsepower Mercedes-Benz GL63 AMG or a 510 horsepower Land Rover Range Rover Sport - both will leave the stock Escalade at a stoplight.

The team at HPE has come to the rescue with its HPE550 supercharger upgrade, which includes a belt-driven supercharger, air-to-water intercooler, recalibrated engine management software and a three-year/36,000 mile powertrain warranty. With 6 psi of boost, the direct-injected 6.2-liter is tuned to deliver an impressive 557 horsepower and 542 pound-feet of torque - gains of 32 percent and 18 percent, respectively, over stock. Although HPE isn't releasing performance figures as of yet, our math says that should be enough power to put the two Europeans in the Cadillac's rearview mirror. The company also offers a set of 20-inch lightweight H10 forged monoblock wheels, to further improve performance.

The HPE550 upgrade costs $15,950 installed. If that fits your budget, and satisfies your ego, find more detail from Hennessey in the press release, below.

News Source: Hennessey Performance

Image Credit: Live photos copyright 2014 Brandon Turkus / AOL

2015 Mercedes C-Class order guide leaked

Posted Apr 23rd 2014 3:29PM

2015 Mercedes-Benz C-Class

We may not have an official starting price for the 2015 Mercedes-Benz C-Class, but as of right now, we can tell you about all the options for the eagerly anticipated new luxury sedan.

Benz Report has the entire order guide for the C-Class, with breakdowns from package pricing to how many different colors, wheel designs and lighting configurations will be available when the new model hits dealers later this year. As we mentioned in our initial review of the C-Class, there will be a pair of engine options, with the now familiar 2.0-liter, turbocharged four-cylinder available in both rear- and all-wheel-drive configurations and a 3.0-liter, twin-turbocharged V6, which can be had in all-wheel drive, only.

From there, though, the available options are impressive. Much like it does on the current car, Mercedes is offering a pair of packages that sort of define the entire car. With the C300, buyers will have the choice of either a Sport or Luxury package in addition to the base trim, while C400 buyers are limited to the Sport model.

The Sport package costs $2,500 (rising from $2,300 on the current C-Class), although the addition of 18-inch wheels, a sport suspension, a flat-bottomed steering wheel and more supportive seats is sure to soften the blow. The Luxury Package is more reasonably priced, at $650, and options 17-inch multi-spoke wheels, a traditional Mercedes hood ornament, a softer suspension and the customer's choice of wood trim.

Once that's out of the way, buyers are faced with 10 color choices, three optional wheel choices that are independent of the Sport and Luxury packages, and a healthy array of interior leather and leatherette colors, as well as trims. Finally, there are seven option packages.

Most are carry overs from last year, with items like the Premium Pack, Driver Assistance Pack, Lighting Pack and Multimedia Pack seeing moderate tweaks in terms of content and pricing (the biggest price change involves the Lighting Pack, which is actually $640 cheaper). New packages include the $1,190 Airmatic Pack (adjustable Airmatic air suspension), the $2,300 Interior Pack (Vented leather seats, ambient lighting, memory settings for the passenger seat) and the $350 Air Balance Pack (Mercedes scented HVAC system). The standalone options sheet looks fairly vast, until you realize that a number of items are included on certain trims and with certain packages. The big-ticket items include the panoramic sunroof, which sees its price jump from $1,090 to $1,480, while a few items from the Driver Assistance Pack are also available à la carte.

Now, it should be stated that these prices could certainly change before the car arrives later this year. That said, this is a pretty handy guide as to what to expect when it comes time to order your very own C-Class. Hop over to Benz Report and have a look.

News Source: The Benz Report

Image Credit: Copyright 2014 Jonathon Ramsey / AOL

GoPro learned to hoop from Meadowlark Lemon

Posted Apr 23rd 2014 2:57PM

Basketball Moonroof trick shots

Wait, wait, wait. We promise that there's something to do with cars in this story. Really, there is. It also, though, features some basketball antics. And the entire thing is possible thanks to the magic that is the GoPro.

Strategically situated, the little cameras capture David Kalb, a master when it comes to making trick basketball shots. This time, he's showing just what he can do when launching balls through the sunroof of a Honda Civic. That includes dribbling and sinking a layup (although we think he may have traveled when driving to the net).

Take a look below for the video, and let us know what you think of Kalb's tricks down in Comments.

News Source: GoPro via YouTube

LaFerrari XX may have lapped Nürburgring in 6:35

Posted Apr 23rd 2014 2:30PM

LaFerrari XX on the Nurburgring

Enthusiasts around the world – ourselves included – have been anxiously awaiting the ultimate supercar showdown. After all, we seldom see three of the world's preeminent exotic automakers come out with such closely matched machinery in such close proximity as we have with the Porsche 918 Spyder, McLaren P1 and Ferrari LaFerrari. That showdown could occur on no better a playing field than the Nürburgring, but the automakers haven't exactly been playing ball.

Porsche set down a lap time of 6:57, staking its claim as the fastest street-legal production car ever to lap the vaunted Nordschleife. Rather than challenge Zuffenhausen head-on, though, McLaren has only said that the P1 has clocked a time of under seven minutes, and though Ferrari has been testing the new LaFerrari at the Ring, it hasn't released any official time at all. Maranello may, however, be preparing to announce an even faster time.

According to word we're receiving from across the pond, Ferrari has clocked a lap time of 6:35 – only it wasn't achieved in the road-going LaFerrari, but in the upcoming track-bound LaFerrari XX. That model, which was just confirmed and spied last week, will follow in the footsteps of the Enzo-based FXX and the 599XX, which itself recorded a lap time of 6:58 in 2010. Because it's not street-legal, it didn't contend for the same honors, and within a couple of months was pipped on the leaderboard for non-street-legal vehicles by the Pagani Zonda R by over ten seconds.

If verified, the LaFerrari XX lap time would make it the fastest production-based (but, due primarily to its slick tires, not street-legal) car ever to lap the Nürburgring, but would not be enough to dethrone the Porsche 956 in which Stefan Bellof clocked a 6:11 lap time to take pole position at the sports car endurance race in 1983.

News Source: AutoWeek.nl

GM reports thousands of ignition kits shipped, 1.4M owners notified

Posted Apr 23rd 2014 2:02PM

Ignition Switch Recall

General Motors ignition switch fix is gaining momentum. The first several thousand replacement kits, including new ignition switches, ignition cylinders and key sets, have been shipped out to dealers. GM also sent out the first 1.4 million recall letters to affected owners last week to let them schedule the repair. That is a little over half of the roughly 2.6 million vehicles that need their parts replaced.

The letter tells owners of affected models from between 2003 and 2007 that GM is ready for them to schedule the repair. The replacement parts should take around 90 minutes to install, it claims. Owners of 2008-2011 vehicles will have to wait a few more weeks for the recall to begin. The automaker will send a letter to them in early May, and they will receive a second letter later alerting them that the parts are available. In the meantime, the company advises them to drive with nothing more than their car key on their keyring.

This is the first solid data on the number of vehicles being worked on. In a recent report, GM spokesperson Jim Cain wouldn't discuss a specific figure of repaired vehicles. "We're on track," he said to Autoblog. "Every day, parts availability improves." Scroll down to read the automaker's full announcement.

News Source: General Motors

ETC

NY man who skipped paying toll 3,000 times fined over $28,000

Posted Apr 23rd 2014 1:29PM

RFK Bridge

New York City taxi driver Rodolfo Sanchez used an E-ZPass reported lost in 2011 and the close quarters that New Yorkers are used to, in order to save himself $28,000 in 18 months. During 1,061 crossings of the Robert F. Kennedy Bridge and 3,071 passages through the Queens-Midtown Tunnel, instead of paying the toll at the tollbooth, Sanchez would tailgate the vehicle in front of him and get past the barrier before it came down. He kept the E-ZPass in his car because every NYC taxi driver is obligated to have one.

Turns out the transponder is what got him caught, since it never stopped transmitting a signal every time it went through the toll booth. When Metropolitan Transportation Authority officers (MTA) noticed numerous pings from an E-ZPass with no money on it, they matched up video footage with the cabs in the photos, then matched the cabs to taxi company records showing Sanchez was the man behind the wheel. Now under arrest, prosecutors have charged him with grand larceny, theft of service and criminal possession of stolen property.

Sanchez said he needed the money for his family, but now he'll have to figure out who's going to fill the family coffers when he goes to jail.

News Source: New York Times

Image Credit: AP Photo/Julie Jacobson

W Motors Lykan Hypersport caught on the street

Posted Apr 23rd 2014 12:44PM

W Motors Lykan Hypersport

The W Motors Lykan Hypersport is a very perplexing supercar. Priced at an eye-popping $3.4 million, it looks like a Lamborghini turned up to 11. However, for a car that costs more than a McLaren P1 and Ferrari LaFerrari combined, it doesn't scream about its performance once the engine is started.

The Lykan Hypersport does fill the requirement of supercars to offer insane features. When it announced the car, W Motors promised diamond-encrusted LED taillights and a holographic interior display. The first models will actually be built in Italy, but production will move to the Middle East later.

With a mid-mounted, twin-turbo, 3.7-liter flat-six with a claimed 740 horsepower and 708 pound-feet of torque, the Hypersport doesn't lack for power. Still, that is somewhat lower than the 750 hp and 737 lb-ft rating from our previous story about it – the facts are often fluid in the rare world of brand new hypercar makers. W Motors also claims it can reach 60 miles per hour in 2.8 seconds and an alleged top speed of 239 mph.

The possible downside is that the company seems to have tuned the exhaust to actually be rather subdued. For as much as it costs, it should send a shiver down your spine the split-second it gets on the throttle, but the Hypersport just rumbles along. Scroll down to hear the supercar for yourself and see if it inspires a $3.4 million purchase.

News Source: W Motors, Marchettino via YouTube

Image Credit: Related images Copyright W Motors

2015 Volvo S60 T6 Drive-E

New Engine Makes S60 Quietly Competitive With German Rivals

Posted Apr 23rd 2014 11:57AM

2015 Volvo S60

For those not paying attention, Volvo has updated its S60 sedan range for 2015 with a new range of engines under the Drive-E label. Wearing the same T5 and T6 badges to note the relative levels of power under the hood, both engines are 2.0-liter four-cylinders, with the lesser being turbocharged and the greater being both supercharged and turbocharged.

Both Drive-E variants are currently only available in front-wheel-drive flavor, though Volvo will still happily sell you an S60 T5 AWD with the older 2.5-liter turbo five-cylinder, or a top-of-the-line S60 T6 with a turbo'd 3.0-liter six-cylinder and all the wheels turning.

The car I drove for a week is perhaps the most balanced version of the S60 range, with that exotic sounding twin-charged 2.0-liter mill planted happily in the attractively sloping nose. Provided you're not hung up on front-drive dynamics, the T6 Drive-E might be a solid candidate for your next premium small sedan shopping list, as well.

Driving Notes
  • At 302 horsepower and 295 pound-feet of torque, the output of Volvo's twin-charged 2.0-liter mill is damn close to that of the outgoing turbo-six, while weighing close to 150 pounds less. The engine feels meaty down low, as you'd expect, with audible whine from the supercharger never letting you forget about the forced induction at low rpm.
  • With the transmission slotted into normal Drive mode, throttle response is pretty great when forcefully pulling away from stoplights or entering the highway. Moved into Sport mode, the programming becomes downright aggressive, and the torque available is palpable through your toes. Speed doesn't pile on instantaneously when passing on the highway at 70 miles per hour, but simply tap the throttle from 10 mph around town, and Sport mode will launch you gleefully past your neighbors if you aren't ready for it.
  • Past experience with the S60 had me expecting that this car would be a bit less engaging than it turned out to be. The single-mode suspension is pretty well balanced between a compliant ride and tight handling, unless you really push the car. At a good pace, there's more lean in the chassis than I'd like from a sporting tool, but not so much that I think it detracts from the mission of this laid-back yet quick sedan.
  • The steering isn't particularly meaty or full of feel, but it is quick. On bendy roads, the S60 changed direction in short order, and didn't feel to be overly heavy in the nose – thanks here again to that lighter engine. Go hard and the front-drive S60 will push wide, sure, but handling feels balanced in everyday, lukewarm corners.
  • Noted supercharger whine to the side, the confines of the S60 are mostly hushed at a cruise. The fast-moving Volvo sets a nice stage for conversation, listening to your favorite tunes – I found the Volvo Premium Sound System to be clear, if not rich – or generally making light time of long commutes.
  • The increased fuel efficiency of the Drive-E engine should also be friendly to posh commuter types. Volvo and the EPA quote 24 miles per gallon in the city and 35 on the highway. Those numbers put it well ahead of the curve for most smaller engined versions of primary luxury competitors – BMW 320i, Lexus IS 250, Audi A4 2.0T, etc. – while offering a lot more power. Looked at conversely, it competes almost toe-to-toe on power with the more potent versions of all those sedans, while being priced lower (sometimes a lot lower).
  • I actually think that BMW's 328d would make a really interesting head-to-head comparison with this T6 E-Drive. Both start in the high $30k range; the Volvo has more power and (I believe) a slightly more refined driving experience; the BMW has better fuel economy, newer tech and the benefit of rear-wheel-drive dynamics.
  • You can decide for yourself about the aesthetics of the Volvo, but I still find this bodystyle to be completely lovely, a few years on from its introduction and having been grafted a slightly redesigned nose. Likewise, the cabin feels on par with the best in the segment in terms of design, materials and comfort, though the suite of technology powering its comparatively tiny-screened infotainment system lags the class. Personally I'd abide the slightly outdated tech for the tradeoff of the amazing front seats – and I work on the Internet, people.
  • Volvo has done a great service in keeping its mainstay S60 relevant with the new powertrain upgrades, overall. As ever with Volvo models, this is a car that should appeal to those drivers with a taste for luxury, indifferent attitude about at-limit handling (no rear-drive bias) and a vague notion that German cars are for "other people."

Vital Stats

Engine:
Twin-Charged 2.0L I4
Power:
302 HP / 295 LB-FT
Transmission:
8-Speed Auto
Base Price:
$38,150
As-Tested Price:
$47,925

Image Credit: Copyright 2014 Seyth Miersma / AOL

Yamaha PES1 and PED1 electric motorcycles headed for production

Posted Apr 23rd 2014 11:30AM

Yamaha PES1

Yamaha PED1A big player in the two-wheeled world is hopping into the electric market. Yamaha's PES1 (pictured above) and PED1 (pictured right) battery-powered concepts are going into production in the near future, the company announced. Both bikes originally debuted at the 2013 Tokyo Motor Show.

According to Visor Down, the Yamaha disclosed in its annual report that both cycles would be in production by 2016. "In addition to the advantages of being electrically powered, these motorcycles will offer the operability expected by existing motorcycle fans, together with a new riding experience," said a portion of the announcement.

If their skeletal looks don't give it away, these are some very light motorcycles. In concept form, Yamaha reported that the PES1 sport bike weighed less than 221 pounds, and the PED1 dirt bike weighed less than 187 pounds. Power came from a removable lithium-ion battery pack and brushless DC motor that were housed in a monocoque frame that was shared by both cycles. The concepts were equipped with a transmission with both manual and automatic modes.

Yamaha hasn't released performance figures for either bike yet. However, an earlier video suggested that the top speed of the PES1 was limited to 62 miles per hour. Granted, that was the concept version, and the production model could be faster.

Considering that Yamaha has a long and storied history of building fantastic bikes with internal combustion engines, we have high hopes it can do the same to challenge the electric cycle world.
Related GalleryYamaha PES1
Yamaha PES1Yamaha PES1Yamaha PES1Yamaha PES1Yamaha PES1Yamaha PES1Yamaha PES1Yamaha PES1

News Source: Visor Down

Image Credit: Yamaha

TVR sets up R&D center to launch new model in 2-3 years

Posted Apr 23rd 2014 10:45AM

TVR Sagaris

TVR has had a tough go of it lately. Once one of Britain's – if not the world's – preeminent sports car manufacturers, TVR has a history that stretches back as far as Ferrari's. But it fell on hard times after the start of the new millennium. The ailing company was purchased in 2004 by Russian tycoon Nikolay Smolensky, but after failing to produce a single vehicle since 2006, TVR shut down in 2012. The following year Smolensky sold what was left of the business to a consortium led by video game developer Les Edgar, who has been plotting a revival over the course of the year since. And now that revival is coming into focus.

According to Autocar, Edgar and company have set up a new R&D center in the south of England and are working at launching an all-new model in two to three years' time. That puts it behind the earlier schedule of launching two new models by 2015, but if and when the new project comes to fruition, we doubt many will care about the change of plans.

As for what form that new product will take, you can bet it will have its engine up front, driving the rear wheels, and a two-door cabin. It could pack a two-seat or two-plus-two setup, but the former seems more likely for that first model, with the latter potentially to follow down the line. Edgar says that the company is current evaluating certain parameters, such as whether to use a tubular backbone chassis as it did previously or to go with a more advanced carbon-fiber tub. TVR is apparently leaning towards outsourcing the engine for the time being, but could bring back the company's ubiquitous inline-six at some point on the near future.

Once it has an idea of how much its components will cost, TVR will have a better handle on how much it will charge for the finished product. But previous reports indicated that TVR would endeavor to undercut the price of an Aston Martin V8 Vantage that starts in the UK for around £80k and in the US for under $120k. As for whether the new TVR would ever make it to North America, now that's another matter entirely.
Related GalleryTVR Sagaris
TVR SagarisTVR SagarisTVR SagarisTVR SagarisTVR SagarisTVR SagarisTVR SagarisTVR Sagaris

News Source: Autocar

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