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Andy Palmer leaves Renault-Nissan to serve as CEO of Aston Martin

Posted Sep 2nd 2014 5:44AM

Andy Palmer

Aston Martin has been without a helmsman since Ulrich Bez stepped down from the chief executive office at the end of last year, stepping back to serve as non-executive chairman in a semi-retired ambassadorial capacity. The British automaker, now on the cusp of a new era, has been running without a CEO since, but has now named Bez's replacement in Andy Palmer.

If you don't recognize the name, you should: Palmer has worked under the Renault-Nissan Alliance for decades now, rising through the ranks to become one of the top executives under Carlos Ghosn. Most recently he was serving as executive vice president of the entire group and chairman of the Infiniti brand, but like Carlos Tavares, who recently left Renault to run Peugeot, Palmer is now embarking on a new mission as CEO of Aston Martin.

Once the transition period is complete at the start of October, Palmer's role as Chief Planning Officer at Renault-Nissan will be assumed by Philippe Klein, who steps up from his current role as executive vice president of product planning for Renault. Read the statements from both companies below.

News Source: Aston Martin, Renault

Image Credit: Nissan

Lamborghini Huracán races Su-30 jet in Russia

Posted Sep 1st 2014 7:57PM

Su-30 vs Lamborghini Huracan

We've seen it time and time again, but we never seem to get tired of it. We are referring, of course, to races between supercars and fighter jets. The time-honored tradition has seen a Lamborghini Reventón take on a Panavia Tornado, an SRT Viper line up alongside an F-16, even a Red Bull F1 car tackle an F/A-18 Hornet. But now it's time for the new Lamborghini Huracán to take its turn. And since this contest takes place in Russia, its rival is none other than the Sukhoi Su-30 Flanker-C, the two-seat version of the earlier Su-27 and one of the most advanced aircraft to come out of the Soviet Union.

Now there are, of course, many ways to set up a race between car and jet, but for this one, the organizers had the competitors line up on the runway, accelerate past a marker (at which point the jet is already in the air), turn around and return. We'll let you watch the video for yourself to see which won, but either way, there can be little question that the Su-30 and the latest Lamborghini are two of the most formidable performance machines ever devised.

News Source: tvZvezda via YouTube, MotorAuthority

ETC

Millionaire cricket player avoids driving ban because he has to drive fish and chips van

Posted Sep 1st 2014 7:00PM

Emirates Laureus Awards

It's not exactly a case of "affluenza," but it does appear to be another case of Money Makes Things Go Away, this time in the UK. Police there reportedly caught ex-England cricketer and professional boxer Andrew Flintoff doing 87 miles per hour, 17 mph over the limit, in his Bentley Continental GT. While we know how easy it is to creep past the posted limit in Crewe's finest, Flintoff has already been busted for speeding three times in the past three years and has nine points on his license. This latest offense would have raised that to 12 points, which in England means an automatic six-month suspension of driving privileges.

He won't have to worry about that, though, because his lawyer Michael Neofytou successfully argued that Flintoff would endure "exceptional hardship" if he weren't allowed to drive. See, Flintoff runs a charity with his wife, is active in philanthropic work outside of that, puts in television appearances and drives his three kids to "school and various activities." Among other scheduled events, Flintoff's representation claimed he would have to miss the recording of a television show that involved the athlete driving a fish and chips food truck on a road trip powered by the vehicle's own cooking fat.

Noting his work and the need for the children's privacy, chair of the bench David Johnson said, "Because of your position, the fact that you are well known, clearly the impact has to be on others, more than you yourself," and fined Flintoff a total of 445 pounds ($739 US) - a sum the millionaire should have no problem paying.

It's not the first time Flintoff, who has a thing for 87 mph, has escaped the law's grasp. In 2005, he got caught doing the same speed in a temporary 50 mph zone, but got away without a fine when an attorney known as "Mr. Loophole" argued that the notice was sent to Flintoff two days later than permitted by law.

News Source: Telegraph

Image Credit: AP Photo/Nousha Salimi

IndyCar Series heading to NOLA for new Grand Prix of Louisiana

Posted Sep 1st 2014 6:00PM

Indy Grand Prix of Louisiana

Most racing series compete on one kind of track or another, but not Indy. Its calendar is made up of NASCAR-style speedway races (generally, though not exclusively, identified by a three-digit number indicating the number of miles to be covered) and F1-style road-course and street-circuit races (typically billed as grands prix). And now, it's about to get another of the latter.

In preparing the 2015 season schedule, series organizers have announced the addition of the Indy Grand Prix of Louisiana to be held next April 10-12. The race will be contested on the new NOLA Motorsports Park in Avondale, 14 miles southwest of downtown New Orleans. The 13-turn, 2.67-mile road course held an Indy Lights race earlier this year, but stepping up to the big leagues on the same weekend as the French Quarter Festival is sure to make the race a big draw.

Preparations for the event will include a $4.5-million investment on the part of the state government and a reconfiguration of the track with input from three-time Indy race winner and former rookie of the year James Hinchcliffe and open-wheel racing scion Graham Rahal. Andretti will be responsible for promoting the event.

The rest of the schedule has yet to be confirmed, but we already know that the Grand Prix of Houston, held for the past two years on a temporary street circuit at NRG Park, will not return next season, meaning that the NOLA race will effectively take its place. Once the full schedule is announced, we're expecting new races to be included in overseas locations such as Dubai and Brazil, expanding on this year's calendar that only included races in North America (seventeen in the US and one in Toronto).

News Source: Andretti Sports Marketing

Mercedes-AMG GT to debut on September 9

Posted Sep 1st 2014 4:56PM

Mercedes-AMG GT

Mercedes-Benz kept the SLR McLaren around for a solid eight years. The SLS AMG hasn't even been around for five, but already Benz is preparing to roll out its next sports car. We've been anticipating the arrival of the new Mercedes-AMG GT for some time now, but now we've got the exact date of its debut.

This latest video gives us plenty of figures to chew on, from the amount of camouflage sheets used to wrap the prototypes to the temperatures at which they were tested. But the salient detail is that the coupe – which is expected to cost less than its SLS forbearer – will officially be unveiled on September 9.

Expect a public debut to follow at the Paris Motor Show the following month, after which its new 4.0-liter twin-turbo V8 will be available in two states of tune: 462 horsepower or 510, nestling comfortably in between the V8 and V10 versions of the Audi R8 and just a few steps behind the Porsche 911 GT3 and Turbo.

News Source: Mercedes-AMG via YouTube

Are these the world's worst speed bumps?

Posted Sep 1st 2014 2:57PM

Speed Bumps in Palm Bay

If you ask a lot of driving enthusiasts, they'll tell you that speed bumps are annoying across the board. Most community organizations, however, would argue the opposite. And as with so many other things, the most effective and mutually tolerable path lies somewhere in the middle. But that middle ground is a big area. Some speed bumps are more tolerable – or more effective – than others, but striking a balance between safely slowing down vehicles and not rattling them into an early repair shop visit can sometimes be tough.

This 41-second video appears to favor one side of the aforementioned balance pretty distinctly over the other. It depicts a set of five speed bumps to slow any traffic down to an absolute crawl... and a bouncing one at that. Though we don't know exactly where it was shot, it appears to have emerged from Florida. (The mail truck tells us it's in the United States, the absence of front plates narrows it down to one of 19 states, the weather and vegetation hint at the southeast and that truck in the first frame seems to belong to a landscaping company in Palm Bay, FL.) Wherever these humps were installed though, it strikes us as the local community going a little overboard.

News Source: 0to100realquick via YouTube

73-year-old racer dies after crashing his MG at Lime Rock

Posted Sep 1st 2014 1:01PM

Lime Rock Park Historics

Vintage racing provides fans with the opportunity to watch some of the greatest cars from yesteryear still competing on track against some of their contemporaries. Unfortunately, like any form of motorsports, racing in classics can never be completely safe, a reality sadly illustrated during this weekend's Lime Rock Park Historic Festival on Saturday, August 30.

Lee Duran, a 73-year-old racer from Lyme, CT, was in a single-vehicle accident in his 1934 MG PA Special on the final corner of the track. According to The Hartford Courant, his car spun, crashed and Duran was fatally injured. Track officials believe that this was the event's first fatality since it began 32 years ago. State police are also still investigating.

The crash came on the third day of the Lime Rock festival celebrating vintage cars and racing. According to the track schedule, the event was split among nine groups of various categories with over 30 races scheduled for the weekend.

Our condolences go out to Duran's friends and family.

News Source: The Hartford Courant, Lime Rock Park

Image Credit: Facebook

Max Verstappen has already crashed his first F1 car

Posted Sep 1st 2014 12:01PM

Max Verstappen crash

Toro Rosso made headlines a couple of weeks ago when it signed Max Verstappen. Born in 1997, Verstappen is just 16, and will be just 17 when he makes his race debut next season, which will make him the youngest driver ever to compete in a F1 grand prix – by a margin of nearly two years, no less, the previously record held by Jaime Alguersuari, also of Toro Rosso, at 19. You imagine, then, that the team has been eager to showcase its young new talent, especially in his home country of Holland. So when STR set up one of its traveling Formula One road shows in the city of Rotterdam, it put Max behind the wheel. But things didn't go so well.

As you can see from this video, Verstappen lost control of the car – a 2007-spec STR7, if we're not mistaken – and drove it step-nose-first into the barricade in front of the cheering crowd. Not exactly a promising start to his career with the team, but then, Max has the rest of this season (and the winter break) to hone his skills as part of the Red Bull Junior program before his race debut, and he's already won nine races in the FIA European Formula 3 Championship this season.

News Source: Peter W via YouTube

Will the new Mazda Miata be available with multiple engines?

Posted Sep 1st 2014 11:00AM

Next-Generation Mazda MX-5 spy shot

At this point, the countdown until the launch of the all-new, fourth-generation 2016 Mazda MX-5 Miata can be measured in hours until its September 3 unveiling as easily as it can in days. With the debut of such a highly anticipated model so close, the rumors about the new sports car are starting to boil over.

We recently heard that the new Miata would likely get a 2.0-liter Skyactiv four-cylinder with a six-speed manual, plus a decent drop in weight compared to the current gen. There's even the rumored possibility of a fastback coupe version sometime in the future.

Now, Australia's GoAuto is adding another dollop of speculation into the mix with the claim that there could be "potentially more engine options," according to Mazda Australia managing director Martin Benders to the website. The more potent option would still be the 2.0-liter Skyactiv with a power bump from its current 167 hp to closer to 200 ponies. The other possible powerplant option would be a 1.5-liter, naturally aspirated four-cylinder taken from the upcoming Mazda2 replacement. This version would also ditch some of the MX-5's more premium features to cut the weight and the price slightly.

"Lightweight rear-wheel drive sportscar offering great value is what we want to return to," said Mazda Australia senior public relations manager Steve Maciver to GoAuto. While such a tiny engine might sound dubious, remember that the original NA Miata performs admirably with just a naturally aspirated 1.6-liter four-cylinder. The potential small-displacement MX-5 might not make it to the US – we'd be a bit surprised if it did, to be honest – but it could still be quite an engaging driver. Besides, it's worth noting that earlier rumors had a 1.5-liter mill pegged as a possibility for the ND Miata.

News Source: GoAuto

Image Credit: CarPix

Lambo considering Huracán GT3 for United SportsCar Championship

Posted Sep 1st 2014 9:00AM

Lamborghini Huracán Super Trofeo

With all the versions of the Gallardo that Lamborghini made over the course of that model's dozen year lifecycle, we knew the debut of the new Huracán would only be the start. And now we're getting an idea of what Sant'Agata has in store. Before too long, there'll be a new Spyder, and likely a rear-drive version as well. But racing teams are more eagerly anticipating the new competition versions. There's the new Super Trofeo spec racer that Lambo unveiled in Monterey a couple of weeks ago, but now we're receiving word of a new GT3 racer as well.

Based closely on the Super Trofeo, the Huracán GT3 is reportedly being designed to meet the regulations of numerous racing series – including, the latest reports will have us know, the United SportsCar Championship that competes in North America. This according to Sportscar365.com, which spoke to Lamborghini's chief test driver Giorgio Sanna at Virginia International Raceway recently.

Unlike some of its rivals, racing has not traditionally been a core value at Lamborghini, but it has competed here and there. It previously relied on Reiter Engineering to develop racing versions of the Murcielago and Gallardo, but is said to be doing the Huracán GT3 almost entirely in-house, with a modicum of input from Dallara, the racing chassis manufacturer founded by the man widely credited with developing the Miura and Espada in the 1960s.

The Huracán GT3 would likely be sold to privateer teams who would enter it in individual racing series with support from the factory. Among its competitors would be the 911 RSR, R8 LMS and Continental GT3 offered by sister companies Porsche, Audi and Bentley, who have evidently found enough success on the circuit for Lambo to follow in its footsteps.

Watch Sebastian Vettel become first driver to lap Sochi GP circuit

Posted Aug 31st 2014 7:28PM

Sebastian Vettel Infiniti Red Bull racing

In April of last year, Sebastian Vettel and David Coulthard drove the unpaved Sochi Formula One circuit in a pair of Infiniti M sedans, getting both muddy and airborne in the process. Now with tarmac laid down and fences put up, Vettel and Coulthard have gone back to the Black Sea vacation spot for another hot lap, this time in a Q50 Hybrid and without the need for mud flaps.

Sochi has earned the blessing of F1's race director, so now the next test will be the fans. With a healthy amount of wall-and-fencing along the straights, it has shades of Valencia for the viewer. We hope it will be much more exciting than its Spanish counterpart when racing happens on October 12. You'll find more videos below covering Infiniti's visits to the Sochi Autodrom, and a press release on the latest lap.

Infiniti Q50S getting G37's hydraulic steering for 2016

Posted Aug 31st 2014 6:30PM

Infiniti Q50S

Sometimes, new technology doesn't make things better. Take the march of power steering technology as an example. Electrically assisted systems are in vogue at the moment for their ability to increase fuel efficiency, but tuning them to offer good feedback remains something of a dark art. Some automakers get it, but most don't. The previous hydraulically assisted setups just seem to be inherently more communicative when driven with enthusiasm. And it looks like Infiniti might be learning this lesson the hard way.

In talking with Keith St. Clair, the luxury brand's head of product planning, Car and Driver has learned that the Q50S is probably going to ditch its standard electrically assisted steering in favor of a hydraulic system derived from the old G37, a model soon to be renamed the Q40. The system should make the sedan more engaging behind the wheel, but it still won't help those who tick the option box for Infiniti's controversial Direct Adaptive Steering drive-by-wire system.

According to St. Clair, Infiniti's engineers have heard the complaints of critics and previous G37 owners about the Q50S model's electric steering system, and wanted to see what they could do. They didn't have to go far to figure it out – all it required was taking the steering rack off of a G37 and putting it onto the Q50S. After a little tweaking, "the car is a blast to drive," St. Clair reports. Now, the company is said to be fast-tracking the switch, and it could be ready for the 2016 model year.

To be clear, this change is likely going to be for the Q50S only. Electric assistance and Infiniti's DAS steer-by-wire aren't going anywhere, but the S model is supposed to be a little sportier than the rest of the Q50 range. Therefore, the switch to something enthusiasts prefer in a model expressly designed for them would appear to make good sense.

News Source: Car and Driver

Image Credit: Copyright 2014 Michael Harley / AOL

Lamando is Chinese for VW Jetta CC [w/video]

Posted Aug 31st 2014 4:58PM

VW Lamando

Volkswagen is not messing around when it characterizes its new MQB architecture as modular. It's already underpinning the VW Golf, Audi A3, Seat Leon and Skoda Octavia, and will soon form the basis for many more. And here is the latest.

Unveiled at the Chengdu Motor Show in China this weekend is the new Volkswagen Lamando, a four-door coupe similar in size to a Jetta but with the svelter roofline of the larger Passat-based CC to go after the Mercedes-Benz CLA. It's essentially the production version of the New Midsize Coupe concept that previewed its arrival at the Beijing Motor Show this past April, and will be built locally for local consumption by VW's joint venture with SAIC.

Power comes from either a 1.4- or 2.0-liter turbo four mated to a seven-speed dual-clutch gearbox, with an equivalent price tag below $30,000. Whether this or any similar vehicle ever arrives in North American showrooms remains to be seen, but we'll be watching to find out. In the meantime you can scope it out in the trippy video below and the photos in the gallery above.
Related Gallery2015 Volkswagen Lamando
2015 Volkswagen Lamando2015 Volkswagen Lamando2015 Volkswagen Lamando2015 Volkswagen Lamando2015 Volkswagen Lamando2015 Volkswagen Lamando

News Source: CarNewsChina.com via Carscoops

Image Credit: Volkswagen

This Labor Day, low gas prices mean more cars on the road [w/video]

Posted Aug 31st 2014 3:00PM

Consumer Prices

It's not hard to understand, when gas prices go up, Americans sometimes drive less on national holidays. This year, though gas prices are lower than they have been right before Labor Day since 2010, and that means the American Automobile Association (AAA) is predicting that the number of people taking a road trip of more than 50 miles is expected to rise compared to last year. AAA says that 35 million people will make a 50+ mile trip this year, the highest number since 2008 and up 1.3 percent from 2013. There's a video report on this increase available below.

The average price of gas in the US this past Monday was $3.45 a gallon. Not only is that the lowest price it's been on the Monday before Labor Day in four years, it's also 25 cents lower than it was in the end of June and a dime lower than it was a year ago. The US Energy Information Administration (EIA) says that the main reason for the drop is lower crude oil prices from the North Sea. As always, global worries about places like the middle east affect the crude oil price, and the EIA says that the market has a "perception of reduced risk for Iraqi oil exports as well as reports of increasing Libyan oil exports" that is helping to keep prices low.

News Source: US Energy Information Administration, American Automobile Association

Image Credit: Wilfredo Lee / AP

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