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Jeep Grand Cherokee SRT gets power increase, minor tweaks for 2015

Posted Sep 2nd 2014 2:28PM

2015 Jeep Grand Cherokee

As a brand within Fiat Chrysler Automobiles, SRT may have an uncertain future, but it's pumping out some seriously mean machines anyway. The supercharged Hellcat V8 may be gobbling up most of the headlines with its 707 horsepower, but even the Grand Cherokee SRT is getting some small updates for the 2015 model year.

Most importantly for many enthusiasts, the Grand Cherokee SRT is getting a slight power bump. Don't expect the 700+ hp from the Hellcat, but this SUV sees a modest 5-hp and 5-pound-feet of torque improvement to bring output to 475 hp and 470 lb-ft for its 6.4-liter V8 with an eight-speed automatic. The minor change doesn't change the sprint to 60 miles per hour, clocking in at the same 4.8 seconds, or the tow rating at 7,200 pounds. Still, more grunt is never a bad idea.

Another new addition is the Active Noise Canceling system as a standard feature for this powerful SUV. It adds four microphones around the vehicle and uses the stereo system to nullify extraneous sound. However, Jeep claims that the meaty exhaust note from the V8 still gets through into the cabin for driver enjoyment.

Finally, Jeep has the new Red Vapor package for the Grand Cherokee SRT to add a bit more aggression to its look. According to brand spokesperson Dan Reid, it's priced at $3,995, and it's only available in Redline Red Pearl Clear Coat, Brilliant Black Crystal Pearl Coat and Bright White Clear Coat exterior colors. The pack adds black badges around the SUV, and parts of the upper and lower grille trim are also replaced with black pieces. The mean look is completed with five-spoke, 20-inch wheels in black chrome with bright center caps. The engine also gets a new, dark red cover.

Inside, the Red Vapor pack includes a backlit SRT logo on the steering wheel with anodized silver trim. Plus, the rest of the interior gets light black chrome and red accents.

Reid also told Autoblog, "The base MSRP for the 2015 Jeep Grand Cherokee SRT is $64,495", plus a $995 destination fee. Scroll down to read about all of the specs for Jeep's muscle-bound SUV.

News Source: Jeep

Mercedes G65 AMG coming to US for 2016

Posted Sep 2nd 2014 2:00PM

Mercedes-Benz G65 AMG

If you're in the market for a high-performance SUV, you've got plenty of choices at your disposal, and soon you'll have even more. And a healthy portion of those come with a Silver Star on the nose. Mercedes-Benz already offers the ML63 AMG, GL63 AMG and G63 AMG – all powered by the same 5.5-liter twin-turbo V8 – in American showrooms. Soon the smaller GLA45 AMG will join them as well. But if it's more power you're after, we've got good news, because the latest word is that Benz is finally bringing over its flagship G65 AMG.

Similar to the G63 AMG, the G65 is based on the German automaker's iconic Geländewagen, but packs a monstrous 6.0-liter twin-turbo V12 – the same unit that has powered everything from the S65 AMG and SL65 AMG to the previous Maybach and even the Pagani Huayra. In the G65, that gargantuan engine churns out 604 horsepower and 738 pound-feet of torque, channeled to all four wheels through a seven-speed automatic transmission.

The G65 has been on the market overseas since 2012, but was kept away from these shores. According to Automotive News, however, Mercedes will finally bring its most powerful sport-ute to American showrooms. And not a moment too soon, either, as Land Rover just came out with its Range Rover Sport SVR; rivals like Bentley, Lamborghini and Maserati are all working on performance SUVs of their own; and competitors like Porsche and BMW aren't likely to give up fighting, either.

Expect the G65 to launch in the US as a 2016 model with a price tag tipped to top $250,000.

Subaru WRX hatchback mule spotted

Posted Sep 2nd 2014 1:29PM

Subaru WRX Hatchback spy shots

Despite on-again, off-again rumors, this latest set of spy shots seems to indicate that yes, a five-door Subaru WRX is indeed in the works. Subtlety is key with this test mule, but there are clear bits of evidence that indicate a hotter hatchback is what's being developed here.

First, notice the WRX-spec front fascia grafted onto this ordinary-looking Impreza hatch. From there, we can clearly see the tiny bit of added width – most obvious on the roof and at the rear, near the fuel door and taillamps. And of course, let's not forget about that bulge in the hood, consisting of a metal panel that covers the hood scoop and can apparently be removed thanks to a series of screws, according to our spies. The WRX's more robust exhaust and larger wheel/tire package have not been added to this mule, though we're told that this is commonplace for Subaru prototypes – those bits should be added on as the car's development progresses.

We fully expect a WRX hatchback to be, well, just that – mechanically, it should be identical to the sedan brethren, though our spies indicate that Subaru could be testing an updated version of the WRX-spec boxer engine. Of course, there's always a chance that this could be something else entirely, given the on-and-off reports of the five-door 'Rex's existence in the first place...

Image Credit: KGP Photography

M-thusiast pops the question at BMW Welt

Posted Sep 2nd 2014 12:44PM

Marriage proposal at BMW Welt

We've seen all manner of marriage proposals over the years, but our favorites, of course, revolve around cars. One guy proposed to his girlfriend at a traffic stop, another during an autocross event, while yet another got dozens of Mazda MX-5 owners together to spell "Marry Me?" in Miatas. This latest proposal, however, put the M in Marriage as only a BMW enthusiast could.

While visiting BMW Welt in Munich, Bachir from Lebanon rolled out in a new blue M3 and got down on one knee in front of the gathered crowds to pop the question to Layal, his girlfriend of one year.

We'll let you watch the clip for yourself to see how it went, but suffice it to say that she was delighted. The couple plan to drive to the church in a procession of M cars for what promises to be a high-octane ceremony in their home country.

News Source: BMW via YouTube, World Car Fans

2015 Infiniti Q70L

It's A Long Story...

Posted Sep 2nd 2014 11:57AM

Infiniti Q70L

A quick look at a scatter plot that charts rear legroom against luxury sedan MSRPs reveals a dearth of spacious bargains – few, if any, luxury sedans offer exceptionally spacious rear accommodations at a relatively low starting price. To fill the vacuum, Infiniti has made its Q70 available in a Q70L variant – in English, long wheelbase – for 2015.

The artist formerly known as the Infiniti M has been available in stretched-out form in the Chinese market for two years, and the US introduction is accompanied by several updates that include slightly reworked styling cues, and refinements to the drivetrain and chassis. The Q70L's wheelbase extends 5.9 inches (with a commensurate expansion of knee room), while overall length increases to 202 inches, a 7.3-inch bump. Powertrain options include a 3.7-liter V6 which produces 330 horsepower and 270 pound-feet of torque (starting at $51,350), or a 5.6-liter V8 that yields 420 hp and 417 lb-ft (and climbs to $64,550). The long-wheelbase treatment adds $1,500 to Q70 MSRPs. Not surprisingly, the Hybrid version is not available with the L treatment.

Up to three Q70L rear passengers are treated to reading lamps, a 12-volt power outlet, rear door close assist, and available heated seats. Unlike its Far Eastern counterpart (and competitors like the $61,500 Hyundai Equus), the US-spec Q70L's rear seats don't recline. Bummer.

What to make of this stretched Infiniti that's just 1.2 inches of legroom shy of an S-Class? The Q70 has never quite compared dynamically to the Mercedes-Benz E-Class or BMW 5 Series, and the longer wheelbase makes it even harder for the Japanese sedan to compete when it comes to driving satisfaction. What the Q70L does offer, however, are rather plush interior accommodations that include available semi-analine leather and Japanese Ash trim that's been bedazzled by sprinklings of genuine silver mixed into the lacquer.

A test drive of the 2015 Infiniti Q70L through New York City and into the sinewy roads leading to Bear Mountain revealed even greater rifts between the lengthened sedan and its sporty competitors. Where does this leave Infiniti's Q70L amidst the macrocosm of luxury sedans, which include the Audi A6, Cadillac CTS, and Jaguar XF?

Driving Notes
  • Lengthening the wheelbase adds approximately 100 pounds of mass to the Q70L's curb weight, the equivalent of throwing a skinny kid in the back seat, give or take a few cheeseburgers. It's not a significant increase in tonnage, but the longer body makes the L variant feel noticeably less nimble than the standard-issue Q70, aided by the fact that the steering ratio has not been altered.
  • Ride quality felt somewhat busy but controlled over NYC's notoriously irregular pavement, while rural roads outside of Manhattan revealed a more sedate side to the sedan's damping.
  • The Q70L's cabin is pleasantly quiet, thanks in part to active noise canceling technology and new-for-2015 improvements including added insulation and better seals. There's still a faint but noticeable engine induction sound, which lends an air of sportiness to the aural experience.
  • Our V8-powered tester delivered strong, but not head-pinning, oomph. Despite what seemed like reasonably swift acceleration (Infiniti doesn't publish official 0-60 times), the Q70L's grunt doesn't inspire particularly leadfooted driving.
  • At least visually speaking, the Q70L's driving experience is all about the curves. Two humps dominate the instrument cluster, which is framed by the hood's bulbous profile. Arcs of wood and leather bind the interior, and the center stack is distinguished by its wave-like shape.
  • The Q70L is all about the expanded rear seating area, and a stint in its aft compartment revealed plenty of space, but a disappointing lack of amenities. Legroom is indeed generous, though the passenger experience doesn't feel particularly special. Unlike Hyundai's Equus, the Infiniti doesn't have a panel of controls that make the back perch feel like a first-class airline throne. The seats can be heated but not cooled, and they don't recline.
Perhaps this stretched-out five-seater will gain traction within that obscure segment of the population that would rather be chauffeured in midlevel luxury, rather than take the wheel themselves. We're a bit hazy on this rather specific target demographic, which seems more likely to reside in a Shanghai suburb than in a major metropolitan US city, but suppose the Q70L's sales figures will be the ultimate measure of its success.

Vital Stats

Engine:
5.6L V8
Power:
420 HP / 417 LB-FT
Transmission:
7-Speed Auto
Base Price:
$51,350

Image Credit: Copyright 2014 Basem Wasef / AOL

Some NASCAR racers, fans 'on the fence' about Tony Stewart's Chase waiver [w/poll]

Posted Sep 2nd 2014 11:30AM

NASCAR Atlanta 500 Auto Racing

Tony Stewart made his return to the NASCAR Sprint Cup over the weekend at the Atlanta Motor Speedway. However, the race probably wasn't as triumphant as he had hoped. Stewart started in a strong 12th place but eventually had to retire midway through the event. It gives him just one last chance to make it into the Chase for the Sprint Cup and compete for a chance to win his fourth series championship. To do it, he would need to win the upcoming race at Richmond International Raceway. Although, some people are questioning whether that's fair.

To make it into the Chase, a NASCAR driver either has to win during the regular season or make it in based on points among the non-winners. However, a further caveat stipulates that competitors have to try to qualify for all of the races to be eligible. Following the fatal accident on August 9, Stewart missed qualifying for two events. However, NASCAR officials granted him a medical waiver that potentially got him into the Chase, if he won in Atlanta or Virginia.

NASCAR's rules over granting one of these waivers are somewhat unclear. According to Autoweek, a driver has to be suffering from a "pretty severe condition." It's up to the sport to determine what this means, and official's hired third-party experts to evaluate Stewart. However, some people have questioned whether Stewart's mental anguish really met this level.

There doesn't appear to be much consensus among drivers. "I think the whole intent of eligibility for the Chase is so somebody doesn't just go take a vacation after winning a few races. That's the way I look at it," said driver Jeff Gordon to Autoweek.

However, other drivers are somewhat less sure. "The only real feeling I have is that there should be more information available than what there is," said Brad Keselowski to Autoweek. He feels as though there aren't enough facts out there to form a reasoned opinion about the waiver.

So do you think Stewart deserved the medical waiver that could potentially put him into the Chase? Let us know in the poll below.

Should Tony Stewart have received a medical waiver from NASCAR?

News Source: Autoweek

Image Credit: David Tulis / AP Photo

Aggressive new Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV Concept-S coming to Paris

Posted Sep 2nd 2014 10:58AM

Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV Concept Paris 2014

Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV Concept for Paris 2014Already a hit in the rest of the world, the Mitsubishi Outlander Plug-In Hybrid is not coming to the US until late next year. That gives Mitsu plenty of time to upgrade the SUV to the next-generation model, and we might be getting a glimpse of what the US-speck Outlander PHEV will look like at the Paris Motor Show in early October. Take a look at the new "Sporty and Sophisticated" Outlander PHEV Concept-S that Mitsubishi is teasing in two dark images today.

Mitsubishi says that what's being teased here is simply part of a "special package" that "magnifies the Outlander PHEV's unique driving experience." But, the last time Mitsubishi showed off an Outlander PHEV concept – at the 2012 Paris show – the production model ended up looking quite a bit like the show version. With aggressive lines all over the front fascia and bold strokes across the rear, the new concept certainly looks a lot better than the current model. We don't expect all of this auto show pizazz to make the final cut, but we like the direction that Mitsubishi is going here, extending the design language from the Outlander XR PHEV and GC-PHEV concepts from last year's Tokyo show. We should know more when we get to Paris on October 2nd. Until then, click on the images to get a better view and check out Mitsubishi's press release below.

News Source: Mitsubishi

Swiss hail success of drive-in brothel

Posted Sep 2nd 2014 10:15AM

Police Conduct Major Prostitution Sting

Switzerland is known for many things: chocolate, watches, blonde hair, fondue, finance and now, drive-in brothels. Zürich, Switzerland's largest city, kicked off the drive-in brothel program a year ago, and is now claiming it's a resounding success.

City authorities set up the drive-ins in an old industrial site west of the city, The Guardian reports. Complete with drive-in "sex boxes," the facilities provide streetwalkers with a safer, more private setting than their typical spot in the city center, and even offer shower facilities and a café. The only catch? Workers need to pay for permits and pay taxes.

"The new regulation of street prostitution has attained its objectives of protecting the population and the sex workers," the city said in a statement.

The Guardian reports that, on average, about 15 workers are at the brothels each night. That's half the number that frequented the city's old red light district, while the other two city districts that tolerate sex work haven't noticed an increase in traffic.

Issues? There are a couple. Prostitutes have complained they're making less money and that they're too far from the bars and clubs that populate the city center, The Guardian reports, while the cost of operating the facility has also been higher than expected, at $2.6 million since it opened in August 2013. The facility's neighbors, meanwhile, have told the city they haven't been bothered by the goings on next door.

News Source: The Guardian

Image Credit: David McNew / Getty Images

Cadillac toned down ATS Coupe design due to customer feedback [w/poll]

Posted Sep 2nd 2014 9:30AM

2015 Cadillac ATS Coupe

Automakers always face a difficult decision when it comes to styling their cars. Design them too blandly and nobody will get excited about them. But style them too aggressively and they'll often end up turning off potential buyers.

Cadillac, for its part, is no stranger to aggressive design, but when it came to the new ATS Coupe, it elected to tone things down a bit. Speaking with The Detroit News in a wide-ranging interview, Cadillac design director Bob Boniface revealed that the original design for its compact coupe was edgier – closer to that of the CTS Coupe – with a wedgier profile, a more steeply raked beltline and a more severe grille. But potential customers surveyed in clinics apparently didn't like it. They found it looked heavy, inefficient and not fun to drive. So Boniface and his team literally went back to the drawing board and "took as much visual mass out of the car as [they] could." The resulting coupe, while handsome, looks far more similar to its four-door companion than did Cadillac's CTS.

What do you think, does the new ATS Coupe look just right, or is it too conservative? Voice your opinion in our quick online poll.

What do you think of the Cadillac ATS Coupe's design?

Related Gallery2015 Cadillac ATS Coupe
2015 Cadillac ATS Coupe2015 Cadillac ATS Coupe2015 Cadillac ATS Coupe2015 Cadillac ATS Coupe2015 Cadillac ATS Coupe2015 Cadillac ATS Coupe2015 Cadillac ATS Coupe2015 Cadillac ATS Coupe

News Source: The Detroit News

Thinking of buying a used police car? Here's how to do it

Posted Sep 2nd 2014 8:45AM

Sales Skyrocket For Crown Victoria, As Ford Prepares To Phase Out Model

Back in college, I was the house and risk manager for my fraternity. As you can imagine, this was a stressful job, as I was forced to monitor not only the many idiotic whims of my brothers, but the potential impact those ideas had on our house.

My least-fond memory of those hazy years involved a brother who drove a retired police cruiser. He desperately wanted to be a cop and took to driving his blacked-out, push-bar-equipped Ford Crown Victoria like Martin Riggs from Lethal Weapon. While his typical days were spent terrorizing other motorists by suddenly appearing in their rearview mirrors, one day he decided to lead the campus police on a high-speed chase (as one does).

He got ahead of them, hid his car and ran into the fraternity house, breathlessly telling me he'd been there the whole time. The police arrived, having ran his plates and asking for him by his last name... which happened to be the same as my first name. Shockingly, neither he nor I were arrested that day (keep in mind, these were just campus police), but I've since become a firm believer that unless you want to start a second life as a taxi driver, you should not buy a used police car.

If you choose to ignore me, though, Yahoo! Autos has put together a smartly comprehensive buying guide, written by a dealer, that details the ins and outs of the police car buying process. It ranges from what sort of equipment you should bring to a city auction, to what kind of cars will go for the least money. It's a rather interesting read and provides a glimpse into a market of automotive sales that nearly every enthusiast has thought about at least once.

Head over and take a look.

News Source: Yahoo! Autos

Image Credit: Scott Olson / Getty

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 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

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