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Happy Thanksgiving! Autoblog is thankful for... [w/videos]

The Editorial Staff Weighs In With A Few Thank-You Notes

Posted Nov 27th 2014 12:01PM



The inimitable David E. Davis, Jr., once described himself as "...the luckiest guy in the world; a car enthusiast and I live in car-enthusiast heaven."

I think about that line a lot, but it seems ever-more poignant around this time of year, when families are gathered, stories are told and words of thanks are offered up more readily than on your average Thursday.

And even though, as a group, we wear a good deal fewer cravats than DED usually did, we can't help but feel as though we belong to that same Luckiest Guy group ourselves. Every man, woman and child of us.

So, keeping up with tradition, we offer you the 2014 version of our Thanksgiving List. Take a break from the carbo-loading, have a read, and then tell us which motoring wonders you're thankful for this year, in Comments.

Image Credit: Getty | Copyright 2014 AOL

Jean-Eric Vergne loses his ride with Toro Rosso

Posted Nov 27th 2014 10:59AM

Jean-Eric Vergne

After Ferrari confirmed its signing of Sebastian Vettel and with McLaren set to announce its lineup any day now, Scuderia Toro Rosso is one of the last teams with a seat open for the 2015 Formula One World Championship. But now, even the answer to that question is coming into focus, as the team's longtime driver Jean-Éric Vergne has confirmed he's leaving.

The French driver started out as a test pilot with Toro Rosso in 2011, was promoted to the race seat the following season and has been competing for the team ever since. But over the course of his three years on the grid, he has yet to score a single podium finish or emerge from the back of the field. And in a tweet on his personal account, he's now revealed that he won't be staying with the team next season.
Toro Rosso has already confirmed that newcomer Max Verstappen will take one of its race seats next season, but with the promotion of Daniil Kvyat to join fellow STR graduate Daniel Ricciardo and replace Vettel on the A-squad, the prevailing wisdom had the team keeping Vergne in place to lend some consistency and experience to its lineup. But the Toro Rosso has always existed as an avenue to bring new talent up through Red Bull's extensive driver training program and into F1.

The expectation at this point is that Toro Rosso will give Carlos Sainz, Jr. the vacant seat. If that name sounds familiar, that's because he's son of the former World Rally Championship star and an accomplished aspiring formula driver in his own right, winning the Formula Renault 3.5 Series title this year and performing admirably in the GP3 series, skipping over the GP2 ranks that have given F1 much of its new talent since its formulation a decade ago.

Just where Vergne will end up next remains to be seen. His career has focused entirely on getting into F1, but his record reveals he's failed to deliver better than sixth-place finishes at the 2013 Canadian and 2014 Singapore grands prix. Still, having made it into the world's top racing series in the first place and competed for three straight seasons, his talents will likely find him landing a seat in another high-profile racing series in short order.

News Source: Jean-Eric Vergne via Twitter, ESPN

Image Credit: Clive Mason/Getty/STR

Mercedes confirms first AMG Sport models for Detroit

Posted Nov 27th 2014 9:58AM

Mercedes AMG Sport teaser

If you're looking for a sportier Mercedes-Benz but can't quite make the leap to a full-on AMG model, we've got some good news for you: the German automaker is about to expand its performance portfolio with a more accessible AMG Sport range.

Set to bridge the gap between a standard Mercedes fitted with an AMG Sports package and a complete AMG performance variant, models in the the new AMG Sport line will feature upgraded engines, suspensions and brakes. They'll even have "all-wheel drive as standard in selected markets" (almost certain to include ours).

Affalterbach has confirmed that the first two AMG Sport models will debut at the upcoming Detroit Auto Show in January. Though it's not saying which models will hit the stage, the teaser image above suggests that one of them will be the new MLC crossover coupe (or whatever it'll be called under the new nomenclature), while the other is almost certain to be the new C450 AMG Sport sedan.

The launch of the AMG Sport line is part of the brand's effort to double its 2013 sales figures by 2017 to top over 40,000 units per year globally. With the AMG Sport line joining the standard AMG and AMG S models, the sub-brand is considerably expanding its product portfolio to cater to more customers and budgets, and will give Mercedes a vehicle range to challenge Audi S models and the BMW M Performance range.

News Source: Mercedes-Benz

Here's the new face of the Ford Ranger

Posted Nov 27th 2014 8:58AM

2015 Ford Ranger shown rendered in a teaser video.

Ford Asia Pacific has put a teaser video on YouTube showing off details on the 2015 Ranger pickup, and at the end we get a quick glimpse of the whole truck. This is the T6 Ranger that we still don't get in North America, but that shares its underpinnings with the Everest SUV recently introduced at the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation forum.

The Ranger gets a chunkier front end than the Everest, identified by its grille with three floating slats, reminiscent of designs on the previous F-150, and a less-stylized lower front bumper. Ford says it will be smarter, safer, smoother and stronger, but we'll have to wait for its reveal to find out what that means. Meanwhile, you can admire its new looks in the video below.

News Source: Ford Asia Pacific via YouTube

Ferrari 458 Speciale vs Porsche 911 GT3 shows what Chris Harris does best

Posted Nov 26th 2014 7:57PM

Chris Harris on Cars with Ferrari 458 Speciale versus Porsche 911 GT3

After a brief trip behind a pay wall, British auto journalist Chris Harris is back posting videos for free online, and shorts like this one are the perfect example of why his return is so welcome. Showing up at the damp Anglesey Circuit on the Welsh coast with the Ferrari 458 Speciale and Porsche 911 GT3, Harris ostensibly aims to find the better model. However, the final result really succeeds in showcasing the fun to be had behind the wheels of both supercars, particularly when initiating huge slides around the track.

As Harris presents it, the vehicles get through the circuit in somewhat different ways The Ferrari is brash and "feels alive," as he puts it as it screams around the track. Alternatively, the Porsche is a bit more restrained, while still being able to show some emotion. In the end, it comes down to trying to get a controlled lap around Anglesey from this duo, but it's pretty clear that the times don't tell the whole story. If you're in the mood to watch two of the world's premiere supercars wag their tails in the wet, then this video cannot be missed.

News Source: Chris Harris on Cars via YouTube

Image Credit: Related images copyright 2014 Jonathon Ramsey, Drew Phillips / AOL

What you missed on 11.26.14

Posted Nov 26th 2014 7:30PM

uturn

2014 Cadillac CTS-V wagonWe Say Goodbye To Today's Cadillac CTS-V

The raucous Cadillac CTS-V lineup we've come to know and love is drifting off into the sunset. There's a new one on the horizon, but it probably won't be quite the same animal that today's sedan, coupe and wagon are. We give the second-gen V a heroic sendoff – an Irish Wake, if you will – at Austin's phenomenal Circuit of the Americas. Join us as we shed a few tears and more than a little rubber.




2016 Toyota Mirai hydrogen fuel-cell car in trafficTranslogic Drives Fuel Cell Cars of LA Auto Show

Our award-winning video series, Translogic, checks in with Episode 164, wherein we get an early drive of Toyota's forthcoming production fuel cell car, the Mirai, as well as Volkswagen's Passat HyMotion and Audi's A7 H-Tron. It's a hydrogen-happy look into the (possible) future of automotive propulsion all brought to you from the LA Auto Show.




2016 Ford Explorer configurator page screencap2016 Ford Explorer priced from $30,700*

Ford's refreshed and refocused 2016 Explorer is wading into the family crossover segment wearing the same starting price it wore last year – $30,700 (*plus $895 destination fee). However, the new model reaches higher upmarket than ever before with a new range-topping Platinum model that asks $52,600. A new configurator shows you the ins and outs of the Blue Oval's new kinschlepper.




Top Stories

Nissan will build just 45 examples of this 45th Anniversary GT-R

Posted Nov 26th 2014 7:00PM

Nissan GT-R 45th Anniversary Edition

It's been 45 years since the release of the original Nissan Skyline GT-R, so to celebrate, the Japanese automaker has announced this special commemorative edition.

Based on the newly updated 2015 Nissan GT-R in Premium trim, the 45th Anniversary edition is done up in a unique shade called Silica Brass – the same color as the legendary R34-gen 2001 Skyline GT-R M-Spec. It also comes with the requisite special badging inside and under the hood, but unfortunately, that's about the extent of the special touches applied to this celebratory model.

Nissan will only make 45 highly symbolic examples of this special edition, each to be sold on a strictly first-come, first-served basis. And unfortunately they'll be restricted to the Japanese market, where they'll each command a sticker price of 10,787,040 yen – equivalent to about $91,700 at today's rates, which is already a good ten grand less than what you'd pay for a standard GT-R in the US, anyway.

News Source: Nissan

Audi following Tesla with 280-mile EV family car

Posted Nov 26th 2014 6:30PM

The Audi R8 etron at the Silvretta Rally, front three-quarter view.

The press days are finished at the LA Auto Show, but things said there are still making news. While in California, Audi technical development chief Ulrich Hackenberg told reporters that his employer plans to release an electric car with a range of 280 miles "around 2017." Hackenberg wouldn't say what kind of car - or crossover, perhaps - it will be, but one report said it would be "a large car, fitting five large people with ample luggage space." Most observers expect it to be a sedan to take on the Tesla Model S.

It's no secret that Audi respects Tesla, and there have been hints that The House of Quattro is ready to really flex its progress-through-technology muscles in Tesla's direction. Audi will be applying lessons learned in the development of the coming R8 E-tron to the future electric car, after it managed to double the range of the electric sports car thanks to new battery technology to 450 kilometers, or 281 miles.

This puts another tentative all-electric Audi in the mix and another Tesla competitor, after rumors of a possible electric Q8 from February of this year. If an electric Q8 does happen, it's expected to be a challenger to the Tesla Model X. And that might not be all: Bloomberg reported in June that Audi had "devised blueprints for several high-performance electric saloons and sport-utility vehicles."

News Source: AutoExpress

Honda builds 300-millionth motorcycle, it's a Gold Wing

Posted Nov 26th 2014 5:45PM



Honda has been selling motorcycles in Japan since 1949. And it's been selling bikes to US customers since John Travolta had a paper route. Combine all those years, huge markets and great products, and apparently the number you come up with is 300,000,000. Wowza.

Starting with the iconic 98-cc Dream Type-D you see above, Honda announced that it has built its 300-millionth motorcycle this month. The company currently sells all manner of powersports goodness, of course – ATVs, side-by-sides and two-wheelers – at 32 facilities in 22 countries.

Honda motorcycles took our country by storm in the 1960s, taking the title as the best-selling bike brand in the world during that decade, largely on the back of the Honda 50 or "Super Cub" bike. Honda's success in the '60s also helped to justify the establishment its first manufacturing footprint in North America, in Marysville, OH in 1979.

The company mentions, in the press release you'll find below, that lucky number 300 million was a Gold Wing produced at the Kumamoto factory in Japan. We're celebrating that tidbit with a heaping helping of historic Gold Wing photography, in the gallery of Honda bikes, above.

Image Credit: Honda

Innovative dad creates dangerously impressive motocross swing

Posted Nov 26th 2014 4:58PM

Feast your eyes on the motoswing

You can make a swing out of just about anything: chain, rope, a plank of wood, even an old tire. But what if that tire is still attached to a motorized vehicle?

That's the question one enthusiastic father set out to answer when he hooked up a dirtbike to a rope and up to a tree in Burrillville, RI – a small town of 16,000 or so on the outskirts of Providence. His answer may not be the smartest or the most responsible, but it sure looks like fun. Let's just hope he doesn't let the kids play on it, because this strikes us as one of those things that's just bound to end with a trip to the emergency room.

News Source: yosip1115 via YouTube

Tesla in talks with BMW about batteries, charging collaborations

Posted Nov 26th 2014 4:28PM

Tesla Motor's New EV unveiled

With Toyota and Daimler no longer holding Tesla shares, the electric vehicle company might be looking for a new partner – possibly a Bavarian one. In a new interview with Germany's Der Spiegel, CEO Elon Musk confirmed that he has had talks with BMW execs about future collaboration.

"We are talking about whether we can collaborate in battery technology or charging stations," Musk said in the interview, according to Reuters. However, a Tesla spokesperson has tempered things by saying no formal agreements are in place at the moment.

In the same interview, Musk reportedly praised BMW's use of carbon-fiber-reinforced plastic in its i sub-brand offerings, and said he would like to have a battery factory in Germany in the next five or six years.

The possibility of technological cooperation between Tesla and BMW has been a hot topic this year. In June, Musk reportedly met with BMW execs, and the two companies were also rumored to have met with Nissan to discuss charging technology. When Daimler sold off its shares, there was talk of it opening the way for possible collaboration between the two automakers, as well.

News Source: Reuters

Image Credit: Ringo H.W. Chiu / AP Photo

Lexus RX replacement to debut in Detroit?

Posted Nov 26th 2014 3:59PM

2013 Lexus RX

The 2015 Detroit Auto Show is shaping up to be a big one for Lexus, with Group Vice President Jeff Bracken confirming to Ward's Auto that the Japanese luxury marque will have at least one, and possibly two, all-new-model introductions.

Ward's seems to think that one of those vehicles will be the new RX crossover, one of the brand's most popular (and oldest) offerings. The complete and utter lack of spy photos of the new RX doesn't necessarily support Ward's argument, although if the new CUV ends up being based on the JDM Toyota Harrier, as previously reported, the absence of camouflaged images might make some sense.

As for that other vehicle, it's hard to say what we might see. Were we to put our money on it, though, the long-awaited GS F would be a strong contender for a Detroit debut. The high-performance challenger to the BMW M5 and Mercedes-Benz E63 AMG has been spotted almost completely undisguised as recently as October. On top of that, Detroit's reputation as a performance-focused show (last year's show saw debuts of the Ford Mustang, BMW M3 and M4, Chevrolet Corvette Z06, Volkswagen Golf R and Porsche 911 Targa) makes the GS F's appearance there a fair bet.

One thing we can count on at least hearing about when Detroit rolls around is Lexus' strong sales position. The company's 2014 sales should crest 305,000 units by the end of the year, marking the first time the company had passed the 300,000-unit mark since 2007. Bracken told Ward's that should be an easy task, particularly with the brand's "best month of the year," December, still to come.
Related Gallery2013 Lexus RX350
2013 Lexus RX3502013 Lexus RX3502013 Lexus RX3502013 Lexus RX3502013 Lexus RX3502013 Lexus RX3502013 Lexus RX3502013 Lexus RX350

News Source: Ward's Auto

Image Credit: Lexus, CarPix

Mini phasing out Coupe, Roadster next year

Posted Nov 26th 2014 3:30PM

2012 Mini Cooper Coupe

With its previous generation, Mini went for a maximalist strategy, expanding its lineup to include seven derivatives. But with the new generation, BMW's retro Anglo-Saxon brand is shifting gears to a "superhero strategy" focusing on core models with volume sales potential rather than small niches.

That, according to the latest reports, will spell the end of the Coupe and Roadster models introduced in the outgoing generation. Speaking with AutoGuide at the LA Auto Show last week, Mini USA product planning chief Patrick McKenna confirmed that both the two-seat models "will actually go out of production next year" and that "they've run their life cycle."

Though we've yet to receive word on the future of the Paceman, we wouldn't hold our breath for its long-term prospects either. Under the new strategy, Mini is expected to focus more on models like the base Hardtop (now available with three or five doors) and the Countryman – which, between the two of them, account for roughly 75 percent of Mini sales, the other models slicing up the remaining quarter of the pie.

Will you miss them? Will these short-lived Minis become future collectibles, or will they be soon forgotten? Have your say in Comments.
Related Gallery2012 Mini Cooper Coupe
2012 Mini Cooper Coupe2012 Mini Cooper Coupe2012 Mini Cooper Coupe2012 Mini Cooper Coupe2012 Mini Cooper Coupe2012 Mini Cooper Coupe2012 Mini Cooper Coupe2012 Mini Cooper Coupe

News Source: AutoGuide

Ken Box 2 is cardboard drifting greatness

Posted Nov 26th 2014 2:58PM

Ken Box Gymkhana  2

If imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, then Ken Block must spend a lot of time blushing. At this point, the videos online that parody or take inspiration from the drifter's Gymkhana series vastly outnumber his authentic output. That's not necessarily a bad thing, though, as some of the clips are nearly as good as the original in their own way. Case in point: last year's Ken Box Gymkhana had a guy on a Razor Crazy Cart covered in a cardboard box with dubbed-in sound drifting through a warehouse. It made the little vehicles look like a ton of fun to drive, and the team has returned for a sequel to take the stunts even further.

This time, Box is back on his Crazy Cart, but the setting moves outdoors to a shipping yard full of containers and other obstacles to drift around. The driver makes full use of the cart's handbrake and caster wheels for the stunts, and some of them look pretty dangerous this time, including one that involves a moving truck. The real Ken Block has been doing some crazy things of is own as of late, flinging his crazy custom Ford Mustang restomod around Los Angeles. Now, check out this video to see the fun possible for a fraction of that power and investment.

News Source: Crazy Cart TV via YouTube

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