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2015 BMW i8 sets everyone's tongues wagging in Northern Michigan

Posted Oct 31st 2014 2:15PM

2015 BMW i8 in Northern Michigan's Tunnel of Trees

2015 BMW i8 parked in front of Good Hart General StoreLike few other cars we can remember, people want to talk about the 2015 BMW i8. Drive one, and you'll soon find out what we mean. They stop you at gas stations. They accost you in Walgreen's parking lots. They stream out of neighborhood bars, beers in hand.

At least, that was our experience this week during Autoblog's Technology of the Year testing. We had the pleasure of driving the plug-in hybrid BMW sports car up to and around Petoskey, MI, a resort town where seeing such exotics is rare enough, let alone in the off season. It made for some interesting conversations – so we began writing down some of the comments the butterfly-doored coupe inspired. Here's a sampling:
  • "Wanna race for pinks? I'll go easy on you." – Acne-covered teenage pizza delivery driver in a sad-looking Ford Taurus parked at a Valero gas station near Grayling (which incidentally didn't actually have gas).
  • The proprietor of the Good Hart General Store, a quaint food emporium/post office nestled into the area's famed M-119 'Tunnel of Trees' route, gestured toward me and then said to a woman in the store: "I've almost got him talked into $5,000 and my Jeep." Her laughing response: "Yeah, bullshit!"
  • "Is that a 'boy car' or a 'girl car'?" – Female cashier at Pond Hill Farm, a farm/pumpkin patch/trout pond/tasting room/pickler/pig race complex.
  • "Is that a Lamborghini, or is that a Ferrari?" – Father with son carrying pumpkins.
  • "Well, you must be quite pleased with yourself." *Pauses and again looks at i8* "Understandably." – 20-something woman carrying a tiny sweatered dog.
  • "That looks like you're driving the future." – Walgreen's clerk who followed us out to the parking lot after we stopped to buy some pens.
  • "I have to ask, with that gorgeous car, are ya'll lost?" – Friendly patrol officer who followed us for eight miles through the Tunnel of Trees, only to turn around and question us in front of the Legs Inn.
In short, this road-bound flying saucer attracts more attention than any exotic we've driven. We're just glad it's so good to drive, or all the impromptu conversations it inspired would've been a lot more awkward.

Image Credit: Copyright 2014 AOL

Hyundai/Kia's Prius rival to arrive by 2017

Posted Oct 31st 2014 1:29PM

Hyundai Prius-fighter spy shots

The Toyota Prius is the undisputed king of the hybrid market, but Hyundai and Kia are hoping to challenge its reign in the coming years with their own dedicated model. However, in all likelihood this is the same technology being shared between them. "We will take the lead in the future by raising the competitiveness of our environment-friendly cars like hybrid-only cars, plug-in hybrid cars and fuel cell hydrogen cars," Hyundai Motor CEO Kim Choong-ho said to Reuters, during the launch of another vehicle in South Korea.

While Kim didn't say when the model would be ready, Autocar in Europe spoke to people at Kia, who said that the company's own hybrid was two years away and codenamed the DE. The initial vehicle is reportedly a five-door hatchback that's about 169-inches long, with more conventional styling than the Prius. Its powertrain is reportedly based around a 1.6-liter engine with electric assist. A plug-in version might follow later, and other bodystyles on the platform are possible. A recently spotted test mule might show the current state of development on the project (pictured above).

According to Reuters, the decision for the new vehicle comes in order to meet tighter emissions in some markets. However, it seems like a challenging move for the US market. Hyundai already sells its Tucson fuel cell in limited quantities and the Sonata hybrid, and Kia has the Optima hybrid and Soul EV. Industry analysts are also predicting that hybrids might have a hard time versus internal combustion engines in the coming years. In addition, Toyota is rumored to get fuel economy close to 60 miles per gallon for some versions of the next Prius. All of these factors make selling the models here a potentially difficult undertaking.

News Source: Reuters, Autocar

Image Credit: Glenn Paulina / KGP Photograhpy

An inside look at Mopar's SEMA fleet

Jeeps, Rams And A Viper Head For Las Vegas

Posted Oct 31st 2014 12:45PM



Mopar is heading to the SEMA show in Las Vegas with a fleet of customized vehicles that appeal to enthusiasts of all stripes. There's a Dodge Viper ACR concept that follows in the lineage of the supercar's great road racing past, and a custom Ram ProMaster that might just be the ultimate outdoor party machine.

We got an inside look at Mopar's cars that will be on display at the show, which also include a Dodge Challenger T/A concept, two crazy Jeeps and a Ram 2500 Outdoorsman that could change the way you camp. While these are some of our favorites, Mopar is bringing plenty to SEMA, so let us know your top choices in the comments section.

Five cursed and haunted cars

From Franz Ferdinand To James Dean, Things That Go Honk In The Night

Posted Oct 31st 2014 11:57AM

fog in the city

Any kid lucky enough to grow up in Detroit is familiar with the Henry Ford Museum. It's huge, full of shiny things and a great place to take a child and let them burn off some energy. After several field trips and weekend outings however, the dusty concept vehicles and famous aircraft tend to lose their punch for youngsters. As a fifth grader, I was already gazing on the museum's many gems with glassy eyes. On yet another school trip, we made our way to John F. Kennedy's death car, a gleaming black Lincoln limo. The aging volunteer docent told our little group something I had never heard before.

"You know, this car is haunted. Several employees have reported seeing a gray presence right here," he said, pointing to the back passenger side seat.

I perked up. Now here was something I had never heard before. A haunted car? Sure, it happened in Goosebumps, but this was real life. It made sense, in a way. Cars can be violent, emotional places. That's certainly the case with JFK's limo, as well as the other four cars on this list. And maybe those gut-wrenching deaths can permanently doom a car.

Image Credit: The Surrey Advertiser, Wikicommons, Getty, Wikicommons, Renault

Is Land Rover developing an all-electric Tesla Model X rival?

Posted Oct 31st 2014 11:30AM

Land Rover Range Rover Hybrid

Tesla will soon put its all-electric Model X crossover on sale, and if it's anywhere near as successful as the brand's four-door sedan the Model S, then it'll be a hell of an attention getter for mainstream automakers. Land Rover isn't waiting for proof of the Model X's success, though.

According to reports, Land Rover could be preparing an all-electric Range Rover. Likely more crossover than full-size SUV, the new vehicle would probably be far more aerodynamic than current models. But the new EV would still take advantage of LR's high-tech aluminum structure, and could potentially be a close relative of the production Jaguar C-X17, according to Autocar.

It seems unlikely that this new Land Rover EV will have the off-road chops of the brand's other models, but that doesn't mean that will be useless on the rough stuff. AC, citing Land Rover design boss Gerry McGovern, claims that a height-adjustable air suspension will allow a low, aerodynamic ride height for high-speed travel while it can easily be transitioned to a higher level for off-road duty.

As for range, AC believes (and we agree) that a successful effort would need to get as close as possible to the Model S' 265-mile EV range.

Autocar is anticipating a price of around 90,000 pounds, equivalent to $144,000, which roughly matches the cost of a UK-market Model S. If the Range Rover EV comes stateside, we'd wager that prices will start under six figures, much like the US-market Tesla.

News Source: Autocar

Image Credit: Copyright 2014 Noah Joseph / AOL

NHTSA fines Ferrari $3.5 million for missing reports

Posted Oct 31st 2014 11:02AM



Ferrari will pay a $3.5 million penalty for family to comply with oversight requirements set forth by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

The federal agency that oversees road safety in the United States announced Friday morning that Ferrari had not submitted early warning reports for the past three years. These reports help the agency identify potential or existing safety threats.

In the wake of the rolling recalls for defective General Motors ignition switches, there has been considerable scrutiny of NHTSA's handling – or mishandling – of these early warning reports. Friday's fine is an indication the agency is taking its enforcement mandates more seriously, albeit against a manufacturer that has no large-scale presence on American roads.

"There is no excuse for failing to follow laws created to keep drivers safe," US Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx said in a written statement, "and our aggressive enforcement action today underscores the point that all automakers will be held accountable if they fail to do their part in our mission to keep Americans safe on the road."

Federal law requires manufacturers to file EWR reports quarterly, and NHTSA officials say Ferrari failed to do so for three years and also failed to report three fatal accidents. As a small-volume manufacturer, Ferrari wasn't required to submit the quarterly reports until it fell under the Fiat banner in 2011, though it has always needed to report fatal accidents.

In a statement, Ferrari spokesperson Krista Florin said the missed reporters were inadvertent, and that Ferrari had implemented new procedures to "ensure full compliance in the future."

Ford Transit customs ready to work for SEMA

Posted Oct 31st 2014 10:15AM

Ford Transit Vegas Off-Road Experience Transit

Ford Designed Travel TransitFord's booth at the SEMA Show this year looks to have two, big themes. The Blue Oval is bringing over a dozen takes on the 2015 Mustang to the event, and it's now also announcing five customized versions on the 2015 Transit to join the modded pony cars. Each of the vans shows off a different use for the spacious commercial vehicle, from plush luxury to offroad ruggedness.

You probably don't think of the Transit as hitting the trails, but that's just what the take on the design from the Vegas Off-Road Experience (pictured above) is for. The company gives people the opportunity to drive a desert race truck, and this custom is meant to drive them to events. It should be able to take on the terrain a little better with off-road wheels and tires and fender flares, but inside passengers get serious luxury thanks to a 60-inch LED TV and video game systems.

Alternatively the blazing red Designed Travel Transit (right) is all about long road trips. The interior features four captain's chairs with heating, cooling and massage functions, and there's a 4K 50-inch TV to watch. For a touch of added class, the floor is made from hickory.

Ford Formula DRIFT TransitFormula Drift is going purely for function with its Transit (left). It's meant to be a support vehicle during competitions, and the interior is packed with fire and safety equipment, plus a Kawasaki Mule support vehicle. The series actually plans to use this custom during events next year.

Detroit Custom Coach wanted a vehicle for VIP travel in the city. It seats eight and features a cocktail bar, wood floor and TVs inside.

Finally, Galpin Auto Sports is displaying its Transit Skyliner yet again. It's basically the ultimate in luxury cruising with four captain's chairs, a bar and a 52-inch retractable movie screen with 7.2 surround system. There's even matching luggage. Scroll down to read all of the details about this quintet of customs in Ford's official press release.

News Source: Ford

Porsche Panamera Exclusive Series to debut in LA for $260k

Posted Oct 31st 2014 9:30AM

2015 Porsche Panamera Exclusive Series

Driving a Porsche should feel like a privileged experience. But if you need one with extra space in the back, and have been turned off by the success of the Panamera that has made it ubiquitous, you may be intrigued by Porsche's latest reveal.

Set to debut at the Los Angeles Auto Show, the new Panamera Exclusive Series stands out with some unique touches. It's based on the top-of-the-line Panamera Turbo S Executive, which tells you it comes with the 4.8-liter twin-turbo V8 in top 570-horsepower spec, but also with the extended wheelbase that provides for extra space in the otherwise crowded rear seat. And that's not all.

Porsche Exclusive has also given this special-edition Panamera a unique two-tone black and brown paintjob, a set of 20-inch Sport Classic wheels painted black, and an interior done up in Nappa leather – two-tone black and brown to compliment the exterior – with dark walnut and piano black trim and a pair of 10.1-inch rear-seat touchscreens.

Porsche will only offer 100 examples worldwide, each individually numbered and equipped with a set of fitted Poltrona Frau leather luggage – all yours for $263,900 (plus $995 destination). That makes it over $63k more than the base price on the Panamera Turbo S Executive that was already the most expensive model Porsche offers this side of the 918 Spyder (pipping even the 911 Turbo S Cabrio) and also one of the most expensive four-doors on the market.

News Source: Porsche

Land Rover to build Discovery Sport at new Brazilian factory

Posted Oct 31st 2014 8:45AM

Land Rover Discovery Sport in Sao Paulo

Looking forward to getting your mitts on a new Land Rover Discovery Sport? Well you should, because it promises to be a markedly better product than the Freelander/LR2 it replaces. Just don't assume it will necessarily be built in the UK, as just about every Land Rover has in the company's 66-year history.

The new Discovery Sport (pictured above in Sao Paulo) will, of course, be built in the UK, at the Halewood plant where the Evoque is made and which has in the past handled the Freelander, the Jaguar X-Type and a variety of Fords. But it will also be assembled for local consumption at JLR's new factory in Changsu, China. And, according to the press release down below, it will also be made for the Latin American market at the new factory being built in Brazil.

The new plant is being built in Itatiaia on the outskirts of Rio de Janeiro and will come online in 2016. Once it gets up to speed by the end of 2020, it will have the capacity to build 24,000 vehicles each year, ratcheting its workforce up from 400 when it opens to nearly 1,000 when all's said and done.

The Discovery Sport will be one of the products made there for the local market, but it surely won't be the only one. As in China, we expect the Evoque will be built there as well, and we wouldn't be surprised to see the new Jaguar XE join it in the near future, either. Don't expect the Brazilian-made vehicles to be sold in the US, though: those will likely still be imported from the UK... at least, that is, until the facility said to be under consideration for the southern United States opens its doors.

News Source: Land Rover

Hyundai beefs up HB20 R-Spec in Brazil

Posted Oct 31st 2014 7:59AM

Hyundai HB20 R-Spec Concept

If you've been following the news from the Sao Paulo Motor Show, you'll likely have seen not only a series of new concept cars, but also a whole mess of production vehicles you never knew existed because they were developed specifically for the Latin American market. One of them is the Hyundai HB20.

Hyundai Brasil makes the HB20 in Sao Paulo for local consumption in three forms: there's the HB20 hatchback, HB20S sedan and HB20X crossover. It's the former which it has transformed into the R-Spec concept you see here.

Decked out in matte blue, the HB20 R-Spec concept packs an aggressively upgraded aero kit, extra cooling ducts, 17-inch alloys, LED headlights and an interior with leather trim and striped seats. Even if we don't know what's under the hood, it all looks pretty convincing, and makes us wish Hyundai would offer it Stateside as part of the Accent family with which it shares its underpinnings.

News Source: Hyundai via Autoweek.nl

On the trail of the Aston Martin racer who helped change WWII

Posted Oct 30th 2014 8:00PM

Jock Horsfall, MI5

Arguably one of the most crucial operations of the second World War, Operation Mincemeat was a British disinformation mission responsible for misdirecting Axis forces towards Greece and Sardinia, and in turn, opening up the Italian island of Sicily. That led to the downfall of Italian dictator Benito Mussolini and opened up the soft underbelly of Hitler's Third Reich.

While we won't go into all the details of Operation Mincemeat (it really is worth studying, though), an integral aspect required the transport of a dead body from Hackney, London, 400 miles north to Holy Loch, Scotland as quickly as possible. The corpse, which was disguised as a major in the Royal Marines and loaded with faux sensitive documents pointing to a landing in Greece, needed to be appropriately fresh. That's where Aston Martin racing driver turned MI5 operative Jock Horsfall came into play.

The body was loaded into Horsfall's customized 1937 Fordson van, and hustled north. For the rest of the story, you'll need to take a look at Xcar's recapping of Horsfall's fateful journey while at the helm of an Aston Martin Vanquish Volante, the far more civilized successor to the English legend's black 2 Litre Speed.

News Source: XCARFilms via YouTube

What you missed on 10.30.14

Posted Oct 30th 2014 7:30PM

uturn

Review: 2015 Cadillac ATS Coupe

The Cadillac ATS Coupe is a good handling, well appointed sporting machine... that looks a lot like its four-door sibling. After a week-long test run with Caddy's newest deuce, we hash out what its like to live with, and ask ourselves if this ATS feels special enough to run with the mainline European competition.





How not to give away a Chevy Colorado

Chevy regional manager Rikk Wilde has seemed to let the big stage get the better of him last evening, bumbling his delivery when presenting the keys to a new Chevy Colorado to World Series MVP Madison Bumgarner. Wilde's extolling of the truck's virtues included it's "technology and stuff" along with some other sweaty-palmed moments, all captured on video. The good news: later today this story got a happy ending.




Cadillac's SRX-replacing XT5 is underway

If you're a member of the Cadillac SRX Fan Club, get ready to make new t-shirts. The American luxury brand seems to be prepping the new crossover that will live in the SRX's old lineup spot, this time wearing the all new XT5 badge (as part of Caddy's larger naming refresh). Our boys with the expensive telephoto lenses checked in with our first look at the XT5, here.




Top Stories

Mazda6 Coupe coming along with more Mazdaspeed models?

Posted Oct 30th 2014 7:00PM

Mazda Shinari Concept

The predecessor to the Mazda6, the Mazda 626, was sold in a multitude of body styles across the globe. It could, of course, be had as a sedan, but a two-door coupe, known stateside as the MX-6, was also available on the same platform. Now, a new report from Motor Trend claims that a two-door version of the modern Mazda6 could be on the way.

This would be remarkable for a number of reasons, as automakers have been abandoning this type of non-luxury coupe for decades. A class that counted entries from Toyota, Nissan, Chevrolet, Dodge and Chrysler is now occupied solely by Honda with its Accord Coupe.

Ignoring that, though, MT claims we'll see a two-door Mazda6 in the second half of 2016. When that new variant arrives, it will be with an even more dramatic version of the sedan's Kodo design language. Mazda could rely even more heavily on styling inspiration of the Shinari Concept, which already informs the design of the current 6 sedan, when the two-door model arrives.

As for the eagerly anticipated, third-generation Mazdaspeed3, we'll also be waiting until 2016 for that one, according to MT. When it arrives, though, it should be appropriately wild, offering up 300 turbocharged horsepowers from a blown, 2.5-liter Skyactiv four-cylinder engine. Unlike the past two MS3s, the next-gen model will reportedly (finally) adopt all-wheel drive, likely in the form of some lightweight contraption. As if that's not enough good news, Motor Trend also seems to think a Mazdaspeed2 and a reborn Mazdaspeed6 are on the way. It scarcely needs mentioning, but we're doing our happy dance over this news.

News Source: Motor Trend

Image Credit: Copyright 2014 Drew Phillips / AOL

Hyundai sells its 10,000,000th Elantra

Posted Oct 30th 2014 6:14PM

2014 Hyundai Elantra

There aren't many nameplates that have sold over 10 million units in the history of the automotive industry. In fact there have only been ten, and now Hyundai has joined the list for the first time with the Elantra.

Launched 24 years ago, the Elantra has far and away been Hyundai's top selling model. Now in its fifth generation, the Elantra is sold as a coupe, sedan and wagon, and under the Avante name in its home market. It's one of the top selling cars in the world, and Hyundai has earned the right to crow that it has sold its 10,000,000 of them globally. That means that, on average, Hyundai has sold more than 45 new Elantras every hour of every day of every year since its introduction in 1990.

Other models in the 10 Million Club include the Toyota Corolla, Honda Civic, VW Beetle and Golf, and the Ford Model T and F-Series. The latter might still be considered the most impressive, selling over 34 million units – the vast majority in the US – to be America's top-selling vehicle for over 30 years running.
Related Gallery2014 Hyundai Elantra
2014 Hyundai Elantra2014 Hyundai Elantra2014 Hyundai Elantra2014 Hyundai Elantra2014 Hyundai Elantra2014 Hyundai Elantra2014 Hyundai Elantra2014 Hyundai Elantra

News Source: Hyundai

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