Skip to main content

We obsessively cover the auto industry…

30 New Articles in the last 24 hours Hide

Quick Spin
2015 Chevrolet Corvette Stingray [UPDATE]

  • Quick Spin
    2015 Chevrolet Corvette Stingray [UPDATE]
  • Opinion
    This Or That: Fiat 500 Abarth vs. Ford Fiesta ST [w/poll]
  • Quick Spin
    Nissan NV200 Taxi
  • Podcast
    Autoblog Podcast #393
Tip Us

FIA says FRIC no to trick suspensions in F1

Posted Aug 21st 2014 1:32PM

Pastor Maldonado's Lotus at the 2014 Monaco Grand Prix

There are few fields in the world where you'll find engineers working as feverishly as they do in Formula One. With races sometimes won and lost by fractions of a second, every little bit counts, so each team retains legions of engineers, all dedicated to finding the tiniest performance edge... without running afoul of the ever-constricting regulations.

This season, one of the most controversial advances has been known as FRIC, and while it's been effectively sidelined for the last few races, reports from the motorsport press indicate that is has now officially been banned by the FIA.

So just what is FRIC? It stands for Front and Rear Inter-Connected suspension. Now, if you're thinking that independent suspensions are the most advanced form available, you're right, but F1 teams have been toying for years with ways to interlink the suspensions at each wheel. Why, you ask? For a number of reasons. For one, it allows for redistribution of suspension dive at the front or rear, which means that under hard braking or acceleration – when the car would either pitch back or forward – the car can be kept more stable. That, in turn, means not only are all four tires loaded evenly and optimally, but the team can also run a more aggressive aero package. It also means that the car can be set up with a softer suspension, allowing the driver to attack the curbs more aggressively, without sacrificing underbody aerodynamics.

Several teams had been running FRIC systems that move hydraulic fluid between the front and rear suspensions, but voluntarily agreed to cease using them for the last two races at Hockenheim and Budapest. Now, the FIA, having apparently deemed FRIC an unfair advantage in contravention of the sporting regulations, has reportedly banned the system altogether. So while those cars may not be running on an even keel any more, at least they'll all be on an even playing field.

Xcar takes a closer look at the electrifying Renovo Coupe

Posted Aug 21st 2014 1:01PM

Renovo Shelby electric car

Xcar Films went to Pebble Beach and gave ex-Intel engineer and Renovo Motors CEO Christopher Heiser a platform to talk about his new electric supercar based on the Shelby Daytona Coupe. The relevant nuggets: 500 horsepower and 1,000 pound-feet of torque from direct-drive twin sequential axial flux motors powered by a lithium-ion battery, 0 to 60 in 3.4 seconds, top speed over 120 mph, 2,500 pounds, $529,000 to purchase.

While Heiser spends almost six minutes talking about the car and what it means to him, almost all of it is information we already know. When he gets to the bits that perk our ears, like when the mentions of advanced technology and upgraded parts, he skips the details. After four years of having to drive it at night to keep the secret, we don't even get to see more of what's inside, much less a daytime run with the Xcar chaps.

So we'll look forward to the next installment. In the meantime, this one's another beautiful entry in the Xcar catalog.

News Source: XCAR Films via YouTube

Image Credit: Copyright 2014 Drew Phillips / AOL

This Or That: Fiat 500 Abarth vs. Ford Fiesta ST [w/poll]

Which Hot Hatch Is Best? We Argue It Out...

Posted Aug 21st 2014 12:31PM

Fiat vs Ford

They're pretty darn similar. And yet our views are oh so different.

If you guys could read the transcripts of our editors' chat room, you'd know that we're a pretty argumentative bunch. It's always good-spirited stuff (well, usually), but when we're not obsessively covering this or that, we're usually fighting about one car being better than another. We're all enthusiasts here, and our automotive tastes run the gamut from the weird and unusual to the decidedly mainstream – we all feel strongly about specific cars in a given segment. While it usually makes for good conversation, if we're passionate enough, it can turn into a tomato-throwing showdown.

I'm pretty well-known 'round these parts as the hot hatch guy, and anyone who's listened to the Autoblog Podcast recently has heard me rave about lovely little turbo cars like the Volkswagen GTI or Ford Fiesta ST, specifically. But I'm not the only one with a burning desire for some functional, affordable performance goodness – every one of us can find a hot hatch or two to really get behind.

In that spirit, we're kicking off our new This Or That segment with a discussion about my favorite class of car. For my money and thrills, nothing beats the Ford Fiesta ST. But ask managing editor Jeremy Korzeniewski the same question, and he'll cast a vote for the Fiat 500 Abarth. I think he's dead wrong, of course, but on the contrary, Jeremy scoffs at the level of my love for Ford's pint-sized puncher.

So, who's right? Read through our arguments below, vote in our poll, and sound off with your own opinion in the Comments.

Nissan NV200 Taxi

Gypsy Cabbing In Nissan's Plucky People Mover

Posted Aug 21st 2014 11:57AM



"You're a long way from home!"

When I signed up to drive a pre-production version of the Nissan NV200 Taxi, I expected to have a higher-than-normal level of interaction with the public at large. However, while I was hoping for unsuspecting Ann Arborites to perhaps hail me down, or maybe even get a hop-in when stopped at an intersection, I didn't really think I'd be hassled in parking lots so much. And yet, almost as if all of the Dad-Joke energy in the universe was drawn to my tall, yellow ride, seemingly everywhere I parked I heard some iteration of the phrase above.

Har har, guys.

So, my week as a taxi driver didn't go as I'd planned – not a single fare was earned. But I did get a good sense for why and how Nissan is making another significant push into the workaday world of commercial vehicles.

Driving Notes
  • My NV200 test vehicle wore a 2013 model year designation but was technically specified as a 2014 taxi model with New York City livery.
  • Though Nissan NV200 taxis are popping up, or about to, in markets all over the country, my test car was liveried for New York City where the model is now in service. It was NYC taxis and other fleet cars that honed the NV into the vehicle you see here; cabbies and passengers helped tailor its content to fit real needs.
  • From a passenger perspective, this means the luxury of room, if not luxurious materials. The rear bench seat has acres of legroom to go with just enough width to fit three abreast. There's also room for a fourth passenger in the front, though that sorry sucker will miss out on amenities like a really big rear entertainment screen (sadly non-functional in my demo car) and easily accessible 12-volt and USB charging ports. There are even independent climate controls for passengers that get too hot or cold.
  • As I mentioned, materials and surfaces tend towards durable and not stylish. Nissan tells me that the simulated leather seating surfaces are easy to clean, which I can believe, and also anti-microbial, which seems like a great idea. One extra effort against cold and flu season.
  • The driver's seat, meanwhile, has a breathable cloth surface on the seat bottom and back that is also a little bit grippy, for what it's worth. The seat itself is pretty flat and soft, perhaps designed to wear well, but it won't be the most supportive chair for long stints behind the wheel.
  • The driver also faces one of the most austere dashboards and instrument clusters I've seen in some time – though that's hardly unexpected for a work vehicle. The 5.8-inch infotainment display is unspectacular in view of regular passenger cars, but is kind of a high-end feature in this segment. Everything else, from the hard-surfaced steering wheel to the flinty gray and black plastics and the basic switchgear all seems aimed at long life and cost reduction.
  • Handling is actually very direct and nippy for the tall-but-short (wheelbase) NV200. Quick steering allows for easy maneuverability, both at low speeds and between lanes, and forward and lateral visibility are excellent, allowing for confident swashbuckling with traffic. Comparisons with the outgoing Ford Transit Connect are apt, and accurate.
  • And the powertrain? Well, I'll just say that each one of the 16-valve, 2.0-liter four's 131 horsepower are called into regular service. That power output, with 139 pound-feet of torque, is enough to move this little van around in city traffic without major penalty, but your 85-year-old, Lincoln Towncar-driving grandpa wouldn't be fooled into calling it "quick." Mat the throttle, listen to the continuously variable transmission let the engine drone, and check you watch – you're not going anywhere terribly soon. Hey, it's a taxi, not a racecar.
  • Fuel economy is rated at 24 miles per gallon in the city (25 on the highway), which is about double what the ubiquitous Ford Crown Victoria cab is regularly reported as getting in service. Though it's fair to mention those figures are less impressive than those observed by the Ford Escape Hybrid cabs that have seen an explosion of popularity in NYC.
  • I'm hardly an expert, but this NV taxi feels as though it's smartly constructed for drivers and fleet companies, while still offering easy, comfortable transport for riders like you and me. And if you happened to see a version in Michigan, wearing NYC stickers and being driven by a large Dutchman, flag it down – you'll probably get a free ride and a high-five.

Vital Stats

Engine:
2.0L I4
Power:
131 HP / 139 LB-FT
Transmission:
CVT
Base Price:
$29,700

Image Credit: Copyright 2014 Seyth Miersma / AOL

Lincoln Navigator facelift only has to last until 2016 replacement

Posted Aug 21st 2014 11:30AM

2015 Lincoln Navigator

The Navigator is not only Lincoln's longest-serving nameplate – dating back to 1998 when the final Town Car was introduced – but it's also the oldest model still in the brand's portfolio. The current Navigator arrived on the market in 2007, and underwent a refresh just a few months ago for the 2015 model year. The updates were subtle, but if you're waiting for an all-new model, it's just a couple of years down the road.

According to Automotive News, Lincoln is already working on an all-new replacement for the current, long-serving Navigator, which will be revealed two years from now in the middle of 2016 as a 2017 model. At that point, we're expecting it could switch (alongside the Expedition) to the new aluminum architecture introduced on the Ford F-150, seeing as how the current model is based on the old F-150.

In the meantime, the refreshed Navigator ditches the big 5.4-liter Triton V8 in favor of a more economical 3.5-liter EcoBoost V6, and wages war in two wheelbase lengths against the V8-powered competition in the form of the Cadillac Escalade (and Escalade ESV), the Land Cruiser-based Lexus LX and the Infiniti QX80, which is based on the overseas Nissan Patrol.
Related Gallery2015 Lincoln Navigator
2015 Lincoln Navigator2015 Lincoln Navigator2015 Lincoln Navigator2015 Lincoln Navigator2015 Lincoln Navigator2015 Lincoln Navigator2015 Lincoln Navigator2015 Lincoln Navigator

Lotus said to be planning new sedan, crossover [w/poll]

Posted Aug 21st 2014 11:00AM

Lotus Eterne Concept

Lotus has been in limbo in recent years. After former CEO Dany Bahar revealed his plans to build six new models, its parent company was sold, Bahar was sacked, his plans were canceled and a new CEO was hired in the form of former Peugeot chief Jean-Marc Gales. The industry has been waiting ever since to find out what Gales would do with the storied marque, and now we seem to have some indication.

Reports coming in from Malaysia indicate that Jean-Marc presented to the board of parent company Proton a plan for Lotus to build a new sedan and crossover. Though details are scarce, and may seem downright blasphemous for an automaker that built is reputation on lightweight sports cars, it would not be the first time that the House that Colin Built has toyed with either idea.

The company presented the APX crossover concept at the 2006 Geneva Motor Show, and the Eterne sedan concept as part of Bahar's far-reaching plans at the 2010 Paris Motor Show. The new plans may use these concepts as starting points or could go another direction entirely.

Of course Lotus would not be the first sports car manufacturer to branch out into sedans and CUVs. Porsche has done both with great success. Lamborghini has presented concepts for both as well. And Maserati is well on its way to expanding its lineup with two new sedans already on the market and a crossover soon to follow. Aston Martin already offers a four-door and has toyed with the idea of a crossover as well, and even Bugatti has showcased sedan concepts, which would seem to leave dedicated supercar manufacturers like Ferrari and McLaren (not to mention the likes of Pagani and Koenigsegg) as the only holdouts that won't entertain the notion.

Should Lotus build a crossover and/or sedan?

Related GalleryLotus Eterne Concept
Lotus Eterne ConceptLotus Eterne ConceptLotus Eterne ConceptLotus Eterne ConceptLotus Eterne ConceptLotus Eterne ConceptLotus Eterne ConceptLotus Eterne Concept

News Source: Utusan via Motor Authority

Image Credit: Lotus

2015 Ford Mustang fuel economy ratings leaked

Posted Aug 21st 2014 10:30AM

2015 Ford Mustang GT

Thinking about buying a new Mustang, but want to know what kind of fuel economy it'll get? Well we have our first indication as the pony-car enthusiasts over at Mustang6G.com have gotten a hold of the Monroney window stickers for a few of the new 2015 Mustang models.

Although the V8 model is not among them, we can now see how the EPA has rated those models with a half dozen pistons or less. The Mustang EcoBoost with the turbo four and a manual transmission has been rated at 22 miles per gallon in the city and 31 on the highway. The V6 manual gets 17 city and 28 highway, while the V6 automatic squeezes out a bit more in the city at 19 mpg but carries the same 28 highway rating.

By way of comparison, the latest Chevy Camaro with the V6 and a stick shift gets the same 17/28 EPA rating as a similarly equipped new 'Stang, and the V6 automatic Camaro gets 18/27 (slightly behind the Ford, but if you opt for the Camaro 2LS with its V6, automatic and 2.92 rear axle ratio, you'll be looking at 19 and 30).

Dodge doesn't offer a manual on the six-cylinder Challenger, but with the new eight-speed automatic, it gets the same 19/30 rating as the Camaro 2LS, both better than the six-cylinder, automatic Mustang on the highway – though the EcoBoost has, as expected, emerged as the most fuel-efficient pony car on the market.
Related Gallery2015 Ford Mustang GT
2015 Ford Mustang GT2015 Ford Mustang GT2015 Ford Mustang GT2015 Ford Mustang GT2015 Ford Mustang GT2015 Ford Mustang GT2015 Ford Mustang GT2015 Ford Mustang GT

News Source: Mustang6G.com

Honda fixes Fit flaw, improves performance on key crash test [w/video]

Honda To Offer 12,000 Owners Free Fitment Of Upgraded Bumper Design

Posted Aug 21st 2014 10:00AM



The Fit's grade on the small-front overlap test improved from "marginal" to "acceptable."

Back in March, safety engineers at Honda were disappointed when the much-anticipated 2015 Fit received a substandard grade on an important crash test conducted by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety.

They thought they had reinforced a steel bumper beam that runs behind the front fascia of the vehicle. But it had broke free in the impact, and the result was much more of the crash energy being absorbed on the driver's side of the car.

So Honda did something unusual. Even as this new-generation Fit started arriving in showrooms, the engineers raced to redesign the front of the car, and then asked IIHS to re-test the vehicle.

The result: The Fit's grade on the small-front overlap test improved from "marginal" on the earlier test to "acceptable," a result that IIHS announced Thursday morning. Because the Fit had already received 'good' marks on the organization's four other crash tests, the Fit will now earn the 'Top Safety Pick' overall title, the IIHS' second-highest ranking.

Image Credit: IIHS | Copyright 2014 Steven J. Ewing / AOL

BMW reveals new X5 Security Plus in Moscow

Posted Aug 21st 2014 9:31AM

BMW X5 Security Plus

A major player in the Russian market, BMW is heading to the Moscow Motor Show this month with a slew of local debuts... most of which we've already seen. But among all the new models making the trek from Bavaria to Moscow will be the new X5 Security Plus.

In a new-model launch that will surprise exactly no one, BMW's latest armored vehicle upgrades the X5 with enhanced protection for oligarchs against Chechen rebels, AK47-touting gangsters and missiles randomly falling on Crimean highways. Now meeting the VR6 standard of ballistic protection, the new X5 Security Plus incorporates reinforced bodywork, seats and joints, along with bulletproof glass.

Of course all that reinforcement (not to mention the jars of beluga caviar and bottles of Stoli in the glovebox) will come with a weight penalty, but the 4.4-liter twin-turbo V8 ought to do the trick, driving 450 horsepower through BMW's xDrive all-wheel-drive system to get the vehicle's occupants out of a war zone in a hurry.

News Source: BMW

2015 Chevy Silverado Rally Edition misunderstands black tie, dons it anyway

Posted Aug 21st 2014 9:00AM

2015 Chevy Silverado Rally Edition

In terms of dress code, "black tie" events are rather ritzy affairs. For men, that means a black jacket (sans tails), a black bowtie and a white dress shirt. Chevrolet, though, has fitted a black tie to the automotive equivalent of a tuxedo t-shirt – the Silverado pickup. The Detroit-based manufacturer is swapping out the gold bowtie badge of its bread-and-butter pickup for a black item, as part of a pair of new styling packages known as the Rally 1 and Rally 2 Editions.

The Rally 1 pack adds a body colored grille, and blacked-out Chevy logo, door handles and mirror caps, as well as a pair of black rally stripes to the LS trim. LT buyers will also get 17-inch aluminum wheels, a trailering pack, locking rear differential, rear defroster and a backup camera.

The Rally 2 Edition is limited to the higher-end LT truck and adds the Rally 1 tweaks, as well as 22-inch black wheels, black side steps, 10-way power driver's seat, dual-zone climate control, remote start, a backup camera, and rear defroster.

The base engine for the Rally Editions will be Chevy's 4.3-liter V6, although buyers can ditch that 285-horsepower, 305-pound-foot mill for the 355-hp, 5.3-liter V8. Customers will also be able to choose between double and crew-cab models, although the former will hit dealers first, with orders opening on September 4. The crew cabs won't be available for order until October.

Reactions among the Autoblog staff are mixed, although as one staffer said, these trucks would look immensely better had Chevy gone all the way and smoked the headlights or swapped out the bezels for black chrome.

Take a look below for the full press release from Chevrolet, and then head into Comments and let us know what you think of the latest trucks in the Silverado clan.

News Source: Chevrolet

Aston Martin trademarks DB10 through DB14

Posted Aug 21st 2014 8:29AM

Aston Martin DB9 Zagato Spyder Concept

What comes after DB9? That's the big question currently surrounding Aston Martin as the British purveyor of luxury GTs prepares to replace its long-serving core model. And now we may have a clue at what the answer will be.

Reports coming in from the UK indicate that Aston Martin Lagonda Ltd. has applied for trademarks on a succession of model names, starting with DB10 and extending all the way up to DB14. That doesn't mean that the DB9's successor will necessarily adopt one of those, however, as word has it that some elements within the company would rather stick with the name DB9 rather than move forward, as the company has traditionally done over the years.

Whatever it's ultimately called, the DB9's replacement is expected to be built on Aston's upcoming new platform that will replace the aging VH architecture. We're anticipating that it will also pack the new AMG-sourced turbo V8, and if it does, it could end up replacing both the DB9 and the V8 Vantage. The old DB7 that put the brand back on the map in 1994 and lasted until 2004 was offered with both a 3.2-liter inline-six and the brand's ubiquitous 6.0-liter V12.

News Source: Autocar

Image Credit: Copyright 2014 AOL

ETC

Only 1 in 234 pass Melbourne's tough new taxi driver test

Posted Aug 21st 2014 8:00AM

Taxi Driver Protest Jams Melbourne's CBD

In London, cab drivers undergo a grueling testing and memorization regime known ominously as "The Knowledge." Obtaining a license to drive one of the British capital's distinctive black cabs is so difficult that students often use motor scooters to get around and learn some 320 routes on 25,000 roads, a process that takes two to four years. They then need to take a completely random oral test, just to make sure they know their way about the city.

The Australian state of Victoria, meanwhile, is doing its best to match London's notorious standards. It recently announced new tests to "weed out" bad taxi drivers. The first round of exams were so challenging, though, that only one in 234 wanna-be cab drivers passed. Drivers are allowed to take the test twice before they're forced into a 12-month waiting period.

"There's 55 questions in each unit and you get an hour to do it," Karen Downie, the sole driver to pass the tests, said. "[It's] a lot of knowing your bus lanes and tram rules and how to deal with people with disabilities. Having done the test now myself, I'll be much better at helping others to prepare for it."

Some, though, are concerned that the exacting standards will lead to a shortage of cab drivers.

"If things don't change we're probably looking at a 25 percent reduction in the taxi fleet by Christmas," Stuart Overell, the COO of 13Cabs, told Yahoo! News Australia. That's a view disputed by Taxi Services Commissioner Graeme Samuel.

"What it indicates is that there has been poor training and poor assessment in the past," Samuel told Yahoo!, adding that drivers who fail this round of testing will still be re-accredited for 2015.

"Drivers, however, who come up for accreditation from the first of January next year and fail the test will have their accreditations removed," Samuels said. "Frankly 13Cabs is just being mischievous putting out that sort of nonsense."

News Source: Yahoo! News Australia

Image Credit: Scott Barbour / Getty Images

Fall in love with the madness of the Nürburgring 24-hour race

Posted Aug 20th 2014 8:02PM

Nurburgring 24 Intervals video

We like the 24 Hours of Le Mans just fine. With the world's manufacturers in attendance and a varied field of classes and cars circling a high-speed circuit that's partially hewn from public roads, the appeal of the crown jewel of endurance racing is obvious. But, if you're tired of all the Le Mans love, there is another 24-hour race that is arguably more exciting and more extreme – we're talking the Nürburgring.

While the 2014 24 Hours of Le Mans featured a 54-car field, the 2014 Nürburgring 24 grid consisted of 165 cars (like Le Mans, each team has three to four drivers). Then there are the tracks themselves – the Circuit de la Sarthe is a relatively flat, 38-turn, 8.46-mile circuit that's famous for its high speeds, while the N24 runs on the much longer, twister Nordschleife and GP courses. Also, the fans at the N24 are utterly mad. Evo Australia said the Ring's fans make the rowdiest spectators at the legendarily wild Bathurst 1000 look like "a church picnic" (when the Aussies praise your partying, you're doing something right).

There's a lot more that makes the N24 one of the world's most fascinating races, although we simply don't have room for it here (that Evo list can fill in more blanks). Still, by now, you should be a big fan of Germany's answer to Le Mans. Unfortunately, you're going to be left waiting a bit, as the 2015 race is still about nine months away. Whittle away at least a tiny portion of that time by checking out this truly amazing video, shot at this year's race. There's plenty of beautiful slow-motion and time-lapse videography at work, but it should do a good job of helping you understand the madness that is the Nürburgring 24 (and it will make you want to roast a pig in an engine bay).

Take a look.

News Source: DrivingLine via YouTube

What you missed on 8.20.14

Posted Aug 20th 2014 7:31PM

Daily U-Turn

2015 Chevy Corvette Stingray automaticWe test the Chevy Corvette's new automatic

We tend to prefer our cars with honest-to-goodness manual transmissions. You know, the ones that require a third pedal down by the gas and brake pedals. A clutch, ya know? Turns out most Americans disagree with us, even the ones who are buying Corvettes. We know, shocking. Still, after sampling the latest eight-speed automatic from General Motors in the Corvette Stingray, we're happy to report that those who don't want to shift gears are in better shape than ever before.



Dodge Viper SRT engine emblemWill the Viper get a supercharged V10 engine?

Know what's interesting about the Dodge Challenger and Charger Hellcat models? Besides the fact that they have 707 horsepower, that is? It's that the duo are considerably more powerful than the Viper, that snake-skinned halo car sitting atop the Chrysler portfolio as its top performance machine. But how can it be the top performer with an engine putting out less ponies? Good question. Perhaps a supercharger is the answer.


Hyundai hybrid Prius-fighter spy shotHyundai spotted testing a Prius-fighting hybrid

There can be no doubt of Toyota's hybrid supremacy. When it comes to eke the greatest fuel efficiency out of a gasoline engine/electric motor combo, the boffins at Toyota do it better than any other, with the Prius sitting atop the sales heap standing as proof. But what's this? Is Hyundai testing a standalone hybrid machine to put some pressure on Toyota's hybrid dominance?



Top Stories

Loading

Loading
Advertisement
Autoblog iPhone App
Shop for a vehicle