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2015 Chevrolet Corvette Stingray [UPDATE]

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    2015 Chevrolet Corvette Stingray [UPDATE]
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    We cruised Woodward in the 2015 Dodge Challenger SRT Hellcat [w/video]
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Watch these NHRA top fuel dragsters pull successive barrel-rolls

Posted Aug 20th 2014 3:00PM

Drag race at Brainerd

To win a race, you have to finish the race. It's the first lesson of racing, no matter what kind you're into. In drag racing, though, if your opponent crashes out – as is not uncommon a sight – then victory is yours. But what if both dragsters fail to make it to the finish line?

That's what racing fans witnessed this past weekend when the NHRA Lucas Oil Drag Racing Series arrived in Brainerd, MN. That's where both Don Kritzky and Monte Green rolled their top fuel dragsters one after the other, causing the unusual and noteworthy crash captured in this video. Green was reportedly treated on the scene while Kritzky was airlifted to a hospital in Minneapolis (we're working to get further word on his condition and will update you if we learn more).

News Source: NHRA via YouTube

2015 Ford Mustang RTR teased ahead of SEMA debut

Posted Aug 20th 2014 2:33PM

Rendering of the 2015 RTR Mustang that will be shown at SEMA.

Drifter Vaughn Gittin, Jr. and his tuning shop, RTR has shown off a preliminary rendering of the tuned 2015 Ford Mustang it's going to rock this year's SEMA show. About two months after that, they'll start showing up fully built in select Ford dealerships, plus garage rats can order the parts through Mustang RTR or American Muscle.

Hardware and numbers are still secret, but we're told the Mustang RTR will be available in both four- and eight-cylinder variants and in two states of tune, Spec 1 and Spec 2. We drove a 2012 version of the Mustang RTR and declared it not bad, a noteworthy progression over the model that preceeded it. There's a press release below with Gittin's words on the announcement and a couple of high-res images to whet your appetite for Las Vegas.

News Source: Ford Racing, RTR via Facebook

Police arrest chairman, managers of Chinese auto parts firm whose factory blast killed 75

Posted Aug 20th 2014 2:29PM

China factory explosion

Chinese police have arrested three individuals in connection to the deadly explosion at an auto parts factory outside Shanghai nearly three weeks ago, Reuters is reporting.

Among those three is Wu Chi-tao, the chairman of Kunshan Zhongrong Metal Products, the company that operated the factory in Zhoushan, roughly 80 miles west of Shanghai. The company's general manager and the manager in charge of workplace safety joined Chi-tao in custody, China's state news agency, Xinhua, told Reuters.

Previous reports indicated that five of the company's executives were already in custody following the blast, although it's unclear if Chi-tao and the other two managers were counted in that total.

The blast at the factory, which polishes wheel hubs for General Motors China, killed 75 people and has injured 185, and is currently being blamed on illegal production methods and poor safety facilities. PRC President Xi Jingping has since issued a nationwide crackdown on factory safety in response to the disaster.

News Source: Reuters

Image Credit: ChinaFotoPress via Getty Images

Hyundai Prius-Fighter Hybrid could preview next attack on Toyota's champion

Posted Aug 20th 2014 2:01PM

Hyundai Prius-Fighter Hybrid spy shot

Hyundai is no stranger to the hybrid game, selling a gas-electric version of the Sonata in the US since 2011. The 2015-model-year version gets 38 miles per gallon combined, which is certainly admirable but not quite in the same league as the hybrid champion Toyota Prius (50 mpg combined). New spy shots reveal that Hyundai might be finally ready to targeting the non-plug-in fuel economy leader. Why else would some mysterious Hyundai prototypes be cruising through the desert hills with a few Priuses in tow?

Our photographers believe these mules hint at an all-new hybrid model, which makes us think of the Blue Will concept from the 2010 Detroit Auto Show. At the time, Hyundai said the concept could be a preview of a future dedicated hybrid that would compete with the Prius.

We don't know what it all means for sure, but our spy photographers found four heavily modified Elantra GT prototypes driving around with a standard Prius and a Prius V. As if that wasn't enough of a clue, the four changed Elantras represent different approaches Hyundai might be using to go after Toyota, since there were two versions driving by our photographer's lenses, with different rear extensions indicating that both the standard Prius and the larger V might be in Hyundai's sights.

Despite the inclusion of a battery pack and a high-voltage cable running under the car, there was no obvious sign of a plug, so the old rumors of a Sonata PHEV will likely remain in the dustbin for now. Unless that strange rectangle of tape on the gas cover is hiding something surprising, of course.

Image Credit: Glenn Paulina / KGP Photograhpy

Cadillac dealers frustrated over Escalade production snarls

Posted Aug 20th 2014 1:29PM

2015 Cadillac Escalade, front three-quarter view.

Lincoln went through it during the launch of the MKZ last year, Jeep went through something similar with its Cherokee launch, and now the 2015 Cadillac Escalade has apparently caught the bug: dealer delivery delays because of quality control checks. Automotive News reports that Cadillac dealers have been waiting three times longer than usual - a month or more - from the time an Escalade leaves the assembly line to when it gets delivered. Worse, dealers are saying they don't always know where their vehicles are in transit, or when they are set to arrive. The situation has upset customers who have put down deposits and things have gotten so bad that some dealers have reportedly stopped taking pre-orders.

Cadillac says it has the delay, called "dwell time," down to two weeks, and it expects to cut that to a week by the beginning of September. The company said "a lengthy quality-assurance process on some interior parts" has caused the lag, the report citing additional issues with figuring out which vehicles should be delivered first. A spokesman said that more trucks have been put in the distribution system to work through the backlog, but it's clear it's still going to take some time to set things right, with one dealer telling AN that cars ordered in February and March still haven't arrived.

Brand chief Kurt McNeil said additional personnel are at the Escalade's Arlington, Texas factory to speed up the checks, and spreadsheets tracking every order have been distributed to field staff. Even with the snafu, though, the Escalade is Cadillac's best seller through July.

News Source: Automotive News - sub. req.

Image Credit: Copyright 2014 Brandon Turkus / AOL

Buick shows US dealers 2016 Cascada convertible

Posted Aug 20th 2014 1:01PM

2013 Opel Cascada

The affordable four-seat convertible has become a largely forgotten genre in the States, especially with the death of the Chrysler 200 Convertible. Of course, there are still premium options from Audi, BMW and Mercedes-Benz – not to mention more overtly performance-oriented droptop pony cars from Chevrolet and Ford – but if you want an affordable cruiser, you're kind of out of luck. That may be about to change, however, with renewed rumors of the Opel Cascada (pictured above) making it across the Atlantic wearing a Buick badge.

According to GM Inside News, Buick showed off the Cascada to US dealers last week, with renewed word that the company plans to bring it over from Europe for the 2016 model year. The US version will reportedly be practically identical to its German cousin in terms of styling, but the powertrain underneath is less certain. According to GMI, it may use the 1.6-liter turbocharged four-cylinder that is available in Europe with either 168 horsepower or 197 hp.

The Cascada rides on GM's Delta II platform, which also underpins the Verano, and the latest rumor certainly provides even more evidence that the convertible is probably on the way. Speculation about the droptop started when GM CEO Dan Akerson said last year that the car was on his wish list to bring over. Then, the US trademark on the name was reserved earlier this year, and the release was speculated for sometime in early 2016.

When Autoblog reached out to Buick for comment, company spokesperson Nick Richards gave us the predictable corporate line, "We don't comment on speculation or rumors." Still, when we drove the Cascada back in 2013 in Germany at GM's invitation, we thought it would be a good fit for US roads. It sounds like the convertible might not be too far from actually driving on them.

News Source: GM Inside News

Image Credit: Copyright 2014 AOL

Motorcyclist cut off, unreal crash caught on dashcam

Posted Aug 20th 2014 12:32PM

Russian Dashcam bike crash

Eastern Europe. Dashcams. They go together like vodka and more vodka. In today's installment, we have what is arguably one of the most remarkable crashes we've ever witnessed.

A car, in what may be Belarus, attempts to change lanes right at the unfortunate moment that a motorcyclist – who looks to be traveling way too fast – does the same. While the impact could have been far, far worse for all parties involved, the results are still enough to leave you wondering how the heck it happened like it did.

Take a look and see what we mean.

News Source: Kruszon1984 via YouTube

2015 Chevrolet Corvette Stingray [UPDATE]

We Test The Advanced New 8-Speed Automatic To See How The Majority Live

Posted Aug 20th 2014 11:57AM



UPDATE: Our sources at Chevy have updated their estimate of the cost of the eight-speed automatic from $1,800 to $1,725. We've changed the text to reflect the new number. Per the same source, we have also included an estimated as-tested price, though we'd like to reiterate that pricing is not final.

If the world were populated exclusively with Autoblog commenters, Chevrolet probably wouldn't even offer an automatic transmission in its 2015 Corvette Stingray. Somehow the desire to drive with three pedals and the willingness to leave your two cents on a digital car review are inexorably linked.

But, of course, the comment section of our fair website is not the real world, exactly. The reality is that some 65 percent of Corvette C7s sold so far have been equipped with two pedals. During the 2014 model year, that has meant that the almost universally lauded new Stingray has shipped mostly with a six-speed automatic that wasn't up to the technological standards of the rest of the car.

When he reviewed the C7 for the first time, our own Michael Harley had these, not-minced words to say about the existing 6AT:

"The traditional six-speed automatic seemed to extinguish the C7's performance edge. I found it softer, slower and more lethargic (even paddle-initiated shifts had annoying lag). Even though it was every bit as quick in terms of outright acceleration, the gearbox took much of the excitement out of the driving experience."

Clearly there was room to improve.

Thankfully, I can now report that the improvements have been made, and that the new, General Motors-designed Hydra-Matic 8L90 is up to the task of shifting one of the best sports cars in the world. Take heed, 65-percenters.

Driving Notes
  • With some fantastic, many-geared automatic transmissions on the market from specialized companies like ZF, GM engineers knew that their unit would need to be world class. To that end, they concentrated on improving performance without sacrificing durability; all while needing to satisfy the challenging packaging requirements of the Corvette. Aluminum and magnesium have been used to reduce rotational mass, while pressed steel parts can still be found in the torque-bearing bits of the trans. A chain-driven, binary-vane oil pump in the sump has even been optimized for low- and high-speed engine loads. All of that helps to make this 8AT incredibly fast acting and responsive, while also improving fuel efficiency.
  • And it's strong. The trans was designed around the upcoming Z06, meaning it had to be rated to handle more than 650 pound-feet of torque.
  • Down to it then. Executing shifts in manual mode feels dual-clutch quick, for sure. The Chevy guys were puffing out their chests talking about the speed of this 8AT versus Porsche's PDK, and the truth is that the reaction time from paddle-pull to upshift is right there. At least, as that's what my imperfect human brain can suss out – any advantage to the quickest dual clutches I've yanked would require a machine to judge.
  • For my money though, and for the love of the 65-percent, the real test comes when you leave the lever in D. I actually did all but one of my laps of GM's dizzying Milford Road Course in full auto mode, and found the programming and response time of the trans to be impeccable. Set to Race mode, the software seemed to have me in the right gear for every corner entrance and exit, holding each of the short ratios for maximum power delivery as I ran up the few straight bits.
  • I got a hot lap with one of the GM hotshoes, as well, which confirmed outright capability of the 8L90. I may not have believed my driver's rhetoric alone – he told me he was quicker in full auto than when shifting for himself – but on his lightning lap, I could hear the car clicking off gears in synchronization with the needs of the track.
  • As for driving on public streets – of which I did for perhaps 50 miles – the AT is just dandy, too. To be fair, it's over the course of spirited-back-road driving that the involvement of a manual transmission is most enjoyable to me. But the eight-speed had no issue going from leisurely cruising to the occasional moment of massive corner attack, and back again.
  • For daily driving, Chevy says 8AT owners will see a 3.5-percent improvement in fuel economy. Preliminary EPA estimates show ratings of 29 miles per gallon on the highway, 16 in the city and 20 combined (with the standard engine). What's more, I was told those numbers should continue the Corvette tradition of being easy to achieve in the real world (something owners are strangely likely to brag about).
  • Oh, and the new auto is quicker to 60 mph, too – 3.7 seconds to do the deed with the Z51 performance package. That's a tenth quicker than the manual, for the record.
  • It is also just a bit more expensive. Though full pricing for the MY15 cars hasn't been given yet, I was told the eight speed will add $1,725 to the sticker price, versus the $1,600 asked for the outgoing automatic.
  • There's no question that the great things we had to say about the 2014 Corvette stay true for 2015, too. The handling at a race pace is sublime with occasional moments of scariness if you, like me, don't go to work in head-to-toe Nomex. I was particularly impressed with the overall grip of the car, even after I did half a lap of MRC in some light rain. This is a balanced, poised machine until you get silly with it (and even then, it's still fun).
  • On a personal note, and repping for the really tall guys everywhere, I will say that there's less room in the cabin for my six feet and five inches than I'd like, at least when I'm wearing a helmet. On public roads, I felt a bit cramped laterally, but not so badly that I'd feel the need to, you know, not drive a Corvette. On the other hand, if you're really tall and looking for a car to track, you might want to measure out carefully.
To sum: the 2015 Corvette Stingray is a brilliant sports car made better for most of its actual buyers with this transmission. It may not be the purist's special, but it is a highly advanced unit that will offer real gains for many drivers, and is closer than ever to the goodness of the enthusiast-darling stick shift. You may not love my saying it, Average Autoblog Commenter, but you really should respect these AT chops.

Vital Stats

Engine:
6.2L V8
Power:
460 HP / 465 LB-FT
Transmission:
8-Speed Auto
Base Price:
$53,000 (est)
As-Tested Price:
$65,680 (est)

Image Credit: Copyright 2014 Seyth Miersma / AOL

Dodge Viper to out-Hell the Hellcat with supercharged V10?

Posted Aug 20th 2014 11:30AM

2013 SRT Viper

The Viper wouldn't be the Viper if it wasn't the most powerful model under the Chrysler umbrella. But with the arrival of the Hellcat engine in the Dodge Charger and Challenger, the Viper has fallen behind in the bragging rights department: where the new supercharged V8 produces 707 horsepower and 650 pound-feet of torque, the naturally aspirated V10 offers "only" 640 hp and 600 lb-ft – gargantuan output figures by almost any other standard, but crucially behind on the SRT power scale. Conner Avenue is going to have to do something about that.

Although the Hellcat's engine reportedly won't fit under the Viper's hood, SRT is now rumored to have another trick up its sleeve: supercharge the existing V10. According to the Pentastar performance enthusiasts at allpar.com, Chrysler has already taken delivery of the first such prototype engines so that it can begin the process of fitting it into an upgraded Viper.

The spooled ten-pot is tipped to produce around 800 hp and 650 lb-ft of torque. More than that and the Viper's drivetrain, chassis and bodywork would have to be substantially reworked. Though beefier transmissions are available, fitting them would reportedly set off a domino-game of changes required to handle the added torque. Which may be something Chrysler would be prepared to do for the next-generation model, but in the meantime, 800 hp could prove enough to put the Viper back atop the Mopar performance ladder where it belongs, and give it an edge against the new Corvette Z06 to rekindle sales.

News Source: allpar.com

Image Credit: Copyright 2014 AOL

Lamborghini may offer rear-drive Huracán

Posted Aug 20th 2014 11:01AM

Lamborghini Huracán LP610-4

Lamborghini may not offer a manual-transmission option on the new Huracán – so few customers were asking for it on the preceding Gallardo as it was – but don't think that it won't pursue ever more hardcore variants. And that will reportedly include a rear-drive version.

Speaking with journalists at the Pebble Beach unveiling of the new Huracán Super Trofeo, Lamborghini CEO Stefan Winkelmann is reported to have said, "We did it with the Gallardo so it might be an option. We are a four-wheel-drive super-sports car [manufacturer] but why should we not do a rear-drive option?"

The rear-drive Huracán would naturally shed a few pounds off the all-wheel-drive version's curb weight, but the question is just how much. There is said to have only been so much of the AWD system that Sant'Agata was able to strip out of the Gallardo to make the rear-drive Balboni edition after the fact, but if the Huracán was engineered from the get-go for both drivetrains, the rear-drive version could prove that much more thrilling to drive.

In Lamborghini's alphanumeric nomenclature, the LP indicates a longitudinal aft engine placement, the next three letters for the metric output and the -2 or -4 indicating the number of driven wheels. The Balboni and subsequent, more mainstream rear-drive coupe and convertible versions of the Gallardo wore the characters LP 550-2 because they dropped ten horses together with the front driven wheels. The rear-drive Huracán, by extension, would likely be labeled as the LP 600-2.

Of course that won't be the only Huracán derivative the Raging Bull marque might offer. "We need lots of derivatives," said Winkelmann. "Customers expect it and we always need something new to talk about." Look for the Spyder version to arrive first, with a successor to the Superleggera and Super Trofeo Stradale to follow sometime thereafter.

News Source: Autocar

Image Credit: Lamborghini, Gallery images copyright 2014 Seyth Miersma / AOL

GM drops to No. 4 in revenue, No. 3 in sales

Posted Aug 20th 2014 10:32AM

Massive Ignition Switch Recall Weighs Heavy On GM's Profits

It doesn't seem that long ago that General Motors was far and away the largest automaker in the world. In fact it was for the better part of a century. But that was before Toyota started to encroach and a series of damning events began to unfold to drive GM into bankruptcy. Now it's slid down to fourth place.

With the financial statements in for the first half of 2014, GM dropped to the fourth place with gross revenues of $39 billion. That puts the General behind Volkswagen (which reported $68 billion in revenue), Toyota (at $62 billion) and a surprise upsurge from Daimler, which nudged past at $42 billion. GM did, however, just beat out the Renault-Nissan Alliance by $100 million, and came in well ahead of Ford ($37B), Hyundai ($33B), Fiat-Chrysler ($31B), Honda ($29B) and BMW ($26B).

Those numbers, of course, relate to revenues – multiplying sales volume by how much each automaker charges for each vehicle sold. When it comes to the volume of cars produced, GM ranks in third place with 4.92 million units sold in the first six months of 2014, behind Toyota's 5.1 million and VW's 4.97.

News Source: The Detroit Bureau

Image Credit: Bill Pugliano / Getty

2015 Subaru Legacy, Outback crash their way to IIHS Top Safety Pick+ ratings [w/video]

Posted Aug 20th 2014 9:59AM

Subaru Legacy

Subaru OutbackThe Subaru Legacy and Outback are the latest vehicles to be awarded the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety's most prestigious safety title, Top Safety Pick+.

As we've explained many times before, this only applies vehicles that can score an "Acceptable" or "Good" rating on the five IIHS crash tests and earn at least a "Basic" rating for crash prevention systems.

In the Legacy's case, it totally aced IIHS's testing, earning "Good" scores on the small overlap, front moderate overlap, side impact, roof crush and rear impact tests, while also bringing home the top "Superior" rating for its optional EyeSight system.

According to IIHS, Subaru holds more Top Safety Pick titles than any other manufacturer, with seven vehicles earning the safety award. Of those, four of them are TSP+ vehicles.

Scroll down for video of the Legacy's small-overlap test, as well as press releases from both IIHS and Subaru.
Related Gallery2015 Subaru Legacy
2015 Subaru Legacy2015 Subaru Legacy2015 Subaru Legacy2015 Subaru Legacy2015 Subaru Legacy2015 Subaru Legacy2015 Subaru Legacy2015 Subaru Legacy

News Source: IIHS via YouTube

2015 Corvette rated at 29 mpg highway with 8-speed auto, quicker to 60 [UPDATE]

Posted Aug 20th 2014 9:30AM



UPDATE: After reaching out to Chevy PR for clarification, we now know that the 16/29/20 City/Highway/Combined mile-per-gallon ratings are for the standard Corvette with the new eight-speed transmission, while the 0-60 and quarter-mile times are for the Z51-equipped car using the new trans. The company does not yet have mpg estimates for the Z51/8AT combination.

The Chevrolet Corvette Stingray is already one of the best performers in its class and price range, and Chevy is making it even better for the 2015 model year with the introduction of a new, eight-speed automatic to replace the previous six-speed. The updated transmission isn't exactly news, but the Bowtie brand is finally telling customers why the two extra gears are so important. Autoblog will have driving impressions of the 2015 up later today, but for now, you can snack on this delicious morsel of info as an amuse-bouche ahead of our full impressions.

The eight-speed carries an EPA-estimated rating of 29 miles per gallon highway, a 1-mpg improvement over the previous automatic, and the 16-mpg city and 20-mpg combined figures remain the same as before. According to Chevy, part of the improvement comes from a new 2.41 rear axle ratio that has the engine turning 8 percent less at 70 miles per hour. Though, Z51 models keep their 2.73 ratio at the rear.

However, it's not all about eking out slightly better economy, as the eight-speed also makes the Stingray even quicker than before. The gearbox hustles the 2015 'Vette to 60 mph in 3.7 seconds, a tenth better than with six gears. The run through the quarter mile also drops a tenth to 11.9 seconds. The boost in performance comes thanks to a more aggressive first-gear ratio than before, the company claims.

Of course, not everyone wants an automatic, even an improved one, so for those who want to row their own gears, the seven-speed manual is still available too. Scroll down to read Chevy's full announcement and look forward to our Quick Spin coming soon.

News Source: Chevrolet

Image Credit: Copyright 2014 Seyth Miersma / AOL

Ford begins testing right-hand-drive Mustang

Posted Aug 20th 2014 9:02AM

2015 Ford Mustang right-hand drive

Ford has officially kicked off testing of the right-hand-drive variant of its sixth-generation, 2015 Mustang, according to a statement issued by the company, which came with the above photo.

According to Ford, this will mark the first time a right-hand-drive 'Stang has traveled down the company's assembly line alongside its LHD brethren. It is far from the first of the legendary pony cars to feature its wheel on the wrong side, though, as converters in RHD markets across the globe have been making swaps for years.

Ford is planning on using the white, droptop Mustang for RHD development ahead of the car's arrival in the UK, Australia and South Africa, among other markets. Scroll down for the official press blast.

News Source: Ford

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