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2014 Chevrolet Corvette Stingray Convertible

Exceptional, Yet Missing One Important Piece Of The Puzzle

Posted Apr 22nd 2014 11:57AM

2014 Chevrolet Corvette Stingray Convertible

It may be impossible to spend a day in Chevrolet's new C7 Corvette without someone asking what you think about the iconic sports car – magnetism is an understatement. I was approached by strangers in a grocery store parking lot, parents waiting for their children after school and enthusiasts on a canyon road after I had pulled to the side to take in the view.

All sneak up with a curious smile on their face, take a deep breath and then start spitting out questions like an overly aggressive prosecuting attorney. Is this the new Corvette? What do you think of it? Is it fast? How much does it cost?

While a closed-roof coupe offers a protective shield from the verbal onslaught – it's hard to field questions through a solid roof – the droptop Stingray Convertible allows the full inquisition to rain down each time one slows to a stop. These opportunities include incessant chatter with complete unknowns at stoplights, street corners and even while stuck in traffic.

Vital Stats

Engine:
6.2L V8
Power:
460 HP / 465 LB-FT
Transmission:
7-Speed Manual
Base Price:
$56,000
As-Tested Price:
$62,795

Image Credit: Copyright 2014 Michael Harley / AOL

Michael Schumacher sued in Spain for motorcycle accident prior to coma

Posted Apr 22nd 2014 11:31AM

Formel 1: Grosser Preis von Deutschland.

Seven-time Formula One world champion Michael Schumacher has been in a French hospital since a December 29 accident left him in a coma. Now, the German driver is being investigated for another accident, although he was behind the wheel for this one.

A few weeks before his devastating accident, Schumacher was driving a rented Audi A4 in Spain when he allegedly hit a motorcyclist at a roundabout after failing to give the right of way. The cyclist broke his wrist in the incident, and damaged his bike, clothing, watch and helmet, according to The Irish Independent.

The cyclist is pressing charges, as it's the only way to receive compensation for his medical expenses, as well as damaged property. At this point, it seems likely that insurance companies for the two sides will be able to work the matter out without going to court.

News Source: The Irish Independent

Image Credit: Sascha Schuermann / AP / dapd

Ecclestone planning Historic Formula One series

Posted Apr 22nd 2014 10:44AM

Historic F1 racecars

If you're one of the legions of racing fans disappointed by the lack of noise from the new turbo V6s in Formula One and nostalgic for those old-school V10s, we have good news for you. According to reports, a new racing series is in the works that would bring back not only retired F1 cars, but also retired F1 stars.

The project , according to European trademark applications, is called Historic Formula One, and it's already gaining support and potential participation from the likes of three-time world champion Nelson Piquet, former champ Nigel Mansell, race winner Gerhard Berger and Martin Brundle (a former F1 driver, Le Mans winner and race commentator).

The series is being organized by none other than Bernie Ecclestone himself, the controversial and embattled billionaire in charge of Formula One. Ecclestone also runs the GP2 and GP3 series that give potential future F1 drivers a ladder to climb. The addition of the Historic Formula One championship to the portfolio would give those on their way out a chance to continue competing.

While it may be too early to say what cars they would be driving and what format the races would take, the signs at present seem to be pointing towards the V10 racers that reigned supreme in the 1990s and into the new millennium. As for the events in which they'd compete, we could be looking at support races for the existing grands prix to give fans an extra spectacle on the same ticket.

This wouldn't be the first time we'd see a racing series for old F1 cars and drivers, but could emerge as the most successful. The last was the Grand Prix Masters series ran one race at Kyalami in 2005 and another two (Qatar and Silverstone) in 2006 before shutting down. There are many other individual events at which owners of retired F1 cars compete, but seldom in an organized series with retired stars at the helm.

News Source: Wall Street Journal

Image Credit: Newspress.co.uk

Ford says C-Max mpg reduction has hurt sales

Posted Apr 22nd 2014 10:00AM

Ford C-Max

The Ford C-Max is having a rough time. Sales for the five-door hybrid hatchback were down 39.1 percent in March to 2,295 cars, and sales from January through March were down 42.5 percent to 5,566 units. In an interview with The Detroit News, Ford Americas boss Joe Hinrichs places the blame on lowering the model's fuel economy rating.

"We're definitely seeing consideration on C-Max decline over time. We need to reinvest in the product because it's a great car," said Hinrichs to The Detroit News.

The company was hit with bad publicity over the C-Max when owners in multiple states filed class action lawsuits that alleged the cars weren't able to meet the stated fuel economy. Ford eventually re-rated the model from 47 miles per gallon city, highway and combined to 40 mpg city, 45 mpg highway and 43 mpg combined. To soften the blow of the change, the automaker sent checks to the owners to make up some of the difference. Initially, Ford claimed that demand remained strong for the hybrid. However, the latest sales figures and Hinrichs' statement seem to show the opposite.

Hinrichs also says a replacement for the company's MyFord Touch infotainment system is in the works. He claims that the current system is being held back by software limitations. However, a replacement is at least year away. Ford is rumored to be considering switching from Microsoft to a Blackberry QNX-based infotainment system.

News Source: The Detroit News

Image Credit: Copyright 2014 AOL

VW announces recall of 26,000 2014 models with 1.8T engines

Posted Apr 22nd 2014 9:15AM

Volkswagen 1.8-liter turbo

Volkswagen has followed up on a stop-sale order from earlier this month, announcing a voluntarily recall of 26,400 vehicles that are powered by the brand's 1.8-liter, turbocharged four-cylinder engine. The new mill replaced the despised 2.5-liter five-cylinder in the Jetta, Passat, Beetle and Beetle Convertible last year. Weirdly, though, of the 26,452 units covered in the recall, only 1,655 are customer vehicles.

According to VW, the affected models were built between February 1 and April 6 of this year, and feature bad O-ring seals in the transmission oil cooler. Apparently, the faulty O-rings could cause a fluid leak, as they won't seal between the oil cooler and transmission. VW is blaming a material change from a supplier for the problem.

There have been no fires, injuries, accidents or fatalities relating to this issue, which VW will be fixing free of charge. Customers will need to report to dealers to have the O-rings replaced.

Take a look below for the official press release from Volkswagen.

News Source: Volkswagen

Image Credit: Copyright 2014 Jonathan Ramsey / AOL

VW planning to push Hyundai for World Cup eyeballs

Posted Apr 22nd 2014 8:29AM

2015 Volkswagen GTI, front three-quarter view

Adidas was an official sponsor of the 2010 World Cup in South Africa, but the German sportswear company got drowned out of early advertising buzz by Nike, which wasn't a World Cup sponsor. The American company's Write the Future ad put it at the top of Nielsen's study of online buzz, ahead of Adidas. The same thing happened to official World Cup sponsor Budweiser when it got drummed out of the top ten in Nielsen's buzz ratings, while Danish brewer Carlsberg - not a Cup sponsor - ranked sixth.

Volkswagen hopes to score the same goal on Hyundai during this year's World Cup in Brazil. Hyundai and Kia have been official sponsors of the global soccer federation FIFA since 2002 and are official sponsors of the World Cup through 2022. VW has "a major ad buy" planned to run on ABC, ESPN and Univision as well as digital and social media channels during the competition, which begins June 12, to promote the GTI. VW of America's VP of marketing said the Cup's attraction to young males and Hispanics makes it the perfect place to promote the hot hatch.

The sparring between Hyundai and VW has already begun. Volkswagen's Gol compact, named for the Portuguese word for a soccer goal, has been the best selling car in Brazil for 27 years, and the German company sponsors the national soccer team. When Hyundai Brazil began a promotional campaign promising to extend its five-year warranty for six if the Brazilians won a sixth world cup, Volkswagen of Brazil complained to the soccer federation, which asked Hyundai to pull the campaign. As of this writing, that hasn't happened, so we expect it'll be boots on, gloves off, on and off the pitch this summer.

News Source: Ad Age

Image Credit: Copyright 2014 Matt Davis / AOL

We obsessively covered the 2014 Beijing Motor Show

Posted Apr 21st 2014 8:01PM

Beijing Motor Show roundup

Didn't we just wrap up a major international auto show? Oh, yeah, we did. Fresh off the heels of New York, we're back with another slew of debuts direct from the Beijing show in China. While the Big Apple expo was full of new production cars that'll be hitting the streets of the States in the not-too-distant future, Beijing gave us a preview of what's coming beyond that.

Take a look at the roundup below, and note that the majority of these debuts are pure concept cars – things that point the way forward, but really only show what "could be." That said, China grows more and more important to the automotive landscape every year, and the selection of major, international debuts was more robust than it has been in years past. We expect that to be a continuing trend in years and expos to come.

Have a look at what's good from Beijing, below.

Mustang driver proves wheels are overrated

Posted Apr 21st 2014 7:29PM

A motorist videos a Mustang driving down the highway on three wheels.

We don't need to tell you that there's something missing in the image above. What we do need to tell you is that this is not a picture of a parked car stranded on the highway. This is, rather, just one frame from video of that three-wheeled Mustang traveling down the highway at highway-appropriate speed.

We don't know where you'd have to be nor how badly you'd have to be there to go shooting down the freeway in a car with three wheels, but if the New Daily News is correct, that place is somewhere in Texas. The video's short, but you'll have plenty of time to shake your head at it by just scrolling down.

News Source: Gas of Mass via YouTube, AOL Autos

Mercedes Sprinter vans with leaky A/C units prompt class-action suit [w/video]

Posted Apr 21st 2014 7:00PM

Mercedes-Benz Sprinter

Mercedes-Benz is known for packing its cars with luxury features, but the rear passengers in some Sprinter vans are getting a shower that they don't expect. The rear air conditioning system is reportedly leaking in some models, and owners are boiling mad. A class-action lawsuit was filed in California alleging that Mercedes knew about the problem and didn't fix it.

Bad seals around the rooftop, rear air conditioner on some Sprinter 2500 and 3500 models allegedly cause the leak. Drivers claim that it's bad enough to seem like it's raining in the vehicle, and some owners say that it leads to mold and water damage around the headliner.

Sharky Laguana is among the litigants in the suit, and he owns a vehicle rental company in San Francisco. He claims in the lawsuit that at least 45 of his 97 Sprinters have leaked. He told to NBC 6 in South Florida that the repairs and discounts to customers have cost his business over $100,000.

We've contacted Mercedes for more information on the problem. We will update this story when we hear back. Scroll down to watch a report on the problem from NBC 6 showing the leak in multiple Sprinters, and the entire text of the lawsuit can be read on its website.

News Source: NBC 6

Image Credit: Mercedes-Benz

VW may actually build gonzo Golf R 400

Posted Apr 21st 2014 6:31PM

Volkswagen Golf R400

The Golf R 400 Concept with 395 horsepower and 332 pound-feet of torque might be one of the coolest concepts at the 2014 Beijing Motor Show. The absolutely scorching hatch can hit 62 miles per hour in 3.9 seconds and a top speed of 174 miles per hour. All of that power comes out the EA888 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder that is nearly ubiquitous in VW Group's cars with all-wheel drive. The even better news about the R 400 is that it might actually see production.

According to Car and Driver, Volkswagen head of research and development Heinz-Jakob Neusser confirms that there will be a production version. However, there is no word whether the model is coming to North America. Neusser also claims that the engine in the R 400 is only mildly revised over the Golf R to take the extra boost. There is also the possibility the powerful four-cylinder could make it into other VW Group models.

It's great to hear that the Golf R 400 is more than just a styling exercise. It does a fantastic job at looking understated yet powerful, with the big wheels and bumper but few other body modifications. Now, let's hope VW deems North America worthy of its halo hot hatch.

News Source: Car and Driver

Image Credit: Copyright 2014 Chris Paukert / AOL

Hyundai ix25 Concept foreshadows B-segment CUV

Posted Apr 21st 2014 5:45PM

Hyundai ix25 Concept

Hyundai introduced an all-new crossover concept to the crowds at the 2014 Beijing Motor Show, showing the ix25, a near-production concept that heralds the arrival of a new compact CUV for the People's Republic.

Boasting Hyundai's "Fluidic Sculpture 2.0," the ix25 is a handsome little soft-roader that we could see slotting in nicely below the vehicle we call Tucson (the rest of the globe knows it as the ix35), and would serve as the entry point for Hyundai's Chinese CUV range. Under hood sits a familiar 2.0-liter, "Nu" four-cylinder, which we've sampled in assorted Hyundais and Kias over the years.

At 168 inches long it's ten inches shorter than a Ford Escape and five inches longer than the Soul, from sister company Kia. Despite these differences, the ix25 Concept's wheelbase is less than an inch longer (eight-tenths to be exact) than the Soul's 101.2-inches. More notably, the ix25 is roughly the size of the new Chevrolet Trax.

Considering the rapidly growing popularity of the B-segment CUV in the US market - initiated by cars like the Soul, popularized by the Buick Encore and brought to the masses by the impending arrival of the Trax and Jeep Renegade - it seems like it'd be a logical move for Hyundai to bring the production ix25 to North America. Hyundai's already said that it's looking at the B-segment, meaning we could see the ix25 on our shores sooner rather than later. (Ditch the alphanumeric handle and call it "Mesa," and it'd fit in nicely with Tucson and Santa Fe, we think.)

Take a look below for a very brief gallery from Hyundai, as well as the official press release on the ix25 Concept.

News Source: Hyundai

Beijing first to see next-gen Chevy Cruze

Posted Apr 21st 2014 5:02PM

Chevy Cruze Chinese Market

Chevrolet may have just introduced a slight styling refresh and new tech for the North American Cruze at the New York Auto Show, but Shanghai GM, General Motor's Chinese joint venture partner, has gone a step further, unveiling an all-new generation of the popular compact at the 2014 Beijing Motor Show.

The Chinese-market Cruze has sleeker frontal styling with inspiration from the Chevy Tru 140S Concept. The headlights are more pointed and dip down into the two-tier grille. Overall, the sedan has more aggressive lines and a coupe-like roofline. Power for the new version is provided by a 1.5-liter four-cylinder or 1.4-liter, direct-injected turbocharged four, and Chinese buyers can choose among a seven-speed dual-clutch, six-speed manual or six-speed automated manual as gearbox options. GM Shanghai claims the latest model is good for a 14-21 percent improvement in fuel economy.

Chevy authorities in China tell Autoblog that North American customers will eventually get a new model based on this architecture, but it won't look exactly like what you see here – in fact, it will almost certainly ride on a longer wheelbase, among other changes.

Why introduce the model in Beijing? The Cruze has been a hot seller in China for years – GM has sold over one million units in the market – and the model has been on sale in the Middle Kingdom significantly longer than it has been available in North America. What's more, the C-segment cars like the Cruze are China's most popular vehicle type, enjoying nearly 50 percent marketshare. Said another way, China's due for a new generation.

Scroll down for the more details in the press release.

News Source: Shanghai GM

Image Credit: Live photos copyright 2014 Chris Paukert / AOL

Ford to announce Mulally retirement, Fields CEO as early as May 1

Posted Apr 21st 2014 4:29PM

Thailand Auto Show

Ford CEO Alan Mulally may be about to announce his long-rumored retirement from the Blue Oval, according to a pair of insiders who spoke to Bloomberg. An official statement on the succession could arrive as soon as May 1. Chief Operating Officer Mark Fields is rumored to step up as the new CEO. The company is said to be readying the announcement soon to ensure an orderly transition of power, according to the insiders.

Mulally's retirement from Ford has been a hot topic for a while. He was seriously rumored last year to be leaving the automaker to take over as the CEO of Microsoft. The board even said at one point that it was okay with them if he stepped down early. However, the CEO maintained he would stay with the business through at least the end of 2014. Fields has been rumored as a frontrunner to take over the top spot at the company since he was promoted to COO.

For the moment, Ford isn't officially confirming any of these plans. "We don't comment on speculation. We do have succession plans in place for our key leadership. We take succession planning very seriously," said Susan Krusel, Ford Global News Manager, to Autoblog.

News Source: Bloomberg

Image Credit: Sakchai Lalit / AP Photo

UAW drops appeal of VW Tennessee unionization vote

Posted Apr 21st 2014 4:03PM

VW Announcement

The United Auto Workers' attempt to unionize Volkswagen's Chattanooga, TN, factory may be off the table for a while. Since shortly after workers there rejected organizing, the UAW has been appealing to the National Labor Relations Board for another vote citing interference. Now, the union has dropped its case with the NLRB.

The union claims it wants to help VW. The appeal process with the NLRB can be incredibly slow, and it would be "unfair to keep Volkswagen mired down in the appeals process, which could take years to complete," said Gary Casteel, the UAW's district director, to the Detroit Free Press. The sides have struck an agreement not to call for another election through the NLRB for at least a year. Casteel claims the two sides could hold a private election, but he isn't planning another vote "anytime soon."

The UAW's appeal with the NLRB has faced some setbacks. The board voted to allow anti-UAW employees at the factory the right to defend casting a ballot against the organizing. Also, a group called the National Right to Work Foundation filed a federal lawsuit on behalf of five workers against VW and the UAW for allegedly working together to unionize the plant. The organization claimed the automaker forced workers to attend pro-union meetings.

According to the Detroit Free Press, the goal at the factory now is to work out a tax incentive plan with the state to build a midsize SUV, likely a production version of the CrossBlue concept. The Tennessee government reportedly offered VW $300 million to build the truck in Chattanooga but later rescinded the offer because of the union vote.

News Source: The Detroit Free Press

Image Credit: Erik Schelzig / AP Photo

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