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Porsche 918 Spyder burns to ground in gas station conflagration

Posted Sep 29th 2014 2:15PM

Porsche 918 Burns at Toronto Gas Station

There's one fewer Porsche 918 Spyder zipping along the roads of Toronto, Canada, today. A fire at a gas station over the weekend claimed one of the hybrid supercars in a massive blaze, and a portion of the inferno was caught on video.

According to our partners to the North at Autoblog Canada, the cause of the fire hasn't been officially confirmed yet, but witnesses reportedly claimed gasoline somehow came into contact with the hot exhaust outlets that exit out of the top of the supercar's engine bay. This was just one of two 918s believed to be in the Toronto area.

Other than a possible broken heart from the owner, the fire reportedly caused no injuries, and only the Porsche and gas pump appeared to sustain serious damage. Warning, the video of the conflagration does contain some explicit language.

News Source: Autoblog Canada, David Jenkins via YouTube, Facebook

2015 Ford F-150 claims segment's best payload, towing ratings

Posted Sep 29th 2014 1:28PM

2015 Ford F-150

While we are set to drive the new, 2015 Ford F-150 in the coming days, there's a big piece of news on the latest-generation of the Blue Oval's bread-and-butter pickup coming out of Dearborn, and it focuses on the truck's hauling and towing abilities.

The new F-150 will have a maximum payload of 3,300-pounds (V8 models), and, perhaps more importantly, a 12,200-pound tow rating (EcoBoost V6 models), which for the first time are compliant with the Society of Automotive Engineer's J2807 standards. Those best-in-class figures are significant feathers in Ford's cap as the Detroit Three continue duking it out for the title of top pickup.

"As founding members of the SAE trailer towing committee, we will meet SAE trailer towing standards," Ford's Aaron Miller told Autoblog.

In order to seize that max tow rating, you'll need to tick the box for the F-150's excellent 3.5-liter, twin-turbocharged EcoBoost V6 and its 365 horsepower and 420 pound-feet of torque, although your payload rating will only reach 3,180 pounds. Ford's new 2.7-liter, 325-hp, 375-lb-ft EcoBoost V6, meanwhile, can manage to tow 8,500 pounds and enjoys a payload rating of 2,250 pounds.

If you're aching for the max payload rating of 3,300 pounds, you'll want to go naturally aspirated and opt for the F-150's biggest engine, the 5.0-liter V8. Snagging for the 385-hp, 387-lb-ft eight-cylinder drops the tow rating to a still respectable 11,100 pounds. Finally, the F-Series' base 3.5-liter V6 and its 283 hp and 255 lb-ft of torque can haul 1,910 pounds and tow 7,600 pounds.

Scroll on down for the full press blast from Ford.

News Source: Ford

Ellen DeGeneres sends up Matthew McConaughey's Lincoln ad

Posted Sep 29th 2014 12:43PM

Ellen DeGeneres and Matthew McConaughey in the Lincoln MKC

Lincoln had to have known that when it released its new ad campaign for the new MKC with Matthew McConaughey, it would open itself up to a bit of good old fashioned ridicule. The television commercial was, after all, good for a laugh or two. And true to their mission, talk show hosts haven't missed the opportunity to have a little fun at Lincoln's and McConaughey's expense.

Conan O'Brien was first to send up the television spot, but now Ellen DeGeneres has taken a stab at it too, superimposing herself in the back seat of the compact luxury crossover, downing some pot brownies and generally playing Costello to McConaughey's Abbott. It's worth a watch, if only to see Ellen getting down in her usual, offbeat style.

News Source: The Ellen Show via YouTube, Road & Track

2014 Cadillac ELR

Tilting At Windmills

Posted Sep 29th 2014 11:57AM

2014 Cadillac ELR

Well, this is awkward.

A few years ago, Audi Of America's boss Johan de Nysschen went on record describing the Chevrolet Volt as "a car for idiots." Fast-forward to earlier this summer, and the well-regarded executive suddenly found himself in a new office with new business cards bearing the title: President, Cadillac. That means that among other challenges, de Nysschen is now tasked with selling the ELR, a car that is, at its core, a Volt in a sportier, less utile frock wearing a price tag that's twice as expensive.

Frankly, it's not a prospect we imagine the South African executive and recent Infiniti boss relishes. Just about nobody is buying the ELR – Cadillac has sold but 774 examples of its plug-in hybrid coupe this year and it presently has an almost a 200-day supply according to Automotive News. What's more, those numbers actually represent big improvements over just a few months ago, before GM started heaping on the incentives. The cynic in us says that the bad news for De Nysschen is that he's got a borderline sales-proof car in his new corporate garage. The good news? Cadillac customers apparently aren't idiots.

Before we go any further, let's get back to that elephant in the room: price. There's no way to be kind here – General Motors has saddled its 2014 Cadillac ELR with a scarcely believable bottom line: $75,000. Even arithmophobes like us can work out that that means it costs as much as a base ATS Coupe and a Chevrolet Volt combined. That, in our book, is unforgivably bad math – the sort of computation logic understood only by buyers of the Aston Martin Cygnet, or perhaps those who signed off on the Allante's assembly process back in the '80s, an arrangement that involved flying uncompleted cars over the Atlantic in custom-outfitted Boeing 747s. Twice.

Vital Stats

Engine:
1.4L I4, 154 kW Motor
Power:
217 HP / 295 LB-FT
Transmission:
Single Speed
Warranty:
4 Years / 50,000 Miles
Base Price:
$75,000
As-Tested Price:
$75,995
Related Gallery2014 Cadillac ELR Review
2014 Cadillac ELR Review2014 Cadillac ELR Review2014 Cadillac ELR Review2014 Cadillac ELR Review2014 Cadillac ELR Review2014 Cadillac ELR Review2014 Cadillac ELR Review2014 Cadillac ELR Review

Volkswagen charges up new Passat GTE for the trip to Paris

Posted Sep 29th 2014 11:30AM

2015 Volkswagen Passat GTE

We all know that the letters GT stand for Gran Turismo, but tacking on another letter can evoke a different meaning altogether. GTO for Ferraris (or Pontiacs), GT-R for Nissan supercars, GTA for high-performance Alfa Romeos (or car-theft video games, or metropolitan Toronto)... The list goes on and on, but few are as familiar with the idea as Volkswagen, which uses the letters GTI for hot hatches, GTD for their diesel counterparts, and most recently, GTE for plug-in hybrids.

VW introduced the nomenclature with the Golf GTE earlier this year, and is now following up with the Passat GTE you see here. It packs a hybrid powertrain consisting of a 1.4-liter turbo four producing 154 horsepower and an electric motor good for another 114 hp, channeled to the front wheels through a six-speed DSG for a combined output of 215 hp and 295 pound-feet of torque.

In electric-only mode, it'll reach 80 mph and take you as far as 31 miles.

That's more juice than the Golf GTE, but in the larger Passat delivers similar performance: 0-62 in under eight seconds and a top speed in excess of 136 miles per hour. In electric-only mode, it'll reach 80 mph and take you as far as 31 miles. But with both motors running, and both the 13-gallon fuel tank and the lithium-ion battery topped off, it'll travel up to 1,000 kilometers. That's the equivalent of 622 miles - more than the Golf GTE and more than enough to send the plug-in Passat from London to its debut in Paris and back again (or all the way from Detroit to New York) all without stopping at a single charging or gas station along the way.

Set to launch in the second half of next year, the Passat GTE will be available in both sedan and wagon forms. But since this is based on the European model, we're not holding our breath for its transatlantic voyage to North American showrooms. Hypermilers will just have to hope that VW will offer a model with a similar system Stateside in the near future.

News Source: Volkswagen

NHTSA investigating power modules on Chrysler Group SUVs and minivans

Posted Sep 29th 2014 11:02AM

Auto Sales

The Center for Auto Safety is officially petitioning the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration to begin scrutinizing alleged problems with the totally integrated power module (TIPM) on about 24 Chrysler Group SUVs and minivans. The advocacy group claims that the part's failure can cause affected vehicles to stall or not start at all. NHTSA is still looking into the accusations and deciding whether a full investigation is actually warranted.

The CAS petition claims at least 70 TIPM failures, but according to NHTSA, six of the complaints are for models that don't have the modules. In 34 of the reported cases, the vehicles refused to start, and in 17 of them the engine stalled. There were also two allegations of smoke and one of a fire. However, none of these affected airbag deployment or resulted in a crash.

This petition isn't the first TIPM-related problem for Chrysler Group. A recent report in the New York Times alleged that it found 240 complaints potentially related to the issue on NHTSA's website alone. In September, the automaker also recalled 230,760 examples worldwide (188,723 in the US) of the 2011 Jeep Grand Cherokee and Dodge Durango replace the fuel pump relay circuit inside of the TIPM-7 with one external to the unit. The original part could allegedly cause the models to stall without warning. Even earlier, the company also recalled about 80,000 examples of the Jeep Wrangler and Dodge Nitro in 2007 to have the module reprogrammed.

Autoblog spoke to Chrysler Group about the defect petition and was sent the following statement by email:

"In keeping with sound engineering practice and Chrysler Group's longstanding policy of cooperation with NHTSA, the Company is actively investigating customer complaints and retrieving components from the field for closer analysis. Every Chrysler Group vehicle meets or exceeds all applicable safety standards."

Scroll down to read NHTSA's full explanation of the defect petition with the models CAS wants investigated, the recall notice for Chrysler's fuel pump recall and the automaker's statement about it.

News Source: The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, Chrysler

Image Credit: Paul Sakuma / AP Photo

Horses, beer and Mercedes-Benz take credit for the van

Posted Sep 29th 2014 10:12AM

Mercedes pioneers the van

There may not be as many minivans on the road as there used to be, but make no mistake about it: the van is still an indispensable mode of transportation. Especially for things like beer, ice cream, flowers, teams of television adventurers, and... more beer. There have been many automakers that have made vans over the years, and many that still do. But Mercedes-Benz is keen to point out that it pioneered the van.

In this light-hearted, minute-and-a-half-long video clip, Mercedes takes us from the advent of the van before the turn of the century (the previous century, that is) through its gestation and evolution into the vital vehicle that it is today. But it never would have happened if not for some tired horses and many beer-swilling Germans, the former owing their thanks to the latter... and, if the narrative is to be believed, all of us owing that pioneering spirit to Mercedes.

News Source: Mercedes-Benz via YouTube

Volvo V40 Cross Country gets the all-wheel drive it deserves

Posted Sep 29th 2014 9:28AM

2015 Volvo V40 Cross Country

Want a rugged Volvo wagon? Gothenburg has two kinds to offer: there's the XC crossovers on the one hand and ruggedized wagons on the other. As we reported last month from the unveiling of the new XC90 in Sweden, Volvo plans on offering more Cross Country wagons in the future. But in the meantime, it has upgraded the existing V40 Cross Country with some key enhancements – not the least of which is the long-awaited addition of all-wheel drive.

Powertrain upgrades for Volvo's smallest soft-roader include the new T5 engine (a 1.7-liter turbo four producing 245 horsepower), an eight-speed automatic transmission and all-wheel drive. The new powertrain is not only more capable, but also more environmentally friendly than the old T5 it replaces.

The enhanced V40 Cross Country launches in Europe mid-fall before being rolled out in other markets in the following months, but unfortunately the United States is not among them as the V40 is not offered Stateside in any configuration, which is a shame.

News Source: Volvo

VW introduces updated Vento sedan in India

Posted Sep 29th 2014 8:46AM

Volkswagen Vento

Go just about anywhere in the world and you can pick up a new Golf, but beyond that, Volkswagen offers individual models catered to local markets. European buyers can drive off in the Up!, South Americans can get their hands on the Saveiro, Chinese customers have the new Lamando at their disposal, and in India, VW offers the Vento.

Essentially a Polo with a longer wheelbase and a trunk, the Vento is a bare-bones economy sedan, and it's just undergone a facelift. The updates are mostly familiar from the latest Polo, with sharper lines, new headlamps and a revised interior with three-spoke steering wheel.

Powertrain options include a 1.2- and 1.6-liter gasoline engines and a 1.5-liter TDI, mated to either a five-speed manual or seven-speed automatic transmission, with trim levels including Trendline, Comfortline and Highline. Either way, you're looking at a fairly basic form of transportation, with only the top trim coming with features like stability management and dual front airbags.
Related Gallery2014 Volkswagen Vento
2014 Volkswagen Vento2014 Volkswagen Vento2014 Volkswagen Vento

News Source: Volkswagen via Indian Autos Blog

McLaren rolls out more accessible 625C in Asia

Posted Sep 29th 2014 8:00AM

McLaren 625C

When McLaren first introduced the 650S, the initial idea was to keep the 12C it effectively replaced around as a more accessible option – particularly in certain Asian markets where buying a new car, much less an exotic supercar, is an even costlier endeavor than it is in other markets. Woking soon changed track and discontinued the 12C, but has now addressed that "entry-level" demand with the introduction of the new 625C.

Based closely on the 650S, the 625C is being launched in Hong Kong and will be available exclusively in the Asia Pacific region, making this McLaren's first "regionally tailored" model. It's powered by McLaren's signature 3.8-liter twin-turbo V8, but carries the same 616-horsepower output as the 12C touted before it's demise. It also gets a softer rear suspension to make the Club model both "more refined and more accessible" than the 650S.

As a result of the decrease in power, 0-62 is quoted at one tenth slower than the 650S at 3.1 seconds, while top speed and emissions figures remain the same. Asian buyers will be able to opt for coupe and convertible body-styles, but what's particularly interesting for those in other regions is that the 625C paves the way for other variants tailored to specific markets (say, like the North American one, for example) and that the nameplate ostensibly sets the precedent for a new naming scheme to usher McLaren away from its previous disparate nomenclature (12C, 650S, P1) and into a more clearly defined hierarchy.

News Source: McLaren

Morgan Plus 8 Speedster hits the track versus BMW R Nine T

Posted Sep 28th 2014 7:09PM

Evo: BMW R Nine T vs. Morgan Plus 8 Speedster

Evo is back at it with its car-versus-bike races, following up on the all-British Jaguar/Triumph battle from last weekend with an (almost) all-BMW affair, pitting the German brand's stylish and vintage-looking R Nine T against the British-built, BMW-powered Morgan Plus 8 Speedster.

Unlike last week's battle, though, we're guessing this contest will be quite a bit more even. See, the F-Type had 380 horsepower and plenty of body fat to haul about. The Morgan, though, is nearly as powerful (367 ponies) and is far lighter, at around 2,200 pounds. The BMW, meanwhile, isn't quite the track star that the lightweight Triumph Street Triple R.

You'll need to check out the video to see whether two wheels or four wheels will prevail. Have a look.

News Source: EVO via YouTube

Brabham returns with open-source, crowd-funded racing team [w/video]

Posted Sep 28th 2014 5:30PM

Jack Brabham

A lot has happened since Sir Jack Brabham went down in history as the the only driver ever to win the Formula One World Championship in his own car. His offspring have followed in his footsteps, with two of his sons (Geoff in 1993 and David in 2009) having won at Le Mans with Peugeot. Bernie Ecclestone used the team as a springboard to seize control of F1's commercial rights. The Brabham name was subsequently adopted by a BMW tuner. And finally, Sir Jack himself left this world this past May. But his family is fighting to regain control of their name and bring it back to the world stage.

The plan, being initiated by Sir Jack's youngest son David, is to relaunch the Brabham name in a number of international racing series. And to get there, the Brabhams are counting on public support. They've launched a crowdsourcing campaign on Indiegogo to raise funds for racing activities, and in return for public contributions, promise to provide "unrivaled access" to the team's inner workings in an open-source racing platform.

The first step will be to enter the FIA World Endurance Championship – including the 24 Hours of Le Mans – in the LMP2 class starting next season. It will need to raise £8 million ($13m) to get up and running and onto the grid, and is raising contributions in increments of £250,000 ($400k). In other words, participating in the initiative will be a bit more costly than funding a new fashion label or gadget startup, but promises to give backers more than a t-shirt or a new toy: funders will participate in the development of the car, vote on key team decisions, and take advantage of the new Brabham-Digital platform as either a fan, a driver or an engineer, following the team and its progress as if they were on the pit wall, in the cockpit or in the garage.

It's racing democratized, or so at least it promises, and we'll be looking forward to seeing the project materialize. After the initial stage in LMP2, Brabham hopes to participate in Formula E and other racing series and eventually make it back into F1 – the series where Sir Jack Brabham won three world championships himself and his team racked up two constructors' titles and four drivers' championships over the course of three decades on the grid.

Find out more in the video below, the project's website and its Indiegogo page.

News Source: Brabham

James Bond's Goldfinger Aston Martin still missing after 17 years

Posted Sep 28th 2014 3:45PM

James Bond stolen DB5

James Bond is inextricably linked with British motoring, especially Aston Martin, but the spy with a license to kill is missing one of his most famous cars. The original DB5 packed with gadgets for the movie Goldfinger has been lost for the last 17 years with no leads as to its whereabouts.

This year is the 50th anniversary of the original release of Goldfinger – the third film that came out in the James Bond series. The movie was a smashing success in its day and forged the connection between the super spy and Aston Martin. After all, the car was every little boy's dream with machine guns in the front fenders, tire cutters in the wheels, an ejector seat and other amazing gadgets.

After it's life on the big screen, the original gadget car eventually ended up in Boca Raton, FL, at least until 1997. That's when a real-life Auric Goldfinger heisted the DB5, and it hasn't been seen since. A recent report from WPTV from West Palm Beach, FL, talked to people from the area familiar with the caper and its status today.

Assuming the car is still intact, Bond's Aston Martin would likely be worth several million dollars on the open market these days. For example, a DB5 that appeared in Goldfinger and Thunderball sold in 2010 at auction for $4.6 million. Check out the video for the full story on this long lost movie star.

Dodge Challenger SRT Hellcat #0001 raises $825,000 for charity

Posted Sep 28th 2014 2:00PM

2015 Dodge Challenger SRT Hellcat #0001 in Stryker Red

$60,000 doesn't strike us as a lot to pay for a muscle car with 707 horsepower on tap. $825,000... now that's a different story. But, according to the official SRT blog, that's how much one generous and eager buyer paid for the privilege of getting his (or her) hands on the very first new Dodge Challenger SRT Hellcat.

Decked out in Stryker Red paint that's usually reserved for the Viper, the supercharged Challenger bearing the VIN 0001 went up for auction at the Mandalay Bay hotel and casino in Las Vegas on Saturday under the auspices of Barrett-Jackson. By the time bidding ended, the gavel dropped at $825,000 – nearly 14 times the sticker price – 100 percent of which will benefit Opportunity Vehicle, a charity that aids the intellectually handicapped in the Las Vegas Area.

News Source: SRT

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