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Audi scores first CA autonomous car permit

Posted Sep 17th 2014 3:45PM

Audi Connect Autonomous Driving

Audi apparently knows how to get to the front of a line when it comes to driverless vehicles. The German automaker had the honor of being the very first company to receive one of California's new autonomous vehicle driving permits. It was a perfect followup to it being among the earliest ones to get a similar permit in Nevada a few years ago.

Getting the California permit is a big deal for the automaker because the state is also home to Audi's Electronics Research Lab. Among its current projects, Audi is working on the human-machine interface to communicate whether the person or vehicle is actually controlling the driving. All of this hard work is building toward offering autonomous motoring in freeway conditions in the next five years, Audi claims.

Obviously, autonomous vehicles from companies like Google have been testing in California for a while, but the new permits are meant to safeguard public safety when testing the driverless cars in public. The new rules include things like always having a person able to take control and more stringent standards like registering each autonomous car and the eligible drivers with the state. Any models testing on public roads also have to carry at least $5 million in insurance in case of injury, death or property damage.

Audi has been toiling away at getting autonomous technology to work for years now. In addition to the Nevada testing, it recently showed off its Traffic Jam Assistant, and the company's driverless TTS made it up Pikes Peak in 2010. Scroll down to read about its latest step forward with the next-gen tech.

News Source: Audi

Top Gear pits V8 supercar against stunt plane, Komatsu tractor

Posted Sep 17th 2014 3:00PM

Australian V8 Supercar takes on a Plane and Komatsu Tractor for Top Gear

Traditional motorsports pit a bunch of roughly equivalent vehicles over a course to find out which driver has the most skill and which car has the right tweaks to score a victory against the competitors. But Top Gear is anything but traditional. It decided to stage two very different kinds of races to see how things went during the Top Gear Festival Sydney.

The first race of this video has Australian V8 Supercars champion Jamie Whincup in a Holden competing against a stunt plane. Unfortunately, even the hosts admit that the stunt doesn't quite go as expected, but it all looks pretty good as everything goes wrong.

The next competition probably goes closer to plan as Whincup lines up alongside James "Captain Slow" May in a Komatsu front-end loader. Obviously, the heads-up race would never work; so the challenge is much simpler. May just has to drive the 1,970 feet to the finish line faster than the V8 Supercar laps the whole 1.74-mile track. Whincup manages some impressive drifts during his lap. Check out the video to see who wins the two challenges.

News Source: Top Gear via YouTube

Lamborghini announces new car coming to Paris with cryptic teaser

Posted Sep 17th 2014 2:15PM

Lamborghini Paris teaser image

"Once perfection is achieved, you can just double it."

What in the name of Ferruccio Lamborghini does that mean? Well, we have no idea, and we think that's sorta the point. Lamborghini wants us to know that it's bringing something very interesting to the Paris Motor Show, and it wants the public and press alike wondering what it might have up its finely tailored sleeves.

Taking a look at the white-on-black line drawing that accompanies the teaser (click above to enlarge), we note a pretty clear fastback shape, which reminds us of the classic Espada, and we also know that the brand has long been considering a four-door sedan to add to its high-performance portfolio. Either way, a four-seater or a four-door machine could seemingly fit with the "double it" tagline of the teaser, and we're really just speculating anyway.

So, while we get nary a blink of sleep ahead of the car's October 2nd Paris debut, feel free to dissect the teaser yourselves and let us know what you think it is in Comments.

News Source: Lamborghini

Kia Soul getting turbo power, possible AWD

Posted Sep 17th 2014 1:29PM

2015 Kia Soul

It's been a long time coming, but it appears we might finally see a turbocharged Kia Soul next year. Kia officials reportedly confirmed the hotter Soul to Motor Trend recently, and also stated that the company is (still) investigating the use of all-wheel drive for the next generation of its boxy hatchback.

The turbo Soul will arrive with the same 1.6-liter four-cylinder found in the Forte, rated at 201 horsepower and 195 pound-feet of torque. According to Motor Trend, Kia wanted to launch the hotter Soul this year, but didn't have the retuned steering or suspension calibration, as well as the larger brakes, ready in time. Transmission pairings weren't discussed, but Kia does mate both its six-speed manual and automatic units to the 1.6T.

As for all-wheel drive, this isn't the first time we've heard reports on this front, and it seems like a pretty natural fit, to us. Adding AWD would allow the Soul to better compete with vehicles like the Nissan Juke and the upcoming Chevy Trax and Jeep Renegade. But as of right now, a four-wheels-driven Soul hasn't been given an official go-ahead.
Related Gallery2015 Kia Soul
2015 Kia Soul2015 Kia Soul2015 Kia Soul2015 Kia Soul2015 Kia Soul2015 Kia Soul2015 Kia Soul2015 Kia Soul

News Source: Motor Trend

Complete set of Batmobile images snapped on streets of Detroit

Posted Sep 17th 2014 12:46PM



Detroiters have been spotting the newest Batmobile from the upcoming film, Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, for a few weeks now. The leaks were steady enough that director Zack Snyder even tweeted out a glossy (yet cropped) image of how the vehicle will actually appear in the movie.

Still, we were as happy as kids when we saw this new set of Batmobile spy shots come through today, as there's nothing like seeing this movie-star-car in a real-life setting to emphasize just how wild it really is.

As we discussed before, heavy doses of the outgoing Tumbler Batmobile can be seen in the XXL proportions and glancing armor plating of this new car, though the sleek domed cockpit harkens back to Tim Burton's vision for the thing. Take a look at some of the snaps with the Batmobile next to cars on the street, and you'll get an idea of just how long and wide it really is.

It's notable, too, that this version of The Dark Knight's wheels is, perhaps, the most overtly offensive from an armaments perspective. The twinned guns on the nose of the car are far less subtle than hidden weapons on other Batmobiles – a topic discussed in some length after the Snyder shot was released. Perhaps having some extra shells in the air will be helpful when going up against The Man of Steel?

Image Credit: Brian Williams / KGP Photography

2015 Kia Sedona

Injecting New Life Into A Tired Segment, But Will Anyone Notice?

Posted Sep 17th 2014 11:59AM

2015 Kia Sedona

Minivan sales have stagnated in recent years, and Kia tells me that no fewer than 15 models have been completely eliminated from the market since crossovers rose to prominence. So why in the world is the company not only sticking by the Sedona, but also actively investing in it, giving it a complete overhaul for the 2015 model year?

The Korean automaker isn't convinced that the minivan's "family box" reputation is truly warranted, and it sees an opportunity to snare younger, more active buyers by designing, engineering and marketing the Sedona as something versatile, edgy and comfortable. While that logic may seem both a bit familiar and somewhat far-fetched, Kia says forty-five percent of minivan buyers don't actually have kids and are instead simply looking for space, so the approach should be based at least in part on sound reasoning.

I spent an afternoon in Northern California behind the wheel of Kia's new non-minivan with a healthy does of skepticism about its new strategy, but an open mind, as well. Does the Sedona's execution live up to Kia's lofty criteria and expectations of what a nontraditional minivan should be? Will buyers ditch their CUVs for something with a little more junk in the trunk? Read on to find out.

Vital Stats

Engine:
3.3L V6
Power:
276 HP / 248 LB-FT
Transmission:
6-Speed Auto
Base Price:
$25,900
As-Tested Price:
$42,995

Image Credit: Copyright 2014 Michael Zak / AOL

Is it illegal to use the Apple Watch while driving?

Posted Sep 17th 2014 11:29AM

Apple Inc. Reveals Bigger-Screen iPhones Alongside Wearables

In conjunction with the typical Internet feeding frenzy that goes hand in hand with the announcement of each new iPhone, Apple has been cited in countless headlines this week after its debut of its new Apple Watch on September 9. The so-called "smartwatch" is far from an industry first – Samsung, Motorola and Pebble all have models on the market, and who can forget 2003's Fossil Wrist PDA? – but as per usual, Apple's entry is garnering more than its fair share of media attention.

The Apple Watch ("iWatch" to many) has also raised interest of a more ominous sort from certain regulatory bodies. Last week, multiple automotive outlets in the United Kingdom ran stories quoting officials from that country's Department for Transport as saying that use of an iWatch while driving would carry the same penalty as use of a mobile phone. For the Brits, then, getting nabbed checking an alert on one's wrist might mean the same 100-pound fine (about $160) that was instated last August.

For the Brits, getting nabbed checking an alert on one's wrist might mean a $160 fine.

If that seems like a strong response to a product that won't even hit the market until next year, UK road safety research body the Institute of Advanced Motorists would like to have a word. In a recent release, the IAM unfavorably compares the use of a smartwatch while driving to its studies of smartphone use, suggesting that such watches might demand two-handed use by drivers with "constant alerts" requiring "regular attention" from those behind the wheel.

Now, as right-hand steering wheels will tell you, the British and we Americans don't always see eye-to-eye on traffic code. With the exception of a few challenges to the legality of driving with Google Glass, distracted driving laws in the US haven't seemed to move past the paradigms of smartphones, hands-free headsets and texting.

Distraction.gov compiles a list of the distracted driving laws from state to state in the US, which really run the gamut from no bans at all (Montana), to primary offenses for the use of handheld phones, all texting, and any cell phone use whatsoever for bus drivers (California).

Most states have some laws on the books regarding texting while driving, however, as its consumption of visual, manual and cognitive attention from the driver is the most negatively engaging.

Importantly, a lot of distracted driving laws also use the term "handheld" in their prohibitions. A smartwatch might not require the use of your hand any more than a traditional watch does, though many (Apple Watch included) will use touch controls for some features. It's logical that some of the "handheld" laws might transition to smartwatch use, though it's still pretty difficult to understand how these bans might be enforced with any consistency.

We reached out to representatives at the US Department of Transportation and others for comment, and have yet to get a statement, but the truth seems to be that this is an area that is still just being considered for study. As ever, the legal code will trail technology despite the best efforts of all involved. One thing seems pretty clear even now, though – we're all better drivers with both hands on the steering wheel.

News Source: IAM.org.uk, Distraction.gov, Auto Express

Image Credit: Bloomberg / Getty Images

2015 Cadillac ATS Coupe configurator is ready to get personal

Posted Sep 17th 2014 11:00AM



If you are in the market for a luxury coupe but would prefer it to be American, then you are in luck because the configurator for the 2015 Cadillac ATS Coupe is now online.

Prices for the Cadillac start at $38,990 (including the $995 destination fee) for the 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder with 272 horsepower and 295 pound-feet of torque, or $46,145 for the 321-hp, 275-lb-ft 3.6-liter V6. Gearbox options include a six-speed manual on some 2.0 models or a six-speed automatic on both of them, and they can be ordered with all-wheel drive for $2,450 to the four-cylinder or $2,600 to the 3.6.

One thing that Cadillac does especially well here is giving customers a plethora of models and options to choose from. Trim level choices include standard, luxury, performance and premium for the four-cylinder or luxury, performance and premium for the V6. There are also 10 colors available, five of which carry an extra premium of $495 or $995. Upgraded interior packages for $1,295 add improved trim and leather, as well.

The two major option packages for the ATS Coupe are Cadillac's Cue Infotainment, the price of which varies with the various trims and is standard on premium models. There's also a Driver Assist Package for $3,035 that adds adaptive cruise control, collision preparation with brake assist, automatic braking, rear cross traffic alert, side blind zone alert and lane change alert.

If you like the angular looks of the ATS sedan but just wish it had two fewer doors and a touch more style, then go build an ATS Coupe to see what you think.

News Source: Cadillac

Image Credit: Related images copyright 2014 Steve Siler / AOL

Holden celebrating V8 Supercars legend Craig Lowndes with special Commodore

Posted Sep 17th 2014 10:15AM

Holden Commodore SS V Craig Lowndes Special Edition

Craig Lowndes is a household name in Australia. One of its most accomplished domestic racing drivers, Lowndes has racked up an impressive array of checkered flags over the course of his 20 years on the grid, and now Holden is celebrating his career with a special-edition muscle car you see here.

The Craig Lowndes SS V Special Edition Commodore is based on the flagship Redline performance model, which means a 6.0-liter V8 churning out 351 horsepower and 391 pound-feet of torque in a four-door sedan similar to the Chevy SS. But for the Lowndes edition, GM's Aussie division has applied special stripes, badges and more, with exact specifications and pricing yet to be revealed. But it will also invite buyers to special events with Lowndes and his Red Bull Racing team.

For those of us who don't follow Australian racing, Lowndes has had an impressive career. He started out 20 years ago when he won Australia's Triple Crown of motorsport in his rookie season, taking the Australian Touring Car Championship (now known as V8 Supercars), the Bathurst 1000 and the Sandown 500 all in his first year. Over the course of the two decades since, Lowndes has taken three championships, five Bathurst wins and a record 97 race wins to become one of Australia's most victorious racing drivers – driving for Holden since 1996.

News Source: Holden

Citroen and Ines de La Fressange Paris show off two new concepts

Posted Sep 17th 2014 9:31AM

Citroën DS3 Ines de La Fressange Paris Concept

Citroën DS3 Cabrio Ines de La Fressange ParisCitroën is taking some inspiration from the famous Parisian style with two new, chic concepts based on the DS3 (above) and DS3 Cabrio (right) with input from the fashion house Ines de La Fressange Paris. There aren't any actual mechanical tweaks to them; they just show what the cars could look like with a dash of haute couture.

The DS3 hatchback gets a spray of Ink Blue, satin-finish paint with a slightly contrasting Onyx Black roof, and its Cabrio sibling wears gloss Perla Nera Black body with an Infinite Blue softop roof. Other than the colors, they share a ton of other features with Ines Red mirror caps, 17-inch wheels, an Ines de la Fressange Paris emblem on the center pillar and a subtle Aéropostale red, white and blue trim strip wrapping around the back. They're both handsome vehicles, but it's hard to understand why some extra paint and trim make them concepts.

Inside, the two of them are identical, and their blue, white and red color scheme echoes the French flag. Compared to the relatively subtle exteriors, the dashboard is covered in eye-piercing Ines Red with the company's emblem. The seats are covered in Granite Blue leather with white stitching to get all of the colors in there. The Aéropostale trim strip also gets used again on the seats.

Both DS3 concepts will make their world premiere at the DS World Paris on September 17, and they they'll also be on display at the Paris Motor Show in October. Scroll down to read the full announcement about these stylish Parisian hatches.

News Source: Citroën

ATS gives up on De Tomaso, moves to Canary Islands [UPDATE]

Posted Sep 17th 2014 8:44AM

ATS Sport

UPDATE: ATS appears to be going through a management dispute between its two owners - one party supporting the course of action described below and the other working to stop it and keep ATS in Italy. We'll be watching to see how it develops.

Those truly schooled in the history of Italian sports cars will recognize the letters ATS. They belong to Automobili Turismo e Sport, an outfit formed after the great "Palace Revolution" at Ferrari in the early 1960s. ATS folded a few years after that, but recently resurfaced some 50 years later under new caretakers. And now it's changing hands again.

In correspondence with Autoblog, ATS chief Gianluca Gregis revealed a number of changes in store for the resurgent niche automaker. For one thing, it has new investors, which means new money for new projects. For another, it's leaving Italy – shifting from its current base of operations in Borgomanero to a new facility in the Canary Islands. The move to the Spanish archipelago off the coast of Morocco means easier shipping to locations around the world (including North America) and certain tax incentives as well.

In the process, however, ATS is jettisoning some dead weight. It was set to take over De Tomaso after Gian Mario Rossignolo failed to make a go of it, but has now withdrawn its bid. It's also sold its most recent Leggera roadster program to another automaker, yet to be identified. From its new base of operations, ATS intends to focus primarily on track cars like the recently upgraded LMP-style ATS Sport (pictured above). Meanwhile development of the proposed ATS 2500 GT, we're told, moves apace.
Related Gallery2015 ATS Sport
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Image Credit: ATS

Peugeot heirs go back to the grind after losing automaking business

Posted Sep 17th 2014 7:58AM

FRANCE-ECONOMY-PEPPERMILL

The Peugeot family has long been the largest shareholder in the company that bears its name. But PSA Peugeot Citroën – one of Europe's largest automakers – recently launched a capital campaign that saw it sell large chunks of shares to overseas investors, decreasing the Peugeot family's stake from 25.5 percent to 14.1 percent. The move meant that the Peugeots are no longer in control of Peugeot SA (PSA), so now they're looking to other interests. Like pepper grinders.

If you've ever traveled to Europe, you may have seen a Peugeot pepper grinder on the tables of finer restaurants. The Peugeot family started out making pepper grinders, coffee mills and bicycles in the early 1800s before it got into the car business, but like Volvo cars (which is owned separately from Volvo trucks) or Husqvarna motorcycles (which has nothing to do with the home appliance and power tools operations of the same name), the Peugeot pepper-grinder business has nothing to do with the automaker.

The family recently began diversifying its assets and this past June regained control of PSP Peugeot SAS, the company that makes the grinders. Now that the carmaking business is out of its hands, the family is putting its nose back to the grindstone and focusing on the peppermill operation.

According to Bloomberg, the company's new chairman Jean-Philippe Peugeot and chief executive Philippe Rapacz have a turnaround plan in place that will target medium and upscale customers with its premium pepper grinders while dropping the PSP Instruments tooling business that was losing money.

News Source: Bloomberg

Image Credit: Sebastien Bozon / AFP / Getty

Xcar goes analog with the Ferrari F40

Posted Sep 16th 2014 8:00PM

Ferrari F40

We will forever be in love with the Ferrari F40. From its blunt-force appearance to its 2.9-liter twin-turbocharged V8 engine living and breathing perilously close to the driver's head, the F40, the last model designed and built with input from Enzo Ferrari himself, has been and likely always will be the Ferrari of Ferraris for automotive enthusiasts who grew up in the 1980s.

All of this raises an interesting question: is the Ferrari F40 the best supercar of all time? A case can certainly be made, and after watching – and, just as importantly, listening to – all 17 minutes of blood-red Italian glory from Xcar, you're going to have to try long and hard to convince us that anything could be sweeter than this particular Prancing Horse.

Watch the video above, aptly titled Analogue Animal. You owe it to yourself. So go ahead, sit back, turn up your speakers and click play.

News Source: Xcar Films via YouTube

What you missed on 9.16.14

Posted Sep 16th 2014 7:30PM

Daily U-Turn

Bugatti VeyronBugatti Dynamic Driving Experience

Ever wonder what it's like to have so much money that you can literally buy anything you want? What would that be like? Our man Basem Wasef gets to play the part of the rich distinguished gentleman as he learns what it's like to be courted by Bugatti, and it sounds just as amazing as you would expect it to be.





robotic car Do we need a Federal Robotics Commission?

In case you hadn't noticed, today's cars and trucks are incredibly complex pieces of machinery with an ever-increasing bevy of computer programming baked in. And that's a trend that isn't going to be changing any time soon. Does the US need a Federal Robotics Commission to monitor such future tech as driverless cars?




Bentley Mulsanne SpeedBentley Mulsanne Speed is a monster of torque

Torque. It's good. In fact, it's great. Torque is the force that gets a car's wheels moving, and the more of it an engine produces, the more smoke its rear wheels can create on their way to pushing a car forward. So, how much torque is enough? How about 811 lb-ft at just 1,750 rpm? Yes, Bentley, that sounds like *just* enough.




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