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Kia Soul EV priced at $33,700*, leases start at $249/month

Posted Sep 11th 2014 3:44PM

Kia Soul EV in blue

Kia must have thought VW was aiming a little high when the German automaker priced its upcoming electric vehicle for the US market. Kia has just announced that the price for its new Soul EV will be $33,700 (before any tax incentives) when it comes to the US later this year. That's well above the base model Nissan Leaf, which starts at $28,980, but a few thousand dollars below the Volkswagen e-Golf, which starts at $35,445.

The upper end Plus model starts at $35,700.

The Soul EV will come in two trim levels, with the upper end Plus model starting at $35,700. The extra $2,000 will get you leather-trimmed heated and ventilated seats, fog lamps and power folding mirrors. As any EV driver in a cold climate will tell you, heated seats can do a lot for your body comfort when electrons count. Every Soul EV will have an onboard 6.6-kW charger, a nav system, a rear camera and Kia's UVO EV Services connection (with app) – as well as Kia's $800 destination charge. There are a few more details in the press release below. The Soul also has something that its competitors don't: an official range of 93 miles thanks to a 27-kWh lithium ion battery pack. The Leaf sits pretty at 84 miles while the e-Golf has not yet been officially rated.

For those more interested in leasing than buying, the cost will be $249 per month with $1,999 down for the base model. Kia will announce more lease details closer to launch this fall. By the way, the Soul EV will be "initially available in certain California markets only with limited availability," so only some of you will have the option to get one from the start. Kia has said that the Soul EV will be available in other states –Oregon, New York, New Jersey and Maryland – as well, so expect announcements on that front at some point.

News Source: Kia

Image Credit: Copyright 2014 Drew Phillips / AOL

Conan O'Brien takes McConaughey's Lincoln ad to its logical conclusion

Posted Sep 11th 2014 2:58PM

Matthew McConaughey Lincoln ad parody

We all had to see this coming. Conan O'Brien has released a parody of Matthew McConaughey's new ads for the 2015 Lincoln MKC and remixed them with lines from one of his most critically acclaimed recent roles.

The now much darker commercial probably isn't how Lincoln would prefer the MKC to be marketed, but really in a few of the actual ads, McConaughey already seems moments away from breaking into a full Rustin Cohle from True Detective impression. The cadence and tone of his voice are just so close to that character, especially in the one where he's talking to the bull standing in the middle of the road. It very nearly verges on parody anyway; Conan is just turning all of this up to 11.

It's a little surprising that the writers didn't dig a little deeper into the McConaughey oeuvre for the parody. Maybe McConaughey could have taken the MKC for a party at the Moon Tower from Dazed and Confused. In any case, it's worth a quick watch, so check it out.

News Source: Team Coco

Image Credit: Related images copyright 2014 Chris Paukert / AOL

Caterham F1 changes leadership again as Albers steps down

Posted Sep 11th 2014 2:16PM

Christijan Albers at Caterham

To say that there's been some instability at the Caterham F1 team lately would be a gross understatement. Caterham owner Tony Fernandes sold the team a couple of months ago, its team principal Cyril Abiteboul left for Renault, and a consortium of investors took over. They named former F1 driver Christijan Albers as team principal, supported by former HRT exec Manfredi Ravetto and advised by veteran strategist Colin Kolles. All the while it's been switching drivers back and forth, briefly replacing Kamui Kobayashi with three-time Le Mans winner André Lotterer before bringing Kobayashi back. And now it's switching team principals again.

Although it's unclear whether Albers saw his transitionary mission as complete or if there was some clash with his financial backers, the retired Dutch driver has reportedly stepped aside. In his place, rather than have Colin Kolles (who himself is reportedly working on starting his own team) calling the shots, the team has promoted Ravetto to team principal, with Kolles apparently serving as technical director.

Whether the reconfigured leadership can improve the team's fortunes remains to be seen, but one thing's for sure: there's only one way for Caterham to go, and that's up. In five seasons on the grid (previously under the Lotus banner before that naming dispute was resolved), the team currently known as Caterham (though who knows for how much longer) has utterly failed to distinguish itself. It has yet to take a podium finish (let alone a race win), rack up a pole or fastest lap or even score a single championship point, finishing in tenth or eleventh place in every season in which it has competed thus far.

News Source: Autosport

Image Credit: Charles Coates/LAT/Caterham

Aston Martin blacks out new Vanquish Carbon Edition [w/video]

Posted Sep 11th 2014 1:30PM

Aston Martin Vanquish Carbon Edition

Aston Martin and tuxedos go together like gin and vermouth, but those looking for that extra degree of formality need look no further than the British automaker's Carbon editions. Aston has bestowed the blacked-out treatment on the Vantage, DB9 and DBS, and has now turned its attention to the flagship Vanquish.

The new Vanquish Carbon Edition is being offered in coupe or convertible form, in either black or white. Based on the recently upgraded model with its new eight-speed paddle-shift automatic transmission, the Vanquish Carbon Black offers the same 6.0-liter V12 with 568 horsepower and 465 pound-feet of torque, good for a 3.6-second sprint to 60 and a top speed of 201 miles per hour.

What sets it apart from other Vanquish models is its special trim, including black window surrounds, blacked-out headlight trim, 10-spoke gloss-black alloys and an interior decked out with herringbone carbon-fiber trim, anodized black speaker grilles for the Bang & Olufsen audio system and available quilted leather upholstery.

We're waiting for the full details to be released, so watch this space. In the meantime, you can scope out the microsite and the dramatic video clip for a closer look at Aston's latest flagship in either Darth Vader or Storm Trooper treatment.

News Source: Aston Martin

Custom Tesla Model S features incredible light-up paint

Posted Sep 11th 2014 12:45PM

LumiLor electro-luminescent paint

One of the most fascinating things about documentaries which examine the bizarre creatures populating our Earth's oceans is the concept of bioluminescence. Deep down in the drink, there are jellyfish and other creatures able to emit their own light – often in beautiful, strobing patterns. And now, it's apparently possible to give your car a very similar look thanks to an electroluminescent paint called LumiLor from Darkside Scientific.

As you can see on the Tesla Model S in the above video, the paint allows the driver to animate the vehicle's exterior when it's dark in quite bright colors, but it looks completely normal during the day. On its website, Darkside Scientific claims that LumiLor can be applied in a variety of colors with a standard paint gun, but does require some added electronics to apply the alternating current that makes the paint illuminate. It even works on plastic, vinyl, glass and other materials. However, the one potential downside is the that company admits that LumiLor's brightness fades with continued use, but it doesn't say how quickly this degradation takes place.

Autoblog has reached out to Darkside Scientific to learn more about LumiLor, and we'll update this story when we hear back. In the meantime, check out this Tesla that glows eerily like a jellyfish deep in the ocean.

News Source: Lumilor, Darkside Scientific via Vimeo

2014 Maserati Ghibli Diesel

Burning Extra-Virgin Olive Oil Is Cheaper But Less Exciting Than You'd Think

Posted Sep 11th 2014 11:57AM

It used to be easier to make sense of the auto industry. There were mainstream manufacturers, and there were niche sports car manufacturers. That was before Porsche starting selling more crossovers than it does sports cars, Lamborghini began preparing to go down the same road, and Ferrari introduced an all-wheel-drive hatchback. But long before the arrival of the Cayenne, the unveiling of the Urus and the advent of the FF, the storied marque that is Maserati was already bolstering its sports car offerings with four-door sedans.

In fact, it's now been half a century and six generations since the launch of the original Quattroporte. So the idea of a four-door Maserati shouldn't come as any surprise by now, but the vehicle you see here has the Modenese automaker breaking new ground in another way entirely. And it's not the size, either: although the new Ghibli is smaller than the current QP, it's roughly the same size as the aforementioned original – not to mention the Dodge Charger, a corporate stablemate which similarly revived a coupe nameplate for a four-door sedan. No, what makes this Ghibli 'special' is what resides under the hood, because the model you're looking at packs the very first diesel Maserati has ever offered in its hundred-year history.

Sacrilege, you say? Maybe, but as so-called performance brands have turned their attention to four-door sedans and crossovers, they've also begun to embrace diesel propulsion. In Europe these days, even Porsche, Jaguar, the BMW M division and Audi Quattro GmbH are burning the midnight oil. So while it may be new territory for Maserati, the Ghibli is far from the first high-end, performance-oriented diesel on the Old World's market. It's also a vital addition to the brand's portfolio, particularly in Europe where the advantageous price of diesel fuel over gasoline (and the smaller volumes of fuel a diesel engine typically consumes) makes offering a model so equipped vital to the Trident marque's ambitious growth plans. The question, then, is whether it delivers.

Driving Notes
  • The basic parameters of the Ghibli should be familiar from our first drive in Italy and our subsequent review back on American roads. We won't go into the same depth in this short report, because this engine isn't coming to North America, and this diesel model is visually almost indiscernible from its benzine-burning stablemates. Suffice it to say that its evocative shape is a welcome addition to a segment that typically appeals to conservative tastes with cookie-cutter uniformity, but such non-traditional styling won't be for everyone: the shape may whisper "Italian Riviera" to some, but the detailing will say Buick Riviera to others.
  • The interior is a nice (if somewhat plain) place to be, the infotainment system is a marked improvement over those found in older Maseratis (thanks, Chrysler), and the seats are comfortable and supportive (if teetering a little too high for a proper sports sedan), but the cabin doesn't feel as special as a Maserati should, especially all in black like our tester.
  • Power in this least potent, most fuel-efficient Maserati comes from the same 3.0-liter V6 turbodiesel as you'll find in a variety of models under the Fiat-Chrysler umbrella, which has by now fully absorbed the VM Motori engine manufacturer that supplies it. In the Ghibli (as in the diesel Quattroporte), it's been retuned to produce 271 horsepower and 442 pound-feet of torque – which is, by both measures, more potent than the same engine as fitted to the Chrysler 300, Jeep Grand Cherokee and Ram 1500.
  • Relative to the diesel versions of the BMW 5 Series, for comparison's sake, that puts it smack in between the 535d available Stateside (with 255 hp and 413 lb-ft, sold overseas as the 530d) and the more powerful Euro-spec 535d (308 hp and 465 lb-ft) but well shy of the more performance-oriented M550d (376 hp/546 lb-ft). Clearly there's room for improvement, and we hope Maserati aims higher next time around.
  • Compared to the gasoline versions available in the US, the diesel Ghibli is down on power but up on torque, netting a (comparatively) lethargic 6.3-second 0-62 time versus to the 5.6 seconds quoted for the 345-hp base Ghibli (which gets a lower power rating overseas at 325 hp but the same torque and performance figures), and the 4.8 quoted for the top-of-the-line S with its 404 prancing horses (which comes standard with Q4 all-wheel drive in the US, available in Europe but not in the left-hand UK market). That's a hefty penalty in performance, which partially comes down to the difference in weight: the diesel model tips the scales at 4,045, which is heavier than either spec of the rear-drive gasoline models (but less than the all-wheel-drive version) - the diesel's extra torque failing to overcome the added weight under acceleration.
  • What you get in return, however, is far better fuel economy: 37 miles per gallon in the city, 56 mpg on the highway (by European standards) easily trumps the 20 mpg the base gasoline model gets in a European metropolis and 40 mpg between them. Factor in the diesel fuel that's cheaper in Europe and you're looking at a substantial savings at the pump.
  • The relative drop in performance, however, is not helped by a transmission that seems determined never to hold the gear selected, controlled (in addition to the paddles) by a console shifter that, to put it charitably, takes some getting used to. Naturally, the turbodiesel doesn't sound quite like a Maserati should, though the synthesizer engaged with the Sport button makes up for it, at least in part.
  • With the added weight in the nose – and on the punishing Hill Route at the Millbrook Proving Ground where we drove it – we didn't experience that perfect 50/50 weight balance Maserati's been crowing about with the gasoline versions. (Unfortunately we didn't get a chance to compare them back to back since the gasoline testers on hand, rather tellingly, ran out of fuel early on.) The impression with which we were left was one of a reasonably solid chassis, well damped from the surrounding environment, but saddled with a lackluster engine. We weren't entirely convinced, either, that a "reasonably solid chassis" can keep up in such a competitive segment – an impression further reinforced when we drove a diesel Panamera later the same day and a diesel Jag XF just a few days later, both of which (though based on older architectures) gave a better impression of the driver's connectedness to both machine and road.
  • The diesel Ghibli, however, is still new, and represents new territory for Maserati – one to which we trust it will become better adapted as development progresses... especially when a new diesel engine arrives. In the meantime, the current diesel, arguably better suited towards trucks than performance sedans, isn't one which American buyers should pine for when there are newer, better gasoline options available from Maserati and better diesels offered by the competition. At the end of the day, the diesel Ghibli's greatest achievement may very well be the more realistic proposition of actually driving one in Italy, where a troubled economy and high fuel prices – currently hovering at around $9 per gallon for gasoline and $8.50 for diesel – have made the sight of a Maserati on the road a tragically rare one.

Vital Stats

Turbodiesel 3.0L V6
271 HP / 442 LB-FT
8-Speed Auto
Base Price:
40,500 pounds
As-Tested Price:
51,965 pounds

Image Credit: Copyright 2014 Noah Joseph / AOL

Mini Cooper Hardtop 4-Door configurator is open for all

Posted Sep 11th 2014 11:30AM

Mini Cooper S Four Door Hardtop configurator

The Mini Cooper five-door hatchback, which the company insists on calling the Mini Hardtop 4 Door, doesn't start arriving at US dealers until January 2015. However, if you dig the latest model's styling but can't live without the two extra doors, you can start speccing one right now in the recently launched configurator.

The new five-door hatch isn't just the standard model with extra doors squished in. It rides on a 2.8-inch longer wheelbase and is 6.3-inches longer overall. That means more room for rear passengers and extra space to haul stuff in the boot. The engine options are shared though with a 1.5-liter turbocharged three-cylinder with 134 horsepower and 162 pound-feet of torque for the Cooper or a 2.0-liter turbo four-cylinder with 189 hp and 207 lb-ft in the Cooper S. Both are available with a six-speed manual or automatic.

Prices (including destination) for that extra space starts at $21,450 for the Cooper or $25,100 for the Cooper S, which is $1,000 more than the three-door in both cases. However, like any modern Mini, these guys are extremely customizable from the factory. There are an array of colors, 10 option packages and a ton of other add-ons to choose from.

We were pretty indiscriminate when checking the configurator out and didn't have much problem getting a Cooper S to over $36,000 and could have gone further. If you want to see what your own would cost, check out the Cooper Hardtop 4 Door here and the Cooper S Hardtop 4 Door here.

News Source: Mini [1], [2]

Fiat gives outgoing Ferrari chairman $35M severance package

Posted Sep 11th 2014 11:02AM

Luca di Montezemolo

Luca di Montezemolo may not have wanted to leave Ferrari this way, but don't feel too bad for the departing chairman, because he'll be hitting the ground with a golden parachute so big that he'll never have to work again.

According to the latest reports, Fiat will pay Montezemolo 26.95 million euros (nearly $35 million) in severance pay. A little more than half of that will be paid in a lump sum of 13.71 million euros ($17.7M, equivalent to five times his annual salary) on January 31, 2015, with the rest to be paid within the next 20 years.

The payment is contingent on Montezemolo not going to work for a competitor, so don't expect to see him replacing Stephan Winkelmann at Lamborghini or Wolfgang Dürheimer at Bugatti any time soon. At least not until March 2017. Of course with that much cash on hand, the 67-year-old marquis need never work again, but considering how busy he's used to keeping himself, we'd be surprised if he didn't pop up again somewhere.

Aside from his leadership of Ferrari, Montezemolo has also chaired the Fiat Group, the Formula One Teams Association, industry associations Confindustria and FIEG, a local university, a political think tank, an America's Cup sailboat racing team, the 1990 World Cup of soccer and a high-speed train network. Recent reports have linked him to ailing Italian airline Alitalia, whose leadership he could very well assume, while earlier reports suggested he could run for prime minister.

News Source: Reuters

Image Credit: Ferrari

2016 Mazda MX-5 Miata won't get power folding hardtop

Posted Sep 11th 2014 10:15AM

Mazda MX-5 Miata

Following the reveal of the 2016 Mazda MX-5 Miata, more and more details (and rumors – oh, the rumors) are coming out regarding exactly what's in store when the car finally goes on sale. Our own Chris Paukert had plenty to say about the exterior and interior, and we've now seen the first photo of the engine. But a new report from Automobile sheds even more light on the 2016 Miata – specifically, that the power folding hardtop model won't be available, at least initially.

Automobile reports that the 2016 MX-5 will only be offered with a cloth top, and an insider confirmed that the mechanism is light and accessible enough that it can be raised and lowered with one hand from inside the car. Mazda officials would not comment on the availability of a hardtop in the coming years.

That said, a hardtop Miata isn't out of the question. There will likely be some sort of fixed roof available – even as a one-piece, lift-off accessory – if only for club racing. Also, remember that the current NC Miata's hardtop is the only one on the market that doesn't take up any additional trunk space, so it's an attractive proposition for buyers. Currently, the power hardtop is only offered on the Club and Grand Touring MX-5 Miata trims.

Of course, the main philosophy with the 2016 MX-5 is making the car compact and light. Mazda has already confirmed that the new car sheds some 220 pounds versus its predecessor, and the hardtop mechanism would only increase the car's heft. But it's not like the hardtop hasn't been a success. Since its introduction in 2007, the take rate for the PRHT (Power Retractable Hard Top) model has been 52 percent, versus 48 percent for the softtop, a Mazda spokesperson tells Autoblog. With favorable numbers like that, we suspect it's only a matter of time before a newly engineered PRHT model hits the market.

What do you think? Will the ND Miata be better off without an available hardtop model, or will that hinder sales? Sound off in the Comments.

News Source: Automobile

Image Credit: Copyright 2014 Ronnie Fung / AOL

These are the front-runners to take over at Ferrari

Which One Of These Men Will Fill Montezemolo's Shoes?

Posted Sep 11th 2014 9:33AM

Luca di Montezemolo, Amedeo Felisa and Sergio Marchionne

Yesterday Ferrari announced a changing of the scarlet-clad guard with the departure of longtime chairman Luca di Montezemolo. Having run the company since shortly after the passing of Enzo Ferrari himself, Montezemolo built the Prancing Horse marque up to the benchmark supercar manufacturer, victorious racing team and household name it is today. In short, Ferrari – and most crucially, its parent company Fiat – will face a most difficult challenge in filling il Advocatto's handmade loafers and putting the company back on the track which Montezemolo laid down over the course of the past two decades.

The question on everyone's mind is, to whom will that challenge fall? To quote Goose from Top Gun, the list is long, but distinguished. Join us as we run down the roster of potential assentors to the leather-clad, carbon-fiber bucket seat at the head of the big table in Maranello.

Image Credit: Ferrari

Wiesmann still hoping for savior

Posted Sep 11th 2014 8:45AM

2011 Wiesmann Spyder Concept

The saga of Wiesmann dates back to the late 1980s when a pair of German brothers set out to make retro sports cars. The first model was built in 1993 and a steady stream of new coupes and convertibles powered by a variety of BMW engines trickled out of the factory ever since until the company ran into trouble a little over a year ago. Since then Wiesmann has meandered in and out of bankruptcy, but now the founding siblings are reportedly on the verge of securing new funding to get their company back up and running again.

The news reported by Dutch publication Autovisie indicates that Martin and Friedheim Wiesmann are in discussions with new investors. The identity of the latest potential backers remains undisclosed, but the founding brothers suggest that it could all be wrapped up within 4-6 weeks. Failing that, it seems Wiesmann could be down for the count.

Last week we reported that, at the time of its insolvency, Wiesmann was working on a new entry-level model with styling derived from the Spyder concept of 2011 (pictured above) and with a price that would undercut the previous MF3 base model. If new funding can be obtained and the company lifted out of bankruptcy, that new model could prove intrinsic to its resurgence. Otherwise it may never see the light of day.
Related GalleryWiesmann Spyder
Wiesmann SpyderWiesmann SpyderWiesmann SpyderWiesmann SpyderWiesmann SpyderWiesmann SpyderWiesmann SpyderWiesmann Spyder

News Source: Autovisie via GTspirit

Peugeot warms things up with new 308 GT

Posted Sep 11th 2014 7:58AM

Peugeot 308 GT

Peugeot chose wisely when it got back into the hot-hatch game. Instead of going after the big boys, it went small with the 208 GTI, which arrived around the same time as the latest Renaultsport Clio. Where Renault went with a crowd-pleasing five doors and a dual-clutch gearbox, Peugeot went old-school with three doors and a stick shift. Bolstered by positive reviews, Peugeot's been widely expected to apply a similar formula to the larger 308, but instead of going for Golf R territory, it's guardedly going after the GTI instead.

The new 308 flagship model packs a 1.6-liter turbo four – the same engine in the 208 GTI, not to mention a host of other PSA and Mini models – but with a touch more output, now up to 202 horsepower and 210 pound-feet of torque, driven to the front wheels through a six-speed manual transmission to send the 308 GT to 62 in 7.5 seconds (lamentably a full second off the pace of the VW GTI). It also gets a retuned and lowered suspension, upgraded brakes and rolling stock and sportier trim, but that's not the end of the story.

In addition to the five-door hatchback, Peugeot is also offering the 308 GT in wagon form, just like the Ford Focus ST. It's also offering a diesel option with a six-speed automatic. The 2.0-liter turbodiesel four packs 177 hp and 295 lb-ft, roughly comparable to the Golf GTD and new diesel Focus ST.

Considering the established tastes of the European buyers Peugeot will be going after with this new warm (if not piping hot) hatch, those four bodystyle and powertrain configurations might be enough to make the 308 GT a player, and maybe, just maybe, lead to an even hotter 308 GTI or 308 R at some point down the line. In the meantime the 308 GT will be unveiled at the Paris Motor Show next month.
Related Gallery2015 Peugeot 308 GT
2015 Peugeot 308 GT2015 Peugeot 308 GT2015 Peugeot 308 GT2015 Peugeot 308 GT2015 Peugeot 308 GT2015 Peugeot 308 GT2015 Peugeot 308 GT

News Source: Peugeot

Bear witness to the world's largest carwash

Posted Sep 10th 2014 8:00PM

Mr. Wash, Germany's largest car wash

The classic stereotype about Germans is that they are very fastidious with a preference for making things efficient, clean and well engineered. Stuttgart, home to Porsche and Mercedes-Benz , has another business in the city could show off a little of the country's perceived national character: Mr. Wash. The world's largest carwash, Mr. Wash is so spectacular that its arching two-story business (pictured above) is highlighted in a new video from The Wall Street Journal.

Mr. Wash doesn't really do anything special when it comes to cleaning vehicles; it just does its job on a massively industrial scale. At full capacity, the business can wash 400 vehicles an hour, or about half a million a year.

Prices seem reasonable, too, with a range between 6 and 20 euros ($7.50-$26) depending on what services customers want. On the bottom level there are even vacuums and cleaning machines for owners to use if they are real neat freaks. The Stuttgart location of Mr. Wash has a gas station, and it can also do oil changes. Check out the video to see how Germans keep their cars sparkling clean.

What you missed on 9.10.14

Posted Sep 10th 2014 7:32PM

Daily U-Turn

Audi TT2016 Audi TT driven in Spain

"While it's better than the second generation, it's still very much a TT." Those are Jonathon Ramsey's words about the fresh-faced Audi coupe, which he recently tested on the (decidedly dusty) roads of Spain. But there's plenty more to talk about with Audi's new two-door, and you can get the full scoop in our First Drive, here.

FerrariManagement shakeup at Ferrari

Ferrari's infamous CEO, Luca di Montezemolo, has officially stepped down, effective October 13. In his wake, Ferrari will be led by Fiat Chrysler Automobiles CEO Sergio Marchionne – until a more permanent solution can be found, anyway. This is a huge shakeup for the Italian brand, as Montezemolo has largely defined the recent history of Ferrari. Check out our full story for all of the details.

BatmobileHoly Batmobile, Batman!

Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice is currently being filmed in Detroit, and we're now seeing what appears to be the first photo of the Dark Knight's new ride, the all-important Batmobile. It looks certifiably awesome, and we bet it'll look even better on the big screen, when the movie hits theaters in 2016.

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