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Maserati confirms limited edition Quattroporte Zegna for production

Posted Jul 17th 2014 10:30AM

Maserati Quattroporte Zegna Limited Edition

Last year two of the biggest names in Italian style – one from the automotive industry and one from fashion – announced a partnership. Together Maserati and Ermenegildo Zegna revealed a "concept" version of the Quattroporte at the Frankfurt Motor Show, only given how production-ready the show car already looked, nobody really believed it would remain just a concept. And now, having revealed the final version in Geneva, Maserati has confirmed it for production.

Limited production, that is, because Maserati will only build 100 examples of the Quattroporte Zegna edition for consumption around the world. That's about one-thirtieth of the number of cars Maserati produces each month at this point, and while the Modenese automaker doesn't break down its sales figures by model, the QP accounts for a large proportion of those numbers. Maserati also hasn't said just how much it will charge for the Zegna edition, but you can bet it'll be a handsome premium – more than some of those designer-edition hatchbacks get at any rate – yet it'll undoubtedly offload the entire run in short order.

News Source: Maserati

2015 Toyota Sienna SE keeps the swagger, adds thoughtful updates [w/videos]

Posted Jul 17th 2014 10:00AM

2015 Toyota Sienna SE

2015 Toyota Sienna SEToyota found huge success with its "Swagger Wagon" rap video for the 2011 Sienna SE. It showed that a minivan could actually sort of maybe be fun and didn't have to be a lame vehicle for people who long ago lost their sense of humor. Now that there is a slight refresh for the 2015 model, the company is trying to capture that effervescent image again with a bunch of videos aimed at families.

For the latest launch, Toyota is partnering with some family-friendly online video stars and having them show off the Sienna's features. It's releasing YouTube videos from the creators of Action Movie Kid and Convos with My 2-Year-Old and a Vine from Eh Bee Family, and they all hope to show that it's cool to be a family with a minivan.

In terms of actual changes, though, the update is pretty light aesthetically, but the new tech inside seems aimed directly at mom and dad. However, unless you've got a sharp eye, spotting the exterior refresh might be tough. Toyota is tweaking the front end slightly by adding a dark mesh grille and trim. The headlights are also slightly reshaped to incorporate a new strip of available LED running lights.

As they say, it's what's on the inside that counts, and there are two, new features that parents with precocious kids are really going to love. First, the Driver Easy Speak system puts a built-in microphone near drivers that projects their voice through the rear speakers. That means no more yelling to sit down. There's also an optional pull-down mirror that lets drivers check out what rear passengers are doing without turning around.

Other interior updates include more soft touch materials and a standard panoramic backup camera. The optional 4.2-inch multifunction display can show navigation directions, and the optional seven-inch infotainment system gets capacitive switches with swipe controls.

The 2015 Sienna SE will make its public debut at Artscape, a free arts festival in Baltimore, MD, that runs from July 18-20. Scroll down to watch the videos and read Toyota's full announcement.
Related Gallery2015 Toyota Sienna SE
2015 Toyota Sienna SE2015 Toyota Sienna SE2015 Toyota Sienna SE2015 Toyota Sienna SE2015 Toyota Sienna SE2015 Toyota Sienna SE2015 Toyota Sienna SE2015 Toyota Sienna SE

News Source: Toyota

FBI fears autonomous cars will make great weapons

Posted Jul 17th 2014 9:30AM

Driverless Cars

Let's face it, autonomous cars aren't coming; they're already here. From Google's continual testing to promises from Nissan and Mercedes-Benz that the tech is on the way, the only direction that driverless vehicles are moving is forward. Although, we're already seeing the first joking jabs about the potential misuse of the cutting-edge systems like in Conan O'Brien's recent parody, and even the FBI is taking the possibility for abuse seriously.

The Guardian in Britain recently gained access to an unclassified report from the FBI that basically brainstorms potentially nefarious uses for the tech. The government agency has dreamed up all sorts of nightmare scenarios about how criminals might exploit cars no longer needing a driver. Many of them wouldn't even be possible given the current technological limits. Driverless vehicles "will have a high impact on transforming what both law enforcement and its adversaries can operationally do with a car," according to the report.

Among the FBI's biggest fears is simply that autonomous vehicles will allow drivers to take their hands off the steering wheel and not pay attention to the road. Imagine a high-speed chase where a criminal flips a switch into auto mode and can freely turn around and shoot at police. Furthermore, the agency worries that with some hacking, a driverless car could become a fantastic weapon. A terrorist could load one up with a bomb and send the model on its way with on one inside.

Hands-free driving is a double-edged sword, though, and the report also foresees autonomous cars making surveillance easier. Law enforcement officers could more easily tail a specific vehicle from farther away, and they would be unencumbered to take photos or video.

Obviously, we are still some years away from any of these fears becoming a reality. At the moment, truly autonomous vehicles are still in limited testing on public roads and can't even do some of the things that the FBI suggests. That's not keeping law enforcement from trying to stay one step ahead of the bad guys, though.

News Source: The Guardian

Image Credit: Eric Risberg / AP Photo

How Toyota's neighbor delayed 23,000 of its deliveries

Posted Jul 17th 2014 9:02AM

Toyota Motor Co Nagoya Port Center

Don't you just hate when your neighbors' mess becomes your problem? Toyota certainly has good reason to be upset, after an dirty mishap at a steel mill delayed thousands of vehicle exports from its nearby port in Nagoya, Japan, (pictured above) by as much as a month.

The messy situation occurred on June 22 when the mill near the port lost power and had to burn off an excess buildup of coke oven gas – which isn't exactly a situation friendly to living beings or the environment. According to Automotive News, it caused a massive amount of smoke to emit from the plant that fell as soot and tar on about 23,000 vehicles that were waiting to be shipped out. Getting the models properly cleaned off has been quite a task. A team of 5,000 workers were at the port until this week getting them gleaming again.

Potential Toyota buyers in North America have no need to fret about getting a sullied car, though. A Toyota spokesperson told Automotive News that none of the vehicles were bound for this continent. The automaker is reportedly considering asking the mill's owners for reimbursement for the cost of the weeks of cleanup. Paying for the mistake is, after all, the neighborly thing to do.

News Source: Automotive News - sub. req.

Image Credit: The Asahi Shimbun via Getty Images

2016 Mazda2 revealed ahead of Paris debut [w/videos] [UPDATE]

Posted Jul 17th 2014 8:16AM

2015 Mazda2

Small cars may be big business, but the world's automakers don't seem to be in any particular rush to keep them fresh. The new Smart Fortwo unveiled yesterday replaces a model that's already been around for seven years, one based on a structure dating back to the late '90s. The new Opel Corsa revealed just last week replaces a model that had been around for eight years. And the Mazda2 has been on the market in its current form for seven years now, but not for much longer, because Mazda has finally revealed its successor.

Set to be unveiled at the Paris Motor Show this October, the new Mazda2 follows the stylistic lead of this year's Hazumi concept remarkably close, from the sharply creased front end right down to the wheel design – bringing the supermini hatchback in line with the KODO design language that characterizes its bigger siblings: the Mazda3, Mazda6 and CX-5.

Although details released thus far are rather limited, and power will vary from one market to another, engine options center around a 1.5-liter four in both gasoline and diesel versions, joining the manual and automatic transmissions and the chassis itself under Mazda's Skyactiv technology umbrella. We wouldn't expect the diesel version to make it across the Pacific (or across the border from the plant that will build it alongside a new Toyota hatch in Mexico), but rumors have surfaced of a potential rotary hybrid. The new 2 will also include the company's MZD connectivity suite and i-Activsense safety technology.

Also sold as the Demio in certain regions (like the Japanese Domestic Market), the new Mazda2 represents a vital product for Mazda, which has sold over 2.4 million of them since the model line's introduction 1996. Production has already begun at Mazda's plant in Hofu near Hiroshima, Japan. Scope out the videos and press release below for a closer look.

UPDATE: We've updated this story with the US market press release, below, which confirms that the Mazda2 will be a 2016 model when it goes on sale here. A handful of new images have been added to the gallery above, as well.
Related Gallery2016 Mazda2
2016 Mazda22016 Mazda22016 Mazda22016 Mazda22016 Mazda22016 Mazda22016 Mazda22016 Mazda2

News Source: Mazda

Nico Rosberg signs new contract with Mercedes F1

Posted Jul 17th 2014 7:58AM

Nico Rosberg

When it comes to Formula One, you've got to admit that Mercedes has an eye for talent. When Honda pulled out of the sport, Mercedes swooped in and powered the Brawn GP team to the championship, then took it over and made two interesting hires to fill the race seats: an old talent in the form of Michael Schumacher, and a young one in Nico Rosberg. Schumi's return from retirement unfortunately didn't pan out, but it's kept Rosberg – who had already been on the grid for five seasons after winning the GP2 championship – on board ever since. And needless to say, it's finally paying off.

After languishing in the middle of the standings for four years but chalking up his first three checkered flags, Nico has been leading the championship this season, now just four points ahead of his teammate (and chief rival) Lewis Hamilton as the circus heads to Hockenheim for Nico and his team's home race. It's been a command performance for both driver and team this season – landing in either first or second at every single race – so little wonder that Rosberg and Mercedes have signed a new extended contract.

The team isn't saying in the press release below just how long the extension is for, saying only (in typical F1 style) that it's a "multi-year contract." If Mercedes and Nico – the son of 1982 world champion Keke Rosberg – can keep up the winning pace through the rest of the season and into the next, it will undoubtedly prove to be the smartest move either party has made yet.

News Source: Mercedes-Benz

Carpool Deville aims to be the world's fastest hot tub

Posted Jul 16th 2014 7:58PM

Carpool Deville

The world needs crazy inventors with wild dreams. While we might not long for the things that they create, their contraptions certainly make the day a little more enjoyable. Take the Carpool Deville as an example. Nobody (well, almost nobody) is asking for a hot tub fashioned from a 1969 Cadillac that is still drivable. But now that you know that such a beast exists, don't try to tell us you aren't at least intrigued.

The team behind the six-year-long project has a pretty ingenious setup worked out. The Caddy's original 472-cubic-inch (7.7-liter) V8 both provides propulsion and heats the water. The interior is entirely replaced with a watertight, fiberglass tub that includes working jets, and the controls are all done by hand.

As if just building a mobile hot tub isn't enough, the team behind the Carpool Deville plans to take it racing too. Specifically, they intend to go to the Bonneville Salt Flats later this year to make a top speed run while immersed in water at over 100 degrees. They even have a roll cage all set to install to meet the safety requirements there.

Everything appears to be all set to make the run in August. The team recently completed a successful Kickstarter campaign that raised $11,251 from a $10,000 goal to cover transportation expenses. Check out the Kickstarter page for a complete history of the whole project, including a previous attempt at making a carpool, and scroll down to watch their promotional video.

News Source: Kickstarter, Future Technology via YouTube

What you missed on 7.16.14

Posted Jul 16th 2014 7:31PM

Daily U-Turn

Dodge Challenger HellcatChallenger SRT Hellcat specs and price

Holy Hellcat. We'll have our first driving impressions of the 707-horsepower Challenger in the near future, but today, we learned that the cost of entry for this behemoth will be just $59,995. That's a steal, considering this 199-mph machine is the most powerful muscle car money can buy. We've got the full details on the rest of the 2015 Challenger range, too.




Nissan 370Z Nismo Quick Spin: 2015 Nissan 370Z Nismo

Despite being on the market for six years now, the Nissan 370Z is finally available in what is perhaps its best form. Meet the 2015 370Z Nismo – a more powerful version of the usual Z car with styling that's far more tame (and attractive) than Nismo versions before it. We had a chance to drive the new Z Nismo in Tennessee last week, and have the full scoop in our quick spin.




Smart ForTwo and ForFourNew Smart Fortwo and Forfour revealed

We'll be honest: the current Smart Fortwo is, well, not great. And the brand isn't exactly doing all that well, especially here in the States. But Daimler hasn't given up on its minicar, and has just released all the information on not only the next-gen Fortwo, but the aptly named, four-door Forfour. Read all about 'em, here.



Top Stories

Chevy Corvette Stingray defeating rivals where it matters most

Posted Jul 16th 2014 6:45PM

Chevrolet Corvette Stingray

Everything is coming up roses for the award-winning Chevrolet Corvette Stingray, as new data from the North American Dealers Association Used Car Guide, dissected by GM Authority, reveals that America's sports car is handily outselling two of its more expensive rivals.

Through June of 2014, the NADA notes that the Corvette has rung up 17,744 sales, handily besting the Porsche 911 and positively spanking the SRT Viper. Of course, you're sitting there thinking, "Corvette is outselling the much more expensive Porsche and Viper. Sky blue, water wet." But what's impressive here is just how thoroughly the Chevrolet is beating its two rivals, with this data serving as a testament to just how popular the seventh-generation sports car has become.

So far this year, Porsche has managed to move 5,169 911s, according to NADA. Considering that the base model starts at nearly $15,000 more than the most heavily optioned Stingray, and that Porsche owners have a vast, expensive options catalogue to select from, Stuttgart's sales are still plenty impressive in relation to the nearly 18,000 Corvettes sold.

The Viper, though, continues to simply flounder. With a starting price of $102,485 for a base model and $124,985 for the GTS, the Viper doesn't cover as vast a pricing range as the 911, but with only 354 units sold as of last month so far this year, it's far, far behind either the Porsche or the Corvette. Its more single-minded, uncompromising nature has undoubtedly served to limit its sales appeal to a larger audience.

And for those thinking that the Chevy is beating out its rivals simply because it's more affordable, GM Authority points out that it also easily bested the significantly cheaper (and older) Nissan 370Z in the first half of 2014. The Fairlady tallied up just 4,100 sales.

All in all, it's not a bad time to be a Corvette fan – or a Chevy dealer.

Ford auctioning off F-35-themed 2015 Mustang for charity

Posted Jul 16th 2014 6:01PM

2015 Ford Mustang F-35

Ford's been a supporter of EAA AirVenture, a huge, annual air show held in Oshkosh, WI, for several years now, with one of its most notable contributions being a modified Ford Mustang, designed to look like one of America's great fighting aircraft. There was an SR-71 Mustang, based on the legendary spy plane, a Red Tails edition, which honored the ground-breaking Tuskegee Airmen of World War II, as well as Blue Angels and Thunderbird Mustangs, based on America's two great military aerial demonstration teams.

Each car is auctioned off, with all proceeds going to the EAA Young Eagles program, which introduces kids to the joy of flight. For the 2014 AirVenture, which runs from July 28 to August 3, the one-off pony car is based on the new-for-2015 Mustang, and America's latest fighting aircraft – the controversial F-35 Lightning II.

The unique Mustang sports titanium paint scheme, with both glossy and matte sections, as well as yellow-and-blue trim and decal elements inspired by CF-1, the first F-35 test plane. A carbon-fiber front splitter and rear diffuser add some visual eye candy, while the interior boasts a set of Recaro seats. Ford also opted to fit unique wheels and a brawnier rear spoiler, to tie everything together.

Considering previous versions of the custom Mustang crossed the block for as much as $400,000, there's little reason to think that this latest example, based on the eagerly anticipated sixth-generation Mustang, will be a cheap buy. The fighter-jet-inspired muscle car will be auctioned off at the Gathering of Eagles charity event, on July 31.

News Source: Mustangs Daily

Image Credit: EAA Airventure

Autoblog Podcast #389

Johan De Nysschen Moves To Cadillac, BMW Nameplate Changes, 2nd-Generation Subaru BRZ, Cars We Miss

Posted Jul 16th 2014 5:45PM

Autoblog Podcast logo

Episode #389 of the Autoblog podcast is here, and this week, Dan Roth, Chris Paukert, and Mark Pereira from Autoblog Canada talk about Johan deNysschen's move to Cadillac, rumors of more BMW nomenclature changes, a second generation for the Subaru BRZ, and cars from 2004 that we miss. We start with what's in the garage and finish up with some of your questions, and for those of you who hung with us live on our UStream channel, thanks for taking the time. Check out the new rundown below with times for topics, and you can follow along down below with our Q&A. Thanks for listening!

Autoblog Podcast #389:

play


Topics:
In the Autoblog Garage:
Hosts: Dan Roth, Chris Paukert, Mark Pereira
Runtime: 01:59:10

Rundown:
  • Intro and Garage - 00:00
  • Johan deNysschen - 36:12
  • BMW Nomenclature - 53:58
  • BRZ - 56:27
  • Cars We Miss - 01:05:07
  • Q&A - 01:30:09

Get the podcast:
[UStream] Listen live on Mondays at 10 PM Eastern at UStream
[iTunes] Subscribe to the Autoblog Podcast in iTunes
[RSS] Add the Autoblog Podcast feed to your RSS aggregator
[MP3] Download the MP3 directly

Feedback:
Email: Podcast at Autoblog dot com

Review the show in iTunes

Hyundai Genesis Coupe to get bigger, lux up?

Posted Jul 16th 2014 5:29PM

Hyundai HND-9

With the all-new, 2015 Hyundai Genesis Sedan hitting the road, it puts the current Genesis Coupe in a rather weird spot. The sporty model is starting to get a bit long in the tooth, and for 2015, it's dropped its four-cylinder engine in the US. Hyundai isn't letting the car wither on the vine, though. Behind closed doors, the Korean automaker is rumored to be working on a new coupe to transform the vehicle from something of a pony car in the current guise into a luxury grand tourer with avante-garde styling.

The next-generation Genesis Coupe would reportedly borrow its design inspiration from the Hyundai HND-9 Sports Coupe Concept from the 2013 Seoul Motor Show, according to Australian site Go Auto. The key to the new model is growing it larger to be able to seat four adults and giving it more grown-up styling at the same time. Go Auto claims that the coupe could finally get a V8 engine option and possibly a V6 and turbocharged four-cylinder in at least some markets, too. It's slated for a possible 2016 unveiling.

Even during the HND-9's unveiling, Hyundai admitted that the concept projected the design direction for future models. Its styling was certainly a big shift from the current Genesis Coupe with more hard creases, a wide, mesh grille and butterfly doors. The show car also packed a 3.3-liter turbocharged, direct-injected engine with 364 horsepower and an eight-speed automatic transmission driving the rear wheels.

Hyundai's Australian COO John Elsworth is really hoping to get the model Down Under, according to Go Auto. He believes that while luxury coupes might not be sales leaders, they grab mindshare and get enthusiasts excited about the brand. We like the way this guy thinks.
Related GalleryHyundai HND-9 Concept
Hyundai HND-9 ConceptHyundai HND-9 ConceptHyundai HND-9 ConceptHyundai HND-9 ConceptHyundai HND-9 ConceptHyundai HND-9 ConceptHyundai HND-9 Concept

News Source: Go Auto

Indie rockers Local Natives perform from back of Nissan Rogue

Posted Jul 16th 2014 5:00PM

Nissan Rogue Local Natives Breakers video

Most bands go through a fairly simple trajectory of vehicles to make it to shows. When they form, it's all about just getting to the gig and anything works. As they build a following and start touring a little regionally, they upgrade to a van to fit all of the members and equipment. Finally, if they taste big time success, they move to the tour bus. However, indie band Local Natives is taking an interesting detour from that path in a new promotion from Nissan called Off the Stage for the Rogue.

The members show up to the middle of nowhere in a pair of the CUVs, and in a few minutes the vehicles are set up to be the group's sound system and its stage. This promo also acts as a video for the song Breakers, which is a bit of a slow jam, but the scenery is absolutely beautiful. Scroll down to watch the Local Natives turn the Rogue into a place to perform practically anywhere.

News Source: Nissan USA via YouTube

Image Credit: Live photos copyright 2014 Steven J. Ewing / AOL

No steering wheels, pedals or horns in cars by 2035, survey says

Posted Jul 16th 2014 4:30PM

Google self-driving car

At what point does a car cease to be a car and start becoming a people-mover? One survey hints that we're less than two decades away from that eventuality. Whether auto enthusiasts think that's a good thing is another matter altogether.

The Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers, or IEEE, polled about 200 people within academia, research and government agencies about the concept of self-driving vehicles and future automotive design, and got a sense of what people thought would become superfluous during the upcoming decades. Taken into consideration was rapid advancements in things like sensor technology, software, driver-assistance programs and GPS.

And with those advancements, the respondents said items like rear-view mirrors, horns and emergency brakes would be gone by 2030. And five years later, steering wheels, brakes and accelerator pedals would no longer be necessary, either. And by that time, at least three-quarters of US states will have laws on the books allowing for driverless vehicles. Nothing was mentioned about floor mats, of course.

The subject of autonomous driving continues to pick up relevance. In late May, Google unveiled its first self-driving car, which is sans steering wheel, brake pedal, gas pedal or gear shift and has a top speed of 25 miles per hour. Punch in an address and off it goes, theoretically. Stay tuned. And in the meantime, check out IEEE's press release below.

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