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Watch feds crush classic Mini caught in importation dragnet

Posted Dec 12th 2014 4:57PM

Crushed Mini

Fair warning for any classic car fans that suffer from high blood pressure: this story might not be good for your health. US Customs and Border Protection is teaming up with British law enforcement to keep unsafe, imported vehicles off the road here – like this Mini. In the government's view, the only way to make things right is to crush the cars, apparently.

The destruction is part of Operation Atlantic, a crackdown on Minis and Land Rover Defenders that are being illegally imported. According to Yahoo Autos, this is just one of about 100 vehicles from the dragnet. This specific car came into the US in June, and its VIN indicated a model from 1988. However, the vehicle had a different engine than it should have, and the steering wheel was on the wrong side. It was likely actually from around 2000.

To emphasize the crackdown, government officials and press gathered at a New Jersey junkyard to destroy the car. Check out the video below to watch the carnage and listen to the horrible crunching noises, and read the sad press release below.

News Source: Yahoo Autos, US Customs and Border Patrol

Image Credit: Related images copyright U.S. Customs and Border Protection / Flickr

Acura recalls 10k RLX models for headlight replacement

Posted Dec 12th 2014 4:15PM

Acura RLX

Acura is recalling 9,700 examples of the 2014 and 2015 RLX in the US to replace their headlights. The problem is that the reflective backing material inside the units can potentially delaminate. If this happens, then the luxury sedans no longer conform to federal safety guidelines. The automaker knows of no injuries or crashes related to this issue, though.

The 2014 RLX has been subject to two other recalls. One covered loose bolts in the rear suspension, and the other was to replace the front seat belts.

RLX owners should receive mailed notification of the recall around February. This campaign comes hot on the heels of Acura issuing a stop-sale for the TLX V6 for a risk of possible rollaway. Scroll down to read the company's entire announcement of its latest recall.
Related Gallery2014 Acura RLX: Review
2014 Acura RLX: Review2014 Acura RLX: Review2014 Acura RLX: Review2014 Acura RLX: Review2014 Acura RLX: Review2014 Acura RLX: Review2014 Acura RLX: Review2014 Acura RLX: Review

News Source: Acura

Image Credit: Copyright 2014 AOL

9 customized cars for James Bond Spectre movie stolen

Posted Dec 12th 2014 3:28PM

All-New Range Rover Sport Reveal in New York City

There's already been a setback for the latest James Bond film, Spectre, as nine customized vehicles built for the new flick were stolen from a garage near Düsseldorf.

The vehicles, five of which were Land Rover Range Rover Sport SUVs, were to be shipped to the Alps, where filming is slated to begin next week, The New York Times reports. The Times also says that German police have no leads in the theft.

"We are aware of the theft of a number of Range Rovers in Dusseldorf, Germany," Land Rover UK said in a statement obtained by The Times. "This is a criminal act and the police are carrying out a full investigation."

As of right now, it's not clear if the vehicle theft will lead to a delay in the start of filming the 24th Bond flick.

News Source: The New York Times

Image Credit: Neilson Barnard / Getty Images / Land Rover

This is what a 1,200-hp twin-turbo 4-rotor looks like in a Miata

Posted Dec 12th 2014 2:46PM

The engine bay of drifter

We've seen the diminutive Mazda MX-5 Miata swallow plenty of big engines, but New Zealand drifting ace "Mad Mike" Whiddett is roaring into where-no-man-has-gone-before territory. Wanting to replace his 515-horsepower "MADBUL" RX-7 and its twin-turbocharged, three-rotor 20B engine, his new ride is an NC-series Miata with four rotors and twin Garrett turbochargers courtesy of Pulse Performance Race Engineering. It is called "RADBUL," and expected power at standard boost is 1,200 hp, but the builders at Pulse Performance think it will get up to 1,500 hp at full boost. And yes, that exhaust exits through the hood.

Four-rotor engines are actually popular - builds are detailed on forums like this one from 2007 and this one from 2008, this UK company or this Canadian company will sell you one complete - but they're usually being prepped for an RX-7. Mad Mike's choice of a Miata for this enterprise makes this about as extreme as you can get, short of throwing it into a Mazda R360. You can watch Mad Mike tell the story of the build in the video, and check out the first and second installments about the build on the Red Bull site.

News Source: Red Bull via YouTube

Here's the story with the Chicken Tax

Posted Dec 12th 2014 2:00PM

Volkswagen Amarok

Quiz America's auto enthusiasts about the vehicles they most want to see in the US market, and for every one that doesn't respond with a French hot hatchback or some diesel-powered offering, there'd be at least three that ask for some small, imported pickup truck. That won't happen, though, and we have the Chicken Tax to thank.

This damnable bit of legislation affixes a 25-percent tariff to any light truck not built in the United States. That's why Honda, Toyota and Nissan build all their trucks in the United States, and it's also why pickups like the foreign-built Volkswagen Amarok, shown above, or the long-rumored Mahindra pickup aren't offered here.

Wired has the story on the roots of the Chicken Tax, including how one Japanese manufacturer got around it and even delivered a vehicle to one of our country's presidents. Head over and check it out.
Related Gallery2013 Volkswagen Amarok
2013 Volkswagen Amarok2013 Volkswagen Amarok2013 Volkswagen Amarok2013 Volkswagen Amarok2013 Volkswagen Amarok2013 Volkswagen Amarok2013 Volkswagen Amarok2013 Volkswagen Amarok

News Source: Wired

Takata airbag recall claims 209k Chrysler, Dodge vehicles

Posted Dec 12th 2014 1:15PM

2005 Chrysler 300

Chrysler is expanding the scope of its front passenger side Takata airbag inflator recall yet again to include 139,115 additional vehicles for a total of 208,783 units now needing these parts replaced.

The latest campaign affects the passenger side inflators of the 2003-2005 Dodge Ram 1500, 2003-2005 Dodge Ram 2500, 2003-2005 Dodge Ram 3500, 2004-2005 Durango; 2005 Dakota pickup; 2005 Dodge Magnum and 2005 Chrysler 300 (pictured above), 300C and SRT8. It's limited to vehicles purchased or ever registered in Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Louisiana, Mississippi, Texas and the territories of American Samoa, Guam, Puerto Rico, Saipan and the US Virgin Islands. The company expects owners to be notified by February 8.

The automaker just expanded the replacement campaign last week to include passenger side inflators in 149,150 pickups from the 2003 model year. However, the parts are not the same. Chrysler says this recall is for the PSPI family of components versus SPI for the last one. The company is also not aware of any injuries or accidents in its vehicles from these potentially faulty inflators, and lab testing of 600 of them finds no issues. Despite this, Chrysler is repairing these models at the request of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Scroll down to read the company's full announcement of the initiative.

News Source: Chrysler

New Bond car nets Xcar Aston Martin retrospective

Posted Dec 12th 2014 12:32PM

Xcar Aston Martin DB5

Well, there's something to be said for timing. With the announcement that MI6 Agent James Bond would take the wheel of the all-new Aston Martin DB10 in his next film, Spectre, Xcar has taken a look back at 007's most iconic vehicle – the DB5. There's also something about some such special edition Vanquish, but it all kind of pales in the glory of the iconic DB5.

Okay, so it's not just some special edition Vanquish. It's the gorgeous Centenary Edition, a limited run of just 100 cars – one for each of Aston Martin's history – that's been adorned inside and out with a number of premium touches.

In the other corner, though, there's the real subject of Xcar's latest video. This stunning example of the DB5 only gets puttered around a parking garage, but that doesn't make it any less beautiful.

Take a look.

News Source: Xcar

Next-gen Audi Q7 shows of its wares ahead of Detroit

Posted Dec 12th 2014 11:46AM

Audi Q7

Audi has put the Q7 on a massive diet, trimming over 700 pounds.

Meet what is sure to be one of the bigger debuts at the upcoming 2015 Detroit Auto Show. The next-generation Audi Q7 has been the subject of spy shots and conjecture for quite some time. After all, it was easily the oldest vehicle in the Audi range, having hit the market way back in 2006. But with this new model, Audi has comprehensively updated its fullsizer, adding some cutting-edge tech, updating some classic engines, and taking a whole lot out.

As is the theme nowadays, particularly among large crossovers and SUVs, Audi has put the Q7 on a massive diet with a mix of ultra-high-strength, hot-shaped steel and aluminum, trimming over 700 pounds of body fat and lowering the Q7's weight to just under 4,400 pounds. This was accomplished while maintaining virtually identical dimensions to the current model.

While Audi USA hasn't released its info on the Q7, the Euro-spec model will continue to offer a pair of engines that should be very familiar to US consumers, with a 3.0-liter, supercharged V6 gas engine and a 3.0-liter TDI V6. The European engines, though, have had their CO2 emissions halved, while actually increasing performance (we should expect similar from the US engines).
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News Source: Audi

Hyundai Veloster nixed in UK after just 3 years

Posted Dec 12th 2014 11:02AM

Hyundai Veloster

The Veloster, Hyundai's funky, four-door hatchback, has been pulled from the British market after just three years on sale. The blame, as is usually the case in these circumstances, is being placed on slow sales. Auto Express reports that, much like it has in the United States, the Veloster has failed to resonate with both customers and critics.

While UK sales figures weren't available to prove AE's point, Veloster sales in the US through November are down nearly 2,000 units over the same period in 2013, to under 26,000 vehicles. That makes it the third-slowest seller in the Hyundai lineup, behind the far more expensive Azera and Equus sedans.

The performance-minded Veloster Turbo will be replaced in the UK by a version of the i30 equipped with the VT's 1.6-liter, force-induced, direct-injected engine. You can read all about that new vehicle right here.

News Source: Auto Express

Image Credit: Copyright 2014 Steven J. Ewing / AOL

Audi RS3 Sportback is the hottest hatch

Posted Dec 12th 2014 10:15AM

Audi RS3 Sportback

Audi RS3 SportbackFans of compact, European vehicles that mix luxury and performance should be in paradise right now. There's already the 320-horsepower M235i from BMW and the 355-hp CLA45 AMG (or A45 elsewhere) from Mercedes-Benz, but you can now add one more to the list. Meet the Audi RS3 Sportback, which boasts 362 hp and five doors, too.

With propulsion coming from Audi's turbocharged 2.5-liter five-cylinder that makes 343 pound-feet of torque (465 newton-meters), the RS3 Sportback can scramble to 62 miles per hour in 4.3 seconds. Top speed is limited to 155 mph, but buyers can opt to raise that top end to 174 if desired. The inline-five is mated to a seven-speed S-tronic dual-clutch gearbox, sending power to the ground via Quattro all-wheel drive with torque vectoring, which can send between 50 and 100 percent of the power to the rear wheels as needed.

To cope with the boosted output, the suspension has been lowered by an inch compared to the standard A3 Sportback, and magnetic dampers are a further option. Buyers can also tick the box for carbon-fiber-ceramic brake rotors at the front. The RS3 goes on a diet its latest iteration, too, weighing 121 pounds less than its predecessor.

While buyers get potent power, Audi keeps the looks understated. The exterior wears a front airdam with larger openings and some aluminum flourishes, and a diffuser at the back gets some more matte trim. A roof spoiler and aluminum look for the mirror housings add a few other touches to catch the eye. Inside, all versions get sport seats covered in Nappa leather and a flat-bottom steering wheel wrapped in leather and Alcantara. But for the really sporty look, buyers can spec optional RS buckets with a carbon shell that weigh 15 pounds less than the standard units.

European deliveries of the RS3 Sportback begin in the summer. Autoblog reached out to Audi spokesperson Mark Dahncke who told us there are currently "no plans to bring it to the US." Scroll down to read Audi's full announcement of this five-door hot hatch.
Related GalleryAudi RS3 Sportback
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News Source: Audi

Mazda expands scope of vehicles affected by Takata airbag recall to 330k

Posted Dec 12th 2014 9:30AM

2008 Mazda 6. (11/06/07)

Earlier this week a Reuters report indicated that Mazda was considering a nationwide expansion of its recall for vehicles equipped with Takata airbag inflators. The company has now confirmed said expansion, with the vehicle count jumping from 86,770 to 330,000 affected in the US.

As before, the affected vehicles are Mazda6 and RX-8 cars from the 2004 to 2008 model years.

Mazda reports that Takata has tested a "large number of inflators removed from Mazda vehicles" and not found any to be "non-compliant" as of yet. With that said, the company also reports in its statement that one 2005 Mazda6, located in Florida, has been identified as having had an "abnormal" deployment of the driver's side airbag.

For what it's worth, though the company's statement references the Takata inflator issue as a proper recall, it is calling its own program of notification a "Safety Improvement Campaign" for the moment. Find the full, if brief, Mazda press release in the form below.

News Source: Mazda

Porsche sells final 918 Spyder amidst excellent year of sales

Posted Dec 12th 2014 8:44AM

Porsche 918 Spyder

2014 has been a banner year for Porsche, as the company has moved over 169,000 units through November, an increase of around 12,000 units over the same period in 2013. During last month alone, the company's sales saw a year-over-year jump of 25 percent. The European market, meanwhile, saw an 18-percent jump in sales, while its North American efforts have jumped 13 percent.

"This strong November is evidence that our strategy is working extremely well," Porsche board member Bernhard Maier said in the accompanying statement. "It also confirms our commitment to taking advantage of every opportunity presented in the global markets."

Those notable sales gains aside, this latest sales report comes with some bad news for the overwhelming majority of Porsche fans – the last 918 Spyder has been sold. All 297 cars have been spoken for, with US deliveries set to begin soon. According to Porsche, there are currently around 100 Spyder owners spread across Germany and China.

News Source: Porsche

Renault reveals tiny two-stroke twincharged diesel

Posted Dec 12th 2014 7:59AM

Renault two-stroke diesel

The Renault-Nissan Alliance bills itself as the worldwide leader in electric vehicles with a claimed 58 percent of the global market share. In the highly competitive world of increasingly efficient powertrains, development can never stand still if the company wants to maintain that dominance. Renault just held a show of its latest drivetrain prototypes. The most bizarre of them wasn't electrified, but it was so weird that it needed to be shared.

Dubbed the Powerful, the experimental engine is a 730cc, two-stroke, two-cylinder supercharged and turbocharged diesel that makes between 47 and 67 horsepower and 83 to 107 pound-feet of torque. The mill is lightweight, too, tipping the scales at 88 pounds less than the company's current 1.5-liter diesel. This is the type of design that cargo ships sometime use, and now a miniature version could find its way into a city car. Just imagine blasting around Paris in a Twingo with this thing buzzing away behind you.

Unfortunately, the Powerful isn't ready for primetime yet because Renault doesn't think the performance is up to snuff. It's working with 18 partners in Europe to try to make the tiny engine a reality, though.

In addition to the Powerful, Renault unveiled several other projects. It's working on a mild hybrid diesel designed for light commercial vehicles like delivery vans and a small trailer for the Twizy to let it carry goods for short distances. The automaker has a compact electric motor of its own design and a more efficient bi-fuel gasoline and liquefied petroleum gas engine on display; both of these are set to go on sale next year. Read more about them all in the press release below.

News Source: Renault

Infiniti Q60 Concept a shadowy vision of future coupe

Posted Dec 12th 2014 12:00AM

Infiniti Q60 Concept

Until now, the Infiniti Q60 has been one of the brand's holdovers from its old naming scheme and previous design ethos, as a rebadged G37 Coupe. Those times are coming to an end though, because we are getting our first glimpse at a Detroit Auto Show-bound concept that previews the next-gen two-door.

Infiniti's freshly released teaser shows the sport coupe concept in shadowy silhouette. Based on this photo, we can see that the Q60's design features delicately swooping lines with a touch of hard-edged contrast coming from sharp creases in the body. Portions of it, especially towards the rear, bring a little of the Q80 Inspiration from the Paris Motor Show to mind.

A previous rumor suggests this shape is very close to the actual design of the production version. Infiniti subtly reiterates that in its release by saying the concept foreshadows the styling we might see in future products from the luxury automaker. Scroll down to read the concise announcement for the Q60 concept.

News Source: Infiniti


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