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Ford Focus RS ready to make our hot hatch dreams real

Posted Oct 17th 2014 11:28AM

Ford Focus RS Spy Shots

Ford's current hot hatch siblings the Fiesta ST and Focus ST are already two pretty great entries into the segment, but there's always a desire for a little more. Thankfully, it looks like the Blue Oval is ready to satiate that need because it's continuing to test the even more powerful Focus RS around Europe. According to our spy shooters, these shots come from near the Nürburgring.

As with previous photos, Ford engineers continue to heavily camouflage the front end of the RS prototypes, but there's a big difference here. Unlike earlier ones, this example appears to have a closer-to-production-ready front bumper rather than just a horizontal strip for the license plate. That may point to development getting somewhat closer to wrapping up. Although, this one lacks the larger rear wing from prior testers, and the exhaust also appears to be a work in progress with the rear diffuser covered in mesh in these latest shots.

The RS is rumored to be using the 2.3-liter turbocharged four-cylinder from the 2015 Mustang, but power is reportedly turned up from 310 horsepower in the 'Stang to somewhere between 325 hp and 350 hp for the Focus. Routing all that just through the front wheels could be a recipe for serious torque steer, and all-wheel drive is potentially being used for better traction.

Unfortunately, no release date is known for the RS yet, but we keep seeing evolution in the test mules. Indications point to it eventually going on sale for the US market, too. Until then, see what you think of these latest spy shots in the gallery.
Related GalleryFord Focus RS Spy Shots
Ford Focus RS Spy ShotsFord Focus RS Spy ShotsFord Focus RS Spy ShotsFord Focus RS Spy ShotsFord Focus RS Spy ShotsFord Focus RS Spy ShotsFord Focus RS Spy ShotsFord Focus RS Spy Shots

Image Credit: CarPix

Honda accused of not reporting all airbag problems

Posted Oct 17th 2014 11:00AM

US Airbag Recall

The Takata airbag recall that has afflicted a number of automakers may have just taken a very bad turn for Honda, which has already recalled over one million vehicles. Clarence Ditlow and the Center for Auto Safety have accused the Japanese manufacturer of failing to report two "injury-and-death" incidents. To determine just what happened, the company has initiated a third-party audit.

According to Bloomberg, CAS claims Honda failed to report fatalities in 2009 and 2013, a point Honda doesn't seem to contest, indicating that it didn't report so-called "verbal claims."

"It is our understanding that some manufacturers choose to include these types of verbal claims, and that these constitute the majority of the injury-and-death claims that they report to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration," the company told Bloomberg via email. "We believe this practice accounts for the vast majority of the difference between the total number of injury-and-death claims reported by Honda compared to certain other manufacturers."

The CAS, meanwhile, argues that this failure to report deaths and injuries skews the company's quarterly Early Warning Reports, which are used by NHTSA to find trends that could indicate a potential safety issue.

"The whole purpose is to get to major defects quicker," Ditlow told Bloomberg. "You can't protect the public if a company doesn't turn over EWR reports."

While NHTSA confirmed to Bloomberg that it's in touch with Honda, analysts are raising concerns over the potential damage to the company's reputation.

"The damage to their reputation could be very big," Tokyo-based auto analyst Seiji Sugiura told Bloomberg, adding that the company "should take responsible action, especially in the U.S., because it's their most important market."

News Source: Bloomberg

Image Credit: Robert F. Bukaty / AP

Autoblog Podcast #401

2015 Ford F150, Ferrari F60 America, Tesla Model S D Trim

Posted Oct 17th 2014 10:45AM

Autoblog Podcast logo

Episode #401 of the Autoblog Podcast is here, and this week, Dan Roth, Michael Harley, and Chris Paukert talk about the 2015 Ford F-150, the Ferrari F60 America, and the recently-unveiled Tesla Model S P85D. 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 rundown below with times for topics, and you can follow along down below with our Q&A. Thanks for listening!

Autoblog Podcast #401:

play


Topics:
In The Autoblog Garage:

2015 Chevrolet Colorado
2015.5 Volvo S60 T5 Drive-E FWD

Hosts: Dan Roth, Michael Harley, Chris Paukert
Runtime: 01:42:09

Rundown:
  • Intro and Garage - 00:00
  • 2015 Ford F-150 - 34:47
  • Ferrari F60 America - 50:46
  • Tesla Model S D Trim - 01:00:34
  • Q&A - 01:14:50

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

LeBron James to rep Kia K900

Posted Oct 17th 2014 10:15AM

LeBron James 2015 Kia K900

"I was a Kia K900 driver and fan before we decided to become partners, so I'm really excited to be Kia's first-ever luxury ambassador." – LeBron James

LeBron James is taking his talents to Kia.

The 10-time NBA all-star has signed on with the Korean automaker as a spokesman for Kia's first luxury sedan, the 2015 K900. While the move isn't as shocking as his 2010 defection from the Cleveland Cavaliers to the Miami Heat (he re-signed with the Cavs this summer), it has raised eyebrows, as James is a noted car collector who has owned a Ferrari, Lamborghini, Porsche and other high-end models.

Still, James said that he was a fan of the K900 before he signed on as a pitchman. Perhaps telegraphing the upcoming deal, he posted a photo of himself in the car in August, saying: "Rolling around in my K900. Love this car!"

Kia said James reach out to the company to sample the K900. "I was a Kia K900 driver and fan before we decided to become partners, so I'm really excited to be Kia's first-ever luxury ambassador," he said in a statement. He added: "For me, a partnership has to be authentic and real to who I am, and that's what makes this one so special."

Kia is a longtime sponsor of the NBA and serves as its "official automotive partner." In 2009, James received a Kia Borrego for earning MVP honors, though he donated it to the Akron (OH) Urban League.

Terms of the deal were not disclosed. James, who will officially be called a "luxury brand ambassador," joins fellow NBA star Blake Griffin, tennis player Rafael Nadal and professional golfer Michelle Wie in Kia's lineup of celebrity endorsers. James will appear in TV advertisements, including a spot called Fit For A King, which launches in November as the NBA season tips off.

Kia hopes the partnership with James will raise the profile of the K900. Though it's expected to be a relatively low-volume car, Kia sold just 56 of them in September and has sold 1,106 units this year. As Kia's flagship, the K900 aspires to compete with sedans from BMW, Mercedes-Benz, Lexus and others. It offers powerful V6 and V8 engines paired with an eight-speed automatic transmission, a luxurious cabin with wood and leather features, and design flourishes like LED lights and a prominent chrome grille. It starts at $59,500.

For more, scroll through Kia's press release down below.

News Source: Kia

Image Credit: Kia, Copyright 2014 Chris Paukert / AOL

Volvo to add 1,300 jobs, ramp up production in Sweden

Posted Oct 17th 2014 9:26AM

Volvo factory

The expansion of the factory is part of an $11-billion investment Volvo's Chinese owners, Geely, are making.

Volvo Cars is adding 1,300 new jobs and ramping up production at its factory in Gothenburg, Sweden, in response to increased consumer demand for its vehicles.

The jobs will support a third shift at the 50-year-old plant, called Torslanda. They will come online in the first quarter of 2015 as production of the XC90 crossover begins. With the addition of a new body shop, the factory will be capable of making 300,000 vehicles per year.

The additional employees will lift the headcount at Torslanda to 4,600 people. It comes as Volvo has announced a new agreement with its workers that will allow the factory to be more flexible and support the increased output. Volvo is forecasting further increases in production at the factory next year due to high levels of demand for the upcoming XC90, which launches as a 2015 model.

The expansion of the factory is part of an $11-billion investment Volvo's Chinese owners, Geely, are making in the 87-year old Swedish brand. Geely purchased Volvo from Ford in 2010.

Volvo expects to have its best-ever sales year in 2014 and forecasts total volume of 470,000 vehicles.

For more details, scroll through Volvo's announcement.

News Source: Volvo

Image Credit: Volvo

Virginia concerned over safety of its guardrails

Posted Oct 17th 2014 8:45AM

Bus Crash Maryland

The highways in Virginia may look a lot different in in the coming weeks depending on the results of safety tests on guardrails there. The Commonwealth is demanding new crash evaluations on the end terminals of the ET-Plus guardrails (not necessarily pictured above) supplied by Trinity Industries, by October 24, according to The New York Times. If state officials observing the analysis aren't happy with the results, then the product could be banned from the roads there and possibly even removed.

Just a few weeks ago, Autoblog reported on a study from the University of Alabama Birmingham into the safety of guardrail designs. It found the ET-Plus was nearly three times as likely to cause fatalities than an earlier product from Trinity, based on eight years of crash data in two states.

The alleged flaw with the ET-Plus design was that Trinity reportedly narrowed a portion behind the rail head, according to The New York Times. The change, which supposedly wasn't disclosed to states, possibly allowed the end to spear into vehicles. As a result, a trial against the company recently began in Texas that claimed the product was responsible for 5 deaths and as many as 14 injuries.

Virginia is just the latest state to voice its concerns about the safety of the ET-Plus design. According to The New York Times, the product is now banned in Nevada. The Federal Highway Administration promises to investigate the guardrail safety further with input from public and private partners.

News Source: The New York Times

Image Credit: Maryland State Highway Administration/ AP Photo

Latest Mercedes-based Dartz comes with armor plating, available retina scanner

Posted Oct 17th 2014 8:00AM

Dartz Prombron Black Shark

The folks at the Russian company Dartz take tuning Mercedes-Benz models to extremes most people would consider impossible. Two of their recent creations include an armored G63 AMG 6x6 in pink camouflage and another one with a portable smoking room. Now, it's giving the GL-Class some attention, and the result is a dream for those extremely paranoid about their safety.

The Dartz Prombron Black Shark takes it name from a Russian attack helicopter. As the teaser image (above) suggests, it's packed to the gills with enough armor and security equipment to safely escape a small army. In fact, some of the Black Shark's features sound like the stuff of science fiction.

The body is reportedly made from bullet resistant Kevlar-titanium, which Dartz claims is "to prevent the use of magnetic mines." It's also allegedly available with military tech like a road analyzer, distance explosive detector and signal jammer. If that's not enough, the door handles disappear into the body and have what the press release calls an "anti-paparazzi shock-device." Don't worry about someone breaking in though because a fingerprint and retina scanner is offered, as well.

The interior is just as opulent as the exterior is secure. It includes things like a Bang and Olufssen stereo, champagne holder with sterling silver hand polished flutes, a humidor, Xbox One, PlayStation 4 and much more.

The mechanical bits are still somewhat of a mystery. Dartz says buyers can choose from either a V8 or V12 engine with tuning available up to a claimed 1,500 horsepower.

Dartz is only building five Black Sharks and says more information is coming around October 19. Scroll down to read the press release about this super-secure Mercedes.

News Source: Dartz

Chevy Silverado frame twist test a marketing victory versus Ford

Posted Oct 16th 2014 8:01PM

Chevy Frame Twist Comparison Versus Ford

The pickup market is so competitive that all three major American makers are constantly trying to find a way to prove their product is the best. The new 2015 Ford F-150 is grabbing headlines at the moment by winning awards and posting segment best numbers. But in a new video, Chevrolet is taking aim squarely at the 2015 F-250 Super Duty in a battle of heavy-duty truck supremacy against the 2015 Chevy Silverado 2500HD... well, in a single metric anyway.

The big numbers from pickups often come down to payload, towing rating and fuel economy, but for this test, Chevy and Howie Long are challenging the torsional rigidity of the trucks' frames, specifically which one flexes less. Long plays the everyman here having the Chevy engineer explain what's going on in the tests. Unsurprisingly for a video on Chevy's official YouTube page, the 2500HD wins out by a good margin. The company also reports that similar results as shown here have been certified in third-party testing.

Check out the video to see the full test. While this might seem like a marketing win for Chevy, Ford isn't immune to it, either. In 2009, the Blue Oval uploaded a similar video comparing the flex under 225 pounds of weight from the bare frames of the F-150, Chevy Silverado, Dodge Ram (as it was still called at the time) and the Toyota Tundra. The results fell in the Blue Oval's favor, as you can see here.

News Source: Chevrolet, Fordtrucks via YouTube, [2]

GM hit with $10B lawsuit for losses on 27M recalled cars

Posted Oct 16th 2014 7:03PM

General Motors-Recall

Attorneys are continuing to fight to prove that the recalls from General Motors this year allegedly affect vehicle resale values. A $10 billion lawsuit, which is hoping to obtain class-action status, could cover as many as 27 million vehicles and consolidates hundreds of smaller claims. This latest case appears to be related to the one from June in California but is now in a New York court. Both are brought by the law firm Hagens Berman Sobol Shapiro LLP.

The case covers people who bought or leased a recalled vehicle from the so-called New GM from July 2009 to July 2014, as long as they kept it through at least mid-February when the repair campaigns started in earnest, according to Bloomberg. "The value of all GM-branded vehicles has diminished as a result of the widespread publication of those defects and New GM's corporate culture of ignoring and concealing safety defects," says the legal complaint, according to Bloomberg.

The attorneys might have an uphill battle to fight to win the case against the company, though. In regards to the earlier case in California, an analysis into GM's recalls found that they had no effect on resale value. Another study discovered basically the same thing when looking at other major repair campaigns, as well. Also, Kenneth Feinberg, the man in charge of the automaker's compensation fund, has refused lost value claims, at least against the Cobalt. Feinberg has already paid out 27 cases alleging deaths from the faulty ignition switches with at least 151 more to evaluate.

The automaker is also facing another, smaller lawsuit focused on just ignition-switch-related claims. Since this falls under the so-called Old GM, a bankruptcy judge has to rule whether the case can move forward. The decision is expected sometime next year, according to Bloomberg. The company would like the claims to be invalidated.

GM's latest official tally puts the company at 74 recalls in 2014 covering roughly 26,495,070 vehicles in the US.

News Source: Bloomberg

Image Credit: David Goldman / AP Photo

Jay Leno's new CNBC series will indeed be Garage-based [w/video]

Posted Oct 16th 2014 6:32PM

TV Leno's 15th

Last we heard, Jay Leno was almost ready to sign a deal with CNBC to get back on television regularly for the first time since he left The Tonight Show. Well, it's official, and with the ink on the contract barely dry, we're getting some new details about Leno's upcoming car show.

Tentatively titled Jay Leno's Garage, just like the fantastic web series, it premieres sometime in 2015 with spotlights on restoration projects and road tests of supercars and classics. Being on CNBC, the show is also taking a financial angle to "focus on the car collector's market, including best investments and valuations in the space," according to the network.

Leno said in the statement published by CNBC: "The show will be about anything that rolls, explodes and makes noise. We hope to highlight the passion and the stories behind the men and women who made the automobile the greatest invention of the 20th century."

Based on that description, it sounds like we're getting the Jay Leno's Garage series directly transplanted to television with touch of financial info too. As long as the quality remains high, that doesn't sound so bad.

Scroll down to see a video announcing the show from CNBC, though it mostly focuses on Leno himself and his opinions on Elon Musk. Jay must be taking the deal seriously because he's not wearing the usual head-to-toe denim in the clip.

News Source: CNBC

Image Credit: Chris Pizzello / AP Photo

2015 Lexus NX starts at $34,480*

Posted Oct 16th 2014 5:45PM

2015 Lexus NX

Lexus has announced pricing for the 2015 NX crossover lineup, which goes on sale next month.

The NX 200t starts at $34,480, and the all-wheel-drive model adds a $1,400 premium to lift the sticker to $35,880 (*destination charges of $925 are not included in the prices). The 200t uses a 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine making 235 horsepower, and it's Lexus' first-ever gasoline-fed turbo.

The hybrid version, the 300h, starts at $39,720, and all-wheel drive tacks on $1,590 for a price of $41,310. The hybrid teams a 2.5-liter four-cylinder with an electric motor to generate 194 hp. Though power dips, Lexus anticipates this version will get a combined 33 miles per gallon with front-wheel drive when the EPA ratings are announced – a considerable leap when compared with the combined 24-mpg estimate for the turbo model.

The NX goes on sale Nov. 18 in markets on the West Coast, followed by an East Coast launch Nov. 26, a spokesperson said. Pricing for the F Sport was not disclosed but is expected to be revealed early next week.

The NX is Lexus' much-anticipated entry into the growing premium compact crossover segment. Lexus is projecting sales of 36,000 per year, and the brand expects most of those will be turbo models, with perhaps only a 10-percent take rate for the pricier hybrid.

Meanwhile, Lexus also confirmed the RC and RC F Sport coupes will go on sale Nov. 3 across the country. The base RC starts at $42,790, plus destination.
Related Gallery2015 Lexus NX 200t
2015 Lexus NX 200t2015 Lexus NX 200t2015 Lexus NX 200t2015 Lexus NX 200t2015 Lexus NX 200t2015 Lexus NX 200t2015 Lexus NX 200t2015 Lexus NX 200t

News Source: Lexus

Image Credit: Lexus, Copyright 2014 Jeremy Korzeniewski / AOL

MotorWeek remembers retro icons, Supra and NSX

Posted Oct 16th 2014 4:58PM

1991 Acura NSX drive from Motorweek

It's easy to poke a joke here and there about John Davis, the long-time host of MotorWeek. His voice is so monotonous that, from time to time, if you closed your eyes, you may think it's generated via a computer. But you have to give him and the rest of the show a lot of credit. The program has been on the air for decades, giving people direct, straight-down-the middle automotive reviews.

MotorWeek's massive back catalog of reviews are slowly making their way onto YouTube, and they provide a fascinating chance to look back on how performance cars rank against their contemporaries from back in the day. Two recent additions include the show's old looks at the 1986 Toyota Supra, the dawn of the third-generation model, and the now-iconic 1991 Acura NSX.

Both reviews are interesting in their own way. These days you hear nary a negative word about the original NSX, but MotorWeek isn't afraid to point out a few flaws. And the Supra really shows the progress of suspension tuning in the intervening decades because it has some serious body roll in the corners. Scroll down to check out both videos and get a blast from the automotive past.

News Source: MotorWeek via YouTube [1], [2]

Jaguar Heritage Driving Experience throws you the keys to the museum

Posted Oct 16th 2014 4:27PM

Jaguar E-Type

As automotive journalists, we get to drive a lot of really cool, high-performance vehicles. It really is the single best thing about this job. However, our access to vehicles is generally limited to the newest offerings on the market. That means, much like the general public, we don't really get access to vintage iron.

Jaguar is trying to rectify that issue for journalist and enthusiast alike, with a new program called the Heritage Driving Experience. It allows British enthusiasts to pop into the brand's Warwickshire testing site, drop anywhere from 100 to 300 pounds ($160 to $480) and go for a spin in some of the brand's most legendary offerings. That includes the more typical classics, like the Mark 2 saloon and the E-Type sports car, but you can also pay for access to stunners like the XK150, XKSS and the race-spec D-Type. In addition to the classics, most of the tests include time in their modern successors. So an hour with the Mark II can be split with time in an XFR-S, while the E-Type is complemented by its spiritual successor, the F-Type.

Most of the events are limited to 30 or 60-minute sessions, although the brand does offer a half-day and full-day event. The former, the Jaguar Le Mans Experience, includes time in the C-Type, D-Type, XKSS and F-Type R. The full-day Grace and Pace Pack, meanwhile, gives you access to nine vehicles, covering a huge gamut. That means time in the C-, D- and E-Type, XK150, Mark II, XKR-S GT and F-Type R, among others. Not surprisingly, prices aren't listed for the half- and full-day pack. Much like Jag's finest cars, if you have to ask, you probably can't afford them.

It's an intriguing program for sure. Now, if Jag would just offer this in the United States and if other manufacturers were to get on board with the idea, we'd be very happy indeed.

News Source: Jaguar

Nissan teases Sao Paolo CUV concept, production future likely

Will We Get Another Crossover Between Juke And Rogue?

Posted Oct 16th 2014 3:45PM

Teaser photo of unnamed Nissan CUV concept for 2014 Sao Paulo Motor Show

Back in 2012 at Brazil's São Paulo Motor Show, Nissan showed off an angular subcompact crossover concept, Extrem, that seemed to to portend the future of the Nissan Juke. Now, the Japanese automaker is teasing an as-yet-unnamed CUV concept for this year's show. The new showcar, set for an October 28 unveiling, is expected to be a closer-to-production version of the Extrem ethos.

Why should we care? Autoblog has reason to believe that this vehicle is under consideration for global distribution. The production Extrem – or whatever it ends up being called – is likely to be positioned size-wise in between the Juke and the recently upsized Rogue, offering more space and still-adventuresome styling, yet at a less expensive price. If accurate, that sounds like the production model will be a fair bit larger than the conceptual Xtrem, which was built atop a modified version of Nissan's V-platform, a model that underpins its March supermini (and speaking of the March, Nissan has also teased what looks to be a sporty concept version of it for the Brazilian show, too).

It's important to note that Nissan already has a bustling small CUV portfolio globally, what with its popular Qashqai / X-Trail models in markets beyond ours. There continues to be persistent rumors that Nissan is considering bringing over the Qashqai, as well, a model seemingly already quite close in size and execution to the Rogue. Despite this, Nissan has shown no hesitation in exploring every niche of the burgeoning CUV market, and while not every derivative has been a success, models like the Juke have rewarded the company's bravery with handsome sales.

CEO Carlos Ghosn is apparently very keen to further diversify Nissan's utility offerings and he's pushing his team hard to innovate, but it won't happen right away – a North American Extrem descendant is likely a few years away.

News Source: Nissan

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