Wednesday, December 26, 2012
Tuesday, December 18, 2012
We come across a lot of dash-cam videos, and while we may have become desensitized to the highway altercations or raceday crashes, this video left us speechless. Simply titled, "well that was 2012," it is a stunning video, chronicling the journey of a handful of Porsche 911s throughout Europe.
The poster of this video explains on his website that he and seven other 911 owners took to an amazing week-long, 2,000-mile journey through seven European countries. The video was shot from the dash of his modified Porsche 993. The tandem movements of the Porsches through traffic has the feeling of a group of friends skiing or snowboarding together, flying past the novices. Oh yeah, and they get pulled over, more than once.
In describing the impression that the trip left, he confesses, "Within a few days of getting home I found it very hard to get back to normal life." Umm... yeah, we can understand that.
Sometimes becoming too wrapped up in the automotive news cycle, we risk losing sight of the big picture. This video serves as a reminder of why we obsessively cover this industry. It stems from a love of the open road, complemented by car worthy of carving it up. We may not all be able to cross Europe in a Porsche 911, but thankfully for videos like this, we can at least get a taste.
Original Article From:
Once BMW unveiled its all-new 4 Series coupe, we knew it wouldn't take long for digital renderings of the more powerful M4 version to hit the Internet. F30Post worked with digital artist Wild Speed to create some really great renderings of the upcoming M4, and also compiled a good amount of information based on sources and educated hunches.
While it doesn't take much to imagine what the M4 will look like based on the styling of current M cars and recent spy shots, these renders finally give us something to ogle at until the car finally arrives. New cues include the more aggressive front fascia, bulging hood, carbon roof and bigger wheels and brakes. Wild Speed was also kind enough to show images in a spectrum of shiny colors.
As for the car's details, the article expects the M4 to be lighter, faster and more efficient than the current M3 using a "multi-turbo" inline-six engine producing somewhere around 395 pound-feet of torque. The M3 sedan could go on sale by the middle of 2014, but the M4 coupe isn't expected to hit the scene for another couple years.
Original Article From: http://www.autoblog.com/2012/12/14/2014-bmw-m4-might-look-this-good/
What do you do when you're an automaker with an all-new and brand-defining sports car, one of them with a supercharged V8 cranking out 495 horsepower? You let proven race drivers test them out on track and on the road.
And what do you do if you're Jaguar and you're in that situation? Why, naturally, you make a video of it. That's how we get footage of racers Martin Brundle, Justin Bell and Christian Danner being choppered into the UK's Snetterton track to test the V6-equipped Jaguar F-Type S prototype. Then when they're finished with kerb-lined apexes, they take the V8 S prototype out onto the roads to run it through hedge-lined apexes.
According to one of them, "very fast, very nimble, great engine" is what will soon be headed our way.
Original Article From:
Bloomberg reports investors have valued Mercedes-Benz at approximately half of what BMW is worth. While BMW has seen its market capitalization jump to 45 billion euros, Daimler currently sits at around 42.2 billion euros. But that number falls to just 25 billion once Daimler's truck business is subtracted from the total. This comes after Daimler CEO Dieter Zetsche vowed to retake the luxury sales crown from BMW by doubling sales to nearly 2.6 million vehicles by 2020. Mercedes-Benz lost that title back in 2005, and two years ago, the company had a market capitalization of nearly 15.5 billion euros more than BMW.
But that was then. Analysts say the market has lost confidence in the leadership at Daimler and believe the company won't be able to gain significant ground on BMW. While Mercedes-Benz has had to postpone profit goals in the face of slack earnings, BMW continues to push forward with a new facility in Brazil, a range of electric vehicles and stout sales. Since 2006, Mercedes-Benz share prices have fallen off by around 10 percent while BMW stock has jumped in value by 89 percent.
Original Article From:
Tuesday, December 4, 2012
So many people I know wouldn't dream of having a few drinks at a restaurant or bar and then climb behind the wheel of their vehicle. While it's great that they have strong convictions about drinking and driving, I wonder how many of them text while they drive. Studies have shown that people who text and drive are every bit as dangerous on the roads as drunk drivers.
It seems human beings are in a constant quest to show just how stupidly they can behave behind the wheel. As detailed in this report from State Farm, there is a new way drivers are not paying attention to the road and other vehicles: webbing and driving.
Webbing and driving is the clever new name given for when people actually surf the web while they're driving. They might be Facebooking, tweeting, writing up a blog post or just perusing the news online--anything but actively driving their vehicle. As State Farm points out, surfing the web and driving poses at least as much if not more of a distraction than texting and driving. Simply put, it's a really dumb idea!
I cannot tell you how many times I've almost been hit by another car that is driving erratically on the road, to then see that the driver is texting on a phone. In the recent past I was behind someone I could have sworn was extremely drunk. When I passed the car, I saw that the driver had headphones in his ears, which were plugged into an iPad he had balanced on the steering wheel! Literally, the guy was not even looking up from whatever webpage he was on. I don't know how any intelligent person could think it was a good idea to surf the web and drive at the same time!
This isn't a laughing matter, no matter how much I wish it were. Car accidents are one of the leading causes of deaths in the United States, and distracted driving is one of the leading causes of car accidents. Perhaps it's a good thing that within a short time robot cars will be available to consumers in states like California. I would far and away trust a robot more with paying attention while driving than some idiot reading up on the latest TMZ gossip on his iPad!
Thursday, November 29, 2012
The diesels are coming. Well, one diesel engine sitting pretty under the shapely hoods of five Audi models: the A6, A7 and A8 sedans along with the Q5 crossover are joining the already available Q7, each powered by a 3.0-liter TDI engine offering up 240 horsepower and 406 pound-feet of torque. Suffice it to say, we're pleased.
Audi promises improvements up to 30 percent in both fuel economy and carbon dioxide emissions when compared to its gasoline engines. Not all figures are available quite yet, but the A8, which is coming first in the spring of 2013, will score an estimated 24 miles per gallon in the city and 36 mpg on the highway. The run to 60 miles per hour is expected to take just 6.4 seconds in the big sedan.
Not to play favorites or anything, but we're definitely looking forward to sampling the Audi A7 TDI when it comes to market in the fall of 2013, along with the A6 and Q5. Pricing is not yet available, though the Q7 has carried a $52,000 base price since it went on sale last September.
See the four new Audi TDI models in our high-res image galleries live from the LA Auto Show above and below, and there's a press release below if you're in the mood for some more reading material. Enjoy all that torque-filled goodness!
Audi Official Press Release -
Audi to introduce four new TDI® clean diesel models to the U.S. Market at the L.A. Auto Show
The Audi A8 TDI clean diesel achieves manufacturer estimated fuel efficiency of 24 city/ 36 highway
New 3.0 liter V6 TDI clean diesel models will include the Audi A8, A7, A6, Q5 and an updated Q7 TDI
Audi to use #FuelForThought at the LA Auto Show to create a social media experience at the display and online
Audi of America announces the arrival of the new TDI® clean diesel models for the Audi A8, A7, A6 and Q5 to debut at the Los Angeles Auto Show. The addition of these four models marks the first time Audi will feature a full lineup of TDI clean diesel vehicles in the U.S. as they join the updated Q7 model. Each TDI vehicle delivers up to 30% better fuel economy and 30% lower carbon dioxide emissions than gasoline engines*, resulting in longer range and fewer trips to the fuel pump. By having more density than gasoline, diesel packs more energy content in the same amount of fuel, which helps maximize the miles per gallon when that energy is released during a more powerful combustion cycle.
The TDI clean diesel engine lineup adds to Audi's list of advanced technologies that help enhance fuel efficiency, including Audi ultra® lightweight technology, such as the use of aluminum, and the AFS® frame technology. "
Owners of Audi TDI engines have helped save over 4 million gallons of gasoline, or the equivalent of more than 240,000 barrels of foreign oil, since the introduction of Audi TDI to the U.S. in 2009**," said Scott Keogh, President, Audi of America. " And, TDI technology delivers better fuel efficiency without sacrificing performance."
In order to fuel the conversation surrounding the benefits of TDI technology in the U.S., Audi will use the hashtag, #FuelForThought and invite fans to join the conversation through a social experience at the display and online.
Audi A8 TDI
The flagship of the Audi brand, the A8 TDI, makes a powerful statement in achieving a manufacturer estimated fuel efficiency of 24 MPG in the city and 36 MPG on the highway*. The A8 TDI clean diesel executive sedan embodies superior design and progressive advancements which sets new standards for luxury sedans in terms of uncompromising efficiency and performance. The new 2014 A8 sedans dramatically expand the flagship's engine offerings by moving from two variants (4.2 liter V8 and W12) to six, including: the entry level A8 3.0T V6; the 420 horsepower A8 4.0T V8; the new Audi S8 4.0T V8; the A8 6.0 liter W12; and the new A8 3.0 TDI V6. The new 3.0 liter TDI clean diesel engine generates an astonishing 240 horsepower with 406 lb.-ft. of torque and seamlessly goes 0-60 in 6.4 seconds.
Audi A7 TDI
The Audi A7 TDI clean diesel is the pinnacle of design and is now more fuel efficient than ever. Without compromising design or performance, every detail of the A7 TDI delivers a striking visual statement. The A7 was the first car in the world to feature available factory-installed Wi-Fi (for up to 8 passenger devices) with Audi connect™ and MMI® navigation plus with 3D Google Earth™ maps. From the groundbreaking available MMI touchpad and its gracefully integrated display screen, to the state-of-the-art head up display, the Audi A7 TDI is the perfect marriage of progressive design, efficiency and versatile space.
Audi A6 TDI
One of Audi's most innovative and technologically advanced models to date, the A6 TDI performance sedan sacrifices virtually nothing in performance, comfort or design. As with the successful A6 TFSI® gas engines, the A6 TDI clean diesel engine can make up to 2,000 decisions per second. Available driver assistance systems include night vision assistant, head-up display and Audi pre sense plus that helps detect imminent collisions and initiates protective measures when needed. Other available intelligent features include head-up display and a MMI Touch pad that recognizes handwriting, along with available Audi connect – the first factory-installed wireless internet connection that enables Google Earth maps, Google Local Search, and a WiFi hotspot for up to eight passenger devices.
Audi Q5 TDI
The Audi Q5 has proven itself an absolute success as one of the best-selling models in the Audi lineup. For the 2014 model year, the Q5 will receive the new TDI engine which will allow for better fuel economy along with increased torque. The Audi Q5 TDI combines the driving appeal of a sedan with high versatility of its interior space and many practical solutions for recreation and everyday driving. Audi has further sharpened the profile of its performance SUV in its design, technological advancements, driver assistance systems and fuel efficiencies. The new TDI clean diesel engine marks the fourth engine variant for the Audi Q5 model lineup, adding to the current four-cylinder 2.0T, the 3.0T V6, and the Q5 hybrid.
Audi Q7 TDI
The Audi Q7 continues to establish the standard in progressive design, sophisticated technology and fuel efficiency in premium sport utility vehicles. The benefits of TDI clean diesel technology are further enhanced through the revised V6 TDI engine that offers a 10 percent efficiency improvement compared to gasoline engines. The revised TDI clean diesel engine has an increased output of 240 horsepower and 406 lb-ft of torque that helps improve performance and offers impressive fuel economy with an EPA estimated 19 city/ 28 highway miles per gallon*. The incredibly efficient TDI clean diesel engine enables the Q7 TDI to achieve a range in excess of 700 miles per tank***.
2014 MY Availability
A8 TDI Spring 2013
A7 TDI Fall 2013
A6 TDI Fall 2013
Q5 TDI Fall 2013
Pricing for all 2014 MY vehicles to be announced at a later date 2013 MY Availability Starting MSRP Q7 TDI Since September 2012 $52,000 * EPA estimates. Mileage will vary. ** Based on total A3 TDI and Q7 TDI vehicles sold, average nationwide gasoline fuel prices, and EPA estimated annual average miles driven. *** Range based on 28-mpg highway EPA estimates and a 26.4-gallon fuel-tank. Mileage will vary. Where stated, fuel economy values (mpg) are EPA estimates. All other fuel economy values are forecast manufacturer values for the USA; those EPA estimates were not available at time of release. Audi Connect and SiriusXM Traffic services may require additional subscriptions. MSRPs exclude taxes, title, transportation, options and dealer charges.
Volkswagen caught testing next-gen Golf Variant, aka Jetta SportWagen ... Including GTI and R versions!!
Volkswagen is currently testing the next-generation Jetta SportWagen in Europe, and our spy photographers managed to grab a few shots of the long-roof in action. From the looks of things, the new model will be considerably larger than the current generation, pushing ever closer to the girth of the European Passat. Technically, the SportWagen will continue to ride on the Golf platform moving forward, and there's some indication that buyers in the EU will get a shot at both GTI and R versions. Of course, the SportWagen goes by the name Golf in the old country.
Details are scarce on what we can expect to see under the hood, and Volkswagen hasn't said when the new Golf/Jetta SportWagen will debut, but smart money is on seeing the next-generation vehicle at either the Geneva Motor Show in March of next year or the Frankfurt Motor Show in September. In the meantime, check out the full gallery for a closer look
Wednesday, November 28, 2012
When the Los Angeles Auto Show holds its media preview on Wednesday, it'll become more apparent than ever that in the world of cars, as in some other things, California remains vastly disconnected from the rest of America.
That's because the nation's strictest emissions standards and laws mandating electric-vehicle sales put a premium for auto brands on showing the best side of their electrification efforts at the L.A. show. And so while EVs have continued to sell at a snail's pace across most of the rest of the United States, California has become a robust market for electric vehicles.
It's also America's hottest market for sexy cars, of course, which is why Jaguar USA is at the LA Auto Show. The brand hosted a pre-show event Tuesday night to unveil the all-new F-TYPE two-seater. It also unveiled the trailer for Desire, a short film being released next year, which stars Emmy Award-winning actor Damian Lewis, produced by Ridley Scott Associates with music by Lana Del Rey. Check it out below along with other previews at the LA Auto Show.
Tuesday, November 27, 2012
|Saab PhoeniX Concept Car|
People love a good comeback story, the kind where a person overcomes seemingly impossible obstacles, and Saab right now might be shaping up to be that kind of a story. Many people decided the brand was deader than dead three years ago when talk of bankruptcy and winding down the brand was first brought up by General Motors management. After languishing for a while, the Swedish automotive brand finally seemed to succumb to the many factors that caused its demise. Many kind eulogies were written for the brand and then everyone seemed to move on.
But like a phoenix, (or maybe a zombie, depending on how things turn out) Saab refused to stay dead for very long. Now it promises to rise from the ashes of the company so many wept over, hopefully stronger and ready to thrive in the modern automotive world.
|Saab PhoeniX Concept|
At first, plans were to relaunch the brand with only EVs (electric vehicles). That plan was an ambitious one, one that seems to have been placed on hold. Rather than let consumers continue to think that the Saab brand is dead, the company will release a new generation of the iconic 9-3 sports sedan, but it will be gasoline-powered like in the past. Rumor has it that this new 9-3 will be based on the architecture of Saab's PhoeniX concept (but sadly the scissor doors probably won't make the cut--pun intended). In the next few years, expect to see electric Saab models rolling down a road near you.
How is it that Saab has been brought back from death? Despite what most people think, when a company goes bankrupt and closes that doesn't mean the products are dead forever. If that were the case, Jeep would have been history a long time ago. The Swedish company National Electric Vehicle Sweden AB (or NEVS) is partially responsible for this reboot. The company is owned by National Modern Energy Holdings, which is based in Hong Kong. A significant portion of the company is also owned by some private Japanese citizens, with the alliance surviving the current tension between the governments of China and Japan.
|Saab PhoeniX Concept|
China has been weighing in on electric car technology with a mandate for quite a few electric cars on the country's roads in the near future. This has helped fuel an interest in bringing more EVs to China. The US so far is the largest EV market in the world, so expect to see quite a few of these EV Saabs coming to America in the near future as well. I would imagine a fair amount of the new 9-3s will be landing on American shores as well, considering the US was a vital market for Saab back in the day. Still, with NEVS being based in China, and with the country's growing appetite for cars, Saab should be expecting to see a huge upswing in growth in China (just like Jaguar, Land Rover and Volvo are all experiencing).
Of course, everything is up in the air right now. Relaunching a car brand is not an overnight process, especially with part supply chains, readying factories, negotiating with assembly workers, training, testing, etc. I'm sure the public's response to this news will play a factor in deciding if Saab is back next year, so let's all make sure to let NEVS know there's still a viable market for a combustion engine 9-3!
|Saab PhoeniX Concept Wheel - I love how it looks kind of like a turbine!|
Monday, November 26, 2012
Hennessey Performance – that purveyor of things silly-powerful – has announced a sequel to its bonkers Lotus-based Venom GT, the appropriately sequential Venom GT2. While the performance company isn't quite ready to release full technical details about the new car, it has supplied us with a few of the vitals, as well as a gallery's worth of first-look eye-candy.
The GT2 seeks to trump the horsepower output of the Venom GT in a major way, upping the total pony count to 1,500 versus the older car's paltry 1,200 hp. That heroic output is produced by a 7.0-liter twin-turbo V8 engine, and is attainable running plebian E85 pump gas – like a boss. The 1,500-hp figure is significant, too, as it represents one horsepower for each kilogram of weight the car carries.
Other additions for the Venom GT2 include an available seven-speed "paddle shift transmission" of unknown origin, a bump in headroom thanks to the double-bubble roof and aero improvements that drop the CofD from 0.44 to 0.42.
Look for this unmitigated beast of a hypercar to make its official debut late in 2013.
UPDATE: This just in from John Hennessey regarding the 2014 Venom GT2. We're told that the car will carry a sticker price of $1.25 million to start, and that the optional seven-speed paddle-shift transmission will be a $165,000 option. Further, Hennessey will continue to sell both the Venom GT and the Venom GT2 – the new car is not a replacement for the older, in other words.
Alessandro Tartarini, the son of Italjet founder Leopoldo Tartarini, has created a new category of motorcycle we didn’t know we needed. And based on the stats and those pesky laws of physics, we’re unconvinced it’s even a viable solution for the handful of potential buyers Tartarini and his company are targeting.
The design intent of the Brutus (no relation to the Brutus electric motorcycle or Caesar’s assassin) is to be a jack of all trades, handling serious off-road conditions while simultaneously being a practical long-distance cruiser. The big feature is the tires, which are 6 inches wide at the front, and 7 inches wide at the rear.
But as with any hybrid that attempts to blend the best of both worlds, the Brutus’ stats make it sound like a mis-imagined hodgepodge that won’t be good at anything.
To begin with, it weighs in at 485 pounds – about the same as 1,000cc tourers like the Ducati Multistrada. The reason tourers can’t go off road is because they’re far too heavy, which makes the Brutus overweight for dirt path duty.
Then there’s the suspension travel, which at 80mm at the front and 100mm at the rear, is far too short for hopping rocks and ripping through ruts. Most tourers have about twice that amount of travel, and use every millimeter of it.
But questionable stats aside, the Brutus is touted as “at home in any conditions” and “a valid work tool for going where other vehicles cannot.” Two dubious claims that combined with a 45bhp, 750cc single-cylinder liquid-cooled powerplant make even less of a case for Tartarini’s halved ATV.
The production model comes with an glut of options like a reverse gear, a sidecar, a winch, a generator, and even a “snow kit,” which converts the rig into a semi-snowmobile with a track out back. Look for a release next spring, although there’s no word on pricing.
I am a car guy, but I'm also practical and I'm not rich. I also have several kids (which is partially why I'm not rich) to transport safely and comfortably around town and on long trips. Because of my life situation I have found myself doing what I swore I would never, ever do: I bought a minivan.
What's so bad about owning a minivan? Many people consider minivans to be a scourge on the road. I've noticed the most violent reactions against minivans and those who drive them come from women. Perhaps these women view minivans as an undue form of female bondage, like the bra-burning flower children of the 1960s? I once had a woman explain to me that driving a minivan is "sacrificing your sexuality for your children." I had no idea I drove my sexuality around on the road, but of course the little guys who drive huge trucks help confirm that at least some people do. How sad.
I really like SUVs for a number of reasons: they are excellent in snow, SUVs are good for camping and other outdoor activities and some can actually be fun to drive (while others constantly feel like they're going to tip over). But there is one major problem with 95% of the SUVs on the market today: if they have a third row, its large enough to transport a house cat or maybe a beagle and that's about it. Don't believe me? Go try to sit in the third row of a Toyota Highlander, Volvo XC90, Acura MDX or even a Ford Explorer. If you're tall like me, you won't even fit. To add insult to injury, with the third row up the vehicle's cargo area is completely annihilated. So that means if the family goes shopping together, everyone has to hold the store bags on their laps. Road trips are accomplished with everyone holding the luggage or using it as wonderful in-vehicle ottomans, or by loading everything onto the roof and increasing the possibility the vehicle will rollover at freeway speeds. Car makers could at least expand the hip room on the second row of these SUVs, allowing parents to place three car seats or boosters side-by-side and still close the doors and use the three shoulder belts.
|Minivans in general offer more cargo and passenger space than SUVs|
Minivans, for the most part, have ample space on all three rows, as well as a surprising amount of cargo space behind the third row. Image be damned, having space for everyone and everything makes life bearable! Kids also have an easy time getting into and out of minivans, since they have a low step-in height and wide sliding doors. Kids have trouble with the large, heavy doors found on SUVs, which means they're more likely to hit other vehicles, metal poles, etc with them.
As gas prices continue to climb, minivans offer a more fuel-efficient way to transport a large group of people. In general, their tires and other consumables cost less. They are a more budget-friendly way to transport around your family. So many people have SUVs that cost an arm and a leg to maintain, and yet they never tap into the vehicle's off-road capabilities. If that's not conspicuous consumption, then I'm not sure what is.
Ultimately I feel like I'm villainized by other drivers on the road because I chose a vehicle that makes sense. I had been conditioned to think that minivan drivers were some sort of a scourge, but my thinking has now changed by necessity. If more people would give minivans a try, they might realize that their kids don't need to eat their knees in an SUV's crammed third row. My experience is that the more comfortable kids are in a vehicle, in general the better behaved they are in that vehicle. I enjoy driving down the road without crying and fighting, which is hardly a scourge but instead is a huge blessing.
Sunday, November 25, 2012
There she is. One 2001 Cadillac Seville SLS with 103,361 miles on it. Pretty clean car. Unfortunately, it does not start, nor crank, nor does the host of electronic gadgetry on this car work. The owner says sometimes he can disconnect the battery and reconnect and vehicle it will start and perform well. Notice the battery charger in the picture. Usually, a clear indication to me that the battery in the car is a paperweight. I see a ton of bad batteries. People will have expensive stereo systems, fancy alarms, and they have a bad battery. They don't mind jumping the car 5 times a week. That spells disaster to electronics. Between, voltage spikes and the eventual backwards jump start it gets ugly fast. Let's get the show on the road with this car.