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Subaru Viziv GT gears up for Vision Gran Turismo action [w/video]

Wed, 19 Nov 2014 11:59:00 EST

Ever wonder what it would look like if Subaru made a big brother to the BRZ, maybe to take on the Nissan GT-R or Japan's Super GT series? (Well, the BRZ already competes in the GT300 class, but we're talking about the GT500 major leagues here.) Wonder no more, car fans, because it'd probably look something like this. Only it's not a road car, and it's not a racecar. It's the latest addition to the growing roster of Vision Gran Turismo concepts for GT6.
Borrowing on the design theme put forth by the Viziv concept that debuted at the 2013 Geneva Motor Show and the Viziv 2 concept showcased the following year, the Viziv GT Vision Gran Turismo is envisioned as a racing machine. Its hypothetical hybrid powertrain pairs a 2.0-liter boxer four, turbocharged and direct-injected, to a trio of high-output electric motors to deliver a claimed 591 horsepower and 593 pound-feet of torque.
Carbon fiber construction helps offset the weight of the motors and batteries to keep the hybrid racing shooting brake down to a theoretical 3,000 pounds, with competition-spec aero to keep it glued to the track. Gamers will be able to download it directly in the game as part of the latest update, but you can scope it out right here in the image gallery above and the video and press release below.

Mercedes channels the Hulk with off-road G63

Wed, 19 Nov 2014 11:20:00 EST

Automobiles don't come much harder-core than the Mercedes-Benz Geländewagen, but AMG has proven up to the challenge time and time again. From the base G-Wagen, the boys in Affalterbach have tuned out successively more powerful versions, but surprised even themselves with the release of the G63 AMG 6x6 last year.
The thing is, not everyone - even those in the market for a G-Class - needs six driven wheels. So now it seems the German automaker is preparing to roll out a version that adopts many of the upgrades applied to the six-wheel-drive version, only with a more manageable four wheels.
Spied undergoing testing in southern Europe, this G-Class prototype (dubbed by our shooters on the ground as the Green Monster or the Hulk) packs wider fender flares, upgraded side skirts, beefier bumpers, enlarged rolling stock and a higher ride height than the standard G-Class - or the same, in short, as the 6x6, minus a couple of wheels and with a wagon body-style instead of the longer model's pickup bed.

Nine-time Le Mans winner Tom Kristensen to retire

Wed, 19 Nov 2014 10:40:00 EST

Le Mans icon Tom Kristensen is retiring. The Danish driver, who was an integral part of Audi's absolute dominance at the 24 Hours of Le Mans, captured a record-breaking nine wins at the legendary endurance race, along with six overall victories at the 12 Hours of Sebring in a career that spanned 26 years.
"Over the past couple of months, my thoughts of retiring have been stronger, and therefore, it feels right to inform you today that I am retiring from motor racing," Kristensen told Autosport. "I still feel I am in peak physical form and possess the necessary mental toughness both in and outside of the car: it has been important for me to stop while I am still strong and able to deliver top performances at Audi."
While the World Endurance Championship's season-ending race at Interlagos on November 30 will be Kristensen's last as a driver, it won't be the end of his long-running association with Audi. According to Autosport, TK will take on a new role as an ambassador for the German marque and will work with team's drivers in an unspecified role.

BMW 2 Series to wear 230i, M240i nameplates

Wed, 19 Nov 2014 10:20:00 EST

BMW might not be done tweaking its naming scheme quite yet. Of course, at this point, the jumble of numbers on the back of the Bavarian models has no connection to what's under the hood. So there's not much reason to stop changing the monikers now.
As Autoblog reported a few months ago, BMW is slotting upgraded, turbocharged four- and six-cylinder engines called the B48 and B58, respectively, into the 3 and 4 Series. If this happens, the 328i/428i would become the 330i/430i, and the 335i/435i would turn into the 340i/440i.
Obviously, this change hasn't happened yet, but the same member of 2Addicts, a portion of the larger Bimmerpost community has now claimed that the 228i and M235i would get the same treatment. They would become the 230i and M240i, respectively, with the new engines.

2016 Jaguar F-Type debuts available manual transmission, AWD

Wed, 19 Nov 2014 10:00:00 EST

If you're like us, you fell in the deepest, darkest sort of love with Jaguar's F-Type the moment its voluptuous form first surfaced. The car's full-bodied engine specs only furthered our ardor, and the droptop Jag sealed the deal before we even turned a wheel - all it took was hearing its engine bark to life.
And yet, even after driving the original convertible and the subsequent coupe, we've never quite shaken the notion that Jaguar erred a bit too heavily on the Grand Touring side of the equation for a proper sports car. That's partially because even the base model comes with a boatload of weight-adding luxury features. But perhaps more importantly, it's because the F-Type has only been available with an automatic transmission. Admittedly, the gearbox in question is a damned good paddle-shifted eight-speed ZF unit, but it's always chafed a bit that Jaguar wasn't committed to offering purists a manual - even if such a model would never be a high-volume proposition.
Apparently we weren't the only ones bothered by three-pedal omission. According to Russ Varney, F-Type Vehicle Program Director,

Jeep Grand Cherokee, Dodge Durango to lose color options temporarily

Wed, 19 Nov 2014 09:29:00 EST

In the market for a Jeep Grand Cherokee or Dodge Durango? Well, if you fancy a more expressive color for your new SUV, you'd better get your order in, or plan on waiting until well into 2015.
The SUVs will be limited to just four monochromatic shades - black, white, silver and gray - until at least February, thanks to an upgrade to the paint shop at the two vehicles' Jefferson North factory. For the Grand Cherokee, that means it's losing more than half its color palette while the Durango is dropping two-thirds of its color catalog.
The loss of colors is inconvenient, but the upgrade will have a slightly bigger effect on the overall supply of SUVs, as Chrysler will need to end its relentless build pace at the factory for a three-week shutdown starting on December 22. The good news for fans of the SUVs is that once the work is completed, we should see a gradual expansion of the color palettes for both the Durango and Grand Cherokee, beyond even what's offered now.

2015 VW Golf R priced from $36,595*

Wed, 19 Nov 2014 09:00:00 EST

How much would you be willing to spend on a Rabbit? You're about to find out, boys and girls, because on the occasion of the debut of the long-roofed Golf R Variant here in LA, Volkswagen of America has released pricing for the existing version of its top-of-the-line hot hatch.
The 2015 Volkswagen Golf R will start out at $36,595 (plus $820 destination). That's for the four-door model with the DSG which will launch initially, with the manual version to follow. Step up to the tech-laden Golf R with DCC and Nav and you'll be looking at $39,090 (before delivery), which just makes it under the $40k mark as delivered.
For all that scratch, you do get one heck of a pocket rocket, with a 2.0-liter turbo four kicking out 292 horsepower and 280 pound-feet of torque through a six-speed DSG and Haldex all-wheel drive system to reach 60 in 4.9 seconds and top out at 155 miles per hour.

Mercedes-Maybach S600 is not the luxury limo we expected

Wed, 19 Nov 2014 08:30:00 EST

We should preface the above headline with this: we fully expected Mercedes-Benz to introduce a more luxurious S-Class sedan, complete with a longer wheelbase. We've seen plenty of spy photos of the stretched sedan, and it was frankly a matter of "when" rather than "if" the flagship's flagship would arrive. We simply weren't expecting the new model to be adorned with the somewhat tarnished Maybach name, or to delete old Karl's family name all together in its naming of the Mercedes-Maybach S600.
Considering the questionable history of the Maybach brand since its 2002 revival, it's clear that Mercedes made a strategic decision for its newest sedan, retaining the overall look and, most importantly, the silver arrow of the S-Class, while the Maybach badging is kept to a minimum, with the double-M badge and "MAYBACH" name limited to the C-pillar and rear decklid, respectively. Instead, Mercedes has focused on the interior and stretched body for its high-end S600.
This hulking sedan is 8.1 inches longer than a standard S-Class at 214.6 inches, while its wheelbase has been stretched by 7.9 inches, and is now 132.5 inches long. That means the S600's wheelbase is nearly four inches longer than a Bentley Mulsanne, while the overall car is over six inches lengthier. On the Rolls-Royce side, it's situated between the 212.6/129.7-inch Ghost and the 230/140.6-inch Phantom.

Audi Prologue concept goes for A9, we give it a ten

Wed, 19 Nov 2014 04:00:00 EST

If you've been waiting for Audi to roll out a new design language, you need wait no longer as Ingolstadt is displaying just that at the Los Angeles Auto Show this year with the Prologue concept you see here.
Penned by Audi's new design chief Marc Lichte, the Prologue is earmarked to introduce a shift (if not quite a complete change) in design direction for the German automaker. The trapezoidal grille sits wider and lower than on existing models, with the wedge-shaped laser headlights positioned higher above new air intakes with blade elements. The profile rests balanced across its wheelbase to visually emphasize the all-wheel drive that is part of Audi's DNA, with flared arches inspired by the legendary Ur-Quattro. The rear section is inspired by yachts, angled forward to suggest motion, with a narrow strip of LED taillights, full-width diffuser element and twin trapezoidal exhaust tips.
Inside it's all light and surgically clean, with a horizontal dashboard integrating four touchscreen displays running its full width. The system even allows the passenger to select the route for the navigation system and swipe it on over to the driver's display. The headrests on the rear seats and the "sound spoiler" on the rear shelf deploy only when needed, unobstructing the rear view when not.

2016 Ford Explorer revealed with new 2.3-liter EcoBoost

Wed, 19 Nov 2014 00:02:00 EST



A 2.3L EcoBoost four-cylinder takes over where the old 2.0 left off, making 270 hp and 300 lb-ft.
Right now, around 23 percent of all Ford vehicles sold in the United States is a utility vehicle. By 2020, Ford expects that figure to increase all the way to 29 percent. Put simply, SUVs and crossovers are very big business at Ford. So, when it comes time to update the Explorer, Ford's original sport utility vehicle, you can be sure that a whole heck of a lot of effort goes into the process.

2015 Chrysler 300 looks to recapture its mojo in LA

Wed, 19 Nov 2014 00:01:00 EST

Chrysler's 300 sedan has never been a shrinking violet, but it arguably lost a bit of swagger when its second-generation model bowed. There was no way that an evolutionary design could ever upend the automotive establishment the way the original 2005 model did, but even so, something was clearly left on the table when the 2011 model bowed.
You don't have take our word for it - Chrysler knows it, too. Reflecting back upon the second-generation model's styling today, Ralph Gilles, Chrysler's senior vice president of design is refreshingly candid, telling Autoblog, "Our previous generation of leaders didn't understand the car very well, and kind of forced this front end on us." For 2015, Gilles and Co. have worked to recapture some of the 2005 design's lightning in a bottle. In Gilles' words, the brief for the refreshed 2015 model was to "give the car the attitude it deserves... up the attitude, up the presence."
Visually, the new 300 initially appears very similar to the current car, but closer inspection and side-by-side comparisons reveal countless changes, the most noticeable being a much larger front grille (by about 30 percent), redone light fixtures and a 'Mobius-strip' lower fascia that picks up where the new 200 left off. The cabin has been upgraded, too, with a standard seven-inch display in the gauge cluster, the latest UConnect infotainment system and improved material choices.

2016 Mazda CX-3 is a 2 cute ute

Tue, 18 Nov 2014 23:00:00 EST

One day removed from our latest round of spy photos, Mazda has finally lifted the veil on its 2016 CX-3 crossover, giving us our very first glimpse at the Mazda2-based entry into the rapidly expanding world of subcompact crossovers.
Mazda's KODO design language is once again on display, presenting some increasingly familiar styling touchstones including a five-point grille that integrates neatly with the front headlights to present an almost protruding snout that's both clean and complex. Like previous KODO designs, the CX-3's profile features swoopy character lines that highlight the wheel arches and a higher beltline. Mazda has cleverly chosen to black out the CX-3's D-pillar in favor of a floating roof look, a design decision that adds to the model's fashionable styling. It's the rear of the design that borrows most heavily from the Mazda2, largely in the shape of the headlights and rear hatch.
Globally, under that fashionable sheetmetal sits Mazda's 2.0-liter Skyactiv four-cylinder that can be mated to a six-speed manual or automatic. Unfortunately, in North America, it looks like we'll only get the automatic. Regardless of gearbox, power can be sent to an optional next-gen all-wheel-drive system that uses the active torque control system found on the Mazda CX-5. Like the Mazda2, front-drive is standard.

2016 Cadillac ATS-V blasts into LA

Tue, 18 Nov 2014 22:30:00 EST

The first details about the 2016 Cadillac ATS-V recently hit the web ahead of the official debut at the 2014 Los Angeles Auto Show. Now, the latest model to wear Caddy's high-performance V moniker is officially official, and the specs are even better than initial rumors suggested.
The latest figures actually give the ATS-V a hair more power than first believed, with 455 horsepower and 445 pound-feet of torque pumping out of the twin-turbocharged 3.6-liter V6. With a standard electronic limited-slip differential keeping rear wheels in check, Cadillac claims that the model sprints to 60 miles per hour in 3.9 seconds and on to a top speed of 185 mph. Buyers have two transmission choices that both offer launch control: a six-speed manual featuring Active Rev Match and no-lift shifting, or an eight-speed automatic.
Thoroughly revised suspension and braking systems should also mean that the ATS-V excels at more than just going in a straight line. The chassis itself receives extra bracing to boost overall stiffness by 25 percent over lesser ATS models. On top of that, a host of suspension upgrades front and rear, including third-generation Magnetic Ride Control dampers, mean quicker steering response and a tighter ride. Plus, Brembo six-piston calipers up front and four-pistons in the rear should bring rapid deceleration. To tune it all to the driver's whim, the Performance Traction Management system gives five settings to choose from for stability and traction control.

Sports 800 is a progenitor of Toyota performance

Tue, 18 Nov 2014 20:01:00 EST

There's an automotive axiom that claims it's more fun to drive a slow car fast, than a fast car slow. If that's the case, then pushing a Toyota Sports 800 around must be one of the most exhilarating experiences behind the wheel in the world. With just 800cc of displacement from a two-cylinder boxer engine, the focus is on finesse over outright speed. Still, it's a fantastic page in Toyota's performance history, and Petrolicious takes a ride with a man who owns a meticulously restored 1967 example in its latest video.
The Sports 800 used the classic cost-saving strategy in the auto industry of taking parts from a standard model in the lineup and modifying it into a sports car. In this case that meant borrowing the engine from the plebian Toyota Publica, beefing it up for more power and clothing the whole thing a in beautifully shaped, wind-tunnel-honed body.
The look of these lithe, targa roadsters is the exact opposite of the rather dull styling sometimes associated with Toyota today. Everywhere you look there are louvers, vents or curves to draw the eye. Check out the latest Petrolicious video for a detailed look at the history of this rare model that's largely unknown on this side of the Pacific.

What you missed on 11.18.14

Tue, 18 Nov 2014 19:32:00 EST

Big, topless Bentley sure is Grand
It's been a while since we've had a properly huge, grand Bentley convertible in our market, following the departure of the Azure. But lo, Bentley has introduced the aptly named Grand Convertible, just days before the Los Angeles Auto Show. It's based on the new Mulsanne Speed, and is really something special. Check it out, here.
Big, fixed-roof Bentley is also quite grand

Honda is replacing airbags nationwide, not just in humid states

Tue, 18 Nov 2014 17:59:00 EST

With a Senate hearing scheduled for November 20, the investigations into the exploding airbag inflators from automotive supplier Takata are just beginning. Honda is among the automakers most affected by the problem with over five million vehicles potentially in need of repair in the US, according to the last estimate from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. But the actual number being fixed could be even higher because the company is also working with worried owners nationwide.
According to the Associated Press, Honda is willing to perform the repair for concerned owners of affected vehicles who live outside of the high-humidity regions that the recall covers. In a letter to customers online, the company explains that it wants to work with them to fix the problem and even provide temporary transportation, if necessary.
"This is not a new thing, and it does not represent us including vehicles outside of those regions within the recall or investigatory campaigns. It is a part of our ongoing efforts to work with our customers individually to resolve their concerns, even if their vehicle is not technically part of one of those actions," said Honda spokesperson Chris Martin to Autoblog via email.

Next-gen Audi A4 spotted

Tue, 18 Nov 2014 17:02:00 EST

With fresh entries from Lexus and Mercedes-Benz and a newer entry from BMW, Audi is in a rather precarious position with its A4 sedan, which has been on sale in its current form since 2008 (aside from its 2012 mid-cycle refresh). It's high time a new vehicle takes its place.
If Audi follows convention, the vehicle shown above will be known internally as the B9, and will ride atop the so-called MLB Evo, a new version of the modular platform underpinning the current A4 (and a whole heap of other Volkswagen Group products). That new bit of hardware should bless the next-gen A4 with a weight savings of anywhere from 175 to 220 pounds.
In terms of its looks, our spies point to a more evolutionary approach. Expect the A4 to borrow from the design being pioneered by the third-generation Audi TT, particularly around the grille, which should be more upright. The wheelbase should get a stretch while Audi will clip the overhangs of its midsizer, relative to the current sedan.

Mitsubishi rolls out new Triton pickup [w/videos]

Tue, 18 Nov 2014 16:31:00 EST

Of all the automakers producing pickup trucks these days, even among just the Japanese automakers, Mitsubishi might not spring to mind first. But maybe it should. The Diamond-Star company has been in the game now for 36 years, selling over four million pickups around the world. These days that comes down principally to the Triton, of which it sold over a third of a million units last year alone for a total of over 1.2 million produced since its introduction in 2005. Now, after nine years on the market, Mitsubishi has launched a new version.
Clearly drawing its stylistic influence (if not the hybrid powertrain) from the GR-HEV concept Mitsubishi showcased at the 2013 Geneva Motor Show, the new Triton aims to combine "the comfortable interior of a passenger car with the functionality and reliability of a pickup." It's more stylish, more comfortable and safer than the model it replaces, and comes in an array of configurations.
Buyers of the new Triton (known in some markets as the L200, among other nameplates it's worn over the years) will be able to choose between Single, Double and Club Cab variants. Powertrain choices will vary by market, but will be based around three engines: a 2.4-liter gasoline unit, a 2.5-liter turbodiesel and a new 2.4-liter turbodiesel with electronic valve timing.

FL man fatally shot after urging driver not to do donuts in a Mustang

Tue, 18 Nov 2014 16:00:00 EST

Bradley Holt (pictured), the older half-brother of University of South Florida freshman quarterback Quinton Flowers, was killed in a random act of violence last week.
The 24-year-old Holt was throwing a football around with local kids in Allapattah, a neighborhood in Miami, when a yellow Mustang showed up and started doing donuts in the street. Holt, worried about kids playing in front his apartment complex, walked over to the driver and asked him why he was "driving so crazy with so many kids out here?"
The driver left. Holt's sister said the driver came back "about 15 to 20 minutes later" and fired two shots at Holt. One of them hit Holt in the back of the head, killing him.

Ford recalling 65k Fusions from 2014 and 2015 because key can be removed

Tue, 18 Nov 2014 15:31:00 EST

Ford is recalling an estimated 64,869 examples of the 2014-2015 Fusion, Fusion Energi and Fusion Hybrid in North America because the key can be removed when the vehicle isn't in Park under certain conditions. Specifically, the campaign covers 56,479 units in the US, 6,048 in Canada and 2,342 in Mexico, according to the automaker's tally on November 11.
Ford says a programming problem in the instrument cluster means that the key can be removed 30 minutes after the ignition is turned off, even if the transmission is not in Park. The situation where this could happen seems quite limited, and the company is not aware of any accidents or injuries related to the issue. However, the fault puts the vehicle out of compliance with federal regulations covering theft protection and rollaways, and must be repaired.
The fix is easy: Ford will reprogram the instrument cluster at no cost to consumers. According to Ford spokesperson Kelli Felker in an email to Autoblog, "We will notify customers the week of January 5th." Scroll down to read Ford's announcement.

Jaguar Land Rover details JustDrive connectivity suite

Tue, 18 Nov 2014 14:30:00 EST



JustDrive will allegedly deliver on the long-promised idea of natural communication between driver and car.
Jaguar Land Rover's all-new InControl system is set to get a big bump as the British company will add a new service called JustDrive, which expands on the smartphone-focused infotainment system by adding a singular voice controller for a wide array of the system's currently available apps.

Porsche Cayman GT4 speeds back into view

Tue, 18 Nov 2014 14:01:00 EST

We're all familiar with the succession of numbers that follow the letters GT on a hard-core Porsche 911: the GT1 that was Stuttgart's Le Mans contender in the late 90s, the GT2 that packs turbochargers but without the Turbo's all-wheel drive and excess weight, and the naturally aspirated GT3 that's the enthusiast's choice. But a GT4? That's something new, and exactly what Porsche has in store.
Spied testing in Germany once again is the upcoming GT4 version of the Porsche Cayman, set to supersede the existing GTS and take the place of the previous Cayman R at the top of Porsche's junior sports car range. This latest batch of spy shots doesn't show us much more than the last crop, but gives us a much clearer view at what promises to be the most hardcore Cayman to date.
As you can see, the Cayman GT4 packs a much more aggressive aero kit and rolling stock than any version we've seen to date. It's got a lip spoiler, big air dam and GT3-style vent in front of the hood, deep air scoops along the flanks, a set of spindly alloys packing oversized brakes, a diffuser with twin central exhaust tips around back and a rear wing that's likely to be replaced with a sleeker unit before the GT4 reaches production.

2015 Bentley Mulsanne Speed

Tue, 18 Nov 2014 11:57:00 EST

Why does the Bentley Mulsanne Speed exist? Sam Graham, product line director for the Mulsanne, tells us Bentley's Western customers demanded it, many driven by memories of the Arnage T - the hotted-up version of the Arnage R. The Arnage T, you may remember, arrived in 2002 and threw down 459 horsepower and 645 pound-feet of torque on its way to being billed the most powerful production Bentley ever. Today's Mulsanne Speed picks up the torch and takes it all the way to the Olympic stadium.
Driving Notes
It starts with an upgrade to 530 hp at 4,200 rpm and 811 lb-ft of torque at a limbo-esque 1,750 rpm. That's an additional 25 hp and 86 lb-ft compared to the standard sedan, enabling a top speed of 190 miles per hour. That torque figure makes it second only to the Bugatti Veyron among production cars, and that terminal velocity makes it the fastest ultra-luxury sedan on God's Own Green.

Land Rover, Toyota big winners in ALG top resale value awards

Tue, 18 Nov 2014 11:33:00 EST



"Residual value is important for automakers and consumers because it's a complete indicator of the vehicle's future value." - Larry Dominique
Toyota and Land Rover took home the top brand honors in ALG's 2015 Residual Value Awards, which will be presented this week at the Los Angeles Auto Show.

Volvo launches XC90 configurator site

Tue, 18 Nov 2014 11:00:00 EST

In many ways the 2016 Volvo XC90 defines the future of the Swedish brand. The SUV is the introduction of the company's Scalable Product Architecture modular platform that should underpin most of its future models. It's also the first big chance to see whether consumers accept a model like this that's only available with four-cylinder power, granted a mill that is both turbocharged and supercharged. The configurator for this Swedish hopeful is just hitting the Web giving customers a chance to see what they think.
The only available powertrain on the XC90 at the moment is the 2.0-liter Drive-E with 316 horsepower and 295 pound-feet of torque, an eight-speed automatic transmission and all-wheel drive. The base price starts at $48,900, plus $925 for destination, but that number can balloon quite quickly. Upgrading to the R-Design package tacks on $4,000 or the even plusher Inscription package adds $5,600.
Furthermore, there are several option packages to add some extra tech and comfort to the SUV. The Vision Package with a backup cam is an extra $1,600, two versions of the Climate package to keep occupants warm come to $1,050 and $1,950, respectively, and the Convenience Package that includes adaptive cruise control adds $2,000. Depending on trim, there are up to 13 colors available in an attractive variety, although all but two add $550 to the price. There are also a wide variety of leather upholsteries to choose from.

Ferrari names Edwin Fenech head of North American office

Tue, 18 Nov 2014 10:17:00 EST

Ferrari North America has been sailing without a captain for the past several months since its previous chief executive, Marco Mattiacci, was called home to Italy to run the Scuderia. But now the Italian automaker has announced a new capo to run the office in New Jersey, and his name is Edwin Fenech.
Not to be confused with the French-Italian actress Edwige Fenech (who obviously showed up in our research before the Ferrari exec did), Edwin Fenech has a long history of running regional offices for the Prancing Horse marque. Prior to making the jump to the North American division, Fenech ran the company's operations in the Middle East, Africa, Asia Pacific and China, and previously served as sales and marketing director for France and sales manager for all of Europe.
Now in charge of Ferrari's largest market, Fenech will be responsible for expanding the company's presence not only in the United States - in which Ferrari has been present now for sixty years - but also in Canada as well as Central and South America.

BMW i5 could get Toyota-sourced hydrogen power

Tue, 18 Nov 2014 09:29:00 EST

It's starting to feel like the automotive landscape is right on the cusp of a boom in hydrogen-fueled vehicles. After all, the Toyota FCV is nearly ready, Volkswagen is readying a fuel cell concept for this week's Los Angeles Auto Show and Hyundai already sells its Tucson Fuel Cell. The next big name to add to that list might be BMW, as the company's co-development deal with Toyota starts to bear fruit.
According to Autocar, BMW may use a version of the fuel cell system from the Toyota FCV in the future i5. As part of its eco-oriented i sub-brand, the i5 is expected to be a stretched version of the i3 (pictured above) with extra rear legroom and cargo space. It's unclear at the moment whether a battery-powered pure electric powertrain will also be available. If accurate, then the rumor could give the Bavarian brand a counterattack against Mercedes-Benz' planned fuel cell vehicle in 2017.
BMW and Toyota first signed the memorandum of understanding to co-develop fuel cells, lightweight technology and a sports car back in 2012, and they made the arrangement official in late 2013. So far, few details on the progress of the work have been disclosed, but the performance model has been rumored to use a front-engine, all-wheel drive layout with supercapacitors.

Bentley unveils the Grand Convertible, a droptop Mulsanne Speed

Tue, 18 Nov 2014 08:45:00 EST

Five years ago, when Bentley was preparing its farewell shindig for the Arnage, reports were that the Arnage's coupe and convertible siblings, the Brooklands and Azure, would get replacements on the Mulsanne platform. Obviously, that hasn't happened, although we were teased with the Mulsanne Vision Concept in 2012. Then, just this summer, we were again teased with rumors of a Brooklands and Azure one-two punch. While it still hasn't happened yet, Bentley's unveiling of the Grand Convertible seems to have put things in gear.
Not 'merely' a roofless Mulsanne, the Grand Convertible appears to be a droptop Mulsanne Speed, powered by a 6.75-liter engine with 530 horsepower and 811 pound-feet of torque, and fitted with the directional wheels only available on the Mulsanne Speed. Finished outside in Sequin Blue with a "liquid metal" hood and windshield frame and a burl walnut veneer on the tonneau cover - a similar combo used to introduce the Rolls-Royce Phantom Drophead Coupé eight years ago - the cabin is covered in Beluga leather with blue cross-stitching.
Company CEO Wolfgang Dürheimer says Bentley is watching customer reaction to the car, yet the press release says it's been "Developed to signify Bentley's intentions for the future." That sounds like better than even odds we'll be seeing this on the roads. For now, though, you can see it in the high-res gallery above, at the LA Auto Show starting this week, and at Art Basel in Miami after that, and you'll find a bit more info on it in the press release below.

Volkswagen Golf R Variant is the hotter longroof we've been dreaming of

Tue, 18 Nov 2014 08:00:00 EST

A couple of months ago, we brought you spy shots of a Volkswagen Golf R that had been stretched into a proper wagon shape. And now, at the Los Angeles Auto Show, Volkswagen has officially taken the wraps off what it calls the Golf R Variant - a proper longroof version of the oh-so-potent Golf R.
That's right, Volkswagen has taken everything we already love about the Golf R and stretched it into a more functional package. The R Variant uses the same turbocharged 2.0-liter inline-four as the standard Golf R, rated at 296 horsepower and 280 pound-feet of torque, mated to a six-speed, dual-clutch transmission. Combined with 4Motion all-wheel drive, this engine has enough oomph to propel the wagon to 62 miles per hour in a scant 5.1 seconds, on its way to an electronically limited top speed of 155 mph.
Mechanically, everything we love about the MkVII Golf R has carried over, including the ESC Sport stability control system, as well as the Driving Profile Selector, with Eco, Normal, Individual, and Race modes (part of the DCC adaptive damping system). Beyond that, it's the same Golf R we've enjoyed previously, but with a more functional shape, able to carry up to 57.2 cubic feet of cargo. Form and function, indeed.

Jay Leno goes offroading with the legendary Ivan 'Ironman' Stewart

Mon, 17 Nov 2014 20:01:00 EST

Jay Leno takes a step outside of his cavernous garage for this latest video for a jaunt into the desert to get a little dirty. He meets up with off-road racing legend Ivan 'Ironman' Stewart, who has multiple Baja 500 and 1000 wins in his motorsports career, to play with a Toyota Tundra in the sand.
Unfortunately, Leno doesn't get to interview Stewart too deeply about his long history in racing, but Ironman does talk a little bit about reading the trail while speeding through the desert. In lieu of a great conversation, there is a ton of high-quality footage of the Toyota bounding through the desert.
This clip feels more like a marketing effort than the usual output from Jay Leno's Garage, but it's still great to see Stewart behind the wheel sliding a truck, just like old times. The two of them even take the truck on a somewhat humorous journey at the end of the video.