BlogFri, 14 Nov 2014 19:59:00 EST
Few cars are as significant as the original Volkswagen Beetle. We aren't saying that because over 21 million were built, or because it was built continuously for 65 years. It's not even because it essentially did for Germany what the Ford Model T did for the United States, the Citroen 2CV did for France, the Mini did for Great Britain and the Fiat Topolino did for Italy. It's because, as explained by Xcar, the Beetle is the reason for Volkswagen as we know it.
Dating back to its birth at the hands of Ferdinand Porsche and Adolf Hitler during the inter-war period, and as Nazi Germany was on the rise, the original Beetle didn't truly catch on until after the country's defeat in World War II, when the factory was taken over by the British military. Had things gone even a little bit differently - say, if the factory been purchased by another automaker, as the Brits had intended - this would have never happened, and Xcar wouldn't be exploring the rear-engined model's history and how it relates to the New Beetle as well as the Golf-based coupe currently starring in VW's portfolio.
It's here, you guys - our first test of the highly anticipated 2016 Mercedes-AMG GT. Senior Editor Seyth Miersma put the slick new coupe through its paces on road and track in northern California and came away pretty darn impressed with Merc's new coupe. It isn't totally perfect, though. Read his full findings, here.
600-hp Cadillac ATS-V.R racer revealed
Those in the market for a city car with a bit of pep are undoubtedly pleased that Daimler has slotted a turbocharged three-cylinder engine into its new Smart Fortwo. But it's the only engine confirmed so far for US dealers, and with only 89 horsepower and 100 pound-feet of torque on tap, there's still room for improvement. Fortunately Daimler is considering just such a prospect.
Speaking with Smart powertrain engineers while in Barcelona to drive the new Fortwo, Autoblog was told that the prospect of a more powerful Brabus model is indeed on the table, although details and exact specifications are still being worked out. We spotted just such a prototype under development this past summer, when our sources estimated the new Brabus model would offer between 105 and 120 hp. But looking at the relative increases which the venerable Daimler tuner has managed in the past, our appetites are whetted anticipating the possibility of something even more potent.
We could be looking at a new Smart Brabus with nearly 130 hp, which in a six-foot wheelbase could make it a real firecracker.
For 2015, the Chevrolet Corvette Stingray gained a novel piece of high-performance technology: The Performance Data Recorder. This trick system combines video from a front-mounted camera with in-car data and GPS information to help drivers record and study their lap times, complete with data overlays. While it's a clever tool for track days, it's also finding popularity as a built-in dash cam of sorts. To this point, the technology has been a Corvette exclusive, but General Motors' executive vice president of global product development, Mark Reuss, has confirmed to Autoblog that it will soon be available in other vehicles.
At a media luncheon on Thursday, we asked whether GM was keen to expand usage of the technology to other models, and if we could expect to see something soon. Reuss coyly replied, "What's soon?" When we suggested the 2016 Cadillac ATS-V (which is scheduled to debut at next week's LA Auto Show), he replied, "There will be other uses, and it won't be that far away. How's that?"
Certainly not an outright confirmation, but we wouldn't be at all surprised to see the next high-po Cadillac roll under the klieg lights at the Los Angeles Convention Center next Wednesday brandishing more than just 450 horsepower.
Mini gave us our first taste of its next-generation John Cooper Works Hardtop in concept form at the 2014 Detroit Auto Show. And in fact, we already know that the production version will make its debut at the 2015 Detroit show in January. Fitting, then, that this most recent round of spy shots shows a JCW that's pretty much ready to roll - peel back that yellow swirly paper, and you've pretty much got the final deal.
It's easy to make out the final design for the revised front and rear fascias, and we can clearly see a more robust brake package nestled behind those alloy wheels. Speaking of, we must admit, the wheels here look rather pedestrian for a JCW model, but they could just be prototype rollers and not indicative of the final rolling stock. We expect the flashy red decals of the concept to be offered on the production model, as well, though they could be optional kit.
As reported earlier, power is expected to come from a 230-horsepower turbo-four - a modest increase over the 208 hp from the outgoing Mini JCW. Expect that to route through a six-speed manual transmission, sending turbocharged oomph to the front wheels.
There was already a rumor brewing that Cadillac might eschew the CTS as its racecar next season in favor of the ATS Coupe. It turns out that is absolutely the case, and now we know just what this 600-horsepower, future racer looks like. The coupe might not be limited to competing in just the US, though, because it's built to FIA GT3-specifications, meaning that this Caddy is also eligible to race in over 30 series worldwide against the likes of Bentley, McLaren, Audi and other premium brands.
The heart of this massively winged Cadillac is an engine dubbed the LF4.R. It's based around the unit in the production ATS-V and CTS Vsport but with larger turbos, bigger intercoolers, side exhausts and other tricks. Cadillac claims it makes a monstrous 600 hp and 520 pound-feet of torque in unrestricted form.
As the photo above shows, the ATS-V.R also wears an aggressive aero kit with a carbon fiber front splitter, and a wing at the back that could probably double as a picnic table in a pinch. The dry weight of the whole package is quoted at about 2,900 pounds, which is around 700 pounds less than the street version.
Would a Bentley be a Bentley if it weren't manufactured in Great Britain? Would a Lamborghini be a Lamborghini if it were built outside of Italy? It may be hard to say either way, but we might find out sooner than later, because the latest word coming in from Europe is that the Volkswagen Group is considering expanding production for both these upscale brands outside their traditional homes.
According to the Autovisie section of Dutch newspaper De Telegraaf, the issue for both automakers comes down to their ambitious expansion programs. Both Bentley and Lamborghini plan to launch new SUVs - the former's being well under way, the latter's still awaiting approval - that would expand their annual production considerably: by 50 percent in Bentley's case, and by as much as 100 percent in Lamborghini's.
For now, both marques intend to handle the added production with additional assembly lines at their current facilities in Crewe and Sant'Agata Bolognese, respectively. But both could soon outgrow their relatively small plants - and with the Volkswagen Group operating countless factories across Europe and around the world, it wouldn't be hard to see these manufacturers shifting excess production outside of their home countries.
At a Halloween party a couple of weeks ago, a rather inebriated new acquaintance of mine pulled a beautiful round flask out of his extravagant wolverine costume (the animal, not the X-Men character - I live in Ann Arbor) and offered me a pull. I wasn't driving, and I'm neither an asshole nor a fool, so I took a sip.
The whiskey that poured out was smooth, round on the tongue, almost honey sweet to finish and as warm as the blood in my veins. It was, perhaps, the most perfect single sip of booze I've ever had - and I've taken a lot of sips. I asked the origin of this magic liquor, and found that it was Redbreast 21; a whiskey I'd had on a few earlier occasions, though never with so delightful an effect on my overall sense of wellbeing. Somewhere in the milieu of a great party, best friends and excellent music, a great dram of whiskey became legendary.
Now, this is a story about a car, not a spirit. (Don't drink and drive, kids.) But there was a moment, working my way quickly through downhill switchbacks amidst redwood trees in those hauntingly lovely stretches of California state roads between San Francisco and Laguna Seca, where the 2016 Mercedes-AMG GT S triggered the same pathways in my brain that were formed when I took that sip of whiskey. Something in the elixir of power, grip, sound and balance that made a few corners of that drive feel like the close cousins of the best corners I'd ever turned a wheel on.
Cold weather might be starting to grip parts of Canada, but our neighbors to the north are going to be able to drive their 2015 Mazda cars and utilities from Vancouver to Montreal with a little more peace of mind. That's because Mazda Canada is instituting an unlimited mileage warranty for its new models.
The updated plan starts with all 2015 model year vehicles (even those already sold), and the scheme simply removes that distance limit on everything but the emissions defect coverage. That means that the Mazdas have one year of service adjustments, three years of new vehicle coverage, five years on the powertrain, seven years against corrosion and three years of roadside assistance for as many kilometers as the owner drives.
The change removes at least one, tiny piece of anxiety about buying a new vehicle because it's easy to know when the coverage ends. "By offering our customers an Unlimited Mileage Warranty, we believe it will enhance their ownership experience by alleviating concerns such as kilometre limitations, repair costs and resale value," Kory Koreeda, president of Mazda Canada, in the automaker's announcement.
The theme of this year's LA Design Challenge is "Sensing the future" and asks, "How will cars interact with us in 2029?" Infiniti has kicked off entries in the LA Auto Show's yearly visionary party with its low, wide and versatile Synaptiq concept. Less a car and more of a set of interlocking pieces, the Synaptiq is termed a "universal fuselage pod," a teardrop-shaped capsule with a liquid-crystal canopy that can be fitted to different propulsion devices: a Formula One-like chassis, a desert buggy rig and a jet airframe.
Yet it answers the challenge not by being able to fly through deserts and air, but with its human-machine interface. The driver/pilot wears a Synaptic S.U.I.T. (Symbiotic User Interface Technology) fitted with biometric sensors and synthetic muscles, and through a "spinal lock attachment," he or she is made one with the car.
You gaze upon its gewgaws in the gallery above, and read more about it and other concepts from Acura, CALTY, Honda, Mercedes-Benz, Nissan, Peterbilt, Qoros, Subaru and Volkswagen that will vie for the King of the Future title at next week's LA Auto Show.
The image above might look like a fairly interesting painting of some old Mercedes-Benz grand prix cars getting, but in reality, it showcases far more than just paint on canvas. To celebrate this year's 80th anniversary of its Silver Arrows racecars, Mercedes commissioned some very talented digital artists to craft a series of 12 depictions of important moments in the company's racing history to display at the Goodwood Festival of Speed.
The Silver Arrow legend starts with Mercedes showing up for the 1934 German Grand Prix with its W25, a car that weighed 751 kilograms - a kilo over the 750-kg (1,653-pound) maximum. Team boss Alfred Neubauer told his mechanics to strip the paint of the cars, leaving them in gleaming bare aluminum in order to shed a little weight. Apparently, it worked, because one of the Mercs took victory in the race and the look became part of the company's legacy.
What makes anniversary project's artistic process so intriguing is that each of these celebratory images is a composite of real-world photos of extras in period-correct dress and digital recreations of some of the cars and venues. As this video shows, it all starts with line drawings that remind us a lot of that iconic '80s music video, Take On Me by A-ha. All of these disparate techniques were eventually combined together to create these fascinating, hyper-realistic pictures of the past.
A century ago, the princes and maharajas of India shared a relationship with Rolls-Royce that spanned five decades and saw the nobility on the subcontinent commissioning over 840 unique vehicles from the stoic marque. It's that golden age that Rolls-Royce celebrates with the debut of this one-of-a-kind luxury cabriolet.
Based on the Phantom Drophead Coupe, this unique Maharaja edition is distinguished by such special touches as Carrara White paint embellished with a peacock motif, emerald green coachline, a deep green top (hood in UK terminology), light creme leather interior with green accents, marquetry inlays and custom seashell embroidery.
Said to be two years in the making by the Rolls-Royce Bespoke division, this one-off Phantom DHC was unveiled not in India, but in Dubai, where a fascination with the Golden Age of the Raja is evidently alive and well.
One-make racing series have become all the rage for customers who want to actually race their exotic sports cars (or competition-spec versions of them, anyway). Ferrari, Maserati, Lamborghini and Aston Martin all offer such programs, and Porsche supports several. Now Jaguar is getting in on the action as well, but instead of turning one of its production models - we're looking at you, F-Type - into a spec racer, it's launching an historic racing series instead.
The 2015 Jaguar Heritage Challenge will be open to cars made by the Leaping Cat marque before 1966, including the C-Type, D-Type, E-Type and Mk I and MkII sedans. The series, which builds on the success of the previous Jaguar E-Type Challenge, will be administered by the Historic Sports Car Club (HSCC) based at Silverstone and will include four races in the UK and one in Europe, with the exact schedule still to be determined.
The program was announced at the launch of the Jaguar Heritage Driving Experience, where Jaguar Land Rover Special Operations director John Edwards was also named chairman of the Jaguar Daimler Heritage Trust, replacing former Jaguar managing director Mike O'Driscoll who chaired the organization for the past five years.
The folks behind Generation Gap have lost their minds with this latest video. The goal here is to determine the ultimate family cruiser, but the choices are what you would least expect, with a heavily modded 1970 Oldsmobile Vista Cruiser going up against a 2012 Ferrari FF.
You might anticipate an over-40-year-old Oldsmobile to pale in comparison to any modern Ferrari, but this wagon has a ton of secrets under its skin thanks to Lingenfelter. First, it packs a supercharged LS3 V8 with a claimed 650 horsepower and a six-speed manual gearbox. That big upgrade in power is further helped with air suspension and massive Wilwood disc brakes. The result is nothing short of deafening, with blaring yelps whenever the driver even nudges the accelerator.
The alternative sounds just as good, albeit in very different way. The Ferrari's 6.3-liter V12 pumps out 651 hp and 504 pound-feet with a part-time all-wheel drive system. While the FF lacks a lot of the hauling ability of the Olds, it makes up for the deficit in handling, luxury, and in many eyes, simply by having the famous prancing horse on the grille.
Japan has given the world so much to enthuse over. We're not sure the Toyota Aygo is necessarily one of them as much as, say, the Scion FR-S or Lexus LFA (especially since it's actually made in Europe), but for many Nipponophiles, the centuries-old artistic discipline of Manga certainly is. And now the two have come together in this two-and-a-half-minute animated short.
In Toyota's own take on the classic narrative, an Aygo animated by celebrated artist Sonia Leong takes on Godzilla. As in, a giant lizard rampaging through a Japanese city, not the Nissan GT-R, against which the little Toyota would certainly stand even less of a chance by any metric other than affordability, fuel economy or ability to park in tight spots.
In any case, watch this Manga-fied video above, and feel free to read through the related press release below.
The Porsche 911 GT3 is a very, very good performance car. Yes, we know this is like saying fire is hot and a shovel to the head hurts. What's different about this proclamation, then? Well, we bring up the 911 GT3's inherent goodness because our friends at Road & Track have named it their 2015 performance car of the year.
This is, our joking aside, a big accomplishment for the 911 GT3, due largely to the field of cars it beat out. There were many equally track-focused wonders in attendance, including the Ferrari 458 Speciale, Chevrolet Camaro Z/28 and Dodge Viper SRT TA, as well as more capable everyday vehicles, like the Jaguar F-Type R Coupe, BMW M3 and Ford Mustang GT.
But it was the 475-horsepower, rear-engined track star that R&T fell for, with editor-in-chief Larry Webster calling out the Porsche's ridiculous, howling, 9,000-rpm redline, while other editors cited its phenomenal handling character.
Tesla's 2014 third quarter financial report mixed some positive news with gloomy messages. On one hand, the electric carmaker posted its best quarter ever in terms of deliveries, including its best single day with 907 EVs delivered. The company also announced expanded production to get even more vehicles out the door by the end of 2015. However, the Model X got delayed yet again and higher prices in Europe were mulled. Dousing the results with a bit more cold water, a Merrill Lynch investor letter claims there's more to be pessimistic about the business than meets the eye.
The Daily Kanban, quoting research meant for Merrill Lynch clients, claims that Tesla had "approximately 3K vehicles stocked in inventory or in transit" at the end of the Q3. That's a fairly large number considering that the company reports selling 7,785 units for the whole quarter. The statement is also surprising because the automaker has a reputation for keeping excess supply low, and there are allegedly waiting lists for Model S sedans. CEO Elon Musk maintains that the automaker has a problem being able to keep up with high demand, as well.
According to Daily Kanban, the letter further states, "China is proving to be more challenging for Tesla to penetrate than expected." The automaker does not break out sales by region in its Q3 financials to check this assertion, however, the company does report the recently opened store in Shenzhen is one of its top-grossing stores worldwide and that there are now 23 Supercharger locations in 10 Chinese cities.
Volvo is furthering its deep ties in China by announcing a major expansion to its factory in Daqing that will equip the site to build its future S90 sedan. The automaker is promising to make the plant, "one of the most advanced car making facilities in China," according to its press release. Unfortunately, the company isn't specifying the amount being invested or how long the work will take.
Because the northeastern Chinese city of Daqing owns about 37 percent of the automaker, the location for the significant expansion isn't entirely surprising, especially since Geely owns a majority stake in the Swedish brand. The existing factory there employs about 700 people to build the original XC90 for the local market, but the upgrades will allow the plant to handle Volvo's Scalable Product Architecture modular platform.
To be fair, Volvo doesn't specifically call out the S80-replacing S90 by name in its announcement. However, it promises the first vehicle built in Daqing after the expansion will be a new premium sedan, and the upgrades will allow the plant to make "most innovative vehicles in its product range," and the range-topping sedan is widely expected to adopt the S90 moniker.
Upon first inspection, this looks to be a strangely styled Bugatti Veyron. Such a thing shouldn't be a shock. We have, after all, already seen the hypercar with a penis on the hood and painted in nearly every single hue that exists on our planet. Take a closer look, though, and we see something altogether different. That's because this isn't a Veyron - it's new, rumored to be a replacement to the Veyron and is allegedly called the Chiron.
The first identifier that we're looking at something different are the huge carbon-ceramic brakes, which dwarf the already meaty pans found on the standard Veyron Super Sport. Beyond that, the distinctive snorkel intakes of the Veyron have been replaced with simple NACA ducts, while Bugatti engineers have ditched the car's enormous adjustable rear spoiler.
That amputation has allowed our spies to peek into the back of the car, and identify what we think are the components of an electric powertrain. Considering current performance trends, we shouldn't be surprised that Bugatti (and by extension, Volkswagen) are tinkering with hybrid tech.
Taking charge of a major corporation will never be without its challenges, and one of those - as Honda CEO Takanobu Ito is finding out - is filling the big shoes of those that came before. Ito's predecessors are apparently not pleased with what he's doing to the company, and are wasting no time in telling him so.
According to Reuters, two former Honda chiefs have recently visited Ito (pictured above with his predecessor Takeo Fukui) to talk to him about the Japanese automaker's quality issues, which they apparently regard as eroding the company's image. Nobuhiko Kawamoto, who served as CEO from 1990-98, reportedly came to Honda headquarters in Tokyo to deliver "stern words" to Ito last month. Kawamoto's immediate successor, Hiroyuki Yoshino, reportedly met with Ito under similar circumstances earlier this year.
Kawamoto and Yoshino are part of a larger group of former Honda executives who are concerned with the declining quality of the company's products under Ito's leadership. Where Honda once focused more on quality, collaborating more closely with parts suppliers,more recently the company has, in the eyes of those former executives at least, shifted its focus to quantity and to new technologies. That's what, the report alleges, has led to Honda recalling so many of its vehicles in recent years.
The all-new, seventh-generation Volkswagen Golf has captured Motor Trend's prestigious Car of the Year award. The Golf, along with its many variants, which include the diesel-powered TDI, GTI hot hatch and electric E-Golf, beat out a slew of competitors which included corporate cousin Audi and its new A3.
Other finalist vehicles bested by the Golf include the 2015 Ford Mustang, BMW 2 Series, Honda Fit, Hyundai Genesis, Kia Sedona, Lexus RC, Maserati Ghibli and Mercedes-Benz S-Class.
"VW floored our judges by reimagining the seventh generation Golf for nearly every need and want," Motor Trend Editor-in-Chief Ed Loh said in a statement. "From the value-laden Golf 1.8T and high-MPG Golf TDI to the legendary hot hatch GTI and all-electric e-Golf, there truly is a Golf for everyone."
As I scoured auction sites and classified ads for the perfect vehicle to take into battle with Autoblog Associate Editor Brandon Turkus, I knew I needed to find something unique. You see, I'm currently 0-2 at winning a round of This or That, in which two of our editors agree on a category, choose a side, and argue it out over a (mostly) friendly chain of emails.
The first time we did this, my chosen Fiat 500 Abarth took about a third of the popular vote in our reader poll. The second time, my lovely 1980 Oldsmobile 442 did just a little bit better against a 1989 BMW 635 CSi. Despite holding the opinion that my automotive choices, though perhaps a little bit more... obscure than my fellow editors, are still better, an outright win would go a long way toward boosting my vehicular self worth a few notches upward.
With all of that out of the way, even if three isn't my lucky number after all, I go into battle against Brandon knowing full well that I've made the perfect choice: A 1987 Volkswagen Vanagon Syncro. My rough-and-tumble van/'ute has a formidable opponent in the form of a 1987 Land Rover Defender, which, truth be told, is exactly what I was expecting from Turkus, a self-proclaimed Rover aficionado.
Thu, 13 Nov 2014 10:55:00 EST
I found it to be a rare, genuinely rewarding educational experience.
Lamborghini is putting more effort into its North American motorsports efforts and promotion, so we recently attended its first-ever Intensivo driving school at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca, spending a day behind the wheel of both its Huracán and Aventador supercars. Offered under the Squadra Corse banner, Experienza is designed to provide a taste of Lamborghini's cars on a circuit, Intensivo is designed to maximize track-time learning, and Accademia and Advancada - only in Europe for now - are focused on the driver and driver technique. Beyond those, Squadra Corse can also provide Super Trofeo instruction to get you fit for the Blancpain one-make series and GT3 racing, too.
Well, this wasn't something we expected. We knew Chevrolet was going to be getting in on the Vision Gran Turismo party, but it was kind of just assumed that the concept would be based on one of the brand's production performance cars, with the still-newish Corvette seeming like the obvious choice. Instead, though, Chevy has thrown one hell of a curve ball with its teaser for the Chaparral Vision Gran Turismo.
For those not up on the history of racing cars of the 1960s and 1970s, Chaparral came from the combination of Hap Sharp, Jim Hall and Chevy race engines, and was a genuine innovator in one of the wildest eras in racing. The team was particularly known for its pioneering work in ground effects, with its 2J, the so-called "sucker car," forcing rulebook changes eight years before the Lotus 79 arrived.
Now, Chevrolet has revived the name for 2X Vision Gran Turismo. Penned by the GM Advanced Design Studio and with input from Jim Hall, the 2X looks to be extreme even by Vision Gran Turismo standards.
While the Explorer may have shifted from a truck-based sport-ute to a car-based crossover, Ford still offers buyers on the other side of the Pacific a Ranger-based SUV in the form of the Everest. And at the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Summit in Beijing today, the Blue Oval revealed the all-new version you see here.
Previewed in concept form over a year ago and made specifically for the Asia-Pacific market, the new Ford Everest is designed to be more refined on the road and more capable off of it. Like the Explorer once was, the new Everest is based on a stretched version of the overseas Ford Ranger pickup. Depending on the specific market, Ford will offer the new Everest with a range of engines including a 2.0-liter EcoBoost turbo four and two Duratorq turbodiesels - a 2.2-liter four and a 3.2-liter inline-five - mated to a six-speed automatic transmission.
Earmarked to take on the likes of the Toyota Land Cruiser Prado (known in these parts as the Lexus GX) and the Jeep Grand Cherokee, the new Everest promises rock-crawlers even better off-road capabilities. It's got nearly nine inches of ground clearance, over 30 inches of wading depth, a 29-degree approach and 25-degree departure angles and a set of features including on-the-fly adjustable four-wheel drive.
In many ways, we're living in a golden age of automotive performance. After all, it's possible to show up at a Dodge dealer, hand over about $60,000 and storm away with a 707-horsepower Challenger Hellcat. Or for those who prefer a touch more luxury, the BMW M4, Mercedes-AMG C63 and latest Cadillac ATS-V offer between 425 and 503 horsepower, depending on your pick, with a bit more poshness. However, none of these powerful vehicles fit the classic definition of a two-place, droptop sports car, and according BMW head of sales Ian Robertson, that's because the segment is very much in the doldrums.
According to Robertson, two factors seriously wounded the classic sports car market. First, the global economic crisis of a few years ago put a serious hurt on sales, according to Bloomberg. Further worsening the situation, the boom in popularity of luxury SUVs and crossovers in the past few years hasn't allowed for much recovery. Even car-hungry China hasn't helped much because of the smog in many cities and preference among some of the very rich there to be chauffeured.
Combined, Audi TT, BMW Z4 and Mercedes-Benz SLK sales peaked around 114,000 units a year in 2007, but they are only expected to reach 72,000 annually by the end of the decade. Robertson is pretty pessimistic about the market's comeback too. "Post-2008, it just collapsed. I'm not so sure it'll ever fully recover," he said to Bloomberg.
The Datsun 240Z got a lot of things right when it was introduced, with handsome styling, strong performance and a reasonably affordable price. And while the coupes grew a strong fan base in the US, they remained quite a rarity in the UK. Decades later, a father and son in England have latched onto the car and bonded over their shared love for two completely opposite takes on this Japanese GT
There's already quite a collection of exotics in Mel Streek's garage, and his rat rod 240Z, which he calls the Ratsun, definitely doesn't fit with the rest. On the outside, the Datsun looks ready to fall apart, but it's mechanically perfect underneath. Alternatively, Mel's son, Ollie, has a completely different take for his Z with its perfect, shining paint.
Both Zs sound amazing, though. They have a mechanical, somewhat course exhaust note that's intoxicating to hear. You can definitely tell there's some work going on under the hood. Check out this video from Petrolicious for a father and son who both find something to love in these classic Japanese coupes.
2015 Audi A3 TDI Challenge
Audi recently challenged us to drive 834 miles on one tank of diesel in the new 2015 A3 TDI sedan. Senior Editor Steven Ewing was up for the task, and managed just under 60 miles per gallon in the new Audi - nearly 17 mpg better than the EPA highway rating. This wasn't an easy task, though. Read his full experience, here.
2015 Ford F-150 enters production
There's often a sense of absurd joy when browsing eBay Motors, finding what kind of automotive craziness exists in the world. This latest find deserves some sort of medal for its weirdness, though, with a combination of fire truck graphics, an absolutely bizarre custom body and an unconventional engine setup.
Titled as a 1998 Chevrolet S-10, this crimson beast gave up being describable as any kind of production vehicle a long time ago. You can still just make out the pickup's cab, but everything else is thoroughly reworked. According to the seller, the body is channeled three inches, and the cockpit is moved 42 inches rearward.
Of course, this hot rod would remain weird enough even with a normal small block Chevy engine for power, but the seller's choice of drivetrain truly boggles the mind. According to the auction, the vehicle runs a 7.6-liter Seagrave/Pierce-Arrow V12 from 1941 that makes around 202 horsepower and boasts a 24-spark-plug layout with about 60 feet of ignition wire. The setup is linked to two, very cool-looking Rochester carbs rising out of the engine bay, and power runs back to a dually rear end.
With 949 horsepower on tap, it would be hard to imagine Ferrari getting much more juice out of the 6.3-liter V12 hybrid powering its LaFerrari. But apparently, it's possible, as reports suggest that the forthcoming LaFerrari XX will pack somewhere closer to 1,050 hp.
This according to Top Gear, which reports that the successor to the Enzo-based FXX and the subsequent 599XX will be revealed next month in Abu Dhabi at the company's year-end Finale Mondiali extravaganza - the same event where, in years past, Ferrari has presented such extreme machines as the 458 Challenge Evoluzione, the aforementioned 599XX and the FXX Evoluzione.
When the subject of a LaFerrari XX first came up several months ago, Antonello Coletta - head of the department responsible for the XX program - said he couldn't picture the track version of the company's flagship hybrid hypercar being much faster or more powerful than the existing version. But where there's a will, there's a way. TG reports that the extra hundred horses have been corralled in the V12 and not in the electric motor, which will reportedly carry over essentially unchanged from the road-going model.