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Posted on October 25, 2014 by Autoblog Staff
2015 Dodge Challenger R/T Scat Pack
The goodness of the 2015 Dodge Challenger isn't just limited to that 707-horsepower Hellcat model. As associate editor Brandon Turkus explains, there's plenty to love about the Challenger R/T with its Scat Pack kit, complete with a 6.4-liter V8, eight-speed automatic transmission, and more poise than ever before. Read all about it in today's Quick Spin.
Fiat-Chrysler SEMA lineup revealed
The annual aftermarket-fest that is SEMA is right around the corner, and today, Fiat Chrysler Automobiles showed us its entire hand. The custom cars, created by the Mopar division, touch on everything from the smallest Fiat 500 and Dodge Dart to super-powerful machines like the Challenger and Viper. Have a look here, to see what's in store for SEMA.
Did Ford bug its former PR chief's car and phone?
The Ford Explorer Firestone tire recall of 2001 was huge news. And in a new report from The Detroit News, Ford's then-head of communications, Jason Vines, is accusing the Blue Oval of bugging his car and company phone during that time. The News received an advanced copy of Vines' upcoming book, which sheds some light on this allegation, and you can read a preview of this whole situation, here.
- 2015 Subaru XV Crosstrek gets more infotainment, safety tech
- Toyota sells off Tesla shares, too
- Porsche rules out Macan, 911 hybrids
Posted on October 24, 2014 by Chris Bruce
Yamaha is already known for making some very well-liked sportbikes with models like the R6 and R1. For 2015, it has one more to add with the YZF-R3, and this cycle is the smallest in the family yet. To build some hype for this little motorcycle, Yamaha grabbed former MotoGP and Superbike racer Colin Edwards to make a somewhat humorous, if cheesy, video.
The YZF-R3 is supposed to take the DNA of its bigger brothers and shrink it down to a more petite size. Power is provided by a water-cooled, inline, two-cylinder engine with 320cc of displacement. It does have features like dual overhead cams and fuel injection, though.
With those specs, the R3 is basically meant for beginner riders, but it should be pretty nimble, too. And with prices starting at $4,990 in the US, it's a fairly inexpensive way to get into the hobby. Yamaha thinks it can sell around 6,000 of them in North America for the 2015 model year.
The R3 is supposed to his the US market in March. Check out Edwards' video above, and if you just want to see the motorcycle action, skip about 1:40 into the clip. Scroll down to read both announcements.Permalink | Email this | Comments
Posted on by Chris Bruce
Fiat Chrysler Automobiles already previewed its 2014 SEMA show lineup with some slick renders. Now, the automaker has finally showed us the actual cars, and among the group there are definitely some that stand out more than others.
Dodge is really showing off its muscle at this year's show with four concepts that all pump up the power of the brand's models. Perhaps most interesting among them is the Challenger T/A Concept (pictured above) in striking Sublime Green and matte black. It's meant to resemble the classic Trans Am racer from the '70s. Under the hood is a 6.4-liter V8, and to fit the vintage style there's a pistol-grip gearshift inside.
The Charger R/T also gets some attention with the Mopar concept that shows off what FCA's aftermarket performance arm can do. Mods include an updated body kit, cold-air intake for the 5.7-liter V8 and a coil-over suspension kit. Beyond that, the Dart R/T Concept looks a lot meaner with a black hood with duct work that leads straight to the air intake. The rest of the compact sedan is dolled up in O-So-Orange paint and is fitted with upgrades to improve handling like a coil-over suspension and big brake kit from the Mopar catalog.
The last Dodge is the track-focused Viper ACR Concept with a radical body kit that the company claims is wind tunnel-tested to produce more downforce. It also packs 15.4-inch carbon ceramic brakes with six-piston calipers. The interior is mostly stripped out to save weight, with some parts replaced with carbon fiber pieces.
Jeep also has five concepts on display, but three of them are from this year's Easter Jeep Safari. The Renegade Riptide and Frostbite are two new takes of the upcoming compact crossover with a focus on surfing and skiing, respectively. If that doesn't to it for you, the Wrangler MOJO, Maximum Performance and Cherokee Dakar are all going to be on display, as well.
Not to be outdone, the rest of the company's other brands have their own concepts, too. Highlights include the Ram 2500 Outdoorsman with a tent in the back for sleeping, and the Fiat 500 Abarth Scorpion with an interesting, two-tone red and white paint job, a cat-back exhaust and leather interior. Unfortunately, the worst of the lot might also be from Fiat with the 500L Custom in dark red and black. It also has an upgraded exhaust and interior, but the look is just a bit underwhelming. (Hard to make that thing look pretty, are we right?)
You can check out all of the concepts in the gallery, and scroll down to read the press release about everything FCA is showing at SEMA.Permalink | Email this | Comments
Posted on by Noah Joseph
You might have thought that the Caterham F1 team, currently sitting dead last in the standings without a single championship point to its name, had already hit rock bottom and couldn't sink any lower. But apparently it has. As we reported just recently, Caterham Sports Limited - the factory that produces the F1 cars that the team fields in the FIA Formula One World Championship - was facing bankruptcy. And now, it seems, the team itself could fall apart as well.
The issue appears to revolve around an ownership dispute. Several months ago, Caterham boss Tony Fernandes sold the team to an independent consortium. But according to the new owners, Fernandes has failed to actually transfer ownership. As a result, the management team is threatening to walk if they don't actually get control of the team they claim to have bought. The team recently changed its senior leadership just months after taking it over from Fernandes, and has been switching drivers back and forth between veteran Kamui Kobayashi and three-time Le Mans winner André Lotterer.
For its part, the Caterham Group headed by Tony Fernandes asserts that the ownership transfer of the F1 team was contingent on the new owners paying its staff and creditors, something which the automaker asserts the team has failed to do. Reached for comment, Fernandes said: "If you agree to buy a business, you must pay its bills. They have breached that promise and now, sadly, it is others such as the employees and the fans of the Caterham F1 team that will suffer if the team ceases to race."
"We genuinely believed, at the time, that the sale of the team was the best route for the staff and creditors of the Company, as we felt it secured its long term future," added Caterham Group CEO Graham Macdonald. "However, it appears to me that they never had any intention of paying these liabilities."
The ownership dispute only serves to further endanger the team's future viability. But with other parties vying for a spot on the grid, we're sure the team could sell its license easily enough. The only question is over who would get the proceeds. Scroll on down to read the statements from both parties.Permalink | Email this | Comments
Posted on by Chris Bruce
Generally, the best policy in life is to admit when you're wrong and just accept the consequences. However, that attitude generally seems to be a bit less common in the world of business - at least without some government or legal prodding. So, it's especially surprising to learn that top Honda executives in Japan are taking a pay cut for the next three months following the fifth recall of the Fit Hybrid (pictured above) in the last 12 months.
According to Reuters, Chief Executive Takanobu Ito is taking a 20-percent pay cut to make amends for the quality issues. Also, 12 other high-ranking executives are taking 10 percent drops in their salaries. In addition to those temporary changes, Honda is creating a new position in charge of monitoring vehicle quality.
The latest recall fixes "noise-related defects," according to Reuters, on both the hybrid and naturally aspirated versions of the Fit, both variants of the Vezel (the sibling to the future HR-V in the US) and the N-WGN. There have also been three recalls for problems with the hybrid's seven-speed dual-clutch transmission. None of them have caused reported injuries or deaths, and these issues haven't affected US models.
Still, the quality concerns come at a rough time for Honda globally. While it tackles these problems in Japan, over five million vehicles in the US could potentially still need repairs due to faulty airbag inflators from Takata.Permalink | Email this | Comments
Posted on October 23, 2014 by Chris Bruce
As the saying goes, necessity is the mother of invention. Faced with a family member's carjacking, entrepreneur Kelvin Macharia Kuria wanted to do something to stem the massive problem with vehicle thefts in Nairobi, Kenya. Still in his early 20s, he founded a company called Sunrise Tracking in 2012 to do just that, and Macharia has come up with a novel way to potentially get people's cars back, according to CNN.
Sunrise's main business is signing clients and installing GPS devices to track their vehicles. The users also have access to their own cars' location data. Other companies already offer this service, of course - what makes Sunrise so interesting is that it then goes even further in an effort to get its customer's property back.
First, the company uses closed-circuit television systems that can snap photos of thieves. However, if a vehicle is stolen, then the owner has an easy solution. Sending a special text message immobilizes the car until it can be retrieved. To be drivable again, it just takes dispatching a second message.
As CNN points out, even this immobilization-by-text technology isn't entirely unheard of. But it's still an intriguing example of someone like Macharia seeing a local problem and finding a way to craft a business around solving it. Scroll down for a video from CNN that delves deeper in the story behind Sunrise Tracking.Permalink | Email this | Comments
Posted on by Brandon Turkus
Audi has announced that it will be recalling 850,000 A4 sedans, wagons and Allroad models across the globe due to a software problem that could prevent the front airbags from deploying. All 850,000 vehicles were built after 2012.
Audi has already adjusted production of new A4s to eliminate the software glitch. Meanwhile, the German manufacturer was quick to emphasize that Takata did not manufacture the affected airbags.
According to Reuters, 250,000 of the affected A4s were built for the Chinese market, while another 150,000 were sold in Germany. Audi didn't provide a breakdown beyond those two countries, although it'd be a surprise if there weren't at least some affected airbags in the US market.
We're still waiting on official word of the recall from Audi or the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. As soon as that's available, we'll be sure to update this post.
UPDATE: We've reached out to Audi USA for additional information on the recall. According to spokesman Brad Stertz, roughly 101,900 of the 850,000 vehicles being recalled are in the US market, all of which were built between November 2011 and October 2014. Both dealers and NHTSA were informed of the recall yesterday, while repairs are slated to kick off in November. The 20-minute repair will see techs "perform an adjustment to the airbag control unit deployment parameter." There have been no reports of accidents or injuries in the US market.Permalink | Email this | Comments
Posted on by Brandon Turkus
It's not unusual to see a new car, camo-covered and mysterious, testing alongside the current-generation model. In fact, it's pretty common. Seeing a brand-new car testing alongside its predecessor from 30 years prior, though, is downright unusual.
For reasons we can't even begin to comprehend, Chevrolet is doing just that, testing the next-generation Camaro alongside pristine third-gen models (really, they are damn clean examples of the breed). It's tough to tell what's going on with these manufacturer-plated F-Bodies, but according to our spies, one of the two examples allegedly had an intercooler and a distinctly V6 engine note. Your guess is as good as ours, here - SEMA specials in the making?
The camouflaged 2016 Camaro, meanwhile, is almost equally mysterious. Glance at the gallery and note the heavy camouflage on the roof. While a first guess might point to a prototype Camaro Convertible, our spies point to the unbroken A-pillar, which feeds into the roof. Instead, the leading theory (reinforced by some not so subtle yearning on our part) is that this car features a prototype T-top roof, or full removable panel.
We'd really like to hear what you think here. What do you think Chevy is up to with both these third-gen models and the new, heavily camo'd tester? Have your say in Comments.Permalink | Email this | Comments
Posted on by Noah Joseph
Mercedes is preparing to replace its aging GLK-Class crossover with an all-new generation, and it's tipped to alter the model's nameplate to more closely align with the C-Class sedan upon which it'll be based. The move to a GLC-Class nomenclature is all well and fine, but the tantalizing news revealed by this latest crop of spy shots is that an AMG version is apparently in the works.
Spied at the entrance to and roads around the Nürburgring, this prototype for the upcoming Mercedes-AMG GLC63 shows a performance crossover with a lower, sportier suspension, along with upgraded wheels, tires and brakes and a more aggressive aero kit.
Under the hood, we'd expect to find the same 4.0-liter twin-turbo V8 as the Mercedes-AMG GT and C63 sedan, in which the engine is offered in both 456- and 503-horsepower specs. As to which version will power the GLC63, we can't speak at this point, but it could be both. Either version, however, figures to be more than enough to put the Audi SQ5 and the recently spied BMW X4 M40i to shame.Permalink | Email this | Comments
Posted on by Autoblog Staff
2015 Subaru Outback review
The Subaru Outback strikes an interesting balance between the needs of the everyday crossover shopper and the wants of car enthusiasts. It's more of a tall wagon than a proper CUV, and even with its 2.5-liter boxer-four and continuously variable transmission, it's pretty nice to drive. Brandon Turkus explains in his review, here.
Scion's LA Auto Show concept previewed
Finally - something new from Scion is on the horizon. Kind of. Teased today, Toyota's youthful-ish brand will be bringing the new iM to this year's Los Angeles Auto Show, though it's kind of hard to tell exactly what's in store. Scion claims it's a pretty sporty offering, but we'll have to wait and see. In the meantime, check out these first few teasers.
Takata recall expanded, affected car list updated
The big Takata airbag recall keeps getting bigger, and there's a new, updated list of affected models now available for your perusal. Unfortunately, the there still seem to be a number of inaccuracies, and NHTSA's own VIN-lookup site is overwhelmed by this situation. Read through the latest installment of the Takata saga, here.
- Check out the trick way you access the tire valve on this BMW Alpina B6
- BMW i8 with 500+ horsepower in the cards?
- Ford readying dozen+ Mustang models for SEMA