Posted on December 5, 2013 by Damon Lowney
It was 1998 when Subaru made some crucial changes to its World Rally Championship Impreza, such as increasing the displacement of the turbocharged flat-four-cylinder engine from 2.0 to 2.2 liters and fitting wide fender flares. Subaru won the WRC manufacturer championship with the car that year, and it also was the year of the automaker's 40th anniversary. To celebrate the milestone, the company came out with this limited-edition, road-going Impreza, the hallowed 22B STI, which looked nearly identical to the rally car.
Only 424 22Bs were built, and most of them stayed in Japan. But Dominick Infante, national manager of product communications at Subaru of America, was able to secure a drive in one of the only two 22Bs in the US. He details the car's history and some of the design and engineering cues that made the Impreza STI so popular both in motorsport and on the street, but we were caught up listening to the exhaust and admiring the timeless blue-and-gold paint. You should too, so head below to watch the video.Permalink | Email this | Comments
Posted on by Noah Joseph
Filed under: Motorsports
Several months typically pass between when the FIA releases the provisional calendar for the next year's Formula One World Championship and when it releases the final version. The gap is usually bridged by a fair share of back-and-forth speculation over which races will make the cut, but this year's has looked even more feverish than usual from where we sit, principally for one reason: namely, that the provisional calendar included a new race in New Jersey.
After much speculation, the FIA has released the final calendar for the 2014 Formula One World Championship (along with a number of other series it sanctions). While the provisional calendar had a whopping 22 races on it, the final version has been whittled down to 19. And as you might have guessed, Jersey didn't make the cut.
New races in Austria and Russia are included, but the proposed expansion race in Mexico joins Jersey's fate, along with the Korean Grand Prix, which has been held at Yeongam for the past four years but won't be held next year. F1 fans in North America needn't worry, though: those who might have enjoyed the Mexican Grand Prix won't have far to go to enjoy the United States Grand Prix (which is still on the calendar for November 2, 2014, in Austin, Texas) and those in the northeast can head up to Montreal for the Canadian Grand Prix on June 8.
You can view the full release below from the last meeting of the FIA's World Motor Sport Council this year to see the final calendar for F1 as well as the world championships for touring cars, endurance racing, rallycross, Formula E and Formula 3. But for North American racing fans, the parts you need to know about are the F1 races in Montreal and Austin, the 6 Hours of the Circuit of the Americas (also in Austin), the WTCC race in Sonoma, the new rallycross event in Trois-Rivieres, Quebec, and the Formula E races to take place in LA and Miami.Permalink | Email this | Comments
Posted on by Noah Joseph
There are several ways an automaker can get into Formula One racing. It can start its own team from scratch (like Toyota did in 2002), it can buy an existing team (like BMW did with Sauber in 2005) or it can supply engines to other teams (as so many manufacturers have done over the years). Infiniti chose another direction and opted to sponsor the world-champion Red Bull Racing team.
Infiniti has undoubtedly poured millions into its partnership with Red Bull since it started in 2011, but aside from the Sebastian Vettel edition FX (which technically emerged from the company's sponsorship of the driver as separate from the team), the tie-in has yet to translate into a Red Bull-tuned (or at least -inspired) Infiniti for the road. But that's just what Nissan's premium brand has in store for us at the upcoming Detroit Auto Show in January.
Well, almost, because the concept just announced is still a step or two away from reaching your local Infiniti dealership, but here it is just the same. It's called the Q50 Eau Rouge, and it's based on the company's latest tech-laden sports sedan. It takes its name, of course, from the famous uphill section of the Spa-Francorchamps circuit where Sebastian Vettel won the Belgian Grand Prix earlier this year, but Infiniti isn't telling us much more than that.
The concept is said to incorporate "aerodynamic styling treatments and design elements that are influenced by the company's partnership with Red Bull, and from the solitary teaser image above, we can see a new front air dam and side mirrors crafted from carbon fiber, and some sort of protrusions from the top of the hood at the base of the windshield. We'll have to wait to find out more, but we hope the modifications prove to be more than skin-deep.Permalink | Email this | Comments
Posted on December 4, 2013 by Noah Joseph
It's rare to see an entire racing team's collection go up for auction at once, but that's just what happened this past weekend at Bonhams' new headquarters in London, where the above Ecurrie Ecosse collection brought in top dollar (or pound, anyway).
The collection, whose consignment we first reported on back in September, included a smattering of Jaguars, other classic racers and an iconic transporter truck, all decked out in the same blue and white livery of the Scottish flag. After reportedly feverish bidding on Sunday, the 1952 Jaguar C-Type sold for £2,900,000 ($4.75M), the '56 short-nose D-Type for another £2,600,000 ($4.26M), and the transporter for a shocking £1,800,000 (nearly $3 million) - all to the same unnamed American collector. A 1952 Jaguar XK120 roadster went to another buyer for a record £707,000 ($1.16M).
With Ringo Star's Facel Vega selling for £337,500 ($550k) and Michael Schumacher's Benetton B194 fetching another £617,500 (just over a million), the auction total skyrocketed to £16,861,630 ($27.6M), which Bonhams described as "a roaring success." Scope out the press release below for more info.Permalink | Email this | Comments
Posted on by John Neff
The saying goes that man cannot live by bread alone, and neither can automakers live by selling one car alone. This holds especially true for automakers with a budding dealer network to support, like the Fiat brand, which returned to US shores in 2011 after a 28-year absence. The company's single car to sell at the time was the Fiat 500, a cute retro rebirth of the original, iconic Cinquecento, which your toddler now calls Luigi thanks to Pixar.
Since then, the new 500 has sold reasonably well here in the US, and the Fiat brand has been following the same playbook that another purveyor of pint-sized autos, Mini, has used: sell as many variants as you can of the one model you've got. So we have the 500, 500C drop top, high-performance 500 Abarth, all-electric 500e and a few additional trim levels and special editions to further fill dealer showrooms. But the axiom that automakers cannot live selling one car alone still stands, and so Fiat has finally introduced its second model, the larger 500L.
Executive Editor Chris Paukert completed our First Drive of the 500L back in June, and was left pleasantly surprised by its combination of utility, offbeat style, fun-to-drive demeanor and value. We've also, however, read some scathing reviews, like this one from The New York Times. I wasn't sure where the truth lay when the keys for this top-trim 2014 Fiat 500L Lounge were handed to me, but finding out would be but a short week of together time away.Permalink | Email this | Comments
Posted on by Noah Joseph
The Mercedes AMG Vision Gran Turismo isn't the first car designed specifically for the popular PlayStation driving simulator. There were several before, from the GTbyCitroën to the Red Bull X1. And it won't be the last, either.
When Polyphony Digital and Mercedes-Benz revealed the AMG Vision Gran Turismo concept for GT6, it said at the time that it would be just the first. And now the video game studio has released sketches of some of the others we might expect to see appearing in the game in the near future (as promised this summer).
We've got precisely squat to go on in the way of details, but the renderings themselves speak volumes. Or a few lines, anyway. In the gallery above, you can see proposals for more Vision Gran Turismo concepts from Aston Martin (pictured above), Alfa Romeo, Bertone, BMW, Ford, GM, Honda, Hyundai, ItalDesign Giugiaro, Mitsubishi, Peugeot, SRT, Subaru, Tesla, Toyota, Volkswagen and Zagato. There's even one from Nike, and another from Mercedes (this time from its F1 team).
Just how many of these will find their way into the game remains to be seen, but one thing's for sure: we haven't seen the last of concept cars designed specifically for video games.Permalink | Email this | Comments
Posted on by Noah Joseph
The big game of musical chairs that is the Formula One offseason plays on as Force India has announced one of its two drivers for next season.
After winning the GP2 championship in 2009 (and several other feeder-series titles before that), Nico Hulkenberg got his start in F1 with Williams, impressing with a rookie-year pole position but no podium finishes. He spent the following year as a test driver, this time for Force India, and was promoted to the race seat the next year, but spent this past season driving for Sauber. Having been passed over to fill Kimi Raikkonen's seat at Lotus, the highly rated young German is now moving back to Force India in a multi-year deal.
Over the past six seasons since taking over the team from Spyker (which itself had taken over from Jordan), Force India has worked its way up the chain from a perennial back-marker to a solid mid-field contender, even giving some erstwhile leading teams a run for their money. Force India finishedFa this year's championship behind McLaren and Lotus but ahead of Sauber, Toro Rosso and onetime great Williams.
Force India has yet to announce who will partner with him next season, but both its current drivers Adrian Sutil and Paul di Resta are tipped to be leaving the team.Permalink | Email this | Comments
Posted on by Jeffrey N. Ross
Audi just announced its intentions to build the Q1 in 2016. By that time, the company will already have introduced the opposing bookend to that subcompact utility vehicle, the fullsize Q7. The last time we saw the next-gen Audi Q7 out testing, our spy shots were very low quality and didn't reveal much about the luxury SUV. This time around we're able to make out a few key elements about the Q7.
For starters, the unfinished headlights have a stylish, wave-like lighting element with a three-dimensional appearance, while the rear of the Q7 will definitely get a similar wraparound liftgate as the current model. Overall, this prototype looks to be about the same size as the existing Q7, so it will be interesting to see how Audi squeezes almost 800 pounds from the SUV's curb weight. The diet will surely help improve efficiency, and we also hear that Audi is considering a plug-in hybrid model in addition to the standard gas and diesel variants.
Riding on a shared platform with the next-gen Volkswagen Touareg, Porsche Cayenne and the upcoming Bentley Falcon SUV, the next Audi Q7 is expected to bow in late 2014 for the 2015 model year.Permalink | Email this | Comments
Posted on by Jeffrey N. Ross
As Jaguar prepares to introduce its first-ever utility vehicle, our spy shooters have captured this jacked-up XF mule out testing. While a production Jaguar crossover will surely resemble something closer to the recent C-X17 Concept, we can't help but think that the automaker could sell at least a few of these lifted, four-wheel-drive sedans.
Other than proving that Jaguar is hard at work developing this new model using a cobbled-together body, there are some details we can put together about this luxury CUV. For one it's about the same length as an XF, while the ride height is obviously taller and the tire track wider. We're not sure what the rig on top of this mule is for, but the whole car has us reminiscing about the old sedan versions of the Subaru Outback and the AMC Eagle (with a luxury spin, of course).Permalink | Email this | Comments
Posted on December 3, 2013 by Noah Joseph
If you thought the Honda Civic Type R prototype we drove in Japan looked cool, and that the Civic Tourer that Honda will race in the British Touring Car Championship next year looks even cooler, just take a look at this.
Possibly the ultimate race-spec Civic, this is the car Honda will field next year in the World Touring Car Championship. Like the Type R prototype (but unlike the BTCC-spec wagon) the WTCC challenger takes the form of Honda's latest Euro-spec Civic five-door hatchback.
It's the car with which Honda intends to defend its title and capture the driver's title in next year's championship. It'll face a tough challenge from the new Citroën team headlined by Sebastien Loeb in the new C-Elysee, not to mention the rest of the grid. Fortunately, Honda is entering a whole mess of these Civics in the series, with former champion Gabriele Tarquini and former F1 driver Tiago Monteiro driving the works entries (hence the mixed "Gabriago" tag on the window) and another pair to be entered by privateer teams.Permalink | Email this | Comments