Jonathan Lopez

Jonathan loves just about anything with a motor and a steering wheel. As a kid, Jonathan collected any kind of toy car he could lay his hands on, and begged his parents to take him to the monster truck shows. As he got older, his tastes shifted to racing, which he indulged with Wednesday night drags, a stint in the Skip Barber Western Regionals, and plenty of track time in his 80cc shifter kart. His favorite motorsports include WRC, F1, and GT cars. After high school, Jonathan decided to turn his passion into a career, and began working fulltime as an automotive journalist. When he isn’t tracking down the latest in the world of cars, you can usually find Jonathan wandering up and down the California coast in his blue Subaru WRX.

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2020 Tesla Roadster

2020 Tesla Roadster

Going beyond Ludicrous and straight into Plaid

Back in 2008, a little upstart EV company named Tesla threw a lithium-ion battery pack and electric motor into a Lotus Elise and called it the Roadster. It was the very first model to bear the Tesla badge, and it was the first highway-legal series production all-electric car to travel more than 200 miles in a single charge. Now, nearly 10 years and several remarkable models later, Tesla is at it again, revealing a second-generation Roadster in a surprise debut alongside its new all-electric semi truck. While it’s still several years away from hitting public roads, Tesla dropped a variety of specs and numbers for the Roadster 2.0, and long story short, this thing is shaping up to be an absolute monster. If it really can do everything that Tesla CEO Elon Musk claims it can, the second-gen Roadster will set numerous performance records, including quickest to 60 mph, quickest to 100 mph, and quickest in the quarter mile. And that includes internal combustion-based production vehicles, by the way. It’ll also set new standards for EVs in the realms of range per charge and top speed. This is faster than Insane Mode. This is faster than Ludicrous Mode. This, dear readers, is straight up Plaid.

While we knew Tesla had a new Roadster coming down the pipeline, few would have guessed what it might be capable of. We even put together a speculative piece about a potential Tesla supercar a while back, but it turns out the California automaker combined the two ideas into one incredible world-beater. “The point of doing this is to just give a hardcore smackdown to gasoline cars,” says Musk. “Driving a gasoline sports car is gonna feel like a steam engine with a side of quiche.” Indeed, the Tesla Roadster 2.0 is framed as a bona fide halo car, an ultra-quick speed machine that’ll show Tesla’s true performance potential. Read on for the details.

Updated 11/17/2017: Tesla just revealed the new Roadster!

Continue reading to learn more about the 2020 Tesla Roadster.

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2015 Ferrari Sergio

2015 Ferrari Sergio

If there was ever a concept that truly embodied the long-standing partnership between Ferrari and Pininfarina, it would be the 2013 Ferrari Sergio. The concept burst onto the scene at the 2013 Geneva Motor Show as a tribute model to the late Sergio Pininfarina. Reports that the Sergio was earmarked for production first surfaced in September 2014, and a little over a month later, a new report indicated that Ferrari and Pininfarina were actually building production models of the radical concept. Now, the wait is over, as it was recently officially announced that the first Ferrari Sergio has been delivered to the SBH Royal Auto Gallery at Abu Dhabi’s Yas Marina Circuit in the United Arab Emirates.

Ferrari and Pininfarina, the two architects behind the Sergio Concept, built six production versions of the radical supercar, each coming with a price tag of $3 million. The price is admittedly way more than I can afford, but for the six individuals Ferrari invited to snatch up the limited-edition piece, spending $3 million on an ultra-exclusive supercar can be considered money well spent.

Unfortunately, all six models have already been spoken for. Based on the Ferrari 458 Spider, the roadster was "created to celebrate the spirit and core values of the historic Cambiano company in the 60th anniversary year of its collaboration with the Prancing Horse," as stated in a press release.

The car is not only striking to look at, it’s also, unsurprisingly, intended to be extremely driver oriented, as is emphasized in the press release: "An authentic open-top, it explicitly references the track, underscoring and intensifying its sense of sportiness, fun behind the wheel and the pleasure of design at its purest."

Each of the six Ferrari Sergios was carefully customized by its owner at a workshop in Maranello, where a large variety of colors, materials, and finishes were on hand to suit their personal tastes. The result, clearly, is a car that’s fast, beautiful, and absolutely unique.

Updated 08/24/2017: We added a series of images taken during the 2017 Monterey Car Week.

Click past the jump to read more.

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2018 Tesla Model 3

2018 Tesla Model 3

Tesla’s first electric car for the masses

Say what you will about Tesla – the company’s ambition is undeniable. Founded in 2003, the California-based electric carmaker set out with the goal of overturning the auto industry status quo and hastening “the world’s transition to sustainable energy.” To that end, Tesla’s latest play (and arguably its more important) is called the Model 3. Framed as a more affordable alternative to the highly successful Model S full-size sedan and Model X SUV, there’s no shortage of excitement behind the more compact 3, and now, after countless rumors and practically unending speculation, the veil has been lifted. Following a massive live streaming event celebrating the handover of the first Model 3’s off the production line, it was revealed that buyers get two trim levels to pick from, with as much as 310 miles per charge and a 0-to-60 mph time of 5.1 seconds for the range-topper.

But, as you might expect, there’s a whole lotta footnotes that go along with the above-mentioned specs. For starters, actually getting a Model 3 into your driveway is no simple endeavor. Following a brief pre-production reveal in April of 2016, an estimated 400,000 people plunked down $1,000 for a pre-order, and that means if you don’t have a spot in line, it’s gonna be a while. Then there’s the list of ultra-pricey extras that add significant weight to the bottom line. Simply put, the question remains – does the Model 3 live up to the hype? Read on to find out.

Updated 08/23/2017: We added a series of new images taken during the 2017 Monterey Car Week.

Continue reading to learn more about the Tesla Model 3.

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2020 Toyota MR2

2020 Toyota MR2

Hey mister! Hey mister!

Originally produced between 1984 and 2007, the Toyota MR2 is a legendary little sports car, boasting a cult-like following and all the right stuff to make any auto enthusiast’s mouth water. Throughout the MR2’s 23-year career, Toyota ushered in three individual generations, consisting of the W10 between 1984 and 1989, the W20 between 1990 and 1999, and the W30 between 2000 and 2007. The name is a reference to the drivetrain layout (mid-engine, rear-wheel drive), while the “2” denotes the number of seats in the cabin. The original formula goes something like this – transverse mid-engine, rear-wheel drive, sharp, responsive handling, very little weight, small exterior dimensions, and an affordable sticker. All told, the Toyota MR2 is a true-blue classic, a pure driver’s ride, like a compact Japanese Ferrari without the exotic price tag. And now it’s looking like Toyota might bring it out of retirement.

The speculation stems from a recent statement made by Gazoo Racing head Tetsuya Tada, who told Evo at the 2017 Geneva Show that he hopes to have “The Three Brothers” back in the Toyota lineup “as soon as possible.” In case you were wondering, those “brothers” include the Supra, the Celica, and the MR2, Toyota’s iconic ’90s-era performance machine trio. Word has it we’re inching closer to a reveal of the new Supra, and the current GT86 is a decent replacement for the Celica, but what about a new Mister Two? We got curious, so we drew up a rendering and put together a few theories.

Continue reading to learn more about the Fourth-Generation Toyota MR2.

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2016 - 2018 Mazda3

2016 - 2018 Mazda3

The Mazda 3 takes on some minor updates for the 2017 model year

Standing out in the world of compacts is no easy feat. The corner-cutting measures it takes to offer a product at a competitive price in this segment can quickly demote a car to drab background filler. Throw in the customer’s demand to “do it all,” from sporting fun to commuting practicality, and what you’re left with can often feel like too much of a compromise. That’s not the case with the Mazda3, which combines standout styling, top-notch safety, cutting-edge interior appointment and fantastic driving dynamics into one cohesive package, all for an aggressive price. For 2016, Mazda kept all those characteristics, but upped the ante with a variety of new features, both standard and optional.

Mazda3 was originally introduced in 2003 as a replacement for the Protégé, with a second generation unveiled five years later. Now in its third generation, the 3 continues to be one of the best compact cars on the market. With that in mind, it should come as no surprise that Automotive News reports annual U.S. sales of the Mazda3 have overtaken gains in the compact market as a whole, with growth of 5.2 percent compared to a 3.1 percent average for all other segment models. So then – what makes it so good?

Updated 08/02/2017: Mazda just released info on the 2018 model year Mazda3. Check it out below!

Continue reading to learn more about the Mazda3.

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2018 Lexus LS 500

2018 Lexus LS 500

The Lexus flagship takes on the Europeans with a fifth generation

The LS full-size luxury sedan is an extremely important model for Lexus. First introduced for the 1990 model year, the LS is essentially the torchbearer for Lexus’ values, offering the greatest possible comfort, style, and technology that the brand can muster. In case you were unaware, the LS nameplate stands for “luxury sedan,” and as the company’s flagship, it basically helped usher in the Lexus brand nearly three decades ago. Now, with a debut at the 2017 Detroit Auto Show, there’s a new-generation model on deck for the 2018 model year, and it’s got a coupe-like exterior design, a roomy four-door interior, a new platform under the skin, a new twin-turbo V-6 and 10-speed automatic, and optional cutting-edge safety technology.

It’s called the LS 500, and it promises the “greatest-ever LS agility and comfort.” Lexus is also touting the new LS as the embodiment of traditional Japanese philosophies of hospitality and craftsmanship. Lexus will begin selling the new LS in late 2017 as a 2018 model, bringing it globally to 90 different markets. The most important market will be the U.S., but there’s no shortage of competition in this segment, so rest assured the brand won’t be pulling any punches.

Continue reading to learn more about the 2018 Lexus LS.

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2016 Ford Focus RS

2016 Ford Focus RS

Ford introduced the first ever Focus RS in 2002, reviving the RS (Rallye Sport) badge after having popularized it before with rally homologation specials like the Escort RS 1600 or the Escort RS Cosworth. Despite looking like a road-going version of the WRC model, the car was FWD and offered a little over 200 horsepower. Almost seven years later, another generation of the Focus RS arrived with an even more pronounced rally look and a Volvo-sourced five-cylinder with 305 horsepower sent to the front wheels. While torque-steer was kept to a minimum via a standard LSD from Quaife and a MacPherson front suspension strut called RevoKnuckle, the car was still far from offering WRC-like performance for the road.

Ford wants to change all that with the recently unveiled, third-generation Focus RS, as the model will be offered with an innovative all-wheel-drive system. Set to be manufactured at the same German plant as its predecessors, this will also be the first RS model to be sold around the world, including the U.S. With a Mustang-sourced, 2.3-liter, EcoBoost engine that has been engineered to deliver in excess of 300 horsepower, the all-new Focus RS seems to really up the ante for Ford in the performance-hatch category.

Update 07/13/2013: The Ford Focus RS is finally arriving at U.S. dealerships and is priced at $36,605 including destination and delivery charges. Hit "play" to see who was the first U.S. lucky owner of the RS.

Continue reading to learn more about the new Ford Focus RS.

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2018 BMW 6 Series

2018 BMW 6 Series

Faster, lighter, and more cutthroat

The BMW 6 Series was first introduced in 1976 as a replacement for the E9 Coupe. The original 6 Series production run lasted more than a dozen years, eventually seeing the axe in 1989. After an extended period on the shelf, the nameplate made its return in 2003, offered as a stopgap for the discontinued 8 Series. A third generation would follow in 2011, and now, it’s looking like a fourth gen is just around the corner. Originally speculated to receive a downsize to help it fight the Porsche 911, it’s now believed the new 6 Series will continue on as a quick but comfortable GT car. The revelation arrives alongside new spy shots, which show us a possible 6 Series mule undergoing what appears to be the final testing phase on public streets. Under the skin is expected a new, lightened chassis, while the recently unveiled 5 Series provides the powerplant selection. New tech will adorn the cabin, and the styling looks to get a refresh as well.

It’s also possible that what we’re seeing here is in fact the new 8 Series, the large-and-in-charge full-size slated to compete against the Mercedes-Benz S-Class coupe and upcoming Audi A9 coupe. However, this tester is looking a little too small for that, but not small enough to beat the 911, leading us to believe its business as usual for the 6 Series.

Details are still up in the air at this point, but read on for our take on what the new 6 Series will bring to the table.

Continue reading to learn more about the 2017 BMW 6 Series.

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2017 Prius Prime Offers Fancy Interior Tech And Lots Of Miles

2017 Prius Prime Offers Fancy Interior Tech And Lots Of Miles

Toyota’s ever-popular hybrid goes for the brass ring

Over the course of its lengthy production run, the Toyota Prius has more or less set the standard in the world of hybrid transportation. Four generations have come and gone since the nameplate’s release in 1997, and now, the popular Japanese fuel-sipper is getting the top-shelf treatment with what Toyota calls “the most technologically advanced, best-equipped Toyota Prius in the model’s nearly two-decade global history.”

Dubbed the Prius Prime, the new model comes equipped with a healthy dollop of technology, both in the interior, and under skin.

Climb into the cabin, and you’ll find an available 11.6-inch HD multimedia touchscreen, which is mounted centrally on the dash. Operated via tablet-like inputs, the display gives off a definite Tesla-esque vibe.

Complementing the large screen is an available color heads-up display and a Qi wireless phone charging system. There are also tons of active safety and convenience features thanks to Toyota Safety Sense (automatic braking, lane-departure warning, adaptive cruise control, etc.).

Optimizing the car’s inherent efficiency is available predictive software, which analyzes where you go and how you drive, offering tips on when to apply the throttle and brake pedal for max mileage.

Speaking of efficiency, Toyota foresees official estimates at 124 MPGe. That’s a 26-percent improvement compared to the preceding plug-in hybrid electric vehicle, making for the highest MPGe rating of any PHEV on the market. You’ll also get 25 miles of zero-emissions motoring at speeds up to 84 mph while in EV mode, plus 640 miles of range with a tank full of gas and a battery full of electricity.

The 2017 Prius Prime will go on sale across the country later this year, starting at $27,100. But the question is – do you want one?

Continue reading for the full story, including my driving impression.

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2016 Paris Motor Show – Worst In Show

2016 Paris Motor Show – Worst In Show

A mishmash of the awful, the bogus, and the just plain boring

The Paris Motor Show may have been sparsely attended this year, but despite that, we saw a good number of excellent autos on display. There were a few cool future previews, some fast performance machines, and a healthy dollop of concept eye candy. But we already covered all that in our Best In Show piece. This article takes a look at the worst.

Out of all the debuts that broke cover, we picked five of the lamest, least interesting, please-put-it-away offerings we could find right here, then promptly lambasted them for your reading delight. Included is an Audi copycat, a soft-roader charlatan, a golf kart posing as a city car, a compact wannabe crossover, and a non-sporty Sport model.

Hope you’ve got low blood pressure, because we’ve emptied out the salt on this one.

Continue reading for the full story.

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Star Wars-Themed Nissan Rogue to Debut at Los Angeles Auto Show

Star Wars-Themed Nissan Rogue to Debut at Los Angeles Auto Show

That’s no moon, it’s a Nissan

Nissan just joined the growing list of brands taking part in the tie-in fest currently underway for the latest addition to the Star Wars franchise. To help promote the release of Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, Nissan will build a limited number of special edition Star Wars’d Rogue crossovers for U.S. and Canadian super fans who crave a little bit of the Force in their drive.

Exact details on pricing and availability are still forthcoming, with full disclosure slated for the LA Auto Show next month. In fact, we don’t even know what this special Star Wars Rogue will look like beyond the addition of special badging, but that doesn’t mean we’re not gonna guess.

How about some ionization reactor-powered hyperdrive units in the rear, quad laser packs on the doors, lightsaber storage in the cabin, and a spot to mount your personal R2 unit on the roof?

Too elaborate? Some new wheels, unique exterior paint, and body stripes will suffice, then. I guess.

The Nissan Rogue is actually the top-selling model produced by the Japanese automaker at the moment, and it was just updated for 2017 with new styling, more interior outfit, safety tech, and for the first time, a hybrid powertrain. All that (plus the name) makes it a solid candidate for the tie-in.

And in case you were unaware, Rogue One: A Star Wars Story depicts the events that take place between Episode 3 and Episode 4, roughly just before A New Hope in the Star Wars universe timeline.

The Los Angeles Auto Show kicks off November 18th (press days are November 16th and 17th) while Rogue One: A Star Wars Story opens in theaters December 16th.

Continue reading for the full story.

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2016 Paris Motor Show – Best In Show

2016 Paris Motor Show – Best In Show

Finding the crème de la crème for your viewing pleasure

Paris may have seen several of the major automakers sit on the sidelines this time around, but that doesn’t mean we didn’t get an eyeful of some very hot automobiles. The City of Lights played host to all kinds of good stuff for 2016, but we still managed to pick out five of the latest and greatest to kick off this year’s auto show season.

Included in this list is a production car and a race car, but the majority of our picks are actually concepts. And why not? Paris is home to a variety of high-end art pieces, so it makes sense to bring in the rolling sculptures, right?

Long story short, it looks like we’re in for a very interesting season this year, especially when you consider the limited attendance seen in Paris. Read on for our picks for best in show.

Continue reading for the full story.

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Avenir Name to Serve as Sub-Brand for Buick

Avenir Name to Serve as Sub-Brand for Buick

Buick has a plan to make a better luxury car

Buick says it wants to capitalize on a recent uptick in growth, and in order to do so, it has set about creating a new top-of-the-line luxury sub-brand. Taking cues from the Avenir sedan concept first revealed at the Detroit Auto Show last year, the sub-brand looks poised for release on a global scale starting with the 2018 model year.

Essentially, the Avenir sub-brand will be akin to the Denali trim level currently in place for GMC’s range-topping truck models. Buick hopes the inclusion of Avenir-branded offerings will cement gains made with its changing customer base, which according to a recent press release, includes more female buyers and former customers of competing brands. If all goes according to plan, Avenir will also expand Buick’s reach overseas.

So then – what’ll make the Avenir sub-brand stand out amongst the competition? Buick says the exterior will include “a three-dimensional mesh grille, large-diameter wheels, and unique trim finishes,” while the cabin space will incorporate a “quiet, inviting environment with unique seat details, modern trim materials and Avenir script identification.”

Simply put – a sharp exterior styling with plus-sized rollers and a fancy fascia, as well as upscale materials and lots of badges in the interior. Sounds about right.

Continue reading for the full story.

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RemetzCar Builds World's First Tesla Model S Hearse

RemetzCar Builds World’s First Tesla Model S Hearse

Carried off to your final resting place in an eco-friendly sort of way

One of the funny things about popular cars is that they often get turned into something completely new. Hand something stock to the right set of hands, and the first step is usually a convertible – just chop off the top, add some water-resistant fabric in case it rains, and call it day. The next step is usually a limo – cut it in half, add some extra sheet metal, and voila, you’re free to roam in an expanded rear seat. After that, you start getting into the weird stuff. Enter the Tesla Model S Hearse.

Just in time for Halloween, RemetzCar has unveiled what’s believed to be the first-ever Tesla-based Hearse.

According to RemetzCar’s website, the Netherlands-based automaker first started by removing the all-electric vehicle’s battery pack, which runs the length of the floor. Then, the lightweight body was cut in half, and an extra 80 cm (approximately 31.5 inches) was added in between. After piecing it all together and reinstalling the battery in the floor, the whole thing measures out at 227 inches (nearly 19 feet).

In addition to the increase in length, RemetzCar also added a high roof area in the stern, with glass siding that actually follows the angle of the stock Model S roofline. That’s sure to keep it somewhat aerodynamic – no point in wasting precious electricity on the way to the graveyard.

Continue reading for the full story.

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2017 Toyota 86 – Driving Impression And Review

2017 Toyota 86 – Driving Impression And Review

So much fun, it should be illegal

What’s it take to create a car for “enthusiasts?” What are the ingredients? Truth be told, there are plenty of four-wheeled recipes out there if you wanna stir up some excitement, but sometimes, what you really need is that classic combo of two doors, power in the rear, low weight, and faultless poise in the twisty bits. Considered traditional fare amongst those with a taste for gas-powered adrenaline, modern interpretations usually carry a price tag that’s out of reach for most. Not so with the 2017 86. Toyota frames it as an affordable sport compact coupe engineered for switchbacks rather than straightaways, taking aim at the kind of person who lives for canyon runs rather than stoplight drags. Tossable, controllable, and above all, fun – these are the things that make this kind of car go, and thankfully, Toyota hasn’t strayed from the original recipe.

I recently got a chance to drive the 2017 86 in its native environment – winding, deserted two-lanes stretching towards some far-flung mountaintop. But the question is this – will the new 86 satisfy, or leave a bitter taste in your mouth?

Continue reading to learn more about the 2017 Toyota 86.

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The SsangYong LIV-2 Proves That You Don't Have to Sacrifice Luxury to go Off Road

The SsangYong LIV-2 Proves That You Don’t Have to Sacrifice Luxury to go Off Road

Looking good while getting dirty

SsangYong Motor Company just publicly unveiled its LIV-2 (“Limitless Interface Vehicle 2”) concept at the 2016 Paris Motor Show, and according to the automaker, it offers substantial off-roading capability. At the same time, the exterior body panels carry the marque’s new “Dignified Motion” design language, which at first glance, might appear at odds with the crossover’s off-road worthiness, right? Because after all, how does one appear dignified while slogging through the great outdoors? SsangYong says it has a solution.

SsangYong is the self-proclaimed leader when it comes to producing SUVs and 4x4s in its native land, so the LIV-2 has a few pretty big expectations set up for it right at the off. That said, it does come with a few very good features to enhance its off-road worth.

Under those slick body panels, you’ll find classic body-on-frame construction. Providing the stick is the company’s very own four-wheel drive system, which is fed by a diesel engine producing as much as 420 Nm (310 pound-feet of torque) at 1,500 rpm. So far, so good.

Mounted under the nose and tail, you’ll also find silver skid plates to protect vulnerable mechanicals, while inside is an “intelligent interface” for better car-driver communication when out on the rough stuff.

Now for the luxury half of the equation. Ingress and egress is assisted by electric side steps, while the whole cabin uses a layout that emphasizes the individual seats positioned in the rear. Speaking of seats, expect reclining seatbacks and a massage function, as well as leather upholstery. Piano black trim, adjustable mood lighting, and copious tech round out the package. Finally, that off-roader rubber you see in the corners is outfitted with a “differentiated angle and layered tread pattern” to keep it quiet.

Still, the proof is in the pudding. We’ll withhold our final judgment until we get a real look at this thing’s cabin space – not to mention how it handles a little rock crawling action.

Continue reading for the full story.

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Audi RS3 LMS Comes Track Ready with 330 Horsepower on Tap

Audi RS3 LMS Comes Track Ready with 330 Horsepower on Tap

Quick, wide, low, and relatively inexpensive

Audi is offering a fresh racing car for apex-oriented customers with the new track-ready RS3 LMS, transforming the updated four-door sedan into a bona fide competition vehicle. The RS3 LMS joins the Audi R8 LMS in the automaker’s lineup of out-of-the-box grid stars.

The Audi R8 LMS was first introduced in 2009, offering privateers a chance to rocket around in genuine GT3 style at events like the 24 Hours of Nurburgring. However GT3 racing is expensive, and as an alternative, the RS3 LMS arrives primed and ready for the TCR International Series, which is considered a more cost-effective entry to the world of touring car racing.

Drawing on experience gained in such high-profile series as the FIA World Endurance Championship (WEC) and Germany’s Deutsche Tourenwagen Masters (DTM), the RS3 is outfitted with all the usual go-faster goodies. The suspension was massively upgraded, while large wheels and enormous brakes were fitted in the corners. The fenders were hugely flared, and new aero keeps it planted.

Inside, it’s all business, all the time, with a back-to-basics layout, carbon-fiber steering wheel, and digital instrumentation.

Behind the polished rings on the grille, you’ll find a 2.0-liter four-cylinder TFSI engine that’s turbocharged to 330 horsepower. Acceleration looks like 4.5 seconds to hit 62 mph from a standstill, while top speed is rated at roughly 150 mph. Interestingly, that’s quite a bit slower than the road-going RS3, which uses a 2.5-liter five-cylinder engine to make 400 horsepower and hit 62 mph in 4.1 seconds, with a top speed of 174 mph.

But don’t worry – this thing will still melt your face in the corners, and as such, it needs to be safe. That means it’s got an FIA-spec fuel tank, safety cell, PS3 safety seat, FIA-approved window nets, and a rescue hatch in the roof.

Continue reading for the full story.

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The Audi Q5 Drops Some Weight, Gains Some Power, and Gets an Updated Quattro AWD System

The Audi Q5 Drops Some Weight, Gains Some Power, and Gets an Updated Quattro AWD System

Turning the crossover into a car, one step at a time

Quick! Which Audi model just got a reduced curb weight, bump in engine output, and a few updates to its legendary, motorsport-derived AWD system? Surprisingly, I just described some of the new stuff on the German brand’s compact SUV, a.k.a. the Q5.

First up, thanks to the utilization of materials like high-tensile strength steel and aluminum in the body, the Q5 cuts upwards of 200 pounds from the curb weight, depending on the trim level. And that’s on top of an increase to the Q5’s exterior dimensions, by the way.

Next up is the drivetrain, where we see the inclusion of something called “ultra technology” to the quattro AWD system. Equipped as standard on models sporting a 2.0-liter TDI oil burner (and offered as an available option on the 150-horsepower diesel trim), ultra tech essentially ups fuel mileage by disengaging the rear axle while cruising, transforming the Q5 into a front-wheel driver. The rear axle will then automatically reengage when more traction is called for, making for a nice mix between FWD efficiency and AWD grip. No word yet on whether or not U.S.-spec models will get ultra technology, but it’s doubtful considering the only engines offered here will be the gas units.

Further AWD upgrades include torque vectoring tech, new driving modes for a little soft-roader action, and a sportier rear differential for models equipped with a diesel V-6 engine.

Speaking of engines, Audi says it’s making the various powerplant options both more powerful and more efficient. There will be four TDI specs and one TFSI engine on the table, but again, don’t expect the diesels to make it to these shores (thanks, Dieselgate). All in all, we can expect up to 27 extra ponies, plus a substantial increase to mpg. The 2.0-liter turbocharged gas burner, for example, will produce 252 horsepower (up from 220 horsepower) and return nearly 35 mpg (up from 27 mpg on the highway).

Continue reading for the full story.

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Porsche 911 GT3 Cup Debuts with New Engine and Aerodynamic Enhancements

Porsche 911 GT3 Cup Debuts with New Engine and Aerodynamic Enhancements

More go and more stick for Stuttgart’s darling

In its never-ending search for quicker and quicker lap times, Porsche has updated the highly popular 911 GT3 Cup racing car with a new, more powerful engine, enhanced reliability, and extra aerodynamic tricks along the body panels.

The update coincides with the release of the second-generation 991, a.k.a. the 991.2. Porsche unveiled the 991.2 last year, but the GT3 Cup stands apart from its road-going brethren as the track-only, race-ready variant aimed at hitting the starting grid right out of the box.

Per usual, you’ll find a flat six-cylinder engine mounted in the rear. This time around, the powerplant comes packing with direct fuel injection, an even four liters of displacement, and 100 percent naturally aspirated induction (cue cheering fan boys).

The 4.0-liter powerplant replaces the outgoing model’s 3.8-liter flat-six, with peak output rated at 485 horsepower – an increase of 25 ponies. Not bad for a car that weighs less than 2,700 pounds.

In addition to being more powerful, the 4.0-liter six-cylinder is also more reliable, offering a valve drive with rigidly mounted rocker arms and a central oil feed – a first for the model. There’s also an integrated oil centrifuge for enhanced oil defoaming, and a more rigid crankshaft.

Making the most of the newfound power is upgraded aero, which takes a few cues from the most recent 911 facelift. There’s a new front bumper apron, and a new rear end. Porsche declined to specify exactly how it managed to “improve” the aero, but did mention “enhanced traction and performance,” so I’m guessing there’s just more downforce. Meanwhile, you’ll find the same rear wing as the outgoing model, measuring in at 184 cm in width. That’s over six feet, by the way.

Continue reading for the full story.

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Hyundai RN30 Concept Features a Powerful Engine, AWD, and Lots of Lightweight Materials

Hyundai RN30 Concept Features a Powerful Engine, AWD, and Lots of Lightweight Materials

A racing concept that previews Hyundai’s future high-performance plans

The slick little speed hatch you see here is called the RN30 Concept, and it just broke cover at the 2016 Paris Motor Show. Using the latest-generation i30 as a foundation, Hyundai built the RN30 as a track-only specialty that showcases the company’s performance chops.

Making it go is a modified 2.0-liter engine, the same powerplant slated for use in a forthcoming high-performance production model. Extra grunt is added courtesy of a larger turbocharger, with forged engine components installed to handle the increased boost. All told, Hyundai says output peaks at 375 horsepower and 333 pound-feet of torque, far surpassing the current road-going i30’s 138 horsepower and 178 pound-feet of torque.

Complementing the high-strung 2.0-liter is a variety of weight saving measures, including a stripped-down interior, and extensive use of a new high-performance plastic. Hyundai says it wasn’t satisfied with the current crop of carbon fiber-reinforced polymers out there, so it developed its own material with the chemical company BASF to create something that’s strong, lightweight, and funny enough, environmentally friendly.

Cog swaps are handled by a wet-type dual-clutch transmission, which sends the muscle to the pavement via a high-performance AWD system and electronic limited-slip differential setup. There’s also a “sport mode” and Electronic Variable Exhaust, although I don’t know why you’d need anything other than max attack for a race car.

Continue reading for the full story.

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2016 Jaguar XF

2016 Jaguar XF

The XF first broke cover at the 2007 Frankfurt Motor Show, eventually making its way to dealerships in March 2008. It was quite successful, becoming Jag’s most-awarded car. Now, however, nearly eight years later, the British automaker felt as though the sporty luxury sedan is overdue for a change, and as such, the marque recently introduced the 2016 model year at the 2015 New York Auto Show.

Although its design is heavily based on the previous model, the new XF is actually a much more comprehensive update. The car is significantly lighter now thanks to Jag’s new commitment to constructing the entirety of its lineup from aluminum bodies, and it’s quicker than its predecessor as well. And although some of the new drivetrain components launched in 2014 might not make it stateside, the new XF has plenty of new features to brag about. Keep reading for the full details.

Updated 07/11/2016: Jaguar dropped a new video in which it wants to explain why the XF is the perfect car to "chase" storms. Hit "play" to watch storm chaser ‘Tornado Tim’ Baker driving the Jaguar XF through America’s Midwest in search of a tornado.

Continue reading to learn more about the 2016 Jaguar XF.

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2015 Infiniti Vision GT Supercar Concept

2015 Infiniti Vision GT Supercar Concept

The Vision Concept is finally ready to be downloaded in GT6 on the PS3

If you’re anything like our resident virtual hot shoe Ciprian Florea, you should know all about the Gran Turismo 6 Vision project. But for those of you drawing a blank right now, I’ll be happy to inform you. Dreamed up by GT game designer and pro race car driver Kazunori Yamauchi, Vision is an open proposal laid at the door of every major auto manufacturer. Essentially, it’s an invitation for designers to invent their idea of a two-door sports car for the Gran Turismo game world. The project has spawned some truly incredible creations, like the Toyota FT-1, Subaru Viziv, and Chevrolet Chaparral 2X (which, as Ciprian likes to point out, is powered by a friggin laser). Now, Infiniti is jumping into the fun with its own supercar concept.

Drawing inspiration from Formula 1 and design cues found in Infiniti’s road cars, the supercar concept you see here was plucked from the minds of the company’s design team in Beijing. “Part beauty, part beast, its shape is powerful, sensational and audacious — a mix of a track machine and the dream of our Chinese design team to create an ambitious racing language for Infiniti,” says the automaker in a press release. We agree, and would like to add that it looks totally sweet, as well.

Although the concept saw major aesthetic massaging, it also proved to be an extensive technical exercise, with real attention paid to the actual performance capabilities that a real-world version could possess. Details on these specs are available after the jump.

Update 05/19/2016: It’s been a long time coming, but the Infiniti Vision GT Supercar Concept has hit virtual showrooms and is now ready to be downloaded for Gran Turismo 6 on Playstation 3. Let’s race!

Click past the jump to read more about the Infiniti Vision GT Supercar Concept.

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2016 Chevrolet Cruze

2016 Chevrolet Cruze

Second-gen sedan gets new looks, turbocharged engine

The Chevy Cruze is essentially GM’s modern version of the Chevy Cavalier here in the U.S. It replaced the Chevy Cobalt in 2008 and saw two updates before being redesigned for the 2016 model year. When the second-generation Cruze debuted for the North American market, it grew in length and width and came with sportier styling cues. The most dominate change came in the form of new headlights, a reshaped nose and new character lines on the sides. On the inside, there is a little more room thanks to the slightly larger size. The infotainment system has been upgraded to Chevy’s second-generation MyLink infotainment system with a 7-inch screen, Android Auto, and Apple Carplay as standard equipment. Furthermore, the car now comes with heated seats in the front and rear as well as a heated steering wheel. Under the hood, we see more improved as Chevy is now offering the Cruze with a 1.4-liter engine that delivers 153 horsepower, 177 pound-feet of torque, and offers a combined fuel economy of 32 mpg.

The second-generation Cruze also brought a change to the lineup as well. The L and LS trim levels carry over, and the LT trim is now a combination of the LT1 and LT2 trims from the previous generation. The LTZ trim was also dropped in favor of the Premier trim as the range-topping model. A six-speed manual will be the only transmission available for the base, L trim. A six-speed manual and a six speed automatic will be available for LS and LT trims, while the Premier trim will be stuck with just the six-speed automatic.

The second-generation model is also spawning a hatchback variant that should be coming for the 2017 model year, and there is still a lot to discuss about this generation as well. With that said, let’s dive on into all the juicy details and see what the 2016 Cruze is all about.

Continue reading to learn more about the 2016 Chevrolet Cruze.

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2017 Kia Sportage

2017 Kia Sportage

Kia is unleashing the third generation of the Sportage for the 2017 model year with updated styling outside, including a redefined grille, new fog lamps, new headlights, new taillights and an overall sleek appearance. Inside, the passenger cabin is more driver-oriented, and the dash takes on the same look of width as the exterior. A new instrument cluster boasts a small LCD screen in the middle with the option for different color schemes and the infotainment system is available with a seven- or eight-inch display screen. We have yet to receive engine specifications for the U.S. market, but over in Europe, customers have the option between two gasoline engines and three diesels with output ranging anywhere between 113 horsepower and 182 horsepower.

As a competitor to models like the Nissan Rogue and the Mazda CX-5, the Sportage looks to push the envelope for quality and economy without being too expensive in such a competitive segment. With that said, the Sportage is available in three trim levels with prices ranging from $22,990 for the entry-level LX trim, all the way up to $34,000 for the range-topping Sportage SX. With a long list of optional packages and add-ons, the Sportage could end up being fairly cheap or somewhat expensive if you go for a fully loaded crossover.

The sportage is now and its third generation and only time will tell how well it performs during its lifecycle. But, you can make your own decision about the Sportage for yourself by checking out our detailed review below.

Updated 02/22/2016: Kia announced prices for the all new 2017 Sportgae which will go on sale later this spring. Prices will range from $22,990 to $34,000 depending on the trim version.

Continue reading to find out more about the 2017 Kia Sportage.

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2017 Infiniti Q30

2017 Infiniti Q30

The company’s first foray into the compact segment

Launched in 2016, the Q30 is Infiniti’s first luxury hatchback model. Unlike other products which are based on existing Nissan models, the Q30 is actually built on the third-generation Mercedes-Benz A-Class and uses the German car’s 2.0-liter, turbocharged four-cylinder engine. Employing a stylish yet sporty design that uses Infiniti’s current styling language, the Q30 is also available as a high-riding crossover, dubbed QX30 in most markets. In the U.S., however, the Q30 is sold as the QX30S, while the crossover is marketed as the QX30 AWD.

With a debut at the 2015 Frankfurt Motor Show, the Q30 is Infiniti’s first foray into the compact segment. It looks to be the make’s smallest and most affordable model yet, and Infiniti hopes it can help expand its global presence substantially. It’s a brand new venture for the make, and as such, it comes with a lot of high expectations. Infiniti says it isn’t the “little brother or sister” to some larger model, which is fantastic for drawing in a new audience. But does it have the goods to seal the deal?

Have a closer look at our full review to find out more about that.

Continue reading to learn more about the Infiniti Q30.

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2016 Audi R8 E-Tron

2016 Audi R8 E-Tron

Audi has teased the idea of an electric version of its R8 supercar on more than one occasion. First we had the e-tron concept at the Frankfurt Motor Show in 2009, which then made a debut at the 2010 Detroit Auto Show. Audi even went as far as to put its creation around the Nürburgring for a record-setting 8:09.099 minute lap time. Now, finally, it looks like the R8 e-tron is set to make it to showrooms worldwide.

The big news comes straight from the 2015 Geneva Motor Show, where Audi showcased an all-electric supercar alongside the redesigned, second-generation R8. At first glance, the e-tron model is an R8 with the stock V-10 drivetrain swapped out for a pair of electric motors and their associated batteries, but this German-built EV with supercar credentials is more than that. And with zero emissions emanating from a non-existent tailpipe, the R8 e-tron represents a big step forward for green racing tech.

As expected, the R8 e-tron is one of the quickest EVs out there. What’s surprising though is that it can perform extremely well in the range department. How well, you may ask? Let’s say that the Tesla Model S needs a small range update next time Elon Musk rolls out a new upgrade. But you’re going to have to check out the review below for more info on that.

Updated 10/27/2015: While Audi already dropped official details on the R8 E-tron, this is the first time the new car was caught in action at the Nurbrugring race track. You have to admit that its blue exterior color looks stunning, and that orange light around the “sideblades” is also a nice detail.

Continue reading to learn more about the Audi R8 E-Tron.

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2016 McLaren 675LT

2016 McLaren 675LT

To fill the space between the 650S supercar and the astronomically potent P1 hypercar, McLaren built a “track-focused development of the 650S” and called it the 675LT. This limited-production, barely-road-legal race car packs an even bigger punch than its standard-issue forbearer, wringing out every last ounce of performance from the 650S platform via enhanced aerodynamics, less weight, and even more power. It may come with all the markings of something for public highways (you know, like headlights, a windshield, turn signals, and tires with grooves), but given the right environment, the 675LT is capable of posting times far beyond most machines with a license plate.

The “LT” nomenclature is a nod to the F1 GTR “Longtail,” a car that brought McLaren huge success competing in the 24 Hours of Le Mans endurance races of the late-‘90s. With that in mind, it’s no surprise the 675LT is framed as “the most driver-focused and exclusive McLaren Super Series model ever made.”

So then – exclusivity, a proven competition pedigree, the very latest motorsport technology, and of course, insane speed. Sounds like quite the package, no?

Updated 10/15/2015: We’ve added full details on McLaren’s most powerful Super Series model.

Continue reading to learn more about the 2016 McLaren 675LT.

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2015 Nissan GT-R LM NISMO

2015 Nissan GT-R LM NISMO

So far, Nissan has yet to clinch ultimate victory at the 24 Hours of Le Mans, but it’s not for lack of trying. The Japanese automaker made its initial debut at the prestigious racing event in 1986, with best results achieved in 1998 with a third-place podium from the #32 R390 GT1 car driven by Kazuyoshi Hoshino, Aguri Suzuki, and Masahiko Kageyama. A year later, Nissan opted to simply provide engines rather than field full prototype racers. 

Now, after a 16-year departure from the top echelon of endurance racing, Nissan is back with one of the most unusual cars to ever take the grid. At first glance, the GT-R LM NISMO looks totally unlike its main rivals, and for good reason – while the other marques all feature mid-mounted engines and RWD, the GT-R LM places its engine ahead of the cockpit and uses FWD.

This setup is the brainchild of Team Principal and Technical Director Ben Bowlby, also known for creating the All American Racers DeltaWing and the ZEOD RC. Nissan calls it the “ultimate GT-R," but with such a radical reinterpretation of the rulebook, will it have a fighting chance against the current crop of proven machinery from Audi, Porsche, and Toyota?

Updated 10/01/2015: Back in June the Nissan GT-R LM NISMO made its race debut at Le Mans. However, the car featured some technical difficulties and it had to race without its hybrid system engaged. Now, Nissan announced that the team has been working hard to address these technical issues and that the GT-R LM NISMO is ready to make its race return at the FIA World Endurance Championship in 2016.

Click past the jump to read more about the 2015 Nissan GT-R LM NISMO.

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2016 Porsche 911 Convertible

2016 Porsche 911 Convertible

Just ahead of its debut at the 2015 Frankfurt International Auto Show, Porsche has dropped details on the latest mid-cycle refresh for the drop-top 911, and it comes with a few new exterior styling tweaks, the latest infotainment and driver’s aides, and most notably, a smaller, turbocharged engine.

It appears as though Porsche is moving to widen the appeal of the 911 Convertible, which makes sense given the automaker’s lineup of hardcore, track-oriented models. However, purists will still inevitably complain about the boosted cabriolet’s engine, despite it bringing more power and greater efficiency.

The car is even quicker, with performance figures seeing improvements across the board and new standard features that enhance its race-inspired capabilities even further.

Porsche says the car blends “performance and everyday usability,” a combination the brand is well established for delivering.

Updated 09/28/2015: We’ve added a series of new photos we took at the 2015 Frankfurt Motor Show. Find them in the "Pictures" tab.

Continue reading to learn more about the 2016 Porsche 991 Carrera Convertible.

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2016 Renault Talisman

2016 Renault Talisman

The Renault Laguna was struggling in the sales department, so Renault had no choice but to discontinue the model and replace it with something better. That something better is the Renault Talisman sedan that debuted at the 2015 Frankfurt Moor Show as a 2016 model. The car had a very stylish and sculpted body that boasted a muscular hood, unique headlight and taillight design, a grille with floating slats, and a side profile that screams luxury. On the inside, the Talisman has every intention of outgoing its German rivals in the luxury sedan with a heads-up display unit, large, vertically oriented infotainment screen, simplistic instrument cluster, and an almost-flat-bottom steering wheel. Being sold in Europe and South Korea, the Talisman has a number of small-displacement (2.0-liter and smaller) gasoline and diesel engines. The diesel engines are limited to Europe, while South Korea is offered a 2.0-liter that runs on natural gas. Horsepower figures range anywhere between 110 horsepower all the way up to 200 ponies.

Luckily, when Renault chose to go with the “Talisman” name, it didn’t try to follow the design cues of the Renault Talisman Concept from 2001. That thing was downright ugly and probably would have flopped before the first car rolled of the line. With that said, Renault did a great job on the Talisman production model and from the look of things is surely posing some stiff competition for manufacturers like BMW, Volkswagen, and Audi.

We’ve put together a full review of Renault’s newest sedan below, so it’s time you took a look at all the facts and details yourself – there’s plenty more to learn about this new family hauler.

Updated 09/24/2015: We’ve added a series of new photos we took at the 2015 Frankfurt Motor Show. Find them in the "Pictures" tab.

Continue reading to learn more about the Renault Talisman.

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Citroen Cactus M Concept

Citroen Cactus M Concept

Citroen first introduced the C4 Cactus as a concept vehicle two years ago at the 2013 Frankfurt Motor Show. Since then, the Cactus has morphed into not only a production crossover, but a variety of separate prototypes as well, including the 2015 Aircross. It also gave the French automaker the 2015 World Car Design of the Year accolade at the New York International Auto Show back in April. Unsurprisingly, the platform has transformed once again, this time as homage to the Mehari light utility off-roader.

Between 1968 and 1988, Citroen produced 144,953 examples of the Mehari. Based on the stout 2CV, the Mehari served many different purposes, including military use in the French army. However, civilians also got to enjoy the Mehari’s rugged capability – not only was it lightweight enough to tackle rough terrain, its plastic body resisted corrosion, even in the grit and salt of repeated beach runs.

Drawing inspiration from the Mehari “and the seaside world associated with” it, the new Cactus M Concept hopes to prove the versatility of the C4 Cactus platform for future models in a variety of different bodystyles, exhibiting several fun ideas along the way.

Updated 09/21/2015: We’ve added a series of new photos we took at the 2015 Frankfurt Motor Show. Find them in the "Pictures" tab.

Continue reading to learn more about Citroen Cactus M Concept.

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Lexus Flagship SUV

Lexus Flagship SUV

What does it take to be a flagship vehicle? For starters, it has to be impressive. Really impressive. It has to define a brand’s look, tout the latest technology, and provide a driving experience that rivals any and all challengers. That’s a tall order, but Lexus is looking to fill it – not with a new two- or four-door, but with an SUV.

Currently leading the marque is the full-size luxury LS sedan. Originally offered in 1989, the LS is expected to see the introduction of its fifth generation for the 2017 model year, complete with all the cutting-edge goodies that Lexus can muster. However, Jeff Bracken, Lexus’ division general manager, spoke to Reuters early in August, saying Lexus might add another flagship model alongside the LS, and that “it doesn’t have to be a sedan.”

The move isn’t all that surprising when considering just how much the premium SUV segment has grown recently. According to Truecar, sales for SUVs priced at $75,000 and above is 44 percent higher this year compared to last, far exceeding the 13.2 percent growth for cars in the same price range.

In the same Reuters interview, Bracken mentioned Land Rover, the Cadillac Escalade and offerings from the major German luxury automakers as examples of the premium SUV done right. Other makes are capitalizing on the demand as well, with Rolls-Royce, Bentley, Jaguar and Maserati all getting in on the SUV game for the first time.

So what will Lexus bring to the table? Bracken said details on the new complementary flagship will be revealed in January, but until then, read on for our predictions.

Continue reading for the full story.

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2016 Infiniti QX50

2016 Infiniti QX50

Debuting at the 2015 New York Auto Show, Infiniti has applied an extensive refresh to the QX50 in the hopes of jumpstarting the SUV after it struggled to sell well in the highly competitive luxury crossover segment. A facelift, longer wheelbase, extra interior room and a few new gadgets all make the list of updates.

The Infiniti EX/QX50 was first introduced in 2008 as the funky-looking EX35 crossover SUV. In 2011, the model underwent its first name change to simply EX. For the 2014 model year, Johan de Nysschen — now the lead man at Cadillac, but at the time heading up Infiniti – decided to shake things up by renaming the entire lineup, resulting in the EX becoming the QX50 without any significant changes to the vehicle. Finally, two years after its latest rename, the QX50/EX/EX35 is getting its first overhaul for the 2016 model year.

The new QX50 will be offered as either a RWD or AWD model and comes with four available option packages. But will it be enough to inject some new life into the SUV?

Updated 09/18/2015: Infiniti announced prices for the new, 2016 QX50 which goes on sale in this month at Infiniti retailers nationwide. The new luxury crossover will be priced from $34,450 for the RWD version and $35,850 for the AWD version.

Continue reading to learn more about the 2016 Infiniti QX50.

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2015 Frankfurt Motor Show Preview

2015 Frankfurt Motor Show Preview

Autumn is very nearly upon us, and soon the leaves will change, the air will cool, and the days will grow shorter. But who cares about all that when there’s so much hot-off-the-grill four-wheeled goodness to be had? Far more important is the fact that some of biggest auto shows of the year are just around the corner, with the latest luxury rides, performance vehicles, crossovers and concepts served up piping hot for car geeks like you and me. First on the menu is the Frankfurt Motor Show.
The general public will have access Saturday, September 19th, through Sunday, September 27th. Show hours are between 9:00 AM and 7:00 PM.

In German it’s called the Internationale Automobil-Ausstellung (or IAA for short), which translates as simply International Motor Show. Seems like a broad title, but there’s a reason for that. The first IAA was held way back in 1897, and since then the event has grown to become the single largest auto show in the world. These days, the IAA alternates in focus – commercial vehicles for even-numbered years, and passenger vehicles for odd-numbered years. As such, 2013 was the last time the IAA presented cars you and I actually care about, bringing in nearly 900,000 visitors, hosting 1,098 exhibitors from 35 different countries, and offering up 159 world debuts. This is home field for brands like BMW, Mercedes and Volkswagen, but it’s also a world stage for any make looking to make a splash before we roll into 2016.

Epic? Absolutely. Here are 35 debuts slated to make an appearance for your previewing pleasure, plus some useful information if you plan on attending.

Continue reading to learn more about this major automotive event.

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Mercedes Teases New Concept Ahead Of Frankfurt

Mercedes Teases New Concept Ahead Of Frankfurt

Mercedes-Benz just offered up a teaser image of a new concept car slated to drop cover next week at the 2015 Frankfurt Motor Show. So far, Mercedes has been tight-lipped when it comes to offering hints about what the image actually shows. All we know is what we can see: silver curves, a band of glowing red, a three-pointed star and the words “Concept IAA.” IAA is an acronym for Internationale Auto Ausstellung, the Frankfurt Motor Show’s formal German title, but the German-language publication MBpassion suggests it could actually mean “Intelligent Aerodynamic Automobile.”

Here’s what we can speculate: The concept will likely preview Mercedes’ upcoming design language, or alternatively, a futuristic technological brainstorm ala the 2015 Mercedes F 015 Luxury in Motion.

Either way, expect more details just before the show gets under way. Press will get early show access between September 15th and 16th, while trade days will be September 17th and 18th. Members of the public are invited to attend between September 19th and September 27th.

Continue reading for the full story.

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2017 Jaguar XJ

2017 Jaguar XJ

Jaguar has announced an update for its flagship XJ luxury sedan, and it promises a refreshed exterior design, loads more technology, and a slew of different model iterations to choose from.

First launched in the US in 2011, the XJ has grown a bit stale over the years, but Jag wants to shake the old-man connotations by utilizing aluminum construction and the latest and greatest gadgetry. What’s more, the exterior espouses a timeless style with a hint of modern aggression, making for an enticing package.

The new XJ is also available in no less than eight different models, including several long-wheelbase variants that offer even more luxury than the standard car.

The questions is: can the new XJ outgun the top dogs hailing from Germany? Mercedes, BMW, and Audi are all in the hunt for high-dollar, luxury four-door sales, and each is bringing its own brand of technology and performance to the table.

Updated 09/05/2015: Jaguar revealed prices for the new XJ luxury sedan, which will be put on sale in the spring of 2016. Prices will range from $74,400 for the XJ R-Sport version and up to $121,000 for the XJR LWB version.

Continue reading to learn more about the facelift Jaguar XJ.

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1986 - 1993 Lamborghini LM002

1986 - 1993 Lamborghini LM002

Ready your preconceptions for shattering, because they aren’t long for this world: the behemoth SUV pictured here is from Italian exotic sports car manufacturer Lamborghini. Dubbed the “Rambo Lambo”, this particular example represents one of only 328 vehicles produced between the years of 1986 and 1993. It’s the byproduct of Lamborghini’s “Cheetah” program, which began in 1977 as the development platform for a new military off-roader. The original design, featuring a rear-mounted Chrysler V-8, went to Mobility Technology International (MTI). MTI ended up contracting for the US military, and in some respects, the Cheetah could be considered the precursor to the Humvee.

After the Cheetah, Lamborghini created the LM001, which was similar, but came with a V-8 from AMC. When it was determined that a rear-mounted engine was responsible for unfavorable off-road handling characteristics, Lambo decided to build an entirely new chassis with the V-12 from the Countach sitting up front. Thus, the LM002 was born, making its official debut at the 1986 Brussels Auto Show.

In 1988, Lamborghini attempted to enter an LM002 in the Paris-Dakar Rally, with preparations including a stripped interior, a roll cage, suspension enhanced with heavy-duty components, an engine with output upped to 600 horsepower, and GPS. Unfortunately, funding ran out before the rally took place, but the beefy rally variant did eventually manage to compete in off-road races held in both Egypt and Greece.

Another interesting story finds one particularly unfortunate LM002, owned by Uday Hussein, son of the dictator, blown to smoldering chunks by US service members in 2004 during the invasion of Iraq to help demonstrate the effects of a car bomb.

With such a tumultuous genesis, it’ll be interesting to see what Lamborghini decides to do when it comes to an off-roader/SUV offering. With concepts like the Urus making headlines in the past few years, it certainly looks like Lambo is searching for the right way to reenter the market. Only time will tell if this latest effort is more successful than the LM002.

Updated 9/1/2015: Our man Jonathan Lopez took some pics at Monterey Car Week. Enjoy!

Click past the jump to read more about the Lamborghini LM002.

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2015 Rolls Royce March 2 Glory

2015 Rolls Royce March 2 Glory

Not everyone knows this, but Rolls-Royce built an all-electric race car, putting it to the test on the slippery and treacherous tarmac of the Goodwood Motor Circuit. Dubbed the “March 2 Glory,” the EV was designed and created (with a little help from Rolls-Royce) by a team of aspiring nine- through 11-year-old engineers and designers from The March Church of England Primary School, which is located only a few hundred feet from the Rolls-Royce headquarters on the western edge of the Goodwood Estate.

Competing in the Green Power IET Formula Goblin racing series, the M2G managed to build on success attained last year, wherein the previous March Team also partnered with Rolls to gain experience in the fundamentals of manufacturing, engineering and teamwork.

This year’s car is even better than the last, exhibiting every detail of a true Rolls performance vehicle, from the exterior styling to the premium interior. The young engineers and designers who helped create it drew inspiration from England’s racing past and Rolls-Royce’s line of bespoke street vehicles. The result, as you can plainly see, looks ready to tackle even the trickiest stretch of pavement.

Continue reading for the full story.

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Monterey Car Week 2015 – Day 5

Monterey Car Week 2015 – Day 5

To some people, Monterey Car Week is the definitive expression of the automotive lifestyle, bringing together the absolute cream of the car world for revelry and the chance to share a common passion. The events are abundant, occupying California’s entire central coast, but when it comes to the ultimate in show and shine, you can’t beat Sunday’s Concours d’Elegance.

Held on the greens of the Pebble Beach golf course, this event sees approximately 200 of the finest collectible vintage vehicles in the world made available for inspection by the public. Each is slotted into one of several categories, and an esteemed panel of judges is tasked with choosing winners based on historical accuracy, technical merit, and the all-important, yet indefinable, style.

The Concours d’Elegance is recognized worldwide as one of the premiere automotive events of the year, filled to capacity with prestige, glamour, and high-class sophistication. But for some reason, they let me in the front door.

Continue reading to learn what happened on Day 5.

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WRC 2015 – Rally Deutschland

WRC 2015 – Rally Deutschland

After three days of asphalt-flavored action through vineyards, military tracks and flowing country roads, Sebastien Ogier took the win in Germany over the weekend, positioning him ever closer to clinching his third consecutive World Rally Championship title. Fellow Volkswagen teammates Jari-Matti Latvala and Andreas Mikkelsen joined him on the podium, making for a clean 1-2-3 all-Polo R VW sweep at the make’s home event. Latvala finished 23 seconds behind Ogier, while Mikkelsen trailed by an additional 94 seconds.

Germany marked Ogier’s sixth win for the 2015 season and his 30th career victory, placing him alongside Marcus Gronholm in second for most all-time wins (Sebastien Loeb still holds the outright record at an astonishing 78 wins). In order to secure his third driver’s championship, all that’s left for Ogier to do is finish ahead of Latvala at next month’s Rally Australia.

However, Ogier said the focus in Germany was not on the driver’s championship, but rather on bringing a win to VW at its home event, something the make has failed to do since it re-entered the WRC in 2013.

“It was a perfect rally and that was the target, to try to finally give a victory here to my team and I’m proud to achieve that,” Ogier said. “The third title is getting really close so that’s fantastic, but this weekend the interests of the team were bigger than mine.”

The WRC next heads down under for Rally Australia, September 10th – 13th.

Continue reading for the full story.

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Monterey Car Week 2015 – Day 4

Monterey Car Week 2015 – Day 4

What does it take to be considered elite? In the world of racing, the criteria are crystal clear – you gotta win. Consistently. Easy to say, but hard to do, especially with a small team against the experience of a marque like Ferrari. But between 1964 and 1965, Carroll Shelby did exactly that with the 1954 - 1965 Shelby Daytona Coupe, dominating during the season, taking victory at Le Mans, and securing the 1965 FIA Word Sportscar Championship, all at overseas racetracks like Spa, Monza and the Nurburgring. Along the way, names like Bob Bondurant, Pete Brock and Allen Grant contributed to the car’s success, further cementing their places among the racing elite.

In the world of automobile auctions, the criteria are less definite. Is it the quality of the vehicles? The prices realized? The rarity on offer? The prestige of the event? Probably all these things, and without question, the Gooding & Co. auction house has each in spades.

It was with these two groups that I experienced the penultimate day of Monterey Car Week.

Continue reading to learn what happened on Day 4.

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Monterey Car Week 2015 – Day 3

Monterey Car Week 2015 – Day 3

What is it about those special cars; the ones that can connect with you on a deep, personal level? Is it the look; the way the lines catch the sun in just the right way? Is it the smell; that heady mix that can instantly teleport you back to a certain time and place? Is it the sound; the rumble and purr that evoke an instinctual reaction, resonating straight to the gut? In truth, it’s all these things. It’s the kind of stuff that drives the passion, pushing someone to retrace a historic race through the forest or fork out a bit (or a lot) too much money to have that one sweet ride sitting in his garage.

These are just some of the things that make Monterey Car Week so powerful. And while the annual celebration offers plenty of highly exclusive events, there are a few open to anyone and everyone with a passion for four wheels and an engine. Friday saw me cover two of them, including a gaggle of historic Ferraris on the old road course in Pebble Beach, and the Russo and Steele Auction in Monterey.

Continue reading to learn what happened on Day 3.

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Monterey Car Week 2015 – Day 2

Monterey Car Week 2015 – Day 2

When confronted with a buffed-out classic luxury or sports cars priced at six or seven figures, it’s easy to forget that, at its core, a car is a machine. It’s made for a purpose – to move people around in the world, no matter how lovingly well crafted its sheet metal. But in the realm of high-end collectible automobiles, some cars seem to take on a different role, living out their days sheltered from the elements in vault-like garages, never actually rolling across pavement under their own power. It’s certainly the best way to protect an investment, but if a car could think, I’d venture it would want to row through the gears, lean into the corners and gulp in the rushing air. It would want to be driven. Mercifully, the Tour d’Elegance provides just such an opportunity for some of these cars.

In advance of Concours Sunday, the 2015 Tour saw roughly 200 vintage vehicles take to the Monterey coast, plying the local back roads and highways in a rare opportunity to stretch the old legs. Over 80 miles were covered, proving the pampered automobiles’ worth as both functional modes of transportation and tasty eye candy.

While not a competition, successful completion of the Tour does yield consideration should two vehicles find themselves tied in the same class come Sunday’s main event. What’s more, it’s a chance for the general public to see these cars up close and personal against the stunning backdrop of the continental U.S.’s western edge. And I was there to capture it all. For the full preview of Monterey Car Week you can check my article here.

Continue reading to learn what happened on Day 2.

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Monterey Car Week 2015 – Day 1

Monterey Car Week 2015 – Day 1

Only a handful of miles separate downtown Monterey and Laguna Seca, permanently tying the small California city to the world of automotive performance. But the home of the Corkscrew isn’t the only reason the Central Coast is considered one of America’s most prominent motoring meccas. Before the famous racetrack was built in 1957, the SCCA hosted a road race in the neighboring community of Pebble Beach, offering a narrow, multi-surface track for lithe roadsters to slide among the cypress trees and hay bales. Just south is Big Sur, a cliff-lined twist that provides one of the most dramatic driving roads in the world. All told, there are plenty of reasons Monterey is considered a haven for car lovers, and every August, the gearheads come out to play in a jubilation of four-wheeled glory called Car Week.

The number of events in this particular slice of space-time borders on the excessive. The vast majority caters to the top-shelf of the car world, where absurd speed, jaw-dropping beauty, unicorn-like rarity, and head-spinning price are the norm. However, Monterey Car Week isn’t just for the multi-millionaires of the world. It’s an event in which car lovers of every stripe can participate. It’s a time to bask in the iridescent glow of the gas-fueled lifestyle. Sure, there were plenty of show-offs in six-figure playthings – that much is undeniable. But for every snob, there are several true-blue car lovers on hand.

It doesn’t matter how big your bank account is – every gearhead can appreciate the sound of a 1953 Ferrari 340 MM race car rounding a corner on 17 Mile Drive. It doesn’t matter if you own several mansions or pay rent – it’s hard to forget the sight of an original 1957-1962 Mercedes 300 SL crossing Bixby Bridge. It doesn’t matter what you drive – getting stuck in a line of McLarens parading around town is always memorable.

Yes, Monterey Car Week has plenty of exclusive activities for the well-heeled elite, but there’s also a lot to do on the cheap. Lucky for me, I got to experience both.

Continue reading to learn what happened on Day 1.

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Monterey Car Week 2015 – What You Need To Know

Monterey Car Week 2015 – What You Need To Know

Once a year, just before summer turns to fall, an army of well-heeled automotive enthusiasts descends upon California’s central coast. The affluent masses besiege the city of Monterey and its surrounding communities of Pebble Beach and Carmel, flooding the streets with the finest examples of premium automobiles. They are drawn from all over the world to celebrate the ultimate in motoring supremacy — an orgy of rare metal and money. Stand at any given street corner, and you’ll see more Ferraris and Lamborghinis than Civics and Camrys. This is Monterey Car Week.

The venue incorporates stunning scenery and a long, gasoline-fueled history. While automotive heroes of the past drop through the corkscrew at Laguna Seca (read our preview of the Monterey Motorsports Reunion here), the jet set make their appearances at the annual galas, show off in their high-priced rides, and participate in battles-of-the-bank-accounts at various collector car auctions.

Clearly, this is an event best covered by a well-connected individual of superior taste and social graces. But Editor Pete is busy, so he’s sending me instead.

Updated 08/12/2015: Lexus announced it will bring two updated models in Pebble Beach during the days leading up to the 2015 Concours d’ Elegance. Official debut will be made on August 13 at 7 p.m. PDT.

Continue reading to learn more about this prestigious weeklong motoring celebration.

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1957 - 1975 Fiat 500

1957 - 1975 Fiat 500

It’s not often that a car becomes so indelibly tied to an automaker that the two become nearly synonymous, but that’s the case with the Fiat 500. While the new, third-generation 2007 Fiat 500 was created in 2007, its predecessor was first launched a half-century prior. Also known as the “Cinquecento” in Italian, the second-generation, or “Nuova” (“New”) 500 was originally billed as affordable, practical, small car for scooting around town. More importantly, it’s the model that marked the rebirth of Fiat and the beginning of recovery for post-war Italy. Nearly 4 million examples of the vehicle were produced over the course of its 18-year production, and today, it remains a true icon of European motoring.

Through the years, the 500 saw a few different body styles and minor equipment changes, but the basic formula remained unaltered from the original. The result was an enormous success for Fiat, and today, it remains part of the automaker’s identity, providing inspiration for the current model with the same combination of nippy performance, small packaging, big practicality and eye-catching looks.

Simply put, the Nuova 500 was, and continues to be, Fiat’s most famous car of the people.

Continue reading to learn more about the 1957-1975 Fiat 500.

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2003 Nissan 350Z Tokyo Drift

2003 Nissan 350Z Tokyo Drift

To be considered even halfway decent, every car movie has to have its vehicular villain. Bullitt had the Dodge Charger, Death Proof had the Chevy Nova, and Fast & Furious: Tokyo Drift… well, it had this fifth-generation Nissan Z. Complete with an extensive wide-body aero kit and menacing black-and-grey paint job, this thing comes packing real performance under the hood, which means all that wastegate flutter you hear ain’t just for show. This is the Drift King’s 350Z.

Universal pumped out 11 copies of the car for stunt duties, each bearing the same body kit and large, 19-inch wheels. Most were bought used in Japan and sent to California for modification and filming. However, only two were equipped with turbos, and luckily, both survived film production without getting blown up or stuffed into a wall.

And it’s a good thing too, because now they can be enjoyed outside the confines of the silver screen.

Updated 08/06/2015: This car just went up for sale through Cheshire Classic Cars here, making for one helluva Fast & Furious collectible. However, the future owner will have to be committed, as it’s priced at £149,995 – roughly $233,000 at current exchange rates. Yikes.

Continue reading to learn why this isn’t just another Tinseltown special.

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2015 Mercedes C-Class With AMG Accessories

2015 Mercedes C-Class With AMG Accessories

Mercedes has released details on new body accessories for the 2015 Mercedes-Benz C-Class, and they look to add C63-style visual flair to the 2016 Mercedes-Benz C450 AMG Sport 4MATIC and AMG Line models with six new exterior parts. The visual garnish will be sold on the German market, and there are currently no details on availability outside Germany.

AMG is Mercedes’ racing tuning division, so the new pieces appropriately add a good deal of performance intent to the already sporty luxury four-door. The new kit was created specifically for those looking for a model that looks quicker than the regular C-Class, but is still a bit tamer to drive than the big-power 2015 Mercedes-AMG C63. A poser, basically.

Essentially, these accessories are AMG’s answer to BMW’s M Performance line and Audi’s S line.

The parts only affect the way the C-Class looks, leaving good enough alone in the cabin space and drivetrain. But the real question is – does it work?

Continue reading to learn more about the Mercedes C-Class With AMG Accessories.

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WRC 2015 – Rally Finland

WRC 2015 – Rally Finland

The “Finnish Grand Prix” is always good for exciting sideways gravel action, and this year, the big crests and even bigger speeds once again favored a local for the coveted top spot. Volkswagen’s Jari-Matti Latvala claimed his 14th career victory on Sunday, marking his second win for the 2015 season and his third win at his home event. Latvala also set a new record for fastest event in WRC history, posting an average velocity of 125.44 kph (77.94 mph), besting the previous record of 122.89 kph (76.36 mph) set by Sebastien Loeb at the same event in 2012.

Trailing Latvala in second place was fellow Volkswagen driver and defending world champion Sebastien Ogier, who finished the weekend 13.7 seconds down on the Finn.

It was a slugfest between Latvala and Ogier for the majority of the weekend. Ogier was first out front with stage wins Thursday night and Friday morning, which placed him five seconds ahead of the Finn. However, Latvala fought back Friday afternoon, eventually eclipsing the Frenchman on SS8.

Saturday morning saw the two trade stage wins back and forth, with the gap between the frontrunners fluctuating by just a few seconds. But by the afternoon, Latvala had begun to pull ahead. Ogier finally settled behind Latvala on SS16, fearing a puncture after clipping a rock.

“This was one of the greatest drives of my life,” Latvala said at the end of the final stage, celebrating the win with his father. “I’m proud to be a Finn today. I’ve had a tough season but winning my home event is like winning half a world championship.”

While a disappointing finish at Rally Poland last month dashed Latvala’s hopes for a title, he devoted his attention to a strong showing in Finland, and clearly, the work paid off.

Meanwhile, Ogier seemed satisfied with second, saying, “An amazing battle and an amazing weekend – it has been a fantastic rally, I really loved it. Jari-Matti was so strong – well done to him. I have no problem to be beaten by such a Jari-Matti.”

Continue reading for the full story.

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Next-Generation Toyota GT 86 Could Use KERS

Next-Generation Toyota GT 86 Could Use KERS

Mention the Toyota GT 86/Scion FR-S/Subaru BRZ to anyone who knows, and you’ll likely elicit two responses. The first is that the car has fantastic handling. The second is that it feels down on power. At this point, that second attribute is almost a joke, with enthusiasts the world over pleading for a factory variant with more straight-line speed to complement the superb chassis tuning. Well, if the latest rumors are to be believed, Toyota will provide exactly that, as the next generation looks like it may get not just a turbo, but a Formula 1-inspired kinetic energy recovery system as well.

Citing unidentified Japanese insiders, the Aussie publication Motoring is reporting that the next-gen GT 86 will come with a turbocharged 1.5-liter four-cylinder similar to Mazda’s Skyactiv powerplant, with output up to 188 horsepower. KERS will be thrown in to boost performance and fuel economy.

I know what you’re thinking: “Um, that’s less than the 200 horsepower on the current generation, idiot.”

While that may be true, you gotta remember that the next-gen 86 will be based on the ultra-lightweight 2016 Mazda MX-5 platform. The current-gen 2013 Toyota GT 86 weighs upwards of 2,800 pounds, while the new Miata weighs just 2,300 pounds. The Mazda also has only 155 horsepower, yet hits 60 mph several tenths faster than the current-gen Toyota, and you don’t hear too many folks complaining about that, do you? Throw in a dose of KERS, and it looks like your prayers have been answered. Maybe.

If all goes according to plan, the new car should have the same legendary cornering agility as Mazda’s iconic roadster, paired with a heady new engine package and the same low MSRP as the first generation. 

A concept for the next-gen GT 86 is expected to break cover sometime in 2017. Production models will follow, slated for showrooms in 2020 for about 2.5 million yen ($20,178 at current exchange rates, 7/15).

Continue reading for the full story.

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Fiat Chrysler Profit Jumps 69 Percent In Q2

Fiat Chrysler Profit Jumps 69 Percent In Q2

Anyone following the news around Fiat Chrysler recently would probably give the auto-giant a dim outlook for the future (I certainly did). But FCA has made a strong showing, with a 69 percent profit increase for the second quarter of 2015, posting a figure of $367.9 million (333 million euros) compared to last year’s $217.6 million. 

Part of the increase is due to fluctuating exchange rates, with dollars from U.S. sales worth more now than they were in 2014. The solid results are also partly attributed to the strength of North American operations, where FCA’s operating margin improved to 7.7 percent.

Revenue for the quarter came in at $32.26 billion, a $6.5 billion increase over last year. For the first six months of 2015, revenues grew to $60.7 billion compared to $49.7 billion last year. FCA’s net profit for the first half of 2015 rose substantially, coming in at $464 million compared to last year’s $26 million. Adjusted earnings before income taxes were $1.685 billion, an increase of $615.2 million, or 58 percent.

FCA moved 1.193 million units in the last quarter, up 12,000 units over the same time period last year. A total of 2.288 million units shipped for the first half of 2015, down slightly from 2.294 million seen in the first half of last year. 

Coinciding with the good news, FCA raised its full-year revenue forecast from 108 billion euros to 110 billion euros ($121.11 billion), with worldwide shipments expected to close out 2015 at 4.8 million units. 

FCA’s European sales rose 12 percent. North American sales rose 8 percent thanks to models like the 2015 Jeep Renegade and the new 2015 Chrysler 200. With North America expected to continue its strong performance, net profits are forecast between 1 and 1.2 billion euros ($1.1 and $1.32 billion), 

Investors responded in kind, with FCA’s shares rising 5.2 percent on Thursday.

Continue reading for the full story.

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Mercedes-AMG Rumored To Go Hybrid By 2020

Mercedes-AMG Rumored To Go Hybrid By 2020

The sports car world is changing at an accelerating rate. Battery packs are encroaching on territory where enormous displacement once ruled supreme, and now it looks like Mercedes-Benz’s performance tuning division, AMG, will soon cross to the ranks of hybrid power. 

That’s the word from Mercedes-Benz’s head of R&D Thomas Weber. Speaking to the British publication Autocar, Weber confirmed that a hybridized AMG performance model could go on sale in the next five years.

The impetus comes from growing pressure to increase engine efficiency across the board, with more than just Mercedes AMG feeling the squeeze to go green. Weber said that every part of the Mercedes stable needs a revamp, adding, “No one part of our business can be carried on the back of another. It’s a huge task to reduce AMG fuel consumption but we’ve realized that it’s also a huge opportunity.” 

As emission regulations in the EU become more stringent, Daimler must meet the goal of reducing average CO2 output to 101 g/km by 2020. Failure to do so will result in big fines. The most effective way to reduce emissions without significantly hampering performance seems to be through the use of battery power.

Weber went on to say that, considering the current market climate, hybrid performance was not the right move, adding that AMG customers wanted the highest-performance option available. “We don’t know when they will be ready for hybrid,” he said.

Regardless, Weber says AMG is prepping to offer something “special” by 2020, at which time it will be necessary to unveil the performance division’s hybrid and electrified plans.

Continue reading for the full story.

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You Can Now Ask Christian von Koenigsegg Anything You Want

You Can Now Ask Christian von Koenigsegg Anything You Want

Ain’t the Internet grand? Not only does it allow you to go shopping in your underwear, it also lets like-minded individuals come together and geek out over virtually anything. Such is the case with car nerds like you and me, and now hypercar-baron Christian Von Koenigsegg wants you to ask him something. Anything.

Fans, gearheads, or just confused old people trying to log into their email can post questions for Mr. Koenigsegg on the company’s website here (sorry Grandma, I don’t remember your Hotmail password either). The “best” dozen or so will be picked and answered, based on public interest, the number of times a question is asked, and whether or not the topic can be discussed (barred subjects include undisclosed specifics on future models, which star Mr. Koenigsegg’s home planet revolves around, etc.).

“This whole weblog effort is focused on building a deeper connection with our customers and our fans,” the company says. “We want to bring you inside Koenigsegg as much as possible.”

I have two questions to ask:

First, Mr. Koenigsegg, do you see series hybrid technology as a necessity for the future of hypercars, and if so, on what kind of timescale? And second, do you shave your head to improve your own power-to-weight ratio, or is it more for aerodynamics?

Continue reading for the full story.

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2016 Chevrolet Corvette Z06 By Callaway Cars

2016 Chevrolet Corvette Z06 By Callaway Cars

Tuner and performance parts manufacturer Callaway Cars has revealed details on its flagship 2015 Chevrolet Corvette Z06 package, and it promises over 750 horsepower, an innovative new supercharger design, and even a factory-quality warranty.

Boasting widespread dealership support, Callaway sees itself less as an aftermarket-accessory maker and more of a one-stop high-performance provider. Originally founded in 1977, Callaway Cars has a long list of successful products, with both road-going sports cars and track-only racers on its resume. Just a few examples include the Sledgehammer Corvette, a twin-turbo kit for the Alfa Romeo GTV-6, a turbo kit for the Mazda Protégé and the race-winning 2014 Chevrolet Corvette Z06.R GT3.

The company provides engineering and manufacturing services, car design and development, carbon-fiber manufacturing and competition-ready vehicle solutions, which should mean any performance package it offers is top-shelf.

Such is the case with this C7 Z06 upgrade. But with so many outrageously overpowered muscle cars prowling the streets these days, what makes this one special?

Continue reading to learn more about the Chevrolet Corvette Z06 By Callaway Cars.

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2015 Guide To Electric Cars

2015 Guide To Electric Cars

As electrified lightening-bolt power continues its battle with internal combustion on the track (just look to the front grid of Le Mans and the podium of the Pikes Peak International Hill Climb for a few recent examples), the same is happening on the road. As you’ve no doubt heard, electric vehicles are exploding in popularity – but where, how, and in what sort of quantities? The answers to these questions and many more lie in this infographic.

It starts with annual plug-in electric vehicle (PEV) sales, which has seen a steep rise in the past few years, with a projection of 430,000 new models hitting the road by the end of 2015. 

The U.S. is the No.1 buyer of PEVs, gobbling up nearly 300,000, with Japan following at 108,248 and China third with 83,198.

Popular models include the 2015 BYD Qin in China, the 2014 Chevy Volt in the U.S., and the 2014 Nissan Leaf in Japan. The Leaf is also quite popular stateside, and at over 60,000 units sold worldwide, it’s the best-selling EV in the world.

But what about range? The highest manufacturer-claimed all-electric driving distance goes to the 2015 Tesla Model S with 270 miles, followed by the 2015 Kia Soul EV and 2014 Fiat 500e. 

Of course, there’s plenty more info available here, so click the link to get the complete breakdown. That way, the next time you get into a discussion with your local ICE-lover, you’ll come prepared.

Continue reading for the full story.

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2016 Volkswagen Lineup Offers New Driver Assistance Systems

2016 Volkswagen Lineup Offers New Driver Assistance Systems

The 2016 model year is here, and with it Volkswagen is offering a variety of driver assistance features for many of its most popular compact sedans and compact hatchbacks. The features include both new additions and carryovers from other models, with the people’s car company saying it wants to “democratize driver assistance.”

The new features include Forward Collision Warning and Autonomous Emergency Braking, Adaptive Cruise Control, Blind Spot Monitor with Rear Traffic Alert, Lane Departure Warning, Parking Steering Assistant, Park Distance Control and Automatic Post-Collision Braking.

Models slated to receive these features include the 2012-2015 Volkswagen Beetle, 2014-2015 Volkswagen CC, 2015 Volkswagen e-Golf, 2015 Volkswagen Golf, 2015 Volkswagen Golf GTI, 2016 Volkswagen Golf R, 2015 Volkswagen Golf SportWagen, 2015 Volkswagen Jetta and 2015 Volkswagen Touareg, with availability dependent on the model and trim line.

VW is already battling against quality concerns in the minds of U.S. consumers, so these features could do well to bolster VW’s premium image. However, for that to happen, the feature rollout will need to go smoothly, which isn’t always the case with the latest automated features (just ask Acura).

Read on for a full breakdown of each system and which models will get them as either a standard or optional feature.

Continue reading for the full story.

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Ford GT Takes Top North American Concept Vehicle Award

Ford GT Takes Top North American Concept Vehicle Award

The winners of the 14th annual North American Concept Vehicle of the Year Awards were announced recently at the Concours d’Elegance of America, held at the Inn at St. John’s in Plymouth, Michigan. Taking the win in the Production Preview Concept of the Year category was Ford’s inimitable 2017 Ford GT supercar. This is Ford’s 20th time as a category finalist and fifth category win in the award’s long history.

The awards recognize vehicles “most likely to shape the future of the automobile industry,” employing a panel of over two dozen jurors to sift through a collection of 30 entries introduced to the North American market during the Los Angeles, Detroit, Chicago, Toronto and New York auto show circuit.

The Production Preview Concept category is for vehicle prototypes that are the basis for a model that’s already announced or planned for production. Finalists this year also included the 2016 Aston Martin Vulcan and 2015 Buick Avenir.

"The Ford GT is already one of the all-time great designs, with styling that is simultaneously breathtaking and aerodynamically functional," said juror Dan Carney. "A car for the ages."

Other winners included the 2015 Mercedes-Benz F 015 in the Concept Car of the Year category and the 2015 Hyundai Santa Cruz in the Concept Truck category.

Despite the heady competition, the Ford GT bested both the Merc and the Hyundai to also take home the award for Most Significant Concept Vehicle of 2015, earning the highest overall score among the three. It’s the second time Ford has won this top accolade, with the first coming in 2006 with the 2006 Ford Reflex Concept.

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Clarkson, May & Hammond's New Show Coming To Amazon Prime

Clarkson, May & Hammond’s New Show Coming To Amazon Prime

It’s been too long since we last heard any news about our favorite former-Top Gear presenters, but don’t you worry, because it was just announced all three will host a new motoring show on Amazon Prime! 

Jeremy Clarkson just dropped the big news on his Twitter account, revealing a deal between the three Brits and the U.S.-based online behemoth, adding he was turned down for the role of chief drone pilot (“Apparently they want us to make a car show,” Clarkson writes in a tweet.)

Hints about the new show have been trickling in for months. During a recent “Clarkson, Hammond & May Live” performance in Australia, Clarkson told Hammond “you’re not in America,” to which Hammond replied, “not yet.”

Citing unidentified insider sources, TheFastLaneCar.com says Clarkson, Hammond and May will depart the perpetual cloud cover of Great Britain for the sunny skies of California in order to create the new show, a claim backed by a comment Clarkson made in an interview with the Daily Mirror. The former host jokingly told the publication that he had to reassess his drinking practices as he looks for a new job, saying, “Californians have a habit of ringing at 11 PM and I couldn’t think as straight as they do with their leaves and mineral water existence if I was halfway through my third bottle of Leoube.”

Producing will be longtime Clarkson ally and former Top Gear exec Andy Wilman. The show will go into production “shortly” and should arrive sometime in 2016. The show will be available exclusively through Amazon Prime.

Continue reading for the full story.

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 Dodge Challenger Hellcat #666 For Sale

Dodge Challenger Hellcat #666 For Sale

According to the Book of Revelation, chapter 13, verse 18, the Number of the Beast is described as being “666.” Regardless of your belief in apocalyptic Christian mythology, pop culture has adopted this number as a symbol of the fiendish and evil, which are themes that fit quite well with the monstrously overpowered 2015 Dodge Challenger Hellcat. One particular example of this muscle-car-from-the-netherworld possesses a VIN ending in the much-maligned number, and now, the owner is selling it. 

Listed on an Alabama craigslist for $89,000, this 2015 model looks to be brand new and “in the wrapper,” with 5 miles on the odometer, paper covering the carpets and plastic covering the seats and steering wheel. Included is all the associated documentation, like warning tags, shipping documents, window sticker and build sheet.

The car is covered in a bright green Sublime Pearl paint job with a black satin hood and rear spoiler. Inside, the car is equipped heated and cooled suede/Nappa leather bolstered sport seats, as well as a Harman Kardon sound system with 18 speakers, a subwoofer, and 8.4-inch touchscreen display. 

Making the smoke are optional 275/40ZR20 Pirelli P-Zero high-performance tires, which wrap the 20x9.5-inch SRT matte black forged wheels. A six-speed manual transmission feeds power to the rear.

It’s a tempting package, that much is for sure, but nearly 90 grand is a lot to ask, even in this spec. Still, the “666” VIN does make this Hellcat sort of a collector’s item, and at least the seller is asking for an exchange of money rather than a soul.

Continue reading for the full story.

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Daimler and Renault-Nissan Alliance Will Bring Compact Cars For Mercedes And Infiniti

Daimler and Renault-Nissan Alliance Will Bring Compact Cars For Mercedes And Infiniti

Five years after establishing a strategic cooperation, Daimler AG, Mercedes-Benz’s parent company, and the Renault-Nissan Alliance have announced a joint effort to build a new manufacturing facility in Aguascalientes, in central Mexico.

The new collaborative effort, dubbed COMPAS (Cooperation Manufacturing Plant Aguascalientes) will be owned 50/50 between Daimler and Nissan, with the partnered companies investing $1 billion total toward its completion and operation.

The new facility will be located close to Nissan’s Aguascalientes A2 plant, which was built over two decades ago, and will come with an initial annual production capacity of 230,000 units, creating an estimated 3,600 jobs by 2020. According to a press release, the plant may see increased capacity in the future if demand and market development warrant (previous reports indicated figures of up to 300,000 vehicles per year, with 5,700 employees).

The plant will see the first production of Infiniti vehicles in 2017, and Mercedes vehicles in 2018. The companies refrained from stating exactly which models will be built at the new plant, but previous reports indicate the next-gen Mercedes GLA compact SUV and new Infiniti models are on the docket.

Daimler and Nissan will also produce the next-gen premium compacts at other locations around the world, such as Europe and China.

It was announced in June of last year that Daimler and Nissan would work together to create the next-generation of premium compacts for both brands, cooperating closely at each stage of the development process.

Continue reading for the full story.

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Nissan, Honda And Toyota Will Go Turbo

Nissan, Honda And Toyota Will Go Turbo

As emissions and fuel-economy standards become more stringent, many of the world’s automakers have been busy adding turbochargers to their engine packages. And while the majority of American and European makers are already quite turbo-heavy, the big three Japanese brands (Nissan, Honda and Toyota) don’t offer many boosted vehicles. The reason? It simply hasn’t been necessary until now.

Speaking to Automotive News, Ed Kim, Vice President of Industry Analysis at AutoPacific, said that Japanese carmakers didn’t need to adopt widespread turbocharging because they had “less to prove to the buying public,” offering high efficiency without the technology.

“The Japanese were able to afford to not be at the absolute cutting edge of powertrain technology for a few years,” Kim said.

However, as older internal-combustion technology begins to reach its limits, Nissan, Honda and Toyota will seek the integration of turbochargers on a broader scale over the next five years or so. 

Honda seems to be the most eager in this regard, bringing in a boosted 1.5-liter four-cylinder for the new Civic and later versions of the Accord and CR-V. These three models accounted for 1 million sales and 68 percent of Honda’s volume last year, and consequently contributed heavily towards the automaker’s emissions and fuel-economy regulations compliance levels.

Toyota will offer a turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder as a replacement for the V-6 used in models like the Camry and Lexus IS. However, its existing naturally aspirated four-cylinders will remain, instead gaining other efficiency-increasing internal combustion technologies and the use of continuously variable transmissions (CVTs).

Finally, Nissan will also utilize more CVTs, and while more turbos are slated to arrive sometime in the future, they are expected to appear more slowly than those coming from Honda and Toyota. Current forced-induction Nissan products include the Juke and GT-R.

Continue reading for the full story.

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Volkswagen Becomes The New Sales Leader In The Auto Industry

Volkswagen Becomes The New Sales Leader In The Auto Industry

Volkswagen is currently leading the global auto-sales race, besting Toyota for the top spot for the very first time. However, with five months left before the final numbers for the year are tallied, both automakers will have to overcome challenges to outsell the other.

The biggest problem facing VW will be cooling demand in China. China is currently the world’s largest auto market, experiencing over a decade of double-digit growth. Volkswagen has capitalized on this, and is banking heavily on growing demand to bolster overall sales.

Unfortunately, sales in China saw a 4 percent dip for the first half of 2015, and in fact, the market may not hit the low 7 percent growth projection given earlier this year. Additionally, Ford projects industry-wide Chinese auto sales to be between 23 and 24 million, down from earlier estimates of 24.5 to 26.5 million. As the largest automaker in China, VW stands to lose the most from a slowdown in the region.

Regardless, VW described its performance this year so far as “satisfactory” given the challenging market environment.

Meanwhile, Toyota seems to be making headway into China, but lost ground in its home market of Japan. The automaker saw 5.02 million units moved in the first six months of the year, a fall of 1.5 percent overall.

Taking up the rear, General Motors will report its sales figures for the year thus far later this week. For 70 years, GM held the honor of most international sales, but lost the title to Toyota in 2008, regaining it briefly following a major earthquake and tsunami that battered Japan in 2011. Last year, GM fell to third place overall in global sales, moving 9.92 million units total. This year, the Renault-Nissan Alliance could nudge GM down to fourth.

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Chevrolet Announces $5 Billion Investment; Includes New Small-Car Family

Chevrolet Announces $5 Billion Investment; Includes New Small-Car Family

Chevy has just announced a $5 billion investment plan to develop a new vehicle family intended to bolster its presence in global growth markets. Chevy is focused on tailoring the new line to be flexible in meeting “rapidly changing” consumer demands, and will include advanced technologies in the areas of connectivity, safety and fuel efficiency. The cars will come in a variety of different body styles and be equipped with both diesel and gas engines. The first entry is expected to make its debut in 2019.

Looking ahead to the next 15 years, the automaker anticipates a good deal of industry growth “outside of mature markets,” and as such, will seek to secure long-term profitability with this new investment. The new vehicle family will replace several existing vehicles already sold overseas, although Chevy declined to specify which models would get the axe. 

Part of the plan includes an expanded partnership between General Motors and the Chinese state-owned auto-manufacturing company SAIC Motor, with the two firms signing an agreement to jointly develop the core architecture and engines for the new vehicle family. 

Chevy says a multinational team of engineers and designers is tasked with creating the new vehicle family to meet the expectations of customers in each individual market where the vehicle will be sold. These include Brazil, India, Mexico and China, with exports also expected to other high-growth, emerging markets. 

Chevy hopes to see sales for the new line grow to more than two million units annually. Critically, the new vehicles will not see export to markets like the U.S. or Europe.

Further information on the investment plan and the new vehicle line for each market will be announced in the future.

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2016 Audi A8 Edition 21

2016 Audi A8 Edition 21

Audi first brought its four-door behemoth luxo-cruiser A8 to the U.K. a scant 21 years ago, and in celebration, it’ll offer British customers a new, limited-run iteration called the Edition 21. Available in both standard- and long-wheelbase variants, the A8 Edition 21 offers as standard a variety of features found on the options list of the regular A8, enhancing both the exterior and interior with even more luxury, prestige and comfort. Only 121 total will be produced and it’ll only be sold in the U.K.

The car is simply packed to the brim with extras, and customers are sure to feel coddled. However, there isn’t much that the Edition 21 can offer over a well-optioned, standard-issue A8. A few swipes of the pen are all that’s needed to get, more or less, the same result.

So then, what makes this A8 stand out from the rest? Read on the find out.

Continue reading to learn more about the Audi A8 Edition 21.

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Dodge Hellcat Sales Plan For 2016

Dodge Hellcat Sales Plan For 2016

If huge demand and euphoric critical reviews are to be considered indicators, the Dodge Hellcats have been wildly successful so far. And why not? More than 700 horsepower and a top speed over 200 mph for about $60,000 is a formula any red-blooded gearhead is sure to appreciate. Now, Dodge is getting ready to open its order books for the 2016 model year, and it’s streamlining the ordering process and more than doubling production to make sure these torchbearers of the muscle car renaissance continue their streaks of success. 

“We could not have asked for a more enthusiastic response to the Charger and Challenger SRT Hellcats – it was absolutely unprecedented, but then again, these 707-horsepower muscle cars are unprecedented,” said Tim Kuniskis, President and CEO, Dodge and SRT brands, FCA US.

All remaining scheduled orders for 2015 Hellcat models will be built at the Brampton Assembly plant in Ontario, Canada, while verified sold orders that aren’t scheduled will be canceled. However, customers with canceled orders will receive “special discounted pricing” if they re-order for the 2016 model year (the 2016 is expected to see a price increase, so customers will get the old 2015 pricing with a voucher).

To forgo some of the shenanigans seen in the past, dealers will get a “potential allocation total” for the entire 2016 model year next month. Allocation eligibility will be based on past Dodge sales performance, with the allocation adjusted based on the dealers’ average SRT Challenger and Charger Hellcat “days on lot” performance. Half of the 2016 model year allocation will arrive in August, with the second half scheduled to arrive in February, 2016. 

The ordering system will open the second week of August, with production kicking off in September.

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Eighth-Generation Golf GTI Rumored To Offer Three Power Stages

Eighth-Generation Golf GTI Rumored To Offer Three Power Stages

The eighth-generation Golf is looking like it’s still a few years down the road, but when it’s finally released, customers will potentially be offered three different levels of power from the hotter GTI version.

That’s the word from the German publication Auto Bild, which recently released a report on the iconic people’s hatch.

Under the hood will probably be the same EA888 2.0-liter four-cylinder from the current 2016 Volkswagen Golf R, with power routed through either a six-speed manual or an optional seven-speed automatic gearbox. According to the Auto Bild report though, the powerplant will come in three levels of output for the GTI: 265 horsepower from the GTI Classic, 300 horsepower from the GTI Performance and 326 horsepower from the GTI Club Sport. VW has already confirmed production plans for the Golf R400, which is expected to come packing at least 400 horsepower and AWD.

Just for the sake of reference, the current model 2015 Volkswagen Golf GTI produces 210 horsepower and 258 pound-feet of torque, sprinting to 60 mph in 6.3 seconds and reaching a top speed of 155 mph.

Presently, it’s expected that a facelift for the current seventh generation should be unveiled sometime next year, after which the eighth-generation Golf will make its appearance in 2018. Once the base model is out, the new GTI will most likely see an introduction in 2019.

A preview of the next-gen Golf will reportedly come to CES in January as a “Gen E” electric concept.

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This Is How A Jeep Can Be Hacked

This Is How A Jeep Can Be Hacked

In the rush to offer consumers the latest connected features, it looks like the auto industry forgot to lock the back door. Hackers recently brought to light exactly how vulnerable a modern car could be by using nothing more than a bit of code and a laptop connected to the Internet. The hackers created code that allowed them to remotely operate functions like the climate control, entertainment system, windshield wipers, transmission, engine and brakes, raising (or answering) questions about vehicle cybersecurity.

In a recent article from Wired, Charlie Miller, security engineer at Twitter, and Chris Valasek, director of vehicle safety research at IOActive, successfully hacked into a 2014 Jeep Cherokee and assumed control of the vehicle’s various functions, dramatically demonstrating the extreme vulnerabilities of the modern connected vehicle.

What exactly did they do, and how did they do it? And more importantly, what does this mean for the future of the auto industry? Read on to find out.

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Car Infographic: 62 Years of Chevrolet Corvette Horsepower

Car Infographic: 62 Years of Chevrolet Corvette Horsepower

Automotive technology has seen a lot of changes in the past six decades or so, especially when it comes to engine output. Horsepower figures once considered exclusive to only the fastest sports cars are now laid down by even the most modest of commuter cars, while the top-end performance vehicles continue onward into the stratosphere with nearly unfathomable horsepower specs. This trend is particularly obvious when considering the under-hood history of Chevrolet’s legendary Corvette,.

Spanning seven generations and 62 years, the story of Corvette horsepower begins in 1953 with the first-generation 1953-1962 Chevrolet Corvette C1. This initial take on the iconic American sports car actually included the option of a carbureted 3.9-liter inline six-cylinder engine. Producing a mere 150 horsepower, this unit made for the least powerful ‘Vette in the model’s long history. Luckily, first-gen buyers could also go with a fuel-injected 5.4-liter V-8 if desired. 

The 1963-1968 Chevrolet Corvette C2 was the first Corvette generation to break the 400-horsepower mark, with the 425-horse big-block 427 V-8 stuffed into the 1965 Corvette Stingray. However looking at the bar graph, we see emissions regulations making their presence known as max horsepower takes a nosedive in 1972, right in the middle of the third generation of the C3. Most of the V-8s from that generation barely made 200 horsepower.

For years, things didn’t really improve all that much, until finally, in 1987, the power began to rise once again. Things really started to heat up with the C5, which Chevy used as the platform to introduce the venerable LS engine line.

The 2006 Chevrolet Corvette C6 was the first generation to see output crest the 600-horsepower mark, with its 638-horsepower supercharged 6.2-liter V-8. These days, with the 2014-2016 Chevrolet Corvette Stingray C7 debuting just last year, you can pick up an example of the racer-for-the-street 2015 Chevrolet Corvette Z06 for a taste of 650 supercharged horsepower at the rear wheels. 

Which begs the question – how far will the Corvette go when it comes to making outrageous output?

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Lexus Unveils World's First Heartbeat Car

Lexus Unveils World’s First Heartbeat Car

Properly done, a modern sports car is the metal-and-motor equivalent of strong psychoactive substances. Simply sitting in one is enough to get the heart racing, and now, Lexus wants to put that effect on display with this unique, one-off, biometric-responsive 2015 Lexus RC F Coupe.

The concept took six months to develop as a collaborative effort between Lexus Australia and the creative agency M&C Saatchi. Several different technologies were utilized to monitor the driver’s heartbeat and convert the data into electric signals that light up the external bodywork. The exterior is covered in a special electro-luminescent paint from the U.S.-specialist Luminor, and acts like a giant EKG that glows with pulses mimicking the driver’s heart rate.

During the day, the car looks like a stock silver RC F. But as soon as the lights go out, the car shines in a bright teal hue that responds to the driver’s pulse in one of several preset patterns.

The concept is the latest Lexus marketing piece in a string of projects that have included outdoor billboards that respond to the car you’re driving and a Back to the Future-style hoverboard.

“The heartbeat car also links to another key part of Lexus – high performance vehicles – via our F marque models, and the emotional responses a machine like the RC F can inspire in a person,” said Sean Hanley, Lexus Australia Chief Executive, in a press release.

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2015 Toyota 86 Yellow Limited

2015 Toyota 86 Yellow Limited

Toyota is offering another limited edition of its Hachi Roku successor, the GT 86, and it comes in three forms that progressively add tweaks to the car’s interior upholstery, exterior styling, and handling performance. It’s called the Yellow Limited, and it’s only available to Japanese customers.

The three iterations include the base Yellow Limited, which comes with new details on the inside and outside, the Yellow Limited aero package, which throws on a wing big enough to need navigation lights, and the Yellow Limited aero package FT, which adds new components to the suspension.

Toyota says the special edition was created to “highlight the sporty feeling” of the GT 86 (aka, Scion FR-S/Subaru BRZ here in the states), and on paper, I’d say highlight is an understatement. This thing is practically dipped in neon, depending on the desired specification.

But does it work? Is it worth extra outlay? Or is it just another limited run without any real substance?

Continue reading to learn more about the Toyota 86 Yellow Limited.

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German Students Go From 0 To 100 KM/H In 1.779 Seconds

German Students Go From 0 To 100 KM/H In 1.779 Seconds

A group of 40 students from the University of Stuttgart dubbed the GreenTeam has just set a new Guinness World Record for fastest EV acceleration from 0 to 100 km/h (62 mph), hitting the magic number in a breathtaking 1.779 seconds. That’s quicker than a Tesla Model S P90 in Ludicrous mode, quicker than a 2014 Porsche 918 Spyder, even quicker than a Formula 1 car. 

The vehicle that accelerated that hard (can you say whiplash?) is a small, lightweight, 100-kW, AWD, all-electric, single-seat, open-wheel formula car designed to compete in the Formula Student engineering competition. It is equipped with lots of carbon fiber, a sophisticated suspension and a full aerodynamics package (although the rear wing wasn’t used during the record-setting run). The car was also outfitted with a high-tech 6.62-kWh battery pack and one electric motor per wheel. With a curb weight of just 160 kg (353 pounds), the feathery racer boasts a power-to-weight ratio of 1.6 kg/kW (2.63 pounds/horsepower), which bests both the Porsche 918 Spyder and the Bugatti Veyron. 

The scorching new record was set on the tarmac of JadeWeserAirport in northwestern Germany. The GreenTeam car required only 25 meters (82 feet) to hit 100 km/h, accelerating with a force of 1.8 G.

At 1.779 seconds, the new record beats the old by a mere 0.006 second. The previous record was set last year by a car called Grimsel, which was the product of a group of student engineers from the Swiss University ETH Zurich.

Per Guinness record-setting rules, the time was matched in back-to-back runs in opposite directions. Behind the wheel was driver Prisca Schmid, a 22-year-old student at the university, who commented on the run in a post on the team’s website, saying, “The acceleration feels like a rollercoaster, except that you can control it.”
 
Guinness officials are expected to confirm the time in the following few weeks.

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FCA Will List Ferrari On The New York Stock Exchange

FCA Will List Ferrari On The New York Stock Exchange

Last year, FCA announced its intentions to separate itself from the Ferrari brand by selling off shares of the supercar company to the open market, and now it looks as though those plans are finally coming to fruition. FCA confirmed this week that Ferrari has filed a request with U.S. regulators for an initial public offering on the New York Stock Exchange.

As it originally stated in 2014, FCA plans on offloading 10 percent of the automaker to investors. However, Piero Ferrari, son of founder Enzo Ferrari, will continue to hold another 10 percent (called Ferrari NV). The remaining 80 percent will go to existing FCA shareholders.

While some market analysts predict a valuation of 5 billion euros ($5.5 billion), Fiat boss Sergio Marchionne said earlier this month that he expects Ferrari to be valued at over 10 billion euros ($11 billion). That kind of number would account for roughly 60 percent of FCA’s combined total value, which currently stands at 16 billion euros. 

Given Marchionne’s optimistic estimate, shareholders would receive $8.8 billion in value, while the sale would raise over a billion dollars in cash for the auto behemoth. The infusion of capital would likely go to support Alfa Romeo, which promises a total of eight new models over the course of the next three years.

The float is expected late October with a complete separation early next year.

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Audi, BMW And Mercedes Could Sign Agreement To Acquire Nokia's "Here" Technology

Audi, BMW And Mercedes Could Sign Agreement To Acquire Nokia’s "Here" Technology

The big three German luxury carmakers, Mercedes-Benz, Audi and BMW are reportedly nearing a deal with Nokia to purchase the telecomm company’s "Here" mapping and location business. The deal is rumored to cost between 2.5 and 3 billion euros ($2.74 to $3.29 billion) and would provide fully autonomous cars with the means to talk to mobile networks.

That’s the news coming from Reuters, which cites two unidentified sources “familiar with the deal.”

The system would provide self-driving cars with the necessary connectivity to receive real-time data updates, thus enabling them to perform functions like recalculate a route around a traffic jam or accident on the road ahead.

In order to navigate real-world streets, fully autonomous vehicles must process tons of data, including information provided by onboard sensors like radar and lidar. However, in order to function on a long-range scale, the cars must also maintain a connection to constantly updated telecomm infrastructure.

In addition to ownership of all relevant patents, the purchase could also include multi-year commitments to improve the system’s map data quality. The deal is expected to reach finalization by the end of the month, but is by no means guaranteed.

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Can't Afford A P85 Model S? Tesla Offers You 1:18 Scale Diecast

Can’t Afford A P85 Model S? Tesla Offers You 1:18 Scale Diecast

Teslas ain’t cheap, especially the top-shelf 2015 Tesla Model S P85D. Thankfully, anyone with a few hundred bucks and strong imagination can live the dream with this new 1:18 scale diecast model.

For a scant $210, even folks like you and I can pick up an example of this handheld Model S. Officially commissioned by Tesla, the automaker’s Design Team in California made sure each detail was faithful to the real thing. 

It uses the same 3D CAD data that Tesla used to manufacture the full-size Model S, accurately recreating each line and surface with exacting precision. Included is a panorama roof, rear spoiler, “21-inch” steerable wheels and rubber tires. Even the cabin space looks spot-on, with a carpeted trunk and interior, seatbelts made from fabric, a fully detailed dash, central touchscreen and rear third-row seats. Articulation points include opening doors, trunk and hood. 

The model is assembled from roughly 270 individual plastic and metal parts. It’s 10.82 inches long and 4.72 inches wide and weighs 2.75 pounds. Two configurations are offered, with either a Midnight Silver Metallic exterior and Grey Turbine wheels with a black interior and carbon-fiber trim, or a Red Multi-Coat exterior and Silver Turbine wheels with a tan interior and Obeche trim.

The 1:18 scale model is sold exclusively through Tesla. Unfortunately, supplies are currently sold out as of this writing. Look for overpriced and overhyped examples to trickle down to online auctions soon.

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2015 Bonneville Salt Flats Speed Week Canceled Due To Weather Conditions

2015 Bonneville Salt Flats Speed Week Canceled Due To Weather Conditions

Bonneville – the full-throttle gearhead mecca. Since 1914, this stretch of flat, empty desert in northwestern Utah has been the venue of choice for countless top-speed runs. Every year, five major land-speed events take place here. Unfortunately, it was recently announced that one of those events, Speed Week, traditionally held every August, has been canceled due to weather conditions and concerns over the poor quality of the salt surface.

This is the second year in a row the event has been canceled, with last year’s event called off due to ankle-deep flooding caused by monsoon storms.

The Southern California Timing Association (SCTA), the organization responsible for organizing and running the event, posted to their Facebook page that recent precipitation left only 2.25 miles of “salt suitable for a safe race course.” The rest of the lakebed is either too wet or muddy.

To run a “short course,” the SCTA requires at least 4 miles of dry salt (preferably 4.5 miles). Ideally, a 7-mile course is used.

Organizers gauge conditions on salt length, thickness and purity when it comes to picking the best stretches for high-speed runs.

Speed Week is one of the biggest racing events of the year for Bonneville, attracting between 10,000 and 15,000 spectators and hundreds of race teams from around the world, eager to set new top-speed records. The event has been ongoing for over six decades, with only the occasional cancelation due to weather. Before seeing the cancellation in 2014, the event was last canceled due to weather in the ‘90s. It’s reported that more than 500 individual vehicles were registered for this year’s event.

The SCTA says that if the wet spots dry out, future events could be possible. For the time being, the World Finals race, scheduled to run from September 29th to October 2nd, is still a go.

To make up for the canceled Speed Week, race organizers could extend the October event, or possibly relocate to another appropriate venue, although details are not currently available.

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Original Batmobile Expected To Sell For $6 Million

Original Batmobile Expected To Sell For $6 Million

Holy ultimate collectible, Batman! The original 1966 Batmobile will officially hit the block at the Barrett-Jackson auction in Scottsdale, Arizona, and it’s expected to fetch upwards of $6 million. KACHING! 

It’s the same vehicle used on the ‘60s-era TV show starring Adam West. Before receiving the whole caped-crusader treatment, the car was originally the 1955 Lincoln Futura concept car. Then it got a wildly restyled front fascia, a black paint scheme with orange trim, custom wheels, and enough gadgets to stop even the most cunning of criminal minds. A few standouts would include the batphone, hidden bat-laser beam, bat-radarscope, bat-ray, emergency bat-turn lever and bat-tering ram. POW!

Dean Jeffries was originally contracted to build the Batmobile, but the studio needed it faster than Jeffries could deliver, so the project was eventually handed to George Barris. After buying the Futura concept from the Ford Motor Company for $1 (plus “other valuable consideration”), Barris reportedly had it parked behind his shop. Despite an original cost of $250,000, the car was uninsurable, and thus sat idle for years. However, after looking at the Jeffries’ early design work, Barris knew the Futura would work as the Batmobile. The build took three weeks to complete, and it remained in Barris’ personal collection for years, finally trading hands for the first time at the 2013 Scottsdale Barrett-Jackson auction for $4.2 million. BLAM!

According to Roger C. Johnson from the Barrett-Jackson Collection, most high-end collectible cars are so rare, few people can even recognize them. “However, possibly the most desirable and collectable car of all is one that every man, woman or child in the free world can easily identify without the slightest hesitation,” he says. “The original Batmobile will always be one of those cars.” BANG!
 
I just hope some dastardly evil-doer isn’t planning a heist… ZWAPP!

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Venturi VBB-3 Wants To Hit 373 MPH At Bonneville Salt Flats

Venturi VBB-3 Wants To Hit 373 MPH At Bonneville Salt Flats

When it comes to the business of going fast, it seems like EVs are really starting to come into their own. Tesla just announced that its Model S sports sedan is now equipped with “Ludicrous” mode, which drops the 0-to-60 time to just 2.8 seconds. The fastest cars at Le Mans are all hybrids. At the Pikes Peak International Hill Climb this year, an EV won outright for the first time in the event’s nearly century-old history. Now, it looks like the above-pictured lightning-bolt-on-wheels is ready to set a new world record in the realm of EV top speed.

It’s called the 2014 Venturi VBB-3 (Venturi Buckeye Bullet 3), and it’s a third-generation all-electric land speed record car built as a collaborative effort between Venturi Automobiles and the Ohio State Center for Automotive Research.

Piloting the VBB-3 will be Roger Schroer, test driver at the Transportation Research Center in Ohio and the current FIA world-title holder for EV land speed records. Back in 2010, Schroer set the current record of 308 mph behind the wheel of the VBB-2.5 (Schroer actually hit a top speed of 320 in one direction, but official FIA land speed record-setting practices state the speed must be achieved in back-to-back runs in opposite directions). 

This time around, the team hopes to obliterate the old record, and its latest-gen racer should have the goods to do so. Output is rated at 3,000 horsepower, making it the most powerful electric car ever built. With that kind of muscle properly applied across the barren expanse of the Bonneville Salt Flats, the team hopes to reach 600 km/h, or 373 mph.

The VBB-3 will see a public unveiling at Bonneville during Speed Week, held between August 8th and 14th, with the official record-setting attempt scheduled between August 17th and 21st.

Update 07/23/2015: Unfortunately, this year’s Speed Week was cancelled due to weather conditions, so we won’t get to see the updated VBB-3 establish a new record so soon.

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Kia Is Also Considering Subcompact Crossover

Kia Is Also Considering Subcompact Crossover

Kia is reportedly making moves to offer the subcompact crossover market yet another fresh entry. Spy photographers recently caught a glimpse of the new model undergoing hot-weather testing, and despite being obscured by layers of camouflage, we can glean a bit of insight into what’s in store. 

Based on pictures of the heavily disguised test mules, styling will put the headlights high on the fenders, while the rear should offer a good deal of space for the car’s diminutive dimensions. Overhang is kept to a minimum. In terms of the Kia’s catalog, the car looks as though it’s destined to slot below the compact Sportage.

It’s all quite similar to the 2014 Kia KX3 Concept unveiled at last year’s Guangzhou Motor Show in China, and continues themes first seen in the 2013 Kia Niro concept. 

It’s possible the new model will come bearing a 1.0-liter three-cylinder powerplant from Kia’s Kappa engine family, with output estimated at around 70 horsepower and 70 pound-feet of torque. However, it’s more likely the car will be equipped with a 1.6-liter turbocharged four-cylinder mated to a seven-speed dual-clutch transmission, just like the 2016 Hyundai Veloster and 2016 Kia Optima. Per tradition, AWD should be listed as an available option. 

Pricing is expected to be somewhere in the $17,000 to $18,000 range.

The subcompact crossover segment is one the hottest segments in the U.S., enjoying huge growth over the last few years. That means the new Kia won’t be without competition, with rivals including the 2015 Chevrolet Trax, 2016 Fiat 500X, and 2014-2016 Buick Encore. Kia’s parent company, Hyundai Motor Group, is also reportedly preparing its own subcompact crossover for the U.S.

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Recent Toyota-BMW Collaboration Will Bring Improvements To Both Companies

Recent Toyota-BMW Collaboration Will Bring Improvements To Both Companies

Making a new sports car can be risky business, but Toyota seems to have found a loophole. After seeing a good deal of success with the Scion FR-S/Subaru BRZ collaborative project, Toyota announced it was partnering with BMW to jointly create a duo of new hybrid performance vehicles, and thankfully, both automakers look like they will benefit from the other’s expertise.

Dubbed the “Silk Road” project, details on the new cars have been closely guarded, with only a few tidbits leaking to the general public. However, BMW is believed to be responsible for the chassis and ICE development, blessing the car with solid handling and an inline-six gasoline powerplant. Meanwhile, Toyota will take up responsibilities for the electrification and fuel-cell development, which makes sense for a company that offers models like the Prius and Mirai.

According to the Australian-based publication Motoring, the development is split into four parts: joint sports car development, fuel-cell technology, electrification technology and weight-saving technology. The platform will be derived from the 2015 BMW i8 due to its hybrid-drivetrain roots. Speculation includes the possibility of an aluminum space-frame chassis and carbon-fiber-reinforced plastic (CFRP) body.

Toyota’s version of the new sports car will sit above the FR-S as a successor to the legendary 1993-1998 Toyota Supra, while the new Bimmer will replace the Z4 with a possible designation as the Z5. 

It was recently confirmed that development is currently underway. Unlike the 2013-2015 Scion FR-S and 2014-2015 Subaru BRZ, which are essentially the same car with slightly different styling and badges, it’s expected that the Toyota/BMW joint collaboration will spawn two very different looking cars. The same frame-based platform will be utilized for both, but they will have different bodies.

Expect a global release sometime in 2018.

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2015 Porsche Cayenne Turbo

2015 Porsche Cayenne Turbo

Porsche has updated its ever-popular Cayenne Turbo with a refresh for the 2015 model year, blessing the uber-SUV with several exterior styling tweaks, a slightly revised interior package, and a more powerful (yet somehow more fuel efficient) drivetrain.

The Cayenne first broke cover way back in 2002, much to the annoyance of Porsche purists (you know, the folks who still think liquid-cooled engines are for chumps). Despite representing a clear departure from convention, the Cayenne blended high-performance with expanded utility, and quickly became a staple of the Porsche catalog, selling more than 276,000 examples in its first generation. Not long afterwards, many high-end manufacturers followed suit, and now, the performance SUV is a hugely common sight on the road.

Porsche wants Cayenne owners to “commute to work today and drive off-road or on the racetrack tomorrow.” It’s a combination that seems contradictory, but the Turbo claims to get it done with comfort, speed, and now, a little efficiency as well.

Read on to see how Porsche pulled it off.

Continue reading to learn more about the 2015 Porsche Cayenne Turbo.

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2016 Buick Encore Sport Touring

2016 Buick Encore Sport Touring

Buick is a bit of an old-timer when it comes to brand perception, usually offering up models better suited to hitting up the local Bingo game than the club, but that hasn’t stopped it from attempting to reinvent itself with models like the Encore. First breaking cover at the 2012 Detroit Auto Show and going on sale for the 2013 model year, the Encore has seen a good deal of success, with sales increasing 29 percent for the first six months of 2015 to 30,549 units sold. Unfortunately, it’s Buick’s only really successful model, as the automaker’s overall sales fell 6 percent to 106,314 units sold, with every model in its catalog (besides the Encore) seeing a sales decline.

For that reason, it’s not a surprise to see the Encore back with this more “spirited,” high-end variant.

“Encore is a driving force behind Buick’s expansion and a catalyst for introducing a new generation of customers to the brand,” said Duncan Aldred, U.S. vice president of Buick, who added that the new Sport Touring broadened Buick’s customer’s base with more choices, as well as more performance, technology and efficiency.

Sounds good. But does it work?

Continue reading to learn more about the 2016 Buick Encore Sport Touring.

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Koenigsegg Announces Partnership With Castrol Edge: Video

Koenigsegg Announces Partnership With Castrol Edge: Video

As Koenigsegg continues its quest to frame the ludicrous 2015 Koenigsegg One:1 megacar as the fastest production vehicle in the world (hey Nurburgring, you guys still got speed limits on your racetrack?), the Swedish manufacturer has announced a partnership with Castrol as its exclusive provider of performance lubricants. 

Considering the excruciating attention to detail that went into creating the 1,360-horsepower, 1,360-kg One:1, Castrol must have done something right to stand out from the rest.

“We accept no compromises when we design a new car at Koenigsegg,” said Christian Von Koenigsegg, CEO and founder of the famed automaker. “We demand an engine oil that is developed with the same extreme performance in mind.”

That extreme performance included extensive testing during the development of the One:1. Castrol Edge oil with its Titanium FST technology is used to keep the One:1’s ridiculously overpowered twin-turbo V-8 rocking at a megawatt of power, helping to enable the car to go from 0-300-0 km/h (0-186-0 mph) in just 17.95 seconds.

To back the announcement, Koenigsegg released a three-and-a-quarter minute video (featured above) that was shot recently at the Millbrook Proving Ground in the United Kingdom. Included is a bit of shop talk from Mr. Von Koenigsegg and some footage of his creations parked and looking awesome. There’s even a bit of sliding and acceleration to enjoy as well.

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Subaru Recalls 32K Imprezas To Fix Airbag Problems

Subaru Recalls 32K Imprezas To Fix Airbag Problems

Subaru of America is recalling 32,400 2012 Subaru Impreza sedan and wagon models over concerns regarding faulty airbag deployment. The recall encompasses 2012 model year vehicles that were manufactured between April 21, 2011, and February 15, 2012. The recall does not include WRX or STI models, and is not connected with the Takata airbag recall affecting earlier Imprezas.

The issue is believed to stem from a malfunction in the occupancy detector’s capacitance sensor, which helps to identify when there is a passenger sitting in the seat. Basically, a variety of unanticipated conditions could prompt the detection system to deactivate when an adult is seated, preventing the airbag from deploying in a crash. These conditions include a passenger touching an electrically grounded part of the car (like the metal seat adjuster), using an electronic device (like a phone) plugged into the accessory power outlet, or sitting with damp clothes. It’s also reported that a cell phone left on the seat or a splash of water on the seat could trigger the failure. 

If the system is deactivated, the driver will receive an airbag warning light, while the passenger airbag indicator registers as being off.

Most occupancy detectors detect weight rather than electrical capacitance, and Subaru says the sensor, newly introduced for the 2012 model year, was not properly calibrated to filter out the above-stated conditions.

The recall was issued following a preliminary evaluation from the NHTSA in April, which was launched after 26 complaints from owners. Subaru says it has paid 25,000 warranty claims related to the issue since May.

Owners of all affected Impreza models should receive a mailed notification of the recall within the next 60 days, and can fix the issue by bringing their car to any Subaru dealership for the free installation of a modified sensor.

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Toyota Prius Covers 600K Miles With The Original Batteries

Toyota Prius Covers 600K Miles With The Original Batteries

Back when hybrids were just starting to gain popularity, there were many naysayers out there who questioned their reliability. The common speculation was that the expensive lithium-ion battery packs would quickly need replacement, but given the bulletproof nature of hybrids like the Prius, it appears as though such concerns were more or less unfounded. To back this, we find examples of some Prius models that have managed to break 600,000 miles on the odometer while still carrying the original battery pack.

Toyota highlighted one such Prius in the above-featured video. The car isn’t exactly living a life of ease, either – it sees daily use as a taxi in Austria, covering the miles to earn a living and doing battle in the traffic-laden city streets.

Typically, cars like the Prius are sought after for taxi duties because of their low fuel consumption. But now, it looks like cabbies may go hybrid to also make sure the fares keep rolling in, rather than spending time in the shop.

“I can’t recall this vehicle ever breaking down,” says Manfred Dvorak, driver of the cab. “For me, the Prius is the ultimate sidekick.”

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Paul Walker's Brother Could Star In "Furious 8"

Paul Walker’s Brother Could Star In "Furious 8"

Vin Diesel recently confirmed that the next installment of the oh-wow-did-they-just-do-that Fast & Furious franchise is currently in development, dropping hints that the new mega-action flick will take place in New York. However, without Paul Walker to reprise his role as Brian O’Connor, many fans are left wondering how the franchise will pull off an eighth installment, with some pointing to Paul’s brother Cody as the most obvious replacement. 

Paul Walker was killed in a car accident in 2013, which prompted his brother Cody to step up and play the part of O’Connor in several scenes in order to complete Furious 7. 

Furious 7 was spectacularly successful, racking in huge amounts of money at the box office and passing several major milestones to become one of the highest-grossing movies of all time, both stateside and abroad. And that’s a tough act to follow.

With the sequel now breaching the horizon, questions remain over whether or not Cody Walker will return, and if he does, whether he will once again play the part of Brian O’Connor or a completely different character. 

Cody Walker is currently busy filming alongside Nicholas Cage in the film USS Indianapolis, his first major role since stepping in to complete Furious 7.

Vin Diesel, Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, Michelle Rodriguez, Tyrese Gibson and Jason Statham are all confirmed to return in the next Fast & Furious.

Furious 8 is expected to hit theaters April 14th, 2017. 

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BMW Will Bring Two Concept Cars To Pebble Beach

BMW Will Bring Two Concept Cars To Pebble Beach

To celebrate its 40th anniversary of operations in North America, BMW is preparing a world premiere of two new concept cars, slated for an unveiling at the upcoming Monterey Car Week. The cars will officially drop cover August 13th at 6:00 p.m. during Bimmer’s annual press conference at the BMW Villa in Pebble Beach, with follow-up appearances planned later in the weekend at The Quail, A Motorsports Gathering, Legends of the Autobahn Concours d’Elegance, Rolex Monterey Motorsports Reunion, and of course, the esteemed Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance.

Several BMW execs will be on hand during the press conference, including Ludwig Willisch, President and CEO of BMW North America; Karim Habib, Director of BMW Design; and Dirk Haecker, VP of R&D at BMW M GmbH. 

BMW has not revealed any details on what concepts will be making an appearance, but speculation seems to center on the new 2016 BMW M2 and 2016 BMW M4 GTS, both of which are expected in final production form some time before the end of the year. And considering Dirk Haecker’s presence at the press conference, that’s probably a safe bet.

So far, BMW has only provided us with a teaser image showing a drawing of a very rectangular, racing-style steering wheel, complete with M-brand stitching and enormous gear paddles, a possible indication that a new M car will indeed be part of the debut. 

Other possibilities include the upcoming Z4 successor, a collaborative effort between Toyota and BMW, and a high-performance variant of the 7 Series.

Personally, I’m feeling something techy, perhaps with a hybrid, or even hydrogen drivetrain. What I’d really like to see is the successor to the 2015 BMW i8, but I’m not holding my breath.

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Tesla Builds $5 Billion "Gigafactory" In Nevada

Tesla Builds $5 Billion "Gigafactory" In Nevada

Elon Musk pulls no punches when it comes to laying out his grand vision. In a recent interview with Bloomberg, Musk said his ambition was to fundamentally change how the world consumes energy on a “terawatt scale,” adding, “the goal is complete transformation of the entire energy infrastructure of the world.” To do that, he’s gonna need a factory – a really, really big factory. 

Built in Storey County, Nevada, and appropriately located near the city of Sparks, that world-changing factory is now under construction, with Tesla first breaking ground in June of last year. The company currently owns a mammoth plot of land, initially buying up 1,000 acres, followed by another 1,200 and 350 acres after that, making for more than 24 million square-feet total. 

So then, what’s all that space going to be used for? Dubbed the “Gigafactory,” the $5 billion installation will reportedly be the biggest battery factory in the world.

Powered by renewables such as solar and wind, Tesla has stated an eventual goal of reaching net-zero energy consumption. The factory has a target annual battery production capacity of 35 gigawatt-hours (a gigawatt-hour is equivalent to one billion watts per hour, or a million kWh). That huge volume will hopefully drive down costs and put a significant dent in prices for new EVs. Tesla says it expects to reduce the per kWh cost of each battery pack by more than 30 percent. 

The batteries will also be used in Tesla’s partnership with SolarCity, another Elon Musk company, as a means to store excess electricity created by SolarCity’s solar panel systems.

It’s reported that the first construction phase of the Gigafactory is now nearing completion. Once done, Tesla will begin moving in the manufacturing equipment. 

Cell production is expected to begin in 2017, reaching full capacity by 2020. At full steam, the factory will make more lithium-ions annually than were produced worldwide in 2013. 

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2016 Toyota Camry Special Edition

2016 Toyota Camry Special Edition

For the past 13 years, the Toyota Camry has been the best-selling car in America, thanks to a well-appointed interior, non-offensive exterior design, acceptable performance figures, and of course, bulletproof reliability.

But to stay at the forefront of vehicle sales for that long requires a constant cycle of refreshes. For 2015, Toyota rejuvenated the Camry by re-engineering nearly 2,000 parts, leaving “only the roof” unchanged. These alterations included new interior materials and equipment, an updated suspension, and revised exterior styling.

Now, Toyota is ready to debut a limited-production, special edition of America’s favorite four-door at the Chicago Auto Show next week. On top of the 2015 redesign, the Japanese automaker hopes to inject the Camry with “an extra dose of both aggressiveness and technology.”

Based on the new Camry SE, this special edition adds several new features to both the cabin and exterior, creating a Camry that, Toyota feels, should stand above the rest.

Updated 07/17/2015: Toyota announced prices for the Camry Special Edition, which will be produced between August 2015 and January 2016. Prices will start from $25,715 and Toyota will build only 12,000 units.

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2016 Detroit Electric SP:01

2016 Detroit Electric SP:01

Have you ever heard of Detroit Electric? If you answered in the affirmative, you get a cookie, but we’ll probably have to mash it up and feed it to you with a spoon because the automaker kicked the bucket way back in 1939. Now, however, Detroit Electric is back, and it’s bringing with it a new all-electric sports car. It’s called the SP:01, and it’s based on a Lotus, bears loads of the latest EV technology, runs a 0-to-60 time under four seconds, and a boasts a very feathery curb weight.

Here’s a bit of background for those of you still left in the dark. Back in the early 1900s, the ICE-powered vehicle was far less popular than it is now. EVs were the preferred choice over the noisy, polluting, gas-powered alternatives. It was at this time that Detroit Electric thrived, with up to 2,000 electric cars sold annually by 1910.

However, over time, cheap gas and inventions like the electric starter and muffler pushed the EV to the sidelines, eventually unplugging it altogether.

But in case you didn’t notice, the electric vehicle is back, and in a big way. Now, five years after rising from the ashes, Detroit Electric is getting ready to unleash a sports car that the company hopes will “spearhead a diverse family of all-electric productions cars” for the future.

But times have changed a bit since 1910, which begs the question – how will the SP:01 shape up alongside rivals in the increasingly competitive modern EV marketplace?

Updated 07/16/2015: Detroit Electric finally revealed full specifications on its new SP:01. Read on for the details.

Continue reading to find out more about the Detroit Electric SP:01.

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Marchionne Drops Plans For The GM Merger

Marchionne Drops Plans For The GM Merger

Sergio Marchionne, the CEO of Fiat Chrysler Automobiles, says he doesn’t have any plans to push for a merger with General Motors. The FCA boss proposed the idea to G.M.’s CEO Mary Barra in an email several months ago, but was roundly rejected.

Speaking to the New York Times at a ceremony preceding labor contract talks with the United Automobile Workers union, Marchionne was quoted as saying, "I was rebuffed once, and I won’t go back to get my nose bloodied a second time.” 

The statement contradicts previous comments made by FCA chairman John Elkann, who told the Wall Street Journal earlier this month that he was still interested in creating a partnership with G.M.

Marchionne has been particularly vocal in urging automakers to consolidate as a means towards greater efficiency and higher profits. And while joining up with G.M. appears to be off the table, FCA’s CEO is undeterred in pushing for future mergers, saying that there is a better way to do business. "I’ll wait, and we’ll get it done,” he added.

Marchionne was a driving force behind the Fiat-Chrysler merger that created the modern auto behemoth. FCA is currently the seventh-largest automaker in the world, and owns a number of big-name brands, including Alfa Romeo, Dodge, Ferrari, Jeep, Lancia, Maserati, Ram Trucks, Abarth, Mopar and SRT.

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Volkswagen Announces e-smartConnect - The Automatic Charging System

Volkswagen Announces e-smartConnect - The Automatic Charging System

As battery technology advances and capacities increase, recharging methods must keep pace. If EVs are to ever eclipse the internal-combustion engine, they’ll need to be equally easy-to-use, convenient and quick when it comes to topping off the juice. To that end, Volkswagen has announced an automated quick-charge system called e-smartConnect.

Currently, rapid DC charging requires the use of heavy, awkward cables. VW wants to take the responsibility of connecting these cables out of the hands of the driver and put it into the mechanical grip of a robot.

Using a lightweight “LBR iiwa” automaton from the German robotics company Kuka, the system fixes a low force/moment cable into the EV’s recharge socket automatically. The robot uses seven drive axles and integrated torque sensors to make sure the connection is snug, while an integrated camera on the robot’s gripping device calculates the socket position with millimeter-precision.

Paired with this is an automated parking system. To initiate the recharge process, the car communicates with the charging station, sharing information via a set profile, which is interpreted by the recharge station. The station then responds with exact coordinates on where the car should be positioned, which the automated parking system then executes.

Once the car is charged, the robot arm removes the charger from the car’s socket and stores it on the station, which is then transported via conveyor belt to the next EV awaiting electricity.

VW says this effectively takes the human element out of EV charging, ensuring “safe and reliable human-robot collaboration (HRC).”

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Pavegen at Formula E

Pavegen at Formula E

Not too long ago, we featured the U.K. technology startup Pavegen, which produces tiles designed to generate seven watts of electricity every time someone steps on them. The company makes some pretty big claims, offering up easy solutions to humanity’s power needs with nothing more than the installation of its product in strategic, high-traffic locations. Pavegen is making the right moves to gain visibility, with the latest being a partnership with Formula E.

Rounds 10 and 11 of the Formula E championship brought the EV circus to London for a British double header at Battersea Park, where Pavegen had a presence alongside the booths of racing staples like BMW and Michelin. Some 60,000 attendees were on hand for the event, and many took the opportunity to try out Pavegen’s product.

The power-generating tiles were hooked up to a slot-car recreation of the track, with spectators propelling the miniature open-wheelers through every step, no doubt fostering a good deal of sustainable-style, running-in-place dance-off competition in the process. Fun!

So what’s the endgame? Will we eventually replace sidewalk concrete with Pavegen tiles to help power all those EVs in the street? Will the arrival of a crowd be all that’s needed to keep the lights on for major sporting events? Will the next Prius come with a human-sized hamster wheel to make it go? Will Tesla buyout Pavegen as soon as Elon Musk is finished flying his personal spaceship around the moon?

Maybe.

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Mini Superleggera Roadster Will Compete With The MX-5

Mini Superleggera Roadster Will Compete With The MX-5

Even as Mini cleans house in an attempt to consolidate its product offerings, it looks like the 2014 Mini Superleggera roadster concept that was revealed last year in Italy made enough of a splash to justify the creation of a production version. The new model will reportedly see a launch in 2019 and will be a direct competitor with the venerable Mazda MX-5.

Mini’s boss, Peter Schwarzenbauer, recently told the U.K. publication Autocar that interest in the concept was so high, the idea of making a production version quickly accumulated widespread popularity throughout the company. Schwarzenbauer added that the new roadster was still “economically challenging” and that it was not 100 percent confirmed, but a lot of folks were pushing for its creation, including himself. “I think it would be extremely good for the brand,” he said.

The new car will be part of a future lineup of five individual Minis as a separate derivative of the Cabriolet model.

The new roadster would reportedly be built on the BMW-derived short-wheelbase UKL platform, which is also seen underpinning the current Mini hatchback. The platform would work particularly well for a car like the Supperleggera given its high rigidity and low weight. 

Rather than being a replacement for the older, recently axed 2014 Mini Roadster, the new Superleggera will be much more focused, with Schwarzenbauer calling it a “serious sports car.”

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Here's Your Chance To Win A Honda Civic Type R

Here’s Your Chance To Win A Honda Civic Type R

Honda recently announced that U.K. customers have swooped up every available 2016 Honda Civic Type R in the country and it is all sold out until next February, which is a bit of a downer for those hot-hatch fans left waiting around for new models to be built. However, it appears as though the automaker managed to stash a single Type R fresh off the assembly line, and now, it’ll give it away to whichever Brit that manages the fastest lap in a simulated run around the Nurburgring. 

It’s called the “King of the Hell” competition, and soon virtual pilots will be invited to tackle the notorious German race circuit via “state-of-the-art training simulators.” 

Details are a bit sparse, but it appears as though participants can get in on the action by showing up at a Type R roadshow at one of 15 designated locations scattered around the U.K. between July 17th and November 1st. There, they will set a qualifying lap in an “X-box race simulator.” Once qualified, the participant can set multiple lap times in the “Type R simulator,” with the quickest time counting towards the competition.

Winner takes all, which means a gratis 12-month loan of a brand new Civic Type R. 

Honda made headlines earlier this year when it announced that its new turbo rocket had managed to set a time around the ‘Ring in 7:50.63, making it essentially the fastest FWD hatchback on Earth. 

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Forza Motorsport 6 Will Add Two Legendary Rides

Forza Motorsport 6 Will Add Two Legendary Rides

Forza Motorsport 6 will be hitting consoles worldwide this September, and in anticipation of the big release, Microsoft and Turn 10 Studios have been feeding us vast lists of cars slated to stuff our virtual garages. This week is no different, with another 40 sports and racing vehicles on deck to complement the already sizable lineup. Most notable is the addition of two vintage McLarens never before seen in a Forza game.

The first is the 1969 No.4 McLaren M8B. Driven by Bruce McLaren himself, this open-cockpit speed-wedge was paired with the No.5 M8B driven by Denny Hulme to simply dominate the 1969 Can-Am season, splitting each of the 11 possible first-place finishes between them and besting such legendary drivers as Chris Amon, Mario Andretti and Jo Siffert. In fact, the two were so dominant, the 1969 season was eventually dubbed the “The Bruce and Denny Show.” Bruce McLaren ended up taking the driver’s championship with 165 points over Hulme’s 160, followed by Chuck Parsons in a distant third with 85 points.

The M8Bs, also known as the “Orange Elephants,” are characterized by their bright colorization and prominent rear aerodynamics. The chassis is an aluminum monocoque, while a mid-mounted, 7.0-liter V-8 from Chevy makes the go through a four-speed manual gearbox.

Up next is the 1966 McLaren M2B Formula 1 car. It’s the make’s first foray into that highest form of open-wheel racing, with a debut performance at Monaco using a monocoque chassis designed by Robin Herd and made from Mallite (a material originally used for internal paneling on aircraft). The original engine was a 3.0-liter Indy Ford four-cam V-8, with individual Hillborn fuel injection intakes sticking out the sides and a “snake-pit” exhaust in the back. Eventually, a more suitable Serenissima V-8 designed by Count Volpi replaced the Ford V-8, thus earning McLaren its first F1 constructor’s points.

Forza Motorsport 6 arrives exclusively for the Xbox One on September 15th in the U.S.

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 Randy Pobst Talks About His Experience At Pikes Peak: Video

Randy Pobst Talks About His Experience At Pikes Peak: Video

The Pikes Peak International Hill Climb has been a staple motorsport events for nearly a century now. It’s a challenging, twisting, two-lane test of man and machine that demands nothing less than the absolute best. This annual “Race to Clouds” has seen its fair share of casualties, including the recent passing of motorcyclist Carl Sorensen. All told, even with extensive experience, the best possible preparation and ideal conditions, America’s Mountain is still capable of thwarting any effort at conquering its summit. It’s a lesson that professional racer and Motor Trend test driver Randy Pobst learned firsthand this June, and it’s all documented in this fascinating 20-minute video.

The video begins three months before race day, with Pobst narrating the lead-up to his return to Colorado. Presented with a fleet of high-end sports cars to choose from, Pobst ended up going with Godzilla: the Nissan GT-R. The reason? “Driver confidence!” Pobst declares.

What he’s handed is a 700-horsepower race-prepped beast that simply won’t cooperate. Parts break, the handling is fussy, and Pobst loses some of his confidence. Development is thrown into overdrive, and the pressure is on to make the GT-R ready.

On go the wrenches and the testing is non-stop. Parts are swapped, settings are tweaked, and Pobst grapples with the realities of what it means to put the spurs to his new ride.

Finally, the GT-R feels ready for Pikes Peak. But the real battle begins when Pobst begins his ill-fated ascent.

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Toyota Will Start Taking Mirai Orders As Of July 20

Toyota Will Start Taking Mirai Orders As Of July 20

In just a few short days, California-based customers looking to get in the world’s first purchasable, mass-produced hydrogen fuel-cell vehicle (FCV) will be able to place their orders for a new 2016 Toyota Mirai. The Mirai will only be available in California for its initial U.S. launch.

Toyota will charge $57,500 to buy each Mirai outright, but says that price may rise slightly with increased shipping costs for 2016 models. Leasing comes in at $499 per month for 36 month, plus $3,649 due at lease signing. Toyota will give customers three years of free H2 fuel, up to a $15,000 maximum, or whichever comes first. California customers will also be eligible for a $5,000 state rebate, as well as a sticker that permits single-passenger carpool-lane driving. Federal incentives could drive the price lower, but Toyota must first persuade the government to bring back its H2 program that expired in December. 

Prospective customers must undergo a screening process to determine their eligibility for Mirai ownership, which takes into account things like proximity to California’s hydrogen refueling station infrastructure and “various Mirai fit and driving preference questions.” There are currently only eight H2 refueling stations open in California, with another 48 in development. You can find a map of the stations here.

Each order must be placed online. Dealers will help interested buyers “explore” the sale and hand over the keys, but prospective buyers can’t purchase the Mirai from a dealership directly. Only one Mirai vehicle per customer is permitted.
And I thought Ferrari was the only one that did this kind of stuff.
Toyota says it wants to sell only 3,000 Mirai models by the end of 2017, but adds it’ll build more in the years to come. 

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Next Audi S4 Could Deliver Over 350 HP

Next Audi S4 Could Deliver Over 350 HP

As Audi polishes its upcoming round of high-performance luxury sedans, a new report has just unearthed a few details on what we should expect from the 2017 Audi S4. The latest is that the four-door will retain the same blown six-cylinder as the current generation, but pack more power than before.

That’s the news coming from our friends over at CarAndDriver, who tested the new 2015 Audi S3 sedan last year and found that it was actually faster than the current-gen 2014 Audi S4, despite the S3 coming with a four-cylinder engine that put out 292 horsepower compared to the S4’s 333-horsepower V-6. 

Given the S4’s position above the S3 on the Audi totem pole, that clearly won’t do. As such, the new S4, which is looking like it’ll arrive next year for the 2017 model year, will most likely be much quicker than the current generation.

Sources within Audi say the new S4 will still bear a 3.0-liter TFSI V-6 under the hood, but rather than a detuned version of the twin-turbo six expected for the new 2017 Audi RS4 Avant and RS5 Sportback, it’s believed the new S4’s six-cylinder will continue to come with a blower for boost duties. To help it slot in appropriately within the Audi lineup and outgun rivals from the likes of the BMW (340i) and Mercedes (2016 Mercedes-Benz C450 AMG Sport), the final output figure from the powerplant is expected to breach the 350-horsepower mark. 

As expected, quattro AWD will be standard. An S-tronic seven-speed auto transmission will be rout the power, but it’s unclear whether or not Audi will cater to lovers of the clutch pedal with a six-speed manual (availability will supposedly depend on market demand). 

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2017 Mercedes E-Class Will Get Advanced Safety And Autonomous Tech

2017 Mercedes E-Class Will Get Advanced Safety And Autonomous Tech

Not too long ago, Mercedes-Benz boss Dieter Zetsche told us that the arrival of self-driving vehicles was “imminent.” He may have been hinting at the new, fifth-generation 2017 Mercedes-Benz E-Class, which is scheduled to go on sale in the U.S. next spring and will be stuffed with the latest safety and autonomous features, because even though a human pilot is still required to operate it, the car is a whole lot smarter than what we’ve seen in the past.

Merc likes to call it “real life safety,” and says the tech will bring its lineup of luxury vehicles just a little closer to that utopian vision of accident-free, fully autonomous driving. In the meantime, customers will benefit from higher standards of safety, less stress and greater comfort.

The new and updated systems make up what Mercedes has christened Intelligent Drive Next Level, and it includes stuff like collision detection and mitigation, follow assistance, and data logging.

Most notably, Mercedes is introducing a new parking assist that lets drivers use their smartphone to park their car.

It’s called Remote Parking Pilot, and here’s how it works: after downloading the compatible app and syncing it to the car, drivers simply stand within 10 feet of the vehicle and use the app to maneuver in and out of available parking spaces, both in perpendicular and parallel positions. This enables the driver to utilize much tighter spaces and eases mobility for those with disabilities.

You can check it out in action in the above-featured video.

Merc’s system differs from the one BMW just unveiled for the new 2016 BMW 7 Series in that the Bimmer is controllable from the display key while the Merc is controllable via an app on the owner’s smartphone.

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2015 Drive eO PP03

2015 Drive eO PP03

We recently witnessed the 93rd running of the Pikes Peak International Hill Climb (PPIHC), and when the final checkered had flown, the all-electric vehicle you see before you made history. With drifter/rally racer/stunt driver Rhys Millen at the wheel, this car managed to reach the windswept Colorado peak in 9:07.222, becoming not just the fastest car in the Electric Modified Class and the new EV record-holder, but the fastest car in any class, making for the first EV to win the race outright in its nearly century-old history.

Here’s the really wild part – it could have gone a lot faster.

According to Millen, the car lost 50 percent of its power about halfway through the run, and if everything was working properly, he thinks a time in the mid-8-minute range would be not just possible, but more than likely.

An 8:30 up Pikes Peak is fast. Really fast – in fact, it’s approaching the all-time standing record set in 2013 when Sebastien Loeb took an ICE-powered 2013 Peugeot 208 T16 to the top in 8:13.878. To get anywhere near that magic run is huge, but to do it in a car powered by batteries is, well, insane.

The EV in question is called the Drive eO PP03, and it was designed by a Latvian-based engineering company to be a technological powerhouse that pushes the envelope of what electric race cars are capable of.

Continue reading to see what makes this thing tick.

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