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April Fool's Round-Up: Automakers Go All-Out With The Pranks

April Fool’s Round-Up: Automakers Go All-Out With The Pranks

There were some funny ones and there were ones that we wish would actually happen

April Fool’s Day has come and gone, and as you might have expected, a number of automakers spent the occasion trying to pull a fast one on all of us. Some of them worked while others didn’t. Some got us thinking if the pranks were real - or we wish they were real - while others flamed out because they were too obvious from the very beginning. Still, it was a good day to check out what kind of absurdity we had coming our way. If you missed out on all the April Fool’s pranks that these auto brands came out with, well, we got you, fam.

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April Fools' 2016 – Recap

April Fools’ 2016 – Recap

The industry loosens its tie for a little four-wheeled silliness

These days, it can be a little tricky figuring out when something is real and when someone is just messing with you. Sometimes it’s obvious, but other circumstances warrant a careful second look. That’s doubly the case on April 1st. Of course, the auto industry loves chain yanking, but when you have 1,500-horsepower production cars and Maserati SUVs running around, it’s always a good idea to double check. But don’t worry – we found the best automotive April Fools’ pranks, and we assembled them all right here for you in this recap.

Included is a driverless RV, a pair of highly desirable Minis, a kinetically powered Vauxhall, a very expressive Honda, a smoke machine Nissan cargo van, and Lexus’ latest interior upgrade, not to mention the hottest minivan to ever grace a suburban driveway. In fact, looking over a few of these “jokes,” I can’t help but see some excellent real-world applications…

Continue reading for a recap of April Fools’ 2016.

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Chrysler Pacifica Hellcat Canceled, FCA Reports

Chrysler Pacifica Hellcat Canceled, FCA Reports

And just like that, the project is dead...

Just hours after TopSpeed broke the news that FCA would be building a 707-horsepower minivan, the automaker has abruptly canceled the project. The news comes from a company insider close to the action. “I just know it’s not happening,” the unnamed source said.

Answers unfolded when we contacted Mike Manley, the global head of both Ram and Jeep brands, about the cancellation. “Honestly, I can’t have the Chrysler guys using my Grand Cherokee Trackhawk powertrain and stealing my customers away. The Jeep project was started first, plus I’m not allowing the Pacifica to make my Jeep look slow!”

While this sort of inter-company drama is rarely leaked to the media, it makes sense for the Jeep Grand Cherokee Trackhawk to reside atop the Hellcat heap. Such a vehicle would further boost the Jeep brand’s market presence in preparation for the upcoming Grand Wagoneer launch. That high-end, ultra-luxurious SUV is set to compete with the Cadillac Escalade and BMW X5. FCA would be foolish to thwart its own progress.

Speaking of being foolish, you, our loyal readers, might be considered one should you believe any of this. Yep, happy April Fools day. And no, FCA is not building a Pacifica Hellcat – and it never was. (At least to our knowledge!) We also never had a “candid conversation” with Ralph Gilles, though we’d never turn down the opportunity. We hope you had as much fun reading these jestful Pacifica Hellcat stories as we had writing them.

Continue reading to see our full coverage of the Pacifica Hellcat joke.

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Lexus Launches V-LCRO Technology

Lexus Launches V-LCRO Technology

Bringing hook-and-loop fasteners to the track

As performance cars are becoming quicker and more powerful, automakers are spending quite a lot of time and money developing driver seats that enhance the connection between man and machine. Have you noticed how seat bolstering grows slightly bigger with each new update on supercars or beefed-up sedans and coupes wearing the iconic "M" and "AMG" badges? Well, the next Lexus RC F might not need an upgrade in that department as the Japanese brand has launched a technology that promises to allow the driver to take turns more aggressively without relying on the latest race-spec.

The new performance feature is dubbed V-LCRO, which stands for Variable Load Coupling Rear Orientation, and employs a technology that’s over 75 years old. Specifically, these new seats are lined with Velcro, the fabric with hook-and-loop fasteners known for their use in the clothing industry. Velcro isn’t exactly new to automobile as it has already been used to bond headliners, floor mats, and speaker covers, but it’s the first time an automaker turns it into a performance-enhancing feature.

Lexus says that the V-LCRO system is designed to hold the driver in place at up to three Gs in any direction. There is a downside however. The driver needs to wear a specially designed suit with a complex pattern of hooks and loops. The technology has already been tested with great results by professional racing driver Scott Pruett: "The beauty of this technology is its simplicity. With V-LCRO, Lexus has created an unprecedented connection between driver and vehicle, and the impact on the track has been phenomenal."

The V-LCRO system was designed for both the RC F and GS F high-performance models and will become available as an option, together with a line of exclusive custom-tailored suits.

Continue reading for the full story.

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Mini Launches Hipster Hatch With Instagram Filtered Windows

Mini Launches Hipster Hatch With Instagram Filtered Windows

Powered by a fixed-gear drivetrain

The original hipster subculture of the 1940s, which referred to aficionados of the jazz music genre, might not have been a big fan of automobiles given their self-imposed poverty, but things changed radically with the contemporary interpretation of the trend. Now composed mainly of affluent or middle class young, the hipster subculture sees the automobile as an important element of its affinity for everything vintage. Mini is now trying to capitalize on that with a special-edition Cooper designed specifically for fans of music bands you’ve probably never heard of.

Suggestively named the Mini Hipster Hatch, the special-edition Cooper is available in three colors named Brooklyn Blue, Organic Pumpkin, and Monochromatic Green, all complemented by red-and-black lumberjack patterns on the front fenders, side mirrors and roof. The three-door hatch also rides on a set of three-spoke alloy wheels that scream "the 1990s called and they want you back" at the top of their lug nuts.

Things become a lot more vintage inside the cabin, where the Cooper received a twin-deck cassette player, a big speaker instead of the infotainment screen, and stonewash denim upholstery on the seats. You know, to match those tight jeans that are so popular among hipsters nowadays. But wait, there’s more. The windows have been upgraded with Instagram filters so drivers can turn "any journey into a nostalgic memory at the touch of a button." There are 12 pre-loaded filters, including the popular Lo-Fi, Clarendon, and Crema.

The powertrain is also new, with the Hipster Hatch being powered by a fixed-gear drivetrain. Essentially a five-speed transmission with four of the forward gears removed, the concept is inspired by the world of fixed-gear bicycles. Mini says it will "give the driver a greater feeling of control when popping out for a superfood smoothie." Top speed is limited at only 25 mph to make sure no smoothie will ruin the stonewash denim on the seats.

Continue reading for the full story.

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Vauxhall Launches Adam C With Zero Running Costs And Emissions

Vauxhall Launches Adam C With Zero Running Costs And Emissions

A new take on alternative energy

In a world where we are constantly trying to lower our dependency on fossil fuels and lower vehicle emissions as much as possible, at least one manufacturer is putting its best foot forward. After several years of research and development, Vauxhall has announced a new variation of the Vauxhall Adam, dubbed the Vauxhall Adam C. The C in the name stands for “clockwork,” and there is a good reason for that. The Adam C doesn’t have an engine or an electric motor. It doesn’t even have a battery.

What it does have, is a state-of-the-art kinetic mechanism that is used to propel and power the Adam C with a renewable energy source: You. Basically, the Adam C uses an enlarged kinetic system similar to that of wind-up watches. A removable knob is plugged into the back of the vehicle, and winding it for just 15 minutes will give the Adam C full power for up to 125 miles. This also provides the electrical energy needed to run things like onboard infotainment system.

Mick Cannical, Vauxhall’s Chief Kinetics Engineer, said, “This game-changing technology stands to revolutionize the way we drive. We’ve paved the way towards a future of wind-ups. Improving the customer experience is a priority to us and given that the average Brit drives less than 35 miles every day, we estimate the model will appeal to over two-thirds of the population. We expect the growth to be exponential.”

Continue reading for the full story.

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Honda Offers Its British Drivers Emoji License Plates

Honda Offers Its British Drivers Emoji License Plates

Who needs letters and numbers when you can express yourself with emojis?

It almost seems as if society has taken a step backward in terms of communication. It seems that more people communicate via text message or instant messenger instead of picking up a phone, and over the last 20 years, we’ve developed our own little language of abbreviations and pictures to express large amounts of feeling or emotion with just a few characters. It started with pay-per-character text messaging and eventually carried over into email and verbal communication. Now, Honda is looking to introduce emoji license plates as a new way to personalize Honda vehicles in the U.K.

The first emoji plate can be seen on the Honda Civic Type R in the image above. The plate depicts a road, a car, the sun, a traffic light, and a key. According to Honda, the sun symbolizes its roots as a Japanese automobile manufacturer, and the keys represent “those first car keys.” Research conducted earlier this year showed that 96 percent of people under the age of 30 would prefer an emoji license plate of a traditional car plate and that 97 percent of the people questioned admit emoji faces are their main method of expressing and emotion or idea.

Shigastu Baka, the First Officer of Licences at Honda U.K., said, “We are really excited to offer our customers a fun, quirky way to customize their car, which importantly, is reflective of their personality and lifestyle. At Honda, we believe in innovation – and this concept is sure to be well-received by younger consumers for whom emojis are such a popular way of communicating.”

Continue reading for the full story.

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Nissan's April Fools Joke is a Drifting NV3500 Cargo Van

Nissan’s April Fools Joke is a Drifting NV3500 Cargo Van

Gettin’ sideways in and jumpin’ ramps never looked so utilitarian

The Nissan NV3500 Cargo Van might not be the first choice when it comes to drifting, but that’s exactly why Nissan chose it to prank pro drifter Chris Forsberg. The action-packed video shows Forsberg preparing to drift a Nissan 370Z, but only to be surprised with a NV Cargo Van.

The NV3500 appears to be stock, save for the large handbrake handle and its nanny systems turned off. The lack of anti-lock brakes, traction control, and stability control allow the van to behave like a proper rear-wheel drive, V-8–powered vehicle should. Sure, sliding sideways under power might not be the most advisable driving style in the high-centered cargo van, but hey, it’s nice to know the NV can handle the abuse.

For those a little rusty on their work van stats, the Nissan NV is based on the first generation Titan pickup. It shares much of its platform and powertrain with the truck, including its ladder frame and 5.6-liter V-8 engine. The 32-valve, DOHC engine makes 317 horsepower at 5,200 rpm and 385 pound-feet of torque at 3,400 rpm. This gives the 6,121-pound van enough power to haul 3,780 pounds of cargo or tow 9,500 pounds worth of trailer. It’s apparently also enough power to melt the tires off while launching the van over ramps and through walls.

Hey, B.A. Baracus of the A-Team might consider replacing his 1983 GMC Vandura cargo van with something more modern. Let’s just hope he keeps the black, grey, and red paint scheme.

Continue reading for more information

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Mini Gets Scissor Doors As Optional Equipment

Mini Gets Scissor Doors As Optional Equipment

Now your Mini can park in an even smaller parking spot than before

There is nothing worse than finding the one parking spot available in a parking garage, just to find that once you squeeze into it, you can’t open the doors enough to get out. Mini has decided to combat that scenario straight on and offer scissor doors as an option on Mini models going forward.

According to the brand’s press release, scissor doors will initially be available as an option on the Mini 3 door, Mini Paceman, and Mini Convertible. Come the 2017 model year, the option will be extended to the Mini 5 door, six-door Clubman, and the Mini Countryman. The doors will be electrohydraulically controlled, and will reduce the space needed for parking and easy entry/exit by nearly 30 percent. The Mini 3 door, for instance, will now require a parking spot width of just 1,930 mm when equipped with scissor doors, as opposed to the 2,681 mm that is required with regular hinged doors.

The feature comes standard with the ability to open and close the doors with a remote control, but for an addition premium, the scissor doors can be equipped with “Comfort Access,” which will allow the door to be opened by a button on the door handle. According to Dalf Rietmann, the Head of Special Equipment Management with Mini, the plan is to eventually allow the opening and closing of the scissor doors via a smartphone app.

In the safety side of things, the doors are also equipped with something call Pyrotechnic Emergency Exit (PEE,) which uses powerful propellants to blast the doors off of the vehicle in the event of an emergency, allowing first responders to have easy and fast access to passengers. The new scissor doors will be available at a premium of €1,959, which is $2,230 at current exchange rates.

Continue reading for the full story.

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Leisure Travel Vans Introduces The Autonomous RV

Leisure Travel Vans Introduces The Autonomous RV

State-of-the-art RV poised to become the future standard-bearer of all RVs

Leisure Travel Vans, a family-owned business that has made a name for designing and building some of the sickest recreational vehicles in North America, has launched a new product that it anticipates will revolutionize the experience of RV users moving forward. You might be familiar with the technology since every automaker in the world is feverishly developing their own versions in an attempt to become the first company to hit the road with it.

Yes, I’m talking about autonomous driving and if you haven’t pieced the puzzle by now, Leisure Travel Vans’ latest coupe de grace is the Autonomous RV, otherwise known as the future of self-driving recreational vehicles.

The LTV Autonomous RV is what you’d expect it to be. It drives by itself and can be synced with Apple’s iCloud, giving the RV’s state-of-the-art software system access GPS and navigation routes, leaving the heavy burden of driving the RV on the shoulders of the vehicle’s brain system. This particular feature is a huge step up from the traditional RVs because the driver can now roam about freely inside the RV without having to worry about keeping his eyes on the road. The Autonomous RV also has a handful of unique, voice-controlled features that works with LTV’s on app, allowing the user to literally bark out orders to the RV’s brain system. Whether it’s opening the headlights, washing the windshield, opening the doors, or extending the retractable awning system, every command is voice-controlled.

LTV has yet to announce when the Autonomous RV will hit the market, although it did say that the technology continues to be tweaked by its engineers in Pembina Valley, Manitoba, Canada to improve the RV’s autonomous driving technology.

Continue after the jump to read the full story.

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April Fools Recap

April Fools Recap

Well, April is here, and with it comes a barrage of the most absurd shenanigans and tomfoolery that corporate America can muster. The pranks and chain-pulling are running rampant today, so bear that in mind as you traverse the wilds of the Internet. In fact, it’s possible you may even come across something deliberately false. Shocking, I know.

But fear not, dear reader – you can trust all of us here at TopSpeed. We base our reporting on providing you with the truth and nothing but the truth, so help us God of Gasoline. As such, we’ve compiled some of the best (worst?) automotive-based April Fools jokes we could find.

So then, what’s on the docket? Well, ze Germans have loosened up a bit, with BMW offering a brilliant new exterior for the three-door Mini and the ultimate in dental protection, while Mercedes-AMG has announced quite possibly its most practical model ever. Additionally, Audi is launching an option for the A8 that should satisfy even the hungriest of Japanese customers.

Speaking of the Japanese, Honda is placating the self-obsessed with a new Selfie trim level for the HR-V. Finally, Skoda gives us a put-on that’s, well… actually a pretty good idea.

Hit “Continue Reading” for the details.

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Mercedes-AMG Announces Sprinter63 S

Mercedes-AMG Announces Sprinter63 S

Watch out, folks – the April Fools jokes are rolling in. Mercedes is first out of the gate with this gem, the Mercedes-AMG Sprinter63 S. Yep, Mercedes has rendered up what an AMG-built Sprinter van would look like. In fact, the rendering is scary-good and it includes all the right details one would expect from the German tuning house.

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Mercedes-AMG Announces Sprinter63 S

Mercedes-AMG Announces Sprinter63 S

Watch out, folks – the April Fools jokes are rolling in. Mercedes is first out of the gate with this gem, the Mercedes-AMG Sprinter63 S. Yep, Mercedes has rendered up what an AMG-built Sprinter van would look like. In fact, the rendering is scary-good and it includes all the right details one would expect from the German tuning house.

The AMG Sprinter63 S comes complete with AMG-spec wheels, a larger front valance, a power-bulge hood with twin vents, and a rear diffuser with quad exhaust tips. The high-roof van is then painted a beautiful grey and silver color with matching grey stripes. You know, because stripes add horsepower.

Speaking of horsepower, the gag gets even better. Mercedes says the Sprinter63 S comes powered by its new 4.0-liter biturbo V-8. The hand-built engine makes 503-horsepower and 479 pound-feet of torque, just as it does in the upcoming Mercedes-AMG GT S. Mercedes’ press material says the Sprinter63 S is ready to haul a lot more than just cargo. We’d concur.

Keeping the shiny side up is an AMG custom-engineered sport suspension that allows the Sprinter63 S to blast around tracks like the Nürburgring with grace and speed. Stopping performance is also improved thanks to those AMG-spec brakes peaking through the double-spoke AMG wheels. Undoubtedly they’re wrapped in summer performance rubber that meats all the demands of track duty and local deliveries.

There’s no word on whether Mercedes will offer the Sprinter63 S with the van’s recently release 4WD version. If so, expect this beast to be even more deadly at the track thanks to the added traction and low-range gears.

Continue reading for Mercedes’ full press release

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