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Top Newsmakers Of 2015

Top Newsmakers Of 2015

2015 has been some kind of year for the automotive industry, hasn’t it? Spending a year covering this wild and crazy industry has given me gray hair and yet, I wouldn’t trade it for anything else. I love the craziness. I love the debuts. I love the goodbyes. And I love everything else in between.

To be clear, I didn’t even attempt to run through the minutiae of an even’s importance. I worked on the items that captured my attention the most, be it a company’s incredible rise and fall in a space of three months, or a supercar that made its goodbye after a decade spent as the king of the mountain.

All these things happened in 2015…and so much more. So as we bid 2015 adieu and welcome 2016 with renewed hopes of promise and optimism, let’s all take a look back at some of 2015’s most notable headlines in the auto industry. For the purposes of this story, I called them the “newsmakers” of the year.

Some are here for their success, while others are here for their failures. Then there are those who made it both for their successes and their failures. Whatever the case may be, none of us will forget what happened to them in 2015. They made the year memorable for everyone involved in the industry, even if it wasn’t always for the right reasons.

Continue after the jump to read the top newsmakers of 2015.

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Richard Hammond Drives The Porsche 918 Spyder: Video

Richard Hammond Drives The Porsche 918 Spyder: Video

The loveable trio over at Top Gear are used to getting their senses shattered anytime they get behind the wheel of a powerful supercar. Recently, Jeremy Clarkson got his fill of the McLaren P1 and he was gushing so much you would’ve thought his digestive system was doing things it should only be doing in a bathroom. Clarkson may have gotten his socks blown off by the P1, but co-host Richard Hammond wasn’t about to be overshadowed when he got behind the wheel of a Porsche 918 Spyder at the Yas Marina Circuit in Abu Dhabi to have his own kind of fun with the Porsche hybrid supercar.

As you can expect, Hammond was equally snake-bitten by the sheer power and speed of the 918 Spyder. He didn’t quite have Clarkson’s contorted faces down pat, but he did spend plenty of time squealing in that high-pitched voice of his to make you wonder if he himself may have done something inside his trousers.

Hammond did have enough time gathering his wits together to talk shop about the 918, marvelling at the technology that seems to ooze out of the hybrid supercar at every mind-bending turn around the Yas Marina circuit. The Top Gear host gushed about the 918 Spyder’s hybrid engine that works together to produce an ungodly 887 horsepower and 940 pound-feet of torque, doing so while boasting a fuel economy rating of 67 miles per gallon, head and shoulders better than the Toyota Prius.

But Hammond didn’t just stop at the topic of power and performance. He also talked about what the P1 lacked relative to the 918, namely the amount of time and attention Porsche engineers used to bring luxury and creature comforts to the 918 Spyder. Its roof, for one, can be taken out, allowing a driver to enjoy some open-top cruising. The interior of the 918 also has a treasure-trove of on-board amusements, including a glove box, something the P1 notoriously lacks.

Hammond ultimately nailed it on the head when he differentiated the two. Whereas the P1 is really more of a hardcore spitfire with evil intentions on the track, the 918 Spyder is a little more refined, capable of alternating personalities at a turn of a knob.

Either way, you can’t go wrong with the two hybrid supercars. It ultimately boils down to what your preference is.

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Top Gear UK reviews the Porsche Boxster Spyder

Top Gear UK reviews the Porsche Boxster Spyder

Top Gear USA may be trying to find their way to super stardom, but Top Gear UK has been sitting in the celebrity lounge for quite some time, so when they sit behind the wheel of a sports car and want to tell us about it, we listen. In this review, James "Captain Slow" May takes a drive in a Porsche Boxster Spyder which is probably a little bittersweet considering the famous TV presenter just decided to part with his own beloved Boxster.

The Porsche Boxster Spyder is powered by a 3.4 Liter direct injected flat six ahead of the rear axle that delivers a total of 320 HP, 10 HP more than the current top of the line model in the Boxster lineup, the Boxster S, while still getting as much as 30.4 MPG. Like all the other current Porsche models, the Boxster Spyder comes equipped with a seven speed PDK gearbox and a Sports Chrono Package. This allows the Boxster Spyder to sprint from 0 to 60 MPH in 4.8 seconds and reach a top speed of 166 MPH. On the US market, the model is priced at $61,200.

Check out the video to see what James May has to say about the Porsche Boxster Spyder.

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Porsche Cayman shooting brake is a hoax

Porsche Cayman shooting brake is a hoax

The staff of summer inters at TopGear America pulled a fast one on us. Remember the very strange looking Porsche Cayman shooting brake test car that was shot with a camera phone in some Italian back street? Well it was actually shot in an alley in Brooklyn, the car was a computer generated image that was created with Maya 3D drawing software, stitched together with Photoshop and then edited on Final Cut Pro to look like video from a mobile phone. They even went as far as to include a little hint that apparently no one caught on to, a Stig helmet tucked back behind the rear window.

There were three main masterminds behind the scheme. First was former TopGear.com America editor, Jared Holstein along with the renderings of Matt DuVall, a digital arts student at Savannah College of Art and Design and left to manipulate the media was Jon Masters, a master’s student in media studies at the New School in New York City. Holstein guided DuVall through some very meticulous details, like official Porsche development wheels, a front bumper that mimics the Porsche mule car as well as the same license plate number that the German automaker uses.

Once the digitally enhanced video was produced, Holstein planted it on the TopGear.com America web site while summer intern, Jon Masters, began to post links in various Porsche enthusiast sites as well as the major Automotive online media. Masters then went so far as to create a fake screen shot from Forza 3 and then linked that to other videogame websites, “It was originally posted on a Czech Forza fan site — in Czech to add a layer of deception and plausibility,” Mr. Holstein said. The group claim to have been testing the abilities of digital media as a way to introduce new designs and get a public reaction to a new figure that would traditionally take an automaker a lot of time, money and research to figure out. We’re still saying that they were trying to pull a fast one on us.

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