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Father-son team grows close by building tuned Porsche

  • Father-son team grows close by building tuned Porsche
  • Proof cars of the '90s were awesome with Supra, Stealth, RX-7, Corvette, 968, 300ZX comparo
  • Subaru WRX STI vs. Audi S3 in compact AWD dustup
  • 2015 Dodge Challenger SRT Hellcat [w/videos]

2016 Infiniti Q50 Eau Rouge Prototype [w/video]

Posted Jul 28th 2014 11:57AM

2016 Infiniti Q50 Eau Rouge Prototype

It only takes about half a lap of the Millbrook Proving Grounds for me to become convinced that Infiniti must build this car.

The sedan I am piloting around the English circuit is a working prototype of the Q50 Eau Rouge Concept that made its world debut at the 2014 Detroit Auto Show earlier this year. As a refresher, the exquisitely painted, burgundy metallic, four-door show car is based on the production Q50, enhanced with Infiniti Red Bull Racing-inspired carbon-fibre bodywork, aerodynamic upgrades and – as we would come to learn at the Geneva Motor Show a few months later – fitted with a beastly twin-turbocharged engine shared with the parent company's spectacular Nissan GT-R.

Despite lacking the concept's gorgeously expensive paint, the vinyl-wrapped red prototype seen here is much more appealing than the static concept, as it is mechanically complete – it can be driven – thus explaining why I have traveled one-third of the way around the world to test this enthusiast-tuned, one-of-a-kind machine at one of Europe's premier testing facilities.

The Q50 Eau Rouge, named after the signature high-speed corner at Belgium's famed Spa-Francorchamps race circuit, is an intriguing program for a number of reasons. First, the Japanese luxury brand has never offered a flagship sport sedan of this magnitude. Second, the push came from Johan de Nysschen – the man tasked with turning Infiniti around who recently announced his departure from the company at the end of the month. Lastly, the working prototype was built by a small team in England, thousands of miles from Infiniti's Hong Kong headquarters, which allowed the program to move unimpeded by coagulating corporate culture. While launching the Eau Rouge program isn't as extreme as renaming all of its models, it would be easy to argue that this is a very radical move for the often-conservative Japanese automaker.

Image Credit: Infiniti UK

Race Recap: 2014 Hungarian Grand Prix a thrilling wet mess

Posted Jul 28th 2014 11:00AM



Three Free Practice sessions left us thinking Lewis Hamilton looked good to claim another victory for Mercedes AMG Petronas and close up the Driver's World Championship race, but the first qualifying session for the 2014 Hungarian Formula One Grand Prix threw out that script. A fuel leak in Q3 set Hamilton's car aflame and he never set a time. His chassis damaged beyond repair, the team built him a new one and he started from pit lane. That same session also claimed Ferrari's Kimi Räikkönen, when a bad call about whether to go out again dropped him down to 17th and out for the day.

Without a real challenge, that put Hamilton's teammate-slash-nemesis Nico Rosberg on pole in the other Mercedes, followed by a resurgent Sebastian Vettel in the first Infiniti Red Bull Racing, Valtteri Bottas in the first Williams and Daniel Ricciardo in the second Red Bull. Fernando Alonso waved the scarlet in fifth for Ferrari but figured he could be in third place by the end of the first lap. Felipe Massa put the second Williams in sixth, followed by Jenson Button in the first McLaren, Jean-Eric Vergne getting up to eighth for Toro Rosso, Nico Hülkenberg in ninth for Force India and Kevin Magnussen in the second McLaren.

When rain poured on the 4.381-kilometre Hungaroring before the race, every script up and down the field got rewritten, and they would continue come in for revision almost every one of the 70 laps.

Image Credit: F1, Darko Vojinovic / AP, Lars Baron / Getty , Mark Thompson / Getty, Drew Gibson / Getty

Tesla halts production to prep for Model X

Posted Jul 28th 2014 10:00AM

Tesla Model X

That darling of the electric car world, Tesla, is idling production at its factory in Fremont, CA, for the first time in order to expand the factory in preparation for its future Model X crossover. The US$100-million renovation will add 25 robots and upgrades to the body shop and assembly line to support the new vehicle.

Since it will be offering two models simultaneously, Tesla will need to be able to keep up with the pace of demand. "This represents the single biggest investment in the plant since we really started operations and enables us for higher volumes," said Tesla spokesperson Simon Sproule to Bloomberg. The new robots will be able to boost production by 25 per cent and will allow the automaker to build the Model S and Model X on the same assembly line. There won't be too much downtime at the California plant, though. The upgrades will be finished within the next two weeks.

With these factory updates, the Model X may finally get its electrically powered wheels on the road. The CUV has been delayed multiple times since its announcement. It was originally supposed to be on sale in early 2014, then later in the year, but now the latest news from Elon Musk places the crossover's launch in the second quarter of 2015.

Until the Model X is on sale, the renovations should also provide a nice lift in Model S assembly. In the company's first quarter financial report, Tesla said that it expected the sedan's production rate to grow from about 700 cars per week to 1,000 per week by the end of the year, with the expectation of selling a total of 35,000 of them in 2014. That should help quell demand in new markets like the UK and expansion in Europe.

News Source: Bloomberg

Image Credit: Copyright 2014 Sebastian Blanco / AOL

Subaru teasing new WRX S4 model ahead of Japanese debut

Posted Jul 28th 2014 9:00AM

Subaru WRX S4 teaser

The Subaru WRX range is growing just a little bit larger, at least in Japan, with the automaker's teasing announcement of a new version called the S4. Unfortunately, the company is keeping details about its latest all-wheel drive sport sedan a closely guarded secret for the moment.

From what we can glean, it appears that the S4 might be a more luxurious take on the WRX. According to the release, the name stands for the four qualities that Subaru wants the sedan to have: "'Sports performance', 'Safety performance', 'Smart driving' and 'Sophisticated feel.'" As part of this focus, the car comes with the company's EyeSight camera system. Thankfully, we don't have too long to wait to find out what all of the buzz words actually mean because Subaru is unveiling the S4 on August 25 in Japan.

The automaker also launched a teaser website for the S4 that you can check out, here, but at the moment it doesn't provide any more details about the new sport sedan. The site just has countdown until the August reveal. There's also no indication yet whether this potentially more premium WRX could make it North America. Scroll down to read the Subaru's rather concise teaser for the upcoming S4.

News Source: Subaru [1], [2]

Smart highlights safety of new Fortwo by crashing into much bigger brother

Posted Jul 27th 2014 8:01PM

Smart ForTwo versus S-Class crash test

Smart is just getting ready to launch its new Fortwo and Forfour minicars, riding on a completely different platform, and the diminutive brand wants to show that its latest creations can stand up to some serious abuse. For such a tiny car, the crashworthiness of the Smarts is a legitimate concern when taking on larger, heavier vehicles. To prove their survivability, the company filmed a head-on collision pitting the latest Fortwo against a Mercedes-Benz S-Class weighing more than twice as much.

When it unveiled the latest cars, Smart touted that it crash-tested them against the larger Mercedes-Benz C-Class and S-Class. Among their updates, the Fortwo and Forfour use a substructure containing ultra-high strength, hot-formed steel and maximum-strength, multiphase steel. They also have larger crumple zones.

Of course, Smart can make all the claims that it wants about the cars' safety, but actually showing it to people is much more convincing. At 5,088 pounds (2,308 kilograms), the S-Class dominates the 2,478-pound (1,124-kilogram) Fortwo in terms of weight. Scroll down to see how the little hatchback fares against the more expensive, luxury sedan in a 31-mile-per-hour (50 km/h) frontal crash.

News Source: Daimler AG via YouTube

An open letter to every teen getting a driver's licence

Posted Jul 27th 2014 5:59PM

Legislature and You-Teen Drivers

Reid HollisterMy son Reid (pictured on the left, at right) would have turned 25 this month. I say would because he died, the driver in a one-car crash, at age 17, just 11 months after getting his driver's licence.

My son's death devastated our family and our community. After seven years, we don't cry as much as we used to, but we are left with painful wonder: what would Reid have been doing today if he had lived?

I start with my tragedy only to introduce myself as more interested in safe teen driving than the average parent. If my opening has made you roll your eyes, I ask you to give me a few hundred words of your time, based on my promise that the rest of this is about you, not me.

You may have heard of the famous prayer asking for the ability to accept what we cannot change, the courage to change what we can, and the wisdom to know the difference. Safe teen driving is similar. Let me explain... READ MORE
Timothy Hollister is an attorney and teen safety advocate. Author of Not So Fast: Parenting Your Teen Through Dangers of Driving, he has been a rational voice promoting better teen driving education and increased awareness of parents' role in keeping their children safe behind the wheel.

Image Credit: Gary S. Chapman / Marc Serota / Invision / Associated Press

Has Aston Martin abandoned plans for a Lagonda SUV?

Posted Jul 27th 2014 4:00PM

Aston Martin Lagonda SUV

Aston Martin Lagonda SedanAston Martin may possibly (hopefully?) axe plans for a Lagonda-badged SUV, according to a new report from the blokes at Piston Heads. If this is true, it'd serve as proof that the auto gods are good, and want us to be happy.

The report is based on statements made by Director of Design Marek Reichman.

"We still have plans for the brand. There might be some surprises in the marque's re-establishment into the market place, but as a very unique coachbuilt experience. And that's probably what's most befitting of the brand," Reichman told PH when asked about the Lagonda SUV, which debuted way back in 2009.

"That was a different time [when the Lagonda debuted]," Reichman continued. "It was [Dr. Ulrich Bez's] time. And now we're in a very, very different time, with a different plan and with a different projection of what that brand should become."

Considering the spy shots we've already seen (inset), PH's conclusion that the Lagonda brand would be reborn as an ultra-exclusive sedan doesn't seem far off. As for the rumours that AM would look to Mercedes-Benz for its SUV architecture, well, it's not looking so good any more.

What do you think? Should Aston Martin launch a sedan above the Rapide? What would you expect in terms of price and performance? Let us know in Comments.

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News Source: Piston Heads

Image Credit: Copyright 2014 AOL, KGP Photography

Toyota engineer warns automous cars could increase fuel use, urban sprawl

Posted Jul 27th 2014 2:00PM

Google Autonomous Car

An increasing number of people are starting to consider the potential downsides of a transition to autonomous cars. The FBI is already looking at them for the potential ill effects on law enforcement, and a scientist for Toyota is raising the possibility that driverless vehicles could actually be detrimental to the environment over the long term.

Ken Laberteaux, who studies future transportation for Toyota, thinks that autonomous cars could lead to more pollution, not less, says Bloomberg. However, Laberteaux's theory isn't so much based purely on science as it is considering behavioral and historical trends. "US history shows that anytime you make driving easier, there seems to be this inexhaustible desire to live further from things," said Laberteaux during a presentation at the Automated Vehicles Symposium in San Francisco, CA, cited by Bloomberg.

Laberteaux's belief is that if commuters can make their drives easier, then they will be more willing to live farther away from the cities where they work. The end result would be more urban sprawl and increased pollution from the longer travel times.

The hypothesis is completely the opposite of how we generally think about autonomous vehicles, with some experiments showing fuel economy improvements by as much as 20 per cent. However, Laberteaux is looking beyond one-off observations and extrapolating further. With the law still figuring out how to get driverless cars on the road, we're probably still decades from finding out what effects they will actually have on the world.

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News Source: Bloomberg

Image Credit: Google

Jaguar builds F-Type to support Tour de France team [w/video]

Posted Jul 27th 2014 12:00PM

Jaguar F-Type Coupe Team Sky Concept

The Tour de France is typically a two-wheeled affair, dominated by cyclists yearning to capture the prestigious yellow jersey. While the 2014 event winds its way through Europe, Stage 20 will see an altogether different conveyance wind along the route between Bergerac and Périgueux – the Jaguar F-Type Coupe.

As part of its partnership with the British cyclists of Team Sky, Jag has enlisted its new Special Operations division to build a one-off F-Type Coupe, based on the 550-horsepower, supercharged R model.

SpecOps has removed the rear glass and come up with a creative solution to mount a pair of Team Sky's racing cycles in the back. Aside from that upgrade, the cabin boasts new upholstery in the colors of Team Sky's traditional livery. A separate power supply has been established below the bikes in what's left of the trunk, which provides juice for a set of radios and microphones, so that the team's director can communicate with the riders.

Now, before the wealthy amateur cyclists of the world dial up their local dealer and attempt to order their very own F-Type with a bike rack in place of the rear window, Jaguar has already stated that it will not be putting this one-off into production.

Scroll down and take a look at a video of the new car's build process, as well as a the official press release from Jaguar. And keep an eye open for the F-Type on July 26, when Stage 20 of the 2014 Tour de France is ran.

News Source: Jaguar via YouTube

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