Skip to main content

We obsessively cover the auto industry

98 New Articles in this week Hide Featured

Five reasons to love or hate the culture of North American cars

  • Five reasons to love or hate the culture of North American cars
  • 2015 Honda CR-V
  • Morgan Plus 8 Speedster hits the track versus BMW R Nine T
  • 2014 Cadillac ELR

Audi TT Sportback Concept evolves the five-door breed ahead of Paris debut

Posted Oct 1st 2014 4:00PM

Audi TT Sportback Concept

One week after a leaked sketch ran on these very pages, Audi has introduced the latest member of a "potential TT family," according to Audi board member Dr. Ulrich Hackenberg. This is the TT Sportback Concept, a five-door, 400-horsepower version of the brand's stylish sports car and at this point, it looks darn likely to herald the debut of a third body style for Audi's design icon.

Unveiled at the expansive Volkswagen group night celebration ahead of the 2014 Paris Motor Show, the TT Sportback Concept is the most evolved version of a form factor that's seen a slow striptease throughout 2014, first with the Allroad Shooting Brake Concept in Detroit and, more recently, in the Offroad Concept from the Beijing Motor Show.

For Paris, the car being shown by Audi is absent traditional concept car traits like oversized wheels, miniscule mirrors and bizarre interior treatments, giving it a far more production ready appearance than either of the previous TT-based concepts. The exterior, meanwhile, is clearly reminiscent of the third-generation car (that roofline is pure TT), although there are a number of styling decisions that remind us of the compact A3, particularly in regards to the taillights.

This heavy production basis does not, we're guessing, extend to the engine bay, which is home to a 400-horsepower, 2.0-litre, turbocharged four-cylinder. That zesty powerplant and its 332 pound-feet of torque allows the TT Sportback to hit 100 km/h (62 miles per hour) in a scant 3.9 seconds. A seven-speed S-tronic dual-clutch transmission manages this grunt, and shifts the 2.0T's power to a Quattro all-wheel-drive system.

We'll have much more on the TT Sportback Concept and everything else coming from the Volkswagen Group at the 2014 Paris Motor Show in the coming days. In the meantime, scroll down for the full press release from Audi, and check out the brand's newest concept car in the gallery, above.

News Source: Audi

Volkswagen XL Sport brings high-performance fuel-sipping to 2014 Paris Motor Show

Posted Oct 1st 2014 3:30PM

Volkswagen XL Sport

Just over one year ago, we reported on rumours that Volkswagen was pairing with its then-new corporate cousin, Italian motorcycle maker Ducatti, to build a high-performance version of the XL1, a vehicle that we (actually, I) said would be a "firecracker," thanks to its super-low curb weight, slippery aerodynamics and alleged 190-horsepower engine. Now, only slightly late for its rumoured Geneva Motor Show debut, VW is trotting out the so-called XL Sport to the 2014 Paris Motor Show.

Total output has jumped to 197 horsepower, thanks to the presence of a Ducatti 1199 Superleggera V-twin, which has been mated up to a seven-speed dual-clutch transmission. In addition to screaming its way to 11,000 rpm, the two-cylinder engine will help the XL Sport zip to 100 km/h (62 mph) in a brisk 5.8 seconds before reaching a top speed of 270 km/h (168 mph).

270 km/h (168 mph) is a lofty speed for a 200-hp vehicle, and it wouldn't be possible without VW's obsessive streamlining of the XL Sport's body.

That's a lofty speed for a 200-horsepower vehicle, and it wouldn't be possible without VW's obsessive streamlining of the XL Sport's body. Featuring a 0.258 coefficient of drag, it's not as efficient as the standard XL1's 0.189, thanks to the presence of wider tires, increased downforce and additional cooling ducts. Still, the XL is sleek enough for VW to claim the title of most aerodynamic sports car.

A pushrod rear suspension and forged magnesium wheels are just a few of the race-minded items underpinning the XL Sport, indicating that on top of being a quick little scamp, it should prove a capable dancer.

While Volkswagen is planning on building 250 XL1s, at this point there's no indication that the XL Sport will be sold to the public. We're guessing that question could depend on the public's reaction to the unique sportster when it makes its debut in the coming days at the 2014 Paris Motor Show.

Scroll down for the full press release from Volkswagen, and then head into the gallery and take a closer look at the XL Sport.

News Source: Volkswagen

Lamborghini reveals Asterion LPI 910-4 hybrid hypercar concept

Posted Oct 1st 2014 3:01PM

Lamborghini Asterion LPI 910-4

There are automakers that roll out concept cars regularly as a matter of course, and there are those that rarely do. Lamborghini falls squarely in the latter category, which makes the vehicle you see here - revealed just a day before the Paris Motor Show - such a rare treat.

It's called the Lamborghini Asterion LPI 910-4, and if you're familiar with Sant'Agata nomenclature, you're probably already picking apart its specs based on those letters and numbers: LP for longitudinal posterior, telling you this is, like all other contemporary Raging Bulls, a mid-engined supercar. 910 tells you how much metric horsepower it packs. The 4 tells you it's all-wheel drive. But along with the name Asterion, borrowed from a mythical minotaur (a hybrid man-bull, for those unschooled in Greek mythology), it's the letter I – standing for "Ibrido" – which speaks of the novelty of this concept.

That's right, you're looking at the first gasoline-electric hybrid Lamborghini. A plug-in hybrid, in fact, that can travel 50 kilometres (31 miles) on electricity alone. The powertrain combines the 5.2-litre V10 and seven-speed DSG from the Huracán (good for 610 metric horsepower) to a trio of electric motors (good for another 300) to bring total output up to a claimed 910 – equivalent to 897 hp by our standards - assuming all four motors are running at peak output at the same time. That makes it the most powerful Lamborghini we've ever seen, and puts it in league with the McLaren P1 and LaFerrari. The result is a 0-100 km/h (0-62 mph) time quoted at three seconds flat and a top speed of 320 km/h (199 miles per hour), or up to 125 km/h (78 mph) in pure electric mode.

That's right, you're looking at the first gasoline-electric hybrid Lamborghini.

Of course there's more to the Asterion than its powertrain, exceptional as it is. The striking form is pure Lambo, all sharp angles, intersecting lines and big vents. Closer to the softer Huracán than the pure visual aggression of the Aventador, the concept has a longer front deck vaguely reminiscent of the Miura. The interior, like those of every production Lambo since Urraco (and the LM002) is a pure two-seater, rendered in a decidedly lighter tan and brown but with all the requisite carbon-fibre trim. The doors open more out than up, something in between the Huracán's conventional portals and the Aventador's scissors, in a similar (but more aggressive) approach to the swan doors you'd find on an Aston Martin.

The big question, of course, is whether Lamborghini has any intention of building the Asterion, and any answer at this point would be pure speculation. But considering how much attention (and what big price tags) its rivals have garnered for their hybrid hypercars, and the capacity Lambo has created for producing small runs of rare machinery like the Veneno and Sesto Elemento, our reaction would likely be more delighted than shocked. Whether or not the Asterion itself ever reaches customer hands, though, you can bet that the hybrid powertrain eventually will, in some form or another.

News Source: Lamborghini

Chevy Silverado Toughnology Concept gets ready for SEMA

Posted Oct 1st 2014 2:31PM

Silverado Toughnology Concept

Aluminum is the big buzzword in the pickup world these days, especially with the upcoming 2015 Ford F-150 shedding over 700-pounds (317 kilograms) by switching to the lightweight metal. The question on pundits' and buyers' minds is when (or if) General Motors and Ram Trucks could make a similar shift. However, Chevrolet is showing that there is still room for good-ole' fashioned steel in the truck world with its Toughnology Concept.

The Toughnology concept is based on the 2015 Silverado 1500 with a 5.3-litre V8 in LTZ trim and clearly takes aim at naysayers proclaiming the end of metal's use in trucks. It uses about 67 per cent ultra- and high-strength steel in its cab. According to Chevy, not only is the material around 30 per cent lighter than conventional carbon steel but also offers improved strength too.

The automaker even takes an obvious shot at Ford in the concept's announcement saying that the use of high-strength steel "offers significant mass savings at a lower cost than aluminum, which helps keep down the overall vehicle cost." Clearly, it knows where the competition is.

Chevy wants to bring the Silverado's underpinnings to the fore, and it paints the Toughnology in a shade of silver that emulates the colour of raw steel. If that doesn't get the message across, it even has the molecular model for the metal on the side of the body. Further styling enhancements include a black hood, mesh grille, 22-inch wheels and tinted headlight covers. For some boosted capability, the concept also has a new air intake, performance exhaust and upgraded brakes.

Like the Colorado Sport concept, this one is on display both at the State Fair of Texas and at the upcoming SEMA show. Find the full release about the truck, below.

Related GalleryChevrolet Silverado Toughnology Concept
Chevrolet Silverado Toughnology ConceptChevrolet Silverado Toughnology Concept

News Source: Chevrolet

Brabham returns with open-source, crowd-funded racing team [w/video]

Posted Oct 1st 2014 2:00PM

Jack Brabham

A lot has happened since Sir Jack Brabham went down in history as the the only driver ever to win the Formula One World Championship in his own car. His offspring have followed in his footsteps, with two of his sons (Geoff in 1993 and David in 2009) having won at Le Mans with Peugeot. Bernie Ecclestone used the team as a springboard to seize control of F1's commercial rights. The Brabham name was subsequently adopted by a BMW tuner. And finally, Sir Jack himself left this world this past May. But his family is fighting to regain control of their name and bring it back to the world stage.

The plan, being initiated by Sir Jack's youngest son David, is to relaunch the Brabham name in a number of international racing series. And to get there, the Brabhams are counting on public support. They've launched a crowdsourcing campaign on Indiegogo to raise funds for racing activities, and in return for public contributions, promise to provide "unrivaled access" to the team's inner workings in an open-source racing platform.

The first step will be to enter the FIA World Endurance Championship – including the 24 Hours of Le Mans – in the LMP2 class starting next season. It will need to raise £8 million ($14.5m) to get up and running and onto the grid, and is raising contributions in increments of £250,000 ($450k). In other words, participating in the initiative will be a bit more costly than funding a new fashion label or gadget startup, but promises to give backers more than a t-shirt or a new toy: funders will participate in the development of the car, vote on key team decisions, and take advantage of the new Brabham-Digital platform as either a fan, a driver or an engineer, following the team and its progress as if they were on the pit wall, in the cockpit or in the garage.

It's racing democratized, or so at least it promises, and we'll be looking forward to seeing the project materialize. After the initial stage in LMP2, Brabham hopes to participate in Formula E and other racing series and eventually make it back into F1 – the series where Sir Jack Brabham won three world championships himself and his team racked up two constructors' titles and four drivers' championships over the course of three decades on the grid.

Find out more in the video below, the project's website and its Indiegogo page.

News Source: Brabham

Corvette Z06 cracks 3-second 0-60, 1.2 g on skidpad

Posted Oct 1st 2014 1:00PM

Quarter Mile Dispatched In 10.95 Seconds At 204 km/h

2015 Chevrolet Corvette Z06

Ever since Chevy took the lid off, we knew the new Corvette Z06 would be fast. We just didn't know how fast, until now...

Hot off the presses, Chevrolet has now confirmed that the new Z06 will run from 0 to 60 miles per hour (0 to 96 km/h) in less than 3 seconds – 2.95 seconds, to be precise, when equipped with the eight-speed automatic transmission. Stick with the standard seven-speed manual and you're looking at 3.2 seconds, which is still a few tenths quicker than the previous ZR1, which the new Z06 effectively replaces. It's awfully hard to verify such things, but this could very well be the first front-engine, rear-drive production car to crack the three-second barrier.

Impressed? Hold on, there's more: the Z06 will run the quarter-mile in 10.95 seconds with the automatic, 11.2 with the manual – either way reaching 127 mph (204 km/h) by the end of the strip. It takes less than 100 feet (barely longer than a regulation basketball court) to stop from 60 mph (96 km/h), and will circle the skidpad at 1.2 g. (All the downforce that helps achieve that last figure, though, is expected to hamper the as-yet unquoted top speed.)

If you're wondering how all those elements add up, GM reports that the new Z06 is the fastest vehicle ever to lap its 2.9-mile (4.6-kilometre) road course at Milford, knocking a full second off the ZR1's previous record. Not too shabby for a vehicle costing less than US$80k. Feel free to read all the official details below.

News Source: Chevrolet

Honda Civic Type R on track to smash 'Ring record, eclipse NSX

Posted Oct 1st 2014 12:31PM

Honda Civic Type R

Honda has made some serious performance machinery over the course of its history, but few products have been as hotly anticipated as the upcoming new Civic Type R. Following a deep and proud history of Type R Hondas, the latest Japanese hot hatch is continuing its long striptease at the Paris Motor Show this week. But before it does, Honda has released this video clip featuring project leader Suehiro Hasshi – and he has some bold claims to make.

For one, he says it'll be the best Type R yet – and that's quite a statement considering some of its predecessors, including the almighty NSX Type R. Hasshi-san also reiterates Honda's aim of snatching the front-drive lap record at the Nürburgring away from the likes of Renault and Seat, and reports that the Honda team is on track to chew every bit it's biting off. In short, the new Civic Type R ought to be sensational.

Related GalleryHonda Civic Type R Concept II
Honda Civic Type R Concept IIHonda Civic Type R Concept IIHonda Civic Type R Concept IIHonda Civic Type R Concept II

Related GalleryHonda Civic Type R Spy Shots
Honda Civic Type R Spy ShotsHonda Civic Type R Spy ShotsHonda Civic Type R Spy ShotsHonda Civic Type R Spy ShotsHonda Civic Type R Spy ShotsHonda Civic Type R Spy ShotsHonda Civic Type R Spy ShotsHonda Civic Type R Spy Shots

Related Gallery2015 Honda Civic Type R Prototype
2015 Honda Civic Type R Prototype2015 Honda Civic Type R Prototype2015 Honda Civic Type R Prototype2015 Honda Civic Type R Prototype2015 Honda Civic Type R Prototype2015 Honda Civic Type R Prototype2015 Honda Civic Type R Prototype2015 Honda Civic Type R Prototype

News Source: Honda via YouTube

2015 Toyota Yaris

Posted Oct 1st 2014 12:00PM

Refreshed To Sell Confidence And Value, Not Innovation And Technology

2015 Toyota Yaris

Advertising firms have done an admirable job convincing consumers that the easiest way to find a best-in-segment car or truck is by looking at a few key metrics. In the most elementary terms, the vehicle with the highest horsepower, most gears in its transmission housing, lowest acceleration times and best fuel economy most certainly must be the class benchmark.

Yet as the commercials and billboards continue to drive that deceitful message, Toyota is betting shoppers in the subcompact segment are a bit more discerning. The Japanese automaker has just launched its updated 2015 Yaris, a three- and five-door offering that bucks the innovation and performance trends by offering what Toyota feels that entry-level buyers actually desire – reliability, practicality and a low sticker price.

It's sweltering in the tropical Hawaiian sun as I check out the deeply refreshed 2015 Yaris SE. This five-door hatchback, a range-topping version of the company's subcompact "sporty hatch" (Toyota's words, not mine), builds on the new-in-2012 generation by wearing new front and rear fascias, redesigned headlights and some attractive new wheels for the upcoming model year.

Overall, I like what I see. The front clip, with new LED daytime running lights, projector-beam headlight lenses and an oversized piano-black grille adds some character and aggression to a formerly nondescript vehicle. The wheel designs are big improvement, too, as their twisted spokes suggest motion even when standing still. The rear treatment, basically a new urethane bumper cap and redesigned taillamps, isn't as exciting as the front, almost appearing less sporty overall with the deletion of the chrome exhaust outlet, but it ties the package together. (It's interesting to note that the reverse lights have been moved from the taillamp cluster to a single unit at the bottom centre of the bumper – one would think its much lower height would be less effective in terms of overall illumination.)

Image Credit: Copyright 2014 Michael Harley / AOL

Kevin Ward Jr.'s family writes open letter questioning crash investigation

Posted Oct 1st 2014 11:29AM

The grieving family of race driver Kevin Ward Jr. feels he's was portrayed unfairly after his death. Ward Jr.'s aunt read a prepared letter to USA Today Sports addressing the controversial incident that killed her nephew last month and the criminal investigation that released fellow driver Tony Stewart of guilt and claims Ward Jr. had enough marijuana in his system to "impair his judgment" at time of his death.

"Why was the toxicology report even an issue? Seems to me the wrong man was on trial," Wendi told USA Today. "Tell me why Tony Stewart was not taken in for testing, why his car wasn't impounded. Tell me how a man the size of Kevin can make a sprint car turn to the right on impact," said his aunt... READ MORE

News Source: USA Today Sports, AOL Autos

Image Credit: AP Photo / Mel Evans