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2015 Toyota Tundra TRD Pro

  • 2015 Toyota Tundra TRD Pro
  • Audi reveals new TT spec racer
  • 2015 Mercedes-Benz S550 Coupe
  • 2015 Aston Martin V12 Vantage S Roadster

Autobild blows China's fake BMW X5 sky high

Posted Oct 23rd 2014 3:00PM

Shuanghuan CEO blown up

The Germans famously love their cars. With high-speed cruising on the Autobahn and a lot of fun available from the country's back roads, they have every reason to. Apparently, the country's auto writers also take their jobs in advising the enthusiastic populace very seriously. As this video from Autobild shows, when a downright horrible vehicle like the Shuanghuan CEO comes around, it receives some sweeping destruction.

To be fair, the CEO might be one of the worst vehicles in the world. Not only is the SUV a pretty blatant copy of a first-generation BMW X5, it's a bad one at that. The horrible build quality shown by Autobild must be seen to be believed. Even worse, the example in this video is said to be just five years old, but practically every part is rusting or corroding. There are even dead flies in the headlights.

Autobild attempts to give the CEO a proper driving test, but it fails in spectacular fashion. This is a Chinese SUV with no apparent redeeming qualities, and the video shows what happens from there. Be warned, the clip is entirely in German, but it shows enough of the vehicle's qualities to make it clear what's happening and why.

News Source: Autobild via YouTube

Convertible demand has tanked over last seven years

Posted Oct 23rd 2014 2:00PM

Volkswagen Beetle Convertible

Few things match the joy of open-roofed motoring. The wind runs through your hair, the sun beats down and the trees flash overhead, and it's then that you realize that this elemental experience is just better than being permanently ensconced in stylized cage of steel and glass. Unfortunately for a lot of convertible manufacturers, consumers are unaware of this truth.

That's bad news for the sun worshipers among us, as a new report from Automotive News Europe indicates that falling demand for droptops is not just turning off automakers, but it's actually impacting the contracted manufacturers whose primary focus is canvas roofs and folding hardtops.

According to ANE, convertible sales are down from 5.4 per cent of sales in the first half of 2007 to just 3.3 per cent in 2014, a situation that is untenable for the three largest manufacturers of convertible roofs, according to one CEO.

Holger Engelmann, the CEO of the world's largest convertible system supplier, Webasto, told ANE if convertible sales continue to decline, the market won't be strong enough to support his company and its two main competitors, Magna CTS and Valmet, the second and third largest manufacturers, respectively.

The reasons for the decline of convertibles are wide and varied, but a few obvious things can be blamed – first, there are changing tastes. In the past, people opted for droptops "because they wanted to show that they belonged to a certain community," trend research Sven Gabor Janszky told ANE. "Today, people would rather show that they are something special or that ecology is very important to them by buying an electric car such as the Tesla or the BMW i3."

Beyond that, things are easier to pin down. According to the analysts that spoke to ANE, the market-wide shift towards crossovers and SUVs isn't just hurting sedans, it's having an impact on convertibles, too. Factor in the proliferation of glass roofs and panoramic sunroofs, which provide the sort of elemental experience typical of convertibles, but without the increased price, complexity and sometimes off-putting driving dynamics, and it's not too hard to see why convertible sales are facing issues.

Still, this isn't a trend we want to see. Here's hoping Joe Consumer realizes the error of his ways and moves back to open-roof driving.

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Best and worst cars for tall drivers

Posted Oct 23rd 2014 1:00PM



There are several deciding factors when it comes to buying a new car, from price and fuel economy to insurance costs and reliability, but fitting comfortably into the driver's seat can make or break any deal. Before you buy, make sure the car fits your size.

Both short and tall drivers can have a tough time finding the right vehicle, as tall people could hit the roof and short people might not properly reach the clutch. Thankfully, we've compiled this list for all you tall folks out there based on seat comfort, driving position, access, legroom, and visibility. Oh, and not to worry 'shawtay,' as our list of best and worst cars for short drivers is coming out next week.

Click here to view the best and worst new cars for tall drivers.

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News Source: Automotive.com, Autoblog Canada / Respective Manufacturers

Image Credit: Toyota of Naperville

2015 Toyota Tundra TRD Pro

Posted Oct 23rd 2014 12:00PM

Toyota Tundra TRD Pro

Despite the earnest efforts of Japanese automakers like Toyota and Nissan, the North American pickup truck scene remains wholly dominated by the likes of Ford, General Motors and Chrysler. This is not news. Part of the reason is because of the sheer number of variants offered by US automakers – everything from work-spec base trucks to house-leveling heavy duty models can be had, with a seemingly endless combination of engines, cab sizes, bed lengths and trim levels. It's a hugely profitable business, and though the Japanese automakers still offer competitive fullsize trucks, in terms of sheer volume, they simply don't compete.

But American pickups aren't just about work; there's a huge play aspect involved, too. Look at the desert-storming Ford F-150 SVT Raptor or the Ram Power Wagon – these butch trucks are built with superb off-road prowess in mind, and Detroit's Japanese rivals have once again largely been silent in this segment. Until now.

Introduced at the 2014 Chicago Auto Show, Toyota now offers the TRD Pro series of models that, in addition to the crazy-orange Tundra seen here, includes the smaller Tacoma pickup and 4Runner SUV. And this isn't just some pretty appearance package, either – there's honest-to-goodness capability baked into all of the TRD Pro models. Intriguing, for sure, so I recently spent a weekend with the big boy Tundra to see what's what.

Image Credit: Copyright 2014 Steven J. Ewing / AOL

Jay Leno takes a Surfin' Safari in a 1937 Ford Woodie Restomod

Posted Oct 23rd 2014 11:00AM

1937 Ford Woodie Restomod

Woodie wagons were a major part of surfing culture in the 1960s, offering coastal style and a ton of room, and they even earned a mention in the Beach Boys' classic song Surfin' Safari. This week, Jay Leno's Garage takes a look at two modern, restomodded examples of these style icons.

Unlike a lot of restomods, builder Scott Bonowski keeps these wagons looking almost completely stock on the outside, and all of the upgrades are hidden underneath the timber. You can't tell by looking at it, but the '37 Woodie (pictured above) has independent front and rear suspension, disc brakes and a Ford 5.0-litre V8 under the hood.

Beyond the mechanical aspect, the craftsmanship into the wood is astounding. Bonowski claims there are between 30 and 50 coats of varnish on this wagon. It makes these woodies as much of a piece of fine furniture as a vehicle to drive.

Leno might be taking his garage to television sometime soon, but until then, we still get to enjoy Jay heaping some love on fantastic cars once a week. Click here to take a tour of two of these intriguing classics in his latest video below.

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News Source: Jay Leno's Garage via YouTube

Kids 39% more likely to buy parents' car brand

Posted Oct 23rd 2014 10:00AM

CHINA-AUTO-SHOW

Children are a blank slate. They draw their habits, behaviours and mannerisms from their parents. If you subscribe to that viewpoint, then this study out of Michigan State University won't really come as a surprise. According to Soren Anderson, and MSU economist, kids are 39 per cent more likely to buy cars from the brands their parents support... READ MORE

News Source: Michigan State University

Image Credit: Peter Parks / AFP / Getty Images

Daimler divests remaining interest in Tesla

Posted Oct 23rd 2014 9:00AM

Mercedes-Benz B-Class Electric Drive

Back in 2009, Daimler acquired over 9 per cent of Tesla. A couple of months later, it sold 40 per cent of that stake to Abu Dhabi-based Aabar Investments. The following year, Tesla listed on the stock exchange and Daimler's interest was reduced to 4 per cent. But now the German industrial giant has announced it is selling that 4 per cent and divesting from Tesla altogether in a liquidation that is expected to raise approximately $780 million for Daimler. The divestment has also triggered speculation that the move could make room for rival German automaker BMW to take an interest in Tesla.

Despite the divestment, Daimler insists that its technological partnership with Tesla will remain unaffected. Mercedes sources the batteries for its B-Class Electric Drive (pictured above) from the Californian outfit in a deal that is not set to change as a result of the financial realignment. A similar collaboration was in place for the Smart Fortwo Electric Drive, however, now that the new generation of Smarts developed with Renault is on its way, it's possible that a next-generation Fortwo ED will use French tech instead as an extension of the partnership between Daimler and Renault-Nissan.

Daimler has also taken the occasion to point out that, between the Mercedes, Smart and various truck brands, it offers "the industry's biggest portfolio of electric vehicles," including pure EVs, fuel cells and hybrids. The automaker says it will introduce ten new plug-in hybrid Mercedes models by 2017.

News Source: Daimler, Forbes

Mini-doc showing at-risk kids building motorcycles in 100 days will warm your heart

Posted Oct 22nd 2014 8:00PM

Moto Build mini-documentary

There are a lot of things in this world that can make you feel pretty defeated – just turn on the national news on any given night for dozens of examples. It's nice every once in a while to get a reminder that things aren't always so bad. If you're looking for a little pick-me-up, just watch this video.

This five-minute mini-documentary tells the story of The Running Rebels of Milwaukee, WI, as they take part in a contest called Build Moto. The group targets high-school kids who might be close to falling into gang life in the city or just need a place to go, and mentors teach them how to do something productive: build motorcycles. As part of Build Moto, each team has just 100 days to complete a bike from scratch, and later, all of the squads compete in various challenges.

It has to be hard to compress 100 days of work into just a few minutes, but this documentary tells a cohesive story about the team. Check out the video to see a cool project for at-risk kids that results in some pretty neat motorcycles.

News Source: Dear MKE via YouTube, Asphalt and Rubber

McLaren offers glimpse inside P1 GTR program [w/video]

Posted Oct 22nd 2014 7:00PM

McLaren P1 GTR prototype on track in Bahrain

Among the many things we were looking forward to seeing at Pebble Beach this year, the McLaren P1 GTR was near the top of our list. Invoking the spirit of the legendary McLaren F1 GTR that dominated sports car racing in the mid-1990s, the P1 GTR was unveiled in Monterey this past August in concept form, giving us an idea of what to expect. But now McLaren has given us a little more.

McLaren P1 GTR cockpitEnvisioned as a track toy for the wealthy who want to play racing driver, the P1 GTR is a further evolution – and a more extreme one – of the road-going P1. The GTR is being developed exclusively for use on track. To that end, Woking has stripped out the cockpit and installed a multifunction steering wheel said to be derived from the championship-winning MP4-23 grand prix car, allowing the driver to "fully adjust the setup and characteristics of the car without having to take their hands off the wheel." The racing buckets are modeled after a DTM touring car, equipped with six-point harnesses and affixed directly to the chassis. Outside you'll notice Pirelli slicks and a fixed rear wing with F1-style Drag Reduction System.

The P1 GTR is about more than the vehicle itself, though, as McLaren – similar to what Ferrari offers with the XX client test-driver program – is launching a full driver support program to go along with it. Customers will have access to the advanced simulator at the McLaren Technology Centre (typically reserved for the team's contracted racing drivers) as well as the factory's coaches. The program will also include 10 to 12 track sessions each year, to be held at F1-certified tracks around the world, at which each customer will have his or her own garage and crew, all for the benefit of their enjoyment.

The program is laid out in the video below, along with which McLaren has released a fresh batch of images showing the uncamouflaged prototype inside and out undergoing hot-weather testing at the grand prix circuit in Bahrain.

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News Source: McLaren

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