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2015 Volkswagen Golf R [w/video]

  • 2015 Volkswagen Golf R [w/video]
  • HIGHLIGHTS: 2014 LA Auto Show
  • 2015 Mercedes-Benz CLS63 AMG S 4Matic stands out in the LA crowd
  • 2016 Mazda CX-3 is the newest KODO designed crossover

Fiat looks to retire 'Fix It Again, Tony' by knocking Honda

Posted Nov 24th 2014 5:00PM

Fiat Fix It Ad

Ask Americans what Fiat stands for, and the odds are pretty low that you'll hear, "Fabbrica Italiana Automobili Torino" to be the answer. The more far likely response is "Fix It Again, Tony." The ignominious moniker comes from the brand's stint selling often unreliable models in North aMerica in the '60s and '70s, and it remains in some minds today. However, Fiat thinks the time is right to challenge the old stereotype, and it's doing just that with a new commercial for the forthcoming 500X compact crossover, while taking some shots at Honda, as well.

In the ad, a guy just wants his Civic repaired, but two heavily accented, Italian mechanics berate his Honda for not being sexy. The boss of the shop eventually promises, "We fix it," and the customer goes inside to enjoy an espresso. At no point is the infamous, "Fix it again, Tony," ever actually uttered, but it's strongly suggested with a sign for Tony's Fix It Shop prominently displayed in several shots.

In an interview with Automotive News, Fiat global brand boss Olivier Francois explained the idea behind the commercial. It "features a skeleton in the closet, the elephant in the room. His name was Tony, and he had to go," Francois said to AN.

The 500X goes on sale in the first half of 2015 in North America and shares a platform with the Jeep Renegade. The CUV is offered with either a 1.4-litre, turbocharged four-cylinder with 160 horsepower and 184 pound-feet of torque, or a 2.4-litre four-cylinder with 180 horsepower.

The commercial certainly shows courage to take on the Fiat's old stereotype, but the brand has more to beat than just perception. The company came in dead last by a large margin in JD Power's 2014 Initial Quality Study, and it was also at the bottom of Consumer Reports' 2015 Predicted Reliability report. Scroll down to watch the ad for Fiat's attempt to challenge the legacy of Tony.

Related Gallery2015 Fiat 500X
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Mercedes-AMG planning more hardcore A45 hot hatch

Posted Nov 24th 2014 4:00PM

Mercedes-Benz A45 AMG

The launch of the A45 AMG marked Mercedes-Benz's first real assault on the premium hot hatch segment. And with 355 horsepower from a 2.0-litre turbo four, it is indeed hot. But the latest word has it that Mercedes-AMG is planning an even hotter version.

Speaking with Auto Express at the LA Auto Show last week, AMG boss Tobias Moers indicated that his department was toying with the idea of a more hardcore version of the A45. In what Moers referred to as a "street fighter," the A45's engine would be tuned to produce even more power, the cabin stripped out and the rolling stock, brakes and aero upgraded for more serious performance.

Think of it, then, as something of a Black Series approach, only it's not expected to carry that name, which has historically been reserved specifically for two-door models. Given AMG's current list of priorities and limited manpower, though, Moers suggests it will be several years – likely towards the end of the model's life cycle – before it may prepare such a model, following a similar formula to the Mini JCW GP and Renaultsport Mégane R26.R. Here's hoping an American version based on the CLA could also be in the cards.

News Source: Auto Express

Watch Ford build a Mustang atop Burj Khalifa, world's tallest building

Posted Nov 24th 2014 3:00PM

Ford Mustang at top of Burj Khalifa

In 1965, a Ford Mustang Convertible proudly went on display at the top of the Empire State Building, the world's tallest building at the time. Earlier this year, the Blue Oval recreated the stunt by bringing the latest droptop 'Stang to the sky-high structure during the New York Auto Show. Unfortunately, while still iconic, the New York skyscraper has lost the world title. Of course, an automaker can't let something like that get in the way of a good publicity stunt.

For the inauguration of the Ford business unit in the Middle East and Africa, the brand gave the 2015 Mustang Convertible an even bigger building to climb – the biggest in fact. The droptop made its way to the 112th floor of the Burj Khalifa, the world's tallest building. To put a final topper on the whole event, executive chairman Bill Ford was the one to affix the car's famous badge, making it complete.

Like with the Empire State Building spectacle, getting the Mustang to the top wasn't as simple as just driving it off the elevator. Check out the video below to see how it was done, and scroll down to read Ford's press release about the event.

Related GalleryFord Mustang at the Top of the Burj Khalifa
Ford Mustang at the Top of the Burj KhalifaFord Mustang at the Top of the Burj KhalifaFord Mustang at the Top of the Burj KhalifaFord Mustang at the Top of the Burj Khalifa


Related Gallery2015 Ford Mustang Convertible
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News Source: Ford, Ford Middle East via YouTube

Top 15 cars plagued with recalls

Posted Nov 24th 2014 2:00PM



New cars are clearly much more complex than they used to be and as a result, we're seeing a record setting number of vehicle recalls from manufacturers. With a staggering 52 million cars recalled so far this year and counting, we can't help but wonder if the endless stream of auto recalls by car manufacturers is the new norm we face moving forward.

In addition to the obvious safety concerns, automotive recalls also directly translate into more trips to the dealership, meaning lost time and inconvenience if your vehicle happens to be affected. Luckily, the number crunching and statistic gathering experts at iSeeCars.com have just released a study listing the Top 15 Cars with the Highest Average Number of Recalls and you might be surprised to find out recall plagued brands GM and Toyota aren't the only manufacturers on the list.

"Recalls are of course detrimental to the safety of the driver and the car's occupants, but they also represent a huge headache for consumers," said iSeeCars.com CEO Phong Ly. Each recall can lead to several hours of lost time. "It's a multi-step process," explained Ly. "You need to call to make an appointment with the dealer, then there's the driving to the dealership, waiting in line and waiting for the repair to be performed or for them to provide you a loaner car. Then you repeat the process again in reverse when the repair is complete." At an estimated average of three hours per recall, the hours lost range from 2.2 to 14.4 hours among the 35 car models studied.

Click here to find out the Top 15 Cars Plagued with Recalls that you should consider before you buy, as iSeeCars.com analyzed the 35 most widely available cars for sale from the 2007 to 2013 model years to determine which cars had the most number of recalls on average. Could the same advanced features and technology we love to have behind the wheel be fueling the vast increase in vehicle recalls and potential flaws?

Related GalleryThe Best / Worst Cars for Rust
The Best / Worst Cars for RustThe Best / Worst Cars for RustThe Best / Worst Cars for RustThe Best / Worst Cars for RustThe Best / Worst Cars for RustThe Best / Worst Cars for RustThe Best / Worst Cars for RustThe Best / Worst Cars for Rust


What You Need to Know About Car Recalls

News Source: iSeeCars.com

Race recap: Abu Dhabi GP is reversals, luck, leanness and last dances

Posted Nov 24th 2014 1:30PM

Graphic for the 2014 Abu Dhabi Formula One Grand Prix.

We weren't sure if Alter Ego Nico Rosberg, the one who flew into Brazil and showed Mercedes AMG Petronas teammate Lewis Hamilton that he knew also knew how to grab an entire race weekend by the scruff of the neck, arrived in Abu Dhabi. In both Friday practice sessions Hamilton showed Rosberg the way.

Then on Saturday, Alter Ego Rosberg took over, taking the last Free Practice session and then pole position by a whopping four-tenths of a second over Hamilton. Thanks to the gimmicky and soon-to-be-obliterated spectre of double points, if Rosberg won the race and Hamilton finished lower than second, the World Championship would remain in German hands.

Behind Hamilton came the Williams duo, again, with Valtteri Bottas ahead of Felipe Massa. Daniil Kvyat did swell to put his Toro Rosso in fifth, Jenson Button was just as swell getting his McLaren into sixth. Kimi Räikkönen out-qualified his Ferrari teammate Fernando Alonso for the third time this year, the pair taking seventh and eighth on the grid. Kevin Magnussen lined the second McLaren up in ninth, Jean-Eric Vergne making the top ten for Toro Rosso in his last race for the team. To be clear, that was the final grid for race: Daniel Ricciardo and Sebastian Vettel had both qualified in the top ten but were sent to the back of the grid when their Infiniti Red Bull Racing front wings were deemed illegal. They'd start from the pit lane, which was still ahead of Romain Grosjean in the Lotus, who took so many penalties for new engine components that he started the race in Turkey.

At lights-out on Sunday, well, it was pretty much lights out.

Image Credit: Copyright 2014 AP / AFP | Getty Images, AOL

Spectacular stunt: Giant truck jumps over Lotus F1 race car

Posted Nov 24th 2014 1:00PM



A Lotus F1 car and the truck in which it's transported may both be powered by Renault and share a common JPS livery, but as far as size and performance are concerned, they're at opposite ends of the spectrum. So if you had to jump one over the other, you'd think it'd be a no-brainer to skip the single-seater over the tractor-trailer. Right? Well that may be the more logical conclusion, but it's not the way the Lotus team and its technology partner EMC decided to go for this latest promo. Instead they jumped the semi over the grand prix car.

The stunt was obviously geared towards publicity, but while they were at it, they set a Guinness World Record for the longest truck jump at 83 feet, 7 inches. The previous record, according to Guinness, stood at 50 feet, 6 inches, and was set on MTV's Nitro Circus on November 17, 2008, by Gregg Godfrey at Rocky Mountain Raceway in Salt Lake City. That record stood for six years, but (as best we can tell) was set without the trailer attached, or the F1 car tracking underneath - which only makes this latest stunt that much more impressive.

You may have seen the promo clip circulating the interwebs late last week, but we've included a making-of video below as well to show how the stunt team managed to pull it all off.

Related GalleryLotus Exige LF1
Lotus Exige LF1Lotus Exige LF1Lotus Exige LF1Lotus Exige LF1Lotus Exige LF1Lotus Exige LF1Lotus Exige LF1Lotus Exige LF1

News Source: EMC via YouTube [1], [2]

2015 Volkswagen Golf R [w/video]

Posted Nov 24th 2014 12:00PM

Grip It And Rip It

2015 Volkswagen Golf R

Volkswagen hired a photographer to come shoot the handful of journalists that it brought to drive the 2015 Golf R at Buttonwillow Raceway north of Los Angeles. This fact, though unremarkable in and of itself, was something I hadn't noticed until I was well into my track time – probably ten laps deep on a day that would see me run twice that number. In any event, I noticed the intrepid shooter as he was sprinting from one side of the track to the other somewhere before Turn 2, while I was barreling down the main straightaway, still looking through Turn 1.

In the roughly two-mile configuration of the track that I drove, Buttonwillow is a big, wide-open circuit, largely flat and with excellent overall visibility. On that layout, and just hours into my Golf R experience, I'd already become confident in endeavoring to push the limits of VW's latest blistering hatch. In fact, the easy nature of driving the thing quickly had me overestimating my pace. So when I saw the photog sprint across the tarmac I instinctively slowed way too much, way too early for Turn 1.

Looking back at the incident after I'd pitted for the session, I laughed at myself, knowing I'd have had to be driving almost double my actual speed to put the camera guy in any real danger of being hit. But the experience crystallized what my full test of the R bore out: this is a car that makes you feel much faster than you otherwise would, at least in a competition setting.

The 2015 Golf R is an über hatch that will flatter those hyper-enthusiasts passionate enough to splash out on its steep price tag, but without threatening sales of core models like the GTI and its ilk. That's a good thing for the VW fanboys, to be sure, and, I'd argue, a great thing for the strength of the German brand overall... READ MORE

Image Credit: Copyright 2014 Seyth Miersma / AOL

2015 Mini John Cooper Works gets ready to rumble

Posted Nov 24th 2014 11:00AM

Mini John Cooper Works

Mini gave us our first taste of its next-generation John Cooper Works Hardtop in concept form at the 2014 Detroit Auto Show. And in fact, we already know that the production version will make its debut at the 2015 Detroit show in January. Fitting, then, that this most recent round of spy shots shows a JCW that's pretty much ready to roll – peel back that yellow swirly paper, and you've pretty much got the final deal.

It's easy to make out the final design for the revised front and rear fascias, and we can clearly see a more robust brake package nestled behind those alloy wheels. Speaking of, we must admit, the wheels here look rather pedestrian for a JCW model, but they could just be prototype rollers and not indicative of the final rolling stock. We expect the flashy red decals of the concept to be offered on the production model, as well, though they could be optional kit.

As reported earlier, power is expected to come from a 230-horsepower turbo-four – a modest increase over the 208 hp from the outgoing Mini JCW. Expect that to route through a six-speed manual transmission, sending turbocharged oomph to the front wheels.

We'll know more when the final product is revealed in Detroit.

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Mini Cooper John Cooper Works Concept Unveiled: This Wacky Looking Car Looks Ready To Drive

Image Credit: CarPix

Ferrari replaces F1 boss with Marlboro exec

Posted Nov 24th 2014 10:30AM

F1 Ferrari Team Principal

Ferrari just finished its worst Formula One season in decades, and if you're thinking heads are going to roll, you're right. In fact they already have, as team principal Stefano Domenicali was dismissed earlier this year and longtime chairman Luca di Montezemolo was axed just two months ago. Now Maranello has announced a new team principal, yet again.

Instead of promoting from within, however, this time Ferrari has called in an outside executive – albeit one with whom it is intimately familiar. His name is Maurizio Arrivabene, and he's served as a senior executive at tobacco giant Philip Morris International, managing (among other areas) the Marlboro brand's sponsorship of the Scuderia. In that capacity he's been sitting on the FIA's Formula One Commission as the sponsors' representative since 2010, giving him a familiarity with how the series is run.

In his new capacity as Managing Director of the Gestione Sportiva and Team Principal of Scuderia Ferrari, Arrivabene replaces Marco Mattiacci, who was called up to the post from his previous position as head of the North American office just eight months ago. Back then Mattiacci replaced a similarly under-performing Domenicali. The change may very well have come at the behest (if not insistence) of Philip Morris, which remains the team's main sponsor and is undoubtedly displeased with Ferrari's performance lately. It wouldn't be the first time. After all, Marlboro similarly brokered the deal that put Ron Dennis in charge of McLaren in the early 1980s.

Mattiacci's swift replacement comes at the end of a disastrous season for the Scuderia. Following yesterday's season finale in Abu Dhabi, Ferrari finished fourth in the constructors' standings behind Mercedes, Red Bull and Williams. The last time it finished the championship in such poor shape was in 2010 when Felipe Massa was injured and the team scrambled to find a replacement. But even then it managed to win at least one race and land on the podium another five times. Fernando Alonso finished on the podium only twice this season while Kimi Raikkonen struggled further back. This year marked the first time Ferrari failed to win a grand prix since 1993, and even then Jean Alesi and Gerhard Berger managed more podiums than the team scored this season.

News Source: Ferrari

Image Credit: Luca Bruno/AP

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