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2015 Porsche 911 GTS Club Coupe Special Edition

  • 2015 Porsche 911 GTS Club Coupe Special Edition
  • Ken Block shows us around his Ford F-150 RaptorTrax
  • Biggest surprises from the 2015 Detroit Auto Show [w/poll]
  • HIGHLIGHTS: 2015 Montreal Auto Show

Audi rumoured to ditch Le Mans, DTM for F1

Posted Jan 25th 2015 8:00AM

Audi Sport Neuburg

If you've been scratching your head wondering how – between Audi and Porsche – the Volkswagen Group could possibly support two rival top-tier LMP1 programs at Le Mans and the FIA World Endurance Championship, but stay out of Formula One entirely, you're not alone. In fact, Porsche was said to have been eying an F1 entry if Audi had internally blocked aspirations to return to Le Mans. But according to the latest rumours, it's Audi that's now preparing to shift away from endurance racing and onto the grand prix circuit.

Word has it that, following internal pressures from within the VW Group, Audi is finally gearing up for a full assault on F1. It's said to be developing a new six-cylinder turbo hybrid power unit - potentially at its new racing headquarters in Neuburg - and, in an expanded partnership with Red Bull, either take Renault's and Infiniti's places with the Red Bull Racing team or take over the Toro Rosso team entirely.

Although Ingolstadt has not campaigned in grand prix racing since the pre-war days of the Silver Arrows, it was said to have been the impetus for the FIA's push a couple of years ago for new four-cylinder engine regulations until Audi bailed on the idea altogether and F1 went for six-cylinder engines instead.

The rumours are ostensibly fortified by Audi's recent hiring of Stefano Domenicali. The former Ferrari team principal has no experience in endurance racing and reportedly doesn't even speak German, but while he was nominally hired in a non-motorsport capacity, the F1 shift would certainly make sense of his recruitment. Rumours have even speculated that the big question mark hovering over Fernando Alonso's future could be answered as part of Audi's arrival in the sport.

Audi's move to F1 would not come without its costs, though, and that would not only spell the end of its nearly unbroken thirteen-year winning streak at Le Mans stretching back to the turn of the millennium, but also potentially the end of its DTM touring car program. Its customer GT racing program, however, would remain unaffected, according to reports. Meanwhile, along with Honda's imminent arrival on the grid and perennial participants Ferrari, Mercedes and Renault, Audi's move would bring the number of engine manufacturers participating in F1 from a low of three this season up to five - just short of the six that competed years ago before BMW, Toyota and Honda withdrew.

Average Detroit debut car had 331 hp, 7 speeds, 0-60 of 5.6 seconds

Posted Jan 24th 2015 8:00PM

My fellow Autoblog editors and I were hyped for the 2015 Detroit Auto Show before the doors at Cobo even opened, and the sheet metal we all saw bore out that early excitement. And, as is usually the case, you readers tuned in more often and in greater numbers for coverage of this show than you do for any other single event on the calendar of the car world. Thanks.

By basic measures then, Detroit '15 was a smashing success. (If you're within striking distance of the Motor City, I highly recommend that you buy a ticket and see for yourself.)

With big names like Ford GT, NSX, Titan, Tacoma and Volt rolling onto stages this year, its no wonder that our eyeballs were glued to the coverage. But the diversity of products (along with my recent breakdown of the cars I drove in 2014) had me wondering what the "average" Detroit debut car looked like this year.

To get some statistical idea of what the show produced this year, I fired up Excel and started to chart the facts and figures relayed by dozens of press releases.

As you might guess, the results left huge gaps in the data set. Mixing concept car info with just-announced production vehicles means that powertrain details like power and torque can be sketchy, while really sensitive info like pricing and fuel economy ratings are almost non-existent. What's more, my rough calculations only took into account debuting products, not the entire roster of every company's show stand (which often includes existing production models).

In short, I was hunting for trends more than rigorous science. (Hey, I'm an English major, back off.)

All of those caveats listed then, what did the spec sheet Detroit's average debut vehicle look like? Here's a list of figures (all "where applicable"): READ ON.

Image Credit: Copyright 2015 AOL

New Honda smart cruise control predicts other motorists' future idiocy

Posted Jan 24th 2015 6:00PM

It's not quite "Open the pod bay doors, Hal," but we're getting there: Honda is offering a predictive cruise control system on the Exectuve Grade Honda CR-V in Europe starting this year. Advancing the capabilities of the present adaptive cruise control, the Intelligent Adaptive Cruise Control (i-ACC) will be able to foresee and automatically react to other vehicles cutting in ahead of you up to five seconds ahead of it happening.

A research team developed the system after studying European driving patterns for years. The i-ACC keeps track of surrounding cars with a camera and radar, "evaluating relations between multiple vehicles" and running the data through an algorithm to figure out who's going to do what. If it detects another car about to move into your lane, the CR-V brakes softly and a dash light illuminates to let the driver know what's about to happen, then it brakes a little more firmly to keep the proper distance after the other car moves in.

Honda says it works in the UK and on The Continent because it knows which side of the road you're driving on. That means it could work here, but our guess is that it will take a while for that happen, our driving patterns being a little more erratic - and that's putting it kindly - than those of our Euro brethren. There's a press release below with more information.

News Source: Honda

Nissan Altima getting major refresh for 2016?

Posted Jan 24th 2015 4:00PM

The most innovative version yet, the fifth-generation 2013 Nissan Altima builds on its strong reputation for quality and reliability and adds new levels of innovation, fuel-efficiency, dynamic performance and premium style.

Nissan hasn't let the latest Altima languish since introducing the midsize sedan. In the last two model years, the company has improved the vehicle's infotainment system and slightly bumped the V6's fuel economy, among other tweaks. But the upcoming mid-cycle refresh may bring the most drastic changes yet, according to the company's product planning exec.

Nissan styling boss Shiro Nakamura previously suggested that the refreshed Altima might take some design inspiration from the latest Murano and the Sports Sedan Concept. The move would give the midsize sedan a sportier look and presage an even more aggressive shape for the next-gen model.

Nissan North America product planning boss Pierre Loing confirmed to Automotive News that some styling changes are on the way for the Altima for the 2016 refresh, and the sedan is getting updated tech, too. He even hinted that the model's already impressive 6.2 L/100km highway fuel economy may see a bump, as well. "We're going to do something significant for the Altima for the midcycle," said Loing to Automotive News. Although, the updates might not go as far as the updated 2015 Toyota Camry's roughly 2,000 new parts, he suggested.

The decision to put so much work into the updated Altima comes partially from its position in the midsize market. While the sedan segment is losing ground to crossovers, it's still a big part of the industry, and the Altima is gaining steam. The Nissan's sales were up 4.7 per cent to 335,644 units in 2014, according to Automotive News, compared to 388,374 for the Honda Accord and 428,606 for the Toyota Camry.

Porsche updates 919 Hybrid racer for 2015 season

Posted Jan 24th 2015 2:00PM

Porsche's grand return to the elite level of global endurance racing showed mixed success in its first year. The company did score one victory in the 2014 FIA World Endurance Championship season during the race in Brazil but finished in third place overall among the three factory manufacturers. Porsche is hoping for a few more wins in 2015 and is releasing its first shots of the updated car to achieve those triumphs when things kick off in April.

The team's racer is still called the 919 Hybrid, but Porsche promises this second-generation version is a "comprehensive evolution" compared to last year. The most obvious change is the redesigned front end where the styling now features a simple horizontal intake running across the front (compare to 2014, below). The nose area also now flares out to the windshield. The side grows a more complicated look, though, with a series of fins just behind the driver compartment.

Porsche isn't divulging many details about anything different under the skin. The 2015 919 is still propelled by a 2.0-litre turbocharged V4, and an electric motor powers the front wheels. There are also two energy recovery systems.

In addition to the previous challengers from Audi and Toyota, Porsche has one more competitor in the factory ranks this season. The Nissan GT-R LM Nismo is rumored to be a radical departure from the rest of the field with an engine possibly located in front of the driver. Read the German brand's very brief release about the updated 919 Hybrid below and click through the gallery to see how it looks.

Related GalleryPorsche 919 Hybrid: Geneva 2014
Porsche 919 Hybrid: Geneva 2014Porsche 919 Hybrid: Geneva 2014Porsche 919 Hybrid: Geneva 2014Porsche 919 Hybrid: Geneva 2014Porsche 919 Hybrid: Geneva 2014Porsche 919 Hybrid: Geneva 2014Porsche 919 Hybrid: Geneva 2014Porsche 919 Hybrid: Geneva 2014

News Source: Porsche

Image Credit: Related images copyright 2015 Drew Phillips / AOL, Porsche

Ecclestone admits German GP could drop off F1 calendar

Posted Jan 24th 2015 1:00PM

There was a time (and it wasn't so long ago) that Formula One was so popular in Germany that racing circuits fought over who wanted to host it more. But now it seems that no one does.

Although earlier reports suggested the German Grand Prix would stay at Hockenheim this season, when asked by Britain's Sky News if the venue was locked down for the race, Bernie Ecclestone answered, "Not really."

The F1 chief said he couldn't quite wrap his head around the nature of the financial problems with the promoter: "Honestly, I don't know. It surprises me. ... Maybe it's a little bit that the German people were very used to and supported Michael [Schumacher] and miss Michael when he wasn't racing any longer." Nice theory, Bernie, but it doesn't quite hold up when you consider that a German team won the championship last season and a German driver the four years prior.

So does that mean there won't be a German Grand Prix this season? "We've got one," quipped Ecclestone. "It's called Austria." The neighboring German-speaking country was added back to the calendar last season and is set to host the race again this year at the Red Bull Ring in Spielberg.

The remarks (and possible outcome) aren't without precedent: though France had long been a backbone of grand prix racing, ultimately the proximity of the races in Belgium and Monaco (both neighboring, French-speaking countries) may be what's kept the French Grand Prix from returning to the championship. And without an agreement in place with either Hockenheim or the Nürburgring, German race fans could suffer a similar fate this season.

Previous seasons had seen countries like Germany and Japan alternate venues, while others like Italy and Spain hosted two races. But those days seem far behind us as F1 breaks into new markets around the world.

News Source: AutoWeek

Image Credit: Mark Thompson/Getty

Lexus RX successor headed for NY Show

Posted Jan 24th 2015 12:00PM

The redesign of the popular Lexus RX crossover will finally make its official debut in April, at the 2015 New York Auto Show with an on-sale date slated for later in 2015, Edmunds is reporting.

This will be an important job for Lexus, as its next-gen midsize luxury crossover will need to measure up to a segment that is very different than the one the current RX debuted in, way back in 2008. Cars like the BMW X3, Audi Q5 and Mercedes-Benz GLK are now supported on the lower end by more compact models.

Lexus is no different; the RX has been joined by the entry level NX, allowing the Japanese luxury marque to do a bit more for the fourth-gen CUV. That means New York will herald a larger and pricier crossover, Edmunds claims, even boasting a third row. That fits with our previous round of spy photos.

Despite the baby NX's hardcore, knife-edge styling, it's expected that the next RX will be a more evolutionary version of the current model's conservative looks. Still, as our previous spy photos show, there will be some Lexus styling trademarks, including a revised version of the current crossover's spindle grille.

Keep your eyes open come April, as we can expect the full details on the 2016 Lexus RX.

Image Credit: Chris Doane Automotive

McLaren launches 650S Le Mans edition, Sports Series to offer 4 variants

Posted Jan 24th 2015 10:00AM

Even before you take other model lines into consideration, Porsche has done quite a job broadening its 911 range with an ever-expanding array of variants – from different engines and transmissions to distinct body styles. Little wonder, then, that its rivals are working to emulate the same model. Just the other day, we brought you news that Mercedes is planning to follow a similar formula with its 911-baiting AMG GT, and now it seems McLaren is preparing to go the same route as well.

As we reported back in March, the upcoming McLaren Sport Series – which will take on the upper end of the 911 family – will be offered in multiple body styles. Just how many, exactly, we still don't know for sure, but Holland's Autovisie reports that the baby Mac will spawn "at least four variants" – which could explain the "Series" part of the nameplate. The first version we're expecting to see in New York will likely be the standard coupe. That will be followed by a Spider version just like there's been of the 12C and 650S. But those won't be the end of the story.

This past June, reports suggested that McLaren was planning a GT version with an "unconventional trunk." Autovisie now reports that it'll encompass a luggage compartment fitted over the engine and accessible from the side, making the prospect of driving Woking's smallest every day a more realistic one – relatively speaking, that is. This could take the form of the Shooting Brake rumoured to be in the works years ago.

But what about the fourth variant, you asked? That could come down to a GTR model. McLaren has already announced that it's bringing the track-bound P1 GTR to the Geneva Motor Show, and just the other day we reported on the possibility of a 650 GTR that would essentially fill in for the previous 12C Can-Am edition. A similar hard-core treatment could feasibly be applied to the Sports Series as well, whether bound to the track or open to use on public roads as well.

The proliferation of variants wouldn't be without precedent for Working, after all. The original McLaren F1 bred GTR and LM versions, though they were almost too rare to count. The SLR it built for Mercedes spawned more derivatives than we would dare count. The MP4-12C gave us a few as well. And the 650S has already appeared in coupe, Spider, 625C and soon GTR versions. So the idea of the company's upcoming entry-level model following the same path would only make sense.

In related news, McLaren Special Operations has also announced another special-edition 650S. Celebrating the 20th anniversary of the F1 GTR's dominant win at Le Mans, the 650S Le Mans edition is blacked out, has special alloys and features a snorkel intake on the roof which does not affect output or performance. Only 50 coupes will be offered worldwide.

Related GalleryMcLaren Sports Series teasers
McLaren Sports Series teasersMcLaren Sports Series teasersMcLaren Sports Series teasersMcLaren Sports Series teasers

Related GalleryMcLaren 650S Le Mans
McLaren 650S Le MansMcLaren 650S Le MansMcLaren 650S Le MansMcLaren 650S Le Mans

News Source: Autovisie, McLaren

Image Credit: McLaren

EBR 1190 SX price and specs revealed

Posted Jan 24th 2015 8:00AM

Erik Buell Racing EBR 1190 SX motorcycle, front three-quarter view.

Erik Buell Racing has put a price to the 1190 SX "superfighter" it showed off recently at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway: MSRP is US$16,995 (CAD$18,077). That's a US$2,000 discount compared to the 1190 RX superbike on which it's based. It also saves five pounds compared to the RX, that curtailed faring bringing the SX in at 414 pounds (188 kilograms). Horsepower and torque stay the same, at 184 hp and 101.6 pound-feet, while lean angle goes from from 55 degrees on the RX to a slightly more upright 48 degrees on the SX.

Buyers can choose one of three colours, Frost Bite White, Racing Red or Galactic Black that will go along with the charcoal contrasting and gunsmoke engine. You'll find a press release below with more information on the V-twin that EBR expects to redefine the category.

Related GalleryErik Buell Racing 1190RS
Erik Buell Racing 1190RSErik Buell Racing 1190RSErik Buell Racing 1190RSErik Buell Racing 1190RSErik Buell Racing 1190RSErik Buell Racing 1190RS

News Source: Erik Buell Racing