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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

Ford GT, Buick Avenir and Audi Q7 take 2015 EyesOn Design awards

Posted Jan 25th 2015 8:00PM

The annual EyesOn Design Awards at the Detroit Auto Show allows some of the greatest designers in the world to weigh in on the best production and concept debuts at the big event each year. For 2015, the large panel of judges included luminaries like Frank Stephenson of McLaren, Ralph Gilles from FCA and Moray Callum of Ford.

Apparently the editors at Autoblog had a good eye because the winner of 2015's Best Designed Production Vehicle award went to the Ford GT, which was also our favourite debut from the show. The new supercar beat the Acura NSX and Mercedes-Benz GLE-Class Coupe for the honour. The judges described the Blue Oval's shape as "capturing the original GT40 in a modern interpretation," according to EyesOn Design.

The Buick Avenir was also a big winner in the awards this year and received the nods for both Best Designed Concept Vehicle and Innovative Use of Colour, Graphics and Materials. In the concept category, it beat out the Chevrolet Bolt and Mercedes-Benz F 015, and in the latter group, the sedan triumphed over Audi Q7, Mercedes F 015 and Volkswagen Cross Coupe GTE. The Q7 received its own accolade for Best Designed Interior, and it beat the Avenir and Infiniti Q60 for the honour.

This year's Lifetime Design Achievement Award went to former Renault designer Patrick le Quement, and Bob Lutz received the EyesOn Design Catalyst Award for the second time. The honour is for an executive "who has empowered great design," according to the organization, which describes Lutz perfectly. Scroll down to read the announcement with more comments about the winners.

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News Source: EyesOn Design

Image Credit: DW3 Photography, Related images copyright 2015 Drew Phillips / AOL

Audi reveals virtual reality 'dealership in a briefcase'

Posted Jan 25th 2015 6:00PM

Virtual reality still seems like technology that should be lumped in with the flying car and colonizing the moon as the sort of perennially "almost-here" Next Big Thing that never quite arrives. However, devices like gaming's Oculus Rift suggests that it's too soon to write off VR just yet, and Audi apparently agrees.

The heart of its new VR Experience is a headset that customers wear that lets them see a virtual car before their eyes. Using the technology, the potential buyer can sit behind the wheel or open up the trunk. A camera tracks their head movements and adjusts the image on the goggles accordingly. To make the whole experience even more immersive, headphones let them hear the sound of the door or listen to the radio.

The German automaker claims that the VR Experience technology will be available in "dynamic growth markets" by the end of 2015. The system will essentially offer the entire dealership experience in a device the size of a briefcase, and it'll be possible to view every possible equipment combination and color on all of the brand's models.

The immersive hardware sounds amazing, if it's as good as the automaker claims. Among other things, VR will allow buyers to pick out just the right color and trim, even if the dealer doesn't have that specific combo in stock. Read below for Audi's announcement of this sci-fi gadget that the company claims is on the way.

News Source: Audi

Mercedes-AMG planning hybrid hypercar?

Posted Jan 25th 2015 4:00PM

Mercedes-AMG GT (C 190) 2014

It used to be that, a few overlapping two-door models aside, Mercedes-Benz and Porsche didn't really compete with one another. That's how the two ended up collaborating on projects like the Mercedes 500 E that put it on the performance sedan map without fear of stepping on each other's toes. But Porsche has grown considerably since then, challenging its Stuttgart neighbor with four-door sedans and crossovers, as well as sports coupes and convertibles. Little wonder, then, that Mercedes has hit back at Porsche with the AMG GT, and there will be many more versions to follow in 911 style. But that may not be the final salvo the Silver Star marque launches at Zuffenhausen.

According to the latest bit of speculation and deduction from our friends at Motor Trend, Mercedes-AMG may be planning a hybrid hypercar of its own to take on the Porsche 918 Spyder – not to mention the McLaren P1 and LaFerrari. Solid information is sparse at this point, but after speaking to AMG chief Tobias Moers, MT speculates that the new flagship will likely be mid-engined, with a boosted version of the company's 4.0-litre twin-turbo V8 kicking out between 650 and 700 horsepower, working with a pair of electric motors at the front to deliver tenacious through-the-road all-wheel traction and a combined output in the thousand-horsepower range.

There is the possibility, though, that Mercedes could go after the latest hybrid hypercars with a flagship version of its just-launched AMG GT, packing a similar powertrain setup as the ultimate evolution of the breed. Other GT versions will likely soon include a GT3 racing model, a Black Series version and a roadster – following a similar path taken not only by the 911, but also by Benz's previous halo supercars like the SLR McLaren and SLS AMG.

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News Source: Motor Trend

Image Credit: Mercedes-Benz

Toyota, Lexus to build more CUVs to meet surging demand

Posted Jan 25th 2015 2:00PM

What was the biggest takeaway from the auto industry's 2014? Besides the fact that recalls are now a sad and mostly unremarkable part of a vehicle's life, it's that you can't be a competitive, mainstream brand in North America without a really strong line of crossovers, SUVs or pickups. We saw evidence of this as recently as Monday, when Hyundai unveiled its HCD-15 Santa Cruz Concept, and now we're seeing it again with Toyota.

The company already has a comprehensive lineup of both mainstream and luxury CUVs and SUVs, although surging demand – sales were up 16 per cent last year, Bloomberg reports – has led the company to increase its production tempo at the plants responsible for the RAV4 and Lexus RX.

Lexus RX"The freeze is still in place until the end of March of 2016," Toyota's Jim Lentz told Bloomberg during this week's Detroit Auto Show, referencing the production bump at the Japanese and Canadian factories responsible for the models. "That hasn't changed. All indications are that it will lift, but right now it has not lifted."

The increased sales are even spurring the brand to consider additional CUVs, including a compact that would slot in below the RAV4, Lentz told the business publication. Such a move would give Toyota a player in an increasingly competitive and important segment. In 2014 alone, mainstream brands, including Honda, Mazda, Chevrolet and Jeep, have announced brand new products destined for the compact CUV market.

"We're going to have to look at how the market under RAV4 develops," Lentz told Bloomberg. "There's no question that it's going to. That's going to be the next growth spurt."

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News Source: Bloomberg

Image Credit: Copyright 2015 Jeremy Korzeniewski / AOL

BMW mulling potential 9 Series production

Posted Jan 25th 2015 12:00PM

Nine months may be long enough to bring another human being into the world, but it may take BMW a bit longer to make up its mind on the production of a potential 9 Series model.

The idea was first mooted when the Bavarian automaker presented the Vision Future Luxury concept at the Beijing Motor Show last year. Billed (not unlike rival Audi's Prologue concept) more as a design study than a pre-production concept, the Vision Future Luxury show car nevertheless took a larger form than the 7 Series, prompting speculation that a new flagship sedan could be in the works.

The better part of a year later, such a decision has reportedly yet to be taken, but over at BMW Blog they're reporting that the automaker's incoming chief executive Harald Krüger is a fan of the idea and could give it the green light after he takes the helm in May.

If approved, the model likely to be dubbed 9 Series would reportedly compete with the Mercedes-Maybach S600 – but then that model was earmarked to take on the Rolls-Royce Ghost. BMW has typically been careful not to overlap with its Rolls-Royce division, but considering how it's also been going downmarket with front-drive models to close the gap to the Mini brand, we wouldn't be all that surprised to see the 9 Series positioned maybe just below the next-generation Ghost and developed alongside it, taking a page out of rival VW's playbook.

Volkswagen has, after all, made a brisk business out of sharing platforms and slicing market segments between the various brands under its umbrella. And while BMW is nowhere near as large, its new leadership could find new ways to increase its market share.

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News Source: BMW Blog via World Car Fans

Image Credit: BMW

Infiniti Q50 BTCC ready to race

Posted Jan 25th 2015 10:00AM

A few months ago, Infiniti announced it would field its Q50 sedan (or a racing derivative thereof) in the British Touring Car Championship, and now the Japanese automaker has revealed the tin-top racer in its final form as it prepares to roll onto the grid.

Like the rest of the BTCC field, the Q50 racer is based on the series Next Generation Touring Car (NGTC) regulations. That means it's based on the production model, and not on a control chassis (like the one you'd find in NASCAR) done up to look like the showroom version. It also means a 2.0-litre turbocharged engine driving upwards of 300 horsepower through an Xtrac six-speed sequential gearbox with AP Racing clutch, throttle by wire and the manufacturer's choice of front- or rear-wheel drive, the latter of which we assume Infiniti has chosen for its touring car.

Two examples of the Q50 BTCC will be fielded by Infiniti Support Our Paras Racing, a non-profit venture with proceeds (assuming there are any) going towards the British paratroopers' charity. The team is being run by Derek Palmer Sr, whose son Derek Jr will drive one, with the other piloted by Richard Hawken, and injured paratroopers filling out the pit crew and support staff.

Image Credit: Infiniti

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