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Translogic 163: Acton Rocket Skates

  • Translogic 163: Acton Rocket Skates
  • 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

BMW says SUVs killed the sports car market

Posted Nov 23rd 2014 2:00PM

2014 BMW Z4

In many ways, we're living in a golden age of automotive performance. After all, it's possible to show up at a Dodge dealer, hand over about $60,000 and storm away with a 707-horsepower Challenger Hellcat. Or for those who prefer a touch more luxury, the BMW M4, Mercedes-AMG C63 and latest Cadillac ATS-V offer between 425 and 503 horsepower, depending on your pick, with a bit more poshness. However, none of these powerful vehicles fit the classic definition of a two-place, droptop sports car, and according BMW head of sales Ian Robertson, that's because the segment is very much in the doldrums.

According to Robertson, two factors seriously wounded the classic sports car market. First, the global economic crisis of a few years ago put a serious hurt on sales, according to Bloomberg. Further worsening the situation, the boom in popularity of luxury SUVs and crossovers in the past few years hasn't allowed for much recovery. Even car-hungry China hasn't helped much because of the smog in many cities and preference among some of the very rich there to be chauffeured.

Combined, Audi TT, BMW Z4 and Mercedes-Benz SLK sales peaked around 114,000 units a year in 2007, but they are only expected to reach 72,000 annually by the end of the decade. Robertson is pretty pessimistic about the market's comeback too. "Post-2008, it just collapsed. I'm not so sure it'll ever fully recover," he said to Bloomberg.

Despite the downturn, there's no reason to start eulogizing the sports car. The ones that are available or are coming make for some fantastic offerings. They range from the V8 power of the Chevy Corvette to the more lithe styling of the upcoming 2016 Mazda MX-5 Miata. Plus, a new Audi TT droptop is on the way. There's no reason to write the segment off yet.

News Source: Bloomberg via Live Mint

Image Credit: Copyright 2014 AOL / BMW

Hear this sports announcer realize moment when ball hits his rental car

Posted Nov 23rd 2014 12:00PM

Cricket ball hits announcer's rental car

We don't tend to cover a lot of cricket on Autoblog – the sport or the insect, really. It's just somewhat rare that either of them intrude upon the automotive domain. However, it's hard not to at least muster a grimace – or even a laugh – when watching this cricket announcer calling a game, only to see a ball sailing out of the stadium and land right on the roof of his rental car.

What are the odds?

It's amazing to watch as the sportscaster initially shows almost no response, and then the gravity of his misfortune starts to sink in. In just over a minute, he goes through a spectrum of emotions, with hints of anger and depression, plus outright denial by the end. Check out the video below to witness this announcer's fantastic reaction.

News Source: Sam Je via YouTube, Jalopnik

Infiniti Synaptiq concept 'spinal lock attachment' makes you one with your car

Posted Nov 23rd 2014 11:00AM

A rendering of Infiniti's SYNAPTIQ concept created for the LA Auto Show Design Challenge.

The theme of this year's LA Design Challenge is "Sensing the future" and asks, "How will cars interact with us in 2029?" Infiniti has kicked off entries in the LA Auto Show's yearly visionary party with its low, wide and versatile Synaptiq concept. Less a car and more of a set of interlocking pieces, the Synaptiq is termed a "universal fuselage pod," a teardrop-shaped capsule with a liquid-crystal canopy that can be fitted to different propulsion devices: a Formula One-like chassis, a desert buggy rig and a jet airframe.

Yet it answers the challenge not by being able to fly through deserts and air, but with its human-machine interface. The driver/pilot wears a Synaptic S.U.I.T. (Symbiotic User Interface Technology) fitted with biometric sensors and synthetic muscles, and through a "spinal lock attachment," he or she is made one with the car.

You gaze upon its gewgaws in the gallery above, and read more about it and other concepts from Acura, CALTY, Honda, Mercedes-Benz, Nissan, Peterbilt, Qoros, Subaru and Volkswagen that vied for the King of the Future title at last week's LA Auto Show.

Image Credit: Infiniti

Mini John Cooper Works gets ready to rumble

Posted Nov 23rd 2014 10:00AM

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.

Image Credit: CarPix

Lincoln dons the Black Label

Posted Nov 23rd 2014 9:00AM

Custom Program Launches In December On MKZ, MKC

2015 Lincoln MKZ Black Label

"We're really trying to simplify for the customer on their terms." – Paul Bucek

Lincoln is launching a Black Label service and customization program in December at 32 dealerships across the country in a bid to attract new and more upscale customers.

The Black Label program will be available on the MKC crossover and the MKZ sedan for US$5,995 (no word on Canadian availability yet) on top of the purchase price. It includes custom design themes – with colours and materials only available through Black Label – plus free routine service and car washes for four years or 50,000 miles (80,000 km). It will be offered through dealerships in California, Michigan, Texas, New York, New Jersey and Florida.

Black Label was originally previewed during the week of the 2013 Pebble Beach Concours d'Elegance, and Lincoln said it would take more than a year to get the program launched. Though that seemed like a lengthy lead time, Lincoln said it had to upgrade dealerships, train employees and has added more choices to the program.

News Source: Lincoln

This Mercedes Silver Arrow image started out like A-ha's iconic 'Take On Me' music video

Posted Nov 22nd 2014 8:00PM

Iconic Racers Came Back To Live With Drawings, Photos And 3D Graphics

Mercedes composite images

The image above might look like a fairly interesting painting of some old Mercedes-Benz grand prix cars getting, but in reality, it showcases far more than just paint on canvas. To celebrate this year's 80th anniversary of its Silver Arrows racecars, Mercedes commissioned some very talented digital artists to craft a series of 12 depictions of important moments in the company's racing history to display at the Goodwood Festival of Speed.

The Silver Arrow legend starts with Mercedes showing up for the 1934 German Grand Prix with its W25, a car that weighed 751 kilograms – a kilo over the 750-kg (1,653-pound) maximum. Team boss Alfred Neubauer told his mechanics to strip the paint of the cars, leaving them in gleaming bare aluminum in order to shed a little weight. Apparently, it worked, because one of the Mercs took victory in the race and the look became part of the company's legacy.

What makes anniversary project's artistic process so intriguing is that each of these celebratory images is a composite of real-world photos of extras in period-correct dress and digital recreations of some of the cars and venues. As this video shows, it all starts with line drawings that remind us a lot of that iconic '80s music video, Take On Me by A-ha. All of these disparate techniques were eventually combined together to create these fascinating, hyper-realistic pictures of the past.

The video below takes you behind the scenes to show just some of the incredible work required to create this unique look. If you want to learn more about how all of this was done, there's no need to go hunting high and low, Mercedes has a website with additional reference images giving a deeper view of the process.

News Source: Mercedes-Benz via YouTube

Translogic 163: Acton Rocket Skates

Posted Nov 22nd 2014 7:00PM

Acton Rocket Skates

Some of the most memorable Road Runner cartoons feature Wile E. Coyote strapping rockets onto his roller skates in ill-advised attempts to catching the blindingly fast bird. Things never seemed to work out for Wile E., but they do seem to be looking up for Acton founder Peter Treadway. The first iteration of his electric motorized skates made their debut on KickStarter in 2012. His latest model of Acton Rocket Skates exceeded their funding goal by over $500,000 and set the internet abuzz.

Watch Translogic host Jonathon Buckley do his best to stay upright on a pair of Acton Rocket Skates, and see if he has more success at it than the Looney Tunes bird chaser.

Lazzarini dreams up Ferrari-powered, Hennessey-tuned Alfa Romeo 4C

Posted Nov 22nd 2014 6:00PM

Alfa Romeo 4C Definitiva by Lazzarini Design

If there are any two firms you could count on to shoehorn a Ferrari V8 into the back of an Alfa Romeo 4C, they would almost certainly be Lazzarini Design and Hennessey Performance. The former already dreamt up doing the same with a Fiat 500, and the latter has been shattering records with a similar conversion performed on a Lotus Elise to turn it into the Venom GT. What you see here is their lovechild.

Designed by Lazzarini and enhanced by Hennessey, the 4C Definitiva does – at least in theory – what Maserati was not prepared to do: shoehorn a Ferrari-sourced V8 engine into the back of Alfa's nimble little sports car. The powerplant is borrowed from the Ferrari 458 Italia and tuned by Hennessey to produce a claimed 738 horsepower and 532 pound-feet of torque. In a package weighing just 953 kilograms (2,100 pounds), that's said to be enough to propel Frankenstein's four-wheeled monster to 60 miles per hour (96 km/h) in a scant 2.5 seconds and across the quarter-mile in 9.5 seconds at 137 mph. Those are LaFerrari levels of performance.

As you can see, the engine transplant calls for a widened rear track, and is accompanied by more aggressive aero as well. Of course, the design may be little more than an idea at the moment, but Lazzarini is apparently looking for customers to commission the first examples, at a reported price of 260,000 euros, which is about five times the going rate for a stock 4C and more than Ferrari gets for the 458 Speciale. Whether it's worth that much is one question. Whether Lazzarini and Hennessey could actually deliver on the promise is an even bigger one.

News Source: Lazzarini Design

Jaguar launches new classic racing series

Posted Nov 22nd 2014 3:59PM

Jaguar E-Types on track

One-make racing series have become all the rage for customers who want to actually race their exotic sports cars (or competition-spec versions of them, anyway). Ferrari, Maserati, Lamborghini and Aston Martin all offer such programs, and Porsche supports several. Now Jaguar is getting in on the action as well, but instead of turning one of its production models – we're looking at you, F-Type – into a spec racer, it's launching an historic racing series instead.

The 2015 Jaguar Heritage Challenge will be open to cars made by the Leaping Cat marque before 1966, including the C-Type, D-Type, E-Type and Mk I and MkII sedans. The series, which builds on the success of the previous Jaguar E-Type Challenge, will be administered by the Historic Sports Car Club (HSCC) based at Silverstone and will include four races in the UK and one in Europe, with the exact schedule still to be determined.

The program was announced at the launch of the Jaguar Heritage Driving Experience, where Jaguar Land Rover Special Operations director John Edwards was also named chairman of the Jaguar Daimler Heritage Trust, replacing former Jaguar managing director Mike O'Driscoll who chaired the organization for the past five years.

If you'd like to know more about the heritage series, scroll down below for the details straight from the Leaper's mouth.

News Source: Jaguar

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