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Five reasons to love or hate the culture of North American cars

  • Five reasons to love or hate the culture of North American cars
  • 2015 Honda CR-V
  • Morgan Plus 8 Speedster hits the track versus BMW R Nine T
  • 2014 Cadillac ELR

2015 Toyota Yaris

Posted Oct 1st 2014 12:00PM

Refreshed To Sell Confidence And Value, Not Innovation And Technology

2015 Toyota Yaris

Advertising firms have done an admirable job convincing consumers that the easiest way to find a best-in-segment car or truck is by looking at a few key metrics. In the most elementary terms, the vehicle with the highest horsepower, most gears in its transmission housing, lowest acceleration times and best fuel economy most certainly must be the class benchmark.

Yet as the commercials and billboards continue to drive that deceitful message, Toyota is betting shoppers in the subcompact segment are a bit more discerning. The Japanese automaker has just launched its updated 2015 Yaris, a three- and five-door offering that bucks the innovation and performance trends by offering what Toyota feels that entry-level buyers actually desire – reliability, practicality and a low sticker price.

It's sweltering in the tropical Hawaiian sun as I check out the deeply refreshed 2015 Yaris SE. This five-door hatchback, a range-topping version of the company's subcompact "sporty hatch" (Toyota's words, not mine), builds on the new-in-2012 generation by wearing new front and rear fascias, redesigned headlights and some attractive new wheels for the upcoming model year.

Overall, I like what I see. The front clip, with new LED daytime running lights, projector-beam headlight lenses and an oversized piano-black grille adds some character and aggression to a formerly nondescript vehicle. The wheel designs are big improvement, too, as their twisted spokes suggest motion even when standing still. The rear treatment, basically a new urethane bumper cap and redesigned taillamps, isn't as exciting as the front, almost appearing less sporty overall with the deletion of the chrome exhaust outlet, but it ties the package together. (It's interesting to note that the reverse lights have been moved from the taillamp cluster to a single unit at the bottom centre of the bumper – one would think its much lower height would be less effective in terms of overall illumination.)

Image Credit: Copyright 2014 Michael Harley / AOL

Kevin Ward Jr.'s family writes open letter questioning crash investigation

Posted Oct 1st 2014 11:29AM

The grieving family of race driver Kevin Ward Jr. feels he's was portrayed unfairly after his death. Ward Jr.'s aunt read a prepared letter to USA Today Sports addressing the controversial incident that killed her nephew last month and the criminal investigation that released fellow driver Tony Stewart of guilt and claims Ward Jr. had enough marijuana in his system to "impair his judgment" at time of his death.

"Why was the toxicology report even an issue? Seems to me the wrong man was on trial," Wendi told USA Today. "Tell me why Tony Stewart was not taken in for testing, why his car wasn't impounded. Tell me how a man the size of Kevin can make a sprint car turn to the right on impact," said his aunt... READ MORE

News Source: USA Today Sports, AOL Autos

Image Credit: AP Photo / Mel Evans

Jaguar XE bares its claws in 74 images [w/video]

Posted Oct 1st 2014 11:00AM

2016 Jaguar XE Prestige

The XE may prove to be the most vital new model to Jaguar's expansion. But to date we've only really seen it in top-spec, supercharged XE S form. That ends right here and now, however, as Jaguar releases details, photos and even a brief video clip showing the entire range – including those most customers are bound to buy.

Globally speaking – or at least in its home market – Jaguar will offer the XE with five different engines and in four different trim levels. The new Ingenium engine family includes two diesels and two turbocharged gasoline options along with the top-of-the-line supercharged V6 that will serve as the XE's performance flagship model, at least until a new SVR version comes along. Both six-speed manual and eight-speed automatic transmissions are on offer, and overseas buyers will also be able to choose between base SE, mid-range Prestige, opulent Portfolio, dynamic R-Sport and range-topping S trim levels.

Of course not every engine is available in each trim level and with either transmission, so instead of 40 combinations we're looking at 22. Once the XE reaches American showrooms, we'll likely be looking at even fewer, as we're not expecting the manual and diesel versions to be offered Stateside. Stay tuned as well for our live impressions from the floor of the Paris Motor Show. But in the meantime you can scope out all the details and UK specifications in the press release below, along with the short video and the gallery of 74 high-resolution images above.

Related Gallery2016 Jaguar XE
2016 Jaguar XE2016 Jaguar XE2016 Jaguar XE2016 Jaguar XE2016 Jaguar XE2016 Jaguar XE2016 Jaguar XE2016 Jaguar XE

News Source: Jaguar

Aston Martin finally drops the veil on its new Lagonda sedan

Posted Oct 1st 2014 10:30AM

Aston Martin Lagonda

Aston Martin has finally released the floodgates, delivering official images of the all-new Lagonda sedan, the company's latest expression of its long-serving VH architecture and 6.0-litre V12.

Set for an extremely limited production, the hand-built Lagonda's William Towns-inspired, carbon-fibre exterior has been a point of conversation since the new sedan first crept in front of a camera's lens some four months ago. While that evolved exterior isn't exactly new, we are getting our very first look at the Lagonda's beautifully crafted cabin.

Aston Martin's Q branch had a big hand in the cabin work, adding wide swaths of leather and elaborate hand-stitching to the Rapide-based interior. Unlike the Rapide, though, those rear thrones look considerably more accommodating, particularly in regards to rear headroom.

From a performance perspective, we have it on good authority that the Lagonda is currently exceeding 175 miles per hour (280 km/h) in testing and that this first production model weighs no more than the Rapide, which we're guessing is thanks to the aforementioned carbon-fibre body.

The first deliveries of the Lagonda are slated to begin during the first quarter of 2015. We're hoping we'll have much more info as that date approaches. Until then, we have ten images of the new Lagonda, several of which feature the beautiful, Q-spec interior. Have a look and then head down to Comments and let us know what you think.

Image Credit: Aston Martin

GP Experience will help you live out your F1 fantasies

Posted Oct 1st 2014 10:00AM

GP Experience Formula 1

Have you ever wanted to drive a Formula 1 car but know that you're too old, don't have the skill or lack the time and money to rise up the ranks? A new program called GP Experience claims to be the first program of its kind in North America to give people the chance to get behind the wheel an F1 car, as part of a day of high-performance driving.

The day includes instruction lapping in go-karts and eventually steps up to driving supercars. Of course, the climax is getting to do three laps in one of GP Experience's former F1 cars. There are also chances to do rounds of the circuit in the program's F1X3 three-seaters piloted by a professional.

Obviously, you're not driving Sebastian Vettel's championship-winning Red Bull from last year. According to GP Experience's FAQ, the chassis for its F1 cars are from between 2005 and 2008, and they use V8 or V10 engines from Cosworth, Judd and Peugeot that make in excess of 600 horsepower. The company's press release also claims that after graduating from the first level of the program, people can keep training and potentially get the opportunity to drive Kimi Raikkonen's 2012 Lotus E20.

GP Experience already has its first events scheduled for later this year at tracks like Thermal Club in Palm Springs, CA, and Palm Beach International Raceway in Florida that cost $6,995 (CAD$7,840) for a day of driving. There are also two courses set at the Circuit of the Americas track for $9,995 (CAD$11,200).

Obviously, these prices aren't cheap for a day at the track, but there also aren't many other opportunities out there to drive an F1 car, even for just a few laps. This is one way to tick it off the bucket list. Scroll down to read more.

News Source: GP Experience, [2], [3]

Five reasons to love or hate the culture of North American cars

Posted Oct 1st 2014 9:00AM

As enthusiasts, we love cars from all parts of the world. Whether they be supercars from Italy, luxury sedans from Germany or tiny urban runabouts from Japan, as long as they're interesting and well-designed for their intended purpose, we're location-agnostic when it comes to picking favourites... Mostly.

Considering that the vast majority of your humble staffers from Autoblog hail from and call North America home, it's only natural that some of us have a few hometown heroes with which we fill our fantasies. And it's not like American automakers haven't left a thorough swath of vehicles for us to swoon over – while the automobile wasn't exactly invented in North America, it was certainly popularized here, and, while we can probably find just as many flops as hits, the annals of automotive history are filled with plenty of examples of excellence rolling out of Detroit.

Here are a few reasons for automotive enthusiasts to celebrate North American domestic cars.

Image Credit: AOL

Chrysler registers Trackhawk trademark

Posted Oct 1st 2014 8:30AM

2015 Jeep Grand Cherokee SRT

There may not be many ways to forecast what an automaker is planning for the future, but there are some. Trademark applications are one of them, and Chrysler has just applied with the US Patent and Trademark Office to protect the name "Trackhawk." The question is, what's it planning on using it for? We don't know for sure, but we can put together an educated guess or two. And one guess is that Jeep will use the name to replace the letters SRT on the performance version of the Grand Cherokee.

How do we figure, you ask? From a number of developments. For starters, the SRT division has been reintegrated into the Dodge brand. Those letters currently appear on only two vehicles from outside the Dodge lineup: one is the Grand Cherokee SRT, and the other is the Chrysler 300 SRT. We've heard ruminations (however unconfirmed) that the latter could be either discontinued or possibly relabeled, and if the same proves true of the GC, the Trackhawk name could serve as a on-road performance counterpart to the Trailhawk label applied to off-road versions of models like the Cherokee and Renegade.

Logical it may be, but it's hardly a foregone conclusion. The Trackhawk name could just as easily be used for a new concept (like the Trailhawk name was in 2007), for another kind of trim level or for something else entirely. In fact we don't even know for sure it'll be used by the Jeep brand specifically, or used at all for that matter. Automakers have been known, after all, to register names they don't end up using.

We've reached out to Jeep for comment, but whether we hear back with any useful information or not, we have a feeling we'll be finding out one way or another before too long, so watch this space.

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News Source: via World Car Fans

Image Credit: Jeep

Hyundai Genesis gets stanced by Ark Performance for SEMA

Posted Oct 1st 2014 8:00AM

Hyundai Genesis Ark Performance SEMA Concept

Hyundai has yet another high-performance concept for the upcoming 2014 SEMA Show in November to join its 708-horsepower Sonata. For this one, Ark Performance is taking the Genesis Sedan and pumping up the output by supercharging its 5.0-litre V8, along with a mile-long list of other modifications to mix speed with added luxury.

Ark calls the tuner concept the AR550 in reference to taking the Genesis' standard 420 horsepower V8 and boosting it an extra 130 hp with a Rotrex supercharger to bring total output to 550 hp. The mill also benefits from a freer breathing intake and exhaust, new engine management and more.

All of that extra power would be nearly useless without upgrades elsewhere to handle it, and Ark has some big additions to include. The one-off rides on an air suspension system and stiffer front and rear sway bars. To bring things to a halt faster, larger brakes from Brembo replace the standard units.

To show off the additional performance aesthetically, Ark Performance also completely overhauls the exterior of the Genesis with its own bodykit and forged, bronze-colored wheels. The modifications include parts to widen the front and rear bumpers, including the fenders, a carbon fibre front splitter, new side skirts and a rear diffuser. Inside, the tuner wants to keep occupants comfy even while cruising at high speed with custom diamond-stitched seats and door panels from Katzkin.

According to the tuner, the whole package of the AR550 is supposed to imagine Hyundai's answer to the Bahnstorming executive sedans from AMG and the BMW M division. Scroll down to read the full release about it.

Related GalleryHyundai Genesis Ark Performance SEMA Concept
Hyundai Genesis Ark Performance SEMA ConceptHyundai Genesis Ark Performance SEMA Concept

News Source: Hyundai

Lexus GS F points its gaping grille at the BMW M5

Posted Oct 1st 2014 2:01AM

Lexus GS F: Spy Shots

A mere trio of weeks after the latest report in the slow-moving Lexus GS F rumour cycle, we have a brand new batch of spy photos of the BMW M5-fighting sedan. Looking more and more production ready – notice the more finished exhausts compared to our last round of photos – the GS F can be seen poking around what we imagine is Germany.

If the RC and RC F Coupes are any indication, it looks like Lexus will start fitting its high-performance models with a new, single-frame version of the spindle grille while a dual-frame grille will be reserved for lesser trims. Backing up that suspicion is the new single-frame grille found on this prototype, marking the first time the suspected F line styling piece has been seen on a GS F prototype.

The aforementioned staggered quad exhausts look good on the GS' rear end, while a none-too-subtle rear spoiler ups the rear's visual flair. The low-profile rubber and the multi-spoke, black wheels are nice touches that work well with the front fascia features, in addition to the new, camo'd grille and substantial brake cooling ducts.

With such a high degree of finality on this prototype, here's hoping we see the production GS F sooner rather than later.

Image Credit: CarPix