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Tesla lowers Model S lease price, adds 3-month 'happiness guarantee'

Posted Oct 30th 2014 9:00AM

Lower Lease Cost Applies Even If You Keep The EV

Tesla Model S

Tesla Motors is offering an enticing deal for potential buyers who might not be entirely sure whether they actually want to own a Model S for the long term. A deal through US Bank not only lowers the cost to lease the EV but also turns leasing the brand's electric sedan into a long-term rental.

Curious buyers who lease a Model S are now able to return it in the first three months with no penalties and with the remaining payments waived, something Tesla is calling the "happiness guarantee." CEO Elon Musk announced the deal on the company's blog, and he said the payments were also as much as 25 per cent lower because US Bank "has a much lower cost of capital than us." Tesla leasing is available in 38 US states (full list below). Canada isn't on the list yet. Contact your Local Canadian Tesla dealer for any questions.

Of course, there is a catch for the offer. If people turn in their Model S within three months, they can't immediately lease another one. Musk doesn't say how long the wait is.

The new leasing deal isn't a solution for those owners who want their Model S to always have the latest and greatest features. However, for folks who are on the fence about one of these electric, luxury sedans, the offer might prove too enticing to pass up. Of course, Tesla has a history of announcing lease details only to change them later, so we're not sure how long this deal will last or if it'll get better in a month.

Does Scion's LA concept presage a North American Auris?

Posted Oct 30th 2014 8:00AM

2013 Toyota Auris

When the doors open at the LA Auto Show in a few weeks, Scion will be on hand to showcase its new iM Concept. But considering what little Toyota's youthful brand has revealed about the concept so far, it's led to rampant speculation. And the prevailing wisdom seems to point towards a production iM arriving as a Scion-badged version of the Toyota Auris.

Scion iM ConceptFor those unfamiliar, the Auris is to European (and other) markets essentially what the Matrix is (was?) to ours: a hatchback version of the Corolla. The model line was first introduced in 2006, looking in its first iteration like an overgrown version of the contemporary second-gen Yaris, and was replaced with the current model in 2012. It's available as a five-door hatch or wagon, with a range of gasoline, diesel and hybrid powertrains available.

If the rumours – spurred by the similarity of the iM concept's nose depicted in the teasers – prove accurate, and public reception to the idea ends up spurring Toyota to put it into action, it wouldn't be the first overseas Toyota brought over as a Scion. The Scion iQ was sold as the Toyota iQ overseas years before it arrived here.

Toyota and Scion are not, of course, the only automakers using such an arrangement to bring overseas models to the North American market in parallel to its US ones. Honda used the Acura brand to market the Euro-spec Accord as the TSX in North America, General Motors has been doing the same for years with Opel offerings rebadged first as Saturn products and now as Buick models, and Chrysler markets Fiat Professional vans in America under the Ram nameplate.

The iM would likely replace the aging xB as part of a near complete overhaul of the Scion lineup that could bring Toyota's version of the new Mexican-built Mazda2 as successor to the slow-selling iQ.

This Porsche 356 family keeps it outlaw

Posted Oct 29th 2014 8:00PM

Rod Emory was the founder of Emory Motorsports in Burbank, CA, and the scion to a family tradition of building "outlaw" Porsches that are almost as cool as the cars themselves. The lovingly modified Porsche 356s are lovely artifacts, and their story, along with the story of their builders, is pitch-perfect for the Petrolicious oeuvre of beloved classics.

Tune in for the history lesson, and then stick around for the car candy.

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News Source: Petrolicious via YouTube

BMW unveils 2016 X5 M and X6 M super CUVs

Posted Oct 29th 2014 7:00PM

2016 BMW X5 M

2016 BMW X6 MThe second-generation BMW X5 M and X6 M have officially made their arrival for the speed-obsessed, crossover-loving masses that aren't willing to turn to Mercedes-AMG or Land Rover Special Operations.

While the new models retain their 4.4-litre, twin-turbocharged V8s, power has increased from 555 horsepower to 567 ponies. Torque is up more significantly, climbing from 500 pound-feet to 553 pound-feet. The extra twist is slightly less accessible, with peak grunt arriving between 2,200 and 5,000 rpm, rather than the earlier model's 1,500 to 5,650. Still, we'll take the ten per cent increase in torque as a net win.

The big powertrain switch sees the old X5/6 M's six-speed automatic replaced with an eight-speed Steptronic transmission from BMW M. This new gearbox feeds power to an xDrive all-wheel-drive system that can variably shuffle up to 100 percent of power to either axle. In conjunction with the force-induced thumper under the hood, this powertrain arrangement allows both M models to hit 60 miles per hour (96 km/h) in just four seconds. That's a mightily impressive stat in a 5,000-plus-pound (2,268-plus-kilogram) vehicle.

Yet, the new gearbox and amped up engine make for an even more impressive vehicle at the pumps (not that consumers of 560-horsepower, $100,000+, 5,000-pound (2,268-kilogram) crossovers care about such things). Carbon dioxide emissions and fuel consumption are down 20 per cent on the European cycle.

Prices for the X5 M start at US$99,650, while the X6 M rings up at US$103,050. Both figures include a $950 destination charge. (Canadian pricing has yet to be announced.)

Keeping all this technology shiny side up is the job of a double-wishbone front suspension and a standard self-leveling rear air suspension, three-mode dynamic dampers and huge, staggered Michelin Pilot Super Sport UHP tires, with 325/30/21s in back and 285/35/21s in front. For the record, those tires dwarf the rubber on proper supercars like the Ferrari 458 Speciale.

Of course, there's more than just oily stuff to distinguish BMW's M cars. The performance division has given both the X5 and X6 significant aesthetic updates to fit their high-performance role. Flared wheel arches, standard 21-inch M wheels, massive intakes in the front fascia and arguably the coolest wing mirrors we've seen on a production car grant the new M models with seriously eye-catching looks. Typical M features, like quad exhausts and side gills are also present

In the cabin, M's new over-large steering wheel has been fitted, complete with aluminum paddle shifters, while more aggressive sport seats with fixed headrests and an M-spec shifter round out the most visible interior changes.

While BMW is mum on when the new hot shots will arrive in dealers, it has released US pricing, with the X5 M sneaking in just under the century mark, at US$99,650. The X6 M, meanwhile, will retail at US$103,050. Both figures include a $950 destination charge. (Canadian pricing has yet to be announced.)

Scroll down for much more in the expansive press release from BMW, and then check out galleries of both the 2016 X5 M and X6 M.

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News Source: BMW

Police looking for hit-and-run driver who left zombie hospitalized

Posted Oct 29th 2014 6:00PM

Comic-Con 2013 - Hyundai and Skybound present The Walking Dead 10th Anniversary Celebration Event

The typical way to kill a zombie is by destroying its brain. Anyone that's kept up on The Walking Dead can list off a multitude of ways to accomplish this grim task ranging from guns, knives, swords, crossbows, street signs and any number of a range of sharp or blunt household objects. One northern Michigan man apparently opted to use his car and run down a zombie. A fair play, except for the fact that the walker he hit was actually 45-year-old Jeffrey Alan Stiles, a Halloween reveler dressed as one of the dead.

Now, Stiles is going to be fine. His injuries were classified as "non-life-threatening" and he was in "good" condition at Hackey Hospital as of Sunday morning, according to M Live. Still, Ottawa County sheriffs are on the lookout for the driver that struck him.

"While he was outside, he decided to walk along the roadway to scare cars, as he was dressed like a zombie for the Halloween party," Ottawa County's Sgt. Matt Wilfong told M Live.

Sheriff's Deputies are asking for anyone with information on the incident to come forward. Contact information can be found on the department's website.

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News Source: M Live

Image Credit: John Shearer / Invision / AP

Toyota pimps out Esquire van for Japanese businessmen [w/video]

Posted Oct 29th 2014 5:00PM

Toyota Esquire

A few months back we reported on a dealership owner in Japan who was petitioning Toyota to make a luxury van. The problem, he reasoned, was that he couldn't take as many friends, colleagues and clients around with him in his Lexus LS, and his Toyota Alphard van wasn't luxurious enough. Well, it seems like he wasn't alone, and Toyota has listened.

The Japanese auto giant has just revealed the Esquire, a new luxury van designed with just such customers in mind. It's significantly smaller than the Sienna we get in America, smaller than the aforementioned Alphard and about the same size as (this writer's favorite) the JDM Noah van (on which we gather it's based). But what sets the Esquire apart is its upscale appearance.

The boxy van is distinguished by its dominant T-shaped chrome grille with a unique emblem that encompasses a shield, sword, "the collar of a gentleman's suit" and the letters Esq. The flank is characterized by a strong beltline with chrome lower window frame and an expansive greenhouse with tinted rear glass. Inside the flexible cabin you'll find accommodation for seven or eight passengers (depending on specification), synthetic leather upholstery and wood and metallic trim. There are even wheelchair-enabled models on offer as well.

Power comes from either a 2.0-litre four driving 150 horsepower and 142 pound-feet of torque through a CVT to the front wheels or all four, or from a hybrid powertrain that pairs a 1.8-litre four (97 hp / 105 lb-ft) to an electric motor (81 hp / 153 lb-ft) for a combined 134 hp. Toyota expects to sell 4,000 units annually through two dealer networks, with prices ranging from 2.6 million yen ($27k) to 3.2 million yen ($33k).

Push comes to hybrid shove, we're not sure this model would have a place in Toyota or Lexus showrooms on this side of the Pacific, but it could be just what Japanese businessmen have called for for a night out in Tokyo. Scope it out in the video below.

News Source: Toyota

Facelifted Hyundai Veloster to get new 7-speed DCT, Flex Steer

Posted Oct 29th 2014 4:00PM

Hyundai Veloster Spy Shots

No matter how you look at it, the Hyundai Veloster is an odd duck. With the vehicle's weird door configuration and styling that kind of looks like a modernized Honda CRX, the model is certainly unlike anything else on the road today. Since spotting one testing earlier this year (pictured above), we know that a refreshed version is on the way eventually, but that car keeps a lot of its secrets hidden under camouflage. New rumours from The Korean Car Blog suggest that the Veloster might receive a few mechanical changes to go along with the updated skin.

Among the biggest rumoured tweaks is that the turbocharged model is receiving a seven-speed, dual-clutch gearbox as a replacement for its current, conventional six-speed auto. Another potential change for the naturally aspirated version is Hyundai's Flex Steer system that offers selectable weighting for the electric power steering.

Styling obviously isn't being left alone for the update. The mule testing earlier this year appears to show a new grille and altered bumpers underneath its concealment. The latest rumours suggest that's exactly the case with the possibility of a front end closer in design to the current Genesis, along with HID headlights and a modified hood design to remove the faux heat extractors.

Inside, noise levels are rumoured to be lower, and buyers might benefit from improved trim, an updated infotainment system and possibly new seats for the Turbo.

Autoblog spoke to Hyundai spokesperson Jim Trainor about the changes for the facelift, and he simply told us, "We don't comment on future products."

It shouldn't be too long before the validity of all of this is proven, though. The refreshed Veloster is rumoured to debut at an auto show in the US early next year, perhaps in Detroit or Chicago. Hopefully, Hyundai doesn't do anything to take away the model's bizarre spirit.

News Source: The Korean Car Blog

Image Credit: CarPix

Mercedes CLA wagon gets spied and a sexy render

Posted Oct 29th 2014 3:00PM

Mercedes-Benz CLA-Class Shooting Brake Spy Shots and Rendering

Mercedes-Benz CLA-Class Shooting Brake Spy Shots and RenderingGiven its months of testing, the eventual launch of the Mercedes-Benz CLA-Class Shooting Brake is a bit of a foregone conclusion at this point. Until now we haven't actually seen its hatchback rear undisguised, but the latest spy shots have given us a pretty certain idea of the design back there (right).

According to our spies, these practically uncamouflaged photos come from the Shooting Brake's testing on the Autobahn. While there is some masking around the rear, it isn't hiding much. You can clearly see the outline of the hatch's lines, and it looks like quite a svelte, little wagon.

Unfortunately, this tester got away before the spies snapped pictures of the front. C'est la vie. They've seen it so many times that they cobbled together renders of what the production version and AMG variant (above) could look like.

The AMG version has already been spotted testing and looked basically identical to this render, minus the cladding. Mechanically, expect all of the tricks from the high-performance sedan with a 2.0-litre turbocharged four-cylinder putting down 355 horsepower and routing power to all four wheels.

Unfortunately, it's still not known whether Mercedes is going to sell the wagon on North American shores. Not only could the shooting brake potentially steal sales from the GLA-Class compact crossover, but the automaker is barely keeping up with CLA supply as it is. The company's Kecskemét, Hungary, factory is running three shifts to keep up, and Daimler boss Dieter Zetsche claims Merc could sell twice as many as first expected.

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Image Credit: CarPix

Chevy showcases four concepts at Sao Paulo show

Posted Oct 29th 2014 2:00PM

Chevy Onix Track Day Concept

Chevrolet has rolled in to Sao Paulo this year with not one, not two, but four new concept cars. Only by concept cars, in this case we mean concept versions of existing production models.

Arguably the most exciting among them is the Onix Track Day concept. It's based on the Onix hatchback which GM offers exclusively in Latin America (not to be confused with the Peugeot Onyx concept). This Onix has been upgraded with a full aero kit, enhanced interior equipment and a 1.8-litre Ecotec engine with optimized ECU and stainless steel exhaust to churn out over 150 horsepower – which may not seem like much, but is far more than the hundred-odd hp offered in stock trim. It's joined by a second version called the Onix Effect that also gets a sporty (if more restrained) look.

Alongside the pair of Onix concepts, Chevy is also showcasing a pickup called the S-10 High Country that applies a similar treatment available on the larger Silverado High Country but to the overseas Colorado (which carries the old S-10 moniker in South America). Finally there's a subtly upgraded version of the Cobalt sedan on show as well, and you can scope out images of all four in the gallery above along with the original and translated press releases below.

News Source: Chevrolet