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This Or That: Fiat 500 Abarth vs. Ford Fiesta ST

  • This Or That: Fiat 500 Abarth vs. Ford Fiesta ST
  • Answering that age-old question, can you drift while being tazed?
  • 2015 Subaru WRX CVT Review
  • We obsessively covered the 2014 Monterey Car Week

2015 BMW M4 gets initiated into the club

Posted Aug 22nd 2014 1:00PM

BMW M4 initiation

It's easy to give BMW a hard time these days with its move into practically every automotive segment that exists and plans to add more front-wheel drive models to the brand in the future. However, the pursuit towards perfection that underscored its old Ultimate Driving Machine motto is still in there, especially in its M models. In fact, the first M4 recently made it to North American shores, and the company thought the only appropriate way to celebrate was to introduce the new coupe to some of its high performance forefathers.

The M4's initiation into the M car brotherhood involved bringing together 52 classic and newer models, including 4 racecars, to an empty parking lot and letting the coupe drift and slalom around them to say hello. According to BMW, there was a combined 11,566 horsepower on tap among all of them. It takes a pretty trusting owner to stand back and watch as a brand new vehicle slides its tail out with the rear wheels smoking within feet of their pride and joy. Stay tuned until the end where the owners and their cars get a shout out in the credits. Scroll down to read BMW's press release about it.

Related GalleryBMW M Initiation
BMW M InitiationBMW M InitiationBMW M InitiationBMW M InitiationBMW M InitiationBMW M InitiationBMW M InitiationBMW M Initiation

Related Gallery2015 BMW M4 Coupe: First Drive
2015 BMW M4 Coupe: First Drive2015 BMW M4 Coupe: First Drive2015 BMW M4 Coupe: First Drive2015 BMW M4 Coupe: First Drive2015 BMW M4 Coupe: First Drive2015 BMW M4 Coupe: First Drive2015 BMW M4 Coupe: First Drive2015 BMW M4 Coupe: First Drive

News Source: BMW USA via YouTube

Image Credit: Related images copyright 2014 Michael Harley / AOL

This Or That: Fiat 500 Abarth vs. Ford Fiesta ST

Posted Aug 22nd 2014 12:00PM

Which Hot Hatch Is Best? We Argue It Out...

Fiat vs Ford

They're pretty darn similar. And yet our views are oh so different.

If you guys could read the transcripts of our editors' chat room, you'd know that we're a pretty argumentative bunch. It's always good-spirited stuff (well, usually), but when we're not obsessively covering this or that, we're usually fighting about one car being better than another. We're all enthusiasts here, and our automotive tastes run the gamut from the weird and unusual to the decidedly mainstream – we all feel strongly about specific cars in a given segment. While it usually makes for good conversation, if we're passionate enough, it can turn into a tomato-throwing showdown.

I'm pretty well-known 'round these parts as the hot hatch guy, and anyone who's listened to the Autoblog Podcast recently has heard me rave about lovely little turbo cars like the Volkswagen GTI or Ford Fiesta ST, specifically. But I'm not the only one with a burning desire for some functional, affordable performance goodness – every one of us can find a hot hatch or two to really get behind.

In that spirit, we're kicking off our new This Or That segment with a discussion about my favourite class of car. For my money and thrills, nothing beats the Ford Fiesta ST. But ask managing editor Jeremy Korzeniewski the same question, and he'll cast a vote for the Fiat 500 Abarth. I think he's dead wrong, of course, but on the contrary, Jeremy scoffs at the level of my love for Ford's pint-sized puncher.

So, who's right? Read through our arguments below, vote in our poll, and sound off with your own opinion in the Comments.

Canada's hitchhiking robot nearing end of its journey [w/video]

Posted Aug 22nd 2014 11:00AM


There was a time when people actually thought it was safe to pick up hitchhikers and would totally give them a lift without a second thought. These days, possibly due to horror movies like The Texas Chainsaw Massacre and The Hitcher, thumbing a ride is painted as a prime way to get yourself killed. However, a robot doesn't have to worry about such a violent fate. The Hitchbot, hailing from Port Credit, Ontario, recently completed its month-long journey hitching from Halifax, Nova Scotia, to Victoria, British Columbia travelling mostly along the Trans-Canada Highway. The bot arrived on schedule at its final destination on August 21.

Hitchbot is the product of Canadian researchers interested in human-robot interaction and testing artificial intelligence and speech recognition tech. That's right, the robot can actually talk to its driver while underway. The whole thing was traceable online thanks to the bot's GPS and 3G connection, and fans could even watch Hitchbot's travels on the project's website, Twitter and Facebook.

According to Visor Down, the Hitchbot made it over 5,955 kilometres (3,700 miles) across Canada since setting off in July, and its drivers have been quite courteous. Scroll down to watch a video explaining a little more about Hitchbot and its odyssey across some of our most beautiful landscapes.

News Source: Visordown, Hitchbot via Vimeo

Image Credit: Twitter

Alfa Romeo planning Giulia GTA to rival M3, C63

Posted Aug 22nd 2014 10:00AM

Alfa Romeo MiTo GTA

What do you think of when you see the letters GTA? The Grand Theft Auto video game franchise? The GTA Spano supercar from Spain? Alfa Romeo enthusiasts remember it as the ultimate badge of performance from the Italian automaker, but while it's been over a decade since those letters appeared on a production Alfa, the latest rumours suggest they could be making a comeback in the form of a new Giulia GTA.

Those who've been following developments from Alfa Romeo will know that the company is planning a successor to the beautifully angular 159 with a new Giulia to slot in above the Giulietta five-door hatch, and according to Auto Express, a new GTA version is in the works. Tipped to be powered by an upgraded version of the 3.0-litre twin-turbo V6 developed by Ferrari for the Maserati Ghibli, the Giulia GTA is rumored to pack around 500 horsepower (give or take 20 horses) underhood.

That would give it a solid output advantage over the 425-hp BMW M3 and 451-hp Mercedes C63 AMG and give Fiat Chrysler Automobiles a performance sedan to challenge the upcoming Cadillac ATS-V and slot in below the bonkers 707-hp Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat.

Expect other oily bits to include a dual-clutch transmission and limited slip differential, as well as upgraded brakes, rolling stock and aero components.

The last time we saw the GTA badge was on the MiTo GTA concept (pictured above) that appeared at the 2009 Geneva Motor Show. Alfa was said to be considering a 159 GTA, similarly powered by Ferrari, back in 2007, but the rumours didn't come to fruition. The last production model to wear those letters was the 156 GTA that preceded it, with a 3.2-litre V6 that produced 250 hp. The most famous example, however, was the Giulia Sprint GTA produced in the late 1960s... a legend that Alfa appears keen to revive with this new model.

News Source: Auto Express

Detroit so broke it can't afford the right batteries for parking metres that make it millions

Posted Aug 22nd 2014 9:00AM

San Francisco's Parking Ticket Fees To Become Nation's Most Expensive

The city of Detroit is desperate for two things – revenue and savings. It needs to start making more money, and it needs to curb spending. What happens, though, when those two objectives run counter to each other? Well, you get a story like this one, where cost-saving measures are actually costing the city far more in lost revenue.

The city of Detroit has over 3,400 parking metres. If they were all functional, it's estimated they could bring in an additional $6 million per year in revenue. That's money the city could desperately use. Instead, only about half are working, a spokesman for Emergency Manager Kevyn Orr told The Detroit News. The reasons for this are alarmingly easy to fix.

First, as part of the city's austerity measures, it switched to a cheaper, lower-quality battery. According to The News, claims the current batteries being used by the city are nearly three dollars cheaper than the Duracell CopperTop nine-volts the city used before it went bust.

According to an anonymous meter attendant, the Duracells were swapped out every summer and winter. These new batteries, though, are dead well before attendants can get there with replacements. So yes, money is being saved somewhere, but revenue isn't being realized elsewhere.

Even simply changing the batteries requires a fight. The cylinder locks that house the batteries and other internals are prone to seizing when they meet water or dirt. Because maintenance budgets have been trimmed, the locks aren't replaced as often as they should be, which in turn damages the cylinder keys. This in turn exacerbates the battery issue, costing the city more money, due to its attempts at saving funds from maintenance. It really is a vicious cycle.

Of course the solution is rather simple – spend money to make money. For Detroiters, though, how do you do that when there's simply no money left to spend?

News Source: The Detroit News

Image Credit: Justin Sullivan / Getty Images

Answering that age-old question, can you drift while being tazed?

Posted Aug 21st 2014 8:00PM

Drifting while tazed

Many people tolerate a lot of distractions while doing their jobs and still get things done. Formula Drift Superstar Chris Forsberg is a veteran drifter who is very accomplished at his profession, but the question is: just how good? Forsberg's stripped car doesn't have any incoming texts, but there is a guy next to him putting a Taser to his chest.

Forsberg is challenged to enter a corner for a drift, and his torturer, Drift Alliance's Tony Angelo, tazes a different part of Chris' body in hopes of making him lose concentration and control. Things start off somewhat mild, but Angelo tries a little bit harder during each run.

Of course, it would ruin everything to tell you whether or not Forsberg does lose control, so you just have to watch to find out. Don't worry about his safety too much, they're on a closed track with safety personnel nearby. Warning, there is a fair bit of explicit language, as you would expect from a video of two people being tazed repeatedly.

News Source: Hoonigan via YouTube

Jay Leno keeps on truckin' in a 1967 Chevy C10 restomod from Holley

Posted Aug 21st 2014 7:00PM

Holley-tuned C10 truck

Jay Leno doesn't seem like a pickup truck kind of guy. Sure, he may have some appreciation for practically every vehicle on the road, but surely he cares more for some of them a little more than others. Trucks just don't appear to be in his wheelhouse. Still, there's an exception to every rule, and this week he welcomes in the CEO of Holley Performance Products to highlight the company's restomodded 1967 Chevrolet C10 in Jay Leno's Garage.

Holley forgoes the big wheels, tons of chrome, huge engine path of modding in favour of a more subdued approach that focuses on mechanical upgrades. Under that mint green hood is a Chevy LS3 V8 mated to a six-speed Tremec T56 manual transmission with a Hurst shifter. The engine bay keeps the vintage styling too with a Holley self-tuning fuel injection system and coil pack covers – Jay describes the mill as looking like a "little block that thinks it's a big block." All told, the company thinks the truck is sending about 500 horsepower to the rear wheels.

Outside of the new engine, the C10 also gets a lowered suspension, wood-lined bed and modestly larger wheels with period styling. That green paint is original, too. Of course, looks are only half the equation for any restored vehicle, and Jay proves that with two big burnouts in this restomodded pickup. Check out this video of Leno happily going out of his comfort zone.

News Source: Jay Leno's Garage via YouTube

Honda fixes Fit flaw, improves performance on key crash test

Posted Aug 21st 2014 6:30PM

Honda to offer 12,000 owners free fitment of upgraded bumper design

The Fit's grade on the small-front overlap test improved from "marginal" to "acceptable."

Back in March, safety engineers at Honda were disappointed when the much-anticipated 2015 Fit received a substandard grade on an important crash test conducted by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety.

They thought they had reinforced a steel bumper beam that runs behind the front fascia of the vehicle. But it had broke free in the impact, and the result was much more of the crash energy being absorbed on the driver's side of the car.

So Honda did something unusual. Even as this new-generation Fit started arriving in showrooms, the engineers raced to redesign the front of the car, and then asked IIHS to re-test the vehicle.

The result: The Fit's grade on the small-front overlap test improved from "marginal" on the earlier test to "acceptable," a result that IIHS announced Thursday morning. Because the Fit had already received 'good' marks on the organization's four other crash tests, the Fit will now earn the 'Top Safety Pick' overall title, the IIHS' second-highest ranking.

Image Credit: IIHS | Copyright 2014 Steven J. Ewing / AOL

Wait, we could have electric buses that recharge in 15 seconds?

Posted Aug 21st 2014 6:00PM

First, Swiss watches. Now this. Switzerland is home to a system that will allow battery-electric buses to get their juice in 15-second increments at bus-stop-mounted electric chargers. High-tech, indeed!

Switzerland's Ecole Polytechnique Federale de Lausanne (EPFL) is leading of a group of public and private entities that is developing something called the TOSA bus system. TOSA buses get recharged via a robotic arm that connects the roof-mounted bus batteries to an electric charging system mounted on the bus stop. The buses can hold up to 133 people and the "flash charging" provides enough juice in a 15-second charge to get the bus to the next electrified stop without delaying the route. The researchers say such buses could be put into regular service in Geneva by 2017.

Bus electrification has been topical because of the traditionally low fuel economy of diesel-powered municipal buses as well as the troublesome electrification systems that require overhead lines for electric power. With that in mind, companies like China-based BYD have been developing battery-electric buses. This spring, BYD started making electric buses at its California factory and, earlier in the year, said it received an order for 1,200 electric buses from Dalian, China.

Click here to watch, as there's a 100-second video about the TOSA system below.

News Source: EPFL