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HIGHLIGHTS: 2014 LA Auto Show

  • 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
  • 2016 Cadillac ATS-V blasts into LA Auto Show

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

Jeep Wrangler likely to get aluminum body

Posted Nov 22nd 2014 3:00PM

Jeep Wrangler Freedom Edition

Perhaps more than any other vehicle currently for sale in North America, the Jeep Wrangler is viewed by purist fans as a vehicle that simply must maintain the status quo. In this case, that means a body-on-frame design, solid axles, a relatively large engine sitting up front and a removable top. It's always been that way, and it always will be.


According to the most recent reports, the next-generation Jeep will continue to soldier forth with a full steel chassis underneath its stamped bodywork. The biggest change, reports Automotive News, will be that said panels will be hewn from aluminum instead of steel, a seismic shift of a transition not unlike what's happened with the new Ford F-150. Because it won't be a unibody, the SUV will likely continue to be assembled in Toledo, OH as it (almost) always has been – the latter has been a source of heartburn in recent weeks.

Assuming that these rumors prove accurate, they still don't answer all of the questions brand loyalists have put forth since rumours of the next-gen Wrangler started hitting the web. Will it keep solid axles? A six-cylinder engine? A manual transmission option? Only time will tell.

Radical launches new 440-hp SR8 RSX track car

Posted Nov 22nd 2014 2:00PM

Radical SR8 RSX

Radical has made a name for itself building Le Mans Prototype-style sports cars you can actually buy and, in theory at least, drive on the road, but the resulting cars are so extreme that we doubt many of their owners actually do. Nominally street-legal (in some places) though they may be, these are track machines. And this is the most extreme version yet.

The new SR8 RSX is based on Radical's signature open-cockpit design (not, as you can see, on its new closed-cockpit RXC), albeit expanded and packed with more hardcore equipment. It's powered by a 3.0-litre V8 driving 440 horsepower and 280 pound-feet of torque through a seven-speed sequential transmission. Six-pot calipers grip 350-millimetre ventilated disc brakes up front (310 in the rear), inside 17- or available 18-inch wheels wearing Dunlop SP Sport tires.

For the first time, Radical is offering electrically power-assisted steering. The enlarged cockpit features HANS-compatible, water-resistant bucket seats, a new AIM MXG data logger, a seven-inch TFT display and onboard wifi to transmit data. And it can carry up to 100 litres in its FIA-certified fuel cell, allowing it to stay out on the track longer between fuel stops during lapping sessions or endurance races. The whole package weighs less than 862 kilograms, but it'll produce nearly 910 kilograms of downforce at speed.

Of course, all that equipment and capability comes at a price, and the SR8 RSX starts at £109,950 – equivalent to $197,500 CAD, before taxes. If that sounds too rich for your blood, Radical is offering similar levels of equipment with a Suzuki-sourced 1.5-litre four-cylinder engine with 210 hp for just £66,958 ($120,800k) that will still reach 60 (96 km/h) in 3.1 seconds.

Related GalleryRadical RXC
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News Source: Radical

How GM's OnStar is building a better Check Engine Light

Posted Nov 22nd 2014 1:00PM

Cars Will Warn Of Failures Before They Happen

A display alerts the driver that the engine power has been reduced in an OnStar equipted vehicle in San Mateo, Calif., on Monday

Soon, OnStar will be used to mine your car's systems and compare its findings against vast pools of data in the cloud.

We've all become accustomed to our cars' dashboards warning us of an impending calamity, be it low fuel, low tire pressure or even the dreaded nonspecific "check engine" light. But what if your car could tell you specifically that your alternator is going, or that your water pump is about to fail? That technology is coming, says General Motors' executive vice president of global product development, Mark Reuss. In a Thursday media luncheon, Reuss confirmed to us that GM is working on the technology using cars equipped with its OnStar communications network. According to Reuss:

"Being able to predict about when that [a failure] is going to happen prevents walk homes. If there's a problem with a brake rotor, if there's a problem with a brake system or a steering system – being able to predict that [failure] and inform the driver that they need to go to a dealer and have that service performed before it happens, that's really good R&D."

Today, OnStar is best known for its subscription services that help drivers deal with inconveniences and problems, from turn-by-turn navigation to automatic emergency services notifications in the event of an accident. But soon, OnStar will be used to mine your car's systems and compare its findings against vast pools of data in the cloud. If it finds variations in the performance of your vehicle's systems that are indicative of impending failures, OnStar will then be able to automatically notify you of the potential problem utilizing in-car screens, either via the infotainment system or gauge cluster display. OnStar presently has the ability to notify owners of vehicle maintenance intervals using email, so conceivably notifications could be delivered in this way, too.

So, will this be yet another subscription-based service for GM? Not necessarily. Reuss says:

"We're figuring out the business model right now. But theoretically, we'd like to offer that to all of our customers. We already give away a ton of money on that equipment of OnStar in the car that nobody really pays for. So we're going to use it."

So, is this pie-in-the-sky technology? No, Reuss says. "We're testing the system now with our employees," he says, which suggests it's coming soon.

Now, how long will it be before OnStar checks to make sure your preferred dealer has the required replacement part in stock and reserves a service appointment for you?

Image Credit: ZUMA Press, Inc. / Alamy

2016 Smart Fortwo

Posted Nov 22nd 2014 11:57AM

A Smarter City Car For Crowded Urbanites

2016 Smart Fortwo

In the sixteen years since Daimler first introduced the Smart car, the micro city car market has grown significantly to the extent that the urban-oriented brand doesn't just have more competition to contend with these days than it did in the late 90s; for the first time it has real competition on its hands altogether. In other words, while the Smart Fortwo once had the micro city car market almost entirely to itself, new rivals have emerged to challenge its dominance.

It may be a long time, if ever, before slightly larger contenders like the Scion iQ and Volkswagen Up! catch up to the 1.6-million units Smart has moved since it first hit the market back in 1998, somehow never managing to turn a profit along the way. But the bottom line is that Smart's position in the market is far from assured, especially relying, as it has, on the same architecture for over a decade and a half.

So after strongly hinting at the way forward with a series of show cars, Daimler revealed the all-new Smart Fortwo and its bigger brother, the Forfour, in July ahead of its debut at last month's Paris Motor Show. With both the brand's future and its supremacy in the urban mobility market hanging in the balance, we boarded a flight to Barcelona to see what Daimler had up its short sleeve. What we found was a two-seat city car that's not just a substantial improvement over the model it replaces, but an altogether different beast– one which doesn't aspire to be everything to everyone, but just might be what drivers in the world's densest urban cores will need... and little more.

Image Credit: Copyright 2014 Noah Joseph / AOL

Energica strips Ego naked, presents Eva electric streetfighter

Posted Nov 22nd 2014 11:00AM

Energica Eva electric motorcycle

Meet Eva, the latest electric motorcycle from Energica, freshly revealed at the 100th edition of EICMA (Esposizione Internazionale Ciclo Motociclo e Accessori) in Milan. The Italian company has stripped its Ego, turning the bones of its superbike into a naked streetfighter. The result is an eye-catching creation designed to give riders a bit more control, but still capture their hearts.

There hasn't yet been much released in the way of technical details, though from what we understand, this iteration keeps the frame and 134-horsepower drivetrain of its track-friendly sibling, but trades in the front fairing for something a little more minimalistic. It also adds a set of wide upright handlebars and a two-up seat. The throttle map has been tampered with in an effort to extend the range from the 11.7-kWh battery pack and make all that power a bit more manageable.

While the Ego may be found in select dealerships in 2015 – the first in the US has been named as Newport Italian in Newport Beach, CA – Eva may only make her retail appearance in 2016 and is expected to wear a price tag slightly more modest than the US$34,000 ask of its stablemate. We'll certainly be seeing more of this urban-friendly machine over the coming months, but for now we'll have to content ourselves with the handful of shots in our gallery.

News Source: Energica, Asphalt and Rubber

How Michelin went from tire company to premiere foodie guide

Posted Nov 22nd 2014 10:00AM

The Michelin mascot Bibendum poses prior

Michelin is globally known for two things – tires and food. Yeah, we know, those two are pretty far removed from each other, but the company's history in the former is very nearly as long and storied as its work in the latter.

A decade after the Michelin brothers started selling tires, they introduced the first Michelin Guide, a comprehensive booklet that served as a powerful resource for France's early road travelers. It contained information on hotels, gas stations and, eventually, restaurants. A three-star rating system developed, and it's carried on to today, becoming a very, very prestigious award for restaurateurs.

Business Insider has a brief but comprehensive history of the so-called Michelin stars and the current state of the Michelin Guide and its role across the globe. Whether you're a fan of tasty food, Gordon Ramsay or just travel in general, the story is worth a read.

News Source: Business Insider

Image Credit: Toshifumi Kitamura / AFP / Getty Images

Infiniti Q30 prototype has entry-level luxury in the bag

Posted Nov 22nd 2014 9:00AM

Infiniti Q30: Spy Shots

The Infiniti Q30 Concept signaled the Japanese brand's clear intentions to join the growing global compact premium segment. Now, as evidenced by these images, we can see development of the brand's first compact hatchback is proceeding apace.

Our spies point to the similarity between this camouflaged tester and the Mercedes-Benz GLA-Class as further evidence to the cars' shared platform, although we'll admit, we don't necessarily see the similarities. The Q30's overall look, to our eyes, is like a scaled-down, lower-riding QX50, the model previously known as EX. Infiniti design elements, like its squat greenhouse, long hood and double-arch grille are all visible.

The Mercedes-Benz connection should be clearer under the hood, though, as the Q30 is expected to be powered by the same 2.0-litre, turbocharged Mercedes four-pot that's been leading the charge throughout the brand's entry-level models, namely the CLA-, GLA- and C-Class.

As previously reported, the Q30 will eventually spawn a QX30 softroader variant. Production of the new compact will begin in the UK late next year, while US production will kick off in Decherd, TN in early 2016.

Image Credit: CarPix