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How China is at war with its pickup trucks

Posted Oct 22nd 2014 9:00AM

Great Wall Wingle5

Create a law, and people try to find some way to get around it. That's basically a fact of life whether you're in Canada or the People's Republic of China. For example, recently in the PRC, a man attempted to convert his pickup into a sedan to avoid road tolls, and photos of the vehicle became a story in Chinese media. The whole incident shined a light on the government's antagonism towards trucks (like the Great Wall Wingle 5 pictured above).

According to Automotive News, this intrepid driver made his attempt during the National Day earlier in October. For the holiday, China removed its road tolls for sedans, which made it free for them to drive on highways. This fellow apparently had places to go, and he converted his four-door truck into a "sedan." Although, his undertaking was pretty mediocre by just installing a sloping bed cover with a hatch on the back of his pickup. The endeavor didn't fool police, either, because they fined him for the scheme. Still, it was a noble effort, we suppose.

Not many owners are willing to go to the lengths of this guy, but trucks in China are fighting an uphill battle for popularity. According to Automotive News, a legal loophole means that in some cities, all pickups are classified as commercial vehicles, and they are kept from entering. Those limits keep sales to less than two percent of the country's massive auto market, and those numbers are continuing to fall. No wonder automakers like Great Wall want to sell models in the more pickup-friendly North America.

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News Source: Automotive News - sub. req.

Image Credit: Great Wall

Next Mercedes G-Class won't think outside of the box

Posted Oct 22nd 2014 8:00AM

2014 Mercedes-Benz G63 AMG

Anyone that was afraid that Mercedes-Benz would follow the example of the Land Rover Range Rover and soften the looks of the iconic Geländewagen when it came time for a redesign need not worry. The iconic off-roader's brutalist design aesthetic will carry on, as it's essential to its character.

"It has to continue as it looks today," Daimler AG boss Dieter Zetsche told Bloomberg. "It's not a vehicle that pretends. The G-Class is the original."

That doesn't mean that the G won't seem some changes soon. Regulatory changes will force some design modifications for 2016, while Mercedes might also take the opportunity to up usable space, widening the SUV by around four inches and dropping the roof slightly, a person familiar with MB's plans told Bloomberg.

Mercedes is at something of a crossroads with the G-Class, facing increased competition from the hot-selling Range Rover and staring down the barrel of new ultra-lux competitors from the likes of Bentley and others. Meanwhile, Bloomberg describes the company as trying to shed a "stodgy reputation." These challenges, though, shouldn't impact the future G-Wagen's abilities, though.

"When it comes to the combination of off-road capabilities and luxury, there's no alternative," the SUV's chief, Gunnar Guethenke told Bloomberg. "The G-Class provides the genes for all Mercedes-Benz SUVs."

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News Source: Bloomberg

Image Credit: Copyright 2014 Steven J. Ewing / AOL

Harry Metcalfe channel hits YouTube with '54 Series I Land Rover

Posted Oct 21st 2014 8:00PM

Harry Metcalfe with his Land Rover Series 1

If we know our history of automotive journalism, Evo magazine owes its existence to one Harry Metcalfe. The British supercar owner and enthusiast started the publication back in 1998 and served for many years as its editor and then editorial director. But after some two decades at the helm, Harry's stepped back, leaving the magazine to Nick Trott and his staff to run. So what's he up to now? Why, he's launched his own YouTube channel, of course.

Harry's Garage will naturally focus on the numerous supercars and other such rarities which Metcalfe has amassed over the years, but will also feature some of the new metal and events to which he's earned access over the course of his long and distinguished career. But in one of the first videos produced specifically for his new channel, Harry shows us the ins and outs of one of the slowest vehicles in his private fleet: a 1954 Land Rover Series I – specifically an open-top, 86-inch-wheelbase version – the precursor to the Defender 90 and a veritable British motoring icon. Watch the review below and the introduction to Harry's Garage below that.

News Source: Harry's Garage via YouTube [1], [2]

How to make car depreciation work in your favour

Posted Oct 21st 2014 6:58PM

Whether your car is new or used, it will slowly, but surely lose its resale value over time. And while taking good care of your vehicle (with these handy tips) will allow it to retain more of its value, nothing you do will preserve all of it from depreciation.

On average, a vehicle will lose between 15 to 20 per cent of its value per year, which means that it retains only 40 to 55 per cent of its original value after three years ti,e. Used cars aren't immune to this either, which is why some say they are also waste of your money, although it can be argued both ways.

However, if you want to save as much money as possible upon trade in time or deciding to sell your vehicle, there are a few ways to make car depreciation value work in your favour... Click here to continue reading and find out how.

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Learn to drive a monster truck with Monster Jam driving pros

Posted Oct 21st 2014 6:00PM

How to drive a monster truck

On the surface, it's easy to write off monster trucks as big, dumb and dangerous vehicles, but when you start looking deeper, they get a lot more impressive. At least for the people competing in the Monster Jam series, there's a commitment to safety and some seriously cool engineering to make all of those huge jumps and stunts possible night after night. Of course, driving one of these behemoths isn't exactly easy, either.

Not only do drivers have to deal with bouncing around all the time, they also have in the region of 1,500 horsepower at their disposal, all of which is being channeled into something with some pretty bizarre handling characteristics, too. Just think about it: How many competition vehicles can you think of that sport massive tires and separate controls for the front and rear steering?

If you want some advice, check out this video to hear from the men and women of Monster Jam who are behind the wheel practically every night and then have to fix them to crush more cars the next day.

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News Source: Gizmag via YouTube

Here's how people spec'd their C7 Corvettes in 2014

Posted Oct 21st 2014 5:00PM

2014 Chevrolet Corvette

The Z51 option pack was hugely popular full-stop, with a total of 21,105 examples in all bodystyles ordered.

For its first year out of the gate, the 2014 Chevrolet C7 Corvette Stingray did very well for itself, selling 37,288 units worldwide with 34,678 of the new sports cars hitting the market in the US alone. In fact, the total number was one of the best figures for the Corvette in the modern era. But the full breakdown of all the 2014 C7's sales data has hit the web from The National Corvette Museum blog, and it has given us the chance to be nosy and find out what people really want from this latest model.

Individually, buyers seemed to really want some extra performance from their new Vette, because the coupe with the Z51 package was the most popular model, with 15,431 made (41.4 per cent), followed by the standard coupe with 11,134 built (29.9 per cent). The Z51 option pack was hugely popular full-stop, with a total of 21,105 examples in all bodystyles ordered with its added performance pieces – that's 56.6 per cent of the year's production. If anything, we're surprised the bargain-priced grouping didn't net an even higher percentages.

Despite people clearly wanting performance, customers' transmission preferences unsurprisingly skewed towards automatics. The six-speed auto had 24,088 orders (64.6 percent), while the remaining 13,200 were seven-speed manuals. When the 'Vette was closer to launch, the seven-speed represented about 38 percent of the production, so it only fell a few per cent over the entire model year.

Interestingly, some options were practically a universal choice among buyers. Some 31,173 cars (83.6 per cent) had the box for the optional performance exhaust ticked. Also, 30,427 people (81.6 per cent) ponied up for navigation.

When shopping for colours, customers really wanted to own a little red Corvette. Torch Red was the most popular paint shade with 7,197 made. In fact, it, Arctic White and Black were the three most popular hues, representing 51.7 per cent of total orders. The least wanted was Lime Rock Green with just 1,566 sold, and it has been discontinued for the 2015 model year.

These details are just scratching the surface at all of the info to be gleaned from this data. Check out the The National Corvette Museum blog for the full table.

Porsche becomes first company to rent out Vatican's Sistine Chapel

Posted Oct 21st 2014 4:00PM

We wouldn't go so far as to say God is a Porsche fan, but those in charge of one of the holiest Christian spots on our little blue marble are welcoming the German automaker into one of the the religions most revered and beautiful settings – the Sistine Chapel in Vatican City. In so doing, Porsche will reportedly become the first company to rent out the holy hall for a corporate function.

Now, it's not like Pope Francis has signed off on Porsche doing do donuts in a 911 underneath Michelangelo's The Creation of Adam. Instead, the Vatican has rented out the home of the Papal Conclave to the Porsche Travel Club, which will host a classical music concert. The Travel Club organizes events and tours across Europe for Porsche enthusiasts, with the Vatican concert just one part of a tour of Rome.

According to Automotive News Europe, Porsche will sell 40 tickets – at 5,000 euros each ($7,188) – to the event, while the Vatican has confirmed that the Pope will not be in attendance.

News Source: Automotive News Europe - sub. req.

Image Credit: L'Osservatore Romano / AP, via twitter

Top 10 best and most useful car and auto related apps

Posted Oct 21st 2014 3:00PM

While police are cracking down on distracted driving and texting behind the wheel, most drivers (us included) still can't remember the last time they left the house or office without a mobile device handy in their car. Living an app-centric life may have seemed unheard of even a decade ago, but for better or for worse, the phrase "there's an app for that" is here to stay.

With new apps being launched by the hundreds on a daily basis, it's sometimes hard to know which ones are worthy of the storage space on your device; so we've compiled a list of the top 10 best car-centric or auto related mobile apps for your device.

There are a wide range of different must-have auto apps ranging from real-time traffic and route planners, plus fuel mileage trackers, high tech/performance apps and in-car entertainment.

Click here to find out the top 10 best and most useful car and auto related apps.

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Land Rover to send off Defender with SVR special

Posted Oct 21st 2014 2:00PM

Land Rover Defender Challenge by Bowler

Jaguar Land Rover has made plenty of drool-inducing, time-warping performance machines, but most of them – from the XJ220 to the F-Type – have come from the Jaguar side of the equation. That's where the British automaker's new Special Operations division came in with the new Range Rover Sport SVR, transforming one of Land Rover's off-roaders into a Nürburgring-conquering performance ute. But it won't be the last.

According to JLR Special Operations chief John Edwards in speaking with Autocar, the division is searching for its next project. And that could – and it seems likely will – come down to a special send-off for the long-serving Defender.

Land Rover's most hardcore, no-frills, rough-and-tumble model has been in production essentially unchanged since 1983, making it as old as some of the writers here at Autoblog (though sadly much younger than some others... -ED). It's slated to be retired next year in favour of an all-new model, but before it does, JLR apparently plans to send it off with a muscled-up performance model.

Don't take that to mean that the Defender will be stripped off its off-road capabilities in an effort to make it perform better on the track, though. According to Autocar, Land Rover is looking to the Dakar rally and the old Camel Trophy for inspiration, suggesting that we could be looking at a British take on the Ford F-150 SVT Raptor of sorts... or a production version of the Defender Challenge truck (pictured above) made together with noted LR tuner Bowler. All of which strikes us as rather enticing, though it may be a while before we get to see the finished product in the metal.

News Source: Autocar