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2014 Porsche 911 Pfaff Tuning GT3 Alternative

  • 2014 Porsche 911 Pfaff Tuning GT3 Alternative
  • 2015 Toyota Tundra TRD Pro
  • Audi reveals new TT spec racer
  • 2015 Mercedes-Benz S550 Coupe

BMW X4 M40i caught production-ready

Posted Oct 25th 2014 1:58PM

BMW X4 M40i

It seems like BMW is pretty committed to this whole X4 thing. Aside from the current xDrive28i and xDrive35i, we've captured a round of spy photos showing what our spy shooters tell us is a more dynamic M40i model.

The higher-performance hunchback follows in the footsteps of BMW's other sub-M cars like the M235i. In fact, much like the high-po 2 Series, the M40i is expected to make use of a 3.0-litre, turbocharged six-cylinder, developing 365 to 375 horsepower.

Aside from that, the rest of the X4 M40i fits the brief of other near-M models, with a more aggressive body kit, larger wheels, firmer suspension and brawnier brakes. Expect some mild tweaks inside, too, including sportier seats and an M-specific steering wheel.

Judging by the uncamouflaged nature of this tester caught testing on Germany's Nürburgring, production will kick off before the end of the year, perhaps in December. That means a LA Auto Show debut is likely, provided BMW opts to sell the hotter X4 in the North American market. Take a look above for our full gallery of spy photos.

Related Gallery2015 BMW X4
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Image Credit: CarPix

Allan Hill, last resident of Detroit's iconic Packard plant may get pushed out [w/video]

Posted Oct 25th 2014 1:00PM

Allan Hill lives at the Packard Plant

The old Packard Plant in Detroit is one of the city's icons. All at once, it represents the vibrant history of the Motor City, its rocky past decades and the chance for something new to spring up. Despite the Packard buildings sitting empty for years, there's still life there. Among other things, it's a common spot for artists to practice their work, including Banksy several years ago. However, recent demolitions might bring a final end to the famous spot as we know it and threatens to make the site's only legal resident homeless, along with it.

According to The Detroit News, Allan Hill has been living in a warehouse on the Packard Plant campus for about the last eight years. He has become the site's caretaker of sorts by trying to prevent further destruction there and giving tours to visitors.

Now, the owner of the warehouse is putting the building up for sale, as part of increased development at the dilapidated factory. Read The Detroit News' report to learn more about Hill and the plant's future, and scroll down to watch a video about this fascinating man and his home.

News Source: The Detroit News

The List Shorts #0530: Change your own oil

Posted Oct 25th 2014 12:00PM

Change your own oil

Having your oil changed falls under Car Maintenance 101, but doing it yourself has been a right of passage for generations of auto enthusiasts. Patrick McIntyre of The List heads to Avus Autosport in Glendale, CA for some tips on how to properly swap the synthetic on an older model BMW.

Watch as Patrick checks "change your own oil" off of his list in this Shorts video – perhaps it'll inspire you to get under your own car this weekend.

Why narrower 10-foot roads may be safer than 12-foot roads

Posted Oct 25th 2014 10:00AM

Bicycle Buffer Zones

We live in a society where more is generally considered better. We want improved fuel economy from our cars, more data from our phones and a better picture from TVs. But when it comes to engineering some roads, giving drivers more room might not actually be an advantage. There's some evidence that switching from the current 12-foot standard for lanes to 10-foot-wide lanes for urban streets could boost safety. The change might potentially mean around 900 fewer fatal crashes each year.

An article on CityLab, a site that brings scientific thinking to the questions of urban life, investigates the current state of traffic engineering for lane width, and the author lays down a compelling argument about making things narrower. Two-feet might not sound like a lot, but when multiplied over the whole roadway, you end up with quite a bit of extra real estate to play with.

The piece explains some of the reasons that 12-foot lanes are the standard in the first place and then breaks each of those arguments down to show that they might be a fallacy. If nothing else, the story makes you think more about traffic engineering than you probably have in years. Read the whole story for yourself, here.

News Source: CityLab

Image Credit: Richard Vogel / AP Photo

Toyota Prius + gets refresh in UK, is it coming here?

Posted Oct 25th 2014 9:00AM

Toyota Prius +

Toyota has unveiled a mid-cycle refresh of its seven-passenger, UK-market Prius +, known here in North America as the five-passenger Prius V. The revised hybrid MPV now boasts looks inspired by Toyota's more aggressive compact stylings as seen on its new Yaris and Aygo – particularly in the redone front fascia.

The new LED headlights are the most obvious change, sporting a sharper style, while the vertical slats that bookend front fascia are much larger and deeper, and are now home to LED running lights. The lower grille is also newly enlarged and trimmed in black plastic. Changes out back are far less noticeable, with the biggest tweak being a new diffuser that's been integrated into the rear bumper.

The interior gets a light freshening, too, with fresh trimmings around the switchgear, as well as a new 4.2-inch TFT display in the center mounted instrument cluster. The latter includes a new "Eco Judge" function designed to help owners drive more efficiently through a point-based reward system.

Cosmetics aside, Toyota has also tweaked the suspension damping, added additional sound deadening and adjusted the powertrain to comply with Euro6 emission standards.

Now, what's all this mean for our Toyota Prius V? Will we see a similar refresh to our North American market vehicle? Well, we'd love to tell you yes or no, however, our calls to Toyota have thus far gone unanswered. As soon as we hear back, we'll be sure to update this story with an answer.

Until then, scroll down for the full press release from Toyota UK and check out the refreshed Prius + in our gallery.

News Source: Toyota

Nissan GT-R goes on Rockies Alberta adventure with Epic Drives

Posted Oct 24th 2014 8:00PM

Nissan GT-R Epic Drive

Years after its original debut, the Nissan GT-R remains a much-feared, well-regarded entry in the sports car landscape. Sure, many of its original competitors are onto new generations these days, but Nissan has continually improved the GT-R, giving it meaningful tweaks almost every year since it came to the US market for 2009. Reviewers also just seem to keep finding things to praise about the all-wheel drive, turbocharged coupe. In this episode of Epic Drives, the GT-R proves that in addition to being a quite pleasant road trip companion around the province of Alberta, Canada, in a pinch it can go off-road to herd some horses, too.

At its heart, Epic Drives amounts to half travelogue and half driving review. So in between snaking the GT-R through some picturesque roads, host Arthur St. Antoine takes a tour of Alberta and the Canadian Rockies. If you're in the mood to take a drive in the Nissan through a landscape that blends the looks of a prairie, the Alps and fjords, then have a seat and check this video out.

Related Gallery2015 Nissan GT-R
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News Source: Motor Trend Channel via YouTube

Image Credit: Related images copyright 2014 Chris Paukert / AOL

Berkeley findings says motorcycle lane-splitting safer than ever [w/video, poll]

Posted Oct 24th 2014 7:00PM

Motorcycle Commuter Safety

The latest study seems to indicate that riders are better off splitting lanes than ever before.

In some parts of North America, the concept of a motorcycle buzzing between lanes of slower traffic is a foreign concept, but it's an accepted practice in others. Each year since 2012, The Safe Transportation Research and Education Center at the University of California, Berkeley, conducts a study to check acceptance and safety of lane-splitting in the state, where the act is legal. The latest study seems to indicate that riders are better off splitting lanes than ever before.

Among California motorcyclists, lane-splitting is becoming increasingly accepted. In the study, 80.6 per cent of riders report doing it on freeways, about the same as before. However, of them, 37.3 per cent of them say it happens "Always" compared to 30.9 per cent in 2012.

On non-freeways, 71.4 of riders split lanes, up 10.3 per cent from 2013. Of them 32.9 per cent say it happens "Always," up 7.6 per cent from a year ago. Furthermore, 62.1 per cent of people split on both types of roads, up 7.5 per cent form 2013.

With more people splitting lanes, the question of its impact on safety arises, and the study indicates that the act is getting less dangerous, too. The UC Berkeley study shows 4.7 per cent of riders on freeways were hit by a vehicle while lane-splitting in 2014, down from 8.6 per cent in 2013 and 11.8 per cent in 2012. Non-freeways have seen a similar decline to just 2.0 per cent in 2014 compared to 7.4 per cent last year and 8.3 per cent in 2012. Motorcyclists saying they nearly hit a car or had one try to block them are both lower this year, as well. Drivers are seemingly also finding the practice more acceptable, too.

This year's study includes info from 1,660 respondents, including 951 drivers and 709 motorcycle riders, and it paints a fairly positive picture about the safety of lane-splitting. The entire 51-page study can be read here in PDF format, and scroll down for a report about the study from CBS News.

What do you think of lane-splitting? Vote in our poll below, then have your say in Comments.

Do you think motorcycle lane-splitting is safe?

News Source: California Office of Traffic Safety, CBS This Morning via YouTube

Image Credit: Randall Benton / Sacramento Bee / MCT / Getty Images

2015 Honda CR-V performs poorly in Swedish AWD test [w/video]

Posted Oct 24th 2014 6:00PM

Honda CR-V all-wheel drive test

Swedish auto magazine Teknikens Värld has never been afraid to call out automakers when a vehicle fails one of its battery of examinations. Its famous Moose Test recently caught the Porsche Macan out, and a few years ago, there was a protracted argument between Teknikens Värld and Jeep over the performance of a Grand Cherokee in that evaluation.

This time, the 2015 Honda CR-V (the title of the video shows it as a 2014 MY, but it is indeed a t 2015) is raising the magazine's hackles, but it has nothing to do with avoiding a giant mammal. Snow is obviously an issue in Sweden, and Teknikens Värld has a test that challenges all-wheel drive systems in low-traction settings. On a slanted surface, the Swedes put the vehicles' front wheels on rollers with no traction and demands the rears accelerate away. The Honda couldn't do it. Teknikens Värld claims that it initially found the same result last year from the European CR-V, but Honda Sweden put out a software upgrade correcting the behavior in the test. This year, the CUV went back to failing.

While that's the magazine's side, Honda Sweden doesn't see the test as fair. In a statement to Teknikens Värld, the company explains the way the CUV's all-wheel drive system works. It also claims that the test isn't simulating a realistic situation. "In real conditions, regardless of the surface, there is a certain amount of friction always available for both front and rear wheels," the announcement says. "A scenario like the roll test with such a high difference in grip between the front and the rear wheels is highly unlikely."

Teknikens Värld, for its part, counters that the test was approved by Honda last year. Scroll down to watch the evaluation for yourself and read the magazine's announcement of the results. Let us know in Comments whether you think this is a fair way to assess all-wheel drive systems.

Related Gallery2015 Honda CR-V: First Drive
2015 Honda CR-V: First Drive2015 Honda CR-V: First Drive2015 Honda CR-V: First Drive2015 Honda CR-V: First Drive2015 Honda CR-V: First Drive2015 Honda CR-V: First Drive2015 Honda CR-V: First Drive2015 Honda CR-V: First Drive

News Source: Teknikens Varld via YouTube

Image Credit: Teknikens Varld

Fiat-Chrysler shows its SEMA lineup

Posted Oct 24th 2014 5:00PM

Dodge Challenger T/A Concept SEMA

Fiat Chrysler Automobiles already previewed its 2014 SEMA show lineup with some slick renders. Now, the automaker has finally showed us the actual cars, and among the group there are definitely some that stand out more than others.

Dodge is really showing off its muscle at this year's show with four concepts that all pump up the power of the brand's models. Perhaps most interesting among them is the Challenger T/A Concept (pictured above) in striking Sublime Green and matte black. It's meant to resemble the classic Trans Am racer from the '70s. Under the hood is a 6.4-litre V8, and to fit the vintage style there's a pistol-grip gearshift inside.

The Charger R/T also gets some attention with the Mopar concept that shows off what FCA's aftermarket performance arm can do. Mods include an updated body kit, cold-air intake for the 5.7-litre V8 and a coil-over suspension kit. Beyond that, the Dart R/T Concept looks a lot meaner with a black hood with duct work that leads straight to the air intake. The rest of the compact sedan is dolled up in O-So-Orange paint and is fitted with upgrades to improve handling like a coil-over suspension and big brake kit from the Mopar catalog.

Dodge Viper ACR ConceptThe last Dodge is the track-focused Viper ACR Concept with a radical body kit that the company claims is wind tunnel-tested to produce more downforce. It also packs 15.4-inch (391mm) carbon ceramic brakes with six-piston calipers. The interior is mostly stripped out to save weight, with some parts replaced with carbon fiber pieces.

Jeep also has five concepts on display, but three of them are from this year's Easter Jeep Safari. The Renegade Riptide and Frostbite are two new takes of the upcoming compact crossover with a focus on surfing and skiing, respectively. If that doesn't to it for you, the Wrangler MOJO, Maximum Performance and Cherokee Dakar are all going to be on display, as well.

Not to be outdone, the rest of the company's other brands have their own concepts, too. Highlights include the Ram 2500 Outdoorsman with a tent in the back for sleeping, and the Fiat 500 Abarth Scorpion with an interesting, two-tone red and white paint job, a cat-back exhaust and leather interior. Unfortunately, the worst of the lot might also be from Fiat with the 500L Custom in dark red and black. It also has an upgraded exhaust and interior, but the look is just a bit underwhelming. (Hard to make that thing look pretty, are we right?)

You can check out all of the concepts in the gallery, and scroll down to read the press release about everything FCA is showing at SEMA.

News Source: Fiat Chrysler Automobiles