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Here are the most disliked car brands of 2014

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  • 2015 Cadillac Escalade
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  • Man who drove Bugatti Veyron into lake pleads guilty, faces 20 years in prison [w/video]

Noble developing M600 roadster with paddle shifters

Posted Sep 1st 2014 5:59PM

Noble M600

Want to get your hands on a Noble? May we first compliment you on your choice, good sir or madam, because the British niche manufacturer produces some of the most direct, hardcore sports cars on the market. And that, thanks to Rossion and its Noble-derived Q1, includes the United States. But if you live somewhere where Noble actually sells its own cars, you'll want to look at the M600.

The Noble M600 is about as hardcore as they come. It packs a 4.4-litre twin-turbo V8 kicking out 650 horsepower to the rear wheels through a six-speed manual, and not much else: no ABS, no traction control, certainly no all-wheel drive. Just 650 horsepower and a curb weight of around 2,600 pounds (1,180 kilograms). No flappy-paddle gearbox here, and no trick folding roof. Only those last bits are about to change.

Speaking with Dutch publication Autovisie, Noble chief Peter Bolt Wood – a former racing and Ferrari F40 driver – revealed that his company is working on two new developments for the puritanical M600. One is an open roof, and the other some sort of paddle-shift transmission.

This isn't the first time Noble will have created an open-top sportscar. In fact we reported on the prospect of an M600 roadster a couple years ago when the company released a teaser image. But now it appears to be moving ahead with the plans.

Details are sketchy at the moment, so we don't know if the former will be a simple removable roof panel, a folding soft top, a collapsible hardtop or something else. Nor do we know if the two-pedal gearbox will be a sequential, dual-clutch or torque-converter automatic. But Wood and company seem eager to break into new markets, and apparently see both developments as vital to its expansion, without sacrificing performance. Its order books may be full at the moment, but it's expanding into China, Taiwan and Japan.

Here's hoping – with or without an open roof and paddle-shift transmission, through Rossion or on its own – it brings the M600 to North America soon as well.

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News Source: Autovisie

Volkswagen considering a four-door, four-seat XL1

Posted Sep 1st 2014 5:00PM

Volkswagen XL1, front three-quarter view.

According to a report in Autocar, Volkswagen might have more in mind for the XL1 than mining it for advances to grace the next-generation Golf. Aiming to fight the Honda FCEV due for public consumption next year, we're told VW executives have put a four-door, four-seater version of the XL1 - it could be called XL2 - on the drawing board. The impetus is said to come from the top, with VW Group chairman Ferdinand Piëch intent on staying in the deep end of "super-efficent vehicles."

Autocar suspects the necessary changes could raise the weight of the car from 1,749 pounds (793 kilograms) to 2,068 pounds (938 kilograms), which would make it four pounds less than the 2,072-pound (940-kilogram) Up! we drove a few years ago. Crucially, however, the mag thinks the extra capacity wouldn't change the two-seater's 310-mile (500-kilometre) per-gallon rating, with tech tweaks and the aerodynamic benefit of a longer car offsetting the weight. Speculation is that the back seats would be staggered like the fronts in order to maintain the XL1's overall profile.

We recently heard about another XL1 variant that's gone off the radar entirely, the Ducati-engined XLR that we thought we'd see at the Geneva Motor Show and that was said to be going into production, so this one could go the same way. The biggest hurdle to making such an idea a reality, though, could be the price: the current XL1 costs 110,000 euros ($159,400). If VW really is going to compete with the Honda FCEV and the Toyota FCV - $70,000 in Japan - that might be where it wants to start.

News Source: Autocar

Image Credit: Copyright 2014 AOL

What's in a trademark? Sometimes, the next iconic car name

Posted Sep 1st 2014 2:00PM

1982-1986 toyota supra

The United States Patent and Trademark Office is a treasure trove for auto enthusiasts, especially those who double as conspiracy theorists.

Why has Toyota applied to trademark "Supra," the name of one of its legendary sports cars, even though it hasn't sold one in the United States in 16 years? Why would General Motors continue to register "Chevelle" long after one of the most famous American muscle cars hit the end of the road? And what could Chrysler possibly do with the rights to "313," the area code for Detroit?

There are a lot of possible answers to these questions, since automakers apply for trademarks for a variety of reasons. While a filing can be the first sign of a new model – or the return of an old favourite – moving to secure a trademark can just as easily be a smoke signal. Frequently, it's just a routine legal procedure to maintain rights to a famous name so it can be used on t-shirts and coffee mugs.

The United States Patent and Trademark Office is a treasure trove for auto enthusiasts, especially those who double as conspiracy theorists. Though there's strong circumstantial evidence Toyota may in fact be working on a Supra-successor, for now the name is simply a filing that's weaving its way through the federal bureaucracy. Toyota has let the Supra trademark lapse in the past before reapplying for it. On the other hand, if anyone had been looking closely on May 27, 2010, they would have seen Toyota filed for the FR-S trademark. It meant nothing then, but four years later those three letters are the calling card for one of the purest driver's cars on the market.

Filing for a trademark can be a delicate maneuver. It's a public act, and the records are accessible to anyone. But, companies don't want to wait too long and risk losing a potential name. An early filing can give a firm a "priority date," which can be used as a defense should a mark be contested, said Christine Lofgren, Toyota's trademark lawyer.

Once a company gets rights to a mark, it then has to demonstrate use. That can be accomplished by actually building a car using the trademarked name, or at least using it on replacement parts. Even used cars can show use of a name. Automakers can also trademark a name specifically for use on clothing, accessories or toys.

Europe's BMW 1 Series hatch caught looking fresh faced

Posted Sep 1st 2014 11:01AM

BMW 1 Series spy shots

Hey, remember the BMW 1 Series? Yes, German brand's successors to the NA-market coupe and convertible have one-upped the old car to wear the 2 Series designation now, but in other markets, our No. 1 crush still lives on, and as evidenced in these spy shots, the entry-level hatch appears to be undergoing a modest facelift.

We've spotted prototypes of the refreshed 1 Series before, with the majority of the car's changes focused around the front fascia. This time around, we're seeing the three-door variant, with wheels seemingly fitting of a Sport or even M Sport trim.

Of course, this One's not for North America, as the small BMW isn't slated to come to our market anytime soon. Click through the gallery above to see what we're missing.

News Source: CarPix

FIA says FRIC no to trick suspensions in F1

Posted Sep 1st 2014 9:00AM

Pastor Maldonado's Lotus at the 2014 Monaco Grand Prix

There are few fields in the world where you'll find engineers working as feverishly as they do in Formula One. With races sometimes won and lost by fractions of a second, every little bit counts, so each team retains legions of engineers, all dedicated to finding the tiniest performance edge... without running afoul of the ever-constricting regulations.

This season, one of the most controversial advances has been known as FRIC, and while it's been effectively sidelined for the last few races, reports from the motorsport press indicate that is has now officially been banned by the FIA.

So just what is FRIC? It stands for Front and Rear Inter-Connected suspension. Now, if you're thinking that independent suspensions are the most advanced form available, you're right, but F1 teams have been toying for years with ways to interlink the suspensions at each wheel. Why, you ask? For a number of reasons. For one, it allows for redistribution of suspension dive at the front or rear, which means that under hard braking or acceleration – when the car would either pitch back or forward – the car can be kept more stable. That, in turn, means not only are all four tires loaded evenly and optimally, but the team can also run a more aggressive aero package. It also means that the car can be set up with a softer suspension, allowing the driver to attack the curbs more aggressively, without sacrificing underbody aerodynamics.

Several teams had been running FRIC systems that move hydraulic fluid between the front and rear suspensions, but voluntarily agreed to cease using them for the last two races at Hockenheim and Budapest. Now, the FIA, having apparently deemed FRIC an unfair advantage in contravention of the sporting regulations, has reportedly banned the system altogether. So while those cars may not be running on an even keel any more, at least they'll all be on an even playing field.

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Government pushes for life sentence for auto execs found to delay recalls

Posted Sep 1st 2014 8:00AM

GOP Groups Campaign Money

American Democratic Senator Claire McCaskill (shown above) has had it with automotive execs stalling when it comes to recalls. The Missiourian has proposed a new bill, the Motor Vehicle and Highway Safety Enhancement Act, which aims to improve the automotive safety following the high-profile fiascos involving General Motors and Toyota.

Aside from a doubling of the budget for the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration over the next six years and the removal of the $35-million limit for fining automakers, the plan includes a provision that would punish auto executives if it's discovered they knowingly delayed recalls. How will it punish them, you ask? Oh, you know, just life in prison.

The bill "gives federal prosecutors greater discretion to bring criminal prosecutions for auto safety violations and increases the possible penalties, including up to life in prison for violations that result in death," McCaskill's office told The Detroit News. If a delayed recall led to serious injuries, meanwhile, execs could still face a 15-year stint behind bars.

As for that change in the fine structure for automakers, the removal of the limit is complemented by a hefty increase in the per-vehicle fine, from $5,000 to $25,000. With this change, GM could have been on the hook for $55 billion (with a "b") in fines for its bumbling of the ignition switch recall, rather than just $35 million. The News says, though, that NHTSA has "wide discretion" in handing out the fines. Considering a $55-billion fine is enough to sink any automaker, it is unlikely that such a monumental sum would be handed out. Still, the potential threat of such a death sentence should be enough for any automaker to sit up and take notice.

"With millions of Americans behind the wheel every day, and more than 33,000 killed on our roads each year, we've got to do more to keep our cars and the roads we drive them on safe," McCaskill said, according to The News. "Painful recent examples at Toyota and GM have shown us we also must make it easier to hold accountable those who jeopardize consumers' safety. For too long, auto safety resources have remained virtually stagnant while cars and the safety challenges they present have become more complex."

What do you think? Do you agree with McCaskill's proposed bill? Should the punishments for automakers and execs be more or less harsh? Have your say in Comments.

News Source: The Detroit News

Image Credit: J. Scott Applewhite / AP

Bentley considering smaller coupe

Posted Aug 31st 2014 6:00PM

Bentley badge

Only halfway through the year, Bentley reports that it's on track to post record sales. Thanks in no small part to the introduction of its new V8 engine in the Continental family, sales are up nearly a quarter over last year. And they only stand to increase even more with the introduction of new models currently in the pipeline. The upcoming SUV will surely form a large part of that, but it won't be the end of the story for the storied marque.

Car and Driver reports that, after the SUV, Bentley plans to introduce a new coupe line below the Continental to square off against the Aston Martin V8 Vantage. Details are few and far between at this point, but considering how much Bentley manages to do with the relatively heft Continental GT, a lighter and more nimble sports car sounds promising.

In related news, rumours are gathering pace that Bentley is planning to introduce a new Mulsanne Speed at the upcoming Paris Motor Show, its Jurassic-era 6.75-litre V8 massaged from 505 horsepower – already the most that engine has produced in its half-century history – up to around 550.

Don't think that Bentley has given up, however, on its venerable 6.0-litre twin-turbo W-12 engine. Far from it. Car and Driver also reports that the crew from Crewe only plans to further develop the W-12, and if push came to shove, would be the "last manufacturer of 12-cylinder engines in the world." Indeed it already is among the last, although BMW/Rolls-Royce, Lamborghini, Mercedes and Ferrari aren't likely to give up on dozen-piston engines anytime soon, either... even if Aston Martin eventually does. Expect direct injection and even more powerful versions than the 616-hp Continental GT Speed to follow in the near future.

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Lincoln Navigator facelift only has to last until 2016 replacement

Posted Aug 31st 2014 4:00PM

2015 Lincoln Navigator

The Navigator is not only Lincoln's longest-serving nameplate – dating back to 1998 when the final Town Car was introduced – but it's also the oldest model still in the brand's portfolio. The current Navigator arrived on the market in 2007, and underwent a refresh just a few months ago for the 2015 model year. The updates were subtle, but if you're waiting for an all-new model, it's just a couple of years down the road.

According to Automotive News, Lincoln is already working on an all-new replacement for the current, long-serving Navigator, which will be revealed two years from now in the middle of 2016 as a 2017 model. At that point, we're expecting it could switch (alongside the Expedition) to the new aluminum architecture introduced on the Ford F-150, seeing as how the current model is based on the old F-150.

In the meantime, the refreshed Navigator ditches the big 5.4-litre Triton V8 in favor of a more economical 3.5-litre EcoBoost V6, and wages war in two wheelbase lengths against the V8-powered competition in the form of the Cadillac Escalade (and Escalade ESV), the Land Cruiser-based Lexus LX and the Infiniti QX80, which is based on the overseas Nissan Patrol.

Glickenhaus's SCG 003 to pack twin-turbo Honda V6?

Posted Aug 31st 2014 2:00PM

SCG 003 teaser rendering

Scuderia Cameron Glickenhaus has made (or commissioned) two vehicles to date – the P4/5 and the P4/5 Competizione – and is now hard at work on its third. The first was based on the Ferrari Enzo and the second on a Ferrari F430, but the third is being developed independently from the ground up. The question, then, is what engine will it use?

Well now we may have our answer as Jalopnik reports that the SCG 003 (as it's known at the moment) will be powered by a 3.5-litre V6 sourced from Honda, fitted with twin turbochargers and producing in excess of 500 horsepower.

Honda's J35Y engine produces 278 horsepower in the Accord, 290 hp in the Acura MDX and 310 hp in the RLX. It also forms the basis for the HR35TT racing engine which Honda Performance Development puts in its Daytona Prototype, so if the rumours turn out to be true, chances are that's probably the engine in question – with the possible addition of a hybrid electric assist – but we'll have to sit tight to find out for sure.

News Source: Jalopnik

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