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2014 New York Auto Show Preview

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Chris Paukert

2015 Nissan Murano looks ready for 2014 New York Auto Show debut

Posted Apr 15th 2014 3:57PM

2015 Nissan Murano

2015 Nissan Murano rear 3/4Nissan's Murano stands as one of the originators of the crossover movement – it was perhaps the first such vehicle to throw out the idea that a CUV had to look like a boxy, cladded-up sport utility vehicle in order to be successful. Now poised to enter its third generation, the midsize Nissan is not only getting a new look and a host of new technologies, it's getting a new home: Canton, MS.

With dramatic new styling presaged by the Resonance Concept at last year's Detroit Auto Show, the new Murano debuting at this week's New York Auto Show includes a toned-down "V-Motion" nose and the Japanese automaker's trademark boomerang-shaped light fixtures. Aside from the chunky chrome U-shaped grille element up front, the new Murano's most striking design detail is its cantilevered roof with funky "disconnected" D-pillars, a floating look reinforced by a greenhouse edged in brightwork. Overall, it's a much more bold and expressive piece of design than Nissan's recent second-generation Rogue, fitting, as the Murano has always been on the daring end of CUV design.

Boasting a 0.31 coefficient of drag and a ton of sheetmetal surface development, the Murano's new form is available with LED headlamps and features active grille shutters for improved aerodynamics. The company claims visibility has been improved as well – and not just because of its brilliant available Around View Monitor camera system – Nissan says it has "optimized the angles and thickness of the bottom of the A-pillar," along with fiddling with the size and location of the side mirrors.

Power continues to be delivered by VQ-Series 3.5-litre eV6, tuned here to deliver 260 horsepower and 240 pound-feet of torque, just as it did last year. That power is routed through Nissan's latest Xtronic continually variable transmission, with standard front-wheel drive and available all-wheel drive. Fuel economy figures have not yet been released, but Nissan says it expects a 20-per cent improvement over the outgoing model's middling figures thanks to a 59-kilo (130-pound) weight loss, improved aerodynamics and a more efficient powertrain. This, despite a larger footprint.

The interior is all-new as well, and it needed to be – the newer, less-costly Rogue had grown in size and ambition, crowding the Kyushu-built second-generation Murano's space and besting its cabin quality. The 2015 Murano looks to have successfully separated itself from its upstart sibling, with so-called "Zero Gravity" seats like those found in the Altima, along with available heating and cooling (rear seats are also available heated), a much larger panoramic moonroof and an upsized cargo area. While not the most practical of colors, the leather-lined ivory cabin seen here looks very premium, offset by piano black trim and some unusual white striated "wood" on the center console, doors and dashboard.

It is not yet clear what this means for the bizarre Murano CrossCabriolet, a two-door convertible model introduced for the 2011 model year. Based on the outgoing second-generation Murano architecture, the writing appears to be on the wall for this slow-selling nichemobile.

The 2015 Murano will become the ninth model built in Nissan's Mississippi plant, and it will hit dealers in the fourth quarter of this year. Feel free to check below to watch an official video and read all the details in the press release.

Image Credit: Nissan

2015 Ford Focus Sedan is fresh-faced and ready to defend its Most Popular crown

Posted Apr 9th 2014 3:30PM

2015 Ford Focus Sedan - front three-quarter view, blue

Ford has made an art of deeper-than-normal midlife updates since the 2010 Fusion, a strategy that has allowed it to keep models looking fresher in showrooms for longer without needing full redesigns. Instead of slight touchups to light fixtures, new paint colours and perhaps new wheel patterns, Ford has been digging deeper, with significant sheetmetal changes and very different front-end looks, along with an increased emphasis on new in-car technologies to keep models vibrant. Other automakers are following this trend, and Ford itself is continuing on the path with this new 2015 Focus Sedan.

There's a handsome new SE Sport Package that includes a firmer touring suspension, modest body kit and 17-inch wheels.

We first saw this sleek Aston Martin-like nose fitted to a Focus at the Geneva Motor Show last month, but Ford only showed the new look on the five-door hatchback – this is the first appearance of the sedan, which will bow at next week's New York Auto Show. The front end treatment is the same, with a new hood, new headlamps incorporating LED accents, a different grille shape and a completely revised lower fascia that does away with the 2014 model's controversial triangle-shaped corners and gaping intakes. The rear gets a new two-piece, laser-brazed trunk lid with new taillamps, but the overall look is quite similar to last year's car. In any case, the refreshed look brings the Focus sedan more in line with the design of Ford's other recently reworked cars, including the Fusion and Fiesta.

For fans of sportier looking models that can't quite afford or justify splurging on the Focus ST, there's a handsome new SE Sport Package that includes a firmer touring suspension, modest body kit and 17-inch wheels. SE Sports equipped with Ford's optional dual-clutch gearbox also receive paddle shifters.

The 2015 model year changeover also brings with it the same spunky 1.0-litre three-cylinder EcoBoost engine recently made available in the Fiesta. It's available exclusively with a six-speed manual transmission, but so far, Ford isn't spilling the beans on power or fuel economy figures.

News Source: Ford

Get a load of these crazy European Nimrods

Posted Mar 7th 2014 1:00PM

Nimrod Katyusha

Nimrod Tuning Lamborghini Avanti RossoI've been attending the Geneva Motor Show for the better part of a decade, and it's become my favourite stop on the entire show circuit, in large part because of all the exotic automakers, coachbuilders and green startups. I also love the Palexpo's consistently mind-bending displays of tuners, who typically work exclusively on six-figure automobiles. Some offer subtle improvements and personalization programs, but most seem hellbent on being more outlandish and bizarre than the next, a room full of millionaire class clowns. More often than not, I spy something and think to myself "What kind of Nimrod would do that to a perfectly good ____ ?" This year, that rhetorical question is in fact a self-answering one.

The jokes, they write themselves.

But seriously, if you're wondering who would take a perfectly lovely Ferrari 458 Italia or a Lamborghini Aventador and affix a wild body kit of dubious aerodynamic and aesthetic merit at great extra cost (both to the car's MSRP and to its assuredly grenaded resale value), the answer could very well be Nimrod Elite Tuning, a newer high-end restyling house out of Slovakia. That last locational tidbit might also explain the company's unusual name, which is likely a nod to a mighty Biblical hunter (descendant of Ham and a king of Shinar, Nimrod is mentioned in Genesis and Chronicles) and not meant to be taken as a synonym for "idiot" or "moron."

In any case, not much information is available on these two Nimrods, but the white and red-trimmed 458 is the Katyusha, and it appears to be an homage to the ultra-rare Ferrari FXX track car. The Aventador-based model, dubbed Avanti Rosso, channels a bit of Lamborghini's own Sesto Elemento. Sadly, there were no Nimrod representatives on hand who were able to offer further details, and the company's official website descriptions are of little help. We've got an inquiry in and will let you know if/when we learn more. In the meantime, check out our galleries and let us know what you think of these aftermarket specials in Comments.

Related GalleryNimrod Katyusha and Nimrod Avanti Rosso: Geneva 2014
Nimrod Katyusha and Nimrod Avanti Rosso: Geneva 2014Nimrod Katyusha and Nimrod Avanti Rosso: Geneva 2014Nimrod Katyusha and Nimrod Avanti Rosso: Geneva 2014Nimrod Katyusha and Nimrod Avanti Rosso: Geneva 2014Nimrod Katyusha and Nimrod Avanti Rosso: Geneva 2014Nimrod Katyusha and Nimrod Avanti Rosso: Geneva 2014Nimrod Katyusha and Nimrod Avanti Rosso: Geneva 2014Nimrod Katyusha and Nimrod Avanti Rosso: Geneva 2014

Image Credit: Live photos copyright 2014 Drew Phillips / AOL, News Source: Nimrod Elite Tuning

2014 Renault Twingo is a rear-engined cutie

Posted Mar 6th 2014 5:15PM

Renault Twingo

At this point, we thought the formula for small, inexpensive hatchbacks was pretty much dialed in: transverse engine, front-wheel drive. Then along comes Renault with its cheeky new Twingo, just to throw a curveball into the mix. Sporting a rear-mounted engine and rear-wheel drive, the Twingo is something of a (very) poor man's Porsche 911, and it's got us excited.

Power is provided by either a naturally aspirated, 70-horsepower, 1.0-litre three-cylinder engine or a turbocharged 900cc triple with 90 horsepower and 100 lb-ft, the latter of which sounds like quite a lot of fun in a lightweight small car. We're eager to check out what sort of dynamic wins this layout yields – we know it's going to be nimble, with a turning circle of just 8.65 metres (28.4 feet), a full metre less than rivals. Of course, the rear-engined, rear-wheel drive thing hasn't always produced sterling drive experiences – the Smart ForFour speaks loudly to this. In fact it's no coincidence that the Twingo shares this driveline configuration with Smart – the chassis was codeveloped with Daimler alongside the next-generation ForFour.

The Twingo's interior is best described as cheap and cheerful, with some neat features like a flat-bottomed wheel, contrasting trim and TomTom navigation. ​Despite being shorter overall than the last-generation model, this Twingo is actually roomier inside. We've had a chance to look at the cargo hold, and its load floor is modestly higher than you might find in a more conventional hatchback, but it's a pretty remarkable feat of packaging – if someone didn't tell you there was an engine back there, you wouldn't suspect it. In fact, Renault boasts, "It is the only city car capable of carrying a boxed Swedish bookshelf."

Image Credit: Copyright 2014 Brandon Turkus / AOL

Volkswagen T-Roc Concept likely to spawn five-door production model

Posted Mar 6th 2014 8:00AM

The Volkswagen T-Roc Concept at the 2014 Geneva Motor Show, front three-quarter

Let's get this out of the way right now: Volkswagen is going to build something like this T-Roc Concept. With its flexible new MQB architecture and a diverse family of suitable powertrains that include gas, diesel, compressed natural gas, plug-in hybrid and pure electric models, the idea of another Golf-sized crossover to slot in under the Tiguan is simply too good to pass up.

Having said that, we strongly suspect that if and when such a vehicle comes to market, it probably won't get the three-door bodystyle shown here. We inquired with Dr. Heinz-Jakob Neußer, head of VW Group powertrain development at the Geneva Motor Show during a media roundtable, and he quickly acknowledged the heightened viability of a five-door model:

"We are just checking the style, the design. It's a more progressive design - a more dynamic design. With a very masculine design proportion. For that we decided for the showcar, now, the three-door version, but we are also thinking about a five-door version. That's clear. Because If you look at overall markets, there's a strong need to have five doors."

More proof of the T-Roc's production intent can be seen in its decidedly ordinary-for-a-showcar powertrain: a 2.0-litre TDI four-cylinder with 182 horsepower and 280 pound-feet of torque matched with VW's seven-speed dual-clutch gearbox. Unlike some crossovers, the T-Roc also plays at having a bit of off-road capability thanks to its 4Motion all-wheel-drive system with multiple modes (Street, Off-Road and Snow) along with features like Hill Descent Control and Hill Start Assit.

We're not sure that the T-Roc's liftout ceiling panels will make it to production, but there seems to be a new trend toward more flexible roof arrangements with these smaller lifestyle vehicles (as most recently evidenced by the new Jeep Renegade and its three different roof configurations), so we wouldn't rule out Volkswagen letting a little sun shine in.

Image Credit: Live images copyright 2014 Jonathon Ramsey / AOL, News Source: Volkswagen

Volvo Concept Estate hauls in great expectations [w/videos]

Posted Mar 5th 2014 5:45PM

Volvo Concept Estate

You're looking at the third leg of Volvo's award-winning concept trilogy, the Concept Estate. Despite its banal name, this sweeping longroof showcar has our attention like few other cars at the Geneva Motor Show.

It's not just that we have a weakness for shooting brakes or Volvo's take on the genre in particular (we can see some P1800ES in this design). We just think this car is exceptionally well surfaced, with a fantastic stance and the sort of clean lines that are singularly appropriate of a Scandinavian design. We also appreciate the details that are expected to inform future production models, including the T-shaped headlamps, strong rear shoulders and floating grille mount. In fact, the vast majority of the Concept Estate's design idiom is expected to make it to showrooms in future models, starting with the long-overdue, second-generation XC90 crossover.

We hope – but don't expect – that attitude carries over to the interior, which has stunning, white leather, floating clamshell seats backed in plaid. If there's one cabin feature that's expected to make it to production, it's a derivative of the car's new infotainment system, which features a massive touchscreen with tablet-like gesture controls.

Volvo isn't saying what – if anything – powers the Concept Estate, but any production model would likely sprout a pair of extra doors (adopting a more traditional station wagon form) and turbocharged, four-cylinder power.

What are you waiting for? Soak up our gallery of live photos, then scroll down to view a trio of official videos.

Related GalleryVolvo Concept Estate
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Image Credit: Live photos copyright 2014 Drew Phillips / AOL, News Source: Volvo via YouTube [1], [2], [3]

Volkswagen says North America pickup is back on the table

Posted Mar 5th 2014 1:59PM

Volkswagen Amarok Canyon - front three-quarter view, red

Volkswagen doesn't normally consider General Motors to be a prime competitor in North America, but it's keeping a keen eye on the company's new midsize pickup models, eager to see how they perform in the market. That's because the German automaker is reevaluating its truck strategy, and it's closely watching the reception of the Chevrolet Colorado and GMC Canyon to help decide whether to reenter the North American pickup market, a segment it hasn't populated since the 1980s.

Back in 2009, Volkswagen introduced its Amarok midsize pickup, and during the run-up to that model, there was some discussion of bringing it NA, the largest pickup market in the world. In the end, VW decided it wasn't a good fit, but that hasn't stopped the Amarok from becoming successful in other markets around the globe.

That success, and renewed interest in the midsize segment, has put the pickup truck discussion back on the table at VW, with North American CEO Michael Horn telling Autoblog, "It's a question mark, but it starts to be discussed. Let's put it this way: we start to discuss it again and whether it's attractive for us." But those talks may not be about the current truck – "The Amarok is too small for the US," says Horn. Dr. Heinz-Jakob Neußer, head of VW Group powertrain development, echoed his colleague's sentiment at the same Geneva Motor Show roundtable, saying "We are just reworking our truck strategy, and this is part of thinking about it. But the Amarok fits not very well to the efforts of the market."

It's not immediately clear if this means that VW will consider resizing its next-generation Amarok to fit North America tastes, or if it is pondering developing a different model altogether. In either case, it's obvious that VW's load-lugging musings remain theoretical and a point of research – it doesn't sound like anything has been given the green light.

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Pagani Zonda Revolucion takes charge at 2014 Geneva Motor Show

Posted Mar 4th 2014 1:30PM

Pagani Zonda Revolucion

Remember when Pagani rolled out its final special-edition Zonda? It's happened about six times now. Not that we're complaining – it's hard to tire of supercars, especially weapons-grade devices like the entire Zonda franchise. This new Revolucion moves the game on even more, with its AMG-sourced, 800-horsepower, 6.0-litre V12 bolted to a carbon-titanium monocoque. Weighing just 1,069 kilograms (2,358 pounds) – about the same heft as a Mazda2 – it figures to be a highly entertaining drive.

It certainly looks the part, with enough wings and canards to outfit a half-dozen lesser supercars. Featuring a six-speed sequential gearbox with 20-millisecond shift times, the Pagani also makes use of an active rear wing, upgraded carbon-ceramic brakes and a 12-mode traction control system to keep this Zonda out of the hydrobarriers.

What price winged excess? Try 2.2-million euros, about CAD$3.35 million. So, if you've got about 3-mil burning a hole in your wallet to spend on just one car at Geneva, it's basically this or the Bugatti Veyron Rembrandt.

"Hello, Horatio? We have a proposition for you..."

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Image Credit: Live photos copyright 2014 Drew Phillips / AOL, News Source: Pagani

Security camera captures National Corvette Museum sinkhole as it forms [UPDATE]

Posted Feb 14th 2014 9:00AM

National Corvette Museum - security camera footage of sinkhole

If you've been following this story, you know that the National Corvette Museum in Bowling Green, KY was struck by a sudden sinkhole. The sinkhole, which formed under the museum's well-known Skydome, swallowed up eight cars on display and caused untold dollars in damage. We've shown you the early photos, we've shown you streaming webcam footage and still photos of workers moving other Corvette display cars out of harms way, and now we have security camera footage showing the actual moment when the cavity appeared.

In the dimly lit videos below, we see the floor buckle slightly under a row of Corvettes, chiefly under orange and blue examples, with some dust kicking up as a result. The floor appears to hold for a few moments before giving way, swallowing up a pair of cars and revealing the 40-foot sinkhole. Interestingly, subsequently released images of the sinkhole show a wider area of flooring having collapsed than what's on view in this official video, so it appears to end prematurely. Either way, take a look at the literal fallout in our video below, and we'll keep you informed as this story continues to develop.

UPDATE: The National Corvette Museum has just released a few more videos, some taken from a remote-control helicopter, showing the cars that crashed into the sinkhole. Check them out, along with the earlier security cam footage, below.

UPDATE: We've also been in contact with a spokesperson for the NCM, and have learned that all of the cars in the Skydome that were not swallowed by the sinkhole have been evacuated, with two exceptions. Authorities are presently trying to figure out how to safely extract them. We have new pictures of the damage and the remaining cars in our gallery below.

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