Skip to main content

We obsessively cover the auto industry

101 New Articles in this week Hide Featured

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

Michael Harley

2015 Aston Martin V12 Vantage S Roadster

Posted Oct 20th 2014 11:57AM

Well-Seasoned Beauty Gets Shiftier

2015 Aston Martin V12 Vantage S Roadster

Aston Martin previewed its most powerful, quickest-accelerating and fastest production roadster ever at this year's Pebble Beach Concours. The 2015 V12 Vantage S Roadster is essentially a convertible version of the V12 Vantage S Coupe, which we reviewed last year, a model that drops the automaker's most potent powertrain into its smallest chassis.

Unlike the outgoing V12 Vantage Roadster, this new S model boasts a more powerful engine, a new transmission, new adaptive suspension and more luxurious appointments along with freshened styling. While last year's beloved six-speed manual gearbox is gone – a thought that continues to bring tears to our eyes – everything else about the updated roadster piques our interest. We recently spent a full day in the mountains and deserts surrounding Palm Springs with a China Grey (with red carbon fibre accents) version of the British automaker's latest.

Read on for more pics and our review.

2015 BMW X6

Posted Oct 16th 2014 12:00PM

2015 BMW X6

Most everyone would agree that BMW offers a range of very attractive and well-proportioned coupes, sedans, crossovers and wagons. Yet there is one member of its family that has always struck us as a bit odd: the X6.

Proudly coined "The world's first Sports Activity Coupe" by its German maker, the X6 features a wedge-shaped body with a characteristic sloping roofline that appears to squash the heads of its second-row occupants. The crossover rides high off the ground, with a pronounced gap between its chassis and oversized wheel/tire package, capped by short overhangs on both ends. Although curious to the eyes, its overall styling is masculine, and its stance aggressive.

Whether you consider the X6 to be attractive or an eyesore – opinions seem about equally divided – there is nobody at BMW questioning its business model. As of today, the automaker has sold more than 260,000 copies of its five-door crossover, which is why it has flown us to Spartanburg, SC, to sample its second-generation 2015 BMW X6.

Image Credit: Copyright 2014 Michael Harley / AOL / BMW

2015 Ford F-150 [w/videos]

Posted Oct 3rd 2014 11:58AM

2015 Ford F-150

To learn more about the all-new 2015 F-150 and get an early read on its potential hero-or-zero status, we flew to the heart of full-size pickup truck country, San Antonio, TX, to spend a day driving, towing and playing in the mud with an assortment of Ford's innovative new trucks.

First, a caveat – while we feel we have a reasonably good handle on the new F-150 after attending this first-drive event, we are far from ready to pass definitive judgment on the success of this radically new rig. Our time in the various models was lamentably limited and we felt rushed. With so much at stake and with so much to talk about and experience, we had zero alone time with the vehicle – there were Ford folks shadowing us at every moment.

With that disclaimer out of the way, let's get back to the elemental issue at hand: aluminum. Switching to this material is part bravery and part monumental risk. Ford's challenges stretch far beyond engineering, sourcing, manufacturing and cost control concerns to things like consumer acceptance, crash repair methodology and even insurance ramifications. The use of aluminum has never been attempted before on this scale, let alone in the hard-working pickup truck segment. There will be no bigger gamble in the auto industry this year from any manufacturer. The 2015 F-150 has the potential to be a game changer or, with a few subtle miscalculations, one of the biggest bungles in automotive history.

Image Credit: Copyright 2014 Michael Harley / AOL, Ford

2015 Toyota Yaris

Posted Oct 1st 2014 12:00PM

Refreshed To Sell Confidence And Value, Not Innovation And Technology

2015 Toyota Yaris

Advertising firms have done an admirable job convincing consumers that the easiest way to find a best-in-segment car or truck is by looking at a few key metrics. In the most elementary terms, the vehicle with the highest horsepower, most gears in its transmission housing, lowest acceleration times and best fuel economy most certainly must be the class benchmark.

Yet as the commercials and billboards continue to drive that deceitful message, Toyota is betting shoppers in the subcompact segment are a bit more discerning. The Japanese automaker has just launched its updated 2015 Yaris, a three- and five-door offering that bucks the innovation and performance trends by offering what Toyota feels that entry-level buyers actually desire – reliability, practicality and a low sticker price.

It's sweltering in the tropical Hawaiian sun as I check out the deeply refreshed 2015 Yaris SE. This five-door hatchback, a range-topping version of the company's subcompact "sporty hatch" (Toyota's words, not mine), builds on the new-in-2012 generation by wearing new front and rear fascias, redesigned headlights and some attractive new wheels for the upcoming model year.

Overall, I like what I see. The front clip, with new LED daytime running lights, projector-beam headlight lenses and an oversized piano-black grille adds some character and aggression to a formerly nondescript vehicle. The wheel designs are big improvement, too, as their twisted spokes suggest motion even when standing still. The rear treatment, basically a new urethane bumper cap and redesigned taillamps, isn't as exciting as the front, almost appearing less sporty overall with the deletion of the chrome exhaust outlet, but it ties the package together. (It's interesting to note that the reverse lights have been moved from the taillamp cluster to a single unit at the bottom centre of the bumper – one would think its much lower height would be less effective in terms of overall illumination.)

Image Credit: Copyright 2014 Michael Harley / AOL

2015 Honda CR-V

Posted Sep 30th 2014 12:00PM

Meaningful Mid-Cycle Refresh Leaves This Cute-Ute All Grown Up

2015 Honda CR-V

Predicting the future direction of Honda's compact CR-V would have been difficult based on the Civic-derived model that first arrived on our shores for the 1997 model year. The newcomer, selling alongside the body-on-frame Passport (a hastily rebadged Isuzu Rodeo), was a cute compact crossover with four doors and an awkward curb-side hinged tailgate thanks to its Japanese home-market design. The five-passenger CUV offered generous interior room, but its wheezy 2.0-litre four-cylinder, with an output of just 126 horsepower and 133 pound-feet of torque, required 11.7 seconds to bring the 3,153-pound (1,430-kilogram) vehicle to 60 miles per hour (96 kilometres per hour). Rear drum brakes didn't help much in the stopping department, but Honda offered safety-minded consumers optional anti-lock brakes on the premium trim.

Nearly two decades after its introduction, the CR-V has matured in spectacular manner. The refreshed 2015 Honda CR-V, now in its fourth generation, is dimensionally within two inches of its ancestor in overall length and nearly identical in height and wheelbase. That consistency of dimension is impressive in this age of size and segment creep, and it stands as a testament to how 'right' Honda engineers got the model's original packaging. Of course, the CR-V hasn't stood still – nearly everything else about the best-selling compact CUV has improved in leaps and bounds.

But Honda is not the only player in this hotly contested segment today, so the automaker has taken the unusual step of updating its fourth-generation model just a few years after its introduction in an effort to keep it seated on the podium. To learn more about the automaker's improvements, and form our own impressions, we spent a day driving the CR-V in sunny Southern California.

Image Credit: Copyright 2014 Michael Harley / AOL, Honda

2014 Pagani Huayra

Posted Sep 26th 2014 11:57AM

A Cool $1.84 Million – Therapy Not Included

2014 Pagani Huayra

As I pilot the Pagani Huayra down a busy Los Angeles freeway, I can't help but grow increasingly concerned about my psychological state – I've got a sneaking suspicion that I'm going a bit mad.

My default condition as a law-abiding citizen is to typically play it safe to avoid incarceration, yet I think that part of my personality leapt out of my moving car a few miles back. My residual self has been left with an overwhelming urge to mash the Huayra's beautifully sculpted alloy accelerator pedal and hold on as a twin-turbocharged V12 releases its fury. I long to be moulded into the seat as 730 horsepower turns the loathed, congested 405 freeway ahead of me into a blur. The urge to launch this carbon-fibre coupe clear into the next county at hyperspeed – regardless of any legal or life-threatening penalties – is terrifyingly overpowering.

Wisely, I've got a passenger belted next to me whose shirt is embroidered with a Pagani logo. The gentleman comes with the car and assumes the role of babysitter, technical expert, therapist and counsellor – trained to preserve both the US$1.84-million hypercar and my driver's licence.

2015 Toyota Camry Hybrid

Posted Sep 22nd 2014 3:00PM



Toyota offers many flavours of its refreshed 2015 Camry, but those who choose to lower their operating cost-per-mile, squeeze 800-plus kilometres (500-plus miles) out of each tank of fuel or run a very efficient and reliable sedan in their taxi fleets will only be interested in one: the Camry Hybrid.

The exterior of the 2015 Camry Hybrid is nearly indistinguishable from its gasoline-only counterparts, with the same all-new sheetmetal and bumpers. The Hybrid is offered in LE, SE and XLE trims, meaning customers are offered base, sport or luxury configurations, respectively.

While Toyota expended quite a bit of effort resculpting and improving the 2015 Camry Hybrid, one area it didn't touch was the powertrain – it is virtually identical to last year's model (just like the gas version). Under the hood is a 2.5-litre Atkinson cycle four-cylinder gasoline engine (156 horsepower and 156 pound-feet of torque) and an electric tractive motor (141 horsepower and 199 pound-feet of torque). Combined, and running through Toyota's unique Hybrid Synergy Drive electronic continuously variable transmission, the two produce 200 horsepower (Toyota does not list a combined torque figure, and we've asked for clarification). A 1.6 kilowatt-hour nickel-metal-hydride battery, packaged behind the rear seats, provides energy storage.

The test car featured here is the Camry Hybrid SE in Blue Crush Metallic, with the optional moonroof, wireless charging and Entune premium audio with navigation and app suite... READ MORE

Image Credit: Copyright 2014 Michael Harley / AOL

Nissan GT-R hits 327 km/h on public highway before it all goes wrong

Posted Sep 15th 2014 2:00PM



We are going to start with the disclaimer: do not try this at home. Ever.

That covered, we've been intrigued with a video that is making its rounds on the enthusiast forums. Shot from a dash cam, with a full performance overlay, it shows a modified 800 horsepower Nissan GT-R (with its twin-turbocharged engine bored and stroked to 4.3-litres) flying down a public Russian highway late at night. While we've viewed a similar lawless videos countless times before, what happens next is the real surprise.

As the GT-R driver hits 327 kilometers per hour, the right front tire unexpectedly loses pressure and instantaneously disintegrates from the centrifugal force (even though the Dunlop SP Sport Maxx GT 600 is a run-flat tire, it doesn't stand a chance at four times its rated zero pressure speed). Shrapnel from the tire blows out the right front HID headlight (explaining the momentary flash of light) and the steel front quarter panel is peeled back like the lid on a can of sardines... but the driver holds it together and controls the Nissan to a safe stop, which takes place over an agonizing 32 seconds.

Regularly checking tire pressure and the tread surface are great ways to reduce the likelihood of a blowout, but road debris and heat buildup are variables that are hard to control. We don't know why this GT-R owner's tire blew, but we do know that they did nearly everything right from that point forward - hold the vehicle steady, lift off the accelerator pedal, gently apply the brake and coast to a safe stop. Aside from the extensive damage to the right front clip, there is a happy ending to the video because the driver did not panic and slam on the brakes - a mistake that likely would have sent the GT-R careening out of control.

One more thing: the video doesn't tell us who the driver is (for obvious reasons), but we are confident that they should be easy to identify by the bloodied lips from joyfully kissing the pavement once the crippled GT-R came to a stop... CLICK HERE TO WATCH

News Source: LiveLeak via MotorAuthority

2015 Cadillac Escalade

Posted Aug 29th 2014 12:15PM

Flying High In Caddy's First-Class SUV

2015 Cadillac Escalade

I have never liked traveling to Monterey, CA. The picturesque coastal city is about 300 miles (482 kilometres) from my home in Los Angeles, which means cramped and uncomfortable regional aircraft are part of the equation when the turnaround is only one night. Over the years, I have cursed the LA Basin's bumper-to-bumper traffic en route to the airport, argued with TSA personnel over carry-on baggage and waited countless hours for the fog to lift just for the anguish of being packed into a small regional jet for the flight. Of course, the process repeats on the trip home with equal misery.

Yet this time I am not suffering.

Cadillac has dropped its all-new 2015 Escalade in my driveway. Instead of battling city congestion, attempting to reason with misinformed government agents, snacking on a too-small bag of pretzels and physically rubbing shoulders with a dubious stranger for 90-plus minutes within the confines of a bumpy aircraft, I have chosen to forgo air travel and drive myself door-to-door in a fullsize luxury sport utility vehicle.

The trip should be less expensive, less stressful and it may even be quicker. Most importantly, if what Cadillac is saying about its all-new Escalade holds true, my drive will be more comfortable and unquestionably more enjoyable.

Image Credit: Copyright 2014 Michael Harley / AOL

Loading

Loading