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2015 Mercedes-Benz S63 AMG Coupe

  • 2015 Mercedes-Benz S63 AMG Coupe
  • 2015 Subaru WRX: Accident, wheels and tires
  • Porsche 911 GT3 Cup ANDIAL Edition
  • North American Honda Civic to get Type R engine

Seyth Miersma

2015 Volkswagen Touareg [w/video]

Posted Dec 5th 2014 12:00PM

VW Offers Up A Safety-First Facelift

The second-generation Volkswagen Touareg has been in production since 2010, and is therefore staring down the last part of its model cycle. To keep buyers interested, the company has undertaken a refresh of its upscale midsize SUV. As is typical of these things, the changes include some exterior and interior rejuvenation, as well as increased content levels and a slight uptick in price.

The basics of the styling changes are pretty straightforward. The 2015 Touareg can be pretty easily spotted versus the outgoing model by way of its four-bar chrome grille, a cleaner headlight design, bigger VW badge and a completely new lower front clip. (I got one photo of the old and new models side-by-side for my Twitter followers before we rolled out on the drive.) There's also a thin strip of chrome that runs around the bodywork, standard LED taillights and a selection of three new wheel styles and five new paint colors.

Inside, I found it harder to spot the changes, old to new. The Touareg's switchgear has been updated and there's a new frame for the infotainment display, but there's no piece that stands out and says "new model year!"

Powertrains and mechanical bits all carryover from the 2014 Touareg, too. But there were a few functional changes to the vehicle, primarily in the new Driver's Assistance Package, for me to take note of as I took a lap of my favourite Ann Arbor, MI driving route.

Image Credit: Copyright 2014 Seyth Miersma / AOL

2015 Chevrolet Trax

Posted Dec 4th 2014 12:00PM

More Empty Nester Than Emo Kid

2015 Chevrolet Trax

After the obligatory product presentation for the 2015 Trax, I caught up with Steve Majoros, Chevrolet's director of marketing for crossovers and cars, and asked him to elaborate on which markets his planners believe will be the hot starters for this tiny CUV. Without much hesitation, Majoros began to click off traditional sales havens for Subaru, namely, New England and the snowy bits of the East Coast, Colorado and the Pacific Northwest.

That news might not surprise you, but it did me. Perhaps it's something as basic as the Trax's tall-hatchback looks, or the emphasis Chevrolet put on the urban driving cycle during my test in San Diego. But before my chat with Majoros, I'd considered this a crossover pointed at the Millennial city mouse more than his bumpkin cousin.

But a closer look had me re-examining the granola cred of Chevy's smallest crossover. Having spent my fair share of time in New England and around New Englanders, I started by mentally listing the Trax's Subaru-like traits: practicality, thrift, all-weather ability and, well, just a dash of ugliness. (I suppose a hatchback needn't always be ugly to sell in Maine, or Boulder or Portland... but a 'distinctive' face doesn't seem to hurt.)

After a day of driving through sunny San Diego and its surroundings, I can say that Trax makes an interesting case for itself against the standard bearers of the L.L. Bean set, but I'm less sure of its argument for young urbanites.

Image Credit: Copyright 2014 Seyth Miersma / AOL

Honda builds 300-millionth motorcycle, it's a Gold Wing

Posted Nov 28th 2014 6:00PM

Honda has been selling motorcycles in Japan since 1949. And it's been selling bikes to North American customers since John Travolta had a paper route. Combine all those years, huge markets and great products, and apparently the number you come up with is 300,000,000. Wowza.

Starting with the iconic 98-cc Dream Type-D you see above, Honda announced that it has built its 300-millionth motorcycle this month. The company currently sells all manner of powersports goodness, of course – ATVs, side-by-sides and two-wheelers – at 32 facilities in 22 countries.

Honda motorcycles took our country by storm in the 1960s, taking the title as the best-selling bike brand in the world during that decade, largely on the back of the Honda 50 or "Super Cub" bike. Honda's success in the '60s also helped to justify the establishment its first manufacturing footprint in North America, in Marysville, OH in 1979.

The company mentions, in the press release you'll find below, that lucky number 300 million was a Gold Wing produced at the Kumamoto factory in Japan. We're celebrating that tidbit with a heaping helping of historic Gold Wing photography, in the gallery of Honda bikes, above.

Image Credit: Honda

2015 Subaru WRX: Road trip

Posted Nov 28th 2014 12:00PM

Scoobie Takes Vacationland And Doesn't Break Our Gas Budget

After driving one of the best sport compacts on the market to one of the best-driving-roads in the union, who'd have thought that one of my big takeaways would be... great fuel economy?

And yet, after putting more than 2,200 miles (3,540 kilometres) on our long-term 2014 Subaru WRX, driving from Ann Arbor, MI, to The Great State of Maine and back, my overall fuel consumption figures were almost as baffling as the premium-gasoline prices throughout Canada.

In the early part of the now-past autumn (yes, our update was slow to roll out this time around), my wife Molly and I were happy to make use of the long-term WRX for our annual road trip. Our goal, as ever, was to fit as much hiking, boating and lobster eating as we could into a one-week span. And, with the sporting Scoobie as our ride this time, I also hoped to spend time bombing down some of my favourite roads through the White Mountains.

Anyone that pays attention to the industry knows that New England is a hot spot for Subaru sales, but it turns out that the WRX is just about tailor made for enjoying the best of Maine, too.

Image Credit: Copyright 2014 AOL

eBay Find of the Day: 25-station video gaming trailer w/ bonus Ford F-250

Posted Nov 25th 2014 5:00PM

Why, you might be asking yourself, is Autoblog showing me an eBay Motors listing for a 2006 Ford F-250 and a box trailer (with a badly cropped photo to boot)? It's not because we're highly interested in this blue-collar rig, to be sure, but rather because we're interested in throwing the greatest Forza party of all time.

Housed in that innocuous white 26-foot trailer is a gamer's delight, with 25 Xbox 360 systems connected up to 25 high-definition monitors and 24 headsets to keep everyone locked into the action (one of the stations is outside the trailer). When connected up to one of two included generators, the setup allows for two-dozen combatants to square off, back-to-back and head-to-head.

Sure, the Buy It Now price of $79,000 seems steep considering the trailer will need about ten grand worth of Xbox One or Playstation 4 upgrades in the near future. But that doesn't mean you couldn't squeeze out a few more years of massive multiplayer fun. Check out the listing here, and do let us know if you buy it, we'd love to come over and game.

News Source: eBay Motors

2015 Volkswagen Golf R [w/video]

Posted Nov 24th 2014 12:00PM

Grip It And Rip It

2015 Volkswagen Golf R

Volkswagen hired a photographer to come shoot the handful of journalists that it brought to drive the 2015 Golf R at Buttonwillow Raceway north of Los Angeles. This fact, though unremarkable in and of itself, was something I hadn't noticed until I was well into my track time – probably ten laps deep on a day that would see me run twice that number. In any event, I noticed the intrepid shooter as he was sprinting from one side of the track to the other somewhere before Turn 2, while I was barreling down the main straightaway, still looking through Turn 1.

In the roughly two-mile configuration of the track that I drove, Buttonwillow is a big, wide-open circuit, largely flat and with excellent overall visibility. On that layout, and just hours into my Golf R experience, I'd already become confident in endeavoring to push the limits of VW's latest blistering hatch. In fact, the easy nature of driving the thing quickly had me overestimating my pace. So when I saw the photog sprint across the tarmac I instinctively slowed way too much, way too early for Turn 1.

Looking back at the incident after I'd pitted for the session, I laughed at myself, knowing I'd have had to be driving almost double my actual speed to put the camera guy in any real danger of being hit. But the experience crystallized what my full test of the R bore out: this is a car that makes you feel much faster than you otherwise would, at least in a competition setting.

The 2015 Golf R is an über hatch that will flatter those hyper-enthusiasts passionate enough to splash out on its steep price tag, but without threatening sales of core models like the GTI and its ilk. That's a good thing for the VW fanboys, to be sure, and, I'd argue, a great thing for the strength of the German brand overall... READ MORE

Image Credit: Copyright 2014 Seyth Miersma / AOL

Witness the Prologue to Audi's design future [w/videos]

Posted Nov 19th 2014 4:00PM

Audi Prologue Concept

Audi went Hollywood for its debut of the forward-looking Prologue concept car last night, pulling the silks back at a sprawling LA manse in the hills. The cost-no-object unveiling of the car, as well as its prominent positioning at this year's LA Auto Show, speaks to the importance with which the company views the styling you see here.

Prof. Dr. Ulrich Hackenberg, maharishi of development for the three-rings brand, made two important announcements at the presentation: reiterating publicly his endorsement of new styling chief Marc Lichte, and telling us that Prologue design will be found on upcoming production versions of the A6, A7 and A8.

Take a close look at that imposing face on the Prologue – an amped up revision of the single-frame shield grille that has appeared on new models like the TT already – and get used to it. Lichte called out the grille as the new face of the brand, so we fully expect its deployment across the range as the 2016 models roll out.

As we discussed in our original post, there's also a big hope that "Prologue" refers to an upcoming A9 model. Certainly the turbocharged 4.0-litre V8 under the hood of the concept car seems ready to go for production, its 605 horsepower and 516 pound-feet of torque (shockingly) within striking distance of outputs for current models like the RS7. Nothing in the clean bodywork or precise interior work lead us to preclude production, either.

Have a look at two quick videos below – a Short Cut of the unveil and a walk around on the show floor and then tell us how you feel the future of Audi in Comments.

2016 Mercedes-AMG GT [w/video]

Posted Nov 17th 2014 11:57AM

Wolverines, Whiskey And The Apogee Of Grand Touring

2016 Mercedes-AMG GT

At a Halloween party a couple of weeks ago, a rather inebriated new acquaintance of mine pulled a beautiful round flask out of his extravagant wolverine costume (the animal, not the X-Men character – I live in Ann Arbor) and offered me a pull. I wasn't driving, and I'm neither an asshole nor a fool, so I took a sip.

The whiskey that poured out was smooth, round on the tongue, almost honey sweet to finish and as warm as the blood in my veins. It was, perhaps, the most perfect single sip of booze I've ever had – and I've taken a lot of sips. I asked the origin of this magic liquor, and found that it was Redbreast 21; a whiskey I'd had on a few earlier occasions, though never with so delightful an effect on my overall sense of wellbeing. Somewhere in the milieu of a great party, best friends and excellent music, a great dram of whiskey became legendary.

Now, this is a story about a car, not a spirit. (Don't drink and drive, kids.) But there was a moment, working my way quickly through downhill switchbacks amidst redwood trees in those hauntingly lovely stretches of California state roads between San Francisco and Laguna Seca, where the 2016 Mercedes-AMG GT S triggered the same pathways in my brain that were formed when I took that sip of whiskey. Something in the elixir of power, grip, sound and balance that made a few corners of that drive feel like the close cousins of the best corners I'd ever turned a wheel on.

Later that day, driving the familiar route of Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca in Mercedes-Benz' newest coupe, the AMG GT's technical abilities and few shortcomings would almost overwhelm the romance of those earlier, perfect seconds. Science cannot hold all art, after all. But like that perfect hit of whiskey, gifted from a wolverine I'll never drink with again, this is a car that has the capability to be beautiful at any given second you're at the helm. READ ON.

Image Credit: Copyright 2014 Seyth Miersma / AOL

Six 'shut up and take my money' cars

Posted Nov 11th 2014 1:00PM

These Models Don't Exist, But If They Did We'd Be Making Down Payments

Any time you see this iconic moment in pop culture – Shut up and take my money! – posted in response to a new car reveal, rumour for an upcoming model or even lip-service to a vehicle that should exist, you can bet there's some intrinsic good in the idea. Though depending on the person offering up the cash, that good could take the form of extraordinary form, functionality, weight savings, power, handling, etc. You get the idea.

In fact, when I first proposed this list, I reached out to the Autoblog team to help me brainstorm. Here are some of the ideas they offered up that I ultimately didn't use: Jaguar XE Coupe, Pagani Huayra Roadster, Mercedes-Benz S-Class "parade car" (cabriolet), Morgan 3-Wheeler with Ducati V-twin, Ford Transit Connectamino (pickup), Mercedes CLA63 AMG, Ford Fusion 5.0, BMW i8 Spyder, Lexus RC-F Shooting Brake, Volvo XC90 Polestar. Oh, and things we collectively wanted to stick Dodge's Hellcat in were almost as numerous as models that Fiat Chrysler Automotive currently makes (though none quite so compelling as the Hellcat Grand Cherokee you see above.)

Ultimately though, while I used a couple of ideas from my colleagues, the list of six cars I'd shell out for unquestionably is very personal. Though it isn't complete, what follows is a selection of cars whose very existence would prompt me – or the trust-fund-baby versions of me – to utter without hesitation: "Shut up and take my money."

Click here to read, enjoy, and then post your own list of Take My Money Cars in Comments below – make Fry proud.

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Image Credit: Theophilus Chin / Chris Doane Automotive, Copyright 2014 AOL, Honda, Subaru, Know Your Meme