While BMW makes plenty of machinery to keep enthusiasts interested, its most enticing models are often based on more ordinary ones. That's what made the arrival of the i8 so captivating, emerging as the first stand-alone BMW sports coupe since the M1. But if its dual purpose - trying its best to both embrace the earth and traverse it rapidly - somehow left you disappointed, the next development could prove to fix that.
According to Automobile, BMW is working on a more potent i8S model. The hardcore version of the hybrid sports car would offer more power and a stiffened chassis to make it that much more aggressive. The Bavarian automaker is reportedly still evaluating two potential powertrain options: The first would pair a 2.0-liter twin-turbo four-cylinder good for 320 horsepower to an electric motor with another 204 hp. The second would use a 3.0-liter straight six with 480 hp and an electric motor with 109 hp. Both would be mated to a nine-speed dual-clutch transmission and an integrated starter motor packing an extra 27 hp.
Either way, we'd be looking at a combined output well in excess of 500 horsepower - far more than the existing i8's 228-hp turbo three and 129-hp electric motor - dropping the 0-62 time down from 4.1 seconds to an estimated 3.5. Couple that to a more advanced carbon chassis, wider tires and other goodies, and the i8 would be transformed into a far more capable performance machine than it already is.
Automobile says the project is not being undertaken by the M division but by the i brand that developed the i8 in the first place - including new program director Roberto Fedeli who came over from Ferrari. Its arrival would be timed to coincide with BMW's centenary celebrations in 2016.Permalink | Email this | Comments
Ever wish racing in real life was more like playing Gran Turismo or Forza? By that we don't mean lots of swearing and sideswiping other racers into corners - we just think it would just be useful to have all of the game's data available on-the-fly in real life, especially a ghost car for comparing previous laps. A solution for track drivers may be on the way from a company called High Rise Garage thanks to its software and giant head-up display called the GhostDash.
The whole system basically presents the entire HUD from a racing video game as an augmented reality display in an actual moving car. Looking through the 98-percent transparent screen, a driver can see a ghost car projection running its last lap. At the bottom, there's a display for current speed, the gap and lap times. It's supposed to make learning a faster line much easier. "We believe HUDs and ghost cars are the next step in utilizing the data racers collect to make it easier and safer," spokesman Justin Hayes tells Autoblog. We can see applications beyond racing, too, including basic driver's education programs.
The GhostDash is possible thanks to several pieces of technology working together. The raw data comes from a GPS unit that sends info to software running on a Windows device, which crafts it into an image. A linked projector then displays the HUD on a 15-inch holographic screen that hangs from a mount in front of the driver.
GhostDash isn't quite ready to buy yet, though. High Rise Garage is running a Kickstarter campaign with a goal of $43,500 to complete funding for the system, but the company claims the software and hardware work now. The business needs the funds for final development and manufacturing, and the company thinks it can start shipping units in January, 2015.
The Kickstarter campaign is broken into three major tiers. For $40, pledgers just get the software to run on a Windows device (the company recommends a Surface Pro tablet). For $1,900, people also get the projector and screen to display the HUD on. Finally, $3,600 also adds a Surface Pro 3 to run the software and Vbox Sport GPS unit. For the two lower levels, buyers need to supply their own GPS device and GhostDash currently supports three devices with plans to add two more.
Developing this kind of tech is a huge undertaking, but High Rise Garage is already considering the future. It eventually wants to add features like custom maps to support users who autocross and a racing line to the software. Scroll down to watch a video of the GhostDash in action and read the company's press release about it.
Novel head-up display aims to improve lap times with video-game-like ghost car [w/video] originally appeared on Autoblog on Wed, 22 Oct 2014 14:58:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.Permalink | Email this | Comments
For the past couple of decades, Land Rover has watched pretender after contender try to topple it from its throne as the world's ultimate purveyor of luxury SUVs. The British automaker has answered with an ever-expanding and ever-improving array of entries of its own, capped by a flagship Range Rover that seems to go more upscale every year, positioning itself as the high-riding counterpart to fellow British luxury marques like Jaguar and Bentley. It might even abide by the Leaping Cat, its sister company, launching a crossover of its own - heck, it'll even lend a helping hand or two - but in the case of Bentley, well, it won't be so quick to concede ground. What we're looking at here seems to be the fight it's preparing to put up.
This camouflaged prototype was spotted entering JLR's test center at the Nürburgring (our base for the day when we drove the XFR-S Sportbrake and other supercharged Jaguar specials recently around the Nordschleife). But what is it, exactly? It appears to be based on the long-wheelbase version of the Range Rover introduced nearly a year ago, but if you look around back you'll see four round tailpipes protruding from under that geometrically camo'd rear bumper - suggesting (even more than its presence at the 'Ring) that something more potent is afoot.
The natural conclusion is that JRL's new Special Vehicle Operations department is preparing an SVR version of the Range Rover L, which would likely feature the same 5.0-liter supercharged V8 as the XFR-S, XJR, F-Type R and (most poignantly) the new Range Rover Sport SVR. The engine will presumably arrive in similar 550-horsepower spec, but could also conceivably go for the 575 horses squeezed out for the Project 7 roadster. A sportier chassis, enhanced aero and upgraded brakes would help keep all that power and heft in check as it hustles VIPs around at breakneck speeds - and give Bentley's forthcoming SUV (which promises unprecedented levels of luxury with a 200-mph top end) a high-speed run for its leather suitcases full of pounds sterling.
Land Rover spotted testing long-wheelbase Range Rover SVR at the 'Ring originally appeared on Autoblog on Wed, 22 Oct 2014 14:30:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.Permalink | Email this | Comments
A cursory look at the top of the automobile market would suggest that the world's carmakers are gunning it full steam ahead into a new stratosphere of ultra-luxury and high-performance utility vehicles. After all, companies like Bentley and Maserati are preparing to launch their very first crossovers, while established players like Mercedes-Benz and Land Rover keep producing ever more expensive sport-utes of their own. But that's not the case across the board.
Rolls-Royce, for example, has yet to receive the green light to start working on its proposed CUV project. Though the dimensions of its sedans may already eclipse those of some crossovers, this would be the first time that Goodwood would produce a utility of its own. But while the British automaker's financial performance may have earned it a degree of autonomy, the final call may still come down to parent company BMW, which just might be waiting to see how Bentley fares with its upcoming crossover - and how much money it brings in to the Volkswagen Group - before deciding on whether or not it should proceed.
However, Rolls-Royce may not be alone in waiting for its German parent company to approve its high-priced ute. It's been two and a half years since we first laid eyes on the Lamborghini Urus (pictured), but the Italian automaker reportedly has not yet received approval from its parent company Audi and the greater Volkswagen Group to proceed with development and production. Envisioned to share its platform with the next Volkswagen Touareg, Audi Q7, Porsche Cayenne and the production version of the Bentley EXP 9 F concept, the high-riding Lamborghini was originally set to reach production as the marque's third model line in 2017. But while Audi drags its feet - potentially waiting to see how the Bentley version pans out - the Urus' launch keeps getting pushed back, if it's ever to be made at all.
Aston Martin was similarly considering a high-end crossover of its own to relaunch the Lagonda brand, but has expressed some doubts - fueled in no small part by the cold initial reception to its concept - opting in the meantime to develop a sedan instead.
Rolls-Royce, Lamborghini utilities await approval from German parents [w/poll] originally appeared on Autoblog on Wed, 22 Oct 2014 13:58:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.Permalink | Email this | Comments
Unfortunately, the government's list still contains errors.The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has issued an updated list of vehicle models that it's urging owners to repair under the mushrooming Takata airbag inflator recall. The latest version adds vehicles from new automakers like Subaru and Ford that are missing from the original announcement, and it also removes erroneous entries from General Motors, leaving only the 2005 Saab 9-2X (a reskinned Subaru WRX), and the 2003-2005 Pontiac Vibe, a joint project with Toyota.
According to a statement sent to Autoblog by GM, the inaccurate entries on the earlier version came because, "The original NHTSA advisory incorrectly listed a group of 2002-2003 GM models that were part of a 2002 recall involving airbags made by other suppliers."
This campaign has been spurred by recent discoveries from Takata about the risks from these inflators. It's possible for the airbags to rupture in a crash and spray shrapnel at occupants. The problem is known to have caused serious injuries and several deaths, and the likelihood of a malfunction has been determined to be especially likely in high humidity areas.
The recalls related to the faulty parts go back to at least 2001, and most of the vehicles on the latest list are also among the same ones from a campaign in June. Since this isn't a new recall and NHTSA is simply urging people to take action, it's possible some of these models might already be repaired.
NHTSA appears to be having serious problems with the stress the Takata airbag issue is putting on its consumer website. According to The Detroit News, the agency's VIN lookup service is down, and its daily listing of new recalls is also not working as of this writing.
Unfortunately, the government's list still contains errors.
NHTSA releases updated Takata airbag recalled cars list, but it still has errors originally appeared on Autoblog on Wed, 22 Oct 2014 13:31:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.Permalink | Email this | Comments
Dogs are man's best friend, and motorcycles are a ton of fun to ride. Combine the two of them, and the result might be even better than either one alone.
Just look at this happy pup. This might not be the safest thing we've ever seen, but it is adorable, especially since the owner was kind enough to put some vintage-look goggles on for some extra protection and serious style. Plus, this English Bulldog appears to be extremely happy while cruising around. The canine is even courteous enough to wave at other riders with its owner.
There's not too much to this quick clip, but it certainly makes you smile.
English Bulldog is the friendliest motorcycle passenger ever originally appeared on Autoblog on Wed, 22 Oct 2014 12:59:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.Permalink | Email this | Comments
Thoroughly cleansed of our time at the 2014 Paris Motor Show, we can now start looking forward to the next big show on the circuit (with all due respect to SEMA), the 2014 Los Angeles Auto Show. One of the earliest new cars slated for LA is this, the Scion iM Concept.
Now, these teaser images don't show us terribly much. We can see the headlights, foglights and wheels. The little information we can glean indicates that, based on the short hood and minimal space between the front door and front axle, the iM will be a very small vehicle. That said, a very low ride height (and Scion's own press release) claims this will be a rather sporty offering. The concept's nose and grille, meanwhile, bears some resemblance to Toyota's most recent stylings.
We'll have more when the iM Concept debuts in LA on November 19. Until then, check out the pair of teasers and the official press release, available below.
Scion teases mysterious sporty iM concept for LA show originally appeared on Autoblog on Wed, 22 Oct 2014 12:29:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.Permalink | Email this | Comments
Realistically, many enthusiasts give horrible, horrible car buying advice. They will recommend something bizarre, inappropriately high performance, compromised or utterly impractical for a given consumer's needs, and they'll almost never recommend something that makes sense. And then they'll come up with 3.7 million reasons why the leading vehicle someone is thinking about is a bad choice.
Or maybe that's just what I do.
Regardless, if you poke, prod, bother or just get us drunk enough, eventually you'll begin getting honest feedback. And more than likely, we'll tell you, in hushed tones, about the many virtues of very, very boring cars. We'll talk about why the Toyota Camry is actually a pretty decent purchase or we'll explain how spacious and feature laden the Nissan Versa is.
The reason for withholding recommendations of bland offerings like the aforementioned Toyota and Nissan is that there are not really a lot of vehicles that suit the often peculiar whims of the auto enthusiast while also ticking the boxes of the average consumer. Unless, of course, you're looking to drop about $30,000 on an all-wheel-drive crossover, because that's an easy one to answer - just buy a Subaru Outback.
As a high-riding, sedan-based crossover, it'll appeal to your mundane, practical-minded sensibilities, while as a nouveau wagon with a boxer engine and some personality, enthusiasts won't feel guilty about recommending it to you. I came to this conclusion following a long week with a 2015 Outback Premium 2.5i, the brand's mid-range, volume-level entry.Permalink | Email this | Comments
After the huge problems that Hyundai/Kia experienced with its mislabeled fuel economy labels, you'd think that any time an automaker has to adjust its mpg numbers, heralds would be shouting from the rooftops. But, after Ford admitted to three big mistakes with its numbers for the 2013 C-Max Hybrid and Mercedes-Benz had to lower the fuel economy rating for the C-Class, we understand if those heralds are a bit tired by now.
The models affected include the 3-door and the 3-door S.Still, today's news is that BMW has to lower the fuel efficiency numbers for four versions of the 2014 Mini Cooper thanks to an audit conducted by the EPA and then some joint re-testing. The models affected include the 3-door with the 1.5-liter engine and the 3-door S with its 2.0-liter powerplant, with both manual and semi-automatic transmissions. As with the Benzes, the rating changes are not big ones, around one or two miles per gallon. The big exception is the manual S 3-door's highway number, which lost four mpg from 38 to 34. You can see all the numbers, new and old, in the press release below, but the EPA isn't saying what caused the problem this time. The Agency's new test procedures can't come fast enough.
It should be noted that the 2015 Mini Cooper was recently delayed a bit because of the extra time it took to get the EPA numbers right. There's no confirmation that these two items are connected, but we would not be surprised to hear they were.
EPA: Four 2014 Mini Cooper models need to drop mpg numbers originally appeared on Autoblog Green on Wed, 22 Oct 2014 11:28:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.Permalink | Email this | Comments
Go back a couple of decades and the thought of a Japanese automaker challenging the German limousines would have seemed laughable, but 25 years later the Lexus LS is a mainstay of the luxury sedan market. And it didn't get there by sitting on its laurels, so it should come as little surprise that Lexus is offering some small tweaks as it enters the 2015 model year.
This time around the upgrades are rather minor, consisting primarily of a new multimedia system. It's got an updated navigation system with 12.3-inch display, revised backup camera imagery with dynamic gridlines, and an enhanced Lexus Enform App Suite that can control the locks, ignition, climate control and more, remotely.
While they were at it, Toyota's engineers also reduced the turning circle by four inches (on cars fitted with 18-inch wheels), and enhanced the F Sport package as well. Otherwise, it's essentially the same LS we've always known.
2015 Lexus LS gets tighter turning radius, new infotainment originally appeared on Autoblog on Wed, 22 Oct 2014 10:58:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.Permalink | Email this | Comments
Back in 2009, Daimler acquired over 9 percent of Tesla. A couple of months later, it sold 40 percent of that stake to Abu Dhabi-based Aabar Investments. The following year, Tesla listed on the stock exchange and Daimler's interest was reduced to 4 percent. But now the German industrial giant has announced it is selling that 4 percent and divesting from Tesla altogether in a liquidation that is expected to raise approximately $780 million for Daimler. The divestment has also triggered speculation that the move could make room for rival German automaker BMW to take an interest in Tesla.
Despite the divestment, Daimler insists that its technological partnership with Tesla will remain unaffected. Mercedes sources the batteries for its B-Class Electric Drive (pictured above) from the Californian outfit in a deal that is not set to change as a result of the financial realignment. A similar collaboration was in place for the Smart Fortwo Electric Drive, however, now that the new generation of Smarts developed with Renault is on its way, it's possible that a next-generation Fortwo ED will use French tech instead as an extension of the partnership between Daimler and Renault-Nissan.
Daimler has also taken the occasion to point out that, between the Mercedes, Smart and various truck brands, it offers "the industry's biggest portfolio of electric vehicles," including pure EVs, fuel cells and hybrids. The automaker says it will introduce ten new plug-in hybrid Mercedes models by 2017.Permalink | Email this | Comments
Create a law, and people try to find some way to get around it. That's basically a fact of life whether you're in the US or the People's Republic of China. For example, recently in the PRC, a man attempted to convert his pickup into a sedan to avoid road tolls, and photos of the vehicle became a story in Chinese media. The whole incident shined a light on the government's antagonism towards trucks (like the Great Wall Wingle 5 pictured above).
According to Automotive News, this intrepid driver made his attempt during the National Day earlier in October. For the holiday, China removed its road tolls for sedans, which made it free for them to drive on highways. This fellow apparently had places to go, and he converted his four-door truck into a "sedan." Although, his undertaking was pretty mediocre by just installing a sloping bed cover with a hatch on the back of his pickup. The endeavor didn't fool police, either, because they fined him for the scheme. Still, it was a noble effort, we suppose.
Not many owners are willing to go to the lengths of this guy, but trucks in China are fighting an uphill battle for popularity. According to Automotive News, a legal loophole means that in some cities, all pickups are classified as commercial vehicles, and they are kept from entering. Those limits keep sales to less than two percent of the country's massive auto market, and those numbers are continuing to fall. No wonder automakers like Great Wall want to sell models in the more pickup-friendly US.Permalink | Email this | Comments