Rendered speculation: Another look at the Audi A5 Sportback

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Um, what's a sportback? Is that a hatch? A wagon? A bra? Car just released some new renderings of Audi's upcoming eleventeenth new model, the A5 Sportback. From the pic it looks like a five-door wagon, but that would be an avant in Audi-speak. This one has a less upright back glass and even sports a tiny horizontal deck at the bottom of the glass. Kind of like Mazda offered with the 6, but in a more wagon-like long roof form. Whatever they call it, it looks attractive and functional and is said to have an electric assist for that unique hatch. Claimed to be an answer to the Mercedes Benz CLS four-door coupe, the A5 Sportback takes the functional sedan segment on a slightly different vector. It's mind-boggling how companies like BMW, Mercedes and Audi keep churning out new body styles and models that seem to further carve up already narrow market segments, but as long as the products are functional and stylish (as this one surely is), we can't argue with them.

[Source: Car magazine]

 

[via] Autoblog

VIDEO: Karting the Isle of Man

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Okay, so it's a typical grainy YouTube clip, and even appears to be black and white on first blush, but sit back and enjoy it for what it is and you won't be disappointed. Take a blast around the Isle of Man on a go-kart. In the rain. As you'll discover, even with these minuscule motors, passing can be a chore. We don't have a lot of information about the event, but we do know that there is an Isle of Man Kart Racing Association (IOMKRA) if this looks like your kind of thing. Follow the jump to see a few minutes of this insane action that we swear aren't sped up.

[Source: DieselStation]

Continue reading VIDEO: Karting the Isle of Man

 

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Eight-Six day has come and gone

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Back in our misspent Dime daze days, we made the annual trek to Mt. Shasta to bathe in the glory of all things Datsun, but we were primarily there to compare notes and swap parts with other 510 fanatics. The date was easy to remember: May 10th. Little did we know that another group of enthusiasts had their own thing going over 5,000 miles away on another notable calendar day - August 6th.

"8-6" day, as it's come to be known, is an excuse for anyone with a Hachi to head down to the Nikko Circuit to spend a day ripping rubber around the track in celebration of their favorite commuter-cum-racer. AEU86 forum member, Miguel, was on hand for the festivities and snapped a ton of great shots, including the turbo'd Tec Arts AE86 and a number of very clean, and very fast, Hachis. Follow the 'Read' link below to check it out.

[Source: AEU86]

 

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Although the badge shows six, 2008 Forester gets top five-star rating

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click above image for gallery

A little background before we get to the news: Subaru is the name of a cluster of some 250 bluish stars in the Taurus constellation. Only six of its stars are visible to the naked eye. Here in the West, the cluster is better-known as Pleiades, but in Japan, it's alternately called Subaru ("to govern" or "gather together") or Mutsuraboshi, which means "Six Stars." And if you've ever looked closely at a Subaru badge, that's exactly what you see, six stars. But take a look at the window sticker on the new 2008 Forester and you'll see only five stars.

Don't let that seem like a letdown, however, for as you probably know, a five-star rating is the highest the NHTSA awards, and it also happens to be the vehicle's most recent score in those NHTSA crash tests. Subaru of America announced the rating today, along with the press release you'll find after the jump. Read it and you'll discover that the '08 Forester earned five star ratings for both front- and side-impact crash tests, for both the driver and passenger. These ratings were for the NHTSA's New Car Assessment Program (NCAP), which uses a 10% higher impact speed than the Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards -- 38.5 versus 35 mph. Kudos to Mutsuraboshi Subaru. Keep up the good work, and maybe they'll have to change the metric for you.

Check out the 2008 Forester in our gallery below, or see pricing and specs at AOL Autos.

[Source: Subaru]

Continue reading Although the badge shows six, 2008 Forester gets top five-star rating

 

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Them are fightin' words: Lutz goes off on the 'experts'

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Maximum Bob has had enough of automotive experts who question the guile of domestic execs, and as usual Mr. Lutz isn't afraid to share his thoughts with all who are willing to listen. At his recent speech at the Center for Automotive Research's annual management conference, Blogger Bob opened a GM-sized can on experts referring to Big Three executives as "Detroit Dinosaurs". Mr. Lutz asked if three independent companies with independent boards could all be "nearly imploded" at the same time because they're all the same level of stupid at the exact same time. He then mentioned macroeconomic factors (currency, labor costs, etc) that hurt the domestics while leaving imports unscathed.

We're definitely not among the "experts" to which Mr. Lutz was referring, and we tend to agree with our fellow blogger Bob on this point. Making cars and trucks is one of the most complicated businesses on this planet, and no matter how good or smart you are, it's hard to compete on an un-level playing field.

[Source: Edmunds Auto Observer]

 

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How far would you go for A/C?

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Scott Dawson finally had enough. After three years of motoring around town with no A/C in his car, this civil engineering grad from the University of Houston decided to do something about it. Rather than coughing up the $1,200 in cash to fix the A/C inside his car, he just bolted an aftermarket unit to the outside of his car. The cooler of choice for Dawson was a home-intended window A/C unit from Samsung. He just cut a whole in his roof and strapped it down and ran some duct work to blow air right on his head. Besides the bolts and brackets, a pair of bungee cords also helps secure the unit, which probably doesn't do much for aerodynamics likely limits carwash options, but looks powerful enough to routinely handle triple digit temps. It's crude, but likely very effective.

Go see the rest of the pics by clicking the Read link below. The story and gallery links are right below the "Breaking News" blurb: "Hot Weather Forces Partial Highway Closure." Maybe they need roadside A/C units. Too funny.

Thanks for the tip, Tony!

[Source: KRIV TV - Fox 26 Houston]

 

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Land Rover gets limited with Range Rover Sport LE

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Click for a pair of high-res images of the 2008 Range Rover Sport LE

Perhaps trying to keep things interesting, Land Rover just announced a new version of its popular Range Rover Sport for the U.S. market. The Range Rover Sport LE will be a true Limited Edition, with only 250 copies making their way to dealerships starting this month. Some exterior changes that will help you spot this special version include flush-mounted bumpers, a different roof spoiler, body-colored lower cladding, a new rear exhaust "treatment," and some spiffy-looking 20-inch Stormer wheels.

Interior changes include a Luxury Interior Package comprising the cold climate option, adaptive front lighting, premium leather seats, hand-polished oak wooden trim and a center console cooler box. Unique carpet mats, a rear seat A/V system, and adaptive cruise control are also included. The LE uses the supercharged 4.2-liter V8 engine, permanent 4WD, and Land Rover's Terrain Response system to uphold the company's reputation for on- and off-road prowess. If you can find a dealer that has one available, expect pricing to be around $81,450.

Full press release after the jump.

[Source: Land Rover]

Continue reading Land Rover gets limited with Range Rover Sport LE

 

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Official rendering of Hyundai RWD Coupe?

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We're pretty excited about the upcoming rear-wheel-drive coupe from Hyundai, which you can probably tell by the myriad of posts we've written about it. Most have been spy shots of the car, which reveal very little about what the actual car may look like beyond its overall size and general proportions.

We happened upon this tiny rendering at the French site Caradisiac, and while our Google translation offers little explanation of what we're looking at exactly, we believe this could be an official rendering of the car from Hyundai, or maybe we just want it to be because it looks that damn good.

The details we've been able to glimpse from spy shots appear faithfully included in this rendering, particularly the wheels and the horizontal character line right behind the front wheels. While this certainly could be an unofficial render produced for a magazine or website, we're putting our money down on the chance that it's the real deal. Either way, if the car looks this good, we won't be disappointed.

[Source: Caradisiac]

 

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VIDEO: It's a Buick, beyotch!

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A creative Buick dealer is celebrating the brand's performance in J.D. Power's 2007 Vehicle Dependability Study that was released yesterday, in which it tied Lexus for the top spot, by putting together an amusing little viral that stars the Buick Lucerne CST SEMA concept from 2006. The car was prepared by Stainless Steel Brakes Corp. of Clarence, NY, and was one of many Lucernes GM sent to the show last year. You can see the full inventory of upgrades along with the aforementioned video created by Alfred Matthews Motorsports after the jump. Believe us, it's worth it, beyotch!

[Source: YouTube]


Continue reading VIDEO: It's a Buick, beyotch!

 

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Light 'em up: Lord March set to throw a smokin' 2007 Goodwood Revival

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Click image to enlarge

Charles Henry Gordon-Lennox, the Earl of March -- or simply Lord March, as motorsports enthusiasts know him -- has a good thing going. The Goodwood estate he oversees is home to the annual Festival of Speed, the retro-themed Goodwood Revival, and the Rolls-Royce assembly plant. The dashing noble's blood is infused with motor oil, it seems, and his enthusiasm is something he shares with the public through the events he organizes and hosts.

The Goodwood Revival is an annual vintage racing event held at the Goodwood Motor Circuit, and attention to period-correct detail is part of the fun. Many participants and fans dress in period-correct attire, turning the event into a glorious multi-day time warp. Now, back in the day, everybody smoked. It was glamorous and accepted. As we're all aware, modern times have brought with them a slew of nannyish rules (and even more nannyish people behind them) that have turned smokers into pariahs. Lord March (a non-smoker, FYI) notes that in many old racing photographs and films, the subjects are often captured enjoying a smoke. As such, he has declared this year's Revival to be a "Free Smoke Zone" in all outdoor venues, and the use of tobacco is encouraged to further contribute to the period authenticity of the event. Light up without angst, racing fans. Lord March is welcoming you with open arms.

[Source: Goodwood]

Continue reading Light 'em up: Lord March set to throw a smokin' 2007 Goodwood Revival

 

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Spy Shots: Kia Mesa uncovered

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click image above for more high-res spy shots of the Kia Mesa

Perhaps Kia thought it was being coy when it supposedly leaked an official detail image of its upcoming Mesa SUV's front end. Who needs an official detail shot, though, when you can rely on inattentive engineers who forget to cover the front end of their mule? Here we get a full frontal view of the Mesa's nose, which indeed confirms that it will closely mirror the visage of the KCD II Mesa concept on which it's based. Unfortunately, the process of converting that concept to production has also altered the front end just enough so that it looks similar to the Subaru Tribeca. The Mesa appears similar in size to a Honda Pilot, or perhaps a Ford Explorer, since it's reportedly a proper SUV, not a car-based CUV. It's expected to be offered with Hyundai's 3.8L V6 producing upwards of 260 horsepower, but like all new models coming out of Hyundai/Kia, a V8 is rumored to be considered, as well.

[Photos: KGP Photography]

 

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Consumer Reports responds to pickup comparo controversy

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Earlier this week we told you about a pickup truck comparison in the most recent issue of Consumer Reports that seemed a bit fishy. The comparison pitted the new 2007 Toyota Tundra against the 2007 Chevy Silverado, Ford F-150 and Dodge Ram. It was clearly a fight between the Tundra and Silverado from the get-go, since both were the only two completely new trucks in the test. The Tundra, however, seemed to have an advantage in that it was ordered up with the larger of its two engines, the 5.7L V8 producing 381 hp. The Silverado, while available with a more evenly matched 6.0L Vortec MAX V8, was ordered with a less powerful 5.3L V8 producing 315 hp. Not only that, but the Tundra benefited from a 4.10 rear axle ratio that provides better towing and acceleration than the 3.73 ratio in the Silverado, which sacrifices those qualities for better fuel economy. The Silverado, however, could've been ordered with a 4.10 rear axle ratio at no extra charge.

Well, the gentlefolks at CR recently posted an answer to everyone's questions about this particular half-ton pickup comparo on their blog, which you should go read by clicking here before going on. They explain that choosing equipment for vehicles involved in a comparison is a tricky thing that involves balancing the objective of several goals.

"In general, we want to test a representative vehicle that is comparable to other vehicles in the test group (and previously tested peer vehicles). We also typically test the version--powertrain and trim level--that most regular consumers will buy. "

Read on after the jump to hear our take on CR's explanation.

Continue reading Consumer Reports responds to pickup comparo controversy

 

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REPORT: Toyota, Fuji Heavy looking to team on "AE86" revival, target 2010 release

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A report in Japan's Asahi Shimbun newspaper states that Toyota and Fuji Heavy Industries (Subaru's parent) are mulling over the possibility of jointly developing what many have been referring to as the successor to the classic AE86. The entry-level sports car would be branded as a Toyota but would feature a FHI-sourced boxer engine of 2.0 liters or less underhood. As far as pricing, the goal would be to keep the car at ¥2,000,000 or lower. Asahi says that the car would target a 2010 release (not 2008, as previously reported by Japan's Best Car magazine) and that talks between the two entities won't commence in earnest until this Fall.

The Asahi report comes in the wake of the aforementioned Best Car magazine story, which also said Fuji Heavy would factor into the equation, but that a price of ¥1,500,000 was the target. While the two outlets differ on some of the specifics, the basic stories match up, and you know the saying: "Where there's smoke..."

In other news, Asahi reports that Toyota subsidiary Daihatsu will begin supplying its Coo compact wagon (a.k.a. Toyota bB) to Fuji Heavy, and that a Subaru-branded version should go on sale in Japan next summer.

[Source: Asahi Shimbun via Motor Authority]

 

[via] Autoblog

Spy Shots: Best yet of 2009 Dodge Challenger

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click above image to see 8 high-res spy shots of the 2009 Dodge Challenger

Preproduction prototypes of the Dodge Challenger have been spotted all over Detroit in the past few months, but most have been captured with camera phones and revealed little detail about the muscle car coming from Chrysler. KGP Photographers ran into one recently and were armed with proper DSLRs to shoot the car to death, focusing particularly on details like the headlights, taillights and wheels that previous low-res spy shots have missed. In a few pictures we can see through the mesh of the camo and glimpse the headlight hardware, which looks high-tech, perhaps incorporating LEDs around the frame of the circles just like the concept, and trimmed in chrome. The same goes for the taillights, which appear close to the concept's. Finally, through the wheels we can clearly see some serious stopping power in the form of rotors that would look right at home on a Dodge Ram. Is there anything on this car that will differ significantly from the concept? Our guess is that the first interior spy shots we see will hold the answer.

Check out the gallery of eight spy shots below, and we've also included a gallery of the Dodge Challenger Concept for comparison's sake.

[Photos: KGP]


 

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