Video game offers sneak peek of Nissan GT-R

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It's not like we all don't know exactly what the soon-to-be-debuted Nissan GT-R looks like. Aside from the black cover, a.k.a. the Black Mask, that obscures the car's front clip in every spy shot, the car has been caught completely naked while testing several times.

Still, there could be a few details hiding under the Black Mask that we don't know about. Enter the new driving game for Electronic Arts called Need for Speed: Pro Street. We should all be familiar with the Need for Speed franchise, and the latest installment actually looks really good, with graphics that rival what we've seen in Forza Motorsport 2, the Gran Turismo series and Project Gotham Racing 4, though the latter has yet to be released.

The screen grabs above were taken from a trailer for the game appearing on gametrailers.com. Supposedly since the game is not set to go on sale until mid-November after the GT-R officially debuts in Tokyo, Nissan gave EA very accurate information on what the production car looks like. If that's true, then there's our missing front end.

Thanks to RedRaj for the tip, who notes the the GT-R can be seen briefly at 2:23 to 2:26.

[Source: gametrailers.com]

 

[via] Autoblog

Popular Mechanics honors Ford's SYNC

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Popular Mechanics is handing out its breakthrough awards, and Ford's SYNC made its way into the tech magazine's top 10 breakthrough products. SYNC's reasonable $395 price tag and voice recognition capability gave Ford and Microsoft's joint project the edge, and Popular Mechanics also really liked the fact that SYNC can read your text messages to you. SYNC will be available on 12 Ford products for the 2008 model year, with more availability in 2009.

Ford wasn't the only automaker to make its way onto the breakthrough award list, either. GM, BMW, and DaimlerChrysler's joint Two-Mode Hybrid project was also recognized for its ability to save fuel on the gas guzzlers that need it most.

[Source: Popular Mechanics]

 

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Toyota loses another: Jim Farley heads to Ford

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Sure, the loss of Jim Press to Chrysler was probably a bigger blow, but news today that one of Toyota's marketing gurus, Jim Farley, has been hired awar by Alan Mulally to be Ford's group vice president of marketing and communication implies that the Japanese automaker's North American operation is experiencing a bit of a brain drain. Farley will start at Ford in mid-November and report directly to Mulally. His resume includes overseeing the launch of Scion, general manager of Lexus and group VP of marketing of Toyota.

In addition to Farley and Press, Toyota also lost Deborah Wahl Meyer two months ago when Chrysler hired her to be its chief marketing officer. What we're seeing is a dream team of executives groomed by Toyota going out and testing the free agent market. It remains to be seen, however, whether Team Toyota will ultimately suffer for not keeping these execs in their positions.

NOTE: A few of us couldn't help but notice that along with his marketing acumen, Farley will bring another mullet to the Ford fold. He'll need a month or so of missed haircuts to reach Mark Fields' level of mulletocity, but he'll get there.

[Source: Ford, Automotive News, sub. req'd]

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Your daily dose of Ducati news, featuring the Desmosedici RR

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We've received official word from Ducati that it's extending the planned production run of Desmosedici RR bikes from 1,250 to 1,500 in an effort to meet demand. If you've already got an order in, you are all set, and Ducati promises that all of the 1,500 bikes will be delivered to owners by the end of 2008. So, if you don't have your order in... call now! The first 500 or so bikes will be delivered to owners of the 999R who have also placed orders for the new Desmosedici RR.

For those of you who aren't aware of the Desmosedici RR, tune into SPEED TV the next time Moto GP racing is on and keep an eye out for the bike in the lead. That will probably be the racing version of this bike ridden by Casey Stoner. The new RR is the first road-going version of a Moto GP bike that you can actually buy and register at your local DMV. Unlike most Ducati streetbikes, the RR features a V4 engine, although the angle is still set at the same 90-degrees of Ducati's traditional V-Twins. While the race bikes were forced to go down to 800cc's for competition this year, the street version still has the full liter that was originally intended for the bike. Peaking at around 200 horsepower or so with a weight of under 400 pounds, none of the 1,500 lucky owners are likely to be let down by Ducati's latest product of moto-lust.

While the Desmosedici RR leads Ducati's line of bikes this year, let's face the facts here: you and I will probably never ride one. So after the jump you'll find some news about Ducati bikes you can actually afford.

[Source: Ducati]

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Dealers report heavy initial demand for Jaguar XF

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click above image for full high-res gallery of the Jaguar XF

Veteran auto journalist Jim Mateja has been poking around Jaguar dealerships to find out how much buzz ixists for the new Jaguar XF. The XF is widely considered a do-or-die car for Jaguar, which sold just 1,061 vehicles last month. Billed as the replacement for the S-Type sedan, it needs to sell well. Doing so would show that Jaguar has at least one life left out of nine to give.

The Jaguar XF goes on sale March 1, 2008, but Mateja reports at KickingTires.com that dealers have already formed waiting lists that are likely longer than the number of units they'll receive when the car launches. Jaguar has also informed its dealers that there will be no mark ups: cars will be sold on a first come, first serve basis. While the brand hasn't revealed how many units it plans to have available at launch, Mateja estimates about 20,000 units sold annually will be their target. That number is based on how many S-Types were sold in that car's first year and is a good benchmark for the success of the XF. If Jaguar did manage to sell 20,000 XFs in 2008, the automaker's numbers overall would certainly go up versus 2007.

So we know there's demand for the XF when it launches next year, but the real question is whether that demand will be sustained after the initial buzz wears off. We think it will, if for no other reason than the XF is a unique vehicle. Its styling is spot on, though needs to be appreciated in person for the full effect, while the interior may set a new standard in simple elegance for the segment. This time next year we'll know if those things add up to a successful launch.

[Source: Kicking Tires]

Gallery: 2009 Jaguar XF

 

[via] Autoblog

Rumor Mill Refuted: Shelby Automobiles not going out of business



Autoblog listens to every rumor that comes our way, and there sure are a lot of them. But when we hear something twice and it then pops up online, we begin to take it more seriously. Reports that Shelby Automobiles, the company the Carroll built, was going out business began landing on our desk today, and when we were pointed to a forum post with some more specifics, we decided to give the company a call ourselves. While the most wild speculation claimed it was closing its doors due to health problems that Carroll Shelby might be experiencing, we were assured by the company's VP of Marketing and Communications Jim Owens that the company is "alive, healthy and well." When asked where the rumor may have originated, Owens declined to speculate. As proof of the company's vitality, however, he noted that at the time we spoke the facility in Las Vegas should've built its fiftieth Shelby GT of the day. And that's what makes Shelby Automotive going out of business a tough rumor to buy: its contracts with Ford to build not only the Shelby GT, but the upcoming GT500 KR.

[Source: jalopyjournal.com]

 

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Sydney 2007: HSV turns 20, celebrates with anniversary-edition Clubsport R8

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click above image to view gallery of 20th Anniversary HSV Clubsport R8

Holden Special Vehicles, the performance arm of Holden in Australia, turned 20 years old this year. It was at the same Sydney Motor Show back in 1987 that HSV debuted its first vehicle, the VL Group A SS Commodore or "Walkinshaw" as it's commonly known. So it's fitting that HSV used the 2007 Sydney Motor Show to debut a special 20th Anniversary edition model of its Clubsport R8. The Clubsport R8 is a hot number on its own, so the anniversary edition adds exclusive cosmetic touches like special Sandstorm paint, 20th Anniversary sill plates, black accents on the body, leather seats with a 20th Anniversary logo and special chrome shadow wheels and brake calipers painted black and gold. That's certainly not a lot but should be enough to make the special edition Clubsport R8 a collectible. For those wishing to add one to their collection, the cost is $65,990 AU. We're sure we speak for most inhabitants of the island continent when we say here's to twenty more.

[Source: HSV]

Gallery: HSV Clubsport R8 20th Anniversary Edition

Continue reading Sydney 2007: HSV turns 20, celebrates with anniversary-edition Clubsport R8

 

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Nissan goes viral for GT-R with The Black Mask Project

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True viral marketing just happens on its own and takes off from there, but big companies, automakers in particular, will pay agencies millions of dollars for an ad campaign that looks and feels viral, however is anything but. Take Nissan's new "viral" campaign for the GT-R that's scheduled to be unveiled soon at the 2007 Tokyo Motor Show. The campaign, called The Black Mask Project, is an obvious riff on the black covering that has masked the GT-R's nose in so many spy shots as of late. Of course, there's a website that is equal parts over-produced and confusing. It basically hosts video snippets of "masked" GT-Rs being hauled down busy streets behind large trucks and accompanied by an army of Black Mask agents on foot wearing dark suits and, well, black masks.

Here's an idea that would save Nissan untold millions in marketing money and produce the same effect. Go to GoDaddy.com and buy the domain name "nissangtrvideos.com" (it's available, we checked), then pay a 17-year-old kid who has never heard the term "flash animation" about $500 (or a Playstation 3) to design a website that displays YouTube videos of the Nissan GT-R driving around the Nurburgring with that silly mask on. Seriously, it's traffic gold. Trust us.

One last thing, Nissan. If you think it's necessary to include a disclaimer that says "BLACK-MASK has no relationship whatsoever with terrorism, violence, unlawful activities or religious affiliations," then perhaps you should rethink your viral strategy.

Thanks to all who sent tips.

[Source: black-mask.org]

 

[via] Autoblog

Autoline on Autoblog with John McElroy

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John McElroy is host of the TV program "Autoline Detroit". Every week he'll bring his unique insights as an auto industry insider to Autoblog readers.

WHY CAFE WON'T WORK
By John McElroy

I have to weigh in on all of this debate about raising fuel economy standards. That's because there is a very important fact that's been completely overlooked by both sides in this debate.

The anti-industry crowd accuses the automakers of dragging their feet and deliberately ignoring simple, low-cost technology that could dramatically improve fuel economy. The automakers plead that there is no such quick fix and that they cannot possibly achieve the targets in the time frame they're being given.

But what both sides are ignoring is the fact that the new Corporate Average Fuel Economy laws are not going to reduce oil consumption or CO2 emissions at all. Not by one drop of oil, nor by one gram of CO2.

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Autoblog Podcast #79

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We lead off Autoblog Podcast #79 with the most important news of the week. Seriously, this rocked the car world. Vin Diesel and Paul Walker are returning to the Fast and Furious franchise for F+F IV. w00t! Moving on to more important news (like anything at all), we touch on the then impending and since finished Chrysler strike. See who was right, since the 'cast was recorded Tuesday, and the strike didn't launch until Wednesday. There's been lots of auto show action, and Tokyo caught our attention this week. The Impreza STi debuted, along with a bunch of other weird concepts from Subaru, Toyota, and Honda. One that caught our eye was the Honda CR-Z. Is it an Insight replacement, a new CRX, or both? Sydney's also having an auto show, and the VW Touareg R50 showed up there, packing a house-pulling 600+ foot pounds of torque. There was also a bunch of Ford wares in Sydney, but no Falcon Orion, apparently. Dang. Wrapping up, we touch on On Star's new service for perp-operated cars, which leaves John unsettled (something to hide?). Speaking of unsettled, our final item is the official pic of the 2009 Pontiac Vibe GT. We like it, but we're sure that it will stir debate, and it doesn't get an alphanumeric designator like G3 5/8. Weird. It's a value packed 53 minutes. See you next week!

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Fernando Alonso returning to Renault in 2008

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It's widely being reported now that ace F1 driver Fernando Alonso has signed a letter of intent to rejoin Renault, his former team that he left this year to drive for McLaren-Mercedes. That, as we all know, hasn't turned out so well, with Alonso and his fellow teammate Lewis Hamilton constantly talking smack about each other or not talking to each other at all.

The signed letter of intent is reportedly a preamble for a three-year contract lasting from the 2008 season through 2010 and worth over $100 million. The deal hinges, however, on whether or not Alonso can get out of his current contract with McLaren that extends through the 2008 season with an option for 2009. If Alonso and Lewis keep acting like squabbling siblings, then McLaren may be more than happy to unload the champion to restore peace and order.

[Source: F1-Live.com, photo by Clive Mason/Getty]

 

[via] Autoblog

Sydney 2007: Volkswagen Touareg R50 in the flesh

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click above image to view exclusive high-res live shots of the VW R50

On sale this November, the Volkswagen R50 is the German automaker's first attempt at a performance oriented SUV. After seeing the R50 live in person at the 2007 Australian International Motor Show in Sydney, our man on the floor reports back that Wolfsburg has a winner here. The R50 is based on the Touareg TDI with the firm's 5.0L V10 diesel engine. In R50 guise, the V10 gets an ECU tweak to pump more pressurized air from the twin turbos to produce 350 HP at 3,500 RPM and peak torque of 627 lb.-ft. at 2,000 RPM. That's good for a 0-62 MPH run of only 6.7 seconds and a top speed of 146 MPH. Plus you'll be styling and profiling on 21-inch rims framing bright blue calipers.

Check out VW's press release after the jump and view our live shots in the updated gallery below.

[Source: VW]

Gallery: VW Touareg R50


Live photos (C)2007 Siddharth Raja / Weblogs, Inc.

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Sydney 2007: FPV GT Cobra strikes!

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Click image for photo gallery

We brought you word on the new FPV Cobra last week, and today it was officially unveiled at the Sydney Motor Show. Everything we told you already still holds true, so here's a quick refresher:

  • Available in both sedan and ute bodystyles
  • 5.4L BOSS 302 V8 (302 kW/540 Nm - 404 HP/398 lb-ft)
  • 6-speed manual or ZF 6-speed automatic
  • Sedan equipped with R-Spec suspension
  • Brembo brakes standard, 6-piston front/4-piston rear upgrade available
  • 500 cars total: 400 sedans, 100 utes
  • All cars finished in white w/ blue stripes
  • Pricing: Sedan - $65,110 AUD, Ute - $61,200 AUD
Follow the jump for the official FPV press release and check out the gallery below for a full suite of live shots from the floor in Sydney, as well as all the available press photos, including a few new ones.

[Source: FPV]

Gallery: FPV GT Cobra


Live photos Copyright (C)2007 Siddarth Raja / Weblogs, Inc.

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Sydney 2007: Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution X - LIVE PICS

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click above image for plenty more live pics of the Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution X

Who loves you? Autoblog loves you. We present live shots of the new Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution X (in both red and blue, plus models!) from the floor of the 2007 Australian International Motor Show where the latest version of Mitsu's rally rocket was debuted in public for the very first time. Enjoy and check out official info on the EVO X in our original post.

[Source: Us]

Gallery: Sydney 2007: Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution X


Live photos Copyright (C)2007 Siddarth Raja / Weblogs, Inc.

 

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Sydney 2007: Aussie-only 281 HP Mazda3 MPS Extreme

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Click image for hi-res gallery

You know how the Mazdaspeed3 is a pretty spiffy package, what with its 263 horses and 280 lb-ft of torque? The Australians have a better one. I know, I know -- shocking. Mazda Australia revealed the Mazda3 MPS Extreme at the Sydney Motor Show today, and it's a pretty compelling package. PCM reprogramming results in boosted mumbers of 281 horsepower and 313 lb-ft of torque. The fun doesn't end there either, as the Extreme gets a 2-inch exhaust and a suspension tuned by Murray Coote, who does the same for Australian race and rally cars. 19" BBS wheels with red MPS center caps fill out the fender cutouts, and the car itself is finished in red paint with black stripes and a black roof. It looks mean both in pictures and on paper, and it's just for our friends Down Under.

Follow the jump for the official press release and tech specs.

[Source: Mazda]

Continue reading Sydney 2007: Aussie-only 281 HP Mazda3 MPS Extreme

 

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[via] Autoblog