Geely unveils new logo in Beijing

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New Geely logo at left, Toyota on right for comparison

You can exhale now. We know you've been holding your breath waiting for this one. Zhejiang Geely Holding Group finally showed off its new Geely logo (above left) in Beijing a couple of days ago. it chose this new logo following a nearly year-long "global design contest" that used a combination of online voting and a panel of 66 "professional adjudicators."

Hailing it as "a significant milestone for Geely's brand building, but also the maturity of China's self-owned and corporate brands," Geely spokesperson Wang Ziliang said, "China's self-owned brands have come to realize the importance behind having the right auto brand and auto culture when trying to succeed overseas." Now they just have to work on innovative product that doesn't crumple like a beer can in barrier tests. Just kidding.

The logo you see at left above was picked as the best amongst the 27,336 entries submitted. To show how seriously this was taken by the rest of the world, a record was set when more than 100 countries participated, making it the most widely entered corporate logo design contest ever. At least that's what the release says. The winning logo was designed by Yue Xiande from Anhui province, and is clearly not a Toyota ripoff. "The Toyota logo has a whole 'nother ring in it," Geely spokespeople did not say. "While the Toyota is a soulless tin can, Geely has the top popped already, indicating it is much more fun," they did not add.

[Source: Geely]

 

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[via] Autoblog

Hornish officially dropping IRL for NASCAR in 2008

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When not watching racing buddy Helio Castroneves waltzing for his life on ABC's hit show Dancing with the Stars, Sam Hornish Jr. can be found in all manner of racing cars. Considered one of the Indy Racing League's star drivers, Hornish Jr. also carries around the accolade of being last year's Indianapolis 500. After eight seasons of racing IndyCar, however, Hornish Jr. will be be jumping ship and joining fellow Indy-defects and former Indy 500 winners Dario Franchitti, Juan Pablo Montoya and Jacques Villeneuve in the 2008 season of the NASCAR Nextel Cup Series. He'll be driving the No. 77 Mobil 1 Dodge for Penske Racing with Kurt Busch and Ryan Newman as teammates.

Hornish Jr. has actually already made his NASCAR debut. Last year he began racing in the NASCAR Busch Series, competing in nine races and finishing as high as 15th. He's attempted to qualify for a Nextel Cup race six times in the past, but hasn't been fast enough. Hornish Jr. will make one last attempt to qualify for a Nextel Cup race this weekend at Phoenix before officially being announced as Penske's third driver.

[Source: Autosport.com, Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty]

 

[via] Autoblog

Ford offering Mercury Mariner Hybrid with livery package

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Over the past two years, the Ford Escape Hybrid has demonstrated its robustness as a taxi in New York City and other major metropolitan areas. Meanwhile, hybrids like the Toyota Prius have become increasingly popular among limousine services catering to companies that want to demonstrate their green credentials. Now Ford wants a piece of that action too, and it's using the Escape Hybrid's stablemate, the Mercury Mariner Hybrid, to get it. Ford is now offering a hybrid livery package on the Mariner Hybrid that it hopes will make the green conscious CUV more appealing to care-for-hire services. Curiously, however, the press release after the jump makes no mention of what differentiates a Mariner Hybrid with the hybrid livery package from the standard vehicle. The only difference between the two appears to be the buyer.

It definitely seems like Ford is trying to get taxi services to replace their Crown Vics with the Escape Hybrid and limo/car-for-hire services to replace their Lincoln Town Cars with the slightly more luxurious Mercury Mariner Hybrid. More power to 'em we suppose, but in both cases the person being chauffeured is giving up a lot of legroom. Nevertheless, the Mariner should be a popular choice in the car-for-hire business thanks to its larger passenger and cargo volume compared to the Toyota Prius.

[Source: Ford]

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Kia Kee Concept crashes on its way to LA

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Remember the Kia Kee Concept that made its world debut at the Frankfurt Motor Show in September? While on its way to California to make its North American debut at the LA Auto Show next week, the car dubbed the "new face of Kia" wriggled out of its cargo restraints and slammed nose first into the front wall of its transporter. Kia spokesman Alex Fedorak said the car has already been sent back to Italy, properly secured this time, and will not make it back for the LA Auto Show. The impromptu bit of rhinoplasty may have improved the Kee Concept's face, which you might recall we weren't particularly impressed with. It does, however, recall the visage of a Cylon Raider from the Battlestar Galactica series. That makes two BS references for us today, and we promise it'll be our last.

[Source: Inside Line]

 

[via] Autoblog

Spy Shots: Lotus "Eagle"

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Yes, we know it looks like the Esprit. Please don't bombard us with comments about how it looks like the old Esprit. It really is the new GT from Lotus, known for now as the Eagle. It's wearing Esprit body panels, so yes, we know it looks like the old Esprit. Based on a heavily revised Elise structure and powered by a Toyota V6 plunked down in the middle of the chassis and kicking out 300 hp, the coupe will cost about $100,000 (£48,000). Even though Lotus isn't fond of them, the transmission will be a paddle-shift automated manual. Lotus cites market desires for the about-face on the transmission. The Eagle will spawn several different models, including a convertible and a replacement for the reviled Europa. When they're done, the Eagle won't look like the Esprit. Instead, the bodywork will more closely follow the M250. Cramming four seats into a mid-engined chassis takes some cleverness, and who's more clever than Lotus?

[Source: Autocar]

 

[via] Autoblog

Chrysler offering new rebates; four defunct models priced to go

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It looks like Chrysler is going to give car shoppers a holiday gift as incentive to signing on the dotted line. After a rough year that saw the automaker break away from its Daimler overlords, Chrysler wants to end 2007 on a high note. To that end it will be offering rebates on virtually every vehicle in the lineup during December. Though there's no word on specific amounts, according to The Wall Street Journal the campaign will begin with a series of ads on Nov. 20 and cover Jeep, Dodge and Chrysler vehicles. The biggest discounts will likely be offered on the four models about to be discontinued: the Chrysler Pacifica, PT Cruiser convertible, Crossfire, and the Dodge Magnum. If any of those has been on your short list, it looks like a great time to get one.

[Source: Automotive News, sub. req.]

 

[via] Autoblog

Will the real Tahoe/Yukon Hybrid MSRP please stand up?

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Hybrid vehicles still don't make much sense for automakers. The cost of the technology is more than what consumers are willing to pay and in many cases the fuel-saving benefits can be achieved with a simple diesel motor (at least in Europe). Because of this, coming up with the right sticker price can be a major stumbling block. Price it too high and no one will want to buy your hybrid, but discount it too much and money will be lost on every model sold.

GM got into a spot of bother recently when alleged prices for its new full-size hybrids SUVs were released on its website last month. The problem was that the listed prices "were too low" according to GM spokesman Terry Rhadigan. The Chevy Tahoe 4-Door two-wheel drive hybrid was listed at $47,915 and the four-wheel drive was listed at $50,720. The GMC Yukon two-wheel drive hybrid came in at $48,370.

The 'correct' prices are scheduled to be announced next week, though Popular Mechanics already have the two listed as $49,270 for the Yukon Hybrid 2WD and $48,815 for the Tahoe Hybrid 2WD. If that's the case, then the prices accidentally released last month weren't off by all that much.

$49,270 and $48,815, respectively

[Source: The Detroit News]

 

[via] Autoblog

Aston Martin V8 Vantage N400 Roadster arrives

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click above image for more high-res pics of the Aston Martin N400 cars

The Aston Martin V8 Vantage N400 unveiled last September at the Frankfurt Motor Show will be joined by this roadster. The N400 Roadster was actually announced at the same time as the Coupe, but apparently Aston Martin's creative dept. hadn't gotten around to lopping off the Coupe's roof in Photoshop yet (compare these two pics and you'll see what we mean). The pair are being built to commemorate Aston Martin's participation in the 24 Hours of Nürburgring, and if you look closely you'll see a map of the track next to the 'Vantage' badge.

Like its closed coupe brother, the N400 Roadster features an upgraded version of the Vantage V8's 4.3L engine producing 400 HP and 309 lb-ft of torque. That's a full 20 horsepower more than what's included in a standard Vantage V8 thanks to a thorough overhaul of the engine's internal components and the addition of a freer flowing exhaust and air intake. Other N400 enhancements include a Sport Pack that dials down the suspension for sharper handling, as well as new side sills, trunk lid, clear rear lamp lenses, mesh for the side strakes and a "bright finish grille".

It's being reported that Aston Martin will only build 240 actual examples of the car, so get in line early.
[Source: Aston Martin, Motor Authority]

Gallery: Aston Martin N400 V8 Vantage

 

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The real scoop on the MINI JCW Stage II Cooper S

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We've covered the JCW kits for the new R56 MINI already, but it seems we may have gotten some of the details wrong. According to our pal Gabe over at MotoringFile who knows what he's talking about concerning all things MINI, the tiniest division of BMW has two different JCW kits in mind for the R56. We already discussed how the US version of the Stage I kit (shown above) is slightly different than the Euro kit because of the already-upgraded exhaust manifold we get in the States, but we've also learned that the Stage I that went on sale last month produces 192 HP and a hefty 199 lb-ft of torque. That makes the Stage I about equal to the previous-gen JCW GP edition because of its increased torque. But some people want to see a higher horsepower number as well, and that's where the Stage II kit comes in.

The Stage II should be able to match the 218 bhp of the JCW GP, as well as adding even more torque to the mix. The Stage II kit includes a larger turbocharger, a new intake and a reprogrammed ECU. MF is also reporting that for the first time ever the new MINI will be wearing multi-piston brake calipers. The Stage II will be sporting 4-piston pots in place of the customary single piston numbers on all other MINIs. While pricing hasn't been set, MF says the decision has been made to NOT include the JCW Sport Suspension, perhaps because of cost. Unique JCW wheels will also be available for ordering separately when the Stage II kit arrives in the second half of 2008.

[Source: MotoringFile]

 

[via] Autoblog

F1 espionage, Act II: Renault accused of spying on McLaren

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Formula One teams have long tried to glean insight into what their competition is doing, but this year's spying scandals have exploded into all-out espionage. After the whole Stepneygate/Ferrari vs. McLaren thing, we thought that was the last we'd hear of spying until at least next year. But now we have some new accusations of espionage to consider. And in an odd twist of fate, the alleged culprit in the first spying scandal is claimed to be the victim in this most recent one.

According to the AP, the FIA has asked Renault to appear before the World Motor Sport Council on Dec. 6 to face accusations that it had "unauthorized possession of documents and confidential information" of McLaren's (!) cars between September 2006 and October 2007. As tired as we are of this whole spying thing, the result could be that next season is contested with McLaren and Renault unable to earn points. The FIA is still waiting to look at the 2008 McLaren car to see if it can spot any evidence that the team may have learned something useful from the Ferrari technical data it allegedly stole. We don't want to jump to conclusions, but if McLaren and Renault are both found guilty of spying, it could mean Ferrari has a lot less competition next year. We'll keep you posted.

Thanks for the tip, Devin!

[Source: AP via ESPN, photo by Clive Mason/Getty]

 

[via] Autoblog

Inside Line claims no V8 for Hyundai Coupe

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click above image for more pics of Hyundai's RWD coupe

Now that the final design for Hyundai's upcoming rear-wheel-drive coupe has been revealed, speculation has turned to what will be powering it. The photos of the undisguised car were reportedly taken during a marketing presentation at which those in attendance were told the only two available engines would be a 2.0L turbo with 215 HP and 217 ft-lbs of torque or a 3.8L V6 with 300 HP and 280 ft-lbs. While a 300-horsepower V6 is nothing to sneeze at, Hyundai hoons are still hoping the automaker makes a V8 available, as well. The only one Hyundai has to offer is the 4.6L V8 that's destined to power the Genesis sedan. Inside Line, however, cites Korean news reports as making explicitly clear that the 4.6L V8 is only for the Genesis sedan and will not be shared with the coupe. So it appears that those in search of a RWD V8 alternative to the Mustang in this price range will not have an option to consider at Hyundai dealerships.

[Source: Inside Line]

 

[via] Autoblog

UK speeders may face significantly steeper penalty

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Sucks to be you if you're a UK driver with a heavier than average right... wait, left foot. A proposal's on the table to significantly increase the penalty for speeding in Great Britain, including a larger fine and twice as many points added to your license. Under the new penalty structure, drivers going 45 mph or more in a 30 mph zone, 57 mph or over in a 40 mph zone or 94 mph and over in a 70 mph zone will be slapped with a £100 fine ($209.10 USD) and six-points on their license. That's up from the £60 fine ($125.50 USD) and three-point penalty given for current violations. Also under consideration is a new classification for minor traffic infringements that would carry a smaller £40 fine and two-point penalty. Any way you look at it, breaking the speed limit on British roadways is set to become an increasingly bad idea.

[Souce: 4Car]

 

[via] Autoblog

Recycling Land Rovers for profit and country

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The old saying 'one man's junk is another man's treasure' couldn't be more true in the case of UK entrepreneur Peter Hobson and his vast collection of scrapped Land Rovers. Hobson runs a factory refurbishing old parts pulled from wrecked Land Rover SUVs and reselling them as spares.

"I've got the largest Land Rover parts store outside Land Rover," 60-year-old Hobson reveals about his store of spares, amassed over the last two decades. Some of the parts, like whole engines, cost upwards of £7,000 ($14,600) and then there are the complete cars. In all, Hobson estimates the value of his collection to be close to £25m ($50m).

So sought after is his services that he's even been hired by military groups around the world for the supply of armored vehicles. "I supply many armies around the world," Hobson boasts, with armies from Turkey, Jordan, Australia and a string of Middle-Eastern nations all listed as clients. Of course, Hobson's main client is the UK Ministry of Defence. It is a British company after all.

[Source: BBC]

 

[via] Autoblog

Brembo buys up Hayes Lemmerz's North American brake facilities

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Consolidation of aftermarket brake manufacturers seems to be all the rage recently, with Centric consuming both PowerSlot and Stoptech, and now, Brembo has bought out all of Hayes Lemmerz's North American brake-components division. The Italian parts manufacturer dolled out a cool $58 million for both the Homer, Michigan and Apodaca, Mexico facilities, and in the process acquired the company's 250 employees. We're hoping that the deal bodes well for those of us looking to upgrade our current stoppers with beefy, red Brembo calipers.

The full press release is posted after the jump.

Continue reading Brembo buys up Hayes Lemmerz's North American brake facilities

 

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Britney Spears goes car shopping, comes home with 604 horses

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The salesman who sold Lindsay Lohan her Mercedes-Benz SL65 AMG must have been present when Britney Spears recently rolled into the dealership. According to celebrity site TMZ.com, Britney Spears just picked up a shiny new white SL65. That means once again a young accident prone distracted driver gets a twin-turbo monster (hooray!) with which to aim at unsuspecting bystanders. Wherever will she fit the baby seats? Surely an SL350 would have suited Ms. Spears for her frequent Starbucks runs, but why should anyone think with reason? Now we'll just wait for it to show up on eBay after getting repaired from impacting a stationary object (or human being). You never know, someone might be able to get a sweet deal on this car second-hand. Just watch out for the Frappuccio stains.

[Source: TMZ.com]

 

[via] Autoblog

Enter the Rumormill: Porsche Cayman Club Sport spied?

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The introduction of the Porsche Cayman S was met with equal parts reverence and revilement, with many criticizing Porsche's midship masterpiece as being underpowered despite a chassis that was begging for more oomph. While tuners have been swapping larger engines from the top-of-the-line 911 into the Cayman, its doubtful that Porsche's pencil pushers would risk cannibalizing sales of its 40-year old flagship. However, the idea of making an RS-version of the Cayman may be on the horizon, as this newest spy shot reveals.

The next generation Cayman - likely to be unveiled in Geneva - will feature a few minor changes keeping with Porsche's long-held tradition of slowly evolving the breed. But a lightweight, track-friendly edition might also be available in the near future. The shot above shows a new Cayman (note the drawn down headlamps) undergoing testing, with a roll cage mounted aft of the two front seats. Could it be a Club Sport version? Hopefully we'll find out in a few months.

[Source: autoblog.it]

 

[via] Autoblog

RENNtech goes karting, apes SLR

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click above image for more pics of the RENNtech/Aixro XR50 racing kart

RENNtech is the tuner you turn to when modifying a Mercedes-Benz. We didn't know it's also the tuner to visit when you want a racing kart that will scare the bejeezus out of its competition. This little guy is reportedly called the RENNtech/Aixro XR50 and features a 50-hp rotary engine onboard to power its featherweight frame. The cherry on top, however, are the body mods inspired by this kart's much bigger brother, the Mercedes-Benz SLR 722. It's got the nose, fender grating and side exhausts that add up to a convincing interpretation of the SLR in miniature form.

[Source: Motorpasion via Carscoop]

 

[via] Autoblog

Essen Motor Show preview: AC Schnitzer BMW E92 M3

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The Essen Motor Show in Germany has become one of the major outlets for Europe's aftermarket tuners to show their wares to a dedicated fan base. Among the many models set to make their modified debut in the land of schnitzel and spatzel is the AC Schnitzer BMW E92 M3.

Details are scarce on what's been done to the suspension and under the hood, but if the exterior enhancements are any indication, we'd expect the folks at AC to bring their trademark blend of functionality and style into a comprehensive whole. Carbon fiber adorns the front splitter and side skirts, and we'd suspect that a C.F. rear diffuser is mounted out back - all of which ties in nicely to the exposed weave on the roof. The larger rolling stock (20s?) is typical Schnitzer style and the lowered ride height is likely a coilover system derived from their standard E92 setup.

As soon as AC Schnitzer releases its official details, we'll have more.

[Source: Motor Authority]

 

[via] Autoblog

Details on Lamborghini's lightweight Murcielago SV

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Photo for illustration purposes only

Autocar is reporting that Lamborghini is preparing a lightweight, more powerful RWD SV model for 2009 that will end the Murcielago's production with a bang (or crazy amounts of burning rubber and engine revving, whichever you prefer). As with the Gallardo Superleggera, weight savings will be a key, and anywhere from 100 to 130 kg could be dropped from the LP640. The removal of the front differential and driveshaft will save 40 kg alone. Other weight savings will come from the use of carbon fiber and magnesium components, lightweight wheels, and the removal of the sound system, although it can be added back in at the request of the customer (who needs a stereo when you have Lamborghini's V12 behind you?). The final version of this 6.5-liter motor could have as much as 680 horsepower and 516 lb-ft torque that will be mated to Lambo's E-Gear transmission. Take that, Ferrari!

[Source: Autocar]

 

[via] Autoblog

Amidst the loss trimming, Ford revises Volvo's strategy

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Ford only lost hundreds of millions during the third quarter of 2007, versus the 5-something billion they torched through for the same period in 2006. Sales and revenue are up, and while we can't see it yet, there might be a light at the end of the tunnel. Of course, it could be attached to a train, but let's focus on the positive. Ford's been eyeing the sell off of some of their PAG holdings as a way to stem their ongoing losses, and it's been speculated that Volvo could be on the chopping block. For now, though, the brand appears to be something that Ford wants to hang on to. Along with the third-quarter finances, Ford announced a new stragegy is in the works for Volvo. Mulally has pledged to improve Volvos' stature as a premium product, as well as improving their cost structure (a corporate way to say make more money on the cars by driving down costs).

Volvo's platforms and technology are spread pretty liberally throughout the rest of Ford. The Taurus/Sable rides on a version of Volvo's P2 platform, and the Mazda 3, Euro Focus (yes, we know, "send it over here Ford, I'll buy one" - whatevs, you know you won't), and C30/S40/V50 are all on the EUCD platform which also underpins the S80 and the new XC70/V70 wagons in modified form. It would be hard for Ford to just cut the brand loose tomorrow, though reading between the lines makes it seem like they're positioning the Swedish automaker for future sale. The new plan includes improving the image of Volvo to a more premium status, distancing Ford from Volvo's operations, and fast-tracking product development. Making the division nearly an independent entity will increase its attractiveness when suitors come knocking, but it looks like Ford's biding its time for now, doing prep work to ensure a fat sale price when the eventuality occurs.

[Source: LLN]

 

[via] Autoblog

2008 BMW 1-Series are special, receive engraved start-stop buttons

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Europeans have been privy to luxury small cars for decades, but since gasoline has always been much cheaper here in the States, we've been stuck with mostly unathletic luxury barges. Three dollar per gallon gasoline is changing that paradigm quickly, and smaller high-end vehicles are finally hitting our shores. Perhaps the most highly anticipated one is the BMW 1-Series, with its well-known brand pedigree and the same engines found in the 3-Series.

BMW is pulling out all the stops to ensure that the 1-Series coupe and cabriolet are successful in the US, and the marketing push reaches all the way to the stop-start button. To commemorate the beginning of the 1-Series, BMW is engraving each and every stop-start button with "Year One of the 1". The phrase pretty much says it all, and enthusiasts waiting in line for the spry little Bimmer are probably already committed to buying the smallest RWD vehicle in America with or without the special message. We're looking forward to taking a 135i out on public roads, and we'll let you know if we actually notice the forgetful little phrase embedded into the overplayed stop-start button.

[Source: CarScoop]

 

[via] Autoblog

Geely unveils new logo in Beijing

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New Geely logo at left, Toyota on right for comparison

You can exhale now. We know you've been holding your breath waiting for this one. Zhejiang Geely Holding Group finally showed off its new Geely logo (above left) in Beijing a couple of days ago. it chose this new logo following a nearly year-long "global design contest" that used a combination of online voting and a panel of 66 "professional adjudicators."

Hailing it as "a significant milestone for Geely's brand building, but also the maturity of China's self-owned and corporate brands," Geely spokesperson Wang Ziliang said, "China's self-owned brands have come to realize the importance behind having the right auto brand and auto culture when trying to succeed overseas." Now they just have to work on innovative product that doesn't crumple like a beer can in barrier tests. Just kidding.

The logo you see at left above was picked as the best amongst the 27,336 entries submitted. To show how seriously this was taken by the rest of the world, a record was set when more than 100 countries participated, making it the most widely entered corporate logo design contest ever. At least that's what the release says. The winning logo was designed by Yue Xiande from Anhui province, and is clearly not a Toyota ripoff. "The Toyota logo has a whole 'nother ring in it," Geely spokespeople did not say. "While the Toyota is a soulless tin can, Geely has the top popped already, indicating it is much more fun," they did not add.

[Source: Geely]

 

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Hornish officially dropping IRL for NASCAR in 2008

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When not watching racing buddy Helio Castroneves waltzing for his life on ABC's hit show Dancing with the Stars, Sam Hornish Jr. can be found in all manner of racing cars. Considered one of the Indy Racing League's star drivers, Hornish Jr. also carries around the accolade of being last year's Indianapolis 500. After eight seasons of racing IndyCar, however, Hornish Jr. will be be jumping ship and joining fellow Indy-defects and former Indy 500 winners Dario Franchitti, Juan Pablo Montoya and Jacques Villeneuve in the 2008 season of the NASCAR Nextel Cup Series. He'll be driving the No. 77 Mobil 1 Dodge for Penske Racing with Kurt Busch and Ryan Newman as teammates.

Hornish Jr. has actually already made his NASCAR debut. Last year he began racing in the NASCAR Busch Series, competing in nine races and finishing as high as 15th. He's attempted to qualify for a Nextel Cup race six times in the past, but hasn't been fast enough. Hornish Jr. will make one last attempt to qualify for a Nextel Cup race this weekend at Phoenix before officially being announced as Penske's third driver.

[Source: Autosport.com, Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty]

 

[via] Autoblog

Kia Kee Concept crashes on its way to LA

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Remember the Kia Kee Concept that made its world debut at the Frankfurt Motor Show in September? While on its way to California to make its North American debut at the LA Auto Show next week, the car dubbed the "new face of Kia" wriggled out of its cargo restraints and slammed nose first into the front wall of its transporter. Kia spokesman Alex Fedorak said the car has already been sent back to Italy, properly secured this time, and will not make it back for the LA Auto Show. The impromptu bit of rhinoplasty may have improved the Kee Concept's face, which you might recall we weren't particularly impressed with. It does, however, recall the visage of a Cylon Raider from the Battlestar Galactica series. That makes two BS references for us today, and we promise it'll be our last.

[Source: Inside Line]

 

[via] Autoblog

Spy Shots: Lotus "Eagle"

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Yes, we know it looks like the Esprit. Please don't bombard us with comments about how it looks like the old Esprit. It really is the new GT from Lotus, known for now as the Eagle. It's wearing Esprit body panels, so yes, we know it looks like the old Esprit. Based on a heavily revised Elise structure and powered by a Toyota V6 plunked down in the middle of the chassis and kicking out 300 hp, the coupe will cost about $100,000 (£48,000). Even though Lotus isn't fond of them, the transmission will be a paddle-shift automated manual. Lotus cites market desires for the about-face on the transmission. The Eagle will spawn several different models, including a convertible and a replacement for the reviled Europa. When they're done, the Eagle won't look like the Esprit. Instead, the bodywork will more closely follow the M250. Cramming four seats into a mid-engined chassis takes some cleverness, and who's more clever than Lotus?

[Source: Autocar]

 

[via] Autoblog

Chrysler offering new rebates; four defunct models priced to go

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It looks like Chrysler is going to give car shoppers a holiday gift as incentive to signing on the dotted line. After a rough year that saw the automaker break away from its Daimler overlords, Chrysler wants to end 2007 on a high note. To that end it will be offering rebates on virtually every vehicle in the lineup during December. Though there's no word on specific amounts, according to The Wall Street Journal the campaign will begin with a series of ads on Nov. 20 and cover Jeep, Dodge and Chrysler vehicles. The biggest discounts will likely be offered on the four models about to be discontinued: the Chrysler Pacifica, PT Cruiser convertible, Crossfire, and the Dodge Magnum. If any of those has been on your short list, it looks like a great time to get one.

[Source: Automotive News, sub. req.]

 

[via] Autoblog

Will the real Tahoe/Yukon Hybrid MSRP please stand up?

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Hybrid vehicles still don't make much sense for automakers. The cost of the technology is more than what consumers are willing to pay and in many cases the fuel-saving benefits can be achieved with a simple diesel motor (at least in Europe). Because of this, coming up with the right sticker price can be a major stumbling block. Price it too high and no one will want to buy your hybrid, but discount it too much and money will be lost on every model sold.

GM got into a spot of bother recently when alleged prices for its new full-size hybrids SUVs were released on its website last month. The problem was that the listed prices "were too low" according to GM spokesman Terry Rhadigan. The Chevy Tahoe 4-Door two-wheel drive hybrid was listed at $47,915 and the four-wheel drive was listed at $50,720. The GMC Yukon two-wheel drive hybrid came in at $48,370.

The 'correct' prices are scheduled to be announced next week, though Popular Mechanics already have the two listed as $49,270 for the Yukon Hybrid 2WD and $48,815 for the Tahoe Hybrid 2WD. If that's the case, then the prices accidentally released last month weren't off by all that much.

$49,270 and $48,815, respectively

[Source: The Detroit News]

 

[via] Autoblog

Aston Martin V8 Vantage N400 Roadster arrives

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click above image for more high-res pics of the Aston Martin N400 cars

The Aston Martin V8 Vantage N400 unveiled last September at the Frankfurt Motor Show will be joined by this roadster. The N400 Roadster was actually announced at the same time as the Coupe, but apparently Aston Martin's creative dept. hadn't gotten around to lopping off the Coupe's roof in Photoshop yet (compare these two pics and you'll see what we mean). The pair are being built to commemorate Aston Martin's participation in the 24 Hours of Nürburgring, and if you look closely you'll see a map of the track next to the 'Vantage' badge.

Like its closed coupe brother, the N400 Roadster features an upgraded version of the Vantage V8's 4.3L engine producing 400 HP and 309 lb-ft of torque. That's a full 20 horsepower more than what's included in a standard Vantage V8 thanks to a thorough overhaul of the engine's internal components and the addition of a freer flowing exhaust and air intake. Other N400 enhancements include a Sport Pack that dials down the suspension for sharper handling, as well as new side sills, trunk lid, clear rear lamp lenses, mesh for the side strakes and a "bright finish grille".

It's being reported that Aston Martin will only build 240 actual examples of the car, so get in line early.
[Source: Aston Martin, Motor Authority]

Gallery: Aston Martin N400 V8 Vantage

 

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[via] Autoblog

The real scoop on the MINI JCW Stage II Cooper S

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We've covered the JCW kits for the new R56 MINI already, but it seems we may have gotten some of the details wrong. According to our pal Gabe over at MotoringFile who knows what he's talking about concerning all things MINI, the tiniest division of BMW has two different JCW kits in mind for the R56. We already discussed how the US version of the Stage I kit (shown above) is slightly different than the Euro kit because of the already-upgraded exhaust manifold we get in the States, but we've also learned that the Stage I that went on sale last month produces 192 HP and a hefty 199 lb-ft of torque. That makes the Stage I about equal to the previous-gen JCW GP edition because of its increased torque. But some people want to see a higher horsepower number as well, and that's where the Stage II kit comes in.

The Stage II should be able to match the 218 bhp of the JCW GP, as well as adding even more torque to the mix. The Stage II kit includes a larger turbocharger, a new intake and a reprogrammed ECU. MF is also reporting that for the first time ever the new MINI will be wearing multi-piston brake calipers. The Stage II will be sporting 4-piston pots in place of the customary single piston numbers on all other MINIs. While pricing hasn't been set, MF says the decision has been made to NOT include the JCW Sport Suspension, perhaps because of cost. Unique JCW wheels will also be available for ordering separately when the Stage II kit arrives in the second half of 2008.

[Source: MotoringFile]

 

[via] Autoblog

F1 espionage, Act II: Renault accused of spying on McLaren

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Formula One teams have long tried to glean insight into what their competition is doing, but this year's spying scandals have exploded into all-out espionage. After the whole Stepneygate/Ferrari vs. McLaren thing, we thought that was the last we'd hear of spying until at least next year. But now we have some new accusations of espionage to consider. And in an odd twist of fate, the alleged culprit in the first spying scandal is claimed to be the victim in this most recent one.

According to the AP, the FIA has asked Renault to appear before the World Motor Sport Council on Dec. 6 to face accusations that it had "unauthorized possession of documents and confidential information" of McLaren's (!) cars between September 2006 and October 2007. As tired as we are of this whole spying thing, the result could be that next season is contested with McLaren and Renault unable to earn points. The FIA is still waiting to look at the 2008 McLaren car to see if it can spot any evidence that the team may have learned something useful from the Ferrari technical data it allegedly stole. We don't want to jump to conclusions, but if McLaren and Renault are both found guilty of spying, it could mean Ferrari has a lot less competition next year. We'll keep you posted.

Thanks for the tip, Devin!

[Source: AP via ESPN, photo by Clive Mason/Getty]

 

[via] Autoblog