FIA rejects McLaren appeal, confirms Raikkonen's title

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Kimi Raikkonen and the boys at Ferrari can breathe a sigh of relief, as their championship has been formally confirmed by the FIA. The title was appealed by the incredibly sore losers at McLaren, who insisted that because of a temperature irregularity in the fuel in BMW's and Williams' cars at the season closer in Brazil, those four cars should have been disqualified, thereby catapulting McLaren's Lewis Hamilton to the championship. (Yeah, they were serious.)

Hamilton, it should be noted, stated that he didn't want to win the championship that way. And nobody else wanted him too, either. Even F1 supremo Bernie Ecclestone threatened to quit the sport if the FIA took the title away from Raikkonen and awarded it to Hamilton over the technicality.

The ruling was issued by a specially-convened panel of the FIA's International Court of Appeal, presided over by a Czech motorsport judge and three others from the United States, Greece and Portugal. The court, which heard testimonies from BMW, Williams and McLaren, convened in London instead of the FIA's headquarters in Paris due to traffic issues in the French capital.

Our take: Rules are rules, but if the FIA had stripped Raikkonen of his title, it would have been bad for him, bad for Hamilton, bad for F1 and bad for motorsports. We'll be waiting for Ron Dennis to find a way to blame us for this, too.

Full statement from the FIA after the jump.

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[via] Autoblog

GM recalling 90,000 vehicles for various issues

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GM is recalling 90,000 vehicles to fix issues such as safety foam, timing chains, and engine components. The models included are the 2007 Chevrolet Equinox and Pontiac Torrent, 2001 Chevy Silverado and GMC Sierra with the 8.1-liter engine, and the 2.2-liter Saturn L-Series line.

In Equinox and Torrent vehicles that weren't equipped with roof air bags or sunroofs, GM will be installing more foam around the windshields to protect against head injuries in an accident. Saturns will get a new timing chain, which could separate during driving if not replaced. Silverados and Sierras will receive new crankshaft position sensors.

The repairs will be free to vehicle owners, of course, and GM has not heard of any accidents or injuries due to any of the recalled items. The recall begins next month, but in the mean time, go here to look for your vehicle in the NHTSA database.

[Source: Morning Call]

 

[via] Autoblog

HKS Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution VIII CT230R wins Super Lap Battle, breaks record

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Like Germany and the Nurburgring, the United States is quickly seeing Buttonwillow Raceway's clock-wise configuration #13 become the circuit of choice for lap time bragging rights. While Buttonwillow does not have luxurious surrounding establishments or exceptional facilities, it does provide a variety of corners, is close to a major city (Los Angeles) and open year-round. Recently, media outlets Super Street and Eurotuner hosted their annual Super Lap Battle Finals (previously referred to as Time Attack). This event has helped to establish Buttonwillow track records as coveted titles. The winner of the event, fresh off a boat from Japan, was HKS's Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution VIII dubbed the CT230R and driven by Nobuteru Taniguchi to a time of 1:43.523. The carbon beast not only bested the competition, but destroyed the event record of 1:48.906 held by Tarzan Yamada driving Sun Auto's Cyber Lancer Evolution and the track record of 1:48.766 held by Tyler McQuarrie driving JIC's S15 Silvia in the process. There is more on the event and the Evo after the jump.

[Source: HKS USA]

Continue reading HKS Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution VIII CT230R wins Super Lap Battle, breaks record

 

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eBay Find of the Day: VW Toaster Van

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click above image for more pics of the VW Toaster Van

You're supposed to get baked in the VW bus, not toasted, but whatever. Volkswagen originally had these promotional toasters done up for its Japanese operation. Buy a new VW or bring your VeeDub in for an inspection, get a toaster. While supplies last, of course. There were only 5,000 produced, and fans of splitties and air-cooled VWs in general are rightfully nutso for them. We're not sure if the 100-volt wiring for the Japanese consumer will be okay on the slightly higher voltage here in the US, but if you torch your house after spending at least $250 on the toaster, please don't hold us responsible. Just in time for Christmas, the ultimate culinary delight for Volkswagen fans. What better way to augment a nice Frühstück of Hazelnussomeletten than with some VW-logo toast?

[Source: eBay via GermanCarScene.com]

 

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Rendered Speculation: CTS Wagon to show at Detroit, CTS coupe to follow

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In Europe, Cadillac hasn't been moving the new CTS in the kind of numbers it wanted, and the BLS has always been somewhat of a disappointment. On account of this, Cadillac is once again being said to seriously consider broadening the CTS range to include a coupe and wagon, the better to compete with its German rivals in Europe. Word is that the CTS wagon could bow at Detroit in January, with a CTS coupe coming some time after that. While rumors of a CTS Wagon and Coupe have been around for at least a year, additional European demand for such models could sway the General into giving these cars the green light.

We can't say it strongly enough: Cadillac, do it. And in case that still wasn't enough: we double dog dare you. Cadillac wants its new CTS to swipe buyers from both BMW and Mercedes. Sure, the CTS is COTY, but -- and with all due respect to Motor Trend -- no one buys a 3-Series or C-Class because it wins COTY. The fact that Cadillac doesn't want to offend its core buyers attract new, trendy import buyers with a single four-door sedan is a challenge that we have yet to see anyone overcome. And certainly not a challenger starting from Cadillac's perceived image.

If Cadillac really wants to show the coastal metropolitan crowd that it's serious, it needs to offer more than one great choice of car. A coupe, a wagon, and throw a diesel in, as well... those are great places to start.

[Source: World Car Fans]

 

[via] Autoblog

Brabus builds its own Exelero, hits 205 mph at Nardo

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Click on the images to view in high-speed and high-resolution

Remember the Maybach Exelero? The ultra-premium marque from Merceceds-Benz built it almost two years ago as a high-speed test vehicle based on its Maybach 57 luxury sedan, but unfortunately never offered production versions to the public. To the rescue comes Brabus, those whacky German tuners who give the go-fast treatment to everything produced by the three-pointed star, from the Smart ForTwo all the way up to this 730-hp limousine.

Like the Exelero, Brabus' monster is based on the Maybach 57 and was built in order to achieve the highest speeds attainable. To get there, Brabus tuned the Maybach's twin-turbo V12 to the same standard as the CLS-based Brabus Rocket speed record car: that means boosting power from 550 hp to 730, thanks to an increase in displacement from 5.5 liters to 6.3, coupled with a new crankshaft, pistons, cylinder heads... the works. The turbos were beefed up, and along with the intercoolers, a custom exhaust was installed and the ECU was reprogrammed.

The result is a top speed of 330.2 km/h (205.2 mph in American speak) achieved at the same Nardo test track in Italy where the Exelero was put through its places. A far cry from the 218.4 mph achieved by the Exelero, but not to shabby in its own right. And here you thought the S versions of the Maybach 57 and 62 were obscene enough....

Check out the images in the gallery below, and the press release after the jump.

[Source: Brabus]

Gallery: Brabus Maybach 57 @Nardo

Continue reading Brabus builds its own Exelero, hits 205 mph at Nardo

 

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VW and Audi want Panamera technology

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As Porsche digests more of VW (preparing for the inevitable buyout), the good news for VW and Audi fans is that technology transfer will go both ways. The latter two companies want to make their vehicles more svelte, and the tech that keeps the Panamera light on its wheels could be the trick they want to use. It's been conjectured elsewhere that VW might share the Panamera's bespoke chassis for a vehicle of its own creation, but that's a bit of a stretch considering the Wolfsburg brand's more proletariat image.

As far as a technology swap in the other direction, Porsche Chief Designer Wolfgang Durheimer has said that the 911, Boxster and Cayman will also be getting the VW/Audi-sourced direct-injection engines recently placed in the Cayenne, as well as DSG transmissions.

[Source: Auto News, sub req'd]

 

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Lutz promises viable demonstration of Volt by Easter

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We can hear the hallowed halls of GM headquarters ringing with the chant, "Let Lutz be Lutz!" When Maximum Bob Lutz takes off the gloves, things get done, and the automaker's vice chairman bared his fists recently at a meeting of the Western Automotive Journalists Association in San Francisco. Lutz drew a line in the proverbial sand by promising that the feasibility of the Chevy Volt series hybrid will be proven by Easter when Chevy Malibu mules hiding the Volt's drive system and lithium-ion battery pack will be on the road. The particular aspect of the Volt that most would like to see demonstrated is its supposed ability to travel 40 miles on battery power alone, a feat that some consider optimistic given current battery technology.

Lutz specifically addressed his counterpart at Toyota, Kazuo Okamoto, who has made headlines in the past by calling out GM on its plan to produce the Volt, saying the whole effort is a marketing ruse, and according to BusinessWeek, referring to the car as "completely wacky" and "nonsense". Mr. Lutz: "Let's wait for the Easter Bunny. Somebody's going to have egg on their face. And I don't like having egg on my face."

The war of words between GM and both Toyota and Honda on the viability of the Volt has become quite the soap opera, though from the cheap seats we see GM only benefitting from the additional free press that its competitors seem happy to supply by bashing its uber-hybrid. Now all GM has to do is make it work in time for the Easter Bunny to call shotgun.

[Source: BusinessWeek]

 

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Officially Official: VW Scirocco a no-go in the U.S.

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Well, it's official, the upcoming Volkswagen Scirocco will not be making an appearance in North American showrooms. VW of America boss Stefan Jacoby told Car and Driver magazine that there's no room for the Scirocco here with the GTI and R32 already headlining the market segment for the automaker. In the same interview, Jacoby stated that what we could see is a return of the Phaeton, but this time with a diesel underhood. That'd give the primo sedan a unique selling point, to be sure, but there's still no evidence to suggest that an oil-burner will suddenly lessen buyers' reluctance to part with big ducats on a VW-branded luxury car.

[Car and Driver via German Car Blog]

 

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Amateur designer daydreams: What a 2010 Bugatti Royale could look like

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Bugatti has stated that it is not going anywhere, and that there will be another model, and that it won't be an entry-level model. (Never mind the fact that an "entry level" Bugatti could still cost $800,000.) What they haven't stated is what kind of model it will be, except to say that it will remain the best of the best.

We aren't sure who's responsible for the rendering above, but if Bugatti were to go the sedan/limo route, this is one person's idea of a new Bugatti Royale. From this angle, we are definitely in. It's a car in which we could see going very fast, very comfortably, on our way to Biarritz with three of those damsels we met at the craps table in Monaco.

From the rear, however... well, things go less... winningly. We can understand the concept of a shooting brake -- but a Bugatti Royale Wagon? Looking at that elegantly sloping expanse just makes us want to go shopping. Very quickly, still, and for very expensive stuff... but shopping nonetheless.

[Source: Autoweb.cz via Caradisiac]

 

[via] Autoblog

New 'Ring record: BMW M3 CSL laps in 7:22.8 seconds

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The era of 'Ring attacks has begun. Next atop the heap of Nord-lappers is a lightweight, supercharged BMW M3 CSL that took a full five seconds off the Pagani Zonda F's best run. The car has, of course, been modified, but the changes aren't outrageous -- you might see more extreme mods at your local M3 gathering.

The incredible thing is that the car puts out 532.7 rear-wheel horsepower and weighs 3,139 pounds with thirty liters of fuel. That means it has 70 fewer HP and weighs 400 pounds more than the Pagani Zonda F it dethroned. The car can't be faster down the straights, so this must be all in the corners. We wouldn't mind seeing videos of the two laps side-by-side to find out where the BMW leaves its Italian competition behind.

And get this: you can win this car in an auction. The Loaded.se team is putting the car up via bid2aid.com, and to win you have to place the lowest unique bid. That means that whatever you bid needs to be the only bid of that amount. Crazy concept for an auction, so good luck with your bid of $.02. Check out the video after the jump and see what you think.

Thanks for the tip, Maestro1!

[Source: Carscoop]

Continue reading New 'Ring record: BMW M3 CSL laps in 7:22.8 seconds

 

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Audi S4 to get 330-HP biturbo 3.0L TFSI V6

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Audi is returning to turbos in a big way lately. Look no further for proof than the RS6 Avant sporting a twin-turbo V10 producing 510 HP. The smaller S4 sedan, however, hasn't been force fed since the B5 version with its biturbo 250-horsepower V6. The next two generations were powered by the brand's ubiquitous 4.2L V8 in both non-direct inject and direct-injected versions. AudiWorld has revealed that the newest B8 iteration of the S4 will return the car to turbos once again when it debuts with a biturbo 3.0L TFSI direct-inject engine producing 330 horsepower. This is significant news for a couple of reasons. For one, as AudiWorld points out, the new S4 will be far more receptive to modification than the last two generations with their naturally-aspirated V8s. Presumably it will also be more frugal with fuel than the 4.2L V8-powered S4s before it while producing almost as much power. Finally, the S4's 340 horsepower will best the BMW 335i with its 3.0L twin-turbo inline-six by some 30 horsepower. It's a small victory, but we're sure Audi will take it. Along with high-po powerplant, the B8 S4 is also expected to get Audi's vectoring quattro system that can dynamically send the twist to any wheel it wants. The previous active sport differential system could only split torque between the rear wheels. AudiWorld also reports that the new S4 will go on sale in the U.S. in late 2008, the same time as the A4. This means we should expect the S4 to debut at either the Detroit Auto Show in January or the Geneva Motor Show in March.

[Source: AudiWorld]

 

[via] Autoblog

It's (apparently) official: The Ford Ranger is dead come 2009

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One little fact buried in the linked piece about Ford's $2 billion UAW savings is this: the Ranger is dead come 2009. It has been known for a while that the Twin Cities Plant in St. Paul, MN that makes the Ranger would close, and the closure date has been pushed back one year, to 2009. The Cleveland plant that casts engine blocks will also close that year. Credit goes to Automotive News for teasing out these new nuggets of info.

We wrote earlier about possible rescue scenarios for the Ranger, but it looks like the Ranger mine has been shut down and sealed off. Mulally has said that Ford will be more forthcoming about its plans at the Detroit show, so anything is still possible. However, after 26 years, it looks like the compact pickup truck thrill is gone. For you Ranger fans out there, the tune you're looking for is "Taps."

[Source: Auto News, sub req'd]

 

[via] Autoblog

Detroit 2007 Preview: Jeep Renegade Concept

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click above image for more views of the Jeep Renegade Concept

The final concept of Chrysler's trio for the 2008 Detroit Auto Show is the Jeep Renegade Concept. We actually find this one the most interesting, both in terms of design and feasibility. The Renegade features all-aluminum construction to keep its weight down, as well as what appears to be a parallel hybrid drivetrain consisting of the same 40-mile lithium-ion battery pack used in the Chrysler ecoVoyager Concept sharing duties with a small-displacement BLUETEC diesel engine. Jeep claims the Renegade would be good for more than 110 miles per gallon, which we think is probably accurate. Hopefully we'll begin seeing fuel economy numbers like that when lithium-ion battery packs become more prevalent, as well as diesel engines for that matter.

The Renegade's design is typical Jeep, focusing on adventure in all weather conditions. The speedster windshield and roll bar add some sportiness to the aesthetics, while the lower-door openings and hosable interior show it's a true Jeep with a trail-busting attitude. The lack of any front overhang and the vertical headlights give the front end an aerodynamic yet rugged look that we think works well Jeep's trademark seven-slot grille.

That's the last of Chrysler's concept trio that we were given a sneak peak of today, though all will be present and accounted for in January at the Detroit Auto Show. We're not sure yet what the company plans to show in terms of production cars, redesigns and refreshes, but when we find out you'll be the first to know.

[Source: Jeep]

Gallery: Jeep Renegade Concept

Continue reading Detroit 2007 Preview: Jeep Renegade Concept

 

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Detroit 2007 Preview: Dodge ZEO Concept

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click above image for more views of the Dodge ZEO Concept

The second of three concepts that Chrysler LLC has planned for the 2007 Detroit Auto Show is the Dodge ZEO Concept. It's eco-friendly credentials come via its all-EV powertrain, which consists of a lithium-ion battery pack capable of an impressive 250-mile range. That's theoretical and on-paper we presume, but it's nice to dream. The ZEO is a 2+2, four-passenger sport wagon that features the familiar cross-hair grille up front with a design that looks more Japanese than American to us. The hatchback profile looks like something we've seen on recent Mazda and Honda concepts, though the haunchy fender flares are all Dodge. Unfortunately, that's all we know about the ZEO until January when Dodge debuts the concept in Detroit.

[Source: Dodge]

Gallery: Dodge ZEO Concept

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Alonso to announce today, Ghosn throws wrench into the works

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The motorsport press is reporting that Fernando Alonso will announce sometime today whose car he will be driving next season. The two-time world champion was recently released from his contract with McLaren-Mercedes, with whom he had a very tumultuous last season. Rumors have been circulating the paddock as to where he'd be heading as a newly free agent, but Flavio Briatore, his former boss at Renault, has made no secret of the door he's left open and the light he's left on for Alonso to come back home.

Briatore's plans, however, could be stalled by an unexpected intervention from his boss, Carlos Ghosn. Although the Renault-Nissan CEO rarely appears to stick his nose into the day-to-day running of the racing team, sources quote him as saying Renault would not give Alonso a one-year ride. The champion has stated that he'd only sign with Renault for a single season, fueling speculation that he could be headed to Ferrari in 2009, despite Kimi Raikkonen and Felipe Massa doing a great job for the Scuderia and being under contract through 2009 and 2010, respectively.

Briatore is reportedly eager to accept Alonso's terms, but according to Ghosn, "It's three years or nothing." Stay tuned for more news.

[Source: F1-Live.com]

 

[via] Autoblog

Detroit 2007 Preview: Chrysler ecoVoyager Concept

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click above image for more views of the Chrysler evoVoyager Concept

Chrysler has released sketches today of three eco-minded concepts it will be unveiling at the 2008 Detroit Auto Show in January, and the first we'll tell you about is the Chrysler ecoVoyager Concept. The ecoVoyager Concept appears to be a series hybrid, much like the Chevy Volt or Ford Airstream Concept, that uses a lithium-ion battery pack for jaunts of 40 miles or less and a hydrogen fuel-cell range extender to reach distances up to 300 miles away. Power is expected to be in the range of 200 kW total, which Chrysler claims is good for reach 60 mph in around eight seconds. The exterior features an extreme cab forward design creating an arch profile with flowing character lines coming from the front and back that intersect on the sides. The interior design is described as being like a luxury jet, though no images of the concept's innards have been released yet. We'll have to wait until we meet the ecoVoyager Concept in person come January to tell you more, but for now gaze upon Chrysler's first of three concepts that's slated for introduction on the biggest stage of the year.

[Source: Chrysler]

Continue reading Detroit 2007 Preview: Chrysler ecoVoyager Concept

 

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In The Autoblog Garage: 2008 Toyota Highlander Sport

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click above image to view high-res gallery of the 2008 Toyota Highlander

The Highlander's undergone a nearly Kafka-esque transformation from its start as essentially a Camry wagon with all-wheel-drive and extra ride height. For 2008, Toyota's middle-child 'ute has been bulked up into more of a maxi-cruiser than previously. At first glance it appears what's emerged from the chrysalis is a grotesquely overinflated Forester, but the new Highlander is more butterfly than cockroach.



All photos (C)2007 Dan Roth / Weblogs, Inc.

Continue reading In The Autoblog Garage: 2008 Toyota Highlander Sport

 

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Rumormill: Solstice to get G6 GXP-look schnoz?

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Solstice and G6Oh no. Blogger Mickey Kaus says that he's seen an updated Pontiac Solstice ('09, presumably, since the '08 is unchanged), and that the new front clip sports the unbecoming, "tongue-thrusting" look of the current G6 GXP. Let's hope what Kaus saw was just some driver with poor taste rolling with an aftermarket nose, because the Solstice is not in need of a factory-prescribed rhinoplasty. GM would do well to focus on further refining the next generation of the car and not engage in ill-advised interim facelifts just for the sake of having them.

The Solstice is a great-looking, fun little go-kart that's not without its flaws. None of those, however, involve the car's appearance, which is its strongest suit. The new-look G6 GXP fascia is so overwrought that it effectively ruins an otherwise appealing package (GXP trim is the only way to get the G6 with the 3.6L V6 and 6-speed auto, and be advised: the GXP sedan gets the Gene Simmons mug, too). Don't do that to the Solstice, Pontiac. When you're trying hard to rekindle the Excitement Division, it's probably not a good idea to remind folks that you were the Aztek Division not so long ago. Unnecessary silliness like this does precisely that, so we hope this is one report that never leaves the proverbial rumormill.

[Kausfiles via Instapundit]

 

[via] Autoblog

Guangzhou 2007: Live shots of Mazda2 and Ford Verve sedans

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click either image to view high-res galleries

The ever increasing importance of the Chinese auto market is on full display this week at the 2007 Guangzhou Motor Show, and fortunately we have the Autoblog Chinese crew pounding the show floor as we speak. You can check out their coverage here (translated courtesy of Google), although for those not fluent in Chinese (like us) you'll have settle for looking at all the pretty pictures. Yesterday we told you about the debut of both the Mazda2 sedan and Ford Verve Sedan Concept at the Guangzhou show, and today we have live shots from the show floor courtesy of Autoblog Chinese. Technically these two cars are very much related, as the Verve concept is expected to inspire a production car of the same name that will be sold in the U.S. and markets abroad. That new small car will be based on the same platform as the Mazda2, and after the strong showing of four-doors in China this week, we bet a sedan version of the production Verve is certainly being planned alongside a three-door hatch. Click any image below to view either gallery of high-res shots taken from the floor of the 2007 Guangzhou Motor Show.

Gallery: Mazda2 Sedan


Gallery: Ford Verve Sedan Concept

 

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