2015 Ford Mustang GT [w/video]

September 19th, 2014 by admin No comments »

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2015 Ford Mustang

At 50 years old, the object of fantasies, a tuner’s dream, a movie star and more than nine million strong, it couldn’t be truer to say that the Ford Mustang needs no introduction. This newest Mustang, however – making the biggest changes we’ve seen to the pony car since perhaps 1964.5 – is something Ford has been introducing all year.

We went on a Deep Dive, covered the way it looks when it was revealed, detailed the engine specs, got a ride in the EcoBoost and listened to the V8, got rolling footage and watched it do a standard-feature burnout.

The only thing left to do? Drive it. Having now done so for a few hours around Los Angeles, what we can tell you is to forget everything you know about the Mustang. This new car shames the old, redefines the model and gallops far ahead of anything else in the segment.

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2015 Ford Mustang GT [w/video] originally appeared on Autoblog on Fri, 19 Sep 2014 11:57:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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2014 Kia Cee’d GT

September 18th, 2014 by admin No comments »

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Kia Cee'd GT

Kia may be an automaker with a lot going for it these days, but it’s not yet one that takes pains to appeal to performance enthusiasts. Aside from its Pirelli World Challenge team, it doesn’t support any major racing programs to speak of. And despite having showcased such concepts as the GT4 Stinger and the Provo, it doesn’t really offer much in the way of performance models.

That is, at least not in North America. But at the Geneva Motor Show last year, Kia got itself into the Euro hot hatch game with the launch of the Cee’d GT (and its three-door compatriot, the Pro_Cee’d GT). It’s based on the Korean automaker’s European-market Volkswagen Golf rival that’s now in its second generation and which, in its previous base iteration, served as the Reasonably Priced Car that celebrity guests drove on Top Gear before it was replaced by a Vauxhall Astra. Now with a GT moniker attached, the Cee’d has warmed up to the point that it’d potentially be better suited towards a proper romp down twisting B-roads than serving as a celebrity punching bag.

Since Kia’s first genuine performance model (like the model upon which it’s based) isn’t offered Stateside, we jumped at the opportunity to drive it while on a recent trip to the UK. Read on to see what we found.

Driving Notes

  • With a 1.6-liter turbo four cranking out 201 horsepower and 195 pound-feet of torque, the Cee’d GT falls somewhere in between warm and piping hot. Far adrift of performance leaders like the VW Golf R and Ford Focus ST in terms of output, the Cee’d GT comes in just under the Volkswagen GTI and within spitting distance of the new Peugeot 308 GT. Driven to the front wheels through a proper six-speed manual, that’s enough poke to send the Cee’d GT to 60 miles per hour in a quoted 7.4 seconds and on to a top speed of 143 mph. That’s right on pace with the Peugeot, but a good second behind the incrementally more potent GTI. In short, Kia’s hot hatch is no slouch, but it’s hardly on the cutting edge.
  • The Cee’d GT certainly feels more oriented towards performance driving than the standard Cee’d we sampled a few weeks afterwards (which, incidentally, struck us as a solid econo hatch from the few days we spent with it) but would run short of steam trying to keep pace with the leaders of the hot-hatch class. It’s worth noting, however, that the Kia offers a more attractive price: in the UK, our tester came in at £23,000 ($37,700 US at the never-directly-comparable current exchange rate) – a good £3,000 less ($4,900) than a base GTI – and that’s in top-spec Tech trim, complete with seven-inch sat-nav touchscreen, heated seats, Xenon headlamps and such.
  • Kia’s done a good job of differentiating the GT visually from the standard version (which is similarly offered in three- and five-door hatchback forms, but also as a wagon). The brand’s signature tabbed grille shape is filled with glossy honeycomb, as is the larger air dam beneath it with its bright red lower lip – similar to VW’s treatment on the GTI, but lower down. The “ice cube” daytime LEDs may be a matter of taste, but they are distinctive, and while the gloss-black trim stands out nicely on, say, a white model, it naturally got lost on our black tester. Things look plenty sporty around back, as well, with twin ovoid tailpipes and a rear roof spoiler, while graphite-finish 18-inch alloys fill the wheel wells. We particularly dig the slick GT badge Kia’s cooked up for this model, too. In short, the Cee’d GT looks the part – whether it plays it all the way or not.
  • Inside, Kia has checked all the right boxes as well, with a thick-rimmed steering wheel, nice round shifter, gloss black trim, leather and faux-suede microfiber upholstery, red contrast stitching and aluminum pedals. The Recaro buckets up front are much more heavily bolstered than those you’d find in a standard Cee’d, of course, although we didn’t find them quite as supportive as those in some of the French hot hatches we sampled on the same trip.
  • Underneath all that trim, the Cee’d GT packs a fully independent suspension with MacPherson struts and coil springs up front and a multi-link and trailing arm setup at the back, with anti-roll bars at each end. Given that the softer base Cee’d already feels fairly well planted on the road, the GT version feels all the more so. It follows the usual hot hatch formula to further reduce body roll, shrug off speed, hug the road through the corners and effectively communicate what’s going on beneath through the steering – albeit not quite as convincingly as some of the more experienced and established players it’s going after. It all adds up to a good ride – particularly from an automaker delving into unfamiliar territory – but not a great one.

In the end, the Cee’d GT is the most overtly performance-oriented model in the Kia lineup… certainly more so than the base Cee’d, the Soul and the Sportage we drove in the weeks following, solid though they may be. That may not be enough to bring the fight to the established hot-hatch players the way Kia has in the mass market, and in the end, it left us somewhat uninspired and wanting for more. Call it a decent starting point, then, for what we hope will be more performance-oriented models to come – ones we could actually get in America.

2014 Kia Cee’d GT originally appeared on Autoblog on Thu, 18 Sep 2014 11:57:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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Holden celebrating V8 Supercars legend Craig Lowndes with special Commodore

September 17th, 2014 by admin No comments »

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Holden Commodore SS V Craig Lowndes Special Edition

Craig Lowndes is a household name in Australia. One of its most accomplished domestic racing drivers, Lowndes has racked up an impressive array of checkered flags over the course of his 20 years on the grid, and now Holden is celebrating his career with a special-edition muscle car you see here.

The Craig Lowndes SS V Special Edition Commodore is based on the flagship Redline performance model, which means a 6.0-liter V8 churning out 351 horsepower and 391 pound-feet of torque in a four-door sedan similar to the Chevy SS. But for the Lowndes edition, GM’s Aussie division has applied special stripes, badges and more, with exact specifications and pricing yet to be revealed. But it will also invite buyers to special events with Lowndes and his Red Bull Racing team.

For those of us who don’t follow Australian racing, Lowndes has had an impressive career. He started out 20 years ago when he won Australia’s Triple Crown of motorsport in his rookie season, taking the Australian Touring Car Championship (now known as V8 Supercars), the Bathurst 1000 and the Sandown 500 all in his first year. Over the course of the two decades since, Lowndes has taken three championships, five Bathurst wins and a record 97 race wins to become one of Australia’s most victorious racing drivers – driving for Holden since 1996.

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Holden celebrating V8 Supercars legend Craig Lowndes with special Commodore originally appeared on Autoblog on Wed, 17 Sep 2014 10:15:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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ATS gives up on De Tomaso, moves to Canary Islands

September 17th, 2014 by admin No comments »

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ATS Sport

Those truly schooled in the history of Italian sports cars will recognize the letters ATS. They belong to Automobili Turismo e Sport, an outfit formed after the great “Palace Revolution” at Ferrari in the early 1960s. ATS folded a few years after that, but recently resurfaced some 50 years later under new caretakers. And now it’s changing hands again.

In correspondence with Autoblog, ATS chief Gianluca Gregis revealed a number of changes in store for the resurgent niche automaker. For one thing, it has new investors, which means new money for new projects. For another, it’s leaving Italy – shifting from its current base of operations in Borgomanero to a new facility in the Canary Islands. The move to the Spanish archipelago off the coast of Morocco means easier shipping to locations around the world (including North America) and certain tax incentives as well.

In the process, however, ATS is jettisoning some dead weight. It was set to take over De Tomaso after Gian Mario Rossignolo failed to make a go of it, but has now withdrawn its bid. It’s also sold its most recent Leggera roadster program to another automaker, yet to be identified. From its new base of operations, ATS intends to focus primarily on track cars like the recently upgraded LMP-style ATS Sport (pictured above). Meanwhile development of the proposed ATS 2500 GT, we’re told, moves apace.

ATS gives up on De Tomaso, moves to Canary Islands originally appeared on Autoblog on Wed, 17 Sep 2014 08:44:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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Peugeot heirs go back to the grind after losing automaking business

September 17th, 2014 by admin No comments »

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FRANCE-ECONOMY-PEPPERMILL

The Peugeot family has long been the largest shareholder in the company that bears its name. But PSA Peugeot Citroën – one of Europe’s largest automakers – recently launched a capital campaign that saw it sell large chunks of shares to overseas investors, decreasing the Peugeot family’s stake from 25.5 percent to 14.1 percent. The move meant that the Peugeots are no longer in control of Peugeot SA (PSA), so now they’re looking to other interests. Like pepper grinders.

If you’ve ever traveled to Europe, you may have seen a Peugeot pepper grinder on the tables of finer restaurants. The Peugeot family started out making pepper grinders, coffee mills and bicycles in the early 1800s before it got into the car business, but like Volvo cars (which is owned separately from Volvo trucks) or Husqvarna motorcycles (which has nothing to do with the home appliance and power tools operations of the same name), the Peugeot pepper-grinder business has nothing to do with the automaker.

The family recently began diversifying its assets and this past June regained control of PSP Peugeot SAS, the company that makes the grinders. Now that the carmaking business is out of its hands, the family is putting its nose back to the grindstone and focusing on the peppermill operation.

According to Bloomberg, the company’s new chairman Jean-Philippe Peugeot and chief executive Philippe Rapacz have a turnaround plan in place that will target medium and upscale customers with its premium pepper grinders while dropping the PSP Instruments tooling business that was loosing money.

Peugeot heirs go back to the grind after losing automaking business originally appeared on Autoblog on Wed, 17 Sep 2014 07:58:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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Geely to provide engines to Formula 4

September 16th, 2014 by admin No comments »

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Geely-powered Formula 4 racer

Formula One may get the lion’s share of attention, but it’s far from the only formula racing series. The FIA Formula E Championship just kicked off in China this past weekend, for example – and while FIA President Jean Todt was in town, he also announced the latest engine supplier for the Formula 4.

Up until now, the FIA had certified three automakers to supply engines for Formula 4 – and they’ve all been European. But for the first time, a Chinese automaker has joined in on the action. That Chinese automaker is Geely, perhaps best known on these pages as the parent company of Volvo, but a major player in the Chinese market in its own right.

Starting next season, Geely will supply a 2.0-liter naturally aspirated four-cylinder engine – similar to the one that powers its GX7 sport-ute and Emgrand EC8 sedan, but tuned for racing use – to the Chinese Formula 4 series. The new series is kicking off later this year with a seven-race calendar. After that, and with FIA certification in place, the door will be open for Geely to supply its engine to other local F4 championships as well.

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Geely to provide engines to Formula 4 originally appeared on Autoblog on Tue, 16 Sep 2014 08:44:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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2015 Bentley Mulsanne Speed unleashes a tidal wave of torque

September 16th, 2014 by admin No comments »

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Bentley Mulsanne Speed

811 lb-ft of torque puts the Mulsanne Speed out ahead of every so-called muscle car on the market and eclipses most million-dollar hypercars.

Those in the market for a sedan with equal levels of performance and luxury would do well to stop by their local Bentley dealership, and have a look at the Flying Spur. Though not available in Speed trim like the previous four-door Continental, the W12 model already packs the 616-horsepower 6.0-liter twin-turbo W12 from the Continental GT Speed – and we wouldn’t be surprised to see the British automaker come out with an even more performance-oriented version in the future. But what about the Mulsanne?

Bentley’s flagship model has typically been left out of the performance equation applied to its nouveau-riche stablemates, but that ends here and now with the introduction of the new Mulsanne Speed. With 530 horsepower on tap (25 more than the standard model), the new Mulsanne Speed ranks among the more (if not most) powerful sedans on the market. But it blows everything else out of the water when it comes to torque: Bentley’s signature 6.75-liter twin-turbo V8 has been augmented to produce a freight train-rivaling 811 pound-feet of twist, available from as low as 1,750 rpm. As far as torque goes, that puts the Mulsanne Speed out ahead of every so-called muscle car on the market and eclipses most million-dollar hypercars. It’s also around triple the output of the same engine when it was introduced way back in 1959, and could be enough to put the prospect of the Bugatti Galibier ever reaching production out of the question once and for all.

Every pound-foot of that muscle is required to move the big sedan to 60 in 4.8 seconds, en route to a top speed of 190 miles per hour (compared to 5.1 seconds and 184 mph in the existing Mulsanne). All the while, improvements to combustion and a cylinder deactivation system that turns the engine into an efficient-ish V4 when cruising, though that likely won’t be a worry for the oil barons who are bound to make up the bulk of the order list.

While it was at it, the crew in Crewe also recalibrated the eight-speed automatic transmission (which now includes an S mode to keep the revs above 2,000 and the turbos spooled up) as well as the adjustable air suspension. It’s also given the big sedan dark-tinted grilles and lights, directional 21-inch wheels and a two-tone interior (which takes some 150 hours and 14 bull hides to complete) with the Mulliner Driving Specification fitted as standard. There’s plenty more to digest in the press release below (including some enhancements for the standard model as well) ahead of the Mulsanne Speed’s debut at the Paris Motor Show next month and the commencement of deliveries this winter.

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2015 Bentley Mulsanne Speed unleashes a tidal wave of torque originally appeared on Autoblog on Tue, 16 Sep 2014 07:00:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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Porsche offers detuned Boxster and Cayman 211 in Europe

September 15th, 2014 by admin No comments »

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Porsche Boxster 211

Looking at a new Porsche Boxster? First of all, we commend you on your choice, because in its latest iteration, the Boxster has sped out from under the shadow of the 911 and into its own. But now to choose: do you get the base model with 265 horsepower, the Boxster S with 315 hp, or the top-of-the-line Boxster GTS with 330 hp? It’s a daunting question, considering the $10k+ price gap between each model that you could put into the gas-and-rubber jar. Same goes for the Cayman, albeit with ten more horses across the board. But as if that’s not confusing enough, there appears to be another player on the field. (That is, at least, in certain European markets.)

Porsche Cayman 211Appearing on the company’s Belgian and Norwegian sites are the Boxster 211 and Cayman 211. As you might have guessed, they pack a less substantial 211 horsepower, undercutting what we know as the base models. Instead of using a smaller engine, though, the Boxster and Cayman 211 get the same 2.7-liter boxer six, just with less power.

As a result, they’re a bit slower off the line: the Boxster 211 takes between 6.1 and 6.4 seconds to get to 62, depending on exact specifications, compared to the 5.5- to 5.8-second range for the 265-hp Boxster, while the Cayman 211 is quoted at 6.2 seconds versus the 275-hp Cayman’s 5.4 to 5.7 seconds. Fuel consumption and emissions, on the other hand (and as you’d expect), are better in the 211. But while Porsche Norway charges around $10k less for the 211 models, Porsche Belgium charges the same for the 211 models as it does for the next most powerful versions (from which they appear to be visually indistinguishable).

We’ve sought confirmation from Porsche Cars North America, but given that the 211 models were likely created more to meet local government requirements than pure customer demand, we wouldn’t expect these detuned versions to be offered Stateside anytime soon.

Porsche offers detuned Boxster and Cayman 211 in Europe originally appeared on Autoblog on Mon, 15 Sep 2014 19:01:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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Mercedes gives B-Class a facelift in time for Paris

September 15th, 2014 by admin No comments »

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2015 Mercedes-Benz B-Class

Front-drive hatchbacks are the name of the game these days in the German automotive industry. In recent years BMW has gotten into the game with the 2 Series Active Tourer, while Audi has stepped up its game with the A1 and Mercedes has been keen to play, too. The Silver Arrow has rolled out the new A-Class and its sedan sister, the CLA, as well as the GLA crossover, and you can bet there’ll be more to come. But Benz doesn’t want you to forget about the B-Class, so it’s introducing an updated version.

Mercedes first introduced the B-Class back in 2005, replacing it with the second-generation model in 2011. But with its newer stablemates garnering the lion’s share of attention at the bottom of the Benz range, and increased competition from rival automakers, the B-Class has undergone some minor updates. Up front you’ll find a reshaped bumper, grille and headlights, along with new taillights and bumper around back. There’s also a revised interior designed to convey a more upscale environment, with color-changing ambient lighting and an eight-inch touchscreen display atop the dashboard. Of course, this being a Mercedes update, the new B-Class benefits from added safety systems as well.

Buyers in markets where the B-Class is sold will be able to choose between three new trim levels and a staggering array of four-cylinder engine options, with gasoline engines ranging in output from 122 to 211 horsepower, and diesels from 90 to 177 hp – some available with 4Matic all-wheel drive. There’s also a natural gas version, and the B-Class Electric Drive – the only version offered Stateside – continues with the same output. Look for the new B-Class to make its live debut at the Paris Motor Show next month.

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Mercedes gives B-Class a facelift in time for Paris originally appeared on Autoblog on Mon, 15 Sep 2014 18:32:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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Ferrari to reveal exclusive F12 NART next month in LA

September 15th, 2014 by admin No comments »

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Ferrari F12 Berlinetta

While denying his tenure was coming to an end just prior to his resignation last week, outgoing Ferrari chairman Luca di Montezemolo hinted at two new models to be revealed next month. One we anticipate to be a new version of the 458 – either the new turbocharged M model or the limited-edition Scuderia Spider – to be revealed at the Paris Motor Show on October 2, and the other we knew would be a strictly limited special exclusive to North America. And now we appear to have an idea of what that model will be.

According to Automotive News, we’ll likely be looking at a version of the F12 Berlinetta decked out with the blue and white stripes pioneered by the North American Racing Team (NART) and most recently applied to the 458 Speciale. The special model is also likely to get custom bodywork and a revised interior – similar to what Ferrari Special Projects does for individual customers, but produced in a limited run of 10 examples.

All 10 of those are likely to already have been spoken for, with a price tag tipped to exceed $3 million apiece. The model will be revealed on October 12 at a special event in Los Angeles marking 60 years of Ferrari in America which will likely be Montezemolo’s last event as chairman before handing over control to Sergio Marchionne and collecting his eight-figure severance package.

Ferrari to reveal exclusive F12 NART next month in LA originally appeared on Autoblog on Mon, 15 Sep 2014 16:28:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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