• Audi teases Beijing-bound Q4 concept

    April 8, 2014
    Audi has published several teaser sketches that depict a new concept scheduled to debut at the Beijing Motor Show later this month. Called Q4, the concept likely previews Audi’s answer to the recently-unveiled BMW X4.

    Outside, the Q4 takes the form of a tall four-door crossover that borrows a noticeable amount of design cues from the third-generation TT that was introduced in Geneva last month. It looks sportier than other Audi crossovers thanks to an arched roofline, pronounced fender flares, angular headlights and sharp tail lamps. Five-spoke alloy wheels and an eye-catching yellow paint job wrap up the look.

    The TT influence continues inside with a driver-focused center console, five round air vents, a three-spoke steering wheel and a fully digital instrument cluster that can be configured by the driver to display a wide array of information. One of the sketches suggests the Q4 offers room for four passengers.

    Audi has not revealed what lurks under the concept’s hood, though “quattro” emblems on the door mirrors and the rear bumper reveal the crossover is equipped with all-wheel drive.

    Look for official details about the Audi Q4 concept to emerge in the coming weeks. Although Audi has not commented on what the future holds fort he Q4, we wouldn’t be surprised to see a toned-down version of the concept land in showrooms as a regular production model next year.

  • Peugeot previews Beijing-bound Exalt concept

    April 8, 2014
    France’s Peugeot has published preliminary details about the Exalt concept that will greet the public for the first time at the upcoming Beijing Motor Show.

    Taking the form of a sleek four-door coupe, the Exalt borrows styling cues such as its slim, angular grille, its ripped hood and its sharp headlights form the Onyx concept that was presented at the 2012 edition of the Paris Motor Show. Large alloy wheels and sculpted flanks accentuate the car’s sporty silhouette.

    Although interior pictures have not been published yet, Peugeot promises the Exalt concept boasts an upscale cabin with real wood trim, an integrated air purifier and a new infotainment system dubbed Peugeot i-Cockpit. The car presumably offers seating for four passengers.

    Power comes from a gasoline-electric hybrid drivetrain that sends 340 horsepower to all four wheels. Additional technical details and performance specifications will be published closer to the concept’s debut.

    Peugeot has not revealed what the future holds for the Exalt but sources close to the automaker indicate it could spawn an oft-rumored four-door coupe that would take on entry-level variants of the Mercedes-Benz CLA-Class. The yet-unnamed model would help Peugeot target a younger clientele while moving up a notch on the market in Europe and in China.

    The Exalt will be fully revealed online next Thursday ahead of its debut in the Chinese capital. Stay tuned to Leftlane for live images straight from the Beijing show floor starting April 20th.

  • Dodge teases 2015 Charger ahead of NY debut

    April 8, 2014
    Dodge has published a teaser image to preview the updated 2015 Charger sedan that will bow at the upcoming New York International Motor show.

    The teaser image reveals the Charger gets a sleeker front end with LED headlights and a blacked out version of Dodge’s trademarked crosshair grille. Other changes will likely include a revamped rear end with redrawn tail lamps, new alloy wheel designs and a refreshed interior.

    Revised Challenger
    In addition to the updated Charger, Dodge will present a revised version of the Challenger coupe. The automaker is keeping details under wraps until the start of the New York show on April 17th but it promises the 2015 Challenger will feature “a new powertrain combination that is sure to get enthusiasts “abuzz.”" That hint likely means we’ll finally see Dodge’s long-rumored Hellcat engine in the Big Apple.

    Believed to be a 6.2L version of Dodge’s HEMI V8, the Hellcat powertrain will use a supercharger to boost power to at least 640 horsepower and 600 lb-ft of torque. More powerful than a Viper, the Challenger Hellcat will take square aim at vehicles like the Chevrolet Camaro ZL1.

    Be sure to check back for more details and live images straight from the show floor later this month.

  • Mercedes SL-Class to gain entry-level SL400 model

    April 8, 2014

    In the past, Mercedes-Benz has only offered its entry-level SL-Class models outside the United States, but that won’t remain the case for long.

    Mercedes has confirmed that it will market the latest entry point to the SL roadster range, the SL400, in the U.S. as well as in Europe, according to an Autoblog report.

    The SL400, which replaces the Europe-only SL350, is powered by a twin-turbocharged 3.0-liter V6 that produces 328 horsepower and 358 lb-ft in European trim. The setup is good for a claimed zero-to-60 mph sprint time of 5.2 seconds and an electronically limited top speed of 155 mph.

    When it arrives stateside this fall, the SL400 will join an SL-Class range that already includes the SL550, SL63 AMG and SL65 AMG. Official pricing information is not yet available, but given that the SL550 starts at about $107,000, a base price just south of $100,000 is likely.

    In addition to being the SL price leader, the SL400 should be the lineup’s fuel economy champ. Expect it to better the SL550′s 16/24 city/highway mpg when EPA ratings are released in the coming months.

  • Microsoft previews Windows infotainment, prepares to rival Apple’s CarPlay

    April 8, 2014
    Microsoft is currently in the early stages of developing its own vehicle infotainment platform that aims to take on Apple’s CarPlay tech and Google’s automotive-optimized Android endeavors.

    The concept was previewed last week at Microsoft’s Build conference, where the company’s “Internet of Things” director, Steve Teixeira, demonstrated basic functions such as navigation, media playback and voice calls, as shown in a video spotted by The Verge.

    The platform serves as an extension of the “Metro” interface that serves as the basis for Windows Phone, with content organized via high-contrast tiles. It utilizes the Mirrorlink standard to communicate with the Windows Phone device, providing many of the same core functions without requiring the cellphone to be taken out of the driver’s pocket.

    A quiet unveiling at Build was no coincidence, as Microsoft will need third-party developers to help create apps that are optimized for the particular safety and usability requirements of a vehicle infotainment system.

    “If my car is in drive mode, one of the things we will aim to do is enable application builders to write apps that conform to good, safe drive-mode behavior and safe drive-mode user-interface standards,” Teixeira said.

    The concept is said to be undergoing simulator testing and real-world trials on closed tracks, however it still appears to be behind the competition. Voice input will presumably be a central feature, providing functionality similar to that of Apple’s Siri technology, however the Build preview was limited to touchscreen interactions.

    Microsoft has yet to announce any formal partnerships with automakers to bring its Windows experience into vehicles.