• Tata to launch Land Rover LR2-based SUV in 2016

    April 13, 2014
    The Land Rover LR2 is scheduled to be replaced by an all-new model in the coming months, but a new report coming out of India indicates the current model will live on in select global markets under the Tata name.

    Land Rover parent company Tata is busily developing a range-topping SUV that will ride on the current LR2′s platform. Tooling will be shipped from Land Rover’s factory in England to India once LR2 production has ended in order to build the SUV on location.

    Sources close to Tata have revealed that the SUV’s final design has not been locked down yet. However, it is expected to wear a model-specific appearance that will fall in line with the rest of the Tata lineup in order to erase all signs of its Land Rover bones.

    Interestingly, power will come from a Tata-sourced 2.2-liter four-cylinder turbodiesel engine that will be mounted longitudinally in the engine bay. The setup is creating a major challenge for Tata engineers because the LR2 is designed to be equipped with a transversally-mounted engine.

    Power will be sent to all four wheels via either a manual or an automatic transmission, and the SUV will reportedly retain the LR2′s off-road prowess.

    The Indian edition of Autocar magazine reports the Land Rover-based Tata SUV will go on sale in 2016 at the earliest. When launched, it will fight head-to-head against the Toyota Fortuner, a mid-sized body-on-frame SUV that shares the bulk of its underpinnings with the tough Hilux pickup.

  • NY Preview: 2015 Chevrolet Cruze

    April 13, 2014
    Chevrolet has fully unveiled the redesigned 2015 Cruze ahead of its official debut at next week’s New York Motor Show.

    The next Cruze stands out from the current model by adopting a softer design loosely inspired by the larger Malibu and Impala sedans. The front fascia features a bigger version of the outgoing model’s two-part grille, while the rear end boasts mildly revised tail lamps.

    Inside, the 2015 Cruze gains a host of available high-tech equipment such as Apple Siri integration and a Text Message Alerts feature that reads incoming texts through the car’s speakers. Chevrolet has not published any pictures of the interior but earlier spy shots revealed the Cruze gains a revised instrument cluster and a new steering wheel.

    Select trim levels can be fitted with a seven-inch touch screen on the center stack that runs Chevrolet’s MyLink infotainment system.

    Chevrolet is not making any mechanical changes, meaning the 2015 Cruze will carry on with either a 1.8-liter four-cylinder rated at 138 horsepower and 148 lb-ft. of torque, a turbocharged 1.4-liter four-banger that generates 138 ponies and 143 lb-ft. of twist or a 2.0-liter turbodiesel mill.

    Following its debut in the Big Apple, the 2015 Cruze will go on sale in the United States next fall. Pricing information will be published closer to its on-sale date.

  • Honda shows off new Le Mans Prototype Coupe

    April 13, 2014

    Honda has unveiled a new closed-cockpit Le Mans Prototype racer, the first ever from the automaker’s California-based Honda Performance Development.

    The HPD ARX-04b LMP2 Coupe is powered by HPD’s HR28TT, a 2.8-liter twin-turbo V6 that’s already powered several LMP2 class-winning race cars, based on the production six-pot that powers the Acura MDX, RDX and TLX. Though heavily reworked, the competition motor still retains over 400 of Honda’s production engine parts, including the block, heads, crankshaft, direct-injection fuel system, and drive-by-wire hardware.

    Last year Honda swept both the LMP1 and LMP2 titles in engine, team and drivers’ championships in the American Le Mans series. In addition, several class wins at the 24 Hours of Le Mans and over 70 ALMS victories have proven HPD’s abilities.

    The ARX-04b will comply with requirements for a number of international racing leagues, including IMSA, WEC, ELMS and the Asian Le Mans Series and will be offered to teams for the 2015 season.

  • Nissan to debut dual-function LCD rear view mirror

    April 13, 2014

    At the New York International Auto Show next week Nissan will debut the world’s first LCD-monitor rear view mirror to help aftward visibility.

    The Nissan Smart Rearview Mirror, mounted in the traditional location at the top edge of the windshield, looks like a plain old piece of reflective glass on the surface. However, with the flip of the switch occupants can activate a full-width LCD screen that displays real-time images from a rear-facing high-resolution camera on the back of the vehicle.

    The resulting image replaces the mirror’s reflection with a 4:1 aspect ratio obstruction-free view of what’s behind the vehicle. Tall passengers, cargo and even increasingly wide C-pillars are absent from the display, giving a clear panorama of what’s behind the car.

    In addition to the obvious safety benefits, Nissan Chief Planning Officer and Executive VP Andy Palmer said the Smart Rearview Mirror would allow stylists to pen never-before attempted designs, since vehicle shape will no longer be dictated by rear visibility. Even fuel economy can be improved, In particular, extremely aerodynamic shapes have the potential for greatly improving fuel economy.

    The Smart Rearview Mirror will be shown on a 2014 Nissan Rogue at the NYIAS, but the first practical implementation will be on the Nissan ZEOD RC race car slated to run in the 2014 24 Hours of Le Mans.

    “Under the harsh driving conditions in the world of motorsports, retaining a clear view for the race driver is of utmost importance,” said NISMO President Shoichi Miyatani. “The Smart Rearview Mirror will be a powerful tool for our Nissan NISMO drivers. Also, we have high expectations towards improving the cars’ aerodynamic design, thanks to the Smart Rearview Mirror, thereby expanding the possibilities of race cars to a new level.”