• 2015 Acura TLX specs leaked ahead of NY Auto Show

    April 15, 2014

    Specs for the 2015 Acura TLX have supposedly leaked ahead of tomorrow’s press conference at the New York International Auto Show. A member of the TLX Forums that claims to have attended at dealer training session in Texas has posted details purportedly revealed at that event.

    According to the posting, two engines will be offered. The base mill is a 2.4-liter inline-four capable of 206hp and 182 lb-ft of torque and backed by an 8-speed automatic transmission that will improve fuel economy by 2 mpg city and 4 mpg highway.

    The second engine choice will be Acura’s stalwart 3.5-liter V6 putting out 290hp and 267 lb-ft of torque. A new 9-speed transmission with automatic shifting 25 percent faster and paddle shifting five times faster than that of the outgoing Acura TL will help the car reach 0-60mph 0.5 seconds faster than its predecessor. The new 9-speed also helps the front-wheel-drive models get a modest 1 mpg improvement in city driving while all-wheel-drive models receive a 3 mpg bump. Both drivetrains will see a 5 mpg boost during highway driving.

    Though it has roughly the same wheelbase as TL, its overhangs are four inches shorter. Acura achieved a weight savings of about 150 lbs for the FWD model. New standard features include auto start-stop, an electronic parking brake and Siri Eyes Free. Acura hopes to move about 45,000 units per year.

    We’ll know tomorrow whether these specs prove correct.

    Photo by Mark Elias.

  • Volvo develops Inflatable Child Seat Concept

    April 15, 2014

    Volvo’s latest concept in automotive safety isn’t a car at all, but something that any driver with small children will find useful: an inflatable child seat.

    Conceived by Lawrence Abele, a design manager at Volvo’s Los Angeles-based Monitoring and Concept Center, the seat weighs less than 11 pounds, about half that of a traditional child seat, and can fit into an average-sized backpack when deflated. Expanding it takes only 40 seconds thanks to a quiet on-board pump, which can be activated remotely via a built-in Bluetooth receiver.

    The Inflatable Child Seat Concept is made of a unique drop-stitch fabric capable of withstanding high internal pressure. According to Abele, it’s commonly found in boating and was developed by the military for use on inflatable airplanes.

    Abele’s inspiration came from the fact that he has two toddlers of his own, and was dismayed at the bulkiness of typical child safety seats. He found them particularly cumbersome for traveling parents, and speaks to the added safety of having your seats available on taxis, rental cars, or buses.

    There is no word on whether Volvo plans to develop the Inflatable Child Seat Concept for production at this time. Watch the video below of the seat in action.

  • Subaru’s WRX-based NY Auto Show teaser

    April 15, 2014

    Subaru has revealed a mysterious teaser photo of a car to be shown this week at the New York International Auto Show.

    Subaru released the image on Facebook with no context was given, just the caption “See you at the New York International Auto Show.” The photo shows what appears to be the be-winged rear corner of a metallic gray 2015 Subaru WRX or STI.

    Unlike stock versions of the Subie sports sedan, however, the spoiler is quite a bit taller and finished in a light blue color differing from the traditional WR Blue derived from the company’s rally cars. In addition the wing has what looks like a trailing diffuser made of exposed carbon fiber and intermediate supports between the L-shaped ones on either end.

    Additionally, the trunk appears to be made of exposed carbon fiber as well. Speculation has abounded, with some predicting that this is a competition version marking Subaru’s first rally efforts with the either the 2.0-liter, 268hp 2015 WRX or the 2.5-liter 305hp 2015 WRX STI.

    Of course, Subaru’s turbo boxer motors and all-wheel-drive drivetrains have long been stalwarts of off-tarmac motorsports. However, given the extreme styling and contrasting colors of this particular car, and the fact that the photo was release on social media, we predict that this will be an entrant in the increasingly popular rallycross form of mixed-surface racing.

  • Nissan teases Beijing-bound concept [VIDEO]

    April 15, 2014
    Nissan will follow up its 2013 Friend-ME concept with a new four-door show car at the upcoming Beijing International Automotive Exhibition.

    Nissan is keeping the details of its latest concept sedan a secret until the start of the Beijing show, but the Japanese automaker says that the yet-to-be-named show car was designed for the “Chinese digital lifestyle.” That marketing angle follows the same general blueprint of the Friend-ME, which was aimed at the “Post-80s” generation.

    The concept sedan was designed at Nissan Design China in Beijing, where the Friend-ME was also penned.

    No word on what drivetrain will power the mystery car, but some kind of hybrid system seems likely. The Friend-ME was based on an existing Nissan platform, so it’s possible that the sedan concept is also rooted in reality.

    Be sure to check back on April 20 for full details on Nissan’s latest concept.

  • Peugeot unveils Dakar-bound 2008 DKR

    April 15, 2014

    Peugeot has published the first official images of the 2008 DKR, a purpose-designed race car built to spearhead the automaker’s return to the iconic Dakar Rally after a 25-year hiatus.

    Driven by experienced pilots Carlos Sainz and Cyril Depres, the race car features a menacing look with angular headlights similar to the ones found on the regular-production 2008, a thin radiator grille and black alloy wheels mounted on off-road competition tires manufactured by Michelin. A two-tone flat paint job wraps up the murdered-out look, while a coupe-like silhouette adds a sporty touch to the overall appearance.

    Interior pictures will be published closer to the 2008 DKR’s rally debut. Expect the car to boast a driver-focused cockpit with just the bare minimum level of equipment.

    What powers the 2008 DKR is a mystery but Peugeot has revealed the car is rear-wheel drive. Although critics are skeptical Peugeot can win Dakar with a two-wheel drive car, engineers believe the 2008 DKR has the potential to perform better than four-wheel drive racers entered in the event by competing automakers.

    “Given the off-road capability of two-wheel drive transmission and its ability to run on sand, that’s the choice we ultimately went for. It enabled us to fit bigger wheels and also to benefit from more suspension travel,” explained Jean-Christophe Pailler, Peugeot Sport’s Project Leader.

    The 2008 DKR is scheduled to make its competition debut in January of 2015 in Buenos Aires, Argentina. It will face stiff competition from an eclectic field of rivals including a heavily-modified MINI Countryman that has placed first in every edition of the grueling race since 2012.

    Further details about the 2008 DKR will be announced at the Beijing Motor Show on April 20th.