• Rolls-Royce previews Wraith ‘Inspired by Film’ edition

    March 31, 2015
    Rolls-Royce has previewed a new special-edition Wraith, known as the ‘Inspired by Film’ edition.
    As the name implies, the package celebrates the company’s Wraith launch film, “And the World Stood Still,” which has been accepted into the British Film Institute National Archive.

    “We selected ['And the World Stood Still'] for preservation as it is an outstanding and award-winning example of modern corporate promotional filmmaking,” said BFI’s senior curator for non-fiction films, Patrick Russell. “It’s a powerful use of the film medium for product launch purposes, executed with impeccable craftsmanship.”

    The special-edition Wraith takes inspiration from the film, with a two-tone silver and Jubilee Silver exterior color theme and a solid-silver hand-cast Spirit of Ecstasy adorning the hood.

    The interior has been outfitted with Anthracite leather contrasting against Casden Tan accents. The silver scheme is maintained by an aluminum band that flows across the open-pore Macassar Ebony paneling.

    No changes have been made under the hood, where a 6.6-liter twin-turbo V12 produces 624 horsepower and 590 lb-ft of torque.

    The special-edition Wraith will make its debut this week at the New York auto show.

  • Porsche confirms new GT2 RS; no turbos for future GT3

    March 31, 2015
    A Porsche executive has confirmed plans to build a new GT2 RS and dismissed the possibility of moving to turbocharged engines for all 911s.
    The company’s 911 product manager a year ago hinted that the future of the GT2 was in question. Speculation cited internal politics and improved performance of the latest 911 Turbo S and GT3 RS as potential roadblocks.

    Porsche Motorsport head Andreas Preuninger now claims the company has warmed to the idea. Speaking to Autocar, he confirmed that a GT2 RS is now under development.

    The upcoming GT2 RS will not be based on the current 991 model, instead arriving later in the lifecycle of the next generation. The redesigned 911 is rumored to arrive within the next year, suggesting the GT2 RS could make its debut around 2018.

    The previous 911 GT2 RS was capped to just 500 units, each powered by a twin-turbocharged 3.6-liter flat six capable of producing 620 horsepower. With a curb weight barely over 3,000 pounds, the car was capable of hitting 60 mph in 3.5 seconds and eventually reaching 205 mph.

    Aside from the GT2 details, Preuninger also reaffirmed Porsche’s commitment to natural aspiration for future GT3 models. He is also pushing for an optional manual transmission on GT3 models, but the move has not yet been officially approved by the management board.

    The revamped 911 is expected to be revealed at the Frankfurt auto show in September.

  • Hyundai aims for autonomous vehicles by 2020

    March 31, 2015
    Hyundai has outlined its strategy for developing autonomous vehicles, with limited self-driving functionality expected to arrive by the end of the decade.
    Most if not all major automakers are working on the same time-frame, though Hyundai does not expect fully autonomous vehicles to be ready for the market until 2030.

    Hyundai’s roadmap starts with highway-driving assist, which will begin rolling out in the second half of this year. Like similar features from other companies, the technology will help hold a lane and manage cruise control to maintain a certain distance from traffic ahead. The company hopes to differentiate its technology by integrating automatic traffic-jam avoidance, according to a Korea Herald report.

    “We aim to provide partially automated driving in 2015, highly automated driving in 2020 and fully automated driving in 2030,” a Hyundai official said at a demonstration event outside of Seoul.

    Other automakers will also begin phasing in the technology over the next five years, likely starting with comprehensive automatic-braking and highway-driving assist before moving to more advanced technology. Similar announcements have been made by Audi, Ford, General Motors, Nissan and Tesla Motors, among others.

    One research firm suggests the shift toward autonomous vehicles will be exponential, with more than nine percent of new cars either semi- or completely-autonomous by 2035. In the meantime, the technology will remain relatively expensive through 2025 and consequently installed on a small fraction of production cars.

  • Subaru reveals new 580-hp WRX STI rallycross fighter

    March 31, 2015
    Subaru has revealed its 2015 WRX STI-based rallycross fighter, known by the monicker VT15x.
    The racer is the third evolution of an STI-based rallycross car for Subaru Rally Team USA in four years, built through a partnership with Vermont SportsCar.

    The VT15x manages to squeeze 580 horsepower out of Subaru’s 2.0-liter boxer engine, with power sent to all four wheels via a six-speed SADEV sequential gearbox. It is said to be capable of hitting 60 mph from a standstill in just two seconds flat.

    The development team has also focused on improving weight balance, center-of-gravity, suspension geometry and aerodynamics, all of which contribute to even better handling than the VT14x build.

    “The VT15x is almost entirely-new technology. This car is a revolution, not just an evolution,” said Vermont SportsCar team principal Lance Smith. “Using the 2015 WRX STI, we have seen gains in handling and cornering in both our stage rally and rallycross cars; which is a testament to advancements in design from the factory.”

    Subaru Rally Team USA will begin its 2015 season at the Red Bull Global Rallycross event in Ft. Lauderdale, before heading to Austin to compete in the X Games Rallycross series. The car will be piloted by Bucky Lasek and Sverre Isachsen, with Travis Pastrana joining at the X Games.

  • NY preview: 2016 GMC Terrain

    March 31, 2015
    GMC has quietly introduced the modestly updated 2016 Terrain ahead of its debut at tomorrow’s New York Motor Show.
    Up front, the Terrain is fitted with new-look headlights, a sharper radiator grille with three horizontal slats, a power dome hood and a new lower bumper accented by a mustache-shaped piece of chrome trim. The rear end gets a redesigned bumper, tweaked tail lamps and a trapezoidal exhaust pipe, while a pair of new alloy wheel designs and two additional paint colors round out the exterior modifications for 2016.

    The updates are even more minor in the cockpit, where the most notable changes for the next model year are the addition of a storage shelf in the center console, an updated touch screen with new graphics and a chromed transmission shifter. SLT models can be spruced up with new Saddle Up leather upholstery and an eight-way power-adjustable front passenger’s seat, while range-topping Denali models are offered with a new Light Titanium/Jet Black interior combination.

    GMC has not made any mechanical modifications to the Terrain, meaning buyers can choose from a 2.4-liter four-cylinder unit that produces 182 horsepower and 172 lb-ft. of torque and a 3.6-liter V6 rated at 301 horsepower and 272 lb-ft. of torque. Both engines are linked to a six-speed automatic transmission.

    The updated 2016 GMC Terrain will land in showrooms next fall.

  • 2016 Mazda Miata priced from $24,915

    March 30, 2015
    Mazda announced Monday that the U.S.-bound 2016 MX-5 Miata will be priced from $24,915–less than $1,000 more expensive than the outgoing 2015.
    Mazda will offer the new MX-5 in three trims: Sport, Club and Grand Touring. The Sport will come standard with a six-speed manual transmission, LED headlights, USB audio input, Bluetooth phone and audio streaming, a leather-wrapped shift knob and power door locks. The Club edition (set to be revealed in New York this week) will cater exclusively to driving enthusiasts.

    “The Sport model is for those desiring a pure, lightweight, unadulterated wind-in-the-hair driving experience. MX-5 Club is for those seeking a more aggressive appearance and driving experience and Grand Touring models are for loyal MX-5 owners who seek premium amenities and a driving experience that only MX-5 can deliver,” said Rod McLaughlin, MX-5 vehicle line manager, MNAO, in a statement.

    “As we get closer to the MX-5′s summer on-sale date, we’re seeing a surge in interest and excitement from enthusiasts and journalists,” said Jim O’Sullivan, president and CEO. “Already, early MX-5 reviews have been overwhelmingly positive, and we expect the momentum that MX-5 has garnered to continue to build as drivers get behind the wheel of our fourth-generation sports car.”

    Production of the 2016 MX-5 began earlier in March and the first retail units will be delivered to Japanese-market customers in June. Worldwide deliveries will begin following the home market introduction.

    When equipped with a manual transmission, the Miata will tip the scales at just 2,332 pounds. Checking the MX-5′s automatic gearbox option will push the car’s weight to a slightly more portly 2,381 pounds.

    In comparison, the lightest version of the outgoing MX-5 was about 2,480 pounds, with the heaviest models checking in just above 2,600 pounds. The 2016 MX-5 isn’t quite as light as the 2,070 pound original, but it’s pretty darn close considering its modern safety and luxury features.

    And while the 2016 MX-5 is down on power compared to the previous car (155 horsepower vs 167 horsepower), the new model actually boasts a better power-to-weight ratio thanks to its featherlight curb weight. That should translate to a 0-60 time in the low six-second range. Mazda executives have also hinted that a more powerful–likely turbocharged–engine could be in the works.

    A hardtop variant may also be in the works, and could arrive before a more powerful engine is offered.

    Photo by Brian Williams.

  • Porsche reveals Panamera Edition with aesthetic upgrades

    March 30, 2015
    Porsche has revealed its latest limited-production packages, the Panamera Edition and the all-wheel-drive Panamera 4 Edition.
    Both variants are distinguished by 19-inch Panamera Turbo II wheels and high-gloss black trim strips on the side windows.

    The interior has also received a few modest tweaks, with ‘Edition’ lettering on the door sill plates and special floor mats. Otherwise it matches standard packages, with a two-tone theme in black and Luxor Beige with the Porsche crest embossed on the head rests.

    The packages come equipped with most available options, including a 585-watt Bose sound system with 14 speakers, a seven-inch infotainment system, active suspension management and 14-way comfort seats, among other features.

    The Panamera Edition will go on sale in the US by June. Prices start at $80,995 (including $995 freight) for the standard model, or $85,295 for the Panamera 4 Edition.

  • 2016 Chevy Camaro to shed more than 200 pounds

    March 30, 2015
    Chevrolet’s next-generation Camaro sports car will shed more than 200 pounds thanks to a new architecture constructed from lightweight materials.
    The Camaro’s new chassis is expected to be derived from the rear-wheel drive architecture that underpins the Cadillac ATS. But in addition to the weight savings afforded by that platform switch, Chevy engineers also managed to cut mass by examine every component destined for the 2016 Camaro

    For example, the current Camaro’s steel instrument panel support beam was swapped out for an aluminum unit, saving 9.7 pounds. The sixth-generation Camaro’s suspension assemblies will also be made from aluminum, netting a weight savings of 21 percent compared to the fifth-generation Camaro. Given those changes, the base 2016 Camaro could tip the scales at about 3,500 pounds, or 300 pounds less than the current Z/28.

    “We kept the cornering confidence and control that make the Gen 5 Camaro 1LE so fun to drive, and added a greater sense of agility,” said Al Oppenheiser, Camaro chief engineer. “The new Camaro brakes harder, flicks into corners more quickly, and drives out of the corner faster. We expect it will set the benchmark in the segment and give many sports cars a challenge.”

    Chevrolet will officially unveil the 2016 Camaro on May 16th.

  • Volvo to build $500M factory in US

    March 30, 2015
    Volvo has confirmed plans to build a new manufacturing facility in the US.
    The company suggests the new plant is a critical element in a restructuring and transformation strategy that has been ongoing since 2010, establishing an industrial presence on three key continents.

    The Swedish automaker is exploring several different locations to build the $500 million facility. Specific details surrounding the sites are being kept under wraps until a later date.

    The US plant will complement two Volvo factories in Europe and two facilities in China. The company has set a medium-term goal of 100,000 vehicle sales in the US annually. Sales were down by 7.9 percent in the US last year, falling to 56,366 units, but stronger growth in China and Western Europe helped achieve a record year globally.

    “Volvo Cars cannot claim to be a true global car maker without an industrial presence in the US. Today, we became that,” Volvo CEO Hakan Samuelsson said in a statement. “The US is an absolutely crucial part of our global transformation and today’s announcement makes it perfectly clear that Volvo is in the US to stay.”

    The transformation strategy also includes establishing an entirely new lineup by 2020, introducing a build-to-order program for US customers, and rolling out a new design language.

  • NY preview: 2016 Land Rover Range Rover SVAutobiography [Video]

    March 30, 2015
    Land Rover has introduced the 2016 Range Rover SVAutobiography, the most luxurious, powerful and expensive regular-production SUV it has ever built.
    Scheduled to debut later this week at the New York Motor Show, the SVAutobiography replaces the range-topping Autobiography Black trim level. Based on the long-wheelbase Range Rover, the new model gains a number of relatively minor visual updates including model-specific emblems on the hood and on the tailgate, a new radiator grille finished in Graphite Atlas and polished chrome as well as four exhaust outlets. A two-tone paint job that pairs a Santorini Black roof with one of nine available colors is available at an extra cost.

    Inside, the SVAutobiography lives up to its flagship positioning with knobs, dials and pedals machined from solid aluminum as well as leather upholstery on the seats, the dashboard and the door panels. The rear occupants are treated to power-retractable aircraft-inspired tablets, a drink cooler, twisted pile mohair carpet and solid aluminum coat hooks bolted to the door pillars.

    Buyers after a fully-loaded SUV can order the optional sliding luggage floor. Made out of aluminum and real wood, the floor slides out by several inches in order to make loading and unloading items a breeze while adding an extra touch of luxury.

    In North America, the SVAutobiography is exclusively available with a 5.0-liter V8 engine that uses a Roots-type twin vortex supercharger to generate 550 horsepower and 502 lb-ft. of torque. Borrowed from the Range Rover Sport SVR, the supercharged V8 sends power to all four wheels via an eight-speed automatic transmission. Brembo brakes all around bring the action to a stop, but Land Rover has not published performance specifications.

    The 2016 Land Rover Range Rover SVAutobiography will go on sale this fall. It will start at $199,495, excluding a mandatory $995 destination charge.