• Tokyo Preview: Mitsubishi Emirai 3 autonomous roadster

    October 25, 2015

    Mitsubishi might reveal a new autonomous electric vehicles at the Tokyo Motor Show next week.

    Not even the name is known yet, but some believe it will be called the Emirai 3, not to be confused with the Toyota Mirai (“mirai” is the Japanese word for “future”). The name would make sense, following on the heels of the Emirai and Emirai 2 concepts that were shown at the 2013 Tokyo Motor Show.

    It should be noted, however, that these concepts are not the creations of Mitsubishi Motors, the automotive division, but Mitsubihi Electric, which has its hands in semiconductors, IT systems and factory automation technologies.

    According to Technologic Vehicles, the Emirai 3 is all-electric and an all-wheel-drive roadster. Power is generated by multiple electric motors at each wheel, for a total of 168 horsepower.

    Its self-driving features come by way of a bank of radar sensors and an artificial intelligence algorithm to predict the movement of other cars. The interface includes a 3D heads up display, and it even uses “cloud data also to monitor the physical condition of the driver such as fatigue.” We’re not really sure what that means yet; perhaps it knows via the Facebook photos you posted that you’ve been up for 24 hours partying.

    The Tokyo Motor Show opens October 28.

  • VIDEO: Stanford engineers create self-drifting DeLorean

    October 25, 2015

    As if you hadn’t heard enough about Back to the Future this week, the geniuses at Stanford University have built a drifting Delorean. The kicker, however, is that the car can drift by itself.

    The car was built by Stanford’s Revs Center, an automotive research institution. The car is, naturally, called MARTY, an abbreviation for Multiple Actuator Research Testbed for Yaw control. It doesn’t just look sweet, however. Getting the car to slide around serves a practical purpose, and that is to get autonomous vehicles to perform at the limits in emergency situations.

    According to Wired, The project began in May 2013. While any car could have served as the base, a Delorean was chosen because “It’s a car that says science project,” according to Revs head Chris Gerdes. Unfortunately the team soon discovered that the Delorean isn’t the sharpest handling car out there. It understeered “horrendously,” which made it hard to hold a sustained drift. Perhaps an autonomous Toyota AE86 or Nissan 240SX would have fared better.

    Undeterred, engineers retrofitted the Delorean with a new power steering and steer-by-wire system, coil springs, and electric motors at each rear wheel. Inertial sensors and GPS were added to help with the drifting part. The result is a car that looks pretty ready to tackle the next Formula D battle.

  • Nissan previews SEMA-bound 2016 GT-R NISMO N Attack

    October 25, 2015

    Nissan will travel to the SEMA show that will open its doors early next month in Las Vegas, Nevada, with at least four concepts in tow. One of them is a NISMO-tuned, track-focused version of the 2016 GT-R that’s scheduled to go on sale nationwide shortly after it greets the show-going public in Sin City.

    Called GT-R NISMO N Attack, the coupe gains a host of aerodynamic add-ons including a rear wing that’s much bigger than the one found on the stock GT-R. Nissan engineers have also fitted the coupe with a comprehensively redesigned suspension system that helps Godzilla get around a track much faster.

    The cabin is upgraded with bucket seats for the front passengers. NISMO hasn’t made any mechanical modifications, meaning the N Attack carries on with a twin-turbocharged 3.8-liter V6 engine that spins all four wheels via a six-speed dual-clutch transmission.

    In Japan, the N Attack package is installed directly at the NISMO Omori Factory. In the United States, the add-ons will be sold and installed by long-time Nissan partner Steven Millen Sportsparts, a California-based company that specializes in aftermarket performance accessories. Pricing and availability will be published in the weeks leading up to the N Attack’s on-sale date.

  • Renault introduces Coupe Corbusier concept

    October 25, 2015
    Renault has introduced a new design study called Coupe Corbusier at a private event held outside of Paris, France. As its name implies, the posh two-door was designed as a homage to French architect Le Corbusier, and to the luxurious sedans that roamed the streets of the French capital during the 1930s.

    The Coupe Corbusier looks like no Renault before it. When viewed from the side, it immediately stands out thanks to a long hood, a low roof line and a fastback-like silhouette. The front end is characterized by thin LED headlights, a large hexagonal grille with metal inserts and a hood ornament.

    Renault says the coupe boasts a minimalist-yet-luxurious cockpit with space for two passengers on ultra-thin bucket seats. Its roof is made up of several frame-less glass panels attached to metal beams, a design solution also found on Le Corbusier-penned buildings and houses. Cargo can be stored in the trunk or in compartments cleverly built into the front fenders.

    Technical details haven’t been announced yet, and whether or not the concept is functional is anyone’s guess. The coupe’s dimensions and proportions hint that it’s not based on an existing member of the Renault family.

    Renault stresses that the Coupe Corbusier is merely a one-off design study that commemorates the 50th anniversary of Le Corbusier’s death. The coupe won’t be added to the automaker’s lineup as a regular-production model, and it wasn’t built to give the public a preview of Renault’s next design direction.

  • First drive: 2016 Kia Optima [Review]

    October 25, 2015

    The Kia brand first launched in the United States two decades ago, but it wasn’t until the 2011 model year launch of the third-generation Optima sedan that John Q. Public really started taking the Korean brand seriously. The reason for that sudden public awakening? The 2011 Kia Optima was simply too good to ignore.

    At a time when most mid-size sedans were as fashionable as a pair of Crocs, the Optima was an Italian loafer. That fact combined with value pricing and a 10-year warranty quickly turned the Optima into Kia’s first model to crest 150,000 annual sales.

    Redesigning a best-seller is never and easy task, but Kia has undertaken just that for the 2016 model year. So, does the 2016 Optima live up to its predecessor or has Kia taken a step back? Come with us as we find out.

    Familiar face
    Admittedly, the face of the 2016 Kia Optima doesn’t look much different from the car that has been on sale for the last five years. Kia says it intentionally kept the mug of the Optima largely the same, citing the notion of not messing with a good thing.

    Look closely, though, and you’ll notice a few subtle design tweaks. The front grille has been reshaped ever-so-slightly and the headlights feature a few more interesting shapes. The lower bumper has also been revised to include a larger air intake and vertical air vent where there were once fog lights.

    The Optima’s roof line is largely the same, but a small window has been added to the C-pillar, which visually enhances the size of the car’s greenhouse. The rear of the Optima has been totally redone and now includes a ducktail spoiler and taillights reminiscent of the units used on the Hyundai Genesis.

    The 2016 Kia Optima is marginally larger than the vehicle it replaces, with total length up 0.4-inches thanks to a 0.4-inch wheelbase stretch. The new Optima is also 0.5-inches taller and 1.0-inches wider than the outgoing car. As those slight dimensional changes would suggest, the 2016 Optima doesn’t feel like a bigger car than last year’s model.

    New interior
    Unlike the exterior of the car, Kia decided to significantly alter the interior design of the 2016 Optima. Although the re-do isn’t bad, it’s kind of a letdown in our eyes.

    Whereas the last-generation Optima had interesting lines and driver-focused tilt to the center stack, the 2016 version of the mid-size sedan features a rather plain-looking dash that’s similar in design to the one found in the Sedona minivan. Kia says the horizontal line that runs across the Optima’s dash was inspired by the horizon line, but we see more conservative German styling influence than anything else.

    Kia went to great lengths to include honest-to-goodness double stitching on the Optima’s dashboard, but that detail is largely lost in an expansive sea of black plastic. Materials are at least soft-touch throughout the Optima’s cabin.

    The front buckets of our SXL tester provided all-day comfort, thanks in part to excellent thigh support. We didn’t spent much time in the rear bench, but it seemed roomy enough for those six-foot or slightly taller.

    The 2016 Optima receives a major boost of the tech front, with available systems including autonomous braking, surround-view monitor and forward collision warning. The Optima’s infotainment system is also capable of running Android Auto. Those using an iOS device will have to wait a few months for the rollout of Apple’s CarPlay.

    Three ways to go
    At launch the 2016 Optima will be available with three different drivetrains — a carryover 2.4L naturally aspirated four-cylinder, a new 1.6L turbo and a revised version of last year’s 2.0L turbocharged engine.

    The 2.4L will stand as the base motor for the entry-level Optima LX and the mid-level EX. It develops 185 horsepower and 176 lb-ft of torque and is mated to a six-speed automatic transmission. For base models the 2.4L is good for 25mpg in the city and 37mpg on the highway. Load on heavy options like leather and a sunroof and the 2.4L’s mileage dips to 24mpg in the city and 35mpg on the highway.

    New for 2016 is an economy-minded 1.6L turbo four. Available on the Optima LX and borrowed from Kia’s other global markets, it makes 178 horsepower and 195 lb-ft of torque. It’s good for 28mpg in the city and 39mpg on the highway. Unlike the other two engines, the 1.6L comes paired with an in-housed designed seven-speed dual-clutch semi-automatic transmission.

    The 2.0L turbo is available exclusively in the Optima SX and SXL models. Although essentially the same engine that was offered last year, Kia has de-tuned the turbocharged mill in the name of economy. Whereas the two-liter used to be good for a stout 274 horsepower and 269 lb-ft of torque, the 2016 version of the four-cylinder can only muster 245 horsepower and 260 lb-ft of torque. As a result of that drop in power, the six-speed equipped 2.0L returns 22mpg in the city and 32mpg on the open road, improvements of 2 and 1mpg, respectively.

    Kia will eventually offer the Optima as a hybrid, but the automaker hasn’t detailed that future model yet.

    On the open road
    We spent a full day carving up the winding mountain roads just outside of Aspen, Colorado, in an Optima SXL equipped with the 2.0T engine. Our tester was loaded to the gills with all the goodies Kia has to offer.

    Our day-long journey took us up to about 14,000 feet where thin air typically results in a noticeable drop off in power. That wasn’t true of our SXL tester, with the turbo easily offsetting the drop in oxygen. Tough it’s not a speedster, the Optima SXL provides plenty of gusto for the average driver.

    The six-speed auto handled its duties well, providing smooth shifts up-or-down through the rev range. The Optima is equipped with paddle shifters, but they weren’t as responsive as we would’ve liked.

    Steering is direct but over-boosted. A ‘Sport’ mode is available, but it didn’t do much to improve the Optima’s electrically-boosted steering rack. The Sport mode does, however, noticeably sharpen the car’s throttle response.

    We found the ride and handling of the Optima to be just OK. The ride in Optima manages to be firm without feeling all that sporty. Even over relatively smooth road surfaces the Optima managed to find rough patches that jittered the entire car.

    The Optima remains a good value for money with the LX 2.4L carrying a base price of $21,840, matching the base price of the less-lavishly equipped 2015 model. Opting for the 1.6L nudges the LX’s asking price to $23,990.

    Those interested in the 2.0L turbo will need at least $29,690 for the Optima SX. The better-equipped SXL with the 2.0L raises the bar to $35,790.

    Leftlane’s bottom line
    New but not necessarily improved, the 2016 Optima feels more like a lateral step than a leap forward for the Kia brand. Driving dynamics remain an issue for Kia and we miss the more expressive interior of the last-generation car. Still, with better equipment and a more efficient engine lineup, the new Optima should carry on the torch as Kia’s best-selling nameplate.

    Photos by Drew Johnson and courtesy of Kia.

  • Sportfedern von H&R für den neuen Opel Astra

    October 25, 2015

    Noch besser in Form: H&R hat Sportfedern für den neuen Opel Astra entwickelt

    Die Federn senken das Fahrzeug um 40 Millimeter ab

    Dadurch stehen die 17-Zöller fülliger in den Radhäusern

    Lennestadt, 23. Oktober 2015
    Erst vor kurzem rollte der neue Opel Astra zu den Händlern. Dort soll der Wagen mit vielen Assistenzsystemen die Kunden anlocken. Wer bereits zugegriffen hat, aber noch etwas am Fahrwerk optimieren will, wird bei H&R fündig.

    Tiefere Lage
    Dort hat man einen Satz Sportfedern für den neuen Astra entwickelt. Sie senken den Fahrzeugschwerpunkt vorn und hinten um vierzig Millimeter ab. Das Resultat ist eine sehr sportive Straßenlage und mehr Querdynamik in Kurven.

    Bessere Optik
    Und auch dem Auge wird etwas geboten: Die 17-Zoll-Alus des Astra schmiegen sich noch tiefer in die Radhäuser hinein. Wie gewohnt sind die H&R-Komponenten inklusive Teilegutachten lieferbar.

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