• GM launches Buick Regal recall to replace steering system

    February 29, 2016

    General Motors has issued a small-batch recall for the 2016 Buick Regal to fix a problem with the steering system.

    The company warns that the electric power-steering system is prone to failure, causing the vehicle to lose power-steering assist.

    “If power-steering assist is lost, steering control can still be maintained but will require increased steering effort, particularly at lower speeds, which could increase the risk of a crash,” the recall documents add.

    Additional details remain unclear, though the problem is serious enough to require complete replacement of the entire electric belt-drive rack and pinion steering gear assembly.

    The issue affects just 74 units produced from late August 2015 through early February this year.

  • Aston Martin DB11 surfaces in another image leak

    February 29, 2016

    Aston Martin’s forthcoming DB11 appears to have surfaced in yet another leak, providing an early glimpse days ahead of its official Geneva debut.

    The images, posted by Carscoops, are consistent with the company’s latest teaser and several previous leaks.

    The DB11 features an evolutionary shift from the DB9, taking inspiration from the DB10 and, to a lesser extent, the high-riding DBX concept. Its fastback profile has been reshaped, introducing a unique floating roof. The front and rear ends both adopt a more aggressive styling, without departing from the latest DB-series design language.

    The sports coupe is expected to introduce a new twin-turbo 5.2-liter V12 engine with over 600 horsepower. A twin-turbo 4.0-liter V8, borrowed from the Mercedes-AMG GT and C63, is said to serve as a downsized alternative for later variants.

    Additional details will be announced later this week at the Geneva Motor Show.

  • First drive: 2016 Infiniti Q50 Red Sport 400 [Review]

    February 29, 2016

    Just a few years ago, entry to the 400 horsepower club was relegated to a handful of exotics. Now, Infiniti will hand you the keys to its new Q50 Red Sport 400 in exchange for around $50,000, and you can haul around a family in luxurious comfort while blowing the doors off of anything in its segment in a straight-line race.

    Taking the place of last year’s 3.7-liter V6, an almost entirely new 3.0-liter twin-turbo V6 headlines a host of modest changes that add up to a much improved 2016 Q50 sedan.

    More power, more turbos
    Visually, the Q50 holds the line for 2016 aside from badging denoting its new powertrains. The big changes aren’t visible at first glance, but they’ve created an entirely different Q50.

    The 3.7 is a goner, replaced by a quartet of options. Anchoring the lineup is a new base model powered by a 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder co-developed with Mercedes-Benz. In the Q50, it’s rated at 208 horsepower and 258 lb-ft. of torque, figures that will help it compete favorably against the 180-pony BMW 320i. From there, the lineup jumps to a carryover Q50 Hybrid with 360 net horsepower.

    But the real excitement begins with what Infiniti expects to be its volume model: A 300 horsepower, 295 lb-ft. of torque variant of the twin-turbo 3.0-liter V6 available in either standard or Sport trims.

    Topping the line is the model we drove, a 400 horse, 350 lb-ft. of torque version made possible by more boost – 14.7 psi versus 8.7 psi – going to the same turbocharger. Christened the Q50 Red Sport 400, it significantly ups the bar for performance in the compact luxury sedan segment.

    The new engine, which Infiniti parent Nissan calls the VR series (its predecessor was the highly-lauded VQ), boasts electronic variable valve timing, gasoline direct injection, and an integrated exhaust manifold. All these items add up to a 40 lbs. weight reduction despite the extra power on board.

    To help make the most of that grunt, the Q50′s steering systems have been revised. A new rack-based electric power steering comes standard, while the company’s world-first Direct Adaptive Steering, a steer-by-wire system with no mechanical connection between the front wheels and the steering wheel, was overhauled with new software for a more natural feel. A new two-mode Dynamic Digital Suspension offers standard and sport settings for the shock absorbers to lessen lean in corners.

    Regardless of what’s under the hood, all Q50s will be offered in standard RWD or optional AWD, the former of which includes staggered Dunlop SP Sport Maxx summer tires on the Red Sport 400.

    Forget about IPL, Infiniti’s short-lived performance division. Denoted by a red S festooned to the Q50′s rear bumper, the Red Sport nomenclature debuts here but may come to other Infinitis in the future. Think BMW M Sport, a trim that bridges the gap between the more luxury-oriented models and those tuned for track use. Infiniti says it doesn’t plan to offer more zoom in the Q50 than the Red Sport, but customer demand could change that.

    Here, Red Sport adds unique 19-inch wheels and a special exhaust, and it’s the only way you can buy a Q50 with the 400 horsepower tune. Pricing hasn’t been announced, but Infiniti estimates that you’ll be able to get a nicely-optioned Red Sport 400 for around $50,000. That means it should undercut the significantly less powerful BMW 340i M Sport.

    A tale of two steering wheels
    We had the opportunity to put the updated Q50 through its paces on the gently winding roads of the Texas Hill Country. Simply put, 400 horsepower in a car tipping the scales at about 3,850 lbs. is ferociously quick. Stomp on the skinny pedal and it’s easy to get the rear end loose even as the standard seven-speed automatic gearbox shifts up into second gear. If anything, we think a set of grippier tires might be in order.

    Our drive was exclusively in the RWD variant, but Infiniti says that nearly half of all Q50s will be ordered with AWD. Interestingly, the brand’s engineers told us that they sought a roughly 54/46 front/rear weight balance with RWD since they wanted to account for weight transfer during acceleration.

    The twin turbos spool up with only a distant, muted growl, and once the torque peaks at a low 1,600 rpm, it’s go time. Careful throttle management means that the Q50 won’t snap heads, but there’s no denying that this is a stout motor. We can only imagine how well it would perform in a lighter coupe like, say, a Nissan 370Z. Hint, hint.

    Suspension-wise, the Q50 Red Sport 400 differs from the 300-pony Q50 Sport by adding wider alloy wheels wrapped in the aforementioned slip-happy Dunlop rubber. Left in standard Dynamic Digital Suspension mode, the Q50 is planted and reasonably compliant. Switching to sport mode adds a degree of edginess and slightly reduces lean in corners.

    It’s steering that makes a sports car, rather than a sporty car, and in that regard the Q50 comes in two flavors: The standard electric setup is a little light and definitely lacking in road feel, but it is sufficiently precise. Opting for the Direct Adaptive Steering package offers a glimpse into the future – it’s a precursor to a fully autonomous setup since it could let the car’s computers have full control.

    Autonomous driving isn’t here yet, so for now Infiniti has revamped the system’s software. Our drive was brief, but it indicated a significantly less artificial feel to the tiller than before, although the sensation remains distant, if less video game-like than before.

    Steering aside, the Q50 is a capable and composed sedan when pushed, even on an autocross-style track, where its firm underpinnings bely its heft.

    Neither steering setup provides the sort of connected feel that BMW has mostly brought back with the new-for-2016 340i, however, meaning the Q50 Red Sport 400 remains more a study in technology than a truly cohesive, blood-pumping sports sedan.

    Leftlane’s bottom line
    There are plenty of compelling reasons – 400 of them, actually – why the Q50 just became way more intriguing, even if emotional engagement with the driver really isn’t one of them.

    2016 Infiniti Q50 Red Sport 400 base price, TBA.

    Photos by Andrew Ganz.

  • FCA kicks off Maserati Levante production

    February 29, 2016

    Wasting no time, Fiat Chrysler Automobiles has already kicked off production for the Maserati Levante.

    Due for a formal unveiling this week at the Geneva Motor Show, the Levante represents the first SUV in Maserati’s century-long history. The production model comes more than a decade after the brand unveiled the Kubang concept.

    The first examples have begun rolling off the assembly line at FCA’s Mirafiori factory in Turin, Italy. The underutilized plant has also been used to produce the Fiat Punto and Alfa Romeo MiTo.

    Reports surrounding the 2011 concept suggested the SUV would be built upon the Jeep Grand Cherokee platform and built in Detroit, however Maserati instead opted to adapt the Ghibli and Quattroporte chassis architecture for the high-riding model. It is said to be produced from “100 percent Maserati parts.”

    The SUV will play an important role in Maserati’s plan to achieve 75,000 annual sales by 2018. The figure represents 15,000 additional units in just four years. The brand had achieved a stratospheric climb of 137 percent in the US between 2013 and 2014, though sales receded with nearly a 10-percent drop in 2015.

    The Levante will arrive in showrooms throughout Europe this spring, before heading to other markets later in the year. The company has not confirmed US launch plans, despite America’s growing appetite for SUVs.

  • Citroen developing flagship sedan for China

    February 29, 2016

    Citroën is preparing to introduce a new flagship that will be built and sold exclusively in China.

    Aimed at the Buick Lacrosse, the sedan will revive the C6 nameplate last used on a large, luxurious range-topping model that was given the ax in 2012. Developed jointly by Citroën and Chinese industrial partner Dongfeng Motors, the upcoming C6 will ride on the same modular EMP2 platform as the Golf-fighting Peugeot 308 and the C4 Picasso minivan. An official teaser sketch suggests it will break all ties with both the last-generation C6, whose design was inspired by classic Citroën sedans like the DS and the CX, and with current members of the Citroën lineup.

    PSA Peugeot-Citroën no longer has a six-cylinder engine in its stable, so the C6 will exclusively be offered with four-cylinder mills. It likely won’t get its predecessor’s hydraulic suspension, either, because the Paris-based car maker is in the process of phasing it out, and its replacement is still a few years away from hitting showrooms.

    WorldCarFans believes Citroën will show the C6 as a thinly-veiled concept at the Beijing Auto Show that will open its doors in late April. Series production will kick off shortly after, and sales will begin before the end of the year. At the time of writing, Citroën is not planning on selling the C6 outside of China.

  • Mansory 4XX Siracusa: 790 PS starker Mittelmotorsportler debütiert auf dem Genfer Autosalon 2016

    February 29, 2016

    Mansory 4XX Siracusa: Getuner Bolide auf Basis des Ferrari 488 GTB debütiert auf dem Genfer Autosalon 2016

    Neben dem Doppel-Flügel am Heck fällt der mächtige Diffusor-Kamm auf

    Der Wagen wurde um 20 Millimeter tiefer gelegt und rollt auf ultraleichten Schmiedefelgen

    Brand, 29. Februar 2016
    Mansory trumpft zum Genfer Salon 2016 auf: Der Veredler stellt den 4XX Siracusa ins Rampenlicht. Es ist bereits der zweite Mansory-Bolide mit diesem Beinamen – den ersten hatte der Tuner vor fünf Jahren zur Messe in Genf präsentiert. Während die damalige Ausführung auf dem Ferrari 458 Italia basierte, bildet nun der 488 GTB die Grundlage der scharfen Flunder.

    Neue Lufteinlässe vorn

    Mansory hat die Karosserie des Italieners unters Messer genommen und dem 488 GTB noch mehr Selbstbewusstsein ins Gesicht geschnitzt. Auffällig sind vor allem neue Lufteinlässe in der Frontschürze, die dem Kühler mehr Atemluft zuführen sollen. Eine speziell entwickelte Frontlippe verbessert den Abtrieb und sorgt so für mehr Bodenhaftung im Grenzbereich. Hinzu kommen hell strahlende Tagfahrleuchten. An der Seite montieren die Mannen von Mansory markante Carbon-Schweller, die neben den geänderten Kotflügeln ins Auge fallen.

    Ultraleichte Schmiedefelgen

    Einen richtig scharfen Anblick bietet das Heck. Hier setzt der Tuner neben einem martialischen Diffusor auch einen großen Doppel-Heckspoiler ein. Außerdem beatmen Einlasskanäle hinter den Türen den Motorraum. Der Siracusa wird von ultraleichten Rädern über den Asphalt getragen. Die geschmiedeten Felgen sind an der Vorderachse 20 Zoll groß und mit Hochleistungsreifen in der Dimension 255/30 bezogen, während an der Hinterachse 21-Zöller mit Reifen in 325/25 die Motorkraft auf die Straße leiten.

    870 Newtonmeter Drehmoment

    Das 3,9-Liter-Aggregat des Ferrari liefert im Serienmodell 670 PS und powert mit einem maximalen Drehmoment von 760 Newtonmeter. Auch hier setzt der Tuner an und bringt die Maschine mit Hilfe eines optimierten Motormanagements und eines speziell abgestimmten Abgassystems auf saftige 790 PS bei 8.000 Touren. Das Drehmoment von 870 Newtonmeter liegt bei 3.000 Umdrehungen an.

    20 Millimeter tiefer

    Nach der Kur sprintet der Bolide in atemberaubenden 2,9 Sekunden von null auf hundert – das Serienauto braucht 3,0 Sekunden. In der Spitze schafft der Siracusa 341 km/h, immerhin elf km/h mehr als die 330 km/h schnelle Werksversion. Das Fahrwerk wurde speziell auf die Mehr-Leistung abgestimmt. Zum Einsatz kommen vier progressiv gewickelte Tieferlegungsfedern, die den Fahrzeugschwerpunkt um 20 Millimeter absenken.

    Spezielles Sportlenkrad

    Auch innen hat der Mansory einiges mehr zu bieten als das Serienmodell. Neben einem eigens angefertigten Sportlenkrad in einer Leder-Carbon-Kombination gibts eine neue Bedieneinheit in der Mittelkonsole. Sämtliche Komponenten der Innenverkleidung sind mit Leder bezogen und mit farbigen Nähten abgesetzt. 4XX-Logos auf den Sitzen, den Fußmatten und den Türeinstiegsleisten verraten den Insassen die Besonderheit dieser Flunder.

    Etwa 372.000 Euro

    Ein Schnäppchen ist Mansory 4XX Siracusa übrigens nicht. Schon allein das Basismodell Ferrari 488 GTB kostet mindestens 228.369 Euro, hinzu kommen Umbaukosten von etwa 143.000 Euro, so dass zirka 372.000 Euro unterm Strich stehen.

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  • Stärkster Fiesta aller Zeiten: Ford Fiesta ST200 auf dem Genfer Autosalon 2016 mit technischen Daten, Marktstart und 0-100-km/h-Zeit

    February 29, 2016

    Auf dem Genfer Autosalon präsentiert Ford den stärksten Fiesta aller Zeiten

    Der Fiesta ST200 erhält 200 PS und 290 Newtonmeter

    Dazu gibt es diverse Fahrwerks-Maßnahmen, die den kleinen Kölner noch direkter und sportlicher machen sollen

    Köln, 29. Februar 2016
    Ford zeigt in Genf eine noch heißere Version seines reichlich heißen Fiesta ST. Das kleine, superwendige Energiebündel verkaufte sich seit der Einführung 2013 immerhin 30.000-mal. Offenbar genug, um für die Fans nochmal eine ganze Schippe draufzulegen. Das gilt vor allem für den überarbeiteten 1,6-Liter-EcoBoost-Turbo, der es nun auf 200 PS und 290 Newtonmeter bringt. Das sind immerhin 18 PS und 50 Newtonmeter mehr als bisher. Im Overboost fallen – für einen auf 20 Sekunden begrenzten Zeitraum – sogar 215 PS und 320 Newtonmeter über die Vorderräder her. Damit ist der Fiesta ST200 nach dem Mini John Cooper Works und dem Renault Clio R.S. 220 Trophy nun der drittstärkste Mini-Sportler.

    Fahrleistungen leicht verbessert
    Das Power-Plus wirkt sich – genau wie eine kürzer ausgelegte Gesamtübersetzung – natürlich auch auf die Fahrleistungen aus. Der Sprint von 0-100 km/h dauert nun nur noch 6,7 Sekunden, die Höchstgeschwindigkeit steigt auf 230 km/h. Der normale Fiesta ST schafft 6,9 Sekunden beziehungsweise 223 km/h.

    Noch straffer und spitzer
    Auch am Fahrwerk des Fiesta ST200 legte Ford nochmal Hand an. Und das, obwohl bereits der Standard-ST hier als äußerst talentiert und irre wendig (wenn auch teilweise recht ruppig) gilt. Dank einer dynamischer eingestellten Torque-Vectoring-Control sowie einer direkter übersetzten Lenkung soll der ST200 noch spitzer einlenken. Außerdem erhält er stärkere Bremsen, noch knackigere Dämpferraten sowie kürzere Federn, die für eine Tieferlegung von 15 Millimeter sorgen.

    Ab Juni 2016
    Von außen ist das neue Fiesta-Topmodell an einem extra abgemischten Grauton namens Storm Grey sowie an mattschwarzen 17-Zöllern und roten Bremssätteln erkennbar. Innen gibt es Recaro-Sportsitze und Sicherheitsgurte mit Kontrastnähten sowie beleuchtete Chrom-Einstiegsleisten. Der Marktstart für den Ford Fiesta ST200 erfolgt im Juni 2016. Sein Publikumsdebüt gibt der stärkste Fiesta aller Zeiten auf dem Genfer Autosalon 2016 (3. bis 13. März). Preise wurden noch nicht bekannt gegeben.

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  • Video introduces Tricolore Abarth 595, teases Abarth 124

    February 28, 2016

    Fiat has released a video, inspired by the 1969 film The Italian Job, that announces new special-edition Abarth 595 and teases the new Abarth 124.

    The original Italian Job is perhaps best known for an extended (and quite overrated) chase sequence in which a trio of Minis dodge the polizia through the streets of Turin after Michael Caine and his band of merry thieves pull off a big heist in the famed Italian city. In a teaser video released Thursday titled “The Real Italian Job: The Full Story,” the tables are turned when it is three Fiat 500-based Abarth 595s that escape Turin — where the Abarth offices are, incidentally — and invade London.

    Part of its purpose is to introduce a new Tricolore package for the 595. Available only on models in red, white or dark blue, the limited edition appearance package adds titanium-finish 17-inch wheels, red brake calipers, black mirror caps, an exclusive steering wheel, and racing stripes. No performance improvements are included, and the standard 1.4-liter turbo four with 140 horsepower and 152 pound-feet of torque is the sole engine choice. Tricolore edition 595s will be limited to 300 for the UK market.

    The real money shot of the video, however, is a brief teaser picture of what is likely the Abarth 124, “stolen” from the Abarth factory. It’s all a bit hokey and “The Real Italian Job: The Full Story,” doesn’t really tell the full story. Instead, it hints at the 124 with a diecast model of an old 124, and offers only the briefest of glimpses. No further details were given. Watch the video below.

  • Acura NSX still has untapped performance potential

    February 28, 2016

    The 2017 Acura NSX configurator may have just launched this week, but already rumors are circulating about a higher-performance version, reportedly a possible Type R.

    The NSX already boasts 573 horsepower and 476 lb-ft of torque thanks to a twin-turbo V6 and no less than three electric motors, but Paul Eisenstein of The Detroit Bureau reports that Acura engineers are looking for ways to “bump power and performance up another notch or two.”

    Engineers believe that the 3.5-liter V6 is “far from nearing the limits of its design,” with a power-to-displacement ratio of “just” 143 per liter. Improvements to the turbochargers may be part of the strategy to draw more power from the engine. More than 15 years ago, Honda achieved the highest power-to-displacement ratio of any naturally aspirated production car when it introduced the 240-horsepower, 2.0-liter S2000 sports car.

    Interestingly, the most immediate methods of bumping power may not come from traditional means such as tweaking turbos. Instead, engineers, believe the electric half of the hybrid powertrain holds just as much tuning potential. A larger battery pack, unspecified upgrades to the electrical system, and changes to the chemistry of the batteries themselves that improve energy “flow” are all potential wells of more power.

    As for the Type R, there is no official confirmation of such a program. In the past, Honda has only bestowed the Type R name to the purest of lightweight performance cars. At 3,803 pounds, the NSX is already on the heavy side. A true Type R would have to dramatically reduce that mass, and the elimination of power seats, sound insulation material and other electronic amenities would have to take place.

    In any case, it sounds as if there are already several ways to improve performance in coming iterations before a hard core Type R needs to debut.

  • Geneva-bound Honda Civic hatchback concept leaked

    February 27, 2016

    Leaked low-resolution images have given us an early look at the Honda Civic Hatchback that’s scheduled to bow next week in Geneva.

    The current five-door Civic was unabashedly designed with the European market in mind. However, that’s set to change soon because the next-gen model will be exported from Swindon, England, to the United States for the first time ever. Whether there’s a market for it here remains to be seen, but every example sold abroad brings Honda one step closer to turning around its struggling European division.

    The leaked images confirm the five-door hatchback borrows styling cues such as C-shaped tail lamps and a discreet spoiler from the Civic Coupe that was shown in Los Angeles last November. It also indicates the hatchback features a raked roof line, which means it won’t look as boxy as the Volkswagen Golf and the Chevrolet Cruze Hatch. Its front end is all but identical to the four-door sedan’s, though the concept gains a splitter and large air dams.

    Honda will reveal its next concept in the coming days, and we’ll bring you live images of it straight from the show floor in Switzerland as soon as the veil is lifted. The production model is widely expected to make its global debut at the Paris Auto Show in the fall, and Honda has confirmed it will join the sedan and the coupe in showrooms early next year.