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Mini To Get Even Bigger With Van And Station Wagon

On: Thu, Feb 16, 2012 at 9:57AM | By: Chris Weiss

Mini To Get Even Bigger With Van And Station Wagon test 2

There are really only so many people that will put down money on a tiny mini-car. Sure, these small cars boast great gas mileage, but they're not exactly equipped to handle many passengers or much cargo. They just aren't practical for every driver.

Mini, a company founded on the idea of tiny minicars, has slowly been growing its offerings with larger cars like the Countryman and Clubman. Though it may return to its tiny roots with a Rocketman-inspired production car, the company has no plans of abandoning larger vehicles. In fact, it plans to build both a van and station wagon.

Fisker Loses Government Loan Money, Delays Next Vehicles

On: Wed, Feb 15, 2012 at 5:27PM | By: Chris Weiss

Fisker Loses Government Loan Money, Delays Next Vehicles test 2

I hate to say it, but Fisker just has the feel of a company teetering very closely to disaster and bankruptcy. The start-up has encountered nothing but obstacles and speed bumps in its attempts to get its Karma and next-generation models to market. The latest speed bump culminates from past speed bumps.

Delay after delay on Karma production. Price increase after price increase. Unimpressive official fuel economy rating. Battery fires. Did we miss anything? All those factors have hampered Fisker's ability to get its Karma plug-in hybrid rolling. The car was introduced back in 2008 and just barely made it to market last year.

Bertone Teases New Geneva Concept

On: Wed, Feb 15, 2012 at 4:37PM | By: Chris Weiss

Bertone Teases New Geneva Concept test 2

It looks like this year's Geneva Motor Show will bring us concepts from two of Italy's most prominent design houses. We've already seen some teasing for the Pininfarina Cambiano, and now Stile Bertone has teased a concept of its own. It's named Nuccio after Nuccio Bertone.

Like the Cambiano, the Nuccio is designed as an anniversary celebration. It recognizes Bertone's 100 years of existence and is named after Nuccio Bertone, son of the company's founder and an influential past leader that split the company into Stile Bertone (for design) and Carrozzeria Bertone (for manufacturing). Nuccio passed away in 1997 and his widow Lilli Bertone heads the company today.

The Nuccio should prove to be an exciting debut. The car is a tribute to the firm's heritage and is a modern reinterpretation of its wedge-shaped styling. This wedge shape was exemplified by one of Bertone's most famous concepts - the recently sold Lancia Stratos HF Zero concept from the 1970 Turin Motor Show. Bertone has named that car among its "10 masterpieces."

A Bird? A Plane? No, A Bentley Continental GT Flying Over Munich (Video)

On: Wed, Feb 15, 2012 at 3:08PM | By: Chris Weiss

A Bird? A Plane? No, A Bentley Continental GT Flying Over Munich test 2

Airlifting supercars via helicopter seems to be in vogue lately. Mercedes did it with the SLS AMG in Stuttgart. Lamborghini flew a Reventon over Turin, Italy. Ferrari heli-ed the FF to the Italian Dolomites. Now Bentley has joined the pack of high-end European brands in dangling its vehicle over a major European destination.

Bentley flew its all-new V8-powered Continental GT over Munich, Germany. Not only was the red Continental's journey a spectacle, but its destination was impressive too. The Bentley touched down on a glassy, window-covered rooftop.


BMW Showcases ConnectedDrive Technology In New Commercials (Video)

On: Wed, Feb 15, 2012 at 1:57PM | By: Chris Weiss

BMW Showcases ConnectedDrive Technology In New Commercials test 2

BMW introduced the Vision ConnectedDrive concept at last year's Geneva Motor Show. While the concept was a radical roadster that was quite the sight to see, it was primarily about technology, not styling. The concept previewed a host of next-generation technological systems designed to connect the driver to the vehicle and road around him.

BMW has taken the next step in advertising its ConnectedDrive suite. It has released a series of fun, humorous commercials that showcase some of the technologies.

SNL + Clint Eastwood = Best Spoof Ever (Videos)

On: Wed, Feb 15, 2012 at 11:55AM | By: Chris Salamone

SNL's Bill Hader as Clint Eastwood test 2

 After Clint Eastwood’s “Halftime in America” spot aired, Fox News fans everywhere collectively cringed in discomfort – well except in the UK and Canada, where Fox is banned. Many spectators were left inspired, but perhaps just as many felt confused by Eastwood’s supposed Chrysler endorsement. In our time of political jockeying and accepted corporate intertwining with the government, people raised questions about the advertisement’s intended goal. Was Chrysler selling cars or Obama’s 2012 candidacy?

As has become something of a norm in the United States, we feel compelled to be distracted or laugh at our present situation, much like the Roman Empire’s emphasis on satire or overly-aggressive sporting events. Which is what makes SNL so ridiculously entertaining: the wackier our society gets, the more material there is to comment on. Take the music videos of the 1990s and early 2000s, for example. These look like the inspirational blueprint for SNL’s vastly popular Lonely Island series. And Clint Eastwood’s original spot provides the perfect backdrop for a little SNLification. Nothing says ‘spoof’ like an aging gunslinger giving a pep talk.

Gas Mileage A Primary New-Car Consideration, Says J.D. Power

On: Wed, Feb 15, 2012 at 10:36AM | By: Chris Weiss

Gas Mileage A Primary New-Car Consideration, Says J.D. Power test 2

J.D. Power and Associates 2012 Avoider Study indicates that gas mileage was the biggest factor influencing car buyers' purchasing decisions last year. Fuel economy surpassed such factors as reliability, price and styling in the survey.

The new study is based on responses from more than 24,000 owners who registered a new vehicle in May 2011. JD Power conducted the survey between August and October of last year.

While the study focuses primarily on reasons that consumers avoided particular models and brands, JD Power's press release includes the observation: "The study finds that gas mileage is the most influential reason for purchasing a particular vehicle model in 2012, surpassing the influence of other key reasons such as reliability, the deal and exterior styling, which were the most influential purchase reasons in 2010."

Audi S8 - The New State Of Performance Cars

On: Tue, Feb 14, 2012 at 1:55PM | By: Lou Ruggieri

Audi S8 test 2

My, how things have changed. Under 'normal' circumstances of days in the not-so-distant past, if you were going to spend $110,000 on a sporty fun-to-drive hot rod car, the big news would be that said car has 520-horsepower and 479-lb.-ft. of torque and was capable of ripping of 4.0-second 0-60 mph runs despite its 4400 pound, four-door stature.  

But as it turns out, the new S8 doesn't necessarily headline with the big horsepower news, but co-headlines at best. The news that apparently Audi is just as excited about for its potential buyers has nothing to do with horsepower. The big news is that if you decide to spend 110k on a sports car, it seems you won't have to spend as much on gas as you used to. Yup, that's right, you extremely wealthy businessmen and women, it seems you can have your cake and eat it too (whatever exactly that really means).

Late-Surging Prius V Beats Chevy Volt

On: Tue, Feb 14, 2012 at 12:34PM | By: Chris Weiss

Late-Surging Prius V Beats Chevy Volt test 2

All last year, the automotive world watched the sales race between the Chevy Volt and Nissan Leaf unfold. Which technology - series hybrid or all electric - would win the hearts and minds of early adopters?

In the end, neither one really made a clear statement. The Nissan Leaf performed very closely to company goals of 10,000 with 9,674 units sold in the US. The Chevy Volt fell a little shorter of the same goal with 7,671 sales. While the Volt lost by 2,000 units, it ended the year beating previous month sales over the last four months of the year and Nissan Leaf sales over the last three.

So the 2011 sales totals left the question of series hybrid v. electric vehicle inconclusive. What is conclusive is that consumers prefer a third option: parallel hybrids. The Toyota Prius V, which was only on sale for a fraction of the year, beat out the Volt in total sales.

Automakers' Green Strategy Switching From Hybrids And EVs To Small Gas Engies

On: Tue, Feb 14, 2012 at 9:42AM | By: Chris Weiss

Automakers' Green Strategy Switching From Hybrids And EVs To Small Gas Engi test 2

Hybrids and electric vehicles are great at making headlines. Because they're new technology, these vehicles make headlines on technology blogs and magazines that could care less about the latest small turbocharged gas engine. Problem is, while everyone likes reading about new technology, not everyone is as quick to buy it, especially when it proves more expensive. Automakers are starting to respond to consumer apathy to hybrids by putting more emphasis on building efficient gas vehicles.

According to the Detroit News, the expense of equipping cars with batteries and electric motors combined with the increasing fuel economy of small gas engines has convinced some automakers to spend more resources on increasing the efficiency of gas cars. A few auto retailers quoted in the article explained that hybrids start a nice conversation about eco-friendly automobiles in showrooms, but the conversation often ends in the customer deciding that hybrids are too expensive.

Dodge Recalls 9,600 Police Chargers

On: Mon, Feb 13, 2012 at 5:16PM | By: Lou Ruggieri

Dodge Recalls 9,600 Police Chargers test 2

Dodge has issued a recall to bring back 9,688 Chargers built in 2011 and 2012 equipped with its police package. It seems these criminal catchers have multiple issues. One problem has to do with the low-beam headlamps, which can burn out due to the bulb harness connector burning out. The second issue stems from the power distribution center having the propensity to overheat and shorting out the ABS and electronic stability control systems.

Obviously, being able to see the road as well as having the aid of safety systems are all paramount to any kind of high speed pursuit and Chrysler has said they will begin the recall as early as March.

Read on for the full report from Safercar.gov ...