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Auto Industry News
And Car Reviews

Fiat Strada Leaps From Brazil To Europe

On: Wed, Feb 1, 2012 at 9:54AM | By: Chris Salamone

Fiat Strada test 2

Anyone who follows our AS Classic Car Cultist thread will tell you that we don’t lack enthusiasm for car-based pickups. And while most Americans might laugh in the face of compact payload capacities, sub-100 horsepower engines, and gimmicky monikers, we see things differently. Which is why Fiat’s recent decision to send their super-mini coupe utility to Europe strikes a chord with us – couldn’t the Strada work for America as well?

Judging by our country’s lukewarm reaction to the currently-available 500 model, perhaps the more radical Strada series might add water to an already ill-fated Italian ship (pun intended). Or perhaps not…the Strada is a vehicle which consists of a unique mix of affordability, practicality, and aesthetic character.

Details On McLaren MP4-12C Spyder

On: Tue, Jan 31, 2012 at 2:26PM | By: Chris Weiss

McLaren MP4-12C Spyder test 2

The McLaren MP4-12C Roadster is the next super-sports car up on McLaren's expanding roster. The car will debut sometime this year, and judging by the increasing number of spy photos and reports on it, we wouldn't be surprised to see it in Geneva. A few new details surfaced this week.

According to a Car magazine report, the MP4-12C convertible will be more of a targa-roof style car. The car will use a three-piece retractable hard top made of aluminum and plastic. The roof will retract in 17 seconds and operate at speeds up to 5 mph.

The convertible will share the same mid-mounted 592-hp V-8 engine and is expected to come close to the hard-top's performance figures of 3.3 seconds to 62 mph and 205 mph top out.

Ferrari 458 Spider - The Dream Maker

On: Tue, Jan 31, 2012 at 11:53AM | By: Lou Ruggieri

Ferrari 458 Spider - The Dream Maker test 2

If you have never had the good fortune of sitting inside of a Ferrari while its driver rips off a couple redline shifts down an open freeway onramp, you seriously need to add that little soul-stirring experience to your bucket list. If you don't have a bucket list, may we suggest you go get a pen, some paper, and jot down at least one item on that list. There is simply nothing quite like it. There are few sounds in this world that can actually reach through you and excite your soul, but for an automotive enthusiast of any level, the banshee-like shriek of 40 valves fluttering wildly in a short stroke V8 masterpiece at 9000 rpm is unparalleled in the physical realm.  

The only thing that comes close to hearing a Prancing Horse at full song is, well, hearing it sing louder. Enter the 458 Spider. For all intents and purposes, the 458 Spider is actually an inferior model compared to its fixed-roof brethren. Although it is powered by the same magnificent 4.5-liter V8 pumping out 562 heaven-sent horsepower at 9000 rpm and 398 lb.-ft. of torque at 6000 rpm funneled through the same 7-speed dual-clutch tranny, the Spider is 110 pounds heavier at 3450 pounds, which negatively affects all aspects of performance.

That being said, the topless version is slower by a tenth or two of a second as speed increases. 0-60 mph comes up a tenth slower at 3.1 seconds, as does the quarter mile in 11.1 seconds. Even on the top end, the Spider only does an even 200 mph, which is a couple miles per hour off of the standard 458 Italia. On top of everything else, the Spider commands a price tag roughly 12 percent higher than the standard 458, coming in just shy of $260,000.

Next BMW Project i Vehicle To Be An i5

On: Tue, Jan 31, 2012 at 9:46AM | By: Chris Weiss

Next BMW Project i Vehicle To Be An i5 test 2

When BMW announced its Project i line, word was that it envisioned an entire range of high-end green cars filling the line. We already know that the range-topping i8 sports car and i3 city car are on the way. The latest reports indicate that the next i model in development will sit between those two in the i5 slot.

The i3 and i8 are expected to debut at the 2013 Frankfurt Motor Show. A report originating on German site Autobild puts the i5's debut two years later, perhaps at the 2015 Frankfurt show.


'Luxury Brand' Chrysler Considers A 100 Model

On: Mon, Jan 30, 2012 at 3:56PM | By: Chris Weiss

'Luxury Brand' Chrysler Considers A 100 Model test 2

When Fiat took over at Chrysler, it announced plans to move Chrysler back to the position of luxury automaker that it enjoyed years ago before muddying its image with more plebeian models. While Chrysler still falls short of other luxury brands, the unification of the naming and styling of the new 300 and 200 was a move in the right direction.

Now Fiat/Chrysler may do a complete 180 and start to undo their own handiwork. A new report says that a '100' model is under consideration.

Mazda Recalls 52,000 Tributes

On: Mon, Jan 30, 2012 at 2:48PM | By: Lou Ruggieri

Mazda Recalls 52,000 Tributes test 2

Although 2002 feels like it was a lifetime ago, that doesn't mean there aren’t still plenty of cars from that time still on the road. In fact, there are those of us that have just recently (and finally) paid off our cars from those years, and we plan on keeping them for a while and any defects we don't know about could hinder that plan. Thankfully, Mazda has been kind enough to recall 52,390 Tribute models from 2001-2002.

The Tributes have a defective master cylinder reservoir cap, which is prone to leaking brake fluid. Not only can having a low amount of brake fluid cause severe driving issues, the fluid can damage parts of the ABS system around the master cylinder and even cause a fire.

The recall is expected to start today, and Mazda has said they will perform the repairs for free. Mazda also recommends parking the cars outside until the repairs have been made, due to the increase fire risk.  

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

Bueller...Bueller...Honda's Super Bowl Commercial Brings Back Iconic Role

On: Mon, Jan 30, 2012 at 12:53PM | By: Chris Weiss

Honda's Super Bowl Commercial Brings Back Iconic Role test 2

Car manufacturers are really pulling out the stops for this year's Super Bowl. We've seen big contests, major giveaways, advertisements for advertisements and now the return of a legendary movie character we haven't seen in more than 25 years. One of the greatest movie characters of the 80s is back...to advertise Hondas.

A short teaser clip featuring Matthew Broderick - the actor that played Ferris Bueller for those that aren't up on 80s trivia - hit the Web on Thursday. The YouTube description says simply: "We hate to be such a tease, but on a day like today, we just have to. Stick it out until the Super Bowl, or take a "day off" on Monday and catch the big reveal." The teaser was posted by 'chukachuka2012' as in chuka...cchhhukkaaa with no solid evidence of what it was all about.

Lamborghini Has A Surprise In Store For Geneva

On: Mon, Jan 30, 2012 at 11:19AM | By: Chris Weiss

Lamborghini Has A Surprise In Store For Geneva test 2

We heard last month that the Lamborghini Aventador LP700-4 Roadster is all ready to go and awaiting its debut at the Geneva Motor Show in March. Ordinarily, one big debut would be more than enough for a small exotic-car maker like Lamborghini, but rumor has it that Lamborghini may have a second big debut in mind for the Swiss show.

According to some rumors originating on the Teamspeed forums - the same place where we heard that the Aventador is ready to go - Lamborghini has "another surprise" planned for Geneva. Outside of some ensuing speculation, there aren't any specifics as to what the surprise is. But here's what we know:

Lamborghini is planning a third model and spent the second half of last year testing SUV and sedan prototypes. CEO Stephan Winkelmann told the media that the Bull will make an announcement on that third model by early this year. More interestingly, he said that when Lamborghini is ready to make the announcement, it will be prepared to show some version of the vehicle.

Car Tech: Touchscreen Fabric Coming To Car Interiors Of The Future

On: Mon, Jan 30, 2012 at 10:05AM | By: Chris Weiss

Car Tech: Touchscreen Fabric Coming To Car Interiors Of The Future test 2

If researchers at Montreal's Polytechnic School and BMW have their way, future cars may incorporate touch-sensitive fabrics that allow drivers to control functions by simply tapping or rubbing the interior fabric. BMW has shown some interest in the experimental technology.

According to New Scientist, researchers at the Institute have developed a soft fiber that hosts electrical properties from the copper wire and conductive and insulative polymers weaved in. The idea is that the fiber would be woven into fabric and could create different electrical signals depending on where it's touched.

It still sounds quite rudimentary and experimental, but if it materializes, people could tap or swipe their fingers and hands across the material to perform different electrically based functions. In a car, this could mean tapping your finger against the door fabric to change the level of air conditioning or perhaps gliding your hand backwards on the seat to move it back.

UP Design Unveils Vittoria Concept

On: Sat, Jan 28, 2012 at 10:00AM | By: Chris Weiss

UP Vittoria Concept test 2

Umberto Palermo (UP) Design has unveiled its Vittoria concept at the Qatar Motor Show. The concept, which was announced and teased last month, is a sporty coupe with some really flamboyant design elements. It gets some things right but goes awry in other ways.

Little has been published about the Vittoria, though it's rumored to have a hybrid powertrain with V-8 engine. If that's the case, it should drive as sporty as it looks. The only other hard numbers we've seen are its measurements: 4,750 mm long, 1,960 mm wide and 1,250 mm tall.

The New Tesla Roadster? PG Elektrus Elise-Based Sports EV

On: Sat, Jan 28, 2012 at 9:09AM | By: Chris Weiss

PG Elektrus test 2

The Tesla Roadster was discontinued in the US last year and there's at least a few years before we see a replacement. One German manufacturer is stepping into the void and offering a Roadster-esque EV also built atop a Lotus chassis. The PG Elektrus promises even more all-electric performance than the Roadster...and a whole lot more price.

The Elektrus may look more Fisker Karma with that toothy grille and vehicle-mounted solar panel, but it bears more in common with the Roadster. Like the Roadster, it owes its underpinnings to Lotus. While Lotus stopped production of North American Elise and Exige models due to the loss of an airbag exemption, it continues to offer them in other markets.