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Mercedes Building Ultralight Carbon Fiber E-Class

On: Wed, Nov 2, 2011 at 3:55PM | By: Chris Weiss

Mercedes Building Ultralight Carbon Fiber E-Class test 2

Carbon fiber and other composites are clearly the way of the future. Currently they're primarily seen in race cars and high-end supercars, but assuming that costs eventually drop to a somewhat manageable level, we'd expect to see these type of NASA-esque materials slowly work their way into luxury cars and other more everyday models. After all, carbon fiber is one of the surest ways to save weight and weight savings = more efficient cars, something that every automaker is looking to build.

In a sign that carbon fiber is coming, an Auto Bild report states that Mercedes-Benz is hard at work on an ultralight version of the E-Class. The German automaker plans to cut serious pounds with carbon fiber construction.

Yet Another Home-Brewed Supercar...When Will It End

On: Wed, Nov 2, 2011 at 11:34AM | By: Chris Weiss

CCG CustomGT test 2

Years ago, before I started following the auto industry on a daily basis, I liked nothing better than to come across a hot, new supercar from a brand I'd never heard of (even if it happened to be fluorescent green). After all, supercars are the ultimate expression of power, style, and speed, the pinnacle of human automotive achievement.

Now that I cover the industry every day, there's nothing that I like less than a new supercar from a random company. Because it seems like anyone with a few high school mechanics classes under his belt and a garage to work in can build their own formulaically styled kit car, drop a GM V-8 in back, and call it a "supercar."

That's basically the formula of the CustomGT from German-based CCG Automotive.

Drop Top Dream Boat: 2012 Camaro ZL1 Convertible

On: Wed, Nov 2, 2011 at 9:27AM | By: Lou Ruggieri

2012 Camaro ZL1 Convertible test 2

When it comes to performance cars, let's face it: Having a fixed roof sucks. You know it and I know it—when you're a car guy, you want to be involved with the driving experience. You want to shift the gears for yourself, listen to the engine roar, and become one with the car as you turn down one unknown road after another just to see where they go. But there is a big difference between rolling down the windows and dropping the entire roof. Anyone that has owned, or at least ridden in, a convertible on that first warm day in April or May knows that there is nothing like it. Anyone that believes otherwise more than likely has spent most of their life rationalizing their way away from every convertible option they have ever encountered, and are probably driving a very practical car this very minute. 

Thankfully, Chevy has learned a thing or two about the hearts and minds of their potential customers. They know that, sure, they have to make simple practical cars for the masses, but when it comes to the fun powerhouses, don't screw around—make them as fun and powerful as they can be. Having just introduced the most powerful Camaro to have ever been built to a brand new generation (and reintroduced it to an older one), Chevy really could have stopped there. But they didn't, and we couldn't be happier. Chevy has just announced that there will be a drop-top version of the sickest Camaro ever.

Tesla To Launch Non-Lotus 'Roadster II' In 2014

On: Tue, Nov 1, 2011 at 1:14PM | By: Chris Weiss

Tesla To Launch Non-Lotus 'Roadster II' test 2

When the Tesla Roadster debuted, it opened a new chapter in automotive history. While the $110,000 Roadster was never a commercial success—Tesla actually lost money on every one sold—it really opened the eyes of automakers, analysts, and the general public in terms of the potential of electric vehicles. Not only was the Roadster emissions-free, it was a sexy, performance-oriented sports coupe, an entirely different animal from the awkwardly shaped electric city car. What was not to like?

Well, the expensive price tag and impractical nature of a two-seat convertible coupled with extensive R&D costs were among the reasons that the Roadster was an instant icon but an unsuccessful product. The Roadster was simply a foothold for Tesla, which will help it launch a variety of less expensive, more practical EVs over the next few years. But it won't abandon its Roadster roots.


Consumer Reports' Reliability Study: Scion Good, Ford Not So Much

On: Tue, Nov 1, 2011 at 12:21PM | By: Chris Weiss

Consumer Reports' Reliability Study: Scion Good, Ford Not So Much test 2

Ford has recently gained a reputation for solid, reliable, and even innovative products. In a time when its two American counterparts were panhandling in DC for stay-afloat money, Ford was offering an award-winning line-up and developing industry leading innovations like the Sync/MyFord Touch.

But things may be slowing at Ford. The 2011 Consumer Reports Car Reliability Survey has Ford taking a big fall.

Chevy Keeps 'Running Deep'

On: Tue, Nov 1, 2011 at 10:21AM | By: Chris Weiss

Chevy Keeps 'Running Deep' test 2

About a year ago, Chevy launched the "Chevy Runs Deep" marketing campaign. The campaign immediately became the fodder of punch lines and cheeky headlines. Shortly after it was unveiled, Jalopnik's Justin Hyde called it the "worst ad slogan ever" and even made the obvious "that's what she said" joke.

Sexual double entendre aside, Hyde criticized that "runs deep" is cryptic and really doesn't convey anything about the brand, unlike equally simple but more telling past slogans like "Like a Rock" and "Heartbeat of America". Others said that the slogan was just a transparent attempt to get consumers reminiscent about the good ol' days of American automotive heritage—you know the ones when you were actually proud to buy a Chevy. "Deep" also seemed like an odd choice for a corporation that was "in deep" not two years earlier.

Despite these less than flattering comments, Chevy is sticking with the tagline for the foreseeable future.

BMW M Division To Build Its Own Supercar?

On: Tue, Nov 1, 2011 at 9:16AM | By: Chris Weiss

BMW M Division To Build Its Own Supercar? test 2

It looks like we have a little German envy. BMW M engineers are looking at their counterparts over at Mercedes AMG and thinking "Why can't we do that?" By "that", they mean develop their own supercar, the way that AMG did with the SLS AMG. BMW M is a little tired of just improving upon existing vehicles and wants to get the green light to build a car all its own.

2013 Dodge Viper To Use 8.7-Liter V-10?

On: Mon, Oct 31, 2011 at 5:08PM | By: Chris Weiss

2013 Dodge Viper To Use 8.7-Liter V-10 test 2

Here's something we weren't expecting: the already huge 8.4-liter V-10 engine used in the last Dodge Viper may be growing. According to Allpar, the Dodge Viper due to launch in 2013 may buck the trend of smaller displacements-via-forced induction, pulling power from a new 8.7-liter V-10.

We'd expect the 2013 Viper should get a tidy horsepower boost from its big engine, but there aren't any specifics. The last Viper packed 600 horses.

How Ironic: Toyota FT-86 Leaks

On: Mon, Oct 31, 2011 at 3:35PM | By: Chris Weiss

Toyota FT-86 Leaks test 2

Lately I've been getting a little irritated at Toyota and Subaru. I'm eager to see their respective versions of a jointly developed sports coupe, but they've just been beating around the bush for too long. I'm almost ambivalent now.

Toyota showed the original concept in Tokyo 2009, an FT-86 II in Geneva this past winter, a Scion FR-S version in New York and an orange FT-86 II in Frankfurt. Am I missing anyone? Meanwhile, Subaru has been tooling around with plexiglass powertrain layouts. So we've seen like half a dozen different concepts, none of which are actually production ready.

That was set to change next month in Tokyo for both Toyota and Subaru, but a leak has pushed the official reveal to.....today!

Motor Trend Crowns Evoque 'SUV Of The Year'

On: Mon, Oct 31, 2011 at 2:23PM | By: Chris Salamone

Motor Trend Crowns Evoque 'SUV Of The Year' test 2

Motor Trend has recently announced that the brand-new 2012 Range Rover Evoque has received the company’s coveted designation as Sport/Utility of the Year. To those in the know, the Evoque’s sudden popularity will come as no surprise. We’re talking about a completely new SUV design featuring the smallest, lightest, and most fuel efficient Range Rover tech ever sent into mass production. And, to compound this latest Range Rover’s victory points, the Evoque is priced very competitively within the small luxury SUV market—making this a vehicle which is sure to stimulate some kind of enthusiastic response.

Since time immemorial the good folks at Motor Trend have arduously tested new vehicles in the pursuit of finding the best of the best. In order to win, candidates for Motor Trend’s analysis must achieve high scores under six criteria: advancement in design, engineering excellence, efficiency, safety, value, and performance of intended function.

2012 Kia Soul Review

On: Mon, Oct 31, 2011 at 12:42PM | By: Peter C Sessler

2012 Kia Soul test 2

If you got to have a foreign car with funky styling, then the Kia Soul has to be your choice. In the Kia Soul, introduced in 2009, the Korean manufacturer decided to inject some pizzazz into their rather staid lineup and, now, three year later, the whole car line is looking “Grand Funk(y).”

Is the new styling for you? Well, we’ll leave that up to you—you’ll know in about a few years if it holds up or not.