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By on October 28, 2016

03_rx-vision-1024x572

Mazda is like that artisan pizza place or a craft brewery your coolest friends all like. They make a familiar product, but there is definitely something different about it. While you can’t always place your finger on it, that unexplainable “x” factor affords them the hint of pretentiousness that comes along with doing things differently.

And like any hip outlet selling quirky artisanal goods, they are likely going to start charging you more for it.

(Read More…)

By on October 28, 2016

google prototype-early

Every now and then, a critical mass of clever, ambitious folks excited about a particularly good idea coalesces, often in a particular geographic region, and humanity gets lucky. The American colonies in the late 18th century and Detroit in the early 20th century are historical examples. Silicon Valley, starting in the 1980s, is probably our best contemporary example.

In recent years, those modern titans of technology have turned their futurist eyes towards personal transportation. Whether explicitly or in sotto voce tones, they’ve indicated that the traditional auto industry personified as “Detroit” was a dinosaur about to go extinct. Not knowing the auto industry metaphor of becoming an obsolete buggy whip manufacturer, the tech industry saw Detroit’s future as “making handsets” — i.e. low tech assemblers.

Tesla was going to show us the new electron driven future, Google was going to make cars that drove themselves, and the Apple of the tech world’s eye was going to do nothing less than completely reinvent the automobile, just as it had done with music players and telephones. The push towards self-driving, autonomous cars and trucks was only going to accelerate the ascendancy of Silicon Valley as the new Motor City.

Just because you’re good at one thing, however, doesn’t mean you’re good at another. (Read More…)

By on October 28, 2016

AutoNation CEO Mike Jackson

The used car market? Saturated. The battle? About to begin.

America’s largest new-car retailer knows there’s money in them there pre-owned vehicles and has hatched a half-billion-dollar plan to take on the country’s largest used-car retailer. (Read More…)

By on October 28, 2016

Borgward BX7

Although it would been cheaper to build elsewhere, the Chinese-resurrected Borgward has opted to return to its hometown of Bremen for its new factory. Not only is the Germany company back after a half-century absence, China is also giving it a proper homecoming.

That, time is running out for Ford as union strike date nears, Toyota invests in a future of needing fewer cars, and Alfa’s Giulia is changing shape… after the break!

(Read More…)

By on October 28, 2016

flatout

“Corvette in the tire wall outside Turn 2.” Maybe over the tire wall was more like it; the front tires were six feet in the air, the back bumper had dragged the muddy ground behind it smooth of grass like a knife across cake frosting, and the driver looked like he was going to have a very hard time getting out of the thing. In under thirty seconds, there were black flags out all the way around the course. Two minutes later, most of the other cars in the group, including the 2004 Boxster S driven by Danger Girl with yours truly sitting in the right seat, were filing back into the paddock.

One man continued alone, still out there on the track, still driving flat out. He blew by the thirty cars lined up for pit entrance, oblivious or uncaring as to why they were all pulling off at the same time. Ignored every black flag that waved at him, first nonchalantly and then with increasing urgency, as he flew past the long corner into the back straight. And his Cayman GTS was at the eleventh tenth of grip as he came screaming around Turn One and found himself faced with two emergency vehicles, a forklift, and several people standing on or near the track surface. He panic-braked. Realized there had been a major incident on-track, perhaps three minutes after it had happened, and nearly two minutes since he’d passed Turn 2 in his previous lap, somehow without seeing the Corvette up in the air some thirty feet from the track’s exit curb. Came to a sheepish halt. Made the drive of shame, two miles to pit out, with dozens of people pointing at him and wondering what his major malfunction was.

Naturally, none of this was his fault.

(Read More…)

By on October 28, 2016

Hotz

George Hotz announced in a series of tweets that he’s cancelling the Comma One device that he promised to deliver before the end of the year.

The reason for the cancellation, as Hotz states, stems from an information request he received from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

Attached to one of Hotz’s tweets, the NHTSA document has a set of fifteen standard questions. Hotz responded to the questions by stating he would rather spend his life “building amazing tech than dealing with regulators and lawyers. It isn’t worth it.”

(Read More…)

By on October 28, 2016

1990 Shelby CSX (P), Image: Shelby Automobiles

It was impossible to escape the word “Turbo” in the 1980s.

There were Turbo Aviators and Turbo Hoover vacuums. Turbo was a character on American Gladiators. There was even Turbo chewing gum, which came with a cool mini car poster wrapper. Turbo was a helluva drug in the 1980s, and Chrysler took note.

BMW offered one turbocharged gasoline model. Porsche offered three. But Chrysler? Over a 10 year span, the Pentastar turbocharged its entire car lineup, bringing us some 20 turbocharged models powered by no less than six different variations of the 2.2- and 2.5-liter inline-fours.

(Read More…)

By on October 28, 2016

Volkswagen Atlas, Image: Seth Parks

The Atlas, Volkswagen’s entry into the hotly contested three-row crossover segment, is here — and it has the company’s future fortunes resting on its shoulders.

Volkswagen has not been doing well in the United States. Since 2012, its best sales year this millennia, VW has shed 30 percent of its sales volume. The brand that invented the compact car in the eyes of many Americans now finds itself in 14th place on the brand leaderboard with a 1.6 percent market share.

Dieselgate didn’t help, but its unbalanced product range may be the more nagging culprit. This is VW’s first mainstream, three-row crossover.

(Read More…)

By on October 27, 2016

Poling Ford Taurus

Exactly a decade ago today, Ford ended production of the legendary Ford Taurus.

Along with Dodge’s Caravan, the Taurus is absolutely one of the most influential and important cars of the 1980s. It ushered in a new era of automotive design in North America and created a wholly new template for the modern sedan — and Ford turned its back on it.

(Read More…)

By on October 27, 2016

coil spring

Interpretive dance isn’t for everyone, but we can all appreciate the efficient, graceful and damn near artistic manner in which automotive parts are made.

Coil springs already look fun, but after viewing this video of a spring being made for the now-defunct Toyota FJ Cruiser, you’re liable to quit that paper-pushing day job for a shot at doing what this guy does. (Read More…)

By on October 27, 2016

2014 Toyota Corolla

Is there a tiny pinpoint of light that can stir some meager hope in the heart of the compact and midsize passenger car segment? No, no there isn’t.

Even as sticker prices for these vehicles rise and as manufacturers endow them with enough technological goodies to make your mom’s car from yesterday look like a chuckwagon, retained value is dropping as fast as the segments’ market share.

Once a driving force, the segment has now become a red-headed stepchild at auction. (Read More…)

By on October 27, 2016

CX-5 Mazda Teaser

Everyone assumed that the next incarnation of the Mazda CX-5 wouldn’t make an appearance until next year, so it was a bit of a surprise to see Mazda showing off carefully lit photos of its next-generation compact crossover today.

It’s definitely not an unwelcome surprise, as this 2017 model has one hell of a good-looking profile.

(Read More…)

By on October 27, 2016

2016 Nissan Tsuru silver

After over two decades of uninterrupted production, Nissan’s Mexican division is finally killing off one of the oldest cars currently on the global market — the Tsuru compact sedan. Virtually unchanged since 1992, Mexico manufactured it for 24 years, selling a grand total of 1,849,289 units in that time.

However the re-badged B13 Sentra’s rich history of reliable transportation and status as Mexico’s favorite taxi won’t save it from the axe. This popular little deathtrap has overstayed its welcome. Here’s why the blade needs to fall.

(Read More…)

By on October 27, 2016

2017 Mercedes-Benz E300 2.0T

Updated with pricing more reflective of the U.S. market for this M-B Canada press car.

There’s no replacement for displacement. Or so I was taught during my formative years, a period in which I read multiple buff books per month and listened to old men attempt to define torque.

But Audi USA announced last week it would slot the engine from its smallest sedan, the A3, under the hood of Audi’s largest utility vehicle, the Q7.

This week, I’m driving a 4,045-pound, $70,465 Mercedes-Benz E-Class sedan. Labelled the E300, this heavily optioned E-Class is equipped with a 2.0-liter, four-cylinder engine related to the 2.0-liter in the company’s front-wheel drive, entry-level sedan, the CLA.

4,000 pounds. $70,465. 2.0-liter inline-four. Y’alright with that? (Read More…)

By on October 27, 2016

Bob Lutz

Bob Lutz has worked as an executive for General Motors, Chrysler, Ford, and BMW at various points in his storied life. Saying he’s a man who is well-versed in the automotive industry would be a colossal understatement. And that expertise has led him to the assertion that a certain manufacturer is a cult led by a false god.

That, Audi has abandoned its wildly successful career in endurance racing for something far less popular, Ford takes a financial body blow, and Volkswagen Group continues to suffer with Porsche as its sugar daddy… after the break!

(Read More…)

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