21 Aug 2014
We like the 24 Hours of Le Mans just fine. With the world's manufacturers in attendance and a varied field of classes and cars circling a high-speed circuit that's partially hewn from public roads, the appeal of the crown jewel of endurance racing is obvious. But, if you're tired of all the Le Mans love, there is another 24-hour race that is arguably more exciting and more extreme - we're talking the Nürburgring.
While the 2014 24 Hours of Le Mans featured a 54-car field, the 2014 Nürburgring 24 grid consisted of 165 cars (like Le Mans, each team has three to four drivers). Then there are the tracks themselves - the Circuit de la Sarthe is a relatively flat, 38-turn, 8.46-mile circuit that's famous for its high speeds, while the N24 runs on the much longer, twister Nordschleife and GP courses. Also, the fans at the N24 are utterly mad. Evo Australia said the Ring's fans make the rowdiest spectators at the legendarily wild Bathurst 1000 look like "a church picnic" (when the Aussies praise your partying, you're doing something right).
There's a lot more that makes the N24 one of the world's most fascinating races, although we simply don't have room for it here (that Evo list can fill in more blanks). Still, by now, you should be a big fan of Germany's answer to Le Mans. Unfortunately, you're going to be left waiting a bit, as the 2015 race is still about nine months away. Whittle away at least a tiny portion of that time by checking out this truly amazing video, shot at this year's race. There's plenty of beautiful slow-motion and time-lapse videography at work, but it should do a good job of helping you understand the madness that is the Nürburgring 24 (and it will make you want to roast a pig in an engine bay).
Take a look.
Fall in love with the madness of the Nürburgring 24-hour race originally appeared on Autoblog on Wed, 20 Aug 2014 20:02:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.
21 Aug 2014 1:02am GMT
We test the Chevy Corvette's new automatic
We tend to prefer our cars with honest-to-goodness manual transmissions. You know, the ones that require a third pedal down by the gas and brake pedals. A clutch, ya know? Turns out most Americans disagree with us, even the ones who are buying Corvettes. We know, shocking. Still, after sampling the latest eight-speed automatic from General Motors in the Corvette Stingray, we're happy to report that those who don't want to shift gears are in better shape than ever before.
Will the Viper get a supercharged V10 engine?
Know what's interesting about the Dodge Challenger and Charger Hellcat models? Besides the fact that they have 707 horsepower, that is? It's that the duo are considerably more powerful than the Viper, that snake-skinned halo car sitting atop the Chrysler portfolio as its top performance machine. But how can it be the top performer with an engine putting out less ponies? Good question. Perhaps a supercharger is the answer.
Hyundai spotted testing a Prius-fighting hybrid
There can be no doubt of Toyota's hybrid supremacy. When it comes to eke the greatest fuel efficiency out of a gasoline engine/electric motor combo, the boffins at Toyota do it better than any other, with the Prius sitting atop the sales heap standing as proof. But what's this? Is Hyundai testing a standalone hybrid machine to put some pressure on Toyota's hybrid dominance?
- 2015 Corvette rated at 29 mpg highway with 8-speed auto, quicker to 60
- Motorcyclist cut off, unreal crash caught on dashcam
- Watch these NHRA top fuel dragsters pull successive barrel-rolls
21 Aug 2014 12:31am GMT
No one wants to have their car stolen, but a new study by the National Insurance Crime Bureau has some bad news for older Honda owners and pickup drivers. Fortunately, it has better news for drivers overall. The group is reporting that according to preliminary data from the Federal Bureau of Investigation, thefts were down 3.2 percent in 2013 (versus 2012) to fewer than 700,000 cars. That's the lowest figure since 1967. That's also less than half of the peak of over 1.66 million thefts in 1991. "The drop in thefts is good news for all of us," says NICB President and CEO Joe Wehrle. "But it still amounts to a vehicle being stolen every 45 seconds and losses of over $4 billion a year."
Honda drivers might not find it such good news with older Accord and Civic models topping this year's theft study. Toyota and Dodge can't really celebrate, either, with two models each on the list, as well. Overall, this year's list was split evenly between foreign and domestic models, which were mostly pickups.
The 10 most likely vehicles to be stolen in 2013 were:
- Honda Accord - 53,995
- Honda Civic - 45,001
- Chevrolet Pickup (Full Size) - 27,809
- Ford Pickup (Full Size) - 26,494
- Toyota Camry - 14,420
- Dodge Pickup (Full Size) - 11,347
- Dodge Caravan - 10,911
- Jeep Cherokee/Grand Cherokee - 9,272
- Toyota Corolla - 9,010
- Nissan Altima - 8,892
Those numbers don't exactly tell the whole story, though. First, the full-size pickup figures incorporate half-ton and larger models. Also, most of the cars stolen aren't exactly the newest vehicles on the road. For example, with the Accord, the most popular one among thieves was the 1996 model year (pictured above) with 8,166 taken, versus 276 from the 2013 model year.
If you want to dig a little deeper or see which 2013 model year cars were pilfered most in 2013, scroll down to check out the NICB's release about the study, along with a video telling more about the data.
Thieves still love older Hondas and pickups most, says NICB [w/video] originally appeared on Autoblog on Wed, 20 Aug 2014 19:00:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.
21 Aug 2014 12:00am GMT
20 Aug 2014
Autonomous cars are piloting their way into the wide philosophical sea of ethics. Right now the autonomous cars are unaware of this because the driver's will always comes first, but when we start getting cars that can overrule commands or choose a particular ethical outcome either without or in spite of driver input, we'll have a lot of decisions to make. Which means we have a lot of decisions to start considering right now.
Patick Lin considers some of them in a piece in Wired, starting with the trolley problem - whether a person who has control of a runaway trolley should let it kill five people tied to the track without intervention, or should pull a lever so that only one person on another track is killed. From there, he wonders about the possibility of fixed ethics settings, created by manufacturers, versus user-adjustable ethics settings that, for example, allow a driver to prioritize his own safety over others, or prioritize the safety of children over that of the elderly.
Lin admits that the examples are outrageous in order to stress the point of the question. Still, it's worth a read because we already have cars that can make driving decisions, and it might not be long before "Five-Mode Adjustable Prime Directive" shows up on the options sheet. Head over to Wired to read the full piece.
Should self-driving cars be equipped with adjustable ethics? originally appeared on Autoblog on Wed, 20 Aug 2014 18:31:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.
20 Aug 2014 11:31pm GMT
The ongoing investigation by the Department of Justice into price fixing in the automotive industry has nabbed one more company breaking the law. Japanese parts giant NGK Spark Plug Company agreed to plead guilty to a felony count of pricing fixing and bid rigging in the in the US District Court in Detroit. Its punishment is a $52.1 million criminal fine and to continue to cooperate with the DOJ's sleuthing into the problem.
According to the DOJ, NGK conspired to fix prices on spark plugs, standard oxygen sensors, and air fuel ratio sensors on vehicles from major automakers in the US, including the former DaimlerChrysler, Honda and Toyota, in a scheme that ran from at least January 2000 to July 2011. The charge claimed that the company and its co-conspirators held meetings where they agreed on bids and price quotes that were submitted to the automakers.
With the latest plea, the DOJ has caught 28 companies and 26 executives for price-fixing and bid rigging in the auto parts industry, and they have collected $2.4 billion in criminal fines. In 2013, the feds brought nine Japanese suppliers down at once, to collect $740 million. Scroll down to read the DOJ's complete announcement of the case.
Japanese spark plug giant NGK pleads guilty to price fixing, to pay $52M fine originally appeared on Autoblog on Wed, 20 Aug 2014 18:00:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.
20 Aug 2014 11:00pm GMT
While we've seen professional racing drivers bounce back and forth between disciplines, generally speaking, a racer has to choose at some point in his career what he's going to focus on: stock cars, single-seaters, rally, touring cars, endurance prototypes...But we've been seeing a lot of exceptions to that rule in recent years, and the latest exception is André Lotterer.
If you recognize the name that's probably because he's won the 24 Hours of Le Mans outright three times now, one of only about a dozen to have done so. As part of the Audi factory team, he was a member of the winning trio in 2011, 2012 and this year. But he's also driven in a number of single-seater series, including Champ Cars, Formula Three, Formula Nippon and A1 Grand Prix. And now he's moving up to Formula One.
The Caterham F1 team has announced that Lotterer has signed on to drive for the recently emancipated team starting with this weekend's Belgian Grand Prix. Which strikes us as a good place to start, considering he already won the 6 Hours of Spa endurance race on the same circuit just last year, though we might have expected a proven winner like Lotterer might catapult straight into a stronger team for his F1 debut.
This won't be the first time Lotterer will be driving an F1 car, having served back in 2002 as official test driver for the Jaguar team that eventually became Red Bull Racing. He was passed over for the race seat when Eddie Irvine and Pedro de la Rossa left the team, but with three Le Mans titles (not to mention an FIA World Endurance Championship) to his name, this time he's supplanting Kamui Kobayasi for the hot seat at Caterham.
Three-time Le Mans winner André Lotterer switches to F1 with Caterham originally appeared on Autoblog on Wed, 20 Aug 2014 17:30:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.
20 Aug 2014 10:30pm GMT
For the Autoblog staff, we're in the honeymoon phase following the Monterey car week and Pebble Beach Concours d'Elegance. In terms of big, huge, labor-intensive events on the horizon, we're free until the beginning of October, when we'll ship off to Paris for its annual motor show. That means we're free to look back on the beautiful metal out in California, which included more than a few classic Lamborghinis, including the Miura and Countach.
Unfortunately, we never had a hope of getting behind the wheel (believe it or not, asking exceptionally wealthy car collectors to borrow their meticulously maintained, extraordinarily rare vehicles doesn't elicit immediate cooperation). Considering this grave injustice, we're left taking solace in the latest video from Car, which sees the British outlet taking spins in both the Miura and Countach. The pair of vehicles served as forbearers to the modern supercar, with the former's early mid-engine layout and the latter's aggressive, wedge-shaped styling.
Take a look at the latest video from the lucky bastards team at Car.
Lamborghini Miura and Countach driven back to back in bid to make Autoblog staff jealous originally appeared on Autoblog on Wed, 20 Aug 2014 17:01:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.
20 Aug 2014 10:01pm GMT
Episode #393 of the Autoblog Podcast is here, and this week, Dan Roth, Steven Ewing, and Michael Harley talk about Monterey Car Week, the Woodward Dream Cruise and Dodge Charger Hellcat, and the latest round of mid-engine Corvette rumors. Dan also had the chance to speak with Jeffrey Rothfeder, author of Driving Honda, a new book that takes a look inside the automaker. We start with what's in the garage and finish up with some of your questions, and for those of you who hung with us live on our UStream channel, thanks for taking the time. Check out the new rundown below with times for topics, and you can follow along down below with our Q&A. Thanks for listening!
Autoblog Podcast #393:
- Monterey Car Week
- Jeffrey Rothfeder (Driving Honda) interview
- Woodward Dream Cruise + Dodge Charger Hellcat
- Mid-Engine Corvette rumors just won't die
In The Autoblog Garage:
- Intro and Garage - 00:00
- Monterey Car Week - 37:08
- Jeffrey Rothfeder - 52:17
- Woodward 2014 - 01:28:11
- Mid-Engine Corvette - 01:44:30
- Q&A - 01:56:53
Get the podcast:
[UStream] Listen live on Mondays at 10 PM Eastern at UStream
[iTunes] Subscribe to the Autoblog Podcast in iTunes
[RSS] Add the Autoblog Podcast feed to your RSS aggregator
[MP3] Download the MP3 directly
Email: Podcast at Autoblog dot com
Review the show in iTunes
20 Aug 2014 9:45pm GMT
We're now less than two weeks away from the unveiling of the new Discovery Sport, and Land Rover is continuing the piecemeal reveal of its new small sport-ute, this time giving us a glimpse of its interior space.
Though the video below seems to focus more on the company's partnership with Virgin Galactic, it does give us a look at the new baby Landie's cabin, complete with its flexible 5+2 seating layout and expansive opening moonroof (which we figure has to either stack two panels of glass or else roll back solid panels).
Previewed by the Discovery Vision concept in New York, we can now confirm that the Discovery Sport will replace the LR2 in Land Rover's US lineup next year, when it will be sold alongside the LR4 - the only model that will, for now, retain its alphanumeric nameplate in America. Stay tuned for the reveal on September 2 and scope out the footage below in the meantime.
Land Rover lets us inside LR2-replacing Discovery Sport originally appeared on Autoblog on Wed, 20 Aug 2014 16:29:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.
20 Aug 2014 9:29pm GMT
We've already seen more vehicles recalled this year than any year on record. General Motors alone has issued campaigns covering about 25.75 million cars in the US. Finally, with 2014 more than half gone, it appears that the rate of these announcements is finally starting to slow, but that still leaves tens of million of drivers needing to know whether their vehicle needs a safety fix. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration is offering a solution with a simple new way for people to make sure whether their car or truck is covered under one of these recalls.
The new government website allows people to type in their model's Vehicle Identification Number, and the system spits out whether the vehicle is subject to recall campaigns. The launch coincides with NHTSA's mandate that major automakers allow customers to search for uncompleted campaigns on their models. Each company is required to update the data at least once a week, and the regulator's service is tied to this information.
The agency's VIN lookup is certainly a step in the right direction, and it could be extremely useful when buying a used car to double-check its repairs. However, the system could probably still use a bit of work. At this time, it only lists recalls on the vehicle that aren't yet repaired, instead of all possible campaigns. To get that info, an owner would have to separately search the existing NHTSA database. It also doesn't list manufacturers' customer service or other non-safety campaigns. Scroll down to read the regulator's full announcement about the new program and the response from the National Automobile Dealers Association.
NHTSA launches VIN search tool for finding recalls originally appeared on Autoblog on Wed, 20 Aug 2014 16:00:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.
20 Aug 2014 9:00pm GMT
To win a race, you have to finish the race. It's the first lesson of racing, no matter what kind you're into. In drag racing, though, if your opponent crashes out - as is not uncommon a sight - then victory is yours. But what if both dragsters fail to make it to the finish line?
That's what racing fans witnessed this past weekend when the NHRA Lucas Oil Drag Racing Series arrived in Brainerd, MN. That's where both Don Kritzky and Monte Green rolled their top fuel dragsters one after the other, causing the unusual and noteworthy crash captured in this video. Green was reportedly treated on the scene while Kritzky was airlifted to a hospital in Minneapolis (we're working to get further word on his condition and will update you if we learn more).
Watch these NHRA top fuel dragsters pull successive barrel-rolls originally appeared on Autoblog on Wed, 20 Aug 2014 15:00:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.
20 Aug 2014 8:00pm GMT
Drifter Vaughn Gittin, Jr. and his tuning shop, RTR has shown off a preliminary rendering of the tuned 2015 Ford Mustang it's going to rock this year's SEMA show. About two months after that, they'll start showing up fully built in select Ford dealerships, plus garage rats can order the parts through Mustang RTR or American Muscle.
Hardware and numbers are still secret, but we're told the Mustang RTR will be available in both four- and eight-cylinder variants and in two states of tune, Spec 1 and Spec 2. We drove a 2012 version of the Mustang RTR and declared it not bad, a noteworthy progression over the model that preceeded it. There's a press release below with Gittin's words on the announcement and a couple of high-res images to whet your appetite for Las Vegas.
20 Aug 2014 7:33pm GMT
Chinese police have arrested three individuals in connection to the deadly explosion at an auto parts factory outside Shanghai nearly three weeks ago, Reuters is reporting.
Among those three is Wu Chi-tao, the chairman of Kunshan Zhongrong Metal Products, the company that operated the factory in Zhoushan, roughly 80 miles west of Shanghai. The company's general manager and the manager in charge of workplace safety joined Chi-tao in custody, China's state news agency, Xinhua, told Reuters.
Previous reports indicated that five of the company's executives were already in custody following the blast, although it's unclear if Chi-tao and the other two managers were counted in that total.
The blast at the factory, which polishes wheel hubs for General Motors China, killed 75 people and has injured 185, and is currently being blamed on illegal production methods and poor safety facilities. PRC President Xi Jingping has since issued a nationwide crackdown on factory safety in response to the disaster.
Police arrest chairman, managers of Chinese auto parts firm whose factory blast killed 75 originally appeared on Autoblog on Wed, 20 Aug 2014 14:29:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.
20 Aug 2014 7:29pm GMT
Hyundai is no stranger to the hybrid game, selling a gas-electric version of the Sonata in the US since 2011. The 2015-model-year version gets 38 miles per gallon combined, which is certainly admirable but not quite in the same league as the hybrid champion Toyota Prius (50 mpg combined). New spy shots reveal that Hyundai might be finally ready to targeting the non-plug-in fuel economy leader. Why else would some mysterious Hyundai prototypes be cruising through the desert hills with a few Priuses in tow?
Our photographers believe these mules hint at an all-new hybrid model, which makes us think of the Blue Will concept from the 2010 Detroit Auto Show. At the time, Hyundai said the concept could be a preview of a future dedicated hybrid that would compete with the Prius.
We don't know what it all means for sure, but our spy photographers found four heavily modified Elantra GT prototypes driving around with a standard Prius and a Prius V. As if that wasn't enough of a clue, the four changed Elantras represent different approaches Hyundai might be using to go after Toyota, since there were two versions driving by our photographer's lenses, with different rear extensions indicating that both the standard Prius and the larger V might be in Hyundai's sights.
Despite the inclusion of a battery pack and a high-voltage cable running under the car, there was no obvious sign of a plug, so the old rumors of a Sonata PHEV will likely remain in the dustbin for now. Unless that strange rectangle of tape on the gas cover is hiding something surprising, of course.
Hyundai Prius-Fighter Hybrid could preview next attack on Toyota's champion originally appeared on Autoblog on Wed, 20 Aug 2014 14:01:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.
20 Aug 2014 7:01pm GMT
Lincoln went through it during the launch of the MKZ last year, Jeep went through something similar with its Cherokee launch, and now the 2015 Cadillac Escalade has apparently caught the bug: dealer delivery delays because of quality control checks. Automotive News reports that Cadillac dealers have been waiting three times longer than usual - a month or more - from the time an Escalade leaves the assembly line to when it gets delivered. Worse, dealers are saying they don't always know where their vehicles are in transit, or when they are set to arrive. The situation has upset customers who have put down deposits and things have gotten so bad that some dealers have reportedly stopped taking pre-orders.
Cadillac says it has the delay, called "dwell time," down to two weeks, and it expects to cut that to a week by the beginning of September. The company said "a lengthy quality-assurance process on some interior parts" has caused the lag, the report citing additional issues with figuring out which vehicles should be delivered first. A spokesman said that more trucks have been put in the distribution system to work through the backlog, but it's clear it's still going to take some time to set things right, with one dealer telling AN that cars ordered in February and March still haven't arrived.
Brand chief Kurt McNeil said additional personnel are at the Escalade's Arlington, Texas factory to speed up the checks, and spreadsheets tracking every order have been distributed to field staff. Even with the snafu, though, the Escalade is Cadillac's best seller through July.
Cadillac dealers frustrated over Escalade production snarls originally appeared on Autoblog on Wed, 20 Aug 2014 13:29:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.
20 Aug 2014 6:29pm GMT
The affordable four-seat convertible has become a largely forgotten genre in the States, especially with the death of the Chrysler 200 Convertible. Of course, there are still premium options from Audi, BMW and Mercedes-Benz - not to mention more overtly performance-oriented droptop pony cars from Chevrolet and Ford - but if you want an affordable cruiser, you're kind of out of luck. That may be about to change, however, with renewed rumors of the Opel Cascada (pictured above) making it across the Atlantic wearing a Buick badge.
According to GM Inside News, Buick showed off the Cascada to US dealers last week, with renewed word that the company plans to bring it over from Europe for the 2016 model year. The US version will reportedly be practically identical to its German cousin in terms of styling, but the powertrain underneath is less certain. According to GMI, it may use the 1.6-liter turbocharged four-cylinder that is available in Europe with either 168 horsepower or 197 hp.
The Cascada rides on GM's Delta II platform, which also underpins the Verano, and the latest rumor certainly provides even more evidence that the convertible is probably on the way. Speculation about the droptop started when GM CEO Dan Akerson said last year that the car was on his wish list to bring over. Then, the US trademark on the name was reserved earlier this year, and the release was speculated for sometime in early 2016.
When Autoblog reached out to Buick for comment, company spokesperson Nick Richards gave us the predictable corporate line, "We don't comment on speculation or rumors." Still, when we drove the Cascada back in 2013 in Germany at GM's invitation, we thought it would be a good fit for US roads. It sounds like the convertible might not be too far from actually driving on them.
20 Aug 2014 6:01pm GMT
News 20 Aug, 2014
Mercedes head of interior design reveals the secrets of what's coming next in Mercedes top-end models
20 Aug 2014 12:24pm GMT
News 20 Aug, 2014
Facelifted BMW 6 Series is on the way, and could debut with new tech and upgraded engines at Detroit Motor Show in January
20 Aug 2014 12:00pm GMT
News 20 Aug, 2014
Land Rover previews Discovery Sport interior, and confirms Freelander replacement will officially debut online on September 3
20 Aug 2014 8:17am GMT
19 Aug 2014
News 20 Aug, 2014
Will Scottish Independence mean cheaper petrol and diesel north of the border? What else could a 'yes' vote mean for motorists?
19 Aug 2014 4:10pm GMT
News 19 Aug, 2014
Infiniti will bring a bold new concept car to the 2014 Paris Motor Show, thought to be a new Porsche Cayenne-fighting 4x4
19 Aug 2014 3:29pm GMT
News 19 Aug, 2014
Bugatti blurs the lines between customer personalisation and special editions with one-off Singapore-bound Veyron 1 of 1 at Pebble Beach
19 Aug 2014 11:48am GMT
News 19 Aug, 2014
Tesla increases Model S 85kWh drive unit warranty to match its battery pack's infinite mile guarantee
19 Aug 2014 9:52am GMT
News 19 Aug, 2014
All-new Jaguar XE to feature InControl multimedia system, including an eight-inch touchscreen, voice control and smartphone mirroring
19 Aug 2014 8:06am GMT
News 19 Aug, 2014
Jaguar is to take the fight to the BMW M3 with a hot SVR version of its new XE packing a 489bhp V8
19 Aug 2014 8:05am GMT
18 Aug 2014
News 19 Aug, 2014
Leading hire company charges British drivers up to £200 more than foreigners
18 Aug 2014 3:27pm GMT
Features 19 Aug, 2014
Next up in our Most Wanted Cars series is the Ford Focus RS Cosworth. Here's how it could look.
18 Aug 2014 1:17pm GMT
News 18 Aug, 2014
American supercar manufacturer Saleen unveils Tesla Model S-baded FourSixteen at 2014 Pebble Beach Concours d'Elegance
18 Aug 2014 12:43pm GMT