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Updated: 28 weeks 4 days ago

VW introduces radically different new consumer site, draws mixed reviews

Fri, 05/02/2014 - 18:15

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2014 Volkswagen Website

The one thing that is certain in life is change, especially in the fast-moving world of the internet. So it's not usually news when an automaker redesigns its website. However, Volkswagen of America just launched a major revamp of its site to try and make it a less intimidating way to research about and buy its cars. It's simple and clean, but the new look is drawing the ire of some few visitors because its minimalist design makes some information hard to find.

The goal was to "take away the intimidation and make buyers feel empowered."

The new site has a simplified, tablet-first concept that reduces the number of necessary clicks to find a car. The biggest change, though, is that it replaces the traditional configurator to build and price with "Find a Match." With it, users choose things like the model, color, engine and features they want, and the database finds corresponding models from nearby dealers. While it's a quick way to find a vehicle, you're searching for rather than creating a specific car. The system also obscures the cost of individual options and packages.

Paige Parrent, Digital Platforms Manager at Volkswagen Marketing, guided the design process for the new site. The goal was to "take away the intimidation and make buyers feel empowered," she told Autoblog. That meant making the build process more transparent and giving users immediate feedback. It's no longer about what's possible, but what's available. "We want to match people with the cars they love."

Online dating and e-commerce websites inspired the layout.

Users can still find prices by trim level, but it's an obtuse process. They have to go to the model page, select "Explore Trims," and then "View Trims." This section is also where a vehicle's full specs are located. Generally, the site only calls out basic technical data like fuel economy and power. Focus testing, says VW, showed those details were most important to buyers. At the moment, there is no way to view dealer-installed options on the car when finding a match, but Parrent said this feature would be added later.

Online dating and e-commerce websites inspired the layout. Like dating, logic plays a role in buying a car, but it's an emotional decision in the end, Parrent believes. Aesthetically, the site works well with quick load times and detailed images, and some users are responding well. "They appreciate the boldness of the design," said Parrent. That said, it might take time for the brand's enthusiasts to get used to the streamlined, less-technical flow.

Check out the gallery above for some examples of the new layout or just go to VW.com. Scroll down to read the automaker's press release about the revamp.

Continue reading VW introduces radically different new consumer site, draws mixed reviews

VW introduces radically different new consumer site, draws mixed reviews originally appeared on Autoblog on Fri, 02 May 2014 17:15:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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Landwind E32 is a shameless Chinese Evoque knockoff

Tue, 04/29/2014 - 16:45

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Landwind E32

Landwind E32If you thought the Kawei K1 pickup that we featured previously was a pretty blatant example of a Chinese automaker ripping off another company's design, you haven't seen anything yet. Meet the Landwind E32. Does it remind you of anything? A Land Rover Range Rover Evoque, perhaps?

These patent drawings from China show a vehicle that so clearly cribs from the Land Rover that it'd be funny if it weren't so sad. In profile, the designs are so close that it's hard to tell the difference. The Evoque's roof may sweet downward a little more, but other than that, it's an wheel-swap away from indistinguishable. Landwind hasn't even bothered to develop its own font design. At the front and back, the name is spelled out in a similar font and style as its British inspiration.

According to Car News China, the E32 is slated to go on sale in China in the fourth quarter of 2014 for 120,000 yuan ($19,175). Power is provided by a 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder making 190 horsepower and 184 pound-feet of torque. It's offered with a choice of either a six-speed manual or eight-speed automatic.

We've reached out to Land Rover authorities to see if they really do believe that imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, or if they're looking into taking any sort of action in the face of Landwind's latest. We'll let you know if and when we hear back.

Landwind E32 is a shameless Chinese Evoque knockoff originally appeared on Autoblog on Tue, 29 Apr 2014 15:45:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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VW Bus-based Dub Box does retro caravanning and food trucks right [w/videos]

Tue, 04/29/2014 - 09:44

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Dub Box Camper

Whether known as the Transporter, Kombi or simply the Bus, the Volkswagen Type 2 became almost as much of a style icon as the Beetle, but it just went out of production. However, a couple in England is keeping the design alive with its Dub Box camper. Mixing the classic, '60s VW look with retro interior design and some modern features, the result is a very attractive little trailer. For about the past year, they have also been available in the US.

With an insulated interior, gas stove and electrical hookup, the Dub Box has everything you would need for a fun weekend of camping or tailgating. The body is made from fiberglass and rides on a steel frame, and they can even be specified with a pop-up roof and a double bed. The standard Dub Box (pictured above) is just about 16 feet long, a little over 6 feet wide. Prices start at around $22,000 in the US. There is also a food cart version starting at about the same price that offers a really cool available power-extending roof.

Dub Box USA produced its first trailer at its Oregon factory in January 2013. The company offers similar products as in the UK, but they are entirely made in America. According to Shane Medbury, one of the people who founded the US arm, the food cart market has been the most successful here. He told Autoblog that it already sold around 20 carts. Its success seems to be growing because it also has 20 pending orders. "We've shipped them all over," he said, including to Michigan, New York, Ohio and more. Scroll down for videos showing how Dub Box UK builds its campers, an overview about the company and the food cart's roof.

Continue reading VW Bus-based Dub Box does retro caravanning and food trucks right [w/videos]

VW Bus-based Dub Box does retro caravanning and food trucks right [w/videos] originally appeared on Autoblog on Tue, 29 Apr 2014 08:44:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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Buick shows off new Ultra Luxury Interior for LaCrosse

Sun, 04/27/2014 - 17:29

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Buick LaCrosse Ultra Luxury Interior.

The options sheet of the 2014 Buick LaCrosse gets all kinds of fancy with the addition of the Ultra Luxury Interior. Pointing its Tri-Shield logo at the world of haute luxury, the cabin treatment combines sangria leather with ebony accents, shadow tamo ash wood trim and a microsuede headliner to "drive fashion forward."

You'll need to start with LaCrosse models with the 3.6-liter V6 and either the Leather, Premium or Premium II trims to go all Brioni and Buckingham on the cabin, and the privilege package will run you $2,495. We're told that you won't find such contrasting hues anywhere else in the class, though, and that kind of exclusivity might make any price a bargain.

You can find more information on the Ultra Luxury Interior in the press release below, along with some intensely fashion-foward gobbledygook.

Continue reading Buick shows off new Ultra Luxury Interior for LaCrosse

Buick shows off new Ultra Luxury Interior for LaCrosse originally appeared on Autoblog on Sun, 27 Apr 2014 16:29:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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Chevy Corvette goes coastal with Atlantic, Pacific design packages

Fri, 04/25/2014 - 19:32

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Chevrolet Corvette Pacific Design Package

Chevrolet is weighing in on the eternal battle of east coast versus west coast with two new special-edition 2015 Corvette Stingray models. If you're in the market for a few stylistic upgrades to your 'Vette, these models bring it, but they are otherwise mechanically identical to the standard car.

2015 Chevrolet Atlantic Design PackageFirst previewed at the 2013 SEMA Show in conceptual form, the luxury-focused Corvette Atlantic convertible (inset, right) is ready for a drive by the shore with a blend of added luxury and aggressive style. The package adds a front splitter inspired by the Z06 and chrome wheels. It also repaints the vents, hood stinger and tonneau cover trim in Shark Grey, and the model comes with a set of custom luggage. The Atlantic is available in any of the sports car's available colors.

The Pacific coupe (above) goes for a much more aggressive look, and Chevy says its inspiration comes from track day drivers. It features unpainted carbon fiber on the side strakes, roof panel, rear spoiler, mirrors, badges and interior trim. To lend a little more menace, it also has a satin black racing stripe down the hood, red brake calipers and satin black wheels with a red stripe on them. The interior gets matching black or red sport seats. The package is available in Torch Red, Black, Arctic White, Blade Silver and Shark Gray, and it comes with a car cover.

Both models are only offered on Corvettes ordered with the Z51 performance package, but they are available with either the new eight-speed automatic or seven-speed manual transmissions. They go on sale later this year with the rest of the 2015 Corvettes. Chevy hasn't announced pricing for them yet, so stay tuned. In the meantime, scroll down to learn more about these sports cars and their coastal inspirations.

Continue reading Chevy Corvette goes coastal with Atlantic, Pacific design packages

Chevy Corvette goes coastal with Atlantic, Pacific design packages originally appeared on Autoblog on Fri, 25 Apr 2014 18:32:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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Mercedes-Benz Concept Coupe SUV blurs lines in Beijing

Sun, 04/20/2014 - 15:30

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Mercedes Concept Coupe SUV

With apologies to Robin Thicke (and to anyone offended by his unarguably catchy hit song), but Mercedes-Benz has just shown that BMW isn't the only automaker that knows how to blur the lines between seemingly unrelated market niches to create something new entirely. The subject today is the Mercedes-Benz Concept Coupe SUV, and its name alone tells you pretty much all you need to know about its style, shape and intentions.

Some might argue, and perhaps rightly so, that putting a sleek coupe-shaped body atop a chassis that is styled to look like it's capable of traveling off the beaten path makes little sense. Others may counter that the BMW X6 has proven that there is a market for the disjointed merger, and they too may be right. Regardless of which side of that line of demarcation you fall, here we are with MB's latest concept, powered as it is by a twin-turbocharged, 3.0-liter V6 with 333 horsepower and 354 pound-feet of torque, sending that motive force through a 9G-Tronic nine-speed automatic gearbox to all four 22-inch wheels.

We suggest you take it all in by perusing our image gallery of live photos above, and you're free to complete the picture by reading through the press release below. Oh, and don't be surprised if something eerily similar to this Concept Coupe SUV hits dealership floors in the coming years...

Continue reading Mercedes-Benz Concept Coupe SUV blurs lines in Beijing

Mercedes-Benz Concept Coupe SUV blurs lines in Beijing originally appeared on Autoblog on Sun, 20 Apr 2014 14:30:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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Lincoln MKX Concept goes for the gold in Beijing

Sun, 04/20/2014 - 14:20

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Lincoln MKX Concept

We've now seen the Lincoln MKX Concept in the metal, and we've shot it with the lenses of our own DSLR cameras. And we have to say, our opinion of the concept's design language has improved over our initial reaction. Yes, it's clear that this MKX shares its underpinnings with those of the Ford Edge Concept that we saw in LA, but the changes made by Lincoln stylists are a welcome departure from the angular lines of its corporate cousin from The Blue Oval.

We like the subtlety of the MKX Concept's front fascia, and the lighting elements both front and rear lend a luxurious quality to the crossover's typical two-box proportions. When combined with the smaller MKC that was shown in production form late last year, it's clear to see that Lincoln has a specific design direction that at least seems visually capable of setting it apart from the Ford models with which the brand shares its platforms. Here's hoping there are some Lincoln-specific upgrades underhood...

Have a look at our image gallery of live photos from Beijing above, reread the press release below, and feel free to let us know what you think.

Continue reading Lincoln MKX Concept goes for the gold in Beijing

Lincoln MKX Concept goes for the gold in Beijing originally appeared on Autoblog on Sun, 20 Apr 2014 13:20:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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Possible MKX concept teased as Lincoln confirms China expansion

Thu, 04/17/2014 - 16:02

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Lincoln China Concept

We've been speculating for years about the future of Lincoln. Some thought that Ford needed to kill the division like it did Mercury, while others saw the sales possibility in a brand with so much history. Ford has finally made a decision, and it wasn't what many people were expecting. Lincoln is launching in China this fall, with the brand rollout starting at the upcoming Beijing Motor Show. A new video hints that we might even get to see the concept for the next-generation MKX.

The Lincoln SpaceLincoln is marketing itself in China as a customer-focused, high-end luxury ownership experience. To prove it, the Lincoln Space in Beijing is meant both as a prototype dealer and a grand show of its plans. The modernist structure looks more like an art museum than a car showroom, and the interior decor is like a high-end hotel lobby. The company says that every dealer is going to have license plate recognition technology that knows when an owner arrives, and there will also be a Personalization Studio where potential buyers can design their car with family. Lincoln is promising to have eight showrooms ready in seven cities by this fall.

Of course, a stylish showroom is nothing without cars to sell. Lincoln is promising five models on sale in China by 2016. The MKZ and MKC launch this fall. A midsize luxury SUV, a fullsize luxury sedan and the Navigator are coming later. All of the models sold there are being imported from North America.

The video below doesn't give many hints on what model is being worked on, but it clearly looks like a crossover. The description merely says: "Get a glimpse of the next-generation Lincoln Concept." Scroll down to check it out and read about the future of the brand.

Continue reading Possible MKX concept teased as Lincoln confirms China expansion

Possible MKX concept teased as Lincoln confirms China expansion originally appeared on Autoblog on Thu, 17 Apr 2014 15:02:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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2015 Volvo Inscription models get classy with an upgraded leather interior

Thu, 04/17/2014 - 15:39

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2015 Volvo XC60 Inscription

If Volvo's recent spate of cool-looking concepts is any indication, the Swedish brand has some great new styling on the way. But it takes time for new vehicles to come to market. In the meantime, Volvo is livening up some of its interiors with an updated Inscription Package on the 2015 XC60 (pictured above) and S80 debuting at the 2014 New York Auto Show.

The Inscription models see mostly interior improvements with Sovereign Hide leather covering the seats and more leather for the instrument panels, seatbacks, center armrests and embroidered headrests. Inlaid wood acts as decorative trim, and there are plush, new floor mats. Exterior changes are limited to the choice of colors, namely Crystal White Pearl, Electric Silver and - exclusively for the S80 - Ember Black. The XC60 Inscription comes with 20-inch, ten-spoke wheels, and the S80 receives 19-inch versions.

The package's changes are fairly small, but it adds a certain amount of opulence to the models until the new Volvos are ready. Scroll down to read the full details about them.

Continue reading 2015 Volvo Inscription models get classy with an upgraded leather interior

2015 Volvo Inscription models get classy with an upgraded leather interior originally appeared on Autoblog on Thu, 17 Apr 2014 14:39:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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2015 Honda HR-V looks fit for the urban jungle

Thu, 04/17/2014 - 13:00

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2015 Honda HR-V

Honda has been teasing us with the looks of its Fit-based compact crossover for months. Now the production version, dubbed the HR-V in the US, has finally been unveiled - in photographic form, at any rate - at the 2014 New York Auto Show. The CUV will slot into the brand's range this winter, and at the moment the company is keeping mum on many details about the new model.

The HR-V looks almost identical to the Urban SUV Concept unveiled at the Detroit Auto Show. The concept wore some nifty LED headlights and bigger wheels, but the rest of the styling has carried over to production. The handsome CUV sports diamond-shaped headlights, and a center bar splits the grille into two tiers. It has the same swoosh down the side running to the C-pillar, but it appears slightly less pronounced than in Detroit. The rear door handles are also hidden in the back pillar.

The compact crossover rides on the same platform as the new Fit. That allows it to take full advantage of the compact's highly versatile interior. The HR-V comes with Honda's Magic Seat that allows the back row to fold flat into the floor when needed.

Honda has given no indication about which powertrains the HR-V is going be to offered with. It's expected that the 1.5-liter direct injected four-cylinder and CVT is going to be one option, but the possibility of also offering a turbocharged version of the four has also been rumored. The automaker says more details are coming closer to launch.

The HR-V will slot in below the CR-V in terms of size and price when it goes on sale. All models are being built at Honda's new factory in Celaya, Mexico, that also builds the new Fit for North America. Scroll down to read the details in the release.

Continue reading 2015 Honda HR-V looks fit for the urban jungle

2015 Honda HR-V looks fit for the urban jungle originally appeared on Autoblog on Thu, 17 Apr 2014 12:00:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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Saleen hints at tuning Tesla Model S

Tue, 04/15/2014 - 10:28

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Saleen Tesla Model S

Saleen has been dropping breadcrumbs about its plans to develop a modified version of the Tesla Model S for a while now, and has finally released the first renderings that show off its changes to the electric sedan.

The four renderings indicate a comprehensive makeover for Saleen's Tesla. The front bumper is completely different with the absence of a grille and new louvered air intakes at the corners. The turn signals on the quarter panel appear to be open now, and the hood has new creases angled toward the center. One of the renderings promises an additional carbon fiber rear diffuser, carbon-ceramic brakes and carbon fiber deckled trim. The rear also has a larger spoiler and more aggressive rear bumper with brake cooling ducts at the corners. The interior appears relatively untouched, but the seats and much of the upholstery has been covered in a mix of leather and Alcantara.

Previously, Saleen promised to amp up the Model S' performance even farther, but it still hasn't gone into detail about what it's changing or how much it is going to cost. "I fully intend to produce one of the most compelling Tesla's to ever hit the roadway," said Steve Saleen, company founder and CEO in an earlier statement. We have contacted Saleen for more details about its plans for the Model S, and we'll update this story when we hear back.

Saleen hints at tuning Tesla Model S originally appeared on Autoblog on Tue, 15 Apr 2014 09:28:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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2015 Nissan Murano gets edgier, lighter for NY [w/video]

Mon, 04/14/2014 - 11:05

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2015 Nissan Murano

2015 Nissan Murano rear 3/4Nissan's Murano stands as one of the originators of the crossover movement - it was perhaps the first such vehicle to throw out the idea that a CUV had to look like a boxy, cladded-up sport utility vehicle in order to be successful. Now poised to enter its third generation, the midsize Nissan is not only getting a new look and a host of new technologies, it's getting a new home: Canton, MS.

With dramatic new styling presaged by the Resonance Concept at last year's Detroit Auto Show, the new Murano debuting at this week's New York Auto Show includes a toned-down "V-Motion" nose and the Japanese automaker's trademark boomerang-shaped light fixtures. Aside from the chunky chrome U-shaped grille element up front, the new Murano's most striking design detail is its cantilevered roof with funky "disconnected" D-pillars, a floating look reinforced by a greenhouse edged in brightwork. Overall, it's a much more bold and expressive piece of design than Nissan's recent second-generation Rogue, fitting, as the Murano has always been on the daring end of CUV design.

Boasting a 0.31 coefficient of drag and a ton of sheetmetal surface development, the Murano's new form is available with LED headlamps and features active grille shutters for improved aerodynamics. The company claims visibility has been improved as well - and not just because of its brilliant available Around View Monitor camera system - Nissan says it has "optimized the angles and thickness of the bottom of the A-pillar," along with fiddling with the size and location of the side mirrors.

Power continues to be delivered by VQ-Series 3.5-liter V6, tuned here to deliver 260 horsepower and 240 pound-feet of torque, just as it did last year. That power is routed through Nissan's latest Xtronic continually variable transmission, with standard front-wheel drive and available all-wheel drive. Fuel economy figures have not yet been released, but Nissan says it expects a 20-percent improvement over the outgoing model's middling figures (FWD model: 18 miles per gallon city/24 highway) thanks to a 130-pound weight loss, improved aerodynamics and a more efficient powertrain. This, despite a larger footprint.

The interior is all-new as well, and it needed to be - the newer, less-costly Rogue had grown in size and ambition, crowding the Kyushu-built second-generation Murano's space and besting its cabin quality. The 2015 Murano looks to have successfully separated itself from its upstart sibling, with so-called "Zero Gravity" seats like those found in the Altima, along with available heating and cooling (rear seats are also available heated), a much larger panoramic moonroof and an upsized cargo area. While not the most practical of colors, the leather-lined ivory cabin seen here looks very premium, offset by piano black trim and some unusual white striated "wood" on the center console, doors and dashboard.

It is not yet clear what this means for the bizarre Murano CrossCabriolet, a two-door convertible model introduced for the 2011 model year. Based on the outgoing second-generation Murano architecture, the writing appears to be on the wall for this slow-selling nichemobile.

The 2015 Murano will become the ninth model built in Nissan's Mississippi plant, and it will hit dealers in the fourth quarter of this year. Feel free to check below to watch an official video and read all the details in the press release.

Continue reading 2015 Nissan Murano gets edgier, lighter for NY [w/video]

2015 Nissan Murano gets edgier, lighter for NY [w/video] originally appeared on Autoblog on Mon, 14 Apr 2014 10:05:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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F1 car models made from paper will blow your mind

Thu, 04/10/2014 - 20:29

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Paper Red Bull RB7

There is an old saying that goes, "Choose a job you love, and you will never have to work a day in your life." The short film Paper Dreams illustrates just how true that is and includes some beautifully detailed automotive models to get the point across.

Paul started crafting paper model kits as a hobby, and as he grew up, he began creating whole paper cars from scratch. Eventually the detailed miniatures even included usually unseen elements like water pumps and suspension pieces - even the wiring. The movie tells the story of how crafting a replica of a Red Bull RB7 from 6,500 parts eventually got Paul his dream job.

It's amazing what the combination of time, effort and talent can create. Scroll down to watch this inspiring story and marvel at these fabulous models.

Continue reading F1 car models made from paper will blow your mind

F1 car models made from paper will blow your mind originally appeared on Autoblog on Thu, 10 Apr 2014 19:29:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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Production Lexus NX leaks online

Thu, 04/10/2014 - 15:30

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Lexus NX

Lexus NXThe first photos of the new Lexus NX crossover have leaked onto the web over a week before its official debut at the Beijing Motor Show. These pictures are pretty blurry, but there is no mistaking that they show off the Japanese luxury brand's smaller, premium CUV.

While the teaser only gave us a glimpse at its pointed strip of LED running lights and angular grille, the new image proves that the CUV is definitely not afraid of sharp edges. However, compared to the original concept, it looks almost sedate. The production version drops the knife-like side mirrors for more conventional units, and the grille appears narrower. The vertical intakes at the edges of the front are dulled slightly but still present. The NX is indeed a polarizing vehicle - we'll be interested to see it in person. After all, we've grown to like the new IS after our first, shocking reaction. We should give Lexus some credit, too, for not following the premium CUV styling herd.

Seen elsewhere, these's an exterior photo that hints at a powertrain configuration. The bumper reads NX 300h, which likely indicates that there will be a hybrid version of the CUV. This is likely the same combined 220-horsepower system with a 2.5-liter Atkinson-cycle engine and electric motor found in the IS 300h in Europe. There is no word on whether that model will be sold here. It's rumored to be offered with a new 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder as well. More details about the new Lexus are expected in China later this month.

Production Lexus NX leaks online originally appeared on Autoblog on Thu, 10 Apr 2014 14:30:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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Motus and Race Car Replicas debut RCR Monoposto and Baby Block MV4 engine [w/video]

Thu, 04/10/2014 - 10:59

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RCR Monoposto powered by Motus Baby Block KMV4 engine

The beautiful red racecar you see above may not be what you think it is. It's not vintage, it has never actually seen competition, and it's not from Italy. What it is, though, is the wrapper that debuts a new powerplant from the crew at Motus, the small-scale American motorcycle manufacturer from Down South in Alabama. It was built by Race Car Replicas from Fraser, MI, and we think it's pretty darn awesome.

The beating heart underneath that sinewy bodywork is known as the Motus Baby Block MV4. This pushrod engine, with design help from such well-known engine builders as Katech and Pratt and Miller, and more recently Mast Powertrain and Performance Design, has been tuned to produce more than 180 horsepower at 8,200 rpm with a wide, flat torque plateau that peaks at 126 pound-feet at 5,000 rpm. Couple that kind of power with the 1,200-pound weight of the 1958 Ferrari F1 replica this particular MV4 resides in, and you'll be welcomed with quite the potential for performance.

Motus isn't yet talking pricing in the public, but is more than willing to hear your plans for its MV4 engine. The bright-red beauty seen here is set to make its public debut on April 11-13 at the Circuit of the Americas track, which, of course, will be otherwise preoccupied by hosting a round of MotoGP racing. Check out the high-res image gallery above, then scroll down below for some video and the official press release from Motus.

Continue reading Motus and Race Car Replicas debut RCR Monoposto and Baby Block MV4 engine [w/video]

Motus and Race Car Replicas debut RCR Monoposto and Baby Block MV4 engine [w/video] originally appeared on Autoblog on Thu, 10 Apr 2014 09:59:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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2015 Ford Focus Sedan is fresh-faced and ready to defend its Most Popular crown

Wed, 04/09/2014 - 01:01

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2015 Ford Focus Sedan - front three-quarter view, blue

Ford has made an art of deeper-than-normal midlife updates since the 2010 Fusion, a strategy that has allowed it to keep models looking fresher in showrooms for longer without needing full redesigns. Instead of slight touchups to light fixtures, new paint colors and perhaps new wheel patterns, Ford has been digging deeper, with significant sheetmetal changes and very different front-end looks, along with an increased emphasis on new in-car technologies to keep models vibrant. Other automakers are following this trend, and Ford itself is continuing on the path with this new 2015 Focus Sedan.

There's a handsome new SE Sport Package that includes a firmer touring suspension, modest body kit and 17-inch wheels.

We first saw this sleek Aston Martin-like nose fitted to a Focus at the Geneva Motor Show last month, but Ford only showed the new look on the five-door hatchback - this is the first appearance of the sedan, which will bow at next week's New York Auto Show. The front end treatment is the same, with a new hood, new headlamps incorporating LED accents, a different grille shape and a completely revised lower fascia that does away with the 2014 model's controversial triangle-shaped corners and gaping intakes. The rear gets a new two-piece, laser-brazed trunk lid with new taillamps, but the overall look is quite similar to last year's car. In any case, the refreshed look brings the Focus sedan more in line with the design of Ford's other recently reworked cars, including the Fusion and Fiesta.

For fans of sportier looking models that can't quite afford or justify splurging on the Focus ST, there's a handsome new SE Sport Package that includes a firmer touring suspension, modest body kit and 17-inch wheels. SE Sports equipped with Ford's optional dual-clutch gearbox also receive paddle shifters.

The 2015 model year changeover also brings with it the same spunky 1.0-liter three-cylinder EcoBoost engine recently made available in the Fiesta. It's available exclusively with a six-speed manual transmission, but so far, Ford isn't spilling the beans on power or fuel economy figures.

Continue reading 2015 Ford Focus Sedan is fresh-faced and ready to defend its Most Popular crown

2015 Ford Focus Sedan is fresh-faced and ready to defend its Most Popular crown originally appeared on Autoblog on Wed, 09 Apr 2014 00:01:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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Legendary motorcycle designer Massimo Tamburini passes away at 70

Mon, 04/07/2014 - 20:00

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2006 MV Agusta F4 1000 Tamburini

The motorcycle world lost a great designer over the weekend. Massimo Tamburini, the mind behind the shape of the Ducati 916 Superbike, MV Agusta F4 and a host of other beautiful bikes died of cancer at age 70.

Tamburini founded Italian high-performance motorcycle builder Bimota in the '70s with two partners. The last two letters of the company's name actually come from Tamburini. He then moved on to Cagiva in the '80s when the company also owned Ducati and penned designs for both companies.

While there, Tamburini was responsible for creating the 916. It refined what Ducati had done before into a beautiful package, and the combination of a semi-exposed frame, single-sided rear swing arm and under tail exhaust defined the company's design aesthetic for years. He later took motorcycle design even farther with the gorgeous MV Agusta F4 (see above), with its four individual exhaust pipes poking out from under the seat. He retired from motorcycle design in 2008.

His designs transcended well past Italian sportbike fans. According to Asphalt and Rubber, Tamburini's work was among that featured at The Art of the Motorcycle exhibit at the Guggenheim Museum. The man was clearly a maestro when it came to shaping bikes, and he will be missed. Our condolences go out to his friends and family.

Legendary motorcycle designer Massimo Tamburini passes away at 70 originally appeared on Autoblog on Mon, 07 Apr 2014 19:00:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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Motor City Masters trailer isn't here to make friends

Sun, 04/06/2014 - 20:55

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Screencap from the trailer for Motor City Masters, the reality show competition about car designers

Here is the first 30-second trailer for the reality show Motor City Masters, and there's one thing we know for sure: it looks like a reality show. Announced last October and put together by the team behind Project Runway, the premise swaps fashion designers and frocks for car designers and concepts. In each episode, the ten designers (or however many of them remain) will create a new "fully functional (though not street legal) concept car."

The trailer doesn't give us much beyond the same bites of reality-show drama that are the genre's trademark, so it's impossible to tell right now how good - or not - it's going to be. Nor do we know who all the judges are, but Ford GT designer Camillo Pardo gets a line in the trailer so that's probably not the last we've seen of him, and we know that Jean Jennings of Automobile will bring her talents, as well. You can check out the trailer for yourself below.

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Motor City Masters trailer isn't here to make friends originally appeared on Autoblog on Sun, 06 Apr 2014 19:55:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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Land Rover promises Discovery Vision Concept for NY [w/video]

Wed, 04/02/2014 - 20:01

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Land Rover Discovery Vision Concept

At the Geneva Motor Show barely a month ago, Land Rover began teasing its plan to launch a new Discovery (currently known as the LR4 in the US). Now it looks like it's going to be just a few weeks before we actually get to see the new truck, at least in concept form. The British automaker has released a new teaser image and trailer for the Discovery Vision Concept that is debuting at the New York Auto Show, on April 16.

Land Rover isn't letting much out about its new truck yet. The company promises that the "new concept will showcase the design and technology vision for a future new family of Discovery vehicles." However, the accompanying video sheds a little more light on the Vision. It appears to have a sleeker take on the Disco's traditionally boxy shape, and the prominent rear pillar from previous generations has been incorporated as a full design element. Inside, it appears to have three rows of seats with a sliding second row that can at least partially be folded away. The instruments appear to be using a similar ride mode selector as the Range Rover as well.

LR has been clear that the next-generation Discovery encompasses a whole family of vehicles, but it hasn't gone into detail about what this means yet. The brand has been rumored to be separating its models into luxury, dual purpose and leisure categories. Scroll down to watch the teaser video for the concept and read LR's brief statement about it.

Continue reading Land Rover promises Discovery Vision Concept for NY [w/video]

Land Rover promises Discovery Vision Concept for NY [w/video] originally appeared on Autoblog on Wed, 02 Apr 2014 19:01:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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XCAR sits down with David Brown, talks Speedback

Wed, 04/02/2014 - 17:58

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David Brown Automotive, the British coachbuilder set to introduce its old-is-new-again Speedback at the Top Marques show in Monaco next month, has revealed a bit more of its upcoming offering in a video by XCAR. The Speedback is based on the platform and running gear of the soon-to-be-discontinued Jaguar XKR, with a design heavily influenced by 1960s-era cars from Ferrari, Maserati and Aston Martin.

While we've seen more than a few views of the Speedback, this behind-the-scenes shoot at Envisage Group, the Coventry-based company assembling the first running prototype, gives us a much closer look at the construction, build quality and unique features of the four-place coupe under proper lighting.

Peering inside the vehicle while it is still under construction reveals that the Speedback's handcrafted interior shows a heavy Jaguar/Land Rover influence (understandable, as Alan Mobberley, head of design for David Brown Automotive, was the chief designer of interiors for JLR). All of the modern conveniences are there, yet they've added some interesting touches. Many of the buttons on the dashboard are not plastic, but metal, incorporating tiny perforating holes to allow colored illumination to show through. Most interesting to our eyes is the hatchback's drop-down tailgate, which tumbles open to reveal a picnic seat stored beneath the flat floor.

The Speedback has a polarizing appearance, with some of us liking its retro looks, while others prefer to simply look away. Watch the video below, then let us what you think of the car in Comments.

Continue reading XCAR sits down with David Brown, talks Speedback

XCAR sits down with David Brown, talks Speedback originally appeared on Autoblog on Wed, 02 Apr 2014 16:58:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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