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2015 BMW X4 is a budget X6

Wed, 04/16/2014 - 20:40

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2015 BMW X4

We won't argue that crossovers are hugely successful vehicles, with automakers working to provide functional CUVs in a wide range of sizes. But over at BMW, things are just getting out of hand, as evidenced by this new X4 "Sports Activity Coupe" that debuts here at the 2014 New York Auto Show.

BMW is seeing fit to offer vehicles in even the most niche of niches, and the X4 is no exception. Want proof? Have a look at the X4, and the compare it to the X3, the 3 Series Gran Turismo, the 3 Series Sport Wagon, and the 4 Series Gran Coupe. Aside from marginal differences in things like ground clearance and the exact slope of the hatchback, what, exactly, is the difference?

Like the other models we just mentioned, the X4 is powered by either a 2.0-liter turbo-four with 240 horsepower or a more powerful, 3.0-liter turbo-six with 300 horsepower, and unsurprisingly, power is sent to the ground exclusively via the company's xDrive all-wheel-drive system. An eight-speed automatic transmission is the sole gearbox available with either engine. All sounds very familiar, right?

Even the shape is familiar, the X4 looking like a smaller, less-functional X6. It's not exactly what we'd call pretty, and it certainly isn't cheap, either. Pricing for the X4 whatcha-mobile starts at $45,625, including destination. Six-cylinder power will cost you just under $50,000, and considering BMW's extensive options list, we don't doubt that you'll easily be able to get one of these up into purely lavish territory.

Scroll down for BMW's official press blast, and check out our fresh crop of live images in the gallery above.

Continue reading 2015 BMW X4 is a budget X6

2015 BMW X4 is a budget X6 originally appeared on Autoblog on Wed, 16 Apr 2014 19:40:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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Wolfgang Dürheimer retakes the reins at Bentley and Bugatti

Wed, 04/16/2014 - 19:21

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Bentley CEO Wolfgang Durheimer displays

Wolfgang Dürheimer is still in play, with Bentley Motors announcing that he will return to the Chairman and CEO slot of the English company and French division Bugatti on June 1, 2014. He'll probably remember those chairs from the last time he filled them, since he was promoted to both positions in 2010 and remained there until September 2012, when he was installed as the head of R&D at Audi. That job only lasted until June of 2013, his nine-month tenure reported to be full of corporate drama that lead to his dismissal from the position.

But as if on gardening leave, he's been in the low-profile position of General Representative of the Volkswagen Group responsible for motorsport. Once back at Bentley, he will take over as the company works on getting its SUV to market and expanding its range. Both of those briefs Dürheimer will know well, having proved his ability at Porsche in the first decade of the new millennium. And even though no longer at Audi, his hybrid days don't appear to be over, as Bentley recently announced that it will hybridize of 90 percent of its lineup.

Dürheimer will also take on a third position, joining a VW Group committee focused on the US and Chinese markets. His successor at Bentley and Bugatti, Wolfgang Schreiber, has been promoted to "a leading position within the Volkswagen Group." There's a brief press release below with the official words.

Continue reading Wolfgang Dürheimer retakes the reins at Bentley and Bugatti

Wolfgang Dürheimer retakes the reins at Bentley and Bugatti originally appeared on Autoblog on Wed, 16 Apr 2014 18:21:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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2015 BMW Alpina B6 Gran Coupe challenges the M6 in New York

Wed, 04/16/2014 - 16:21

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BMW Alpina B6 Gran Coupe

Despite being a well-respected outfit for decades, Alpina remains something of a mystery to many stateside BMW fans. In Europe, Alpina has established itself as a first-rate source for breathed-upon high-performance Bimmers, and it's looking to continue picking up traction on our shores. The US has received a handful of Alpina models through BMW factory channels, namely the 7-Series-based B7, and now we're getting another fast four-door with the debut of the BMW Alpina B6 xDrive Gran Coupe at today's 2014 New York Auto Show.

The B6 Gran Coupe stands as an interesting sibling to the factory's M6 Grand Coupe. Both are propelled by a 4.4-liter twin-turbo V8, but the tunes are quite different. The Alpina produces 540 horsepower and 540 pound-feet of torque, which is 20 hp less than the M6, but with 40 lb-ft more torque. An eight-speed automatic and all-wheel drive mean that the B6 is about half a second quicker to 60 miles per hour than BMW's own creation. Plus, the B6 has an unrestricted top speed of 198 mph, making it one seriously rapid 6 Series Gran Coupe.

The sport sedan also wears other Alpina goodies like 20-inch versions of the brand's 21-spoke wheels and exclusive color options. The B6 Gran Coupe goes for $118,225 (including destination), and will be available through BMW dealers immediately after the auto show ends. More info about the B6 is in the release below.

Continue reading 2015 BMW Alpina B6 Gran Coupe challenges the M6 in New York

2015 BMW Alpina B6 Gran Coupe challenges the M6 in New York originally appeared on Autoblog on Wed, 16 Apr 2014 15:21:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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2015 Acura TLX is all too familiar, despite its new tricks [w/videos]

Wed, 04/16/2014 - 16:01

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2015 Acura TLX

I'm confident in saying that the 2015 Acura TLX, revealed today at the New York Auto Show, will be a perfectly nice car to drive. It'll be nice to sit in, with plenty of luxurious amenities. It'll be... fine. And for Acura, "fine" is apparently good enough.

I say that because while the TLX is an all-new offering (it replaces both the TL and TSX), it hardly shakes up the Acura formula we've come to accept over the past few years. It looks like everything else in the automaker's lineup, complete with the neat LED headlamps and signature beaked grille. Power comes from either a 2.4-liter naturally aspirated inline-four with 206 horsepower, or a 3.5-liter V6 with 290 hp - engines we've tested in countless other Honda/Acura products. The front-wheel-drive version uses the Precision All-Wheel Steer (P-AWS) from the RLX, and high-end V6 models use the Super-Handling All-Wheel Drive (SH-AWD) that we've enjoyed across the rest of the Acura range. Really, there's nothing to write home about here, except maybe, how that power is sent to the wheels.

Acura is finally - finally - moving beyond the world of the six-speed transmission, offering a new eight-speed, dual-clutch gearbox with the 2.4-liter engine, and a swanky new nine-speed automatic with the 3.5-liter V6. This is arguably the biggest news surrounding the TLX, though do note, fuel economy hasn't vastly been improved in the process. The TLX 2.4 musters up 24 miles per gallon in the city and 35 mpg highway, while the front-drive V6 is rated at 21/34 mpg. Optioning for the V6 SH-AWD reduces things to 21/31 mpg.

Inside, it's more of the same - the company's dual-screen center console and infotainment system is used here, and it all looks like the same setup as in RLX, MDX, etc. That's not a bad thing - I like Acura's interiors - but again, there are seemingly few big advancements.

So yeah, the new TLX is fine. For driving, sitting in and other daily needs, "fine" is the order of the day. But if you were hoping for a fresh-faced, bold new offering from Acura here, 'fraid you're plum out of luck. Read more in the press release below, and check out a pair of videos.

Continue reading 2015 Acura TLX is all too familiar, despite its new tricks [w/videos]

2015 Acura TLX is all too familiar, despite its new tricks [w/videos] originally appeared on Autoblog on Wed, 16 Apr 2014 15:01:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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Jaguar testing hardcore F-Type R-S GT?

Wed, 04/16/2014 - 15:30

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Jaguar F-Type R-S GT prototype

Some automakers make a hardcore model, then sit back and revel in its awesomeness. Jaguar does things a little differently. It takes a standard production model, gives it more power, bigger brakes and a tighter suspension and slaps the letter R on it. Then it gives it even more power, even bigger brakes and an even tighter suspension and calls it an R-S. Sometimes the engineers in Coventry don't even think that's enough, so they strip out some weight and dial things up even further and call it an R-S GT.

So far, they've only gone that far with the XK (transformed first into the XKR, then the XKR-S, and finally the XKR-S GT), but with that model on its way out, Jaguar seems to be preparing to give the newer F-Type a similar treatment. Now we can't be sure that what we're looking at is an F-Type R-S GT, especially since the 550-horsepower engine from the XKR-S and XFR-S is already powering the existing F-Type R Coupe, but it does seem to have all the makings of a hardcore performance model.

Compared to the existing F-Type, the development model pictured here has a bigger front splitter (like the one on the Project 7 concept), a big rear wing and a set of what looks like pretty big lightweight alloys. It's also, tellingly, a roadster, which (unlike the coupe) has until now topped out at 500hp with the V8 S model. So while it may be hard to say exactly just what Jaguar has in store for us here (or what they'll call it), one thing's for sure: it's gonna be fast and loud.

Jaguar testing hardcore F-Type R-S GT? originally appeared on Autoblog on Wed, 16 Apr 2014 14:30:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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2015 BMW M4 Convertible will give the best bad hair days

Wed, 04/16/2014 - 13:31

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2015 BMW M4 Convertible

BMW officially unveiled the 2015 M4 Convertible at the Javits Center in New York this morning. The droptop, which will slot in next to the M4 Coupe in BMW's performance line, offers infinitely more headroom, fresh air and sunshine for those that want a little more great outdoors and tousled hair with their M experience.

Visually, the M4 convertible is similar to the coupe, and carries on the hardtop's athletic stance with a long wheelbase, short front overhang, aerodynamic mirrors and in the case of this showcar, optional yellow-painted brake calipers. The car's expressive, angry face is perhaps the most notable aspect of its styling, screaming "get the hell out of my way!" with its signature twin-bar kidney grille, trio of air intakes and squinty LED headlights. Inside, the convertible employs three-temperature neck warmers (for chilly top-down days), an absurd amount of "M" logos and a wealth of luxury and technology features.

The rear-wheel-drive convertible uses the same engine as the coupe: a high-revving, twin-turbocharged 3.0-liter inline six producing 425 horsepower and 406 pound-feet of torque, mated to either a six-speed manual or a seven-speed M dual-clutch transmission. BMW says the car can make a 0-60 sprint in just 4.4 seconds when equipped with the manual.

While those power numbers certainly sound impressive, the M4 convertible's potential downfall is its weight. The addition of the power droptop pushes the car up to a hefty 4,055 pounds, though that's still some 90 pounds lighter than the previous-generation E93 M3 convertible. We aren't fretting just yet, though. BMW has earned the benefit of the doubt, with decades of experience making even big crossovers with physics-defying abilities.

For more info on BMW's newest open-air performance machine, check out the press release below.

Continue reading 2015 BMW M4 Convertible will give the best bad hair days

2015 BMW M4 Convertible will give the best bad hair days originally appeared on Autoblog on Wed, 16 Apr 2014 12:31:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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2015 Mercedes-Benz S63 AMG Coupe rides to the top

Wed, 04/16/2014 - 10:31

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Mercedes-Benz S63 AMG Coupe

You've seen the power a 600-horespower engine can produce on a racetrack. You may have seen the results of what 600 horsepower looks like on a local highway. But have you seen what 600 horsepower can do in an elevator shaft? This might be a new one.

Mercedes-Benz introduced its 2015 S63 AMG Coupe in New York on Tuesday night, literally driving the 4,400-pound vehicle off an elevator in a Manhattan loft. Not that the car needed any extra hijinks to make an impression upon its entrance. This is a stylish, imposing vehicle.

Under the brawny hood is a hand-built, twin-turbocharged 5.5-liter V8 engine, capable of producing 577 horsepower and 664 pound-feet of torque. Mercedes' seven-speed AMG Speedshift automatic transmission handles that force, which pushes the vehicle to 60 miles per hour in 3.9 seconds. Power is sent to the road via the company's 4Matic all-wheel-drive system.

Conventional widsom may say that Americans are buying fewer two-door vehicles than ever before, and that they're buying smaller cars than ever before. The S63 AMG Coupe, which launches this fall, joyfully thumbs its nose at such logic. There's every reason to think it will help AMG continue its growth from 32,000 worldwide units sold last year.

Mercedes-Benz also showed shots of the interior of its highly anticipated AMG-GT. Red and black leather encompassed what appeared to be a spacious cabin. More detail is expected on the AMG-GT this fall. Combined, both cars look like they'll keep AMG at the forefront of the luxury performance segment. Have a look at the S63 Coupe in the galleries above and below, and scroll down to read the company's official press blast.

Continue reading 2015 Mercedes-Benz S63 AMG Coupe rides to the top

2015 Mercedes-Benz S63 AMG Coupe rides to the top originally appeared on Autoblog on Wed, 16 Apr 2014 09:31:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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DS 6WR channels Citroën Wild Rubis into Beijing

Wed, 04/16/2014 - 10:00

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Citroën has unveiled preliminary images and information about "the first ever SUV for the brand," the DS 6WR, before the model's official debut at the upcoming Beijing Motor Show. Said to be directly inspired by the Wild Rubis concept that bowed in Shanghai last year, the new addition to the DS family breaks new ground for the French brand, while not exactly living up to the SUV tradition.

The DS 6WR will slot in at the top of the brand's luxury-oriented DS range (where it will also be built), offering space and versatility along with added size for Chinese customers. Citroën is as-yet unclear if the model will make it to Europe, or elsewhere in the world.

The French automaker will initially offer the utility vehicle with a choice of two engine options, an e-THP 160 and THP 200 - those numbers seem to reference output in metric horsepower, meaning roughly 158 hp and 197 hp, respectively. Each mill offers both direct injection and a twin-scroll turbo, and both mate up to a six-speed automatic gearbox.

Despite a proliferation of SUV references in the short press release below, the DS 6WR's lack of all-wheel drive, even as an option, along with it's car-like styling and ride height have us calling this one firmly in crossover territory. The front-drive vehicle comes equipped with Citroën's "Grip Control" traction control system, in place of turning wheels at all corners.

You'll find just a few initial images of the wild DS 6WR in the gallery, and can look forward to more as we bring you live coverage from Beijing later this month.

Continue reading DS 6WR channels Citroën Wild Rubis into Beijing

DS 6WR channels Citroën Wild Rubis into Beijing originally appeared on Autoblog on Wed, 16 Apr 2014 09:00:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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Infiniti Q70 adds long-wheelbase model, fresh looks for 2015

Wed, 04/16/2014 - 01:02

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Infiniti Q70L

After all the work done for the Q50, Infiniti has finally given some attention to its flagship sedan, the Q70 (or, for those that refuse to use the brand's latest nomenclature, the M). While the refreshed sedan sports a few visual tweaks, the big bit of news is that it's the first vehicle in its segment to offer both long- and a short-wheelbase options (keep in mind, both BMW and Audi offer LWBs in China, but not in the US).

Infiniti has stretched the standard car's 114.2-inch wheelbase to 120.1 inches, lengthening the car 7.3 inches overall. Nearly the entire wheelbase increase is dedicated to rear-seat legroom, with a substantial increase of 5.6 inches overall. As for the effect the stretching had on the Q70's looks, well, we actually think it might look better with the longer wheelbase.

It's a nice change of proportions that is complemented by the fresh looks of the facelifted Q70. New head and taillights are the biggest changes, with full LEDs in the back and LED accents in front. There's certainly a bit of Q50 in the front, thanks to both the headlights and the new "double-arch" grille, complete with mesh-finish inserts. In the cabin, material quality looks to remain impressive, with Infiniti's cool silver-dust wood trim being shown off in the press images. Outside of that, interior changes are kept to a minimum.

As this is a fairly light refresh, it's no shock that there isn't much in the way of mechanical changes. The base 3.7-liter, VQ37 V6 still pumps out 330 horsepower and 270 pound-feet of torque, while the 5.6-liter V8 retains its 420 ponies and 417 lb-ft. Both of these engines will be available on the long-wheelbase (although the V8 will only pump out 416 hp and 414 lb-ft), while a seven-speed automatic remains the sole transmission across the board. The Q70 Hybrid, meanwhile, will remain a short-wheelbase item, only.

We'll have more on the new Q70 and Q70L when they make their official debut tomorrow, at the 2014 New York Auto Show. In the meantime, check out the full press release below.

Continue reading Infiniti Q70 adds long-wheelbase model, fresh looks for 2015

Infiniti Q70 adds long-wheelbase model, fresh looks for 2015 originally appeared on Autoblog on Wed, 16 Apr 2014 00:02:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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Infiniti QX80 refreshed for 2015, range-topping Limited trim added

Wed, 04/16/2014 - 01:01

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Infiniti QX80

Alongside the updated Q70, Infiniti has refreshed its fullsize SUV, the QX80, for the 2014 New York Auto Show. Like its freshened sedan, the QX80 is full of incremental styling tweaks typical of a mid-cycle update like this. Also like the Q70, there's a new member of the QX80 family for the 2015 model year.

But first, the overarching changes for the QX80 range. As we said, this is pretty standard fare, with new headlights and taillights and a restyled grille designed to fit the full-sizer in with the most recent Infiniti design language. Full LED headlights, turn signals and fog lights should provide a bit more illumination, while the mesh inserts on the "double-arch" grille remind us of the Q50. Still, this is a rather bulbous, inelegant piece of design in our eyes. Out back, the shape of the taillights has been tweaked, and they now sport LED illumination. The new rear bumper is larger, as well.

In the cabin, upgrades are similarly sparse. There are a few new tech items, like automatic high beams and predictive forward collision warning. Overall, though, this is the same wood-and-leather-lined cabin Infiniti has been selling for the past few years.

Now, the new stuff. Infiniti is launching a top-tier model called the QX80 Limited. It's best to think of this big guy as Infiniti's answer to the Land Rover Range Rover Autobiography trim and the Mercedes-Benz GL-Class Designo options, offering an even nicer interior than the standard SUV while adding a few exterior tweaks, as well.

Smoked headlights and taillights, dark chrome exterior trim and unique 22-inch wheels round out the exterior upgrades for the Limited. Inside, Truffle Brown semi-aniline leather covers the seats, complete with quilted stitching and silver piping. Real Ash trim is standard and features a matte finish, while the headliner is finished in Ultrasuede.

We'll have more on the new QX80 and QX80 Limited when they make their auto show debut in the Big Apple. Take a look below for the full press releases on both models.

Continue reading Infiniti QX80 refreshed for 2015, range-topping Limited trim added

Infiniti QX80 refreshed for 2015, range-topping Limited trim added originally appeared on Autoblog on Wed, 16 Apr 2014 00:01:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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2014 Porsche 911 Targa

Tue, 04/15/2014 - 12:59

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2014 Porsche 911 Carrera Targa 4 - red

I've watched the electro-hydraulic roof panel open and close about 73 times in the past hour, but its fascinatingly complicated operation still has me mesmerized. I've concluded that only a German automaker - Porsche, to be more specific - would go through the trouble of engineering a roof system that essentially lifts the entire greenhouse off a vehicle, rearranges its components like a sliding-tile puzzle, and then reassembles all of them seamlessly (sans roof panel) to accurately recreate one of its most famed bodystyles.

The 2014 Porsche 911 Targa is a near-perfect modern interpretation of the automaker's 1965 911 Targa, a semi-convertible bodystyle that represents nearly 13 percent of all 911 models sold since production started 50 years ago. While the early car's roof was purely manual in operation - that's the period-correct way of saying that the driver did all of the muscle work - today's Targa is a completely automated transformation that requires only that the driver hold down a cabin-mounted switch for a mere 19 seconds to let the captivating show run its course.

After studying the Targa's elaborate roof operation at its launch at the Detroit Auto Show earlier this year, I was sufficiently intrigued. To that end, I traveled one-third of the way around the planet to southern Italy, hoping that the Mediterranean climate would reveal a bit more about the reintroduction of the automaker's iconic sports car.

Continue reading 2014 Porsche 911 Targa

2014 Porsche 911 Targa originally appeared on Autoblog on Tue, 15 Apr 2014 11:59:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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Is Bentley testing a hardcore Continental GT V8?

Tue, 04/15/2014 - 12:33

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Bentley Continental GT V8

The Bentley Continental GT V8 is a darn good car. The GT V8 S, even more so. It's only logical, then that an even hotter Conti GT would be commensurately better. At least, we're hoping that's what the minds at Bentley's Crewe, UK headquarters were thinking when they dispatched this bewinged GT V8 to the Nürburgring.

This Conti GT stands out not only because of its wing, but because of its improved aerodynamics as a whole. A new front fascia, complete with a body-color lip spoiler is the big visual takeaway of this car's sportier intensions, while our spies claim this white whale rides on a lowered, firmer suspension.

The real question about this car has to do with its powerplant, though. What's under hood? The GT V8 S returns an impressive 521 horsepower while the base Conti W12 churns out 567 ponies, meaning there isn't a lot of wiggle room between what is currently the priciest V8 model and the cheapest twelve-cylinder car. The 4.0-liter, twin-turbocharged V8, though, is certainly capable of handling more than 521 hp, as Audi uses a 560-hp variant in the RS7. Our spies, meanwhile, suggest that this may merely be an even lighter version of the GT V8 S - maybe like an RS model - that is lighter and stiffer, but no more powerful.

It's really anyone's guess as to what Bentley is up to. Here's hoping we find out soon, though. Take a look up top for our gallery of images from the Nürburgring, and then hop down below into Comments and let us know what you think Bentley is playing at.

Is Bentley testing a hardcore Continental GT V8? originally appeared on Autoblog on Tue, 15 Apr 2014 11:33:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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Infiniti readying small crossover for China, is it Juke based?

Tue, 04/15/2014 - 12:03

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2015 Nissan Juke

The small crossover is the superstar segment of the global automotive industry at the moment. With the love that Nissan has for the form with vehicles like the Juke and the Rogue, it should come as no surprise that Infiniti is going to hop into the market as well. However, its luxury CUV is likely going to remain exclusive to China for the time being.

The first hint of the Chinese Infiniti crossover leaked as dark silhouette looking a lot like the Juke, during a brand press conference said to be held in Beijing. It suggested that the model would use the Nissan platform but incorporate unique styling.

Leftlane News speculated that it could be among the company's debuts at the upcoming Beijing Motor Show, but that appears not to be the case. Infiniti spokesperson Kyle Bazemore has confirmed to Autoblog that a "small premium crossover" is under development for China. However, "Details of the vehicle will be announced at a later date. It will not debut at Beijing Motor Show," he said. Also, don't get too excited about the prospects of driving an Infiniti small CUV, because Bazemore says the company has no plans to offer this model elsewhere.

Since its global headquarters recently moved to Hong Kong, Infiniti has been making a big play at the Chinese market, and that is continuing in 2014. To avoid the high import tariffs, it's beginning production of the long-wheelbase Q50 and QX50 there this year, and it's launching multiple new vehicles in the market, as well.

Infiniti readying small crossover for China, is it Juke based? originally appeared on Autoblog on Tue, 15 Apr 2014 11:03:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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Land Rover Discovery Vision Concept bows early on the USS Intrepid

Tue, 04/15/2014 - 01:10

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After teasing us for more than a month, Land Rover finally unveiled - in the flesh - its Discovery Vision Concept a couple days in advance of the New York Auto Show. The glitzy event took place on the deck of the USS Intrepid, now serving out its retirement as the Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum in the Hudson River in New York City. The venue was appropriate, as Land Rover and Virgin Galactic, Richard Branson's commercial spaceline, have announced a long-term global partnership (thus explaining why a fullsize model of the VSS Enterprise suborbital spacecraft was in attendance).

Land Rover is touting the Discovery Vision Concept as "a vision into the future of Land Rover's new family of leisure vehicles." For the past decade, Discovery models sold in North America have been badged as the LR3 and LR4, but the Vision Concept marks the return of the Discovery nameplate to our soil. According to the British automaker, the Discovery is back to "redefine its territory in the leisure category." The concept is intended to represent a future family of Discovery-named vehicles that will boast the new design language an introduce new technology.

Speaking of technology, the seven-passenger Discovery Vision Concept is loaded with innovation, including Gesture Control, Remote Control Drive, laser headlights, Smart Glass, Laser Terrain Scanning and Transparent Bonnet. Most, if not all of the technology will trickle out over the next decade on Land Rover's production vehicles. Read more about the Discovery Vision Concept in the full press release below, and look for more of our pictures later this week when it arrives at the Javits Center.

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Land Rover Discovery Vision Concept bows early on the USS Intrepid originally appeared on Autoblog on Tue, 15 Apr 2014 00:10:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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BMW details Concept X5 eDrive ahead of New York debut

Sun, 04/13/2014 - 17:33

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BMW Concept X5 eDrive

Already weighing more than most other types of vehicles and with the space to accommodate the extra equipment, crossovers and SUVs arguably make for one of the more ideal platforms to transform into a hybrid. And there have been a handful of them - like the Audi Q5, Infiniti QX60/Nissan Pathfinder, Porsche Cayenne/Volkswagen Touareg, Lexus RX450h/Toyota Highlander and Cadillac Escalade/Chevy Tahoe/GMC Yukon - but by and large the majority of hybrids on the market are sedans and hatchbacks. BMW, however, looks poised to join the minority with the X5.

The Bavarian automaker showcased the X5 eDrive concept at Frankfurt last year, and as promised, has now revealed the followup it will present at the New York Auto Show in just a few days. The new Concept X5 eDrive, as BMW has now revealed, pairs a 2.0-liter turbo four good for 245 horsepower to a 95-hp electric motor to deliver a combined 340 horsepower. Its lithium-ion battery can power it for up to 20 miles and at speeds up to 75 miles per hour before the gasoline engine needs to kick in. All that without sacrificing the vehicle's utility, maintaining an almost perfectly flat loading floor with 40:20:40 split-folding rear seats, and without sacrificing much on performance, either: with a 0-62 time of seven seconds flat, the X5 eDrive concept is quicker off the line than the production X5 with the 2.5-liter turbodiesel and just a tenth off of the 3.0-liter turbodiesel.

With the full technical details now released (you can delve into it all in the press release below), the only question remains when BMW will actually put the X5 eDrive into production. Given its appearance in New York, though, we gather that whenever it does reach showrooms, it'll reach American ones as well.

Continue reading BMW details Concept X5 eDrive ahead of New York debut

BMW details Concept X5 eDrive ahead of New York debut originally appeared on Autoblog on Sun, 13 Apr 2014 16:33:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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BMW considering building 3 Series in North America

Sun, 04/13/2014 - 11:31

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BMW Spartanburg factory

There might be even more BMWs coming from North America soon. The company recently announced plans to build a flagship crossover called the X7 at its Spartanburg, SC, factory. Now, rumors are emerging that the Bavarians might be thinking about building a second North American factory that could build its quick-selling 3 Series.

According to Bloomberg, the German luxury giant is considering several possible locations for a North American factory, including two in Mexico, that may build the 3. "We will decide this in the next months. On the North American continent, there's still potential," said BMW production boss, Harald Krueger, in an interview meant for company staff obtained by Bloomberg.

If BMW decides to open a plant in Mexico, it would be following its rival Audi, which already announced construction of a factory there. Mercedes-Benz has been rumored to be working on a deal with Nissan to build its cars South of the Border as well. Rumors of Bimmer considering Mexican production have also cropped up in the past, so it wouldn't come as a total surprise to hear it made official.

The X7 is being built exclusively in Spartanburg for the world market and involves a $1 billion investment in the plant by 2016 to raise capacity from 300,000 units a year to 450,000 units. The factory already builds many of BMW's crossover models.

BMW considering building 3 Series in North America originally appeared on Autoblog on Sun, 13 Apr 2014 10:31:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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Ford Transit Skyliner Concept is a Gulfstream for the road

Sat, 04/12/2014 - 18:07

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Ford Transit Skyliner

If you are afraid to fly or just want to arrive at your ultimate destination in absolute comfort, then the Ford Transit Skyliner concept might be the perfect vehicle for you. Built by Galpin Auto Sports and based on a 2015 Transit, the van is basically a private jet on wheels. It even has a touch of Transformers about it with the ability to switch between four modes by pressing a button in a smartphone app.

Based on the long wheelbase, high-roof model with 487 cubic feet of cargo space and 6 feet, 9.5 inches of interior height, the Skyliner has movable captains chairs that shift around among four modes. In theater mode, the seats turn and recline to face a 52-inch retractable movie screen with 7.2 surround sound. For business, a motorized table unfolds, and the chairs gather around it. There is a mode for tailgating where the door opens four-feet wide, and, when traveling, passengers can recline back with footrests that extend for maximum comfort.

To make the ride even plusher, there is a satellite and media server to meet your entertainment needs, and there is even a built-in bar in the back. If this Ford had a bathroom, you could live in it. Of course, you would need to hire a driver to enjoy all the amenities in the back.

The exterior of the van wears a custom silver paint with contrasting gray on the lower portion and chrome trim. The Transit goes on sale this summer, and the Skyliner is going to be on display at the New York Auto Show. Scroll down to read the official announcement.

Continue reading Ford Transit Skyliner Concept is a Gulfstream for the road

Ford Transit Skyliner Concept is a Gulfstream for the road originally appeared on Autoblog on Sat, 12 Apr 2014 17:07:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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Cadillac's Euro reboot may have implications for US models, sales

Fri, 04/11/2014 - 17:30

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Cadillac CTS V Coupe at the end of the road Magdeburg Germany

Firmly on the comeback trail in the US, Cadillac is still trying to get out of the starting blocks in Europe. At the Geneva Motor Show in March, Cadillac' senior execs revealed plans to grow the brand's presence in a luxury market dominated by the big three German marques, Audi, BMW and Mercedes-Benz.

GM President Dan Ammann says he sees "enormous" potential for Cadillac globally.

Over the past 20 years, the General Motors premium nameplate has tried and failed multiple times to break into the European market. This time around, Cadillac recognizes that progress will be modest at best, and depends on specific changes to models, some of which may impact the brand's US lineup. Planned new sales tactics in Europe may also impact the way Cadillac does business on this side of the pond.

GM President Dan Ammann says he sees "enormous" potential for Cadillac globally. "Our goal is to take a much more consistent long term approach than what the company used to historically," he tells Autoblog.

For Uwe Ellinghaus, Cadillac chief marketing officer, this means a slow and steady strategy for the European market. Ellinghaus, a former BMW executive, sees annual sales volumes reaching around 2,000 units for the next few years. That, of course, is a drop in the bucket compared to the German luxury brands' sales totals. But being the underdog is not necessarily a bad prospect, says Ellinghaus. Cadillac lacks a properly developed dealer network in Europe, but this gives the brand an opportunity to experiment with a new approach. "I think the future of retail in the automotive industry is without bricks and mortar, at least in comparison to what we do now, which is investing multi-millions in dealerships all over the country," he notes.

"Because of our limited volume, it will be easier to take care of customers on an individual basis. So we see a competitive advantage there and can pioneer a new retail format, with pop-up stores, virtual stores and a flagship store, maybe. If this approach works we then roll it out in rest of the world."

Continue reading Cadillac's Euro reboot may have implications for US models, sales

Cadillac's Euro reboot may have implications for US models, sales originally appeared on Autoblog on Fri, 11 Apr 2014 16:30:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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2014 BMW 328d xDrive Sport Wagon

Fri, 04/11/2014 - 12:57

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2014 BMW 328d Sport Wagon

There's a running joke among auto writers that the perfect car would be a diesel-powered, rear-drive wagon with manual transmission and no power accessories whatsoever. It would only be available in brown and would somehow be as fun to drive as a Mazda MX-5 Miata. Makes total sense, right?

Realistically, no manufacturer is ever going to completely fulfill our wishes, no matter how much we beg, plead, kick and scream about our dream car that most of us would actually never buy. The best we can do is hope for a vehicle that mixes some aspects of this ideal journalist's car. And in today's world, that vehicle just might be the BMW 328d xDrive Sport Wagon.

No, it's not available with a manual gearbox, and power can only be sent through an xDrive all-wheel-drive system. It's also not available in brown (although both Mojave Metallic and Sparkling Bronze Metallic are acceptable stand-ins), but it ticks the two main boxes of being a diesel-powered wagon, one of only a couple such models in the United States.

To properly put its versatility and fuel economy through its paces, senior editor Steven Ewing and I used the 328d shown above as our chariot to the 2014 Chicago Auto Show (inclement weather kept us from shooting the darn thing, so that's why you're just now seeing this writeup) - covering some 600 miles on our jaunt from Detroit to the Windy City and back.

Driving Notes
  • As this is our first time driving the 328d packing BMW's 2.0-liter, turbodiesel four-cylinder, let's get the essentials out of the way. 180 horsepower is paired up with 280 pound-feet of torque, available from 1,750 rpm to 2,750 rpm, allowing our oil-burning longroof to hit 60 miles per hour in a leisurely 7.7 seconds before conking out at 130 mph. In short, this is not the 3 Series for those who demand quickness.
  • In the real world, though, the 328d's acceleration is perfectly adequate. Dip into the throttle at freeway speeds, and you'll surf along on a wave of torque that makes passing a painless affair, although some planning is still required. As is the case with most passenger diesels, the sound isn't terribly evocative when ran hard, but at cruising revs, our tester proved luxuriously quiet.
  • My leg of the journey was from downtown Detroit, on Interstate 94, to I-69 and onto the I-80 turnpike. Along this route, I had the cruise control pegged at 80 miles per hour, while returning 42 miles per gallon. Yep, it's that good.
  • Ewing, having a bit of a lead foot, quickly did his best to ruin my decent fuel economy when he took over on the turnpike. However, a nasty winter storm meant that most of our I-80 travels were spent cruising below 50 mph, meaning we arrived in Chicago averaging just over 41 mpg. The trip home, which was highlighted by crisp, clear and dry weather that allowed us to zip along at 80 mph, saw our overall economy dip to just under 41 mpg. Considering our higher-than-average speed, there's little doubt in my mind that the 328d could meet and exceed its 43-mpg highway estimate.
  • The fuel economy owes some of its success to BMW's suite of fuel-sipping features. Besides the routinely excellent ZF 8HP eight-speed automatic, a standard stop-start system and BMW's Eco Pro mode make conserving fuel an easy task. Eco Pro is particularly handy in urban settings, where its more relaxed throttle response and shorter shifts make hypermiling easier. To keep drivers engaged, the instrument cluster shows how many extra miles of fuel are being saved while in Eco Pro.
  • We'd be lying if we said choosing the 328d for this trip was only because of its fuel economy. While the 3 Series has grown a bit softer over the years, the upside is that it's more tolerable on long hauls. With the 328d, the suspension has a just-right balance between sportiness and comfort. We had no issues with it along the smoother freeways, while the pockmarked sections of Chicago's surface streets were easy enough to dodge thanks to the 3's agility.
  • Not surprisingly, this is not a cheap vehicle. Prices for the 328d xDrive Sport Wagon start at $42,950. Our tester, meanwhile, was optioned out to $49,425. Those that have read my Quick Spin of the 320i should see where this is going.
  • I might not have made too much of the 328d's price had I not picked up our long-term Mazda6 on our return trip. That $31,765 front-drive sedan is obviously not a direct competitor for the BMW - in fact, it's not even the same bodystyle. However, it did give me reason for pause, as it was loaded with navigation, adaptive cruise control, blind-spot monitoring, leather seats and a rear-view camera - things not found on this 328d. It had all of these features and a larger cabin, yet it could return 38 mpg while running on cheaper gasoline, for less than two-thirds the price of our tester. Different cars, different classes - apples and oranges, maybe, but it did get me thinking anew about the pricing of not just BMW, but all prestige brands.

2014 BMW 328d xDrive Sport Wagon originally appeared on Autoblog on Fri, 11 Apr 2014 11:57:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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Bugatti reveals Black Bess as fifth Legend edition Veyron

Fri, 04/11/2014 - 11:15

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Bugatti Veyron Vitesse Black Bess

Say what you will about all the special editions Bugatti makes out of the Veyron. The fact of the matter is that they sell, and sell quickly. In fact, each of the four Legend editions to date - all of which have been limited to three examples, amounting to twelve cars - has sold out at prices hovering around the $3 million mark, helping Bugatti sell the last few dozen examples of the Veyron roadsters it has to build before the model is retired entirely. And you can bet this one will sell out just as fast.

It's called Black Bess, and unlike the previous examples in the series that paid homage to specific people in Bugatti's history, this one honors a specific car. But not just any car: "the first ever street legal super sports car," in the automaker's own words. That epitaph belongs to the Type 18, a pre-war Bugatti with an inline-four that produced just 100 horsepower (less than a tenth of the Vitesse's output) and topped out at 100 miles per hour - mind-blowing speed in its time. Named after a famous English racing horse, Bugatti only made seven Type 18s, one of which was raced by Ettore himself, and another was bought by legendary aviator Roland Garros.

To pay tribute to such an instrumental vehicle in the marque's history, Bugatti decked out a Vitesse roadster - complete with open roof and 1,184-horsepower quad-turbo W16 engine - in black with 24-carat gold accents. The interior is upholstered in light beige and brown leather with red leather steering wheel and trim. The door panels feature imagery of the original T18 and Roland Garros' plane, rendered in a specially-developed ink on leather.

As with the previous versions, Bugatti will only make three examples, each commanding a €2.15 million (about $3M) purchase price. The first of the three is being presented at the Beijing Motor Show, but if your travel plans don't include a stop in the Chinese capital this month, you can scope it out in the high-res image gallery above and the details in the press release below. The final Legend edition, which we still expect will honor Elisabeth Junek, will be presented at Pebble Beach in August.

Continue reading Bugatti reveals Black Bess as fifth Legend edition Veyron

Bugatti reveals Black Bess as fifth Legend edition Veyron originally appeared on Autoblog on Fri, 11 Apr 2014 10:15:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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