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Watch F1 cars rip up a mountain in Japan

12/29/2015

Two ex-Formula One cars plus one mountain road equals an epic video shot in Japan by Motor Head Magazine.

It's not too often you see open-wheel cars on public roads -- the Stallone vehicle "Driven" notwithstanding -- but something about it makes the cars look even better than when they're on the racetrack. After the F1 cars have a go, they're followed by some drifters who are nearly as impressive.

The camerawork is also great, so check out more of Motor Head's stuff here.

This is one of the better-looking Jetta body styles.

Jesse's 'Fast and Furious' Jetta goes up for auction

12/29/2015

“I don’t know what I’m doin', Dom!”

Those were the famous last words of Chad Lindberg’s character Jesse before he was pumped full of lead in the original “The Fast and the Furious” movie. This was after Jesse drove up to Toretto’s house looking for a way out after he lost his Jetta -- well, actually his dad’s Jetta -- to antagonist Jonny Tran. That VW, sans bullet holes, is going up for sale at the Barrett-Jackson auction in January.

Now, this Jetta packs a stock 2.0-liter turbocharged engine and a four-speed automatic transmission. That means you’re looking at about 115 hp, so, it's not exactly what we'd call fast. But those graphics do make it furious. We can see a new intake and headers, spark-plug wires and a few other bits, but nothing that would make this car a track tool. It’s currently owned by Frankie Muniz of “Malcom in the Middle” fame.

Jokes aside, this is one of the better-looking Jetta body styles, and those white rims do it jus

3,000 miles in a 911 GT3 RS

12/29/2015

It is easily spotted while parked in the Zuffenhausen Porsche delivery area - its not subtle. The Lava Orange Porsche 911 GT3 RS seems to bulge with muscle and aggression: a massive rear wing and front fender cooling vents above the largest factory wheels ever put on a production 911. Complete with carbon fiber front body work, a magnesium roof and a featherlight trunk lid, the Porsche 911 GT3 RS will be eye-wateringly expensive to repair - mistakes at the track could drain the pocket book very quickly.

But aside from the smaller 918 style steering wheel, the unlikely-to-be-used pit-speed limiter button and the usual RS straps replacing normal 911 door handles, the GT3's overall interior is similar to any normal 991. Navigation is limited to the fairly old PCM style entertainment system, but few people use an RS for cruising.

Details of the Ford GT will be unveiled when the super sports car stars at CES.

Cars take over CES

12/28/2015

Twenty years ago Tier 1 automotive supplier Delphi brought a concept car to CES. That concept showcased then-futuristic innovations like collision avoidance, front and side sensors, keyless entry, intrusion sensors, anti-carjacking technology, cell phone integration and OnStar. Delphi will still be at the show in 2016, but now there are also 11 carmakers in attendance, from Audi to VW, and all have innovations aplenty.

In fact, ten percent of the Las Vegas Convention Center’s 2.2 million square feet of display space will be given over to automotive companies, either manufacturers, suppliers or the aftermarket. Why? Because people no longer buy cars based solely on old performance parameters like horsepower or reliability. Now carbuyers want connectivity, helpful electronic features and, someday, autonomous driving, too. Those are the things we’ll see when CES opens its doors Jan. 6-9 in Las Vegas and those are the things that will drive automotive technology in the new century.

Look ma, no hands! BMW teases AirTouch before CES

12/28/2015

BMW is unveiling a Vision Car Concept to display what the interior and user interface may look like in the future at the Consumer Electronics Show next week.

The company says that with the new technology, drivers will be more connected with their cars. For example, BMW has created a feature called AirTouch, which allows users to control entertainment, navigation and communication functions using gestures rather than actually touching the screen. AirTouch contains sensors that scan between the center console and the rearview mirror and record hand movements. Now sound can be adjusted, phone calls can be answered and icons can be selected with a simple movement.

An AirTouch button is located on the steering wheel for convenience, and BMW says drivers should be able to concentrate more on the road ahead with these functions.

More information on the Vision Car Concept and AirTouch will be revealed at CES in Las Vegas Jan. 6-9.

Google could help make Ford the leader of self-driving cars

12/28/2015

In the mad rush to autonomous vehicles, Ford could leapfrog the competition by doing a deal with Google to build a fleet of self-driving cars to the tech giant's specifications.

The big benefit? Instead of adding Google's electronics to an existing car, Ford engineers likely would create a purpose-built vehicle -- and learn much in the process.

The car would be developed from the wheels up to seamlessly package the complex electronics, lidar, radar and camera sensing and computer systems needed to guide a vehicle safely down the road. In other words, it would look like a normal car, not like Google's experimental "bubble cars."

Sources say the Ford-Google talks are ongoing and, if finalized over the holiday break, could be announced as early as the week of Jan. 4 during the International Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas. Neither company would confirm the deal.

Murano sales are up 30 percent through the first 11 months of 2015.

Get your 2016 Nissan Murano for $30,560

12/28/2015

The 2016 Nissan Murano, on sale now, starts at $30,560 for the S front-wheel drive trim. That’s a $115 bump from last year. Going all-wheel drive and Platinum trim will set you back $41,600, including destination.

The third-generation Murano debuted last year, so there isn’t much change in equipment or power for 2016. A 3.5-liter V6 pulls the car along with 260 hp and 240 lb-ft of torque. The Murano still uses the VQ engine, which will be replaced by the new and more powerful VR series of engines in the coming years. Nissan’s Xtronic continuously variable transmission, better than most, will send power to the front or all four wheels. Mileage is somehow the same in both versions, according to Nissan at 21 mpg city, 28 highway and 24 combined.

Available interior features include NissanConnect with navigation, an 8-inch color display, Nissan’s Around View Monitor, power driver’s seat, satellite radio, keyless entry, iPod interface, an 11-speaker premium audio system, and Bluetooth. The Technology Package is offered on the SL and Platinum trims, navigation is available on all trims while the Premium Package on the SV and higher.

The Trax works with a 1.4-liter turbo four making 138 hp and 148 lb-ft of torque. Power goes to the front or all four wheels through a six-speed automatic

Come to the Darkened-side with the Trax Midnight Edition

12/28/2015

The small Chevrolet Trax SUV is getting the Midnight Edition treatment next year. The 2016 Trax Midnight, which we’re legally prohibited from calling the Darkside edition, gets black wheels, bezels, beltline molding and door handles as well as a black license plate appliqué.

“The Trax has quickly become an important vehicle for Chevrolet, bringing in new, younger and more female buyers to the brand,” said Betsy Flegg, senior marketing manager, Chevrolet crossovers. “The small SUV segment is the fastest growing in the industry and models such as the new Trax Midnight Edition provide customers an expressive option.”

As with the standard Trax, the Midnight Edition works with a 1.4-liter turbo four making 138 hp and 148 lb-ft of torque. Power goes to the front or all four wheels through a six-speed automatic, returning 34 mpg on the highway in front-drive models, 31 mpg in all-wheel drive models. A MacPherson strut setup keeps things rolli

Audi has previously previewed a small SUV at the 2012 Paris Motor Show in the form of the Crosslane Concept.

Audi Q2 SUV lands next year

12/28/2015

Audi plans to reveal the Q2 SUV next year, the company said in a statement that outlined its plans for the near term. The Ingolstadt-based automaker is doubling down on SUVs, and in addition to rounding out its stable of off-roaders and soft-roaders it plans to debut a successor to the Q5 in 2016 as well.

The Q2, which has not yet been previewed in concept form, will be positioned below the Q3, which is closer in size and packaging to the BMW X1 than to the Mercedes-Benz GLA-Class. But it remains to be seen if the Q2 will be designed as a direct competitor to the GLA-Class, which is the Stuttgart-based automaker's smallest SUV, or whether its design will be less hatch-like. Audi has gone the mini-MPV route with one previous vehicle with "2" in its name; the Audi A2 which was aimed at the first-generation W168 Mercedes-Benz A-Class.  

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2016 Dodge Challenger SXT review

12/27/2015

It’s not fair to let the motor dominate the conversation about this 2016 Dodge Challenger. It’s a fine car without the Hemi, carrying its retro lines with enough confidence to offset its substantial visual bulk, and the new running lights/front fascia design and wide range of color/decal packages don’t hurt, either. FCA’s new interior refinements have, by this point, replaced nearly all of the unpleasant, crappy old plastics with better materials. The big-screened Uconnect entertainment system remains fast, functional and fairly intuitive (even if it would be nice to have a few buttons for features like seat warmers).

Even the LX platform, which is probably getting high enough up there in its years to be referred to as venerable, is as predictable and as fun as ever. Once you find a corner, it’s like swinging a sledge hammer: let the tool do the work. At its best, this a muscle machine that, unlike the newest pony cars from Ford and Chevrolet, doesn’t even pretend to look too far forward. I’m okay with that.

Infiniti adds a new engine family to its lineup -- starting with the Q50 sedan.

Autoweek in review

Everything you missed Dec. 21-25

12/25/2015
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