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We all know that street racing is dangerous, and that motorsports are best left on the track or drag strip. However, that doesn't mean that there still isn't some outlaw allure among enthusiasts of racing on public roads. In this video, Vice Japan profiles Eikichi Nagayoshi of Japan's island of Okinawa. He is a used car dealer by day and an illegal racer by night.
Nagayoshi has a deep love for his highly customized Toyota Aristo (better known to us as a first-generation Lexus GS) that he claims produces over 1,000 horsepower and has hit 205 miles per hour. He races his car both on drag strips and in drifting competitions, but says that he often has to ship the car to mainland Japan to compete. In the absence of those opportunities, he sometimes gathers friends and takes the racing to the public roads. While we're not down with street racing, this Vice video is an intriguing personality piece, as well as a look into Japan's fabled underground racing scene. Scroll down to check out the video, but make sure you have the "CC" button clicked, because several portions are subtitled.
The five-door Audi A3 hatchback, on sale in the States since the 2006 model year, never earned the respect it deserved. Despite possessing the automaker's well-regarded build quality and a range of strong powerplants (including an excellent diesel option), the entry-level model always played second fiddle to the rest of the Audi lineup, suffering from less innovative technologies and fewer premium options on its list. Many buyers considered it inferior to the rest of the models in the company's showroom. But those misconceptions could be about to change, as Audi is in the midst of introducing its third-generation A3 family to the States with expectations that the range will finally align with the rest of its portfolio.
First to arrive is this new sedan, notable as it is the first time the A3 has been offered as a compact four door. The new bodystyle is positioned as a premium C-segment offering, with its most obvious competitor being the new Mercedes-Benz CLA-Class (BMW has not officially announced a 2 Series Gran Coupe, which would be the third entrant in the segment). The automaker says its "A3/S3 models will be among the most technically advanced Audi products around" and there will be "no sacrificing Audi craftsmanship and premium appointments." To put the automaker's claims to the test, we spent a week with this new sedan in Southern California.
Acura doesn't tend to do concept cars these days that don't foreshadow a specific upcoming production model. The ZDX prototype of 2010 previewed the production version, as did the ILX and RLX showcars of 2012 and the MDX of 2013. The NSX concept is on its way to production, as the SUV-X concept is likely to do as well in the coming years. So when Acura revealed the TLX prototype at the Detroit Auto Show a few months ago, we all but knew it would only be a matter of time before that, too, would be produced. And here it is.
Spied all but completely undisguised while undergoing testing, this pair of TLX prototypes (one in white, one in black) looks almost identical to the show car. You might spot a few minor tweaks here and there - the strip of LEDs in the lower front bumper have been replaced by round fog lamps and some of the chrome accents are missing - but by and large, we're looking at the same vehicle we saw in Detroit earlier this year.
The finished production version of the TLX is expected to debut at the New York Auto Show next month, after which it will replace both the TSX and the TL, slotting in between the smaller ILX and the larger RLX in Acura's sedan lineup.
Japan's larger automakers - companies like Toyota, Honda and Nissan - have tremendous engineering talent at their disposal. That's largely because, selling as many cars as they do, they've got more revenues to tap into. Logic might dictate, then, that smaller automakers like Mazda, which no longer has the deep pockets afforded to it by its former partnership with Ford, might have less of a budget and workforce for engineering. But Mazda has been raking in record profits, and it plans on cashing those revenues in by hiring a substantial new pool of engineers.
According to Automotive News, Mazda is preparing to hire as many as 185 new engineers over the next two years - almost four times as many as the 50 engineers it previously targeted. Many of those engineers will be put to work developing the second-generation, Skyactiv 2 technologies that are on the drawing board while the first round of Skyactiv features are still being rolled out.
The boost in recruitment is enabled by a positive fiscal year that ended last March, marking the first profits Mazda had logged in four years. Sources anticipate that the fiscal year culminating at the end of this month will mark the company's most profitable yet, netting over a billion dollars to eclipse the fiscal year that ended in 2008 when it recorded $872.5 million in profits.
Rolls-Royce is not the first marque you'd think of when it comes to environmentally friendly transportation. Its cars are big - often the size of SUVs - and pack ginormous twelve-cylinder engines displacing over six and a half liters. Those upright Parthenon grilles can't be very aerodynamic, either. But the way the wind is blowing these days, Goodwood will have to get with the program sooner or later.
It developed an electric version of the Phantom a couple of years ago called the 102EX and showed it to customers around the world. But people weren't interested, so Rolls-Royce killed the program. Not to be deterred, however, Rolls is now said to be working on a plug-in hybrid that would countermand some of the shortcomings - like range and recharging times - that killed the 102EX.
The technology would apparently be borrowed from parent company BMW which is developing it for the X5 eDrive and allow Rolls-Royce to reduce its carbon footprint and offer a more environmentally friendly mode of transportation to those who don't want to skimp on the luxury and prestige.
The debut of the Lamborghini Huracán was (and remains) big news in and of itself, but equally as exciting is the imminent arrival of the Audi R8, which the Huracán presages. While the two will share a common architecture, don't expect that new R8 will simply be a cheaper version of the Huracán (like the current one arguably is to the Gallardo).
For one, the next R8 will be larger than the Huracán. According to emerging intelligence, Audi will make its sports car both longer and wider than the Lamborghini version. It'll also share the new Lambo's innovative carbon-fiber structure that will replace both the firewall and central tunnel. But to power it all, Audi will get more creative.
The next R8 will, like the current model and like the Huracán, offer a V10 engine at the top of the range. It will also offer the same 4.2-liter V8 as the outgoing model. But that won't be the end of the matter. Word has it that Audi is also working on a smaller, turbocharged engine to offer in certain markets that mandate smaller-capacity engines.
Never mind what the executives say - we've had a sneaking suspicion all along that the upcoming Honda Civic Type R won't be coming to North America. And with good reason: both the prototype we drove in Japan and the concept unveiled at the Geneva Motor Show last week were based on the European-spec Civic hatchback - not to mention that some of the best hot hatches remain out of our reach.
Well it turns out we're not the only ones with that concern. There are legions of Honda hot hatch enthusiasts right here in the good old U S of A who want to see the new Civic Type R ripping up the Great American Road. And many of them are taking to the cyberclouds demanding that Honda bring it Stateside, post haste.
As of the time of writing, this online petition has gotten over 6,000 digital signatures, needing less than 1,500 more to get to the author's target of 7,500 votes. Of course, if and when the petition reaches its target, that still won't mean that Honda will bring it over, but it could mean that extra bit of encouragement the Japanese automaker's executives would need to tip the scales in our favor.
General Motors is facing an investigation from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration over its handling of a recall affecting roughly 1.6 million cars, but the automaker may have found a legal shield from possible future consumer lawsuits. The solution hinges on the old, pre-bankruptcy GM, and the new company that emerged afterward. While the name is the same, on paper they are technically different firms.
According to Automotive News, the company negotiated with state attorneys general and consumer groups during its restructuring to only carry product liability on faults with vehicles from after it left bankruptcy in 2009. If any owners want to sue GM for issues that took place before that time, they would have to take it up with the "old GM" in a bankruptcy court. So far, all attempts to sue the new company for pre-2009 faults have failed.
"It is true that new GM did not assume liability for claims arising from incidents or accidents occurring prior to July 2009," said GM spokesperson Greg Martin to Automotive News.
While it wouldn't be fair to say it stumbled upon it, having invested unprecedented amounts to develop the Veyron in the first place, Bugatti has certainly arrived at a winning formula with its special editions. Take on the world's most expensive and desirable supercars, give it a special paintjob and name, and presto! You've got a multi-million-dollar prospect on your hands of which collectors just can't seem to get enough.
If that was the case with previous special-edition and one-off versions of the Veyron - and there have been many - it certainly applies to the company's "Les Legendes de Bugatti" line. The series pays homage to six legendary figures from the marque's history, each honored with a run of three special versions of the Vitesse roadster done up in their name with a unique color scheme inside and out. It started with the Jean-Pierre Wimille edition at Pebble Beach in August and continued with the Jean Bugatti edition in Frankfurt, the Meo Costantini edition in Dubai and the Rembrandt edition (pictured above) at the Geneva Motor Show last week. That leaves two more to go, and now we now what to expect - or rather, when to expect it.
In correspondence with Autoblog, Bugatti confirmed that it will reveal the fifth model at the Beijing Motor Show next month, and the sixth and final version at Pebble Beach in August. But just what will they be? All signs seem to be pointing toward pioneered female racer Elisabeth Junek for one of them - likely the next - but if we had to guess, we'd suspect that the final version will honor Ettore Bugatti himself. We'll just have to wait to find out for sure, but whoever Bugatti names them after, you can bet they'll all sell out rather quickly.
BMW has some considerable racing prowess to crow about, and draws on those credentials to create models like the new M4. But it's not about to rest on the laurels it's won at the end of innumerable races past and present. Mere months after the release of its latest performance coupe, BMW has already revealed a new M4 touring car for the DTM series, and has now unveiled its new M4 safety car for the MotoGP motorcycle championship.
Revealed on the BMW M Facebook page and set to debut at the front of the grid at the season opener in Qatar a couple weeks from now, the new M4 safety car is just the latest in a long string of official vehicles it has provided to the MotoGP series. Previous examples have included everything from the 1M Coupe to the M6 and the X6 M.
Like its predecessors, the M4 safety car features emergency lighting, special equipment and of course BMW's trademark white livery with red, navy and light blue stripes that, in this arrangement, give the new Williams Martini Racing livery a run for its money. Logos promote the BMW M Performance Parts you can buy to bring your own Bimmer up to spec, which on this car isn't likely have changed much from stock.