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Auto Blog

Hyundai missing Q1 earnings targets blamed on slow US sales

Thu, 24 Apr 2014 15:45:00 EST

Slow US growth is hampering profits at Hyundai. In its first quarter financial statement, the Korean automaker reported a profit of 1.93 trillion won ($1.86 billion). According to Reuters, this is less than analysts' expectations and nearly the same as last year.
According to the report, US sales fell by 3 percent in Q1 2014. To make matters worse, the high value of the South Korean currency caused lower profits on models exported from there. On the bright side, Hyundai's Chinese sales rose by 9 percent, according to Reuters. It's also working on building a fourth factory there.
The company has had a rough time in the US throughout the quarter. John Krafcik, the CEO of Hyundai of America, stepped down on January 1, and the company was already predicting slow growth in sales for 2014. Falling quality scores for the Sonata and Elantra aren't helping matters either. However, there may be hope on the way. The second-generation Genesis Sedan was introduced to the US in Detroit, and the redesigned Sonata was recently shown in New York. Successful launches of these important models could prove crucial.

Watch the BMW i8 get wrung out on the Ring

Thu, 24 Apr 2014 14:58:00 EST

Been wondering where the heck the reviews of the all-new, plug-in-hybrid BMW i8 have been? After all, the car isn't exactly new, having debuted in concept form way back in September of 2009. In August of last year, we even tested a prototype of the new supercar. Despite that, though, we still haven't gotten a crack at the actual vehicle that will be sold to the public.
Well, we're happy to tell you that we're currently testing the i8 and will have a proper review for you soon. If, however, you're just aching for some coverage of the low-slung plug-in, we have a short video of it in action around Germany's famed Nürburgring.
Despite it's three-cylinder, turbocharged gas engine, the i8 sounds pretty angry as it laps the Ring. That is, until it has a little bit of a breakdown. According to the guys that caught the car on video, it appeared the i8 had a minor brake issue, and was parked on the side of the track for a good 15 minutes, with the driver pumping the brakes. We should probably just take this as proof, then, that manufacturers are actually using the Ring for testing, and not just messing about.

2015 Chevy Camaro Z/28 already sold out?

Thu, 24 Apr 2014 14:29:00 EST

Chevrolet may have struck gold with the Camaro Z/28. Not only is it a great car to drive, it's also proving to be a hot seller. A rumor has emerged that the brand has already fulfilled all the orders for the planned 500-car production run.
Don't worry, though. If you want a Z/28 in your garage, Chevy plans to start building a second production order of 2,500 or more cars for the 2015 model year, according to Autoguide. However, it'll be a few months before those will start arriving at dealers. In the meantime, you still might be able to get your hands on the $75,000 track-biased Camaro. While all 500 cars were spoken for, some were ordered by dealers to just show off the sports coupe on their showroom floors, according to Road and Track. You might be able to wheel and deal to get one of them.
We've contacted Chevy for confirmation of the rumor and will update this story with more information when we hear back.

2014 BMW 328i xDrive Gran Turismo

Thu, 24 Apr 2014 11:57:00 EST

"The Ultimate Driving Machine" has been BMW's tagline for nearly 40 years. Launched in the 1970s, the marketing campaign was a stroke of genius by ad firm Ammirati & Puris, as the phrase helped differentiate the imported Bavarian cars from their fellow European rivals by subtly pointing out that Mercedes-Benz and Audi were offering luxury models, while BMW was selling sporty and youthful driving dynamics. The campaign worked - some would argue that stands among the most effective ad campaigns ever - and countless Baby Boomers embraced the brand's fun-to-drive image by taking delivery of the company's new models.
BMW still boasts that its vehicles are "The Ultimate Driving Machine" four decades later, but the brand is very different today. It offered just a few model lines in the mid-1970s, and only a handful of vehicles within. In 2014, the automaker offers an exhaustive range comprised of nearly a dozen lines with almost 50 different models. To survive and thrive, BMW has decided it must massively broaden its appeal.
One of the latest arrivals to BMW's ever-growing stable is the 2014 3 Series Gran Turismo. The five-door hatchback is best thought of as a smaller version of the company's 5 Series Gran Turismo built on stretched 3 Series platform that, in the case of this test car, shares the running gear of the 328i xDrive sedan. On paper, the five-passenger vehicle checks all the proper boxes with regards to performance, utility and economy. But does this family-focused 3 Series still deliver driving dynamics that qualify it for the title of Ultimate Driving Machine?

Mini interns turn Paceman into Adventure pickup

Thu, 24 Apr 2014 11:01:00 EST

With coupes and convertibles, hatchbacks and crossovers, Mini has done just about every bodystyle we could think of, and then a few more as concepts. But it hasn't done a pickup. At least it hadn't until now.
What we have here is a Mini Paceman (that, of course, being the coupe version of the Countryman) which has been transformed into a pickup by a group of BMW interns. It's called the Mini Paceman Adventure, and it's currently on display at the Mini dealership in Munich. According to BimmerToday.de, the project involved not only chopping the roof and installing a makeshift pickup bed, but also reinforcing the body, reforming the underbody and B-pillar, fitting off-road tires (including a spare fitted to a roof rack) and a handful of other minor modifications.
The photos are a little sketchy (although the dealership tells us a better set will be available soon), but from what we can see, it looks like a pretty solid project - one that makes us wonder if the apprentices' bosses might be paying attention. Because next to the Mini Coupe with its oddball backwards-hat roof treatment, this one-off looks as sensible as you'd expect from a group of German interns.

Nissan recalls 3,065 Pathfinders for transmission fluid leak

Thu, 24 Apr 2014 10:32:00 EST

Nissan is recalling 3,065 units of the 2013 Pathfinder equipped with the CVT, due to a potential transmission fluid leak. On crossovers built from April 18, 2012 to October 3,2012 "inadequate clamping force" on the hose connected to the internal oil cooler can cause the hose to come loose and let fluid escape. A severe loss of fluid can cause the transmission to stop working properly.
The recall is the result of a safety investigation begun last September, when it was thought a recall could involve 110,000 units of the Pathfinder and Infiniti JX35. Asked for comment about how such a large number of vehicles potentially involved could end up with just 3,065 being recalled, Nissan rep Steve Yaeger told Autoblog that Nissan initiated a service campaign for the issue last year - a service campaign notifies owners to take their vehicles to the dealer for repair of "what is generally not a safety issue" - and that there was a "production improvement" that addressed the clamping issue. The service campaign included the vehicles being recalled, but the recall is limited to just those vehicles that were built before the production-line fix.
Nissan will begin informing affected owners next month, at which time owners can take their vehicles to dealers to have the hose clamp repaired. The press release below from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has more information.

Toyota updates Euro-market GT86 suspension, appearance

Thu, 24 Apr 2014 09:31:00 EST

While we were busy ogling the Scion FR-S Release Series 1.0 with its Yuzu yellow paint and a workover by Toyota Racing Development, and the Japanese Toyota 86 buyers were trying out their Playstation-compatible Sports Drive Logger telemetry system, the European 2015 Toyota GT86 got fitted with some new parts of its own. New on next year's model are stiffer mounts for the front suspension and rear shock absorbers, and new shocks in the back for better damping and less friction. Toyota says the result is sharper steering and less body roll.
Inside, the instrument panel and center console get decorated with a "carbon-fiber motif." There are new shades of pearl white and silver to dress up the outside, and the roof gets a shark-fin antenna for sharper looks and aero. It goes on sale this summer, and you can read everything we just told you in the press release below. We've reached out to Scion to see if we'll get the same upgrades on the FR-S this summer, too, company PR rep Nancy Hubbell telling us, "The European changes are among those being considered for the US model FR-S and we'll have final confirmation soon."

Jaguar Land Rover calls in handful of vehicles over suspension bolts

Thu, 24 Apr 2014 08:44:00 EST

With most recalls seemingly affecting mass-market vehicles, it'd be all too easy to assume, consciously or otherwise, that higher-end automobiles never face such issues. But the main reason we don't see the NHTSA recalling more luxury automobiles isn't because of their quality, we'd postulate: it's because of their relative scarcity.
Take Jaguar Land Rover, recalls of whose vehicles we only seem to have cause to report about once a year. So if you're figuring they're about due, here you go. The Indian-owned British auto group has just announced two recalls, both regarding suspension components: one affecting Jaguars and another concerning - you guessed it - Land Rovers.
First up we have a recall for 2013 to 2014 model year Jaguar XJ, XF and XK models - a whopping 297 of them - which have been found to have problematic toe links. Separation of the toe link from the rear sub-frame could result in impaired stability and control over the vehicle's direction, so JLR is calling them in to replace the nuts and washers on the rear toe links.

R/C fans film tribute to Fast and Furious franchise

Wed, 23 Apr 2014 20:00:00 EST

Fans of the Fast and Furious series have about a year to wait before the seventh installment in the franchise hits theaters, but in the meantime, let this homage to the series made with radio-controlled cars whet your appetite. It might lack the actors, but it nails the automotive action.
Vax Studio, the group that made the video, claims to be a group of amateurs, but these folks are incredibly talented. The short gives a real weight to the cars, despite being made from plastic. The makers even add in some computer-generated effects to liven up the action. At times, they actually look like real cars.
Starring a Nissan GT-R, a classic Camaro, a Nissan Silvia and a pair of modern Camaro police cars, it offers a little something for everybody, and it's definitely worth checking out. Scroll down to watch a car chase in small scale.

Mercedes-Benz MLC prepares to take on BMW X6

Wed, 23 Apr 2014 19:15:00 EST

Just days ago, we showed you the new Mercedes-Benz Concept Coupe SUV - a swoopy crossover aimed squarely at the BMW X6. We sort of figured from the get-go that this thing had serious production intent, and lo, our trusty spy photographers have just caught this prototype of the slick Benz, likely to be named MLC, out on the road.
Even under heavy camouflage, it's easy to see that the shape of the MLC - including specific elements like the front fascia design and S-Class Coupe-inspired taillamps - have carried over from the concept. Good stuff - despite our tendency to roll our eyes at this whole crossover-coupe class, we can't argue that the Mercedes concept is a pretty handsome creation.
Based on the M-Class, our spies suggest that when the MLC goes into production, it'll use the same suite of engines as its more traditional-looking sibling, including a 3.5-liter V6, twin-turbo 4.6-liter V8, and a 3.0-liter turbo-diesel V6. Of course, the concept car was fitted with a twin-turbo 3.0-liter V6, so there's also a good chance of seeing that in the production car, as well. We wouldn't rule out a hotter AMG-tuned version, either, with that burly 5.5-liter twin-turbo V8 underhood.