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Cadillac is in the midst of some big changes. It's got a new chief executive. It's taking some distance from parent company General Motors and moving to a new headquarters in New York. And it's instituting a new naming scheme that will allow not only for a more clear progression in its lineup, but also for more models. But that's not the end of the story. Not by a long shot.
Speaking with Automobile magazine, Cadillac's new president Johan de Nysschen revealed his intention to develop several new models and powertrains. For starters, he does not want Cadillac to continue borrowing engines from the GM parts bin, but intends to develop a new range of engines specifically for the luxury automaker. The program will likely start with smaller-capacity engines but eventually lead to new V8s as well, taking the place of the long-serving Northstar engine that finally ended its lifespan a few years ago after some two decades of production. Along with other technologies, de Nysschen envisions possibly sharing these powertrains with other GM divisions, but developing them first and foremost for Cadillac.
The bigger question, however, is where those engines would go, and de Nysschen had some thoughts to share on that front as well. For starters, the former Infiniti and Audi exec sees room for an even bigger sedan above the upcoming new CT6 that will cap the current range. Maybe even two of them. But that's not all. Johan wants to see Cadillac get (back) into the sports car game with a new halo model or two - something it hasn't really done since the Corvette-based XLR roadster. A pair of new crossovers are also said to be in the works, flanking the SRX on both sides with smaller and larger models.
The BMW S 1000 RR is already a pretty potent member of the superbike ranks, but BMW is revealing a host of upgrades for this two-wheeled lightning bolt at the Intermot 2014 motorcycle show that should make it even faster.
The biggest additions to the latest 1000 RR are its new cylinder head, lighter valves and different intake cam to tweak even more power from the bike's 1.0-liter, four-cylinder engine, and BMW now rates it at a claimed 196 horsepower (or 199 horses if you go with the European measurement, converted from 146 kilowatts), a boost over the first-gen's 193 ponies, and 83 pound-feet of torque through a six-speed gearbox. Those adjustments would probably be enough to make the cycle a tick faster alone, but the Bavarian engineers also cut 8.82 pounds (4 kg) to bring the motorcycle's weight with a full tank of fuel to a feather-light 450 pounds. Much of that diet comes from the redesigned exhaust that cuts about 6.6 pounds off the scales.
Cradling that tweaked engine is a redesigned, lighter frame with fully adjustable springs. The bike also comes standard with Race ABS, stability control, seven-step variable traction control and three riding modes. In terms of styling, all of these changes are communicated through an updated fairing with repositioned, though still asymmetric, headlights.
Generation Gap is mining the Lingenfelter collection again this week to compare two very different interpretations of the Pontiac Firebird. An original 1968 example goes toe-to-toe with a 2010 Lingenfelter Trans Am to see whether the old man or the modern re-imagining takes the crown.
Being from the Lingenfelter collection, both cars are absolutely immaculate. The '68 packs a Pontiac 350-cubic-inch (5.7-liter) V8 with a claimed 320 horsepower and some classic, muscular style with a hood-mounted tach. Plus, it's painted in an understated shade of green that you don't usually see.
In the other corner is Lingenfelter's pumped-up take on the classic shape based on the modern Camaro, and this is just one of six concept versions ever made. It wears an eye-catching, vintage-inspired livery of blue with a white stripe package. Under its shaker hood is a 455-cubic-inch (7.5-liter) V8 with a reported 655 hp and 610 pound-feet of torque.
Just the other day, we reported on the first Dodge Challenger SRT Hellcat selling for a whopping $825,000 at auction. But impressive as that sum was, the Challenger wasn't the only sought-after modern muscle car to cross the Barrett-Jackson auction block in Las Vegas this past weekend. So did this rare Ford Mustang.
The last of 1,964 special-edition 50 Years Limited Edition pony cars sold for a princely $170,000, with proceeds benefiting the Edith and Benson Ford Heart & Vascular Institute, a branch of the Henry Ford Health System.
The pony car in question is based on the 2015 Ford Mustang GT and upgrades with a performance package and nearly every option on the book, along with a unique appearance package to set it apart in celebration of the Mustang's 50th anniversary. It's available in two exclusive shades - Wimbledon white or Kona blue - with either a manual or automatic transmission. Only 1,964 highly symbolic examples were to be built, and this was the last of them.
Predicting the future direction of Honda's compact CR-V would have been difficult based on the Civic-derived model that first arrived on our shores for the 1997 model year. The newcomer, selling alongside the body-on-frame Passport (a hastily rebadged Isuzu Rodeo), was a cute compact crossover with four doors and an awkward curb-side hinged tailgate thanks to its Japanese home-market design. The five-passenger CUV offered generous interior room, but its wheezy 2.0-liter four-cylinder, with an output of just 126 horsepower and 133 pound-feet of torque, required 11.7 seconds to bring the 3,153-pound vehicle to 60 miles per hour. Rear drum brakes didn't help much in the stopping department, but Honda offered safety-minded consumers optional anti-lock brakes on the premium trim.
Nearly two decades after its introduction, the CR-V has matured in spectacular manner. The refreshed 2015 Honda CR-V, now in its fourth generation, is dimensionally within two inches of its ancestor in overall length and nearly identical in height and wheelbase. That consistency of dimension is impressive in this age of size and segment creep, and it stands as a testament to how 'right' Honda engineers got the model's original packaging. Of course, the CR-V hasn't stood still - nearly everything else about the best-selling compact CUV has improved in leaps and bounds.
But Honda is not the only player in this hotly contested segment today, so the automaker has taken the unusual step of updating its fourth-generation model just a few years after its introduction in an effort to keep it seated on the podium. To learn more about the automaker's improvements, and form our own impressions, we spent a day driving the CR-V in sunny Southern California.
The Ram 1500 EcoDiesel shot out of the gate with strong sales by filling its initial allocation of 8,000 orders in just three days, in February. At the time, Ram expected that the oil-burning variant would account for around 10 percent of 1500 output, but it knew there was room to grow if the demand was there. Apparently it is, as the truck maker is doubling the diesel's production mix for the 2015 model year to 20 percent of the pickup's total volume.
Since hitting the market, the EcoDiesel has been a smashing success, according to Ram. The company claims that nearly 60 percent of its sales have been conquests from other truck brands, and its popularity has boosted the 1500's average transaction price, as well. In an accompanying video, brand president Bob Hegbloom said that customers have been demanding more of them.
"Innovation sometimes comes with risk, but being first to market with a diesel engine for the half-ton segment has shown to be a great decision for the Ram Brand," said Hegbloom in the company's release.
Rolls-Royce is, by nature, an exclusive auto marque, but it has been steadily increasing its sales to the point that it could be looking at 4,000 units by the end of this year, setting a new record for the German-owned British automaker.
You don't even need to go back a decade to find Rolls-Royce sales hovering around the 1,000-unit mark. But that was when Goodwood only offered the Phantom saloon. The subsequent addition of the Phantom DHC and Phantom Coupe helped expand its portfolio, enlarged even further by the addition of the Ghost in 2010, by which time total sales were reaching 3,000 units.
The Spirit of Ecstasy marque has been hovering around the 3,500 mark ever since, but with the Wraith now in the mix and its reach extending into growing markets around the world, Autocar reports that global sales could top 4,000 units this year. (Of course that pales in comparison to one-time sister brand Bentley, which topped 10,000 deliveries last year, but Rolls-Royce typically competes at a higher price bracket.)
The Rio may not be the most popular Kia in the United States - not by a long shot - but it was the brand's top seller globally last year. Little wonder, then, that although the current fourth-generation model was only introduced in 2011, the Korean automaker is already rolling out a facelifted version.
Set to be revealed later this week at the Paris Motor Show, the 2015 Kia Rio has been updated inside, out and under the hood. The front end gets a new grille, bumper and foglights, there's a new bumper around back, and a fresh array of alloy wheels ranging in size from 15 inches to 17. There are also two new colors on offer, and the interior has been updated with a new center stack and chrome trim.
Powertrain options depend on local market demands but range from 74 horsepower to 107, driving the front wheels through a five- or six-speed manual or four-speed automatic and available with stop/start ignition. The updates were announced for the European-spec model; we're waiting for confirmation on what, if any, of these revisions will reach US showrooms, so watch this space.
Driving and debating the pricey Cadillac ELR
See that pretty, black coupe over to the right? That's the 2014 Cadillac ELR, and we think it's perhaps the best-looking Cadillac currently on the market. Problem is, it's also one of the most expensive, and we're not so so it's worth it's shockingly (pun intended, sadly) high price. In fact, we're pretty darn sure it isn't. Read our full report to find out why.
Lamborghini Asterion leaks in magazine
Johan de Nysschen isn't afraid of taking quick, decisive actions, even if they are criticized. Since taking the wheel at Cadillac, he instigated moving the luxury division's base of operations to Manhattan's SoHo neighborhood and introduced a new naming scheme for the future of the brand, like he did at Infiniti. The polarizing boss recently explained his feelings about the future of Cadillac in more depth on his Facebook page, but unfortunately only his friends could read it. Thankfully, Daily Kanban posted much of the strongly worded missive for the whole world to see.
Much of the message examines the decision to move some employees to New York. De Nysschen claims that it's all about giving Cadillac distance from Detroit to reshape itself. It allows for, "No distractions. No side shows. No cross-brand corporate considerations. No homogenized lowest common denominator approach. Just pure, unadulterated, CLASS."