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Auto Blog

Audi and Porsche squabble over future product platforms

Tue, 22 Jul 2014 16:31:00 EST

In the buildup to the 2014 24 Hours of Le Mans, Audi delivered an amusing video that worked on the playful rivalry between the German brand and its favorite frenemy, Porsche. We called it sibling rivalry, and at the time, it may have been just that. But just like sibling rivalries, it's all fun and games until someone gets hurt, and that's just what seems to be about to happen in the formerly peaceful Volkswagen Group family.
A new report from Automobile calls out the growing animosity between Porsche, who is backed up by Bentley, and Audi, whose primary ally is Lamborghini. No blows have actually been thrown, although there is a fair amount of "he said, she said" going on.
As Porsche tells it, for example, the new global fullsize SUV architecture being developed by Audi isn't up to snuff, citing size and structure issues, as well as an inability to accommodate a wide variety of engines.

Subaru facing class-action suit over excess oil use

Tue, 22 Jul 2014 16:01:00 EST

A recently filed lawsuit in federal court against Subaru of America and its parent Fuji Heavy Industries claims that several recent models burn an excessive amount of oil. The case, which is seeking class-action status, covers examples of the 2011-2014 Forester, 2013 Legacy and 2013 Outback with the 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine and the 2012-2013 Impreza and 2013 XV Crosstrek with the 2.0-liter four-cylinder.
The suit alleges that Subaru knew about the excessive oil consumption but didn't fix the problem, according to USA Today. It contends that owners have to spend an unreasonable amount of money to keep these models topped up with Texas tea, and that the people represented wouldn't have bought the vehicle if they had known that this could happen.
As proof of Subaru's knowledge of excessive oil use, the lawsuit cites four technical service bulletins from the company telling dealers about the issue, although, that would seem to partially invalidate the claim that the automaker hasn't attempted to fix things. The case was filed on behalf of two men, one with a 2014 Forester and the other with a 2013 Outback. "Following an extensive investigation, we now look forward to litigating the case," said Matthew Schelkopf, an attorney for the plaintiffs, to USA Today.

Tesla halts production to prep for Model X

Tue, 22 Jul 2014 14:15:00 EST

That darling of the electric car world, Tesla, is idling production at its factory in Fremont, CA, for the first time in order to expand the factory in preparation for its future Model X crossover. The $100-million renovation will add 25 robots and upgrades to the body shop and assembly line to support the new vehicle.
Since it will be offering two models simultaneously, Tesla will need to be able to keep up with the pace of demand. "This represents the single biggest investment in the plant since we really started operations and enables us for higher volumes," said Tesla spokesperson Simon Sproule to Bloomberg. The new robots will be able to boost production by 25 percent and will allow the automaker to build the Model S and Model X on the same assembly line. There won't be too much downtime at the California plant, though. The upgrades will be finished within the next two weeks.
With these factory updates, the Model X may finally get its electrically powered wheels on the road. The CUV has been delayed multiple times since its announcement. It was originally supposed to be on sale in early 2014, then later in the year, but now the latest news from Elon Musk places the crossover's launch in the second quarter of 2015.

2015 Ford F-150 specs revealed, EcoBoost 2.7L to make 325 hp and 375 lb-ft [w/video]

Tue, 22 Jul 2014 12:33:00 EST

Our new man Greg Migliore is in attendance at a Ford media event at the Blue Oval's Dearborn, MI headquarters today, and he's reported in with a handful of the 2015 F-150 stats that we've been dying to know. Ford is slow-playing the news release here, but we can still offer up some interesting output and performance figures after half-year of waiting.
We have all be quite aware that Ford's shift to aluminum construction would save a lot of weight for F-150 models, and the results we're hearing now are duly impressive. For instance: in Super Crew trim, a 2015 F-150 is a whopping 732-pounds lighter than was its closest 2014-model-year equivalent. That's like hauling three middle-aged dudes to your bowling alley's league night for free. Polish your balls, guys.
Ford isn't willing to offer up any actual curb weights just yet, but if we take that 732-pound loss and extrapolate with the 5,128-pound curb weight of the 2014 F-150 Super Crew with the 3.7-liter V6, we can guesstimate that 2015 models will measure out in the 4,400-pound range. That's impressive.

2015 Dodge Challenger SRT Hellcat [w/videos]

Tue, 22 Jul 2014 11:57:00 EST

Darrell Waltrip once said, "If the lion didn't bite the tamer every once in a while, it wouldn't be exciting." The sentiment behind that aphorism is causing my adrenal gland to wake up as Dodge and SRT drivers and engineers - somber-faced to a man - give me the track talk that will precede my driving the 2015 Dodge Challenger SRT on the circuit at Portland International Raceway. PIR might not be Daytona, and the 707-horsepower Challenger Hellcat might seem tame to a legend like ol' Jaws, but there's a not-small part of me that's thinking about how hard Dodge's fire-breathing kitty might bite.
Just a few hours previous, I'd gotten behind the wheel of the Hellcat for the first time, letting its hyperbole-spitting, supercharged V8 Hemi pull me yieldingly through Portland's morning commuter traffic. Lulled into a cocky certainty by the Challenger's good manners at low speed, I drove the throttle just a hair too deep, too fast when I ran on to the highway ramp. For just an instant the rear tires were utterly drenched in torque, and the back end of the big Dodge loosened up like a drift car on a wet track. Throttle steer lives at the fleeting whim of your right foot in this car.
It was no big thing to lay off the gas and pull the Hellcat back in line as I entered the highway, but the incident did get me to thinking: What will this car do to me on a road course?

Smart spotted testing new Brabus Fortwo

Tue, 22 Jul 2014 11:30:00 EST

By now AMG has produced versions of just about everything Mercedes makes, right down to the A-Class, CLA and GLA. But while even the smallest of Benzes have fallen under Affalterbach's knife, Daimler's performance division steers clear of the Smart brand and its products. For that, the German automaker collaborates with another legendary Silver Star tuner.
Brabus first worked its magic on the original Smart Fortwo in 2003, packing a warmed-over 700cc engine with 74 horsepower along with upgraded aero and rolling stock. The second-generation Brabus model took things further with a 101-hp 1.0-liter engine and other go-fast(er) goodies. And now that the new Fortwo is upon us, it looks like Brabus is at it again.
Spied with a camo wrap but no visible body cladding, the new Brabus city car is expected to pack more of a punch than its predecessors, with estimates ranging from 105 to 120 hp - which may not be much for most cars, but promises to transform the Smart into something more aggressive, especially when paired with a sportier suspension, dual exhaust and aero kit.

Autoblog Podcast #390

Tue, 22 Jul 2014 11:21:00 EST

Episode #390 of the Autoblog Podcast is here, and this week, Dan Roth, Steven Ewing and Sebastian Blanco from Autoblog Green talk about the 2015 Ford Mustang specs, the 2016 Smart models, a proposal to add real-world numbers to EPA economy tests and the potential downside of autonomous cars. We start with what's in the garage and finish up with some of your questions, and for those of you who hung with us live on our UStream channel, thanks for taking the time. Check out the new rundown below with times for topics, and you can follow along down below with our Q&A. Thanks for listening!
Autoblog Podcast #390:
Topics:

Production Acura NSX spied getting sharper on the 'Ring

Tue, 22 Jul 2014 10:44:00 EST

Acura hasn't been shy about trotting out the concept version of its upcoming NSX hybrid supercar - we've seen it colorized on Facebook, wearing Super GT drag and running wrapped at Mid Ohio - but until now, we've missed seeing the production version at all. Thankfully, our boys in the field have been diligently camped out by the Nürburgring, just the place for Acura engineers to get the NSX shaken down and ready for the public.
The first thing you'll likely notice (and no doubt appreciate) is that Acura is staying very true to the concept car. The same wind-tunnel-carved wedge shape is in evidence in the car's silhouette, and details like aggressively scalloped engine vents behind the cabin have made it through unscathed.
We do notice that there are some vertical elements at the bottom of the front fascia/grille that appear to be revised, and the mirrors are considerably less slinky than those of the concept car. Still, by and large, we're seeing a direct translation from show stand to real life here.

Buick Envision CUV displays full-frontal nudity

Tue, 22 Jul 2014 09:58:00 EST

Earlier this month, Shanghai GM gave us a glimpse of the production version of the Buick Envision concept revealed at the Shanghai Motor Show back in 2011. And now it's released the first unveiled shot and initial details of the crossover to slot in the considerable gap between the Encore and Enclave.
The new Envision is set later this year to reach Chinese showrooms, where it will be called the Ang Ke Wei, after which we're expecting it to arrive Stateside. The production-ready Envision is about the size of the Chevrolet Equinox or GMC Terrain, but is differentiated by a more upscale treatment and Buick's signature waterfall grille, flanked by Xenon headlamps and LED running lights and riding on 19-inch wheels.
Power comes from GM's familiar 2.0-liter turbo four with direct injection and stop/start ignition, driving 256 horsepower and 260 pound-feet of torque through a six-speed automatic transmission to all four wheels. That's about all that GM's Chinese operation has announced at this point - it's not even clear what platform the vehicle is on - but you can check out the press release for yourself below.

Tata to get Jaguar and Land Rover tech, platforms too?

Tue, 22 Jul 2014 09:13:00 EST

Since buying Jaguar Land Rover, Indian automaker Tata has generally left its luxury arm's platforms and technology alone. However, those days might be gone. The two of them are gradually growing closer with coordinated development and rumors of shared platforms. And it looks like all of that work and money is finally going to pay off with an actual vehicle in the near future.
According to Australian website Drive, Tata wants to make its cars more attractive to buyers outside of India, and to do that the company knows it must improve quality. The Indian company is being careful, though, because it doesn't want to dilute the Jaguar or Land Rover brands with cheap models. "You're going to see in the future a lot of sharing of technologies and platforms over time, but you won't see a JLR with a Tata badge on it," said Darren Bowler, managing director of Tata's Australian distributor, to Drive.
According to Bowler, these future vehicles are already on the way. Tata and JLR have a global platform in the works for 2017 that both companies could use for cars or crossovers. He also hinted that Jaguar's new Ingenium engines could be shared among the brands in the future, too.