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Auto Blog

Ford Escort returns, just not for US

Sat, 19 Apr 2014 12:02:00 EST

Ford is set to give the burgeoning Chinese market its very own C-segment model, while also reviving one of the brand's more notable nameplates. The new Escort, which will make its world debut at the 2014 Beijing Motor Show will be built in the People's Republic at the Changan Ford joint venture facility.
The Escort's exterior is best thought of as a mix of the finer points from the US market Focus and Fusion, with the Aston Martin-ish grille and narrow, wraparound taillights presenting a clean look at either end of the car. It's all fairly true to the concept car from last year's Shanghai Motor Show. That said, this exterior job is almost too clean. There doesn't seem to be a lot of character or substance beyond the typical Ford looks.
There's a similar issue in the cabin - it all looks pretty nice, but the design is rather plain, particularly when viewed alongside the display-filled cabin of a US-spec car. Still, there looks to be a fair amount of space in both the front and back seats, and the trunk isn't exactly tiny, either.

Ford confirms Everest SUV production for China

Sat, 19 Apr 2014 12:01:00 EST

According to Ford, the Chinese SUV segment grew by 49 percent in 2013, and the Blue Oval held a 4.5 percent market share. At the 2014 Beijing Motor Show, Ford is showing the Everest SUV that, while just a concept for now, will go into production in the near future.
The Everest is a big, brawny seven-seat SUV that mixes solid, chiseled styling and contemporary Ford design cues. Up front there is an angular version of the trapezoidal grille and sharp, wraparound headlights. The beltline rises in the rear to make the back appear higher than the front. The rear seems just as chiseled, with the taillights resting in jagged scallops. There is no doubt that this concept means to look rugged, and ready for rough roads - the whole thing looks pretty great.
The truck was penned by Ford's Asia Pacific design and engineering team in Australia, and it was first shown in Sydney last year. Ford's JMC joint venture will build the truck for the Chinese market, and it will be sold at Ford dealers there. The Blue Oval isn't hinting at what powers the production version yet, but it reportedly shares some components with the foreign-market Ranger.

Volkswagen Golf R 400 Concept is an even hotter hatch

Sat, 19 Apr 2014 08:00:00 EST

Several years ago, Volkswagen showed up at the annual Wörthersee expo with what could only be described as a concept worthy of pants-wetting excitement - at least, for hot hatch enthusiasts like me. What VW had done was shoehorn its twin-turbocarged, 6.0-liter W12 engine behind a Golf GTI's front seats, creating the GTI W12 650 - a car that could hit 60 miles per hour in 3.7 seconds and top out at a stunning 201 miles per hour. Of course, the thing never saw production, but Volkswagen's tendency to build hilarious hot hatch concepts hasn't stopped, many of which have also graced the Wörthersee show. And I've been smitten every time.
It goes without saying, then, that I'm grinning from ear to ear while reading over the spec list for this Golf R 400 Concept that'll be unveiled in Beijing this week. No, it doesn't have a crazy, twelve-cylinder engine, but it does use a modified version of the same 2.0-liter turbocharged inline-four that powers the rest of the lovely GTI and Golf R range, mated to Volkswagen's tried-and-true, six-speed dual-clutch gearbox. Here, the 2.0T is tuned to produce 395 horsepower (or 400 PS, hence the name) and 332 pound-feet of torque, which means this all-wheel-drive concept can reportedly hit 62 miles per hour in just 3.9 seconds - only two-tenths of a second slower than the 6.0-liter W12 monster from 2007. God bless ye modern turbo-fours.
Visually, the Golf R 400 looks like any hotter-hatch should, with a 20-millimeter lowered stance, unique 19-inch wheels, and some oddly cool, Lemon Yellow accents. Inside, that gray-and-yellow theme carries over, with awesome seats, Alcantara everywhere, and fine leather trim. It doesn't stray too far from the production Golf R's interior, and that's fine with me.

Petrolicious finds an oasis of Chevy SS models in the desert

Fri, 18 Apr 2014 20:00:00 EST

The things we are interested in while young often grow into passions later in life. Take Mark Lundquist for example, whose car collection is highlighted in a new video from Petrolicious. Out of high school in the late 1960s, he worked at a gas station and filled up many of the era's most prized muscle cars. He wanted one but couldn't afford it until years later after his kids went to college. Now, he finally has his dream collection, which includes two classic Chevrolet Super Sports.
First, there is a sleeper '65 Malibu SS with a fuel-injected 502-cubic-inch Chevy big block crate engine, making 502 horsepower and 567 pound-feet for torque hiding under the hood. The car might not scream out about its power at first glance, but it has enough muscle to hit Lundquist in the head with the sun visor whenever he gets on the throttle.
His other SS is a '72 Chevelle. He bought it bone stock with a 402-cubic-inch big block engine. Since the purchase, Lundquist redid the interior and had it painted, but he kept it otherwise as it left the factory. Both cars reside in a special garage full of automotive memorabilia in Joshua Tree, CA. If you're a fan of big 'ole American muscle, then scroll down to check out the video.

Chris Harris explains why the world's best car is... the Citro?n 2CV?

Fri, 18 Apr 2014 19:15:00 EST

Most recently we've seen Chris Harris in the driver's seat of a Jaguar F-Type, a McLaren P1 prototype and a Mercedes-Benz C63 AMG. And outside the car, there was his indignation over the demonization of the Porsche Carrera GT after Paul Walker's death. So you might not expect him to say of a 1957 Citroën 2CV with all of 12 horsepower, "it's the antidote to all the modern stuff I drive."
That's only the beginning of the hosannas, Harris going on to call the runabout designed to carry two farmers and 50 kilograms of potatoes at 39 miles per hour "the most interesting car I have or ever will own." We could tell you why, but it sounds so much more distinguished when he does it. So you can watch him do so in the video below. Unsurprisingly, not a single drift was given that day.

2015 Mini Cooper S does best gymkhana impersonation in Malaysia

Fri, 18 Apr 2014 17:02:00 EST

Mini Malaysia wants you - at least those of you in Southeast Asia - to know that the new Mini has a riptide of adrenaline and sharp teeth underneath its larger, more ergonomically efficient exterior. To make the point it enlisted the aid of Putrajaya roads, local agency Saatchi & Saatchi Arachnid and four local action sports stars: Fizzy, Shuk, Rizlan and Nasa.
A bog standard Mini Cooper S is the star, its 192-horsepower engine and rollcage-free cabin reinforcing the message that you can do the same thing in a model right off the showroom floor... if you happen to have the same skills as Ivan Khong, the Malaysian Gymkhana Champion behind the wheel. You can read the backstory in the press release and watch how it all comes together in the video below.

VW may not bring diesel Golf GTD to US after all

Fri, 18 Apr 2014 16:30:00 EST

There is some bad news for hot hatch fans who also love efficiency. The chances of the Volkswagen Golf GTD coming to the US are increasingly slim, according to an interview with Volkswagen Group of America CEO Michael Horn in Automotive News. Horn says that the model would cost too much to import from Germany. Cue the sad trombone.
"The GTD would be a great car. The price point is not really attractive. So the probability is sort of diminishing," said Horn. While other Volkswagen diesel engines for North America are built in Silao, Mexico, the factory can't support the high-output 2.0-liter diesel, he claims.
The Golf GTD seemed like a sure thing for the US market. It was slated to launch as a 2016 model for around $27,000. The opportunity of a hot hatch with 181 horsepower, 280 pound-feet of torque and over 40 miles-per-gallon fuel economy seemed perfect. Earlier, VW even brought a few previous-generation models for journalists to try out, and we liked it.

Mazda recalls 109k Tribute models for rust issue

Fri, 18 Apr 2014 16:04:00 EST

The Mazda Tribute is being hit with a similar recall as its platform-mate the Ford Escape underwent a few weeks ago. Mazda is recalling 109,000 Tributes from model years 2001 to 2004. On the trucks, the subframe can rust from road salt, potentially causing the lower control arm to detach. If this happens, a loss of steering control could occur.
Mazda is adding a reinforcement crossbrace for added strength on the affected models. The recall covers Tributes currently registered in or originally sold in 20 northern states and Washington, DC, where road salt is used.
The reinforcement braces aren't available yet to do the repair. Mazda will send a letter in May to owners of affected vehicles that will inform them of the problem, and a second letter telling them when the parts will be ready. Scroll down to read the full recall press release.

One more Lincoln MKX concept teaser drops before Beijing

Fri, 18 Apr 2014 15:33:00 EST

If the teaser video for Lincoln's launch of a new concept at the 2014 Beijing Motor Show wasn't enough for you, the company has now released a shadowy new image on its Twitter page. The vehicle may be a concept for the next-generation MKX, and its launch in China is part of the huge rollout to sell the brand's models there.
The latest photo shows off the concept's lighting, including LED running lights and lit sideview mirrors. The sharp edges of the lights give some hints to its shape. However, Other than clearly being a crossover, not much else is known.
The concept's launch supports Lincoln breaking into the Chinese market. It will begin selling the MKZ and MKC there this fall, as well as a midsize luxury SUV. A fullsize luxury sedan and the Navigator will come later. The company will also build luxury showrooms for the models that will look more like high-end hotel lobbies than car dealers. Scroll down to watch the teaser video.

Dodge offers 100 years of solid advice in new ad

Fri, 18 Apr 2014 15:02:00 EST

This is a cool ad. Dodge, which is celebrating its centennial this year, recruited some of its peers to see what you should and shouldn't do in life. Of course, some are obvious - don't complain, learn from your mistakes and live for now.
Then again, some are less obvious. Some, actually, are downright awesome. Towards the end, each piece of advice is interspersed with clips of Dodge's redesigned Challenger smoking its tires. Really, this ad feels like it'd be worthy of a Super Bowl spot. This commercial's personal nature is really in keeping with some of the big game's most interesting ads, like the Imported From Detroit commercial, the Farmer ad and Maserati's surprise clip from this year's game.
Take a look below and let us know what you think.