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Autoblog editors come clean about their controversial automotive beliefs

08/01/2014   [Original: Autoblog]
Category: Etc., Dodge, Mazda, SMART, Subaru, Toyota, Electric, Diesel

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We all have controversial opinions. Be it whether you think the Nissan Juke is actually pretty attractive, manual transmissions aren't always better, or you honestly didn't hate the Pontiac Aztek, we all harbor some persuasion, be it big or small, for which we catch copious flak upon expression.

In recognizing that all of us here at Autoblog harbor at least one viewpoint that stubbornly goes against the grain of popular opinion among auto enthusiasts, we've decided to come clean with them right here, proudly speaking our minds in a mature, structured manner - a striking contrast to how these things tend to come up while debated in the office.

We'd also like to invite you to share your unpopular and controversial opinions with us and the Autoblog faithful down in Comments. Don't be ashamed - this is a safe place.

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Autoblog Podcast #390

07/22/2014   [Original: Autoblog]
Category: Podcasts, Hybrids/Alternative, Audi, Ford, Nissan, Scion, SMART, Electric

Autoblog Podcast logo

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:

  • 2015 Ford Mustang specs
  • 2016 Smart FourTwo and FourFour
  • EPA wants road tests
  • The downside of autonomous cars

In the Autoblog Garage:

  • 2014 Nissan Leaf
  • 2015 Audi A3 Sportback E-Tron
  • 2014 Scion tC

Hosts: Dan Roth, Steven Ewing, Sebastian Blanco

Runtime: 01:33:35

Rundown:

  • Intro and Garage - 00:00
  • Mustang Specs - 34:40
  • 2016 Smart Models - 51:14
  • EPA Tests - 01:02:57
  • Autonomous Cars - 01:11:19
  • Q&A - 01:21:22

Get the podcast:

[UStream] Listen live on Mondays at 10 PM Eastern at UStream

[iTunes] Subscribe to the Autoblog Podcast in iTunes

[RSS] Add the Autoblog Podcast feed to your RSS aggregator

[MP3] Download the MP3 directly

Feedback:

Email: Podcast at Autoblog dot com

Review the show in iTunes

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Smart spotted testing new Brabus Fortwo

07/22/2014   [Original: Autoblog]
Category: Spy Photos, Sports/GTs, Hatchbacks, SMART

2015 Smart Fortwo Brabus prototype

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.

Expect the new Brabus Smart to debut sometime next year, after which it'll be interesting to see how it might square off against a future Renaultsport version of the Twingo with which the new Smart cars share their rear-engined underpinnings.

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Submit your questions for Autoblog Podcast #390 LIVE!

07/22/2014   [Original: Autoblog]
Category: Etc., Government/Legal, Ford, SMART, Rumormill

Autoblog podcast graphic

We're set to record Autoblog Podcast #390 this evening. Check out the topics below or drop us your questions and comments via the Q&A module. And don't forget to subscribe to the Autoblog Podcast in iTunes if you haven't already done so. To take it all in live, tune in to our UStream (audio only) channel at 10:00 PM Eastern tonight.

Discussion Topics For Autoblog Podcast Episode #390

  • 2015 Ford Mustang specs
  • 2016 Smart FourTwo and FourFour
  • EPA wants road tests
  • The downside of autonomous cars

[RSS] Add the Autoblog Podcast feed to your RSS aggregator

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Smart highlights safety of new Fortwo by crashing into much bigger brother

07/21/2014   [Original: Autoblog]
Category: Sedans/Saloons, Safety, Videos, Hatchbacks, Mercedes Benz, SMART, Luxury

Smart ForTwo versus S-Class crash test

Smart is just getting ready to launch its new Fortwo and Forfour minicars, riding on a completely different platform, and the diminutive brand wants to show that its latest creations can stand up to some serious abuse. For such a tiny car, the crashworthiness of the Smarts is a legitimate concern when taking on larger, heavier vehicles. To prove their survivability, the company filmed a head-on collision pitting the latest Fortwo against a Mercedes-Benz S-Class weighing more than twice as much.

When it unveiled the latest cars, Smart touted that it crash-tested them against the larger Mercedes-Benz C-Class and S-Class. Among their updates, the Fortwo and Forfour use a substructure containing ultra-high strength, hot-formed steel and maximum-strength, multiphase steel. They also have larger crumple zones.

Of course, Smart can make all the claims that it wants about the cars' safety, but actually showing it to people is much more convincing. At 5,088 pounds, the S-Class dominates the 2,478-pound Fortwo in terms of weight. Scroll down to see how the little hatchback fares against the more expensive, luxury sedan in a 31-mile-per-hour frontal crash.

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What you missed on 7.16.14

07/17/2014   [Original: Autoblog]
Category: Coupes, Sports/GTs, Etc., Hatchbacks, Dodge, Nissan, SMART

Daily U-Turn

Dodge Challenger HellcatChallenger SRT Hellcat specs and price

Holy Hellcat. We'll have our first driving impressions of the 707-horsepower Challenger in the near future, but today, we learned that the cost of entry for this behemoth will be just $59,995. That's a steal, considering this 199-mph machine is the most powerful muscle car money can buy. We've got the full details on the rest of the 2015 Challenger range, too.

Nissan 370Z Nismo Quick Spin: 2015 Nissan 370Z Nismo

Despite being on the market for six years now, the Nissan 370Z is finally available in what is perhaps its best form. Meet the 2015 370Z Nismo - a more powerful version of the usual Z car with styling that's far more tame (and attractive) than Nismo versions before it. We had a chance to drive the new Z Nismo in Tennessee last week, and have the full scoop in our quick spin.

Smart ForTwo and ForFourNew Smart Fortwo and Forfour revealed

We'll be honest: the current Smart Fortwo is, well, not great. And the brand isn't exactly doing all that well, especially here in the States. But Daimler hasn't given up on its minicar, and has just released all the information on not only the next-gen Fortwo, but the aptly named, four-door Forfour. Read all about 'em, here.

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Smart Fortwo, Forfour reborn with fresh styling on new platform [w/video]

07/17/2014   [Original: Autoblog]
Category: Economy, Videos, Hatchbacks, SMART, Design/Style

2016 Smart Fortwo and Forfour

Meet the 2016 Smart Fortwo and Forfour, a new pair of hatchbacks that Daimler hopes will revive the struggling Smart brand. We aren't expecting to see the Forfour here in the US market, although the smaller Fortwo should eventually hit our shores in the future.

Following yesterday's teaser sketches, it's plain to see that those drawings were fairly close to what we're seeing here. The new Smarts boast styling inspired heavily by the brand's concepts, with a bolder, sportier aesthetic.

Both two-door and four-door boast rear-engine layouts, with power coming from a trio of three-cylinder, gas-powered engines.

The new cars, a two-door and a four-door, boast rear-engine layouts, with power coming from a trio of three-cylinder, gas-powered engines in 60-, 71- and 90-horsepower varieties. A five-speed manual will be available while a "twinamic" dual-clutch transmission will also be offered. Let's home that dual-clutch unit is an improvement over the current automated manual we've been saddled with since the car's launch several years ago.

A MacPherson strut front suspension is teamed with a De Dion rear suspension, complete with twin-tube shocks, and should imbue both Smart models with typical small-car agility. For those seeking an even sharper Smart, an optional sport suspension will be available, which lowers the ride height ten millimeters (0.4 inches) and swaps out the standard springs for something stiffer.

Underpinning the new Fortwo and Forfour is the same rear-engine platform found underneath the Renault Twingo. Jointly developed between the French manufacturer and Daimler, the Fortwo rides on a 73.7-inch wheelbase, while the Forfour sits on a 98.1-inch wheelbase. For reference, the larger of the two Smarts is essentially equal with the Mini Hardtop, which sits on a 98.2-inch wheelbase. Despite the similarity to the Cooper, though, the Forfour is significantly shorter, at 137.4 inches (compared to 151.1). The tiny Fortwo, meanwhile, is just 105.5 inches long.

In an effort to stave off any potential safety worries, the new model was tested in frontal collisions against both the Mercedes-Benz C-Class and S-Class, while it's safety systems were developed in the same manner as those of the C-Class. Ultra-high strength, hot-formed steel and maximum-strength, multiphase steel is used for both the sidewall and substructure, while the crumple zones are larger. As for active safety systems, Smart is the first city car manufacturer to offer up a crosswind assist system as standard, while forward collision warning and lane keeping assist are both optional extras.

Customizability will play a significant role in both models, with Smart offering up 40 different exterior color schemes, with customers able to mix and match the color of the Tridion Safety Cell and the body color. It's a similar story inside, where the car's varied textures and shapes can be had in different combinations. In general, the latest Smarts look to be more style-conscious than in the past.

There's much more available below in an official video and lengthy press release from Smart. Scroll down and have a look, and also be sure to check out our galleries of both the 2016 Fortwo and Forfour.

Continue reading Smart Fortwo, Forfour reborn with fresh styling on new platform [w/video]

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Next Smart Fortwo, Forfour to debut July 16, previewed in design sketches

07/16/2014   [Original: Autoblog]
Category: Coupes, Economy, Hatchbacks, SMART

Smart ForTwo

Smart is slated to debut both the next-generation Fortwo and the all-new Forfour in Berlin tomorrow evening, with the struggling city car manufacturer making the lofty claim that the new models will be "the best city cars in the world."

Ahead of that debut, Smart has released a trio of sketches that show off the new, two-seat Fortwo and its new, bolder (it's a relative term, people) design language. Gone is the slab-sided appearance of the last Fortwo, as the new model should sport a pair of fairly substantial character lines along its sides. It's difficult to tell from the sketches, which naturally exaggerate some of the styling aspects, but it looks like we can expect slightly flared wheel arches, as well as an all-new front fascia. That face looks to be inspired by the FourJoy concept, and boasts large headlights and a more pronounced grille. It's a similar story in back, where FourJoy-inspired styling dominates, with prominent rhomboidal taillights.

In the cabin, Smart's clean, funky aesthetic remains on display, boasting a minimalist look that should help avoid feelings of claustrophobia. A three-spoke steering wheel with a large, single-element instrument cluster greets the driver, while an interesting, oval shape dominates the doors.

We'll have all the details when the next-generation Smarts make their big debut in Berlin. Scroll down for a short press release announcing tomorrow night's debut.

Continue reading Next Smart Fortwo, Forfour to debut July 16, previewed in design sketches

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Smart previews the biggest little city car you'll never drive

07/12/2014   [Original: Autoblog]
Category: Videos, Hatchbacks, SMART, Humor

Big Smart Video

We are right on the precipice of the launch on an all-new generation of the Smart Fortwo in July. While the current one isn't exactly loved by US reviewers, the latest model rides on a fresh platform shared with the Renault Twingo in Europe. The company seems to be aiming for wider success this time with both two- and four-door versions on the way. In two new videos, the automaker cheekily shows us exactly what not to expect from its upcoming vehicle with a promo for its biggest city car ever.

The videos are actually kind of funny, and they slyly mock the concept of larger vehicles being better, especially in urban areas. Whatever Smart has up its sleeve for the next Fortwo, it's a very safe to bet that this is exactly the opposite, but these videos are certainly a clever marketing ploy.

Scroll down to check out of the world's largest subcompact.

Continue reading Smart previews the biggest little city car you'll never drive

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Smart previews new city cars in teaser clip

07/08/2014   [Original: Autoblog]
Category: Economy, Videos, Paris Motor Show, Hatchbacks, SMART

2015 Smart Fortwo and Forfour

Smart has tried its darnedest to diversify. It introduced the Smart Roadster in 2003 and the Forfour in 2004. It even did the Crossblade speedster in 2002. But each of those has fallen by the wayside, leaving the Fortwo as its only product. But that's all about to change.

After a long string of concept cars, the Smart brand is slated to introduce its all-new range at the Paris Motor Show come October. There it is expected to reveal both two-door and four-door versions of its new city car, based on common architecture with the new rear-engined Renault Twingo and with a keen eye fixed on the new Toyota Aygo, Citroën C1 and Peugeot 108.

Whether Daimler succeeds at broadening the Smart brand's range this time around remains to be seen, but in the meantime it has released this teaser video demonstrating the evolution of the design, which we've included below for your urban-transport enjoyment.

Continue reading Smart previews new city cars in teaser clip

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