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Fiat 500X gets up close and personal

08/05/2014   [Original: Autoblog]
Category: Spy Photos, Crossovers/CUVs, FIAT

Fiat 500X prototype

Jeep's introduction of the Renegade just months ago at the Geneva Motor Show took the brand into new territory. Not only is it smaller than anything else Jeep makes, but it's also the first Jeep to be made outside of North America. But the Renegade is only half the equation.

Based on the same platform but with a much more rounded appearance will be a new Fiat crossover (at least tentatively) dubbed the 500X. Expected to arrive later this year, the 500X will replace the discontinued Suzuki-based Sedici and join the existing 500 hatchback, 500C convertible and 500L in Fiat's growing family of Cinquecento-themed models.

Pictured here in the latest batch of spy shots (sent to our photog by a sharp-eyed civilian, hence the slight quality issues), we can see the heavily disguised prototype up close, both inside and out. From the outside you can discern a much bubblier shape and rounded details than the Renegade, while the interior (apart from all the loose wires and warning signs) looks to adopt similar cues to the existing 500 family members, from the color-keyed dashboard panel to the rounded switchgear.

Details are few and far between at this point, but you can expect similar specs to the Jeep Renegade, which is driven by a range of four-cylinder engines from both the Fiat and Chrysler powertrain portfolios ranging from 109 horsepower to 168. Don't expect the same standard of go-anywhere off-road ability as its American counterpart, however.

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What you missed on 8.4.2014

08/05/2014   [Original: Autoblog]
Category: Spy Photos, Coupes, Sedans/Saloons, Sports/GTs, Trucks/Pickups, Supercars, Luxury

Daily U-Turn

First Drive: 2015 Acura TLX

Our man Michael Harley takes his turn behind the wheel of the brand-new Acura TLX and finds it a better car than either the TSX or TL, both of which it replaces in the automaker's lineup. Read the full review to find out the how and the why, and to see if it has what it takes to compete in such a hotly contested segment.

Ford F-Series Super Duty prototype burns while hot-weather testing

Yikes! Our intrepid spy shooters captured these images of a 2016 Ford F-Series Super Duty prototype burning to the ground out in Death Valley. Fortunately, nobody was hurt. The truck, as you can see, did not fare so well. Ford is investigating the cause of the blaze.

Hennessey Venom F5 gunning for 290 mph and 1,400 horsepower

How fast is fast enough? Well, we suppose that depends on who you ask. John Hennessey, for instance, has his sights set on 290 freaking miles per hour, and to achieve such ludicrous velocity, he's planning to pack 1,400 horsepower in the engine bay of his upcoming Venom F5. A total of 30 examples are planned. Get in line now.

Top Stories

  • Ford announces free brake pad offer if customers stop by dealers
  • Jay Leno gets his denim mitts on Dodge's new Challenger Hellcat
  • It's been 5 years since Cash For Clunkers, was it a success? [w/poll]
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Honda CR-V caught wearing facelift in Europe

08/05/2014   [Original: Autoblog]
Category: Spy Photos, Crossovers/CUVs, Honda

Honda CR-V Facelift: Spy Shots

A few years on from its 2011 debut, the current Honda CR-V is preparing to go under the knife for a refresh. Typical of these sort of mid-cycle deals, the changes for Honda's popular CUV are minor.

The front of the car is home to the most dramatic (a relative term here) changes, with revised headlights sporting what looks like a slimmer profile. The three-bar grille has been heavily tweaked and is now a two-bar item, with a larger lower bar and a nose badge that covers both upper and lower sections.

The fascia itself has been modified with what looks like a larger lower intake, while the foglights have gone from the circular pattern of the current car to a rectangular pattern on the facelifted model. It looks like they'll still sport conventional bulbs, although the shape of the lights themselves look like a natural fit for a set of LED running lights (as is the trend).

Changes in the back are decidedly calmer. Honda has modified the rear bumper, and at least on these British-plated, Euro-spec CR-Vs, a larger set of reflectors have been integrated in a higher, more outboard position than on the current model. The taillights look to have undergone the most minor of changes, retaining the shape of the ones found on the current CR-V.

Finally, our spies point out that the cabin will be home to some very minor changes, as evidenced by the bits of camo on the center stack.

It should be noted that as these are European market vehicles, we may not see all of the changes to the North American market CR-V. That said, we're still expecting there to be some tweaks coming to our version of Honda's crossover sooner rather than later.

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BMW X4 M40i spotted testing in Germany

08/05/2014   [Original: Autoblog]
Category: Spy Photos, Sports/GTs, Crossovers/CUVs, BMW

2016 BMW X4 M40i

The stream of segment-busting BMW variants is showing no signs of letting up, and with the latest addition now upon us, questions have been circulating as to whether the Bavarian automaker would do an M version of the new X4 crossover. The jury may still be out on that proposition, but the latest intel suggests that, while a full-on X4 M may not be in the cards, a next-best-thing X4 M40i is in the works. And that appears to be what we're looking at in this fresh batch of spy shots.

Spotted for the first time undergoing testing in Germany, this X4 is tipped to be the next addition to the M Performance line that's already given us near-boiling models like the M135i and M235i on the one hand and the diesel-powered M550d, X5 M50d and X6 M50d on the other. Power in this case is tipped to come from the same 3.0-liter turbo six as the upcoming M2, producing between 360 and 380 horsepower.

Unlike the current top-of-that-specific-line X4 35i, which has two tailpipes on one side, this partially-camouflaged prototype has one pipe protruding from each corner of the rear bumper, but looks like it could easily accommodate twin pipes on both sides. Expect commensurate suspension, brake, rolling stock, aero and trim upgrades to come as part of the package, though they likely won't be quite as substantial as those applied to the X5 M and X6 M.

Sources expect the X4 M40i (or whatever it's ultimately called) to debut at the Frankfurt Motor Show in September 2015 before production gets underway in December.

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Ford F-Series Super Duty prototype reduced to smoldering mess of aluminum and steel [UPDATE]

08/04/2014   [Original: Autoblog]
Category: Spy Photos, Trucks/Pickups, Ford

2016 Ford F-Series Super Duty prototype on fire

The most important bit of information you need to know after looking through our high-res gallery of images depicting a prototype 2016 Ford F-Series Super Duty pickup truck burning to the ground is that nobody was hurt. There were two engineers inside the vehicle when it caught fire, and both exited to safety.

That's the good news. The bad news is that the truck, which appears to have been testing in Death Valley, appears to be a total loss, minus, of course, whatever information Ford can glean from the conflagration - particularly tracing it back to its root cause. Besides that, we're also expecting the body of the next Super Duty to be hewn from aluminum, as is the case with its smaller brother, the brand-new F-150. Note the little aluminum droppings littering the roadway as apparent proof of that.

Our spy photographers report that it took just 21 minutes for the F-Series Super Duty to burn completely to the ground. The fire appears to have started in the driver-side front wheel well, spreading to engulf the entire front end in three minutes. We can't confirm the source of the blaze, but we're curious if the car's black vinyl cladding, meant to obscure the secrets within, contributed to the fire.

Check out the complete gallery of images to see how a fully working prototype can be reduced to a smoldering mess of aluminum and steel in just 21 minutes flat. We'll let you know if Ford can shed any light on the cause of the fire as soon as we hear back.

UPDATE: Ford has issued the following statement: "While testing an experimental vehicle in Death Valley, there was a fire. We are investigating." That much is clear, and we'll keep you informed of any new information we get.

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BMW 6 Series Convertible gets a little work done for 2015

08/03/2014   [Original: Autoblog]
Category: Spy Photos, Convertibles, BMW, Luxury

BMW 6 Series Convertible spy shots

Truth be told, I've never really found the modern BMW 6 Series to be a particularly attractive car, in Coupe, Convertible, or sedan Gran Coupe forms. This current generation certainly looks a whole lot better than the Bangle-fied Six that came before it to my eyes, but on the whole, I find much of the car's design to be fussy and awkward. There's a new 6 Series on the way, scheduled to arrive sometime in 2017 or 2018, but to hold us over until then, BMW is freshening its current range, as evidenced by this convertible prototype our trusty spies recently caught testing.

Will the changes to the current 6 Series be an improvement? Perhaps. Up front, there are restyled headlamps and a new front bumper, and at the rear, BMW has redesigned the LED taillamps to bring them more in line with the rest of the company's offerings. Aside from those modest tweaks, we don't expect much more to change on the Big Six - the interior will likely carry over with some minor tweaks (or new colors), and it's possible the powertrains could be massaged gently for gains in either power, efficiency, or both.

Whether you think this new look is pretty or not, this freshened 6 Series will likely debut sometime next year, while BMW's engineers and designers craft the all-new version. See it from several angles in our gallery, above.

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Mitsubishi readying Outlander refresh

08/03/2014   [Original: Autoblog]
Category: Spy Photos, Crossovers/CUVs, Mitsubishi

Mitsubishi Outlander Refresh

Mitsubishi has a big secret to keep under wraps when it comes to the looks of its refreshed Outlander crossover. Our spy shooters recently caught it testing in Germany, and the CUV had enough buckles, straps and snaps covering up the front end for the vehicle to fit in at an S&M party for cars. The rear was hidden just as thoroughly, too.

Given the areas that Mitsubishi's engineers are obscuring, it seems safe to assume that the Outlander is getting a heavily revised front end with redesigns for the grille, front bumper and possibly hood. The lights might be reshaped too, judging from these photos. The changes are just as hard to spot at the rear, but you can make out the shape of the taillights. They appear more rectangular than the current model, and the bumper looks more angular, as well.

This is likely our first glimpse of the of the major restyle for the Outlander that Mitsubishi execs told Autoblog about in July. The interior is also getting an update to improve interior material quality, we were told. The revisions are supposed to coincide with the launch of the PHEV model in the US at roughly the same time.

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Honda Civic Tourer sports forbidden facelift

07/29/2014   [Original: Autoblog]
Category: Spy Photos, Wagons/Estates, Euro, Honda

Honda Civic Tourer: Spy Shots

Following up on a sextet of spy photos from June, we now have another batch of images of the facelifted Euro-spec Honda Civic undergoing testing in the United Kingdom. There's a bit more sheetmetal to this particular prototype, though, as our spy photographers have caught the upcoming Tourer model (pronounced "wagon" among us Yanks).

Like the hatchback we showed you last month, the new Tourer benefits from the same set of styling tweaks inspired by the Civic Type R Concept from March's Geneva Motor Show. That means it boasts a revised front fascia, albeit with a more heavily camouflaged version of the grille shown in last month's photos. It's a similar story below, where the intakes on this long-roof model wear more disguise, yet look to be virtually identical to what we've already seen.

While the headlights still look to be a straight lift from last month's car, the more upright nature of the Tourer's tailgate demands a more subdued character. Gone are the thin, curvy LED taillights, and in their place sit significantly more substantial units (with conventional bulbs), although they boast none of the design chutzpah shown on our last round of spy photos. Our spies claim LED taillights will be available, noting that they simply aren't fitted to this particular prototype, a distinction that suggests this is a lower-end model.

Look for the new European Civic family to make their grand entrance in early October, at the 2014 Paris Motor Show.

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2015 Acura NSX burns to the ground at the 'Ring [w/video]

07/24/2014   [Original: Autoblog]
Category: Spy Photos, Coupes, Hybrids/Alternative, Sports/GTs, Acura, Honda

2015 Acura NSX fire

Assuming all goes to plan, automakers test their vehicles to the breaking point in the months and years leading up to that vehicle's actual release into the public. Which is good, because it's much better for a car to break in glorious fashion in the hands of the company that produces it than in the driveway of an owner who just spent their hard-earned cash to get it.

Such was the case with this production-guise Acura NSX prototype that we saw running around the Nürburgring just the other day. We can't be 100-percent certain, but the burned-out carcass is wearing the same number plate as the car that was spotted earlier, so it's likely the very same NSX. We have no idea what was the cause of the blaze that turned this Acura into the car-b-q you see pictured above, but our spy shooters on the ground in Germany say it was not involved in any collision, having caught on fire all on its own with engineers behind the wheel.

The good news is that nobody was hurt, though the car is quite clearly a complete loss. We're sure there's another ready to to test in the burned car's place... just as soon as the engineers at Honda figure out exactly what went wrong. Have a look at the smoldering aftermath up above, and feel free to scroll down below to see a video of the car in much better circumstances.

Continue reading 2015 Acura NSX burns to the ground at the 'Ring [w/video]

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Mercedes updated M-Class spotted stripping camo

07/23/2014   [Original: Autoblog]
Category: Spy Photos, SUVs, Mercedes Benz, Luxury

Mercedes-Benz M-Class Spy Shots

Following a spate of images in early April, Mercedes has removed some of the camouflage on the facelifted M-Class SUV in preparation for its eventual debut, probably at the 2014 Paris Motor Show.

Gone is the swirly, psychedelic camo that featured so heavily on our last round of photos. In its place sits simple, unpatterned vinyl, which is limited to the front and rear of the mid-level luxury SUV. The vinyl looks to be hiding new headlights, which appear to borrow inspiration from the new S-Class and C-Class. Unlike the previous example we spotted, this new model has its taillights concealed, indicating there could be minor changes in store. The rear bumper is also slightly different, with more visible exhaust outlets, indicating that this could be the ML550 that we're seeing.

There remains a fair amount of camouflage over the front grille and lower intakes, through which we can spot a tweaked grille, which should, again, borrow inspiration from the brand's newer sedans.

We'll keep our eyes open for additional info and images of the facelifted Mercedes M-Class as its debut date continues to approach.

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