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Mercedes C-Class Cabriolet nears production readiness

07/13/2014   [Original: Autoblog]
Category: Spy Photos, Convertibles, Mercedes Benz, Luxury

Mercedes-Benz C-Class Cabriolet: Spy Shots

Mercedes-Benz has lifted some camouflage off the C-Class Cabriolet, the vehicle that will finally give the German manufacturer a dedicated challenger to the BMW 4 Series Convertible and Audi A5 Convertible.

As has been reported already, there's a folding canvas roof below that camouflaged faux hardtop. We'll admit, we do find it somewhat surprising that Mercedes isn't going with a folding metal roof, like competitor BMW. Aside from that detail, expect the C-Class Cab's sheetmetal to be nearly identical to its four-door counterpart below the beltline.

As for when we can expect this new model to arrive, there's no clear date, although it does look remarkably production ready. If it doesn't debut earlier, we'd expect to see the new C-Class Coupe and Cabriolet at the 2014 Paris Motor Show in October. As for where it will be built, don't expect either two-door C-Class to head to Alabama. For reasons unclear, Mercedes will likely opt to keep production of both the coming Coupe and Cabriolet in Germany.

Keep an eye open for more on the new C-Class Cabriolet in the coming weeks and months, and in the meantime, check out the spy shots above.

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BMW working on 'FAST' CUV to slot between X1 and 2 Series

07/11/2014   [Original: Autoblog]
Category: Spy Photos, Wagons/Estates, Crossovers/CUVs, BMW

BMW FAST Family Active Sports Tourer

Our spy shooters have caught a new FAST BMW testing that's rumored to hit the market in late 2015. Sadly, the word fast in that last sentence isn't describing the car's performance; instead it's an acronym that stands for Family Active Sports Tourer. Talk about a case of false advertising.

Despite it's speedy name, the FAST doesn't look ready to set any Nürburgring lap records. It rides on BMW's modular, front-wheel drive UKL platform that underpins the current generation Mini Cooper, upcoming 2 Series Active Tourer and next X1. According to our spies, its design is supposed to blend the looks of a wagon and a CUV on the outside with a large, useful interior. Conceivably, it could be offered with the hybrid system from the 2 Series, as well.

The new prototype definitely shares the styling of its front-wheel-drive BMW siblings. Up to the A-pillar, it looks pretty similar to what we know about the future X1. But the FAST has a more arched profile and lower ride height compared to the crossover's chunkier, more conventional design.

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Bugatti's last Legend edition Veyron spotted in Alsace

07/10/2014   [Original: Autoblog]
Category: Spy Photos, Convertibles, Sports/GTs, Supercars, Bugatti, Luxury

Bugatti Veyron Vitesse Elisabeth Junek Edition

Now nine years since its introduction, the Bugatti Veyron has given rise to more special editions than it has cylinders and turbochargers combined. But while the Veyron may be nearing the end of its production run with barely a few dozen left to go - Grand Sport and Vitesse roadsters all - Bugatti isn't quite done with the special editions.

At Pebble Beach last year, the Alsatian marque revealed the teal Jean-Pierre Wimille edition, kicking off a series of six small-run specials called Les Légendes de Bugatti (which we'll assume we won't have to translate for you), each to be built in a batch of three and honoring influential figures from the company's past. The black Jean Bugatti edition was next to be unveiled in Frankfurt, the azure Meo Costatini edition in November, followed by the brown Rembrandt Bugatti edition at Geneva and the penultimate Black Bess in Beijing. We got word a few months ago that the last in the series would be unveiled at Pebble Beach this August, one year after the Wimille edition started it all, and here it appears to be.

Spotted driving near the Bugatti factory in Molsheim by supercar photographer Stephane Heiligenstein, this yellow and black Vitesse roadster appears to be the Elisabeth Junek edition we anticipated back in February before the Rembrandt edition bowed in Geneva. It pays tribute to a female Czech racing driver from the 1920s also known as Eliška Junková who diced it with the best gentleman racers of her day.

Her tribute roadster apparently carries a similar livery to that which Ettore's son Jean loved best and similar to past Veyron specials like the one unveiled at the Dubai Motor Show and the first of two commissioned by Hollywood clothier Bijan Pakzad. We'll have to wait until Monterey weekend next month to report to you the first official details, but regardless, we doubt Bugatti will have any trouble selling the three examples it will build just like the previous five series.

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BMW 2 Series Active Tourer corners surprisingly flat on 'Ring

07/08/2014   [Original: Autoblog]
Category: Spy Photos, Minivans/MPVs, Videos, Hatchbacks, BMW, Luxury

BMW 2 Series Active Tourer 7-Seater prototype on the Nurburgring

With seven seats and front-wheel drive, you might not expect the upcoming long-wheelbase version of the BMW 2 Series Active Tourer to live up to the Ultimate Driving Machine reputation that BMW has fostered over the years. But the latest spy clip from the Nürburgring suggests otherwise.

The Bavarian automaker has apparently been testing its new people mover on the Nordschleife, getting it ready to join the growing 2 Series family. And though it's wearing heavy camouflage, we can clearly see from the video below that it's cornering impressively flat - which bodes well for those who'll need to transport their expanding family but aren't prepared to give up on handling.

Continue reading BMW 2 Series Active Tourer corners surprisingly flat on 'Ring

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Kia Sorento spotted high-altitude testing after 'Ring run

07/08/2014   [Original: Autoblog]
Category: Spy Photos, SUVs, Crossovers/CUVs, Kia

2016 Kia Sorento

Some models stick around the market longer than others. The Kia Sorento, for example, lasted for a good eight years in its first iteration, and the second-generation model has been around for five years now. Sure, it had a facelift a couple of years ago, but if it's going to make it in the highly competitive midsize crossover market, Kia is going to have to do better than that.

And that appears to be just what it has in store. Following the previous spy shots we brought you from the Nürburgring the better part of a year ago, the next-generation Sorento has now been spotted shlepping a trailer up a mountain.

Expected to debut as soon as the Paris Motor Show in October, the third-generation Kia Sorento appears to have grown longer in order to better accommodate third-row passengers. You can also expect the latest technologies on board and maybe, just maybe, a plug-in hybrid powertain option. Watch this space for more and scope out the spy shots in the gallery above for a closer look.

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Skoda testing Octavia RS280 sleeper wagon

07/06/2014   [Original: Autoblog]
Category: Spy Photos, Sports/GTs, Wagons/Estates, Euro, Skoda

2015 Skoda Octavia RS280

American buyers in the market for a hot hatch from the Volkswagen Group can choose between the GTI or the Golf R, but our compatriots overseas have more options at their disposal, all based on the same platform. They can go for more Latin flavor in the Seat Leon Cupra (available in two states of tune) or for the more low-key Škoda Octavia RS. But soon, it seems, they'll have another choice on their hands in the form of an even more potent Octavia.

Spied undergoing testing in Europe with minimal camouflage, this hotter version of the Octavia RS wagon is tipped to be packing the more potent 2.0-liter turbo four with 276 horsepower (280 by the metric system) from the Seat Leon Cupra 280 that topped the Nürburgring leaderboards for front-drivers before Renault knocked it off its perch. That'd make it significantly more powerful than the existing Octavia RS into which Škoda packs the same engine with 217 hp (or alternatively the diesel version with 181 hp and 280 pound-feet of torque) - skipping the intermediate steps in a similar approach to that which Jaguar took to make the XFR-S Sportbrake.

To go with the extra power, the hot Czech wagon appears to be riding on a beefed-up suspension with the wheels from the Audi TT RS, along with more aggressive aero and quad exhaust tips, not to mention a sinister matte black treatment with blacked-out brightwork. Expected to debut sometime next year, the Octavia RS280 (or RS+) would offer an even more compelling sleeper package that we only wish we could get our hands on Stateside.

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Next Mercedes E-Class caught testing in C-Class body

06/27/2014   [Original: Autoblog]
Category: Spy Photos, Sedans/Saloons, Mercedes Benz, Luxury

Mercedes-Benz E-Class Spy Shots

At first glance, you might think these spy photos show off the upcoming Mercedes-Benz C63 AMG. After all, this test car sports obviously widened fenders, not to mention camouflage around all of the areas we would expect Mercedes to modify its C-Class sedan for a high-power version. However, according to our spy shooters, it's all a ruse. Under all the obfuscation, this C-Class is apparently a test mule for the next-gen E-Class.

The key to this cover-up is that the next E-Class is expected to share the same modular platform with the C-Class. That makes it relatively easy for Mercedes' engineers to mock up the larger sedan and send it out for testing with a modest amount of camo. In this case, the wider fenders are easy to spot, but it takes an eagle eye to also spot the added length. If you look at the test car in profile, notice that there is extra room in the length of the hood and in the area between the wheel well and front door, compared to the standard C-Class.

Earlier rumors put the launch of the new E-Class in 2016, possibly to coincide with the debut of Mercedes' rumored, new inline-six engine. If true, that might make this a fairly early prototype for the next E. We expect the sedan, coupe, convertible and wagon variants to all continue to be offered, but of course, Mercedes has yet to confirm any of them as of right now.

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Ford spotted testing new Focus RS at the Nurburgring

06/27/2014   [Original: Autoblog]
Category: Spy Photos, Sports/GTs, Hatchbacks, Ford

2015 Ford Focus RS test mule

Ford is expected to be launching a revised version of the Focus ST soon, but the latest snapshots from our spy photographers at the Nürburgring suggest that the Blue Oval is already working on an even more potent example: the new Focus RS.

Though the partially disguised test mule is wearing an ST badge (along with a Dewey sticker that makes us wonder what adventures Huey and Louie are up to and what manner of duck-tail rear spoiler they may be wearing), there are several tell-tale signs that something else is afoot here. There's a larger front air dam, bigger brake calipers, dual exhaust tips (instead of the central exhaust on the ST) and a reshaped wing protruding from the trailing edge of the roof.

That may all be well and fine, but what's under the hood? We don't know yet for sure, but word has it that Ford is preparing to port over the 2.3-liter turbo four offered in the new Mustang, where it packs 305 horsepower and almost as much torque - potentially retuned to produce even more for the top-of-the-line Focus, which could channel it all to the front wheels like the last model or pack an all-wheel drive system. The Global C platform on which the Focus is based does, after all, also underpin AWD models like the Ford Escape and Lincoln MKC.

Of course there's no telling if the Focus RS would make it Stateside, but Ford could take inspiration from the popularity of the Focus ST here and bring it over. Considering that the last batch of spy shots we saw of the Focus RS prototype were snapped on US soil, our hopes are rising.

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Lightweight Toyota GT86 spotted on Nordschleife with carbon panels, upgraded aero

06/24/2014   [Original: Autoblog]
Category: Spy Photos, Coupes, Sports/GTs, Scion, Toyota

Toyota GT86 with carbon-fiber bodywork

We've seen (and frankly reported on) so many rumors of more powerful and performance-focused versions of the Subaru BRZ, Toyota GT86 and Scion FR-S at this point that haven't materialized that, at this point, we're almost tired of them. Almost. But what we have here was enough to pique our jaded interests as only a carbon-bodied sports car on the Nürburgring could do.

What we're looking at is, well, we don't quite know, to tell you the truth. What we can tell is that it's a Toyota GT86 (Scion FR-S for us) wearing new wheels and a carbon-fiber hood, roof, racing-spec rear wing and subtle lip spoiler. The vents in the hood indicate that the prototype in question could be packing an upgraded engine to go with the lighter body panels and upgraded aero, and the interior (at least as far as we can see) looks pretty well stripped out.

The right-hand drive configuration tells us this is either destined for former territories of the British Empire or for the racetrack. Considering the ride height, full glass and apparent lack of roll cage, our money's on this prototype is being developed for the Japanese Domestic Market, where Toyota badges the sports car simply as the 86. We can always hope, though, that some version makes it into Scion showrooms in North America... we just won't get our hopes up too high.

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Cadillac ATS-V shares track time and new face with CTS-V sibling

06/24/2014   [Original: Autoblog]
Category: Spy Photos, Sedans/Saloons, Sports/GTs, Cadillac, Luxury

Cadillac ATS-V

It's been about eight months since we last heard anything on the eagerly anticipated Cadillac ATS-V, meaning it was high time a new batch of photos arrived of the twin-turbocharged, V6-powered sedan.

This latest round includes a shot of the hot ATS-V alongside the upcoming CTS-V, allowing us to glimpse through the camouflage and spot the family resemblance between the two über sedans. According to our spies, this is the first time we've gotten a look at the ATS-V's fascia without a nose bra to obscure larger details. This isn't the first time we've seen a vertically slated grille on an in-development Cadillac V car, although it is the first time we've seen it on the ATS-V. Aside from the main grille, the shapes of the sportier front fascia of the ATS-V tie in nicely with its big brother. We are rather curious about the hood on the ATS-V. It's difficult to tell from these images, but it looks like there may be some vents up there that may be meant to improve cooling to the alleged 425-horsepower engine.

Other details that we can see include swollen fenders and larger wheels that hide amplified brakes. The rear of the car remains heavily obscured by camo, with the sole details of note being the quad exhausts, which we've spotted on previous ATS-V prototypes.

Take a look at our latest gallery of images of the all-new ATS-V at the top of the page.

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