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Apocalypse Preparation, Part Deux: Mega Track on the attack

05/03/2008   [Original: Supercars.net via Jalopnik via Autoblog]
Category: Etc.

Click above for a gallery of the Mega Track.

We stand corrected. There's one more vehicle we want in our underground bunker when the Rapture hits: the Mega Track. Built in 1995 by the French Axiam Group, it's the answer to a question that only a few of us were daft enough to ask. With a Mercedes-sourced 394-hp V12 mounted amidships sending power to all four wheels, the Mega Track had the ability to ford streams by day and hit up Monte Carlo at night. The stock ride height was set at eight-inches, but flick a switch and the Mega Track would rise to 13 inches, ensuring that no curb, planter or small shrub could stand in its way. Unfortunately, only five were made, so finding one could be tricky. We're searching Craigslist now and hope to be Mega-equipped before things get really messy.

Gallery: Mega Track

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2007 GMC Acadia revealed - UPDATED

07/13/2006   [Original: Inside Line via Autoblog]
Category: SUVs, Buick, GM, GMC, Saturn

Official shots of the 2007 GMC Acadia have just surfaced on Inside Line GM's media site, and here we get our first look at the production version of GMC's first product ever to be offered without a full frame. Built on the Lambda platform that will also underpin the 2007 Saturn Outlook and 2008 Buick Enclave, the Acadia features a 267-horsepower 3.6L V6 and six-speed auto transmission. Fuel economy should range between 17 mpg in the city and 25 mpg on the highway. It will be available in front- and four-wheel drive and can seat or eight people depending on the configuration.

After seeing the 2007 Saturn Outlook in person at the 2006 New York International Auto Show, we're a bit surprised there's not more visual differentiation between that vehicle and the Acadia. The Acadia's less cluttered face is a bit more attractive than the Outlook, which incorporates Saturn's new grille. What do you think, does this fall under the rubric of badge reengineering?

Since General Motors is working on consolidating GMC, Buick and Pontiac into a single retail network, the Buick Enclave needs to be the most distinguishable one of three, since it will be on the same dealer lots as the Acadia. GM needs to build a Buick version that resembles the Buick Enclave Concept (official website) as closely as possible, as that SUV was actually a sleeper hit of the 2006 Detroit auto show.

(Check out more pics after the jump)

UPDATE - 19 official pics, full press release and complete specifications after the jump


ALL-NEW 2007 ACADIA IS GMC'S FIRST CROSSOVER SUV

The all-new Acadia is GMC's first crossover SUV, offering seating for up to eight and combining the capability of an SUV with a smooth, responsive and car-like driving experience. Acadia features a body-frame integral design that enables lower step-in height and the generous interior space of larger SUVs. A comprehensive safety system includes six standard air bags and standard StabiliTrak electronic stability control system with rollover mitigation technology.

Acadia is powered by GM's 3.6L V-6 VVT, a high-feature engine with variable valve timing that is designed for good fuel economy, low emissions and exceptional smoothness. It is rated at 267 horsepower (199 kW) and 247 lb.-ft. of torque (335 Nm).* The engine is backed by a new, fuel-saving Hydra-Matic 6T75 six-speed automatic transmission. Acadia is available in front-wheel drive and all-wheel drive models.

Fuel economy is estimated at 17 mpg in city driving and 25 mpg on the highway with FWD models and an estimated 17 and 24 mpg with AWD models. Acadia can tow up to 4,500 pounds (2,041 kg), when properly equipped.

Smooth, responsive ride and handling

Acadia rides on a long 118.9-inch (3020.7 mm) wheelbase and wide 67.28-inch (1709 mm) front/rear tracks - a combination that lowers the center of gravity and enables smooth, stable ride and handling. Sharp reflexes are also supported by independent front and rear suspensions. The front suspension features a MacPherson strut design, with a direct-acting stabilizer bar and aluminum knuckles. Isolated mounting points help reduce noise and vibration.

The rear suspension uses a compact, state-of-the-art linked "H" design, which uses an isolated mounting system that reduces noise and vibration transmitted to the passenger compartment. This design enables the handling prowess that comes with an independent suspension, but with minimal floor pan intrusion - a feature that helps the Acadia offer generous passenger and cargo space. The suspension systems enable Acadia 's 4,500-pound (2,042 kg) towing capacity.

Acadia features standard power-assisted rack-and-pinion steering, with variable-effort steering available. The suspension and steering system meet the road via standard 18-inch wheels and tires, with 19-inch wheels available. Four-wheel disc brakes with ABS are standard. The Acadia also offers the following standard features that enhance ride and handling, as well as safety:

StabiliTrak stability control system with rollover mitigation technology

Traction control (FWD models)

Tire pressure monitoring system

Acadia 's body-frame integral structure enables lower entry/exit height for passengers. Despite the vehicle's SUV-like front-end height, the front door step-in height is only 18.9 inches (480 mm); the rear door step-in height is 19.8 inches (503 mm). Entry to the third-row seat is eased with very wide rear doors and GM's exclusive Smart Slide second-row seat feature, which aids passenger access to the third-row seats. Wider than the doors on most other SUVs, the Acadia 's rear door width is enabled by the vehicle's long wheelbase. The rear door opening was maximized by reducing the space between the rear door and the leading edge of the door opening. Engineers were able to maximize the opening space while providing optimal chassis integrity for maximum occupant protection.

Powertrain details

GM's 3.6L V-6 with variable valve timing (VVT) and a new Hydra-Matic 6T75 six-speed automatic transmission is the Acadia 's standard powertrain combination. Front-wheel drive and all-wheel drive configurations are available.

The 3.6L V-6 VVT is a sophisticated dual-overhead camshaft engine based on GM's global V-6 architecture. It was jointly developed at GM technical centers in Australia , Germany , Sweden and North America . The engine uses full four-cam phasing, rapid data processing and torque-based engine management to optimize power, economy and emissions performance.

In the Acadia, the 3.6L V-6 VVT produces 267 horsepower (199 kW) and 247 lb.-ft. of torque (335 Nm).* The four-cam phasing operation of the variable valve timing system ensures linear delivery of torque across the rpm band, while features such as electronic throttle control deliver crisp, immediate response and feedback. The engine uses electro-hydraulic vane-type phasers to rotate the camshafts relative to the cam-drive sprockets, allowing infinitely variable combinations over a range of 50 degrees.

Additional engine features include:

  • High-flow aluminum cylinder heads
  • Four valves per cylinder
  • Dual-stage variable intake manifold
  • Low-restriction induction system
  • Straight-runner intake manifold
  • Sequential dual spray port fuel injection
  • Coil-on-plug ignition system
  • Electronic throttle control with integrated cruise control
  • The aluminum-intensive 3.6L V-6 VVT is designed to deliver its performance with world-class smoothness, quietness and durability. The camshaft chain drive incorporates a new, smaller-pitch chain, which is nearly silent during operation. Other elements, including the cam covers, an acoustically shielded intake manifold and direct-mounted accessories are designed to reduce or eliminate conventional points of noise, vibration and harshness. A long operating life is driven by heavy-duty and special components, such as a forged steel crankshaft, polymer-coated pistons and oil jets that drench the bottom of the pistons in cooling, lubricating oil.

A new Hydra-Matic 6T75 electronically controlled six-speed automatic transmission backs the 3.6L V-6 VVT. It is an advanced transmission with clutch-to-clutch shift operation for front- and all-wheel-drive vehicles. Clutch-to-clutch operation allows for reduced complexity and compact packaging. A wide, 6.04:1 overall ratio helps the transmission deliver both performance and fuel economy, enabling up to 8 percent improved performance and up to 4 percent improved fuel economy when compared with current front-wheel-drive four-speed automatics.

The transmission's six-gear configuration allows for a "steep" 4.48:1 first gear, which helps deliver exceptional launch feel, and a 0.74:1 overdrive sixth gear - the "tall" overdrive gear lowers rpm at high speeds, reducing noise and vibration. Fifth gear is 1:1 direct drive. Shorter steps between the gears, compared with a four-speed automatic, enhance performance and feel, as the transmission quickly finds the best gear for the vehicle speed and road conditions. Also, the 6T75 offers the capability of driver shift control (DSC), which allows the driver to use tap-up/tap-down shifting to select the desired gear for specific road conditions, such as driving up a steep hill.

Acadia 's available all-wheel drive system provides increased traction on slippery roads. The system works by always delivering a slight amount of torque to the rear wheels. There is no driver intervention; the system automatically decides how much torque to apply and it automatically delivers torque to the wheels that have the best traction .

Athletic design

Sharing familial design cues with GMC's other all-new full-size SUVs, Yukon and Yukon XL, the Acadia features athletic styling that underscores GMC's professional grade philosophy. The design is accented with polished aluminum roof rails, select bright work and large, prominent headlamps that flank a detailed grille. The headlamps use projector beam technology to deliver bright, precise lighting and are mounted in houses that have a crystal-clear, jewel-like appearance. High-intensity discharge lamps (HID) are available.

The profile of the Acadia is sleek and aerodynamic, with a sporty, tapered roof line. Distinctive LED taillamps and a rear spoiler enhance the vehicle's sporty appearance, as do large its large tires. Acadia also is aerodynamically efficient, with a coefficient of drag of just 0.361 - which helps reduce wind noise and enhances fuel economy.

Acadia is available in nine exterior colors: Summit White, Gold Mist Metallic, Liquid Silver Metallic, Red Jewel Tint, Deep Blue Metallic, White Diamond Tricoat, Blue-Gold Crystal Metallic, Carbon Metallic and Medium Brown Metallic.

Spacious and refined interior

As with the exterior design, Acadia 's interior reflects refinement. Acadia offers three rows of seating, with the third row capable of comfortably seating adults while simultaneously providing generous storage space behind the third-row seat.

A carlike "low and away" instrument panel enhances the feeling of openness in the front-row seats and provides a commanding outward view. The instrument panel and other interior elements feature high-quality, low-gloss materials and tight gap tolerances. Acadia can be configured for seven or eight passengers, including two front bucket seats, a 60/40-split second-row bench (three passengers) or two second-row captain's chairs (two passengers) and a 60/40-split third-row bench seat. Leather seats also are available.

GM's exclusive Smart Slide feature is standard on all second-row configurations, allowing quick and easy access to the third-row seating area. The second-row seat cushion flips up while the seatback slides forward, effectively compressing the space occupied by the seat. It operates with one hand and enables adjustable fore/aft positioning of the second-row seat. When adjusted rearward, the second-row seat provides more legroom for taller passengers; when adjusted forward, it provides more storage space or additional legroom for third-row passengers. Seating space is sufficient for adults in all positions.

Along with passenger comfort, Acadia offers generous cargo room, including an estimated 116.9 cu. ft. (3310.6 L) when the second- and third-row seats are folded. In fact, Acadia even offers an estimated 19.7 cu. ft. (557.9 L) of cargo space behind the third-row seat when it's in its upright position - capacity many other SUVs and crossovers cannot come close to matching. Also, Acadia 's second- and third-row seat fold flat for even more cargo-carrying capacity, and a covered rear cargo convenience center allows items to be stored out of sight beneath the rear cargo floor.

Acadia has a wide range of useful optional and standard equipment, including heated outside mirrors, intermittent rear wiper, ultrasonic parking assist, power liftgate, extended-range remote vehicle starting system, heated windshield washer fluid, large power-operated tilt-and-slide sunroof with rear skylight, DVD entertainment system and a DVD-based navigation system and Bose 5.1 Surround Sound Audio system. Acadia also offers an exclusive head-up display that projects instrument readouts and other features on to the windshield for easy, eyes-on-the-road reference.

Safety

GMC Acadia is designed to protect passengers before, during and after a crash, with its 360-degree safety system. A strong structure is the foundation, and it is augmented by a wide stance and low center of gravity that reduces the likelihood of a rollover. Acadia 's responsive four-wheel independent steering system also enhances safety by providing stable ride and handling characteristics. Four-wheel anti-lock brakes are standard.

Acadia 's structure is reinforced in numerous areas with high-strength steel, including a stiff steel cross-car beam welded across the floor between the B-pillars. It also uses dual-phase steel in select areas, such as the lower engine compartment rails. Dual-phase steel is strengthened in the paint oven and offers easier formability, reduced mass, greater strength and better crash energy absorption than most high-strength steels.

Acadia is equipped with six standard air bags: two dual-stage frontal air bags, for the driver and front passenger, two seat-mounted side-impact air bags in the first row and two head curtain side impact air bags that cover all three seating rows. The head curtain air bags are among the longest air bags in any production vehicle. Complementing the air bags is GM's rollover sensing system, which can preemptively activate the side-impact air bags if sensors determine a rollover is imminent. In the event of a rollover, the air bags stay inflated longer to provide increased occupant containment and because rollovers are typically longer than non-rollover crashes.

Acadia also comes standard with OnStar Generation 7 (with a one-year Safe and Sound plan), which features the Advanced Automatic Crash Notification system. If the crash activates an air bag, the OnStar system automatically notifies an OnStar advisor, who immediately calls the vehicle and/or summons emergency help.

*Preliminary, pending SAE certification. A new voluntary power and torque certification procedure developed by the SAE Engine Test Code committee was approved March 31, 2005 . This procedure (J2723) ensures fair, accurate ratings for horsepower and torque by allowing manufacturers to certify their engines through third-party witness testing. GM was the first auto manufacturer to begin using the procedure and expects to use it for all newly rated engines in the future.

SPECIFICATIONS

Overview

Models: GMC Acadia

Body style / driveline: crossover SUV / front-engine; front-wheel drive and all-wheel drive

Construction: body-frame integral

EPA vehicle class: Sport Utility Vehicle

Manufacturing location: Lansing Delta Township Assy. Plant, Lansing , Mich.

Key competitors: Honda Pilot, Dodge Durango , Ford Explorer

Engine

Type: 3.6L V-6

Displacement (cu in / cc): 217 / 3564

Bore & Stroke (in / mm): 3.70 x 3.37 / 94 x 85.6

Block material: aluminum

Cylinder head material: aluminum

Valvetrain: DOHC; 4 valves per cylinder; variable valve timing

Fuel delivery: sequential fuel injection

Compression ratio: 10.2:1

Horsepower (hp / kW): 267 / 199 @ 6600*

Torque (lb-ft / Nm): 247 / 335 @ 3200*

Recommended fuel: regular unleaded

Max. engine rpm (fuel cutoff): 6900 rpm

Emissions controls: dual close-coupled converters; 2 pre- and 2-post oxygen sensors

Estimated fuel economy

(city / hwy):

17 / 25 (FWD)

17 / 24 (AWD)

Transmission & Power Take Off Unit (PTU)

Manufacturer: GM Powertrain

Type: Hydra-Matic 6T75 6-speed FWD/AWD automatic transmission

Gear Ratio (:1)

First: 4.48

Second: 2.87

Third: 1.80

Fourth: 1.47

Fifth: 1.0

Sixth: 0.742

Reverse: 2.88

Final drive ratio: 3.16 (FWD / AWD) 2.73 (FWD)

Chassis/Suspension

Front: coil-over strut; direct acting stabilizer bar; full perimeter isolated cradle

Rear: linked H-arm independent suspension; coil springs with twin-tube shock absorbers mounted on isolated sub-frame

Steering type: hydraulic rack-and-pinion; straight ratio and variable effort

Steering ratio: 16.1

Steer wheel turns, lock-to-lock: 2.89

Turning circle, curb-to-curb (ft / m): 40.4 / 12.3

Brakes

Type: 4-wheel disc

Rotor diameter (in / mm):

front: 12.8 x 1.1 / 325 x 29, ventilated

rear: 13 x 0.8 / 331 x 20, ventilated

Anti-lock braking system (ABS): Bosch 8.0 Chassis Controls: ABS / ETC / ESC w/rollover mitigation

Wheels/Tires

Wheel size and type:

18 x 7.5-in; cast aluminum (std)

19 x 8-in; cast aluminum (opt)

Tire size and type:

P255/65R18 ALS blackwall (std)

P255/60R19 AL3 blackwall (opt)

DIMENSIONS

Exterior

Wheelbase (in / mm): 118.9 / 3020.7

Overall length (in / mm): 201.1 / 5107.9

Overall width (in / mm): 78.9 / 2004.1

Overall height (in / mm): 72.8 / 1846 (w/roof rails); 69.9 / 1775.5 (w/o roof rails)

Track

Front (in / mm): 67.3 / 1709.4

Rear (in / mm): ,67.3 / 1709.4

Curb weight (lb / kg): 4722 / 2142 (FWD), 4936 / 2239 (AWD)

Min. ground clearance (in / mm): 7.4 / 189 (FWD and AWD)

Interior

Seating capacity: 7 or 8

Headroom

First row (in /mm): 40.4 / 1024 (w/o sunroof); 38.5 / 978 (w/ sunroof)

Second row (in / mm): 39.3 / 996 (w/o sunroof); 38.3 / 973 (w/ sunroof)

Third row (in / mm): 38.4 / 975.3 (w/o sunroof); 38.1 / 968 (w/ sunroof)

Legroom

First row (in / mm): 41.3 / 1049

Second row (in / mm): 36.9 / 937.2

Third row (in / mm): 33.2 / 843.2

Shoulder room

First row (in / mm): 61.9 / 1574

Second row (in / mm): 61.1 / 1551

Third row (in / mm): 57.8 / 1468

Hip room

First row (in / mm): 57.8 / 1468.1

Second row (in / mm): 57.9 / 1470.6

Third row (in / mm): 48.3 / 1226.8

Cargo volume

Second and third row folded (cu ft / L): 117 / 3313

Second row up, third row folded (cu ft / L): 68.9 / 1951.2

Behind third row (cu ft / L): 19.7 / 557.9

Capacities

Fuel tank (gal / L): 22.0 / 83.3

Engine oil (qt / L): 5.5 / 5.2

Transmission fluid (qt / L): 9.5 / 9.0 (Dexron VI only)

Cooling system (qt / L): 11.8 / 11.18

Max towing capacity (lb / kg): 4500 / 2041

GCWR (lb / kg): 9500 / 4309 (FWD), 9700 / 4400 (AWD)

GVWR (lb / kg): 6398 / 2908

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Goodbye-amino? Pontiac could kill G8 ST; become one-car brand

12/15/2008   [Original: Automotive News - Sub. Req. via Autoblog]
Category: Pontiac, Holden

Click above for a high-res gallery of the Pontiac G8 ST

It's been a bad month for Pontiac fans. While begging for money from Congress, GM mentioned its intentions to sacrifice the brand to aid the General's recovery and get a few billion from the feds in the process. Now comes word that GM may keep the brand around, but cut its lineup in half... or more.

Automotive News spoke with Susan Docherty, vice president of Buick-Pontiac-GMC, who said that Pontiac's Aveo-based 2010 G3 will sticker for $15,000, but says it's a short-term product for the brand. Unfortunately, Docherty also hints the G8 Sport Truck's lifespan could be even shorter. "We would be foolish if we didn't take a second look at whether or not that is the right thing to do."

In a separate AN article, Docherty goes even further and suggests Pontiac's lineup could be pared down from six vehicles to a single nameplate. According to Docherty, "We are not going to spend tons of money on product development" for Pontiac and that the Pontiac Torrent will be dropped for 2009.

So what will Pontiac be selling? According to Docherty, the G8 is the most likely candidate for GM's performance brand, and that the ideal future for Pontiac would be "very focused, very specialty or niche."

Gallery: 2010 Pontiac G8 Sport Truck

Gallery: 2009 Pontiac G3

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Coming to America: Volkswagen GTI R-Series

02/01/2009   [Original: Car and Driver via Autoblog]
Category: Sports/GTs, Hatchbacks, Volkswagen

Click above for a gallery of the Volkswagen GTI

As good as the Volkswagen GTI is, an infusion of extra power couldn't possibly hurt. VW's GTI R32 was a highly refined car, but buyers quickly realized that the 3.2L VR6's 250 horsepower was barely enough to compensate for the engine's added weight over the standard GTI's 2.0L turbo four and the R32's heavy all-wheel drive system. What's more, the R32 was short-lived; it's no longer available for the 2009 model year. Enter the GTI R-Series.

According to Car and Driver, VW will bring the R-Series to the United States, possibly to be named R20, featuring the powerplant from the Audi S3. Expect around 270 horsepower from a high-pressure 2.0L turbo engine - a 70-horsepower improvement over the standard GTI. That power will be funneled through either a standard 6-speed stick or dual clutch DSG transmission to the front wheels. Like some other high-power front-wheel drive cars, an electronic differential will try and cope with the inevitable torque steer.

As much as we'd love to see the big 3.6L V6 engine from the Passat stuffed under the GTI's hood, a small turbo four will likely make for a better handling package along with reasonably good fuel economy - definitely something to look forward to later this year as a 2010 model. Thanks for the tip, other man!

Gallery: 2009 Volkswagen GTI LIVE

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Spy Shots: Mercedes-Benz AMG SLS taking shape

04/24/2009   [Original: Autoblog]
Category: Frankfurt Auto Show, Spy Photos, Supercars, Mercedes Benz, AMG

Mercedes-Benz AMG SLS - Click above for a high-res image gallery

The gestation of the Mercedes-Benz AMG SLS has spanned almost two years, and what started with a Viper-bodied mule, a few drawings and a full-scale interior mock-up has evolved into this, the latest super coupe prototype caught outside AMG Headquarters in Affalterbach, Germany.

Although there's still plenty of camo obscuring the finer points of the SLS' design, the shape is obviously evolving into something similar to the highly-stylized sketches revealed in New York. The elongated hood stands in stark contrast to the tiny trunk, while the short overhangs lend a bit more balance to the disproportionate profile. A few of the smaller details can be seen peering through the camo, including the front LED running lamps, trapezoidal dual exhausts and vents aft of the front wheels and on the hood towards the windshield. The massive piece of vinyl covering the center part of the grille will undoubtedly house a sizable three-pointed star, while out back, the sculpted fenders appear to have lost some of their edge (compared to this rendering), and instead rely on a set of bulbous tail-lamps and a small spoiler to shape the boot.

The SLS is expected to debut at this year's Frankfurt Motor Show, complete with a 6.2-liter V8 putting out 563 hp and 479 lb-ft of torque, with a curb weight of 3,571 pounds and a price tag north of $200k.

Gallery: Spy Shots: Mercedes-Benz AMG SLS

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Spirit of EcstaSea: Rolls-Royce collaborates on Palmer Johnson mega-yacht

07/02/2009   [Original: Palmer Johnson via Autoblog]
Category: Rolls Royce

Palmer Johnson Ice Class World Yacht - Click above for high-res image gallery

Teak decks, big engines, luxurious accommodations, leisurely cruising, lots of chrome...we could just as easily be talking about a modern Rolls-Royce as a motor yacht. So it should come as no surprise that renowned shipbuilder Palmer Johnson turned to Rolls-Royce to collaborate on one of its most ambitious projects, the PJ World Yacht.

The result of Palmer Johnson's acquisition of Flekkefjord & Slipp, a Norwegian builder of exploration vessels, the 82-meter Ice Class mega yacht concept features everything a world traveler could ask for, and then some: a helipad with elevator-equipped hangar, submarine garage and a six-floor interior designed by Italian naval architects Nuvolari-Lenard - including a three-deck master stateroom, swimming pool, gym, spa, home theater...the works.

The yacht even comes equipped with such pirate-defense features as water cannons and thermal imaging cameras, along with an environmentally-friendly diesel-electric propulsion system. Granted, the branch of Rolls-Royce with which Palmer Johnson collaborated on this project has more to do with marine equipment than luxury limousines, but against the backdrop of other automotive-nautical crossovers like BMW's Bavaria Cruiser 55 and Porsche Design's Fearless 28, the PJ Ice Class World Yacht looks like the veritable Rolls-Royce of mega yachts. Have a look at the renderings in the gallery below to see for yourself.

Gallery: Palmer Johnson Rolls-Royce Ice Class World Yacht

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Would a Mustang-based Lincoln look like this?

01/07/2013   [Original: Autoblog]
Category: Coupes, Sports/GTs, Lincoln, Design/Style, Luxury

Lincoln Continental Mark X1 Concept

Lincoln Continental Mark X1 ConceptDesigner Josiah LaCalla has taken a stab at what a Ford Mustang-based Lincoln model might look like with the Continental Mark X1 concept. Make no mistake, Ford's luxury arm has made it abundantly clear that it won't be pursuing any new products outside of volume models, which means a flashy halo grand tourer like the one you see here isn't in the cards. LaColla used the Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG as a basis for his creation, which explains the long nose, but we certainly don't mind the idea of a rear-wheel drive Lincoln with a cabin pushed to the aft.

While we're dreaming, there's certainly nothing stopping us from imagining what's under that lengthy hood. We like the idea of the 5.8-liter supercharged V8 from the Shelby GT500 pushing the Mark X1 down the road, but how about something a little more inventive? Something like a high-revving, buttery V12 with enough torque to push the contraption well past 200 miles per hour. Dream a little dream, people.

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Marchionne should trim brands from Fiat Chrysler portfolio, analysts say

06/13/2014   [Original: Autoblog]
Category: Chrysler, Dodge, Jeep, Maserati, Ferrari, Alfa Romeo, FIAT, Ram

Fiat Chrysler

The last time the Chrysler Group was part of another automaker, we saw the death of the Plymouth brand. Now, with Fiat Chrysler Automobiles in place of DaimlerChrysler, we could see more brands shuttered. At least, that's what analysts think FCA CEO Sergio Marchionne should do.

With Fiat, Alfa Romeo, Maserati, Ferrari, Chrysler, Dodge, Jeep, Ram and the Fiat commercial unit, there are some analysts that think that there are too many mouths to feed at FCA, and that the levels of growth Marchionne is aiming for will only be possible if some brands are cut loose. This isn't the first time Marchionne's ambitious growth plan has seen outside criticism.

"If it was not for Brazil, where it is the number one brand, Marchionne should simply kill the Fiat brand," Phillipe Houchois of London-based UBS, told Automotive News. A London-based consultant at International Strategy & Investment, meanwhile, thinks that the American side of the equation needs pruning, telling AN "it could be Dodge or Chrysler, but not Dodge and Chrysler."

"The cross mixing of brands is going to destroy the fabric of the brand. A brand is a precious thing," Marchionne told AN. Considering that view, it's hard not to see the point being made the analysts.

Which of Fiat Chrysler's brands do you think should be on the chopping block? Would you rather see Chrysler or Dodge go the way of Lancia? Should the Fiat brand just be folded, despite its strong success in the burgeoning Brazilian market? Have your say in Comments.

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Aston Martin confirms DP-100 for Gran Turismo 6 and Goodwood debut

06/27/2014   [Original: Autoblog]
Category: Concept Cars, Videos, Aston Martin, Misc. Auto Shows, Toys

Gran Turismo 6 is set to come to life this weekend at the Goodwood Festival of Speed. That's where Mercedes-AMG will run its Vision Gran Turismo and Nissan will show a full-size mockup of its Concept 2020 Vision Gran Turismo. Now Aston Martin has announced it's getting in on the action as well with its Design Prototype 100.

Aston has released a video two teaser images to give us a hint at what it's working on, but will reveal the finished product in the Supercar Paddock at Goodwood tomorrow, although we don't know if that will be in the form of a scale model, a full-size show car, a series of design sketches or a virtual rendition existing only in the game. From the look of the two images, though, it appears that we're dealing with an LMP-style racer with Aston's ubiquitous V12 mounted in the middle of a carbon-fiber chassis.

What we do know for certain is that, when it's released for download next month, it will be the latest (but certainly not the last) in a long line of concepts designed specifically for driving on the PlayStation 3.

Continue reading Aston Martin confirms DP-100 for Gran Turismo 6 and Goodwood debut

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Skoda releases rugged new Octavia Scout soft-roader [w/video]

07/09/2014   [Original: Autoblog]
Category: Wagons/Estates, Euro, Skoda, Off-Road

2014 Skoda Octavia Scout

Automakers may be paying a lot of attention these days to making their crossovers and SUVs drive more like cars, but at the same time, they're also making cars that feel more like SUVs. We're talking about models like the Subaru Outback, Audi Allroad and Volvo XC70. These soft-road (if not quite off-road) wagons have a particularly keen following overseas, and that point is not lost on Volkswagen. In fact the German auto giant has soft-road models under each of its mainstream brands: Volkswagen calls it Alltrack, Audi has Allroad, Seat recently introduced the X-Perience version of its Leon wagon and Škoda offers higher-riding, more rugged versions of its wagons which it calls Scout. And here is the latest one.

The new Škoda Octavia Scout is based on the same MQB platform that underpins the VW Golf, Audi A3 and Seat Leon. Starting with the Octavia Combi wagon, the Scout adds a Haldex-5 all-wheel drive system with an locking electronic differential and more rugged lower body cladding including a new front bumper with metallic insert, fog lights, black lower door panels and wheel arches. It rides on 17-inch alloys mounted on a suspension jacked up an extra inch, and the interior has been redone to match the more rugged outwards appearance.

Although the Octavia Scout, like the rest of the Škoda range, will not be sold in North America, around 8 percent of Octavia wagon buyers overseas opt for the Scout version - totaling around 53,600 units sold between its introduction in 2007 and the end of 2013. With the new model, customers will be able to choose between three engines, including a 1.8-liter turbo four with 180 horsepower or a 2.0-liter TDI with either 135 or 184 hp. Scope out the full details in the press release and the b-roll footage below.

Continue reading Skoda releases rugged new Octavia Scout soft-roader [w/video]

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