All posts on September, 2015

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Mercedes-Benz E-Class V8 Edition

Already six years old as of 2015, the fourth-generation Mercedes-Benz E-Class is living its final months on the market. Outdated by both performance and design, especially when compared to its German competitors, the sedan is only a year away from receiving a comprehensive overhaul. The coupe and cabriolet versions, on the other hand, will likely be around for at least a couple of years before the fifth-gen E-Class expands to include two-door models.

As it usually happens with nameplates when they’re about to enter a new generation, the E-Class is bound to receive an array of special-edition models with added features, AMG styling cues, and attractive stickers. For 2015, the E-Class Coupe and Cabriolet have already gained two such models, one of which is the V8 Edition.

Launched for exclusively for the European market, the V8 Edition features a bunch of exclusive features inside and out, as well as a couple of upgrades Mercedes rolled out for the entire E-Class Coupe and Cabriolet lineup. As the name suggests, the special-edition Merc is based on the V-8-powered E500, sold as the E550 on U.S. soil.

Continue reading to learn more about the Mercedes E-Class V8 Edition.

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Mercedes S63 AMG By G-Power

Performance versions of giant luxury sedans are one of the greatest examples of excess in the automotive world, possibly even more so than outright supercars in terms of having one’s cake and eating it too. The Mercedes-Benz S63 AMG is a supremely good example of this. It’s a car for someone that wants both a very high level of luxury and performance to match. For those that want even more luxury, there is a Maybach version, but for those that want more performance, there are tuner versions of the AMG, such as this one from G-Power.

G-Power isn’t quite the same company as, say, Brabus. They aren’t selling a completely reworked version of the car with a bored-out engine and totally reworked interior. No, the G-Power S63 AMG is just intended to show off the company’s new chip for cranking up the power via the engine computer. Many such devices have been built for all sorts of cars over the years, but G-Power has chosen the right ways to attract attention to this one. The car has no other tuning done and very little in terms of appearance modifications – all to keep the focus on the chip.

Continue reading to learn more about the Mercedes S63 AMG By G-Power.

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Ferrari 488 Spider

In case you missed the reveal of the 2016 Ferrari 488 GTB, you may want to crawl out from under that rock you’ve been under, dust yourself off, and check it out. Pretty cool, huh? Well, now that you’ve seen Ferrari’s replacement for the 2010 Ferrari 458 Italia, it’s time to have a closer look at the roadster set to replace the 2012 Ferrari 458 Spider. Meet the Ferrari 488 Spider, the turbocharged drop-top that has all the awesome performance figures of the GTB plus the option of driving with nothing but blue skies above!

With the likes of the future 2016 Lamborghini Huracán Roadster and the established 2015 McLaren 650S Spider in its path, the road to topless supercar supremacy will be an uphill battle. But with a 3.9-liter V-8 with tons of power and a 0-to-60-time of three seconds, I think the 488 Spider will certainly have the goods to make it one hell of a battle.

Updated 02/26/2016: The new 488 Spider was presented in London to Ferrari clients and VIP’s including Jamie Campbell Bower, Lucy Watson, Becky Tong and Oliver Proudlock. Of course, while the 488 is no news anymore, it was a perfect opportunity to add a series of new images. Check them out in the “Pictures” tab.

Click past the jump to read more about the 2016 Ferrari 488 Spider.

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XCAR Reviews The New Lamborghini Huracán: Video

The Lamborghini Huracán entered the market in 2014 with the responsibility of living up to the standards set by its predecessor, the Lamborghini Gallardo. A little over a year since its introduction, the Huracán has proven to be up-to-the-ask as a worthy successor to the Gallardo. Sales of the Lambo’s newest supercar have been robust as wealthy buyers have had no issues splurging for the Huracan. In fact, Lamborghini announced in September 2015 that sales of Lamborghini supercars are headed for a new record as the company expects to beat out the 2,530 units it sold in 2014. The biggest reason, according to Lamborghini, for this record sales volume? You guessed it, the Huracán.

The supercar has lived up to the hype in that regard. But for those who have yet to make that kind of financial commitment, it’s important to know more about the car itself. How does it look? How does it drive? Most importantly, how does it compare to the Gallardo? XCAR sought to answer all of these questions when it recently took a Huracán out for a spin.

The most important thing to remember about the Huracán is that it has a lot of the things that made the Gallardo successful – passionate looks, impressive power, and everyday appeal – but with more state-of-the-art technology that’s apt for the times. For instance, the Huracán can switch between three different drive modes (Strada, Sport, and Corsa), all of which have their specific functions, impacting just about every part of the car, including the gearbox, suspension, steering, exhaust, stability control, and the AWD system. Think of it as fast, faster, and stupid fast.

So far, the Huracán has lived up to enormous pressure of succeeding Lamborghini’s most popular model. It’s a testament to Lamborghini’s ethos of building memorable supercars that not only performs to its billing, but also carries the passion and heart of Feruccio Lamborghini himself. If the man was alive today, he’d be incredibly proud of the newest supercar to bear his name.

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Paul Walker's Daughter Files Lawsuit Against Porsche

Meadow Rain Walker, the 16-year-old daughter of Paul Walker, has filed a wrongful death lawsuit against Porsche. The lawsuit claims the Carrera GT Walker was riding in when he died had design flaws that made it unfit to be driven on the road. Walker’s lawsuit also claims the Porsche supercar “lacked safety features” that could have saved the life of her father and his friend, Roger Rodas, when the Carrera GT caught fire after hitting a pole back in November 2013. The crash and resulting fire burned Walker and Rodas.

Shortly after the filing of the lawsuit, Porsche responded by maintaining the Carrera GT’s innocence in the crash, pointing to the investigation by the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department that concluded that the crash that killed Walker resulted from “reckless driving and excessive speed.” The company did say that it had not reviewed the lawsuit, but declined making comments relating to the case.

Regardless of the validity of the lawsuit’s claims, it’s hard not to understand why Meadow Walker has filed it. She lost her father in a car that has earned a reputation for being impossible to drive despite the amount of technological features it had when it was launched in 2004. Former Top Gear host Jeremy Clarkson compared the car’s handling to being on the “knife’s edge” during a review of the Carrera GT back in 2008.

On the flip side, Walker, Rodas, and everybody who has driven the Carrera GT know what the supercar is capable of. Proper caution should have been of utmost importance, especially if it was going to be driven out in public. The results of the investigation have already cleared Porsche and the Carrera GT from any responsibility, so it’s going to be interesting how this case moves forward.

Continue reading for the full story.

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Suzuki Ignis

Suzuki unveiled two concept cars at the 2015 Geneva Motor Show, the 2015 Suzuki IK-2 and the 2015 Suzuki IM-4, which previewed a subcompact hatchback and a mini crossover, respectively. While the IK-2 has already made its debut in production form as the 2016 Suzuki Baleno, the IM-4 is still under development, albeit in its final stages, as an official debut has been announced for the 2015 Tokyo Motor Show in October.

Confirmed to hit the market with an Ignis badge, the new crossover if part of Suzuki’s new expansion plan to include six models by the end of the decade. Originally believed to have been developed to replace the aging Jimny, the Ignis will have its own place in the Suzuki lineup, as the Jimny is slated to hang around until 2018, when it will be replaced by a redesigned model.

Granted, the Jimny and the Ignis are very similar in size, but it’s not surprising that Suzuki will sell them at the same time. After all, the new Baleno is only slightly bigger than the Swift, with the two basically competing in the same niche. From the looks of things, the Ignis has set its sight on the 2013 Fiat Panda 4×4, also a competitor for the Jimny.

Updated 09/30/2015: Suzuki announced its new compact car will be in fact called “Ignis” and it will be unveiled at the 2015 Tokyo Motor Show.

Continue reading to learn more about the Suzuki IM-4.

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Mazda To Unveil A New Sport Car Concept In Tokyo, Could It Be The RX-7?

Having just unveiled the Koeru concept at the 2015 Frankfurt Motor Show, Mazda has announced yet another premier for the 2015 Tokyo Motor Show in October. This time around though, the Japanese will launch a concept car that previews a future sports car.

“Mazda’s latest creation clearly embodies the carmaker’s lineage. Designers strove to condense the company’s sports car history to as great a degree as possible into this concept,” is all Mazda had to say about the new concept, while releasing a shadowy teaser of a slick coupe.

Though I can’t see any details below the waist, the concept is obviously a full-fledged grand tourer employing a long engine hood, a sloping roof, and a short rear deck. The vehicle also features a pair of taillights placed high into the rear fascia, a detail that seems borrowed from the RX-7. Down below, a pair of big, round exhaust tips are visible, suggesting the grand tourer will pack a powerful engine.

Even though there’s no official confirmation as of yet, it seems as if Mazda is finally working on a closed-top sports car to fill the gap the brand has in its lineup since it discontinued the RX-8 in 2012. But will this new vehicle be a spiritual successor to the RX-8 or another sports car from Mazda’s past?

Continue reading for the full story.

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Ford Focus RS

Ford introduced the first ever Focus RS in 2002, reviving the RS (Rallye Sport) badge after having popularized it before with rally homologation specials like the Escort RS 1600 or the Escort RS Cosworth. Despite looking like a road-going version of the WRC model, the car was FWD and offered a little over 200 horsepower. Almost seven years later, another generation of the Focus RS arrived with an even more pronounced rally look and a Volvo-sourced five-cylinder with 305 horsepower sent to the front wheels. While torque-steer was kept to a minimum via a standard LSD from Quaife and a MacPherson front suspension strut called RevoKnuckle, the car was still far from offering WRC-like performance for the road.

Ford wants to change all that with the recently unveiled, third-generation Focus RS, as the model will be offered with an innovative all-wheel-drive system. Set to be manufactured at the same German plant as its predecessors, this will also be the first RS model to be sold around the world, including the U.S. With a Mustang-sourced, 2.3-liter, EcoBoost engine that has been engineered to deliver in excess of 300 horsepower, the all-new Focus RS seems to really up the ante for Ford in the performance-hatch category.

Updated 02/10/2016: Ford dropped a series of new videos in which it highlights Focus RS’ four driving modes: Normal, Sport, Track and Drift. Hit “play” to see the differences between them.

Continue reading to learn more about the new Ford Focus RS.

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Peugeot 3008

Introduced in 2008 as a compact crossover with MPV-like styling, the Peugeot 3008 is about to receive a major makeover for the 2017 model year. The news comes from our trusty paparazzi, who spotted a camouflaged prototype of the second-gen 3008 testing in southern Europe.

Besides getting a full redesign that will most likely move it into a new segment, the 3008 is also set to receive a new platform. The new model will ditch PSA’s current PF2 underpinnings – launched in 2001 and shared with numerous products – in favor of the more recent EMP2 architecture.

Developed to replace both the PF2 and PF3 platforms and costing PSA roughly $708 million to develop, the new architecture already underpins the Peugeot 308 and 408, along with the Citroen C4 Picasso. The platform will also expand to other vehicles developed under the PSAGeneral Motors alliance.

There’s no official word as to when the new 3008 will make its public debut, but I expect it to happen during one of Europe’s major auto shows in 2016, either in Geneva or Paris.

Find out more about the second-gen 3008 below and stay tuned for updates.

Updated 01/20/2016: Our spy photographers caught the upcoming Peugeot 3008 out for a new testing session, this time during cold winter conditions in Northern Sweden. While the prototypes are still heavily camouflaged, it is expected to see an official debut at either the 2016 Geneva Motor Show, or later in the year at the Paris Motor Show in October.

Continue reading to learn more about the 2017 Peugeot 3008.

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Renault Plans To Return To Formula 1


The ongoing saga surrounding Renault’s status in Formula One took another turn after it was announced that the French automaker has signed a letter of intent with Gravity Motorsports, an affiliate of Genii Capital SA, to acquire a controlling stake in Lotus’ F1 Team. The expected acquisition is considered the first step towards the company’s return to Formula One racing as a full-scale constructor since it sold a 75 percent stake in its old team to the Genii Capital investment company in 2009.

The automaker sold its remaining 25 percent stake to Genii in 2010. Since then, Renault turned its attention away from being a constructor, opting instead to keep its involvement in F1 as an engine supplier for a handful of teams, including Red Bull Racing, which dominated the series from 2010 to 2013.

Now it appears that Renault’s ready to throw its name back in the series as a constructor, fulfilling company CEO Carlos Ghosn’s promise that Renault would cease in its role as an engine supplier and turn its attention towards purchasing a team of its own or withdrawing from the sport entirely. The new agreement to essentially buy back the shares it sold to Genii means that the Renault’s back in business a full-scale constructor beginning in 2016.

Continue reading for the full story.

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Tesla Model X

Unveiled at Tesla’s design studios as a concept car in February 2012, the Model X is being prepared as a production model for the 2015 model year. Tesla’s first SUV, the Model X has been developed on the Model S platform as a vehicle capable of seating up to seven people. It was initially scheduled to go into production by the end of 2013, but was postponed as Tesla wanted to focus on selling more than 20,000 Model S cars that year. Production was yet again rescheduled from 2014 to 2015, and with several prototypes already seen testing in California, a 2015 launch is more than likely.

The Model X will hit showrooms as Tesla’s third production model. Tesla began making automobiles back 2008 with the Lotus Elise-based Roadster and continued with the Model S in 2012. Unlike the Roadster, the Model S was designed by Tesla from the ground up. Besides being a more practical version of the Model S, the Model X will also help Tesla increase sales and profitability. The company’s production target for the Model X is between 10,000 to 15,000 units a year.

Updated 09/29/2015: Tesla officially launched the Model X in a live event at the automaker’s factory in Fremont, California. Continue reading for all the details.

Continue reading to find out more about the 2016 Tesla Model X.

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Holden Commodore VFII

Holden has always been an interesting part of GM. Unlike Opel, GM’s European division, Holden cars tend to share a lot with American cars, they’re just set up in a different and presumably more Australian way. Evidence of this similarity can be seen in how many Holdens have come to America wearing different badges. Even the Holden Commodore has come over as the Pontiac G8, Pontiac GTO, the current cop-only Caprice and the Chevy SS. Even the fifth-generation Camaro has a platform originally developed for the Commodore. So Holden’s announcement that local production would shut down after 2017 as GM moves to a more global approach to making cars, represents a real loss.

So this latest facelift of the Holden Commodore will be its last, and Holden even threw it a party in order to send it off in style. Thirty examples of the car, dating back to 1978, were gathered in Port Melbourne to announce the debut of the VFII. As the name implies, the VFII is not a separate generation from the VF (Holden gives each generation a letter designation), but rather a refreshed version to keep the car from going stale during the last couple of years of its life. It looks great too, making it all the more unfortunate that it’s going away.

Continue reading to learn more about the Holden Commodore VFII.

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Hyundai i30

Even though it unveiled the facelifted i30 range earlier in 2015 at the Geneva Motor Show, Hyundai is already working on the next-generation model. Our paparazzi caught a camouflaged version of the third-gen hatchback near the Nürburgring track in Germany ahead of its official launch in late 2016 or early 2017.

The same prototype previews the next Elantra GT model the brand will offer in the United States.

The current i30 was launched at the 2011 Frankfurt Motor Show and received its mid-cycle facelift after nearly four years. The previous model was introduced in 2007 on the same platform as the Kia Cee’d. The hatchback was developed at Hyundai’s Design and Technical Center in Germany as a competitor to the Volkswagen Golf and Ford Focus.

Like its predecessors, the third-generation i30 will likely get a three-door hatch, five-door hatch, and wagon versions. In the U.S., it will be sold as a five-door hatchback only.

Continue reading for the full review of the new Hyundai i30.

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Infiniti Q30

Established less than three decades ago, Infiniti has evolved from selling rebadged Nissans to developing its own highly recognizable products. These days, Infiniti is a major player in the luxury market, offering no fewer than eight models, including sedans, coupes and crossovers. Now, it looks like the Infiniti stable will get a new addition called the Q30. Aimed at Gen X-ers and Y-ers with a little extra cash to burn, this premium compact hopes to be a versatile do-it-all with a high stance, comfortable ride, solid handling and “ready to go anywhere” assertiveness.

With a debut at the 2015 Frankfurt Motor Show, the Q30 is Infiniti’s first foray into the compact segment. It looks to be the make’s smallest and most affordable model yet, and Infiniti hopes it can help expand its global presence substantially.

It’s a brand new venture for the make, and as such, it comes with a lot of high expectations. Infiniti says it isn’t the “little brother or sister” to some larger model, which is fantastic for drawing in a new audience. But does it have the goods to seal the deal?

Updated 12/03/2015: Infiniti started production of its latest Q30 active compact at the company’s plant in Sunderland, UK. The Q30 becomes Infiniti’s first first vehicle to be manufactured in Europe after a £250m (about $375m) investment that has created 300 new jobs.

Continue reading to learn more about the Infiniti Q30.

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Lexus GX460 VS. GMC Yukon Denali

Traditional body-on-frame SUVs are becoming something of a rare breed these days with unibody crossovers picking up the sales slack. Folks seem to be more worried about fuel economy than towing numbers or off-road abilities. Still, the market for the old-school, ladder-frame SUV exists and models are still moving off dealer lots.

Two of the more luxurious examples are the Lexus GX460 and the GMC Yukon Denali. Both of these beasts come packing some serious hardware, including V-8 engines, standard/available 4WD and trailer hitch, roof racks, tall ground clearance, and enough attitude to make a snotty high school girl seem angelic.

But how do these two compare when pitted against each other? Both go for the luxury segment, both are slathered in chrome, both offer three rows of seating, and both cost over $60,000. That’s what we’ll find out.

To preface this comparison, both the GMC and Lexus have spent a week in my driveway and were driven on the same roads, in the same conditions, and even photographed in the same place – all within a two-month window. So let’s get to it.

Continue reading for the full comparison

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