Monthly Archives: December 2014

Ford Files Trademark For “EcoBeast” Moniker

In a compelling and curious move, Ford has filed a new trademark request with the United States Patent and Trademark Office that appears to suggest that the company is possibly moving ahead with plans for a high performance version of its popular EcoBoost engine family.

Unearthed by the folks at Motorlix, the recent trademark filing reveals that Ford is trying to secure the “EcoBeast” trademark for use on”automobiles and automobile engines.” The trademark request itself was filed back on December 22nd, but it offers no further details on the exact meaning or plans behind the moniker. Many in the industry suspect it is the production name of a specially built high performance offshoot of the company’s EcoBoost engine lineup. Currently the family of turbocharged engines is found in a wide swath of Ford products from the subcompact Fiesta, all the way up to the full sized Expedition SUV in a dramatic example of the incredible flexibility that the engine has provided since its debut.

In the case of the “EcoBeast” its aggressively themed moniker could suggest that it will find a home only in the most hardcore and performance oriented models that Ford would produce if plans proceed to formal production. Based on this theory, three possible suspects emerge as possible recipients of the motor including a possible next generation Ford F-150 SVT Raptor, a range topping Mustang model (though that would be somewhat unlikely given the popularity of the V8), and the long rumored and possibly NAIAS bound successor to the Ford GT supercar. We personally suspect the GT successor will be the first recipient of this mysterious new engine since it would assume the flagship role for the Ford lineup if it begins production, and as such debut new technology that would eventually trickle down to other members of the Ford lineup including the new engine.

With the 2015 North American International Auto Show only a few days away, look for more details about the “EcoBeast” to possibly emerge in some shape or form during the event with more details slowly tricking out in the near future. In the meantime, we are highly curious to hear just what Ford is exactly up to with this move, and we look forward to seeing the highly anticipated fruits of this effort very soon.

 

Ariel Nomad Off Roader Revealed, Set To Debut January 9th

Ever wondered what would happen if the Ariel Atom decided to take its welterweight driving talents to the world of off roading? Well the folks at Ariel have answered that question by unveiling the Ariel Nomad, a new model that is designed to dominate off road trails and other rough terrain when it makes its official debut January 9th.

The exterior styling of the Nomad retains the minimalist yet functional exterior design that has become an iconic cue of other Atom models as well as its ladder frame. However to help prepare it for duties off the beaten path, Ariel engineers have made several modifications to the Nomad including big knobby off road tires, reinforcement of the underbody and roll cage, as well as a sturdy front mounted brush guard. Our lone concern is that unlike other off road models that are almost always hooked up to an all-wheel drive system, the Nomad appears to retain the rear-wheel drive layout used by the standard Atom which could put it at a disadvantage in some situations.

Despite this apparent disadvantage, Ariel is confident in their new off roader revealing that the company has done extensive testing to hone the Nomad to perfection “We’ve done quite a bit of testing on forest tracks and rally stages and the results have been extremely encouraging” said Henry Siebert-Saunders son of Ariel chief Simon Saunders in a statement to the publication Autocar. He also admits that while the Nomad is 2WD it will not be a handicap claiming “We know the car is quick and stable. But it is still a two-wheel drive vehicle. We look forward to discovering how it performs in genuine off-road conditions – in mud or crawling over rocks compared with a traditional 4×4.

While it is unknown what will be powering the Nomad, Autocar claims that the trend towards Honda engines will continue, and that the Nomad will use a 2.4 liter engine that will most likely make over 200 horsepower. A six speed manual gearbox (also from Honda) is standard equipment as well as a Nomad exclusive limited-slip differential. As expected from a car in its niche but elite class, look for more extreme and optional equipment to gradually emerge during the Nomad’s time in production. The wide track all independent suspension layout is largely carried over from the Atom street car, but Ariel engineers have added new hardware and tweaked the geometry to accommodate the Nomad’s unique dimensions. Official curb weight stats for the Nomad have so far not been released, but expect the car to only be slightly heavier than the Atom which should please enthusiasts that were concerned about a noticeable increase in weight due to the Nomad’s off road spec equipment.  In fact look for the Nomad to have four times the power to weight ratio of a Land Rover Defender, an impressive feat considering how radically different the Nomad and the iconic Defender are from one another.

After the Nomad makes its official debut in January, look for pricing and other official specs to be released closer to the Nomad’s official launch date. The Nomad answers a question few have asked but it looks awesome and we look forward to hearig more about it in the future.

Cadillac Unveils 2016 Cadilliac CTS-V, Brings New Technology, Corvette Infused Power To Luxury Sport Sedan Segment

With the 2016 North American International Auto Show only a few weeks away, Cadillac has taken the wraps off of the most powerful member of its V-Series lineup the 2016 Cadillac CTS-V which aims to dethrone iconic benchmarks such as the BMW M5 and Mercedes Benz E63 AMG when it makes its Detroit debut in January.

While the previous generation CTS-V was no slouch in terms of raw performance, the new CTS-V ups the ante, and outguns both of its rivals thanks to a 6.2 liter supercharged V8. Borrowed from the Corvette Z06, this monstrous power-plant produced 640 horsepower at 6,400 RPM and produces an equally potent 630 lb-ft of torque. These figures allow the car to make the dash to 60 mph in 3.7 seconds before topping out at 200 mph. All of this power is channeled to the rear wheels through an eight speed automatic transmission that is controlled by steering wheel mounted paddle shifters, and is paired with an electronic limited slip differential to maximize its potential. Unfortunately for fans of manual transmissions, this iteration of the CTS-V will not offer a shift it yourself option like the last generation car which may disappoint purists looking for true driver involvement when rowing through the gears.

In addition to the potent muscle that lurks beneath the hood, a number of other performance modifications make themselves evident which all help improve the handling and rigidity of the car. Cadillac’s familiar Magnetic Ride Control system helps eliminate bodyroll while also encouraging sharper feedback especially in sharp turns while a launch 2016 "LT4" 6.2L V-8 AFM VVT DI SC (LT4) for Cadillac CTS-Vcontrol feature that’s built in to the transmission helps improve off the line acceleration. Sticky Michelin Pilot Super Sport tires help keep the CTS-V planted to the road while meaty Brembo high performance brakes round out the package, and help bring the CTS-V to a safe stop from a wide variety of vehicle speeds.

The exterior styling of the CTS-V does a much better job standing out from other members of the CTS family thanks to a2016 Cadillac CTS-V bolder front fascia that features mesh inserts, a larger air dam, a discreet yet functional rear spoiler, and a powerdome hood which is specially crafted out of carbon fiber reducing weight while also looking very stylish at the same time. Meanwhile, big 19-inch forged aluminium wheels are subtly tucked under the wider fenders while four round exhaust pipes and an integrated air diffuser round out the package and give the mean Caddy a unified look. In addition it also helps the car visually stand out versus the blander M5 sedan, while also allowing it to look more aggressive than the E63 AMG.

The sporty theme of the exterior is carried through to the interior which has also been heavily revamped for CTS-V duty, and brings new levels of refinement and technology to lucky owners. It all begins with the seats which feature 20-way power adjustments and revised bolstering to help keep occupants firmly in place during spirited driving. Carbon fiber trim is also slathered onto the dashboard while a wireless phone charger allows 2016 Cadillac CTS-Vpassengers to charge their smartphones without the hassle of wires. In addition the updated and still frustrating CUE infotainment system is present and accounted for. Buyers that crave more support from the seats can opt for specially crafted Recaro buckets for the front seats while the Z06’s Performance Data Recorder technology (that also makes a cameo appearance in the smaller ATS-V ) can be fitted as well to allow drivers to keep track of lap times, other performance related data, as well as other drivers via its Valet mode feature (check state laws before using that particular feature).

Look for the 2016 Cadillac CTS-V to make its official debut at the 2015 North American International Auto Show in January before arriving in dealer lots next summer. Expect more detailed information such as pricing and fuel economy figures to gradually emerge closer to its official launch date.

 

 

 

 

Acura NSX To Debut In Detroit, The Wait Is Almost Over

With the 2015 North American International Auto Show only a few weeks away, the long and plot twist filled development of the second generation Acura NSX will finally near its conclusion when the production version of this reborn classic makes its debut under the bright lights of Detroit’s Cobo Center.

The exterior styling of the NSX has been teased multiple times, but based on prior spy photos of prototypes out on the Nurburgring in recent months, it looks like it has not radically changed which should please fans that first fell in love with the futuristic themed styling when it originally debuted in concept form several years ago. While the video does obscure some of the NSX’s finer details, the front fascia is still a tasteful blend of futurism and bold aggression which is aimed at putting rivals such as the Audi R8 and the Ferrari 458 on notice when it comes to visually appealing to customers. The rear fascia also looks similar to the concepts though it appears the tail lights have been revamped for production duty.  Look for the interior to continue this modernistic blend of styles while also coddling occupants with world class luxury as well.

The NSX’s debut will help kick off what Executive President of Honda John Mendell has called “The Year of Honda” which is expected to be a major product offensive that will be launched by the company during the next few years. Revealing this plan in a statement to members of the media assembled in Detroit on Tuesday, Mendel claims that in addition to the NSX, Honda will begin development of the next generation Pilot SUV as well as a redesigned Honda Ridgeline with that particular move striking a puzzling chord with us given the Ridgeline’s relatively sluggish sales record, and lack of overall utility when viewed against competitors. In addition to those models, Honda will also begin work on small turbocharged engines that will eventually find their way into production vehicles.

As for Acura, the Asian luxury brand will debut a new and improved ILX later this year with Mendel revealing that a pair of updates are in the works for the RDX and MDX crossovers which will help them remain fresh and relevant in their respective segments. Overall it sounds like the coming year will be a very active and very busy time for Honda and the NSX will serve as a compelling glimpse into Honda’s future. In the meantime, Acura has released a short teaser video for the NSX which can be seen below.

 

Ford GT Successor To Possibly Debut At NAIAS, Spearhead Ford’s Return To Tudor Racing

With the 2015 North American International Auto Show only a few weeks away, anticipation as well as speculation is slowly rising regarding many of the models that will be on display at this years show, a key rumor that has recently gained traction is the strong possibility that Ford has a huge surprise in store for the event, and it could very well be an upcoming halo model that would fill the void that the Ford GT left when it exited official production in the mid 2000’s.

Multiple insiders are revealing to Autoweek that the Ford branded supercar is definitely going to be revealed at the January event, however they also reveal that unlike the GT which embraced its retro roots inside and out, the new model could drop this theme and instead debut slick new futuristic styling that would allow it to compete more effectively against rivals such as the Acura NSX which will also be making its debut at NAIAS. In addition to this possible reveal, Autoweek also reveals that the new model would also spearhead Ford’s racing program particularly in Tudor cup racing during the 2016 Tudor United Sportscar Championship Series. This series would also allow the new halo racer to take part in the 24 hrs of LeMans race where it will help celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Ford GT40’s win on the fabled course back in 1966. While it is unknown what the halo car (if it exists) will use as its source of power, but look for the racing variant to use a tweaked twin turbocharged EcoBoost V6 to help it compete with rivals in raw power while also complying with Tudor’s strict engine guidelines.

Look for more information to possibly emerge closer to the kickoff of the 2015 North American International Auto Show in January. While Ford for its part has not revealed any information on whether it intends to debut such a model, the very intrigue of a possible GT successor resonates big with enthusiasts (including us) and we hope to hear and possibly see more of this new halo model in the coming weeks.

MINI Showcases 2016 John Cooper Works Hardtop

Following an ill timed leak earlier this week, MINI has taken the veil off of the 2016 MINI John Cooper Works model ahead of its formal debut at next months North American International Auto Show in Detroit. The newest iteration of the JCW aims to compete with hot hatch rivals such as the Volkswagen GTI, Ford Focus ST, and the Fiat 500 Abarth.

 

As expected by many, tP90167729_highReshe production version is virtually identical to the John Cooper Works concept that made its debut at last years show. The JCW version stands out from its more mainstream sibling by featuring a more muscular look that incorporates a more aggressive front bumper with larger air ducts, bigger fender flares, black trim around the radiator grille, and a bigger roof mounted spoiler. Stylish 17-inch alloy wheels are also part of the package and several strategically placed JCW badges round out the exterior modifications.

The interior of the JCW has also been modified and features a leathP90167748_highReser wrapped steering wheel as well as a leather wrapped shift knob. Meanwhile sport bucket seats, stainless steel pedals, and a model exclusive black anthracite headliner further embody the performance theme and allow the JCW to be on par with rivals. As expected from any MINI product, buyers can choose from a long list of optional equipment including heads-up display, adaptive cruise control, and automatic high beam headlamps. These three features are a noticeable upgrade over the equipment found in the last JCW, and should allow the car to better compete with rivals that offer similar equipment.

Performance for the 2016 John Cooper Works comes from a modified version of the Cooper S’s 2.0 liter turbocharged engine which brings 231 horsepower between 5,200 and 6,000 RPM’s and a healthy 236 lb-ft of torque from 1,250 all the way up to 4,800 RPM’s. The new engine brings 39 more horses to the party which not only makes it more potent than P90167737_highResthe old JCW’s 1.6 liter four cylinder, but also the GTI though it does fall short of the 252 horsepower wielded by the Focus ST. Despite this though, the new engine does earn the title of being the most powerful engine ever fitted to a MINI product. All of this power also allows the JCW to make the sprint to 62 mph in a scant 6.1 seconds when equipped to the six speed automatic transmission while manual transmission variants ring in at a slightly higher 6.3 seconds. While official mileage figures for both models have not been released,  the automatic version does achieve 41 mpg when subjected to mixed European cycle testing. Handling has also been tweaked and benefits from a lowered and stiffened suspension which greatly reduces body roll, while meaty Brembo brakes at all four corners helps bring the JCW to a safe stop form any speed.

MINI’s latest hot hatch offering is expected to land in showroom sometime next year, stay tuned to Autoinfoquest for the latest developments on the 2016 John Cooper Works as they become available. In the meantime check out the full suite of photos which can be seen in the gallery below

 

Mercedes Benz Previews X6 Fighting 2016 GLE Coupe

Following in the wings of the slow selling BMW X6, Mercedes Benz has unveiled the 2016 GLE Coupe a crossover-coupe that has its sights set on stealing sales from the X6, while also heralding the debut of the company’s brand new naming system, which ditches the current scheme of using letters with “Class” on the end.

Prior to its early reveal, the GLE was previewed by a near production concept called the Concept Coupe SUV that made its respective debut earlier this year at the Beijing Motor Show.  When the exterior styling of the GLE is compared with the Concept Coupe SUV, the two are very similar with the GLE gaining a more swept back front fascia which Mercedes-Benz GLE Coupé (2014)was most likely added to appease new pedestrian safety regulations while the exterior styling has also been updated with the door handles losing some of their futuristic look while the door mirrors are slightly bigger than before. The front end of the GLE conforms with the new design language that now defines the S, C, and E-Class models thanks to a new rippled hood, longer headlights with integrated LED daytime running lights, as well as an over-sized three pointed star emblem.

The oddly designed roof line however peaks above the driver before gradually tapering off to the rear of the vehicle and later flattening out at the rear end a trait that is largely similar to the X6’s basic profile. As a result of this unusual design, the GLE is actuaMercedes-Benz GLE Coupé (2014)lly closer to a sedan than a formal crossover when viewed from several angles, though it may not be very obvious at first glance thanks to its size and shape. The rear fascia of the GLE borrows a few pages out of the recently unveiled S-Class coupe’s playbook and features a slanted rear fascia as well as slim taillights that are connected by a chrome strip which is another example of its S-Class inspired origins.

The interior styling of the GLE also shares a few traits with other Mercedes products but unlike the S-Class inspired exterior design, the interior’s relatively high seating position and tall dashboard layout reveal its M-Class inspired origins. Both models share roughly the same basic interior design theme, but the GLE departs from its boxier stablemate by featuring a new high definition color touchscreen that slightly sticks out from the top of Mercedes-Benz GLE Coupé (2014)the center console. This particular arraignment will also make its way to the M Class when it is given a face lift sometime next year. The screen is controlled by a simple to operate touch pad between the front seats that appears to be much easier to operate than older systems that required an annoying knob. Cargo space measures in at an impressive 58 cubic feet (when the seats are folded flat), and Mercedes is claiming that this decent amount of space makes the GLE the most spacious coupe in the world.

Performance for the GLE will also be the beginning of a new era with the model being the first to embraces AMG’s new sub-brand. The new brand will serve as an intermediate alternative to the more formal AMG product lineup, while also serving as a cheaper upgrade to normal Benz models that are equipped with the AMG Sport Package. Engine choices for the GLE lineup are limited to two offerings with the GLE 450 nabbing a modified variant of the 3.0 liter twin turbocharged V6 which is good for a healthy 362 horsepower Mercedes-Benz GLE Coupé (2014)and an equally stout 387 lb-ft of torque. Range topping GL63 AMG models will receive the familiar 5.5 liter twin turbocharged V8 which makes a balanced 518 horsepower and 516 lb-ft of torque. Regard less of which engine is selected, they will channel their muscle through either the rear or all four wheels through an all new 9 speed automatic transmission (9g-TRONIC) which continues the company’s “TRONIC” filled naming scheme for its technology, while Benz also revealed that the transmission is capable of “impressively high shift speed, as well as perfect transitions in a wide variety of driving conditions.

While the company did not reveal official pricing nor formal specifications of the 2016 GLE, look for the first units to begin arriving at a dealership near you sometime next summer, with more information possibly trickling out closer to its formal debut. We’re curious to see how the GLE will fare, but with X6 sales being relatively sluggish since its debut. Will Mercedes be able to make the idea of a crossover-coupe hybrid a success? or will it be just as much of a sales dud as the X6? Only time will tell on that front but until then check out the image gallery below and tell us what you think.

 

Ferrari Unveils LaFerrari Derived FXX K Racer

With the recent unveiling of Ferrari’s latest flagship hypercar the LaFerrari at last years Geneva Motor Show, it was only a matter of time before we would see the latest track oriented iteration of this beast, but the question on everyone’s mind was when it would make its debut? Well wonder no more, because Ferrari has delivered unveiling the FXX K at an event in Abu Dhabi earlier today.

The alphabet soup inspired style of its name may seem confusing at first, but each letter has a significant meaning that adds to the car’s mystique even more. The first three “FXX” is a direct reference to the original Enzo derived FXX hypercar, which helped kick off the Italian firms client development program over a decade ago with its experimental technology and its 1400443_CAR-Ferrari-FXXKrevolutionary for the period performance features which slowly trickled down into its production models.  However the key letter in this iteration is the final letter in its name the letter “K” which signifies the tweaked KERS system that dwells beneath its sleek bodywork.

Speaking of that bodywork, Ferrari engineers have focused a great deal of their efforts in revamping the styling which is now more aerodynamically efficient than before. The front fascia for example gets a new two part front splitter borrowed from Ferrari’s successful GT racing program, while vertical flank mounted fins and extended side ski1400445_CAR-Ferrari-FXXKrts add to the function over form appearance. The rear fascia has also been highly modified and boasts a larger rear wing, more vertical fins, and a giant diffuser that works together with the rest of the styling to allow the FXX K to have 50 percent more down force than the standard LaFerrari with super sticky Pirelli racing slicks providing the grip needed to keep the car glued to the track while carbon ceramic brake discs help keep things under control.

Performance for the FXX K is also much sharper and focused than before with the 6.3 liter V12 now wielding a more potent 848 horsepower (a gain of 99 horsepower) while the electric motor has also been revamped and now produces 187 horsepower (versus 160). Overall the combined system is now capable of a lofty 1,035 horsepower which is a hefty 1400446_CAR-Ferrari-FXXKincrease from the standard models 950 horsepower but its 664 lb-ft of torque is down 51 lb-ft from the standard car a slight downgrade but one that is hardly noticed when the car is going flat out at the track. All of this power is funneled through a modified 7-speed dual clutch automatic which features steering wheel mounted paddle shifters for precise control at any speed. As a neat bonus, the FXX K also arrives with a re-calibrated electronic differential, ABS, traction control, Racing Side Slip Control (SSC), and a four mode Manetinno dial on the steering wheel that allows the driver to choose from four different levels of electric boost.

Just like its fellow FXX branded predecessors, look for the FXX K to be mainly a testbed for Ferrari experimental technologies with some of them possibly ending up in future Ferrari models. Also while a dream match between it and its closest competitor the McLaren P1 GTR may not happen anytime soon due to both cars not participating in any racing series in lieu of their respective client development programs, it would still be neat to find out which hypercar is indeed superior in a head to head duel.

 

 

 

BMW Dismisses Rumors Of Venture With Tesla, Claims Musk Using BMW For PR Gain

Amid rumors (as well as recent statements by Tesla CEO Elon Musk) of a possible venture between Tesla and BMW, a BMW spokesman has appeared to have driven the proverbial stake into the heart of this rampant speculation by flat out denying that the firm is entering into a formal partnership with the upstart EV manufacturer.

In a statement released last week, Musk appeared to reveal that the two companies were involved in detailed talks regarding upcoming battery technology as well as charging stations. In addition the Tesla CEO even dropped a compelling kernel of information regarding a possible battery production facility that would have been located in BMW’s home country of Germany with the initial investment coming from a local automaker which would have been a strong indicator of a possible partnership between the two companies.

In a separate statement however, an unidentified BMW insider revealed to the publication Wirtschafts Woche that any talks that might have taken place were purely informal and should not be interpreted as either formal intention or commitment to collaborate in projects with Tesla. In addition, the spokesman also claimed that there is currently no benefit that would be gained from such a partnership while also taking a jab at Musk and Tesla claiming “Musk is using us for PR purposes”. This particular word choice is key, and would appear to suggest that BMW is not very happy that Musk referenced the talks in such a casual manner.

The insider did reveal however that BMW is still open to sharing its carbon-fiber fabrication technology (the process used to build its i3 and i8 models) with all competing automakers (including Tesla) with none so far taking up BMW on its offer. So while the speculation regarding a formal Tesla partnership with BMW has apparently been squashed for the moment, the idea of a Tesla model using BMW’s carbon fiber frame technology does sound promising, and we look forward to hearing more on BMW’s offer as details become available.