Monthly Archives: March 2015

Land Rover Teases Ultra Luxurious Range Rover Model, Set To Make Debut At New York Auto Show

With rumors of an ultra luxurious Range Rover variant on the horizon, Land Rover has published a lone teaser image that showcases the mysterious Range Rover variant (albeit from above) before its official debut at the 2015 New York Auto Show in April.

Known tentatively by its internal nickname “Bigfoot” the opulent rig will be based on the long wheel base version of the Range Rover SUV and promises to be even more luxurious than the range topping Autobiography model. While the lone teaser image reveals virtually nothing about the model, a low resolution spy shot taken by an alert observer in London does appear to show that the variant will receive a two tone paint job as well as a snazzy set of quad exhaust pipes with an equally slick set of 22-inch wheels rounding out the package. The image also reveals that the SUV was modified by the company’s Special Vehicle Operations team and does fit with rumors of the skunk works division creating a special luxury themed variant.

Performance hardware currently remains unknown at this point, but rumors appear to suggest that the new range topping model will be powered by a tweaked version of the company’s 5.0 liter V8 which already see’s duty in several Jaguar models as well as the performance oriented Range Rover Sport SVR. If this engine is indeed confirmed for this Range Rover model, look for it to produce 550 horsepower as well as 502 lb-ft of torque which should be enough to move this luxury laden beast at speed with shifting duties being dealt to the familiar eight speed automatic transmission.

Look for the super posh Range Rover to make its debut at the 2015 New York Auto Show where it will share the stage with the 380 horsepower Range Rover HST. When it eventually arrives in Land Rover showrooms, it will appear as a 2016 model and boast a base price of $200,000. This lofty figure will make this particular model the most expensive model that Land Rover has ever produced especially since it trumps the $100,000 plus sticker wielded by the Autobiography version.

Jeremy Clarkson Fired After BBC Investigation, Future Of Top Gear Uncertain

Following an investigation launched by the BBC into an alleged “fracas” that took place between Top Gear Host Jeremy Clarkson and one of the show’s producers. The British television network has revealed that it will not renew Clarkson’s contract when it expires later this month which outs an end to Clarkson’s career at the BBC.

“It is with great regret that I have told Jeremy Clarkson today that the BBC will not be renewing his contract” stated BBC Director-General Tony Hall. “It is not a decision that I have taken lightly.”

Clarkson’s contract was set to expire at the end of this month and the BBC’s move comes despite the passionate support of thousands of Top Gear fans as well as several notable celebrities that signed petitions, and even asked the BBC to keep Clarkson at the network with this author even penning a special editorial on the subject awhile back.  An extreme example of this support occurred a few days ago when several online activists drove an armored tank through the streets of central London to BBC HQ before dropping off the signed petition at the doors of the building.

This move certainly raises new questions on the future of Top Gear following Clarkson’s departure as well as the future of co-presenters James May and Richard Hammond whose contracts are also set to expire at the end of March, and have stated in the past that they would not do the show without Clarkson at the helm. The BBC could find replacement hosts to fill their positions but may anger long time loyalists that like the unique commentary that both Hammond and May provided on the program. Our lone question is whether the last three episodes of Season 22 will ever see the airwaves? especially the crossover episode with Top Gear USA which was expected to help bring new viewers and higher ratings to the American Top Gear variant.

While the future regarding Top Gear, its new host, as well as the overall format of the program are up in the air, today’s events do mark the end of an era for not only auto enthusiasts, but also television as a whole with Top Gear evolving into the media juggernaut that it has become today (thank’s mainly to Clarkson’s colorful and sometimes controversial commentary.) It is amazing to see the extent of this growth from the current Top Gear’s beginnings in 2002, to what it had gradually morphed to prior to recent events.

We look forward to seeing what the future has in store for Top Gear, and whether a new era could perhaps start itself anew if the BBC chooses to continue the show with a new personnel and format. In the meantime we have posted a video of James May’s reaction to the news which can be seen below.

 

Cadillac Unveils All New V6 Engine Family, Brings 400 Horsepower and New Technology To CT6 Flagship

With the debut of the all new CT6 flagship sedan fast approaching, General Motors has revealed the full details on the all new family of V6 engines that will go toe to toe with offerings from rivals such as the BMW 7 Series and the Audi A8.

The flagship will be available with a pair of V6 engines (an interesting choice when one considers that other rivals also feature a V8 option) with the performance crown being convincingly worn by the twin turbocharged variant which is good for a balanced 400 horsepower, and an equally healthy 400 lb-ft of torque. The company claims that the engine is one of the most power dense engines it has ever built with the mill capable of producing an impressive 133 horsepower per liter. For those that are crunching the numbers, that figure is 27 percent higher than the 740Li’s 3.0 liter twin turbocharged inline six, as well as the supercharged V6 that sees duty in the Audi A7 and A8 models an impressive feat. Fans of the high performance ATS-V will be pleased to hear that the engine will make use of that model’s turbo system which includes the trick titanium-aluminide turbine wheels as well as other tweaks that help it achieve maximum torque.

“Torque is the pulling power of an engine and the new 3.0 liter twin turbo delivers it with confidence inspiring smoothness, and progression,” stated assistant chief engineer Richard BartletThe all-new 3.0L Twin Turbo for the 2016 Cadillac CT6 is the onlt. “In fact, the potency of the torque across the rpm band is matched only by the satisfaction of the horsepower created as those revs climb quickly to 6,500 rpm. We will have to wait until we formally drive the car to see if it can indeed achieve the level of satisfaction that Bartlett is advertising, but in the meantime consider us interested at the prospect. Buyers that do not need that much oomph in their luxury experience can also choose to equip their CT6 purchase with a naturally aspirated 3.6 liter V6 which is good for a slightly lower 335 horsepower and 284 lb-ft of torque though it does share the up-level engines basic architecture and design which makes up for the slight deficit in performance somewhat.

Regardless of which engine is selected, both power-plants will come equipped with a stiffer aluminium block as well as polymer coated pistons that aim to reduce friction which improves efficiency and performance. Meanwhile an all new “targeted cooling system”  focuses on the hottest areas of the engine and cools them down which results in a faster warm up upon start up ( a gimmick feature IMO but it does serve as a good example of how far technology has come along.) Look for the Cadillac CT6 to make its official debut in less than two weeks at the 2015 New York Auto Show, in the meantime stay tuned to Autoinfoquest for the latest developments on the 2016 Cadillac CT6 as they become available.

 

The Requiem Of Top Gear, And Why Viewers Should Not Be Punished

With the swirling firestorm growing between the BBC and Top Gear presenter Jeremy Clarkson over what exactly happened in the “fracas” between Clarkson and producer Oisin Tymon, it is incredibly surprising to me that the various media outlets reporting on this story have appeared to have forgotten the unseen consequences of this incident and that’s the effect that it has had on viewers and fans of the show (myself included.)

When I first started watching Top Gear back in 2003, it was a welcome breath of fresh air both in terms of format as well as the chemistry that existed between Clarkson and fellow presenters James May and Richard Hammond. This was especially apparent when one looks at older iterations of Top Gear which were usually very boring to watch and had commentary so bland and complex that it completely missed the mark as an automotive themed television program (you can see what I mean here). When Jeremy Clarkson was first introduced to audiences in 1988, the Top Gear of yore was on the decline, but his colorful commentary as well as his automotive knowledge served as the lone saving grace of that era, and would later prove to be a key ingredient for the BBC when the show was relaunched in 2002 with Clarkson as lead presenter.

With a new format favoring slick camera angles and more focus on entertaining the viewer, the show would rise from its predecessor’s tarnished ashes, and later become one of the BBC’s most popular television shows. However none of this would have been possible if it wasn’t for the figurative glue that helped keep the show together and that was Jeremy Clarkson’s ability to not only bring the viewer into the broader experience of whatever car he happened to be driving each week, but also delivering commentary that was relevant, witty, and reached out to a wider range of viewers especially young people. Granted Richard Hammond and James May certainly played a minor role as well in its resurgence (May catering to traditional car buyers, and Hammond young enthusiasts) but it was Clarkson that served as the complete package, bringing the best of both worlds together in a way that made sense.

It is these very viewers that are now under siege by the BBC in its ongoing and sadly bungled handling of the “fracas” (the name the network prefers to call the incident). While I do not support the alleged actions of Mr. Clarkson (violence in the workplace is inexcusable) the BBC’s move of cancelling the final three episodes of Season 22 rather than letting them air in their entirety does serve to unfairly punish viewers that follow the show, viewers that have helped the BBC see increased viewership in recent years especially in foreign markets such as the U.S. (the country I call home).

Imagine what would happen if these very viewers were to suddenly leave in droves and watch other programs. It would not only affect the BBC’s bottom line (Top Gear is a figurative gold mine that has helped the network rake in copious amounts of cash over the years) but also how it would affect other extensions of the Top Gear franchise especially Top Gear USA. The latter being key since one of the offending episodes was a crossover that took place between that program and Clarkson and his crew. The U.S. program would’ve not only benefited from the enormous boost in ratings that could have been generated by this event, but viewers new to the franchise (especially in this country) would have had an excellent opportunity to see where the show got its roots, and the chance to see the original cast on U.S. soil once again.

With all of this in mind, I urge the BBC to greatly consider how the handling of these events is affecting the viewers, and I hope that the network will air the three episodes in question sometime in the near future not so much for giving Clarkson his “15 minutes of fame”, but rather for the sake of allowing the viewer to see the content in question as it was meant to be seen and enjoyed not only as a piece of informative programming, but also the secondary artistic value that lurks beneath the surface.

BBC Suspends Jeremy Clarkson, Postpones Upcoming Episode

In a surprise announcement earlier today, the BBC has revealed that it has suspended Top Gear host Jeremy Clarkson as the result of what the network called a “fracas” that took place between Clarkson and a show producer.

While the network’s press release regarding the matter was brief and a bit vague, but the BBC did reveal that the show’s other two presenters Richard Hammond and James May were not suspended as a result of the incident and that it appears to center only on Clarkson claiming “No one else has been suspended. Top Gear will not be broadcasting this Sunday. The BBC will be making no further comment at this time. Despite this though, Clarkson’s suspension did force the network to cancel this week’s airing of Top Gear though the BBC did not confirm reports that  the final two episodes of the season have been scrapped as well.

Currently no further details regarding the incident have been made public, but Jeremy Clarkson and controversy have always managed to find ways to cross each others paths at various points in his tenure on Top Gear. In fact during the last twelve months, Clarkson has been the subject of three major controversies including an incident that inflamed tensions with Argentina back in October when Clarkson was accused of intentionally using a license plate that was a reference to the Falklands War during shooting in that country. While the license plate accusations were met with mixed reaction, Clarkson did make a reference to the conflict on last weeks program, but it is unknown if that’s what caused the BBC to act or if the incident was a result of events that had nothing to do with that particular episode.

If this incident does force the BBC to permanently relieve Clarkson of his hosting duties, it could signal a shift in not only how Top Gear is presented and perceived by audiences but also the level of dominance that the program has managed to achieve both in the UK and abroad since Clarkson took the reigns as lead presenter back in 2002. While the embracing of an edgier theme was seen as a factor in the shows rise in popularity, Clarkson’s humor (some of it off color) was seen as the glue that helped keep the show together.

Morgan Officially Unveils Aero 8 Droptop, Reveals The End Is Near For Aero Coupe And Aero Supersports [Video]

Following a suite of teasers that the company meticulously dropped over the past several months, Morgan has formally unveiled the 2015 Aero 8 roadster a car that not only brings much needed updates to the Aero, but also heralds broader changes in the Aero lineup moving forward.

The exterior styling of the Aero 8 retains the basic retro themed language that made its debut on the old model with features such as the sculpted shoulders, long hood, and Morgan Aero 8 Unveiled 2shortened rear end all being retained. However, Morgan engineers made several minor changes that helps improve the car’s aerodynamics. The convertible top for example is now sheathed under a clam shell trunk lid while an optional add on hardtop adds a dash of style and also signals the end of the current generation Aero Coupe.

The interior of the Aero 8 also retains its retro feel with abundant amounts of wood and leather trim scattered throughout while textured-box woven carpet adds even more luxury and opulence to the car. Like the exterior, Morgan engineers also made subtle tweaks to Morgan Aero 8 Unveiled 3the cabin to help it stand out in an increasingly digital world. A touchscreen infotainment system serves as the spearhead of this new-found modernization, while a new air conditioning system promises better performance especially in warm weather climates. Lastly, buyers can choose optional low slung carbon fiber sport seats that aim to add more support during spirited driving.

The majority of the changes though are found underneath the skin and center mainly around the car’s aluminium chassis which has been substantially improved versus the old Aero and allows the Aero 8 to boast better torsional rigidity which in turn helps improve handling behavior. The suspension has also been stiffened and upgraded in a bid to reduce body roll and encourage better cornering behavior a big plus for owners that use their Aeros as track day weapons. Our lone gripe centers around the 367 horsepower 4.8 liter BMW derived V8 which still retains its naturally aspirated character and forgoes any form of forced induction system ( a feature that appeared to be teased in a video teaser released by the company.) It would have been neat to see the engine make a little more muscle with the help of a supercharger, but an all new limited slip differential unit does allow the engine to deliver its power in a more efficient manner versus its predecessor. All of this power is channeled to the rear wheels through either a six speed manual gearbox, or an optional six speed automatic.

“Morgan cars are synonymous with open top motoring” stated Morgan managing director Steve Morris. “We produce 2-seater sports cars that are lightweight and exhilarating to drive. The new Aero 8 signifies a return to this formula within our flagship range of vehicles. ”

Look for Morgan to begin production of the Aero 8 in the fourth quarter with production of the Aero Coupe and Aero SuperSports models ceasing sometime before that. In the meantime, Morgan has released several high resolution images as well as a brief video of the 2015 Aero 8 in action which can both be seen below.

 

 

 

 

Aston Martin Broadens Taraf Availability, U.S. Market Appearance Unknown

When Aston Martin unveiled the limited production Lagonda Taraf luxury sedan, it was the first visible fruit (minus the ill fated Lagonda SUV concept) of the company’s ongoing efforts at reviving the Lagonda nameplate. In a bid to cater to the overwhelming response that the Taraf has received since its debut, the company revealed that it has expanded the availability of the Taraf to other markets outside the Middle East opening up the bespoke four door to more buyers.

In addition to the Middle East, the Taraf will also be avalible to buyers in select EU-compliant markets including Europe, the United Kingdom, as well as South Africa. As a result, the Taraf will be available in both left and right hand drive configurations though it is still unknown how the new markets will affect its distribution since the British company only had plans to produce 200 examples. For those not familiar with the Taraf, it was first unveiled in Dubai a few months ago and is built on the same extended VH platform that underpins the Aston Martin Rapide with that models 6.0 liter V12 also providing the motivation for the more bespoke Taraf. The exterior styling is not only a mixture of futuristic cues, but also nods to the past with several cues borrowed from the 70’s era wedge shaped Lagonda sedan. It also boasts a slightly longer wheelbase than the Rapide, though it is still unknown how much it will finally cost a potential buyer when it eventually arrives on the market.

Also unknown is whether any Tarafs will find their way into the hands of U.S. owners. Aston Martin representatives were tight lipped when pressed by members of the automotive media on that question and refused to neither confirm nor deny it. Our best guess though is that we will most likely miss out on the Taraf which is not only due to the relatively small production numbers affecting distribution in a negative manner, but also the additional costs that the company would have to pay to make the Taraf comply with our country’s stricter safety and emissions regulations. The latter in particular would serve as a good motivator for Aston to not offer the Taraf here since the money needed can be used towards updates of its current lineup including the Vantage and DB9.

 

Morgan Releases Final Teaser Image, Confirms Aero 8 Nameplate

With the 2015 Geneva Auto Show only days away, Morgan has released one final teaser image that confirms the official nameplate for its upcoming Aero variant as well as a new glimpse of its distinctive roofline.

This newest teaser reveals that the car will be known as the Aero 8, and represent an evolution of the original Aero 8 which first debuted in 2001 while also joining its Morgan Aero 8 Teaserstablemates the Aero SuperSport and the Aero Coupe in the Morgan lineup. As hinted before in earlier teasers, the Aero 8 will feature an all new roof design, and while this particular image only reveals a small seam in the upper portion of the window frame, it will not be too surprising if the Aero 8 features some form of convertible top that is either removable or can be folded down out of sight under the rear deck of the car.

Morgan also chose to once again not reveal any technical information regarding what engine is lying in wait beneath the Aero 8’s long hood, but based on a prior teaser video that was released as well as what we have seen in other Aero models, we will not be surprised if it is either a supercharged or turbocharged variant of the familiar 4.8 liter BMW derived V8 that powers other Aeros albeit with more power and perhaps slightly higher fuel economy.

Stay tuned to Autoinfoquest for more information on the upcoming Aero 8 as it becomes available, especially with the clock slowly ticking until its world debut March 3rd at the Geneva Auto Show.