Monthly Archives: July 2015

Former Top Gear Hosts Sign New Deal, Will Host New Show On Amazon

Former Top Gear hosts James May, Richard Hammond, and Jeremy Clarkson have signed a new deal to produce an automotive program for the Amazon Prime video service which also brings former Top Gear producer Andy Willman into the fold.

Amazon has not revealed the formal name of the program, or if it will even retain the familiar and popular format that originally made Top Gear into a media success, but the firm did reveal that it plans to make the show available to subscribers sometime next year. A separate report released by Reuters appears to shed some light on this deal revealing that the three presenters and Willman have signed up to do three seasons for Amazon with more being added depending on the success of the show with viewers.

The rumors of such a deal began taking shape after Clarkson’s termination from the BBC in March for an altercation with a producer while filming an episode of Top Gear. At the same time, many outlets predicted that it would take sometime before the 55 year old Clarkson would get back on his feet and host another car program. Speaking of Clarkson, he tweeted a compelling photo on May 5th that appeared to confirm that he was indeed working on another project.

The twist here is that the trio will be working for Amazon since it was long speculated that Netflix (a prime contender for a possible program due to its growth in popularity) was seen as the eventual landing point of the show with several early rumors appearing to suggest that such a deal was indeed feasible. Either way, it will be interesting to see how the new program will compete against the BBC’s post Clarkson reboot of Top Gear which will feature Chris Evans as lead presenter.

Morgan Celebrates 65 Years Of Plus 4 Production, Unveils Cosworth Tuned AR P4

  For over 60 years, the Morgan Plus 4 has been in production and during its long production run, has managed to deliver smiles to eager Morgan enthusiasts while also delivering equally high fuel mileage thanks to its spirited four cylinder engine. Looking at the roadster today, it has not changed much during its production run which shows how timeless the design has truly become. To help celebrate this impressive production milestone, Morgan has taken the veil off of the newest Plus 4 variant, the limited edition AR P4 roadster.

  Limited to a mere 50 examples, the AR P4 is more than just a mere trim and badge package and instead isMorgan AR P4 4 a formidable performance package. Each of the 50 cars is tuned by AP Motorsport with the bulk of the changes taking place under the hood, where Cosworth engineers have tweaked the Plus 4’s 2.0 liter four cylinder which now produces 225 horsepower. This is a hefty increase over the standard car’s 154 horsepower and is also a subtle nod to Morgan’s racing heritage. Along with the improved muscle, AP Motorsport also tweaked other aspects of the Plus 4 adding revised brakes, adjustable shocks, and completely replacing the rear suspension’s old school leaf spring setup with an all new five-link setup that aims to improve ride quality and high speed handling behavior.

  The exterior styling of the AR P4 it still evokes a strong sense of retro themed nostalgia that has become a hallmark trait of Morgan offerings. However in a nod to modern technology as well as safety, AP Motorsport replaces the old headlights with brighter and more efficient LED units. They are still housed in the same circular housings as before which means that the overall styling effect of the front fascia is still intact.

The interior of the AR P4 also retains the basic design language seen in the standard Plus 4, but unlike the standard car, some of the aluminum is left exposed and the Morgan Ar P4 3gauges are updated with all new white-face gauges. In addition, there is also additional sound deadening material in the hood and passenger compartment which should help make weekend cruises more enjoyable than before especially seaside drives and twisty mountain road excursions. 

Buyers will have to act quickly to secure their slice of the 50 car production order, with AR P4 prices starting at 54,995 ($85,200). This is quite the bargain, though it is unknown if any of the 50 will be making there way to the U.S. or if the model will even be offered here at all since the standard car is not sold in the U.S. due to it not meeting our country’s safety and emissions guidelines.

Audi Planning To Bring Back RS4 Sedan For U.S. Market

In a bid to boost its appeal for the highest performing member of the A4 family, Audi has revealed that it plans to bring the RS4 variant back to the U.S. where it will compete with the BMW M3 as well as the Mercedes C-Class AMG when the next generation A4 is eventually unveiled according to a statement released by the publication Autocar.

At the moment, the RS4 is only available in the European market as an Avant (Audi lingo for wagon), and has not been seen on U.S. shores since the B7 era model, which was produced from 2007 to 2008. Traditionally station wagons have not sold well in this country which is why the current RS4 has not made the trip across the pond, but that will change when the next generation Audi A4 is unveiled. The return of this model is part of the German firm’s commitment to bolstering the growth of the RS brand which means bringing more sedans to the U.S. and Chinese markets to take advantage of strong sedan sales in both countries.

The European market will still have exclusive access to an Avant variant when all is said and done, with the next generation RS4 arriving there sometime next year. However, U.S. buyers will have to wait a bit longer for their chance to nab an RS4 sedan with the launch possibly taking place sometime in 2017. When it does formally arrive in the U.S. power is expected to come from a highly modified version of the company’s familiar 3.0 liter supercharged V6 which is expected to make about 500 horsepower and will come equipped with an electric compressor. This figure would surpass the 425 horsepower offered by the M3 and be within a hair of the projected 510 horsepower boasted by the recently unveiled Alfa Romeo Giula.

 

 

Infiniti Previews Production Bound Q30 Crossover Ahead Of Frankfurt

With the 2015 Frankfurt Motor Show fast approaching, Infiniti has taken the camouflage off of its upcoming Q30 hatchback, and has released a lone teaser image that provides a compelling glimpse at the five door, while also revealing what it is in store for many of its rivals when it eventually makes its way onto dealer lots.

The exterior styling thankfully retains much of the basic styling theme that was first seen on the Q30 concept, and does an excellent job of retaining much of what many fans loved about it. As before, the front fascia features Infiniti’s familiar rounded rectangular front grille as well as a chrome strip that runs along the leading edge of the hood. The headlights also retain their aggressive yet squinty appearance, and should do an excellent job of lighting up the night during spirited driving. The only noticeable change that we noticed is a slight adjustment to the lower air dam which has been raised higher than the concept. This is perhaps in a nod to not only production feasibility, but also mechanical ergonomics as well.

Unfortunately Infiniti only released a front three quarter angle view of the hatchback, and as a result it is currently unknown if the flanks and rear fascia of the Q30 retain the concept’s playful yet futuristic theme. However, it is important to note the C-Pillar which does appear similar to what was seen on the concept, and could also hint that the rest of the Q30 follows the same theme as the front end.

The changes however are much more dramatic when the Q30 is viewed alongside the its show car counterpart the QX30 CUV. This is especially apparent in the overall design where the QX30’s swoopy and curvaceous lines have been softened somewhat to achieve a more mainstream appearance. The front air intakes are also smaller than the concept’s, and are actually our favorite styling cue thanks to their slick design which makes them look less cartoonish than before.

After it makes its debut in Frankfurt, production of the Q30 is expected to kickoff by the end of the year in Sunderland England, with the first units expected to arrive early next year. In the meantime we look forward to the 2015 Frankfurt Motor Show where we can see the Q30 from all angles.

Chevrolet Unveils Face-Lifted 2016 Silverado

With the current generation Silverado only on the market for a mere two years since its radical overhaul, Chevrolet has formally unveiled the first major update for its full size pickup truck the 2016 Silverado.

When it eventually arrives in Chevrolet showrooms this fall, the front fascia will feature a much more menacing look than before which is thanks in part to a new hood design, as well as updated headlights with LED accenting. It is this particular change that may prove controversial with Chevrolet buyers especially those that may think that the accents clash with the revamped front grille. Otherwise, the truck will retain much of its basic shape, and more importantly its all steel construction which has recently become a key selling point for the truck when compared to its arch rival the aluminium bodied Ford F-150.

The interior of the 2016 Silverado is also expected to largely retain much of its basic design, but Chevrolet engineers have equipped it with Android Auto and Apple CarPlay capabilities for further infotainment options. Chevrolet has also confirmed that the truck will feature “additional safety technologies” for 2016, but it is keeping key details about the technologies under wraps until the truck is closer to its official market launch. We suspect that some details will eventually trickle out regardless, possibly when the truck is formally debuted at a future auto show.

Performance hardware for the 2016 SIlverado will arrive largely unchanged (following the theme set in place by the tweaked interior and exterior) but a key change that buyers may notice is that the company is now expanding the availability of its all new eight speed automatic transmission giving buyers of the mid range 5.3 liter V8 the chance to add it to their rigs. Prior to this move, the eight speed was only available on models equipped with the 6.2 liter V8.

“The redesigned 2016 Silverado will build on Chevy Truck’s legacy of dependability. It will feature a more muscular appearance, and offer new customer-focused technologies.” stated Sandor Piszar marketing director for Chevy Trucks.

This redesign comes in the midst of the current generation recording a 14.6 percent uptick in sales this year, and it is believed that this abrupt refresh is a direct response to the recently introduced Ford F-150 pickup truck. Sales of the F-150 have dipped 2.4 percent this year (mainly due to concerns regarding its aluminium body panels) but this small slide in sales has not affected its place as the best selling vehicle in its segment.

It is currently unknown if its corporate cousin the GMC Sierra will benefit from a similar update or not in the future, but we here at Autoinfoquest  strongly suspect that it will eventually follow the Silverado’s path and offer some form of refresh in the near future to help it remain relevant against rivals.

Red Bull, Aston Martin Teaming Up For New Hyper Car Entry???

With the recent success of its racing programs (especially F1 racing) Red Bull has proven to be a force to be reckoned with both on and off the track. However, new rumors appear to suggest that the energy drink giant is preparing to collaborate with Aston Martin on a new hyper car entry that would be on par with the recently unveiled McLaren P1 GTR as well as the Ferarri FXX K with its arrival coming as early as 2018.

According to the folks at Autocar, Adrian Newey the chief technical officer for Red Bull’s F1 racing team is currently developing a new hyper car project with input from Aston Martin’s engineering team. The purported offering is allegedly deep in the initial development stages, with the final exterior styling already being discussed by both parties, a move that could be an early signal of just how serious the project is. While Newey is an employee of Red Bull Racing, the majority of the project  will be worked on by Red Bull Technologies a separate entity of the Red Bull empire that is usually not directly affiliated with the company’s F1 program. Despite this though, the rumored collaboration could be a sign that the two sides are tentatively close towards reaching a formal racing contract which would be beneficial for both sides.

As for the hyper car entry itself, few details are known at this point, but the upcoming offering would possibly borrow electronics and engine technology from Mercedes-Benze’s AMG division which would represent a small part of the broader partnership between the German firm and Aston Martin. While it is strongly possible that the offering could be a track oriented weapon like the Vulcan, other reports suggest that Newey is leaning towards making the car a road legal offering for well heeled buyers which would be an indirect tribute to the iconic McLaren F1. A compelling clue that appears to suggest that something is indeed in the works, is a peculiar statement from Red Bull Racing chief Christian Horner ” It’s something that Adrian is keen to do as a legacy project.” “At the moment our focus is being an Formula 1 constructor, but as we see more technology cross over with the road car market, it’s something that will organically grow.”

If the project does indeed move to the point where initial prototypes are constructed, expect the car to share many of its components and basic platform architecture with the recently unveiled Aston Martin Vulcan. However, both Aston and Red Bull are supposedly keen on keeping the two distinctly desperate from one another which would help keep them from cannibalizing sales while also providing buyers with something distinct that is visually appealing .

Google Expands Self-Driving Technology Testing To Austin Texas

With Google’s ever growing fleet of self driving vehicles logging plenty of testing miles in California, the company has announced that it will be venturing into the new ground with new testing that is set to take place in Austin Texas.

The tech giant has been testing autonomous vehicles since 2009, but prior to its announcement yesterday, the bulk of the company’s testing had taken place primarily near its corporate headquarters in Mountain View California. The switch to Austin would allow the company to test its self-driving technology in a new environment while also allowing the system to tackle new challenges that would have otherwise been unavailable in California.

“It’s important for us to get experience testing our software in different driving environments, traffic patterns, and road conditions–so we’re ready to take on Austin’s pedicabs, pickup trucks, and everything in between” stated Google in an accompanying release.

The company also revealed how it plans to take on this new locale by revealing that it will be sending one of its trademark Lexus SUV test vehicles to Austin where it should prove to be a suitable choice for Austin’s traffic and road conditions. In addition to the fore-mentioned Lexus, Google does have a self engineered car of its own that it has been testing. But unlike the Lexus, the bubble shaped two door has been limited to runs primarily in Silicon Valley due to its fragile nature as well as its status as a prototype.

Currently, Google does not have any immediate plans to begin producing autonomous vehicles for the mass market, but look for the first batch of Google self-driving vehicles to be ready in the not too distant future, possibly arriving as a 2020 launch.

Fiat Unveils Updated 2016 500 Hatchback

Fiat has taken the cover off of the 2016 Fiat 500 hatchback at a special event held in Turin Italy, the brand’s hometown, showcasing the first major update that the car has received since it first arrived over eight years ago.

While its far from an all-new effort, the updates are the first major tweaks that have been made to the 500 since its debut back in 2007 and represent the brand’s commitment to keeping the hatchback relevant against the updated MINI Cooper as well as the Ford Fiesta. The front fascia for example retains the basic cute-retro theme that defined its predecessor, but a 150703_FIAT_Nuova-500_07new front bumper and a larger air dam help the 500 look fresh while thin strips of chrome trim help add a dollop of style to the overall package. The front fascia also features new oval shaped LED daytime running lights, slightly tweaked headlights, and revamped tail lights that now incorporate body color accents. Buyers can also choose new paint colors and alloy wheel designs that allow the 500 to feature even more customization options than ever before.

The interior however has greatly benefited from the 2016 updates and represents a key part of the car’s evolution. Like the exterior, the interior keeps much of the basic design theme intact, but top of the line Lounge models can finally be equipped with Chrysler’s Uconnect Infotainment system which features a five inch touchscreen, and allows the tiny Fiat to finally have a system that is on par with MINI’s all new MINI Connected system. Other revisions include redesigned seats that are more ergonomically friendly than before, a new three spoke steering wheel, and additional sound deadening material to reduce road noise.

Performance for the 2016 500 is expected to remain unchanged, and while the company has not formally released details for U.S. bound models. European buyers will still have access to the current engine lineup which includes a 69 horse power 1.2 liter four cylinder engine, a 0.9 liter TwinAir two cylinder, or the 95 horsepower 1.3 liter Multijet II turbodiesel. This leads us to think that the existing 101 horsepower 1.4 liter Multiair four 150703_FIAT_Nuova-500_04cylinder will remain the sole engine of choice for buyers here in the U.S. due to the money saved by using a carryover engine versus an all new one, as well as its commendable fuel economy figures. a six speed manual transmission will be standard equipment, but buyers can also choose to outfit select trims with a semi-automatic gearbox.

 

Look for the 2016 Fiat 500 to make its official debut at the 2015 Frankfurt Motor Show in September, with the first units arriving on dealer lots shortly afterward. Formal pricing information should be unveiled by then, and expect the updates to also eventually trickle down to the 500C as well as the performance oriented Abarth model, though the Abarth will most likely makes its appearance sometime in fall.