F1 For the Road – The Ferrari F50 »

It’s not often one gets handed the keys to a million dollar car. Well in this case, about 1.6 million, but who’s counting.

Performance Redefined: Nissan GTR »

The Nissan GTR is a bit of an enigma. It’s one of the rare few that satisfies more than one personality traits. It’s nearly untouchable at the Ring, only beat by the million dollar Porsche 918 when counting series production vehicles.

Life Lessons, Courtesy of Mercedes »

Before we start, I need to apologize for being late. Partly due to real life getting in the way, but mostly due to the fact that I struggled to write this.

Canadian JDM Invasion – Honda Integra Type-R »

This week, I had a chance to check out NRGie’s 1996 Honda Integra Type-R. While GTRs have dominated the JDM imports, the ITR is a bit of a hidden gem out of Japan.

The Track Rat: ESS Supercharged BMW M3 »

This week, I had the pleasure of driving Jason’s (CSMRX7) amazing track weapon, the ESS Supercharged BMW E90 M3. I may be an AMG fanboy as of late [...]


December 13th, 2014

Ever wonder what’s involved with creating the maps on your vehicle’s navigation system? You’ve probably seen the Google camera cars roaming around your city, or at the very least seen a picture of one. Navigation systems by companies like HERE map the world using similar technology but instead of taking of just taking pictures they use lasers to scan the 3D environment so you can follow along while utilizing the maps in your own vehicle.

Take a look at the video to watch the system in action:

HERE navigation provides the maps and 3D images used in many OEM navigation systems. In fact 4 out of every 5 vehicles sold in North America and Europe use maps provided by HERE. One thing you may not know is that in addition to providing your vehicle with the maps, they also offer updated maps. As their vehicles regularly scan new roads, all the new information is packaged into updates you can purchase.

HERE is the official supplier of the following brands: Alfa Romero, Becker, Citroën, Chevrolet, Chrysler, Fiat, Garmin, Honda, Hyundai, Infiniti, Jaguar, KIA, Lancia, Land Rover, Mitsubishi, Nissan, Opel, Peugeot, Pioneer, Renault, Toyota, Vauxhall, VDO Dayton, Volkswagen and Volvo. Check out their website to see if they have an update for your vehicle!


November 25th, 2014

Mazda-Miata-mx-5-racecar-LA-2014-22

While Mazda has already unveiled the new ND MX-5 Miata back in September, it is making it’s first official International Auto Show appearance here in Los Angeles. There still isn’t a whole lot of information coming from Mazda, all we know is that the ND Miata is quite a bit shorter than the previous generation (about 100mm) and has a shorter wheelbase, although just a fraction of the overall shortened length (15mm). Weight is still not known but Mazda claims it has shed at least 200 pounds distributed with an even 50:50 ratio. We’ve seen the car a few times now so hopefully the next show we see it, Mazda will reveal the full specifications.

They did bring another variant here to LA which we’ve shot some pictures of. In fact it was at SEMA a couple weeks ago but we somehow missed it when we went through their booth. I’m still trying to figure out how we missed it since they only had a couple cars, but perhaps we were distracted by the model standing next to it? Anyways, we’ve included a bunch of pictures of the Mazda MX-5 Miata Cup car this time so check it out after the break.

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November 25th, 2014

Audi-H-Tron-LA-2014-2

It seems like more and more automakers are jumping into the whole fuel cell vehicle game, or at least they’re jumping on the “let’s build a proof of concept” bandwagon anyway. Toyota’s FCV-R concept has moved closer to production as the automaker has now given it an actual name calling it the Mirai Fuel Cell vehicle. Audi is the latest one to introduce a hydrogen fuel cell vehicle, however they are pairing it up with an electric drivetrain to form a plug-in hydrogen hybrid system. With a pair of electric motors delivering 228 horsepower and 400 lb-ft to all four wheels, giving the A7 H-Tron the Quattro all-wheel-drive moniker, a rarity for fuel cell vehicles. The H-tron can temporarily boost the voltage to the electrical motors bumping out power delivery to 305 horsepower.

“The A7 Sportback h-tron quattro is a genuine Audi – at once sporty and efficient. Conceived as an e-quattro, its two electric motors drive all four wheels,” explained Prof. Dr. Ulrich Hackenberg, Member of the Board of Management for Technical Development at Audi. “The h-tron concept car shows that we have mastered fuel cell technology. We are in a position to launch the production process as soon as the market and infrastructure are ready.”

Utilizing four carbon fiber reinforced polymer encased aluminum cylindrical tanks to store 5KG of compressed hydrogen gas (H2) at over 10,000 PSI, the H-tron has a range of over 500 kilometers (about 310 miles) accelerating from 0-100 km/h in 7.9 seconds up to a top speed of 180 km/h. Being a hydrogen fuel cell vehicle, the H-tron does all this while emitting absolutely no emissions. The only byproduct of the fuel cell is water. In fact if you notice in our picture gallery, the H-tron doesn’t even have any exhaust tips out back. If you run out of H2, the battery can provide up to 50 km/h of all-electric range. One of the biggest drawbacks of electric vehicles is the recharging time, but on the H-tron the battery reaches full charge from 2 hours on a commercial 360V electrical circuit up to 4 hours on a residential 240V system. Filling the H2 tanks takes about 3 minutes.

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November 25th, 2014

Porsche-GTS-LA-2014-11

While the GT and GT-RS badges represent Porsche’s pure motorsport models, the GTS brings a compromise between daily driveability, affordability and pure racing experience. Here in Los Angeles for the 2014 LA Auto Show, Porsche unveiled the all-new Carrera GTS and Cayenne GTS models, adding to the Boxster and Cayman in the GTS line-up.

The 911 GTS includes the Sport Chrono and PASM options as standard, along with the wider Carrera 4 body regardless of whether you choose RWD or AWD. It makes 430hp, a 30hp increase over the regular Carrera S, which sends the coupe from 0-60 in 4.0s. If open tops are more your style then you’re in luck – both drivetrains are available as a cabrio model. Along side the 911 was the Cayenne GTS with its 440 naturally aspirated horsepower and sporty air suspension. The ride height has been dropped by 20mm and the exterior boasts fancy new bits all around.

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November 24th, 2014

Toyota-Mirai-LA-2014-11

Hydrogen powered cars were huge in Los Angeles this year and, of the half dozen variants we saw, the Toyota Mirai concept was the closest to hitting North American streets. And by “close” we mean, “they had a driveable model at the show and it’s definitely being released”. We talked about the Toyota FRV in two previous articles and this is the production model. Toyota has committed to building 48 H2 filling stations in California and at least 12 in North East USA, and will be offering free Hydrogen for all Mirai customers. That should help offset the $57,500 they want for what is essentially a beta test. Nobody really likes the looks, but drawing attention to the fact you’re driving a Hydrogen powered vehicle is probably a good thing.

We were caught off guard with how hard Hydrogen was being pushed at the show. It still feels like fully electric cars are on the outside looking in, so to find out that a Hydrogen car is making it into production and 60 filling stations are being built in America was a shock. That said, it’s a pleasant shock. The more options we have for the future, the sooner we’ll get there.

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November 24th, 2014

Kia-Sorento-LA-2014-7

There’s a significant discussion going on in our forums about whether Acura is a luxury brand. Well let me drop this bomb. If Acura is a luxury brand, then so is Kia. The Sorento, Kia’s CUV, was recently refreshed for model year 2016 and revealed in Paris, but we were short-staffed and it got cut from our coverage. With no such issues at the 2014 LA Auto Show we were ready to tackle the Sorento’s North American debut, and boy am I glad we did.

For only being a facelift, the Sorento underwent quite a few significant changes. So let’s start from the bottom. The wheelbase has been extended 3.1 inches and overall track widened 0.2 inches to increase cabin space without enlarging the vehicle. The chassis has been redesigned and rebuilt to increase torsional rigidity by 14 percent. The previous 2.4L I4 and 3.3L V6 engines have been improved to 185 and 290 horsepower respectively, and a new 240 horsepower 2.4L turbo I4 has been added to the mix. All three engines send power through Kia’s 6-speed auto down to all 4 wheels through an AWD system which features 4WD locking and torque vectoring.

On the outside the refresh is highlighted by an all-new front end featuring narrower headlights as well as bigger air dams and fog light pockets. LED fog lights and rear taillights are now optional and look great. New wheel options range from 17-19″ based on trim. The longer wheelbase provides a more aggressive stance and the entire package looks sportier than the outgoing model.

The interior is where the biggest improvements are seen. There are soft touch materials throughout, optional heated and ventilated front seats, heated rear seats, 14-way power driver and 8-way power passenger seats, driver’s seat thigh extension, a 4-way headrest with one-button adjustment, dual-zone HVAC and a panoramic sunroof. Premium Nappa leather is available on all seating surfaces and the optional stereo is a 630 watt, 12-speaker Infinity system. A lot of these options aren’t available on German cars but, here you are, getting them on a Kia. Not even the flagship, but their CUV.

It’s no secret that the Koreans are building cars head and shoulders above their products from as recently as 10 years ago. It wasn’t long ago that people were complaining of Kia and Hyundai copying existing luxury brands. These days I wish Honda and Nissan would take a page from the Koreans because they’re doing a lot of things right.

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November 24th, 2014

Android-Auto-LA-2014-1

First of all, I just wanted to say that Android Auto and CarPlay are both going to be great departures from the antiquated systems from automakers which are obsolete the day the vehicle rolls off the production line. Both third party systems get the benefit of being perpetually updated with the latest features, and as owners upgrade their phones the processing power of their vehicle infotainment systems also gets a boost. This is because on both Android Auto and CarPlay, the phone does all of the processing. The vehicle’s infotainment system simply hands off control to Android Auto, or CarPlay depending on what phone is connected to the cable.

While this flexibility is great, it can sometimes result in a less than ideal user experience. For example, in the Hyundai Sonata demo vehicle, if you are in navigation mode and now want to listen to the radio, the system has to exit back out to the Hyundai system where you can choose the station you want to listen to and then jump back into Android Auto to return to your navigation. A more elegant system would be to have both systems running simultaneously without the need to switch between the two interfaces. For users that will stay inside of Android Auto however, the strict design guidelines do provide a consistent user interface throughout all of the apps. It looks like Google is taking a page out of Apple’s playbook here with a more “closed” system, at least on the design restrictions.

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November 21st, 2014

VW-Vision-GT-Concept-LA-2014-12

Volkswagen revealed a model of its Gran Turismo Vision GT here at the 2014 LA Auto Show. It packs a 3.0L twin-turbo VR6 engine, making 503HP and 491 lb-ft of torque. Not that it matters because the car only really exists in a video game. That said, it looks cool as hell, so check out the pictures after the break.

The VW Vision GT Concept joins Aston Martin, Nissan, Chevrolet, and Mercedes-AMG in the digital Gran Turismo world.

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November 21st, 2014

Fiat-500X-LA-2014-5

Compact Crossovers, AKA lifted hatchbacks, are the new fad this year with car manufacturers. Mercedes-Benz took the A class, lifted it up a few inches, and called it the GLA. Honda raised a Fit and called it the HR-V. Fiat, which has previously unveiled the 500X in Paris, is showing SUV crazy North Americans it’s version of the compact crossover here at the LA Auto Show.

Pumping out 160hp, the base 500X is powered by a 1.4L four cylinder and coupled to a six speed manual. The higher end models come equipped with a 2.4L four cylinder pushing out 180hp, which should be make the 500X fairly peppy with it’s hatchback dimensions. All wheel drive is only available with this drivetrain if you want some SUV like capabilities.

Fiat is expecting the 500X to be their halo car, and you know what? I think it’ll work. North Americans despise hatchbacks, and love SUVs, and the compact crossover sleight of hand trick that car manufactures have pulled has so far proven to be a success in this segment. The 500X does even more than that, it takes a feminine looking hatchback, and adds a bit of masculinity to the mix. The result is a car that male drivers can cruise around in without their sexual preference being questioned. Take a look for yourself and see what you think of the 500X after the jump.

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November 21st, 2014

Mini-5-door-LA-2014-2

Yawn.
Shelton wrote about the Mini 5-door hardtop in Paris. Nothing has changed.

Enjoy the gallery of live shots here in LA.

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