30th September 2014

Decadence, Aston Martin–Style: Official Photos of Production Lagonda Supersedan Released, Including Interior

2016 Aston Martin Lagonda
Aston Martin has produced the first suite of images of its gorgeous Lagonda hyperluxury sedan in production form. This follows the release of photos of a prototype test vehicle in Oman a couple of weeks ago, which followed an embarrassing photo drop of the same car by Oman Air shortly after it arrived in the Middle Eastern country. Turns out the Lagonda is just as beautiful sitting in front of a glass wall (and next to its most recent predecessor) as it is bombing through the Omani desert.

Significantly, these photos finally show most of the Lagonda’s decadent interior, which appears to borrow heavily from the Rapide, for better or worse. Like the Rapide S, a large transmission tunnel separates the left- and right-side seats, which all have fixed headrests. The dashboard looks the same, dull steering wheel, flip-up navigation screen, and all. An elaborate diamond quilting pattern covers all four seats, and we wouldn’t doubt it if the leather was coated with pure gold. It sure looks that way.

While Aston is still officially mum on the details of the car’s underpinnings and powertrain (both of which we expect to be closely related to the Rapide S), we were able to glean a few key details of the Lagonda from a spokesman, specifically that its crisply tailored body is made completely from carbon fiber, and that weight stays “neutral over the Rapide S.”



Oh yeah, and that it has seen speeds of more than 175 mph during testing. First deliveries to its lucky customers will start in the first quarter of 2015; unfortunately for us and most of the rest of the world, all of the planned 150-to-200-unit production run are bound for the Middle East. Lucky sheikhs.

2016 Aston Martin Lagonda

2014 Paris auto show full coverage

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30th September 2014

Cadillac planning its own engines, halo cars

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Cadillac ATS Coupe

Cadillac is in the midst of some big changes. It's got a new chief executive. It's taking some distance from parent company General Motors and moving to a new headquarters in New York. And it's instituting a new naming scheme that will allow not only for a more clear progression in its lineup, but also for more models. But that's not the end of the story. Not by a long shot.

Speaking with Automobile magazine, Cadillac's new president Johan de Nysschen revealed his intention to develop several new models and powertrains. For starters, he does not want Cadillac to continue borrowing engines from the GM parts bin, but intends to develop a new range of engines specifically for the luxury automaker. The program will likely start with smaller-capacity engines but eventually lead to new V8s as well, taking the place of the long-serving Northstar engine that finally ended its lifespan a few years ago after some two decades of production. Along with other technologies, de Nysschen envisions possibly sharing these powertrains with other GM divisions, but developing them first and foremost for Cadillac.

The bigger question, however, is where those engines would go, and de Nysschen had some thoughts to share on that front as well. For starters, the former Infiniti and Audi exec sees room for an even bigger sedan above the upcoming new CT6 that will cap the current range. Maybe even two of them. But that's not all. Johan wants to see Cadillac get (back) into the sports car game with a new halo model or two - something it hasn't really done since the Corvette-based XLR roadster. A pair of new crossovers are also said to be in the works, flanking the SRX on both sides with smaller and larger models.

All of these plans de Nysschen hopes to get up and running within the next ten to fifteen years before he needs to retire. They're ambitious plans, to be certain, and paint a picture of a resurgent Cadillac that aims to once again become the world standard.

Cadillac planning its own engines, halo cars originally appeared on Autoblog on Tue, 30 Sep 2014 18:00:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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30th September 2014

Chevrolet Silverado Toughnology Concept Touts Steel’s Supremacy, Somewhat Wrongly

 2015 Chevy Silverado Toughnology concept

Ford’s dramatic switch to an aluminum pickup body for the 2015 F-150 has dramatically outshone the new-for-2014 Chevrolet Silverado and GMC Sierra, and the Ford isn’t even on sale yet. Well, hold your horses, Ford fans, because Chevy’s going to tell you why steel is still king.

What you’re looking at is a stock 2015 Silverado 1500 LTZ with a bill of materials painted on its body. The Silverado Toughnology concept, unveiled at the Texas State Fair alongside the Colorado Sport concept, is GM’s way to assert that high-strength steel is worth its added weight and lower cost over aluminum. Like all Silverados, two-thirds of the concept’s cab is made from high-strength and ultra-high-strength steel, particularly in the pillars, roof rail, and rocker panels, while the bed uses roll-formed regular steel, a process that’s lighter than stamped steel and offers higher durability, according to GM. The hood, painted black to stand out from the truck’s “unpainted” gray shade, is the only aluminum body part onboard, although the steel tailgate is also painted black.

It gets really confusing, however, when GM mentions the “steel molecule graphics” on the doors, mostly because steel is an alloy, not a molecule, and the line drawing (creatively dotted with Wi-Fi and OnStar logos to demonstrate the tech inside) doesn’t appear to resemble a known compound. Plus, the elements shown (oxygen, sulfur, and phosphorus) are regarded by the steel industry as impurities and exist in the finished product only in very minute quantities. But hey, high-strength steel rules!

 2015 Chevy Silverado Toughnology concept

The SEMA crowd won’t care about a chemistry lesson, however, and will instead form bonds with the truck’s factory accessories. Among the most noticeable are the five-spoke black and silver 22-inch wheels, the larger brakes with red calipers, and the set of off-road tires. The tinted headlamp covers, black fender flares, tubular side rails, soft tonneau cover, and carpeted bedliner are also available from Chevy’s parts catalog. Under the aluminum hood is a revised air intake for the 355-hp 5.3-liter V-8. No power increase was given.



Here’s where we mention that, despite the current Silverado 1500′s mix of high-strength steel and aluminum, our scales show that it weighs roughly the same as previous versions, or about 5600 pounds for a 5.3-liter 4×4 Crew Cab. Still, in a recent comparison test, it was lighter that the (previous-gen) Ford and (current) Ram competitors by a few hundred pounds. The 2015 F-150 may put the Chevy’s number to shame, but we won’t know for sure until we schedule another pickup battle royale.

2014 Chevrolet Silverado LT Z71 Crew Cab

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30th September 2014

Autoblog Podcast #399

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Autoblog Podcast logo

Episode #398 of the Autoblog Podcast is here, and this week, Dan Roth, Brandon Turkus, and Rob Sass of Hagerty Classic Cars Magazine talk about Cadillac's move to Manhattan and new naming convention, preview the Paris Motor Show, and finish up with the 3 Guys, 3 Grand Classic Car challenge. Also included is an interview with Tom Tjaarda, prolific designer of vehicles including the DeTomaso Pantera. We start with what's in the garage and finish up with some of your questions, and for those of you who hung with us live on our UStream channel, thanks for taking the time. Check out the rundown below with times for topics, and you can follow along down below with our Q&A. Thanks for listening!

Autoblog Podcast #399:



Topics:
In The Autoblog Garage:
2015 BMW 428i Gran Coupe
2014 Subaru XV Crosstrek Hybrid
Jensen Interceptor

Hosts: Dan Roth, Michael Harley, Brandon Turkus
Runtime: 01:47:56

Rundown:
  • Intro and Garage - 00:00
  • Cadillac Move - 24:02
  • Paris Motor Show - 39:22
  • Tom Tjaarda - 52:12
  • Hagerty $3000 Classics - 01:15:43
  • Q&A - 01:27:45

Get the podcast:
[UStream] Listen live on Mondays at 10 PM Eastern at UStream
[iTunes] Subscribe to the Autoblog Podcast in iTunes
[RSS] Add the Autoblog Podcast feed to your RSS aggregator
[MP3] Download the MP3 directly

Feedback:
Email: Podcast at Autoblog dot com

Review the show in iTunes

Continue reading Autoblog Podcast #399

Autoblog Podcast #399 originally appeared on Autoblog on Tue, 30 Sep 2014 17:10:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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30th September 2014

2015 GMC Yukon XL Denali Long-Term Update: 16,000 Stress-Reducing Miles and Counting

2015 GMC Yukon XL Denali 4WD
WHAT WE LIKE:
Big Den or The Bus, nicknames our long-term testers have bestowed on the Yukon XL Denali, is every family’s best friend for weekend journeys. Never having to pack tight, leave a kidlet behind, or hang bikes out the back are stress relievers. Not to mention that this cruiser is smoother than a sailplane on the open road. The 17-mpg overall fuel economy is impressive, especially considering the 1100-mile trip pulling a trailered 1979 Alfa Romeo that’s included in this average. Chalk up the commendable efficiency to the V-8 engine’s ability to run contentedly on four cylinders during light-load conditions. We topped 20 mpg on some long interstate stretches. Also, breezes through the ventilated front seat cushions were deeply appreciated during a 104-degree day in Texas. READ MORE ››

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30th September 2014

Have a Metric Ton of Cash? You Might Want This Bitchin’ Armored Mercedes-Benz Sprinter

Armored Mercedes-Benz Sprinter by IMKAS

Listen up, barons of business, arms smugglers, and anyone who actually found a proverbial pot of gold at the end of the rainbow: Inkas Armored Vehicle Manufacturing in Toronto, Canada, has created a new armored Mercedes-Benz Sprinter that makes one of our favorite guilty pleasures even awesomer.

Using the Sprinter’s bone-stock dualie frame, the Inkas Sprinter can carry an additional 1200 pounds of payload—that’s a lot of blood diamonds—thanks to its custom-built, composite body shell that uses lightweight armoring materials. The standard sliding door was replaced by a side-hinged piece, which Inkas says is better for security, offers improved ballistic protection, and is easier to operate. Both sides of the van even come with a little square window that reminds us of a bubble window on a ’70s-vintage Dodge Tradesman.

READ MORE: New Armored Mercedes-Benz S600 Guard Invites All Your M60 Rounds

The interior looks like the inside of bank vault, fittingly enough, and is separated into three compartments. The driver and a passenger sit up front, a guard occupies the middle compartment, and the load of precious cargo goes in the back, with each area separated by a wall and a door. We’re not sure what the thing weighs, but we’re relatively sure that it doesn’t weigh as much as most armored vehicles. Power comes from the Sprinter’s 3.0-liter diesel V-6 mated to a five-speed automatic transmission.



If you are, as were we, mildly disappointed that the Inkas Sprinter doesn’t come with Mad Max–style bumper guards or a turret on top, consider the advantage of carrying a billion dollars in cash (which would be a lot, even in Canadian dollars) around in something that looks like a flower-delivery van rather than a 10-ton Class 6 rolling brick that screams “I’m carrying the Hope Diamond and enough cash to buy a large Mediterranean island!” We’re thinking that stealth trumps ego in such situations, eh?

Armored Mercedes-Benz Sprinter by IMKAS

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30th September 2014

YOU GUYS: Lego Releasing McLaren P1, LaFerrari, and Porsche 918 Next Year!

Ferrari 458 Italia GT2 Gah! Unbridled glee! The days of Ferrari having an exclusive hold on branded Lego cars are officially over. Next year, you’ll be able to buy a minifig-scale McLaren P1, Porsche 918 Spyder, and LaFerrari. (Yes, we know about the Mini and VW stuff, but Maranello has been dominant.) We will take one of each, thank you.

These leaked images come courtesy of YouTube user just2good, so no prices yet, but the kits look small enough that they should come in around 20 bucks. Again, we don’t care. Buying.

McLaren P1

McLaren P1 (75909)

Is that a snowboard acting as the P1’s wing? Yes, yes it is. Also: Why didn’t I think of making brick pylons?

LaFerrari

LaFerrari (75899)

Some authentic Italian stubble on the LaFerrari test driver.

READ MORE: Kids challenge dad to scratch-build a Lego Morgan, dad delivers

Porsche 918 Spyder

Porsche 918 Spyder (75910)

All three cars have production-correct wheel designs, the 918’s being the coolest. And each car comes with a wrench, because, uh, why not?

LEGO Pitstop

READ MORE: Lego Ferraris hit Singapore for F1 weekend

There are also a few competition-inspired sets in the 2015 Speed Champions line, too: a sponsor-sticker-tastic 458 Italia GT2 (75908); a pair of 911 GT cars with podium, mechanics, and LEGO four-way (75912); a full pit-stop setup for the McLaren F1 team (75911); and (yet another) Ferrari F1 transporter (75913). I’m guessing the brick separators included in the F1 sets are in place of wheel guns.

LEGO Starting LineWe’ll forgive the similar look of the hypercars because there’s only so much you can do at minifig scale, and come on, minifig-scale hypercars! It’s nice to see few—if any—unique parts. The stickers differentiate them pretty well.



LEGO Transport Truck

Pretty sure I’m more geeked about these sets than I was when the actual cars were unveiled. Not sure what that says about me, but at least I can and will own all three of these.

READ MORE: Lego Batman Tumbler comes with a Heath Ledger minifig

This story originally appeared on roadandtrack.com

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30th September 2014

Subprime Blues: How Auto Lenders Can Track and Disable Your Vehicle

A woman walks past a firm offering cash

We’re not the kind to judge people by their credit scores—life happens, after all—but the auto-lending industry isn’t so understanding, particularly now that they can monitor a driver’s every move and punish late payments by killing a car’s engine.

Until we read a recent report on subprime car loans in the New York Times, we thought lenders already offered the worst financial traps known to mankind, such as double-digit interest rates and up to seven-year terms. Lenders now frequently combine those provisions with GPS tracking devices that can remotely disable a vehicle’s ignition at any time. According to the Times, two million people—many of whom wouldn’t qualify for a traditional car loan and are desperate to drive—have essentially agreed for their lenders to treat them as caged animals.

The devices in question are wired into the ignition relay and incorporate a GPS antenna snaked along the door pillar that transmits location and usage data via a cellular modem. While the devices vary, they’re built to be intrusive and remind drivers that the bank is always watching. They beep intermittently when a payment is near, beep like mad when payment comes due, and then go ape on the driver when it’s late. At that point, the lender, sitting behind a computer or watching a smartphone, can trigger the device to cut out the ignition without warning or notice.

For lenders, it’s an immediate, hassle-free way to ostensibly reduce risk from wayward borrowers. Subprime and so-called deep subprime buyers, defined by Experian as those with a credit score under 620, made up about one in five car loans through the second quarter of this year. This group has been growing steadily ever since the economy regained strength after the subprime mortgage crisis that helped trigger the 2009 recession; essentially, says the Times, such loans are in high demand by their backers, as they offer high yields in a time of relatively low interest rates.

In the first two quarters of 2014, lenders increased subprime and deep-subprime loans by 5.3 percent and 12.7 percent over last year, according to Experian. While 30-day delinquency rates are flat, Experian states that car repossessions are up 70 percent. The big uptick doesn’t seem to faze lenders armed with immobilizing devices, as they no longer need a traditional repo man to recover a car.

Lender-Car-Tracker-GPS

A GPS antenna along the door-pillar trim is connected to the main ignition interlock and lets lenders track or disable the car at any time.

It’s so easy that one credit-union manager said that he “disabled a car while I was shopping at Walmart,” according to the Times. But the practice may not entirely be legal. One woman interviewed said her car shut off while she was driving—which the device makers say isn’t possible—and nearly caused an accident. Other people, such as a woman who, in order to escape an abusive husband, drove outside of the “geofence” set by her lender, see their cars disabled without prior notice, even if state laws mandate lenders to collect on debts only when a specific time has passed, typically 30 days. These are only a handful of stories; likely there are many more people who put up with the devices just so they can drive to work.



As with private license-plate scanning, a sophisticated tracking database that lenders also use to recover vehicles, there doesn’t appear to be specific regulation targeting such invasive technology. All we can say is read the fine print before you sign.

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30th September 2014

You *Really* Don’t Mess with the Johan: Cadillac President Rebukes Critics of NY Move, Renaming Strategy

US-DETROIT-AUTO-SHOW

When we said “you don’t mess with the Johan,” we didn’t think the Cadillac president would paraphrase us in his defense of his decisions to move the brand’s HQ to New York and change most of the model names. But a recent Facebook post by de Nysschen, which was publicized by the Daily Kanban, was capped by the executive stating, “don’t mess with me.”

“To all the indignant souls out there—this has nothing to do with Detroit. And certainly has nothing to do with where I choose to live,” he wrote. “It has everything to do with creating an awesome car company. We must develop corporate processes, policies, mindsets, behaviors, attitudes, which are right-sized for Cadillac and which are immersed in focusing on and responding to what it takes to win in the premium segment.”

He also noted his displeasure with the media for not paying enough attention to the flagship CT6 or Cadillac’s planned model expansion. (We will note that we’ve covered both extensively.) He added that he’d received angry e-mails from GM retirees in which they called his decision to make Cadillac a separate business unit “the dumbest idea since the Cimarron” and that he feels the “wrath of hell” because the move makes it appear as if he doesn’t like Detroit.



He responded by saying that “if we don’t move, nothing will change. Physical relocation forces a change to processes. Now, it’s true, we could achieve that by moving just about anywhere. But if you have to choose a place to set up an iconic global luxury brand, you could indeed do worse than New York.” To forlorn Detroiters, he added, “I love your city, the success of Cadillac will be your success, the majority of our jobs remain in Detroit, and as we grow, these will increase too. But other than that”—and here it comes—”don’t mess with me.”

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30th September 2014

0 to 150 to 0: The Hottest Tuner Cars Tested from Hennessey, Lingenfelter, RENNTech, and More! [C/D Archives]

We Test the World's Hottest Tuner Cars From 0 to 150 to 0

“Last year, observed and times by the Motor Industry Research Association, Reg Parnell demonstrated the ability of the DB4GT to go from 0 to 100 mph and back to 0 again in 24 seconds.” —Car and Driver, June 1961

That sentence, which appeared 37 years ago in our report on the Aston Martin DB4GT, may not have been the first time that anyone ever quoted a 0-to-100-to-0 clocking, but it does establish the era in which this unique performance yardstick became popular. READ MORE ››

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