Category Archives: Uncategorized

Mitsubishi Mirage Skipping 2016 Model Year, But Like a Phoenix, It Will Rise Again

2014 Mitsubishi Mirage ES

Typically, when an automaker announces a new model-year lineup and a certain car is absent, it’s assumed that model is being killed off. Take, for example, Nissan’s recent outline of its 2016 model-year lineup, which included mention that the Xterra SUV won’t continue past 2015. Or when Toyota axed the FJ Cruiser. We could go on, but the point is, usually these new-year no-shows stay forever dead. But not at Mitsubishi, which has excluded the tiny Mirage subcompact from its 2016 plans, but, curiously, isn’t permanently killing the little guy.

So it’s a little strange, but stick with us here. This spring, Mitsubishi will introduce an early 2017 Mirage that will have powertrain and chassis updates. In the meantime, we imagine there are more than enough of the 2015 models sitting around dealer lots to keep Mitsu covered for the intervening months. So, the company saves the time and effort required to federalize and market a (brief) 2016-model-year Mirage, probably without losing any sales.



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Coinciding with the updated, 2017 Mirage hatchback’s arrival is the introduction of a four-door sedan Mirage variant, a model sold elsewhere in the world and sure to fluff sales Stateside. After all, just look at how many Versa sedans Nissan sells. So stay tuned—Mitsubishi’s Lancer Evolution might be dead for the time being, but the Mirage will be taking only a brief dirt nap before rising again.

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Chevrolet’s New Camaro Is More Expensive Than Before—Here’s Why That’s Okay

2016 Chevrolet Camaro SS2016 Chevrolet Camaro SS2016 Chevrolet Camaro SS2016 Chevrolet Camaro SS2016 Chevrolet Camaro SS2016 Chevrolet Camaro SS2016 Chevrolet Camaro SS2016 Chevrolet Camaro SS2016 Chevrolet Camaro SS2016 Chevrolet Camaro SS2016 Chevrolet Camaro SS2016 Chevrolet Camaro SS2016 Chevrolet Camaro SS2016 Chevrolet Camaro SS2016 Chevrolet Camaro SS2016 Chevrolet Camaro SS2016 Chevrolet Camaro SS2016 Chevrolet Camaro SS2016 Chevrolet Camaro SS2016 Chevrolet Camaro SS2016 Chevrolet Camaro SS2016 Chevrolet Camaro SS 6.2-liter V-8 engine2016 Chevrolet Camaro SS 6.2-liter V-8 engine

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2016 Chevrolet Camaro Preliminary Configurator Goes Live

2016 Chevrolet Camaro

Hold your horses, pony-car fans, Chevrolet’s full online configurator for the 2016 Camaro isn’t live—but its more limited-scope, preliminary version is! That means you can go to Chevy’s website and “build” a sixth-generation Camaro coupe or convertible, but your choices are limited to superficial items like paint colors, wheel options, interior treatment, and even some stripe packages. There are glimpses at the car’s trim-level structure, as well as what sort of standard equipment you can expect from each model, but otherwise, this is merely a fun way to start fiddling with the Camaro of your dreams.



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2016 Chevrolet Camaro

Chevrolet’s early configurator tool helpfully outlines the 2016 Camaro’s four trim levels, 1 LT, 2 LT, 1 SS, and 2 SS. We know the SS will be V-8–only, but there’s no mention of how the optional V-6 engine factors into the 1 LT and 2 LT trim levels (i.e., must one step up to the 2 LT to swap the base turbo four for the burlier six?). Otherwise, the $26,695 1 LT seems to be well-equipped with a standard backup camera, 8-way power driver’s seat, 6-way power passenger seat, 18-inch wheels and Chevy’s MyLink infotainment system. The 2LT adds dual-zone climate control, an 8-inch touch screen, leather seat upholstery, and Bose audio. The base SS car comes with cloth seats, but HID headlights and LED running lights, 20-inch wheels, LED taillights, and the 8-inch MyLink screen; the top-level 2 SS incorporates similar gear to the 2 LT. Inside and out, buyers will be able to select from a host of colors, materials, and accessories. Head over to Chevy’s configurator page to check it out, and stay tuned for full pricing in the coming months.

2016 Chevrolet Camaro

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Chevrolet’s New Camaro Is More Expensive Than Before—Here’s Why That’s Okay

2016 Chevrolet Camaro
-Typically, when a new car is priced several thousand dollars above the base price of its predecessor, it is cause for ire. The fanboys will yowl in protest. Armchair car pricers—if there were such a thing—will declare it a bust, robbery on the highest order. Faces will melt like that guy’s in Indiana Jones: Raiders of the Lost Ark. Or will they? Chevrolet has just announced pricing for the sixth-generation Camaro coupe, and while it will cost more than the fifth-gen model, it’s really not cause for alarm.

For starters, at $26,695, the 2016 Camaro coupe is $1995 more expensive than last year’s base Camaro. But that price comparison ignores how last year’s base trim level, the 1LS, is now gone; compare the more similarly equipped 2015 1LT to the 2016 1LT (now the lowest-spec Camaro trim), and the 2016 model is actually $5 cheaper. The new 1LT comes with Chevrolet’s MyLink infotainment setup and a 7-inch touch screen, OnStar 4G LTE with Wi-Fi hotspot, a drive-mode selector, keyless entry with push-button ignition, a backup camera, automatic climate control, a leather-wrapped steering wheel, an eight-way power driver’s seat and a six-way power passenger seat, and LED running lights. Some of those bits were standard on the 2015 1LT, but most of those items are new and mark a fresh high-water mark for the Camaro’s value proposition. Heck, even the automatic-equipped 1LT comes with remote engine starting.

2016 Chevrolet Camaro SS
-Also new to the roster is the 1LT’s standard 275-hp 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine; a heavily upgraded and more powerful version of last year’s base engine, a 3.6-liter V-6, makes 335 horsepower and is optional on 1LT and 2LT trim levels. Pricing for the V-6 option isn’t out yet, but we do know that the SS models, which come with a 455-hp 6.2-liter V-8 shared with the Corvette Stingray, will start at $37,295.



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Of course, we can’t mention the Camaro’s prices without also bringing up that galloping equine in the room, the Ford Mustang. The base, price-leader Mustang V-6 starts at $24,700 (Ford makes its turbo four the optional upgrade, not the V-6); but we’ve derided that car for offering few options and even fewer standard features. The least-expensive turbocharged Mustang EcoBoost? That’ll set you back $26,200, still less than the Camaro, but again with fewer standard features. And now for the V-8s: The Mustang clobbers the Camaro with a $33,200 entrance fee to the V-8 party. Even factoring in equipment differences between the two (the Camaro comes with high-performance hardware such as summer tires, Brembo brakes, and coolers for the differential, oil, and transmission fluid—stuff that Mustang buyers must pony up $2495 for the Performance package to get), that’s a difficult hurdle for Chevy to jump when holding a $5095 price premium.

Price comparisons will only take this long-running battle so far—we’ll need to pit the various Camaros and Mustangs against one another to truly determine a winner. That time should come soon, since dealers are taking orders for the Camaro now, and Chevrolet tells us that the first deliveries will begin in November, with convertibles arriving shortly after that.

2016 Chevrolet Camaro SS

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Pope Francis to Rock a Jeep Wrangler on U.S. Visit

 

ECUADOR-POPE-MASS

On his first-ever U.S. visit—to Washington, D.C., Philadelphia, and New York next month—Pope Francis will wave from a Popemobile created from a Jeep Wrangler, the Vatican has announced. This is not the first time the pontiff has used a Jeep—a four-door Wrangler (seen above) served papal duty on the Pope’s trip to Ecuador in July.

The exact configuration of the U.S. Popemobile has not been announced, but the version used in South America had a glass front and roof but was open on the sides. The pontiff has said that he dislikes a fully enclosed Popemobile; he’s more of a wind-in-the-vestments kind of guy.

ECUADOR-POPE



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Back home in Vatican City, the pontiff made news this spring when he saddled up a Hyundai Santa Fe for Popemobile duty. He previously used a Mercedes G-class, although it must be said that Francis apparently likes to spread the papal love around when it comes to Popemobiles. His South America trip also utilized a Toyota Land Cruiser. But a Jeep seems particularly appropriate for a U.S. trip—that or maybe a Mustang or a Corvette.

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Tesla Aims to Raise $500 Million via Stock Offering for Model 3, Gigafactory Development [UPDATE: Tesla Sells $738 Million]

2015 Tesla Model S P85D

Update, 8/21: Tesla has raised $738 million from the newly issued stock, according to Bloomberg. After initially announcing it would sell up to 2.1 million shares, plus another 315,000 shares for the underwriting banks, Tesla ramped up those amounts to a total of 3.1 million and sold them at $242 per share. CEO Elon Musk now has a 22-percent stake in the company.

Tesla wants to raise $500 million from new common stock in the months before opening the world’s largest lithium-ion battery factory, according to an investor filing posted Thursday.

The electric-car company will issue 2.1 million new shares as it enters a critical and risk-filled phase of growth that includes transitioning to a full-line automaker with the Model X (expected this September) and Model 3 (late 2017), as well as entering the energy-storage business with the $5-billion Gigafactory battery plant under construction in Nevada. Elon Musk—who currently owns 27 percent of the company—has pledged to buy four percent of the new shares, or about $20 million. Musk is using his stock purchase as collateral for two personal loans totaling $475 million from Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley, who will also receive a discount and option to purchase another $74 million worth of Tesla stock. The actual proceeds, which could be more or less than $500 million, depend entirely on the stock price whenever Tesla decides to execute the sale.

The automaker ended the second quarter with $184 million in losses, triple the amount from last year, a number it attributes to big spending on dealerships, Supercharger stations, production retooling for the Model X crossover, and the lithium-ion-battery backup generators it wants to sell to homeowners and businesses. While Tesla has raised more than $4 billion since 2013 (the only year Tesla turned a quarterly profit), the company only reported about $1.2 billion in cash on hand and has lost a total of $1.8 billion since its July 2010 public offering.



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Still, Tesla investors have consistently rewarded the company with a market capitalization of $30 billion, or more than half those of Ford and General Motors, and willingly ridden a stock-price rollercoaster that can be as volatile as those of oil companies. In the past 52 weeks, the stock has wavered from $181 to $291 and now sits at $241. If Tesla can really hit 500,000 car sales per year by 2020—not to mention slash battery prices and sell cars in all 50 states—there could be a big return for Tesla investors. But only time will tell.

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Zulu Super Defender: The 475-hp Brute Land Rover Won’t Build

JE MotorWorks Zulu (1)

Trust us when we say the Land Rover Defender tilts, leans, dips, and generally dislikes any amount of lateral acceleration. Slow, polite roundabout speeds are about all Her Majesty’s 4×4 is comfortable with. So it is with reservation that we’d recommend this lowered, fat-tired Defender that puts out nearly as much power as our long-term Jaguar F-type.

What you’re looking at is the JE Zulu2 Super Defender, which tricks out the classic Landie with a 475-hp supercharged V-8, sport-tuned Koni shocks, AP Racing six-piston calipers, 13.8-inch front rotors, and a limited-slip differential. It’s the Defender SVR that Jaguar Land Rover’s Special Vehicle Operations unit would build if it was called upon to engage battle against that other flying brick, the Mercedes-Benz G63 AMG. A six-speed automatic and electric parking brake mark the finishing mechanical touches, all major upgrades from the Defender’s wobbly six-speed manual, crank handbrake, and 2.2-liter turbo-diesel four that sputters out a quarter of the Zulu2’s horsepower.

JE MotorWorks Zulu (4)

The boys at JE MotorWorks in Coventry have been fortifying Defenders for the past 15 years (and Land Rovers in general for 25 more). Since 2008, they’ve transplanted 4.2-liter V-8s—the discontinued AJV8 from the Jaguar XK, tuned to as much as 500 horsepower—into various Zulus sold to nut jobs, at least one of whom tracked his on the Nürburgring. Not even the U.K.’s most recognizable Rover tuner, Overfinch, dares to take the Defender this far off the loony end.

JE doesn’t have any performance specs, so we can’t say by how much a Zulu2 will surpass the stock Defender’s 90-mph top speed. The company seems not to want to goad buyers into exploring the vehicle’s full performance potential. “We’re not encouraging people to drive them really hard, because at the end of the day, it’s an inherently unstable vehicle,” David O’Connor, JE sales and marketing manager, told us. “We make it handle as fluidly as possible.”

JE MotorWorks Zulu interior (1)

Inside, the Zulu2 can approach Rangie levels of fancy. Opulent leather thrones, two-tone leather on the doors, passenger-side dash, and center console, plus a microsuede headliner are all on the menu. JE is building only 25 and can use as a starting point any Defender model. Outside the U.K., prices start at £125,000 ($196,000). Unless you’ve got a Defender 90 from 1994, don’t plan on importing a Zulu2, or you risk seeing it destroyed by U.S. Customs.



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About that name. While the Anglo-Zulu War of 1879 is on nobody’s mind, naming a British Army vehicle after a Southern African tribe whom the British slaughtered—and vice versa, leading to a disgraceful defeat for one rogue general—is not a positive historical connection. But if you can wash down the post-colonial guilt and need a stupid-fast 4×4 for your vacation home high in the Alps, the Zulu2 seems worthy.

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How to Change Your Vehicle’s Air Filter in 5 Easy Steps [Sponsored]

Sponsored: How to Change a Car's Air Filter in 5 Easy Steps
-Whether it’s the rattling that comes and goes with the moon phases, a timing belt that obeys only changes in barometric pressure, or the sudden flickering of that dreaded check engine light, certain car problems require the professional experience and honest technical knowledge only a mechanic can bring. This doesn’t mean you should be afraid to approach your car with a tool though. There are certain car fixes that every man should be capable of doing himself. Your mechanic might not thank you for learning them, but your wallet surely will.


How to Change an Air Filter

One of the most straightforward pieces of maintenance you can do at home is replace your car’s air filter. It’s also a great way to improve your fuel economy. All you’ll need for this job is a screwdriver, a fresh air filter and rag to wipe your hands off before you pat yourself on the back.

1. Pop the hood and locate your air filter—on most modern cars it’s about the size of a loaf of bread and encased in black plastic. Consult your owner’s manual to be sure where the air filter is located on your make and model.

2. Some air filter enclosures are secured by snaps, others by screws. Use a flathead to pry open the snaps or unscrew said screws. Be sure to keep track of any screws you take out.

3. Take a look at the filter to determine if it needs replacing. Most air filters are good for about 30,000 miles. Give it a shake. If you sneeze, it’s time for a new one.

4. Secure your new filter in place and snap up or screw closed the case.

5. Close the hood and congratulate yourself on a quick and easy job well done.

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Senators Push Takata to Recall Every Airbag with Ammonium Nitrate

Takata-Japan-baby-seats-e1421786459584

Takata may be forced to recall every airbag manufactured with ammonium nitrate propellant if the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration turns a Congressional request into a formal order.

A letter from Sens. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) and Ed Markey (D-Mass.) urges Takata to recall all of its airbags using the questionable propellant after a side airbag produced by the Japanese supplier ruptured on a 2015 Volkswagen Tiguan in June and was reported earlier this week. Until now, the Takata recalls—spanning back to 2008 when they first surfaced on Honda vehicles and now affecting 18.6 million cars in the U.S.—have only encompassed driver and passenger frontal airbags that can shoot shrapnel through the bags when they deploy. Volkswagen is currently under a special order from NHTSA to provide additional details about the defect.

“In light of the most recent incident, which did not occur in one of the regions originally designated as ‘high humidity,’ and which involved a 2015 vehicle not currently subject to recall, we urge you to voluntarily recall all vehicles containing Takata airbags,” the senators wrote.

If NHTSA issues another special order against Takata or a recall request, millions of additional cars could be involved and millions more that have already been repaired might need to be fixed a second time. In addition, late-model vehicles with Takata’s newest airbag inflators—including those on the assembly line right now—could be affected if Takata complies with the letter and releases its complete testing data. The company has until September 3rd to respond, although the company is not legally bound to answer.

“This directly undercuts Takata’s continued insistence—despite growing evidence to the contrary—that the flaws in its airbag inflators are limited to prior designs in older model cars and only present when the airbags have prolonged exposure to extremely humid conditions,” the letter said.

Blumenthal and Markey, both of whom have led hearings with Takata and General Motors on the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation and authored several recall-related bills, want Takata to create a compensation fund similar to the $625 million that GM has allocated to settle with nearly 400 victims of its ignition switch defect. At least eight people have died and 139 people have been injured from the defective airbags.

During a House committee hearing in June, Takata executive vice president Kevin Kennedy—to whom the letter was addressed—said the company was the only airbag supplier that used ammonium nitrate as a “main propellant” and that it would “rapidly” switch to another propellant due to its “bad reputation.” Former Takata employees have claimed as far back as 1999 that ammonium nitrate was unsafe and prone to “catastrophic failures.” That’s when the supplier began switching from Tetrazole, a more expensive synthetic compound used in many of Takata’s current inflators, to ammonium nitrate, a natural compound that was more volatile but was one-tenth the price.

In 2008, after Honda began its first round of Takata airbag recalls, the company changed the compound again reportedly to address moisture-related degradation of the propellant. In his testimony, Kennedy denied Takata switched to ammonium nitrate to cut costs and said that “properly designed and manufactured phase-stabilized ammonium nitrate can be done properly.” The company continues to manufacture airbags with the propellant.

While Takata still has not identified a root cause and continues to test parts, moisture intrusion has been a major concern within the affected inflators. Blumenthal and Markey want Takata to disclose the moisture level it considers acceptable during manufacturing and that it should “disclose publicly all relevant test results for its new and previous inflator designs, fully, completely, and without delay.”



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Many of the replacement Takata airbags using the same propellant could become just as defective and susceptible to humidity over seven-and-a-half to 12 years, according to Kennedy, although the company is not sure why certain inflators on the same assembly line have burst and others do not. Neither Takata nor NHTSA has issued any statement regarding the senators’ recall request.

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Wolfgang Dürheimer: Veyron Successor Will Be Faster, No Bugatti SUV Planned

Bugatti Veyron Vitesse

Externally, it appears that there’s a lull at Bugatti. The last Veyron, “La Finale,” was sold before it appeared on the stand at this year’s Geneva motor show. Its successor has not been formally announced, although rumor suggests it will appear at next month’s Frankfurt auto show. In between, there’s been a flurry of activity in Molsheim, keeping Wolfgang Dürheimer, head of both Bentley and Bugatti, a very busy man. We grabbed 10 minutes with him at last week’s Quail event in Monterey to pick his brain about what’s next for the storied brand.

Wolfgang Dürheimer

The last of the Veyrons are off the line. We hear rumors that there may be an announcement of a new machine this fall.

There are a lot of rumors around in magazines, newspapers, and the internet, but I can assure you’re they are all just that—rumors. But I also can assure you that we are quite busy in developing the future for Bugatti, and it will be a very thrilling and exciting future.

Before we enter into any future thoughts, we are still celebrating our 450th Veyron that has been built, sold, and is giving great pleasure to a customer. To sell 450 supersports cars when it started over 10 years ago, with a price tag above a million dollars, with 1000 horsepower and a top speed of 400 kilometers per hour? At the beginning, when this program started, a lot of people didn’t think it was possible.

Do you ever foresee multiple Bugatti models? Like a super sports car, a sedan, and an SUV? More to the point, with Bentley doing an SUV, with Lamborghini doing an SUV, is there room for a Bugatti SUV? Certainly, in places like Russia and Saudi Arabia there could be a market for such a thing . . .

Yes, that’s right. But Bugatti is a very special company. Bugatti is ultra-sharp. We are positioned at the very top of the automotive market. We don’t intend to change our brand perception and our market position. We will remain ultra-sharp and at the very top.

And fundamentally, that could be construed as historically correct, as well.

Yes, but as I mentioned, the price/prestige axis is one of the fundamental axes at Bugatti. If you look at the last Veyrons, we sold them all above two million dollars—you can’t do this in all segments. The supersports cars, they are all two-seaters. There is no SUV and there is no four-door sedan. For this reason, the position of the Bugatti will remain extremely sharp.

When the Veryon arrived, it was like it came from Mars. The world had never seen anything like it. Today you have cars that we’ve tested that accelerate faster to a certain point—like the Porsche 918. You’ve had top-speed rivals over the course of the production run. As you look forward, how do you differentiate yourself further? Will there be electrification added to the W-16 engine? How do you push the boundaries of technology in the modern era?

We strive to do everything with the next Bugatti remarkably better than the previous one. So there is not only one dimension we can push against. We need to push all of the dimensions that describe the car. For this reason, it’s going to be a big surprise—but I can tell already because I test-drove several of the cars—the new Bugatti will be the best supersports car on the planet, in all dimensions.

Bugatti Veyron

Was there a mandate for this car? When the Veyron was announced, Piëch said, “It will do 400 kilometers per hour, and it’ll have more than a thousand horsepower . . . ”

“. . . Zero to 100 [km/h] in under three seconds, and you need to be able to go to the opera house in the evening after driving over 400 [km/h, or 249 mph] in the morning in the same car.” That was the four criteria we developed the Veyron on.

So what are the criteria for the new car?

Do it much better next time.

So there were no hard-numbers targets for it?

Internally, we had some hard-numbers targets, but I am not talking about those today. The time to talk about them hasn’t arrived yet, but it will come soon. It’s like you are an Olympic champion. If you do the 100 meters and finish first, everybody wants to beat you. All your competitors analyze your style. They look in superslow motion at how you start, what your hands are doing, how you position your head. Everything.

And some of your largest competitors are within your own company.

Exactly. And sometimes they even have a chance to get a test-drive in one of our prototypes. But the interesting thing is that when you are leading the pack, when you are a champion, you have a lot of guys being jealous and wanting to beat you. You need to define for yourself where you think you can improve the most. You listen to the customers. You listen to the journalists. You listen to the internet. And you talk intensively to the engineers. Then you specify a package and say, “This will be the next car to beat.”



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Where do you think the Veyron most needed improvement? What’s your passion in the new project?

Drivability and usability on the track. Brakes. That’s about it. And not to forget top speed! Of course we need to be faster than the previous car!

What was your favorite of the Veyrons?

My personal favorite of the 450 was the porcelain white and blue car [the L’or Blanc]. It was an outstanding piece of art. At one point, we were at a stage [in the project] where I thought, “This cannot be realized. It’s too tough.” Then I talked to the designers and the lady that did the paint job. They explained it to me, because the very important thing about it was that it had these very sharp edges between the blue and the white. We have a car with a similar paint job [here at the Quail]. This morning, I watched people touch it, trying to feel where the colors meet, thinking, “Is this real?” Stunning.

2015 Pebble Beach Weekend full coverage

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