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PostHeaderIcon Why Nissan's Invisible Roof Should Become a Thing

The Nissan Vmotion concept gained a significant upgrade for the 2017 Detroit Auto Show, where it showcased a more angular and futuristic take on the company’s current design language and previewed the interior styling we should see in production cars in a few years. The Vmotion 2.0 looks fantastic inside and out and features new “Intelligent Mobility” tech that Nissan has yet to talk about in detail for now. But to me, the concept’s most interesting feature is the “floating” roof.

Built around lines flowing seamlessly from the steeply-raked A-pillars to the trunk lid, the roof design is like a massive piece of glass mounted on a thin structure. The floating C-pillars are carried over from previous Nissan concepts and production models like the Maxima, but there are many details that set this new concept apart. For starters, the line that connects the A-pillars to the trunk lid have a unique carbon-fiber finish with thin silver thread accents. This makes it seem like it’s built under the glass and makes the roof almost invisible. Around back, the Nissan fitted a wrap-around window – something we don’t see on many cars nowadays.

The company’s floating roof is by far the coolest glass roof I’ve seen recently and I think it would make a great feature on production vehicle. The main reason is that I like large moonroofs and the enormous amount of light they bring inside the cabin. If you haven’t experienced that, go test a car with a big moonroof and I bet you’ll never want to go back to a metal top. Another reason is that both the front and rear window remind me of the “bubble top” cars of the 1960s. The 1961 Chevrolet Impala is a cool example and I’d love to see that roof design return into showrooms with a modern spin.

Finally I think that carbon-fiber would be a good solution to strengthen a glass-only roof. Granted, the lightweight material is pretty expensive to use right and wouldn’t make financial sense on non-premium cars, but the technology is bound to become cheaper in the future and more automakers will probably adopt it. Here’s to hoping that the Vmotion 2.0 inspires not only upcoming Nissan vehicles, but other carmakers too!

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PostHeaderIcon Ford Says Trump Presidency Could Boost Truck Sales

Ford Motor Company’s president of the Americas, Joe Hinrichs, says Trump’s presidency could spark big growth in sales for the pickup truck segment. Hinrichs cites Trump’s pro-growth and promise of extensive infrastructure revitalization as factors, which could spark truck demand.

“If the infrastructure investment in the United States takes off as part of the conversation with the new administration, that certainly could help the industry and the business,” Hinrichs said at the Automotive News World Congress.

Ford sold an impressive 820,000 F-Series trucks in 2016. That marks the F-Series’ highest sales since 2005. Ford is currently chasing the 1 million annual sales mark for the F-Series, having almost reached the goal in 2004 with more than 930,000 units sold in the U.S. Adding the 145,409 F-Series trucks sold in Canada that year technically pushes Ford to its goal, but Ford undoubtedly wants to claim the title for sole U.S. sales.

While Hinrichs’ optimism is well founded in an a-political statement regarding economics, it just seems odd for a Ford executive to be commenting positively about a Trump administration after the flack Trump gave Ford on the campaign trail over its plan to relocate small car production from Michigan to Mexico. As we reported, Ford canceled the plans after Trump’s November victory, vowing to invest in American manufacturing.

Part of that boost will come with the upcoming 2019 Ranger pickup and 2020 Bronco SUV. Both were officially announced at the 2017 Detroit Auto Show, though no concept vehicles or even renderings were shows. Ford is also divulged it will bring five new utility vehicles to the U.S. by 2020, including the Bronco. And though initial speculation pegged the iconic nameplate as being a rebadged Ford Everest, Hinrichs said the Bronco will be “true to its heritage” and “you’ll recognize it as a Bronco.”

Continue reading for more information

PostHeaderIcon 2017 Detroit Auto Show – Worst In Show

With our list of the best debuts to show in Detroit now live, it’s time to visit the opposite side of the spectrum with our Worst In Show list. And while it may seem cruel to highlight the following five vehicles as the biggest targets for our automotive ire, we do it out of love. Just try a little harder next time, okay people?

Included in this list is an off-road monstrosity, a brittle EV, a confused crossover, a same-old-story compact, and a no-show sports car.

But there was a ton of debuts in Detroit this year, and we’re sure there are at least a few we didn’t include that rubbed you the wrong way. Or maybe we missed the mark entirely. In either case, let us know your thoughts in the comments.

Continue reading for the full story.

PostHeaderIcon Toyota's Camry NASCAR Racer is Built in America

With Donald Trump officially elected as the 44th President of the United States, automakers have found themselves under a lot of stress thanks to his “build in American or pay dearly” strategy. Well, that actually led to a bit of a theme at the Detroit Auto Show, with automakers giving nods to the U.S.-based production in one way or another. One effort to prove U.S.-production loyalty came in the form of Toyota’s NASCAR racer that looks somewhat similar to the all-new Toyota Camry. Of course, most of the body is fake and all, but from a distance, it looks quite similar. More importantly, however, are the two nods to U.S.-loyalty that are advertised on the car.

First off, there’s a big decal just above the rear windscreen that says “Built in Kentucky.” That’s right, Toyota’s NASCAR racer is actually built in the Southern U.S. But, that wasn’t the only thing that caught my attention. There also a bright green decal around the fuel filler cap that reads “American Ethanol,” a simple but effective way to let everyone at the show know that the Japanese brand relies on American-made ethanol and American citizens to keep its presence on the track known. It makes complete sense, but it leaves on to wonder: Would these decals be there if Trump wasn’t pushing automakers for U.S. production so much?

That’s hard to say, but I have a feeling they wouldn’t be – or they wouldn’t be so prominent anyway. On a side note, since we’re here, I want to point out that it must take a lot of dedication to sit in one of these racers for so long. After getting a good look at the inside, I can tell you that there is absolutely nothing comfortable about them. The seat is hard, and there’s sheet metal everywhere – all with sharp points and thin edges. In case you haven’t had the chance to look inside an actual NASCAR racer, I snagged a few shots of the interior as best I could. You can check those out by clicking the “Photos” tab above, and I suggest you do if you really want to see what NASCAR drivers put up with for hours at a time on the track.

PostHeaderIcon Is Volkswagen Ever Bringing Back The Microbus?

The debut of the Volkswagen I.D. Buzz Concept represented two different things for the company. The first takeaway is that the German automaker is serious about pushing its way into the electric car and autonomous driving conversations. After all, the I.D. Buzz is the second model bearing the I.D. nomenclature, a nod to Volkswagen’s intention to break into these rapidly developing markets and move as quickly as possible past the Dieselgate scandal that rocked the entire auto industry. But we’re not here to talk about any of that. We’re here to ask an equally important question: is Volkswagen ever going to bring back the Microbus?

You might have noticed that the I.D. Buzz Concept was intentionally designed to look like the Microbus of yesteryear. It’s a smart strategy considering that the van remains an icon amongst icons in its segment. The Volkswagen Microbus, otherwise known as the T2, Kombi, and Transporter, is one of the rare cars that can still tug at the nostalgic heartstrings of bell bottom-wearing, peace sign-making baby boomers while also drawing interest from retro-loving hipsters.

But as much as there appears to still be a healthy market for a modern version of the Volkswagen Microbus, it is a little surprising that the German automaker hasn’t capitalized on that sentimentality. In fact, a quick trip down memory lane reveals that since 2001, Volkswagen has made five different concept vehicles that were all inspired, in one form or another, by the Microbus. The past few years alone has given us two of these five concepts, including the Budd-E Concept and the aforementioned I.D. Buzz Concept. As for the others, the 2001 Microbus Concept was a hit when it was unveiled, as was the Bulli Concept that was unveiled at the 2011 Geneva Motor Show. The closest Volkswagen actually get to bringing back the Microbus was when it introduced the T6 cargo van and used a similar two-color scheme that the Microbus made famous.

Other than that, a lot of us have been left high and dry by Volkswagen and at one point, the frustration and disappointment of getting teased with all these Microbus-inspired concepts will catch up to Volkswagen. One day, we’re not going to care about the Microbus anymore and if Volkswagen ever decides to bring it back then, I’m afraid that it’s going to be a little too late for that var to make an impression.

Hopefully, it doesn’t come down to that because the Microbus really is a quintessential Volkswagen. A modernized version of the van can still be offered in a number of different markets and have some success there. The only question is whether Volkswagen is even willing to see if it can turn that possibility into reality.

Continue reading for the full story.

PostHeaderIcon The Nissan Qashqai Coming to the U.S. Shows What's Wrong with the Industry

So Nissan finally brought the Qashqai to the U.S., where it will be sold as the Rogue Sport and slot between the familiar Juke and Rogue models. A very popular crossover in Europe and Nissan’s best-selling nameplate in certain countries, the Rogue Sport comes to strengthen the companies presence on the highly profitable SUV market. It remains to be seen whether it will be successful or not, but a comparison with the Rogue reveals what’s wrong with the whole auto industry today.

A quick look at the numbers shows that the Rogue Sport is only 12.1 inches shorter and a tenth inch narrower than the Rogue. For a vehicle that’s more than four meters long, 12 inches isn’t that much and in this case it doesn’t make a very big difference on the inside since the Rogue Sport’s wheelbase is only 2.3 inches shorter. What’s more, the Qashqai is only 10 inches shorter and more than an inch wider than the first-generation Rogue. Why is that important you ask? Well, like most modern vehicles, Nissan made the second-generation Rogue larger than its predecessor, applying the same “buyers want more room and a more rugged appearance” strategy.

So basically it designed the Rogue with a bigger footprint back in 2012, and some years later it decided that it needs a smaller crossover that’s not as small as the Juke on the U.S. market. It’s pretty much what a lot of automakers have done in recent years.

Continue reading for the full story.

PostHeaderIcon Mercedes-AMG's Growing GT Family Is The Competition The Porsche 911 Needs

Is the Mercedes-AMG GT becoming the legitimate threat that the Porsche 911 should be concerned about? I highlighted that and tried to answer it in this comparison piece, but I did leave some space to show some appreciation to Mercedes-AMG for not only going out on a limb with the introduction of the AMG GT back in 2015, but more importantly, for adding on to the AMG GT with follow ups like the AMG GT S, AMG GT R, and most recently, the AMG GT C. The rapid increase in size of the AMG GT family now puts these models on the crosshairs of the Porsche 911. And for what that’s worth, legitimate competition is something that the 911 needs.

Granted, it’s going to be hard for Mercedes to completely topple Porsche out of that lofty perch it has built for itself. Compared to the 911, which has an unlimited supply of name equity, the AMG GTs are still carving out their own identities. The launch of the AMG GT and GT S back in 2015 officially signalled Mercedes-AMG’s plan to bring a dedicated sports car into the mix. The subsequent launches of the AMG GT R, a roadster version of the GT, the GTC C Roadster, and now, the GTC C, built on the foundation laid down by the GT and GT S. Moving forward, the question on everybody’s mind is what Mercedes-AMG has in store for the future with the GT family and its other performance lines.

Not surprisingly, the automaker has been coy on that matter, preferring instead to highlight the upcoming debuts of its other lines, most notably that of the equally successful 43 line, which itself is getting new family members this year in the form of the C 43, E 43, GLC 43, SLC 43, and GLE 43. These models, according to Mercedes-AMG boss Tobias Moers, are being introduced to serve as entry-level models of Merc’s performance brand and help create significant differentiation with the 63 line. That’s the primary focus of AMG now that it’s built up the GT line to a family of awe-inspiring sports cars.

Rest assured though, don’t expect Mercedes-AMG to be content with just having four different models under the GT line. No details have been shared on future models, but it wouldn’t be surprising to see Mercedes continue its assault on the Porsche 911’s throne. It’s already happening whether Porsche admits it or not. An hybrid GT sports car, perhaps? A more hardcore version of the AMG GT R? Those are a few of the possibilities we’re looking at, and for what that’s worth, I’m confident that the Mercedes-AMG GT line is not done growing just yet.

Continue after the jump to read the full story.

PostHeaderIcon Looking to Buy a BMW 5 Series? Here's Why You Should Get the New Toyota Camry Instead

Hello BMW fans and welcome to the article most of you will probably spend 10 seconds on average to just scan it before rushing to comments section to give me a piece of your mind. For the blasphemous title above, of course.

How dare I compared a luxurious, powerful Bimmer to a not-so-fast, not-so-good-looking Toyota that only drivers over 45 would buy? Well, have you seen the eighth-generation Camry? If not, have a look at the gallery section to see the photos we just took at the Detroit Auto Show. I’ll be right here…

Good, now that you’ve seen it, you probably agree that the new design is a significant improvement over the previous generation and one of the sportiest midsize sedans built for the U.S. market. If you don’t agree, you’re a BMW fanboy. I’m entitled to my own opinion, right? And no, you cannot compare the Camry to any model with M, AMG, and RS badges.

Continue reading for the full story.

PostHeaderIcon Top 3 Changes 2018 Brings to the Ford F-150

The venerable Ford F-150 is undergoing yet another transformation for the 2018 model year. It was just back in 2015 that Ford debuted a completely new F-150 that used an aluminum body, a stronger steel frame, a more car-like interior, and a new 2.7- liter EcoBoost V-6 engine. Now just three model years later, the F-150 again goes under the knife. So what’s different? Plenty – keep reading for the details.

The Powertrain – Ford has replaced or reworked every engine for the 2018 F-150. Well, that is if you include the all-new, second-generation 3.5-liter EcoBoost V-6 that debuted for the 2017 model year and carries over into 2018. Starting at the bottom, the old 3.5-liter V-6 is replaced with a more high-tech 3.3-liter V-6. This engine features direct fuel injection for a more precise burn and better efficiency. Ford says the engine should produce the same 282 horsepower and 253 pound-feet of torque as the outgoing 3.5-liter, but offer better fuel economy.

The 2.7-liter EcoBoost V-6 now enters its second generation, just like the 3.5-liter EcoBoost in 2017. It now comes with both port and direct fuel injection, reduced internal friction, and “improved robustness.” We’re guessing that last part includes beefed-up internals. Sadly, Ford did not spill the beans on horsepower or torque specs, but we expect it to make more than the first-generation 2.7-liter’s 325 horsepower and 375 pound-feet of torque, plus with better fuel economy. Even less information was provided about the 5.0-liter V-8, but Ford says horsepower and torque will significantly increase.

Of course, the biggest news is the addition of a 3.0-liter turbodiesel V-6. It will bear the Power Stroke name and is expected to offer class-leading horsepower, torque, and highway fuel economy. The Ram EcoDiesel currently has the title of 29 mpg highway. Ford should have no trouble hitting or exceeding 30 mpg. That’s because the Power Stroke will turn Ford’s new 10-speed automatic transmission. In fact, all F-150 engines will use the 10-speed automatic except for the base 3.3-liter, which will use the carry-over six-speed automatic.

Ford also made shockwaves by announcing the F-150 will offer a hybrid powertrain by 2020. No official information was released about the system, likely because the powertrain is still firmly locked in development. We’ll bring you more as we have it.

We’ve got two more categories for the 2018 F-150, so keep reading for more!

PostHeaderIcon The Hummer Is Back! Oh No, Wait…

If I told you that the 2017 North American International Auto Show would play host to one of the most confusing concept offerings of the year, it wouldn’t be too much of a stretch, right? Well, I don’t exactly know what VLF Automotive was thinking here, but rest assured, the X-Series Concept has that spot all to itself.

We admittedly didn’t know too much about the concept when we first saw the monstrosity in Detroit, but more details about the X-Series have since come to light and but very little of it still looks and sounds right to us, proving once and for all that just because you have the capacity to build and develop an automotive prototype, that doesn’t mean you should do it if it’s going to end up looking like this.

To be fair, the X-Series does have a few notable qualities about it, even though the use of the word “few” is a stretch in itself. It’s actually based on the Chevrolet Colorado and has the pickup’s stock 3.6-liter V-6 engine that’s good for 306 horsepower and 275 pound-feet of torque. It has a ground clearance of 11.5 inches and departure angles of 44.7 and 48 degrees, respectively. That tells you that the X-Series is a vehicle you’d like to have in case there are natural calamities like floods in your locale. But other than that, the X-Series is a complete waste of time, deserving at least of being named one of the worst debuts in Detroit.

You don’t need to be deeply entrenched in the auto industry to know that the design of the X-Series is largely inspired by the Hummer H2, the gas-guzzling marauder of an SUV that actually gained popularity a decade ago before meeting its demise in 2010 because, well, it just sucked in so many ways. Apparently, the people behind VLF Automotive didn’t get that memo, not to mention the current roadmap of the auto industry that’s embracing the idea of alternative energy sources like never before.

Speaking of which, it comes as a great surprise that the X-Series actually comes from a company backed by Henrik Fisker, the same individual who penned beauties like the BMW Z8 and the Aston Martin Vantage and was the driving force behind the Fisker Karma, one of the industry’s first full-fledged premium-plug in range-extended electric luxury sports sedan. For him to go from all of that to the VLF Automotive X-Series is a huge head-scratcher, to say the least.

Continue after the jump to read the full story.

PostHeaderIcon 2017 Detroit Auto Show – Best In Show

With the sheets now dropped and the debuts now made, it’s time to recap the best of the best from the 2017 Detroit Auto Show. This year saw tons of noteworthy debuts, with fast, opulent, and practical offerings all strutting their stuff in the first big international car show of the year. As such, we put our collective gearheads together to pick out which debuts made the biggest splash.

While SUVs and crossovers dominated the show through sheer numbers alone, the debuts that caught our eye were mostly cars. One truck in particular also gets a spot on this list, as does a Japanese-made van. Both concepts and production models were considered.

So then – we’ve got our list, but do you have yours? Which debuts do you think deserve the title of “Best In Show”? Tell us in the comments section.

Continue reading for the full story.

PostHeaderIcon Really GMC? This shifter idea is lame!

Have you seen the gear “shifter” on the new 2018 GMC Terrain? GMC though it best to ditch any form of traditional gear selection method and go for a combination of buttons and triggers. Worst yet, the buttons are all similarly sized and located below everything on the center stack. What were the designers thinking?

Okay, so GMC explicitly explained itself at the 2017 Detroit Auto Show where the new Terrain debuted. The official press release reads:

“GMC’s new Electronic Precision Shift enables more storage room in the center console by replacing the conventional transmission shifter with electronically controlled gear selection consisting of intuitive push buttons and pull triggers.”

So the idea is to free space in the center console for other things. That’s a noble cause worth respect and admiration. However, this attempt seems half-baked at best. It creates an entirely new shifting mechanism for drivers to learn. Granted, GMC is hardly the first automaker to branch out on shifter design, but this is certainly the most different yet unappealing concept.

Fiat Chrysler Automobiles has been a big offender. Its electronic shifter in the Dodge Charger, Chrysler 300, and Jeep Grand Cherokee has been highly denounced. A national recall was even issued to replace the shifter with a better design. Lincoln has also had issues with its out-of-the-box, push-button shifter. Its dash-mounted buttons had to be redesigned so people would stop mistaking Engine On/Off switch for Sport mode.

Admittedly though, FCA’s rotary shifter found throughout its lineup, including the Ram 1500 pickups, is a refreshingly simple design that’s easy to learn. Jaguar Land Rover products share a similar design. Honda also has a respectable “different” shifter design. It uses uniquely shaped buttons that are not easily confused and can be operated without looking.

I have to admit I have not tried GMC’s new shifter for myself since, well, no body outside GMC has driven the 2018 Terrain. After a long look, I can imagine the shifter would best be used with the right index finger operating Reverse, the ring finger operating Drive, and the thumb dedicated to Park. Maybe Of course, that doesn’t solve the issue of having to reach for the manual shifting controls, located almost near the passenger’s left knee.

Anyway, GMC’s choice to use a proprietary shifter design will do one of two things: become a familiar facet to GM vehicles thanks to its simple operation, or cause confusion and lead to possible safety recalls like FCA is currently dealing with. Here’s hoping for the former.

What do you think? Let us know in the comments below.

PostHeaderIcon The Kia Stinger Casts a Big Shadow on the Competition

I spent just over 24 hours at the 2017 Detroit Auto Show, and out of all the vehicles I had the pleasure of checking out, the Kia Stinger has stuck in my mind more than any. And, that’s saying a lot after spending some time with models like the Audi S5 Cabriolet, BMW 5 Series, and even the Mercedes GLA, among many others. I was actually quite skeptical when I first walked up to the three Kia Stinger models on display. I mean, after all, it’s a Kia, right? The brand came to the U.S. back in the early 1990s as an affordable brand that offered decent reliability but didn’t quite deliver in terms of performance, luxury, or even comfort in some cases. In recent years, the brand has stepped its game up a lot with models like Kia Optima, Niro, and Cadenza, but there was still a lot of room for improvement if the brand wanted to really step into the premium or luxury segments. Well, after seeing what the Stinger brings to the table, you can color me impressed and even encouraged about the South Korean brand’s future.

Now, the Stinger is set to bring some pretty healthy power into the mix with that 365-horse, 3.3-liter Biturbo and the 255-horsepower four-banger, but once I sat down inside of the new Stinger, it became immediately and exceedingly clear that it’s about a lot more than that. And, that’s saying a lot since I’m big on power output and performance. So what was it that impressed me so much? Well, there’s actually quite a bit, so keep reading to find out more about my experience.

PostHeaderIcon The New Honda Odyssey Stole the Show from Chevy in Detroit

One of the nice things about working for an outlet like TopSpeed is being able to check out the various auto shows during the press preview days, long before the general public is allowed into the show. This year, all of the auto manufacturers had their press events scheduled on the first day, so it was very busy. But, that also gave me the unique opportunity to see the reaction people have toward all of the new cars making their debut. With the Detroit Auto Show being an international event, there’s never a dull moment – that you can be sure of – but I never thought I would see the day that a minivan took precedence over an SUV. More specifically, I’m talking about the Honda Odyssey.

Both Honda and Chevy had big debuts scheduled for Monday and were situated catty-corner from each other. Chevy was pulling the sheet off the redesigned Chevy Traverse pretty early on Monday while Honda was gearing up to show off its all-new Odyssey. When it came to shooting the Chevy Traverse, I had to circle back a few times to get as many shots as I could but, when it came to the Honda Odyssey, I didn’t even have a chance to get close to it the first day of the show. Come the second day, and it took me five passes to finally get a good look inside. And it was, in every sense of the word, amazing. But, as I was waiting for the opportunity to get in there on the second day of the show, I noticed something. The Odyssey was still getting tons of attention while the Traverse’s time in the limelight had come and gone. Have pigs actually grown wings?

To be honest, I think so. I made one final stop at the Honda booth Tuesday before leaving the show for the last time, and Honda was still buzzing like crazy. Don’t get me wrong; people were still interested in the new Traverse, but not like they were when it came to Honda’s redesigned minivan. It was pretty wild to see, and all of the representatives seemed to be pretty happy with the turnout. We’ll have a full review of the new Odyssey up in the coming days, but until then, keep reading to learn a little about it and to see a few pictures I took of it during my time at the show.

PostHeaderIcon BMW 6 Series Convertible Shows Detroit that New isn't Always Better

Major auto shows like Detroit, Geneva, and Paris are usually packed with loads of brand-new cars and spectacular concepts. This makes it very difficult for not so new cars to get the attention they deserve, but sometime we stumble across older models that stand out for one reason or another. This is also the case of the BMW 6 Series Convertible that the German brand brought to the 2017 Detroit Auto Show.

Around since 2011, the 6 Series is one of the oldest Bimmers on the market and it’s rather long in the tooth compared to the competition. The grand tourer did receive a facelift for 2015, but that didn’t do much in terms of aesthetics, so the 6 Series remained pretty much the same inside and out. With the current model moving fast toward the end of its life-cycle, the Munich-based firm is trying to keep it fresh by adding new kit and equipment. At Detroit, BMW introduced a new exterior color Sonic Speed Blue.

While new body finishes aren’t exactly big news, especially on old models, this new shade of blue is exactly what made the six-year-old 6 Series stand out at the BMW booth. Making things even better, BMW opted for white seating upholstery and white inserts on the dashboard and door panels, giving the grand tourer a color combination that reminds me of the 1970s and the wild color combinations that American carmakers used to offer.

This combo obviously doesn’t change the fact that the 6 Series Convertible is in dire need of a replacement, but it proves that new isn’t always better and that a good color combination turns heads no matter the car it’s used on. Many companies that showcased new products in Detroit should learn something from this.

PostHeaderIcon Did Audi Hire Darth Vader to Design the Q8?

It has become quite the trend to associate menacing looking cars to Darth Vader, but I can’t blame enthusiasts for doing it so often given the massive success of the Star Wars franchise. It’s been going on for a long time too, having started in 1987, when Car and Driver covered the GNX model’s introduction with the headline “Lord Vader, your car is ready.”

We’ve also made a few automotive suggestions to the Dark Lord in our very own “What Would Darth Vader Drive?” article, but I must get back to the topic after seeing the new cars at the Detroit Auto Show. And it’s all because of the Audi Q8 Concept.

Is it just me or does the SUV’s front fascia look as if Darth Vader himself created it? Just look at that wide and massive grille and the six vertical slats. The angled headlamps add to the Vader-inspired appearance too and I’m sure that a black body finish and matte-black instead of chrome would turn it into Anakin Skywalker’s favorite grocery getter.

But here’s the issue. It’s not black. And this is what tells me that Audi didn’t hire Darth Vader as chief of its design department. Jokes aside, the Q8 Concept looks stunning in blue as well and I’m sure it would turn heads in just about any color. Here’s to hoping that Audi will transfer as many details as possible onto the production model!

PostHeaderIcon The Battle For German Sports Car Supremacy Is Heating Up

The launch of the Mercedes-AMG GT C Coupe at the 2017 Detroit Auto Show brought the total number of GT models to six. That’s a lot of models to have in a range when you consider that the first of these performance cars, the AMG GT, was only unveiled in 2015. But success breeds success and by and large, the Mercedes-AMG GT line has been just that for the German automaker. There’s no question about that, but what can be argued is the AMG GT’s place in the segment, or to be more specific, it’s status compared to that of the current king of the sports car business: the Porsche 911.

(It’s also worth mentioning that Porsche also unveiled the new 911 GTS at the same venue, so the timing for this comparison is appropriate.)

So here’s the question: has Mercedes-AMG created a line of GT sports cars that can realistically challenge Porsche’s own family of 911 models for sports car supremacy?

It’s an interesting question to ask because there can be legitimate answers from both sides. If you’re on the side of Mercedes, you can point to the GT sports cars as fresh and compelling choices in the market. Mercedes-AMG, after all, has done a remarkable job building the brand up, as shown by its ever increasing portfolio. There’s a healthy market for the GT today and Mercedes is smart to capitalize on that interest.

On the flip side, Porsche purists are also not wrong for scoffing at the question because it’s the 911 we’re talking about here. The model is without question one of the most iconic nameplates in the history of the auto industry, so before some kind of young whippersnapper can puff its chest and stare down the 911, maybe it should show some kind of longevity first.

Clearly, there are no right or wrong answers here because this whole comparison can be shaped and reshaped depending on the narrative that’s being thrown out. But with the success of the Mercedes-AMG GT line, that earlier question about the GT challenging the 911 is fair game and we’re going to try to find out whether there’s more to it than what meets the eye.

Continue after the jump to read the full story.

PostHeaderIcon Forget the Hellcat! Dodge Just Announced the "Ferocious" Challenger SRT Demon

Dodge shocked the performance world when it launched the Challenger SRT Hellcat for the 2015 model year. With no less than 707 horsepower and 650 pound-feet of torque coming from its supercharged V-8, the Hellcat entered the history books as the most powerful production muscle car ever created. Two years have passed and Ford and Chevy have yet to deliver a worthy competitor. However, Dodge hasn’t been resting on its laurels and has been working on an even more powerful version of the Hellcat. It goes by the name Challenger SRT Demon and will be unveiled at the New York Auto Show in April 2017.

The big news comes straight from Dodge and it’s a bit of a surprise. Not only was the car not included in the five-year plan that FCA released in 2014, but it was also a very well kept secret, with no spy shots or leaked information whatsoever.

So what is this new Challenger Demon all about?

Dodge refrained from unveiling any specific details, but did mention that the new muscle car is “raising the bar again” and the Demon is described by words such as “ferocious” and “beast.” So it’s safe to assume that it will be significantly more powerful than the Hellcat. By how much, we don’t know, but given that the Hellcat’s supercharged 6.2-liter V-8 cranks out 707 horsepower, the Demon could get up to 800 horses. Holy cow!

The FCA-owned brand also launched a new website in anticipation of the Demon (, which will host no fewer than 12 teaser videos up until the car makes its debut in New York. The first episode is called “Cage” and it’s already online. Unfortunately, it doesn’t show the Demon, but just a quick glimpse of the headlamps and its high-performance braking system. Instead, the clip is centered around a caged, ferocious animal that’s eventually released and morphs into a super human. The video ends with Metallica’s “Fuel” song as a soundtrack, which seems more than appropriate for a gas-guzzler such as the Hellcat.

“Gimme fuel, gimme fire, gimme that which I desire” sounds like one hell of a motto for beefed-up supercar.

Dodge says to keep an eye on the Demon’s website for more information and videos, with the next clip to be released on January 18. The page also includes a countdown clock for each episode, with the 12th to be released ahead of the Demon’s public debut at the New York Auto Show.

Continue reading for the full story.

PostHeaderIcon BMW M4 CS

Introduced in 2013, the 4 Series is one of the company’s newest nameplates and marked the end of the 3 Series Coupe, which it replaced in the brand’s catalog. The renamed two-door also adopted a new, evolutionary design inside and out, and received a lineup of brand-new and revised engines. The high-performance version was also rebadged from the M3 Coupe to the M4 and ditched the naturally aspirated V-8 engine for a turbocharged, inline-six powerplant. The M4 also brought the GTS badge back into showrooms in the form of a more powerful, track-focused, limited edition model. In 2017, the German brand is planning to launch yet another limited-edition, high-performance variant.

Rumors of a new beefed-up version of the M4 began to rise in 2016, as soon as the GTS model was sold out. The new coupe would slot between the standard model and the track-ready M4 GTS and carry a CS emblem. This denomination dates back to the late 1960s, when it was used for a more powerful version of the then-new BMW E9. At first called the 2000 CS, it later evolved into the 2800 CS, 3.0 CS, and 2.5 CS. The 3.0 CS spawned the iconic 3.0 CSL, a lighter, homologation special that went on to become BMW’s most iconic race car.

The CSL name returned in 2004 for the M3 Coupe and it was once again brought back into the spotlight in 2015 with the 3.0 CSL Hommage concept car. Although the M4 CSL name has also been rumored recently, BMW will reportedly drop the L (which stands for Lightweight) from the badge since it won’t be significantly lighter than the standard M4 (a feature reserved for the GTS).

So when’s the M4 CS set to hit the market? BMW has been mum on details, but since the coupe is already being tested on public roads, it’s safe to assume that it should be unveiled in the first half of 2017. However, the CS won’t arrive in showrooms before the facelifed M4 goes into production in July. Until that happens, let’s have a closer look at what it may bring to the table in the speculative review below.

Updated 01/12/2017: The upcoming BMW M4 CS was caught testing once again, this time during cold weather conditions in Sweden.

Continue reading to learn more about the BMW M4 CS.

PostHeaderIcon Watch the 2017 Ford Super Duty Undergo Crash Testing

The 2017 Ford Super Duty is the newest thing under the Blue Oval banner, but that certainly doesn’t make it immune from harm. In fact, like all new vehicles, the Super Duty had to undergo crash testing to ensure its crashworthiness. And if you’re anything like me, you get some weird enjoyment out of seeing a brand new vehicle smash against a wall. Luckily for us, these cash tests are filmed for evaluation and posterity.

The video above shows a 2017 Super Duty SuperCrew XL long bed meeting its demise against a flat wall at 35 mph under the supervision of National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. The coolest part is the truck’s one-off paintjob. Designed to allow easy viewing and contact determination, the underbody parts are all color-coordinated while the interior is coated in what appears to be flat white paint from a spray can. Imagine having the job of rattle-canning the interior of new cars….

The slow-motion footage is rather fun to watch, especially the view from underneath the truck. The driveline parts, exhaust components, and the full-boxed frame are all clearly visible.

According to CrashNet1, the video’s YouTube host, the F-250 earned a Five-Star rating in the frontal crash, a Five-Star in the side-impact crash, and a Four-Star in the overall rating. The lowest score earned was in the rollover category, with the 4WD Super Duty earning only Three Stars, while the RWD version earned Four Stars.

We’ve got more Super Duty crash test videos below the jump, so keep scrolling for more!

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