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The JAC SC-9 Concept Is Really . . . Long [2014 Beijing Auto Show]

JAC SC-9 concept

JAC SC-9 concept

One way by which humans detect attractiveness in potential mates is based on the symmetry of their face—you lose this ability when you’re drunk, which explains the beer-goggles phenomenon—so that means, in a way, everyone is capable of sifting the well-proportioned from the bad. Which brings us to the colossal SC-9 concept car from JAC (Ford’s Chinese partner) on display at the 2014 Beijing auto show. To put it bluntly, this is not the person you want to go home with at the end of the night.

JAC SC-9 concept

JAC SC-9 concept

When approached from the front or the rear, the SC-9 actually looks okay. But hit it from the side and whoa, all bets are off. Now, don’t get us wrong, we agree with most designers in that pushing the wheels to the corners is a great start for any vehicle. And a low, tapering roofline ain’t bad to have, either. But combine the two on something this large, and the benefits evaporate. There’s simply too much car in between this JAC’s front and rear axles, and the sheer scale of the thing—from a distance, it appears to be roughly the size of the Range Rover Evoque, but up close, it’s the hulk.

JAC SC-9 concept

JAC SC-9 concept

A lot of the SC-9′s problems, it seems, start and end with a pair of rear-facing middle-row seats. That’s because when you flip a pair of bucket seats to face backward, they force a car to be even longer than normal, to keep the backrests from interfering with the front seats. We get it—in China, to be driven is the height of luxury, and so why not make it easier for those in the back to negotiate business deals by placing them face-to-face? But there has to be a more elegant design solution than this.



Before we kick too much sand in JAC’s face, allow us to point out one of the car’s more promising aspects: That it exists in the first place. We’re happy to see that Chinese brands are increasingly pitching concept cars, because it shows they’re trying to create unique identities instead of merely copying other designs.

2014 New York Auto Show Full Coverage2014 New York Auto Show Full Coverage

Article source: http://blog.caranddriver.com/the-jac-sc-9-concept-is-really-long-2014-beijing-auto-show/

The JAC SC-9 Concept Is Really . . . Long [2014 Beijing Auto Show]

JAC SC-9 concept

JAC SC-9 concept

One way by which humans detect attractiveness in potential mates is based on the symmetry of their face—you lose this ability when you’re drunk, which explains the beer-goggles phenomenon—so that means, in a way, everyone is capable of sifting the well-proportioned from the bad. Which brings us to the colossal SC-9 concept car from JAC (Ford’s Chinese partner) on display at the 2014 Beijing auto show. To put it bluntly, this is not the person you want to go home with at the end of the night.

JAC SC-9 concept

JAC SC-9 concept

When approached from the front or the rear, the SC-9 actually looks okay. But hit it from the side and whoa, all bets are off. Now, don’t get us wrong, we agree with most designers in that pushing the wheels to the corners is a great start for any vehicle. And a low, tapering roofline ain’t bad to have, either. But combine the two on something this large, and the benefits evaporate. There’s simply too much car in between this JAC’s front and rear axles, and the sheer scale of the thing—from a distance, it appears to be roughly the size of the Range Rover Evoque, but up close, it’s the hulk.

JAC SC-9 concept

JAC SC-9 concept

A lot of the SC-9′s problems, it seems, start and end with a pair of rear-facing middle-row seats. That’s because when you flip a pair of bucket seats to face backward, they force a car to be even longer than normal, to keep the backrests from interfering with the front seats. We get it—in China, to be driven is the height of luxury, and so why not make it easier for those in the back to negotiate business deals by placing them face-to-face? But there has to be a more elegant design solution than this.



Before we kick too much sand in JAC’s face, allow us to point out one of the car’s more promising aspects: That it exists in the first place. We’re happy to see that Chinese brands are increasingly pitching concept cars, because it shows they’re trying to create unique identities instead of merely copying other designs.

2014 New York Auto Show Full Coverage2014 New York Auto Show Full Coverage

Article source: http://blog.caranddriver.com/the-jac-sc-9-concept-is-really-long-2014-beijing-auto-show/

The JAC SC-9 Concept Is Really . . . Long [2014 Beijing Auto Show]

JAC SC-9 concept

JAC SC-9 concept

One way by which humans detect attractiveness in potential mates is based on the symmetry of their face—you lose this ability when you’re drunk, which explains the beer-goggles phenomenon—so that means, in a way, everyone is capable of sifting the well-proportioned from the bad. Which brings us to the colossal SC-9 concept car from JAC (Ford’s Chinese partner) on display at the 2014 Beijing auto show. To put it bluntly, this is not the person you want to go home with at the end of the night.

JAC SC-9 concept

JAC SC-9 concept

When approached from the front or the rear, the SC-9 actually looks okay. But hit it from the side and whoa, all bets are off. Now, don’t get us wrong, we agree with most designers in that pushing the wheels to the corners is a great start for any vehicle. And a low, tapering roofline ain’t bad to have, either. But combine the two on something this large, and the benefits evaporate. There’s simply too much car in between this JAC’s front and rear axles, and the sheer scale of the thing—from a distance, it appears to be roughly the size of the Range Rover Evoque, but up close, it’s the hulk.

JAC SC-9 concept

JAC SC-9 concept

A lot of the SC-9′s problems, it seems, start and end with a pair of rear-facing middle-row seats. That’s because when you flip a pair of bucket seats to face backward, they force a car to be even longer than normal, to keep the backrests from interfering with the front seats. We get it—in China, to be driven is the height of luxury, and so why not make it easier for those in the back to negotiate business deals by placing them face-to-face? But there has to be a more elegant design solution than this.



Before we kick too much sand in JAC’s face, allow us to point out one of the car’s more promising aspects: That it exists in the first place. We’re happy to see that Chinese brands are increasingly pitching concept cars, because it shows they’re trying to create unique identities instead of merely copying other designs.

2014 New York Auto Show Full Coverage2014 New York Auto Show Full Coverage

Article source: http://blog.caranddriver.com/the-jac-sc-9-concept-is-really-long-2014-beijing-auto-show/

2014 BMW X5 SUV — the carriage trade’s wagon.

If svelte morphs into stealth, BMW X5 be thy name. It’s another way of saying that over its 15 years of existence, BMW’s flagship SUV has carefully evolved into a sculpted wagon that eschews the showiness of flashier competitors and sticks to the job at hand.

Part of that job, you might notice, is not to be noticed, yet exude a conservative look that will gladly accept the odd kudos for design but not be too loud about it. The X5 was precisely made for the country club and the upscale mall and, when asked, it will also plow through a winter storm when the mall is closed for weather.

The job of this new, third-generation X5 is to transport up to seven people in a style that to which they are probably well accustomed, and not to make any mistakes along the way. This is the class of luxury SUVs exemplified by the Audi Q7, Acura MDX, Range Rover Sport, Lexus RX350, Mercedes-Benz M-class and Porsche Cayenne. They are all worthy competitors and they’re all in the roughly $60,000 range, but can easily range up to $70,000 or more, depending on trim lines and options.

Our tester was the base X5 xDrive35i, with the 3-liter, twin-turbo inline six-cylinder engine, sporting 300 horsepower and an eight-speed automatic transmission. (xDrive is BMW-speak for all-wheel-drive.) Given the industry’s marketing mandate that almost no new car in America can be sold at its base price (in this car’s case, it is $55,100), BMW added enough options to fill up the Monroney and make the final price of the car $68,675. How did we get there?

More than $12,000 in options.

The priciest option on this car is $4,800 for the “M Sport” package. This includes $950 for, among other things, 20-inch wheels and “High-gloss roof rails.” (Matte black rails are standard; are high-gloss rails necessary?) There’s also the “Dynamic Handling Package” ($3,600) and a “Cold Weather Pack” ($550). The point here is that when you climb into the car, you really think these various options are all of a piece with the car, that it’s natural for the car to have these options and if it didn’t have these options you might think you had just bought a $55,000 stripper. So I guess there’s nothing to complain about.

However…. you do have the option to power up and get the X5 xDrive50i, which has a twin-turbo 5-liter, 450-horsepower V8; or, what turns out to be a popular option, the X5 xDrive35d, a 255-horse diesel.

A diesel model gets good mileage figures.

One reason the diesel is popular is that its EPA mileage figures are 23/31 mpg, city/highway; our 6-cylinder gasoline-fueled tester gets 18/27 mpg, city/highway. When you’re paying nearly $70,000 for a car, these mileage comparisons may not be a big concern. Using the EPA’s fuel economy tables, the cost for driving 15,000 miles a year in the diesel car is $2,300; in the 6-cylinder X5, the one we drove, it’s $2,800; and in the road-ripping V8 model it’s $3,450. Between the stingiest and the thirstiest of the three cars, there’s an annual added premium of $1,150, or $22.11 a week.

But we didn’t buy this car to save on fuel – if we wanted to do that, we would have opted for more prosaic rides, like the Prius V wagon.

No, what we have in this BMW SUV is a car that, compared to the last generation, looks a bit more sculpted – it has a slightly lower belt line – and even a bit more muscular, although, heaven forbid, this is not the Arnold Schwarzenegger of cars. No musclebound Hummer here.

Inside, the X5 has a pretty conservative look. There’s no wood to alleviate the severity of the mostly black and brushed aluminum fascia and center stack. This look is typical BMW, and in this car it works. At night, there’s a faint glow from the interior lighting strips that adorn the upper part of the doors and the dashboard. It’s a nice touch, that small psychological lift of a bit of light.

On the road, the six-banger engine, by the way, has plenty of power – its zero to 60 time is a shade over six seconds, and it begs the question of whether you really need the V8. Then again, no auto maker ever went broke stuffing 500-horsepower engines in its wares – viz., Corvette, Viper, Cadillac CTS-V and the like. Speed sells.

The engines stops at stoplights.

As for the X5, it now has “engine decoupling,” which means the engine switches off and goes dead when you’ve sat at a stoplight for a few seconds. It then switches back on when you lift your foot off the brake. It’s a gas-saving measure, but I wonder how much you save if that electric starter goes belly up from all the constant on-off, on-off it’s doing. One disconcerting aspect of all this: when it’s sitting there, dead in its tracks, the electric power steering is also off. When you try to move the wheel, it takes some effort before it finally wakes up and starts the engine. It’s an oddity, but one you get used to after a few days.

On the freeway, the X5 is predictably quiet and there’s little wind or tire noise. It’s easy to suddenly end up doing 80 if you’re not careful.

So the question is: why buy an X5 versus its myriad competitors? Frankly, it’s a close race. I liked both the Acura MDX and the Lexus RX350 (to be precise, I drove the RX450h hybrid version). But there is something alluring when you know that this BMW is, at once, a staid hauler and, when called upon, a go-fast wagon.

For more consumer information on cars, check these Web sites:

Safety data can be found at the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS)  and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).

Reliability information can be seen in the  dependability studies conducted by J.D. Power; and at Consumer Reports.

Fuel mileage figures are available at this site, maintained by the U.S. Department of Energy.

For trivia lovers: the sticker you see on the window of every new car for sale in the United States is known in the auto industry as the “Monroney.” It is named for U.S. Senator Almer Stilwell (Mike) Monroney, the Oklahoma Democrat who sponsored the Automobile Information Disclosure Act of 1958, which required all new cars to have labels that detail the price of the car and its options.

 

Article source: http://blog.sfgate.com/topdown/2014/04/21/2014-bmw-x5-suv-the-carriage-trades-wagon/

Ford Debuts Escort Sedan for China, It’s Brown [2014 Beijing Auto Show]

Ford Escort

Ford Escort

A year after showing the Escort concept at the 2013 Shanghai auto show, Ford has unveiled the production model at this year’s Beijing affair. This China-only sedan has been developed with the market’s unique tastes in mind, most notably its citizens’ insatiable appetite for a gigantic rear seat. The Escort has one of those.

Ford Escort

Ford Escort

Besides a big rear end, the Escort also features some good bones—Ford’s global C-car platform, which underpins the Focus we get here, for example—and a rather classy exterior. To us, it looks something like a cross between a Focus and a Kia Forte, but more toned-down than both.

Ford Escort

Ford Escort



The real action is inside, where a mix of Ford pieces from the Fiesta and Focus are spattered together to form a reasonably attractive, if simple, cabin environment that includes six airbags, Bluetooth connectivity, and a so-called “device dock” for MP3 players, nav units, and the like on top of the dash. Under the stubby hood there’s a 1.5-liter four of unspecified output, but we’re guessing speed isn’t going to be one of the Escort’s strong suits, anyway.

The Escort will sit alongside the similarly sized Focus in Chinese dealerships, and will serve the lower price point in what’s a split compact market in China. Cars with features and technology levels more similar to those available here (so, the Focus) serve customers willing or able to spend more money.

Ford Escort

Ford Escort

Ford Escort

Ford Escort
2014-Beijing-auto-show-full-coverage-6262014-Beijing-auto-show-full-coverage-626

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Article source: http://blog.caranddriver.com/ford-debuts-escort-sedan-for-china-its-brown-2014-beijing-auto-show/

New Chinese-Market Chevrolet Cruze Debuts, Previews Next-Gen US Model …

2015 Chevrolet Cruze

2015 Chevrolet Cruze

Chevrolet’s second-generation Cruze compact has arrived, having debuted at the 2014 Beijing auto show. But wait! If you’re wondering why the face-lifted 2015 Chevrolet Cruze that debuted at the New York auto show looks so different from this Chevrolet Cruze, don’t fret. This new model arrives first for the Chinese market, yet it also previews what our next-generation Cruze will look like, and possibly even gives us a taste of what to expect in the engine and transmission departments.

2015 Chevrolet Cruze

2015 Chevrolet Cruze

As we pointed out when we spied prototypes of the latest Chinese-market Cruze, the sedan is inoffensive-looking, if a bit bland. There is a natty little kicked-up character line over the rear wheels, just like on the larger Impala, while up front this Chevy takes on a softer, more rounded appearance. The windshield is raked far more steeply than it is on our Cruze—taking some influence, GM says, from the Tru concept of two years ago—which further enhances the car’s tadpole-like appearance. Although this Cruze’s look should port over to our model with few changes, it’s worth pointing out that it rides on a special variant of the next global Cruze’s platform.

2015 Chevrolet Cruze

2015 Chevrolet Cruze

The big news has to do with the Chinese Cruze’s powertrains, which GM says are all members of the conglomerate’s new Ecotec small engine family. So far two engines are confirmed—a turbocharged 1.4-liter four and a 1.5-liter naturally aspirated four—and Chevy will offer no fewer than three different transmissions. A six-speed manual remains standard, while a six-speed automated manual and a seven-speed dual-clutch automatic are optional.

2015 Chevrolet Cruze

2015 Chevrolet Cruze



The dual-clutch auto is particularly intriguing, since it’d be the first such transmission in an American Chevy product were it to come to the next-generation U.S.-market compact. We applaud Chevy for making the move to higher-tech running gear, but it remains to be seen whether our Cruze will get such gear, or whether GM will go a more conservative route. For now, though, the next-generation Cruze is shaping up to be a nice, if uninspiring, evolution of today’s competent sedan.

2014-Beijing-auto-show-full-coverage-6262014-Beijing-auto-show-full-coverage-626

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Article source: http://blog.caranddriver.com/new-chinese-market-chevrolet-cruze-debuts-previews-next-gen-u-s-model-2014-beijing-auto-show/

2015 VW GTI starts at $25215: Base Seats Still Come in Plaid [2014 New York …

2015 Volkswagen GTI2015 Volkswagen GTI
Volkswagen has finally announced pricing for the seventh-generation GTI on our shores; true to expectations, it’s very much in line with current GTI pricing. The base S model sees only a $195 bump over last year’s price, starting at $25,215 (including destination), while adding a few trinkets—most notably 10 horsepower and 51 lb-ft of torque. Natty plaid cloth seats remain standard fare.
The higher-nick SE examples start at $28,215, while the four-door only (presumably so Kraftwerk can enter and exit more gracefully; those guys are getting up there) Autobahn models start at $30,415.



If you want a DSG trans, it’s an $1100 option. Opt for the Performance package, featuring yet another 10-hp bump, bigger brakes and a torque-sensing limited-slip diff, and be prepared to shell out $1495. The 2015 GTI goes on sale in June, and if you like sportivity, rationalism and other slightly off-kilter words the Germans like to say, you probably want one. It’s okay, we want one, too.

2015 Volkswagen GTI2015 Volkswagen GTI
2014 New York Auto Show Full Coverage2014 New York Auto Show Full Coverage

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Article source: http://blog.caranddriver.com/2015-vw-gti-starts-at-25215-base-seats-still-come-in-plaid-2014-new-york-auto-show/

2015 Dodge Charger



2015 Dodge Charger

Official Photos and Info

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New skin, same bad-boy attitude.

Dodge observes its centennial this year, and its bread-and-butter full-size rear-drive sedan is one of the prime players in the celebration. Making its debut at the New York show, the Charger still exudes power and a vague sense of menace—maintaining its four-door muscle-car persona—while reshaping nearly all of its sheetmetal. The roof and rear doors are the only exterior panels that carry over unchanged.

Paying homage to its late-1960s muscle cars, Dodge cites the 1969 Charger as the inspiration for the 2015 redesign. The design goal of the snug-fitting new skin, according to Dodge, was to make the Charger appear a bit smaller and lighter than the current sedan without diminishing its muscular persona. Whether the 2015 model achieves the smaller/lighter illusion is up to the beholder, but the exterior dimensions are essentially unchanged, as are the underpinnings, save for new cast-aluminum axles and axle housings.

That muscular persona is certainly undiminished, and it’s backed by Chrysler’s 5.7-liter Hemi V-8—370 horsepower, 395 lb-ft of torque—in R/T and R/T Road Track models. The base engine continues to be the 3.6-liter V-6 (292 horses, 260 lb-ft. Both the Hemi and the V-6 are paired with Chrysler’s eight-speed automatic, the only transmission offered.

With the V-6, the Charger is EPA-rated for 31 mpg on the highway, which Dodge says is best in class. All-wheel drive continues to be available, and features an active transfer case that automatically disconnects the front axle when it’s not needed, which Dodge claims can improve fuel economy by up to 5 percent.

Inside, the redesign includes new seats, extensive soft-touch materials on the dash, center console, and door panels, and eight different trim packages, including cloth and leather upholstery choices. The sporty three-spoke steering wheel is new, backed by optional paddle shifters. A new electronic shift feature delivers brisk shift times—400 milliseconds, according to Dodge, diminishing to 250 milliseconds in sport mode, which also holds the selected gear to redline.

Inevitably, new telematics abound. A standard seven-inch TFT screen nestles between the speedo and tach, with programmable info including Dodge Performance Pages. The new center stack embraces a standard 5.0-inch touch screen or the available and monstrous 8.4-inch version. As predictable as such gadgetry is in thus fill-size segment is the abundance of nanny aids: lane-departure warning, lane-keeping assist, adaptive cruise with emergency braking, and forward-collision warning all are available.

When the 2015 Charger lands on showroom floors near the end of the year, it’ll represent just how far the automotive industry has come since Dodge’s beginnings 100 years ago. And while we’re appreciative of such progress, it’s heartwarming to know that some things, like the Charger’s bad-boy attitude, never change.

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Article source: http://www.caranddriver.com/news/2015-dodge-charger-photos-and-info-news

Car Dashcams Capture Possible Meteorite Above Russia

Whatever it is, it looked quite spectacular.

Several car dashcams captured video showing a bright blue and red flashing object streaming through the sky above the city of Murmansk shortly after 2 a.m. Russian time on Saturday. Officials have neither confirmed nor denied the object is a meteorite, according to Russia Today.

Last year, a meteorite exploded near Chelyabinsk, about 930 miles east of Moscow, Russia, injuring some 1,200 people.

The recent sighting comes days before former NASA astronauts and experts who are part of the the B612 Foundation are due to deliver a presentation based on research suggesting the Earth has experienced 3 to 10 times more large-scale asteroid impacts than previously thought over the past decade, according to Phys.org.

ABC russian meteor jt 140420 33x16 608 Car Dashcams Capture Possible Meteorite Above Russia

Dashcam video of apparent meteor streaking through the sky over Russia.

Article source: http://abcnews.go.com/blogs/headlines/2014/04/car-dashcams-capture-possible-meteorite-above-russia/

The Saga Of The "Lemon 911" And One Man’s Quest For Justice

The Saga Of The Lemon 911 And One Man's Quest For JusticeS

Nick Murray is a guy like many of us. He has a dream car, and he’s worked hard to finally get it. In Nick’s case, that car is a Porsche 911, and he managed to realize his dream. Well, with only one small catch: He says his Porsche 911 is a total lemon. Here’s everything wrong with this sad, sick 911.

Nick’s been documenting the saga of his painfully-citrus flavored 911 in a series of videos that outline and show the issues he’s having: strange error messages on the dash, whistling sounds from the windows, self-dropping mirrors, battery depletion, water leaks through the dash, the entire car cutting off for no reason on the highway or the whole dash fritzing out over bumps, and, most alarmingly, acrid smoke coming out of the dash. There’s so many gremlins in this thing that you probably can’t eat in it after midnight.

Most of these issues seem to point to comprehensive and widespread electrical issues throughout the car — maybe this was a special one-off collaboration with Lucas electrics? It’s hard to pinpoint exactly what the issues are, because he claims there’s so many and so many systems are interconnected.

So far, Porsche has repaired the car numerous time, replaced many parts, but to no avail. Nick wants Porsche to either buy back his car, or replace it with a comparable vehicle. He says Porsche has not offered to do either of these things, and has, in Nick’s words, issued “thinly veiled threats” if he does not accept their settlements and goes into arbitration.

These videos have been racking up huge numbers of views, we’ve been sent this by multiple readers, and it’s getting lots of attention on Reddit right now. Many gearheads are very willing to sympathize with someone — a not particularly wealthy someone —who saved up for five years to buy the car they’ve always wanted. To have the realization of that dream spoiled by what appears to be a deeply and profoundly fucked car is downright tragic.

You can see in Nick’s eyes as he speaks an intense sense of frustration and helplessness. He seems exasperated, desperately trying to retain his composure. And who could blame him?

I would think the smartest thing Porsche could do right now would be to get this man a new 911 and take his old one back and tear it apart and try and figure out what the hell went wrong. It’d cost them money, sure, but it’s not like they’re hurting for it, and there’s a genuinely important lesson to be learned here.

Porsches are relevant because of men like this man, who genuinely love the car. If people like Nick can’t be made happy in the purchase of a car they already love, something is considerably wrong.

We’ll keep you updated on the story, and here’s hoping everything works out. We’ve spoken to Porsche North America, who said that their “customer relations team is in contact with the customer and we are working to resolve the issues with his car.” Here’s to hoping for a speedy resolution.

Article source: http://jalopnik.com/the-saga-of-the-lemon-911-and-one-mans-quest-for-just-1564141012