Automobile Magazine http://www.automobilemag.com No Boring Cars! | Reviews, Auto Shows, Lifestyle Mon, 27 Mar 2017 11:30:42 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=4.5.4 First Drive: 2018 Bugatti Chiron http://www.automobilemag.com/news/2018-bugatti-chiron-first-drive-review/ http://www.automobilemag.com/news/2018-bugatti-chiron-first-drive-review/#respond Mon, 27 Mar 2017 11:00:25 +0000 http://www.automobilemag.com/?p=1142634 Its edges are elegantly chamfered and its form pleasantly rounded, but the slender slice of aluminum in the right-side footwell of the 2018 Bugatti Chiron is more battle axe than scalpel. Squeezing the floor-mounted accelerator summons 16 cylinders, 4 turbochargers, and 1,500 metric horsepower — enough raw, road-groping momentum to outpace an LMP1 car at...

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Its edges are elegantly chamfered and its form pleasantly rounded, but the slender slice of aluminum in the right-side footwell of the 2018 Bugatti Chiron is more battle axe than scalpel. Squeezing the floor-mounted accelerator summons 16 cylinders, 4 turbochargers, and 1,500 metric horsepower — enough raw, road-groping momentum to outpace an LMP1 car at the home of Le Mans, the famed Circuit de la Sarthe. But unlike those carbon-clad prototype racers, the Chiron has a sound system that can articulate a lubdubbing bassline at 18 hertz sugared with delicate top notes thanks to its diamond-coated tweeters. Is this the future of speed, both lethal and luxuriant all at once?

Wretched Excess, the Sequel

To skeptics (and we know you’re out there), the $2,998,000 Chiron is just a pricier and more powerful redux of the Bugatti Veyron, the car only a couple of hundred people in the world could afford, anyway. But virtually nothing has been overlooked with this reimagined and reworked follow-up to the superlative-slapped two-seater. “Our only target this time,” says Bugatti boss Wolfgang Dürheimer, “was to surpass the Veyron in every respect.”

For starters, the 8.0-liter W-12 claims 95 percent new parts, many of which are now titanium and carbon fiber for weight savings. Its four turbochargers are 68 percent larger and engage in two stages to deliver a startlingly flat torque peak of 1,180 lb-ft between 2,000 and 6,000 rpm. Though the new car is 1.6 inch wider, incremental weight savings throughout netted an essentially unchanged curb weight (Bugatti pegs the Chiron’s “DIN empty weight” at 4,398 pounds) compared to the Veyron. Designer Etienne Salomé says the only item exempt from trimming down was the so-called Bugatti macaron, the nose-mounted badge. Finished in baked enamel, the piece weighs 155 grams, 140 of which are composed of 970-grade silver.

2018 Bugatti Chiron Gold 109 1

A new adaptive suspension system uses electronically valved Sachs dampers to adjust stiffness and ride height, while hydraulic flaps actively divert air across the flat underbody to aid with brake cooling and downforce. Sourced from Dallara, its carbon-fiber chassis takes a staggering 1,500 hours to build and is now so rigid it bends only one degree under 50,000 newton-meters of load, a stiffness only matched by those aforementioned LMP1 cars.

At rest, the Chiron is undeniably sleeker than the predominantly ovoid Veyron, offering complex curves and a subtle muscularity that contrasts its flatter, flusher predecessor. Swing the door open and slide inside the C-shaped portal, and the cockpit presents itself as a more minimalist, modern space. The center console has slimmed, abandoning its subtle hat tip to Bugatti’s signature horseshoe shape. The form picks up on the steering wheel, behind which sit small aluminum paddle shifters framing a massive analog, 300 mph speedometer flanked by TFT screens. Word has it the gauge was employed to create a sense of wonder so a kid at Pebble Beach 20 years from now could peer through the window and marvel at the top speed. The C theme continues with a light bar — the longest photon conductor in the business — that arcs over the cabin, spanning from the leading edge of the headliner to the center console. Though the detailing is sparse — making its four centrally positioned knurled aluminum dials stand out — the sense of occasion is strong.

“If the Veyron was beauty and the beast,” Dürheimer says on the night before my drive, “the Chiron is more beast.” That’s an awfully promising and daunting idea to cloud your nocturnal thoughts. Thanks, Mr. D.

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The 16-Cylinder Sun Also Rises

Who needs coffee when you’re strapped into a three-million dollar land missile with a driver’s seat view of that supernumerary gauge? Even better, the kilometer-measuring European-spec dial on my tester goes to 500. Nice.

Press and hold the blue “Engine” button on the wheel and the W-16 comes to life with a hushed whir just before settling into a 650 rpm idle, 150 spins slower than before. Sound levels are dramatically louder outside of the leather and carbon-lined cabin, more akin to a scream than a whisper. Hold the brake pedal, click the shifter into D, and touch the accelerator, and there’s a startling surge forward, especially if it’s been a minute since you’ve driven a car with four-figure horsepower.

Right off the bat, the Chiron transmits more immediacy than the Veyron, feeling noticeably sharper and more responsive thanks to its improved suspension geometry and quicker steering. The disarming sensation of thrust, even when barely touching the throttle, taunts, tempts, and is all but irresistible — especially because it’s accompanied by the subtle whir and wheeze of turbochargers and wastegates. Unlike its perennially taut predecessor, the Chiron’s adaptive suspension handles rough surfaces like cobblestones remarkably well. The knurled dial on the steering wheel selects Lift (which raises the car for curbs), EB (an adaptive mode), Autobahn (for higher speeds), or Handling (track-focused) modes, which affect damping, ride height, steering, and power distribution. The differences are noticeable at all speeds, but particularly pronounced at triple digits. At higher velocities, the effect of the active flaps, rear spoiler, and lowered ride height not only increases negative wheel camber, it creates a palpable feeling the car is being sucked closer to earth. I’m told the Chiron is “easy to drift” in Handling mode. I promise not to try.

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Illicit speeds are reached breathtakingly quickly. Tip-in triggers an escalating torque effect as the first two turbochargers spool. Hold the throttle and the g-forces snowball; in moments, the Chiron is hustling at 100 mph. Coasting along at that speed in seventh gear — a startlingly easy achievement thanks to the quiet cabin, glassy ride, and effortless grunt — drops the engine below 2,000 rpm. It’s a mind-numbingly simple state, gliding past slower, cellphone wielding traffic intent on immortalizing the inconspicuous seven-figure blur. Drop a gear or two and dip into the throttle, and the surge is downright addictive, a relentless pin- to-your-seat aircraft carrier launch of acceleration that simply doesn’t quit. Not that it matters (especially at these speeds), but the horizontal spoiler and the vertical ridge create crosshairs in the rearview that all but obscure the view from behind. It is unknown whether police lights would be visible through those carbon fiber obfuscations.

Despite my greatest efforts, the game never gets old: Gun it, giggle like a schoolboy as I charge ahead at warp speed, then hit the brakes, which fills the rearview with the spoiler-cum-airbrake as the carbon stoppers clamp down and scrub away velocity. The effect is almost too good in both directions; acceleration is so quick, time seems to warp, and braking is so effective it can pull up to negative 2 gs, enough to make the guiltiest conscience feel that all sins have been absolved. And then it happens: an epically spacious downhill stretch reveals itself, and I keep the throttle pinned. The engine charges ahead as I quickly bang through the gears and the Chiron punches through air with that seemingly unending sense of urgency, remaining planted as the sound volume in the cabin escalates only incrementally. I suppress the urge to glance down at the speedometer, and only after I’ve slammed on the brakes again and returned to earthbound speeds does it occur to me that peak data can be recalled on the tiny screens within the dash-mounted buttons. The telemetry is haunting: at 6,691 rpm, the engine was producing 1,487 horsepower (and, incidentally, circulating 15,000 gallons of air through its cylinders per minute). Indicated speed? 377 kph, or 234 mph. Gulp.

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Down to Earth

The Chiron returns to its tractable, effortless self once back at terrestrial velocities. Returning to reality enables me to reflect on my few qualms, among them some slightly jerky low-speed shifts, which I’m told are due to my car’s pre-production state. Also pesky are the shallow clicks of the small paddle shifters, which don’t engage as satisfyingly as you might hope for in a car such as this. Apart from the quibbles, the Chiron’s astounding, county-leaping acceleration, neck-snapping stopping power and controlled handling make it feel vastly improved over its antecedent.

Considering half its run of 500 cars was claimed before the first customer took delivery, it may be that demand was piqued by its more intriguing styling, and perhaps Bugatti’s pre-emptive PR tactics. Based on the Chiron’s more satisfying driving dynamics, I suspect orders will keep pouring in for the remaining allotment, which currently puts buyers on a 4-year waiting period.

But the more crucial question for dyed-in-the-wool gearheads is whether the Chiron is alluring enough to win over the skeptics and convert the non-believers. If we can all agree that the Golden Age of the internal combustion engine is indeed upon us, the Bugatti Chiron savors one last romp before hybrids and electrics take over. This sixteen-cylinder song may well be the apotheosis of that ephemeral link to the mechanical, a final pop of bubbly to nail the coffin on gas-powered excess.

2018 Bugatti Chiron Specifications

ON SALE Now
PRICE $2,998,000 (base)
ENGINE 8.0L quad-turbo DOHC 64-valve W-16/1,479 hp @ 6,700 rpm, 1,180 lb-ft @ 2,000-6,000 rpm
TRANSMISSION 7-speed dual-clutch automatic
LAYOUT 2-door, 2-passenger, mid-engine, AWD coupe
EPA MILEAGE N/A
L x W x H 178.9 x 80.2 x 47.7 in
WHEELBASE 106.7 in
WEIGHT 4,398 lb
0-60 MPH 2.5 sec
TOP SPEED 261 mph
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Three Rules For EV Design http://www.automobilemag.com/news/three-rules-for-ev-design/ http://www.automobilemag.com/news/three-rules-for-ev-design/#respond Mon, 27 Mar 2017 10:00:55 +0000 http://www.automobilemag.com/?p=1137728 We have entered a new golden age of car design. Not since the 1960s have attainable family cars, such as the Ford Fusion or Mazda6, looked as good as they do today. And there is a new, exciting force exerting itself on car design, one that promises to upend long-established rules: electric vehicles. My first...

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We have entered a new golden age of car design. Not since the 1960s have attainable family cars, such as the Ford Fusion or Mazda6, looked as good as they do today. And there is a new, exciting force exerting itself on car design, one that promises to upend long-established rules: electric vehicles.

My first experience designing an electrified car came with the first-generation Chevrolet Volt. In 2007, when Chevy unveiled the Volt’s innovative powertrain, it was unfortunately wrapped in the Volt show car, which acknowledged none of the realities of electric-vehicle design. With a long hood and cab-rearward proportions, it looked more like a Camaro variant than a dedicated hybrid vehicle.

EV Design 01

After returning from a three-year foreign assignment in Korea, where I worked on the Cruze, Sonic, and Spark, I stood in front of the Volt show car with Bryan Nesbitt, who had just given up the reins at GM Europe Design. We agreed the production car wasn’t going to look anything like this when it was done. Sure enough, we were tasked to take the Volt concept and deliver it to the market using GM’s compact-car structure. Over the next year and a half, we worked with GM’s electrification engineers to deliver a production Volt with 40 miles of electric-only range. After going through the five stages of grief for the old rules of car design, Nesbitt and I came to accept a few new rules for designing an electric vehicle.

Now, five years on, GM has launched its first all-new electric vehicle since the EV-1: the Chevrolet Bolt. How well does it follow the new rules of EV design? I spoke with Bolt chief designer and managing director of design for GM Korea, Stuart Norris, to find out. “I actually think that defining and conceptualizing the car in the most upfront stage was the most difficult part of the project,” Norris says. “We were given a very clear brief for the big picture: 200-plus miles of range for around $30,000 by the fourth quarter of 2016. But once that was done, what the car should be was a challenge. What did we want?”

EV Design 07

Rule 1: Start with a clean sheet of paper

With an all-electric powertrain come fantastic packaging and proportion advantages. Batteries can be sandwiched into the floor, opening up additional space for occupants, and electric motors have smaller profiles than internal combustion engines, allowing for lower hoods and shorter front overhangs. “I would say that designing an EV is full of opportunity, and it’s about how we maximize that potential,” Norris says. “Obviously, having the battery under the floor and keeping it protected from the elements and damage makes the car taller. But with that package comes the opportunity to give the car a unique proportion.” Base your EV off an existing, internal combustion-based architecture, though, and you get none of these benefits.

Rule 2: Aero is king

Until battery technology can match the energy density of gasoline, electric range anxiety will be an issue. Americans have set up their lives based on the range and refueling expectations of the internal combustion engine; we aren’t going to move closer to work, skip taking the kids to soccer, or walk to the grocery store just because we bought an EV.

EV Design 05 EV Design 03 EV Design 02 EV Design 04

To reach a commercially acceptable range, most EV programs are given moonshot-level aero targets. Engineers and product planners love aggressive aero targets because good aerodynamic performance is free, and they love free. “Basically, a short, tall car is a tough starting point for aero, but with some technical enablers — front shutters, underbody coverage, etc. — we spent hours in the wind tunnel tuning the design to get to a fantastic 0.308 drag coefficient,” Norris claims.

Of course, this means the wind tunnel may have as much creative input into an EV’s design as the design chief. If you aren’t careful, your EV will look like everyone else’s because the wind tunnel has very specific tastes.

Rule 3: Make it look different

A simple EV badge won’t cut it. Ask a Prius owner how he or she feels about their car’s design, and you’ll hear something like, “I like that it’s different. It makes a statement.” It’s not exactly a beautiful statement, but one that says its driver is environmentally conscious. “When we designed the Bolt EV, we envisaged a utopian image of the next-generation family vehicle delivering CUV-like attributes in an efficient, customer-focused package,” Norris says. “We wanted a car that would fit into people’s everyday lives without the typical constraints of an EV.”

Stuart Norris
The managing director of design for GM Korea oversaw the process of conceptualizing, packaging, designing, and executing the Bolt EV.

What tools do designers have to communicate this difference? We love oversized wheels, vents, bulges, and exhaust pipes, but EVs need none of this. What about a big, powerful grille? The front end of a car is called a fascia for a reason—it is the face of the car, and it sets the character. Having no grille on late-model Oldsmobiles and first-generation Infinitis didn’t play too well, and it will be interesting to see if Tesla finds success ditching the grille on the forthcoming Model 3. Although a traditional radiator-cooling grille makes no sense on an EV, a big, blank space isn’t the answer either. Because EVs have almost no external requirements, other than a plug-in port, we are faced with adopting the highly efficient Bauhaus aesthetic of smartphones or finding new ways of creating powerful visual identities.

We are just beginning the EV design era. New brands such as Faraday Future, Lucid Motors, and NextEV have a clean slate to start with, and now the old guard is jumping in with fashionable new EVs such as the Bolt. I tend to root for the underdog, but I’m not sure who that is anymore.

About the author: David Lyon is a car designer with a passion for user experience and a cofounder of Pocketsquare Design in Royal Oak, Michigan. He previously was responsible for General Motors’ Asia Pacific design and interior design.

2017 Chevrolet Bolt 2017 Chevrolet Bolt EV rear three quarters 2017-Chevrolet-Bolt-EV-10 2017 Chevrolet Bolt EV rear three quarter in motion 2017 Chevrolet Bolt EV interior 2 2017 Chevrolet Bolt EV reconfigurable screen 2017 Chevrolet Bolt EV interior 02 1 2017-Chevrolet-Bolt-EV-interior-center-console-1 2017-Chevrolet-Bolt-EV-11 2017-Chevrolet-Bolt-EV-15-1 2017 Chevrolet Bolt EV in motion 1 2017 Chevrolet Bolt EV front three quarter 2 2017 Chevrolet Bolt EV front three quarter in motion 2017 Chevrolet Bolt EV front three quarter in motion 05 2017 Chevrolet Bolt EV front three quarter in motion 04 2017 Chevrolet Bolt EV front side 03 2017 Chevrolet Bolt EV front three quarter 02 2017 Chevrolet Bolt EV front three quarter 05 2017 Chevrolet Bolt EV front three quarter in motion 02 2017 Chevrolet Bolt EV front end 1 2017 Chevrolet Bolt EV charge port 2017 Chevrolet Bolt EV front side view parked 2017-Chevrolet-Bolt-EV-rear-side-view 2017 Chevrolet Bolt EV side

 

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Hitting The Break http://www.automobilemag.com/news/hitting-the-break/ http://www.automobilemag.com/news/hitting-the-break/#respond Mon, 27 Mar 2017 09:00:06 +0000 http://www.automobilemag.com/?p=1118789 As I write this, it has been precisely 47 days since I last drove an automobile. Translation: It’s been 47 days in Hell. I was in Portugal for a BMW launch, and the afternoon test drive had gone swimmingly. That night, I enjoyed a long, enlightening, thoroughly entertaining dinner with BMW R&D chief Klaus Fröhlich....

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As I write this, it has been precisely 47 days since I last drove an automobile. Translation: It’s been 47 days in Hell.

I was in Portugal for a BMW launch, and the afternoon test drive had gone swimmingly. That night, I enjoyed a long, enlightening, thoroughly entertaining dinner with BMW R&D chief Klaus Fröhlich. For brand purists fretting over the arrival of front-drive BMW models such as the X1, fear not: Fröhlich is an avowed enthusiast and insists that though front-wheel drive will help “deliver a more diverse range of products,” RWD will remain BMW’s core architecture. All was grand — until it wasn’t. On the way back to my room, I slipped while descending the hotel’s dramatic staircase, the same stupid, not-paying-attention misstep we’ve all made harmlessly dozens of times. Except on this occasion, I somehow managed to perform a reverse two-and-a-half gainer in the pike position — degree of difficulty: 6.1. And there was no swimming pool to catch me.

BMW’s PR team was great, and first thing the next morning I was on my way to a private hospital outside of Lisbon. The expected verdict: a badly broken right ankle. A surgeon applied a plaster cast, told me to see a physician back in the U.S., and sent me to the front desk to pay the bill. I winced as I handed over my credit card but needn’t have. Total charge, for consultations with two doctors, a suite of X-rays, a cast, and a pair of crutches: $275. Two weeks later I had surgery to install a plate and six or seven screws.

“I’m almost jealous,” said a friend. “A mandatory month or two off your feet! You can binge on Netflix! Burn through all those books piling up in your living room! Make everyone wait on you hand and … oh. Sorry.” He was right, though. I did enjoy it. For about a day. I watched a few movies in bed, guilt-free. And I read books for hours with zero interruptions, the same reason I actually look forward to long, nonstop flights to Europe or Asia. But when that’s all you can do, when making a sandwich becomes a feat of balance worthy of Cirque du Soleil, and the simple act of taking a shower requires more planning and protective gear than a space mission, well, suddenly the idea of being stuck behind the wheel during rush hour on the 405 sounds downright liberating.

When Joni Mitchell sings, “You don’t know what you’ve got till it’s gone,” clearly she’s referring to losing your driving privileges. I’ve tested, reviewed, and savored cars day in and day out pretty much nonstop for the past 30-plus years. In that time I’ll bet there hasn’t been a single week I haven’t forwarded an odometer. Having a steering wheel in my hands seems as essential to my existence as air, sunlight, and an evening martini. My day isn’t complete without the familiar embrace of lateral g-forces, the aria of a well-bred engine rising to fortissimo, the hot tang of brake dust and hard-working tires filling the air. Why, I’ve gone almost two months without a whiff of exhaust fumes — and it’s making me sick.

So now, when I look down from my apartment window at the cars passing below, I get … piston envy. I can feel my right foot twitching inside my inflatable plastic cast for a throttle pedal that isn’t there. I catch so much as a whisper of a passing sports car charging up through the gears, and I have to go put on my spacesuit and take a cold shower. Believe me, to satiate my driving hunger I’ve gone to every extreme. Yesterday I tried watching “Bullitt” wearing my racing helmet and holding one of my shoes over a burning candle. I don’t remember if it worked. Apparently I took a nap until the smoke detector woke me up.

The good news is, by the time you read this I’ll be healed and back on the road again. In the meantime, I see being temporarily forced out of the driver’s seat as something of a wakeup call. I mean, if autonomous cars really are going to take over, soon all of us enthusiasts could be suffering from the same driving withdrawal I’ve just experienced — permanently. So until that hellish day, I for one intend to celebrate every precious, freedom-boosting moment behind the wheel. By standing. On the gas.

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The Future is Now-ish http://www.automobilemag.com/news/future-now-ish/ http://www.automobilemag.com/news/future-now-ish/#respond Mon, 27 Mar 2017 04:00:09 +0000 http://www.automobilemag.com/?p=1119331 Every month, heck, every day, there’s another story (like this one) about the coming Brave New Autonomous World. Automakers have been breathlessly announcing self-driving cars they claim are five years or fewer away — or even earlier if you’re Tesla and Elon Musk. Just look, all the cool brands are doing it! They’ll delight us...

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Every month, heck, every day, there’s another story (like this one) about the coming Brave New Autonomous World. Automakers have been breathlessly announcing self-driving cars they claim are five years or fewer away — or even earlier if you’re Tesla and Elon Musk. Just look, all the cool brands are doing it! They’ll delight us with their ability to somehow make traffic jams and crashes go away. We’ll all be able to tune in, turn on, and tune out, take a nap, network, and most importantly shop — all while the car whisks us without drama to our destination.

Much of the latest news about the glorious, human-driverless future came during the recent annual Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas. This year more than ever, automakers new and old used CES to crow about their coming autonomous breakthroughs and partnerships. Among the highlights:

Chrysler Portal concept front three quarter

• Chrysler Portal Concept: Boasting a 250-mile range from its electrified powertrain, this crossover, based loosely on the Pacifica, boasts lidar laser radar and vehicle-to-infrastructure tech to enable it to “talk” to smart traffic lights and other enabled infrastructure.

• Faraday Future FF 91: Another full-EV crossover, this one from the fledgling Chinese-owned brand, which Faraday says will be in production in 2018. Faraday claims it will be the world’s quickest SUV, with a 60-mph time of less than 2.4 seconds — when it isn’t driving you and using 3D lidar to help it see all that lies ahead. (Read more about it on page 18.)

• Honda NeuV (New Electric Urban Vehicle): A tiny, urban runabout EV that uses artificial intelligence to gauge the driver’s behavior and make recommendations, and when not in use by its owner could be deployed as an autonomous ride-sharing vehicle. It also has a dash-width touchscreen interface and a killer skateboard to get you that last mile, if necessary.

• Toyota Concept-i: This concept is also focused on artificial intelligence, and its team even created a personality called Yui to be your best artificial friend. The Concept-i’s mission is to make mobility tech fun to use. You can switch from autonomous to manual mode, and the car will let other vehicles know it. It also displays messages on a screen at the rear of the car to warn drivers of zombies or other obstacles ahead.

Toyota Concept i front top view Toyota Concept i rear side Toyota Concept i Hello Toyota Concept i interior and steering wheel

Not every automaker brought a brand-new concept car to CES, but those who didn’t still made plenty of headlines. Hyundai had a couple of autonomous Ioniq sedans equipped with lidar making the rounds on a short route around the Las Vegas Convention Center. It also announced a deal with IT giant Cisco to create a connected-car platform to interface with infrastructure and other cars on the road. BMW, which has already formed a partnership with a couple of other major players in the IT world, Intel and Mobileye, says it will develop a fleet of 7 Series test models with autonomous tech that will be on the road by late this year. It also displayed what it called “the i Inside Future sculpture,” a vision of its interior of tomorrow with a tech it called HoloActive Touch, designed to change the way drivers interact with vehicle systems.

Nissan detailed its future mobility strategy, boldly predicting it will achieve fatality- and emissions-free driving. One of the strategy’s pillars is its Seamless Autonomous Mobility system (SAM), which is based on elements of NASA software used to guide robotic vehicles. SAM enables a Nissan car to communicate with other cars, and it helps its artificial-intelligence tech navigate obstacles and other situations it hasn’t yet encountered. Mercedes-Benz made its future CASE (Connected, Autonomous, Shared & Service, Electric Drive) at CES and is determined to drive toward being a leader in all of those areas. Audi, which has been at the forefront of autonomous technology development, announced with its longtime IT partner NVIDIA that it will have vehicles equipped with advanced artificial intelligence on the road by 2020.

faraday future ff91 passenger side view

If all of this vehicle connectivity, electrified powertrain, and AI madness has you intrigued, confused, scared, and skeptical, you are not alone. As this year’s CES proved, though, we are apparently approaching a turning point.

There are major hurdles, of course, namely how messy the shift will be and how long it will take before autonomous vehicles truly rule the road, issues that Gill Pratt, CEO of the Toyota Research Institute, called out in his CES address. “Human nature, not surprisingly, remains one of our biggest concerns,” he said. “There are indications that many drivers may either under-trust or over-trust a system.”

Pratt’s point is well taken because no matter how humans get around in the future, we will still be at the center of it all. And no amount of artificial intelligence is going to change that reality.

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The Triumph of Deregulation http://www.automobilemag.com/news/the-triumph-of-deregulation/ http://www.automobilemag.com/news/the-triumph-of-deregulation/#respond Sun, 26 Mar 2017 23:34:45 +0000 http://www.automobilemag.com/?p=1136413 With the EPA in the process of being bound, gagged, and ice-picked from behind by the new Trump administration in Washington, now seems like a good time to consider regulation. Remember how happy carmakers were in 2009 to accept stiffer CAFE standards? Thanks to industry lobbying, it had been almost 30 years since there’d been...

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With the EPA in the process of being bound, gagged, and ice-picked from behind by the new Trump administration in Washington, now seems like a good time to consider regulation.

Remember how happy carmakers were in 2009 to accept stiffer CAFE standards? Thanks to industry lobbying, it had been almost 30 years since there’d been any adjustment to mileage targets set back when many cars had carburetors. But as Detroit was getting bailed out by taxpayers, suddenly their commitment to the environment and slowing global warming was the thing they said they cared about most, aside from protecting their own salaries and bonuses — I mean, the livelihoods of their rank and file workers.

Fat and happy again, now carmakers moan it’s all happening too fast. With the devil-may-care shoulders now there to cry on in the District of Columbia’s halls of power, it’s a case of too bad for species being made extinct by climate change and those who’ll miss the critters and clean air. (Yes, I know cars are only a part of the problem, but the other great polluters will surely enjoy similar reprieves from the anti-environmentalists in charge.)

As to the industry’s late-breaking claims of impossibility, I call fish carburetor on them — that is, complete and irredeemable bullshit. They are actually ahead of schedule to meet the 2023 CAFE standards and are perfectly capable of finishing the job by 2025. Their primary complaint is that people only want to buy big, heavy trucks and SUVs. Although if they chose to explain it accurately, they’d note they make more money selling trucks and SUVs, citing the 40 years they’ve spent persuading consumers to pay more for SUVs than cars, even though they cost no more to build — and sometimes less.

So boo-hoo. They have to make SUVs more fuel-efficient and still sell some cars, too. About which there is no unfairness. As many a manager told baseball slugger Dave Kingman, not every at-bat can be a home run. Although why they bothered, I can’t say, as Kingman regularly proved their point by striking out and popping up.

Barring a meteor strike, regulations will be weakened or eliminated. As an old-car aficionado, I have special insight into what an automotive world with the most minimal regulation might feel like, and while I appreciate the chance to experience it, I don’t think the general population would care (or ought to have) to.

Today my trip back to the Wild West is courtesy of a 1970 Triumph 13/60 estate, née Herald. Purchased nine years ago from a collector of oddball machinery, the two-door, right-hand drive wagon was shipped from England to West Virginia and then built up to Vitesse Mark 2 specs, a performance boost offered by the factory only on coupe and convertible models. A small outfit, Standard-Triumph was especially clever at making the most of its parts bin. Beneath the wagon’s sharp, airy, Michelotti-penned lines lies the essence of a GT6+ sports car. It has four seats and a 2.0-liter, twin-carb, straight-six engine delivering 120 horsepower, a four-speed gearbox with electric overdrive, rack-and-pinion steering with an impossibly compact 25-foot turning circle, all-independent suspension, and enough hazards to last a lifetime.

Big horsepower, light weight (roughly 2,000 pounds), rear-wheel drive, crazy camber swing axles, and a frame that shares more than a little with that of the Triumph Spitfire spell a quick, only incidentally rigid car that wants to get you there in a hurry.

That, along with fine looks and an intoxicating exhaust note, is the good part. Placed beside the mysteries of British electrics and a body bolted together from three sections for extra rattle potentiality, the bad part is that this machine is a near total death trap. If it doesn’t asphyxiate you while you’re standing next to it, its promise includes many alternate painful death scenarios.

There’s nothing deformable, no safety cell, and the steering column won’t collapse until after it’s taken your head off. Air bag? Think body bag. Side-intrusion beams? Let’s put it this way: Were you to get T-boned in this thing, it’d be more than an intrusion.

Not that this deters me. I drive it anyway, though I make a point of warning first-time occupants that if a cat jumps on us from a low branch, we’ll probably all be killed instantly, thanks to roof pillars slender enough to double as chopsticks.

No one knows better than me all the delicate pleasures and amusing idiosyncrasies lost to automotive regulation. Yet because I know where we’re coming from, I’m much more animated by where we’re going and what we’ve gained. I will hate to see it go.

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Self-Driving Uber Hit in Arizona, Latest Tesla Tweets, and a Chevy Bolt Goes Down to Georgia http://www.automobilemag.com/news/self-driving-uber-hit-arizona-latest-tesla-tweets-chevy-bolt-goes-georgia/ http://www.automobilemag.com/news/self-driving-uber-hit-arizona-latest-tesla-tweets-chevy-bolt-goes-georgia/#respond Sun, 26 Mar 2017 20:28:56 +0000 http://www.automobilemag.com/?p=1142253 A self-driving Uber crash, Tesla tweets from Elon Musk, and a Chevy Bolt you can test-drive in Georgia. Here’s a roundup of the latest automobile news: Self-Driving Uber Crash in Arizona Uber puts its self-driving program on hold in Tempe, Arizona after a high-speed crash on Saturday. No injuries were reported, but a self-driving Volvo...

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A self-driving Uber crash, Tesla tweets from Elon Musk, and a Chevy Bolt you can test-drive in Georgia. Here’s a roundup of the latest automobile news:

Self-Driving Uber Crash in Arizona

Uber puts its self-driving program on hold in Tempe, Arizona after a high-speed crash on Saturday. No injuries were reported, but a self-driving Volvo XC90 flipped on its side after being hit by a vehicle that failed to yield.

Uber said that there were no passengers in the backseat at the time of the incident. Autonomous Volvos have been shuttling passengers around Tempe since last month.

Tesla Pulls Plug on Model S 60 and 60D; Tweets Model 3 Video

Tesla is pulling the plug on the Model S 60 and 60 D in order to “simplify the ordering process.” Tesla sent out a notice via email last week to notify buyers of the change that takes effect on April 16. Elon Musk also teased a first drive release of a candidate version of the Tesla Model 3 on Twitter.

“Am noticing that many people think Model 3 is the ‘next version’ of a Tesla, like iPhone2 vs 3. This is not true. Model 3 is just a smaller more affordable version of Model S with less range, power, and fewer features. Model S has more advanced technology,” Musk tweeted.

Thanks for clearing that up. The all-electric sedan is expected to sell for under $40,000 and should trickle out to a handful of early buyers by the end of this year.

Chevrolet Bolt Heads Down to Georgia

The all-electric 2017 Chevrolet Bolt is currently on sale in California and Oregon, but that didn’t stop a dealer from Chamblee, Georgia from getting one six months early.

“The Bolt is not available in Georgia so we went to California and bought one,” said Mark Frost of Jim Ellis Chevrolet in a statement.

“We wanted our customers to be able to test drive the vehicle in advance of them being available for purchase.”

Apparently the dealership is one of the few dealers in Georgia that has a solar EV charging station. Test-drives for the $37,495 Bolt with a 238-mile range can be scheduled in person or online.

2017 Chevrolet Bolt EV Golden Gate Bridge

Where’s Waldo’s Bentley?

See if you can spot the Bentley Flying Spur W 12 S parked in the heart of Dubai in this incredible photograph. Bentley used NASA-derived technology and a whole lot of Gigapixels to showcase the latest Flying Spur. Click here for a closer look.

Bentley Gigapixel 2

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Infiniti Engineering Academy Offers Students a Shot at Formula 1 http://www.automobilemag.com/news/infiniti-engineering-academy-offers-students-shot-formula-1-2/ http://www.automobilemag.com/news/infiniti-engineering-academy-offers-students-shot-formula-1-2/#respond Sun, 26 Mar 2017 19:00:07 +0000 http://www.automobilemag.com/?p=1142285 The path to Formula 1 normally requires years of paying dues in your respective field, but Infiniti offers a fast track to the top-tier racing series for qualified engineering students. For the fourth straight year, the Infiniti Engineering Academy will select one U.S. engineering student to spend a year working with an F1 team. The...

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The path to Formula 1 normally requires years of paying dues in your respective field, but Infiniti offers a fast track to the top-tier racing series for qualified engineering students. For the fourth straight year, the Infiniti Engineering Academy will select one U.S. engineering student to spend a year working with an F1 team.

The program selects one candidate from each of the participating regions, which include the U.S., Asia and Oceania, Canada, China, Europe, Mexico, and the Middle East, and places them with the Renault Sport Formula One Team for 12 months. The program has produced a number of successful engineers that are currently working in F1 or one of its open-wheel feeder series. Applicants must complete an online engineering puzzle test in order to be considered. The 10 best applicants will then be invited to a final event, where they will compete for the lone U.S. spot in the program.

The Infiniti Engineering Academy offers an unparalleled opportunity for young, fresh-thinking engineers to experience the best and latest technologies in automotive and motorsport engineering,” said Renault Sport Formula One Team managing director Cyril Abiteboul, in a release. “The Academy Engineers that we have working with us at Enstone are a big asset to us as we continue to strengthen our technical resource, so we are looking forward to welcoming the 2017 class.”

The seven winners from the participating regions will move to the U.K., where Infiniti will provide travel, accommodations, a company car, and a salary while participating in the program. Most importantly, the students will have the chance to prove themselves worthy of a career in Formula 1. Think you have what it takes? Apply at academy.infiniti.com.

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First Opel Insignia Flagship Rolls off Assembly Line http://www.automobilemag.com/news/first-opel-insignia-flagship-rolls-off-assembly-line/ http://www.automobilemag.com/news/first-opel-insignia-flagship-rolls-off-assembly-line/#respond Sat, 25 Mar 2017 18:00:41 +0000 http://www.automobilemag.com/?p=1141015 The first Opel Insignia rolled off the assembly line at the automaker’s plant in Russelsheim, Germany this week. As we reported before, Buick will likely replace the current Regal sedan with rebadged versions of the two Insignia variants, the five-door Grand Sport hatchback and the Sports Tourer wagon. The Insignia that rolled off the line...

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The first Opel Insignia rolled off the assembly line at the automaker’s plant in Russelsheim, Germany this week. As we reported before, Buick will likely replace the current Regal sedan with rebadged versions of the two Insignia variants, the five-door Grand Sport hatchback and the Sports Tourer wagon.

The Insignia that rolled off the line in Germany sports a 170-hp 2.0-liter turbodiesel I-4 engine, an option that could make it the U.S. considering GM’s recent foray into four-cylinder turbodiesel engines, now offered in the Chevrolet Cruze and Equinox. Underpinned by an all-new architecture, the Insignia is lower and more spacious than its predecessor, over 400 pounds lighter, features an available all-wheel-drive system with torque vectoring, and offers a host of driver assist safety features such as IntelliLux LED matrix headlights, adaptive cruise control, and active lane assist.

Opel Insignia production start 20

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“We have been looking forward to today for a long time; our new flagship has finally arrived. This is an important day for Opel and Rüsselsheim,” said Opel CEO Dr. Karl-Thomas Neumann in a release. “We invested more than €500 million just to prepare for the production of our new flagship.”

With GM’s recent sale of Opel to French automaker PSA, it is unclear how long GM will have access to the Insignia, especially since the next Regal will likely be manufactured by Opel in Germany. The current Regal is produced in Ontario, Canada.

The Insignia premiered at the Geneva Motor Show and Opel started taking orders on February 16. Opel hopes the new model will be as successful as its predecessor which sold 940,000 units.

Opel Insignia Sports Tourer front rear side

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Lincoln Continental Goes Big with All-New Head-Up Display http://www.automobilemag.com/news/lincoln-continental-goes-big-with-all-new-head-up-display/ http://www.automobilemag.com/news/lincoln-continental-goes-big-with-all-new-head-up-display/#respond Sat, 25 Mar 2017 17:20:16 +0000 http://www.automobilemag.com/?p=1140994 Lincoln wants you to keep your hands on the wheel and your eyes on the road and is introducing a fancy head-up display for the Continental. The Motor Company claims it will be the biggest and brightest display size in its class. Lincoln says it’s the first to use Digital Light Projection (DLP) technology, the same tech...

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Lincoln wants you to keep your hands on the wheel and your eyes on the road and is introducing a fancy head-up display for the Continental. The Motor Company claims it will be the biggest and brightest display size in its class.

Lincoln says it’s the first to use Digital Light Projection (DLP) technology, the same tech employed at your local cinema. We are excited to give it a look when it rolls out next month.

Digital displays that are projected on the windshield of your vehicle have been around for many years, but they have experienced a recent Renaissance among a number of manufacturers.

Some simply project your speed before you in the lower windshield that hovers slightly above the hood. Others can tell you the local speed limits and warn you of other vehicles approaching you from behind in your blind spots.

Lincoln’s system is centered on the windshield above the steering wheel and is customizable to allow the driver to select the information they want to see in the head-up display.

Thanks to its DLP tech, the display is visible in more ambient lighting conditions even while the driver is wearing polarized sunglasses Lincoln claims.

“We’ll be using a DLP chip from Texas Instruments, while many other automakers use a different technology that doesn’t get quite as bright,” said Anthony King, Lincoln product design engineer in a statement, adding, “That’s what sets us apart.”

Everything in the display can be controlled by the steering wheel in order to achieve the perfect viewing position. Drivers can choose to see every available component, choose what they want, or here’s the best part — turn the damn thing off completely.

Only the phone and navigation system information automatically will appear in the display when in use. Outside temperature, lane-keeping system, adaptive cruise control, fuel level, and the time can be turned on or off.

Sounds good to us, but we’d like to know when we can get our baseball scores and stock market reports on it too.

Lincoln Continental 2017 All Stars Contender Front Three Quarter 04 Lincoln Continental 2017 All Stars Contender Front Three Quarter 03 2017 Lincoln Continental front view Lincoln Continental 2017 All Stars Contender Front Three Quarter 02 Lincoln Continental 2017 All Stars Contender Right Side 2017 Lincoln Continental rear view 2017 Lincoln Continental rear three quarter in motion 2017 Lincoln Continental front view in motion

2017 Lincoln Continental Reserve AWD Front 01

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Mercedes-Benz Preps 11 Classics for the 29th Annual Techno Classica http://www.automobilemag.com/news/mercedes-benz-preps-11-classics-for-the-29th-annual-techno-classica/ http://www.automobilemag.com/news/mercedes-benz-preps-11-classics-for-the-29th-annual-techno-classica/#respond Sat, 25 Mar 2017 01:02:19 +0000 http://www.automobilemag.com/?p=1140269 Next month, Mercedes-Benz will display 11 of its finest cars at the 29th annual Techno Classica show for vintage and classic automobiles in Essen, Germany. The vehicles span over 110 years of the brand’s history and Mercedes says the collection illustrates the theme that sportiness has been in the company’s genes from the beginning. From...

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Next month, Mercedes-Benz will display 11 of its finest cars at the 29th annual Techno Classica show for vintage and classic automobiles in Essen, Germany.

The vehicles span over 110 years of the brand’s history and Mercedes says the collection illustrates the theme that sportiness has been in the company’s genes from the beginning. From the looks of the collection, there seems to be no doubt about that.

1927Mercedes Benz type 680 model S 1

Highlights for the world’s largest classic car exhibition include a variety of sporty and elegant wheels by the maker. The oldest of the lot is a snow white, 40-hp Mercedes-Simplex from 1903. The suffix “Simplex” was intended to indicate how easy the topless model was to operate for its time says Mercedes. It has a top speed of 62 mph — which is plenty fast considering it’s an open-air machine without a windshield.

Also on display is silver 1955 Mercedes-Benz SLR Coupe with a red interior and a stunning 1960 Mercedes-Benz 300 SL Roadster that was factory-restored by Mercedes-Benz Classic. The SL replaced the immensely popular 300 SL Gullwing coupe and packs a 3.0-liter inline six-cylinder engine that produced 215 hp. It has a top speed of 155 mph and a total of 1858 examples were built through 1963.

Mercedes Benz E 500 Limited W 124

Other notable and more modern classics include a 1971 Mercedes-Benz 280 SE 3.5 Cabriolet, 1980 Mercedes-Benz 230 E, 1987 Mercedes-Benz 300 SL, and 1991 Mercedes-Benz 300 SL.

A sexy 2018 Mercedes-AMG GT C Roadster is also featured in the company’s impressive lineup. While the GT C is technically not a classic yet, it is a strong candidate to become one in the future.

The Essen Techno Classica includes vintage vehicles from over 30 countries. This year’s show will be held from April 5-9.

1902 Mercedes Simplex 1 1927Mercedes Benz type 680 model S 1 1993 Daimler Benz C 36 AMG 1 2012 Mercedes Benz SLS AMG Coupe Black Series 1 Ayrton Senna da Silva Mercedes Benz 190 E 2 Mercedes Benz 540 K Streamliner in Wind tunnel Mercedes Benz CL 55 AMG F1 limited edition C 215 2000 Mercedes Benz E 500 Limited W 124

Mercedes Benz 300 SLR Coupe Uhlenhaut Coupe 1955 1

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