Motoramic
  • Aston Martin is going downmarket, sort of. The 2015 Vantage GT, a sport-styled variant of Aston’s legendary flagship car, draws style and performance tips from their GT4 race cars, which will be running in North America this year. It’s also priced at $99,900, which shows that the market for these kinds of consumer sports cars has boomed in recent years.

    “The sub-$100,000 price point has become very busy,” said Julian Jenkins, president of Aston Martin, at a quiet corner of the New York Auto Show. “We’d like a opportunity to reclaim it, and appeal to a slightly broader audience.”

    Jenkins said that the usual Aston Martin owner displays the car as a portfolio of seven or eight vehicles. This one, he says, can be a single car for an individual, albeit a rich individual who likes a Roadster that generates 430 hp, a top speed of 190 mph, and a 0 to 60 time of 4.6 seconds. It is, Jenkins says, in his best marketing speak, “a car for the week and a track car for the weekend.”

    The styling is

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  • Fifty years ago this week, Ford made history by staging the greatest car launch in history — building up the drama around its new Mustang with stunts like papering over dealership windows and landing on the covers of both Time and Newsweek magazine. To celebrate its anniversary, Ford re-created a stunt it last pulled off in 1965 — landing a new Mustang on the 86th floor of the Empire State Building.

    Related gallery: Ford Mustang 50th Anniversary EditionSince there's no cranes that can reach those heights, and delivery by helicopter would pose too many safety risks, the only way to get a Mustang up the Empire State is to cut it in pieces, then reassemble it up top.In 1965, that involved cutting the Mustang into three pieces and taking a few trips in the freight elevator. The 2015 Mustang convertible weighs at least 500 pounds more than the '65 edition, and is far longer, wider and taller, requiring a more complex effort to get it topside.

    Using some of the same workers at a Michigan company that pulled off the first Mustang visit, Ford

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  • Toyota finds itself in a precarious position. Those that enjoy cars as more than a simple means of transportation think of the Camry as a bland spongecake gone stale. And yet it's been the best-selling vehicle in the entire industry for the past 12 years, with a car rolling off the production line every 65 seconds. So how do you add flavor to your insipid dish without alienating your loyal -- and vast -- customer base?

    Enter the 2015 Camry: Toyota's attempt to engage enthusiasts while appeasing to those that think a turbo is nothing but a cartoon snail.

    In 2011, when Toyota launched its sportier Camry SE grade, the average buyer of said model dropped 12 years to 45 years old. It also equated for 45-percent of all Camry sales, proving that buyers were eager for an increase in sportiness. For 2015, Toyota has added an XSE model, making driving dynamics and edgy looks more of an importance. The SE model also moves over to the hybrid Camry, hoping to prove that sportiness and the

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  • So it’s taken a while, but Hyundai is in the big leagues now. There is rife evidence of this in its sales numbers, reliability ratings and general awareness, but the most telling indicator to us, perhaps, is that Hyundai no longer feels the need to overdesign or mimic other automobile designs as if to say, “Look, we can build good cars, too!”

    Hyundai can do its own thing now — and the new 2015 Sonata, making its U.S. debut at the New York auto show, is all the proof we need.

    The 2015 Sonata is the second production Hyundai, following the slick new 2015 Genesis luxury sedan, to don the company’s “Fluidic Sculpture 2.0” design look. The follow-up act seems to contain a lot less fluid, and a lot more angles from nose to tail. It’s a handsomer car now, if a bit more mundane, with its hexagonal grille, front fascia garnishes, and predatory headlamps the LED DRLs lining the inner and upper edges. A panorama roof remains optional, while the new back end is taller, if rather featureless, save

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  • For the past two years, car shoppers from Acapulco to Winnipeg could wander into their Chevy dealers and kick the tires on a city-sized sport utility vehicle named the Trax — and about 90,000 have done so. Today, Chevy revealed the version of the Trax it will bring to the United States, for those less well-heeled buyers who want the shape of an SUV without the window sticker they usually carry.

    The Trax that goes on sale later this year will put Chevy into a hip corner of the market; at the moment, the Nissan Juke is the only head-to-head competitor with an all-wheel-drive option, while the more popular Kia Soul offers a similar, if more funky, package with front-wheel-drive only. Chevy marketers expect this particular niche to grow 80 percent over the next three years, and given the financial challenges and driving demands of younger couples, this sounds like a wise move.

    Mechanically, the Trax differs little from the Cruze, and not at all from its luxury cousin, the Buick Encore;

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  • “Once you do stand-up, you don’t want to go back.”

    No, we’re not talking about comedy, but rather an emerging trend in luxury transport that’s bringing us ever taller, more capacious, more pimpdillyicious limousines. The quote came from a Ford designer, Tim Stoehr, predicting an increase in interest in limos based on big vans like the new Transit. Of course, these are nothing new; up-fitters have taken quite kindly to the Mercedes-Benz Sprinter, and apparently Ford is chomping at the bit to get in on the action, too. So Ford enlisted the help of the largest Ford dealer in the world, Galpin Auto Sports in Van Nuys, Calif., to help design and build its first super-lux Transit concept, dubbed the Skyliner.

    Unlike the glitzy behemoths seen pulling drunk coeds from bar to bar on Hollywood Boulevard on any given Saturday night, there’s not much special happening on the outside of the Skyliner Concept—no windshield header, side airbrushed romance novel graphics, no billet grille insert, no

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  • Automakers worldwide have gradually (some would say grudgingly) attempted to make their high-profit and highly popular SUVs as efficient and clean-running as their lower weight passenger cars — namely through the grafting of a plug-in hybrid system.

    For the past few years, BMW has been offering a mildly ambitious system called ActiveHybrid on several models in its car and truck range. Frankly, none of these heavy ActiveHybrid models have convinced a lot of people to plunk down the premium price tag because all felt precisely like placeholder models. And with BMW launching the electric-driven “I” range, the ActiveHybrid setup was never meant to be the basket holding all the green eggs in Munich.

    And on paper, the 2016 BMW X5 eDrive plug-in hybrid takes a much bigger step. To help contain the weight, the gas-powered engine is the tried and true turbocharged and direct-injected 2.0-liter four-cylinder, tuned to 241 hp and 258 lb.-ft. of torque. The electric motor mounted between that

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    With a lot of noise and smoke and blue lighting, Land Rover announced Monday night that it would be reaunching its Discovery SUV as a family of vehicles in 2015. The current Discovery is sold in the United States as the LR4, but the new Discovery will spawn a fresh product line, though the concept that they introduced tonight on the USS Intrepid certainly looked quite a bit like the old one.

     

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    The Discovery Concept might be the SUV of the future. It boasts — in concept —wraparound headlights powered by lasers, infrared foglamps, doors operated by an electric gesture-recognition system, a gesture-controlled tailgate, infotainment operated by touchscreens on the steering wheel, a premium leather interior that falls just short of self-cleaning, rear-seat TVs, all perfect for a tragic James Bond family picnic. It’s hard to say, though, because all we got to see tonight were car doors opening and closing by themselves to a soundtrack of pure base-heavy bombast. They revealed a

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  • Recalling America's last F1 team: Flickr photo of the day

    Today's announcement by Gene Haas that he would launch a new American Formula 1 team brings us back to the last time that happened — Vel's Parnelli Jones Racing, which put Mario Andretti in an F1 car from 1974 to 1976. The team wasn't all that successful, but it was due more to a lack of funding rather than innovation; as this photo of Jones' '72 Indy 500 car as caught by David Grant demonstrates innovation in spades. If you have a photo to share, please add it to the Motoramic group on Flickr, or send us a message via Twitter, Facebook and Google+. 

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  • As a parent to four, I can attest that lugging around a heavy child's car seat is the worst thing on planet earth. It makes traveling on airplanes a nightmare. So much so, in fact, that we parents of many drive minivans across country, dealing with kids that need to pee every five minutes then throw up french fries all over the back seats. But this is exponentially preferable to navigating security at JFK.

    Fortunately for parents everywhere, Volvo has a solution: The inflatable child's car seat that folds into a bag.

    As brilliant as this sounds, there is, however, a problem. It's just a concept, and as of right now, Volvo has no intention of actually making it. Still, it's the thought that counts, right?

    Weighing just 11 lbs., it's over half the weight of a traditional car seat. It inflates and deflates at the push of a button, or remotely via a Bluetooth connection. The whole process takes just 40 seconds.

    And, according to Volvo, it's actually safe, thanks to being created from

    Read More »from Volvo creates an inflatable child's car seat that folds into a bag

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