Design/Style auto news

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BMW X4 reclaims dash of utility with Clemson student project [w/videos]

08/06/2014   [Original: Autoblog]
Category: Aftermarket, Concept Cars, Trucks/Pickups, Videos, Crossovers/CUVs, BMW, Design/Style

BMW X4 Clemson University Project

BMW seems willing to exploit every automotive niche it can find with creations like the four-door, 'crossover coupe' X4 and X6. Of course, these designs come with a compromise. That svelte fastback means that they just can't haul as much cargo as a more traditional, boxier hatchback. Fortunately, students at Clemson University's International Center for Automotive Research might have a novel solution: the engineering graduate program has turned the crossover into a unique pickup.

Dubbed Deep Orange 4 concept, this functional prototype has an enclosed cargo area with a sliding glass panel that opens up to expose a pickup bed if more room is needed. Think of it as the GMC Envoy XUV of German crossovers. This isn't just an X4 with its roof hacked off, though. The students actually started with an X3 and grafted on this top later in addition to the two barn doors for access to the bed.

To make this project even more impressive, this pickup-crossover could conceivably be produced. The graduate students conducted an in-plant analysis of BMW's manufacturing abilities and went back to the university to create a plan for a low-volume vehicle that could actually be built. "The students working on this phase of the project did an excellent job of keeping costs down while finding optimal integration opportunities," said Rich Morris, vice president of assembly at BMW Manufacturing, in the university's release.

Deep Orange 4 is now on display at the CAR Group Management Briefing Seminar in Michigan. Scroll down to read the university's release and watch two videos about the concept; one shows the final product and the other a time-lapse of the build going from X3 to X4-looking pickup.

Continue reading BMW X4 reclaims dash of utility with Clemson student project [w/videos]

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Mercedes S600 Pullman revealed in patent photos

08/05/2014   [Original: Autoblog]
Category: Sedans/Saloons, Mercedes Benz, Design/Style, Luxury

Mercedes-Benz S-Class Pullman

Attention heads of state and other potentates: your next car is here. Patent photos for the next-generation Mercedes-Benz S600 Pullman have leaked online showing the ultimate interpretation of Merc's S-Class range.

If you just looked at the Pullman dead-on from the front or rear, you might not notice too many differences compared to the stock S600 because the styling is almost identical. However, once you see that profile, you know there's something very special here. The sedan still packs four doors but with additional windows along the side to gaze outward upon your subjects. They're sure to see you, too, because, according to Carscoops, this princely S-Class is about 21-feet long. That makes it even bigger than the massive Maybach 62 and the previous S600 Pullman Guard. While these shots don't show the inside, it supposedly offers room for eight with two in the cockpit partitioned away from six others in the rear with facing rows of seats.

Mercedes is rumored to not actually build the Pullman itself. Instead, the automaker might hand off production duties to noted tuner Brabus to handle the needs of this über-luxury sedan's wealthy clients. It needs to keep them satisfied, too, because the asking price for the armored version is rumored to be $1 million.

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Here's why our Lexus NX is uglier than the rest of the world's

08/02/2014   [Original: Autoblog]
Category: Hybrids/Alternative, Government/Legal, Crossovers/CUVs, Lexus, Design/Style, Luxury

2015 Lexus NX 300h

Take a good look at the image above. That's the US-market Lexus NX 300h, and it looks, well... distinctive. Although the entire NX crossover sports styling that could certainly be described as controversial, it's the front end of the 'ute that seems to draw most of the ire, befitted as it is with Lexus' so-called spindle grill.

Now, take a look at the pair of images just below. The one on the left is from the States (the same model seen above), while the one on the right comes from Europe. Notice a difference? The lower front fascia of the European Lexus NX dips down much lower than the one from the US, and it looks much more refined because of it.

2015 Lexus NX 200t from the US2015 Lexus NX 200t from Europe

Why the disparity between the two designs? According to Top Gear Philippines, the reason why the US gets the more pointy proboscis is because of its classification as a light truck. It seems trucks are required to have some sort of concession to the car's approach angle - in other words, a truck should be able to clear an obstacle that a car might hit. Why does Lexus care if the NX is a car or truck? Well, that has to do with how fuel economy is reported, as trucks are given less-stringent requirements for Corporate Average Fuel Economy purposes.

We wish this weren't the case - the Lexus NX looks much better with its lower fascia in place. As it stands, though, you can still opt for the F Sport package on either the turbocharged NX 200t or hybrid NX 300h, which replaces the front end of the NX with a much more menacing, if not necessarily more attractive, fascia, along with other more overtly sporty finishing touches. Take a look at the 2015 Lexus NX 200t F Sport in our image gallery below, and tell us which version of the CUV you prefer.

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Porsche 911 GT3 RS revealed in patent photos

08/01/2014   [Original: Autoblog]
Category: Coupes, Sports/GTs, Porsche, Design/Style

Porsche 911 GT3 RS patent photos

Porsche has been taking its time developing the most hardcore 911 models for the latest 991 chassis. While the GT3 has been on the market for a little while, it suffered from some teething issues. The 911 GT3 RS is certainly on the radar since being spotted testing, but it's always better to get a look at a new car without all of the camo to hide the coolest parts. Thankfully, Car in the UK has some patent photos of the RS ahead of its debut, and they show off one mean-looking 911.

The first thing that you notice about the RS is that Porsche clearly isn't afraid to rework the latest 911's shape for its track-focused version. Each piece is slightly resculpted to squeeze the most out of it. Up front, the air dam has the same shape to the earlier photos. They also both highlight the upcoming model's tiny air inlet at the tip of the hood, the massive intakes in the rear fenders and general design of the rear wing with a ducktail underneath. The bubbled roof is much clearer here, where it was disguised in spy shots. You can also spot the slashing fender gills behind the front wheels that are a completely new feature.

The GT3 RS is the ultimate naturally aspirated 911 for the street, but according to Car, Porsche aims to take that even farther with the latest model. If these are the looks, then it's working. Unfortunately, the new version's powerplant remains a mystery. Though, given all the changes to the bodywork, the engine is almost surely getting tweaked over the 475-horsepower GT3. The RS is rumored to hit the road and be screaming down the track in 2015.

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How the 'unpretentious beauty' of 'flyover states' will influence your next car color

08/01/2014   [Original: Autoblog]
Category: Design/Style

Ford Focus ST

BASF 2018 Color ExamplesChemical giant BASF is getting mighty philosophical in its 2014 report Under the Radar, predicting the popular automotive colors of the 2018 model year. The company believes that the US is embracing "the unpretentious beauty of the 'flyover states," and the country is also returning to normalcy after the hard recessions. "Noting many political, societal and technological references, we realized that the 'flyover states' and the Rust Belt regions are becoming increasingly productive in our post-Recession era," said Paul Czornij, Technical Manager for the BASF Color Excellence group in the study.

Whether you think its fair to lump people from Billings, MT, and Akron, OH together into a homogenous group as flyover states, you still have to love some of the names of the colors BASF anticipates becoming popular (examples right). La Garra Charrua is a prairie-inspired blue. Haymaker is a light, burnt orange type of color, which is rather similar to what Ford already offers on the Focus ST. Fitted Green is a light green. Gray Elevator is a darker shade, and finally Take 10,000 is a brown with some sparkle to it.

Autoblog interviewed Czornij earlier this year. Four years ago, he predicted earthy colors like deep orangish reds would make a comeback, and they showed up on a variety of models, at least for show cars. At the time, he also predicted that the leaks from Edward Snowden would cause Americans' to choose colors with trustworthy connotations like blues and greens. Previous years' studies also anticipated the rise of greens and browns. These forecasts are still somewhat reflected in the 2014 report. Scroll down to read more about BASF's automotive prophesies.

Continue reading How the 'unpretentious beauty' of 'flyover states' will influence your next car color

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Hyundai readying Juke rival with 'edgy, dynamic styling' for 2017

08/01/2014   [Original: Autoblog]
Category: Crossovers/CUVs, Hyundai, Design/Style

2011 Hyundai Curb Concept

Love it or hate it, the Nissan Juke has drawn attention to itself and to its maker. Little wonder, then, that Hyundai wants to follow a similar formula.

According to our compatriots over at Edmunds, Hyundai has a whole raft of new products in the works - as you'd expect from the world's fourth-largest automaker - including replacements for the current Tucson and Elantra sometime next year, but also a subcompact crossover to target the Juke, not to mention tiny softroading rivals like the forthcoming Chevrolet Trax. Details at this point are few and far between, but it appears Hyundai is committed to making it as zany as the Nissan it will target. The Korean automaker revealed the Curb concept (pictured above) along similar lines at the 2011 Detroit Auto Show.

Hyundai Motor America CEO Dave Zuchowski tells Edmunds not to expect a mini Tuscon, but to "Think of maybe something that looks like a Juke or something that has edgy, dynamic styling." Considering how off-the-map Hyundai went with the Veloster and its unconventional array of doors, we know the Korean automaker can think outside the box for this Gen-Y crossover. Whether the edge tiny CUV market has space for more than the Juke, however, is another matter. One way or another, look for the tiny Korean crossover to arrive sometime in 2017.

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2015 Ford F-150 appearance guide takes the truck from mild to wild with options

08/01/2014   [Original: Autoblog]
Category: Car Buying, Trucks/Pickups, Ford, Design/Style

2015 Ford F-150

2015 Ford F-150 Trim GuideWe already know that the 2015 Ford F-150 has a base price coming in at just $395 more than the 2014 model, despite all of the new standard tech and aluminum-intensive construction in the upcoming version. Now the Blue Oval is finally giving us an idea of what that extra money actually buys customers, with the release of the appearance guide for its latest pickup.

The guide basically explains everything you could want to know about what changes occur among the multitude of trims on the 2015 F-150. There are five levels for the new truck. Although, that is something of a misnomer because most of them are also available with either Sport or Chrome packages, plus the FX4 Off-Road option with Hill Descent Control, an electronic-locking rear axle, off-road shocks and skid plates. With 13 available colors, including 4 new ones, and 14 wheel designs in various sizes, pickup buyers should have no problem specing one to fit their style.

The lineup starts out with the base XL with a black grille and fascia and 17-inch wheels. However, across most of the range the Sport and Chrome packages are also available to add either body-color or chrome accents, respectively. Next up is the XLT with a standard chrome grille but also available with a black, billet-style one with a body-color surround. Things really start getting plush with the Lariat model with leather trim, a three-bar front end and 18-inch wheels. The King Ranch sticks with that look but adds power running boards, 20-inch wheels and two-tone paint. Finally, the top-dog Platinum is all about bling with yet another frontal design, chrome door handles and mirror caps, a big logo running across the tailgate and more.

All of the options are certainly a lot to take in, and Ford clearly doesn't want any potential customers to fall through the cracks in terms getting exactly what they want from their F-150. Check out the gallery to see all of the differences between the trims for yourself.

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Icon Helios streamliner with Tesla bones is a dream from which we don't want to wake

07/31/2014   [Original: Autoblog]
Category: Concept Cars, Time Warp, Coupes, Tesla, Design/Style, Electric

Icon Helios Streamliner

Icon Helios StreamlinerWhen it comes to truly, genuinely interesting automotive design and craftsmanship, Icon is one of the finest outfits in the game. We've covered the company and its founder, Jonathan Ward, in the past, and have remarked on just how fully and intricately done the automotive art it turns out is. The company's next big thing, though, is a far cry from the modified Land Rovers and Chevy Thriftmaster pickups.

The sketches you see above are of the Helios, Icon's latest mad creation. While still remarkably early in the planning phases, it's safe to say that the streamlined, Art Deco-inspired, boat-tailed (every vehicle should be boat-tailed) coupe is the company's single most ambitious vehicle yet.

"Although almost all of our projects thus far have been recreations inspired by vintage vehicles, I am fascinated about the concept of revisiting history in our own way," Ward told Jalopnik staffer and former Autoblog editor Damon Lavrinc. "The most interesting way to do this is by celebrating a particular era of design, or design language."

Technically speaking, the era that Ward is referring to never existed.

It's a world where there was no Black Friday, or Great Depression or second world war. Instead, man's fascination with aircraft and aerodynamics soldiered on untarnished by war and poverty, translating to four-wheeled creations so extreme they'd make the radical, rocket-inspired designs of the 1950s blush.

It is a stunning concept as a simple vehicle - you could drop this onto a Honda Civic platform and it'd still be a marvel. But it's Ward's plan for a powertrain that ups the already ample dose of outlandishness inherent in the Helios.

"In keeping with the founding premise at ICON, of fusing vintage design with the best modern drive experience and technology, I can think of no better platform to build this on, than the Tesla," Ward told Jalopnik.

In particular, Ward is targeting the upcoming Model X.

"I want to take the new Model X platform - so selectable AWD, 380-mile range, pure electric - and fuse it with this lost language," Ward said, adding that he's actively trying to score a meeting with Tesla founder Elon Musk and that he "will move mountains to figure out how to get [it] built."

Here's hoping that he can make that happen, because the automotive world sorely needs something this wild, this extreme and this utterly, utterly breathtaking.

You can expand the images above or head over to Jalopnik for a closer look at the Helios. After that, be sure to visit the Comments. We really want to hear from you on this one.

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Jay Leno puts focus on some retro-inspired BMW bikes

07/29/2014   [Original: Autoblog]
Category: Aftermarket, Videos, BMW, Motorcycles, Celebrities, Special/Limited Editions, Design/Style

Quartet of retro-inspired BMWs

Jay Leno puts eight wheels on display this week for Jay Leno's Garage from a quartet of retro-inspired BMW motorcycles. They are the creations of husband and wife team Larry and Carol Romestant, who build each one in their home garage.

Larry is a former aerospace engineer who loves BMW bikes, especially the K models. Now, he's combining his passion with a real talent for fabrication to build his own cycles with his wife. With Larry and Carol the only ones working on these projects, it takes them six to nine months to build each one. In addition to the old-school looks, the motorcycles are supposed to be a bit more user friendly than stock. For example, one of them ditches the standard five-speed gearbox in favor of a six-speed unit to be a little more comfy when cruising at high speeds.

Since there isn't enough time to take all four of them for a ride, Jay picks his favorite to test out on the open road. Scroll down to see which one he chooses.

Continue reading Jay Leno puts focus on some retro-inspired BMW bikes

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Nissan commits to adding 'iconic' design after Cube killed off

07/25/2014   [Original: Autoblog]
Category: Hatchbacks, Nissan, Design/Style

Nissan Cube

The Nissan Cube is on its way out here in the US and Canada. In a way, that's too bad, simply because the Cube's styling was nothing if not distinctive - much like the company's own Juke. However, the flame for uniquely styled models is indeed still burning over at Nissan.

We might never see an exact replacement for the Cube in the brand's lineup, but product planning boss Andy Palmer says that its retirement leaves a spot open in the Nissan lineup for something else. "To be clear, we will morph this space in our portfolio into something iconic," said Palmer to Automotive News. Unfortunately, he wouldn't hint at what that could mean.

However, his lack of suggestions makes it fun to speculate about what oddity could replace the Cube, especially since two of Nissan's more recent quirky concepts might have problems hitting the road. The Bladeglider is mired in Nissan and Deltawing Technologies' ongoing patent lawsuit. Alternatively, the retro-inspired IDx might be too expensive to build profitably. Still, this is the company that created both the (nearly dead) Murano CrossCabriolet and the very successful Juke; it can probably come up with something else delightfully weird.

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