Sedans/Saloons auto news

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Mercedes reveals armored S600 Guard

08/06/2014   [Original: Autoblog]
Category: Sedans/Saloons, Mercedes Benz, Special/Limited Editions, Luxury

2015 Mercedes-Benz S600 Guard

It's not every day that Mercedes rolls out a new S-Class, but when it does, Benz usually makes the most of it. Since revealing the latest W222-generation model just last year, the Silver Star automaker has revealed a steady stream of variants, including sedans, coupes and AMG models. You can bet there will be more to come, including Pullman and Maybach versions to make Mercedes' flagship model even more luxurious, but for some buyers there can be no greater luxury than safety. And for just such buyers, Mercedes has now revealed the new S600 Guard.

Joining the E-Guard, M-Guard and G500 Guard, the new S600 Guard offers what Mercedes claims are unprecedented levels of ballistic protection. Rather than buying an existing S-Class and sending it for retrofitting, the German automaker fits it with components made of aramide, polyethylene and a special steel compound right on the assembly line. It also gets polycarbonate-coated glass and underbody reinforcement to make the S600 Guard the first vehicle to meet the top VR9 level of ballistic certification against firearms and explosives.

Despite all the modifications, the S600 Guard is said to be virtually indistinguishable from a standard S-Class, and provides the same level of comfort you'd expect from the flagship Mercedes. The cabin can be configured in either four- or five-seat layouts, and in addition to all the usual luxuries, Mercedes has equipped the S600 Guard with opaque roller blinds, opaque roller blinds, a panic alarm system, automatic fire suppression system, emergency fresh air system and beefed-up hydraulic power windows.

The S600 Guard is powered by the same 6.0-liter twin-turbo V12 as the standard S600 with 523 horsepower and 612 pound-feet of torque channeled through a seven-speed automatic transmission. You can expect performance to be more lethargic due to the added weight, however, with the top speed electronically limited to 130 miles per hour. Mercedes also gives the armored sedan a recalibrated air suspension, larger brakes and Michelin PAX run-flat tires with tire pressure monitoring system.

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Get ready to Camino-ize your fourth-generation VW Jetta with this kit

08/06/2014   [Original: Autoblog]
Category: Aftermarket, Sedans/Saloons, Trucks/Pickups, Volkswagen

Volkswagen Jetta Ute

Inexpensive, small pickup trucks used to be everywhere in the US, whether they were from Japanese brands like Datsun or Toyota, the truly weird Subaru Brat or even from Europe with the Volkswagen Caddy based on the Golf. These days that market has completely disappeared, but if you're willing to pick up some tools to build your own, there's a company out there bringing the Caddy back as a kit for the Jetta.

Mark Smith knows a thing about building a vehicle at home. He has over two decades in the DIY-car business as a co-founder of Local Motors and the company that became Factory Five Racing. His latest venture is Smyth Performance and already offers a mid-engine, VW-based kit called the G3F. His new product, though, started as a fluke. "I just wanted a shop truck," said Smith to Autoblog. He already had a Ford F-450 but found that he was driving around with the bed empty most of the time. The result was a pickup truck based on the fourth-generation Jetta that he dubbed the Ute.

The kit retails for $3,500 and ships in three, big boxes, and it's designed to be built and painted in a weekend. Buyers get fiberglass exterior panels, a fiberglass rear window surround, sliding rear window, an aluminum reinforced bed with a tubular steel subframe, taillights, a fully functional steel tailgate, and other parts. In the end, you get a vehicle with a six-foot bed and a payload of around 700-750 pounds. The Ute maintains all of the factory suspension, fuel tank and emissions equipment and requires just a few cuts in the body to complete. "We did a modern Caddy," admits Smith.

Sales are already progressing well for the Ute with "hundreds, not thousands" moved so far, Smith said. You can learn more about this reborn compact pickup at the Smyth Performance website.

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TFLcar going from Prague to Pebble in a Tatra [w/videos]

08/05/2014   [Original: Autoblog]
Category: Time Warp, Sedans/Saloons, Euro, Videos, Luxury, Read This

Tatra 603

Today, the Tatra brand is best known for its heavy-duty trucks that carry goods all over Europe, but their legacy as a carmaker is a bit less celebrated, especially in the US. That's a shame, because the Czech company's legacy includes some of the oddest passenger vehicles to ever hit the roads. Case in point: the Tatra 603. With four lights in its round grille, the sedan has a face only a mother could love, but things get truly odd in the rear where you find an air-cooled, V8 engine.

Coincidentally, the Tatra is getting a special class dedicated to it at this year's Pebble Beach Concours d'Elegance. Auto journalist Roman Mica and the rest of the team from The Fast Lane Car decided on a wickedly cool project to coincide with the event. They bought a 1968 Tatra 603 in Liberec, Czech Republic, with the goal of driving it across a continent and a half, all the way to Pebble Beach. The undertaking has a personal touch too because Mica was actually born in the former Czechoslovakia and fled the country as a child in 1968 after the communists invaded.

The site is documenting the whole endeavor, which it calls Prague to Pebble or Bust, on video and is posting them online. If you're a fan of quirky old cars or what it takes to live with them, you really need to check this series out. You can check out the project page here to see all of the videos so far. Scroll down to watch the episodes where the team picks up the car in Europe, its arrival in the US and a brief mechanical look.

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What you missed on 8.4.2014

08/05/2014   [Original: Autoblog]
Category: Spy Photos, Coupes, Sedans/Saloons, Sports/GTs, Trucks/Pickups, Supercars, Luxury

Daily U-Turn

First Drive: 2015 Acura TLX

Our man Michael Harley takes his turn behind the wheel of the brand-new Acura TLX and finds it a better car than either the TSX or TL, both of which it replaces in the automaker's lineup. Read the full review to find out the how and the why, and to see if it has what it takes to compete in such a hotly contested segment.

Ford F-Series Super Duty prototype burns while hot-weather testing

Yikes! Our intrepid spy shooters captured these images of a 2016 Ford F-Series Super Duty prototype burning to the ground out in Death Valley. Fortunately, nobody was hurt. The truck, as you can see, did not fare so well. Ford is investigating the cause of the blaze.

Hennessey Venom F5 gunning for 290 mph and 1,400 horsepower

How fast is fast enough? Well, we suppose that depends on who you ask. John Hennessey, for instance, has his sights set on 290 freaking miles per hour, and to achieve such ludicrous velocity, he's planning to pack 1,400 horsepower in the engine bay of his upcoming Venom F5. A total of 30 examples are planned. Get in line now.

Top Stories

  • Ford announces free brake pad offer if customers stop by dealers
  • Jay Leno gets his denim mitts on Dodge's new Challenger Hellcat
  • It's been 5 years since Cash For Clunkers, was it a success? [w/poll]
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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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2015 Acura TLX

08/04/2014   [Original: Autoblog]
Category: Sedans/Saloons, Acura, Driving, Luxury

2015 Acura TLX

Immediately after landing at Washington's Dulles airport, an Acura representative handed me the keys to a 2014 TSX with fewer than 180 miles on its clock. The four-cylinder engine started and I pointed its signature beak towards a destination in Middleburg, VA. It was a curious move by the Japanese automaker, especially considering that I had flown no less than 2,300 miles to drive the discontinued vehicle's ostensible successor, the all-new 2015 Acura TLX.

Yet spending a solid 40 minutes with a sparkling-new version of the outgoing model that still smelled showroom fresh, allowed me an opportunity to scrutinize the dropped sedan and remind myself why it had never really blown me away - it was good at doing many things, but truly great at doing none.

Time with the TSX also started me thinking about the Acura TL, the second model that the TLX will effectively replace. I have better memories of the slightly larger sedan, especially the SH-AWD 6MT trim - it's a solid driver's car - but it, too, fell short in areas where competitors, including the Audi A4, BMW 3 Series, Cadillac ATS, Lexus IS and Mercedes-Benz C-Class, excelled.

As I pulled up to the hotel a short while later, it became clear that Acura had some work to do. Its task over the next 48 hours would be to persuade me that its clean-sheet TLX was not only a worthy replacement for the TL and TSX, but a competitive player in this fiercely contested segment.

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Final Lexus IS F rolls off assembly line in Japan, bound for US

08/04/2014   [Original: Autoblog]
Category: Sedans/Saloons, Sports/GTs, Plants/Manufacturing, Lexus, Luxury

Lexus IS F

We knew this day would come, but it's nonetheless a bit of a sad one for Lexus enthusiasts as the very last example of the IS F has rolled off the assembly line in Tahara, Japan. Decked out in its trademark bright blue, the final IS F is destined for a customer right here in the United States.

Far from just another now-defunct model in an endless succession, the IS F marked the first time that Lexus did a proper performance model, debuting in production guise at the 2007 Detroit Auto Show alongside the LFA concept long before the latter entered production and took the idea of the high-performance Lexus even further. The IS F may not have sold in huge numbers, but it definitely marked a milestone for Toyota's luxury division.

Don't cry too much, however, as the new RC F that effectively takes its place packs an even mightier punch. While both are powered by essentially the same 5.0-liter V8 engine mated to an eight-speed automatic driving the rear wheels, the outgoing sedan's 416 horsepower and 371 pound-feet of torque is easily outgunned by the new coupe's 450 hp and 383 lb-ft.

The news was posted on Facebook by Yikihiko Yaguchi, the Toyota performance engineer responsible for both the IS F and RC F. Now, feel free to join us in a moment of silence...

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Next Buick Regal coming in 2017, could be imported from Germany

08/03/2014   [Original: Autoblog]
Category: Sedans/Saloons, Euro, Plants/Manufacturing, Buick, Rumormill

2014 Buick Regal

The Buick Regal is based on the Opel/Vauxhall Insignia, a pair of sedans from General Motors' European and British outfits. In fact, over 46,000 Regals from model years 2010 and 2011 were screwed together on the same lines as the Insignia twins, before GM's Oshawa, Ontario factory took over production fully. Considering this closeness, rumors that claim the next-generation Regal - due for 2017 - could move back to Europe aren't terribly surprising. Here's why, according to Automotive News.

Oshawa is home to three other vehicles, aside from the Regal - the Chevrolet Camaro, Impala rental queen and the Cadillac XTS. We already know next-gen Camaro production is headed to Lansing, MI, and that the fleet-only Impala will (finally!) die in 2016. As for the XTS, as AN explains it, sales are so slow that GM will either kill it or just shuffle its production volume elsewhere.

Taken along with the fact that Unifor, the Canadian labor union repping workers at the Oshawa factory, claim GM hasn't made any guarantees about future production at the nearly 60-year-old factory, it seems fairly clear that the Regal's current factory is going to be put out to pasture.

Meanwhile, according to AN, Opel has already dropped a not-so-subtle indicator that Buick production will be returning to the manufacturer's Russelsheim factory, issuing a statement back in March that read: "The Russelsheim plant has been chosen for the assembly of a future model which will be sold in the US under the Buick brand name in the second half of the decade."

Logistically, this all makes a lot of sense. As AN says, Canada is expensive, Russelsheim has room and GM execs have said that the German brand and Buick are pretty good bedfellows. Of course, we'll need to wait and see how this plays out. All things considered, though, the arrival of a German-built Buick seems like a very real possibility.

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Hyundai recalls over 419k vehicles in three campaigns

08/02/2014   [Original: Autoblog]
Category: Sedans/Saloons, SUVs, Recalls/TSBs, Crossovers/CUVs, Hyundai

Hyundai Sonata

Hyundai VeracruzGeneral Motors is the undisputed king of recalls for 2014. No one is going to contest this point. The American company is far from the only one with vehicles that need fixing, though, as Hyundai has announced another recall totaling 419,000 vehicles in three separate campaigns.

The majority of the vehicles affected come from the Santa Fe family, where 225,000 of the model year 2001 to 2006 CUVs will need their front springs replaced. It seems that the early Santa Fe's coils can rust and crack when subjected to frosty temperatures and the road salt that so often accompanies them. Should they fracture, it's possible that a crash would be the end result.

As this is an issue linked to road salt, only Santa Fes sold in 20 states - from Maine to Iowa and Wisconsin to West Virginia - are affected. Vehicles sold in Washington, D.C. are also covered in the recall.

Meanwhile, the Sonata sedan is getting dinged with another recall, the nameplate's third in less than three weeks. This time, the 2011 model is at fault, with 133,075 vehicles that could be leaking brake fluid, thanks to a bad seal between brake hose and the brake-line fitting.

Finally, the Veracruz is facing a recall, with 61,122 of the SUVs suffering from potential alternator failure. This issue is caused by a bad valve cover gasket in the front cylinder bank, which could cause oil to leak on the alternator causing the vehicle to stall or refuse to start.

None of these issues have lead to any crashes or injuries, although the Santa Fe's spring issue has resulted in 1,200 warranty claims and 90 cases of the spring contacting the tire, according to the Associated Press. As is usually the case, repairs on each vehicle will be conducted free of charge, while Hyundai plans to have notified owners of all affected cars and SUVs by the end of September.

Scroll down for the trio of bulletins from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

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Limited-edition Volvo S60 Polestar priced at $59,300*, V60 at $60,900*

08/02/2014   [Original: Autoblog]
Category: Car Buying, Sedans/Saloons, Sports/GTs, Hatchbacks, Volvo, Luxury

2015 Volvo V60 and S60 Polestar

2015 Volvo V60 Polestar BrochureYou saw their US reveal at this year's Chicago Auto Show and read our driving impressions from Sweden. Now, if you act fast, you can actually own one of the very limited 2015.5 Volvo S60 and V60 Polestar models coming to the United States. The order page for these slick Swedes is now online, but the slots are filling up about as quickly as these cars accelerate.

Volvo plans to build a combined 750 of these Polestar models for the world, but the US is being allocated just 120 of them. Prices start at $59,300 for the S60 or $60,900 for the V60 (*plus a $925 destination charge). The only option is color - either Black Sapphire or Rebel Blue. If rarity is playing a part in your decision, you might want to pick the S60. According to the reservation site, only 20 of the sedans in each color are making it over here; the rest are V60s.

As the top versions of their respective models, both Polestars are packed with features. They share a turbocharged, 3.0-liter inline six-cylinder engine rated at 345 horsepower and 369 pound-feet of torque with a six-speed automatic transmission and a rear-biased all-wheel-drive system. Acceleration to 60 miles per hour is claimed to take 4.7 seconds for the S60 or a tenth more for the V60 with a top speed of 155 mph. They are about more than just a hotter engine, though, with Öhlins shocks, six-piston brake calipers and 20-inch Polestar wheels with Michelin Pilot Super Sport tires. Check out the gallery for the full, official specs, and get to the order page soon, if you decide you need one of these limited Swedish sportsters.

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