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Ward's Automotive picks best car interiors of 2011

04/12/2011   [Original: Wards Automotive via Autoblog]
Category: Audi, BMW, Chevrolet, Dodge, Ford, Honda, Hyundai, Jeep, Toyota, Volvo

Audi A8 interior
Wards Automotive 10 Best Interiors of 2011 - Click above for high-res image gallery

Wards Automotive takes its 10 Best Interior awards seriously. The industry mag tested 51 vehicles to come up with this year's winners, which span three luxury vehicles, three economy cars, a sport sedan, a minivan, a family sedan and an SUV. Ward's AutoWorld Editor-in-Chief Drew Winter says the publication has never tested so many vehicles, adding, "Every auto maker wants the freshest, highest-quality interior possible for all the vehicles they sell."

Showing just how much the world of interiors has changed over the years, Chrysler was the only automaker to take home two awards, thanks to the Dodge Charger and Jeep Grand Cherokee, while Kia and Hyundai could technically say the same since the Elantra and Optima each took home honors. At the same time, both Toyota and Lexus were shut out, as was Honda's Acura luxury brand and Mercedes-Benz.

Among the first-time winners for 2011 are the Ford Focus Titanium and Chevy Cruze. Click on the image above to browse through all 10 winners, or you can head over to Wards Automotive for the complete scoop.

What do you think - Did Wards get it right? If not, what was left out and what should it replace?

Gallery: Wards 2011 10 Best Interiors

2011 Audi A82011 Audi A8BMW X3BMW X32011 Chevy Cruze 2LT

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Mini Cooper Countryman only small car to earn good grade in latest IIHS crash tests [w/video]

07/30/2014   [Original: Autoblog]
Category: Economy, Safety, Videos, Hatchbacks, Mazda, MINI

Competitors in the small-car segment didn't do nearly as well. Four vehicles earned "poor" grades.

Only one small car out of 12 tested earned a good grade in the latest round of crash-test results compiled by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety. The Mini Cooper Countryman received a "good" ranking on the organization's small-front overlap test.

Its competitors in the small-car segment didn't do nearly as well. Four vehicles earned "poor" grades, including the all-electric Nissan Leaf and Juke, the Mazda5 and the Fiat 500L, and two more earned marginal scores.

Introduced two years ago, the small front overlap test has been a difficult one for automakers to master, particularly so for small cars, which have less weight to absorb the forces of a car accident. So far, IIHS has tested 32 vehicles in the small-car segment and 13 have earned marginal or poor scores. On the flip side, 19 earned good or acceptable scores.

"Consumers trading the inherent safety of a larger vehicle for the convenience or fuel economy of a small car should focus their search on these vehicles with state-of-the-art safety designs," said Joe Nolan, senior vice president for vehicle research at IIHS.

Continue reading Mini Cooper Countryman only small car to earn good grade in latest IIHS crash tests [w/video]

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VIDEO: A four-part history of RUF

11/06/2007   [Original: YouTube via Autoblog]
Category: Tuner Tuesdays, Sports/GTs, Videos, Supercars, Porsche, Ruf

click above image for a history lesson on RUF

Ahh, the joy of YouTube. Every once in a while we come upon a jewel like this - a four-part series on the history of Ruf, perhaps the most famous of Porsche tuners. The documentary features Alois Ruf recounting the history of the company, starting with the formation of AUTO RUF in 1939 and ending with the development of the new CTR3 supercar. In between are the details of Alois' love of motorsport, the top speed testing of the Yellow Bird and CTR2, and the company's philosophy on restoration and working on customer cars. It's a full 30+ minutes of footage, but it's worth it even if you aren't a huge Porsche or Ruf fan. You can watch all four clips after the jump.

Continue reading VIDEO: A four-part history of RUF

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Bernie Ecclestone wishes you a Merry Christmas... at Max Mosley's expense

12/23/2008   [Original: F1 Fanatic via Autoblog]
Category: Motorsports, Etc., Humor

Formula One impresario Bernie Ecclestone's Christmas tradition is to send a mischievous card to friends. The past few years he probably hasn't had to work too hard to come up with something -- in fact, it's probably taken more time to figure out which particular F1 shenanigan he wanted to portray.

This year, Bernie looked no further than one of his best friends, Max Mosley. Max was embroiled in an ugly sex scandal earlier this year, and Ecclestone's card depicts Max meting out the same justice to F1 team bosses that a room full of prostitutes did for him while Bernie stands by with the band-aids. The other interesting things about the card: Toyota's manager is writhing in agony and while the other team bosses appear to be watching the race, Toro Rosso's Gerhard Berger is watching... legs.

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Shanghai Preview: New Roewe MG6 is... nice

04/17/2009   [Original: Auto Sina ( via Autoblog]
Category: Sedans/Saloons, China, Roewe, Shanghai Motor Show

This is the Roewe MG6, and it's a good looking car. As the sporty version of the 550 (another good looking car), the MG6 gets a tauter nose with new lights, a slightly more upswept swage line, and a fastback rear end.

The Roewe 550 signified a break from the heavily Rover-based design still found models like the Roewe 750, undoubtedly due to the international design team based in China and the UK. The MG6 continues the trend of independent design, not relying on being merely a tweaked copy of its sibling, or any other car for that matter. It will be debuting at the Shanghai Motor Show, and to you, Roewe, we say keep up the good work.

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Retrotastic Render: Bugatti Stratos Concept

06/26/2009   [Original: Delusso via Carscoop via Autoblog]
Category: Bugatti, Rendered Speculation

Bugatti Stratos Concept - Click above for a high-res image gallery

French graphic designer Bruno Delusso didn't want to be bothered with the engineering and mechanical issues that plague the average concept car - he just wanted to create something stunning. So by throwing production feasibility, drivetrain components and caution to the wind, he succeeded.

Inspired by the Bugatti Type 57, Alfa Romeo 6C 2500 Mille Miglia and Raymond Lowey's locomotive designs, Delusso rendered up this: the Bugatti Stratos. Aside from the rear window and grille, it's difficult to peg the Statos as anything more than futuristic, Photoshop-enhanced naval-gazing, but the design speaks for itself, so check it out in the image gallery below.

Gallery: Bugatti Stratos

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Report: Ford's J Mays feels vindicated by Fusion reception

09/26/2012   [Original: Autoblog]
Category: Car Buying, Aston Martin, Ford, Jaguar, Land Rover, Lincoln, Mercury, Design/Style

Ford designer J Mays with 2013 FusionIt's hard to think back now, but the same man overseeing the design of the 2013 Ford Fusion also presided over a rather lackluster period in Ford design, highlighted by vehicles like the Five Hundred and Freestyle. With the redesigned Fusion receiving high praise, J Mays tells Automotive News that he feels vindicated from criticisms suggesting he's not a daring enough designer.

When Mays took over as lead of design in 1997, he admits to having quite an ego ("My head would barely fit through the door some days. I've long since gotten over myself") and the workload to match. With the Blue Oval's portfolio full of premium brands like Aston Martin, Jaguar, Land Rover and Volvo at that point, along with the bread-and-butter Ford, Lincoln and Mercury models, Mays certainly had quite the challenge.

It was in the mid-2000s that Mays took over just the premium brands, and took on the new title of Chief Creative Officer. At the time, Mays endured some criticism for looking backwards to retro styling, rather than setting a new standard for American car design - criticism that Mays says he is free from with the all-new Fusion.

It's also significant to point out the big names in car design came through the doors of Ford's design house under Mays. Names like Ian Callum (now of Jaguar), and Henrik Fisker, who was then at Aston Martin but has now gone on to start his own carmaker.

Mays, who spent time at BMW, Audi and Volkswagen told AN that American carmakers don't have to imitate Europe's luxury automakers to provide premium products (perhaps a bit ironic considering that even cheerleaders of the sedan admit the new Fusion has an awful lot of Aston Martin design language up front). While the Fusion has been well-received, Mays still has his hands full trying to maintain the "One Ford" global design language, matching that up with truck design, and finding an identity for Lincoln. All we can say is, it ain't easy being J Mays.

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SEMA: Pure Vision Design imagines what could have been with Martini Racing 1966 Ford Mustang T-5R [w/video]

11/02/2012   [Original: Autoblog]
Category: Motorsports, SEMA, Time Warp, Coupes, Sports/GTs, Videos, Ford, Special/Limited Editions, Design/Style, Racing

Imagine, for a moment, this scene taking place way back in the 1960s:

"Ford has so much success with the Shelby racing program in the US, they had the new Indy motor that they wanted to get more development out of, they wanted to promote the Mustang more in Europe, and Martini Racing was just coming about. So the idea behind the car is that Ford contacted Martini and asked if they would do some testing on the Indy engine if they gave them some performance parts from Shelby."

It didn't actually happen, but it's a unique bit of historical coulda-woulda-shoulda-been described to us by Peter Harksell of Pure Vision Design. Its Martini Racing livery is enough for us to make us take notice, but the real story is the Indy Car engine underhood. It's an original Ford Indy engine from the 1960s, originally displacing 251 cubic inches and revving to a stratospheric 9,000 rpm.

The mill was rebuilt with the street in mind, now fuel-injected and measuring 300 cubic inches, and it boasts a wide and flat torque curve with over 300 pound-feet available from 3,000 to 7,000 rpm, maxing at 362 pound-feet. Horsepower comes to 426 at 6,900 rpm.

Just as importantly, the Mustang T-5R is built to handle with a modern suspension system from Detroit Speed & Engineering. Kept to just 2,300 pounds all in, this 'Stang is bound to be a serious performer. Check it out in our complete gallery above and read more about the car and its build process on Pure Vision Design's official website. Finally, be sure to watch the set of videos below.

Continue reading Pure Vision Design imagines what could have been with Martini Racing 1966 Ford Mustang T-5R [w/video]

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Geneva: Rolls-Royce Wraith revealed, ready to battle Bentley

03/05/2013   [Original: Autoblog]
Category: Frankfurt Auto Show, Coupes, Rolls Royce, Luxury

Bentley may have rounded out the redesign of its Continental line of cars with the new Flying Spur four-door's debut at this week's Geneva Motor Show, but Rolls-Royce has shown up in Switzerland with the Wraith, a GT coupe version of the Ghost sedan that moves the brand one step closer to having an answer for everything that wears a Flying B.

The Wraith's natural combatant would be Bentley's Continental GT Coupe, though as all Rollers come in orders of magnitude more expensive than their already costly competitors from Crewe, the new coupe's €245,000 initial starting price will be $100k USD more than the base price of the most expensive Continental, a GT Speed coupe.

What your CEO bonus money will get you is a 624-bhp V12 engine cranking out 590 pound-feet of torque. The sprint to 60 miles per hour will pass by in 4.4 seconds, with a unique 8-speed ZF automatic transmission snapping off shifts using a new Satellite Aided Transmission technology that works with GPS to pre-select the right gear for not only the road you're on, but the road you'll be coming up on ahead.

Rolls-Royce is also pushing the bounds of technology inside the Wraith relying heavily on voice commands, what it calls an 'on-board valet,' to input instructions and data into the nav and infotainment systems. For those who prefer more tactile inputs, a Spirit of Ecstasy Rotary Controller accepts inputs via a touchpad that offers pinch-to-zoom and character drawing functionality.

The Wraith wouldn't be allowed to wear the winged goddess if it didn't pamper its passengers, and that goal is achieved in typical Rolls fashion with herds of "Phantom-grade" cow-hide, expanses of new Canadel Panellng wood trim, and the first use of the brand's unique Starlight Headliner fiber optic headliner outside the Phantom range.

We'll have live images of the Wraith's debut in Geneva soon, but you can dine on this gallery of fine official images until then and have a servant read you the official press release below.

Continue reading Rolls-Royce Wraith revealed, ready to battle Bentley

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Report: Honda boss says Chinese drivers don't want green cars

04/24/2013   [Original: Autoblog]
Category: Car Buying, Hybrids/Alternative, China, Honda, Shanghai Motor Show

Honda Concept M minivan for 2013 Shanghai Motor Show

According to The Wall Street Journal, Honda CEO Takanobu Ito believes that China's nascent car-buying demographic isn't all that interested in hybrid cars - at least not yet. The emissions story doesn't resonate with them, and certainly not for the higher purchase premium such models usually carry. What they really want, Ito believes, is reliable, affordable cars that fit their needs. When it comes to Honda sales, the numbers would appear to jibe with his thoughts: Honda sold 598,577 vehicles in China last year through its two joint ventures, yet just 542 of them were hybrids - not even a tenth of a percent. However, Toyota sold 840,500 cars in China last year, and two percent of that total, 17,300 units, were hybrids, which is closer to the still-piddling three-percent ratio of sales that Toyota posted in the US last year.

Honda offers the Insight, Fit Hybrid and CR-Z in China and plans to make components for its Integrated Motor Assist hybrid system there from next year, the hope being it will reduce the cost of hybrid cars for local buyers. That was one part of the plan Honda laid out last year to popularize its IMA system in China. Other initiatives include the introduction of a new hybrid system for mid-sized and large vehicles and a plug-in hybrid. Among the four new vehicles Honda showed during this weekend's press day for the Shanghai Motor Show (including the Concept M minivan pictured above) there was not a single hybrid among them.

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