Official: Volkswagen XL Sport brings high-performance fuel-sipping to Paris

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Volkswagen XL Sport

Just over one year ago, we reported on rumors that Volkswagen was pairing with its then-new corporate cousin, Italian motorcycle maker Ducatti, to build a high-performance version of the XL1, a vehicle that we (actually, I) said would be a "firecracker," thanks to its super-low curb weight, slippery aerodynamics and alleged 190-horsepower engine. Now, only slightly late for its rumored Geneva Motor Show debut, VW is trotting out the so-called XL Sport to the 2014 Paris Motor Show.

Total output has jumped to 197 horsepower, thanks to the presence of a Ducatti 1199 Superleggera V-twin, which has been mated up to a seven-speed dual-clutch transmission. In addition to screaming its way to 11,000 rpm, the two-cylinder engine will help the XL Sport zip to 62 miles per hour in a brisk 5.8 seconds before reaching a top speed of 168 miles per hour.

168 mph is a lofty speed for a 200-hp vehicle, and it wouldn't be possible without VW's obsessive streamlining of the XL Sport's body.

That's a lofty speed for a 200-horsepower vehicle, and it wouldn't be possible without VW's obsessive streamlining of the XL Sport's body. Featuring a 0.258 coefficient of drag, it's not as efficient as the standard XL1's 0.189, thanks to the presence of wider tires, increased downforce and additional cooling ducts. Still, the XL is sleek enough for VW to claim the title of most aerodynamic sports car.

A pushrod rear suspension and forged magnesium wheels are just a few of the race-minded items underpinning the XL Sport, indicating that on top of being a quick little scamp, it should prove a capable dancer.

While Volkswagen is planning on building 250 XL1s, at this point there's no indication that the XL Sport will be sold to the public. We're guessing that question could depend on the public's reaction to the unique sportster when it makes its debut in the coming days at the 2014 Paris Motor Show.

Scroll down for the full press release from Volkswagen, and then head into the gallery and take a closer look at the XL Sport.

Continue reading Volkswagen XL Sport brings high-performance fuel-sipping to Paris

Volkswagen XL Sport brings high-performance fuel-sipping to Paris originally appeared on Autoblog on Wed, 01 Oct 2014 15:00:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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Official: Lamborghini reveals Asterion LPI 910-4 hybrid hypercar concept

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Lamborghini Asterion LPI 910-4

There are automakers that roll out concept cars regularly as a matter of course, and there are those that rarely do. Lamborghini falls squarely in the latter category, which makes the vehicle you see here - revealed just a day before the Paris Motor Show - such a rare treat.

It's called the Lamborghini Asterion LPI 910-4, and if you're familiar with Sant'Agata nomenclature, you're probably already picking apart its specs based on those letters and numbers: LP for longitudinal posterior, telling you this is, like all other contemporary Raging Bulls, a mid-engined supercar. 910 tells you how much metric horsepower it packs. The 4 tells you it's all-wheel drive. But along with the name Asterion, borrowed from a mythical minotaur (a hybrid man-bull, for those unschooled in Greek mythology), it's the letter I - standing for "Ibrido" - which speaks of the novelty of this concept.

That's right, you're looking at the first gasoline-electric hybrid Lamborghini. A plug-in hybrid, in fact, that can travel 31 miles on electricity alone. The powertrain combines the 5.2-liter V10 and seven-speed DSG from the Huracán (good for 610 metric horsepower) to a trio of electric motors (good for another 300) to bring total output up to a claimed 910 - equivalent to 897 hp by our standards - assuming all four motors are running at peak output at the same time. That makes it the most powerful Lamborghini we've ever seen, and puts it in league with the McLaren P1 and LaFerrari. The result is a 0-62 time quoted at three seconds flat and a top speed of 199 miles per hour, or up to 78 mph in pure electric mode.

That's right, you're looking at the first gasoline-electric hybrid Lamborghini.

Of course there's more to the Asterion than its powertrain, exceptional as it is. The striking form is pure Lambo, all sharp angles, intersecting lines and big vents. Closer to the softer Huracán than the pure visual aggression of the Aventador, the concept has a longer front deck vaguely reminiscent of the Miura. The interior, like those of every production Lambo since Urraco (and the LM002) is a pure two-seater, rendered in a decidedly lighter tan and brown but with all the requisite carbon-fiber trim. The doors open more out than up, something in between the Huracán's conventional portals and the Aventador's scissors, in a similar (but more aggressive) approach to the swan doors you'd find on an Aston Martin.

The big question, of course, is whether Lamborghini has any intention of building the Asterion, and any answer at this point would be pure speculation. But considering how much attention (and what big price tags) its rivals have garnered for their hybrid hypercars, and the capacity Lambo has created for producing small runs of rare machinery like the Veneno and Sesto Elemento, our reaction would likely be more delighted than shocked. Whether or not the Asterion itself ever reaches customer hands, though, you can bet that the hybrid powertrain eventually will, in some form or another.

Continue reading Lamborghini reveals Asterion LPI 910-4 hybrid hypercar concept

Lamborghini reveals Asterion LPI 910-4 hybrid hypercar concept originally appeared on Autoblog on Wed, 01 Oct 2014 14:32:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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Official: Mercedes forced to lower MPG ratings on two C300 models *UPDATE

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2013 Mercedes C300 4Matic

*UPDATE: Donna Boland, manager of corporate communications at Mercedes Benz USA, told AutoblogGreen that the sticker change only applied to around 500 C-Class vehicles on dealer lots, since a new C-Class came out in late August. "About 500 are left in the United States, and we've relabeled them," she said.

First Hyundai, then Ford and now Mercedes-Benz. The list of companies that have had to change their vehicles' official EPA fuel economy ratings has just grown by one with the announcement that the 2013 and 2014 C300 4-Matic FFV and PZEV versions need to have their EPA labels adjusted.

The changes aren't massive, at most one mile per gallon.

The changes aren't massive, at most one mile per gallon, but they are lower than before. The FFV version goes from 20 to 19 mpg in the city while the PZEV drops one mpg across the board from 23/20/29 combined/city/highway) to 22/19/28. The FFV's combined (22) and highway (27) ratings stay the same. Other Mercedes vehicles that were spot checked turned out to have accurate labels.

The problem, which is reminiscent of the issues that Ford had with the Total Road Load Horsepower, was that "Mercedes underestimated the impact of aerodynamic drag and tire rolling resistance known as 'road-load,'" the EPA said in a statement you can read below. We have asked Mercedes for more information on the issue but have not yet heard back.

We're not sure how many vehicles the EPA is retesting (or asking to be retested), but the agency says that the C300 models were evaluated again by Mercedes "with EPA oversight" and the EPA did its own tests at the National Vehicle and Fuel Emissions Laboratory in Ann Arbor, MI. Christopher Grundler, the director of EPA's Office of Transportation and Air Quality, said that the EPA knows that the changes are minimal, but that, "it is important that our oversight system is producing the correct results because even one MPG matters to consumers."

In case you need a primer in the recent history of companies adjusting their EPA numbers, check out this and this. Based on today's news, we won't be surprised to hear more changes are coming.

Continue reading Mercedes forced to lower MPG ratings on two C300 models *UPDATE

Mercedes forced to lower MPG ratings on two C300 models *UPDATE originally appeared on Autoblog Green on Wed, 01 Oct 2014 13:28:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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First Drive: 2014 Renault Twingo [w/video]

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2014 Renault Twingo

In cars, as in all things, there exists a huge chasm between what is possible and what is probable. It may be possible, for example, that within a few years, we'll be zipping around town in hydrogen-powered, autonomous flying cars. But the likelihood is that we'll all be driving four-wheeled vehicles with internal combustion engines and our hands at ten and two for the foreseeable future - just as we have for generations. The same goes for the layout of those cars we drive.

It's possible for automakers to put the engine just about anywhere they want. And there are those that place them behind the cabin. But those are mostly exotics. The overwhelming probability is that the next car you buy - like the one before it, the one in which you were driven home from the hospital and every one in between - will have its engine up front.

That's what makes this new Renault Twingo so intriguing. While competitors like Volkswagen and Fiat succeeded their rear-engined hatchbacks with conventional front-engined ones, Renault has gone the opposite direction with its new Twingo, switching from a front-engine layout to a rear one. Think Porsche 911, only far, far more accessible. That is, at least, for European buyers, because Renault doesn't sell any of its models (Twingo included) in North America. So we boarded a flight for France to see if this new-old approach has merit.

Continue reading 2014 Renault Twingo [w/video]

2014 Renault Twingo [w/video] originally appeared on Autoblog on Wed, 01 Oct 2014 11:59:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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Official: Infiniti Q80 Inspiration Concept previews a fullsize future of luxury

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Infiniti Q80 Inspiration Concept

Infiniti Q80 InspirationWell, this certainly looks like a concept, doesn't it? From the wide, portal-esque door opeings to the boattail rear window design, there's just so much about the Infiniti Q80 Inspiration that looks like it would never actually reach production that we're impressed the automaker had the gumption to put the machine together and show it off at the 2014 Paris Motor Show.

This marks the first time that Infiniti has shown any sort of real intent to enter into the rarefied air of the fullsize luxury sedan segment since the Q45, populated as it is by the likes of the Audi A8, BMW 7 Series and Mercedes-Benz S-Class. Those are extremely heavy hitters to market against, and Infiniti sounds anxious to throw its hat in the ring.

"We aim to do this with elegance, style, and emotion," says Francois Bancon, Infiniti Vice President, Product Strategy. "This car is making a statement. Q80 Inspiration is a precursor of a production model in this segment and, as such, integral to our future."

Infiniti says we should expect to see production powertrains within the next two years that use the kind of technology debuted in the Q80 Inspiration. A twin-turbocharged, 3.0-liter V6 engine is paired with one or more (details are scarce, sadly) electric motors to provide 550 horsepower and on-demand all-wheel drive. What's more, Infiniti is quoting 42.8 miles per gallon and CO2 emissions of about 129g/km for this concept, though we don't know how those figures are calculated or on what driving cycle. In any case, power and efficiency are always welcome.

The Q80 Inspiration previews a future fullsize luxury sedan from Infiniti.

Inside, Infiniti says it wanted to pack as much technology into the Q80 Inspiration as possible, without overcomplicating the driving experience. In addition to driver-activated autonomous capability, both the driver and passenger get innovative Head-Up Displays projected on the windshield, while rear-seat passengers each get their own touchscreen units. Leather and Alcantara appear to cover just about everything else.

We wouldn't expect all of the truly showstopping details to make it into production, but the overall flowing design ethos, along with what Infiniti is calling its human-centric take on high-tech interior and autonomous driving technology seem likely to join its turbocharged drivetrain buoyed by a brace of electric motors as likely additions to a future fullsize luxury sedan from Infiniti.

There's plenty more information to glean from the official press blast below, along with a full image gallery above. You know what

Continue reading Infiniti Q80 Inspiration Concept previews a fullsize future of luxury

Infiniti Q80 Inspiration Concept previews a fullsize future of luxury originally appeared on Autoblog on Wed, 01 Oct 2014 11:03:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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Official: Nissan Leaf makes it 19 in a row for record sales; Chevy Volt drops 21 percent

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Nissan Leaf Chevy Volt

The Nissan Leaf continues its streak of "best month ever" sales with 2,881 EVs sold in September. Compared to the 1,953 sold in September 2013, that represents an increase of 47.5 percent and, as Nissan itself must be tired of saying by now, it marks yet another best month ever, same as last month and now the 19th in a row. Okay, sure, we know, Nissan will tout this run for as long as it can, but we're certainly expecting it each month, so if it ever doesn't happen, it'll be interesting to see how Nissan talks about it.

Year-to-date, Leaf sales are up 35.7 percent compared to 2013.

In any case, Nissan's director of EV marketing, Toby Perry, sent AutoblogGreen a statement that said, "Nissan Leaf owners have turned into some of our best marketers, and they jump at any opportunity to share their enthusiasm with friends and family. Take National Drive Electric Week - a grassroots celebration of all things EV and the perfect platform for LEAF owners to showcase the benefits of going electric. After celebrating with EV owners in more than 130 cities across the country, we saw a significant increase in Leaf showroom visits with midweek traffic just as heavy as what we see on the weekends." Year-to-date, Leaf sales are up 35.7 percent compared to 2013.

Over on the Chevy Volt front, things aren't quite as rosy. After coming off a good August (the best sales month of 2014 by almost 500 units), Volt sales were down to 1,394, a decrease of 21.1 percent compared to September 2013. So far this year, Volt sales are down 13.2 percent year-over-year. It's kind of a stretch, but perhaps people are already waiting for the next-gen Volt, which will be revealed at the Detroit Auto Show in January, to go on sale?

Speaking of things we say every month, our in-depth round-up of US green car sales is in process and will be appearing soon. Until then, please discuss how these two long-standing plug-in champs are doing on the sales floor.

Nissan Leaf makes it 19 in a row for record sales; Chevy Volt drops 21 percent originally appeared on Autoblog Green on Wed, 01 Oct 2014 10:18:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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Motorsports: Formula E will allow different batteries, motors in second season

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Formula E

Kicking off in Beijing two weeks ago, the inaugural FIA Formula E Championship race is now officially in the history books. But rather than a full-on world championship, Formula E is more of a spec racing series. That's because every team is running identical cars, but the series organizers want to change that.

Starting next season, Formula E will shift from a one-make series to an open one, inviting additional manufacturers to take part. "In year two the teams will be able to build their own batteries and their own motors," said Formula E CEO Alejandro Agag. "They could build their own whole car if they wanted. But the regulations are quite strict and they don't allow a lot of development in aerodynamics, but they do allow development in motor and battery. I would hope that we have three or four different makers of motors and batteries in the championship for year two."

If the teams and additional manufacturers take the bait and join in on the action, the series could be officially elevated to world-championship status, for which the FIA requires at least four manufacturers. Some teams will surely stick with the current Spark chassis and Renault motor, but with Audi supporting a team, Drayson serving as a technical partner for the Trulli team, and both BMW and Rimac providing race support vehicles, there looks to be a good number of manufacturers interested in the series - and maybe more as this first season picks up steam... or voltage, or whatever it is the cars run on.

Continue reading Formula E will allow different batteries, motors in second season

Formula E will allow different batteries, motors in second season originally appeared on Autoblog Green on Wed, 01 Oct 2014 07:57:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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Report: A BMW i3 will cost you $100,000 in Brazil

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BMW i3

Brazil is a long way from the US, and the price of the BMW i3 in that South American country is even further away from what Americans pay for the same electric vehicle. But that hasn't stopped a few wealthy Brazilians from taking the plunge.

The BMW i3 REx - i.e., the one with the gas-powered range-extender - is the first mass-produced vehicle of its kind to be imported to Brazil (there are a few Nissan Leaf vehicles in fleet use), and those intrepid buyers are forking over about $100,000 to own the vehicle, according to Just-Auto. The country's first 100 i3's were recently received in Sao Paolo, and about 30 of them have been sold. That pricetag is a wee bit higher than in the US, where the i3 starts under $42,000. BMW did open a $261-million factory in Brazil this year, but the i3 continues to be produced exclusively in Germany.

It's not just fancy new plug-in cars and World Cup tickets that cost a lot in Brazil. The Volkswagen Golf, which retails for less than $18,000 in the States, costs about $23,000 in Brazil and the Economist ran a series of articles last year explaining how currency changes have resulted in the dollar-to-Brazilian real exchange rate surging in recent years.

A BMW i3 will cost you $100,000 in Brazil originally appeared on Autoblog Green on Tue, 30 Sep 2014 19:54:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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Official: This is how GM is hiding new Chevy Volt in public

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camouflaged new chevy volt

General Motors is letting the public know that, well, it's not about to let the public know anything else about the next-generation Chevrolet Volt. But the automaker is willing to talk about its camouflaging process for upcoming versions of the extended-range plug-in. So it's a half-hearted secret, at best.

GM actually has a "camouflage engineer" charged with creating ways to disguise the styling of new vehicles. In the Volt's case, the company is applying black and white swirly color patterns on top of the materials, such as plastics, vinyl and foam, that are used liberally across the body.

It's all part of a teaser campaign that started last month with pictures of part the 2016 Volt. Earlier this month, GM said it was keeping track of Volt drivers' habits as it works on the next-gen model. The company noted that more than four out of five trips are being made in all-electric driving mode, and that 60 percent of Volt owners use a plain-old 100-volt outlet to recharge their cars.

The car is slated to make its global debut at Detroit's North American International Auto Show next January, and the early word is that performance and all-electric range will be improved (we should hope so). The car will also be sleeker. By how much, we can't tell yet, because of those darn swirly patterns. GM's got more non-details in its press release below.

Continue reading This is how GM is hiding new Chevy Volt in public

This is how GM is hiding new Chevy Volt in public originally appeared on Autoblog Green on Tue, 30 Sep 2014 18:00:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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Recharge Wrap-up: LA Auto Show may feature updated Cadillac ELR, Uber expands Chicago HQ

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2014 cadillac elr

A Kentucky man has converted his 1939 Dodge pickup to an electric vehicle. Al Gajda of Lexington built the electric truck, which he now uses as his daily driver. "I take advantage of any excuse to drive it; just banging around town, errands, short runs on the interstate, delivering my granddaughter to school in the morning," he says. It is powered by a lithium-ion phosphate battery, which is mounted in a wooden box on the truck bed, and gets about 100 miles per charge. Read more at the Lexington Herald-Leader.

Elon Musk will speak at the Automotive News World Congress in January. The Tesla CEO is a featured speaker for the program, "Setting the Pace in a Thriving Market." The event takes place in Detroit, which could lead to an interesting mix of people in the audience, and Musk will speak on January 13. Read more at Automotive News.

Production of the Toyota Rav4 EV has ended. The shipment of the final Toyota EVs concludes Toyota's deal to source batteries from Tesla. Of the 2,600 Rav4 EVs to be produced, there are probably just a few hundred left to be sold, most of which are likely to be gone by the end of October. Read more at Inside EVs.

Cadillac will likely show an improved version of the ELR at the Los Angeles Auto Show in November. The 2016 ELR will include unspecified "engineering enhancements," according to Cadillac spokesman David Caldwell. There will be no 2015 model, as the 2014 model will be sold until the 2016 ELR goes on sale in the first half 2015. Read more at Edmunds.

Uber executives, along with Illinois Governor Pat Quinn, have announced a major expansion of the ride-hailing company's Chicago headquarters. Uber also plans to add 420 jobs by the end of 2016. "Uber's new expanded headquarters will allow the company to continue its rapid growth and serve its riders and drivers throughout Illinois," says Governor Quinn. Last month, Quinn vetoed legislation that would have put restrictions on companies like Uber in the state. Read more in the press release below.

Continue reading Recharge Wrap-up: LA Auto Show may feature updated Cadillac ELR, Uber expands Chicago HQ

Recharge Wrap-up: LA Auto Show may feature updated Cadillac ELR, Uber expands Chicago HQ originally appeared on Autoblog Green on Tue, 30 Sep 2014 16:00:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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What’s a good Minivan or Hybrid for a family of 4/5?
  • What other ways is there to run Automobiles other then on oil and gasoline?
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