Drive Away 2Day

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Renault DeZir : Concept Cars
Renault DeZir : Concept Cars

The Renault DeZir is a gorgeous electric-powered sports car that has zero-emissions, and looks like a million dollars. However, as a one-of-a-kind concept car that debuted in October during the Paris Auto Show, the price-tag for this French dream car is actually somewhat closer to $2-million.

That bit of insider knowledge was passed along by a smiling Renault spokesperson, only moments before we got behind the wheel of the DeZir (pronounced "desire") on a test track outside of Paris, France. The capital Z is marketing whimsy, meant to stress the car's "zero-emission" status and eco-friendly credentials.

Mounted behind the two-passenger cabin is an electric motor and lithium-ion battery pack. Unlike many show cars, the DeZir was built to be fully functional – though it does have limitations. The electric motor produces 148-bhp and 167 lb-ft of torque, with power routed to the rear wheels via an automatic transmission.

While it might not sound like much on paper, the EV's output is more than enough when you consider that the DeZir weighs only 1,830 lbs. To put things into perspective, a Mazda MX-5 Miata convertible weighs 650 lbs. more. Of course, the Miata also comes with airbags, sound-deadening material and loads of other features not found on this French concept car.

The DeZir is not only a showcase for Renault's electric vehicle technology; it's also a hint of the future design direction for the entire brand. At 166.3 inches long, the DeZir is approximately one inch longer than the current Audi TT coupe. Yet the curvaceous and ground-hugging shape of the Renault makes it look bigger than it is.

This is the first Renault designed and developed by the company's new design chief, Laurens van den Acker. Formerly of Mazda, the Dutch-born designer is now committed to bringing more passion to the Renault brand. This stylistic challenge is accentuated by Renault's ambitious plans to bring electric vehicles to market as early as next year.

"If we could marry this passion with this advanced would stir up a lot of discussion," said van den Acker. Asked pointedly if the DeZir has sparked internal discussions at Renault about serial production, he flashes a smile, answering "It's very high on my Christmas list."

One of the most important aspects of the DeZir's design is an instantly recognizable face. The Renault badge is large, and placed prominently in the center of the front fascia. Van den Acker promises the bold new look will be carried onto all future Renault vehicles, both electric and gas-powered.

If Renault wants to stir up passion, the DeZir is a big step in the right direction. The Kevlar body looks like its moving even when standing still – the surfaces simply beg you to run your hands along them. The scissor-style doors swing skywards, with all the drama you'd expect from the best supercars.

The doors are front-hinged on the driver side and rear-hinged on the passenger side. While they look cool; we didn't when wiggling our way in and out of the cabin. Sliding backwards onto the white leather seat, you swing your legs over the wide sills while trying not bash the door or dashboard with your shoes. Sorry for the scuff marks Renault.

That point about the DeZir's cost was likely an effort to reign in foolish driving. Not that there was much chance of performing any electric-powered donuts. Renault says the DeZir can accelerate from a 0 to 60 mph in 5.0 seconds. That's plenty quick, except the power had been dialed back for the drive – apparently to protect the car and make certain nothing fell apart.

This meant the DeZir lacked the strong low-end acceleration we love in other sporty electric cars. Being a concept, there was also plenty of wind and road noise. Pebbles and gravel could be heard pinging their way around the 21-inch alloy wheels, while the electric motor hummed loudly behind us. The cabin is full of beautiful curves, though most of the gauges and dials are non-functional.

While it's far from production-ready, the DeZir Concept is loaded with potential. Sports cars are generally used for shorter drives, and this is perfectly in keeping with the Renault's estimated 100 mile range and three recharging methods, which include a normal plug and outlet, a quick-charge system, or a battery pack that can be replaced using the "Quick Drop" process.

Depending on the method, a full charge takes anywhere from 8 hours (using a home outlet) to only a few minutes when replacing the entire battery pack via the Quick Drop system. Renault officials pointed out that the energy needed to recharge a DeZir at home is roughly equivalent to running a dryer.

So is this electric-powered French sports car for real, or simply a lot of hot air? Judging from Renault's investment in electric vehicles and Chairman Carlos Ghosn's commitment to the technology as witnessed by the Nissan Leaf, chances are good the DeZir will reach production. Renault has three electric vehicles set to go on sale next year in Europe: the Kangoo utility van, the Fluence sedan, and the tandem-seat Twizzy city-car. In 2012, the Renault Zoe compact car also joins the company's EV lineup.

Given Renault's alliance with Nissan, there is a strong possibility an electric-powered sports car based on the DeZir could go on sale in Europe and the U.S. within the next 2-3 years.

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Sources : Renault DeZir Concept Photo | Renault DeZir Concept Article | Renault DeZir Concept Photo 2 | Renault DeZir Concept Interior Photo
2014 Jeep Compass : Current Models
2014 Jeep Compass : Current Models

Cancel the drum roll. This is not the all-new Alfa Romeo–based compact crossover we’ve been hearing rumors about for some time now. The current Jeep Compass, introduced in 2007 and updated with a Grand Cherokee–like nose in 2011 will soldier on just a bit longer—but with some improvements.

On paper, at least, the idea of leveraging the highly recognizable Jeep brand into a front- or four-wheel-drive soft-roader that addressed America’s desire for smaller, more fuel-efficient vehicles seemed like a good idea at the time. But as delivered on the showroom floor, the resulting “street-savvy” Jeep Compass suffered under then-owner DaimlerChrysler’s belief that American small cars had to be cheap cars. The resulting vehicle came off as slow, noisy, clunky-handling, and with cheap-looking plastic trim inside straight from the dollar store. Making matters worse, the small, urbanized Jeep struggled to reach a 30-mpg EPA highway fuel-economy rating.

To address some of these shortcomings, Jeep’s been making continuous improvements over the past few years. The 2011 face lift that gave the Compass a miniature Grand Cherokee front-end and strategically upgraded some of the more egregious hard-plastic transgressions in the cabin helped a lot. Jeep’s addition of the Patriot’s Freedom Drive II off-road package to quell criticism the Compass wasn’t a true Jeep also was beneficial.

The improvements continue for 2014. A new acoustic-laminated windshield quiets some of the clatter coming from under the hood. New standard seat-mounted side airbags should help keep Compass’s side-impact rating from deteriorating under tougher IIHS testing. Exterior upgrades include 18-inch aluminum wheels, chrome bezels surrounding fog lamps, and projector-beam halogen headlamps on Limited models; while all models will get body-color side mirrors. Inside, Compass Limiteds gain a much-needed backup camera (its blocky D-pillars obfuscate rear three-quarter visibility), and perforated leather seats, while lesser models share a vinyl-wrapped console cover and door panels, as well as satin-chrome accents on the doors, dash bin, center stack, and shifter.

But the big change this year is in the new Compass’s driveline. For 2014, Jeep replaces the often-criticized continuously variable transmission that’s been used in the Compass since its introduction with a new Hyundai-designed six-speed step-gear automatic. It’s standard on the mid-level Compass Latitude and range-topping Limited trims, and optional on the base Sport model. Jeep has gone to the unusual length of stating it is using noise-resistant gears to promote quiet operation throughout the gear steps in the new six-speed, likely addressing the reputation the CVT has had for whirring noises and whiney operation. The new six-speed also features standard a manual shifting mode, and its final-drive ratio is shorter than that of the CVT it replaces, which should provide a slight boost to acceleration performance. The CVT remains in the lineup, but oddly enough only as the required gearbox in the optional Freedom Drive II off-road package. The five-speed manual continues as the standard transmission in the base Compass Sport.

Jeep hasn’t released 2014 EPA mileage estimates for the new six-speed autobox, which is available with both the 158-hp, 2.0-liter four-cylinder that’s standard on Sport and Latitude models and the 172-hp, 2.4-liter four-holer that powers the Limited. And inasmuch as the previous CVT was essentially a mileage play, it’s unlikely the better-performing, more aesthetically pleasing six-speed auto will do any better than the CVT did last year (a best of 22/28 mpg).

The modestly refreshed 2014 Jeep Compass will hit dealer showrooms in the spring of 2013. Pricing will be announced closer to the crossover’s on-sale date.

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Sources : 2014 Jeep Compass Photo | 2014 Jeep Compass Article | 2014 Jeep Compass Interior Photo | 2014 Jeep Compass Rear Photo
Toyota To Invest $102 Million To Boost Trans...
Toyota To Invest $102 Million To Boost Transmission Output In U.S : News

Toyota Motor Corp <7203.T> said on Friday it will invest $102 million at its West Virginia engine and transmission plant and aluminum casting factories in Missouri and Tennessee to boost production.

The Japanese automaker said it will invest $90 million at the Buffalo, West Virginia, plant to increase 6-speed automatic transmission production by almost 50 percent starting in early 2015.

The rest of the investment will be spent at aluminum casting facilities in Troy, Missouri, and Jackson, Tennessee, to provide transmission cases and housing parts to the West Virginia plant, Toyota said.

The project will create more than 100 jobs, the company said.

The West Virginia plant currently builds more than 500,000 transmissions annually; the expansion will boost that to 740,000 per year, Toyota said. The plant employs 1,300 people and builds transmissions for the Toyota Avalon, Camry, Highlander, Sienna and Venza, and Lexus RX350 vehicles.

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Sources : Toyota To Invest $102 Million To Boost Transmission Output In U.S Photo | Toyota To Invest $102 Million To Boost Transmission Output In U.S Article
2010 Bugatti Veyron : Photos
2010 Bugatti Veyron : Photos

Sources : 2010 Bugatti Veyron Photo
Bugatti Veyron vs Porsche 911 Turbo : Videos

Bugatti Veyron vs Porsche 911 Turbo Switzer R750 : Videos

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Sources : Bugatti Veyron vs Porsche 911 Turbo Switzer R750 Photo | Bugatti Veyron vs Porsche 911 Turbo Switzer R750 Video
2014 Shelby Ford SVT Raptor : Photos
2014 Shelby Ford SVT Raptor : Photos

Sources : 2014 Shelby Ford SVT Raptor Photo
1948 Alfa Romeo 6C 2500 Competizione...
1948 Alfa Romeo 6C 2500 Competizione : Classic Cars

Anticipating a war, Alfa Romeo hid their competition cars and production moulds before manufacturing would be suspended. When the hostilities of the Second World War were over, Alfa Romeo only needed to dig up the cars and moulds to immediately continue production. This gave the Milanese manufacturer an apparent edge over the competition, but the lack of high quality materials hampered production. One of the competition cars concealed was the Alfa Romeo 158 Grand Prix racer, which took the first Formula 1 Championship in 1950.

Production of the 6C 2500 road car recommenced early in 1947. Being the only luxury supercar available, the 6C 2500 SS was the most expensive new car. With the production 6C 2500 being similar to the pre-War model, it would have not been a surprise if the competition version would be similar to the Corsa of 1939 and 1940, but Alfa Romeo had other plans. In 1946 work was started on a new Berlinetta racer based on the Mille Miglia 2nd place finishing 6C 2500 SS Corsa.

Of the many modifications carried through, the shorter wheelbase and revised rear suspension are the most obvious. Another 20 mm was cut off the already short 6C 2500 SS, to save weight and increase the car's cornering ability. The all-round independent suspension was retained, but the rear torsion bar / friction damper setup was replaced by a single transverse leaf spring and twin hydraulic dampers. Engine performance was also increased, the six cylinder engine now produced a factory quoted 145 bhp, opposed to the 120 bhp of the pre-War racer.

The short wheelbase chassis was bodied in the factory and was designed with aerodynamics in mind only. The ultra low 'drop snoot' nose and elongated driver's compartment made the 6C 2500 Competizione's body a very efficient one; top speeds of over 200 km/h were reached in testing. The grill was shaped unlike any of those seen on previous Alfa Romeo road-racers, but it did resemble that of the 158 Grand Prix racer. The rear-end shared similarities with the Touring bodied coupe version of the 1939 Corsa.

Due to the shortages right after the War, it took until 1948 before the 6C 2500 Competizione made its racing debut. In the few races organised, notable results were achieved. Highlight of the Competizione's sporting career were the two third place finishes in the Mille Miglia of 1949 and 1950, and the 1950 Targa Florio victory. A third car was constructed in 1950 and fitted with the 3 litre engine also found in the 6C 3000 Saloon. It made only one appearance, but with the 6C 3000 prototype it was quickly abandoned.

Alfa Romeo was in the process of completely changing their line-up in favour of more affordable mass-produced saloons. The competition program was not a real priority anymore, which might explain the mediocre results of the Competizione. Although it was not as successful as it predecessors, the 6C 2500 Competizione fills a special spot in Alfa Romeo's history, being the final product of marque's finest era.

After a thorough restoration, the featured example made its debut at the 2003 Villa d'Este Concours d'Elegance. It is pictured here at the 2003 Paleis 't Loo Concours d'Elegance, where it was lined-up next to a Berlinetta bodied 6C 2500 SS Corsa. A week later it also made an appearance at the Louis Vuitton Classic in Paris.

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Sources : 1948 Alfa Romeo 6C 2500 Competizione Photo | 1948 Alfa Romeo 6C 2500 Competizione Article
Cadillac Elmiraj Concept : Videos

Cadillac Elmiraj Concept : Videos

Host : Jay Leno Garage

Ed Welburn joins Jay at Pebble Beach for an up-close look at Cadillac's groundbreaking lightweight grand coupe.

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Sources : Jay Leno Garage Photo | Jay Leno Garage Video
Kia Niro Concept : Concept Cars
Kia Niro Concept : Concept Cars

Kia unveils the surprise that had already reserved for imminent Frankfurt . Little more than a week separates us from the big event and the Korean manufacturer unveils his letter conceptual: the KIA Niro Concept , a new conceptual bet by the segment B from the perspective prolific SUV .

Comes rival KIA for the Renault Captur , for the Peugeot 2008 . Comes bet KIA by a segment upward despite reaching conceptually, as you leave clear vertical opening doors, we could end up finding ourselves with this KIA Niro in the streets ... always enjoying a good reception this model conceptual brand booth in Frankfurt.

With a two-tone finish where the roof pitch black separates this from all of the body, something that reminds us to finish the Renault Captur , there is an SUV with a line quite elegant , this line broken only by the green accents and inherited daytime lights KIA cee'd pro_cee'd GT and GT . Regarding their mechanical or other technical detail KIA has reserved any advance, leaving pending its debut in Frankfurt.

KIA is looking for new segments where entering and 3 seem possible avenues through which to do so. On one hand, the segment of the SUV compact , the segment that presents candidacy with this KIA Concept Niro, but also with the KIA Provo . For another, it has also been talk of a supermini model, a segment esthete, a rival for the Mini and the Fiat 500 anticipated by the KIA CUB and finally, the possibility of finding a coupe, a sporty model that well be testing the KIA GT .

In Frankfurt we can see it live, probably also know more details of this bet KIA by the segment of the SUV compact finally do you see as a production model? From this it depends on the reception of this conceptual model.

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Sources : Kia Niro Concept Photo | Kia Niro Concept Article | Kia Niro Concept Rear Photo | Kia Niro Concept Interior Photo
Feds Study Interlocks That Force Seat Belt Use...
Feds Study Interlocks That Force Seat Belt Use : News

Four decades after a failed push to outfit cars and light trucks with devices that force drivers to buckle up, regulators and the auto industry are giving interlocks another chance.

The U.S. government tried to mandate ignition interlocks -- which prevent a vehicle from starting unless seat belts are fastened -- in cars in the early 1970s to prod more people to use seat belts. The rules prompted such a public outcry that Congress made it illegal for regulators to require the interlocks.

But a transportation bill that Congress passed in 2012 lifted some of the restrictions.

Now car companies are asking the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration to let them use interlocks in lieu of crash tests for people who do not wear seat belts.

NHTSA says it sees the promise of these interlocks, but is not yet ready to give automakers the green light.

In a regulatory notice today that denied a petition from BMW to offer interlocks, the agency said it will study interlocks through 2015 to figure out whether they will save lives by making people buckle up.

“The agency agrees with the theoretical premise that a seat belt interlock system could have the potential to increase seat belt use rates,” the notice says. “This is consistent with our past research. However, the degree to which seat belt use will increase is not clear.”

Lighter cars
In its October 2012 petition, BMW said that being free of the unbelted crash test would help the company develop lighter and more spacious cars.

The petition from BMW is an early sign of a shift occurring as airbags, high-strength frames and active safety features do a better job of keeping people out of deadly crashes. To make cars lighter and more comfortable, automakers are looking to get rid of bulky structures -- such as knee bolsters -- that used to be more important.

“We’re talking about weight savings for the CO2 and fuel economy constraints that are going to hit us in the next few years,” says Sam Campbell, head of U.S. safety engineering at BMW. “It’s a win-win situation for all aspects of vehicle design.”

BMW and other automakers also want to save on development costs. In Europe, where seat belt use rates are higher than in the United States, regulators do not make automakers test their vehicles with an unbelted crash test dummy.

Changes coming?
Campbell said BMW hopes that NHTSA’s findings will lead to changes in federal vehicle safety standards in 2017 or 2018.

One of the big questions for NHTSA and car companies would be how to design interlocks. They can be more stringent, and stop the vehicle from being started at all, or less stringent by stopping the car from being put in drive or going above a certain speed.

In its petition, BMW, which is fine-tuning a prototype, encouraged the third option.

Stopping the driver from starting a car would force someone to use a seat belt even if the driver is idling the engine in a parked car for the air conditioning. BMW says there are other tasks -- like driving to a mailbox -- that may not require a seat belt.

“A pure interlock?” Campbell rhetorically asked. “Customers would not accept that.”

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Sources : Feds Study Interlocks That Force Seat Belt Use Photo | Feds Study Interlocks That Force Seat Belt Use Article
2014 Chevrolet Malibu : Current Models
2014 Chevrolet Malibu : Current Models

Chevrolet had high hopes when it introduced the redesigned 2013 Malibu at the 2011 New York auto show. On point for GM’s charge into the competitive mid-size sedan segment, the General was counting on the new bow-tie sedan to inflict some serious sales damage on opponents with names like Camry, Accord, and Fusion.

But the 2013 Malibu, the planning for which was completed during the dark days leading up to the General’s 2009 bankruptcy, was flawed from the start. The car was heavier than GM intended, which made attaining good EPA numbers problematic. Worsening matters, the Malibu’s rear-seat room was dictated by the shorter-wheelbase Epsilon II platform used, and it was also saddled with stubby styling unloved even within the ranks of GM itself. Still, with the previous-gen Malibu aging quickly, and the mild hybrid eAssist drivetrain available from the Buick Regal and LaCrosse, the Malibu Eco model with eAssist was rushed to market in the hopes its slightly better EPA fuel-economy estimates would lure buyers with high gas prices looming. Prospective buyers looking for a more traditional powertrain had to wait months to get their hands on a Malibu powered by either the naturally aspirated 2.5-liter or 2.0-liter turbo four-cylinder engine.

In a C/D comparison test with five other mid-size sedans, the all-new 2013 Eco got hammered, coming in dead last, and the market agreed. The Malibu managed to post what at first glance appeared to be respectable sales numbers, selling 70,913 units in the first four months of 2013. (The introduction of the 2013 Malibu was staggered throughout 2012, and dealers still had previous-generation cars on their lots until November of that year. Results for the 2012 sales year are therefore inconclusive.) But tally the competitors’ sales for the same period and the reason for the Malibu’s emergency 2014 refresh becomes clear: The Ford Fusion posted sales of 107,780 units; the Nissan Altima 108,943; the Honda Accord 121,965; and the king of the sales heap, the Toyota Camry, nearly doubled the Malibu at 132,540 units sold.

Changing From the Inside Out
The 2013 Malibu was wider, quieter, and more opulent inside than the previous model, including the use of upgraded soft-touch materials. But it was also a whopping four inches shorter, and one of our primary complaints about the car involved its deficient rear legroom. At least a few people at Chevrolet shared our pain, as the brand has taken a few strides to alleviate the issue. New seat-cushion sculpting allows passengers to sit deeper in the seats. Approximately half an inch was shaved from the leading edge of rear seat cushion to reposition passenger legs and deliver the impression of more space. To give knees a little breathing room, the rears of the front seatbacks have been scalloped to find another 1.3 inches of knee room.

Chevy made some minor changes to the center console to deliver a longer, ostensibly more comfortable armrest, and it also replaced the former covered storage area with a pair of cup holders and two cell-phone bins. But the glut of discordant interior textures, hues, and finishes appears to have survived the makeover unscathed. We counted no less than eight different interior materials and textures in our test of the 2013 Malibu 2.5, and frankly we were hoping Chevy would take this opportunity to give the interior color and material wheel another spin.

As for the Malibu’s overwrought maw, Chevy designers took inspiration from the newish Impala and brought the smaller car in line with the rest of the Chevrolet sedan lineup. The lower grille has been emphasized, and the hood extends down and over the leading edge of a narrower upper grille. The grille openings themselves are wider and accented with chrome.

Tech Talk
Both the standard, naturally aspirated, direct-injected 2.5-liter engine and the turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine have been tweaked for this year. (Chevrolet hasn’t yet mentioned whether the Eco powertrain will be revised for 2014.) The 2.5 still features variable valve timing, but for 2014 adds Intake Valve Lift Control (iVLC), a feature said to enhance low-end torque while lowering emissions by varying the amount of intake-valve lift. Simply put, the iVLC setup operates in two lift modes: low and high. At lower speeds and loads, the engine remains in low-lift mode, the engine pumping only the air it needs to meet the driver’s demand. During high-speed or -load situations it switches to high-lift mode, providing the full output capability of the engine. Despite the new tech, the engine is down one horsepower to 196 and five lb-ft of torque to 186 in comparison to the 2013 car. We expect the changes to deliver increased refinement. Those interested in a boost in power will want to select the available 2.0-liter turbo engine. Although its horsepower rating stays the same at 259, torque is up by a meaty 35 lb-ft to 295.

For the first time in a non-hybrid GM vehicle, an engine stop/start system will be standard with the 2.5-liter engine. Chevy expects the EPA fuel-economy estimates to come in at 23/35 mpg city/highway, up slightly from the 2013 model’s 22/34. With the start/stop system, an additional trunk-mounted battery powers accessories when the engine is stopped. Shift points for the six-speed automatic transmission have been adjusted, and the unit has been massaged to deliver quicker shifts and better manners.

To dial in a more refined driving experience, Chevy engineers again looked to the 2014 Impala, this time for some basic chassis and suspension updates. The automaker claims rebound springs internal to the struts allow for more refined calibration of the dampers, while also improving body roll control and weight transfer during acceleration or cornering.

Variable-effort electric power rack-and-pinion power steering is still standard, but higher-effort calibrations engineered to more closely mimic the feel of hydraulic systems were implemented for 2014. Chevrolet tells us the brake system has also been revised for better feel but refrained from offering any specifics.

The question: Can a few adjustments turn Chevrolet’s Malibu sedan into a corporate profit machine on par with Camry and Accord? And can the changes lift the ’Bu from the comparison-test basement? We can’t say for sure until we drive the revised car, but points to Chevy for moving quickly to address the car’s shortcomings.

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Sources : 2014 Chevrolet Malibu Photo | 2014 Chevrolet Malibu Article | 2014 Chevrolet Malibu Interior Photo | 2014 Chevrolet Malibu Photo 2 | 2014 Chevrolet Malibu Photo 3
2012 Pagani Huayra : Photos
2012 Pagani Huayra : Photos

Sources : 2012 Pagani Huayra Photo
2014 Honda Odyssey Gets Top Safety Rating...
2014 Honda Odyssey Gets Top Safety Rating From Insurance Institute : News

The 2014 Honda Odyssey has achieved a top safety rating that the refreshed minivan was designed to achieve.

It becomes the first minivan to receive the top safety pickdesignation from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, Honda executives announced today. Having the safest minivan in the field is important to consumers who buy them to transport children.

Although the 2014 represents a mid-cycle refresh, much of the steel body is new or modified with high strength steel that cuts weight. This allowed the minivan to perform better in tests, including the new “small overlap test” where the minivan strikes a barrier with the front quarter panel. The front of the vehicle crumples as designed, while the driver is protected by the rigidity of the cabin structure and deployment of front and side curtain airbags.

The Acura MDX also has the same body structure improvements, said Chuck Thomas, chief engineer for automotive safety with Honda R&D Americas.

Honda now does its own small-overlap research and testing in Japan and Ohio, Thomas said.

The automaker has a growing number of top safety pick vehicles and hopes to soon add the Acura MDX, RLX and others to the list, said Art St. Cyr, vice president of product planning for American Honda.

Meanwhile, Honda is launching a new advertising campaign for the minivan Sept. 3. The new tagline is “start something special” and the spots have characters voiced by actors Neil Patrick Harris and Rainn Wilson.

The 2014 Odyssey went on sale last month.

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Sources : 2014 Honda Odyssey Gets Top Safety Rating From Insurance Institute Photo | 2014 Honda Odyssey Gets Top Safety Rating From Insurance Institute Article
1997 McLaren F1 : Classic Cars
1997 McLaren F1 : Classic Cars

You've heard it before and you'll hear it again, the McLaren F1 is world's best supercar. It's currently the most expensive modern supercar in the used market and it has a performance pedigree to backup up the heavy price tag.

The story begins in 1988 when partners of the McLaren Cars Ltd - the world's leading Formula One team, winning 15 out of 16 races - finished their successful season and decided that they should move beyond their current program and go one step further by building the finest road car possible. To them, this meant developing a no comprise supercar, built with nearly endless funds to achieve the highest power to weight ratio but retain usability for everyday driving.

To meet these goals, technical director of McLaren Gordan Murray and stylist Peter Stevens realized that the car had to be small, use the lightest components available and have a large capacity, normally aspirated V12 engine. Little did they know, this design philosophy would break many speed records and win championships it wasn't even originally intended for.

Four years after the McLaren's costly development, the first car made its official debut at the 1992 Monaco F1 week where McLaren could finally reveal to world what they had been doing. At Monaco, the targeted customer base learned that only 100 examples would be made, and that the McLaren would be the fastest, most exclusive car in the world. These attributes and gorgeous styling helped potential clients look past the 634 500 GBP price tag and beyond competitors like the Ferrari F40, Porsche 959 and Jaguar XK220.

After its release, the F1's potential was immediately realized when it reached 0-100-0 in 11.4 seconds and a record top speed of 240.14mph in its XP5 pre-production trim. Although, the success didn't stop in the record books, as special GTR versions won Le Mans outright in 1995 and took two FIA GT World Championships.

The F1's success can be attributed the McLaren's Formula One expertise. The small dedicated team picked by Gordan Murray designed 5000 individual pieces which were predominantly carbon fiber, magnesium, titanium to keep minimum weights. The car's carbon fiber monocoque was the world's first and supported BMW's impressive BMW S70/2, 620 horsepower engine. This engine produced considerable heat, so the engine compartment was lined with pure gold and air conditioning came as standard. But the greatest innovation was its seating arrangement.

To show off McLaren's dedication and Formula heritage, Murray used a central drivers seat and provided an option for two seats on either side. Like a race car, this provided the best possible view and was the good example of how uncompromising the F1 was. Additionally the McLaren wasn't equipped with any driving aids which meant it lacked traction control, ABS, power brakes and power steering.

Included with the purchase of every McLaren was bevy of lush appointments including a specially designed lightweight stereo, a tailored golf back, custom fitted luggage and the mother of all full tool boxes, used for McLaren personal to use if they needed to do remote work on the customers car. Included was a modem, which could send data directly to McLaren. With this, one customer in Germany was found to reach 200 mph almost daily on his way to and from work!

After delivering 100 customer cars McLaren stopped production after seven prototypes, 64 road cars, 5 special F1 LMs (built to commemorate victory at Le Mans in 1995), three F1 GTs (road going versions of the long tail 1997 F1 GTR race car) and 28 F1 GTR road cars. Of these, the Sultan of Brunei owns the most, and has two very special black F1 LMs with striking Pininfarina graphics as well as an exact replica of the F1 GTR that won LeMans.

Since delivery, McLaren have stayed committed to the F1 and continue to service the many cars. Almost every car has been returned to the factory and some have received custom modifications to suit the needs of their owners. The most radical of these are the few race cars which were converted back to road cars with the most minimal of changes. Other less daring cars have treatments that include new aerodynamic packages and custom interiors. As these cars get better, they keep the F1 up to pace with modern alternatives.

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Sources : 1997 McLaren F1 Photo | 1997 McLaren F1 Article
2013 Toyota Yaris Hybrid-R : Concept Cars
How China Can Build A $7,000 'Good-Enough' Car : News

Toyota will bring together its past achievements and future plans for hybrid power in a Frankfurt motor show presentation devoted entirely to its industry-leading technology. Since it introduced the original Prius saloon in Japan in 1997, Toyota has sold more than 5.5 million hybrid vehicles world wide and continues to extend its portfolio, currently offering 23 models worldwide.

Frankfurt will mark the world debut of the new Yaris Hybrid-R concept, created as a showcase for possible future hybriddevelopment ideas that can deliver greater performance and driver rewards.

Based on the three-door Yaris, Hybrid-R features a 1.6-litre GRE (Global Race Engine) developed by Toyota Motorsport, combined with two powerful electric motors that give the car intelligent all-wheel drive capability. Using technology like that featured in Toyota's TS030 Hybrid race car, energy recovered under braking is stored in a super capacitor, a unit that's particularly suitable for use in a sports car thanks to its high power density and quick charge and discharge speeds.

The result is a highly focused machine, designed to deliver the maximum driving pleasure, both on road and track.

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Sources : 2013 Toyota Yaris Hybrid-R Concept Photo | 2013 Toyota Yaris Hybrid-R Concept Article
Epic Aventador Rev Battle : Videos

Epic Aventador Rev Battle : Videos

Oh. My. God. One Aventador firing out flames is cool, but two is just EPIC! Two of Lamborghini's V12 beasts were in London together visiting Harrods when they decided to create a lot of drama upon their exits.

Here's the action as they hit the streets in one of the most immense rev battles I've ever heard, with bonus fire, and more fire, and a bit more...! The cars themselves are Aventadors from exotic rentals.

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Sources : Epic Aventador Rev Battle Photo | Epic Aventador Rev Battle Video
2014 Cadillac CTS : Current Models
2014 Cadillac CTS : Current Models

Cadillac is back at the Nürburgring and the results bode well for the next-generation Cadillac CTS-V. The 2014 Cadillac CTS Vsport – the sport-oriented version of the new 2014 Cadillac CTS sedan – just lapped the Nürburgring in 8:14.10, which is almost six seconds faster around the ‘Ring than the first-generation CTS-V, but behind our old long-term 2011 CTS-V wagon.

The 2014 Cadillac CTS Vsport – Cadillac’s new performance sub-brand – lapped the ‘Ring at the hands of Cadillac vehicle dynamics performance engineer Kevin Zelenka. Under the hood, the 2014 CTS Vsport packs a 3.6-liter twin-turbo V-6 mated to an eight-speed automatic, with420 hp and 430 lb-ft of torque.

The first-gen CTS-V sported a 5.7-liter or 6.0-liter V-8, and only managed an 8:20 lap. Our CTS-V Wagon long-termer was powered by a 6.2-liter supercharged V-8 making 556 hp and 551 lb-ft of torque, paired with a six-speed manual. With Cadillac hot shoe Johnny O’Connell at the wheel, the best lap we managed with our 2011 CTS-V Wagon was 8:12.10, though a wheel that was no longer round might have had something to do with that time. The real benchmark for the next-gen CTS-V – which is likely already testing at the ‘Ring – is 7:59.32, done by John Heinricy in an automatic-equipped CTS-V sedan.

You can check out clips of the 2014 Cadillac CTS Vsport lapping the Nürburgring in the video below, and make sure you stay tuned to for our First Test of the CTS Vsport.

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Sources : 2014 Cadillac CTS Photo | 2014 Cadillac CTS Article
Chevrolet Code 130R : Concept Cars
Chevrolet Code 130R : Concept Cars

Chevrolet’s Detroit auto show display will include two style-heavy concepts aimed at the youth (i.e., under 30) market. According to U.S. Census data— which Chevrolet cites with dollar signs in its eyes—that includes some 80 million consumers in America alone. “Young customers tell us they want functionality with coupe-like aesthetics. Both the Code and Tru body styles resonated with this audience,” said Frank Saucedo, director of the Los Angeles design studio where both concepts were born.

A Duo of Sporty Coupes
The Code 130R is a rear-wheel-drive, four-seat coupe wearing what Chevrolet describes as “heritage performance–inspired styling” with flared fenders, straight sides, and crossflag emblems. It resembles a shrunken Camaro with some sweet 20-inch matte anodized gold wheels. The Code 130R casts a shadow roughly the same size as and has proportions similar to the BMW 1-series, and it’s slightly larger than the Subaru BRZ/Scion FR-S twins. (We’ve heard this concept shares its platform with the Cadillac ATS; the two have identical wheelbase measurements of 109.3 inches.) Power comes from a turbocharged 1.4-liter four-cylinder engine with eAssist mild-hybrid technology; the engine itself makes 150 hp and 148 lb-ft of torque, a slight bump from the 1.4-liter turbo in other GM products. A six-speed auto would be standard and a six-speed manual offered as an option. We approve.

The matte-white Tru 140S hatchback is designed to look fast and exotic, and can provide space for four passengers—it resembles Chevy’s take on the now-dead Mitsubishi Eclipse mixed with some Cadillac CTS coupe cues. This front-wheel-drive concept is based on the same platform as the Cruze and Volt, which makes it a possible candidate for the latter’s extended-range electric technology somewhere down the road. The Cruze/Volt wheelbase has been stretched for the Tru 140S, its overall length falls between those of the sedans, and it is wider and significantly taller than both. Like the Code 130R, this concept gets its power from a 1.4-liter turbo four—stop/start tech takes the place of the mild-hybrid setup—and would get the same theoretical transmission choices. The glitzy 21-inch wheels likely would be downsized for production.

Virtual Inside, But Will They Become Reality?
At this point, the web-connected and highly customizable interiors of both concepts exist “in 2D only,” which Chevrolet says allows it the flexibility to continue the discussion with the kids during the development process. If nothing else, it sounds like the dialogue with young people will continue both face-to-face as well as on the web via social-media outlets as the pair are trotted off to other major auto shows and to college campuses. “For the car company that can successfully engage this generation, there is a tremendous opportunity,” said John McFarland, senior manager for Chevrolet global marketing and head of youth research for the brand. “We want to hear what they have to say, engage them in our design process, and give them what they want—not what we think they want.”

The detailed specs that accompany the concepts, along with projected base prices of $19K to $20K, suggest that the company is considering producing one or both in some form. An affordable, sporty coupe would fit nicely below the Camaro in the bow-tie lineup, and anything rear-wheel drive for that money would be sweet indeed.

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Sources : Chevrolet Code 130R Photo | Chevrolet Code 130R Article | Chevrolet Code 130R Rear Photo
Jaguar 1932 SS1 Coupe : Photos
Jaguar 1932 SS1 Coupe : Photos

Sources : Jaguar 1932 SS1 Coupe Photo
1957 Ferrari 250 GT : Classic Cars
1957 Ferrari 250 GT : Classic Cars

The 250 GT represents the longest running road and race series in Ferrari history. Introduction of this legendary model came when Alfonso de Portago drove one the very first examples, 0415GT, to victory at the 1955 Bahamas Speed Weeks in Nassau. Their achievement marked the beginning of Ferrari's domination in GT racing with “a very long line of legendary and unbeatable 3 litre berlinettas” known as the 250 GT.1

Not long after being introduced, the 250 GT was winning races for Ferrari's best customers. Opposition in the 3-liter class “was obliterated until the Cobras arrived and won in 1964; nevertheless, this was no easy task for them and they had to use a much larger motor.”1

From 1954 through to 1959, Ferrari manufactured roughly one hundred purpose-built coupes for endurance sports car racing on the long wheel-base chassis.1 While winning the Tour de France (TDF) and other important events, these cars proved their versatility and became the racer of choice amongst top drivers.

After Ferraris took the top three places at the 1957 TDF, the race organizers lent their event's name to the victorious design. Starting in Nice and ending five days and 3345 miles (5383 km) later in Paris, the Tour de France was a highlight event in its day. It tested both durability and versatility through several road rally, circuit and hill climb stages. Since this test was grueling, most competitors, sometimes up to 70 percent, didn't finish. After the 250 GT won the event in 1957, it continued the trend for the next eight years and won a record nine times in a row.

The common link between all 250 GTs was their surefire three-liter engine designed by Gioacchino Colombo. This engine was the smaller of the two developed by Ferrari and was needed due to new restrictions on engine size. After the serious 1955 LeMans incident, a three liter limit was imposed in an attempt to curb high speed accidents. Ferrari's three liter engine was still good for 230 to 250 horsepower and kept up regularly with the prototype entrants.

The entire car was similar to the 250 Europa GT of 1954 with upgraded front suspension, fully synchromesh gearbox and shorter engine. The chassis took advantage of this engine to ahve a 2600mm wheelbase. Called the Tipo 508, the 250 GT kept this chassis with only slight revisions until a shorter 2400mm unit replaced it in 1959.

Each chassis received a hand-crafted body, and most were bodied by Scaglietti & C. based on four Pinin Farina showcars. Zagato, a Milanese design house known for their lightweight construction, bodied some particularly potent examples and Camillo Luglio became an Italian Champion in his.

Progressive development and hand crafted bodies meant that no two 250 GT Berlinettas were the same. Differences were incorporated into the body from year to year, with subtle details such as sliding or wind-up windows, cowled or covered or plain headlights and varied hood louvers distinguishing each car. The first TDFs were modeled after the 250 MM, both having the same general proportions and wrap-around rear windscreen. Later changes to body included a smaller rear windscreen, the addition louvers on the C pillar for cockpit cooling and more pronounced rear fenders. By 1959, a new front end included open headlights to comply with Italian law as well as provide more light.

While dominating the Tour de France, the 250 TdF went on to class victories at the Mille Migla and many other Italian events. In its day this car was the racer of choice until replaced by the 250 GT SWB, its disc-brake successor.

Author and owner Jess G. Pourret describes the car very safe with “a very clean road-holding and handling, a sturdiness of motor and chassis, and a seriousness of mechanical construction.” He notes that “out of so many races over that 10 year period it is amazing to note the rarity of fatal results.” As for complaints he lists “interior ventilation marginal on hot days or during racing time, waterproofing also marginal, noise level quite high, [...] mechanical worries for the careless or brutal driver, gearbox synchronization a little weak on racing use, clutch very good for the light footer but short for the heavy ones, brakes bordering on real discretion above 150 kmh (93 mph).

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Sources : 1957 Ferrari 250 GT Photo | 1957 Ferrari 250 GT Article
2014 Subaru BRZ : Current Models
2014 Subaru BRZ : Current Models

The 2013 Subaru BRZ was recently revealed during the 2011 Tokyo Auto Show and speculation is already building about a convertible version of this hot rear-wheel-drive sports coupe. We recently got behind the wheel of the BRZ and raved about the car’s flexible nature, which blends spirited dynamics with everyday practicality. Having a drop-top variant would only increase the enjoyment levels – especially when it comes to basking in the “exuberant” exhaust note of the car’s 200-bhp 2.0-liter flat-4 cylinder.

BRZ Convertible
At the moment, the BRZ Coupe is good for a 0-60 mph sprint of less than 7 seconds. A convertible would undoubtedly add some extra mass onto the coupe's 2,770 lb. curb weight. That might take a slight edge off performance; yet according to some sources, a convertible is part of the BRZ (and mechanically identical Toyota 86/Scion FR-S) project. That means the chassis should cope with the loss of the hardtop using only a minimal amount of extra bracing. Like the coupe, expect a choice of 6-speed manual or 6-speed automatic transmission equipped with paddle shifters.

No word yet as to whether the BRZ drop-top might be fabric, or a folding metal system. To keep the price low, we think Subaru is more likely to opt for a cheaper and less complex fabric top. From these computer-generated images, you might want to just leave the top down all the time. Unfortunately, the already tight rear seating is likely to only get worse with a convertible. Trunk space might also suffer.

We're guessing owners would be willing to give up some practicality for style. And if Subaru gets the price right, the Japanese automaker should have no problem finding customers. The BRZ Coupe is expected to start around $25,000 when it goes on sale next year which means the BRZ Convertible may start around $30,000 if it goes into production for the 2014 model year.

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Sources : 2014 Subaru BRZ Photo | 2014 Subaru BRZ Article
World's Greatest Drag Race 3! : Videos

World's Greatest Drag Race 3! : Videos

Host : Motor Trend Magazine

It's back! The World's Greatest Drag Race returns with twelve of the world's best supercars and sports cars for 2013 facing off in an epic quarter-mile sprint for glory... and ultimate bragging rights! This year's field includes all twelve contenders from Motor Trend's 2013 Best Driver's Car Powered by Mobil 1

We have the Nissan GT-R Track Edition, SRT Viper, Jaguar F-Type V-8 S, Aston Martin Vanquish, Mercedes-Benz E63 S AMG, Bentley Continental GT Speed, Porsche Cayman S, Audi R8 V-10 Plus, Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG Black Series, BMW M6, Ford Focus ST and Porsche 911 Carrera 4S -- all gathered together on an abandoned airstrip at El Toro Marine Base to find out which car is the fastest. Obviously these twelve competitors display a wide range of power and performance, not to mention price tags. So why are we lining them all up again for one gigantic, over-the-top drag race? It's simple... Because We Can!

World's Greatest Drag Race 3 concludes our special 2013 Best Driver's Car Week here on the Motor Trend youtube channel ( and on ( We hope you've enjoyed all of this week's videos and we look forward to rolling out an all-new batch of amazing cars and amazing videos for you next year for Motor Trend's 2014 Best Driver's Car.

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Sources : World's Greatest Drag Race 3! Photo | World's Greatest Drag Race 3! Video
U.S Automakers Still Lagging Behind : News
U.S Automakers Still Lagging Behind Foreign Brands : News

According to a new survey of customer satisfaction in the United States, the ‘Big Three’ automakers are more than ever behind imported car brands as the gap stretched to its widest point in five years.

The 2013 American Consumer Satisfaction Index (ACSI) finds GM, Ford and Chrysler have an average score of 82 (on a scale between 0 and 100) which is below the industry average of 83. Asian brands have an average score of just over 84, slightly behind European brands, which lead the ACSI with an average just under 85.

David VanAmburg, Director of the ACSI, said domestic automakers may be losing focus as they add more shifts and run their plants at capacity. “U.S. automakers may be stretched too thin, ramping-up production to meet rising demand,” says David VanAmburg. “Quality may be giving way to quantity.”

It’s a troubling slide for the American auto brands. Just five years ago, the Big 3 and the Asian auto brands were in a virtual tie when it came to customer satisfaction.

Mercedes-Benz topped the list of top auto brands in the latest ACSI with a score of 88. It jumped past Lexus, which lead the survey last year. Meanwhile, Dodge and Chevrolet tied for last place in the ACSI as the only brands with scores of 79. Chevy’s rating dropped 6%.

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Sources : U.S Automakers Still Lagging Behind Foreign Brands Photo | U.S Automakers Still Lagging Behind Foreign Brands Article
2011 McLaren MP4 : Photo
2011 McLaren MP4 : Photo

Sources : 2011 McLaren MP4 Photo
2013 Jeep Wrangler Rubicon : Videos

2013 Jeep Wrangler Rubicon : Videos

Host : Automobile Magazine

Web editor Phil Floraday sampled the 2013 Jeep Wrangler Rubicon 10th Anniversary Edition on the Rubicon Trail. It's no surprise the most capable Wrangler ever built tackled the trail with ease, but the views were stunning.

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Sources : 2013 Jeep Wrangler Rubicon 10th Anniversary Edition on the Rubicon Trail Photo | 2013 Jeep Wrangler Rubicon 10th Anniversary Edition on the Rubicon Trail Video
2014 Lincoln MKC Black Label : Concept Cars
2014 Lincoln MKC Black Label : Concept Cars

To further cement its position as a luxury brand, Lincoln has unveiled the Black Label collection on the 2014 Lincoln MKZ and MKC Concept (that previews the marque’s forthcoming compact crossover) prior to their public reveal at the 2013 Pebble Beach Concours d'Elegance. Following in the footsteps of other high-end products, from Johnnie Walker whisky to Ralph Lauren, the “Black Label” represents the upmarket Ford brand’s “highest expression [of] design, quality and personal service.”

Eventually every new Lincoln model will be available with the Black Label trim. The first of three categories is Center Stage boasting a Jet Black interior highlighted by a Foxfire Red headliner with specialty leathers and perforated Alcantara, capturing the feeling of being in a darkened theater. Indulgence is inspired by chocolate lovers with ganache and truffle-colored leathers, with Ziricote wood trim Ford says is used in high-end yachts. Finally, Modern Heritage, displayed on the Chroma Flame MKC concept, is a classic black-and-white finish with red accents and renewed wood trim imbued with metal flake between its layers for a sparkling effect.

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Sources : 2014 Lincoln MKC Black Label Concept Photo | 2014 Lincoln MKC Black Label Concept Article
2014 Ford Fiesta ST : Current Models
2014 Ford Fiesta ST : Current Models

For a major corporation obsessed with converting cars and trucks into dollars and cents, hot hatchbacks like the Ford Fiesta ST are mutant blips. Ford won’t say how many STs it hopes to sell in the U.S., but 10,000 a year would induce happiness at the Glass House in Dearborn, we’re told. That amount is roughly the number of F-150s Ford builds every year with whalebone dashboards.

Five for the Colonies
Hot Fiestas have been in European showrooms for a couple of decades, but the 2014 ST is the first such car for North America, as Ford makes more and more of its products global. The ST, which goes on sale in the U.S. this August, emerged from Ford’s engineering center in Cologne, Germany, and was finessed at its proving ground in Lommel, Belgium. The car will be assembled for North America in Mexico, with an engine shipped in from the United Kingdom. That’s a lot of frequent-flier miles for one small car.

For its $22,195 base price, you’re getting a vehicle essentially identical to the European version, from the 1.6-liter turbocharged four-cylinder to the autobahn-firm suspension tune to the single-spec Bridgestone Potenza RE050A summer tires. Well, there is one major difference: The Euro ST will only be a three-door hatchback, whereas the American ST will come only in five-door form.

No three-door Fiesta is currently available in the U.S., and the dumpy-looking Fiesta sedan, a local concession to America’s inexplicable hatchback hatred, would look silly in this hero costume. It would also cost more to produce with noncommon parts, so the five-door it is. The two hatchbacks share wheelbases, but the five-door weighs about 130 more pounds than the three-door.

Dishing Up the Deets
The question with sporty variants always boils down to how much steak you get with the potato. In this particular tater tot, there’s one big change under the hood, and there are dozens of small changes elsewhere that produce a thoroughly fun little filet. Note, however, that we were only shown the three-door Euro version, and only with the optional Recaro seat package ($1995), navigation ($795), and 17-inch metallic gray wheels with red brake calipers ($375), which together would push a U.S.-spec ST over $25,000. A $795 sunroof is also offered.

The cast-aluminum, direct-injected 1.6-liter turbo is basically the same engine as offered in the Fusion sedan, meaning it’s a big motor in a small car. Here, governed by revised calibrations, it makes 197 horsepower at 6000 rpm and 214 lb-ft of torque at 3500 rpm. Peak power is made in “overboost” mode, when the turbo is squeezing in a maximum of 21 psi. To stretch the engine’s durability, Ford programmed the computer to cut pressure after 20 seconds at wide-open throttle, a situation you’re likely to encounter only at Bonneville or the Nürburgring, or when fleeing the cops. But lift just once, and the overboost timer resets.

Because some days are good, there’s only one transmission available, and it has six speeds and one clutch pedal. The lower ratios are relatively short, which means 60 mph takes two shifts and is probably about 6.7 seconds away. The upper ratios stretch out into a double overdrive for fuel-economy purposes. Ford and the EPA haven’t produced numbers, but expect the combined figure to fall in the low 30s.

The Fiesta’s basic front-strut, rear-twist-beam suspension layout is retained, but with major differences. The ST’s front knuckles have different attachment points to the control arm and steering linkages that increase the camber gain as the wheels stroke, a dynamic geometry change that makes the steering more darty. Meanwhile, a thicker front anti-roll bar pushes more of the roll to the back, which, along with computerized torque-vectoring control that brakes the inside front wheel in turns, helps the ST corner more sharply and with less understeer. The electric power-steering system has a firmer tune, and the ST’s rack gets a quicker ratio, dropping from 14.6:1 to 13.6:1.

In back, the ST’s twist beam has its own part number, as the center tube is stiffened with thicker-walled steel. The spring rates rise about 20 percent, and the shocks are revalved for firmer body control. The rear disc brakes replace the standard Fiesta’s drums, and the front rotors grow to 10.9 inches.

Compared with the newly launched Focus ST, which starts $2300 higher, Ford pushed the Fiesta a little further with its suspension tune, says vehicle engineering manager Tyrone Johnson. Partly it was a learning curve from one product to the next, and partly it was because Ford wanted the Fiesta to be a bit more randy for its expected younger audience.

The visuals include a larger grille of meshed honeycomb along with extra air ducting below the bumper, including one for the intercooler. The base wheels are as-yet unseen, although the optional five-spoke jobs echo the Focus ST’s. Aft, a rooftop spoiler sits up top, and a frowning rear undertray graphic frames twin exhaust outlets poking from the single muffler.

Inside, the ST hyperbole is kept to a minimum: The special steering wheel has an ST logo and dimpled leather covering the usual grip points, and the wrapped shifter is cut with six notches in the pattern. We only experienced the optional and narrowly cut Recaro seats, which grip your backside firmly with a mix of leather and what looks like gray Speedo swimsuit material dotted with padded nibs. They are similar but not identical to the Focus ST’s, we’re told. The base seating will be black-cloth buckets.

Rolling Firecracker
Every example of the car looks and feels great running the smooth roads that traverse the high massifs looming over the French Riviera, so Ford’s choice for the launch location was well played. Here, the ST is a continual delight, with fantastic helm control and punchy power delivery from its bee-filled bonnet. The engine makes decent torque down low but really starts its workday in earnest around 3000 rpm, clocking out at 5000. You spend a lot of your time shuttling between third and fourth gear using the light and direct shifter and frequently don’t need to downshift. Instead, you just stand on it and let the turbo munch on gas flow and make the big torque. On the highway, the stick slides up into sixth, and everything settles in for a reasonably relaxed cruise.

Not much chatter makes its way up the steering, but the electric boost is shaded down to deliver very natural weighting. The front-end roll stiffness combined with the electronic torque-vectoring system keeps both tires planted and digging through corners. This small car really scoots hard on uphill passes and through tight ess-bends, with little understeer and no tire spin to kill the joy. When you need to stop now, as we did when a yellow La Poste truck nosed into the road dead ahead, the brakes answer with a solid, strong bite.

Yes, the ride is tuned firm, so it’s going to toss heads a bit back home on America’s broken pavement, but enough wheel travel remains to round off the sharper edges, despite a ride height dropped by 0.6 inch.

The spunky little ST is more important for what it says about Ford than what it does for the company’s bottom line. It proves that Ford isn’t without a soul, that somewhere inside that giant transnational monolith that pays the bills with pickup-truck sales, there are people who actually care about small cars.

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Sources : 2014 Ford Fiesta ST Photo | 2014 Ford Fiesta ST Article | 2014 Ford Fiesta ST Photo 2 | 2014 Ford Fiesta ST Interior Photo | 2014 Ford Fiesta ST Rear Photo | 2014 Ford Fiesta ST Photo 3 | 2014 Ford Fiesta ST Wheels Photo