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American F1 driver Alexander Rossi signs with Marussia

Autoblog - Sun, 07/27/2014 - 20:31

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American fans of Formula One racing have a new team to root for as the Marussia F1 Team has named Alexander Rossi as its official reserve driver for the remainder of the season.

The 22-year-old native of Auburn, California, has advanced through the single-seater ranks since winning the Skip Barber Western Regional championship and placing third nationally in 2006. He won the Formula BMW Americas title in 2008 and proceeded to Formula Renault 3.5 and GP2 where he competes currently, winning races in both series. For the past three seasons he's driven for Caterham, racing for its GP2 team and acting as test driver for its F1 team. Once the team was sold, however, Rossi jumped ship. He's driving for the championship-winning Campos Racing team in GP2 and just announced his signing with Marussia on Thursday.

The move is only a minor step up for Rossi as the Marussia team is only two points ahead of Caterham this season, but will hopefully lead to the young Californian getting some seat time in an official test session or two - if not being called up to replace Max Chilton or Jules Bianchi in the race seat at some point before the end of the season or maybe getting promoted to a full-time drive for next year's championship.

Rossi is the first American to break into F1 racing since Scott Speed, who left the series in 2007. The last American driver to win a grand prix was Mario Andretti back in 1978.

Continue reading American F1 driver Alexander Rossi signs with Marussia

American F1 driver Alexander Rossi signs with Marussia originally appeared on Autoblog on Sun, 27 Jul 2014 15:31:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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Audi SQ7 coming, will have electric turbo

Autoblog - Sun, 07/27/2014 - 19:15

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Formula 1 and endurance racing are already harvesting energy from turbos on the track, and now it's apparently time for a similar idea of boosting the efficiency of forced induction to hit the streets in a high-performance, diesel SUV.

In a recent interview with the UK's Autocar, Audi technical boss Dr. Ulrich Hackenberg let the big news slip. "The new Q7 will be available in the market next year but the electric turbo will come a bit later in the Audi SQ7 available in 2016," he said. The e-turbo system was already rumored for the premium SUV but for the standard model, not this just-announced performance version.

Audi has been experimenting with the e-turbo system for a little while, as an electrically driven supercharger. It showed up on the RS5 TDI concept that used a 3.0-liter, twin-turbocharged diesel V6 plus the electric system to diminish turbo lag. In that application, it provided an impressive 385 horsepower and 553 pound-feet of torque and an alleged sprint to 62 miles per hour in 4 seconds. Although, Dr. Hackenberg didn't make it clear if this was the exact layout for the SQ7.

According to Autocar, the sophisticated system is powered by its own, separate 48-volt electrical system that drives a 7-kilowatt (9.4 horsepower) motor to spin the supercharger. When the internal combustion engine is at low revs, it provides the needed boost but shuts off as engine revs rise to let the turbos take over.

Audi SQ7 coming, will have electric turbo originally appeared on Autoblog on Sun, 27 Jul 2014 14:15:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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BMW auctioning one-off i8 at Monterey Historics

Leftlane - Sun, 07/27/2014 - 17:58
The bespoke hybrid is a one of one Pebble Beach Concours D'Elegance Edition






12 DOT secretaries urge Congress to address long-term infrastructure needs

Autoblog - Sun, 07/27/2014 - 17:50

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"Right now, there are so many structurally deficient bridges in America that, if you lined them up end-to-end, they'd stretch from Boston to Miami."

Secretary of Transportation Anthony Foxx (pictured above) has banded together with 11 of his predecessors to issue a stark declaration to the US Congress - our infrastructure is crumbling, and the proposed bill to keep the Highway Trust Fund going until 2015 is simply not a suitable long-term solution.

Saying that the bill "will not 'fix' America's transportation system" and that "America's transportation system [has never] been on a more unsustainable course," Secretaries of Transportation for the past 35 years and seven presidents laid out some truly troubling stats.

In the past five years, Congress has passed a total of 27 short-term funding measures, whereas the norm used to be six-year plans. The country's infrastructure has suffered due to this kick-the-can-down-the-road mentality.

"Right now, there are so many structurally deficient bridges in America that, if you lined them up end-to-end, they'd stretch from Boston to Miami," the letter reads. For those wondering, that's a distance of over 1,250 miles, as the crow flies.

Citing the American Society of Civil Engineers, it's estimated that the US would need to invest $1.8 trillion by the end of this decade to bring roads up to what the ASCE calls "adequate levels." Of course, what constitutes "adequate levels" is open to debate, but it's clear that there needs to be an enormous investment to sort out America's deteriorating highways and byways.

Those troubling stats are simply near-term issues, though. A lack of highway funding and infrastructure repair in the present could be even more troubling in the more distant future. Pointing out that the US population will increase by 100 million come 2050, Foxx and Co., claim that an additional 14 billion tons of freight will need to get from A to B to support that population. Now, how is that going to be possible on derelict infrastructure? Secondary to that, how much more wear and tear will those systems suffer with all the additional freight haulers moving about?

The note ends with the Secretaries of Transportation calling on Congress to follow in the footsteps of their predecessors, something we sincerely hope happens:

"Until recently, Congress understood that, as America grows, so must our investments in transportation. And for more than half a century, they voted for that principle - and increased funding - with broad, bipartisan majorities in both houses.

We believe they can, and should, do so again."

Scroll down to read the letter in its entirety.

Continue reading 12 DOT secretaries urge Congress to address long-term infrastructure needs

12 DOT secretaries urge Congress to address long-term infrastructure needs originally appeared on Autoblog on Sun, 27 Jul 2014 12:50:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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Lexus looking for performance with 600-hp LF-LC?

Autoblog - Sun, 07/27/2014 - 16:01

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Lexus has been keeping development of the production version of its LF-LC concept tightly under wraps. Last we heard, that halo GT car had received the green light for production, but that was over a year ago. Since then, things have been pretty silent. Finally though, fresh rumors about the luxury coupe are starting to leak out, pointing toward the model's powertrain lineup.

According to unnamed sources speaking to Motor Trend, the production LF-LC will eventually sport three very intriguing engine options. The base model will reportedly use a naturally aspirated V8 providing around 450 horsepower - very similar specs to the upcoming RC F. The next step up will allegedly be the upcoming hybrid powertrain shared between BMW and Toyota pumping things up to around 500 hp. Finally, a top-of-the-heap F version will use a twin-turbocharged version of the RC F's 5.0-liter V8 to bring output to 600 hp. The insiders even claim that the hybrid and the twin-turbo V8 could find their way into other Lexus products like the LS and possibly even a more beastly RC.

None of this speculation sounds too outlandish. Lexus could get more capacity out of the RC F's tuned V8 by shoving it into other models, and rumors are flying about performance cars spawned from BMW and Toyota's partnership. Given Lexus' recent embrace of turbocharging, even the twin-turbo V8 doesn't seem too dubious. That said, with no hard facts to back up the rumormill, we'll have to keep waiting to see what the LF-LC shows up with.

Lexus looking for performance with 600-hp LF-LC? originally appeared on Autoblog on Sun, 27 Jul 2014 11:01:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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Renault developing rear-engined hot hatch

Leftlane - Sun, 07/27/2014 - 15:00
The performance-focused Twingo could revive the Gordini nameplate.






Bentley putting Mulsanne-based Azure, Brooklands back on the table [w/poll]

Autoblog - Sun, 07/27/2014 - 13:58

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Big plans are afoot at Bentley. The quintessentially British automaker has just about signed off on the final version of its new SUV, and will surely roll out more versions of the Continental in the coming years, but that's not all. It's said to be considering a new sports coupe smaller than the Continental GT, but the latest reports coming in from the UK suggest that it also has plans for the Mulsanne's platform.

Currently, the Mulsanne is only available in one configuration, but Bentley is widely expected to be bringing a new, more powerful Mulsanne Speed to the Paris Motor Show this fall with around 550 horsepower. That's not all, however, as word comes in that the Flying B marque is planning to re-introduce both the Azure and the Brooklands as competitors to the Rolls-Royce Phantom DHC and Phantom Coupe, respectively.

For those who don't remember, the Azure and Brooklands were a pair of two-doors based on the Arnage that preceded the Mulsanne at the top of Bentley's range. The Azure was a convertible and the Brooklands a fixed-roof coupe, both of them larger than the Continental GT and powered by the company's evergreen (yet decidedly un-green) 6.75-liter V8.

Both were phased out, however, along with the Arnage before the current Mulsanne was introduced in 2010. And ever since then, Bentley has been rumored to replace the duo with new versions based on the Mulsanne. But despite having shown the Mulsanne Vision convertible concept to a select group of customers at Pebble Beach a couple of years ago, the project was shelved.

So what's changed, you ask? The guard, that's what. When Bentley unveiled the Mulsanne Vision concept, Wolfgang Dürheimer was the CEO. Then he was relieved of his duties, and Wolfgang Schreiber, who replaced him, nixed the project's development. Now that Dürheimer is back in charge at Crewe, it seems like the convertible is back on the table. "And if we do the Azure," Dürheimer told Auto Express, "the Brooklands just comes automatically." That is, of course, unless Bentley decides to do something out of the ordinary and make a four-door convertible "parade car" instead.

View Poll

Bentley putting Mulsanne-based Azure, Brooklands back on the table [w/poll] originally appeared on Autoblog on Sun, 27 Jul 2014 08:58:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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Review: 2014 Honda N One Premium Tourer

Leftlane - Sun, 07/27/2014 - 05:45
Join us as we head to Japan to see what it's like to live with a kei car on a daily basis.






2015 BMW M3 squares off against Alpina D3 in gas vs. diesel throwdown

Autoblog - Sun, 07/27/2014 - 01:01

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There was a time when diesel meant one of two things: This vehicle's owner either wants to save some money at the pump or needs to haul massive loads. It definitely did not mean that the owner of said machine wanted to drive fast, but that perception has slowly but surely been changing over the last several years, with automakers from Volkswagen and Ford to Audi and BMW offering spiced-up versions of their high-compression, turbocharged diesels.

It's that last automaker we mentioned that's the subject of the video you'll see down below. One bright-blue BMW M3 was procured by the Brits at Autocar, and it was lined up against a deep-black Alpina D3 (which we sadly can't buy in the US) in a spate of tests, including acceleration, stopping, sound and lap times on a closed circuit. The results, which we won't spoil for you, were enlightening, and were followed up by personal impressions from the man behind the wheel.

We know you're curious. All it takes to find out which of these 3.0-liter, twin-turbo-powered 3 Series variants came out on top is to scroll down below and watch. You know what to do.

Continue reading 2015 BMW M3 squares off against Alpina D3 in gas vs. diesel throwdown

2015 BMW M3 squares off against Alpina D3 in gas vs. diesel throwdown originally appeared on Autoblog on Sat, 26 Jul 2014 20:01:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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Lexus GX has quietly more than doubled its sales this year

Autoblog - Sat, 07/26/2014 - 23:10

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There are some things in this industry that we're perplexed by, like the infotainment system on our long-term Subaru WRX or why the Mitsubishi Mirage is allowed to exist, among other things. Let's add one more to that group, with the Lexus GX. It's not a particularly bad vehicle for a big, body-on-frame brute, remaining one of the only true SUVs in the mid-size luxury class, alongside the equally old fashioned Land Rover LR4.

Considering these things, then, what we're about to tell you makes very little sense - sales are up 135 percent through last month. The Japanese luxury marque has moved over 5,300 during the first six months of 2014, owing in no small part to a significant price drop over the 2013 model. Today, a GX starts at $49,085, while a year ago, it was $53,445.

Don't mistake this price decrease for charity, though. Lexus specifically built a lower-cost GX to lure in customers. According to WardsAuto, faux leather covers the cabin rather than the real stuff, while the overall package is decontented relative to what you might find in a typical Lexus.

"That was our target in terms of positioning, to bring a true SUV down to a (CUV) price point," Brian Smith, VP of marketing for the brand, told Wards.

While the price cut has helped drive customers into showrooms, Lexus isn't selling many sub-$50,000 GXs.

"We've been successful with that [base grade], however it's not the biggest chunk of our volume," Smith said.

Base sales only constitute a fifth of the GX's totals, with customers generally flocking to the better outfitted GX Premium, which coincidentally starts at just a few hundred dollars more than last year's base model.

Despite this big increase in sales, the GX's future is far from certain, Smith said. Lexus is allegedly, according to AN, looking at swapping the GX from its truck-based roots to a proper unibody platform, in order to better compete dynamically with CUVs like the Acura MDX. Smith doesn't want that, though, citing the SUV's 6,500-pound towing capacity.

"I think there's a need for towing capability, without having to go all the way to an LX," Smith said. "So we're doing everything we can to continue to keep Toyota focused on the need for GX."

What are your thoughts? Should Lexus retain the GX as a body-on-frame vehicle, or should it just leave towing duties to American brands? Are you surprised to hear the GX still exists? Let us know in Comments.

Lexus GX has quietly more than doubled its sales this year originally appeared on Autoblog on Sat, 26 Jul 2014 18:10:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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Of course we'd like to Kickstart a hoverbike [w/video]

Autoblog - Sat, 07/26/2014 - 21:09

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It may not be a flying car, and it may not even be a Hoverboard. But we don't care. A hoverbike is still incredibly awesome, and there's now a chance to bring just such a device to the real world thanks to Kickstarter.

Designed by an Kiwi bloke in London named Chris Malloy and seen on these very pages three years ago in prototype form, the would-be hoverbike is a sort of combination between a motorcycle and a helicopter, relying on spinning rotors front and rear to generate lift. Past versions of the machine used two rotors, powered by a a 1,170cc boxer engine from BMW, but what you're helping build is rather different entirely.

Since we last featured that Hoverbike prototype, Malloy has further refined the design, changing from two rotors to four, but it's still far from being ready for production. That's the bad news. The good news is that small-scale testing has proven this new design, and third-scale models, powered by electric motors and controlled remotely, are now ready for those with a bit of expendable income to get their grubby mitts on.

As much as we'd love to see a Kickstarter campaign for the fullsize Hoverbike, we think these radio-controlled, unmanned drones are pretty darn cool in their own right, and Malloy says this project will help fund the real thing in true human-scale. Check out the Kickstarter campaign here, and scroll down below for some video.

Continue reading Of course we'd like to Kickstart a hoverbike [w/video]

Of course we'd like to Kickstart a hoverbike [w/video] originally appeared on Autoblog on Sat, 26 Jul 2014 16:09:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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Aston Martin to sell Carbon Edition DB9 and Volante

Leftlane - Sat, 07/26/2014 - 21:01
The Japan-market special edition celebrates 10 years of the DB9






Ford F-35 Lightning II Edition Mustang appears at EAA Oshkosh

Autoblog - Sat, 07/26/2014 - 19:05

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Ford is back at the Experimental Aircraft Association AirVenture air show in Oshkosh, WI, on July 31 auctioning off its seventh Mustang for charity, and this is one seriously mean looking 2015 'Stang. All of the money from the sale goes to give free introductory flights to young people to get them interested in aviation.

We recently saw this latest EAA Mustang as a sketch. However, it looks a whole lot more menacing in person. Dubbed the Ford F-35 Lightning II Edition Mustang, it takes liberal inspiration from Lockheed Martin's latest fighter jet, and the customization makes the pony car look ready for a role in Top Gun.

On the outside, the special Mustang wears titanium-color paint that's offset by a black and yellow stripe running from hood to rear. Out back things get really wild with a mix of bright yellow and black that flows diagonally all the way to the rear spoiler. The design is based on the livery of early production F-35s. If the rousing color scheme isn't enough to get you interested, the car also gets a carbon fiber front splitter and rear diffuser, lowered suspension and a set of custom 21-inch wheels with yellow brake calipers.

Inside, the design continues to take inspiration from the fighter with gold-tinted windows to match the radar shielding from the plane's cockpit. To keep the driver and co-pilot planted, there are two big Recaro sport seats with more yellow accents, and in case you forget what's influencing the car, the door panels and floor mats show the F-35.

Ford's work with the EAA has raised over $2.5 million for charity, and last year's Air Force Thunderbirds-inspired car brought in nearly $400,000. With the 2015 Mustang being so highly desired, you might need some deep pockets to put this one in your garage. Scroll down to read more about this fighter-inspired coupe.

Continue reading Ford F-35 Lightning II Edition Mustang appears at EAA Oshkosh

Ford F-35 Lightning II Edition Mustang appears at EAA Oshkosh originally appeared on Autoblog on Sat, 26 Jul 2014 14:05:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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Subaru teases Japan-market WRX S4

Leftlane - Sat, 07/26/2014 - 17:55
The "all new" sports sedan is likely a variant of the 2015 WRX.






Weekly Recap: New bosses try to jump-start Cadillac and Lincoln

Autoblog - Sat, 07/26/2014 - 17:00

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Both of America's domestic luxury brands seem to be stuck in neutral.

It's ironic that Cadillac and Lincoln got new bosses within days of each other this month. It's also a commentary on the fact both of America's domestic luxury brands seem to be stuck in neutral.

Cadillac has received barrels of good ink in recent years, thanks to its sporty, fun-to-drive cars with gaudy horsepower figures and eye-catching designs. The problem is sales have been uneven, and this year they've fallen 1.9 percent to 82,117 vehicles.

Enter Johan de Nysschen. You know him from such roles as the head of Audi in the United States and more recently, as the global boss of Infiniti. Both brands have somewhat underdog status compared with segment leaders Mercedes-Benz, BMW and Lexus, and de Nysschen was lauded for his work at his previous stops, overseeing sales and product successes.

Cadillac went out and got a "name" with a proven track record. The 54-year-old South African brings strong leadership and industry credibility to a brand that needs both. He'll be tested right away, as 554,328 Cadillac CTS and SRX models were recalled in June in the United States for ignition switch problems. More recalls involving Cadillacs and other General Motors vehicles for a welding problem was also announced in July.

He's taking over for Bob Ferguson, who had been dividing his time between Cadillac and handling GM recall response on Capital Hill. Ferguson moved to a full-time role as GM's top public policy and government relations executive in July.

Meanwhile, Ford tapped a relatively obscure engineer, Kumar Galhotra, to lead Lincoln. He's replacing an industry star, Jim Farley, who's giving up the reins at Lincoln to focus on his other job - overseeing Ford's global marketing efforts.

Galhotra doesn't have as much name recognition as Farley or de Nysschen, but that means nothing. Lincoln needs momentum, and the only way Galhotra will ultimately be measured is through increasing sales and strengthening the product portfolio.

Continue reading Weekly Recap: New bosses try to jump-start Cadillac and Lincoln

Weekly Recap: New bosses try to jump-start Cadillac and Lincoln originally appeared on Autoblog on Sat, 26 Jul 2014 12:00:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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Check out Indy's new million-dollar LED scoring pylon

Autoblog - Sat, 07/26/2014 - 15:01

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Anyone that's been to a race at the legendary Indianapolis Motor Speedway knows this to be true: The scoring pylon, which sat at the start-finish line and showed the positions of drivers as they lapped the oval has been horribly, terribly outdated, making it quite difficult to read. Considering this, the new, 92-foot-tall, $1-million, LED-adorned scoring tower that's just been erected is a huge improvement. Just compare the above image of the new tower with the inset image of the older model to see what we mean.

The new tower will see its race debut this weekend, as the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series rolls into Indy for the Brickyard 400. The new tower should be a big improvement over the 20-year-old pylon it replaces, allowing race organizers to better communicate with fans. That means fans will know whether there's a green, yellow or red flag, as well as what the separation is between drivers. It's even capable of video and animation, as shown in the video below.

Next on the docket for IMS is an upgrade to the equally antiquated digital video screens at the circuit. Scroll down for a walkthrough of the upgrade process from Doug Boles, the president of IMS.

Continue reading Check out Indy's new million-dollar LED scoring pylon

Check out Indy's new million-dollar LED scoring pylon originally appeared on Autoblog on Sat, 26 Jul 2014 10:01:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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Details emerge on production-bound Honda S660 roadster

Leftlane - Sat, 07/26/2014 - 15:00
The S660 Concept pays homage to Honda's first sports car.






China probing German automakers over spare parts

Autoblog - Sat, 07/26/2014 - 12:59

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The Chinese market has proven to be a boon to German luxury automakers. However, the way that the companies have allegedly been controlling their supply of spare parts has begun to draw the ire of the nation's government. According to insiders speaking to Bloomberg, officials from the country's economic planning organization have opened a probe into Audi, BMW, Mercedes-Benz and some Japanese carmakers over claimed price inflation and limiting supply.

Specifically, the investigation centers around two aspects of how the companies do business, according to Bloomberg. Investigators want to know whether the original equipment component makers are able to sell spare parts only to automaker-authorized dealers or if they are also available to independent shops. There is also the issue of whether the price markup on replacement pieces is too high. The tight controls could be partially explained by China's reputation for producing counterfeit parts.

Evidently, the investigators haven't checked parts prices at car dealers elsewhere in the world. At least in the US, paying more at the dealer for factory components just goes along with owning a vehicle. If evidence of price fixing is found, the companies could face fines the equivalent of millions of dollars, according to Bloomberg.

China probing German automakers over spare parts originally appeared on Autoblog on Sat, 26 Jul 2014 07:59:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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Second-generation Renault Koleos coming in 2016

Leftlane - Sat, 07/26/2014 - 11:00
The Koleos is aimed at the Toyota RAV4 and the Honda CR-V.






Fiat hangs ten with surf-inspired 500L Vans concept

Autoblog - Sat, 07/26/2014 - 05:01

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Fiat is all set to ride some waves with its new 500L Vans Concept debuting at the Vans US Open of Surfing in Huntington Beach, CA, on July 26. Inspired by the famous shoe company known to skaters and surfers the world over, the hatchback is packed with seaside style and is ready to show it off at the beach.

The first thing that jumps out about the concept is its grille. It's unlike any other 500L and sports four rings of LED driving lights that are open in the centers. "We added the circular LED DRLs to add a sense of purpose and adventure to this concept," said a Fiat spokesperson to Autoblog via email. Below them are two more foglights, and combined together they should be able keep a party going long into the night after a day of surfing.

Beyond a ton of lighting, the Vans Concept has some extra panache thanks to its three-tone color scheme. It starts with dark blue outlining the car along the bottom, white for the main portion of the body and a lighter shade of blue for the hood, mirror caps and tops of the doors. The roof gets the shoe company's' traditional checkerboard pattern, and there's a rack up there to hold two surfboards and extra gear.

The interior is an even bigger tribute to Vans with the company's stickers from over the years used to decorate the dashboard. Like its shoes, the seats are made from canvas, and the famous waffle sole tread pattern covers the pedals and storage bins.

This concept is more about style than speed, though. According to Fiat spokesperson Angela Bianchi, the drivetrain is left entirely stock with a 160-horsepower, 1.4-liter turbocharged four-cylinder and a six-speed manual gearbox. The 500L will be on display throughout the event from July 26 to August 3, and will be joined by the rest of the brand's vehicles. Scroll down to learn more about Fiat's trip to the beach.

Continue reading Fiat hangs ten with surf-inspired 500L Vans concept

Fiat hangs ten with surf-inspired 500L Vans concept originally appeared on Autoblog on Sat, 26 Jul 2014 00:01:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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