As far as resto-mods go, few turn the trick quite as well as the folks at Icon. We've seen the California outfit do its thing with everything from a Chevy Thriftmaster pickup and Ford Bronco to an electric bicycle and even an Ural Solo motorbike. For its latest project, Icon has worked over another one of the most legendary off-road vehicles of all time: the Land Rover Defender.
Built on commission for a discerning customer as part of Icon's Reformer line, the Icon D90 is based on a 1995 Land Rover Defender 90. But as with everything Icon does, this Land Rover has been extensively reworked.
For starters, the standard diesel engine has been replaced with a General Motors 6.2-liter LS3 small-block V8, modified to perfection by Icon's own mechanics. The aluminum block packs powdered-metal connecting rods, aluminum pistons, investment-cast rocker arms and custom cooling, intake and exhaust systems. It's all mated to a four-speed automatic transmission with a purpose-built CNC-machined Atlas II transfer case.
That more powerful engine has been mounted inside a media-blasted and powder-coated frame and, as Icon is wont to do, the rest of the vehicle has been fitted with some exquisitely overbuilt fixtures. We could go on and on, but we'll let company founder Jonathan Ward give you all the juicy details of the build in the video and spec sheet below while you check out the extensive high-resolution image gallery above. Suffice it to say that the finished product is every bit as stunning as you'd expect from Icon, and we're sure the customer - who has owned several Defenders before - was left suitably satisfied with the results.
Chevy-powered Icon Land Rover Defender 90 goes its own way [w/video] originally appeared on Autoblog on Fri, 11 Apr 2014 13:31:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.Permalink | Email this | Comments
Toyota brought its new i-Road, a three-wheeled, all-electric low-speed vehicle that debuted in 2013 at the Geneva Motor Show, to the Capitol for some of our elected officials to test out. As easy as it is to forget that politicians are people, too, it was refreshing to see a human side to many of them as they zipped about one of the Capitol's many meeting rooms.
We'd say their reactions were surprisingly positive. Of course, some were just down there because Toyota is a big presence in their respective districts, but the bulk of the senators and representatives seemed like they just wanted to zip about the makeshift indoor course on the leaning trike.
Take a look below at the video from Bloomberg.
Watch Congress sample Toyota's i-Road 3-wheeler concept originally appeared on Autoblog on Fri, 11 Apr 2014 12:45:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.Permalink | Email this | Comments
There's a running joke among auto writers that the perfect car would be a diesel-powered, rear-drive wagon with manual transmission and no power accessories whatsoever. It would only be available in brown and would somehow be as fun to drive as a Mazda MX-5 Miata. Makes total sense, right?
Realistically, no manufacturer is ever going to completely fulfill our wishes, no matter how much we beg, plead, kick and scream about our dream car that most of us would actually never buy. The best we can do is hope for a vehicle that mixes some aspects of this ideal journalist's car. And in today's world, that vehicle just might be the BMW 328d xDrive Sport Wagon.
No, it's not available with a manual gearbox, and power can only be sent through an xDrive all-wheel-drive system. It's also not available in brown (although both Mojave Metallic and Sparkling Bronze Metallic are acceptable stand-ins), but it ticks the two main boxes of being a diesel-powered wagon, one of only a couple such models in the United States.
To properly put its versatility and fuel economy through its paces, senior editor Steven Ewing and I used the 328d shown above as our chariot to the 2014 Chicago Auto Show (inclement weather kept us from shooting the darn thing, so that's why you're just now seeing this writeup) - covering some 600 miles on our jaunt from Detroit to the Windy City and back.
- As this is our first time driving the 328d packing BMW's 2.0-liter, turbodiesel four-cylinder, let's get the essentials out of the way. 180 horsepower is paired up with 280 pound-feet of torque, available from 1,750 rpm to 2,750 rpm, allowing our oil-burning longroof to hit 60 miles per hour in a leisurely 7.7 seconds before conking out at 130 mph. In short, this is not the 3 Series for those who demand quickness.
- In the real world, though, the 328d's acceleration is perfectly adequate. Dip into the throttle at freeway speeds, and you'll surf along on a wave of torque that makes passing a painless affair, although some planning is still required. As is the case with most passenger diesels, the sound isn't terribly evocative when ran hard, but at cruising revs, our tester proved luxuriously quiet.
- My leg of the journey was from downtown Detroit, on Interstate 94, to I-69 and onto the I-80 turnpike. Along this route, I had the cruise control pegged at 80 miles per hour, while returning 42 miles per gallon. Yep, it's that good.
- Ewing, having a bit of a lead foot, quickly did his best to ruin my decent fuel economy when he took over on the turnpike. However, a nasty winter storm meant that most of our I-80 travels were spent cruising below 50 mph, meaning we arrived in Chicago averaging just over 41 mpg. The trip home, which was highlighted by crisp, clear and dry weather that allowed us to zip along at 80 mph, saw our overall economy dip to just under 41 mpg. Considering our higher-than-average speed, there's little doubt in my mind that the 328d could meet and exceed its 43-mpg highway estimate.
- The fuel economy owes some of its success to BMW's suite of fuel-sipping features. Besides the routinely excellent ZF 8HP eight-speed automatic, a standard stop-start system and BMW's Eco Pro mode make conserving fuel an easy task. Eco Pro is particularly handy in urban settings, where its more relaxed throttle response and shorter shifts make hypermiling easier. To keep drivers engaged, the instrument cluster shows how many extra miles of fuel are being saved while in Eco Pro.
- We'd be lying if we said choosing the 328d for this trip was only because of its fuel economy. While the 3 Series has grown a bit softer over the years, the upside is that it's more tolerable on long hauls. With the 328d, the suspension has a just-right balance between sportiness and comfort. We had no issues with it along the smoother freeways, while the pockmarked sections of Chicago's surface streets were easy enough to dodge thanks to the 3's agility.
- Not surprisingly, this is not a cheap vehicle. Prices for the 328d xDrive Sport Wagon start at $42,950. Our tester, meanwhile, was optioned out to $49,425. Those that have read my Quick Spin of the 320i should see where this is going.
- I might not have made too much of the 328d's price had I not picked up our long-term Mazda6 on our return trip. That $31,765 front-drive sedan is obviously not a direct competitor for the BMW - in fact, it's not even the same bodystyle. However, it did give me reason for pause, as it was loaded with navigation, adaptive cruise control, blind-spot monitoring, leather seats and a rear-view camera - things not found on this 328d. It had all of these features and a larger cabin, yet it could return 38 mpg while running on cheaper gasoline, for less than two-thirds the price of our tester. Different cars, different classes - apples and oranges, maybe, but it did get me thinking anew about the pricing of not just BMW, but all prestige brands.
Feast your eyes on the new longroof model of the seventh-generation Volkswagen Golf - something we've already seen with Variant badging overseas. This concept (yes, it really is a concept) previews the next Golf SportWagen that will go on sale in the US in early 2015, and makes its official debut next week at the 2014 New York Auto Show.
Why the concept designation? The car you see here uses a TDI clean-diesel engine and Volkswagen's 4Motion all-wheel drive. Oh sure, when the car comes to market next year, it'll be offered with both 1.8 TSI and 2.0 TDI engines - the former mated to either a five-speed manual or six-speed automatic transmission, the latter using a six-speed DSG dual clutch or six-speed manual - but as for all-wheel drive, well... that might not make the cut. A Volkswagen spokesperson told Autoblog that 4Motion is "under consideration" for the production model that'll go on sale next year, but as of this writing, the company is only planning to offer a front-drive SportWagen in our market.
We've always had a soft spot for the Jetta SportWagen (which is now, appropriately, finally using the Golf name in our market), and this new model looks like it will keep our interest piqued. We'll have more details on the concept when it's unveiled next week. In the meantime, scroll down for VW's official release.
VW Golf TDI SportWagen concept is a taste of delicious things to come originally appeared on Autoblog on Fri, 11 Apr 2014 11:27:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.Permalink | Email this | Comments
If you've been hoping that the 2015 Nissan Versa Sedan would adopt something of the Versa Note hatchback's styling aesthetic, consider your hopes dashed. This is the facelifted four-door Versa, which is set to make its official debut next week at the New York Auto Show.
You can make your own minds up on the exterior rework, which is a fairly gentle evolution of the current model. The headlights and a new, familial grille are the two big changes for the front of the Versa that give it a bit of Altima style. Out back, the headlights are slightly tweaked, while a sportier rear bumper is the most noticeable change. The top-end Versa SL also adds new mirrors, complete with Audi-ish integrated turn signals, while the Versa SV adds new 15-inch alloys.
Tweaks for the Versa's huge interior are kept to a minimum, and constitute a new steering wheel and a tweak to the center stack, along with some improved materials. Like the Versa Note, Nissan has fitted the NissanConnect infotainment system, although it's only available on the Versa SL.
Not much has been done under the hood - a 1.6-liter four-cylinder continues to churn out a meager 109 horsepower and 107 pound-feet of torque, while the three transmission choices - five-speed manual, four-speed auto or Xtronic continuously variable transmission - remain unchanged. Considering this, peak fuel efficiency is the same as 2014, at 31 miles per gallon in the city and 40 mpg on the highway for the CVT-equipped model.
Take a look up top for Nissan's gallery of images, and then scroll down for the full press release. We'll have more on the freshened Versa next week, when we check it out in NYC.Permalink | Email this | Comments
Say what you will about all the special editions Bugatti makes out of the Veyron. The fact of the matter is that they sell, and sell quickly. In fact, each of the four Legend editions to date - all of which have been limited to three examples, amounting to twelve cars - has sold out at prices hovering around the $3 million mark, helping Bugatti sell the last few dozen examples of the Veyron roadsters it has to build before the model is retired entirely. And you can bet this one will sell out just as fast.
It's called Black Bess, and unlike the previous examples in the series that paid homage to specific people in Bugatti's history, this one honors a specific car. But not just any car: "the first ever street legal super sports car," in the automaker's own words. That epitaph belongs to the Type 18, a pre-war Bugatti with an inline-four that produced just 100 horsepower (less than a tenth of the Vitesse's output) and topped out at 100 miles per hour - mind-blowing speed in its time. Named after a famous English racing horse, Bugatti only made seven Type 18s, one of which was raced by Ettore himself, and another was bought by legendary aviator Roland Garros.
To pay tribute to such an instrumental vehicle in the marque's history, Bugatti decked out a Vitesse roadster - complete with open roof and 1,184-horsepower quad-turbo W16 engine - in black with 24-carat gold accents. The interior is upholstered in light beige and brown leather with red leather steering wheel and trim. The door panels feature imagery of the original T18 and Roland Garros' plane, rendered in a specially-developed ink on leather.
As with the previous versions, Bugatti will only make three examples, each commanding a €2.15 million (about $3M) purchase price. The first of the three is being presented at the Beijing Motor Show, but if your travel plans don't include a stop in the Chinese capital this month, you can scope it out in the high-res image gallery above and the details in the press release below. The final Legend edition, which we still expect will honor Elisabeth Junek, will be presented at Pebble Beach in August.
Bugatti reveals Black Bess as fifth Legend edition Veyron originally appeared on Autoblog on Fri, 11 Apr 2014 10:15:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.Permalink | Email this | Comments
Kia has released a second teaser image of the next-generation 2015 Sedona minivan ahead of its debut at the New York Auto Show, and it doesn't leave much to the imagination. The van is a much-needed replacement for the current (aging) model that was briefly withdrawn from the US market and then brought back, nearly unchanged.
The new Sedona seems to take a little inspiration from the KV7 concept with its narrowing rear side glass that appears to wrap around to the back. Otherwise, it is the same general shape we have come to know from minivans. That said, the sloping A-pillar and rear spoiler provide a bit more sleekness to the appearance. The original teaser showed off the Sedona's chrome, tabbed grille and headlights.
Kia isn't confirming many details about the new eight-passenger minivan yet. What we know: it rides on a new chassis, power comes from a 3.3-liter, direct-injected V6, and it's going to be offered with Kia's UVO infotainment system. We'll get the full scoop in New York next week, but for now, scroll down for the official announcement.
Kia releases second Sedona teaser ahead of New York debut originally appeared on Autoblog on Fri, 11 Apr 2014 09:29:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.Permalink | Email this | Comments
Toyota promises that upgraded products for Scion are on the way, with the possibility of a redesigned xB coming soon. In the meantime, fans of the boxy hatchback have to make due with the new Release Series 10.0 special edition that is debuting at the 2014 New York Auto Show. The latest limited model puts an emphasis on technology with a wireless charging mat, backup camera, projected logos and a few interior changes.
All the Series 10.0 editions come in Electric Quartz, a pearlescent white color with green highlights, and their steel wheels are covered in Tungsten Gray caps. The exterior's jade color scheme flows inside with the accent stitching on the seats and door panels. This xB is equipped with three projectors - one in the rear bumper displays the company's logo on the ground, and two inside put "xB RS 10.0" on the driver's side and the car's build number on the passenger side. (That's kind of cool, honestly.) Smaller upgrades include piano black trim around the console, illuminated door sills and lit cup holders.
The Release 10.0 edition doesn't see any mechanical changes and uses the same 2.4-liter four-cylinder with 158 horsepower and 162 pound-feet of torque as all other xBs, mated solely to a four-speed automatic transmission. Scion plans to build 1,500 Series 10.0 models with pricing starting at $20,420, plus a $755 destination charge. Sales begin this summer. Scroll down for the full details in the release.
Scion xB Release Series 10.0 headed for New York debut originally appeared on Autoblog on Fri, 11 Apr 2014 08:45:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.Permalink | Email this | Comments
Make no mistake about it: Honda is big in racing. It was the first Japanese automaker to enter Formula One, remains the most successful and is set to return as an engine supplier next season. It's powered more IndyCar race winners and champions than any other manufacturer, hands down. Honda has won races and titles in Super GT, WTCC, even motorcycle racing. Just about everything this side of NASCAR, really. And that includes endurance sports car racing.
In fact Honda Performance Development prototypes claimed over 70 victories and numerous titles in the American Le Mans Series, and took the first LMP2 title in the FIA World Endurance Championship. And with sportscar racing in the US now grouped together into the United SportsCar Championship, Honda is back with a new chassis design.
Called the ARX-04b, it's Honda's first closed-cockpit LMP2. Like previous LMP2 and IndyCar projects, it's a joint development between HPD and Wirth Research, and packs Honda's HR28TT engine - a 2.8-liter twin-turbo V6 based on (and using many of the same components as) the J35 engine you'd find in a contemporary Acura. Designed to exceed the latest safety regulations, the ARX-04b features low-drag bodywork, quick-change front and rear panels, the same locking fuel filler system that Honda pioneered for Indy, top-exit exhaust to meet noise regulations, a 75-liter fuel tank and a gearbox that can easily be optimized for individual circuits.
Honda will sell the new ARX-04b to privateer teams to field in series like the United SportsCar Championship, European Le Mans Series, Asian Le Mans Series and the World Endurance Championship, starting next season.
Honda Performance Development reveals new ARX-04b LMP2 coupe originally appeared on Autoblog on Fri, 11 Apr 2014 08:01:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.Permalink | Email this | Comments
Meet the all-new NX, Lexus' entry into the space occupied by the likes of the BMW X1 and Mercedes-Benz GLA. Based off the LF-NX Concept and sharing much of the design language seen on the polarizing IS sedan, the NX looks to be a rather sporty Lexus crossover.
The big news here is under the hood: the NX will be the first Lexus to use a turbocharged engine. That's right, a 2.0-liter, turbocharged four-cylinder can be found in both the NX 200t and NX 200t F Sport. There will also be an NX 300h, and if Lexus' nomenclature remains consistent, we already know all about that one. As of right now, there aren't a lot of details on either powertrain, although with the NX's Beijing debut still over a week away, here's hoping we know more soon.
As for that design... well, we're waiting to see it up close. The initial reaction from the Autoblog team has been mixed so far. Like the IS, there are plenty of sharp angles, while the front is dominated by the brand's spindle grille. Lexus' designers have refined the shape of the headlights, giving them a cleaner overall look than on the pioneering IS. In back, LED taillights come standard. According to Lexus, 17-inch wheels are the base rollers, while 18s are optional.
The interior, meanwhile, is a rather clean piece of design, with long, unbroken stretches of what looks like leather on the dash complemented with strips of wood or metal, depending on trim level. We're guessing that the black interior with red seats belongs to the F Sport model, which uses completely different buckets for the front passengers.
Take a look up top for a full gallery of studio images taken by our own Drew Phillips, and then scroll down for the press release and official gallery from Lexus.Permalink | Email this | Comments
There's an old phrase that suggests we "work smarter, not harder." This garbage truck driver must have read that as "work like a monumental idiot, not harder." The sanitation worker in Leon, Guanajuato, Mexico basically ghost-rides his garbage truck while running to grab bags that have been left on the curb.
Now, this would be a dumb idea if he were collecting garbage out in the desert, where the only danger is running off the road - but he's not. He's essentially letting this truck idle along without anyone at the wheel in the middle of what looks like a residential area. This is a very special degree of stupidity at work here.
In closing, if you're a trash collector, don't ghost-ride your truck. Scratch that, just don't ghost ride at all. You'll hurt someone or something. Scroll down and have a look at the video from south of the border.
Watch these workers ghost-ride the garbage truck with purpose originally appeared on Autoblog on Thu, 10 Apr 2014 20:00:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.Permalink | Email this | Comments
There is an old saying that goes, "Choose a job you love, and you will never have to work a day in your life." The short film Paper Dreams illustrates just how true that is and includes some beautifully detailed automotive models to get the point across.
Paul started crafting paper model kits as a hobby, and as he grew up, he began creating whole paper cars from scratch. Eventually the detailed miniatures even included usually unseen elements like water pumps and suspension pieces - even the wiring. The movie tells the story of how crafting a replica of a Red Bull RB7 from 6,500 parts eventually got Paul his dream job.
It's amazing what the combination of time, effort and talent can create. Scroll down to watch this inspiring story and marvel at these fabulous models.Permalink | Email this | Comments
Now it appears they'll be one more attraction to get car fans through the gates, this one coming to Universal Studios in California next year.
The new ride is called Fast & Furious Supercharged, and as you might have guessed, it's being set up as an experiential take on the popular movie franchise. Visitors will ride in on the Studio Tour tram which will roll onto a hydraulic platform shifting in every direction as they're immersed in the exciting action all around them on a 50,000-square-foot lot. The attraction is set to open sometime in 2015 as part of a $1.6 billion expansion being implemented over the course of the next 25 years, which is quite a long-sighted plan considering that the park - the oldest of the Universal resorts - has only been around for 50 years.
Fast & Furious Supercharged ride coming to Universal Studios originally appeared on Autoblog on Thu, 10 Apr 2014 19:03:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.Permalink | Email this | Comments
Toyota introduced a pair of brand-new engines in Japan today, that it says will eventually spawn 14 different variants by 2015. Where these two engines stand out in today's world, is that neither mill boasts direct injection, and both are naturally aspirated.
The larger of the two is a 1.3-liter, while the smaller engine, a 1.0-liter, was developed in collaboration with Daihatsu. What makes these two unique is that they both use the Atkinson cycle. Now, we aren't going to bore you by explaining just what this is - there's Google for that. Suffice it to say, Atkinson engines are highly efficient, but that efficiency comes by sacrificing power. That's why they're so popular in hybrids, which can offset the power losses.
This focus on fuel efficiency extends throughout the new engines, which also benefit from tweaks like a cooled exhaust gas recirculation system and a trick intake port, while the 1.3 employs Toyota's iE variant of variable valve timing. Both engines can be fitted with stop-start tech. According to Toyota, when fitted with stop-start the 1.3 should provide around a 15-percent bump while the 1.0-liter will increase economy around 30 percent, when they arrive on the road.
We're not going to lie, the non-hybrid Atkinson system is a question mark. But according to General Manager of Powertrain Planning Shouji Adachi, it shouldn't be an issue.
"There is always the challenge of lower performance in torque," Adachi-san told Automotive News. "For the new engines, we were able to resolve these issues."
We're presuming that what Adachi is referring to is Toyota's use of high compression ratios on both engines - 13.5 in the case of the 1.3L and 11.5 in the 1.0L. Using a higher compression ratio allows the engine to develop more power thanks to increased thermal efficiency. In the case of the 1.3L, max thermal efficiency is at 38 percent, which Toyota says is quite good. The 1.0L is just a smidge behind, at 37 percent.
So, power concerns momentarily swept aside, where to do we think these engines will end up? According to AN, non-hybrid, JDM compacts will be the first to use the new engines. From there, though, it's really anyone's guess where these engines and their variants will end up. Scroll on down for the short press release on the two engines, from Toyota.Permalink | Email this | Comments